With the removal of Cardinal Donald Wuerl as Archbishop of Washington, D,C, by Francis the Merciful and his appointment by Francis as Administrator of the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. pending the selection by Francis of the next Archbishop of Washington, D.C. speculation is widespread as to who Francis will select for the appointment.  Some publications have already named the prelate that they figure has the best chance of being selected by Francis: Archbishop Gregory Michael Aymond, presently Archbishop of New Orleans.

Why Archbishop Aymond?  One of the principal reasons to believe that he will be Francis’ choice is because the two American members of the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinals Wuerl and Cupich, would find Aymond’s record in New Orleans prior to the years he spent as Bishop of Austin, make him acceptable to the Lavender Mafia, which, along with Wuerl and Cupich, constitute the closest advisers to Francis.

Here is some of the background of Archbishop Gregor Michael Aymond. 


Notre Flame Seminary?

By Don Quixote de la Santa Fé

   Jousts with windmills – and been known to win a few

“But if thy brother shall offend against thee, go and rebuke him between thee and him alone.  If he shall hear thee, thou shalt gain thy brother.  And if he will not hear thee:  take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand.  And if he will not hear them:  tell the church.  And if he will not hear the church:  let him be to thee as the heathen and publican.  Amen I say to you, whatsoever you shall bind upon earth shall be bound also in heaven:  and whatsoever you shall loose upon earth shall be loosed also in heaven.”  [Douay-Rheims, Matthew 18: 15-18]  


There is an unresolved allegation that at one time Notre Dame Seminary (New Orleans, Louisiana) was also known as “Notre Flame.”  This is an allegation that The Most Reverend Gregory Michael Aymond, Archbishop of New Orleans, is best qualified to confirm or deny.  

In the spirit of fraternal correction – Matthew 18:15-18 – this allegation demands answers from all concerned.  

The Allegation

There is an unresolved allegation that at one time Notre Dame Seminary (New Orleans. Louisiana) was also known as “Notre Flame.”  In 2002 author Michael S. Rose wrote:  

“According to former seminarians and recently ordained priests, this “gay subculture” is so prominent at certain seminaries that these institutions have earned nicknames such as Notre Flame (for Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans) and Theological Closet (for Theological College at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.). St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore has earned the nickname the “Pink Palace.” 

In this regard, in 2002 Michael Rose also wrote:  

“In the late 1980s, Stephen Carrigee was active in an organization at Louisiana State University called Catholicism on Campus when he felt called to pursue a vocation to the priesthood with the Archdiocese of New Orleans. “A number of the more experienced members warned me that I should purposely act effeminate and talk with a lisp if I really wanted to be sponsored by New Orleans,” said Carrigee. “At first I thought they were being funny, but they were dead serious because they knew from personal experience.” 444

Author Michael Rose repeated his “Notre Flame” allegation in an opinion published in the Dallas Morning News on October 18, 2005.  Rose started his opinion by asking, “Are gay priests the problem?”  To this Rose replied, “Yes, when they’re part of the church’s gay subculture, the Lavendar Mafia.”  In this opinion Rose went on to say:

“In my own study of seminary life over the past three decades, I have found that many heterosexual men give up their seminary studies precisely for this reason, leaving behind a student body gradually swollen with homosexuals.  I’m not talking about the presence of a few gay-oriented men who want to live chastely, but rather the institutionalization of a gay subculture that has earned some seminaries nicknames such as the Pink Palace, Notre Flame (emphasis supplied), and Theological Closet.” 

“One aspect of this gay subculture of both priests and seminarians is that too many men who want to be chaste, whether gay or straight, are propositioned, harassed or even molested – occurrences that are more common than one might think.  This doesn’t aid the moral and spiritual development of the church’s future clergy.  Rather, it fosters a pathological pattern of living.” 

“This is not simply about homosexuality or homosexual acts.  It’s about an agenda and subculture that systematically undermine celibacy, a state to which the Roman Catholic priest is called.  This gay subculture is also in direct conflict with the teachings of the church.  Those involved are promoting this conflict and escalating the problem.” 

Sadly, none of the principals have stepped forward to deny or refute any of Rose’s allegations.  

Why bring this allegation up after all these years?  First, this allegation is about homosexual activity at a Catholic seminary.  Second, many Catholics have been waiting for years for the Church to confirm or deny this allegation.  

More importantly, contemporary media is churning with allegations of sexual misconduct by priests, bishops, archbishops, and Cardinals.  All you have to do is read Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò’s eleven pages of explosive testimony implicating Pope Francis and several senior prelates in covering up Archbishop Theodore McCarrick’s alleged sexual abuse of seminarians and priests.  

Best Qualified to Confirm or Deny

Because of his long association with Notre Dame Seminary this is an allegation that The Most Reverend Gregory Michael Aymond, Archbishop of New Orleans, is best qualified to confirm or deny.  

Archbishop Aymond’s long association with Notre Dame Seminary – as a seminarian (four years ending in 1975), faculty member (18 years), and President-Rector (from 1986 through the end of the 1999-2000 academic year) – is well documented by his official archdiocesan online biography that states in pertinent part:  

“…he [Archbishop Aymond] went to St. Joseph Seminary College in St. Benedict, La. and graduated in 1971. He earned a master’s degree in divinity from Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans in 1975 and was ordained as a priest of the New Orleans Archdiocese the same year.”   

“From 1973 to 1981, he [Archbishop Aymond] was a professor, business administrator and then Rector of St. John Vianney Preparatory Seminary in New Orleans. From 1981 to 1986, he was professor of pastoral theology and homiletics and Director of Education at Notre Dame Seminary.”   

“The archbishop served as President-Rector of Notre Dame Seminary from 1986 until the end of the 1999-2000 academic year, longer than any rector in the seminary’s history. He also was a member of the seminary faculty for 18 years. During his tenure, Notre Dame Seminary grew to become the third-largest seminary in the country.  Archbishop Aymond was ordained an Auxiliary Bishop of New Orleans in 1997.”   

“He [Archbishop Aymond] has made mission work a strong emphasis of his ministry. In the 1980s, Archbishop Aymond and groups of seminarians from Notre Dame Seminary began to visit Sotuto, Mexico, where they built housing and offered religious training.”

“In 1994, he [Archbishop Aymond] began a medical mission program in Nicaragua called ‘Christ the Healer,’ taking volunteer teams of health care professionals to the town of Granada to offer medical help at San Juan de Dios Hospital.”   

In an aside – given Michael Rose’s previously cited comment reference Stephen Carrigee – Carrigee was pursuing his vocation to the priesthood at a time (“In the late 1980’s) when Archbishop Aymond” served as President-Rector of Notre Dame Seminary from 1986 until the end of the 1999-2000 academic year.”

In a second aside – given today’s media focus on pedophilia in the Catholic Church – Archbishop Aymond’s official biography also states in pertinent part:  

‘Archbishop Aymond has served as chairman of the U.S. Bishops’ Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People.”   

Archbishop Aymond’s online archdiocesan biography is essentially confirmed by an online secular biography, last edited June 26, 2018, that states in pertinent part:  

“Aymond was ordained to the priesthood by Archbishop Philip Hannan on May 10, 1975.  He then served as a professor and later rector at St. John Vianney Preparatory Seminary in New Orleans until 1981, when he became director of education and professor of pastoral theology and homiletics at his alma mater Notre Dame Seminary.  From 1986 to 2000, he served as president-rector of Notre Dame; his tenure was the longest in the seminary’s history.”   

“During the 1980s, Aymond and groups of seminarians from Notre Dame began to visit Mexico, where they built houses and offered religious training.  In 1994 he founded Christ the Healer, a medical mission program of the New Orleans Archdiocese in Granada, Nicaragua.”    

This online secular biography also makes it clear that Archbishop Aymond is not a stranger to pedophilia and homosexual issues:  

“As an Auxiliary Bishop of New Orleans, one of Aymond’s duties included the oversight of Catholic schools in the archdiocese.  In 1998, then-Auxiliary Bishop Aymond allowed Brian Matherne, a coach at Sacred Heart of Jesus School in Norco, to remain in his post for several months after receiving information from the victim’s father that Matherne had molested his son some 13 years earlier. He dropped the matter without alerting police after unsuccessful attempts to speak to the alleged victim. The youth (then 24) later told the St. Charles Parish Sheriff’s Office about the matter. Matherne was arrested and later pleaded guilty to molesting 17 youths over a period of 15 years and is serving 30 years in the Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola.  Aymond in part defended the church’s handling of the case, saying it had followed the law but also admitted his mistake in not immediately firing Matherene.  In Austin three years later, Bishop Aymond began tightening the Diocese’s sex abuse policy, based partly on the Matherne case stating: “That painful experience — I will never forget it. It helped me to understand the complexity of pedophilia better.”   

“In June 2013, Aymond issued a statement of regret that his predecessor, Archbishop Philip Hannan, and the local church leadership ignored the arson attack on a local gay bar that killed 32 people 40 years earlier. Aymond wrote to Time magazine that “In retrospect, if we did not release a statement we should have to be in solidarity with the victims and their families… The church does not condone violence and hatred. If we did not extend our care and condolences, I deeply apologize.”     

That being said, why should we expect Archbishop Aymond to confirm or deny Michael Rose’s allegation?  

Why Should We Expect Confirmation or Denial?

Why should we expect Archbishop Aymond to respond to Rose’s 2002 allegation that at one time Notre Dame Seminary (New Orleans. Louisiana) was also known as “Notre Flame?”  Because in Archbishop Aymond’s online secular biography it also states in pertinent part:  

“Aymond has a reputation for taking on controversial issues in a direct and vocal way. He has called the confrontations a necessary part of being a bishop. “I don’t feel I have a responsibility or an obligation to make people do what the church says,” he said in 2008. “In fact, I think that would be wrong. But I do have an obligation to say, “This is what the church’s teaching is.”   

What say you Archbishop Aymond?  Do you confirm or deny Michael Rose’s allegation that at one time Notre Dame Seminary was also known as “Notre Flame?”  

About abyssum

I am a retired Roman Catholic Bishop, Bishop Emeritus of Corpus Christi, Texas
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