An Open Letter to My Bishop and to All U.S. Bishops

I write this letter after much prayer and reflection and with the utmost respect for the complex issue of leadership in the church.

I am not naïve regarding the challenges that bishops and church leaders face in the light of many crises and difficult issues that confront our church today. But I write — as a priest with 50 years of service to the church and a great love for the church — regarding an issue that deeply affects all of us, but especially brother priests.

The issue of sexual abuse on the part of clergy has had profoundly devastating effects on all members of the church — bishops, priests, religious and laity alike. The Dallas Charter, soon to be in effect for 20 years, has created an attitude of distrust resulting in injustices toward priests. The intention of the Charter was to address in a meaningful and credible way the issue of sexual abuse among the clergy. That intention was a necessary response to a terrible crisis that caused incredible pain and trauma to thousands of victims and greatly scandalized the church and society as a whole. In an attempt to address that crisis, the “zero tolerance” policy enacted by the bishops created more of an atmosphere of injustice than it intended. It was a reaction, not a response. Children’s safety and justice for priests are not mutually exclusive ideas.

Priests’ rights as American citizens were violated when there appeared to be a presumption of guilt rather than a man being innocent until proven guilty. Even when priests were exonerated, their reputations as priests and credible ministers of the gospel were compromised. This situation has caused a profound dilemma for the church on many levels:

  • The relationship between priests and their spiritual fathers, the bishops, was ruptured.
  • Bishops became more accountable to lawyers and law enforcement than they were to their own priests.
  • Review boards and law enforcement, along with lawyers, seem to have no sense of urgency to resolve serious issues. Justice delayed is justice denied.
  • Priests feel abandoned by their bishops and bishops seem unable to have any contact or concern for brothers accused.
  • The perception among many of us is that chancery officials contact priests on administrative leave not to encourage or be supportive, but only to monitor their brothers.
  • Even when priests are encouraged by formal or informal programs to reach out to their brothers, they are sternly warned to avoid any discussion of the issues involved. In what way does that help a brother who is hurting and feels abandoned?

​We show a great deal of concern for the victims of sexual abuse, and we should. The church has an absolute obligation to reach out and help to heal those who have been victimized by our clergy or other church officials. It should not, however, be an “either–or” approach but rather a “both–and” approach. Priests, even if guilty, need to be treated with respect; but that respect seems to be lacking, even in the cases of priests falsely accused.

​Pope Francis continually reminds us that the heart of the Gospel message is “mercy.” It appears to me and many other priests that we have not only paid homage to the legal system and law enforcement, but we have imitated the worst characteristics of our society by isolating and, at times, demonizing those who have been accused. Some priests have waited for years to have a case resolved and then, at times, feel as if they will always live under suspicion. But there is no such thing as an unforgivable sin. The mercy of God is made present to all of us. The church is the bearer of that mercy. It seems, however, that we instead imitate the attitude of a very unforgiving society. Our priority in outreach to victims seems, at times, to far outweigh our concern for priests.

Every priest lives with the fear of being accused, and with the consequences that result from that accusation even if there is no credible evidence to support it. The attitude of the institutional church, as with all institutions, is to protect itself — even at the cost of sacrificing, in an unjust way, those who have given their lives to its service.

I believe that there is a real morale problem among priests created by the hierarchy. I have often felt that priests too easily claimed that there is a morale problem, and I have often challenged that claim. But in the present situation, I believe that there really is a morale problem. The Dallas Charter, on one level, may have successfully addressed the clerical abuse issue but, at the same time, it has created scandal by causing a great mistrust of priests and by rupturing their relationship to their bishops.

The Charter has responded to a serious issue, but without thought of the consequences that are wounding the church and the credibility of priests. Further, because of the sins of a small minority of priests, we have created an unhealthy distancing of priests from youth. It appears that we are using means greatly disproportionate to the crisis to solve it, something like attempting to “kill a flea with a cannonball.” Many vocations to the priesthood and religious life were fostered by a healthy and genuine interaction between priests and youth. Five young men who were involved with me and youth ministry, in a wholesome interaction, are now priests. I wonder whether, if the Dallas Charter had been in effect at the time of my encounter with them, they would have responded to their call. Even though a vocation comes from God through his church, it needs to be nourished because “grace builds on nature.”

I know many fine priests who been accused of something that I firmly believe they never did. They are hurting because of a lack of support from church leadership. I am not bitter, but I am angry and greatly disappointed. I accept the humanness of the church and believe that the Holy Spirit will guide us even when we fail to respond. I have also examined my own conscience to see if as a pastor, or leader in the church, I have been guilty of doing the same in my relationship and attitude to the people I serve. I do not believe I have done so.

Recently, I spoke to a very fine priest who is faithful and fruitful in his ministry. He expressed deep anger with the hierarchy. At the time of ordination, he said, he promised obedience and respect to his bishop. But he believes that such respect is not mutual, a fact which greatly saddens him. I look at a church that often proclaims the need to be transparent. But when it comes to dealing with priests, I do not see that transparency — and that deeply hurts me. As I stated in the beginning, I have great respect for leadership of the church, and as disappointed as I am that our leadership is living in fear, a fear that goes counter to the gospel, I humbly acknowledge that I may not be seeing the whole picture. Having served as a pastor and in many other leadership positions, I know that matters are complex. I do not pretend to know all the levels of complexity, but I do know that I need to make my convictions heard. I am convinced that I speak for many priests.

Each day I pray for our church and its leadership but in a special way I pray for all brothers who been accused justly or unjustly. I often try to find ways to contact and encourage them. I also pray for and have ministered to victims, the majority of whom were not abused by priests.

I pray that my concerns, which, I believe, are also the concerns of my brother priests, do not fall on deaf ears. Every time I have expressed my concerns to our leadership, there has been no response; for this, I am very disappointed and feel that there is a lack of respect for us “in the trenches.”

Kindly allow me to conclude this letter with a reflection written by Carlo Carretto, the Italian spiritual writer, who speaks of the paradox that now faces us in the wake of the Dallas Charter:

How much I must criticize you, my church, and yet how much I love you!

You have made me suffer more than anyone and yet I owe more to you than to anyone.

I should like to see you destroyed and yet I need your presence.

You have given me much scandal and yet you alone have made me understand holiness.

Never in this world have I seen anything more compromised, more false, yet never have I touched anything more pure, more generous or more beautiful.

Countless times I have felt like slamming the door of my soul in your face—and yet, every night, I have prayed that I might die in your sure arms!

No, I cannot be free of you, for I am one with you, even if not completely you.

Then too — where would I go?

To build another church?

But I could not build one without the same defects, for they are my defects. And again, if I were to build another church, it would be my church, not Christ’s church.

No. I am old enough. I know better!

Msgr. Paul L. Bochicchio About Msgr. Paul L. Bochicchio

Rev. Msgr. Paul L. Bochicchio has been a priest for fifty years, serving as a pastor and university chaplain in the Archdiocese of Newark. He currently resides at St. Francis Church, Hoboken.

Comments

  1. Avatar Edward Byrne says:

    I found this article to be excellent it expresses very clearly the problem I do feel great anger with my church for brother priest accused falsely waiting years and years for a response from Rome; our relationship to the bishops is totally undermined by lack of openness trust truthfulness honesty transparency we do not have any no true honest relationship with our bishop so sad

  2. Avatar Andi Andrzejewski says:

    As a lay woman – this breaks my heart- and yet fails to address the full extent of the problem. I have seen first hand parents threaten priests with false accusations in order to control the priests in question. “Do what I say or I’ll accuse you” is a very real threat—- because of the presumption of guilt in the Church today. Trust has been abused to the point where I am genuinely surprised that trust is possible not only between bishops and priests— but also between bishops and laity.
    Why should laity trust bishops when bishops treat their spiritual sons with such callousness? Do the survivors or any type of clerical abuse deserve our full support and prayers? Definitely. Does that mean they are to be believed at all costs? No more than any other survivor of any other crime. And I say this not only because of the damage to priests, bishops and laity — but because of the damage to the victims. Given that these accusations are so easily weaponized under the Dallas Charter, we owe it to the people most damaged – the victims themselves – to assure that NO ONE else is abused, neither laity ( no matter what age) nor priests. To do otherwise mocks the idea of justice and compounds one tragedy with still more.

    • Avatar Thomas John Carter says:

      When we went from the Latin Mass to the local language Mass, we lost involvement. We lost the Altar Boy. We turned into a Protestant type looking Mass. Vestments changed, parts were in and parts of the Mass were out. I realize this is out of place for the article, but what is really going on. “I will go to the Altar of God, the God of my youth and Joy”!

      • Avatar linda fraver says:

        you are so right and now our people who give communion do not even dress for that we have people who are extra ministers dressed in street clothes handing out communion. You are correct and i was in a protestant church the other day and they had more things going on than we do, and they even receive the blood of Christ we get only the host why??

      • Avatar rico angelo says:

        perhaps you havent seen local churches outside United States? they are not using Latin Mass yet people are very much involved. look to Asia and Africa and see how the Church is flourishing and vocations thriving. to blame the problems of the Church to the non-celebration of Latin Mass is, dare i say, politically and theologically biased and, of course, racist.

      • Yes, the vernacular, language in the Mass was a cheap trick to deprive us of the unifying Latin. I remember in my childhood when a traveling priest from another country sought permission from the Pastor to celebrate Mass and they couldn’t communicate properly all of a sudden they began speaking in Latin and somehow language ceased to be a problem plus I understood better “et unam sanctam catolicam”.

  3. Avatar Tricia Garback says:

    It is terrifying to think that the Dallas Charter, made to support victims, is now creating more victims. It is unbalancing the power in the church, separating spiritual fathers from their spiritual father (bishop), and giving this blanket permission to accusers (credible or not) to reap huge financial rewards.

  4. Avatar Phillip L. Forgione says:

    Not mentioned are two important aspects of the issue: the effective source of the injustice, namely, adverse action taken on the basis of a “credible” accusation before there is any substantiation; and “self-interest” being a motivation for perpetrating such injustice. Progress will not be made until these realities are acknowledged as part of bishops’ “accountability” as well.

  5. Avatar Fr. Frank Burla says:

    My dear brother Paul, I thank you with all my heart for your honest and beautifull heart-wrenching letter. I only pray the minds and hearts of all good men are touched by it. God bless you. Frank

  6. Avatar Henry Liguori says:

    Thank you for articulating the thoughts and deep wounds of so many hurting brother priests. Perhaps, the Dallas Charter should be amended!

  7. Avatar Jane Francisco says:

    The abuse of falsely accused priests is almost as bad as the horrific abuse of a child. Many times this is perpetrated by a Bishop who is covering himself or trying to control any disparagement to his fiefdom or diocese. This cries to heaven for mercy. Certainly real abuse must be addressed but not on the backs of good priests

  8. Avatar Pavlick Ray A. says:

    Thanks Paul, for sharing your heartfelt thoughts, concerns and insights. Myself, I have not found Jesus and His love and merciful forgiveness in any of the approaches undertaken by anyone to combat Satan’s insidious presence as master of deception to wound the Body of Christ. There is no sin that is greater than the mercy of Jesus. We all, no matter our vocation in life, would be lost without it, devoid of any hope of salvation. “Forgive us our trespasses…”. “Pray for us, sinners….”

  9. Avatar Pauline Pascoe says:

    Thank you Msgr Paul.
    When an injustice falls on the head of a priest it always seems to be a holy priest, one that is a Servant of God caring for others before self. It is not the holy priests that concern me as they are led by the Holy Spirit and growing in holiness through humility, Oh! how well they understand the Spirituality of the Cross. It is the lack of support from their bishop and brother priests, those who run away from the Cross in fear of being judged themselves; these are the ones I pray for, those who run away from the Crucified Christ leaving Him to die. Holy Priests that are left abandoned will have their rewards in Heaven.

  10. David Vincent Meconi, SJ David Vincent Meconi, SJ says:

    Fr. Meconi asked if he could share this email from a Dominican sister friend, as it captures well the injustice and fear priests experience today…

    Dear Bishops, Monsignors, Fathers – Priests all!
    Though I did not write the excellent open letter above, I certainly wish I had as I could not agree more profoundly! Where are we, the Church, in protecting our innocent, falsely accused priests?! I have known several and they are among the most dynamic priests. It is obvious that “someone” wishes their priestly faculties removed!! I ask, “who” exactly is behind such lies that cause these good men such horrific suffering and rob us all of holy priests by silencing them? Many times, these priests are the most ZEALOUS and faithful in the Church! My heart breaks for them — and for us! While we pray for “more vocations,” we annihilate the holy men whom, all too often, an unstable minor, older woman/man has falsely accused. Our age is an age of martyrdom for priests and thus good priests live in fear for their holy priesthood! I know several saintly priests who, I believe, will see their reward for their crucifixion only in HEAVEN! Like lambs led to the slaughter by their fidelity. While not all accused are innocent, many are! And who is there to protect the innocent?! As a sister to the great St. Catherine of Siena, OP I wish to quote her as I ask each of you –What can we do, beyond pray!!, to support our falsely condemned priests? Please let us know! St. Catherine of Siena, OP refers to the sin of persecuting priests and denying them due honor as “more serious than any other sin” because those who do this are persecuting and dishonoring the blood of Jesus. She continues: “If all the other sins these people have committed were put on one side and this one sin on the other, this one would weight more than all the others.” Dialogues of St. Catherine of Siena #116

    As a Dominican Sister of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist, I know my God-given call to do what I can to protect innocent priests. I would hope ALL the Church would stand up in their defense! We need another strong St. Catherine of Siena to set VERITAS clearly before our eyes and to impel us all to fight for the lives of our holy, innocent priests!

    Let me end by thanking each of you, from all my heart, for all you are for Holy Mother Church!! May She protect you as you give your lives so selflessly for each of us…for our Eucharistic Lord as alter Christus for us all!

    Sr. Joseph Andrew Bogdanowicz, OP
    Vocation Director
    Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist
    4597 Warren Rd., Ann Arbor, MI. 48105

  11. Avatar Martins Emeh says:

    Amen, Msgr. Bochicchio. Amen! Certainly, the grace of fifty years of priesthood has afforded you the wisdom and sagacity to address this certain truth with the delicacy it deserves. When I addressed it in my diocese nine years ago, the exuberance of youth left me bereft of the kind of finesse you have shown. Nevertheless, I can assure you that you have spoken a truth that bishops hate to hear. To borrow from St. Paul, “such is my gospel for which I am now suffering, even to the point of chains… “(2 Tim 2:8-9). But as Paul also wisely observed, the truth is not chained! And so, in my spirit, I feel liberated. May you too also feel that same liberation of spirit now that you have, as it were, thrown down the gauntlet. And, may God be with you 🙏🏽.  Thank you Msgr. Paul.

  12. I believe the only way to protect priests is to “render to Caesar.” Insist and continually verbalize “innocence till proven guilty”. Shrinking in shame is what accusers depend on to abuse their targets, priests and the church. Go on the offensive and challenge accusers in court. Once there is an accusation there is not much one can do to regain their fine reputation except for an open challenge. Nothing brings out truth like the shining light of OurLord.

  13. Avatar Ryan A. MacDonald says:

    The problem is far worse than most Catholics know. Bishops have gone beyond a mere lack of charity to embrace and perpertrate a grave injustice. In the case of one wrongly imprisoned priest, a case with zero supportive evidence, a bishop issued a press release declaring him guilty even before his trial. There was little left for a jury to do. This man has now spent 28 years in prison for crimes that every objective observer believes never took place. The Wall Street Journal bravely took up his case while most of the Catholic Media remained silent. This sorry truth is laId out here:
    https://beyondthesestonewalls.com/about

  14. I got a call from a former high school classmate who said to me, “Would you like to make some money with six of us?” I asked him how much do I have to invest? He said, “Nothing! All you have to do is say, along with the rest of us, that Brother Mark sexually abused you at our high school! They will pay each of us 25,000 dollars. We did this five years ago and they paid us back then too!” I told him, “But Brother Mark didn’t touch me ever!” He said, “Are you stupid? Don’t you want $25,000? This is so easy!!” I told him, “No, this is wrong!” And I hung up. I learned later that the Bishop paid them.
    So much corruption in our church!

    • You should’ve gone directly to the bishop! You should’ve played along and got evidence of their extortion by going to law enforcement where they could’ve gotten a warrant to use a wire to catch those guys because that’s clearly extortion.

  15. Unfortunately too many priest and bishops turned the other way as brother priests and bishops sodomized young boys in their care. Had those clerics been brave and called out their actively homosexual priest by defrocking the scoundrels posing as holy men thirty to fifty years ago they would not have to plea for mercy today. I for one would prefer to keep minors and those just above the age of consent safe from predators even if that means the occasional innocent priest is falsely accused, especially since so was Christ and that brought salvation to the world. I was in a position where many parishioners and catechists accused a priest of inappropriate behavior, and even though I would have loved to get rid of him, I refused to act without definite proof. I believed the parent when she told me her son was being groomed and said I would go to law enforcement, but she refused to embarrass her son and denied anything happened, she thought she could just get rid of the priest. I suppose that is why homosexual priests got away with their bad behavior for so long, to save the reputation of the victim and the family. How sad, since that only left the offender to repeat his predation! My father warned me about every predator that came to our parish, and there was more than one who was later arrested after being transferred with a promotion to another parish. How was it that he knew at a glance but Bishops and psychologists could not see the evil in front of them? Only God can purify His Church and only God knows when that will happen. In the mean time innocent men will suffer and I am sorry about that, but the alternative is much worse!

    • Avatar Gary Indiana says:

      Quote: “Had those clerics been brave and called out their actively homosexual priest by defrocking the scoundrels posing as holy men thirty to fifty years ago they would not have to plea for mercy today.”

      There are a couple of issues with the quoted statement.

      The only “clerics” who have the power of defrocking priests are the diocesan bishops. They must submit the cases with evidence to the Vatican. There is no defrocking by anyone else if the bishop is unwilling to start the process. When a priest is accused of homosexual misconduct before a bishop like McCarrick, it is more than likely that a bishop of this sort (and there are MANY of those) will try to silence, or attack, the accuser rather than discipline the offending priest. This is typical MO of the so-called Lavender Mafia within the Church.

      The letter of Msgr. Paul Bochicchio isn’t a “plea for mercy” for the offenders. It is a plea for basic justice in order to prevent the flood of false accusations. It is also a plea for proper exoneration for those who have been wrongly accused. That’s all missing as of now. False accusations, just like false accusations of rape, never help the victims and they harm the entire Church: both priests and lay Catholics.

      Ironically, McCarrick, the former cardinal archbishop of Washington DC, who was well known by related to him clergy as active homosexual, was still assigned by USCCB to moderate the Dallas Charter. A classic case of fox guarding the hen house. It tells you that there was no intention whatsoever on the part of the bishops to actually clean the house. They only wanted to make a good impression for the public, and, as a bonus, they got tools to silence and destroy any priests they didn’t like, or priests perceived a threat to their homosexual agenda.

      You concluded: “In the mean time innocent men will suffer and I am sorry about that, but the alternative is much worse!”

      If innocent priests suffer while most bishops keep ordaining homosexuals to the priesthood, what good does it do for the Church? For examples look up: Father Eduard Perrone, Father Paul Kalchik, Cancelled Priests – these are publicly known cases of injustice, but there are many less known priests whose lives have been destroyed by bishops not because of any wrongdoing but because they were seen as threat to the bishop’s political or gay agenda. That’s what Msgr. Paul Bochicchio’s open letter is about.

      • Dear Gary,
        I could not agree with you more, and I will add one more example: Cardinal Pell, who was falsely accused so he could not clean up the corruption in the Secretariat of State that still exists in that Vatican curia! My point, possibly poorly illustrated, was that 50 years ago the homosexuals did not have a stranglehold, at least I don’t think they did, on the Church like they do now and if the priest and Bishops at that time did the right thing instead of sweeping the disgusting criminal behavior under the rectory rug, the Church would probably be a lot purer now and homosexual bishops would not be persecuting holy priest while promoting filthy grinders.
        Jesus Christ suffered to save us all, so no one should be surprised when a holy man chooses persona Christi that he may suffer trying to exhort the Gospel of Jesus; just read St. Theresa of Avila. Looking at the transformation of the College of Cardinals in the last nine years no one should expect things to get better until all the faithful stop donating, all the property is sold off and a poor Church is rebuilt from the ashes of a once glorious Institution (Pope Benedict told us that years ago). If I am still alive (doubtful) and anyone will let me, I will open my house to whoever wants to come and worship God through Jesus with me, just like St. Mark’s mother, who I call St. Mary of Jerusalem did (see Acts 12:12). That said I refuse to stop practicing my Faith, because without the sacraments I am most certainly dead and even with them I am struggling greatly to stop judging individuals and remain on the narrow path of Life!
        The Southern Hemisphere is the future of the Church, which is why the German hierarchy, sitting on Billions, won’t send them a penny; and if a faithful Catholic wants to stop supporting them, their answer is to cut them off from the sacramental life. Only the pure of heart beholds our God.
        To answer your question in your last paragraph; The Church was built on the blood of Martyrs, just like the two women we honor today, and I believe that God makes good from evil and those men who suffer innocently will earn an eternal reward far greater than their current suffering! May God allow us to join them and claim the place He has prepared for us, with no merit of our own except to love the least of His Kingdom. God bless, Tom

    • Avatar Kerry Topel says:

      You’re right too. But yet one of the absolute best priests who accomplished an amazing amount for a parish and who most everyone loved —especially the youth as he was I afraid to go to the local high school football games and set up many programs, like missions to run down areas in cities, to help folks fix up homes and neighborhoods, and got HUNDREDS of kids to participate—caught a parish employee using church resources for his own business and banned him from using them. This person retaliated by coercing his daughter into accusing the priest of “inappropriate contact” and —poof!— the priest was gone. The girl —who was also very fond of this great priest—quickly admitted this to the police investigators and the criminal case was dropped. Yet here we are years later and still NO ONE from that parish has any idea what ever happened to him.

  16. Avatar Daniel H Donovan says:

    What do you say about Ryan A MacDonald’s message sent March 2, 2022 1:13PM?

  17. Avatar John Sposato says:

    For those of us who want to reach out to priests who are separated from the support and love of the Church, think of supporting Men of Melchizedek or Opus Bono Sacerdotii. These are organizations that do not shrink from the Church’s responsibility to minister to broken, guilty priests and priests who were falsely accused.
    My own positive response to these organizations, which made their presence known to me through random mailings and solicitations, was spurred by a conversation with a Franciscan sister with whom I use to work. A wonderfully spiritual and loving woman, she opened my eyes with a firm but passing comment about the clergy abuse crisis in the Church. It was too long ago to quote precisely, but in essence she said, “It’s a scandal to me that the Church seems to wash its hands of priests who are accused of child abuse.”
    In a flash, the scales fell from my eyes. Angry about the abuse going on within the church, I instantly recognized that the scale of justice needs to balanced by the mercy of forgiveness and healing.
    These organizations can be found easily by Googling their names on the Internet. Using your own prudential judgment, consider supporting them, so that they can continue to do the work of filling in the gap that seems oddly present within the larger institutional Church – the gap created by the lack of institutional care for broken priests.
    I am not connected with these organizations in any way other than being an occasional donor, so I can say without any conflict of interest: I believe they are worthy of your help and support.

  18. Avatar Deacon Tom says:

    Just as a sword pierced the Immaculate Heart of Mary ,Queen of the clergy, that same sword pierces the heart of a faithful priest or deacon who tries to bring Christ into a world that has no need for Him. It only hurts more when it is your clerical family . Christ asked for forgiveness from the cross, we must do the same from the gibbet of our cross.

  19. We are walking this walk now with our son. It has been 5 years and he is one of the most faith-filled, holy priests you will ever meet. Satan attacks the great ones. It has been 5 years. As already mentioned Joe Maher of Men of Melchezidek will walk with you through this journey and support you the whole way. Make him your first phone call and get a great lawyer. Please support Joe. He was at court everyday with us. My son’s case was dropped recently by the DA. Unfortunately just as we were hoping he could resume public minnistry the Independent Review Board passed their own judgement. They have never spoken to my son or interviewed him. Not sure where they got their information from. If they had read the court transcript they would have been on my son’s side. Or if they had spoken to him. Fortunately my son has an amazing archbishop who supports him; The article is spot on. We need to stop rolling over and feeding our priests to the wolves. Asking for more prayers as we go through this heartache. Thank you and God bless!

  20. Avatar A Living Witness says:

    As a priest who is living the reality of what Msgr. Bochicchio writes, I was both moved and encouraged by his letter. Msgr and I have never met. In fact, I had never heard his name before someone shared this article with me. And yet if I didn’t know better, I’d think he wrote the letter specifically about my situation. An allegation was received, and public action was taken against me before any investigation was attempted. Eventually it was determined there was no credible allegation of abuse, but I have still not been returned to my ministry after more than 2 years. I cannot speak out for myself, because to do so would subject me to allegations of “disobedience” as Fr. Perrone faced. I continue to fight for my priesthood and the people I have promised to serve, but I must do so in the shadows.

    I appreciate everyone’s perspective on the potential causes. Some see it as “liberal” bishops vs. “conservative” priests. Others as a homosexual subculture. In my experience, I don’t think it can be reduced to those things. The underlying issue is one of power: bishops are generally unaccountable to anyone except public opinion; justice for priests is seen as a somehow justifiable sacrifice to protect the reputation of the bishops and the assets of the Diocese. Recourse to Rome is possible, but it is lengthy, expensive and, sadly, application of Canon Law is not always consistent. The priest is always…ALWAYS…at a disadvantage.

    I’d like to say more and give more examples but it may serve to reveal my identity. I just ask for your prayers. Although Msgr’s letter makes me sad, it shows that my situation is not rare: in fact, it is all too common. Please don’t stop advocating for justice. This is doing great damage to the Church. Satan is very much an evil genius!

    • Dear Living Witness
      I apologize if I offended you in any way, since you have first hand knowledge and I only know generically about these issues. I will pray for you and all the other priest suffering at the hands of uncaring faithful, bishops and/or judicial systems. I also pray for legitimate victims and those who falsely accuse good priest for whatever reasons. May God help us all,
      God bless,
      tom

  21. Thank you so much Msgr. Bochicchio for this message. “If someone accuses you, ask yourself first: Is he right? If he’s right, go and apologize to him. If he’s not right, then take that insult that you have received in both hands. Don’t let it go but seize that opportunity and give it to Jesus as a sacrifice. Be glad that you have something valuable to give to Him.” mother Teresa. Many wrongly accused priests have been abandoned by their Bishops or the governing board. Catholic Church now accepts the teaching and direction of the laity! Playing politics and nepotism in the body of Christ. In years to come, many will leave Catholic Church or either be atheist. Like the devil always want to discredit the saviour and the priesthood, casting doubt on the power of atonement, counterfeit revelation and distract us from the truth by using false victims to mock the body of Christ. Most of so called victims are coming from a place of hate, obsession , love of money for the church and the priests. ( so it was for the good of the church for the priests to be damaged to protect the church holy name???? For the innocent priests stand firm in your decision to serve God and let him direct your steps. I know your hearts are broken, going through depression of rejection, asking God many questions. Mary, queen of clergy will stand for.
    “Behold, whosever is of the church, and endureth of my church to the end, him will I establish upon my rock, and gate of hell shall not prevail against them.

  22. Gilead Project, whose mission statement, below, works to address injustices in the Church and world.
    Sexual abuse and misuses of power anywhere require our active engagement as Catholic Christians giving witness to the Gospel of Christ.
    Our Uncommon Conversation process, used intentionally, helps communities and individuals wounded by these injustices and transform.

    “ The mission of Gilead Project is to promote healing and prevention of sexual abuse and abuses of power that harm children, families and communities. The result of prevention and healing of abuse is the restoration of right relationship for all members of society.”

    Our film series, “In Our Own Words: Bearing Witness” offers a filmed panel process which includes people in all roles engaging in the Uncommon Conversation. Released in JULY 2020, can be accessed through the website http://www.gileadproject.org

  23. Avatar Janet Smith says:
  24. Avatar A Living Witness says:

    Dr. Smith, thank you for your article. Each case is unique, and yet, again , Fr. Perrone’s case has commonalities with my own and so many others. But the question remains: what can we do? The canonical process, in theory, gives recourse, but, in practice, is uneven, lacks transparency, and fails to hold everyone to the same level of accountability for justice.

    Ms. Pavlak, thank you also. I am curious: has the Gilead Project’s “Uncommon Conversation” yet broached the issue of the unjustly accused? This would require, I believe, humble bishops to be a part of the conversation also.

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