By Jay McNally •  •  September 13, 2018
Jay McNally is former editor-in-chief of The Michigan Catholic. He has written investigative reports for several national Catholic publications about the archdiocese of Detroit and offers a unique perspective on how operations and current practices will have little to no positive impact and are, in fact, a blueprint for more destruction of the Faith.  

Abp. Allen Vigneron must break its shackles

DETROIT ( – Finally. It seems the Catholic hierarchy — as in just about every bishop in the United States — has finally realized some of their dirty secrets are not so secret anymore.

With the dismissal of Cdl. “Uncle Ted” McCarrick from ministry in June, all of a sudden prominent Catholics are publicly saying what many long-suffering, long-maligned Catholic journalists and activists have been saying for decades: “Rome, we have a problem.” And that problem is what Church Militant has been highlighting for years, the homosexual network that controls most of the Church.

Among the more prominent Catholic commentators identifying the problem is Janet Smith, theology professor at Sacred Heart Seminary, whose interview in the National Catholic Register last month is a good starting point for an analysis of the problems in the archdiocese of Detroit (AOD).

When the Register reporter asked: “How seriously do you take reports of the presence of ‘lavender mafias’ in the priesthood?”

Smith replied: “I am convinced that they are present in nearly every diocese. And that they control some dioceses.” (Emphasis added).

Professor Janet Smith of Sacred Heart Seminary


Finally, Janet Smith sounds like Michael Voris and the whole “Wanderer Gang.” Her voice seems to have emboldened many other more reticent professional Catholics to find a voice for more honest disclosure in the “mainstream Catholic press” — which gets us to the archdiocese of Detroit.

A proper understanding of Detroit Abp. Allen Vigneron’s campaign to “change the DNA” of the Church in southeast Michigan through his “Unleash the Gospel” campaign requires understanding his relationship to the local Catholic homosexual network.

While he was rector-president of Sacred Heart Seminary for nine years (1994–2003), Vigneron failed in several important situations to face down the powerful “gay lobby” in the AOD.

Today, after nine years as the ordinary in Detroit, a case can be made that rather than being merely silent on the issue, Vigneron is more than tacitly supportive of the homosexual juggernaut that is destroying the Church and our culture. The difference is between mere weakness before a stronger foe and being a quisling.

One can see the current influence of the gay network in Vigneron’s chancery today by “connecting the dots,” to quote Catholic League director William Donohue, who used the phrase when he indirectly blamed the archdiocese of Detroit as the catalyst for the plague of clerical sex abuse.

In a press release titled “Dissidence and Deviance in the Church: Connecting the Dots,” released after The Boston Globe started publishing its “Spotlight” series in January 2002, Donohue was withering in his condemnation of Cdl. Bernard Law and then laid much of the blame for the hierarchical collapse on Detroit priest Fr. Anthony Kosnik, who was president of the Catholic Theological Society of America and a long-time professor of moral theology and dean at Ss. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in Orchard Lake. Saints Cyril and Methodius was a tiny but influential school oriented mainly to educating students from Poland for ordination in their homeland; however, it is located within the AOD.

Donohue wrote in the release:

It is well known that Paul Shanley, a former priest of the Boston Archdiocese, was a serial child molester. Indeed, he not only practiced pedophilia, he publicly justified it and even went so far as to say ‘the kid is the seducer’ in sexual encounters between adults and children. Shanley also endorsed bestiality. That he remained a priest for more than a decade after this was disclosed is not in dispute. Nor is it disputed that he was promoted to pastor by Cardinal Law after it was known that he attended the first conference of the North American Man/Boy Love Association in 1978; at the time he was the representative of Cardinal Madeiros for sexual minorities.

Shanley’s twisted views on sexuality were not an anomaly. In a 1977, book published by the Catholic Theological Society of America, Human Sexuality: New Directions in American Catholic Thought, author Father Anthony Kosnik argued against traditional Catholic teaching on sexuality. He maintained that we must jettison the view that holds fornication, adultery, homosexuality, sodomy and bestiality to be intrinsically evil acts. … Kosnik concluded that priests must understand that “God is surely present” in homosexual relations that are marked by “sincere affection.” This book was widely used in seminaries at the time but was condemned in 1979 by the bishops. Kosnik, however, remained teaching in a seminary until 1982.

When Human Sexuality was published in 1977, faithful Catholics in Detroit and throughout the country protested by every means available, always requesting that Cdl. John Dearden silence Kosnik. Dearden ignored the complaints and doubled down in defense of Kosnik.

By that time AOD insiders were aware all three seminaries within the AOD — Sacred Heart Seminary in Detroit, St. Mary’s in Orchard Lake and St. John’s Provincial in Plymouth — were well into promoting homosexuality and admitting homosexuals on the path to ordination.

Anthony Kosnik, Human Sexuality author


Even after the Vatican denounced Human Sexuality in 1979, Abp. Edmund Szoka allowed Kosnik to retain his seminary job through 1982, when the Vatican finally directly ordered the seminary to fire him, which it did.

The story of the Vatican intervention regarding Kosnik remains a secret and has not been reported on in the media. Here it is, briefly, as told to me at the time by the two key figures in the drama, AOD priest Fr. Stanley Rokicki and Sr. Rose Michaels, SL (Sisters of Loretto at the Foot of the Cross):

Father Rokicki was a stridently traditional and conservative Polish priest on the outs with the chancery and was vexed by new trends in the Church. He had been running, in effect, an “underground seminary” recruitment program through which he diverted dozens of young men from Michigan to seminaries in Poland, where he was well-connected, and to several in the United States that were known to be “conservative.”

With the ascension to the papacy of Polish Cdl. Karol Wojtyła, Fr. Rokicki now had a dear friend in the Vatican and started visiting him in the Holy City regularly. In one of his visits to the Vatican, he brought with him Sr. Michaels, a tiny but imposing nun who was known for both meticulous documentation regarding liturgical abuses in American dioceses and for her outspoken demeanor.

In one of their visits to Rome, both Fr. Rokicki and Sr. Michael met personally with Pope John Paul II and told him about the controversy Kosnik had created with Human Sexuality, as well as Cdl. Dearden’s steadfast support of him.

Almost immediately, the Vatican issued a directive demanding the removal of Kosnik from the staff of Ss. Cyril and Methodius Seminary, which resulted in his contract for 1981–82 not being renewed, which in turn led to faculty protests and vacillation at the seminary. Finally, the Vatican pressured Dearden to fire Kosnik, who wound up at Marygrove College in Detroit as director of an academic program in pastoral ministry.

2011 screenshot showing Stack’s Review Board membership


Nevertheless, Kosnik remained darling to the leadership in the AOD and at both seminaries for several years. He was listed in 1983 as one of the spiritual directors for seminarians at St. John’s Provincial, which by then was nationally notorious as a “pink palace.” For example, in 1980, a front-page article in the National Catholic Register explained that then-rector Fr. Kenneth Untener defended showing films of men masturbating as part of workshops at the seminary.

Kosnik was a priest in good standing in the AOD until May 25, 2002 (one month after Donohue’s column citing Kosnik as the catalyst for the sex scandals), when he married Dr. Margaret Stack, who at the time was both a professor at the University of Detroit/Mercy as well as one of the psychologists who screened applicants for admission to Sacred Heart Major Seminary (SHS) during the time Vigneron was rector there.

Think about that for a minute: Vigneron hired the future wife of Anthony Kosnik as a psychologist to screen applicants to his seminary. One does not have to probe deeply among now middle-aged men who tell stories about how Stack interviewed them in the screening process for admittance to SHS.

This article, published in 2002, explains how Vigneron screened applicants to his seminary to prevent strong candidates from being admitted.

Stack collaborated with Kosnik professionally for many years in presenting at least one paper on sexuality, “Sexual Questions for Christian Pastors,” in March 1996. She also presented a paper in 2007 in Chicago at the Out There Conference: Second National Conference of Scholars and Student Affairs Personnel Involved in LGBTQ Issues on Catholic Campuses.

Stack was listed as a member of the archdiocesan Review Board (an advisory board for cases of clerical sex abuse) on the AOD website for many years until recent months, but she continues to list her membership on the Review Board on her University of Detroit/Mercy website profile.

Though Kosnik died last September, his influence remains extremely powerful in Vigneron’s AOD, by way of several local organizations of which he was a member or championed, including pro-gay groups Dignity/Detroit, Call to Action and Elephants in the Living Room.

An examination of these groups reveals how powerful the “lavender mafia” remains in Detroit; this will be covered in our next column.

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  1. The Homosexual Network in Detroit, Part II

    By Jay McNally • • September 17, 2018

    Dignity/Detroit priests have strong influence

    To those who follow the inner working of the Catholic Church, it was old news when Catholic League President William Donohue in 2002 cited the archdiocese of Detroit (AOD) as essentially “ground zero” for understanding how homosexual and gay-friendly priests and bishops created and sustained the homosexual juggernaut that has brought such infamy to the Catholic Church.

    Donohue cited the 1977 book Human Sexuality: New Directions for American Catholic Thought by Detroit seminary professor and president of the Catholic Theological Society of America Rev. Anthony Kosnik as a key corrupting influence. The widely hyped book challenged Church teaching across the board on sexuality.

    Perhaps the comment that best summarizes the book came from Msgr. Hubert Maino, former editor of The Michigan Catholic, who said during a radio interview it was “soft on bestiality.”

    “This book was widely used in seminaries at the time,” Donohue wrote. Indeed, by the time Donohue wrote his press release, rampant homosexuality among clergy in the AOD was widely known in Catholic circles for more than a generation, going back to 1980, when a bizarre program promoting homosexuality to seminarians at Detroit’s St. John’s Provincial Seminary made the front page of the National Catholic Register in 1980.

    The program included a film that showed men masturbating as they spoke of the “salvific mission of Christ.” The film was part of a mandatory program all seminarians were required to attend. Back then, the Register’s editor was Fran Maier, who now serves as senior adviser and special assistant to Abp. Charles Chaput in the archdiocese of Philadelphia.

    The front-page story about the program apparently gave pause to the new pope, John Paul II, who was scheduled to elevate St. John’s rector, Fr. Kenneth Untener, to the rank of bishop within two weeks. In spite of the controversy, which was covered by the local secular press and involved Cdl. John Dearden traveling to Rome to argue in favor of the program at the seminary, Untener was consecrated bishop.

    Detroit conservatives complained as St. John’s became even more corrupt: Detroit’s liberal and dissenting clergy advanced the homosexual agenda throughout the archdiocese with a vengeance. Local homosexuals fondly referred to St. John’s as “the pink palace.”

    Below is a simple timeline with names of notable priests who make up at least one branch of the homosexual network in Detroit. This list is from public and quasi-public published sources; each person listed has been cited as participating in events promoting homosexuality or cited by civil authorities for sex crimes.

    To be sure, there are dozens of other priests who are involved in the “lavender mafia,” but they are more discreet in their activities. Not listed here are the more than two dozen priests who have been convicted of sex crimes or removed from ministry for homosexual activity; in part, because they are not known to openly publicly agitate against Church teaching on sex: Many were no doubt mindful they were sinners trapped in deadly addictions.

    Before examining the list, readers will do well to view what is perhaps the most insightful analysis of the contemporary “gay crisis” by Catholic historian and columnist James Hitchcock. In his article titled “Secrecy and Subversion in the Church Has Historical Model,” first published by Catholic World Report in May 2002, Hitchcock explains how a powerful homosexual network of British spies known as the “Cambridge Five” worked for the Soviet Union from the 1930s to the 1960s with devastating consequences for the United Kingdom.

    Even after various indiscretions and treasonous crimes committed by members of this group were known to U.K. political leaders, most of them refused to end it, covering up the crimes by the Cambridge group for decades. The “Cambridge Five” were lifelong friends going back to their college years.

    Hitchcock notes that while homosexual networks in some areas of society are open, such as in media and the arts, “In other areas, especially the Church, its mode of operation remains largely hidden, with only an occasional public scandal affording glimpses into its inner workings.”

    This list is being published in an effort to shine a spotlight on the power of the homosexual network in the AOD. We are “connecting the dots.” Ever mindful of libel law, we cite this disclaimer: This author and Church Militant are not identifying any of the people on this list as being homosexuals, or making a judgment relating to any sexual activity they may or may not have been involved in, except in those where that activity was affirmed in courtroom legal proceedings.

    This list, as noted, is of priests who have been identified, some by their own words, and others in various publications as participants in events that were primarily intended to challenge Church teaching on homosexuality. The timeline lists the estimated year their public leadership in the homosexual network seems to have begun.

    Detroit’s network of homosexual Catholic priests began under the direction of Cdl. John Dearden, who started his sustained assault on Church teaching shortly after he returned from Vatican II in Rome in 1964:

    Auxiliary Bp. Thomas Gumbleton, consecrated 1968: Dearden’s vicar general, who quickly made his mark as among the most revolutionary of American bishops. He has championed the homosexual cause at every turn at least since 1974, when he publicly agitated for the formation of Dignity/Detroit.

    Father Anthony Kosnik, 1968: Kosnik became dean of Ss. Cyril and Methodius Seminary in 1968 and remained until 1983, four years after his book was condemned by the Vatican. As noted earlier, he laid the intellectual groundwork for a widespread assault against Church teaching with his book, Human Sexuality. He was enormously popular among liberal priests, often giving seminars and workshops at parishes, and was a priest in good standing until the day in 2002 when he married Dr. Margaret Stack, a psychologist employed by Abp. Allen Vigneron when he was rector of SHS. Dr. Stack’s job was to interview applicants to the seminary. During Vigneron’s tenure as SHS rector (1994–2003) a common complaint of faithful Catholics was that he systematically refused admittance to many spiritually and psychologically healthy men in favor of, one might say, less healthy men. I wrote about this in 2002 in New Oxford Review.

    Father Gerald Shirilla, 1970: Perhaps the most influential and most-protected of all pederasts in the archdiocese of Detroit, Fr. Gerald Shirilla joined the faculty of Sacred Heart Seminary (SHS) only two years after his 1968 ordination. Court records indicate he was well into widespread molestation of altar boys in 1964, even before he was ordained. In the fall of 1970, only weeks into his first semester as a seminary professor, he was on the prowl, picking on college freshmen, one of whom committed suicide owing to Shirilla’s abuse, according to a fellow classmate who knew the deceased student well. A former seminarian who entered SHS in 1970 was shocked at what he saw, recalling, “Homosexuality was everywhere!” among faculty, staff and students; and it was evident, he added, to anyone and everyone who cared to open even one eyelid. Shirilla was removed from his SHS teaching post in 1980 for sexual involvement with seminarians but rejoined the faculty some years later. He was on the faculty, serving under then-rector John Nienstedt when he was publicly, supposedly, removed from ministry in 1993 when his predation of altar boys was widely publicized by secular media. Nevertheless, Shirilla reappeared as a pastor in 2002 in Alpena, Michigan, after his assignment was orchestrated by both Detroit Cdl. Adam Maida and Gaylord Bp. Patrick Cooney. The Shirilla case is worthy of extensive reportage because of the extent of his crimes and the extraordinary efforts that Cdl. Maida, Bp. Cooney, Msgr. John Zenz and Ned McGrath took in 2001 and 2002 to defend Shirilla. This author was deeply involved in the politics of AOD efforts regarding Shirilla in 1993. Notable, and so far never reported, is the personal relationship between Cdl. Dearden and Shirilla. Don Byrne, now deceased, was a prominent professor at the University of Detroit as well as a member of the parish council at Our Lady of Loretto parish, where Shirilla committed many of his crimes. Byrne and a priest who knew Shirilla have both said that Dearden used to visit the young priest Shirilla at Our Lady of Loretto’s parish rectory on afternoons and stay for many hours. Additionally, the janitor at Our Lady of Loretto told Byrne that Dearden used to drive to the rectory to join Shirilla for several years in the early 1970s — “every Friday night” — and then the two left for the evening, alone, in Dearden’s car.

    Monsignor Thaddeus Ozog, 1970–75: Rector of SHS and best friend of Fr. Shirilla. Both were born and raised in Hamtramck, Michigan, and vacationed together in a camper during summers. Ozog died of AIDS in 1994. A nun who worked in the AOD chancery in 1990 revealed that Ozog had a well-established reputation for promoting homosexuality while he was rector. For example, she said, he expelled a new seminarian immediately after the young student inquired about the prevalence of homosexuality on campus in the early ’70s. The young man’s father was distraught and complained, she said, to AOD officials, to no avail.

    St. John’s Provincial Seminary goes rogue, 1971: The tradition-minded Sulpician order, which staffed St. John’s Seminary for 24 years with no hint of homosexuality or dissent from Church teaching, was ousted in 1971 and replaced with local priests and nuns in leadership posts, many who proved to be of the Gumbleton stripe. It would take several hefty books to contain the already published accounts of widespread homosexuality at St. John’s from the Dearden era until it was closed by Cdl. Edmund Szoka, owing to the homosexual mess, in 1987.

    Auxiliary Bp. Francis Reiss helps found Dignity/Detroit, 1974: Dignity/Detroit, a chapter of the national group that favors a complete overhauling of Church teaching on sexual matters, has cited the future auxiliary bishop of Detroit as the primary catalyst for the group’s founding. In 1996, Dignity/Detroit hosted a celebration of its 22nd anniversary and issued a program booklet which cited the contributions of 18 individuals who played a role in the growth of Dignity, including then-Fr. Francis Reiss. The exact text of the credit to then-Fr. Reiss reads: “Father Frank Reiss, whose intercession and help brought together the men who formed the nucleus of the chapter.” Dignity/Detroit in 1996 boasted of the membership of 22 AOD priests and the participation of four AOD bishops. Reiss was consecrated an auxiliary bishop for Detroit in 2003 and is today in residence and listed as an adjunct faculty member at Orchard Lake Seminary, where Anthony Kosnik began his career. Reiss was born and raised in Hamtramck.

    Father Victor Clore, 1995: The longtime pastor of Christ the King parish in Detroit, Clore wrote a guest column in The Michigan Catholic praising Dignity and caustically accusing Church teaching of “hypocrisy.” The column is significant because by that time Dignity/Detroit was already more than 20 years old and the person with sole responsibility for deciding which articles would appear in the newspaper was Fr. Patrick Halfpenny, a classmate of Abp. Vigneron and soon-to-be vice rector of SHS under Vigneron.

    Dignity Priests List

    Below is a list of priests in the archdiocese of Detroit who have been significantly active with the group Dignity/Detroit. These names have been listed in official Dignity/Detroit weekly bulletins distributed at Dignity Masses, or have been seen participating in Dignity Masses. Some of these priests have held positions of significant responsibility in the AOD — some in key chancery positions. The bulk of the list was originally compiled in 1999 and has been updated with information gathered in recent years. These days, Dignity/Detroit is secretive about its member priests. Identifying info (parish and title) is from the AOD website and other sources:

    Msgr. Clement Kern: Allowed Dignity/Detroit to operate at his parish, Most Holy Trinity. Died in 1983.
    Fr. James Bajorum: Not listed on AOD website.
    Fr. Richard Bartoszek: Listed on AOD website as “chaplain.”
    Msgr. Ricardo Bass: Listed as “Clergy and Consecrated Life.”
    Fr. Sam Campbell: Not listed on AOD website.
    Fr. William Carnago: Not listed on AOD website.
    Fr. Kenneth Chase: Vicar and pastor of Sacred Heart Parish, Dearborn.
    Fr. John Child: Clergy and Consecrated Life.
    Fr. Ron DeRosiers, S.M.: Assistant Professor at Madonna University, Livonia.
    Fr. Dennis Dillon, S.J.: Pastor of St. Jary Student parish, Ann Arbor.
    Fr. Randy Phillips: Pastor, St. Blase Parish, Sterling Heights. Has been on the faculty of Sacred Heart Seminary.
    Fr. William Promesso: Pastor, St. Cyprian parish, Riverview.
    Fr. Denis Theroux: Pastor, Our Lady of Victory parish, Northville.
    Fr. Gary Tierney: Clergy and Consecrated Life.
    Fr. Bob Williams: Central Services Staff, pastor, St. Justin-St. Mary Magdalen parish, Hazel Park
    Fr. Harry Benjamin: Convicted and imprisoned for sexual conduct with a 14-year-old in 2002; said Masses for Dignity in Washington, D.C.
    Fr. Marc Gawronski: Keynote speaker at Dignity’s anniversary dinner in 2004; SHS faculty member today.

    It is notable that there is no known record of Abp. Vigneron ever commenting in any way about the presence of Dignity/Detroit since his installation as archbishop in 2009. His spokesman, Ned McGrath, issued a statement published by the Detroit Free Press on occasion of the group’s 40th anniversary. “There are hundreds of Masses celebrated in the Detroit archdiocese every weekend. … It’s always Archbishop Vigneron’s expectation that these liturgies are conducted in full conformity with the Catholic Church’s teachings and practices.”

    Vigneron has refused to respond to multiple letters from this author regarding the group and is also known to have ignored many complaints and requests for information about Dignity/Detroit from many faithful Catholics.

    A long-accepted principle of Church teaching and common law is “silence is consent.”

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