The Sirico Brief
On February 7, 2007, an Open Letter titled “On the Suppression of St. Philip Neri House, Kalamazoo, Michigan” written by Catholic writer, Randy Engel, author of The Rite of Sodomy, was sent to Franc Cardinal Rodé, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in Rome.
The Open Letter, reprinted below in full, requests that Cardinal Rodé appoint a formal board of inquiry, independent of the Oratorian Confederation, to examine the charges brought against St. Philip Neri House, an Oratory in formation, and its religious superior, Father Robert A. Sirico.
The Open Letter was first posted by Renew America columnist, Matt C. Abbott, (www.renewamerica.us/columns/abbott) on February 13, 2007, and was quickly picked up by other Catholic and religious news services.
Response to the Open Letter, both pro and con, was immediate.
Support for a Vatican investigation of Sirico and St. Philip Neri House came largely from traditional Catholic circles.
Opposition to the Open Letter came almost exclusively from the Acton Institute, based in Grand Rapids, Mich., co-founded by Sirico in 1990. Acton Institute is a quasi-Libertarian economic/political organization whose primary purpose is to influence government policy using a thin veil of religion for credibility.
On February 14, 2007, one day after the Open Letter was made public, John N. Couretas, head of public relations for the multi-million dollar Acton Institute, sent Abbott an e-mail asking him to immediately remove the Open Letter from his Web site.
Couretas claimed that the Engel letter contains “substantial falsehoods, was written by a person who did not allow Fr. Robert or the Acton Institute to respond to her allegations, and contains not a single person on the record backing up her claims.”
Couretas did not identify the exact nature of the alleged “substantial falsehoods,” nor did he explain why the Acton Institute, a non-Catholic entrepreneurial enterpriseshould be entitled to an opinion on a purely religious issue – the suppression of St. Philip Neri House and the removal of Father Sirico as its religious superior by a Vatican Congregation.
In the meantime, Abbott received additional pressure to abort the Engel article from priest-friends of Sirico and other associates connected with the Acton Institute.
After discussing the matter with Engel, Abbott withdrew the Open Letter, and the other websites followed suit.
Actually, the debate on Father Sirico and St. Philip Neri House is just heating up.
The Sirico Brief contains documentation in support of the charges made against Father Robert Sirico and St. Philip Neri House in the Engel Open Letter of February 7, 2004. A copy of the brief along with pertinent attachments has been forwarded to the Congregation for Religious.
Original Open Letter
An Open Letter to Franc Cardinal Rodé, Prefect
Sacred Congregation for Institutes of
Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life
“On the Suppression of St. Philip Neri House, Kalamazoo, Michigan”
7 February 2007
Franc Cardinal Rodé, Prefect
Sacred Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and
Societies of Apostolic Life
Piazza Pio XII, 3
00193, Rome, Vatican City State
The purview of the Sacred Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life embraces all matters concerning orders and religious congregations, secular institutes, and societies of apostolic life including associations of the faithful erected with the intention of becoming institutes of consecrated life or societies of apostolic life.
St. Philip Neri House located at 219 Woodward Ave., Kalamazoo, MI 49007 in the Diocese of Kalamazoo, Michigan, is a Society of Apostolic Life, and a House of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri in formation, and it therefore falls within the jurisdiction of your Congregation. The superior of St. Philip Neri House is Father Robert A. Sirico.
This “Open Letter” has as its objective, the securing of a ruling from your Congregation that will bring about the suppression of St. Philip Neri House and the removal of Father Sirico as its superior. St. Philip Neri House is currently seeking membership in the Confederation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri.
The circumstances surrounding the erection of St. Philip Neri House and the selection of Father Sirico as its superior is a matter of grave public scandal, and constitutes a clear and present danger to the spiritual welfare of Catholic men seeking vocational advice and spiritual direction from Father Sirico and other members of the community at St. Philip Neri House.
A Portrait of an Apostate, Marxist, Active Homosexual, Gay Rights Activist
Father Robert A. Sirico was born on 23 June 1951, in Brooklyn, N.Y. He is an Italian-American of Sicilian descent. He apostatized from the Catholic faith in his late teens. His time spent in the U.S. Navy after high school graduation was of short duration. Following his discharge from the Navy, he settled in Seattle where he took up with a cult called the Jesus People and joined their male commune known as Joshua’s House. By the age of 19, his brief flirtation with Marxism over, the charismatic youth embarked on a new career as an itinerant Pentecostal preacher and established his own “church” known for its “miraculous faith healings.”
In 1972, Sirico established a different kind of “church” - a satellite of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Church (UFMCC) founded by homosexual activist Rev. Troy Perry in Los Angeles in 1968. The UFMCC teaches that homosexuality is neither a sin nor a sickness and that “homosexual relationships should be celebrated and affirmed.” The UFMCC has been used as a battering ram against the Roman Catholic Church and Protestant sects who oppose homosexuality.
In 1975, Rev. Sirico moved to Los Angeles and became the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Gay Community Center, one of the oldest and largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) organizations in the world. He also continued his work as a minister of the UFMCC.
On 21 April 1975, Rev. Sirico made the annals of “gay” history as a pioneer “gay rights” activist when he performed the first same-sex “marriage” in the United States of two male homosexuals with a civil marriage license at the First Unitarian Church of Denver, Colo.
One year later, on 12 April 1976, Rev. Sirico, dressed in a black clerical suit with a Roman collar made the pages of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer under the headline “‘Male Slave Mart’ Raid in L.A. Called a Mistake. ”
As reported by the Seattle P-I, on April 10, 1976, Los Angeles policemen dressed in riot gear arrested 40 persons participating in a homosexual “slave market” held at the Mark IV Health Club in Hollywood. The bathhouse was operated by a sadomasochist cult called the Leather Fraternity. Nude “male slaves” were led on stage by an auctioneer and inspected by potential buyers. “Slaves” went for $10-75. The undercover policeman at the auction told the press that he picked up a man for $16 following assurances from the auctioneer that the ‘volunteer for charity’ would perform specific sex acts on him. The auction room came complete with its own dungeons and cell blocks and sadomasochist apparatus including leather harness restraints and chains.
The event was sponsored by the Los Angeles Gay Community Center headed by Rev. Sirico, who told the P-I reporter that the Los Angeles Police Department was “out to get” the gay community. Rev. Sirico called the event a “harmless fund-raising event” staged to raise money for the Center’s venereal disease clinic.
The UFMCC in Los Angeles has confirmed that the Rev. Robert Sirico involved in the two history-making “gay” events at the Unitarian Church in Denver in 1975 and the Mark IV Health Club in Los Angeles in 1976, is the same Father Robert Sirico, currently the superior of St. Philip Neri House in Kalamazoo, Mich.
On 13 May 1989, after completing his novitiate with the Paulist Fathers at their House of Studies in Washington, D.C., and his scholastic training at Catholic University of America, Robert A. Sirico was ordained a priest of the Paulist Order, a Society of Apostolic Life like the Oratorians.
THIS ORDINATION SHOULD NEVER HAVE TAKEN PLACE.
On 2 February 1961, all superiors of Religious Communities, Societies without vows, and Secular Institutes received a copy of the document “Careful Selection and Training of Candidates for the States of Perfection and Sacred Orders” from the Congregation for Religious. The Congregation noted that while the Instruction was “privately circulated” its contents were “a matter of public law.” The principle subject of the discourse of the Instruction is the proper vetting and training of candidates for Sacred Orders. The Instruction was in force, but obviously not enforced by the Paulists, at the time of Sirico’s ordination.
On the matter of the selection of seminary candidates, the essence of which is the discernment of character, the tone of the 1961 Instruction is exacting, even strident Moral certitude as to the fitness of the candidate for ordination is demanded of the superior. The Instruction firmly acknowledges that chastity is the heart of religious life and the priesthood. Any candidate unable to observe ecclesiastical celibacy and practice priestly chastity, no matter what other “outstanding qualities” he possesses, is to be barred from the religious life and the priesthood.
The 1961 Instruction specifically prohibits the advancement to religious vows and ordination of habituated onanists as well “as those afflicted with evil tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty, since for them the common life and priestly ministry would constitute serious dangers.”
Even though, by the late 1980s, the Paulists were routinely ordaining known homosexuals for the priesthood, their ordination of Sirico was especially alarming given his long habituation to the vice of sodomy and his public record of homosexual activism.
Sirico Seeks Independence from the Paulists
After his ordination, Sirico was assigned to the Paulist Center in Minneapolis, Minn., and shortly thereafter transferred to the Paulist Catholic Information Center in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Unhappy with his situation, Sirico toyed with the idea of seeking exclaustration from the Paulists provided he could incardinate in the Diocese of Grand Rapids, but Bishop Robert John Rose did not want him apart from the Paulist Order. Instead, Sirico petitioned and was granted a one-year sabbatical by the Paulists.
In 1990, only a year after his ordination, Sirico underwent another career change. He became the President of the newly created Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty in Grand Rapids, an ecumenical, free-market educational think-tank funded by Michigan-based Dutch Calvinist business entrepreneurs. Sirico began to preach another gospel – that of Calvinist economic predestination and prosperity. He declared that Catholic seminarians, priests and religious are especially ignorant of fundamental economic principles and need to be educated on the benefits of free market capitalism. To date, Sirico has lectured around the world including the Vatican on the ethical dimensions of the free market economy and faith-based environmentalism as promoted by James Dobson and other prominent Christian conservative evangelical leaders.
Sirico Moves to Lansing Diocese and then Kalamazoo Diocese
Sirico moved out from under the authority of his Paulist superiors and away from the Diocese of Grand Rapids to the “gay-friendly” Diocese of Lansing under “gay-friendly” Bishop Kenneth Povish, a backer of the notorious New Ways Ministry. Sirico was assigned a rural parish by Chancellor James A. Murray while continuing to commute to his job at the Acton Institute in Grand Rapids.
In 1998, Murray was appointed Bishop of Kalamazoo. Sirico followed him to Kalamazoo.
St. Philip Neri House currently claims four residents including three priests – enough to erect an oratory and be incorporated into the Confederation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri. The residents include Father Sirico, Father David Grondz, Father James Richardson, and Brother Basil, an associate of Father Grondz.
Fathers Grondz and Richardson were ordained by Bishop James A. Murray for the Diocese of Kalamazoo on 13 May 2006 at St. Augustine Cathedral. In addition to their assignment at St. Philip Neri House, both are also engaged in pastoral work for the diocese.
Questions of moral turpitude have arisen in connection with the seminary life of these three men, and with the close existing relationship between Grondz and Sirico, which I am unable to confirm or deny. However, as Prefect for the Sacred Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Lifeyou will be in a position toinvestigate seminary records and interview former oratory residents and visitors so as to render a fair verdict on these particular questions.
I have been in contact with men who have discerned at St. Philip Neri House. Their reports suggest disturbing patterns of behaviors at the House including catty, effeminate conversations; inappropriate touchings especially by Superior Sirico; the use of sexually explicit films including “gay” flicks as part of the oratory’s “Home Night” program; and violent exhibitions of [homosexual] rage by Sirico.
These reports come as no surprise to anyone with even a minimum understanding of homosexual behavior. The very nature of homosexual relationships in the religious life and societies of apostolic life precludes the existence of the oratory concept envisioned by Saint Philip Neri, the father of the Societies of Apostolic Life movement. Homosexual relationships poison the well of friendship, discipleship, and stability – the hallmarks of an Oratorian community.
Petition Put Forth to the Congregation
Based on the complaints noted above, I place the following petitions before you as Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life:
1. That you instructthe officers of the Confederation of the Oratory of St. Phil Neri, specifically, theProcurator General Very Reverend Edoardo Aldo Cerrato, C.O. from the Rome Oratory and the Delegate of the Holy See for the Oratory, Very Reverend Felix Selden, C.O. from the Vienna Oratory, to withdraw from active consideration the request of the St. Philip Neri House of Kalamazoo, Mich. for oratory status, pending an investigation of the above charges.
2. That a formal board of inquiry, independent of the Oratorian Confederation and its members, be established to examine the above charges against Father Sirico and St. Philip Neri House.
3. Upon finding these charges to be valid, that the Congregation order the dissolution and suppression of
St. Philip Neri House.
As you must be well aware, the Holy Father has frequently spoken out against the very concept of homosexual “unions” and “marriages.” What do you think his reaction will be when he learns that the first “gay” minister to perform such a ceremony in the United States is now the superior of a Catholic religious order?
In a press statement of 4 March 2006, you said that Pope Benedict XVI is seeking to revitalize the life of the Church beginning with the reform of religious orders. Why not begin this reform with the Oratorians and the Paulists and other societies of apostolic life and religious orders that have been compromised by the Homosexual Collective?
One of the favorite sayings of Saint Philip Neri was “Christian joy is a gift of God flowing from a good conscience.” May you do your duty in the matter of St. Philip Neri House and Father Robert A. Sirico, and sleep with a good conscience this night.
Sincerely in Christ,
Randy Engel, author, The Rite of Sodomy
Box 356, Export, PA, USA 15632
cc. Archbishop Gianfranco Gardin, Secretary
Very Rev. Felix Selden C.O., Vienna, Apostolic Delegate
Very Rev. Edoardo Aldo Cerrato C.O., Rome, Procurator General
13 February 2007
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ –
According to Cardinal Franc Rodé, Prefect for the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Pope Benedict XVI has made the reform of Religious Orders and Societies of Apostolic Life a principle goal of his pontificate.
Letters, e-mails and faxes and phone calls to the Congregation in support of an investigation of St. Philip Neri House under the leadership of Fr. Robert A. Sirico are needed now! Contact:
Franc Cardinal Rodé, Prefect
Sacred Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and
Societies of Apostolic Life
Piazza Pio XII, 3
00193, Rome, Vatican City State
Phone: +39. 06. 69884121
Fax: +39 .06. 69884526
Please give this “Open Letter” the widest circulation possible. No permission is needed to post it on your website or print it in your newsletter. Copies of this “Open letter” have already been sent out to all Oratories of St. Philip Neri throughout the world.
Let our universal battle cry be Alto quien vive!! Loosely translated it means: Anyone on the battlefield who is still alive, stand up and fight!! Fight for your Faith! Don’t Give Up!
Randy Engel, author, The Rite of Sodomy – Homosexuality and the Roman Catholic Church
1951 Robert A. Sirico is born on June 23, 1951 in Brooklyn, N.Y. He is an Italian-American of Sicilian descent. He has three older siblings and a number of nieces and nephews some of whom have moved to the Kalamazoo area in recent years.
His older sister and widow, Caroline Pannunzio, was born on October 25, 1938. She moved from her Florida home to Kalamazoo in 2004.
His older brother, Genaro Anthony “Tony” or “Junior” Sirico was born on July 29, 1942. He is an actor. His most prominent role to date is that of Paulie Walnuts in television series The Sopranos. He currently resides in Bensonhurst in the borough of Brooklyn, and has made public appearances with his brother, Robert.
Another brother, Carmine Sirico, also resides in New York.
1969 Upon graduation fromhigh school graduationduring the Vietnam War period, Sirico enters the Navy. He enlists on August 18, 1969 and is discharged six months later on January 20, 1970.
In an interview with Ray Ruppert, Religion Editor of The Seattle Times on January 23, 1971, Sirico claims he was discharged from the Navy because of his “clergy status.” This statement is false. According to records obtained from the Navy’s National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, Mo. by writer Thomas Herron, Sirico entered the service at Ft. Hamilton in Brooklyn and attended boot camp at the Naval Training Center, Great Lakes, Ill. Sirico was assigned to the aircraft carrier, the USS Kitty Hawk ported at the Bremerton, Wash. Navy Yard. He was discharged from the Naval Hospital at the Bremerton shipyard less than three months later. There is no mention of Sirico’s “clergy status.”
1970 Sirico settles in Seattle where he joins the Jesus People Movement, led by Linda Meissner. She would later separate from her husband and the Jesus People and joined the controversial cult known as the People of God, headed by David “Moses” Berg. Sirico chooses a different path.
The 19-year-old Sirico takes up residence at the House of Joshua, an all male religious commune in North Seattle operated by the Meissners, and begins promoting the theology and beliefs of the Jesus People.
He soon gains a reputation and a large following as a charismatic preacher promoting the Pentecostal message and experience of “baptism of the Holy Spirit.” He claims for himself the gift of tongues, the gift of interpretation of tongues, the gift of healing and the gift of miracles.
In addition to drawing support for his Truth in Healing, Inc. ministry from local Baptist and Pentecostal churches, he also attracts the attention of Catholic Charismatic and main-line Protestant churches.
1971Sirico begins to draw large crowds to the Bethany United Presbyterian Church.
In his January 23, 1971 interview with Ray Ruppert, Religion Editor of The Seattle Times, Sirico says he was no longer a Catholic and had become an ordained Pentecostal minister.
Sirico tells Ruppert that his first religious experience occurred when he was preparing for his First Communion at the age of seven. He said it was like God and him were together and he was speaking directly to God. Sirico says that at age 11, while preparing for his Confirmation, he first spoke in tongues. Kneeling, Sirico said, he spoke in another language before a crucifix. “That I believe to be my baptism in the Holy Spirit,” he explains.
A woman named Mrs. Flourmill A. Marion, injured in a series of auto accidents in 1966 and 1969, hears Sirico preaching on KTW, attends his healing service and claims she has been cured of pain and able to walk without crutches.
Rev. Ralph Johnson, a Protestant minister, at the urging of a university student from his congregation who is impressed by Sirico’s preaching, meets with Sirico and other members of the commune at the House of Joshua. Johnson brings a tape recorder and examines Sirico’s claims of speaking in tongues. Sirico could not talk in tongues. Johnson asks Sirico to translate Greek using his power of “interpretation of tongues.” Sirico could not do it. Johnson quizzes Sirico about his alleged cure of a young girl with a sight problem which had proven false. Sirico retorts that the girl had not remained faithful and had “lost her healing.” Linda Meissner interrupts the meeting and orders Johnson out. Johnson concludes that Sirico’s miraculous claims are bogus and that Sirico is using his claims to gain control and notoriety in the commune.
1972 Seattle’s Charismatic Presbytery, an organ 70 clergy and laymen sets up the Robert Sirico Foundation to finance Sirico’s healing ministry. A spokesman for the Presbytery publicly praises Sirico as “a spirit-filled young man whom God has blessed with a marvelous healing ministry.” As part of the Charismatic Renewal Movement, Sirico’s “Miracle healing” is drawing capacity crowds at local churches.
On Wednesday, May 10, 1972, Sirico holds a press conference and publicly announces he is a homosexual and that he intends to start a homosexual church in Seattle.
Sirico tells the press that, “The harsh stand of most churches has driven many homosexually-oriented men and women… to suicide. It has destroyed in others the dignity and self-esteem that is the foundation of a health personality and a productive career.” “The gay men and women who have overcome this self-hate to live full lives have generally had to reject Christianity to do it, because Christianity is generally represented as incompatible with their nature,” he says.
The Church’s history of “excommunicating, scourging, or burning of ‘faggots’ as heretics and sinners is an arrogant perversion of the Christian law of love,” says Sirico. He admits that many friends including members of his own family have disowned him.
He says the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches will help bring the assurance of the love of Christ to gay people on the terms of self-acceptance that healthy people must live by. [The UFMCC teaches that homosexuality is neither a sin nor a sickness and that “homosexual relationships should be celebrated and affirmed.” The UFMCC has been used as an effective battering ram against the Roman Catholic Church and Protestant sects who oppose homosexuality.]
The young affable Sirico smiles at the press and tells them he is very happy. “I’m hoping to be married to a beautiful man in Los Angeles whose work is translating for the deaf,” he confesses. He also announces that as pastor of the new MCC, he will perform “homosexual marriages.”In a later interview with the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, Sirico says that “Two men in bed together… was a holy experience – to hold one another close and confess together, “Isn’t God wonderful?”
In Gay Seattle: Stories of Exile and Belonging (University of Washington Press, Seattle, 2003, pp. 161-163), homosexual activist and writer, Gary L. Atkins, quotes Sirico as stating, “The blessings of the Holy Spirit are being passed onto the homosexual community… My [Christian] beliefs have not changed. I have a relationship with the Lord that I never knew existed.” Atkins says that Sirico refused to repent what was not a sin and instead proclaimed he was “proud and glad that God has made me this way.”
Sirico’s public “coming out” sends shock waves through the Charismatic Presbytery whose members, including Protestant and Evangelical ministers and Catholic priests, who oppose homosexuality.
On Thursday, May 11, 1972, a delegation from the Presbytery meets with Sirico to counsel and dissuade. Sirico informs them that he was aware for most of his life that he was a homosexual, since the age of 13.
He says that he used to believe that homosexuality was a perversion and was condemned in the Bible, but recently changed his mind. Citing 1 Corinthians 6:9, Sirico says his new interpretation of this passage is that the Bible condemns “trying to change one’s sexual orientation,” that is, a person who goes against his heterosexual or homosexual nature. In his healing ministry, Sirico says, he has found it impossible to “totally deliver” a person from homosexuality and has seen some become so despairing as to commit suicide.
According to Presbytery member, Rev. Richard Denham, Pastor of Bethany Presbyterian Church, that past February, Sirico visited New Mexico and Los Angeles where he “worked over a bit of Greek in the New Testament” with persons sympathetic to a condoning of homosexuality within Christendom. Rev. Troy Perry, the founder of the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Churches in Los Angeles befriended the young man and made a new convert for the MCC.
After Sirico and two homosexual companions walk out “belligerently and defiantly” from the meeting, more than 20 members of the Presbytery issue a prepared statement on Sirico’s defection. Rev. Dennis Bennett, rector of St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, a principal drafter of the statement, makes it clear that the Prebytery is not taken in by Sirico or the MCC propaganda machine. He declares, “Mr. Sirico is not actually ministering to the homosexual community in starting a “gay” church, but really condoning and encouraging what Scripture and the Church clearly recognize as a serious sin.” “Ministering to the homosexual community would involve helping the homosexual be delivered and healed and to take an effective and normal place in society,” said Bennett.
Rod McDougal of the Jesus People also expresses regret that Sirico had chosen his homosexual friends over his Christian friends stating that in order to recover from this “sickness,” Sirico needs to stop surrounding himself with ones with weaknesses like his own.
All the members of the Charismatic Presbytery resign from Sirico’s Board en masse.
Bob Johnson, manager of the Broadway Theater where Sirico plans on holding his healing services announces that no Sirico-led service will be held at the Broadway.
Later, Sirico receives permission to hold church services at the Capitol Hill United Methodist Church in Renton Hill. Communion services are held on Sunday mornings and a 5 p.m. Mass is celebrated each Sunday by a priest.
Sirico forms a Youth Group at the MCC made up of young homosexuals, mostly males, including street hustlers. Young men from the local Gay Community Center are also hired to work at odd jobs at the church. [This pattern of surrounding himself with young males, first at the House of Joshua, now with young homosexual men at the MCC, would be repeated again and again throughout Sirico’s life.]
In late June, Rev. Sirico travels to Vancouver, British Columbia to hold the first religious service in the city for 30 homosexuals. From June 30 to July 2, Vancouver hosts a Gay Pride that includes a debate between Sirico and a Protestant minister who opposes homosexuality.
On August 6, Sirico’s church is formally chartered by the UFMCC and Rev. Perry preaches at the dedication service. Bodyguards are on hand to protect both Sirico and Perry. In a statement to the press, Sirico likens the MCC’s struggle for “gay liberation” with the civil rights movement of the late fifties. “If I have to be the person here who says “I ain’t movin’ to the back of the bus,’ then so be it,” he tells the press.
Perry states that his goal is to make homosexuality accepted in the church and in society. Other churches “have to recognize the fact that souls are being won to Christ,” he said. The dedication service includes the ordination of seven deacons. The young church claims 80 members, mostly male homosexuals and their relatives. [When AIDS hits the States, approximately 40% of the MCC’s male members will be living with AIDS or will have died of AIDS including many of its clergy.]
1973 On April 23, Sirico is among a group of homosexuals picketing the Seattle Police Department. The picketers charge that Police Chief George Tielsch has a “personal vendetta” against homosexuals and that the police sexually harassed sexual minorities. When Tielsch does not grant the group a hearing, pressure is increased on him. Sirico and other homosexual activist picket Tielsch’s home. When Tielsch was finally forced out of office, Sirico made his famous quip, “Who says God doesn’t answer the prayers of gay people?” Sirico is joined in the picket by ex-priest homosexual William DuBay.
Fr. William H. DuBay served as a priest of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles under
James Cardinal McIntyre (1948-1970). In the mid-1960s, DuBay clashed with the cardinal on the issue of clerical unionism, civil rights, and leftist economics and politics, and was suspended. He moved to Oakland, Calif., and went to work at a Synanon drug and alcohol rehabilitation center, but he disagreed with the center’s treatment of homosexual addicts. DuBay continued north to Seattle where he settled down and married socialite Mary Ellen Rochester. One year later, he “outed” himself as a homosexual and his marriage was annulled. He became a columnist for The Advocate, a national “gay” newspaper and joined up with fellow homosexual activists Sirico. DuBay also established a “gay-affirming” Synanon-style clinic named Stonewall that was housed in a former Carmelite monastery on Renton Hill.
In July 1973, Sirico continues his homosexual missionary activities by assisting in the establishment of a new Metropolitan Community Church in Cincinnati, Ohio. In a front-page Associated Press release in the Lima News of July 7, 1973, Sirico is quoted as stating that “The great oppressor of homosexuals in history has been the Church with its misinterpretation of the Word of God.”
Later in the summer Sirico travels to Ottawa to energize the “Gay Liberation Movement in Canada.
In October, Rev. Sirico is arrested by the Seattle police and is incarcerated over an incident in Pioneer Square, a popular cruising area that housed a public men’s room
(tearoom) frequented by local homosexuals. Sirico is coming out of a local bar at 2 a.m. when he sees the police arrest two young male hustlers for sexual solicitation. When he attempts to interfere with the arrest, he was taken into custody. He joins other homosexuals in the holding tank singing “We Shall Overcome” until he is bailed out by one of his parishioners.
1975In February, Raymond “Dutch” Hunthausen arrives in Seattle. Under Archbishop Thomas Arthur Connolly (1951-1975) “Catholic” homosexual groups like Dignity were able to secure a foothold in the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle, but under Archbishop Hunthausen (1975-1991) they explode into a frenzy of political activity. Under Hunthausen, Dignity masses continue at St. Joseph Parish, while religious orders in the Seattle archdiocese are heavily compromised.
In the spring of 1975, Sirico prepares to move to Southern California.
On April 21, 1975, MCC clergyman Sirico travels to Colorado where he performs the first same-sex “marriage” of two male homosexuals with a civil marriage license at the First Unitarian Church of Denver. He is assisted by Rev. Elder Freda Smith, the MCC’s first woman minister. Witnesses include MCC Rev. Elder Charlie Arehart and Rev. Troy Perry’s longtime assistant, Frank Zerilli.
The following day, the Boulder Daily Camera runs a picture of Sirico, dressed in clerics with a Roman collar and alb, preparing “communion” under both species for the “happy couple” - Anthony Sullivan and Richard Adams.
According to Camera staff writer, Tony Stroh, Sullivan is Australian and his visa expires in July, 1975. Through his marriage to Adams, Sullivan hopes to be granted the status of First Preferential Alien - that of a spouse. Sirico tells Stroh that the U.S. Immigration Service takes a dim view of homosexual aliens, nevertheless, the “wedding”
is intended, in part, to test the immigration laws and to show that same-sex couples should have the same right to marry as heterosexual couples.
On June 11, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, in an article by Joel Connelly titled “Exceptional Church is Accepted,” announce that the Church Council of Greater Seattle approves membership of the UFMCC affiliate church. Father Hogan, a Catholic priest, and a Catholic Board member supported the MCC affiliation.
In late summer of 1975, Sirico sets up residence in Los Angeles, and accepts a job as
the Executive Director of the Los Angeles Gay Community Center, one of the oldest and largest Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) organizations in the world.
The Los Angeles Gay (and Lesbian) Community Center was founded in 1971 by Morris Kight, a wealthy “gay” leader of the early Homosexual Movement in Los Angeles. Sirico also continues his work as a “minister” of the UFMCC.
On October 8, 1975, The L.A. Times prints a letter-to-the editor from Sirico congratulating the Times for its coverage of “gay” events. “How depressing life must be for those prime examples of homophobia, those ancient oppressors of people, who suddenly find that they themselves are the ‘queers.’….Hate will never rectify the wrongs done us, but love can make the future a better place to live,” writes Sirico.
1976 In April, 1976,Rev. Sirico makes national headlines in a controversy over a Los Angeles police raid of a male slave auction sponsored by the Los Angeles Gay Community Center.
A Seattle Post-Intelligencer article dated April 12, 1976 titled “‘Male Slave Mart’ Raid in L.A. Called a Mistake,” features Sirico dressed in a black clerical suit with a Roman collar.
The P-I reports that on Saturday night, April 10, 1976, 65 Los Angeles policemen dressed in riot gear arrest 40 persons participating in a homosexual “slave market” held at the Mark IV Health Club in Hollywood. The bathhouse is operated by a sadomasochist cult called the Leather Fraternity. Nude “male slaves” were led on stage by an auctioneer and inspected by potential buyers. “Slaves” went for $10-75. The undercover policeman at the auction told the press that he picked up a man for $16 following assurances from the auctioneer that the ‘volunteer for charity’ would perform specific sex acts on him. The auction room came complete with its own dungeons and cell blocks and sadomasochist apparatus including leather harness restraints and chains.
The Pasadena Star-News of April 12, 1976, reports that eye witnesses at the scene report acts of copulation and sodomy prior to the opening of the auction.
The event is sponsored by the Los Angeles Gay Community Center headed by Rev. Sirico, who told the P-I reporter that the Los Angeles Police Department was “out to get” the gay community. Rev. Sirico called the event a “harmless fund-raising event” staged to raise money for the Center’s venereal disease clinic. He said he had bought slaves at similar auctions and had them clean his house.
Sirico networks with various radical political leaders such as Jane Fonda and Tom Hayden, but he continues to be single-minded in promoting “gay” rights
[“Gay” activists consider the Mark VI affair to be the equivalent of the 1969 Stonewall Riots as a “resistant historical moment,” and report that it gave more respect to the leather (sadomasochist) community.]
1977Sirico, now reported to have relocated in the “gay” Libertarian mecca of San Francisco, experiences a political “conversion” to Libertarianism.
Sirico reports that an unnamed friend provides him with reading materials by non-Christian libertarian economists such as Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, and Murray Rothbard. This, he says, leads to his conversion to Libertarianism. [See Thomas J. Herron, “The Trouble with Converts,” Part I and Part II, Culture Wars, September 2005, Vol. 24, No. 9, and October 2005, Vol. 24, No.9, 10 for a basic guide to Libertarian economics.]
Sirico becomes a spokesman for Libertarians for Gay Rights. [The original Libertarian Party for Gay Rights started in the United Kingdom in 1945.] He also embraces a philosophy of Liberalism that includes freedom of thought, freedom of conscience and freedom of trade.
On September 26, 1977, the Los Angeles Times runs an article, “Libertarians Will Mount 1978 Gubernatorial Campaign,” in which Sirico is interviewed by Times political writer, Bud Lembke. Sirico lists five areas where Libertarians and “liberals” are in agreement: deregulation of drug manufacture, possession and use; decriminalization of prostitution and pornography; extending rights to homosexuals; and allowing mental patients to be free if they don’t break any law. Sirico emphasizes that Libertarians have views that some things, such as sadomasochism, are morally wrong, but they don’t believe government should censor them.
Three years prior to the Sirico interview, the Libertarian Party platform calls for the repeal of laws against voluntary homosexual and heterosexual behavior. It also endorses the right of same-sex partners to marry. It believes that adults have the right to private choice in consensual sexual activity and opposes any government attempt to dictate, prohibit, control, or encourage any private lifestyle, living arrangement or contractual relationship.
1978 Sirico receives an Associates Arts (A.A.) from Los Angeles City College. In the spring of 1978 he starts his studies at the University of Southern California.
1980 Sirico attends the University of London for a semester as an exchange student.
1982Sirico earns a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) degree in English from the University of Southern California. [In 2005, the Acton Institute biographical page on Sirico stated that his degree was in economics, but this statement was later withdrawn. Sirico hold no advance degrees in economics.]
Sirico returns to the East Coast and shortly thereafter enters the Catholic Paulist Order novitiate, and later, the Paulist House of Studies in Washington, D.C.
[The Missionary Society of St. Paul the Apostle, popularly known as the Paulist Fathers, was founded in New York in 1858 by Father Isaac Hecker, a convert to Catholicism, a former Redemptorist missionary, and the “grandfather” of contemporary Catholic “Pentecostalism.” Father Hecker preached in an “ecumenical” and “nonjudgmental” contemporary idiom. Many of his novel teachings, including the primacy of religious experiences over doctrine and discipline, and the idea that the Church must accommodate her teachings and discipline to the spirit of the new age in order to attract those outside the Faith were soundly condemned by Pope Leo XIII. Given Sirico’s background as a Pentecostal Charismatic minister, it was easy to see why he would be drawn to the Paulist Order.
By 1982, the Paulist Order, like many religious orders and societies in the United States, had been heavily colonized by homosexual clerics and seminarians. That Sirico was an apostate and self-described “gay” man and a notorious “gay” activist, did not appear to be a stumbling block to his acceptance as a candidate for Holy Orders by the Paulists, despite the fact that an absolute ban of known homosexuals from consideration as candidates to the priesthood or religious life was in effect, though not enforced, by Rome.
Under the Paulist system, a candidate for Holy Orders serves one year as a postulant, two years as a seminarian, one year of internship, two more years as a seminarian, one year as a deacon, and is then ordained – a total of seven years.
Like the Oratorians, the Paulists are not a religious order, but a society of apostolic life. As such, Paulists do not take formal vows like religious order priests such as the Jesuits or Benedictines, although some members assume the evangelical counsels by some bond (vow, oath, promise) as defined in their Constitution.
The specific apostolic work of the Paulists is the conversion of non-Catholics.]
1983 Sirico completes his postulancy, and starts his seminary scholastic training at Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, D.C.
1984 On April 23, 1984, Sirico attends the Northwest Bible Conference held at the Glen Acres Church, 11401 10th Ave. S., Seattle, Wash. He is unaware that the pastor of the church is his old nemesis, Rev. Ralph Johnson. When Pastor Johnson spots Sirico in clerical garb, he goes to his office, pulls out his file on Sirico and confronts him publicly with the information. The incident causes quite a stir. Johnson recalls that Sirico said something like he knew this would happen one day.
1985 Sirico begins serving his internship while residing at St. Paul’s College in D.C. operated by the Paulists. He serves as a chaplain to AIDS patients at the National Institutes of health.
1986 While attending classes at CUA, Sirico meets Kris Alan Mauren, a student of economics at Johns Hopkins University and the future co-founder of the Acton Institute. The two men discover they share common ground on religion and economics. [One version of their initial meeting is that they met at a Bible study. The other version is that met at a Republican/Democratic student seminar.]
1987 Sirico completes his Masters of Divinity program at CUA, and in the fall of 1987 is assigned to St. Lawrence Church and Newman Center in Minneapolis, Minn. operated by the Paulists. He is put in charge of the young adults program connected to the Newman Center.
1988 In March, Sirico produces and directs a musical drama, “The Women at theTomb”for Newman Center college students. He tells news reporters that he is developing a television program for alienated Catholics.
On May 5, 1988, Sirico gives a talk at the Newman Center titled “Theologians in Search of Liberation – A Critique,” in which he says, “It is my contention that a society where free minds and free markets are respected and protected is the kind of society that best promotes progress and human dignity.”
Sirico is raised to the deaconate.
1989 Father Sirico is ordained a priest of the Paulist Order on May 13, 1989. [It is unclear if his religious superiors requested and/or obtained the required dispensations from Rome in connection with the various canonical impediments and irregularities connected with Sirico’s past life as a notorious apostate and homosexual activist. This would be a matter for the Vatican to investigate. ]
The newly ordained Fr. Robert A. Sirico, c.s.p., is initially assigned to the Paulist Center in Minneapolis, but shortly, thereafter, is transferred to the Paulist Catholic Information Center (CIC) in Grand Rapids, Mich.
Sirico and another Paulist priest, Fr. James Fisher, present a talk at the CIC, “Who Was Ayn Rand?” Both priests are admirers of Ms. Rand, atheist and author of Atlas Shrugged and prophetess of the philosophy of Objectivism and “the virtue of selfishness,” and the “godmother” of the Libertarian Party. [A tape of the Sirico-Fisher lecture confirms that that Sirico’s return to the Catholic Church and ordination to the priesthood did not substantially alter the Libertarian ideals he acquired during the heyday of his “gay” Libertarian Party activism in San Francisco, albeit, with a Christian veneer.]
Sirico says he is experiencing a growing concern over the lack of training religious studies students receive in fundamental economic principles, leaving them poorly equipped to understand and address today’s social problems.
In his own words, in a dinner talk given on June 22, 2006 in San Francisco marking the 25th Anniversary of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation, Sirico notes: “I remember 17 or so years ago, walking through the cobblestone streets of Guatemala, as a priest speaking to Alex Chaufen and expressing to him my frustration of tendency to socialism within religious circles. The keen, riveting insight that he gave me in a few words: He said “institutionalize yourself, recreate the process that introduced you to liberty.’” So, in a real way since the very inception of the Acton Institute, we have followed that advice that Alex, then John Blundell, and of course, Leonard Liggio, who is my ‘godfather of liberty’ as it were, have helped us to promote. That’s why it is a personal honor and privilege to be with you tonight to celebrate this worthy event….Lord Acton said that ‘Liberty is the delicate fruit of mature civilizations.’ My friends, we have to protect, and promote, and create the environment in which this delicate fruit can flourish for the next generation. God Bless You!.”
For Sirico, the Atlas Economic Research Foundation proves to be a mother load of opportunity - an open door to the corridors of power within the vast Atlas global network of “market oriented” think tanks.
In 1990, Sirico is invited to join the elite Mont Pelerin Society. In May of 2001, Universidad Francisco Marroquín awards him an honorary doctorate in Social Sciences. He is invited to serve on the Civic Institute in Prague, which is affiliated with Atlas. In 2004, the Acton Institute receives a Templeton Freedom Prize for Excellence in Promoting Liberty, a program of the Atlas Foundation.
Less than one-year after his ordination to the priesthood, Sirico petitions and is granted a one-year, paid sabbatical from the Paulists in order to pursue a new non-Catholic apostolate and career in economics and politics. He considers leaving the Paulists to become a diocesan priest in the Diocese of Grand Rapids, but Bishop Robert J. Rose refuses to incardinate him. Sirico continues to perform minor duties at the Paulist Information Center.
Paulist priests as a rule do not wear their clerics. With the creation of the Acton Institute, Sirico switches from suit and tie to black clerics with a Roman collar. He begins the process of redefining and remarketing his image.
1990Father Sirico joins with Kris Alan Mauren who is working for the Westin Hotels in Hawaii to co-found the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty in Grand Rapids with a seed grant of $80,000 from an unnamed Chicago philanthropist. Sirico assumes the title of President and Mauren, the title of Executive Director and they put themselves on the Acton payroll. Ten years after the founding of the Acton, its annual budget has risen to $3,692,061 and both Sirico and Mauren are drawing salaries in excess of $100,000.
Among the foundations to contribute to the early work of Acton is the pro-abortion Scaife Family Foundations. In 1991, Acton receives $100,000 from the Sarah Scaife Foundation. Between 1995 and 1999, the Scaifes would donate $465,000 to Acton.
Another important early contributor includes the Charles G. Koch Charitable Foundation founded by the Libertarian millionaire Charles G. Koch. In 1991, Acton received a grant of $10,000, and between 1993 and 2004, it received an additional $86,000 from the Koch Foundation.
The list of grantees to Acton and its Board of Trustees and Advisory Board begins to read like a Who’s Who of Industrial, Free Market, Privatization, Libertarian funding.
The Acton Institute bills itself as “one of the world’s leading think tanks and educational centers” designed to “promote a free and virtuous society, and economic liberty. Although the Acton Institute is not Catholic, the main target of evangelization to the free market gospel and Calvinist world-view of prosperity and wealth are Catholic clerics and religious, Catholic seminarians, and Catholic laymen particularly high school and college students. While no priests serve on Acton’s Board of Directors, there are priests serving on its Advisory Board including Rev. John Michael Beers, Pontifical College Josephinum, Joseph Ganssle, OFM, Marian Associates, Rev. James Sadowsky, SJ, Fordham University and Rev. James V. Schall, SJ, Georgetown University.
Like most “think tanks” it is quickly becoming a vehicle for influencing the development of public policy and the political deliberations of political parties, especially the Republican Party, and state and national government. [For background information on the activities of the Acton Institute from 1990-2005 see http://www.acton.org/pdf/Acton15Year.pdf. For updated information see www.acton.org.]
1991Paulists assign Sirico to various support groups hosted by the Catholic Center including the Grand Rapids Area Grief Resource Committee, and a support group for victims of abuse, leaving Sirico free to work at Acton and travel and lecture worldwide.
On May 1, 1991, Pope John paul II issues Centesimus Annus - The Hundredth Year, an Encyclical Letter on the Hundredth Anniversary of Pope Leo XIII’s great Encyclical on capital and labour, Rerum Novarum, promulgated on May 15, 1891.
1992 While on a visit to Rome, Sirico meets Archbishop Francois X. Nguyen Van Thuan, the exiled former Archbishop of Saigon and President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. Pope John Paul II asks the archbishop to coordinate efforts for the compilation of a comprehensive study on Catholic social teaching. Archbishop Van Thuan asks Maciej Zieba, O.P., a Polish Dominican and Father Sirico and the Acton Institute for assistance with the project that is begun in 1999-2000. The Rome project opens new doors to various Vatican dicasteries and contacts for Sirico and the Acton Institute.
1993 On June 7, 1993, Insight on the News (Vol. 9, No. 23) features an article on Christian Libertarians by Richard Miniter titled “‘Religion stands up to Big Brother’ - Christian Libertarians oppose pornography and drug abuse and government intervention to prevent their pervasiveness; includes analysis of the work of Reverend Robert Sirico and the Action Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty.”
Miniter notes that Libertarianism does not only apply to field of economics and politics, but to social and moral issues as well including such as the legalization of drugs.
As an example he cites the views of Rev. Robert Sirico on drug use. He notes that Sirico “formed the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty partly to push for drug policies that would make inner-city streets safe again. But Sirico’s approach is a little unorthodox: He thinks drugs ought to be legalized.”
“If God made the heavens and the Earth by his mere word, and created man and woman free to either damn themselves or find redemption,” asks Sirico, a Roman Catholic priest in Grand Rapids, Mich., “then where does the government get off” regulating nonviolent behavior such as drug use? Though he doesn't condone drug use, Sirico thinks the government shouldn’t regulate behavior that harms only consenting adults, says Mitiner.
Mitiner identifies Sirico as a Christian Libertarian who believes that the role of government is to safeguard life, liberty and property, enforce contracts and punish violent criminals, not legislate or teach morality. This is essentially the same views he espoused in 1977 as head of Libertarians for Gay Rights. It is not a Catholic view.
The Paulist Catholic Center hosts an “An Evening Honoring the Grief of Victims and Survivors of Abuse.” Sirico shares the moderator role with Rev. James Chelich, pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Grand Rapids and a co-founder of the Grand Rapids Chapter of Courage with Father Sirico. In the September 18, 1993 issue of Grand Rapids Press, Sirico and Chelich describe part of the healing process – Victims name their pain on note cards, place these collective pains in a pile and set them on fire... priest throws incense on the flames… the fire is smothered with sand and candles are planted in the ashes – actions more New Age than Catholic.
1994-1995 At the very time that the Acton Institute is experiencing phenomenal financial and administrative growth, Sirico finds himself under increased pressure from his Paulist superiors to quit or at least scale down his secular job and assume more of his priestly duties.
1996 Sirico takes a leave of absence from the Paulists and moves from the Diocese of Grand Rapids to the notoriously “gay-friendly” Diocese of Lansing, but is not incardinated either by Bishop Kenneth Povish, the outgoing Bishop of Lansing, or his successor, Bishop Carl Frederick Mengeling who takes office on January 25, 1996. It is unclear which bishop gave his approval for Sirico to move into the Diocese of Lansing, but we do know that Msgr. James A. Murray who had served as Chancellor of the diocese from 1964 to 1997 arranges for Sirico to be assigned to a rural parish staffed by an elderly priest-friend of Msgr. Murray. Without formal assigned duties Sirico can continue to commute to the Acton Institute. He is essentially a free agent.
[Bishop Kenneth Povish of Lansing was a long-time supporter of New Ways Ministry, a rabid pro-homosexual organization. As Bishop Emeritus, he defended Bishop Keith J. Symons of the Diocese of Palm Beach after Symons was forced to resign his office in 1998 following the revelation that he had sexually molested at least five teenage boys. The disgraced Symons, still a bishop in good standing, returned to his native Michigan where he took up temporary residence in a convent in DeWitt, near Lansing. Within a year, Bishop Symons was back in action thanks to Bishop Mengeling who permitted the criminal pederast to present a daylong program of prayer and meditation on the Bless Virgin Mary at the St. Francis Retreat Center in DeWitt.]
As President of the Acton Institute, Sirico assists the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace in Rome in the staging of a conference to celebrate the fifth anniversary of Centesimus Annus.
1997 As part of a lecture tour for the Acton Institute, Sirico visits Victoria University for the Department of Religious Studies in New Zealand. His lecture is titled “Is Christianity Compatible With Global Capitalism.” Chair of the department, Paul Morris later complained that Sirico did not speak on agreed upon subject, and subsequent dialogue with audience did not materialize.
Sirico is interviewed by reporter Charles Honey of the Grand Rapids Press for a March 29 1997 article on Rev. Martin Kurylowicz, 47, who has come “out” to his parishioners at Sparta Holy Family Catholic Church following his return from a pro-homosexual conference held by New Ways Ministry. Kurylowicz tells the congregation that he is a “celibate homosexual.” He tells Honey that Bishop Robert Rose is “very supportive.”
Sirico tells Honey that he thinks Kurylowicz ‘s actions are “irresponsible,” and that divulgence can “unnecessarily offend” and “scandalize” parishioners. Sirico says that the priest should discuss his sexual orientation with a counselor or close friend, not with his congregation.
Three-months later, Kurylowicz leaves Holy Family to study at the University of Michigan. On May 27, 2006, Bishop Walter Hurley, Rose’s successor, announces that he is removing Kurylowicz’s diocesan facilities to publicly exercise his priestly ministry.
On November 18, Chancellor Murray is informed that Pope John Paul II has appointed him Bishop of Kalamazoo, Mich. Murray invites Sirico to come to the Kalamazoo Diocese with him. According to Murray, this move will permit Sirico to fulfill his hope of “establishing a religious community of men committed to living the ideals of prayer, service and, of course, chaste celibacy.”
1998 On January 27, 1998, Bishop Murray officially takes over the Diocese of
Kalamazoo. The diocese purchases a large home, a former sorority house at 219 Woodward Ave. in downtown Kalamazoo, to house Sirico and his new community. [Sirico has since purchased the home and owns it outright].
On November 4, 1998, Bishop Murray announces that he is establishing St. Philip Neri House as a pia domus – the first step in becoming an Oratory of St. Philip Neri and a member of the worldwide Confederation of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri. The new religious community will be formed in the spirit of John Henry Cardinal Newman, says Murray. He also announces that he has appointed Father Robert A. Sirico as the superior of the new Oratory in formation.
[The Oratorians, like the Paulists are not a religious order. They are a society of apostolic Life. The Oratory is a confederation with no central authority. Secular (diocesan) priests and lay brothers live together in community bound together by no formal vows but only by the bond of charity in keeping with the vision of Saint Philip Neri who founded the first Oratory in Rome in 1575. Each oratory is autonomous – rising and falling on its own merit or lack thereof. A life of prayer, preaching and the sacraments and a charism of friendship, discipleship, and stability mark the well-ordered oratory.Each oratory or house, technically speaking, is established by the pope himself and the Holy See and has direct appeal to the Holy See in serious matters. The Congregation for Sacred Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life oversee the members of the Confederation as well as oratories in formation like the St. Philip Neri House in Kalamazoo.
As noted in the Open Letter to Cardinal Rodé, because of its loose structure with a superior being elected by members, or, in the case of Sirico, by the local bishop, the Oratorians were among the first religious communities to be heavily colonized by the Homosexual Collective. Not surprisingly, especially in England and the United States, the Oratorians have suffered their share of pederasty and homosexual scandals.]
1999 Bishop Murray incardinates Father Sirico as a priest of the Kalamazoo Diocese,
thus formally severing all ties to the Paulist Order.
The religious community of St. Philip Neri House is promoted as a community that offers the better of two worlds – the secular priesthood and the religious life. Members will have the responsibility of building an oratory from the ground up.
St. Philip Neri House opens its doors to seminarians from Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit. Weekends of discernment are planned to attract seminarians to the new oratory. [Sacred Heart Seminary has had a pervasive homosexual problem dating back at least to the mid-1940s. Auxiliary Bishop of Detroit Thomas J. Gumbleton claims he was sexually molested at Sacred heart Seminary by a priest during his freshman or sophomore year in the mid-1940s. A former professor at the seminary in the early 1970s reported that a student had confided in him that he had been sexually seduced by a faculty-member priest. When other similar cases were brought to the attention of the professor, he arranged a meeting with the Detroit Archdiocesan Delegate for Clergy who told the professor that he did not have to worry and the matter (of pederasty and homosexuality) was in good hands. The 2002 issue of New Oxford Review contained a letter from a former seminarian at Sacred Heart Seminary who was dismissed for being too conservative. He noted that some of the seminarians he knew never prayed and had not been to confession for months, but they played the “game” and went on to be ordained whereas he was sent away.]
In April 1999, Sirico is awarded an honorary doctorate in Christian Ethics from Franciscan University of Steubenville.
In October 1999, Sirico, as president of the Acton Institute, gathers more than two dozen theologians, economists, and environmental experts at a conference center in West Cornwall, Connecticut, to discuss what they saw as the alarming direction of religious environmentalism. Out of that meeting came the Cornwall Declaration on Environmental Stewardship.
As Superior of St. Philip Neri House, Sirico announces that the Traditional Mass will not be part the community’s practice. However, on December 15, Bishop Murray announces he will permit the Traditional Latin Mass to be held at St. Philip Neri House on a trial basis from January to June 2000. He appoints his Judicial Vicar, Rev. Leonard Bogdan, to say one weeknight Mass on a day that fits into Bogdan’s schedule. One Traditional Mass, filled to overflowing, is held at St. Philip Neri House and then the Mass is moved to the Cathedral of St. Augustine. The revelation that Bogdan is an accused sexual predator is not made public until 2006.
[In late March 2006, when the Archdiocese of Chicago released the names of living priests who were the subject of substantiated accusations of sexual abuse, Bogdan’s name was on the list. As it turned out, Bogdan, ordained for the Archdiocese of Chicago on May 3, 1960, was one of Joseph Cardinal Bernardin’s many clerical hideaways. The first sex abuse of a minor allegation against Bogdan was made in April 1983, but it was withdrawn in writing in June 1986. The following year, Bernardin had Bogdan squirreled away in the Diocese of Kalamazoo. The then, Bishop Paul Donovan, accepted Bogdan into the diocese and gave him the position of Adjutant Judicial Vicar, but the priest was not incardinated into the Kalamazoo Diocese until 1995. In June 2000, Bogdan retired from active ministry in the Diocese of Kalamazoo and later retired to Sun City Center, Ariz. In the summer of 2001, the original allegation against Bogdan was reinstated in the Archdiocese of Chicago, this time with the determination that “there is reasonable cause to suspect that sexual misconduct with a minor occurred.” Bishop Murray suspended Bogdan’s faculties to assist in priestly ministry in March 2002.]
2000 In November 2000, the Acton Institute acted as joint convener of a conference on the theme of “Globalization, the Economy, and the Family,” with the Pontifical Council for the Family.
2001 In January 2001, Sirico acts as a primary facilitator for a retreat conference of a group of the Mexican episcopate, including Cardinal Juan Sandoval Iñiguez..
In May, Sirico receives an honorary doctorate in Social Sciences from Universidad Francisco Marroquín in Guatemala. Founded in 1971, the avowed mission of the secular university is “to teach and disseminate the ethical, legal and economic principles of a society of free and responsible persons.”
2002 On March 26, 2002, Pastor Ralph Johnson, Sirico’s old nemesis at Glen Acres Church of Christ in Seattle, receives a query from a reporter from Maryland concerning the Father Robert A. Sirico’s homosexual background. The reporter questions Johnson on Sirico’s early involvement with young men, possibly minors. Johnson sends the reporter a copy of his file on Sirico including information on the House of Joshua where Sirico resided after his discharge from the Navy.
2003 On February 4, Sirico delivers a Business Ethics Lecture at the Joseph A. Butt, S.J., College of Business Administration of Loyola University, New Orleans.
On May 1, as President of the Acton Institute, Father Sirico joins other religious and political leaders for the National Day of Prayer held on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., calling for all Americans to joining together for a spiritual renewal in America.
December 24, the Acton Institute posts online one of Sirico’s secular sermons titled “The Virtue of Tolerance.” According to Sirico, tolerance is a virtue “because it is the underlying principle of social peace.” Sirico quotes Fr. John Courtney Murray, architect of the Second Vatican Council’s document on religious liberty, who held the position that the separation of church and state “is not an article of faith; it is an article of peace.”
2004 Winter-SpringThe Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace releases the long-awaited Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church which contains 75 documents of the Magisterium on social doctrine beginning with the writings of St. Clement of Rome, St. Augustine, and St. Thomas Aquinas and concluding with the popes of the 20th century including Pope Leo XIII and Pope John Paul II. [Compendium online at: http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/just peace/documents/rc_pc_justpeace_doc_20060526_compendio-dott-soc_en.html].
Father Sirico, co-editor of the publication is interviewed by Zenit News [an organ of the Legionaries of Christ] on April 30, 2004 on the content and significance of the compendium. Sirico praises Pope John Paul II for his anthropology and commitment to personalism, which he says deepens the Catholic understanding of the social question
Meanwhile, back in Seattle, Pastor Johnson receives another communication concerning Sirico, this time from Kalamazoo, informing him (Johnson) that Sirico has been made the superior of St. Philip Neri House, a religious community of young men. Motivated out of concern for the welfare of young men put in Sirico’s path, on November 24, 2004, Johnson sends Bishop Murray, Ordinary of the Diocese of Kalamazoo, background materials on Sirico.
Pastor Johnson receives a response to his warning about Sirico from Bishop Murray in the form of a letter dated December 7, 2004.
Bishop Murray thanks Pastor Johnson for his concern about any embarrassment Robert Sirico may cause to the Church and his desire to protect the Church from scandal.
Murray explains that he first met Robert Sirico in 1996 when Sirico voluntarily took a leave of absence from the Paulists with their blessings and came to the Diocese of Lansing. He said he arranged to have Sirico live in a rural rectory under the “supervision” of an old priest-friend where Sirico “lived a personal life of prayer and service appropriate to a Catholic priest.” [In fact, Sirico came to Lansing because the Paulists were adamant about Sirico leaving his 40-hour-job at the Acton Institute. Only one year after his ordination, Sirico had abandoned his religious vocation for that of a businessman. If Sirico wanted to live a priestly life, he would have stayed with the Paulists in Grand Rapids and quit Acton. Instead he moved out of the Paulist Order’s reach and continued to commute to Acton in Grand Rapids, well out of the “supervision” of Murray’s aged priest associate.]
Murray told Pastor Johnson that in 1998, when he was appointed Bishop of Kalamazoo, he asked Sirico to come to Kalamazoo and “pursue his hope of establishing a religious community of men committed to living the ideals of prayer, service and of course, chaste celibacy.” [Sirico, by his actions, had already demonstrated that he had rejected the priestly life in favor of the life of a businessman and entrepreneur. Given this fact, and the fact of his past record as a sodomite and “gay” leader, why would any bishop set him up with his own religious community and place him in a position of authority with ready access to young men seeking discernment to the priesthood?]
Murray writes that Sirico told him of his involvement “for about 31/2 years in various aspects of the gay movement,” and that Sirico had “repudiated the gay life-style and returned to his Catholic roots” in 1976. [It appears that Sirico did not tell Murray the full truth about his past because as late as 1977, Sirico was still going strong as head of Libertarians for Gay Rights. Further “various aspects” does not begin to indicate the degree of involvement of Sirico in the Seattle, Los Angeles, and San Francisco “gay” scene. Sirico was seen as the new Moses leading his flock homosexuals out of bondage and into a new land of religious and political freedom. Homosexual archivists like Gary Atkins consider him a pivotal figure in the history of the “gay” civil rights movement, and they are correct. His entrepreneurial genius united, organized, and gave purpose to the fledging “gay” Seattle community at a time when they were confused, divided, and subjected to a well-organized vice-squad. He pioneered legal gay marriages, challenged vice laws, organized and led protests and marches, preached in churches and on the radio, and built a gay infrastructure that exists for the most part to this day. His public victories in Seattle include the founding of the first “gay” church, the creation of a new “gay” theology, and a new political paradigm that shifted the debate on homosexuality from the morality of homosexual acts to the civil rights of gays and the repeal of laws against sodomy and hustling, and the obtaining of marriage licenses for and performing homosexual marriages, including his own anticipated “marriage.”]
Murray explanation of Sirico’s arrest is passed off as a mistake due to “journalistic confusion.” [In fact, Sirico was incarcerated by the Seattle police in October 1973 when he interfered in the arrest proceedings of two young homosexuals outside a local bar at 2 o’clock in the morning. . Further, the Mark IV incident of April 10, 1976, was accurately reported by the Seattle P-I.]
Murray concludes with his assurance to Pastor Johnson that Sirico has repented of his past sins and reformed his life as evidenced by “his pastoral work and the integrity of his personal life.”
2005Bishop Murray appoints Father Sirico, Parochial Vicar of St. Mary Church in Kalamazoo.
2006Bishop Murray appoints Father Sirico the pastor of St. Mary Church. Rev. Mark J. Vyveman, C.S., takes over the position of Parochial Vicar. The parish has one Saturday Mass, one Sunday Mass and only 2 weekday Masses.
The Acton Institute opens up its Rome office.
2007 St. Philip Neri House now has four residents including three priests – enough to erect an oratory and be incorporated into the Confederation of the Oratory of St. Philip Neri. The residents are Father Sirico, superior, Father David Grondz, Father James Richardson, and Brother Basil, an associate of Father Grondz from the latter’s Benedictine days.
Both Father Grondz and Father Richardson were ordained by Bishop James A. Murray for the Diocese of Kalamazoo on May 13, 2006 at the Cathedral of St. Augustine. In addition to their assignment at St. Philip Neri House, both are also engaged in pastoral work for the diocese.
Of these, Father David Grondz has had the longest and most intimate relationship with
Sirico. Grondz began his vocational journey with the Benedictine Order, but left. He then went to Detroit’s Sacred Heart Seminary, but again left, this time under a cloud of accusations of moral turpitude. [In its investigation of Father Sirico and St. Philip Neri House, the Congregation Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life will need to investigate the seminary records of all the residents of the religious community.] Sirico then arranged for Grondz to attend the North American College in Rome. Grondz was ordained in 2006 by Bishop Murray.
February 7, 2007 Randy Engel sends Open Letter ““On the Suppression of St. Philip Neri House, Kalamazoo, Michigan”to Franc Cardinal Rodé, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in Rome.
Electronic copies of the Open Letter are sent to 72 Oratorian Houses world-wide.
Feb. 14 The Rome office of the Oratorian Confederation releases a formal statement that houses in formation although recognized by the Ordinary of a Diocese are not official oratories or members of the Confederation. Therefore, they come under the jurisdiction of the Sacred Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life.
April 22 Bishop Murray announces that he has submitted his resignation to Rome as he will reach the age of retirement, 75, on July 5, 2007.
The Question of Conversion
It is difficult to talk about the issue of “conversion” in the case of Father Robert Sirico because he has had so many of them.
Sirico has publicly discussed his experience of the baptism of the Holy Spirit and later, the gift of tongues, at the age of 7 seven and 11. He has stated that he knew he was homosexual at age 13, although it is unlikely that he acted out until his late teens. At the age of 19 he converted to Pentecostalism. At the age of 22 he converted to the “gay” Metropolitan Community Church. At the age of 25 he politically and morally converted to Libertarianism.”
Sometime in his late twenties or early 30s, Sirico says he underwent another conversion and re-discovered his Catholic roots.
In one version of his conversion story, Father Sirico says that he encountered Courage and became friends with Father John Harvey, the founder of Courage, and that this reignited his interest in the priesthood. He says that Fr. Harvey encouraged his vocation and supported him in his decision to enter the seminary. [That Father Harvey would have encouraged an inveterate homosexual with Sirico’s background to enter the priesthood is highly unlikely as Harvey is on record as opposing the entrance of known “gay” activist into the priesthood.]
Another version is given by Sirico in an interview with Zenit on April 19, 2005. Sirico says that it was the authenticity of the life of Pope John Paul II that drew him back to the Church. He said he began to undergo a deep interior conversion, went to confession and his vocation of becoming a priest, a vocation he sensed as a child, was reborn
Sirico’s entrance into the Paulist Order in 1982 raises other serious issues.
There is the question of why Sirico would choose a “gay friendly” order like the Paulists, thus exposing himself to further homosexual temptations.
There is the question of what the Paulists knew or did not know about Sirico’s homosexual history including his plans to “marry” another man. This question is closely connected to the validity of his ordination in 1989, a matter Rome needs to examine very carefully.
The sincerity of Sirico’s call to a religious vocation is drawn into question, when less than a year after his ordination, Sirico establishes the Acton Institute and adopts a new persona of business man and entrepreneur. Sirico had taken a vow of obedience to his Paulist superiors,
but this did not hold him back from pursuing a new career at the expense of his religious vocation.
Sirico’s appointment as the superior of a religious community, St. Philip Neri House in the Diocese of Kalamazoo in 1998, raises additional red flags.
That Bishop Murray would appoint a priest with Sirico’s homosexual background to oversee a house where young men come for spiritual direction is the height of insanity. The issue of homosexuality aside, what religious qualifications does Sirico possess that make him a candidate for the superior of a religious community. Certainly not the virtue of obedience to his superiors as clearly demonstrated by his track-record with the Paulist Order. Piety and Devotion to Holy Mother Church? One would asphyxiate himself waiting to hear a deeply spiritual Catholic sermon from his lips. Alas, the poor soul does not even know how to say the Rosary.
In her Open Letter of February 7, 2007, to Franc Cardinal Rodé, Prefect of the Sacred Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Randy Engel called upon the Congregation which is charged with the oversight of oratories in formation to establish an independent board of inquiry to investigate Father Sirico and St. Philip Neri House, with the goal of suppressing St. Philip Neri House and removing Father Sirico as its superior. This is the ultimate purpose of posting The Sirico Brief.
If you agree with this line of action please send a letter of support to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in Rome. If you have already sent a letter of concern to the Congregation, please send a follow-up note. [See the Open Letter above for addresses and other contact information.]
Alto quien vive!!
This text was prepared by Randy Engel, author of The Rite of Sodomy – Homosexuality and the Roman Catholic Church. [See www.newengelpublishing.com or call 724 327 7379 for ordering information.]
Engel would like to extend her appreciation to Dr. Vida Barr who assisted in the retrieval of important articles and documents connected with the Sirico investigation.
Also, Engel would like to acknowledge the ground-breaking work of Catholic writer Thomas J. Herron, whose insightful article on Father Sirico and the Acton Institute, “Father Sirico’s Perversions: The Seduction of Catholic Economics and The Economics of Catholic Seduction,” appears in the May 2007 issue of Culture Wars magazine (www.culturewars.com) edited by E. Michael Jones.