Kentucky diocese investigates threatening letters

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com October 01 2002 12:00 AM ET

Police and the Roman Catholic diocese of Lexington, Ky., are investigating threatening letters sent to three clergymen warning them to stop persecuting gay priests within the diocese.

The unsigned letters accuse the reverends John Dane and William Bush of St. Luke parish in Nicholasville and the Reverend Tom Imfeld of Corbin of wounding and slandering the diocese, its gay priests, and its former Lexington bishop, J. Kendrick Williams. Williams resigned in June after three men sued the church and accused him of sexual misconduct. The letters also accuse Dane of running a Web site that is highly critical of liberals, feminists, and gay priests in the Lexington diocese. Dane has developed Web sites for many parishes and worked as an information technician at the diocesan office, but he denies any connection to the site mentioned in the letter.

The Nicholasville police department is investigating the letters as cases of "terroristic threatening." Catholic officials are also looking into the matter. "The diocese is taking this seriously," said church spokesman Thomas Shaughnessy. "We're looking into it as best we can."

The letters purport to be from the "Gay Priests Association," although no such organization is known to exist in the Lexington diocese. The letter to Dane said that Bush and Imfeld have been told they need to get Dane "under control and out of the country (and off the Internet). That is, if you would like to continue to receive a salary and keep your life intact."

Dane said he has been targeted because he preaches "Gospel values and Gospel principles," including the Roman Catholic Church's position that gay sex is "gravely disordered."