Louie Verrecchio
EXPOSÉ: Baltimore in LEAD in parish gay activism
By Louie Verrecchio
December 10, 2015

According to the infamous list of "gay friendly parishes" published by New Ways Ministry (NWM) – the Consumer Reports of "homo-catholicism" – the Archdiocese of Baltimore is comfortably positioned in the LEAD when it comes to parish-based gay activism in the Mid-Atlantic region, with LEAD being an acronym for "LGBT Educating and Affirming Diversity."

I'll explain more about LEAD in a moment.

For now, let's take a look at how the Archdiocese of Baltimore, my home diocese, stacks up against area competition.

To the south, the Archdiocese of Washington, led for nearly a decade by Donald Cardinal Wuerl (who is no slouch when it comes to coddling gay militants), is able to boast of just three parishes on the NWM "gay friendly" list.

That's just 2.14% of its parishes overall, but respectable nonetheless given that the national average is roughly 1.3%.

To the north, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia weighs in with just four parishes on the NWM list; that's a measly 1.82% of its total.

The Archdiocese of Baltimore, by contrast, is practically a gay pilgrimage destination; ringing the bell at no less than seven NWM "gay friendly" parishes. That's a whopping 4.86% of its total; more than 3.5 times the national average!

Consider, if you will, precisely what this means.

The hallmarks of a "gay friendly" parish, as NWM defines it, are not to be confused with those that contribute to authentic Christian friendship; i.e., that which is ordered toward encouraging chastity, holiness and a fully integrated Catholic life.

The NWM model of "gay friendly" is based upon such things as "participation in gay community events, spirituality groups, and support programs;" with each one of these ordered toward affirming the deviant sexual behaviors by which militant gays and lesbians choose to identify themselves. It also involves nurturing false hope for a day when the "Institutional Church" will not only acknowledge the beauty of their disordered unions, but will anoint them in a bond of sacramental marriage.

Now, imagine; this describes nearly one in every 20 parishes in the Archdiocese of Baltimore – and that only includes those on the NWM list, which by their own admission is less-than-exhaustive!

This means that if one were to visit ten randomly chosen parishes in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, at minimum the odds are 50/50 of walking through the doorway of at least one pseudo-catholic community wherein those acting upon their homosexual inclinations are openly befriended and accompanied all the way to Hell.

Heck, if these same odds applied to the number of area restaurants on the James Beard Award Winners list, Baltimore would be known as the culinary capital of the world!

As it is, we'll just have to settle for the dubious distinction of being at the forefront of parish-based "catholic" homo-activism. If you think this happened merely by accident; you're mistaken. It's a distinction that is well and deliberately earned.

How so?

Through vision, determination, and most importantly, leadership.


The LGBT cause has deep roots in the Archdiocese of Baltimore dating at least as far back as the 1970's when Sr. Jeannine Gramick (who moved to the area from Philadelphia in 1960) started a chapter of Dignity USA (a militant pro-homosexual group in Catholic clothing) in Baltimore.

In 1977, Gramick co-founded New Ways Ministry with Fr. Robert Nugent (died January 1, 2014), who in that same year also moved to the area from Philadelphia upon joining the Society of the Divine Savior (the Salvatorians) in New Carrollton, MD.

According to Randy Engel, one of the nation's top investigative reporters and the author of The Rite of Sodomy – Homosexuality and the Roman Catholic Church, the most in-depth treatment of the topic ever written, their choice of location for NWM was visionary indeed.

In a recent conversation, she told me:

The creators of New Ways Ministry were very politically astute when they established their headquarters just a hop, skip, and a jump from the Capitol where they had almost unlimited access not only to the members of the U.S. House and Senate, but also to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops where they were welcome with open arms, and to major 'Catholic' seminaries and universities and religious houses of formation.

The "catholic" homosexual movement's roots run more deeply into this area still; in fact, into the very veins of local parish life.

As Michael Rose reported in his book Goodbye, Good Men, the Archdiocese of Baltimore was also well known at the time for the gay subculture that permeated (and dominated) St. Mary's Seminary, otherwise known, thanks to its pro-homosexual reputation, as the "Pink Palace."

So, now that God only knows how many not so good men have entered the priesthood via St. Mary's, how is the current Archdiocesan brain trust not only preserving, but building upon the legacy of visionary gay activists like Jeannine Gramick and Robert Nugent?


Meet Fr. Joseph Muth, "Pink Palace" class of 1974.


The name may be familiar to some. I first called attention to Fr. Muth in this space in October of last year when the Catholic Review – the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Baltimore – published a puff piece article on an event hosted at the parish that Fr. Muth serves as pastor, St. Matthew.

To recap briefly, on October 12, 2014 (the date specifically chosen to coincide with what militant homosexual activists have dubbed "National Coming Out Day") St. Matthew held a panel discussion for dissenters from Church teaching to share "how coming out as gay affected their relationship with family members and the Catholic Church."

According to the Review:

All three of the gay panelists were civilly married to same-sex partners. Several explicitly rejected Catholic teaching that marriage is reserved for a one-man-one-woman relationship, and that all non-married Catholics, including those who are gay, are "called" to celibacy.

Long story short, the article – just like the panel discussion itself – was nothing less than a platform for active homosexuals who reject Church teaching; casting the cause of the dissenters in an unmistakably sympathetic light while providing exactly no meaningful defense of the truth.

Quoted in the article was Fr. Muth, who even went so far as to call into question the Church's immutable doctrine concerning the intrinsically disordered nature of homosexual acts and the impossibility of same-sex marriage saying, "The church teaching may or may not change at some point down the road..."

[IMAGE] To make matters worse, the print edition of the article featured a reprehensible photograph of a crucifix being held aloft in rainbow colored hands (right); a blatant mockery of Christendom's most sacred icon that clearly aims to turn the image of Our Blessed Lord on the Cross into a symbol for "LGBT" activism.

As the gay activists most certainly know, symbolism of this nature can be a very powerful tool for furthering their agenda. Such imagery, in other words, can be a very effective tool for communicating ideas; in the present case, ideas that are clearly misleading and even dangerous.

In the weeks that followed, I (and many other area Catholics) wrote to Archbishop William E. Lori to respectfully ask that he issue a firm, unambiguous, and equally public statement condemning these terrible affronts to Our Blessed Lord, and to offer much needed correction as to the true nature of Catholic teaching in the matter.

Reasonable though such requests truly were, absolutely nothing was forthcoming.

Was this surprising?

Not entirely.


Red flags (if not rainbow flags) were raised concerning Archbishop Lori's sympathies with respect to gay activism shortly after his installation in May 2012.

In the fall of that year, a video went viral showing the longtime Pastor of St. Vincent de Paul parish in Baltimore (yet another proud NWM "gay friendly" designee), Fr. Richard Lawrence, openly preaching at Mass in support of "same-sex marriage," and this just as Maryland voters were about to cast their ballots in a statewide "gay marriage" initiative. (That initiative, incidentally, passed with majority "catholic" support.)

In the video, Fr. Lawrence stated:

It seems to me that even if we do not believe that gay marriage ever could or should be allowed in the church, we could live with a provision that allows civil marriage of gay and lesbian couples. Personally, however, I would go farther than that. I personally believe that this is a possible line of future development in theology and perhaps eventually even in church teaching. And if this is even a possibility, could we not judge that civil marriage for gay and lesbian couples ought to be allowed by the state at this time?

Once again, Catholics from around the diocese wrote to Archbishop Lori pleading for a firm and equally public response in defense of Church teaching.

So, how did the Archbishop respond?

By having his Communications Director (who you will "meet" in a moment) discretely point those who had voiced their concerns to a written statement buried on the archdiocesan website in the form of a letter generically entitled, "The Teaching Role of Priests."

In this missive, supposedly written in response to Fr. Lawrence and the scandal he had caused, Archbishop Lori mentions neither one directly even once. The content of the letter was, shall we say, perplexing at best.

In it, Archbishop Lori speaks mainly of himself; making note of the promise that he made at his own ordination to subordinate his personal views to the teachings of the Catholic Church when preaching. He then says, "It is in the light of this responsibility that I have been teaching about marriage" as between one man and one woman.

It struck me then, and even more so now, that Archbishop Lori seemed to be suggesting to his priests, "Look, when I preach I set aside my personal views on the homosexuality issue aside; you should too."

Is that a fair observation?

I'll leave it to readers to decide. Before doing so, however, it may be helpful to consider more recent developments.

St. Matthew parish and its indefatigable militant pro-homosexual pastor, Fr. Joseph Muth, who also happens to be a former Board member of New Ways Ministry and one the organization's current retreat leaders, have recently become the focus of national media attention courtesy of Newsweek and National Catholic Reporter.

Highlighted by both publications is the aforementioned LEAD, St. Matthew parish's program designed to confirm active homosexuals in their deviancy, as well as in their rejection of Church teaching with respect to sexual morality and marriage.

According to the NWM website, one of the organization's current Board members, Ryan Sattler, a St. Matthew's parishioner, was instrumental in establishing the "LGBT Educating and Affirming Diversity" program.

In addition to its print coverage, Newsweek produced several videos (available via the linked article above) showcasing the gay revolution at St. Matthews in action. In one such report, Fr. Muth proclaims:

I don't think the institutional Church realizes how hurtful they are to homosexual people when they come across so harshly on that issue.

Within this one sentence lies two key themes that permeate the LEAD program.

First, there is the false dichotomy between the "Institutional Church" and the local church; with the former being painted as out of touch, while the latter is treated as the uniquely insightful arbiter of the Spirit's promptings with respect to matters of sexual morality.

As one LEAD member stated (as the Newsweek video shows him and his gay partner reading to their adopted child), "The Church at the ground level is very different than like [sic] the Institutional Church."

And where did he ever get that idea?

From a Catholic parish that is being run by an openly militant homosexual activist in a Roman collar with the knowledge (and apparent blessing) of the local Ordinary, that's where.

Secondly, is the proposition that there is such a thing as "homosexual people" when in truth there are simply people; some of whom have, and act upon, a disordered attraction toward persons of the same sex.

This bit of subterfuge has long been a useful tool of gay activists.

In the present case, however, it is especially harmful in that it deliberately diverts attention away from the fact that Catholic moral teaching on homosexuality, as on all other matters, is truly centered on behavior, and not, precisely speaking, on groups of individuals; much less groups of oppressed individuals.

The homosexual movement at large labors to market itself as a civil rights initiative, and LEAD, under the guidance of Fr. Muth, and with the approval of Archbishop William E. Lori (tacit or otherwise), is pleased to join in the effort.

For each of the past three years, St. Matthew's has been a high profile participant in the Baltimore Gay Pride Parade.

In 2013, More Light Presbyterians, a local LGBT activist group, reported on St. Matthew's inaugural showing at the event:

When the Gay Pride parade kicked off in Baltimore on June 15, a number of faith communities were present – and Presbyterians were an important part of the event ... But the largest number came from St. Matthews Roman Catholic church – the real instigator of the effort ... Their goal was to have 100 walkers – I think the final number was 115! Their enthusiasm was contagious as we planned the event. Their LEAD ministries – their program to welcome LGBTQ's – is an important part of the life at St. Matthews – and fits well with Faith's participation in MORE LIGHT Presbyterians.

This year, 2015, marked the 40th anniversary of the Baltimore Gay Pride Parade; it also marks the 25th anniversary of Fr. Muth's pastorship at St. Matthew.

So, why did Fr. Muth and St. Matthew parish wait so long to participate in this event that is so clearly near and dear to their collective heart?

A little history might help clarify matters.

According to information posted on the LEAD website, in early 2012, Fr. Muth "met with Archbishop Edwin O'Brien about his membership on the Board of NWM." As a result of that meeting, Fr. Muth resigned from his position on the NWM Board.

Later that same year, Cardinal O'Brien was made Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, and His Excellency William E. Lori was installed as the new Archbishop of Baltimore.

Apparently sensing a sea change, Fr. Muth took the initiative and requested a meeting with the new Ordinary; a meeting that took place, according to the LEAD website, in the early part of 2013:

As we did prior to his meeting with Archbishop O'Brien, we gathered to pray with and anoint Father Joe prior to his meeting with Archbishop Lori. We were all very anxious and concerned about the meeting based on reports about the new Archbishop's reputation and his stance on same-sex marriage.

The encounter proved to be nothing that we were anticipating. The Archbishop's manner was pleasant, open, and accepting of the LGBT ministry at St Matthew. We held a Prayer of Thanksgiving with Father Joe and heard from him the details of the meeting.

It was following that meeting that Fr. Muth and his merry band of homosexual activists felt comfortable organizing, and in a most open manner, for participation in the Baltimore Gay Pride Parade.

In fact, they did so with such "enthusiasm" that even the Presbyterians had to concede that "the largest number [of participants from area faith communities] came from St. Matthews Roman Catholic church – the real instigator of the effort."

Fast forward to today...

Remember that sacrilegious image of the crucifix held aloft in rainbow colored hands; the one directly attached to Archbishop Lori's name via his official newspaper and disseminated throughout the entire Archdiocese of Baltimore and beyond?

Fr. Muth does.

According to National Catholic Reporter:

The cooperation with the archdiocese – including a feature story illustrated by a rainbow flag draped over a cross in the Catholic Review, the archdiocesan newspaper – has prevented LEAD from being cast aside and marginalized, said Muth, who has extensive experience in ministry to gays and their families, including leading New Ways Ministry retreats for the past five years.

As I said, symbolism of this nature can be a very powerful tool for furthering the parish-based gay agenda, and Fr. Muth most certainly knows it.

Is there any possibility whatsoever that Archbishop Lori did not also know how powerful this image would be in preventing LEAD from being cast aside and marginalized; i.e., in helping the movement grow in stature in the Archdiocese?

Again, I will let readers decide for themselves.

In light of the national media attention recently given to St. Matthew parish and its LEAD program (reported by NCR as "officially sanctioned"), I reached out to Sean Caine, Vice Chancellor (and former Communications Director) for the Archdiocese of Baltimore to ask if Archbishop Lori had issued any public statements in response.

Mr. Caine kindly forwarded the following:

Archbishop William Lori and Bishop Denis Madden have met with members of the LEAD ministry at St. Matthew Catholic Church and with the Pastor, Fr. Joseph Muth, to promote an ongoing dialogue and an understanding of Church teaching on related issues.

This ministry exists because there are people struggling with the Church's teaching on sexuality. It is the expectation that, like any apostolate and ministry in any parish, the teachings of the Catholic Church will be upheld.

The official ministry to same-sex attracted people in the Archdiocese of Baltimore is Courage. This ministry was introduced in the Archdiocese by Cardinal Edwin O'Brien in 2009 and has been endorsed by the Pontifical Council for the Family. The ministry works with individuals with same-sex attraction to live chaste lives in accordance with the Catholic Church's teaching on sexuality.

Archbishop Lori wishes to continue the dialogue begun with LEAD, committed to the belief that it takes a good deal of prayer, charity, and perseverance to help hearts and minds to be open to the Church's teaching, especially as regards those who struggle with same-sex attraction.

While I am certain that most readers of this space can see through the fog, please allow me to offer some observations:

A Catholic understanding of the role of the bishop is that of teaching, sanctifying and governing.

At first blush, Archbishop Lori, like so many of his post-conciliar confreres, appears to be acting on the assumption that he does well to dialogue rather than to govern.

That, however, isn't exactly true; indeed, Archbishop Lori is governing in the matter.

Since I first wrote about Fr. Muth and LEAD last year, I received a number of unsolicited emails from St. Matthew parishioners; faithful parishioners who wish only to be nurtured in a truly Catholic life, and who felt compelled to share with me their correspondence with Archbishop Lori.

For years, these poor souls have been begging their spiritual father, Archbishop Lori, to do something about the pro-gay environment at St. Matthew; in other words, they have asked him to govern, and he most certainly has.

While the "official statement" above pays lip service to Courage as the official diocesan "ministry [that] works with individuals with same-sex attraction to live chaste lives in accordance with the Catholic Church's teaching on sexuality," Archbishop Lori has governed in such way as to allow New Ways Ministry to take up residence at St. Matthew, and other area parishes.

In truth, the LEAD program is a chapter of New Ways Ministry – the only thing missing is the neon sign.

Furthermore, the statement contains what we might charitably call misinformation.

LEAD most certainly does not exist, as the statement suggests, "because there are people struggling with the Church's teaching on sexuality." That's spin.

The plain and simple truth, evident to all, and especially to Archbishop William E. Lori, is that LEAD exists to nurture dissent from the Church's teaching on sexuality.

Likewise does the statement stretch credulity in saying with respect to LEAD, "It is the expectation that, like any apostolate and ministry in any parish, the teachings of the Catholic Church will be upheld."

Let's be honest, Archbishop Lori doesn't have one, single, solitary reason to believe that LEAD is going to uphold Church teaching. In fact, he knows very well that it does not, never has, and has no intention of ever doing so.

As a member of this Archdiocese, I can tell you that the faithful Catholics that I know likewise have no reason to believe that their Archbishop is ever going to govern in such a way as to see to it that Church teaching is upheld in our parishes; in particular, as it concerns homosexuality.

Make no mistake, however, govern he does, but in favor of the gay militants; not in protection of the faithful.

In conclusion, it is my belief that I have been both accurate and fair in this article. Even so, I intend to forward it to the aforementioned Vice Chancellor of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, Sean Caine, to solicit any response that he or the Archbishop may care to offer.

I do not expect one, but I'll keep you posted.

That said, if a response is forthcoming, I anticipate that it might point to Archbishop Lori's public statements against same sex marriage as evidence of his due diligence in shepherding the faithful on the safe pastures of Church teaching.

While such statements have indeed been made, and were much appreciated at the time, let's be neither foolish nor naïve.

For a Catholic bishop to speak in support of marriage as pertaining to one man and one woman is no more noteworthy than a two month old baby soiling his little diaper, if you'll forgive the crude analogy.

In other words, Archbishop Lori knows very well that he has no power over the immutable doctrine that requires the Church to reject calls for so-called "same-sex marriage."

Not only is it expected that her bishops will do so as well, it is all but necessary for any man who may wish to continue serving as the Ordinary of a major Metropolitan (and historically cardinalatial) See like Baltimore.

Granted, this may not be the case so much today under Pope Francis, but in 2012 under the reign of Pope Benedict as Maryland Voters were about to cast ballots on the matter, the climate was very different indeed.

In the end, one thing is certain, parish-based homosexual activism is thriving in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, and it does so thanks to the efforts of visionaries like Jeannine Gramick and Robert Nugent, the determination of activists like Fr. Joseph Muth, and the leadership of bishops like His Excellency William E. Lori.

© Louie Verrecchio


The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
(See RenewAmerica's publishing standards.)


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