A priest who influenced Vatican policy on homosexuality is suspended

When a prominent French priest was suspended from ministry this month, it dealt a new blow to efforts to mend the Church’s image over sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.

Mgr Tony Anatrella, a 77-year-old psychoanalyst widely dubbed “the Church’s shrink”, had played an international role in shaping Catholic teaching on sexuality. But he had faced accusations of abuse himself. And, on July 4, he was finally barred from priestly and psychiatric functions by Archbishop Michel Aupetit of Paris.

In a dazzling career since the 1980s, Mgr Anatrella had served on pontifical councils, contributed to synods, and been cited as an authority by bishops from the US to Poland. He was instrumental in a 2005 instruction by the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education which ruled against admitting seminary candidates who “present deep-seated homosexual tendencies”.

But it now seems that Mgr Anatrella had been nursing secrets. Back in 2006 he was accused of molesting his charges during psychotherapeutic “special sessions”.

And, while the claims were dismissed as anti-Church slurs, they returned with a vengeance in 2016, when several men testified that he had molested them during attempts to cure their homosexuality.

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