Connecticut Priest Accused of Paying for Male Prostitutes with Church Money

Edge, Boston/July 7, 2010

A Roman Catholic priest in Waterbury, Connecticut has been accused of stealing more than $1 million from his parish and spending the money on lavish meals, clothing--and encounters with male prostitutes.

Kevin Gray, 64, a longtime priest at Waterbury’s Sacred Heart church, fleeced his parishioners to the tune of $1.3 million over a seven-year period, according to a July 6 report in local newspaper the Republican-American. Gray’s alleged financial misdeeds were uncovered when the church’s finances were subjected to scrutiny during an internal review process, the article said; meantime, Gray had told unsuspecting parishioners that he was suffering with cancer, a story authorities believe were meant to explain why he was away from the church so much.

In truth, the story said, Gray was living the high life, going into Manhattan and racking up exorbitant restaurant and hotel bills, and hiring the services of male escorts.

The Catholic Church teaches that gays and lesbians are sexually "disordered," but recognizes that homosexuality is not a choice. However, the church also teachers that sexual acts between individuals of the same gender are "intrinsically evil," and has worked tirelessly to defeat--and in some cases, rescind--civil marriage rights for gay and lesbian families.

In 2006, Gray presided over ceremonies during "Catholic Celebration of Marriage Week," in which heterosexual couples renewed their vows at Sacred Heart church.

Sacred Heart was the third Waterbury church at which Gray served as a priest in his 26-year tenure as a local clergyman. In that time, Gray became well regarded by parishioners and was "popular" with the area’s Catholics, the Hartford Courant reported on July 6. Gray had turned himself in to local police that same day.

"At the financial level, the Archdiocese continues to work with the parish to improve its financial controls and to address issues arising from the situation, such as insurance coverage and outstanding indebtedness," said the communications director for Hartford Diocese, the Rev. John P. Gatzak. "At the spiritual level, we continue to pray for healing and consolation for the parish family as it moves forward and for guidance and reconciliation for Father Gray as he encounters the legal proceedings that await him."

Sexual impropriety among the Roman Catholic clergy has been a major story globally since the church’s pedophile priest scandal broke more than eight years ago. But such impropriety has not been confined to the Catholic faith; recent efforts in New York City have led to prosecutions of Jewish religious leaders similarly accused of sexually molesting children.

Other religious leaders have also been exposed as having employed male escorts, including prominent anti-gay activist George Rekers, whose European vacation with a 20-year-old male escort was revealed by Florida newspaper Miami New Times in May.

Rekers is the co-founder of anti-gay Christian organization the Family Research Council, and was a board member of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality (NARTH), a group that claims that gays can be "cured" of their homosexuality if they "choose" to go straight.

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