Priest Suspended for Sexual Misconduct and Telling a Potential Seminarian to Lie about His Sexuality

Amanda Casanova

A priest at an LGBT-affirming parish in New York has been suspended after he asked another potential seminarian to lie to Church leadership about his sexuality.

According to Life Site News, Father John Duffell has been found guilty of the canonical crime of sexual misconduct. The suspension is indefinite.

In a letter to parishioners of the Blessed Sacrament Parish, Cardinal Timothy Dolan called the news “unpleasant and somber.”

“The allegation was made first to the District Attorney, and then brought to our attention,” Dolan said. “This allegation involves an adult; it does not involve a minor. It is important that the archdiocese take such allegations seriously.”

Duffell had retired but in October 2018, he was reappointed by the archdiocese for a one-year post as Blessed Sacrament’s administrator.

Duffell is 75 and was ordained in 1969. He said the allegation was untrue and “nothing more” than an accusation that he broke his vow of celibacy.

“Many years ago there was an allegation of sexual impropriety with an adult which I categorically denied because it was not true,” Duffell wrote in a letter to family and friends “Those files were subpoenaed from the Archdiocese by the Manhattan District Attorney.”

In the past, Duffell has been an advocate for LGBT affirmation in churches.

In 2011, he said at a conference on sexual diversity and the Catholic Church that “the Church is perhaps the only way of affecting change in the world.” He added that the church is “not perfect.” At the conference, he allegedly told a potential seminarian to lie to Church administration about his same-sex attraction so he could be accepted into ministry.

The prospective candidate had written to Duffell for advice, saying he felt “broken” because he could not enter the priesthood because of his sexuality.

“You’re not broken,” Duffell said in a letter back. “The system is broken, and therefore you deal with it as a broken system; you lie.”

Photo courtesy: Josh Applegate/Unsplash