It was with great sadness that I learned about the resignation of Fr. Thomas Euteneuer this morning, and with even greater sadness that I read his statement. I didn’t allow my eyes to wander down to the comments because I got enough of a taste of the anger at Fr. Euteneuer on Dr. Nadal’s website, where I first learned of this terribly sad situation.
I want to talk about this a little, but first I want to address the spirit of this post and the spirit I think we all need to guard against here. There is a tendency in Catholic circles to gossip about our priests, especially our priests who are public figures, and excuse the gossip under the guise of “discussion” or “remonstrance” or any other lame-duck cover story for what is essentially gossip. I’m not going to speculate on the nature of what exactly happened between Fr. Euteneuer and this woman, and I would ask you not to either. He told us in his statement all we need to know, and from what I know of his character, I would assume that he is harder on himself than anyone else would be if they knew the full details.
This is certainly a grave and tragic event. In the wake of the sex abuse scandals, it has become hard for the faithful to hold their head up and stand behind their priests. Fr. Euteneuer has always been one of the priests we championed because of his courage, his faith, and his unyielding devotion to the pro-life movement. He is and has been a warrior against evil, and he’s done so on our behalf. Sometimes our warriors fall on the field of battle, as he has done. At a time like this, it’s our duty to surround him with love, forgiveness and mercy.
I’m not excusing his actions or the damage I’m sure they have caused to the unnamed woman, nor the damage they will undoubtedly do to our Church. But it is not our duty to judge nor to cast stones. He has been removed from his ministry for the time being, which is appropriate. His actions are not being ignored, he himself has shown courageous honesty and willingness to atone for his actions. Let us not deny him the mercy he has shown to many among us in the confessional on behalf of our Lord.
I’m closing this post with a wonderful quote from St. Maximilian Kolbe that someone else left in the comment box of Dr. Nadal’s post. I find it quite appropriate to this situation.
– St. Maximilian Kolbe