A reader writes from Arlington

I’ve decided not to opine on this situation anymore– share your concern. As whenever kids fight, it takes two and there’s mud on everyone and sin everywhere. However, I will pass along a few facts — they tend to get muddied in the media:

Fr. Haley addressed three particular situations — one involving a priest w/a wife and mother of four. Evidently, he wasn’t telling the bishop anything the parish didn’t already know. The two were pretty open and public. However, it occurred when Loverde was newly installed and dealing w/ mutiny among priest who felt oppressed under Keating and were trying to flex their wings. What got Loverde into mega hot water and in the news was the husband was trying to get custody of the kids and the diocese would not admit an affair was going on — based on the confidentiality of the priest-bishop relationship. Without a word form the diocese affirming his assertion, the husband lost custody to the wife by default and she took the four kids to Atlanta where they have since had their own child.

There was the matter of an embezzling priest — he was assigned to my parish of which Dornan is also a member. The official line was that 130K was taken six years ago — now it’s coming out that it’s closer to a million from at least two parishes due to shabby bookkeeping (Loverde tightened that up. Before him, the priests pretty much had control of the purse strings and no accountability.) and kickbacks on construction projects (we’ve now got to dig out the foundation of the school and redo some basement rooms — half the school is below grade — due to shabby construction that has resulted in water and mold damage. It’s a royal mess).

The third was the priest went to Loverde over the porn that the other priest openly discussed. Loverde said you have no proof — Haley provided the proof by breaking into the other guy’s computer. Loverde disciplined him for theft and invasion of privacy.

Evidently, the lid was on pretty tight in this diocese prior to Loverde and Haley saw an opportunity to bring some things that were bugging him out into the open. Did he go about it in the right way? Probably not. Taking proof to the bishop and the media simultaneously not too swift. But, as we have seen, the right way doesn’t seem to work when you are dealing with an organization veiled in secrecy and interested only in the status quo. But, two wrongs don’t make a right and makes for a royal mess.

Hope that clears up some confusion. The sad part is the number of folks in the pews who look at this and have distanced themselves from God in the process of distancing themselves from the corruption. I wish the bishops would take the time to contemplate the damage they do to the folks hanging on the margins, struggling to live the Gospel in light of the mixed message and fuzzy focus they receive these days, as they do to the politicians and significant donors. We are making the job too easy for the evangelicals in northern Virginia and all some clergy can do is either say ‘good riddance, they weren’t true Catholics anyway’ or wring their hands ‘what are we to do’. Bleech!

This is that thing Americans hate the most: a moral contest in which there is no clear good guy. Fr. Haley is, by all accounts, a prick on the order of Frank Burns in MASH. But Bp. Loverde doesn’t seem to be acquitting himself too gracefully either, at least with the betrayed husband. I’m so glad I will not be seated on the White Throne on That Day. I just hope I survive the Judgment myself.