Laity as Bit Players in the Drama of Clerical Redemption

Laity as Bit Players in the Drama of Clerical Redemption February 4, 2013

Rod Dreher on the latest bit of episcopal boneheadedness, appointing a guy who is a confessed gay/bisexual groper of kids, forbidden by the court to be around childen in perpetuity, to be in charge of priestly formation in Newark, NJ.  Smart.  Dreher writes:

Ah, so the guy won’t be around children, so what’s the problem? The problem is you have a man whose moral character is so defective that he’s not allowed, under agreement with the police, to be around children — and you’ve put him in charge of the ongoing formation of priests. What is it about clericalist bishops? It beggars belief.

Actually, Fugee’s conviction was overturned by an appeals court on a technicality:

The decision was based, in part, on the judge’s decision to let the jury hear the portion of Fugee’s statement in which he described himself as bisexual or homosexual.

The appellate court said the admission could have led jurors to find Fugee guilty because of the “unfounded association between homosexuality and pedophilia.” The rest of the confession was not called into question.

Rather than retry Fugee, prosecutors reached an agreement to put him in a rehab program for first-time sex offenders, and to bar him from being alone with kids for the rest of his life. But as far as the Archdiocese of Newark is concerned, Fugee is not only clean, but he is, in fact, a victim too:

Goodness, the spokesman, characterized Fugee as a victim in the case, saying the priest had been through a “terrible ordeal.”

So: a gay or bisexual sex offender priest who kind of got off on a technicality (because a judge worried about homophobic jurors) was chosen by the Archbishop of Newark to head the priestly formation office, and one is told that in fact, this priest is a victim in all of this.

Insert head shake here.  When Dreher’s right, he’s right.

Dreher concludes with, I think, an astute observation:

Let me clarify what I’m interested in here. I take it for granted that some bishops and church leaders make these kinds of calls because they are bad men with something to hide. But I think many others make this kind of call out of a malformed sense of charity, abetted by a sense, likely unconscious, that the clergy are “real” to them in a way the laity are not.

I think this is about right.  An appointment like this doesn’t feel to me like some sort of malicious conspiracy so much as a conception of the Church which sees priests as the *real* Catholics who are working through their issues with sin and redemption while the rest of us–the ones with children at risk should the drama of padre’s struggle with his appetites take another turn for the worse–don’t really seem to figure into the equation.  The thought that the rest of us might feel, oh, endangered by a guy like this being in charge of the formation of priests who will then bring his moral wisdom to bear on the rest of us and our kids doesn’t seem to occur to Abp. Myers.  The main issue appears to be finding some way for this priest to work out his redemption.  We laity seem to be bit players in that deeply clerical drama in which the ordained play starring roles.

Now, I’m all for mercy, second chances, redemption and ways for the fallen to find forgiveness and a new shot at sainthood after a fall.  So while I have no problem at all calling out people I think are sinning gravely in thought and word, particularly when it seems to me they gravely endanger innocents by doing so, I think the frank and open bloodlust for vengeance some Catholics display for those guilty of sins to which they themselves are not prone is embarrassing.  The gospel, it seems to me, is uncompromising in condemning sin–and uncompromising in declaring that the very worst sinner is still a candidate for sainthood with a shot at redemption if they will only take even the feeblest steps toward cooperating with grace.  So I don’t place such men outside the pale of redemption and I have admiration for those who retain the willingness to extend them mercy and the chance at healing and sanctity.  I owe a lot to people who have not coddled me about my own sins–and I’ve been forgiven enough of my own sins that I am loath to kick anybody out of the kingdom.  But some prudence would be good too.  I have no interest in seeing Fr. Fugee punished.  But still and all, how about letting Fr. Fugee work out his salvation with fear and trembling in some way that does not fill the rest of the faithful with the sense that we don’t really matter all that much in a narcissistic universe where clergy are the stars of the show?  That is how it sounds an awful lot of times when spectacles like this play out, whether in Newark, or on Cdl. Mahony’s blog.

"I have a question for the converts who comment here: I'm reading Ross Douthat's column ..."

Francis and the Schismatic Wannabes
"Good luck Marthe and go Green Party!"

Francis and the Schismatic Wannabes
"I read the article, but besides feeling sad for the obvious reasons, was very troubled ..."

Francis and the Schismatic Wannabes
"Don't worry, I will be back. It is not really capitulating, but being flexible in ..."

Francis and the Schismatic Wannabes

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • Stu

    Charity is making this priest a contemplative somewhere.

    • Jamie R

      The only thing this guy has in common with a contemplative is that he belongs in a cell.

      • Stu

        Yes. But that’s not going to happen.

        So the question remains, what do you do with him?

        • S. Murphy

          Prison chaplain, maybe?

        • rfilips

          Full time ministry at Nursing Homes.

          • midwestlady

            Nice. Putting a criminal in charge of old people because they can’t complain as loudly, and are powerless to throw him out? What kind of nonsense is that?

      • midwestlady

        I agree. Why should he get a free pass in any form? Come on people. Think.

    • midwestlady

      This argument about putting this guy in a monastery is a little like the argument for hell. For some people even heaven would be hell, because they don’t want to go there and have no intention of going there on their own. Forcing them against their wills, notwithstanding. Forcing them wouldn’t have the effect you want it to have, you must realize. You can’t make people be holy. It’s not that kind of thing.

    • Becca

      Whatever happened to the good old penances??? Why don’t they make him wear sackcloth and ashes for five years or something in public? Make him wear a sign that says I need to repent. Anything like that. I mean, only in this age when no one does anything like penance and sacrifice (including me) would we have to figure out some way to make sure this guy is repentant.
      Also, that stuff about how they think of priests as the only real Catholics? Never heard of that. Why would anyone think something so terrible about the hierarchy? Is that anti clericalism? I’ve heard of that but never really wanted to read about it since I think it would be uncharitable and bad for me to know about.

    • Carol

      These recent incidents disgusted me so that I quite facilitating Virtus (protecting God’s children) workshops
      In my Arch- Diocese.

  • The problem, as I see it, is that his priesthood will always command some level of respect and, in that sense, he will always be a threat to the formation of someone, somewhere. I’m not sure what the remedy for such a thing might be, but perhaps it begins if we stop referring to him as “father” since there is no sense in which I can conceive of him functioning as a spiritual father to anyone.

    • midwestlady

      Laicize him. Now. And put him on a sex offender list on the internet so the parents in the neighborhood can know where he lives.

      • Doug

        midwestlady, your solution is a good one, but there has been a better one available. “But if your brother shall offend against you, go, and rebuke him between you and him alone. If he shall hear you, you shall gain your brother. And if he will not hear you, take with you one or two more: that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may stand. And if he will not hear them: tell the church. And if he will not hear the church, let him be to you as the heathen and publican.” Mt 18:15-17, Douay
        In other words, he could be excommunicated for such a serious sin, unless he shows real repentance; that should also be accompanied by works befittin repentance. In any case, most religious groups find that the best course in this situation is to ban him from any contact with children, no matter what his status is with the church or congregation. (Also in your suggestion.) Note also that Caesar’s law in the US requires that he be reported to the authorities, who will act independently.
        I have noticed that it is often the case that “spoiled” priests- usually alcoholic or molesters- are moved around. A drunken priest can’t be trusted to celebrate the Mass, but a pedophile can. That’s why, with the shortage of priests, many of the latter eventually worked their harm in new territories. At the same time, I know of no priests who were excommunicated for such (I hope there were some, at least), but I read of many who were tossed out for marrying [a woman, we must add these days], something that is encouraged in scripture. (Gen 1:26 ff.) Doesn’t this also affect the laity’s perception of the Church?

        • midwestlady

          Nonsense. These men have betrayed the Church and used the Church to get victims for satisfying their lust. Moreover, they work together in teams. They know the Church has poor accountability issues and lots of $$$$$. Wake up.

    • Doug

      Irksome1: “we stop referring to him as “father” ” But how does that work in practice? If the Church, backed by magisterium and a paper trail that extends to the Pope, calls him a priest, aren’t your statements subject to discipline? (Not from me, I must add.)

      • midwestlady

        Not at all. Who’s going to take the time to chase you down? Nobody.

        • Doug

          LOL! Interesting reply. “-)

      • Stu

        You call him “Father” out of respect for the office, not the man holding it.

        • Sus

          Do these priests that sexually abuse children and do the people who cover it up have respect for the office?

          • Jacob S

            Some do, some don’t. There are some abusers who revel in what they do, and some who fall into it despite seeing it as the disgusting thing that it is. Unless you KNOW which one he is, we need to focus on seeing justice served (even those that see the error of their ways have earned a prison sentence) and children protected and save the demonizing.

            • Jacob S

              Note that “justice served” may also mean laicized and fired, I am not saying that I support the decision here. I’m just seeing an awful lot of unfocused vitriol (spread throughout most of the comments and many of the blog posts I’ve read) that concerns me. There is a place for righteous anger is such things, but it should be focused and put to good use, not used to drive us into an unfocused fury tearing at not only the bad but everything surrounding it without so much as a thought for what we’re saying.

              Occasionally a member of the Church says that the abusers are victims too, and is immediately attacked by everyone everywhere. But it’s true. Granted, the abusers are victims that need to be imprisoned for a time, isolated from children, and watched very carefully, but we should avoid stripping them of their humanity. We cannot know the state of their soul, and we do not know how they feel about what they’ve done and feel driven to do.

              Which again, does not mean that they shouldn’t be locked up, or that they should be given co-directorships of departments. Only that we need to make sure that we are doing what we should do and not just using our anger as an excuse to attack everything surrounding the evil as well as the evil itself.

          • Stu

            No, that’s not showing respect for the office.

            But their disrespect isn’t license for us to do the same.

    • Subsistent

      Y’ know, I’ve long understood that calling *any* Christian priest “Father” is a matter of ancient custom, not of doctrine. And in ancient times, priests — members of the presbyterate — did not usually begin ministry as young as they’ve usually done in the last several centuries, right? They were originally more-or-less in years of age, as well as officially, “elders”, *presbuteroi*, *presbyteri*, presbyters. Well, as we now speak of and to members of the diaconate as “Deacon Bob”, “Deacon Jim”, etc., why not speak of and to members of the presbyterate as “Presbyter Jim”, “Presbyter Bob”, etc. — or, more economically, “Pres’ter Jim”? (Since it *is* a matter of doctrine that sacramentally ordained presbyters have a specific sacramental character, it’s only fitting that they should be adressed with some title or other, methinks.)

  • Andy

    I wrote this once before – the bishops wonder why they seem to have no impact on the morals of the laity – I am sorry for the ordeal that Fr. Fugee encountered, but I am more concerned about the damage he has done. Lets see couple this with Cardinal Mahoney – I am afraid for the Church – the clericalism that seems to run the decision making processes is destroying what good may be done on a local level.
    I agree with Stu – a contemplative somewhere ina cell next to Cardinal Mahoney – the list seems endless is true charity.

    • Exactly who is this contemplative life really meant to help? Certainly not the priest mentioned here whom the Church has already taught is the type of person developmentally ill-suited for it. Certainly not the victims, for whom the damage has already been done. I wonder if this isn’t really a sort a spiritually-tinged solitary confinement which teaches the laity that problems are best put out of sight and out of mind.

      • Andy

        Actually I believe that the contemplative life removes the aura of importance that comes with being a priest or cleric. It reduces the person to bare essentials – perhaps then the individual can learn the humility that should accompany the role of cleric. It is not designed to make amends for the damage done – it should be designed to humble the person.
        I agree about the concept people not being developmentally ready for the clerical state – but to turn them loose is even more egregious in my mind. It makes me wonder about the priests who were laicized and then turned out to the public without their crimes being known. The church has the responsibility to protect children and others from these individuals who the church ordained. The contemplative life seems like an appropriate way to do so.

        • My point about developmental ineptitude was meant to extend beyond the clerical state to the contemplative life itself. But for this priest’s ill-fated ordination, there would be no question about the propriety of shuttering him in a convent. It would be obvious that such a person did not belong there. I fail to see how a Roman collar changes that assessment. Further, I wonder at the wisdom of burdening our already sparsely-populated cloisters with the degenerates who so grievously failed in their vocation. What’s more, if they’re not fit to be returned to the public, it’s hard to see how the Church obtains the sort of temporal power to keep them involuntarily, unless she means to hang over these men’s heads the threat of public exposure and humiliation should they choose to leave.

          My point remains that the Church has already arrived at the conclusion that the efficacy of a contemplative life is of little practical or spiritual benefit to those like the priest mentioned here. Certainly there may be benefits in theory, but in practice, the Church has decided the returns are few.

          • midwestlady

            He would just be an obstacle to the contemplative life for real contemplatives. I don’t think people who suggest this really know what the “contemplative life” consists of. He wants to do things his own way? Laicize him, and let him provide for himself. Work keeps people off the streets and occupied–this is a good thing for people like this. Oh, and put him on a sex offender list so the parents in the neighborhood know where he lives.

        • midwestlady

          So a contemplative is less than a criminally defective parish priest? And a monastery is a dumping ground? Maybe you’d better tell our contemplatives this.

      • Stu

        As opposed to putting him back at work in a capacity that presents risk? I’m not convinced that the Church has decide the “returns are few” in such an approach. Further, I don’t see a problem with a Bishop giving a fallen priest the option of contemplative life or being laicized. The former shows both concern for children and the priest who is suffering from the disorder. The latter would at a least provide protection for the children in the event that the priest doesn’t want to submit to such a life for his own good.

        • I think that the choice between a contemplative life and laicization is a false one. The first option runs aground on the problems I have sketched out above, those of aptitude, impropriety and practicality. The second option isn’t much better as, once the priest is laicized, the bishop has relinquished whatever slight control he had on the situation and has set loose upon the public a potential predator. This isn’t to suggest that such a priest as this be given a job like this or be thrust into a new, ignorant parish. I’m merely pointing out that it’s hard for me to see what the obvious good option here for the bishop is. Each potential answer to the situation has serious problems and complications both practical and spiritual.

          • Stu

            It’s a good choice because it puts the burden somewhat on the offender. What does he want out of life? I see nothing wrong with attempting to help him but if he doesn’t want the help, at some point you laicize him and send him out publicly on his own.

            • The problem is that the offender unquestionably has deep-seated psychological issues that a convent, monastery or other religious community may not be equipped to handle. In that case, neither the offender nor the community saddled with him benefits.

              • Andy

                Laicizing him presents an even greater harm – as a laicized individual without supervision and still predator for lack of a better word he presents an issue that the larger lay society is not prepared at this time to handle. I agree with your analysis. I am curious what you would suggest – we seem caught in a loop that leads to no positive outcome.
                I truly believe that the church owes the larger society a debt – the church has protected these folks and for all I know may still be protecting them. At what point does the church respond in a way that shows its contrition and willingness to make amends. Short of extended jail time – which I do not see coming – I see no options for the church or society.
                I am also not convinced of one of your basic arguments – the church not being convinced of the lack of efficacy of the contemplative life. I have read not to long ago of a nun being asked to spend a year in contemplation and of priest being asked to do the same to sort out their feelings, beliefs and the like.

                • I don’t disagree with you. My point all along, however, is that there are no good options and that whatever criticisms we may have for this bishop and his handling of this priest, no one has yet been able to come up with the solution that’s truly satisfactory and meets all our abstract demands for justice. No one seems willing to consider that maybe this was the least bad option the bishop had available to him.

                  What would I have done? I have no idea. And, I think, after a moment’s reflection, neither do any of the rest of us.

                  • Stu

                    Actually, I said what I would do and think it is better than putting him in charge of forming young priests.

                • midwestlady

                  Like the diocese in question is doing such a great job of keeping track of where he is and what he’s doing. :/

              • midwestlady

                Agree. People like this need a psychiatrist and something to keep them busy.

          • midwestlady

            A sex criminal at large is the business of the civil police. They know what to do with them better than we do, and that’s no joke. This is a perfect example of that.

            • Lizzie

              I agree. The Church owes him nothing other than her prayers.

  • Andy

    I should add I read of this just before a student I work with – a young man who is exploring his calling to the priesthood came to see me and he asked me about Mahoney – he didn’t/doesn’t know about Fugee – and what he should do. I told him to pray, but I am at a loss because what he said is “I don’t want people to think about me as maybe abusing kids” –
    the spectacle that these folks are creating is beyond imagining.

  • Speculativereason

    This move by Bishop Myers is baffling to someone who saw the nigh-miraculous changes he wrought in the Diocese of Peoria. We have several thriving parishes, nothing like the liturgical abuse horror stories I’ve heard from some dioceses, and a robust Catholic presence in civic life and government. Much of this positive change occurred during Myers’ tenure.
    I hope the promotion to Newark hasn’t gone to the archbishop’s head. Seems like there was another episode involving him and a dodgy call on the sex abuse crisis. I’ll be praying for him.

  • Advocate

    I have a unique insight into this issue. Michael Fugee taught my CCD class while he was a seminarian and served at my parents parish for several months before being whisked away without explanation. His hands showed signs of compulsive hand washing.

    I am also a former seminarian who was preyed upon by formation staff. My complaints to superiors went unanswered, and my abusers were only brought to justice when it was later revealed that they had abused even younger men.

    I understand why Michael Fugee’s superiors would try to rehabilitate him. I have also lived inside the clerical bubble, and can affirm that decisions are sometimes made in a context that has little resemblance to the way the rest of the world views reality.

    Appointing Michael Fugee to any position involving the formation of young men and future priests may be well-intentioned, but is terribly, horrifically misguided. He was constantly nervous and never at peace. While his situation is in some ways pitiable, he should in no way be allowed contact with young men and is not a formation model for future priests – or most anyone else for that matter.


    • midwestlady

      Appointing this man to offer spiritual or moral advice to anyone is a complete waste of time. He can’t even keep himself out of moral and legal trouble. A person can’t give what they haven’t got.

  • Jonathan Carpenter

    As much as it pains me to admit Mr. Dreher is right about that. The one thing he is dead wrong on is his analysis of the “Documentary” Mea Maxima Culpa. He stated the only problem with it was Archbishop Weakland’s accounts. If you look at this link from the Catholic Leage there are quite a few problems with the “Documentary.”

  • Mark R

    Why does this have to be some monastery’s problem? They don’t want people who will be unhappy or cause trouble in them and they do not exist for this purpose. One order in the Southwest tried this and it was a failure. There is no cure for this problem and even the ones who can function healthily will always be under this onus.

    • Stu

      Are we are brother’s keeper?

      No matter what happens, it is “someone’s” problem.

      I will assume that the priest honestly answered a calling and does seek to serve God. I will also assume that he suffers from a sever affliction which at this point cannot be “cured.” In the interest of protecting children or young men in formation for the priesthood, I don’t believe he should be working in a diocese. In the interest of his immortal soul, I would want to put him in a place where he can attempt to focus on God and be free from much distraction in life.

      • midwestlady

        What if Fr. Fugee is his own problem, and someone makes him own up and be accountable for his own actions? What a concept!

        • Stu

          Great. How are you going to make him “own up and be accountable” at this point?

          • midwestlady

            Dropping the over-clerical nonsense would go a long way.

            • Stu

              Please more specific. What are you going to do to make him “own up and be accountable” as this point?

              • midwestlady

                He needs to be called on the rug for what he did and laicized. He needs to get a taste of what happens when anyone else engages in criminal sexual behavior. Hint: They don’t get rewarded and coddled.

                • Stu

                  Define “called on the rug.”

                  How does laicizing him make him “own up and be accountable?”

                  As to the criminal aspect, that was a matter for the secular authorities. That action is complete. Now we need to focus on how to handle this within the Church lifelines?

                  • midwestlady

                    Specifically, it means that he has to support himself and face a world where that kind of behavior is REAL TROUBLE. We cannot continue to support huge lists of these deadbeats, which we are now doing.

  • Maria

    The cloistered vocation is the highest vocation, not some jail sentence. No, I think priests like this should spend the rest of his days cleaning the toilets at the Bishops residence. And it will be the Bishop’s personal responsibility to keep his eye on him, protect others from him, and assist him in his rehabilitation.

  • Tominellay

    …Myers is 3+ years from retirement age…but I’m guessing he’ll get a phone call from the nuncio about this appointment…

  • Brad

    Let us not take glee in devising penalties for our fellow man lest the one and only Judge begin to devise penalties for us. On her prie-Deiu, St. Teresa of Avila had written from the Psalms:

    et non intres in iudicio cum servo tuo quia non iustificabitur in conspectu tuo omnis vivens

    Ponder your own sins, my soul, and devise penalties for them, and do them with mortification. You will reap no reward, no net gain. You will only pay toward the debt that you have already incurred.

    • kmk

      Oyy! Thanks for the quote. I have already copied it and am pasting it into my prayer journal!

  • Might I suggest that before expressing opinions about all of this, people read the excellent novel by Graham Greene, The Power and the Glory, and ponder it for a week or two. I warn you, have dinner ready to zap in a Microwave and take the phone off the hook and silence the cell. It is rivetting and you will put yourself into some part of the story. What if this was the only priest that could give you absolution? What if this was the only priest that could say Mass? Then, how would you handle the situation. Supervision strictly enforced, but let him be a priest. He already has a mark on his back and Satan is salivating when we prevent what the Church still feels he can provide. Parents, guard your kids from danger. Make the criminal complaint when there is a crime. Pray for priests. Pray for the Church. Trust in the providence of God.

    • What if the only water you had to drink was contaminated with urine? You’d drink it of course, but that does not constitute an argument for making a regular practice of drinking urine. Seriously, grown-ups are supposed to make decisions based on the actual situation in the real world, not an imaginary situation found in a riveting novel.

    • Lizzie

      I have read The Power and the Glory. It is a beautiful work. But there is simply no comparison. The priest in that story was a terrible sinner, but he was not a sexual predator of children.

  • Assigned to the formation of seminarians… life is a sitcom.

    • midwestlady

      Agree. You can’t make this stuff up.

      • If you did make it up, you surely wouldn’t name the spokesman for the archdiocese “Goodness.”

    • I should have written, ongoing formation of priests.

      • midwestlady

        What’s he going to form them in, grabbing crotches and getting police records?
        Seems to me it might be better to have an obedient and non-criminal priest as the person forming other priests.

  • sibyl

    I think Fr. Fugee should never be put into near occasions of sin. As a mother, I will not purposely put my kid in a situation where I know he is very weak. For example, I don’t think I’ll leave Cosmo magazine in my teenaged son’s room, because while lust is every teen boy’s struggle, I don’t need to put him in harm’s way.

    If Fr. Fugee has admitted to an attraction to men, why, why, why would a superior put him into constant, daily contact with them? Wouldn’t a superior take pity on the poor man’s failings? I know a great place where this man could continue his priestly ministry: as a chaplain in a nursing home for women only, if there are such places. And if there aren’t, put him in charge of office work, have him say Mass for the convents, and give him research to conduct. Just because he is a priest does not mean that he should be given chances to reoffend.

    As usual, Mark, you’re spot on. Sometimes the bishops seem not to realize how these things look to all the rest of us. I hope Myers, God bless him, listens to reason and finds someone else to form his priests.

    • midwestlady

      Because some people in charge in the Church in the US seem not to have all their marbles.

  • Mike

    What a stupid decision.

  • Rene

    This appointment by Myers suggests to me that he is totally out of touch with reality. First, he is putting this priest and seminarians he comes in contact with on a situation that is clearly an occasion to sin. Does Arch. Meyers care about their eternal salvation? Second, how did he think people were going to react to this appointment? Is this a way of defending the faith?

    • Ann

      Regarding what Myers thinks of the people of the AD, this came out the same weekend that Myers played a tape launching his Annual Appeal at every Mass in the Archdiocese.

    • naturgesetz

      The position does not put him in contact with seminarians. It’s “ongoing formation.” That means getting them to go to programs after ordination.

      • midwestlady

        Ah, yes, ongoing formation: How to do all kinds of ridiculous illegal immoral crap and get away with it. Do you think this is the lesson the AD ought to be teaching? Hmmm?

  • Ann

    There is more to this story that isn’t getting much airtime, although it is in the original newspaper story. Fugee is also saying Mass publicly all around the Archdiocese. And, the best part is that the spokesman for the AD, Goodness, when asked where, won’t tell us! To me, this is an even bigger problem than giving him a job in Newark. This man is driving all around the AD, to parishes that have ministries for children, schools, etc, and saying Mass and Goodness has the nerve to say that he won’t give out the names of the parishes.

    • Stu

      This was posted in September of 2012.

      I hope this is not indicative of things he is doing now.

      • Ann

        Nice. He’s at a single retreat. And claiming that Snooki doesn’t represent NJ well. Yes, let’s give this man a prestigious position in the AD and let him drive around saying Mass all over. Good job Myers.

  • Brian

    Mark, what is going on?! These churchmen seem off the rails, and it’s intolerable. With the news that Carindal Mahony and Bishop Curry are still in “good standing,” my own father is questioning his faith. It’s breaking my heart! Are we supposed to just accept this messed up, tainted state of affairs? How can anyone go on with such rank injustice?

    Are things going to change?

  • Christiine

    Back in the late 90’s, I worked for 2 years for Catholic Charities at a diocese which has made the news in the past several days. Needless to say, the appointment of priests who have public affairs, leave the Church to marry, are homosexual, had children out of wedlock and were rabid promoters of liberation theology were the individuals who were appointed to the highest positions within the organization. It left me with a very stale taste in my mouth. I am, by the grace of God, still a happy practicing Catholic and would never consider leaving my lifeline the Church, but I understand why many people become disillusioned among the rank and file when those in charge make sinful and sometimes criminal managerial decisions.

    As for the issue that was recently in the news, needless to say, the fetid winds of the impending consequence of these sins were very palpable to me back in the 90’s. It is sad what was happening beneath the surface – which was obviously more than what a peon in a large organization could clearly see on a daily basis. I fear for what I feel may be happening in New York. I pray that our Holy Father will take notice and action with our leaders in the United States.

    • Oregon Catholic

      I’m curious why you think the Pope is any different than the bishops and cardinals in question? Do you really think he hasn’t known exactly who and what Mahony, and other bishops like him, were all these long years that he has been in high office in Rome?

      • midwestlady

        And some Catholics wonder why people think that we have clerical sex rings in the Catholic Church. Who’s protecting who, and why? That’s what I want to know.

      • Sus

        You are right Oregon Catholic. The Pope knows. I wish he could explain. However, I suspect that the explanation would be worse than the silence. It’s clear that these men are more important to the Church then the children hurt by them. These men are important than the congregations that actually make up the Church.

        I think I’m about ready to give up and run my 5 cradle Catholics to the Unitarian Church.

        How can I continue to support the teachings of the church and teach my kids do so too when it’s so hypocritical? It goes against everything else we are teaching them.

        • ChurchLady

          I’ve worked in the Church for over 20 years (in several different dioceses) and have seen both good and bad priests. I’m sickened by the scandals and what I often see on the inside where the bishops protect their “brother priests.” This attitude and practice has contributed to the scandals. Mark, I think you are right on the money and I’ve scratched my head over it for years.

          Sus, I understand your thinking, but even with everything I’ve seen and know, I CLING to Jesus’ promise that the gates of hell will not prevail over His church (and I have to keep reminding myself that it is HIS church). And the gates have been getting a really good workout the last several decades! I also CLING to the EUCHARIST, which no other demonination has. For me, these are the only reasons to stay, because the rest of us are sinners who will constantly disappoint each other. I pray that our bishops start waking up, practicing the virtues (especially prudence in this case) and basic, true Catholicism that is faithful to the doctrines and truths of the faith.

          Sus, you ask how you can continue to support the teachings of the church? Please keep in mind that they are the teachings of Jesus – not corrupt and/or fallible men – and this is where the Holy Spirit helps the chuch to not go astray.

          • Sus

            ChurchLady – thank you for your thoughtful reply. You are right that the Church teachings are of Jesus. That’s why I can take my family to another church. Catholics don’t own Jesus.

            There are corrupt and evil people everywhere. I don’t have to remain in a place and expose my kids to a place that protects corrupt and evil people over and over again.

            The recent news has shown me that the Church hasn’t learned anything in the past 10 years about sexual child abuse.

            • Adolfo

              But the Church is the only place where the fullness of Truth subsists. Whatever else you might be getting in another denomination, it isn’t the fullness of Truth.

              • midwestlady

                That doesn’t mean we have to smile and accept all kinds of nonsense. And it doesn’t mean we have to tolerate the kind of uber-clericalism that allows members of the clergy to behave this way and then treat it like business-as-usual.

                The Church itself doesn’t deserve this. This kind of clerical tribalism and neglect of the laity causes all kinds of damage and carnage. 10%+ of the American population is now ex-Catholic. The retention rate of cradle Catholics is about 60%. Only a dynamically changing 7% of the Church is converts and that’s a revolving door, because many come and then leave when they see what really goes on. Rod Dreyer himself is a prime example. Does anyone in charge really realize this? Does it even register with the USCCB et al, over & above the pomp and ceremony they live in? Do they really care or are they kicking the can down the road for someone else to deal with? Got news. The whole thing is going to collapse in the US like it did in Europe, and probably in some of these mens’ lifetimes. They’d better start caring.

            • Oregon Catholic

              Sus, I used to feel like you do but I ended up coming back because I do believe the Catholic Church IS Jesus’ Church and it’s priests are the only one’s who can consecrate the Body and Blood of Christ. I refuse to let the bad one’s drive me away again. Instead I pray to Jesus to cleanse His Church, no matter how painful it will be. If you must go elsewhere, try to find an Orthodox parish, not a Unitarian. They don’t believe in anything.

              • craig

                Every Unitarian worships a higher power. Problem is, theirs is Obama.

      • carlamariee

        One of my grandfathers during the time immediately post Vatican II, found the liturgical abuses so distractingly awful during Mass, that he started to just arrive for the consecration and leave after receiving communion. This was after discussing his concerns with his pastor. It is hard to sit through mass so heartsick. I go to mass for peace and strength for the week ahead, not heart ache. Please don’t anyone say “offer it up”. I also am struggling with what to tell my children regarding their Church. The Church really a hostage situation. They have the Eucharist and I want it.

        • Jon W

          The Church really a hostage situation.

          These posts, as heartfelt as I guess they must be, are starting to make me impatient. As a convert, I’ve got to ask: what kind of religion are you cradles practicing? Do you really believe in Our Lord Jesus Christ, or have you been putting your faith in a bunch of mid-level bureaucrats in funny hats?

          Go read the books of Judges and Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, most of the minor prophets…. Then go find some church history that’s not just triumphalistic, happy-talk BS, but which is willing to go into detail about circumcellions, John IX, Catholic Irish kings who ceremonially buggered horses, the crusading armies’ tendency to go off mission, priests with naked-lady dance troops, and Renaissance popes with 17-year old “secretaries”. There has always been grave evil in the church. ALWAYS.

          But the church is absolutely NOT in a hostage situation. The WHOLE POINT of God’s working in the world is to accomplish his purposes IN SPITE of our sin. Our sin, the sin of divinely-ordained religious leaders, and the sin of a governor who was just trying to keep religious fanatics from staging a riot, nailed Jesus to the cross, that supposedly stopped his work, ended his mission. We defeated God. Except we didn’t. The point of the cross is that we CAN’T keep God hostage. That he WILL accomplish his purposes in spite of our best efforts to mess things up.

          If cowardly administrative decisions and bad liturgy are throwing us this off the rails, then we need to take our eyes off human beings and put them back on Jesus Christ.

          I’m really tempted to say more because I’m angry that cradle Catholics would contemplate leaving the church because of the wickedness of her pastors. The righteousness of bishops was never what the Catholic church was about, and getting this disillusioned – to the point of leaving the church or refusing to tell the truth to your children – suggests you’ve put your faith in the wrong thing.

          • Steve S

            Jon W, thanks for this great reply.

          • carlamariee

            Jon W, thank for your thoughts. I KNOW Church history, and I know that Jesus, not the hierarchy is the rock. One can grow weary of the heartache.

            • midwestlady

              True, and understand. It’s very difficult to look at. And even harder to explain. Many people think the Church has become a joke.

  • People with gravely disordered inclinations found in the priesthood should be laicized immediately. They should be treated with compassion as much as possible. But they must be laicized. In this the clerical vocation is similar to a secular profession: a doctor who negligently kills a patient, or a lawyer disbarred for malpractice, ought to be through in that profession. The priesthood is a privilege, not a right. ONE incident of abuse is too many. After one incident, laicize. Always.

  • Christine

    So you think going to the Unitarian church will save you from clerics who are practicing homosexuals, married and liberation theologisys (all of these are acceptable behaviors for their ministers) will make your lot any better? I would rather pray for our Church. The one established by Christ.

    • carlamariee

      No, but when Jesus’ followers left because of his teaching of the Eucharist, and he asked the apostles if they were going to leave too, Peter more or less said there was no other place to go. Not yeah we’re here for you, but kind of resigned that they were signed on for this wierd ride. It’s ok to want to love being where you are, and not to feel you have to make that choice for lack of alternatives. It’s ok for lambs to want to be fed, and sad when they go hungry and neglected.

      • kmk

        68 Simon Peter answered him, “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
        69 We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God.”

        70 Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you twelve? Yet is not one of you a devil?”
        71 He was referring to Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot; it was he who would betray him, one of the Twelve.

        THAT is what St. Peter said, and I think Jesus was the one feeling (lonely) and rejected, maybe. Jesus is the Holy One of God, and He is truly present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the Eucharist. Our family has encountered some awesome priests, and some not so awesome, and the one at our military base when I was in high school did evil things. Lord have mercy on us.

        • kmk

          ST Peter did not choose to stay with Jesus because he was resigned to not having alternatives. He was convicted. — St Peter, pray for us!

        • carlamariee

          Yep! That’s the one.

          • carlamariee

            Kmk, to your second comment, I do think that Peter’s, “where do we go?” has the resignation of someone who knows that there are no alternatives, and yes Pete, pray for us please.

      • Barbara B.

        Wow, Carlamariee, I have to say that I never read that particular scripture with your interpretation. Peter is affirming Jesus as the Holy One, sent by God. Where else would he have gone?

        • craig

          I have interpreted it that way myself. Peter submits to Jesus as the long-sought Messiah, not because he understands what Jesus is doing. Submission to a teacher is not the same as comprehension of the teachings, much less contentment with them.

    • Sus

      I’m concerned that our kids are seeing us sacrifice 10% of our income to support an organization that protects child abusers. I’m concerned that we teach our children to be tolerant of others and it that what we are teaching is in violation of church teachings.

      As far as practicing homosexuals go, I could care less. The gay people in our life are moral and upstanding citizens. They certainly aren’t molesting children. The gays I know could give lots of heterosexuals a run for their money in terms of morality.

      I’ll continue to pray for the Catholic Church but I’m not sure I can continue to support it. The Church is making it easy to walk away with the inaction on criminal priests.

      • midwestlady

        You give 10% of your income? I wonder how many people still do that, or ever did in the Catholic Church. The ready supply of money makes all this possible, you know.

        • Sus

          We’re not the only ones in our parish. My husband’s family gave 10% when he was growing up.

          • midwestlady

            1. This isn’t 1950.
            2. Money fuels this whole problem.
            3. You might want to target your giving to specific causes in the Church where you KNOW where it goes, rather than just throwing that kind of money in there where it can be used for anything. :/

            • kmk

              Love of money is the root of evil, but I think it is more that all of us, myself included, are not taking seriously our call to personal holiness. It is just so overwhelming to think of all the evil that has been committed–really, down through the ages. To paraphrase the beginning of Ephesians, God knew all of that from the beginning and yet still here we all are. As I get older is is harder to contemplate how much spiritual, mental, emotional suffering Christ went through–and still goes through in some mysterious way! I will never leave the Church, although I will not attend some parishes (we have that luxury–maybe not for long–here).

        • carlamariee

          I don’t have any idea how widespread, but all my family tithed, and my brothers and sisters families continue to.

          • midwestlady

            In many dioceses, it’s necessary now to target giving quite tightly, so that you know where the money actually goes. Many dioceses fund outfits that are completely and diametrically contrary to Catholic teaching. You might want to do some homework on this in your diocese. This is how some of the organizations that have caused the most damage post-Vatican II — and still do — got so powerful, by being part of these block donations that people unwittingly donated to. You put the money into the plate, which goes into a fund, which is then parceled out to favorite stuff by employees of the diocese. You need to know what that “favorite stuff” is before you donate and who’s doing the parceling. Warning: You may get a big shock when you find out.

            Food banks, soup kitchens and animal shelters always need donations. And there’s always EWTN and Catholic radio stations who do much good and need donations. And there are many more good organizations who are faithful and willing be open about, stand behind, where the money you give them goes.

  • Mdmike

    It is painful to come to the realization that the hierarchy of the US church is effectively a criminal organization. I attend daily mass but the feeling I receive that my family and safety are in the hands of those who would betray them gets stronger every day. As long as Finn and Mahoney and Fugee hold positions of trust they are blocking me and presumably others from placing our trust in Christ and his church.

    • Jon W

      Place your trust in Christ. Period.

      Place your trust in the church to do the only thing the church has ever claimed to be able to do, anyway: administer the sacraments and not teach absolute heresy. Beyond that, use your judgment. If you decide that the church – as a communal institution – is so broken that you can’t do more than make sure your priest and your bishop don’t starve, then so be it. It looks like the public schools are pretty well set to take over education, and local parish workers don’t need to make decent salaries, anymore.

      But – sarcasm aside – don’t put your trust in princes, even if they’re princes of the church. Also, this whole “hierarchy of the US church is effectively a criminal organization” meme is over-the-top, and I don’t believe it.

      • kmk

        Amen! And there are plenty of good, solid, normal priests who work with the laity.

        • kmk

          I forgot to add–and are we all praying seriously for our bishops, religious and priests daily, like we do for our children or other family members?

    • Mark Shea

      Why? How does Christ become untrustworthy because of this?

  • naturgesetz

    “Now, I’m all for mercy, second chances, redemption and ways for the fallen to find forgiveness and a new shot at sainthood after a fall.” No you don’t, based on what you’ve written here.

    • naturgesetz

      S/B “aren’t” not “don’t”

    • Mark Shea

      The only way to mercy and second chances is this route? Really?

      • naturgesetz

        The “only” way. Perhaps not. But this is basically a back office position, one which is so low-profile that almost nobody among the laity has ever heard of it before, and a fair number of them mistakenly assume he’ll be working with seminarians. It puts him in contact only with already ordained priests and involves helping them find ways to fulfill their requirements for continuing education, annual retreats, having spiritual directors and that sort of thing. He’s not responsible for forming them himself, but for seeing that they get the formation from others. And it doesn’t put him in contact with children. If he is not to be incarcerated in a monastery or laicized, there aren’t many positions which would be better to put him in than this one, I think. What’s wrong with this back office position which keeps him away from children and out of sight of the laity?

        • naturgesetz

          Where would you put him?

          • midwestlady

            1. On the street laicized.
            2. On a sex criminal registry on the internet so the neighbors can keep their kids away from him.

            • 1. That requires some serious processes in canon law, and like any legal proceeding, it would probably be neither quick nor cheap. The fact is that a bishop cannot, by mere fiat, make this happen; he is not really an absolute monarch over his diocese. The Church has Her own due process by which She must abide in the interest of justice to all parties. Should those processes be begun? I think so. But since the process would (a) be neither quick nor cheap, (b) not really do anything more to protect kids, (c) eliminate the opportunity, however little it was used in the past, for the diocese to monitor and restrict Fugee, and (d) involve the danger of losing the canonical case against him, I guess I can see why a bishop would prefer a merely bureaucratic solution. … But no, I still can’t bring myself to agree with that decision.
              2. The whole “sex criminal registry” thing is a matter for the secular government and their police. The failures of the secular government are by no means as scandalous as the failures of the Church.

              • midwestlady

                1. The fact that’s it’s expensive, and the fact that it should happen more often, only *should* lead the those who approve ordinations to be more careful who gets ordained. Ordaining some people is not a good thing.
                2. Dioceses have a miserable track record of monitoring priests. Think about it. They have CARS. They live in rectories. No one is babysitting them. In account after account of priestly abuse, priests who had these “no kids” orders went right ahead and did whatever they wanted to do. No one–I repeat, no one–has called them out on it, in account after account. There are thousands of these accounts, for pete’s sakes and they all read almost the same. These “no kids” orders are meaningless. If you don’t believe me, read some of the accounts. The accounts are saturated with stories like these. A “no contact with kids” order is meaningless when it comes to clergy in the Catholic Church.
                3. There is one thing you are right about: It is a bureaucratic solution, a band-aid. The money in the Church flows like water at Niagara Falls because naive people donate, and we pay for tons of bureaucratic fixes which would be totally unnecessary if only people in the Church were actually on the job and watching out for the Church and the people under her care.

  • midwestlady

    The difficulty is over-clericalism (read: too much naive dependence on the ground priests walk on), coupled with way too much money to throw around.

    You know, we don’t expect people to become holy anymore. Rather, we want them to tell us things and make us feel edified, and the clerical collar is sort of a stamp of authority that makes that easy to measure. “Father smiled at me” we say. “Father says this” and “Father says that.” Whether Father has any idea what he’s talking about or not doesn’t seem to matter to many people. This is clericalism and it’s wrong. The Catholic faith is a very well defined thing, with nearly 2000 years of history and documentation. And the PERSON who the Church is about is Jesus Christ. THAT’S to what & whom you owe your fealty if you are a Catholic, not some individual mortal person who is just doing a job at the moment.

    A priest is a person. Yes, he has a special vocation, but everyone does. Being laity is a vocation too. When a priest or a bishop abuses his position, there’s nothing wrong with calling it what it is. And there’s nothing wrong with refusing to pay for it. And there’s nothing wrong with turning to Christ and praying directly to him about it. All this is by way of saying to Mdmike: Finn and Mohoney and Fugee may or may not hold positions of trust, but they cannot block you from placing your trust and fidelity in Christ or the Church of the Ages. They can only block you from putting your money & allegiance in their mortal hands, which they have demonstrated that they do not deserve.

  • naturgesetz

    Everybody who thinks the appointment puts him in charge of formation of seminarians, doesn’t know what “ongoing formation” means or didn’t read carefully.” The position has noting to do with seminarians. This is seeing that current priests are able to have their “CPE.”

    It does not come anywhere close to violating the agreement, and does not endanger children in any way.

    Think, people. Use your brains instead of indulging in these ridiculous emotional overreactions.

    • midwestlady

      So, in other words, it’s a “make-work” position with a misleading title, designed to give him something to do and something to pay him for, so that they can keep him in the club, and have us laity pay for it. Right?

      • Stu

        Don’t pay. If you feel that strongly. And tell your Bishop. But I think your assertion that it’s all “so that they can keep him in the club” is unfounded.

        Present him to the secular authorities if he breaks the law. Cooperate fully with their investigations. Remove him from any contact with children. Be transparent with the public after investigations are complete. But even with that and even with a priest who has betrayed his vows, the Church should not and cannot just throw him to the rubbish heap for Satan to devour. There is a spiritual war going on and this priest (and those he victimized) are casualties.

        The man answered the call for Holy Orders. Absent any other facts, I will accept that call was legitimate. And even if it wasn’t, the Church ordained him. They, to include you and me, now have an obligation to attempt to help him. I would like to see him cloistered. Now it is possible that such a course of action just isn’t feasible. This leaves the Bishop with a challenge. You don’t just given him “nothing” to do. That’s certainly a recipe for disaster. Instead, you have to employ him. I’m not saying the Bishop is handling it exactly well either, but it’s a tough situation.

        • Kenneth

          If, instead of buggering young lads, he had publicly dissented on the issue of women priests, he would have been “thrown on the rubbish heap for Satan to devour.” He would have had his collar yanked off so fast he’d have blisters on his neck. And I very much doubt many of you would be calling for the Church to honor some obligation to help the fellow through life after that.

          • Stu


            Priests who engage in such thought get AMPLE almost painstaking warning and chance to correct themselves before action is taken.

            In other words, your comments show ignorance and come across as overly emotional in tone.

        • midwestlady

          The Church has an abysmal record with these “keep him away from kids” promises. Have you seriously kept track of the number of men who have had “keep him away form kids” orders and have been cut loose on un-knowing parishes and even schools? There is no credibility for this anymore.
          Dioceses routinely issue these “no kids” promises, and then almost always violate them almost immediately. They give them cars and let them wander around. They re-station them and don’t keep track of what they’re doing when they’re not in public. And if you do some homework–try reading the records released last week from the AD of Los Angeles, for instance–you will see this is true.

      • naturgesetz

        Wrong. It’s a low-profile post (Had you ever heard of it before? Without looking it up, can you tell me who is head of the Office for Ongoing Formation of Priests in your diocese?) where he can do something useful to earn the stipend which the archdiocese is obligated to pay him, without being in contact with children.

        • Kenneth

          It’s a pretty damn good gig, when you consider that 40-some million Americans, including veterans, have none, not even a “low-profile” post and certainly no stipend.

        • Penta

          If it’s a point of earning back the stipend, why not make him…I don’t know…the official research assistant/gofer monkey in the archdiocesan archives? Something where he cannot, even theoretically, manage or have authority over anyone or anything.

          Or even better. He can be the official archdiocesan puppy housebreaker for guide dogs for retired priests. Yes, he would spend his days cleaning up dog poop.

          • Kenneth

            If it’s too much trouble to tailor make a humble job for Fugee within the upper echelons of administrative circles, he could always try his hand at that old shtick the saints and disciples used to do: Serving the wretched poor.

            This, I’m told, actually used to be done, in real space and by hand before it was off-shored and considered beneath the stations of guys with holy vows and well-connected penitents. He’s done all sorts of fundraising work for missionaries. He could actually role up his sleeves and deliver some care at the other end of the pipe. I’m willing to bet there’s still a few AIDS patients in Africa, some people who could use help digging a new well, and probably even several land mine or civil war victims who are still a bit under-served. There may even be a few hard-luck cases right there in Newark.

            I bet if the archdiocese put their best consultants to the task (and cared), they could come up with some useful task that didn’t require a director title, a nice office and administrative assistant or a cushy 9-5 weekday schedule or the appearance of a promotion for monstrous conduct.

            • midwestlady

              Oh good, so he can victimize them, who are less powerful and less likely to be heard if he victimizes them. Everyone seems to be willing to foist an abuser on someone else. Convenient isn’t it? As long as he doesn’t touch MY kid, right?

              • Kenneth

                To my knowledge, not all poor or downtrodden people are children, or helpless.

                • midwestlady

                  So we can foist this guy on them, when we don’t want him in our parishes anymore? And they have to take him because they’re poor? How very charitable.

          • midwestlady

            Make work jobs in order to keep him in the club. Get over the clericalism. If he can’t function as a decent priest, get him out of the active priesthood and give him a job where he can at least do something worthwhile. HE doesn’t need to be corrupting anyone else in the priesthood, for pete’s sakes.

    • Kenneth

      Seriously, people, we just need to calm down. The abuse thing is SO last week’s news, and we just need to get over it. And anyway, if something doesn’t technically violate the letter of an agreement or rule book, and if we can argue for our construction of what “is is”, there can’t be anything wrong with the action in question.

      “Does not endanger children in any way.” I guess not, if you trust the Church to do a job of monitoring abusive priests after its demonstrated virtually total unreliability at the job, and usually a disinclination to even try. We can hope that none of Fugee’s students/client priests struggling with pedophilia perceive that getting caught for molestation really isn’t a career ending move and so just might be worth the risks.

      It astounds me, even now, that people can be so blind to the real and immediate harm this decision is doing. It effectively destroys any minimal trust that people might have started to re-invest in priests as men and a class of vocation. It screams out the message, in case anyone didn’t hear it in the Finn and Mahoney cases, that “We don’t get the abuse scandal, and we don’t have to get it. We’re bishops, and how we handle this issue is none of your damn business.”

      It has reduced the moral authority of the Church’s voice in the wider society down to the same region as personal injury attorneys and Scientology. It has done more to secularize society in 20 years than socioeconomic forces had done in the previous 200. It has turned Ireland and other areas which had been flagship Catholic states for 1500 years into lands so indifferent and hostile to the religion that they are now spoken of as “mission grounds.” But it’s nothing to get all twisted about.

      • midwestlady

        Grabbing a kid’s crotch and getting a police record is no big deal? Really?

  • Magistra Bona

    As ever, nice post, Mark. While we wait for Bishops to come down out of the clouds of their own self-conceit, and for priests to become chaste, as they promised, we, the Laity, have a task before us too. Since when does a parent abdicate vigilence and attention when it comes to the safety of their children? Usually when a priest takes the child. Cradle-Catholics and overworked tired parents have been handing off their kids to ‘youth ministers’, ‘seminarians’, and priests for years. That is one chink in the armour of the Church. Letting down our guard. In most dioceses, after Dallas, strict and clear policies were put forward for the supervision of minors on Church property. Do you, does your parish, really observe those policies? Or are they unknown, vague, or impractical. Keep your eye on the ball–that is, your kids. The pedophiles are keeping an eye on your kids. You may as well. And don’t let the disappointing scandal about Father So-and-So take your eyes off YOUR task. It is the job of the Laity, our job, to watch out for our kids. Let the bishops do cannonballs in the Lake of Gehenna for all we care. Our kids come first.

    • midwestlady

      The answer to your question is “never.” The annals of this crisis are full of people who let their kids spend the weekend with nice Father So-&-So, or went on a trip with nice Fr. So-&-So. News: Men who take kids, that they aren’t even related to, on expensive trips and outings are usually perverts. Even if they are ordained perverts. Would you let your plumber take your kid to Las Vegas and lavish him with expensive gifts? Would you let your garbage man take your little boy for the weekend, no questions asked? OF COURSE NOT. What IS WRONG with people that they think this is okay when a priest wants to do it? Stupid, stupid, stupid.

      Your kids are YOUR responsibility. Keep them with you. Know what goes on with them. It matters.

  • Deacon Greg Kandra

    According to the Dallas Charter, this man shouldn’t even be in ministry, let alone serving as director of anything on a diocesan level.

    Honestly? If he were working for any secular corporation, he would be given a severance package and led out the front door by an armed guard. Keeping someone like him is both demoralizing and dangerous, and sends precisely the wrong signal to an increasingly hostile world: we tolerate predators. Aren’t we nice?

    Arguing that “he won’t be around children” is unconvincing. Read some of the files from Los Angeles or Boston. That’s how we got in this mess in the first place. Meantime, how are priests who have to discuss their ongoing formation with him supposed to deal with a man like that? He isn’t just a man who was accused. He is a man who confessed and went to trial. And now he’s directing an office for the archdiocese?

    How is the Catholic Church ever going to regain any credibility at all on this issue with appointments like this?

    • bill bannon

      The trouble also goes to the top where Truman put it. We corporately for decades bought into Pope as writer instead of Pope as watchful administrator ( that the canons envision). Subsidiarity is so interpreted that he has no accountable connection to multiple bizarre dangerous lower decisions. Truman said “the buck stops here”. We say, ” the buck stops anywhere but here at the top”. The Church needs a Pope who does admin from 9AM til 5PM everyday of the week….and has the virtue of severitas. They existed throughout history and that’s why we have writings from very few Popes relative to the 265 Pope total. But modern Catholicism has a heavy celebrity/author slant to the papacy dating from the appearance of the mass media which was not a factor centuries ago.

    • midwestlady

      You bet. Big companies get a whiff of this stuff and people are gone overnight. It is not tolerated. At. All.

    • midwestlady

      It’s going to take decades, Deacon. It has entered the public lore and we have become the butt of jokes for people who don’t even know anything about the Catholic Church.

  • kmk

    Can’t he do some kind of manual labor somewhere–some kind of order of penitents?
    Even if this is a desk job and has nothing to do with seminarians, it SOUNDS like it does.

    Lord, have mercy on your Church, as pathetic as we are sometimes.

  • Mark, I do hope that the bishop is not engaging in some kind of ‘poacher turned gamekeeper’ schtick.

    • midwestlady

      Even if he isn’t intending to, it could turn out that way. It’s not that this hasn’t happened before because the last 40-50 years are full of it. It seems as if even the stupidest among us should have learned that by now, but apparently not.

  • Mdmike

    Kmk, prayers for the bishops and clergy are part of the eucharistic prayer at every mass. Maybe if we add prayers for their victims at every prayer of
    the faithful it might get some attention.

  • bill bannon

    Bravo to Mark and all blogs covering this. Bravo.

  • Blanche

    Ban him from all contact with children? That’s a fantasy. How could it possibly be enforced? Who better than a pedophile is ever so skillful at finding vulnerable children.
    It’s sickening how bishops enable these very ill adults. Are the bishops really that clueless? Will this ever stop? What would it take to stop it?
    I don’t think it’s been healthy for the bishops to have a choke hold on ALL the power & decision making in the US church. They have not been good stewards. Apparently, the strong bishops are not able to make enough of an impact to develop rules with teeth for bishops who can’t take decisive action when need be. They need to include laity in the power & decision making levels. The USCCB is not free of corruption. Sad to say.

  • midwestlady

    It’s not only the bishops, who are only acting out Catholic cultural behavior. Look at the thread above and see how many Catholic just want to take the bureaucratic tactic, and move a sexual offender around from place to place, foisting him on this or that group. First the contemplatives, then the penitents, then the old, and then the poor. The bishop himself has foisted him on the priests, of all people.

    All this, when the real answer is to admit that men who engage in criminal sexual activity do not belong in the ministry. The ministry is not only about teaching and administering the Christian faith, which is opposed to sexual criminality; the ministry is about religion and holiness; the ministry is about carrying on the mission of Jesus Christ. Men in the priesthood should be working on holiness, not working on whether they’re violating their parole conditions. What the hell kind of outfit has this become that someone has to say this out loud?

    Get rid of these men who abuse. We don’t need them. We are better off without them. And be careful who we ordain in the future. We cannot afford, nor are we about, this kind of thing. This is ridiculous. And it’s ridiculous that anyone should even have to point this out.

    • Kenneth

      Of course he doesn’t belong in ministry. You’re not exactly saving us all from grave error or blindness on that count. He should be dismissed and laicized, but his bishop, who has all the moral reasoning of Nero, didn’t do that, and in fact thinks the perpetrator is the victim.

      So the discussion steps off from the facts on the ground, which is the decision to reward predation with a fairly prestigious job and living arrangements that in all probability, are lightly supervised if at all. So the bishop is determined to keep him in the collar and on a payroll. The question of where to put him becomes one of damage control. Making him director of priest formation or director of anything is a public endorsement of child sex abuse. There is no other way to read it, and no other way it ever will be read by anyone in the reality based world that exists outside of the bishop’s bubble.

      Suggested alternatives are not about foisting him off on unwitting victims somewhere else. Unlike bishops have done 100% of the time, people here have it in mind to actually inform any receiving community of the guy’s past. I have to think that somewhere in the world outside of a corporate office building, there is hard work to be done that would: A) let him be of some real service for once in his life B) Not involve children or young men which seem to be the guy’s weakness and C) Would telegraph the message that the guy lost some rank and pay grade rather than being promoted for abuse.

      I imagine there are orders and ministries out there somewhere which actually practice close supervision and discipline. It used to be that brothers and nuns, especially in cloistered communities, lived pretty austere, regimented lives and didn’t have a lot of unsupervised time or time to screw off outside of the monastery. If they’re not going to get rid of this guy, and if they truly can’t imagine some more appropriate placement of him, then people should get used to the fact that the Church is never going to “get past” the abuse crisis because it’s content living there.

      • midwestlady

        So one more try at passing him off on the contemplatives. Why do we have to “stick” someone with him, just like the bishops do? I mean, this is no different than what they do, move him around trying to find a place for him, while he takes no responsibility for himself and manages to elude the law.

        As long as the clergy AND the laity have this mentality about child abusers, no, this is never going to be over. We have got to get rid of these men and make them face the consequences of their actions like everyone else has to do. This is the only solution to the problem.