We will soon see the Grand Jury report on Pennsylvania. I wonder what it will say about Richard Ginder.

In Pittsburgh my wife’s mother was friendly with a politically conservative Catholic writer for Our Sunday Visitor, a Rev. Richard Ginder. My wife remembers that he suddenly stopped coming and was never mentioned again. My wife’s parents, including her father who was a judge, died before I discovered the truth about Ginder, so I never knew what they knew or had heard.


It turns out Ginder was of the “Vatican II… aggiornamento…take your clothes off” school.

Randy Engel summarizes the events:

The Ginder Case was played out under Bishops Hugh C. Boyle (1921-1950), John F. Dearden (1950-1958), John J. Wright (1959-1969), Vincent M. Leonard (1969-1983) and Anthony Bevilacqua (1983-1987). It clearly demonstrates how little the handling of criminal pederast priests has changed over the last seventy years in the Pittsburgh Diocese.

Father Richard Ginder was a native Pittsburgher born in 1914. He was a Basselin Fellow and held a master’s degree in philosophy and a licentiate in theology from the Catholic University of America. He was ordained a priest of the Pittsburgh Diocese in 1940 at the age of 26 by Bishop Hugh Boyle. Fr. Ginder taught for three years at St. Charles College in Catonsville, MD, and Mount St. Mary’s Seminary in Emmitsburg, MD. Later he became Censor of Books for the Diocese of Pittsburgh.

From the late 1940s to the early 1960s, Fr. Ginder was a popular syndicated priest-columnist. His byline appeared in such prominent Catholic publications as Our Sunday Visitor where he wrote the controversial syndicated column “Right or Wrong.” [Hah!] He also founded The Priest, a journal for Catholic clergy which he edited for 24 years and The Catholic Choirmaster which he edited for 13 years. He was also an accomplished organist and composer of sacred music.

Ginder claimed he discovered his “sexual identity” in 1949, nine years after his ordination. He said he regretted that over the next 25 years, he was never permitted to express himself on the subject of homosexuality in either OSV or The Priest. He did, however, give himself permission to act out his homosexual impulses with adolescent boys and young men.

Then in 1969, Ginder’s double life as a priest-homosexual pederast came to a grinding halt, not by any action of the diocese but by the Pittsburgh police.

As part of an intensive investigation, police officers raided Ginder’s private apartment in the Squirrel Hill section of Pittsburgh and found photographs of teenage boys performing homosexual acts with Ginder and possibly other priests from the diocese. The police also found diaries written by Ginder that described his (and, again, possibly other clerics’ and laymen’) homosexual activities with young boys and young men. Diocesan attorneys interceded for Ginder and he was released from jail and put on ten-years’ probation.

To recap – The Pittsburgh Diocese knew that Fr. Ginder was a homosexual hunter of underage boys, a criminal offense. The police had sufficient evidence to convict him. The diocese had enough evidence to petition the Vatican to laicize him. But Bishop Wright got him off the hook. He remained “a priest in good-standing.” And the entire sordid affair was covered-up.

Significantly, that very same year, 1969, Rome kicked Bishop Wright “upstairs” and brought him, and his young secretary, Father Donald Wuerl, to Rome. On April 23, 1969, Pope Paul VI appointed Bishop Wright, Prefect of the Congregation for Clergy. Five days later, Wright was made a Cardinal.

In 1975, a little more than halfway through his probationary period, Ginder published his semi-autobiographical book Binding With Briars – Sex and Sin in the Catholic Church, a defense of homosexuality and autoeroticism. As Ginder explains:

The Church does not hate gays. The Church hates sodomy. We are trying to change that opposition, to show that it is a mistaken hostility, that sodomy is licit, at least for gays …if homosexuals are sincerely persuaded that gay sodomy is permissible, then they have no need to build their own private little chapel within the Mother Church, to form an esoteric sect within the Christian commonwealth. Separatism, segregation, is not the answer. The answer is assimilation…Gays can be just as good Catholics as the rest and still have their sex. Don’t let them quit the Church …we need their help in forming a consensus. We need them on the team.

In the foreword of Binding With Briars, Ginder stated he celebrated Mass every day and that he believed in the tenets of the Nicene Creed as defined dogma, and that he loved his priesthood and his Church, but on the subject of moral theology, he took a sharp detour in terms of allegiance.

The priest attacked moral theology, “at least as it existed from Trent to Vatican II,” as a “stingy, pettifogging science,” that is “act-centered” rather than person-centered. Salvation lies in the “fundamental option” not in “individual acts,” he insisted. Not surprisingly, as an active homosexual/pederast, Ginder thought chastity and celibacy were highly overrated.

Fr. Ginder hailed “Gay Liberation” as being “the cutting edge of sexual liberation.” He favored both. He labeled pedophilia, that is, sex with children as “sick,” and distinguished “the child molester” from the “normal homosexual,” presumably a man like himself, who only engaged in sex with adolescent boys or peers.

In 1976, one year after the publication of Binding With Briars, Bishop Leonard, Wright’s successor, stripped Ginder of his priestly faculties. But he made no move to laicize the priest, so the hapless parishioners of the diocese continued to support the perp while the perp continued to seek out fresh meat.

I found the book. Engel’s quotes are accurate.

Here is Kirkus Review‘s 1975 review of the book. His pederasty goes unmentioned.

Richard Ginder has been a Roman Catholic priest “”in good standing”” for 35 years. He calls himself an “”open-minded conservative”” on dogma but in the area of moral theology he is a sexual liberal. He maintains–to put it mildly indeed–that the teaching of the institutional Church is overdeveloped in the area of personal sexual morality. Because of the Church’s preoccupation with chastity–the “”megavirtue,”” to the near exclusion of other more serious matters–war, ecology, violence, governmental integrity, sins against charity–countless Catholics have simply chosen to go their own way, often in bitterness and anguish. (Their testaments, especially since Vatican II, have come to constitute almost a genre in itself.) Father Ginder reviews the historical sources of guilt at bodily pleasure–if it feels good it must be bad–from St. Paul and the early Church Fathers down to the intransigence of Pope Paul VI’s Humanae vitae. Along the way credits go to the Scholastics, the Jansenists, the Irish clergy (truly sui generis) and the New England Puritans. But the value of his book lies not in telling us how American Catholics got so repressed–an oft told tale–but in its sexual specifics. He deals with the spectrum of sexual practices from fantasy to fetishism and with the exception of abortion (“”plain murder””) his advice, quoting St. Augustine is: “”Love God and do as you please.”” Direct, often amusing, and supportive, especially of gay libbers whom he calls the “”shock troops”” on the barricades.


Perhaps Archbishop Donald Wuerl would care to explain his role in all this. “I know Nothink!” is not credible.

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