Cleansing Fire

Defending Truth and Tradition in the Roman Catholic Church

The Continuing Scandal of Priest-Donors to Fortunate Families

March 2nd, 2013, Promulgated by Diane Harris

In July 2011, Ben Anderson posted a story on the DoR priests who were listed as supporting  (in 2010) Fortunate Families, an organization characterized as advocating for their own children’s gay and lesbian lifestyles, spouting anti-Catholic teaching and denigrating the Holy Father.  Ben wrote to all those priests who, whether they meant to do so or not, were giving scandal by linking their names to an organization which opposes  authentic Catholic Church Teaching.  Now the 2011 list of supporters is available and it’s time to compare.  Some of the same priests show up again; some have ‘fortunately” dropped off.  One is a new addition, but he has since died.

Fortunate Family Donors 2011

Fortunate Family Donors 2011

Priests  listed as  financially supporting Fortunate Families in 2011  are a bit fewer than on the 2010 donor list due, in part, to two deaths (Monsignor William Shannon and Fr. Otto Vogt), and one suspension or laicization (Dennis Shaw.)  The priests on the 2011 donor list who were also on the 2010 list are [Fr.] Ed Palumbos, [Fr. ] Robert Kennedy, Fr. Bob Werth, Fr. William Michatek, and [Fr.] Michael Bausch.  Those with [Fr.] in front of their names shown above have dropped their titles on the 2011 donor list, but all but Fr. Kennedy did use Fr. or Rev. on the 2010 donor list.  Fr. Kennedy used “Rev.” on the 2008 donor list. 

It seems likely that Ben Anderson’s letters to those giving scandal by their presence on the 2010 donor list had an effect, as a few dropped off the donor list completely.  But the giving of scandal is still an issue for those who remained on the list but simply dropped “Rev.” or “Fr.” from in front of their names.  Is anyone seriously going to think that “Ed Palumbos” is not the same person as Fr. Ed Palumbos, who is Director of Priest Personnel for the Diocese?  It seems doubtful.

“Unfortunately” an additional three priests are listed as 2011 supporters who were not on the 2010 list,  Fr. Dan Tormey, [Fr.] Jim Lawlor, and Rev. John Walsh, who died in 2012.  Fr. Tormey and [Fr.] Lawlor were each on at least one earlier list, however, so they weren’t contributing for the first time.  Further, while Fr. Bill Donnelly isn’t listed as a donor for 2011 (as he was for 2010), nevertheless another donor gave a donation in his name! 

For perspective, in 2011 and prior to suspension of the Presbyteral Council upon Bishop Clark’s resignation,  Reverends Bausch, Werth, Tormey, Kennedy and Palumbos had been members of the highest consultative body to the Bishop.  Basically, we are seeing the same shrinking core of relatively aged priests supporting Fortunate Families, some dropping their titles, but still stubbornly supporting a function and advocacy which is dissident to Catholic teaching.  When dissent from a priest is public in any area of Catholic teaching, how can those of “vulnerable catechesis” assume the rest of that individual’s teaching is faithful?   The die of doubt has been cast.  

Last year, it was heard that some priests didn’t believe they had actually donated to Fortunate Families and wondered why their names were listed.  It is only fair to mention the possibility that someone else might give a donation in a priest’s name in order to make the cause look more widely supported,  especially by priestly stature.   If that happens, and a priest does not want his name to appear, he should contact Fortunate Families in writing and say so, for the protection of his mission and of his priestly credibility.  

Fortunate Families Donors 2011 Page 2 of 2

Fortunate Families Donors 2011
Page 2 of 2

There is another point worth mentioning, and that is the appearance of specific churches rather than individuals on the Fortunate Family Donor List.  On the 2011 list, one donor in the $200-$499 category is St. Mary’s.  But which St. Mary’s?  Another donor, on the $100-$199 list, is St. Catherine of Siena, but which one?  Is it ethical to take funds donated to a Church, given  by faithful parishioners who do not support the goals of Fortunate Families, and donate those monies to such a cause?  Is it lawful?  Is it right to use only the name of a church which is the same as another church, and could scandalously taint that other church and pastor with the confusion of who gave, and who didn’t?  Can a not-for-profit organization legitimately donate to an organization which seems, in a number of its articles, to be rallying and lobbying for a cause so politically aligned?   Some parishioners may want to discuss these concerns with the pastor. 

An additional scandal relates to donating to such a cause by others who feature prominently in the diocese.  The appearance of those names also can lead to scandal.  It can create doubt in parents if their children are in religious education or sacramental preparation programs with prominent supporters of any dissident organization.  On the 2011 list, consider the appearance of:  Bill Pickett (who steered much of the sham pastoral planning, with the disastrous closing of some churches which never should have been closed); Daniel Meyers from the Board of Trustees at St. Bernard’s and a member of the Diocesan Stewardship Council; Carolyn Portanova, retired President and CEO  of the Catholic Family Center.  Does this not speak to the dissident core in the DoR?  And how could this not happen, when priests lead the way?

One would hope that conscience is coming to the fore, at least for some, who have come to realize the scandal and stopped their support.  Or perhaps there is  fear that a new, faithful bishop might not look so favorably on such scandal?  But changing behavior is easier than changing minds and hearts, so we need to continue to pray for obedience of all Catholics to Church Teaching and the moral law, regardless of whether or not it is personally agreeable or convenient, and so that scandal and damage to souls might cease.  One must wonder what goes through a dissident priest’s mind in Lent as he reads the words at Mass from Preface II:

From Preface II: Lent

“For you have given your children a sacred time for the renewing and purifying of their hearts, that, freed from disordered affections, they may so deal with the things of this passing world as to hold rather to the things that eternally endure.”



To enlarge a picture and scrutinize the names, just click on the picture.  The content of this post  is compiled from information made publicly available by Fortunate Families, which does not include full addresses of donors.  If there is any error in what is written above, please reply in the comments  or through the staff email, and it will be investigated and corrected if necessary.  This post is made in good faith in order to protect Catholic teaching and the practice of our faith, all for the good of souls.



18 Responses to “The Continuing Scandal of Priest-Donors to Fortunate Families”

  1. Scott W. says:

    Thanks for keeping the lights on.

    I see there is a Fr. Art Smith on that list and there is one with that name in Buffalo. Don’t know if it is the same person. Some web searching turned up that he was put on medical leave from St. Mary Of The Lake in Hamburg last year.

  2. Richard Thomas says:

    Good job, Dianne,

    Keep telling people that children of homosexual parents do much poorer in school and are relatively less well balanced than those children raised by a mother and father.

    Tell people it is suicidal for children to experiment with homosexuality and expose themselves to HIV, herpes and over 40 other sexually transmitted diseases. And almost evert homosexual who engages in homosexual sex will contract AIDS.

    Tell people the drug and alcohol addiction rate among homosexuals is much higher than in heterosexuals.

    And last but not least, tell them the suicidal rate among homosexuals is higher than in heterosexuals, not because of homophobia, but due to the unstable emotional makeup of homosexuals.

  3. Ron says:

    And are there deacons on the list? For example, is Anthony Sciolino actually Deacon Anthony Sciolino?

  4. Dr. K says:

    Our next bishop should see this list.

    There are other locals who should be highlighted:
    1. St. Catherine of Siena, NY (Fr. Marcoux’s parish)

    2. [Deacon] Anthony & Gloria Sciolino, NY

    3. [Sr.] Catherine Heverin, NY – She signed a prior Fortunate Families petition in 2007 with “SSJ” (see also here)

    4. Sr. Jackie Reichart

  5. Ron says:

    Why wait until the next bishop? Our apostolic administrator should be notified.

    By the way, I wonder if the Dave Simon on the list is the former Father Dave Simon, removed from ministry because he seduced teenage boys.

  6. Sassy says:

    You can only imagine the horror I feel every time I see that donor list and discover the same “close family member’s” name on that list. In all honesty it makes me want to revert back to my maiden name, as I want NOBODY to think I endorse that vile organization.

    We did take them to task about a fairy tale story they printed about a supposed family gathering that never took place. We asked them to remove the story or demote it as a work of fiction. Of course, we were met with very nasty letters.

  7. Sassy says:

    Trust me, I already notified the Bishop Cunningham. It’s my way to bear witness to the faith.

  8. militia says:

    Sassy, rather than changing your name, would you consider using your last name in posting, or even to do an article in a Catholic publication, showing how any member of a family advocating positions against the church is divisive to the whole family? Just an idea.

  9. Sassy says:


    I would IF I felt I would not be a target of harassment. I have a special needs son who requires quite a bit of care/therapy, and I would not want him to see me upset by malicious attacks. As I said, we wrote a beautifully crafted letter (my husband did a superb job) about the fictitious story on FF. As typical, the FF brass never responded to the issues raised in the letter but rather tried to scare us off. Trust me, if there was a comment section where we could post something (it would probably be removed before it would hit a combox), I would do it in a second.

  10. Sassy says:

    Oops! I meant to write Militia. Sorry.

    I can tell you that having relatives who so strongly advocated for SSM while we chose to remain faithful Catholics totally ripped our family apart. I feel so sorry for my husband, as I don’t know if I could handle the same feeling of loss/disappointment if it were my parents. I truly worry about the salvation of my in-laws souls, even though they gave the appearance of being very devout Catholics (daily Mass attendance, EM’s, lector, head of church fund-raising projects). And trust me, I was appalled (as was hubby) when we were included in an op-Ed piece in the D&C which expressed views which were counter to our beliefs (I reprint of that piece later showed up on the FF website). I shared much of that story with Ben.

    I have to say that it was very freeing to write to FF about the fictitious story. It was a burden I felt I carried for too long. And I felt good in knowing that I had records to prove the event never took place.

    Let me pray on this, but I am fairly certain my hubby will be dead set against it given the nastiness he sees Tom Peters gets on a regular basis. I wish there was some way I could e-mail you. I think you’d find the story enlightening.

  11. annonymouse says:

    I note a number of folks named “anonymous” on the list. Thankfully, none were named “annonymouse.”

    While I am all for our Church reaching out to and loving “LGBT” people, the most loving thing she can do is call them to repentence, chastity and ultimately, redemption. This organization wants nothing to do with repentence, chastity and redemption – they are all about license. Therefore, this annonymouse would not donate to such a cause.

  12. Scott W. says:

    While I am all for our Church reaching out to and loving “LGBT” people

    Me too. We need to distinguish between false and true ministries to homosexuals. A true ministry very prominently has TWO guiding principles:

    1. “They [homosexuals] must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided.”

    That’s the one that we can except even false ministries to have.

    2. “homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered”…”Under no circumstances can they be approved”…”Homosexual persons are called to chastity”

    If a ministry has the first but not the second, they are lying by omission, and are therefore a false ministry. Fortunate Families is easy to identify because they deny the second. But other ministries like St. Francis Xavier in NYC are more subtle in that you won’t find an explicit denial of the second (they’d be on the hook if they did), but you will search high and low on their site for any mention of chastity. There is a palpable black hole where Church teaching is supposed to be.

  13. Richard Thomas says:

    You can understand the influence of the “Homosexual Mafia” within the clergy by knowing there are many dioceses that do not allow COURAGE to function. Here in the DOR, not only was COURAGE forbidden to function but DIGNITY was given a full reign.

  14. Hopefull says:

    Does COURAGE function in Syracuse? Can they now be invited into Rochester? What has to happen to do so?

  15. Scott W. says:

    Does COURAGE function in Syracuse? Can they now be invited into Rochester? What has to happen to do so?

    On their web page they list the Syracuse chapter as:

    New York, Syracuse – Fr. Jeffrey Keefe,
    OFM Conv. (315) 422-6233
    E-mail: or

    It also lists one for Rochester:

    New York, Rochester – “Zoar” – in solidarity with Courage Call: Tom
    (585) 729-1757

    This course could be old and out-of-date. If it were my diocese, I’d write two letters to Bp. Cunningham and Courage as a start.

  16. Richard Thomas says:

    ZOAR has been operating in the DOR since the 1990’s. It is a local effort with no connection with COURAGE because it was forbidden by the DOR

  17. Scott W. says:

    ZOAR has been operating in the DOR since the 1990?s. It is a local effort with no connection with COURAGE because it was forbidden by the DOR

    Thanks. I kinda figured that was the case from “in solidarity with Courage”.

    But the good news is that it does operate in Syracuse, so I would say it is worthwhile to see if Bp. Cunningham is willing to lift the ban.

  18. annonymouse says:

    We need to pray HARD for our next bishop, who will have his hands full with our aging and almost uniformly liberal presbyterate. And let us pray that God will provide for His Church many good, holy and faithful priests.

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