French priest, former Vatican adviser, to be tried by church for abuse
Paris – A prominent French priest and psychotherapist who was once an influential Vatican adviser on issues concerning human sexuality will be tried in a religious tribunal on charges of inappropriate sex with male clients, the Archdiocese of Paris has confirmed.
The charges against Mgr. Tony Anatrella has not been announced. No date has been given for the start of the procedure. Canonical proceedings of the Catholic Church are often held with strict requirements of secrecy.
Rumors of sexual abuse by Anatrella have been circulating for nearly two decades. French dioceses often sent seminarians suspected of homosexuality to the therapist, who claimed to know how to help young men repress their homosexuality.
Anatrella, now aged 80, was banned from exercising her ministry as a priest by the Archbishop of Paris Michel Aupetit in 2018. The canonical “reprimand” prevented her from celebrating mass, from going to confession or to practice therapy. Anatrella also had to give up speaking publicly without the bishop’s consent.
Anatrella vigorously denied the allegations against him.
This coming process could eventually lead to the secularization of Anatrella, which would be a shocking downfall for someone who has already occupied the highest echelons of the French church. Anatrella even helped the bishops’ conference of France draft its first guidelines against sexual abuse in 2000.
In 2005, he reportedly helped develop Vatican guidelines to prevent gay men from entering the priesthood.
The first charges against Anatrella appear to have been laid in the early 2000s. Daniel Lamarca, a former seminarian sent to Anatrella for therapy in the 1980s, claimed in 2006 that the priest subjected him to sexual abuse.
Three complaints were filed against Anatrella in French courts in 2008. Two were dismissed due to the expiration of the respective limitation periods. Another was fired for lack of evidence.
Several victims then turned to the church. Most of them still don’t want to be named. Lamarca is an exception. Lamarca told Nederlands Dagblad in 2006 that Anatrella told Lamarca that he could “cure” his homosexuality by having sex with the priest.
New accusations against Anatrella came to light in 2016. Cardinal André Vingt-Trois, then Archbishop of Paris, first opened a canonical investigation, which resulted in the reprimand of Aupetit, successor to Vingt-Trois.
In 2019, a report to the Paris prosecutor’s office concerning acts of sexual assault on a 14-year-old minor was made.
Now a grandfather, the complainant told the Catholic daily La Croix in May 2019 that he had lived a difficult period as a teenager and his mother sent him to Anatrella, then chaplain of his public high school in Paris. The priest told her to undress and forced her to have sex, the complainant said.
The complainant said he finally came forward to report his abuse to the Archdiocese of Paris in February 2019, and said he was told that “his testimony has been taken into account, civil authorities have been informed and his testimony had been sent to Rome “.
The French Dominican Father. Philippe Lefebvre, theologian, has been warning against Anatrella for 14 years, calling him an ideologist more than a therapist or theologian.
“In 2006, I wrote an article challenging some of Anatrella’s theological arguments,” Lefebvre told French weekly Le Point in July 2018. “Some people who have read my article have written to tell me that ‘they had been subjected to “body” treatment by Tony Anatrella. “
Lefebvre said he met some of the people who made the reports and thought “their word could not be questioned”.
“I spoke to seven French bishops and the president of the French Bishops’ Conference about it,” said Lefebvre. “I received no response. Nothing happened. What happened was that when my name appeared in the press I was told to be careful and not to criticize Tony Anatrella because he was someone important in the Vatican. “
Lefebvre, who has been teaching at the theological faculty of Mercy University in Switzerland since 2005, claimed there was an “organized omerta” to protect Anatrella.
Anatrella has written a dozen books, mostly on sex and homosexuality.