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Members of Seattle's St. Bridget Church are outraged they weren't notified a beloved priest had a longtime relationship with a young man and wasn't supposed to be practicing any priestly duties. (Google Street View)

Seattle Archdiocese: Big difference between gay vice principal and gay priest

Is it fair to compare the way church leaders handled a gay vice principal fired for his same-sex wedding and a gay priest who kept performing ministerial duties even after he was prohibited from doing so? A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Seattle insists the two are completely different.

KIRO Radio's Dori Monson and many others are wondering if the Archdiocese was actually turning a blind eye at the same time it was actively opposing the continued employment of former Eastside Catholic Vice Principal Mark Zmuda. Zmuda was fired after the Church learned he had married his gay partner.

"The two situations are very different," spokesman Greg Magnoni insisted in an interview with Monson. "The situation with Harold Quigg was that once it was determined that he was guilty of sexual misconduct, professional misconduct...the steps were taken to remove him from ministry."

Zmuda has filed a discrimination lawsuit against the Archdiocese and the school.

The Archdiocese came under fire this week after disclosing a popular priest had been disciplined for having a longtime sexual relationship with a young man that began when the man was just 17-years-old. While Quigg was ordered to stop serving as a priest in 2004, the Archdiocese just notified members of St. Bridget Parish in North Seattle last week.

Following a review, then-Archbishop Alexander J. Brunett determined the matter should be kept private because the young man was above the legal age of consent at the time.

"In retrospect, even though the legal circumstances differed from cases of child sexual abuse, they needed to be communicated more transparently with the Catholic community," Magnoni said.

Quigg formally retired in 2000, but he continued performing baptisms and other priestly duties until recently in violation of his restrictions.

"The steps we took were insufficient to hold him accountable to the ministerial restrictions he was under," Magnoni said.

But Magnoni called the situation with Quigg "frustrating and regrettable," and he says Church officials admit they "failed" in this instance.

"The monitoring system was simply insufficient to detect that he was still performing ministerial duties without the knowledge of the Archdiocese."

While the Archdiocese is apologizing and promising more reforms, anger continues in the St. Bridget community. A source who wished to remain anonymous tells KIRO Radio several hundred angry church members berated Archbishop J. Peter Sartain at a closed meeting Tuesday evening. The source said some church members are now threatening to withhold donations or leave the parish altogether in protest.

Josh Kerns, MyNorthwest.com
Josh Kerns is an award winning reporter/anchor and host of KIRO Radio's Seattle Sounds (Sunday afternoons 5-6p) and a digital content producer for MyNorthwest.com.
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