A French priest with a history of campaigning against gay rights faces a Catholic Church trial over allegations that he sexually assaulted men to “heal” their homosexuality.
Msgr. Tony Anatrella, a Vatican adviser and psychotherapist, will stand trial in church court after multiple allegations of abuse and inappropriate sexual relationships with his male clients, per the National Catholic Reporter.
No details have yet been made public about when Anatrella will face trial, but the Paris Archdiocese previously reprimanded Anatrella in 2018 due to the allegations against him, preventing him from practicing therapy or hearing confession.
Anatrella allegedly positioned himself as an expert on men struggling with their sexuality, reportedly using so-called “body therapy” to “heal” them.
That “therapy” included massaging clients, masturbating them, and forcing sex on them — with one accuser a 14-year-old minor at the time the alleged abuse took place.
In 2006, a former seminarian accused Anatrella of sexual abuse in the 1980s, under the guise that Anatrella could cure his “psuedo-homosexuality.”
“I know details about Anatrella’s body that could only be known to someone who has seen him naked,” the man told a Dutch newspaper, adding that he tried to report the alleged abuse to the archbishop of Paris in 2001 but received no response.
A further three allegations were made in 2008, but French courts dismissed them — two because the statute of limitations had expired, the third because of lack of evidence.
Victims continued to come forward with allegations, and a canonical investigation eventually opened by the archbishop of Paris in 2016.
That led to Anatrella being issued with a canonical “reprimand” in 2018, banning him from ministering to others. He attempted to challenge the reprimand, but was unsuccessful.
In 2019, the Paris prosecutor’s office received a report that Anatrella had committed sexual assault on a 14-year-old, with the accuser saying the priest forced him to undress and to have sex with him.
Anatrella has a long history of opposing homosexuality, positioning himself as an expert on matters of sex and homosexuality and authoring multiple books on the subject.
In 2005, he played a key role in the Vatican’s decision to ban gay men from the priesthood, writing an article for the Vatican’s newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, arguing that those with “‘deep-seated homosexual tendencies’, that is, an exclusive attraction with regard to persons of the same sex (a structural orientation) — independently of whether or not they’ve had erotic experiences — may not be admitted to seminaries and to sacred orders.”
Anatrella claimed that gay people face multiple issues, including “exaggerated, affective choices,” “relations with authority based on seduction and rejection,” a “limited vision of truth,” and “relational and intellectual confusion.”
In 2006, Anatrella claimed that gay couples couldn’t raise children, because they would become “violent” and develop “what I call ‘civilized delirious behavior.'”
He opposed same-sex marriage in France, calling it “disastrous,” and arguing that the “confusion of sex and feelings leads to a confusion of the realities and an impasse.”
Anatrella said gay people marrying was “simply ridiculous and the act doesn’t inspire any esteem as it doesn’t contribute at all to social relation.”
No date has been set for Anatrella’s church trial and he denies all allegations made against him.
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