Another celebrity priest falls: Fr. Thomas Williams

Details:

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.”

Comments

  1. This is very sad news that reminds us all, believers and non-believers, that as humans we are fragile and can and do make mistakes. Not always are we faithful to the promises and vows we freely take.

    Just as married men and women too often do not remain always faithful to those vows, so a priest may not always be faithful. The important thing is to become aware of one’s failures, ask forgiveness if anyone was hurt by them, and move one. Let’s remember that even as wrongdoers, we can also still do good, especially to make up for the wrong that we’ve done.
    I’ve read some of Fr. Williams’ books and attended a talk of his, and they helped me very much. Who am I to judge him for a personal failing of his? Hopefully the woman and child are doing well, possibly much better than many other broken families.
    Fr. Thomas, no one is perfect, you are still a priest that helped others and did good – this good is not erased by the mistakes you may have done!

    These are just my thoughts – I invited other readers to be constructive in their criticism, Thank you!

  2. Oh, and an important correction on the article – it reads that “some priests are under investigation for 7 allegations of sexual abuse” – this is NOT correct. Rather, there are 7 allegations for “delicta gravorum” meaning serious offenses to the priesthood. These include (and usually are) relationships with a consenting woman, as in Fr. Williams case. Although it is “grave”, for sure, allow me to say that it is NOT the same thing as abuse! Let’s be specific. Thanks.

  3. Midwestlady says:

    Looks like the LC has already been here. Man, you guys are fast.

  4. ron chandonia says:

    I had a relationship with a woman and fathered her child.

    HER child? Why isn’t this person your child as well, Father? And why aren’t you and the woman raising the child together, as the Church believes biological parents should do?

  5. This is sickening. Forget the “I’m not judging another person because I’m Catholic” or “hate the sin but love the sinner” sentiment: this guy had the stones to act “in personae Christi” in performing his various sacramental duties as a PRIEST while having sex??? NO WAY. A complete loser, a failure, a disgrace. I AM judging him. Have at me righteous ones.

  6. Let’s not sanitize grave sin with the euphemism of “mistake”, shall we? I make mistakes. I commit sins. I am pretty sure I know the difference. A priest who falls once perhaps can be rehabilitated, but the allegations about Fr. Williams are pretty bad. I think Fr. Williams needs to start a new life as Mr. Williams. Sorry.

  7. Stefano:
    Will you please cite your source for your statgment that the 7 allegations are not for sexual abuse but for “delicta gravorum” meaning serious offenses to the priesthood?

  8. Ron:
    Maybe she does not want any relationship with the father (Father) or worse, she has received some sort of payment to remain silent.

  9. And on top of that, we sinners and morons who screw up every day, including obnoxious lesbians going for the consecrated hosts and raising hell in the press, every one of these losers, and big mouthed punks like myself and rotten atheists, every single one of these sinners and disordered punks are ten thousand light years higher in heaven than a person who takes the sacrament of holy orders and holds himself out there in the media and has a sex life on the side. I hope God kicks his ass.

  10. I’m not sorry Romulus. People should stop calling him Father except his kids. Gross.

  11. Of course what he did is 100% wrong and horrible. I would think it strange if people were not angry, hurt and shocked by this; it is a just anger. But still, we can not judge :/ “Hate the sin but love the sinner” is not a mere sentiment, it is how Christ chose to save us, so we should try to live by it as Christians :)

  12. If he does, I hope it’s to motivate him to repentance. Hell is nothing to wish on anybody.

  13. Katie Couric used to refer to him as “Father What-A-Waste.”

    You want him Katie?

  14. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Thomas Williams may be a fraud who only came forward when he got caught (which seems to be a common thread in a lot of these stories). But he’s also a priest, and our brother in Christ. He admitted his wrongdoing, has owned up to it publicly and is now seeking to make things right with his order and with God. He’s got a rough road ahead. According to the report, he’s also being treated for cancer.

    Was anybody listening to the gospel on Sunday?

    DGK

  15. Who said anything about Hell? I’m sorry but I don’t think it was a mistake. You don’t cultivate heterosexual relationships by accident. I think he apologized because he was caught. Who calls himself a priest day in and day out and has this family on the side? At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter at all what Joan thinks. I’m just spewing. I’m a long way from sainthood.

  16. Deacon Steve says:

    I can’t help but wonder if comments like Katie Couric’s aren’t part of the problem with some of the priests that give in to the temptations and have sexual realtions with a woman. When people objectify the priests as “hunks” and treat them like TV stars I think that it plays on human weaknesses that we all have. I think Ms. Couric’s comment is disrespectful to Fr. Thomas and his vocation. If many people were making those observations it can weaken a person and slowly over time lead to their giving in to temptation.
    And as serious as Fr. Thomas’ actions are, they are not the unforgivable sin. As Deacon Greg said, he has admitted his sin, publicly, and is working on reconciling himself to his order and to God. He needs to be given the time to do so.

  17. joanc57:

    “I’m a long way from sainthood.”

    I can’t judge the state of your soul, but with a line like “I hope God kicks his ass.”
    I would say that you are not far from a gig on Comedy Central.

    Despite the dreadful situation we are reading about here, you have made my heart a little lighter.

  18. How do you know he was a fraud?

    How do you define that?

    You want to play the “what if” game?

    “What if” he had a relationship with this woman, fathered a child, and has been supporting them ever since, repented and renewed his committment to the priesthood?

    Is he a *fraud?”

    (Don’t know if this happened – it’s just that we don’t know and shouldn’t presume.)

    *Frauds* are (imho) priests who present themselves as cheery, mirth-ful representatives of Catholicism in the public eye, but don’t believe important chunks of the Catholic faith themselves and do their best to undermine, in subtle ways, said important chunks.

  19. Yeah, but. My human issue is that this person went on day in and day out offending Jesus with these actions. I have a hard time getting my mind around the day in day out desecration of his vows as a priest, having a relationship, fathering a child, confecting the Eucharist etc. etc. etc. I have a harder time “loving” someone in the abstract, having never met the guy. My main gripe is anybody who does anything against Jesus Christ.

  20. As for Ms Couric’s comment, we lack the context. There’s nothing to discuss there.

    As for the cult of celebrity, it is promoted from the very top of the Church–the papacy–to any believer who runs a blog or even gathers two or more around her of himself to talk about matters of faith. It is always up to the leader, not the followers, to set people straight as to who is Lord, and who is the servant.

    I’ve never heard of this guy. He needs prayers. And he illustrates that it is human weakness that guides sin, not a believer’s ideology, left or right.

  21. We know enough. Isn’t “not having sex with women and getting them pregnant out of wedlock after taking holy orders” enough of a transgression? Smily phoney cheery mirthful chaste priests who don’t believe “important chunks of the Catholic faith themselves….” will probably be signed up for the same extended stay in purgatory of Father Romeo here.

  22. ron chandonia says:

    The NCR story says that she turned down “economic assistance.” I would not be surprised if the point was to buy her silence. But even if the money offered were for the benefit of her child, that is not what a child needs most. A child needs TWO BIOLOGICAL PARENTS, just as the Church teaches. At least Father Cutie had the decency to leave when he got caught. This one appears to be hanging on. I think that is disgusting.

  23. I think Ms. Couric’s comment is disrespectful to Fr. Thomas and his vocation.

    No question. Had Fr. Williams’s superiors done right by him they would have formed him more rigorously and monitored him more closely as he became a media personality. Of course the LCs were too dysfunctional to provide such oversight. Priests who achieve celebrity in the world — or even in purely Catholic circles — are at constant risk. There seems to be very little discernment of the reality of spiritual warfare and the ways prominent priests are targeted. Lone wolf apostolates like this should not be allowed without strict controls and a regime of simplicity and renunciation.

    Given what appear to be multiple infidelities on Fr. Williams’s part, I do not believe his vocation is salvageable, short of retirement to a remote monastery. I would not trust him in parochial or academic work, nor do I believe it would be prudent to place such temptations in his way.

  24. IntoTheWest says:

    “Gross”? Really? Hey, at least he had a relationship with an adult female. The guys who chose unwilling minors to have their “relationships” with are still called Father. That’s infinitely more “gross” than this situation.

  25. ron chandonia says:

    Deacon, if this man has a child out there, it is not with “his order and God” that he most needs to “make things right.” It is unconscionable for the Church to be pro-family in the public arena but to offer only “economic assistance” to women and children quietly abandoned by priests unwilling to leave comfortable Church jobs to care for those to whom they have incurred a lifelong moral obligation.

  26. So your gripe is with every Christian, starting with Peter?

    ” I have a hard time getting my mind around the day in day out desecration of his vows as a priest, having a relationship, fathering a child, confecting the Eucharist etc. etc. etc.”

    Sin is sin. There’s no way in knowing whether or not Williams repented of this and handled it responsibly ages ago. Perhaps he did, despite his order’s wretched record on such matters.

    We don’t know. And once again, as was the case with Mark Shea and his “gay guy I’ve canonized”, we have another Patheos blogger posting an item that is sure to generate fevered commentary and speculation, spike blog hits, but then backing off into some presumed cave of Christian Charity, shrieking, “Stop judging! Stop speculating! Stop! It’s none of our business!”

    But somehow…never closing comments.

  27. IntoTheWest says:

    God’s gonna kick everyone’s ass in the end. Careful what you wish for. ;~)

    To me, it’s sad, but not nearly as horrific as the sex abuse scandals we’re still sorting out.

    Hey, the guy is seriously good looking! Plus, he spent a lot of time out in the world, especially in an industry full of attractive women. I’m sure he had more than his fair share of temptations to deal with.

    Yes, he should leave the priesthood and be a father to his child, but if the mother doesn’t want that, I’m not sure what his options are. Other priests who’ve had consensual affairs with women have remained in the priesthood afterwards.

  28. Let the one without sin throw the first stone. I am not with the Legionaries of Christ, but I know Fr. Thomas and I know that he is a good and faithful priest, even if he has stumbled.

  29. I remember seeing Frs. Jonathan Morris, whom I had seen FOX, and Thomas Williams, whom I did not know, on EWTN a few years ago. While I am not a regular viewer of EWTN (or FOX), I tuned in to see what they had to say about the Maciel and Legionnaires scandal.

    I found it, at least for now, on Youtube:

    http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=DYZL77NX

  30. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Lisa…

    To the world, he presented himself as a celibate man living a chaste life and presumably keeping his promises.

    Priests are public figures. He was living a lie.

    DGK

  31. Oregon Catholic says:

    Perhaps the woman realized that a priest who would violate his vows to have an affair is no more trustworthy than a married man doing the same.

  32. It’s people like you that prevent most people I know from wanting to come to church —enjoy yourself in your elite, sinless, holier-than-thou country club.

  33. PaulJames says:

    Looks like “The Deacon’s Bench” likes to stir up the bad news against priests! Thank God many can see through your bitterness

  34. As a priest, I am terribly saddened by reading most, if not all of these comments. These comments only mirror the lived experience the majority of priests face on a daily basis from many of their parishioners, especially if a parish school is attached to it. (After all, we excel at telling people in life what they are not doing right but often fail to praise.) I don’t presume to know what happens in anyone of my parishioner’s homes, just as they don’t know what happens in my office, confessional, sacristy, shopping at Kroger as we can often be confronted by parishioners at times. I don’t make judgments as to even guess what was going on in his life when this happened. Just as I wouldn’t judge any parishioner who fathered a child out of wedlock, broke a marital commitment or brother priest who has fallen from grace. Rather – as Christ would do – help them see the right path as the stones around them plummet to the ground…or in this case hopefully angry words at how someone we trusted with spreading the message of our faith sinned. My sense, most of us are angry that a popular priest, whom we trusted, has again let us down. Yes, it is terribly disappointing to learn he broke his promises. Yes, it is sad that the Catholic Church is once again being dragged through this mess, again. “Celebrity Cleric Collapses to Celibacy” – doesn’t boost those of us in the trenches. But he is human – weak – vulnerable – and I bet lonely; and to that, I can personally relate. Perhaps you can too! I know when I get on my knees this evening before bed, I’ll pray for Fr. William’s and his family. “This I command you: love one another.”

  35. Unfortunately, certain priests bought the ingredients, stirred the pot and cooked the meal all on their own. Now, the facts have been served. Nothing more; nothing less.

    For the sake of those that come after us, my prayer is that our Church does some psycho-sexual maturing and healing around basic human sexuality.

  36. Secular priests should be married – only religious priests should be bound to celibacy.

  37. To summarize the future reactions to expect in this thread:

    1) Don’t judge the priest, you have no right.
    2) I don’t believe it. Corapi and Williams were set up by evil women. Lets start a Novena to pray that they will return to the pulpit.
    3) Priests should be able to marry.
    4) Williams should defy his Bishop and return to the puplit. Hell, they let Episcopal priests bring their wife’s and kids when they convert why not Williams.

  38. Deacon Greg:

    He was “living a lie” if he were continually sleeping around, up to this minute. Perhaps he was, perhaps he wasn’t. If he had a relationship, repented of it, and acted responsibly to his family – and for all we know he did – he was not “living a lie” any more than you do, Deacon Greg, when you commit a sin, repent and are reconciled.

    I saw the priest’s comment you just highlighted for another post. I think you should listen to that priest. You are just as guilty of that kind of judgment as any commenter here.

    [Lisa: I agree. DGK]

  39. Fiergenholt says:

    Gen X

    You might be right but I’m not sure you know why.

    Most, if not all, religious priests live in a community setting; monastery or something comparable. They have strong internal community support systems. There is a guy down the hall you can talk to that can help in putting some perspective to your life. You can trust him because you know him. You and the rest of your monastery/community-house are all “brothers.”

    In contrast, secular priests often live alone. They have no one to talk to; or that they can use as a support system; or that they can trust.

    Married Deacons, like most married men, have their wives and families.

    A long, LONG time ago, I used to teach “Crisis Intervention” to police academy cadets. A very critical component in any crisis is to try and defuse it by connecting the person having a psychological episode with someone in their support system: family member they can trust; clergy person they can trust; a friend they can trust.

    Whether that means all secular/diocesan priests should be married — I’m not that sure. What I am sure is that if these secular priests do not have a support system of some sort, they are at risk.

    NOW: what happens if your very community is, itself, not part of the solution but part of the problem? That seems to be what we have here.

  40. I feel a bit conflicted about this. He’s only human and what he did was neither unnatural nor criminal. But there is a difference between an ordinary man or woman and a priest. We don’t preach or listen to confessions while stuffing up so spectacularly in our private lives. So I don’t want to judge the person, but I want to hold the priest accountable.

  41. pagansister says:

    Romulus: I heard similar comments from a couple of teachers at my former place of employment, the Catholic school—-when a few seminarians came to do some projects with the kids—and a few of them were very good looking. It wasn’t unusual for the comment to be made that it was too bad they were entering the priesthood with those looks! :o)

  42. pagansister says:

    Many have commented that this is horrible and sinful etc. Personally, I’d rather find out that he had fathered a child than that he had abused children. In both situations the priests were not living up to their “vows”. In this case, there wasn’t a sexual offense committed against helpless children who were being taught to “trust” the Priest.

  43. pagansister says:

    Yes, George, IMO priests should be allowed to marry, #5 on your list. I do wonder how the celibate priests feel when the former priests from the Episcopal church come in, with wives and sometimes children. Totally different life for those that are married and fulfilling their duties as a priest as well as being able to have a loving sexual relationship with his wife.

  44. Yes, well it’s an unoriginal cliche, isn’t it?

  45. Father, your approach is a great example for all of us…and the last thing you mention is an important reminder: pray for your priests. They need it.

  46. I’m not blaming the woman more than 50% but I really will never understand woman who are attracted to unavailable men (ordained clergy, married/engaged men, etc) – he broke his vow- why in the world would he keep promises with the newest amour?

    I believe that many priests don’t believe that satan’s primary goal is to destroy the priesthood- and fatherhood- if priests truly realized this fact, they would protect themselves better

  47. Deacon John says:

    Being celibate and being emotionally healthy is very difficult. This priest apparently failed in his obligations. I can’t say that I would have found it any easier. (although my homlieness may have helped)
    Its time for him to support his child.
    I don’t think he can do that and be a priest at the same time.

  48. Celibacy is not the problem. The stats are over 25 years old (and I’ve not heard anything recent), but if I recall correctly, it was David Tracy whose research showed at the time that, at any given time, 20% of priests are involved in a relationship with a woman. When I told this to a friend, she asked, “Why don’t they just let them marry?” I replied, “Why? So they can join the 40% of married men who, at any given time, are involved in an extra-marital affair?” More recently, I’ve heard stats that 42% of married men and 48% of married women are or have had at least one extra-marital affair. That sort of puts the lie to the idea that celibacy is the problem, eh? Consider, too, that the divorce rate among Protestant ministers is through the roof. Let’s not be so niave as to think that married ministers don’t have extra-marital affairs.

    Maybe we should be harder on our priests when they transgress. I’ve heard that opinion. After all, they’re the ones who are supposed to be acting “in persona Christi.” But, I’m willing to bet there are a lot more people out there who are hurt by the extra-marital flings of married Catholics than there are those hurt by the affairs priests have with women.

    I have never heard of Fr. Williams. I don’t know the circumstances surrounding his fall. If Fr. Williams admitted his relationship and child to his superiors years ago, repented, and made honest and adequate arrangements with the mother for the care of their child, I’m not sure that it’s anyone else’s business. Having said that, I suspect he didn’t, or it would be a pretty irresponsible (read: stupid) superior to then put him in such a public ministry. Maybe religious superiors, and priests themselves, should think harder about who gets these gigs, and then switch them out periodically. I suspect the same situations that tempt married men into affairs also tempt priests: lonliness, attention from women (for whatever reason), and opportunity. It seems these factors are more of a problem in the lives of priests who have very public, and very popular ministries.

  49. Maggie McC says:

    You speak well, Father, and understand Fr Williams’ situation better than any of us laymen. Being a priest must be very lonely at times in this fallen world. As a fallen sinner myself, I am infinitely grateful for God’s glorious mercy and pray that you, Fr. Williams, and all priests will be bathed in God’s love and comfort as we all struggle through our temptations and struggles. A little while and then, God willing, we will know perfect love and beauty. I pray that all the posters here will come to experience the holiness of forgiveness.

  50. Maggie McC says:

    You have put your finger on it, Gen X!

  51. I don’t know if the Legionnaires can survive all this. It’s just too much. Katie Couric’s comment, as usual, was two inches deep and shows her contempt for and lack of class when discussing matters of religion.

  52. I wouldn’t be hard on Katie Couric. I’ve heard the nickname “Father What-A-Waste” used before by other people about other good looking priests. I bet she was repeating something she’d heard before. I don’t think it shows anything personal on her part. She’s just expressing a feeling a whole lot of people share, including a whole lot church-going Catholics. It’s sad but it’s true.

  53. Father Ioannis says:

    Amongst 17 or more sayings of the Desert Fathers warning against judging or even quibbling over the affairs of anyone but oneself, there are two examples that characterize the whole lot.

    Abba Poemen said to Abba Joseph, “Tell me how to become a monk.” Abba Joseph responded, “If you want to rest–viz., to obtain peace in Christ–both here below, as well as hereafter, in all circumstances say, “Who am I?” and do not judge anyone.”

    A second wise saying about eschewing judgment from the desert of ancient Scetis in the 4th Christian century contained one of seven instructions that Abba Moses sent Abba Poemen was, “Every Christian must ‘die to his neighbor’ and never judge a neighbor at all, in any way whatever.”

  54. Many of the comments remind me of the cries that came from the crowd on Good Friday, “Crucify him, Crucify him”. I am quite aware that Jesus was innocent of his charges. That being said, what has happened with Fr. Williams is very bad but this kind of vilification is disgusting.

  55. TJ Connor says:

    I would like to know when he will be defocked as they did to the priest from Miami a year or two ago.
    Let’s see if they are consistent?
    When will Bill O come down on the church as he did with ACORN?

  56. 1. How is the child being financially supported?

    2. Is celibacy contrary to natural Law?

  57. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    TJ…

    Fr. Ablert Cutie wasn’t defrocked. After taking time off for reflection, he decided to leave the Catholic Church and become an Episcopalian priest.

    DGK

  58. It seems to me that Father Williams has put this woman’s soul at risk. A priest is supposed to be a fisher of men. Imagine the bruised soul who decides that Fr. Williams’ action is just the last straw and quits the Church. Imagine the souls who may have been turning to God and who may now turn away from God after learning about his behavior.

  59. For the confused when I referred to “My main gripe is anybody who does anything against Jesus Christ”, in my typical haste I should’ve explained this priest living in sin handling THE CONSECRATED HOST, which IS Jesus Christ. That’s the basis of my gripe.

    There’s venial sin and there is GRAVE sin. Sin is not sin. Having committed both in my lifetime, it’s hard to imagine going about your normal way of life in the living hell that is GRAVE sin.

    And finally, I marvel at the way people can “love” people they have never known, never met except through words on a page. I don’t know what that must feel like. They’re all abstractions to me. This whole internet social media is one huge abstraction to me. I prefer face to face. I need to stop my fingers from typing.

  60. My last comment on this I promise. How sad for the poor child. To have his/her own father be ashamed of bringing him/her into the world.

  61. Clare Krishan says:

    No desire on my part to add to speculation or suffering, yet if morality is to mean anything, it must conform to right reason in the living out of our faith: we are called to resort to the simplest good explanation for a thing, not to entertain the worst. Perhaps the mom honestly declined economic assistance because she didn’t plan on needing any: she may have given ‘her’ child up for adoption? Respect for privacy and surrendering of parental obligations by Fr. Williams (as many other unmarried parents of illegitimate offspring have done and continue to do), continuing with their call to holiness with God’s grace? Can we pro-lifers agree that, since we believe adoption is feasible including all its messy consequences in the lives of those affected, we must never contribute to vilification of reputations that makes the ‘face-saving’ option (abortion) so appealing?

  62. First to Deacon Greg. I’ve been reading the “Bench” for a long time and recommending it to many others. Keep up the good work. I trust your reporting.

    Now! Let me repeat what I’ve been saying publically for years. Weeks after Benedict was selected Pope, my late wife Cicely and I stated, almost simultaneously: “He will never be my Pope”. He didn’t do his job for nearly fifteen years and the Col. Of Cardinals didn’t do their’s. They bowed to politics. I’ve been hoping, since day one, that some investigation would end up removing Benedict. The Catholic church has been in a mess for many years. They even moved Card. Law to the Vatican so they could hide him. Shame! Shame! Shame! How many others, from around the world, have you hdden? Had Benedict done his job, the church might be a little cleaner and not be in this mess that we find today. Amen.

  63. That’s a really really really good point Clare.

  64. Judy Jones says:

    Statement by Barbara Blaine, SNAP President

    Reuters is reporting that a top Vatican official has kept silent for months about a high profile Catholic priest’s fathering a child.

    Will Catholic officials ever start being more honest and prompt about clergy sex crimes and misdeeds?

    The Vatican official is Spanish Cardinal Velasio De Paolis, who was appointed two years ago by Pope Benedict to oversee the Legion of Christ. Yesterday, the Legion’s most prominent priest, Fr. Thomas D. Williams, admitted he had an “affair” and fathered a child which neither he nor his Legion supervisors are financially supporting.

    It’s important to remember that Fr. Williams is also accused of having inappropriate sexual contact with
    –college students in Rome, and
    –the daughter of a prominent US Catholic figure.

    And it’s important to remember that the Legion
    –has a long, sordid history of secrecy about clergy sex crimes and misdeeds, and
    –claims a recent “investigation” found that seven Legion priests are accused of molesting kids.

    (We strongly suspect that’s a lie. We believe it’s very likely that most of these allegations were reported directly to Legion officials, not discovered through some “investigation.” And we suspect that, like with Fr. Williams, top Legion staffers have known for months or years about many of these accusations but have kept them hidden.)

    Finally, Fr. Williams’ own comments on this scandal bear mentioning.

    He apologizes for the news getting out – “I am truly sorry to everyone who is hurt by this revelation” – but not for the harm he’s caused to his child (who’s growing up with apparently no emotional support – or at least honesty – from his or her father and no financial support from his or her father or the wealthy Catholic institution that pay him).

    And Fr. Williams still refuses to accept responsibility for the child, writing about “respect for the privacy of the woman and her child.”

    In short, the Legion is – and has long been – perhaps the most secretive and corrupt Catholic religious order in the world. It’s officials should publicly discipline Fr. Williams. And those who have seen, suspected and suffered clergy sexual misconduct by current and former Legion employees should step forward, get help, call police, expose wrongdoing, protect others and start healing.

    Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director

  65. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Folks …

    If you wish to comment, please do not leave phone numbers or e-mail addresses in the comments. They will be deleted. I have no way of authenticating them.

    Thank you.

    DGK

  66. Oregon Catholic says:

    Bob, you are right. Celibacy is not the problem, it’s the willingness to break a solemn vow taken before God. I think Catholics would only be more scandalized by married priests having affairs than by those who are celibate.

  67. The real scandal is that Vatican officials, who are supposed to be responsible for cleaning up this travesty, have apparently known this for a long time and did nothing—thereby worsening the scandal when it finally does become public. This pattern is repeated over and over and over. It’s now becoming clear that the decision to not disband the Legion was a poor one.

  68. Father Williams is another victim of the Legionary culture that shows over and over again that the Legion doesn’t know a thing about forming solid, holy, faithful priests. I do know Father Williams, and I do believe his heart is in the right place, and it pains me to know that this priest was holding this potentially explosive secret for years. It also pains me to know that there is a woman out there who had a child by Father Williams, and has also been living with this secret as she has no doubt watched his meteoric rise as the quasi-official face of the Church in the mainstream media. I think a wiser/holier congregation would have either suggested that Father Williams leave the priesthood and raise his child, or would have removed him from such a public career path and placed him in a more low-key role.

  69. Irene Swanson says:

    I find these comments far more interesting than the Fr. Thomas Williams story. Indeed, he has broken his covenant with God, but…..who hasn’t? Yes, his covenant was very serious indeed….whose isn’t? Regardless of one’s spiritual status, “the standard you use for others IS the one that WILL be used for you,” (emphasis added). Having said that the lesson I have learned with the fall of so many of our “celebrity” priests is this: Keep your eyes focussed on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of God. Sound familiar? Always, always, always, pray for our Priests, everywhere at every time, and for each other since the devil is on the prowl like a lion, looking for someone to devour.

  70. pagansister says:

    Yep! Romulus.

  71. It seems that everybody is blaming just the priest!! & some are thinking about the woman as a victim. Is she really a victim? I do not know, but many times I have seen how are the women following the man even if they are seminarians or priests. I think she has at least 50% responsability, she knew that he is a priest and still she decide to have a relationship with him. She knew he is not a “free” man who was going to be able to have a life with her & her children, is that responsability on her part? I think the only victim here is the child. She also comited a grave sin. I am not judging them, just trying to be fair not blaming just the priest. We humans are weak. Nobody can judge, how many lay people are realy pure and live chastity properly. We need to pray four the church and all the priests.

  72. I dont understand why everybody blaming just the priest the woman is at fault also. I know he made a promised to be faithful to his priesthood. The priests are human beings also they can make mistakes. the saints were not perfect. I am sure a lot of you are blaming the priest have cheated on your wife, husband or boyfriend. The same way you guys can break your promises or make a mistake. He can happen to him too. Stop judging the priest because he is in a bad situation right now just pray for him.

  73. SNAP accusing anyone of cover ups and deceit surely is the pot calling the kettle black!

  74. Kerry, I suspect it’s the other way around: many of the people who are admonishing us to stop judging the priest are probably the ones who have behaved in a similar fashion (committing adultery), which is why they can be so sympathetic towards him. (Or maybe they think adultery is a quaint, old-fashioned kind of sin, one not worth mentioning in these enlightened times.)The ones who are expressing anger, are angry because they feel betrayed. Yes, the shepherd has betrayed the flock. The actions of a priest are not private. With our comments we are recognizing the fact that he has acted egregiously towards us. Consider what it takes for a priest to make such a choice. Does he say the Our Father and ignore the part about “lead us not into temptation”? Does he go to confession and ignore the part about “avoiding occasions of sin”? Does he compartmentalize when he acts as a spiritual director? We know he is a human being capable of error, but we also know that he wrote books, one of them being Spiritual Progress: Becoming the Christian You Want To Be. It’s a very well-written book. He knows better. If you were on a boat and the captain behaved in a reckless manner, wouldn’t you be mad? Of course, we are going to pray for him. Like good sheep, that is what we do.

  75. Deacon Mark says:

    The difference between Fr. Albert Cutie and Father Williams is that religious are often protected by their orders ad superiors. Father Cutie was treated harshly in public by Archbishop Favalora and not shown the least bit of compassion. There was no child involved either. It was a relationship between two consenting adults.

    .

  76. Deacon Mark says:

    Bishops and religious orders have been paying child support and Catholic school tuition for centuries. Nothing new.

  77. If he is not “your Pope” then you are not Catholic. Ubi Petrus, Ibi Ecclesia

  78. The Thomas Williams case: Yet another confirmation of the profound hypocrisy of clerics and their religious superiors (who knew of his escapage since at least Jan 2012 and did nothing till he was outed). Williams himself published a book on “Conscience,” yet his own conscious allowed him to play the pious priest, all the while imitating the disgraced founder of the Legion. Williams publically said, at the time Marciel was finally deposed, that he was simply unable to get his mind around the depth of Fr Maciel’s decades-long double life. He seems to have managed somehow to figure it out for himself.

    These guys will make Lutherans of us all!

  79. George Mason says:

    “People should stop calling him Father except his kids.”
    Apparently there is no repentance and forgiveness allowed in the “Church of joanc57.”
    Good thing for Fr. Williams he is a member of Christ’s Church.

  80. George Mason says:

    Yours is a simplistic and knee jerk solution.

    Let’s not forget the Church also teaches that he remains a priest even if he sins.

    He made a commitment to the Church. He failed. But, he also repented.
    He should only leave to marry if he was never truly called to be a priest.
    Saying he should leave betrays lack of understanding of vocations of commitment.
    It’s as if a married man failed and had a child with another woman. Should he break his commitment with his wife to go live with the other woman and the child?

    For Catholics, Fr. Williams is still married to the Church, whether he betrays her or not.

  81. George Mason says:

    This is like the story of the woman caught in adultery.
    Everyone is ready to throw stones.
    But, it takes two to tango, right?

    It is true he had a great responsibility to his ordination graces and promises.
    Maybe the woman wasn’t Catholic. Maybe she didn’t know he was a priest.
    But, I didn’t read that he rape the woman.
    Do we know who initiated the relationship?
    It doesn’t really matter unless we want to be self-righteous stone throwers.

    He sinned. She sinned. He at least acknowledged it.
    God’s mercy is greater and available to those who are moved to receive it.

  82. George Mason says:

    No offense, but your comment is ridiculous and does not apply.

    Legionaries of Christ are members of a religious order!!!

  83. George Mason says:

    And how many of those 20% of priests are involved with an unhappy married woman?

    Fr. Williams has wounded the Body of Christ.
    He also has given an opportunity for the anti-celibacy puss to seep out.

  84. George Mason says:

    Two consenting adults – one of whom – the woman had a previous marital bond.
    Plus, Fr. Cutie apparently had a poor priestly formation as he was so willing to abandon Catholic doctrine for the free for all doctrine of the Episcopalian Church.

  85. In my opinion it is now time for Pope Benedict to close down the Legionaries of Christ. It should have been done years ago by Pope John Paul II. The scandal is getting too much. Paedophile priests are destroying the Catholic Church in Ireland.

  86. pagansister says:

    George Mason, how do you know Fr. Cutie had poor priestly formation? He was willing to “abandon” (as you put it) Catholic doctrine because being a Catholic priest meant he couldn’t marry the woman he was in love with. He can continue to be a priest in the Episcopal church. Unlike the priest in this article, he didn’t father a child out of wedlock, but decided he would be happier as a married priest, and being married could father and help raise a child.

  87. When I saw this priest I knew he can’t stand the chance from being seduced by those estrange women who love the challenge or the unusual so to beget priests or any forbidden things. Must give Fr. Williams some credits to be able to serve within those years after his fall. He must have had insurmountable inner struggle. As Katie Couric admitted, he is a good looking, intellectual man so not to suprise that he couldn’t succeed at all time fighting off temptation brough in from female weirdos every day, left and right. Good looking priests are subjected to involunteering seduction therefore they should not be allowed to work in liberal society specially tv stations like NBC or CBS. Who is the next victim? Fr. Morris ?

  88. This woman obviously not doing this for money. She could have been watching too many times the ” Thorn Birds “.

  89. WSquared says:

    What makes you think that marriage will solve the problem? It sure doesn’t for Protestant ministers, and even former Anglicans who have been ordained to the priesthood, who come into the Catholic Church with their families, say that being a married priest isn’t any easier. Some celibate priests certainly don’t feel one way or the other about those married priests who come in with their families– not if they understand their vocation and desire to live it, knowing that they are wholly dependent on God’s grace and can’t do it alone. It does not mean that priests don’t sometimes get lonely. But it’s oversimplistic to think that the solution is marriage.

    The thing is, all of those called to the vocation of the priesthood know, or should know, that celibacy is an invitation to love in a very radical way, and points beyond itself– to the perfect Love that is God, Himself. This is something wonderful, and we *all* need to be aware of that love at all times, whether we are single and discerning (whereby we should be celibate, anyway), whether called to the priesthood or married life, and if and when a spouse should die, whereupon we are returned to the celibate state. Anyone who has to practice NFP, whereby one abstains from marital relations for a bit, arguably gets a bit of a sense of that, or can and should. One can even be lonely in a marriage, in all honesty. So there’s a real reason to be grateful and thankful for those called to celibacy.

    We are often told over and over again at Pre-Cana and by the priest who will marry us that God will give us all the graces necessary to live out our vocation to marriage– a vocation that is no walk in the park in all reality. Why do we think that Christ would give the priests whom He has chosen any less– i.e. the graces to live out their vocation?

    And why aren’t we doing better to provide that support network for them in our parishes, by including them in our lives, and understanding, respecting and being grateful for their vocations instead of hemming and hawing about how secular priests should all marry, how priests are “those guys who don’t get to have sex,” how such-and-such a seminarian or young man is “too good looking” to be a priest, discouraging our sons from pursuing a vocation, and making comments about “Father What-A-Waste”? Are we really so shallow?

    If we look at the larger culture, it reduces love mostly to emotions and sex with disastrous results– the divorce rate is still high and cohabitation is rampant in a culture that thinks it can have sex without consequences. In the Catholic view, by contrast, love is not primarily an emotion; it is an act of the will– and that goes for *everybody*. The vocations of marriage and the priesthood actually mirror each other and are mutually supporting, and when one fails, so does the other. In terms of the larger culture, marriage mostly ends in failure. There is an interesting parallel between how ordinands prostrate themselves during ordination and how husbands are to lay down their lives for their wives as per Ephesians 5, and for her part, she submits to him. We have a culture where most people on average can’t do either of those things for the long haul. Why precisely should the Catholic Church be looking for role models in love and marriage from those who stink at it? We already know what we have to do. We need to pray persistently for the grace and courage to do it and live it.

    A priest is a husband and father in his own right; and for Catholics, those roles have theological components to them. All men are called to the vocation of fatherhood, just as all women are called to be mothers. Not everyone, however, is called to those vocations in precisely the same way. Treat your priest, therefore, as someone who is your spiritual father and a married man who has given all of himself in marriage to the Church– a bride, who at her worst is often bratty, spoiled, entitled, and unfaithful. And he knew that going in, knowing that he’d be called to lay down his life for her.

  90. A child is always a good news: never comes to life without God’s will.
    God wanted him. He is always a precious gift to our world.
    These are Evangelium Vitae’s teachings.
    The only important person is the child of that man and that woman.
    Everything should be done so that the child would be proud of dad and mom.
    And be loved by dad and mom.
    Abnegation of dad and mom are the only way to repent.
    Renounce to oneself for the good of the little one.
    This little one has also 2 grand mothers and 2 grand fathers, alive or already in Heaven.
    And aunts and uncles.
    He is THE important person.
    Never focus on sin (it would be a victory of the Evil one) but on God’s gift of a human life.
    And serve this new creature as a precious gift to that world.
    I am so sorry that nobody thinks of the only important person in that story.
    BB

  91. Is always sad to read about representatives of God breaking a vow, making a mistake, yet priests are as human as we are, and sinners like we all are, is not our duty to judge, but pray for them, so Christ will guide them, and forgive them, is Jesus wish that we love each other, no matter what. We must always remember the passage in the Bible where Jesus says if we are free of faults, then throw the first stone …

Trackbacks

  1. [...] Patheos Catholic: HomeAbout the DeaconGuidelines for comments « Another celebrity priest falls: Fr. Thomas Williams “As a priest, I am terribly saddened…”May 15, 2012 By Deacon Greg Kandra Leave a [...]

  2. [...] mom shared very sad news with me at noon, when it broke on the Catholic blogs.   By this evening, it was one of the lead [...]

  3. [...] happy, celibate priest be able to live in honesty about who he is, than learn about a hetero priest living a lie. A faithful priest is a faithful priest. A happy, joy-filled priest serves the body of [...]

  4. [...] happy, celibate priest be able to live in honesty about who he is, than learn about a hetero priest living a lie. A faithful priest is a faithful priest. A happy, joy-filled priest serves the body [...]

  5. [...] happy, celibate priest be able to live in honesty about who he is, than learn about a hetero priest living a lie. A faithful priest is a faithful priest. A happy, joy-filled priest serves the body of [...]

  6. [...] happy, celibate priest be able to live in honesty about who he is, than learn about a hetero priest living a lie. A faithful priest is a faithful priest. A happy, joy-filled priest serves the body of [...]

Leave a Comment


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X