Another celebrity priest falls: Fr. Thomas Williams


Today Fr. Thomas Williams, LC, ThD has released a brief statement in which he admits to having a relationship with a woman and fathering a child. He will be taking a year away from public ministry. This is the statement in full:

“A number of years ago I had a relationship with a woman and fathered her child. I am deeply sorry for this transgression and have tried to make amends. My superiors and I have decided it would be best for me to take a year away without active public ministry to reflect on my commitments as a priest. I am truly sorry to everyone who is hurt by this revelation, and I ask for your prayers as I seek guidance on how to best move forward.”

Although the two do not seem to be linked, this comes after news yesterday that some Legion of Christ priests are under Vatican investigation for seven allegations of sexual abuse, with most of the allegations concerning decades-old incidents.

‘The Legion of Christ is firmly committed to receive and examine all accusations presented, reaching out to possible victims and always safeguarding the rights of all those involved,’ the Legion said May 11. ‘We invite everyone to pray for these brothers of ours and especially for the victims.’

There’s more here.

Williams is a well-known author and speaker — and a longtime TV commentator, first at NBC News and later at CBS News, where I knew him. (He and I spoke a time or two on the phone, but never met; he was based at the time in Rome).

From NCR:

Williams decided to come forward after a former Legionary priest in Chile, who is now active in a group called the “Association of Aid for Victims of the Legion of Christ,” reported rumors of the affair to senior Vatican officials. A copy of that report was obtained by NCR.

The report also asserted that Williams has had sexual relations with students at the Legion’s university in Rome, Regina Apostolorum, where until recently he was on the faculty. Williams denied those charges.

The report further alleged that Williams had a sexual relationship with the daughter of a prominent American Catholic personality. On that point, Williams said he will not comment on specific individuals.

Born in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., Williams was ordained a Legionary priest in 1994. In recent years, he’s emerged as perhaps the best-known American member of the Legion of Christ, particularly in the media.

In addition to teaching at Regina Apostolorum, Williams has served as a Vatican and religious affairs analyst for NBC, CBS, and Sky News, and has published 14 books on Catholic spirituality and doctrine, including Becoming the Christian You Want to Be and A Christian Guide to Conscience. He’s also been a speaker in Catholic venues around the world.

Williams has played several leadership roles within the Legion, including acting as publisher of “Zenit,” a web-based news agency sponsored by the order, for 10 years.

His matinee-idol looks were a big help in his TV career, and did not go unnoticed around the newsroom.  Commenting on his looks, Katie Couric used to refer to him as “Father What-A-Waste.”

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