Is Naming & Shaming UnChristian?

collarpriestcroppedSome three years or so ago, Catholic Truth was given information by concerned parishioners in a Scottish parish, when their new priest arrived and moved into the presbytery with his housekeeper. A divorcee with children (who often stayed at the presbytery),  this woman – parishioners claimed – acts more like the lady of the house than the priest’s housekeeper.  

Now, we know that priests’ housekeepers, like doctors’ receptionists, can, indeed, get above themselves, so we didn’t pay too much attention to that particular perception.  Perhaps in order to allay fears of a possible scandal, the then new housekeeper  informed some locals that the local Ordinary (bishop) knew about “the situation”.   Anyway, we sympathised, explained that we didn’t feel able to publicise their concerns at that time, and went on our merry way, if not exactly rejoicing, wondering precisely how many other such “situations” are “out there”.  Please note, though, that if YOU know of any such situation, do not name anyone here. Instead, if you think it is important, please email the editor privately with details. 

Recently, we have been approached again about the same priest, this time by a different source. There are indicators that “Father” is living a normal family life in his comfortable presbytery, although we are not prepared to say  much more than that right now, for the following reasons.  

Firstly, before we publish any scandal, we always give the subject of any reports the opportunity to respond and to end the scandal.  We have not yet approached this priest, and so we are not naming him in this piece.  We know that his Ordinary – according to the housekeeper – knows about his domestic arrangements and approves.  We will send him the link to this thread to make sure that is the case. 

Secondly, since there is some time now before our next edition is due for publication (January, 2017, to be precise) we thought we would raise the issue of “naming and shaming” here, because, were we to publish the facts in our newsletter, there would be critics who would disapprove.  For some reason, our critics don’t mind naming and shaming priests if they are possibly endangering children, but not causing any other scandal (even though no child is ever going to end up in Hell because he/she was abused by a priest).  They do not seem to realise that, in admitting the principle of “naming and shaming”, it becomes a matter of personal judgment. And remember, we are not naming and shaming individuals at random. If Joe Bloggs is pinching from next door’s apple-tree, he’ll never make the front page of Catholic Truth. We are dealing only with public figures, such as priests and bishops who are living double lives.  It seems a tragedy in its own right that some readers consider saving the reputation of a duplicitous priest to be more important than saving his soul. 

So, we wish to ask bloggers to consider whether, if there were a scandal like this in YOUR parish, would you want to know?  Would you want to know who pays the housekeeper’s wages? Who pays when she  travels abroad with “Father”?  Who is paying for her family members when they stay at the presbytery?   Or would you prefer not to know?  

In the absence of a promise from this priest to end the scandal, SHOULD we publish the full facts in our January newsletter – or would that be unChristian?

Comments invited… 

58 responses

  1. Goodness me, of course the priest / bishop should be named, after giving them the chance to explain themselves of course. How shocking! Does this really happen here in Scotland? Africa, yes, but here?

      • Deacon Augustine,

        Some years ago, a priest of the Diocese of Galloway had a letter published in the Scottish Catholic Observer (anonymously – he didn’t have his name published) in which he announced that he had a girlfriend, and that this was not unusual in that Diocese. He was calling for change, for an end to the celibacy rule, and I’ve never forgotten a couple of remarks in that letter: (1) where he wrote about now being accustomed to “the softness of a woman” and (2) where, having called for an end to celibacy, he wrote: “…otherwise, I don’t know how long we can last…”

        I took that to mean, “last in ministry” – that he (and others) would leave the ministry if celibacy continued. Who knows. Did they last? Are they still living double lives?

        All I know – and anyone in the Galloway area who read his letter knows – is that he gave the impression that celibate priests in that Diocese (if not all Scotland) were engaged in what are euphemistically described, these days, as “relationships”.

        So, “rife”? Not sure but wouldn’t be one bit surprised. Sadly.

        • Editor,

          It’s a shocking indictment of the times that I find it quite edifying that a priest has a girlfriend !

          • Petrus,

            I had the same reaction! But these days, you never know: the girlfriend could easily decide she is a boy, and then that priest will find himself in more familiar territory…

    • Helen,

      Sadly, yes, all sorts of things happen in Scotland. Let’s head for Africa!

      Seriously, we should pray for priests – pray, especially to St Therese of Lisieux, the Carmelite saint who spent her short life making sacrifices for priests. Carmel, in fact, is THE Religious Order dedicated to offering a life of prayer and sacrifice for priests.

  2. I have known of situations like the one you describe where priests have live-in concubines or even “boyfriends”. It can take a good bishop being appointed to a diocese to clear out this kind of poison. Where you are absolutely certain of the facts and a bishop is conniving with the situation then whistle-blowing is probably the only option. Remember that “Admonishing the sinner” is one of the spiritual works of mercy and in a case like this both priest and bishop are participating in sacrilege and scandal, not to mention fornication and/or adultery. (Refer to CCC to see how we can be guilty of co-operating in the sin of another!)

    What you are describing is a form of abuse even if it is not abuse of a minor. However, abuse of vulnerable adults also comes under the Church’s safeguarding rules and 9 times out of 10 women in this situation are highly vulnerable. As we saw with former bishop Kieron Conry a few years ago, he took advantage of vulnerable women who were in marital diificulties and this is often how these things start. They keep the women dangling on a line with the promise that one day they will give up their vocation so that they can “marry”, but they rarely do. The culture these days is to have one’s cake and eat it.

    If going public by the laity is the only way to clean up this filth then so be it. You will get blow-back from some morons in the pews who think “Fr. should be entitled to have some comfort and love in his life.”, but, as you are aware, most people are so badly formed in their faith these days that their opinions on moral matters are worthless. You will also get blowback from the clericalists who think that the clergy are above criticism from the laity and that you should “keep your nose out” – but it was that kind of clerical boys’ club code that facilitated and covered-up so much child abuse in the first place. Stuff ’em.

    If it was going on in my parish I most certainly would want to know and I would most certainly inform the bishop. I hasten to add that I am very confident that my priest has been faithful to his ordination promises.

    • Deacon Augustine,

      Thank you for your clear-thinking on this issue.

      Our critics are really well meaning people who just cannot see such reporting as “charity”. It’s a pity but there’s no changing their minds, fixed as they are in a false notion of charity.

      Anyway, some of them will undoubtedly read this thread (there’s only a couple, actually, that I know of), so I want to make the point that if we do report this situation in the January newsletter, I’ve made a note for the distribution team NOT to include them. I would not wish to interfere with their sensibilities on this, so we won’t include them in the hard copy distribution for that particular edition. Obviously, if they choose to read the newsletter online, that is up to them, but I want to make clear that we will respect the delicacy of their sensibilities in this matter and see to it that they don’t receive the January hard copy.

      Finally, I note your concluding assurance: “I hasten to add that I am very confident that my priest has been faithful to his ordination promises.

      I would add that, thankfully, I think I can safely say that I have absolutely every confidence that the few priests whom I know personally, are also faithful – sound, hardworking priests whom I am privileged to know.

      There. That should keep me on, at least a COUPLE of Christmas card lists 😀

      • Dear Madame Editor,

        Is this priest a Roman Catholic or Eastern Catholic priest? If Catholic, then I agree that the faithful have a right to know the situation.

        However, if he is an Eastern Catholic priest ministering in a Catholic diocese, then I hope I can clarify some misconceptions.

        At my parish in the USA, my pastor is a married priest.

        First of all, PRIESTS WHO ARE ALREADY ORDAINED CELiBATE CANNOT MARRY. This is the constant Tradition of BOTH East and West.

        Many RC laity think that our priests can marry. This is ABSOLUTELY FALSE.

        Here’s the TRUTH: What the East DOES allow is for a man WHO IS ALREADY MARRIED to become a priest.

        This is the teaching of the Byzantine Catholic and Ukrainian Greek Catholic Churches:

        A married man who wants to become a priest MUST ask the permission of his wife FIRST. If she says NO, that’s the end of it.

        True story (told by our pastor in a homily):

        When our pastor was still a seminarian, a lady came with 5 children and knocked on the seminary door. She asked to see the Bishop. The Bishop arrived and she said to him: “Bishop, I want my husband back.”. The matter was investigated and the man had to leave the seminary because his wife did not give her consent.

        Why did this man abandon his wife and children? One day in church, he heard the Gospel and took it VERY literally:

        “And every one that hath left house, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for my name’ s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall possess life everlasting.” (Matt. 19: 29)

        On the other hand, if the wife ***freely consents*** (she can’t be forced/coerced/pressured to give her consent – it MUST be free), then BOTH husband and wife undergo formation – he receives seminary training and she receives formation on the duties of being the wife of a priest. There are a lot of rules and regulations that married priests MUST follow that don’t apply to celibate priests. Example:

        “The priest who is to offer the Sacrifice must be harbor no ill will or grudges against anyone; he must be at peace with everyone as much as possible. ***He must also abstain*** and keep the fast until the time appointed for the Sacrifice.”

        This rubric means that the priest must not only adhere to the traditional fast before the Liturgy, he MUST abstain from the marriage act the night before he offers the Liturgy.

        My opinion is this:

        If the Catholic Church wants to have married priests, it should adopt IN TOTO ALL the rules and regulations that Eastern Catholic married priests MUST follow. Otherwise, stick to the your own Tradition and DON’T ALLOW MARRIED PRIESTS.

        That’s my 10¢ worth. Please forgive my shouting but I don’t know how to do bold type on my phone in posting comments, so I’m relegated to capital letters.

        Yours in Christ the King,

        Margaret USA

        • Margaret,

          I think there is some confusion about “the Church” in your post above. Those Eastern rite churches which are in communion with Rome, are, by definition, part of The Catholic Church. They are not a separate Church which the use of Roman Catholic and Eastern Catholic suggests.

          There are married priests in the Eastern churches although I recall a conference on the subject some years ago where regret was expressed about that. In any case, as you point out, there are restrictions in place.

          The term “RC” was coined by the Protestant Reformers in the 16th century to spread their heresy that there were various “branches” of the Church of which the “Romans” were one branch. I think you will find this short article of interest, although I believe it is not strictly true to say that no pope has ever used the term – I think that Pius XII used it in one of his encyclicals, but he is a relatively recent pope. Generally, it was never used in the early Church – “Catholic Church” was in usage as early as the second century – and the Fathers of Trent took care not to use it in any of their documents. Even in the documents of Vatican II, it is not used. It’s not the most important detail in the world but it can lead to confusion – as, with respect, is evident in your comment where you write about the “Roman Catholic” and the “Eastern Catholic” as if two separate churches, when there is only one (holy, catholic and apostolic!) Church, with various legitimate rites therein.

          That understood, thank you for your very interesting and informative comment. I especially agree with your conclusion that we should not have married priests (shouted or not! It SHOULD be shouted – from the rooftops!)

          • Editor,

            Yes, they are part of the Catholic Church. They are described as particular churches, sui iuris, in full communion with the Pope in Rome, which make up the Catholic Church together with the Latin Church.

            You are also correct to say that regret was expressed about the abolition of compulsory celibacy.

          • Dear Madame Editor,

            I’m sorry for the lack of clarity in my last post. I should have typed “Roman Catholic” in the first, second and next to last paragraphs of my post.

            Also, Petrus is correct re the Eastern Catholic Churches. I understand what you’re saying re the unity of the Church. Obviously, there is “one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church” as per the Nicene-Constantinopolitan Creed.

            Let me put it this way:

            John & Mary Smith have 3 children: Joseph, James and David. Three letters come by post. The first letter is addressed to Mr. John Smith, the second letter is addressed to Mary Smith and the third letter states “The Smith Family”.

            The last letter is for everyone in the Smith Family; the first two are not – they are for particular persons in the Smith family – John and Mary, respectively.

            Imho, that’s the way it is with the Catholic Church. My late father was Ukrainian Greek Catholic and my mother is Byzantine Catholic. I was raised in the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church; however, I am also familiar with the Latin Tradition as well.

            To give another example:

            My mom and I always eat Thanksgiving dinner between 12 noon and 1 PM. My sister has Thanksgiving dinner at 7 PM. We’re still family but we eat Thanksgiving dinner at different times. She does things her way in her house and we do things our way in our house.

            So we’re all Catholics whether or not one is Byzantine Catholic, Roman Catholic, Ukrainian Greek Catholic (or belong to any of the particular Churches that make up the one, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church). The way you can tell is whether or not they are in communion with the Holy See and if the Holy Father is mentioned by name in the Liturgy/Mass/Quorbona.

            True story: There’s a church here in SE PA that *says* it is a Catholic church, but it has women ministers, doesn’t adhere to the teaching of the Church on life issues and is not subject to Archbishop Chaput. The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia issued a public statement that the church in question is NOT Roman Catholic (even though this place has “Catholic” in their name”) and that the faithful should avoid this “parish” at all costs.

            Whereas if you came over the pond and visited my Ukrainian Greek Catholic parish, you’d hear the Holy Father mentioned by name at least 3 times in the Divine Liturgy. Also, we are in full communion with the Holy See. So you can fulfill your Sunday obligation in our parish and I could fulfill my Sunday obligation in your parish.

            I’m going to miss you when you shut down! I’ll be suffering from CTWS (Catholic Truth Withdrawal Syndrome). Cure: CT!

            Seriously, I hope that you have a happy and Holy Christmas.

            In Christ the King,

            Margaret USA

            • Margaret USA,

              I think you are mistaking “Churches” for “Rites”. There is only one Catholic Church but within that there are several rites – you name some of them yourself.

              I found a very good article on this on the CT website, so I’ve taken out a few key paragraphs but you can read the whole thing if you visit the link:-

              Although the Diocese of Rome is central to the Catholic Church, this does not mean that the Roman rite, or, as is sometimes said, the Latin rite, is co-terminus with the Church as a whole; that would mean neglecting the Byzantine, Chaldean, Maronite or other Oriental rites which are all very much part of the Catholic Church today, as in the past.
              In our day, much greater emphasis has been given to these “non-Roman” rites of the Catholic Church.

              The Second Vatican Council devoted a special document, Orientalium Ecclesiarum (Decree on Eastern Catholic Churches), to the Eastern rites which belong to the Catholic Church, and the new Catechism of the Catholic Church similarly gives considerable attention to the distinctive traditions and spirituality of these Eastern rites.

              So the proper name for the universal Church is not the Roman Catholic Church. Far from it. That term caught on mostly in English-speaking countries; it was promoted mostly by Anglicans, supporters of the “branch theory” of the Church, namely, that the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church of the creed was supposed to consist of three major branches, the Anglican, the Orthodox and the so-called Roman Catholic. It was to avoid that kind of interpretation that the English-speaking bishops at Vatican I succeeded in warning the Church away from ever using the term officially herself: It too easily could be misunderstood.
              https://www.ewtn.com/faith/teachings/churb3.htm

              I did LOL at your comment “I’ll be suffering from CTWS (Catholic Truth Withdrawal Syndrome).” Me, too, LOL!

  3. I think infidelity to celibacy probably is pretty rife in Scotland, myself, though I’m not saying every priest is guilty, not by a long chalk. I know some very good priests myself and they are as disgusted as we are about this kind of thing. I remember reading somewhere that there were secretly married priests in Scotland and if that is true, then it is a real shocker.

    I definitely don’t think it’s unchristian to whistle-blow about these things. I think the very opposite, that it’s a duty. Ideally, nobody would want to name anyone, but we are living in terrible times as far as the priesthood goes, and if the bishops are allowing these scandals to go on, then it’s down to the laity who know about them to blow the whistle. Otherwise, scandalised parishioners might end up losing their faith. I know it would test mine to the limit, to suspect something untoward like that in my parish.

    I know I’m carrying coals to Newcastle by suggesting that we all pray for that priest and his housekeeper.

    • Josephine,

      ” I know some very good priests myself and they are as disgusted as we are about this kind of thing.”

      I can testify to the truth of that myself, since more than once, our information on such cases has come from concerned priests.

  4. So far I agree with everything that’s been said but I want to clear up a few points:-

    1) Does a lay person or group like Catholic Truth have the authority or the right to publish this info?
    2) What will happen as a result? If the situation is going to continue, what was the point?
    3) People who didn’t suspect anything, might be so devastated as to damage their faith. They might even leave the Church.
    4) Would it not be enough to let the priest know that his situation is the talk of the place, and maybe just leave it there?
    5) Even if this is true, is it not a sin to take away from the characters of the people involved?

    • Laura,

      Thank you for making those points. I will attempt to clarify below:

      1) Does a lay person or group like Catholic Truth have the authority or the right to publish this info?

      It is more about “duty” than “authority/right”. As I explained above, we were given news of this situation over three years ago and chose not to publish. We had to weigh up the information we had at that time and consider whether or not we had a duty to publish it. We decided not, at that time. Since then, we have been informed that this priest may be a possible candidate for episcopal office.

      2) What will happen as a result? If the situation is going to continue, what was the point?

      We have no way of knowing what will happen as a result. However, we have some hope of action being taken given the position of this priest within the Church.

      3) People who didn’t suspect anything, might be so devastated as to damage their faith. They might even leave the Church.

      In the case under consideration, at least one parishioner who DOES know about the situation has lapsed from the Faith as a direct result. At least, if the situation is brought into the open, there can be corrective commentary and exhortations to the faithful NOT to allow their spiritual lives to be affected, any more than the first Christians allowed the betrayal of Judas Iscariot to weaken their Faith.

      4) Would it not be enough to let the priest know that his situation is the talk of the place, and maybe just leave it there?

      Sometimes that is exactly what we do. In fact, we always approach subjects as delicately as we can, in order to achieve a good outcome, hopefully with no need for publicity.

      5) Even if this is true, is it not a sin to take away from the characters of the people involved?

      It is very serious to take away from the character of another. Generally speaking, it is, or can be, a mortal sin. The Catholic Encyclopaedia Online offers a clear and detailed explanation of Catholic teaching on detraction

      As you will see if you visit the Catholic Encyclopaedia: “There are times, nevertheless, when one may lawfully make known the offense of another even though as a consequence the trust hitherto reposed in him be rudely shaken or shattered. If a person’s misdoing is public in the sense that sentence has been passed by the competent legal tribunal or that it is already notorious…even when the sin is in no sense public, it may still be divulged without contravening the virtues of justice or charity whenever such a course is for the common weal or is esteemed to make for the good of the narrator, of his listeners, or even of the culprit. The right which the latter has to an assumed good name is extinguished in the presence of the benefit which may be conferred in this way….

      No more in the way of exposure should be done than is required, and even a fraternal admonition ought rather to be substituted if it can be discerned to adequately meet the needs of the situation.
      Editor: note that our source was considering taking the information to the secular press, but had approached us first, for advice; although we strongly dislike making these exposes, we suggested that it might be wiser to keep the reporting within the Church – albeit that the secular media do, on occasion, pick up stories from our website.

      Journalists are entirely within their rights in inveighing against the official shortcomings of public men. Likewise, they may lawfully present whatever information about the life or character of a candidate for public office is necessary to show his unfitness for the station he seeks….”
      END OF EXTRACTS FROM THE CATHOLIC ENCYCLOPAEDIA.

      I hope these responses answer your concerns – if not let me know and I will try again.

      Above all, be assured that these are not the reports we want to write or enjoy publishing. Far from it.

      Our prayer is that we do not inflict damage on anyone, and that – in the words of St Paul – “all things work together for good, for those who love God.”

      • Editor,

        What constitutes taking away the character of another? Does it mean me coming home from work and saying to my wife, “wait til I tell you what this person did today”?

        • Petrus,

          I think taking away from another’s character, means telling stuff about them that puts them in a bad light, when there’s no need to do so. Even if it’s true, we are not supposed to do that, without very good reason. I’m afraid it’s something I have to confess to myself, my lack of charity and talking about others in an unkind way. If we do it habitually it can become a mortal sin.

        • Sorry, that last comment from me is addressed to editor. I thought it would appear right under her explanations.

  5. I live in a parish where there is a similar situation to the one described in the blog article.  I find it a real cause for concern, so I look forward to reading what other bloggers think of it. Personally, I have no problem with publishing the facts, as no priest should be living a double life.

    • Concerned Parishioner,

      Thank you for your first comment on this blog which I caught just as I was closing down for the night.

      I fully agree with you that no priest should be living a double life. We are all sinners and live “double lives” in between Confessions, up to a point, of course, but no Catholic should live a life which is so publicly at odds with what we profess to believe, and no priest should give even the appearance of scandal in his domestic arrangements.

  6. Why do priests need a live-in housekeeper these days? If “the new man” concept applies to husbands, why not priests? Why can’t they cook for themselves. Maybe they could employ a cleaner for a few hours every week but they should be able to look after themselves as other men do all the time. Single men living alone, or even married men with working wives. Why do priests have to have a live-in housekeeper? I don’t understand that.

  7. In this particular case it seems that a priest is living with a woman of child bearing age who, in fact, has children living with her at the presbytery. That in iteself is a great scandal since it is represents at the very least a very serious occasion of sin for the priest. So even from this point of view Catholics have a right to be outraged and a duty to object very strongly.

    If justice and charity are to be properly observed then the priest and his bishop must first be confronted with the scandal and given an opportunity to right the wrong. Failure on their part to act immediately, however, leaves the faithful with no choice but to make their disgust at this clerical betrayal of Our Lord public. If nothing is said then it will be taken as a clear sign that the faithful have become indifferent to clergy breaking their vow of celibacy and other clergy may then surrender to their passions by the silent consent of their flocks. It could also shake the faith of clergy who fight the good fight to remain celibate for Our Lord only to see their bishops so wantonly trample the virtue of chastity underfoot.

    If this priest refuses to correct the irregular situation he is presently in then we can take it that he is hardened in his sin and is therefore a very grave danger to the souls under his care. Is it likely, for example, that such a man will properly instruct those who confess sins of adultery or general impurity to him in the confessional? Is it likely that such a man will admit divorced and remarried persons to Holy Communion? Once a priest has lost his moral compass he becomes a danger to the souls of all.

  8. Editor,

    My understanding is that Catholic Truth always tread very carefully and only publish information if the bishops fail to protect the lay faithful or the offender refuses to repent/recant. I would say under those circumstances it is a duty to publish.

    I think the parishioners have a right to know what is happening under their noses. The potential double life of the priest is one thing, but the parishioners also deserve the know where their offerings are going and who they are funding.

  9. If, and I say if, a priest is living in sin then he is committing mortal sins, objectively speaking. That would mean that every time he offers Mass, he is committing a sacrilege. No Catholic can participate in that. No bishop can condone that and, if he does by his silence, then he is equally guilty of sacrilege.

  10. I agree with Petrus. Every effort must be made to ensure that the relevant bishop deals with such a scandalous situation before making it public. If , however, after a reasonable time and lack of explanation, he refuses to do so, then it would be a work of mercy to rebuke the priest in the hope that, at the best, such condemnation would bring about his repentance, and at the least that it would show the faithful who are scandalised that they are not alone in their sorrow and outrage. There would also be the possibility that the glare of publicity would enforce action, if shame has failed to do it.

    Such situations are hugely damaging to the Church, and bring unmerited dishonour and suspicion to all of those faithful priests who remain true to their vows. They have suffered already due to the child abuse scandals. We have a duty to protect their reputations and standing in the eyes of the world.

  11. Editor,

    Just to take a slightly different tack on this problem, let’s focus on the word “shame.” It’s been my experience that the Modernists who have overrun the Church, up to and including the Pope, have no shame whatsoever – not only in their hubris in thinking that their destructive ideas about the Church are far superior to how God Himself established her, but in the lack of shame over their overt violations of Church discipline and moral doctrine.

    And that’s saying something, since even Adam and Eve felt a certain type of shame after they fell!

    As you know, It is your Catholic duty, and ours, to expose these scandals because of the damage they do to souls. That said, I seriously doubt whether the priest in question will feel any “shame” if he is corrected by his bishop (which is not likely either). He will more than likely merely be indignant and try to blame you for being caught, since one of the first resorts of the Modernist is to find a scapegoat (esp. if ridicule or stonewalling doesn’t work).

    • RCA Victor,

      I’m pleased that you raise the use of the word “shame” because it is actually not our motive to “shame”. “Naming and Shaming” is what we have been accused of doing but that is to omit a whole lot of prior interaction with the subjects of our reports.

      The fact that many priests are openly in “relationships” supports your comments about the lack of shame, a lack which arises from a dead conscience and spiritual blindness.

      Everything leads back to the loss of grace within the Church. “Get a Freemason to concoct a brand new Mass”, Old Nick thought to himself, “and watch the rot taking hold.” For, when the Faith goes, the morals quickly follow…

      PS if you’re wondering where I got that direct quote from Old Nick, well… I have my sources!

  12. I do not think it is good to let scandal hide under the surface, be it motivated for appearances sake, or because personal bias has coloured judgement, or because of a feared negative outcome for the Diocese / Religious Order. That is exactly the kind of thinking which contributed to the various sex abuse scandals.

    In those cases, the silence fostered a culture where people were physically and emotionally abused. In the case where a priest is “living in sin”, the silence means people’s souls which are abused, as it seems likely that the priests judgement in confession / preaching will be affected due to his own circumstances.

  13. Editor,
    In such a case, I think that I would report directly and discreetly the object of the scandal to the local Ordinary in order to avoid aggravating the situation and then, it is of the responsibility of the bishop to handle the situation.
    Do you not agree?

    • Lionel,

      As soon as I posted this thread, I emailed the link to the diocesan office of the bishop concerned, with a request that the email be forwarded to him (the local Ordinary) so that he may contact me if he wishes details.

      That’s about as discreet as I could be at this early stage. Obviously, priests are known in the diocesan office, so I wanted to make sure that the only person to whom I give the facts of the case as presented to us, is the local Ordinary himself. Presuming that he did not receive my email until today, first working day of the week, then, he’s not treated it as remotely urgent, because I’ve not had as much as an acknowledgement, either from the diocesan office or the Ordinary himself.

      I’ll give him sufficient time to respond, and then move to the next level. The question here is, who will get to the next level first, Cardinal Burke or my unworthy self?

      There’s really no likelihood of any “success” here. The last time I wrote to a bishop about a similar situation (widely known – you wouldn’t believe the evidence if I posted it, which I won’t) that bishop did write immediately to say he was off on a trip abroad but would investigate this on his return and get back to me. Which he did. After his “investigation” which consisted of asking the priest concerned if the alleged housekeeper was, in fact, more than his alleged housekeeper. “Father” insisted that the alleged housekeeper was not alleged at all, this was idle gossip and that was the end of the investigation. Would you critics take note, by the way: we did not report that situation in any way either at the time or since.

      However, this particular Ordinary, in the case currently the subject of this thread, has such contempt for Catholic Truth, and for moi in particular, that he is unlikely to reply at all. Whatever, (I can hear you all ask), happened to “love thine enemies…”? Answers on a postcard please.

      • Editor,
        Indeed if the bishop is so contemptuous that he does not even acknowledge, the situation becomes more tricky and I actually do not know what action has to be done.
        I just expressed my position, however it is not necessarily the best.
        Nevertheless it is in no case an objection to your action, especially in such a difficult matter…

  14. Lionel

    I think you’ll find that Editor, like the rest of us, does agree. However, in the event that the local Ordinary refuses to act to end the scandal, which is sadly the normal response of bishops these days, then it is perfectly correct for the faithful to make the matter public, if only to let him and others know that we will not remain silent in the face of their betrayal.

  15. It is all part of the bad preparation for the priesthood that so many young men putting themselves forward are victims of. Celibacy is not an easy choice
    the majority of priests have the same temptations as everyone else but what is missing is that the young men have to realise that in giving themselves to Christ they will then have to battle against the sexual temptations around them. It is hard when the world does not care about purity and chastity but it is even harder If you still see ourselves as part of the the world. Habitual thoughts seem innocent at first but they soon dominate the personalty and become part of the person so that temptations are difficult to resist. Every impute thought must be resisted immediately by prayer and perhaps that is the problem. the priest perhaps does not have that relationship with Jesus that leads to prayer. Mary is a great source of help and a priest devoted to Mary will be a true nd chaste priest who puts the needs of the people before his own. that is what the priest we are talking about is doing. He is putting the needs of the people second to his own needs. He has put his hands to the plough and is now looking over his shoulder. Pray to Mary for him. I believe it was St Francis who was approached by people in a town who complained that their priest was casusing scandal by living with a woman. They askedSt Francis to speak to him. St Francis visited him and when the [riest came to the door St Francis knelt and kissed his hands,. Perhaps there is somoene who should visit this priest and do the same , reminding him of the great vocation he took upon himself.

    • I am sure you have hit the nail on head John. A true relationship with our Lord and His Mother is the only safeguard against the inevitable loneliness faced by the modern priest who all too often is the only priest in a parish. No lively young curates to keep him company. I do wonder if it might be better for there to be clergy houses with several priests living together who have individual responsibility for each parish in the area. Might also be a protection against alcoholism, another sad route for the lonely. But you are right to insist that we pray hard for our priests above all.

      • John and Elizabeth,

        I find your focus on loneliness (and the general belief that priests must be lonely) of particular interest today, because, while driving this morning, I listened to a discussion on the Call Kaye Radio Scotland show when the subject came up.

        It arose because a Scots author (who once sent me the rudest of emails but that is another story) was being interviewed about a documentary in which she is involved, seeking to show something of the life of a Glasgow man who hit the news some years ago when he was found dead – three years later. Shocking.

        Anyway, it seems the focus of everyone’s sympathy was for the old man who “must have been lonely”.

        The author – to my delight – pointed out that it is a mistake to think that because people live alone or are old that they are necessarily lonely. She spoke about her own experience as a young person working with the elderly and made it clear that the presumption of loneliness is often very wide of the mark. I’m on record myself as saying I would need to find a desert island somewhere to see if I can experience what most people seem to dread, “loneliness”. The old man (Henry) – she said – reportedly went out every morning to buy a paper, was heard whistling on the stairs and generally giving the appearance of being anything but lonely.

        So, I’m not sure that the image of the “lonely priest” is one that should be cultivated. Anyone who is working hard and enjoys wholesome friendships will not be lonely.

        Personally, however, given what we are living through, I am becoming more and more of the opinion that no young man should be accepted for seminary (or should even consider the priesthood) if he has any desire to have exclusive opposite-gender relationships. I’m told by friends, including one priest, that this would take away from the sacrifice entailed to live a celibate life, but I disagree. The sacrifice comes in daily dedication, living a life totally for God, seeking the good and salvation of souls, not in nursing sensual desires, regretting the choice of priestly vocation. Seeing celibacy as a huge sacrifice, is precisely what has contributed, hugely, to the half-baked clergy we’re suffering right now. Sorry, half-baked clergy, but you know I’m right. Again… 😀

        PS as a little aside, and to make you all smile, cos I’m sure you’ve seen this for yourself, the above mentioned author told a story on the radio this morning about one of the elderly women whom she helped years ago. The lady was full of life and although 80+ was “all there” as the saying goes, yet people would speak to her as though she were not the full shilling. One such carer spoke to the old lady very slowly and carefully but the old lady never complained because, the author divulged, she presumed that the carer had some kind of learning disability! Priceless!

        Actually, that whole segment of the show was very interesting because of what the author said about old age. It makes refreshing hearing, so if you go onto Radio Scotland website, Call Kaye, and select today’s show, you can use the Listen Again facility.

  16. I did not intend to talk about loneliness. A priest devoted to the hearts of Jesus and Mary who is completely devoted to the people of his parish will be too busy to be lonely. What I was saying that a priest should be aware of the attacks he willl be under as a priest and only prayer and devotion will keep him out of danger. I do not think there is enough discussion on this in the seminaries in an age where many of there clergy are concerned with married priests and why they should be married. It makes it very difficult. what I was suggesting was an appeal to the wonderful gift he has in Holy Orders to be able to say the Mass. No earthly attractions should equal the joy he should feel in being a priest.

  17. Christina has emailed the following comment for this thread, because WordPress is not allowing her access to the blog using her tablet.

    Christina comments:

    As Crofter Lady pointed out, if the facts about this priest as reported are correct, then he is in an objective state of mortal sin.

    The intrinsic fruits of the Mass, Christ’s Sacrifice, are infinite, but the fruits we derive from any Mass we attend are not. They depend, among many other things, on the holiness of the priest. Therefore it is very important for us to look for holiness in the celebrant of any Mass we attend, so that the graces we receive will be as abundant as possible.

    A priest living in an objective state of mortal sin is, in effect and to a terrible degree, robbing his unwary parishioners of some of the fruits of the Mass, and they have a right to know this so that they may avoid his Masses if at all possible. Therefore, if a direct approach fails to make him repent and change his ways, then naming and shaming becomes a duty in charity.

    • Christina (and all)

      I should emphasise that we are not making any assumptions about this priest’s domestic arrangements. We are not presuming that he is living in a state of objective mortal sin. Our concern is that all appearance of scandal should be avoided and – unfortunately – the situation as it stands at the present time, IS giving cause for scandal. That doesn’t mean there is anything untoward going on, but the appearance of scandal is a cause for concern – i.e. the appearance of possible scandal is a scandal in itself.

  18. As I stated in last comment, the same thing is happening in our parish. My self and others were so appalled at a celebration in our Church recently in June (can’t say what celebration, as that would name the priest) a little girl (about 3/4 years old) ran straight to the priest calling him Pappa or Pappy while he was making a speech, during his speech the little girl stood at his side holding on to his leg. (the little girl was the housekeeper’s grand daughter) needless to say a few tongues were wagging after the celebrations.

    I did hear one comment from an older parishioner…..you’re scared to say anything in case they close the parish. So sad to hear that from a pensioner who’s spent most of their years at the parish.

    I have a few concerns about the priest and his live in housekeeper, but going back to the celebration in Church I was also concerned about the alcohol being consumed inside the Church (no partition up) it could have very well been held in the Chapel house for the amount of folk there. Funny how all the housekeeper’s celebrations are held in the house for her family & friends. I also wonder, who is paying for her family & friends when they stay for weekends and weeks at a time. Are we the parishioners paying for them through the Sunday collections? Is it the parish paying her wages or the archdiocese? I have so many concerns about our parish with the priest and his housekeeper.

    • Editor, understood, but I wanted to make that point because most uncatechised modern Catholics would not know anything about the extrinsic merits of the Mass and the spiritual benefits of choosing a Mass celebrated by a holy priest.

      Concerned Parishioner, I am really sorry for you in the situation as you describe it. Is it not possible for you to hear Mass at another parish where such things are (hopefully) not happening? Your spiritual welfare is more important than parish friends and loyalties.

    • Concerned Parishioner,

      I think I’m correct in saying that anyone working for the priest would be paid out of the parish collections, before money is sent on to the archdiocese. I’m quite sure that’s the procedure.

      What you recount is very troubling indeed, and I’m inclined to agree with Christina that you find another Mass asap – we, of course, always recommend the traditional Mass.

      • Editor

        “I think I’m correct in saying that anyone working for the priest would be paid out of the parish collections, before money is sent on to the archdiocese. I’m quite sure that’s the procedure.”

        That makes sense. Thank you for that information.

  19. Christina,

    Thank you for your sympathy – it is a terrible thing to have such suspicions.

    I am giving thought to the possibility of attending another parish for Mass, I agree that my spiritual life is the most important thing, so thank you for that advice. .

    • Concerned Parishioner, what a terrible situation you are in! You shouldn’t have to worry about such matters and you wouldn’t if you attended a traditional liturgy. I don’t know in what part of the country you live but you may find a traditional Mass nearer than you think. If you have a problem with attending a SSPX Mass (don’t know why as you won’t hear any heresies or see any aberrations there) there are other possibilities such as the “legit” FSSP or some parish Masses.

      I wish you all the best and will remember you in my prayers.

  20. If they are not paying full Council Tax, then they should also be reported to the relevant Council.

    • Constantine Alexios,

      That is an interesting point. I suspect, though, that since the family of the housekeeper don’t stay there all the time, but intermittently, they wouldn’t be subject to the rules about Council tax. Parishioners would be better placed to judge that. .

  21. What a sad thread in so many ways.

    It is a vicious circle. The dearth of vocations brings priests to feel that they are indispensable; Their perception of themselves as indispensable leads to their taking liberties, as of right.

    I agree wholeheartedly with the Editor on the subject of loneliness. I would go far as to say that if a priest cannot cope with solitude, then he is out of his depth.

    But the key to it all is prayer, both public and private. If prayer is missing, then the whole edifice is liable to fall.

    Athanasius is spot on about the moral compass. Sexual sin is quite unlike any other to the extent that repeated giving in to temptations in the sexual sphere lead to sexuality taking over, becoming almost like a possession to the point at which it becomes the possessed-s reason for living.

    Unfortunately, we are paying the price for the demise of spritual and ascetic theology which were once so much a part of priestly formation. But, at the end of the day, it comes down to the priest himself. He must be aware of his vulnerabilities and take prudent action to prevent the Evil One getting the better of him, all the while cooperating with God-s grace.

    Alcohol is a particular danger since it seems to function as a kind of weapon which the Enemy uses to soften up a target before the main assault. I am of the opinion that our first defences again the Enemy are ‘natural’ ones, including sobriety and self-control. Becoming inebriated is something to avoid at all costs.

    • Prognosticum,

      ‘Unfortunately, we are paying the price for the demise of spritual and ascetic theology which were once so much a part of priestly formation.’

      Nail hit absolutely on the head!

  22. It appears that a general consensus has been reached that the right course of action is to expose this priest and family if there is not a sufficient response and after a few technical loops have to be jumped through.
    However, I would ask several questions.
    Has Catholic Truth sought direction from a sensible spiritual director before taking the decision to and do they really have the right to inflict this harm to the reputation of the family involved?
    What exactly are the circumstances? Are they relatives of the priest or is the relationship that of employee and tenants? Was the offer of tenancy a charitable act on the part of the priest?
    In terms of the children, how old are they and would exposing the priest open them up to repercussions? Could this kind of exposure lead to them being harmed in some way? Additionally, what does Catholic Truth want to get out of the exposure? For a family to be made homeless?
    Have they considered the reliability of the sources? Were the sources driven by resentment that they weren’t employed as housekeeper?
    Are the priest and the woman definitely living in an adulterous situation? Some of these presbyteries are quite large enough to accommodate several people, so Catholic Truth really do have to be sure of their facts. Do they actually have the right or duty to cause harm to someone’s reputation when the full facts are unclear? Is it really anyone else’s business or are there issues that the priest and bishop might not believe appropriate to discuss with an organisation of lay people? Are there child protection issues?
    I am old enough to know that trying to deter someone who has a self-appointed mission from God from a course of action that they have decided upon is completely futile. However, I would ask Catholic Truth to consider carefully their actions. It could be argued that they are committing the sins of calumny or detraction. There most certainly will be consequences for the family involved and there may even be legal consequences for the organisers of Catholic Truth especially if there were to be a detrimental impact on children.

    • Alex,

      You are clearly blissfully unaware of what happens in such scandalous situations. Nothing will change. Nothing. The priest will continue to live in a situation giving the appearance of scandal. As to the rest of your questions, I will answer only three. We HAVE sought the counsel of trusted priests, our sources are, as ever, cast iron, without any hidden agenda or revenge motive and what we “get out of it” is a clear conscience, having tried, dutifully, to highlight the danger to souls, including the priest’s own soul, in the vacuum created by the negligence of the local Ordinary to supervise his priests and to protect the faithful from such scandals .

      As for the rest – let’s hope you never find out. We are never keen to publicise any such situation, so if a situation is suitably resolved and the scandal – in appearance, at least – is ended, then you will not read about it in our newsletter. Experience has taught us that it is often only the possibility of publicity that makes the difference, so the basis of your criticism is most unjust, and founded on purely human considerations. As for making “a family homeless” – what? A friend of mine was once a priest’s housekeeper. When he died, the next priest brought his own housekeeper and my friend applied to the Council – and was granted – a new home, plus she successfully sought alternative employment. That was in the days when live-in housekeepers were the norm.

      Are you suggesting that she (and every former housekeeper) should have been allowed to continue living in the presbytery, because now she was technically “homeless”? Really? Live-in housekeepers really ought not to be the norm nowadays, especially if the housekeeper has other family duties which require her to take care of children and grandchildren who may stay over from time to time. As another blogger said somewhere on here, the “new man” concept should be applied to priests as it is widely applied to married men. Having someone to clean a few days a week, and maybe come into cook, if necessary, is one thing, but I do not consider that housekeepers need to live in these days. Most women wish to be independent and live in their own home. It seems odd that someone with a family would choose the option of live-in housekeeping, for anyone, let alone a priest, in this day and age. It seems obvious why some people might “talk”.

      One of our bloggers above wrote that he thought publicity was due “in this particular case” but this particular case is no different from any other case which we have published. Believe me, Alex, we have no desire to publish this scandal any more than we have ever wished to publicise any other. At least those who are faced with an ongoing scandalous situation (and I’m thinking of one which we publicised in Edinburgh but which continues to this day) then we can rest easy in our consciences that we did what we could to alert those particular Mass-goers to the scandal. If they choose to live with it, and those involved continue apace, that’s not our business any more. As long as those who tell us that “Father X is a very holy priest” don’t ask us why we maintain an impassive affect, and fail to agree with them, nobody will ever hear from us again on the subject.

      I hope this clarifies the situation for you somewhat.

      PS the “defamation/calumny/legal consequences” doesn’t wash, but thank you for your questions anyway.

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