A notoriously anti-gay priest in Paris will face trial within the Catholic Church over his self-professed attempts to “cure” homosexuality. His method: have sex with men.
Msgr. Tony Anatrella has a long history of campaigning against LGBTQ rights initiatives inside and outside the church. In 2005, he authored an article supporting a ban on LGBTQ people from serving in the priesthood. The following year, he claimed gay men raise “violent” children, and further supported a ban on same-sex marriage equality. He further described homosexuality as a “confusion of sex and feelings leads to a confusion of the realities and an impasse.”
Anatrella’s stance on homosexuality boggles the mind considering his decades-long history of sexual assault of other men. The National Catholic Reporter reports that allegations against Anatrella have circulated for more than 20 years. In 2006, a former seminarian named Daniel Lamarca claimed Anatrella sexually assaulted him during therapy sessions in the 1980s. Lamaraca, a gay man, had sought counsel from Anatrella over his own feelings of homosexuality. He claims Anatrella’s therapeutic approach was to insist the two have sex.
“I know details about Anatrella’s body that could only be known to someone who has seen him naked,” the man told reporters in 2006, adding that he tried to report the abuse in 2001 to church authorities but received no response.
More accusations against Anatrella surfaced in 2008, and again in 2016, leading to a reprimand by the church which banned him from practicing therapy, performing mass or preaching in public. Then, in 2019, a grandfather who attended a school where Anatrella served as a chaplain, accused the priest of rape. The victim claims that Anatrella forced him to have sex; at the time, he was just 14-years-old.
In an even more unusual move, at least one priest claims he has warned church leadership for years about Anatrella’s predatory behavior to no avail. Fr. Philippe Lefebvre has authored rebuttals and polemics against Anatrella’s teachings about homosexuality. He also claims Anatrella’s victims approached him personally for help.
“I told seven French bishops and the president of the Conference of French Bishops,” Lefebvre said. “I did not get any reply. Nothing happened. What happened is that, when my name came up in the press, I was told to be careful and not to criticize Tony Anatrella because he was somebody important in the Vatican.”
At the time of this writing, it remains unclear what when Anatrella’s church trial will begin and what charges he will face. Catholic trials carry strict secrecy requirements, and the details of them seldom are made public. As a psychotherapist, Anatrella, now 80, has authored more than a dozen books, mostly about the evils of homosexuality.