Massachusetts deacon says he’s being punished for praying for Buffalo deacon

Massachusetts deacon says he’s being punished for praying for Buffalo deacon December 4, 2018

I’ve never heard of a case quite like this. It happened in Russell, Massachusetts: 

David Baillargeon, a deacon at Holy Family Parish Roman Catholic church in Russell, claims he was reprimanded for saying a prayer during Mass on Sunday for a deacon in Buffalo, New York, who has called for the resignation of that diocese’s bishop.

Baillargeon spoke out Monday against the church’s handling of clergy sexual abuse, arguing that more needs to be done to investigate such cases, including in Western Massachusetts.

Baillargeon, who has worked with activist Olan Horne to advocate for survivors of clergy abuse, said local church officials have largely barred him from preaching after he was critical of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield in a homily two years ago.

The deacon said he faced further pushback Sunday after offering prayers for Buffalo, New York, Deacon Paul Snyder, who has called for Catholic Bishop Richard Malone’s resignation.

“After the prayers of petition for the church, I said that I wanted to say a prayer for Deacon Paul Snyder — told the parishioners where he was and that he was the deacon at St. Mary’s Church there — and that I heard, from my smartphone really, that he had been suppressed from preaching because he spoke out against Bishop Malone and the clergy abuse that’s going on there in the Buffalo diocese,” Baillargeon said in an interview. “I said, ‘We need to pray for him,’ and then I raised my hand up and said, ‘He’s been suppressed for two months.’ And, I said, ‘Here, your own deacon has been suppressed for two years.'”

Baillargeon said after he finished, Rev. Ron F. Sadlowski, the pastor at Holy Family Parish, “went off” on him.

“He said, ‘You’re not going to be preaching again,’ but he wants me to preach during the week every other week for daily Mass,” Baillargeon said, noting that the small parish sometimes sees just one person attend such services.

Sadlowski, however, rejected the suggestion that he has retaliated against his deacon.

“There’s been no retaliation,” he said in an interview. “The fact is, I’m the priest here and when he preaches, he preaches against the bishop. We’re supposed to preach on the word of God. He mishandles the role of being a deacon at the pulpit.”

Sadlowski said Baillargeon’s failure to promise he would not use the pulpit to preach against the bishop is why he is no longer preaching on weekends.

“My responsibility is to protect people from anyone who mishandles the proper use of preaching the word of God,” Sadlowski said. “It’s not based on focusing on any one person, except Jesus Christ. It’s not used to preach against the bishop — the deacon could talk to him one-on-one, there are other ways to get to him.”

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