priest fired for gay personal ad
Francis T. Gera, 64, had placed a personal
ad--with a naked photo of himself--on a website for mature gay men and
admirers and was removed Thursday (2/20) from his post as pastor of
Holy Dormition Byzantine Catholic Church in Ormond Beach, Florida. Gera
was relieved of his duties when church brass learned of his posting
in the personals section of the Silverfox
Pictures Archive web site under the name Poppa Bear saying he was
looking for 18-40yo men.
The ad was on an unprotected area of the site, leaving it exposed to search engines, and gave an e-mail address which was the same one at which parishioners would correspond with Gera. The Silverfox Pictures Archive site was developed by one of the members of the Silverfox Mailing List - an email correspondance list for mature gay men and admierers with over 2000 members worldwide
A member of his parish aparrantly had corresponded with him on chruch business via email and was looking for more examples of his work. He used his email address to search on Google - which gave the link to the Silverfox Pictures Archive site.
The parishoner passed this information to Bishop Andrew Pataki of the Byzantine rite diocese who oversees all Byzantine rite Catholic churches in Florida, but he said Pataki never responded. He then passed this information to the watchdog Roman Catholic Faithful, the fundamentalist Catholic group investigating Gera, saying that he believed Gera was soliciting sexual encounters with gay men.
The Byzantine rite has is smaller then the Roman rite wto which most Catholics belong and has churches in eastern Europe, Africa and Asia. Both rites accept the pope as their head, but the Byzantine churches allow married men to become priests and have some different acts of worship, laws and customs. Unmarried priests in both rites are forbidden from having sexual relationships.
However, instead of writing to Gera explaining the evidence they had uncovered - giving him an opportunity to respond or resign leaving the dignity of the church and the priest intact - the Roman Catholic Faithful posted details about Father Gere's activites on it's website.
As a response to this, GrayGay.com has published SafeSurfing dating guidelines to help mature gay men safely meet partners online as well as a guide to the safe personals sites which don't allow search engines to index them
GrayGay.com extends our deepest sympathy to Father Gere and would suggest you might like to write to the Editor of the Roman Catholic Faithful site, saying what you think of their actions, and send a supportive mail to Father Gere