The Church of the Good Shepard in Rosemont has been a staple of Philadelphia’s Main Line for many decades. It’s one of those signature buildings that anyone driving along Lancaster Avenue will recognize as an indicator that they are in Rosemont and not, say Wayne or Devon. The Church of the Good Shepard has always had a high liturgical life, meaning that it is more Catholic than Protestant, much like Saint Clement Episcopal Church in Center City.
Years ago the pastor at the Church of the Good Shepard was Father George William Rutler, an erudite, witty and theologically savvy man. For nine years he served at that parish and then, in 1979, Fr. Rutler was received into the Roman Catholic Church. He later wrote that the Episcopal Church was a post-Christian remnant.
“It is a vivid but tragic example of what happens when you abandon a serious commitment to the teachings of Christ,” Fr. Rutler said. “Demographically, the Church of England will not exist in 20 years,” Father Rutler informed writer Steve Skojec of ‘One Peter Five’ earlier this year. Fr. Rutler’s beef with the Episcopal Church had to do with the ordination of women as priests and bishops, something that he called “a demographic catastrophe.”
After his reception into the RCC, Fr. Rutler was sent to the North American College in Rome for additional seminary studies. He was ordained to the diaconate in Rome by William Cardinal Baum in 1980 and ordained to the priesthood at St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York by Terence Cardinal Cooke in 1981.
In 2013, he became pastor of Saint Michael the Archangel Church in Manhattan after a flurry of parish assignments, including a stint as pastor of the Church of Our Savior beginning in 2001. At the Church of Our Savior Fr. Rutler restored the Traditional Latin Mass and employed artist Ken Woo to fill the sanctuary with exquisite iconography. After his assignment to St. Michael the Archangel in Hell’s Kitchen by Cardinal Dolan, the new modernist pastor at the Church of Our Savior abolished the Latin Mass in Fr. Rutler’s old parish and ordered the removal of Woo’s iconography.
Over the years, Fr. Rutler made a name for himself in conservative Catholic circles. His list of accomplishments, books, accolades, TV and radio appearances would fill this column.
Skojec recalls hearing a talk by Fr. Rutler in college. “I went to a talk by him in college and was delighted by both his intelligence and dry wit, savoring most the quips he made to himself as he was pawing through the selection of teas at the refreshment table: “Decaf, decaf, decaf — all this Novus Ordo tea. I’m looking for the Tridentine tea!’”
Fr. Rutler’s life changed drastically in the wee hours of November 4, Election Night, 2020, when an overnight security guard in his parish, Ashley Gonzalez, 22, relaxed on a sofa in Fr. Rutler’s office as the priest reviewed the latest Election returns on his computer. Reports say it was close to 1 AM. Fr. Rutler had given Gonzalez permission to use his office as a time-out space while making her rounds.
Gonzalez claims that while relaxing on the sofa, she began to hear the sounds of a pornographic movie on Fr. Rutler’s computer and claims that when she turned to see what was happening she noticed that the priest had his hands inside his trousers. (The New York Times reported that Fr. Rutler was engaged in masturbation.) Gonzalez then videotaped the goings-on, filming the priest from behind so that the viewer gets only a side view of the face at the computer screen. The computer screen is blocked out, so the viewer cannot see the alleged pornographic images.
According to The Times, Gonzalez texted a relative saying she feared she was about to be raped. When she got up to leave the office, she claims that Fr. Rutler tried to prevent her from leaving. Gonzalez says that Fr. Rutler threw himself against her and put his hands on her breasts, in effect trying to prevent her from leaving. Gonzalez says she was able to push the priest away from her and leave the office and run out onto 34th Street where she immediately contacted Black Ops Private Investigators.
As a result of these allegations, Fr. Rutler agreed to temporarily remove himself from the parish although he vehemently denied Gonzalez’s charges. Police and the Archdiocese of New York are currently investigating the incident.
What is odd about the story is that a priest of Fr. Rutler’s position and reputation would watch gay pornography in front of a security guard, and then proceed to touch himself in a flagrant manner while the guard was observing him. Even if Fr. Rutler thought that Gonzalez was asleep, watching porn with the audio turned up is an invitation to be discovered. It’s also pure madness. Behaving in such a way is career/reputation suicide, reminiscent of a Kamikaze mission.
Even if Fr Rutler was in full stress mode about the Election and had been drinking heavily, it is unlikely that he would want to pull the plug on his career in such a careless fashion. Only a person suffering from a form of dementia would be so careless.
Another puzzling element in the official story is Gonzalez’s charge that the priest attempted to rape her.
How do you go from watching gay pornography to attempted heterosexual rape in less than 4 minutes? There are probably many bisexuals and sexual libertines who could easily manage such gymnastics, but is it likely that a 75-year-old priest, who has had an unblemished record for all his priestly life, would be such a person?
When I viewed a news clip of Gonzalez describing the incident to a reporter, I was shocked at how young Gonzalez looked. She also happens to be pretty but in a strangely boyish way. As I listened to her talk about the incident, there seemed nothing rehearsed in her description. Gonzalez kept repeating how shocked and disgusted she was, and that she would never be returning to St. Michael the Archangel. Her testimony, I admit, bordered on the authentic, but was it?
It’s no crime to watch gay pornography, whether you are a Senator, president, a bilingual Archbishop or a golf caddy. Who among us has never surfed into the “darker” corners of the Internet at one time or another? Porn is the wall-to-wall carpeting of the Internet, as common as commercials on You Tube. Was the whole thing a set up? Did Gonzalez want to embarrass Fr Rutler or blackmail him in some way? Was she was acting on behalf of a third party?
Gonzalez’s accusations have the sensationalistic quality of a B-movie script written by a high school student.
Big time famous orthodox priest, a holier-than-thou type who condemns gay marriage and homosexuality is caught at the computer watching two men have a go at it. The famous priest doesn’t attempt to hide the fact that he is watching porn but in fact flaunts the deed by feeling himself up. The young female security guard then starts videotaping the priest, at which point the famous holy man jumps up and puts his hands all over her breasts. The young security guard then shoves the priest and runs out onto 34th Street. The priest then disappears from sight, his reputation left in tatters.
This bizarre incident is in total alignment with the sensationalistic, irrational and sci-fi like events of 2020.