Homophobia Undergirds Right-Wing Parishioners’ Attack on Miami Priest



Fr. Pedro Corces

A Florida priest has resigned as the pastor of a Miami church after a small group of parishioners made claims against him, including allegations of inappropriate relationships with adult men.

Fr. Pedro Corces was castigated by right-wing parishioners at St. Rose of Lima parish, Miami Shores, who had organized under the name “Christifidelis.” In a 129-page report, they claimed that, among other improprieties, the priest had relationships with four male individuals, including a deacon and a maintenance worker at the church and school.

A private investigator hired by this small group compiled the report after stalking Corces for weeks, “photographing him, tracking the social media account of the maintenance worker and others, and going through the church rectory trash” according to the Miami Herald. Based on this ‘evidence,’ the report attacked the maintenance employees, too, calling them”promiscuous gay practitioners” among other derogatory phrases.

Archbishop Thomas Wenski defended the pastor in a late May letter to the parish and school communities, though he still asked Corces to resign. Wenski, describing much of the report’s ‘evidence’ as “old, long since discredited gossip” and “false” said the archdiocese would investigate claims the priest hired friends or improperly socialized with employees. But he hit hard against those parishioners who had instigated the incident, writing of them:

“Slanderous gossip, calumny, detraction – all sinful behaviors – have fomented division in the parish and school communities. . .Pray also for the children who have been dis-edified by the spectacle of adults behaving badly.”

Fr. Corces has received support from friends, parishioners, and other Catholics too. Silvia Muñoz, who has known the priest since 1987, wrote in the Miami Herald that Corces “embodies mercy” and those persons attacking him simply seek to “destroy anyone who puts into practice the changes instituted after the Vatican II Council.” Olga del Valle, a former teacher at St. Rose of Lima School who also wrote in the Miami Herald, called Corces “one of the most enlightened and spiritual priests” in the archdiocese. She asked:

“Jesus surrounded himself with prostitutes and tax collectors in order to save them. Could not Father Corces, a compassionate man, have hired such people, considered undesirable by some, for janitorial posts to give them a chance for decent jobs? Is it sinful to have a meal with them as Jesus did?”

These questions expose the harmful prejudices undergirding Christifidelis’ attacks against Fr. Corces. A man having meals or even a close friendship with another man does not signify that either are “promiscuous gay practitioners.” Indeed, charity mandates that it should signify nothing but friendship to the outside observer.

Divisions already existed in the parish after it was announced in January that the Immaculate Heart of Mary Sisters presently assigned to the school would be reassigned to their motherhouse. Some parents who opposed the decision organized a petition against the Sisters’ departure. The Christifidelis report about Fr. Corces, then, is just the latest sign of division in the parish..

What this case reveals is that as long as sexuality remains a charged, even taboo matter in the church, it can and will become a weapon wielded by those persons seeking to cause harm. More than 60 church workers have lost their jobs since 2008, and in too many of those cases it was inappropriately invasive practices, often coupled with anti-gay animus, that lead to unnecessary and deeply painful incidents like this one. As Bondings 2.0 noted earlier this week, the threat of invasive “snitching” is just one way harm is caused around homosexuality in the priesthood.

Holding church officials accountable is a good and necessary cause, especially by lay people assuming responsibility for our church, but this is not what happened at St. Rose of Lima. Instead, evidence obtained through questionable means has been cobbled together to back homophobic assertions. Reconciliation is needed here, so that the parish can become a place of unity and charity, instead of divisions which cause suspicions.

–Bob Shine, New Ways Ministry



16 replies
  1. paularuddy
    paularuddy says:

    Does Bondings 2.0 have a position on a sexual ethic for gay and heterosexual priests? Since sexual orientation has become differentiated, i.e., it cannot be presumed that all persons, including priests, are heterosexual, does honesty require that a priest identify his orientation to his parish? Then there is the question of celibacy: Can it be presumed that all priests abstain from sexual activity? Does the promise of celibacy mean abstinence from sexual activity or does it mean renunciation of marriage and family? Does honesty require that the priest reveal what definition of celibacy he is using to justify his activity? Is it anyone’s business but the man and his partners, male or female? If a heterosexual priest is known by his parishioners to be sexually active, is he required to resign? If a gay priest identifies his orientation and declares himself to be committed to celibacy as in abstention from sexual activity, will he be fired by the bishop? Does it depend on the parish congregation? Do you think all these are valid questions and should be sorted out? Or is talking about it taboo?

  2. Loretta
    Loretta says:

    This kind of stuff turns my stomach. What is wrong with people that they have nothing better to do than snoop, gossip and hurt people. Is this the Catholic version of Westboro?

    • Jai Koch
      Jai Koch says:

      This has nothing to do with homophobia. There were no derogatory words used to describe the men. This article fails to make mention that one of the maintenance workers had a lengthy criminal record. That he should have not been employed by the parish, a background check should have prevented that. Catholic priests take vows of celibacy, this is not a “gay” issue, if he had been in the intimate company of women would the parishioners be called anti-heterosexual? The dossier can easily be found online by a simple search under Pedro Corces dossier. People should read it themselves before making false judgements and accusations. I strongly object to the biased claims that homophobia is a motivation. I am very liberal and a member of this parish and I can assure you this is not the case.

  3. Paul Morrissey, OSA, author of The Black Wall of Silence
    Paul Morrissey, OSA, author of The Black Wall of Silence says:

    This parish needs healing. Our Church needs healing. The inability to be oneself in parts of our Church is crippling. My heart goes out to Fr. Pedro. The bishops of the United States must inaugurate a healing process for our parishes. People need to be taught what Pope Francis means about The Name of God is Mercy. How can we help each other be our true selves?

  4. Friends
    Friends says:

    I suspect — albeit just a hunch — that “Wild Bill Donahue” and the agents of his viciously anti-GLBT “Catholic League” are implicated at some level in this attack. (Google his name and his organization for additional information about both of them.) I doubt if ordinary parishioners would have either the means or the personal motivation to go prying into a priest’s private life. In my opinion, Donahue and his vindictive agents are the root cause of much of this slander-mongering within the Church. They’ve got some heavy answering to do, when they come face-to-face with Jesus Himself. Jesus is the final Judge of these personal matters — not Bill Donahue.

  5. Isabella Holguin
    Isabella Holguin says:

    He was priest in our Church here in Weston! Ive known him since I was small and he has always been there for my family and I! This accusation is totally false and a lie from other jealous practioners! My family and I will support him 100%! We love and Miss You padre Pedro

  6. lynne1946
    lynne1946 says:

    I pray for this poor parish and its people who are being brutalized by this group, supposedly in the name of Jesus. As the Bishop points out, there are many reasons for the priest and these other men to have spent time together and shared a meal. A good priest will find ways to counsel his parishioners, when and where it is possible. What is disgusting and horrifying is that this group, improperly called Christifideles, would sink to such low levels to calumnate a man who has been seen by many others as being a good, merciful, and holy man. How long will we allow people such as this dominate our parishes?

    • Jai
      Jai says:

      The Bishop never pointed out any reasons in his letter for these people to socialize. In fact he pointed out that the improper socializing was being investigated. Not an appropriate relationship for an employer and employee. Child protection safeguards were ignored by hiring someone with 3 separate disqualifying offenses under Archdiocesan guidelines. This parish is not being brutalized by Christifidelis. I am a parishioner at St. Rose Of Lima where this happened and very familiar with the facts of this matter.


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