‘Mystery Priest’ Who Appeared at Scene of Accident is Revealed to be… an Actual Priest

A couple of days ago, I posted a story about 19-year-old Katie Lentz, who was hit by a drunk driver, got dangerously pinned down in her own vehicle, and came ever-so-close to death.

The interesting thing was that the firefighters’ equipment wasn’t working properly — they could do some stuff but not fully extract Katie from her car — and as they waited for backup, a mysterious Catholic priest seemed to come out of nowhere, even with the perimeter blocked off (!!!), prayed with Katie, used some anointed oil, and left before anyone could get his name.

Suddenly, the backup equipment arrived and was able to get Katie out of harm’s way and into a hospital.

Crazy, right?!

So who was that priest?

Firefighters and friends assumed he was an angel:

“I think that this time I’ve actually witnessed a guardian angel at work,” Jeremiah See of the New London Fire Department told ABC News.

“Whether it was just a priest as an angel, or an actual angel coming down,” Lentz’s friend Travis Wiseman said, “he was an angel to everyone and to Katie.”

Phil Lawler, editor of Catholic World News, offered a not-at-all-ridiculous idea for identifying him:

Who was that priest? I don’t know. But I do have a suggestion on how he might be identified:

  1. Start showing the witnesses photos of priests with a reputation for holiness.
  2. Include photos of priests who are no longer alive.
  3. Prepare for a shock.

Riiiiight. Because a search for a mystery priest should always begin with a list of dead ones.

Catholic blogger Joel Schmidt was far more direct when quoting his professor (emphasis his):

Interestingly, we were at Conception Abbey in Missouri last week for deacon formation. As you might imagine, this was a hot topic of discussion with both the deacon candidates and the monks. One of our professors indicated he might have a clue about the identity of the mystery priest, which hinges upon Lawler’s suggestion. He believes it may be Servant of God, Father Lukas Etlin, O.S.B., a monk of Conception Abbey, who died in a car accident in 1927.

Yep. Dead monk. That’s *gotta* be the answer.

Today, we found out — can you believe it?! — that there’s a perfectly natural answer to the mystery.

The Mystery Priest was Rev. Patrick Dowling, a living, breathing Catholic priest who is apparently not dead and in fact very much alive:

Rev. Patrick Dowling

Though the highway was blocked off, “I did not leave with the other cars,” Fr. Dowling commented. He parked as close as he could, “and walked the remaining 150 yards. I asked the Sheriff if a priest might be needed … on checking, he permitted me to approach.”

“You must remember, there were many people praying there, many, many people … and they were all praying obviously for healing and for her safety.”

“I was probably part of the answer to their prayers, I came by and Anointed and absolved, (but) I didn’t say another word … I did not say anything like the machinery would begin to work or they would succeed in getting her out of the car.

“That did not come from my lips, though two people heard it.”

So…. case closed. It wasn’t an angel or a dead priest. Just a nice guy who was in the right place at the right time, doing what he thought would be helpful. Nothing supernatural or mysterious about it. (Though commenters at some news sites still want to argue otherwise.)

Here’s some food for thought, though: See that picture of Dowling above? Compare that to the composite sketch that was drawn of the “mystery priest”:

Especially in stressful situations, we are not very good eyewitnesses, are we?

(Thanks to Katie for the link!)

About Hemant Mehta

Hemant Mehta is the editor of Friendly Atheist, appears on the Atheist Voice channel on YouTube, and co-hosts the uniquely-named Friendly Atheist Podcast. You can read much more about him here.

  • JohnnieCanuck

    The most obvious answer to these people is that it was a ghost? A Saint? Why, of course, it has to be, because after all this is clearly Miracle material.

    They’ve got it bad. Real bad.

    • Horatio Hornblatt

      I don’t think they are bad. As it turns out, the priest is good.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        …see my last comment.

      • JohnnieCanuck

        You need to learn to read for comprehension.

        That’s ‘bad’ as in drinking the Kool-Aid. They are deeply immersed in their world of wishful thinking. ‘Real bad’ as in sufficiently deluded to reject a reasonable explanation in favour of their cherised imaginary beings.

  • h2ocean

    When I heard that a priest “mysteriously” appeared my best hypothesis was that he was just let through because he was a priest. Seems that was the case!

    I can see resemblance in the eyes and the thin lips, but that is about all that witness got right. Like you said, a great example of how bad eye witness testimony can be.

  • Bdole

    Oh well, I guess I’m back to atheism again. This time I really thought it was a real angel. Boy is my face red. /s

    • gander

      “Boy is my face red.” They have medicine for that.

    • UWIR

      I find it a bit disturbing that you thought you needed a sarcasm tag.

      • Bdole

        I’m often misunderstood. :`(

  • C.L. Honeycutt

    Sooo all the people who commented under the last article about it being miracles and magic will be here any second to offer a simple “oops”, and not to post a variation of “I was right anyway and atheists suck”, right?

    Right?

    • skinnercitycyclist

      The part I think is weird is that many of the commenters on those sites express a wish that the guy’s identity had not been revealed, so they could still go on thinking it was an “angel.” It’s not only that they will not admit they were wrong, they wish that, even though they were wrong, that they had never heard the real story so they could go on believing the bullcrap.

      • The Other Weirdo

        The psychosis is strong with those ones.

        • Michael W Busch

          Not psychosis – that word has a specific (although not diagnostic) meaning involving dramatic loss of contact with reality (e.g. hallucinations, major delusions, catatonia). None of that applies here.

          The attitude cyclist describes is more like “wanting to remain ignorant”. It is disappointing, but also entirely normal.

          • The Other Weirdo

            First of all, what is an attitude cyclist?

            Second, how is the major delusion of believing in the angel so strongly that the belief actually demands–and receives–willful ignorance to remain in place not a psychosis, given the definition you provided?

            • Michael W Busch

              @First: I was truncating skinnercitycyclist’s handle. I had thought that was obvious.

              @Second: That isn’t a major delusion. That is a normal wrong belief, rendered resistant but not impossible to correction by anchoring bias (as well as other cognitive biases). Delusions aren’t maintained by willful ignorance – they can persist even in the presence of full knowledge that all available evidence contradicts them.

              And the particular cases skinnercitycyclist described are along the lines of “I wanted to believe that this was a miracle! Why did you have to show me that I was wrong?”. Note the admission that the belief was wrong, even as it is combined with a disappointing desire to have remained ignorant.

          • Fedos

            Thank you for confirming “psychosis” as the correct word.

            • Michael W Busch

              No, it is not the correct word here. Stop misusing psychiatric terminology.

          • ShoeUnited

            I would argue that a dramatic loss of contact with reality perfectly describes someone who refuses to admit the reality of a situation and bemoans for a magical fairyland of ignorance.

            I think psychosis is a damn fine word here.

            • Michael W Busch

              No, it is not, and your argument is flawed.

              People saying “I wish I didn’t know that” or “I wish it had been an angel” are not out of contact with reality. They are expressing a wish for something that can’t exist. Not the same thing.

              Nor is thinking “that was a miracle” without the evidence that would be necessary to exclude all mundane explanations indicative of psychosis, or of any level of delusion. It is indicative of being part of a culture that widely endorses an inaccurate dogma (as well as perhaps of a lack of information, of confabulation, or of the various sorts of illusion). The definitions of psychosis and major delusion specifically exclude that.

              Stop misusing psychiatric vocabulary.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        Wait… isn’t that the exact same argument for why Christians shouldn’t tell anyone about Christianity, because you can’t go to Hell if you’ve never heard of Heaven?

      • Horatio Hornblatt

        I don’t believe anyone was disappointed that the priest was real. What is being tipped around here is: If the priest is real, why isn’t Jesus and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit. Why the disconnect?

        • GCT

          Because we know that actual people become priests and we have evidence for that?

        • Michael W Busch

          I don’t believe anyone was disappointed that the priest was real.

          Pull up the news stories about the matter and look at the comments. You will find plenty such examples.

          If the priest is real, why isn’t Jesus and God the Father, and the Holy Spirit.

          The existence of a priest is not an exceptional claim, and we have the evidence we’d expect to support it: testimony of the priest concerned, evidence he was in the general area at the same time as the accident, etc. The existence of a creator god, of any supernatural being, and the continuing existence of a human who is supposed to have been alive 2000 years ago are exception claims, for which we do not have sufficient evidence.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          “If lightbulbs are real, why aren’t basilisks?”

      • CultOfReason

        And that pretty much sums up most people’s religious beliefs. It’s not that they are unintelligent or don’t understand the arguments against it. It’s willful suspension of disbelief, plain and simple. It’s for this reason that I don’t bother debating believers anymore, because no matter how good your arguments are, it won’t matter to them.

        • Michael W Busch

          Evidence and arguments do matter – it just often takes humans a long time to change their minds.

          • CultOfReason

            Only to some – and those are the ones we should be focused on. Unfortunately, others prefer to live in a fantasy world and no amount of time, evidence or good argumentation will change that.

            • Michael W Busch

              For most wrong beliefs, that fraction is very small (e.g. anti-vax and young-Earth creationist beliefs are very uncommon among people who have had any extensive training in biology or science in general).

              • CultOfReason

                Odds still are that someone born Christian, Muslim, Hindu, etc… will die a Christian, Muslim, Hindu, etc… Someone who believes in angels and miracles will continue believing in angels and miracles, regardless of what you tell them. It’s my experience that a very small fraction are the ones that will change. The rest will continue to live in their fantasy world, with perhaps a little modernization to their rationalization.

                • Michael W Busch

                  Again, such changes take time – typically measured in years. And also usually repeated exposure to contrary views from a variety of sources.

            • The Other Weirdo

              Hold on a sec there. You just described the basic plot to the Matrix movies.

              • CultOfReason

                Movie? You mean it wasn’t real?

      • allein

        I was listening to Dale McGowan on The Thinking Atheist podcast this morning and he was talking about how his son figured out Santa Claus by asking questions over time, and when he finally asked his dad to confirm it wasn’t true, he was relieved that the world made sense again. Dale said something about the desire to know finally outweighing the desire to believe. These people are on the “desiring to believe” side of that line (and they may well never cross to the other side).

    • JET

      My guess: He may not have been an angel or a saint, but *obviously* he was divinely sent to that particular location at that particular time. Even though he was just out on some routine errand, and travels this road several times a week, it cannot be pure coincidence that he happened to be in this very place at this very time. The Lord works in mysterious ways! It IS a miracle!(Taking bets.) Edit to add /snark

      • Horatio Hornblatt

        I’m with you on this one. How many times are “earthly messengers” or “angels” sent? Anyone written any rules against that? Many recorded happenstances beyond this event fit very well in this order.

      • Ryan

        Guess again. But use some science this time.

  • Pattrsn

    I like that bit about showing pictures of priests with a reputation for holiness. Can’t be too common an attribute if it can be used as an identifier for specific priests.

    • Horatio Hornblatt

      Why?

      • Pattrsn

        Seriously?

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        You are now making people wonder if perhaps English isn’t your first language and you are communicating through Babelfish.

  • Ubernerd232

    And so another Father Dowling Mystery is solved!

    • CultOfReason

      And he would have gotten away with it too if it wasn’t for those pesky atheists /snark

  • The Other Weirdo

    Well, why not? American Christians are beginning to feel left out from all this miracle business. First there was all that holy water leaking from a statue in India, now they have angel’s tears from a tree. They have to top this one, however: an article from GhanaWeb claims that Nasa has discovered God’s last message to his creation written in two-mile-high fire letters on Mars, or something along along those lines. It thought it might be Ghana’s version of The Onion, but then I came across this, so the whole thing this is real–obviously–and the American Christians must now up their game to 11.

    • randomfactor
    • Len

      …God’s last message to his creation written in two-mile-high fire letters on Mars…

      What does it say – “So long and thanks for all the fish”?

      • Watry

        Nope. “Sorry for the inconvenience.”

      • The Other Weirdo

        No, that was the dolphins’ message to humans before escaping the about-to-be-destroyed Earth. God’s last message to its create was written to two-mile high fire letters that said, “Sorry for the inconvenience.”

        • Len

          Oops – sorry. My bad. Have to read it again.

  • Rachel Warner

    What does it matter if this guy was a priest, angel, or potato ? If his appearance brought this lady comfort, so be it.

    • rustywheeler

      I think it makes a difference if he was a priest and not actually an angel, don’t you? Because priests, you know, exist.

      • Horatio Hornblatt

        They all exist. They exist because God exists.

        • Ryan

          Nothing but the measurable exists.

          • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ TBJ

            nothing outside of the measurable exists

        • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ TBJ

          can you prove that?

        • Baby_Raptor

          Get back to us when you can actually prove that. Until then, stop coming here and claiming it.

        • Oranje

          I assume you’ll agree that that’s why famine, war, drought, plague, 24-hour cable news, pop-under ads, and ESPN the Magazine exist, too?

        • Michael W Busch

          Yes, priests exist. But neither you nor anyone else has come up with sufficient evidence to support the claim that any supernatural entity exists.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      It appears to matter to all the people who claimed he was an angel and cited him as proof of miracles, thus denigrating all the trained professionals who actually saved lives that and every night.

      • Horatio Hornblatt

        I see no evidence of the responders being denigrated. The responders don’t feel that way. No need for this hypocrisy.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Crediting God for what people do denigrates those people in much the same way it denigrates a team of professionals when they spend a quarter crafting a superior product, only to find a manager several levels up being given all the credit despite not having anything to do with it.

          You’re ignorant of what the word “hypocrisy” means.

    • Rachel Warner

      Believe me, I don’t disagree with you . As an atheist I feel the word ” miracle ” is flung about too easily and first responders definitely do not get enough appreciation.

    • Baby_Raptor

      Because the truth matters. The people who actually saved her deserve credit and gratitude…Writing it off as “god did it” or “an angel did it” is insulting.

      And people wanting to believe a lie? How can any honest, intelligent person condone that?

      • Horatio Hornblatt

        The responders at the accident aren’t offended by that. You are getting road rage over an accident you weren’t even in!

        • Baby_Raptor

          How do you know? Are you one of those people? And if not, what gives you any right to speak for them?

          It’s offensive to *me,* as someone whose actually been in the situation, when credit for a human being’s actions gets given to “god” or “miracles.

          And no. I’m no getting “road rage” over anything.

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          You’re pretending to be psychic, twice in two sentences no less.

          You’re also intentionally ignoring how being offended on someone else’s behalf works. When you see someone being abusive to their child, you don’t claim there is no abuse going on just because the child isn’t saying anything or possibly doesn’t even equate it with abuse because it’s “normal”.

      • Rachel Warner

        Getting back to my original post, the priest was there to give this woman comfort. I’m not calling this angelic or miraculous, just an act of kindness.

        As for the first responders, damn right they deserve the credit. They train hard and risk their own lives to save someone else.

        What counts after all is said and done, a life was saved.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      I’m sorry, I don’t agree with the downvoting. Generally, this is very true.

      • Rachel Warner

        No worries. Thanks for the support. :)

  • viaten

    “I was probably part of the answer to their prayers.” Probably? Ye of little faith. Actually, I give the priest a little credit for saying “probably”, just a little.

  • JackieTrinity

    Oh, the bitter disappointment of finding out that something magical is actually quite mundane! I was never one of those people who didn’t want to find out how stage magicians did their tricks, or didn’t want to find out what the actual cause was of ghostly bumps in the night. The natural world is quite fascinating enough without believing every sunset or newborn baby or helpful stranger is some magical miracle

    • Oranje

      Kind of how I felt when I found out frosted Lucky Charms are not, indeed, magically delicious. Those lying bastards. The non-marshmallow bits—the ones that look like cat food—are in no way, shape, or form delicious. Mundane indeed.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        When he was very small, my nephew would ask his mom to buy him Lucky Charms. When she wasn’t looking, he would eat all the marshmallows, then pour the rest in the trash can or out in the yard and ask for more. She couldn’t figure out how he was putting away all that food.

  • barb

    So . . . the firefighters called for backup. The backup equipment came. The victim was successfully removed. Therefore a miracle. PRAISE JESUS!

  • Tainda

    Kinda shocked the priest said something and not just let the myth persist

  • IDP

    Well, color me wrong. He was real.

    • IDP

      Real as in a real human and not a hallucination or ghost story.

  • Rachel Warner

    Off topic : The sketch kind of reminds me of Dale Gribble.

  • CommentMaker

    Mockery is driving around a cul-de-sac claiming victory.

    • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ TBJ

      Pictures or GTFO!

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Gullibility is sitting in a rusted Pinto in the nearby yard acting pissy because his license was revoked.

    • Baby_Raptor

      People who want to cling to lies deserve to be mocked.

      • Horatio Hornblatt

        I don’t see atheists being mocked here. Is mockery, on the other hand, a foundational tenet of atheism?

        • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ TBJ

          mockery should be a tenet of all faiths and non-faiths since laughing at each other’s stupidity might make the world a little more bearable than clawing at each other throats

        • Baby_Raptor

          That would be because we’re not the ones clinging to lies.

          Nice try, though. I’m sure your theist friends will give you points for being witty.

        • Oranje

          That’s a logic train akin to “If A therefore Q, and I’m skipping all the letters in between.”

        • baal

          oooh, the irony. Mocking Atheists by suggesting mocking is a foundational tenet of atheism. I have it on the FSM’s authority in the holy pasta guide handbook that mockery is one of the saintlier sacraments of the worship of science and reason. So, it’s by definition a tenet of atheism.

  • Joe Welte

    I’m so glad this is over. Now my area can get back to sanity.

    • Pofarmer

      Unfortunately, probably not.

  • Carpinions

    OK, so NOW we have actual details about this. HuffPo posted this in the Religion section the other day and of course at least half the commenters were saying things like “it’s a miracle!” and “Catholicism 1, Atheism 0″. The HuffPo story was so substanceless it practically read like it came out of a Catholic publication.

    As usual, and as expected, there is a perfectly valid explanation for what transpired that didn’t need to go all supernatural. I think I’m going to check back over there and see how many people are moving the miracle goal posts to the fact that Lentz lived and are not instead tearing them down that the accident happened in the first place…

    • Horatio Hornblatt

      your point?

      • slashdev

        Let me disappoint you about your abilities. We all got the point but you!

  • C Tran

    Dowling does sort of have the same slight expressionless smile.

  • Mario Strada

    I kept abreast of this story and the more headlines were produced the more miracles were claimed. One newspaper said something like “Angel priest saves the life of teenager”

    The cordoned off area, which was reasonable at the beginning, kept getting larger and larger, to the point I was afraid that by week’s end would encompass the entire state.

    The retellings were getting more and more fantastic and if I had a buck for every nonsensical bible quotation ion the Huffpo comment section I’d be very wealthy now.

    I am glad he showed up. I am also glad he is being honest that he never assured anyone that “their tools would be working”. That sounded like bullshit and it was.

    • Horatio Hornblatt

      The media are embarrassingly unreliable and agenda driven. This is particularly true in political matters. But of all the foul, stench-filled commentary, we have read against the priest, and God, many on this board are no better. I am happy not to be an atheist.

      • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ TBJ

        there you go again stating the obvious, original material please

      • Oranje

        And we’re happy not to have you.

      • Matt D

        We don’t care bout your views on Atheism, and FYI, you’re the one who decided to visit this site, smartie.
        .
        So, it may be good manners in your religion to crash parties you weren’t invited too, while you also complain about the guests, but you’ll find few actually approve of this behavior, but since it just means we’ll gain more support thanks to your rudeness and shallow egotism, feel free to continue being a jerk.

      • C.L. Honeycutt

        Jesus must be so proud of you for going out SEARCHING for people to deride and judge without cause.

      • Michael W Busch

        What “stench-filled commentary” against the priest? Hemant was quite clear to say that the Dowling was doing what he thought would be helpful – and by itself it had little effect on anything.

        Nor is the vitriol here directed “against God” – you don’t direct vitriol against things that don’t exist. It’s directed at a culture where a large fraction of the population seizes upon unsupported and unlikely beliefs (e.g. “she was visited by an angel”) without considering far-more-likely alternatives and deliberately rejecting the evidence that would distinguish between them.

        I am happy not to be an atheist.

        That what you believe makes you happy does not determine if your beliefs are true or not. e.g. I might happy if I thought I had a hundred times as much money in my bank accounts, but that wouldn’t change the actual balance and I still wouldn’t be able to live off of the interest income.

  • katiehippie

    It would weird to read about yourself ‘vanishing’.

    • Horatio Hornblatt

      Someone alerted him to this, surely, unless he caught it himself. He is a commendable soul.

  • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

    I have no idea about such things, but I wonder if it’s a breach of security to allow someone into the scene of an accident.

    • Guest

      Ha, Love it! Priest does decent thing. Human toothache responds ‘can’t we nail this guy somehow!’ Modern atheism, personality disorder first class.

      • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ TBJ

        Ha, Love it! Atheist makes snarky remark. Neckbearded troll of unknown religious affiliation has a gut reaction response to his own lack of humour.

        • baal

          So TBJ, are you going to admit to trolling JT’s visciously? ‘Neckbeard’ has only been used by you here, that troll there and me teasing Loki with it (and that wasn’t until that troll abused it to hell over there).

          • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ TBJ

            JT’s?? NVM Yes I troll the jt’s viscously. Though this recent post is a fine example of me reading way too much into what was said by the OP and admonishing the troll with a snide remark that was totally off the mark.

      • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

        The only person (or people) I think might deserve being nailed is one who violated security measures… if they exist, which, as I already stated, I know nothing about.

        If you’re ever trapped in a wrecked car, you are welcome to invite and include as many strangers as you like. I, however, would like to know that I’m safe from unqualified people on the scene, possibly getting in the way, or making things worse.

      • Carmelita Spats

        Nailing? His rehabbed compadres need to stop nailing minors. That is the ONLY nailing that anyone with an ounce of moral reasoning can ask these maladjusted virgins to stop…If they want to nail each other with two-by-fours, a bottle of Creme de Menthe and power tools, that is okay with me. Dressing up as “Father Cuddly Barney” for Sunday Mass to entice small children is a personality disorder. Mug shots galore…See if you can find Father Cuddly Barney:

        http://www.bishop-accountability.org/

      • Baby_Raptor

        Yes, because Fuck the safety of the dying victim. Fuck the integrity of the evidence. Fuck the fact that this guy was potentially in the way of someone *saving the girl’s life.*

        He got to tout his religion, and you consider that good, so screw us for being concerned. Such great morals.

      • Sven2547

        Mark Shea, is that you?

    • JWH

      I think that in this case, it’s OK to make an exception. If a person believes may be dying and a minister is available to offer last rites, then let the minister through as long as he won’t be creating a danger. People that close to death should be accorded some leeway.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        If you have reasonable belief that the victim is a Catholic, or even a Christian, then sure. What if they’re not and don’t want the priest’s ceremony?

      • http://www.last.fm/user/m6wg4bxw m6wg4bxw

        I understand, and I’m sympathetic to those who value such rituals. I hope that a religious representative’s access would be limited to those who have interest in his or her presence. But that entails consent or assumption, both of which create potential problems.

        Another concern I have is with the vetting done by law enforcement prior to granting a religious representative access. I know, in this case, that the priest was given permission. I’d like to know if his qualification amounted to more than claiming and appearing to be a priest.

        I also wonder about the oil the priest used. It’s not that I consider oil a harm, but could it be? Did anyone bother to examine it before it was allowed on or near the person in a life-threatening situation? If it had been something else, like goat’s blood or gasoline or foreskins, would anyone have noticed before it could have caused a problem?

        • MD

          I think in cases like this accidents, anointing can be done with anything, it doesn’t have to be special oils. Bottled water will do. In the end, it’s a magical incantation anyways.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

    The Blaze comment sections never stops surprising me: “”This priest I believe was position there by God who know that the girl in need would be asking for prayer. And after the prayer everything worked out perfectly . Thus everything that happens has a reason.””

    I bet this guy is good at drawing circles.

    Edit: Ok, I had to add this gem: “”Sometimes, when all the angels are busy, mere mortals are called upon to act on their behalf.

    Twice in my 77 years of life this has happened to me. I don’t know why I was at the place when someone was in dire need, but I was. God moves in mysterious ways and ordinary people are Heaven sent.””

    So an all powerful being only has a limited number of angels. Good to know.

    Edit 2: I keep finding more gems: “”I Boo the priest for coming forward. He could have left it alone, it wouldn’t have hurt. If anything more people may start to have faith!””

    • Guest

      It’s the faith version of ‘pointless biological life form is where it is due to cosmic coincidence and decides to do what we subjectively have deemed to be the right thing at this time in the history of a doomed universe.’

      • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ TBJ

        Sticking a dictionary up your arse doesn’t make you intelligible.

        • Guest

          Pointless retort because nothing more intelligent could be thought of prize goes to…TBJ! Congrats.

          • Artor

            He said intelligible, not intelligent. Your first post isn’t exactly poetry. Were you trying to make a point?

            • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ TBJ

              like I said

              • Guest

                Which wasn’t much. And the statement stands: you had nothing intelligent to say, as you continue to demonstrate.

                • Pattrsn

                  As opposed to biological life form and doomed universe?

                • Artor

                  I don’t see you being the arbiter of intelligent debate, sorry.

            • Guest

              If I was, that puts me a step above TBJ, wouldn’t you say?

              • Artor

                I’m going to go with NO.

      • Pattrsn

        Biological life form? What would be a non biological life form? Oh wait an angel right, or a fairie.

        Doomed universe? What the hell does that mean?

    • Miss_Beara

      I Boo the priest for coming forward = I boo logic being used in this situation because Jesus.

    • Horatio Hornblatt

      I don’t boo the priest for his honesty.

      In this age we live in, many refuse to boo people for their dishonesty.

    • Ryan

      I once had sex with a girl and she thanked Jesus for sending me because I was exactly what she had asked for… It felt pretty awkward because I was about to thank Satan. LOL.

      • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ TBJ

        I once had sex with a girl who had knocked on my door, an hour before, to give me a religious tract and in the last few moments of her losing her faith I told her I was an Atheist, she kind of freaked out.

        • Whirlwitch

          That’s me on the sofa…
          That’s me in the half-slip,
          Losing my religion,
          Trying to come before you
          And I don’t think that I can do it,
          Oh no I’m not on the Pill,
          At least you’ve got a rubber.

          - with apologies to REM

      • Bdole

        She shouldn’t have thanked Jesus until the SECOND coming.

    • allein

      Yeah, shame on that man of God for telling the truth.

  • Dave G.

    And that’s what the vast majority of believers figured. When the story broke, the press went gaga for it. Fine, it’s a neat story. Almost every believer I knew said, “Meh, probably out there somewhere, just doing a good deed.” But because the speculation continues to spur endless debates about miracles and angels and things get weird and stupid on all sides, he finally comes out and says who he is, gives credit to the first responders, and then fades away again. Nice story of a nice guy, and the overwhelming majority of people on all sides who kept it in perspective despite the extremes on all sides trying to make something more out of it and the press trying to make a mountain out of a molehill. Next cool story please.

    • Pattrsn

      Extremes on all sides? So disbelieving a miracle claim is extreme?

    • Rachel Warner

      Well spoken Dave G.

  • AtheismbyFire

    Awwww…. I was hoping that MacGyver was a wondering Catholic priest. My grandma would so watch that show!

    • Ryan

      That would be awesome in an amusing way. Father MacGyver, he can patch your soal with duct-tape or shoot you into heaven with a paper clip, a pipe wrench and a rubber band.

  • Timmah

    It’s amazing to me that LEGIT news sources jumped on this being a visitation of some dead Saint. I listened dumbfounded to the radio last week as WGN in Chicago discussed this as if there was no other explanation than a supernatural one.

    And oh look, here we are with a 100% rational explanation. Didn’t see that coming.

  • Peter Choi

    I am glad that he came out of the woods. Surprisingly many priests are not that unreasonable and many of the actually dislike their parishioners having completely supernatural mindset. I guess the priest didn’t want the people to have superstitious expectations.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/ Kevin_Of_Bangor

      Well he fucked up big time then because people are still calling him an angel and using the word miracle.

      • 3lemenope

        Not his fault. Humility is taken by people as even more proof of exceptionality. The more he denies being special, the more he will be assumed to be so.

      • Baby_Raptor

        Eh, give him credit for being honest. He can’t force the people who would rather cling to delusion.

    • Ryan

      There is no such thing as a priest that does not want people to have superstitious expectations.

      • JohnnieCanuck

        Well, maybe one that is thinking of contacting the Clergy Project.

  • HitchhikingInSvalbard

    This is why we don’t believe miracle claims in the bible (or other holy books). Stories get changed and exaggerated beyond any rational measure. Those stories weren’t true, no matter how firmly the faithful believed them.

    • Horatio Hornblatt

      …and you can prove that? Right?

      • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ TBJ

        who cares. attempting to prove personal testimony is about as frivolous as arguing with a troll

        • Michael W Busch

          There are many situations where personal testimony is the relevant evidence for understanding what is most likely to have happened. This is merely not one of those times.

      • Matt D

        Of course we can prove it, since here we are on an Atheist blog. But first, you need to explain how we can do that to your satisfaction, since our evidence clearly means little to you.

      • Michael W Busch

        Real story: Priest sees accident victim, sits with her for a few minutes, leaves to make way for the extrication team. Maybe the cops forget to document that he was there – a bit of a lapse, but probably not worth anything beyond a verbal reprimand.

        Story as reported by various people within a few days: Accident victim is visited by an angel from heaven, who takes the form of a priest, and is invisible to everyone else.

        This illustrates how rapidly and comprehensively stories can be changed in the telling. And the miracle claims in the various texts that went in the bible went through decades of retelling from whatever source material may have existed before they were codified in a text.

      • EvolutionKills

        Prove that the Iliad and the Odyssey never happened. Prove that Marduk didn’t slay the dragon Tiamat. Prove that the angle Moroni didn’t visit Jospeh Smith. Prove that Muhammad didn’t fly up to heaven on a winged horse.

        Do all of that, and I’ll use your method to disprove anything in the Bible.

  • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

    I came by and Anointed and absolved

    It gals me to no end that someone would assume the right. Can I walk up to a priest who’s in a car crash and start doing my voodoo on them without being hauled away? I’m only trying to help!

    • Baby_Raptor

      But god told him to! Of course he has the right!

    • Horatio Hornblatt

      The girl was awake and gave permission. But you didn’t know that for having been in a trance.

      • http://squeakysoapbox.com/ Rich Wilson

        Actually, I’ve paid very little attention to the story, and even now reading the ABC version, I don’t see that stated. I have seen the Christian Privilege often enough.

        You’ve gotta thank the Lord, right? Do you thank the Lord for that split-second decision?

        I’m happy to take your word for it- perhaps you missed my other comment on here?

        Or maybe you were in your own little trance?

      • Mairianna

        And THAT was his reason for coming over! NOT to save her life; but to be there to make sure she gets into heaven if she DIES!! Gross!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • Matt D

        Taking advantage of people in stressful situtations for publicity is the trance here, not pointing out that this behavior is wrong. Wake up.

    • Carla

      She’d been specifically asking for someone to pray with her…. Saying yes to an approaching priest seems pretty okay in that situation.

  • LesterBallard

    That second link took me to The Blaze; Fuck You!

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      It’s like getting Rick Rolled, only without the reward.

      • baal

        Never gonna give you up
        Never gonna let you down
        Never gonna run around and desert you
        Never gonna make you cry
        Never gonna say goodbye
        Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you

        • C.L. Honeycutt

          Hmm, did I say reward? Because I meant shut up. :P

          • baal

            I didn’t want you to go without. I care for needs like that :P.

  • Horatio Hornblatt

    So if the Priest is real, so could Jesus be, and so on.

    • FullertonXJ

      The illogic is strong in this one.

      • http://absurdlypointless.blogspot.com/ TBJ

        and the dunning-kruger effect too

    • Pattrsn

      And Thor and Santa Claus

    • Oranje

      If the priest is real, so could chupacabra be, and so on.
      Incredulity ad nauseum isn’t the most healthy thing.

    • baal

      The point is that the priest was a natural person and not a supernatural angel. By that analogy, there very well could have been a 100% human and 0% divine person named Jesus (spelling varied for the relevant context) 2000 years ago in the middle east. There are probably a few hundred thousand available today in Mexico City.

    • Michael W Busch

      No. We have evidence that Dowling exists, nor is his existing at all exceptional – many priests exist. There is no evidence that Jesus currently exists and arguable evidence that he existed at all, and the claim that a preacher who may have lived 2000 years ago is still alive and is somehow the same person as an unevidenced creator of the universe is very exceptional and requires fair greater standards of evidence. Bayesian statistics is a wonderful thing.

    • Matt D

      Now that’s a deep argument. Worthy of the “Bible”, certainly.

  • Rain

    Phil Lawler, editor of Catholic World News

    Where do they go to get their editors? From a Cracker Jacks box? From the Mickey Mouse store?

  • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

    So Father Dowling helped solve a mystery? That would be a fun TV sho—wait a minute!

    • http://gloomcookie613.tumblr.com GloomCookie613

      … I have no idea why the image posted so many times. It’s, dare I say, a mystery?

  • Mick

    Don’t give Rev. Patrick Dowling too much credit for closing down this particular angel story. Next Sunday he will be in church and probably telling the mugs in the pews that angels really do exist and miracles really do occur. He’s a Catholic priest. He tells lies for a living.

  • ahoogamazda

    He may not be dead, but his eyes are.

  • SeekerLancer

    And they wonder why we scoff at their insistence about miracles whose only evidence were eyewitnesses.

  • Carla

    You didn’t post his full statement. He made a point of thanking the firefighters, nurses and doctors who saved the girl, and was called them the real heroes. For once, it’s just a story about a nice priest doing a nice thing and giving the real credit where it’s due.

    • C.L. Honeycutt

      Hey, nice!

  • Cake

    Well the sketch has a face, two eyes and a mouth. Using the same criteria Christians typically use for evidence about their religion, I’d say it looks exactly like Patrick Dowling!

  • Scott Paeth

    Not really sure why anyone would want or need it to be anything else than a nice guy doing the right thing.

  • Tsu Dho Nimh

    This description of the incident makes sense … because one calm polite priest is likely to help the victim’s emotional status and make the rescuer’s job easier.

    Note that he asked for permission to approach the wreck, prayed briefly and then he got out of the way!

  • Mark Heil

    Actually, I don’t think the composite picture was too far off the mark. The facial features seem pretty close. Of course, the big difference is the hair, but we don’t know how current the real picture is in regard to hair length, etc. Also, after walking 150 yards on a Missouri summer day his hair would likely have been matted down with sweat.


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