CommunityJustice For All

MA: Anti-Gay Catholic priest admits embezzling school and parish funds

Rev. Stephen M. Gemme, anti-gay pastor of St. Bernadette Parish, and avowed embezzler

The more they hate on the gays, the more they themselves have something to hide. At least, that’s frequently what we’ve learned from actively anti-gay politicians and religious leaders. Former U.S. Senator Larry Craig and Rev. Ted Haggard are two shining examples.

Today another name was added to the long list of professional anti-gays who have something to hide.  Rev. Stephen M. Gemme, pastor of St. Bernadette Parish located in the Worcester Catholic Diocese in Mass., admitted stealing “more than $110,000 of school funds and more than $120,000 of parish funds…for personal expenditures unrelated to the parish or school,” according to Robert McManus, Bishop of Worcester.

More than $230,000 stolen from the local Catholic school and parish.  And this by a man so anti-gay that he was the only priest in the diocese to cut ties this summer with the Worcester Art Museum over the museum’s willingness to host same-sex weddings.

And he cut those ties under false pretenses.  As I wrote at the time:

“We’re simply not going to support them institutionally as in the past. We’re just following the lead of the diocese on that,” Rev. Stephen M. Gemme, pastor at St. Bernadette Parish told Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

Except that the Diocese of Worcester hasn’t ordered anyone to do anything.  “We don’t support gay marriage. But, we haven’t said divest yourself of any organization,” the communications director for the Diocese of Worcester Raymond Delisle told Telegram & Gazette.

Since we knew that Rev. Gemme was not only actively anti-gay but also slippery with the truth, it’s not too surprising that he’s been forced to admit to criminal activity as well.  It’s not a far stretch from lying to the public about your reasons for taking anti-gay actions to overstepping boundaries in other matters.

Rev. Gemme blames the thefts on a gambling addiction, according to Bishop McManus’s letter to the diocese, and is receiving “residential treatment” for it.  If Rev. Gemme truly is suffering from an addiction, then we can all hope that treatment will help him overcome it.  However, an addiction doesn’t pardon illegal activity, and Bishop McManus has correctly forwarded the case to the District Attorney.

Legalities aside, an addiction also does not pardon hypocrisy.  In the words attributed to Jesus, “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.”

Rev. Gemme clearly believes that homosexuality is a “speck of sawdust” in his brother’s eye.  Yet not only did Rev. Gemme fail to recognize the embezzlement plank in his own eye, he sought to remove not the speck from his brother’s eye, but the eye itself.  That’s not just hypocrisy, it’s malicious hypocrisy.

I hope the man gets help, both morally and psychologically, because he needs it.  Regardless, he’s yet another name on the anti-gay hypocrisy roster.

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Laurel Ramseyer

Laurel Ramseyer