A DC resident has started a controversial internet campaign to gather information about closeted gay priests in the Washington DC area.
According to its creator, social media expert and gay activist Phil Attey, the goal of ChurchOuting.org is to gather first-hand accounts of closeted gay clergy in the hopes that those priests will come out on their own and help change the church’s stance on homosexuality.
Attey’s website has drawn criticism from groups that advocate for gay Catholics. They worry that his threats to gather and disclose information on gay priests will hurt their cause.
The site was launched in response to increasing anti-gay attacks by Archbishop Donald Wuerl of the Archdiocese of Washington and to a 57 page Pastoral Letter, which was passed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) affirming the national church leadership’s opposition to recognition of civil marriage between same sex couples.
On his web site, Attey urges people to report encounters with gay priests in the Archdiocese, and said he will out only gay priests and bishops who speak out against homosexuality.
In the case of priests not publicly opposed to gay marriage but still in the closet, he said his goal is not to threaten them but to encourage them to “come out for the next generation and stand up against the anti-gay stance of the church.”
More from NBC Washington.