Thursday, July 12, 2012


     by Charlene C. Duline

A few years ago I wrote an article about priests accused of sexual abuse. I did not argue as to their guilt or innocence.  I simply pointed out the obvious, that as Christians and as Catholics, we are to preach what our Lord prescribed – compassion, love and above all, forgiveness.  Some people thought I must be mad.  

No, I’m afraid that my opinion was not welcomed, not even in my own parish. However I did have the support of my pastor and that meant a lot to me. I felt so strongly about what our Church teaches us, that I wondered how our priests were treated in prison. I wrote to a number of them, and most responded.  As a result my prison ministry was born, and I am the better for it.

As the scandal continues, I notice that some parishioners have had enough of their priests being accused without proof of anything, and then thrown to the streets.  And they have begun to speak up for their priests.  Heretofore it had been VOTF and the SNAP folk acting up, acting out, and in effect, crucifying any priest who was accused.  Thanks to those same folk, the accusations grew exponentially, as did the amounts of money the bishops handed over on demand.  Meanwhile, the accused priests struggled alone in their agony with only our prayers to comfort them.  At least, I like to think that our prayers are of some solace.  Their brother priests are afraid to comfort them, to visit, or even to write to priests in prison. Acutely aware of this, and knowing of the hatred exhibited toward any accused priests, some of our priests left on the edge of the abyss either committed suicide, went to prison and lost contact with family and friends, or simply disappeared to live under a bridge as many priests without any wherewithal do.  Their bishops, no doubt, grinned and glad-handed each other: another troublesome priest gone.  Another crook paid off.  Another liar rewarded.  Another insatiable, money-grubbing attorney picked up another million dollars. Ah, the good bishops, simply doing the attorneys’ will:  handing out money faster than the parishioners could place it into the collection plate.

And then one priest decided to respond to the rumors and innuendoes about him and a woman.  As the gossip swirled about him, his parents, his previous position, he took the bull by the horns and issued a letter.  He hoped the letter would clarify actions of which he was accused.  Did it? Indeed not! Rather, it brought out the crazies by the hundreds!  Those who had never heard of Father began clamoring to be heard! It was outrageous! They knew diddly-squat about this priest, yet their mouths were open and gums flapping.  Like dogs, once one began barking, others joined in the barking until that was all that could be heard.  It was no longer about Father, but about every priest who was ever accused.  Were they clamoring for justice and honesty? No, they yapped just to hear themselves yapping! I’m not even sure that they heard themselves! And yet these good Catholics will go to Mass on Sunday, sit angelically, reverently process to receive Holy Communion, and once Mass ends, it’s back to yapping and damning all accused priests.  
None of those yapping has lifted a finger in defense of their priests. I realize the incentive of most parishioners is less than that of SNAP’s. In order to keep the lawyers interested, the hate groups have to shake the rafters (read: money tree) of the bishops, or their paid mouthpieces won’t get any of the parishes’ money. They have to find some poor bastard with no morals and little conscience, to lie and say that a priest groped him or her 40 or 50 years ago.  So while parishioners have less incentive to defend their priests than SNAP, defend them they must.  Or, soon and very soon, you will be in a Church all by yourselves. Who will be left to consecrate the Eucharist?  The bishops?  Dream on.

One priest who is not depending on his parishioners to defend him is a fiery priest in Philadelphia. Father DiGregorio was one of several priests accused and removed from ministry while their cases were being reviewed by the archdiocese. A woman had accused Fr. DiGregorio of abusing her 43 years ago.  He vehemently denied the accusation, and went on a radio talk show to defend himself.  He said,  “I hope I’m not being made a fall guy. I hope the diocese would not do that.”  Well, of course that was just wishful thinking and a prayerful hope.  The dioceses have shown that they can, and will, turn on a dime against their priests at the first whiff of a scandal. Father DiGregorio was removed, reinstated, and then removed again when Philadelphia authorities and the hate groups made their unhappiness known. Innocent or guilty, accused priests have the right to speak out – and a duty - to confront their accusers. The Catholic Church has forgotten the law of the land.

 Our priests have been silent for far too long.  It is past time for them to fight back.  They should not allow their bishops to send them away while accusers come out of the woodwork, as lawyers place ads in newspapers begging, begging people to come forward.  An accused priest should not slink away and never be heard from again. That leaves only the hate groups and their repulsive lawyers’ voices being heard.   With few exceptions, our bishops are shameless.  Surely they are seeing the results of their warped policy created in Dallas.  They are not listening to the canon lawyers who are skilled in Church law, or to the few good, decent bishops.  Is it any wonder that the grubby, greedy attorneys continue getting down and dirty in looking for people without morals to accuse innocent priests?  Common sense should tell us that all of the priests accused are not guilty. 

It is also time for those in the pews to get off their duffs and help their priests! For centuries we have revered our priests.  They give up a lot to minister to us as God’s priests. How often do we thank them, pray for them, or give them a hug?  I love our priests, and they will always be very special people to me.  Yes, some priests are sick and should not be ministering, and they are being removed from parishes.  But we cannot throw up our hands and say nothing when a good priest is accused of something from 30, 40 or 50 years ago. That is an outrage! That is when our priests need us, especially if there is no proof.  We have priests in prison who have served longer than someone who has murdered several people. U.S. prosecutors now target priests, and they have the help of SNAP’s vociferous mobs outside the courtrooms poisoning the minds and hearts of jurors and playing to the cameras.

It’s a new day.  Priests are beginning to put everybody on notice that they might go down swinging, but that they will be heard.  And beside them will be those of us who do not believe that every accused priest is guilty. It is time for parishioners to support our priests.  If not, soon there will be very few priests and it will be our fault for letting the hateful few – you know who you are - continue to drown out voices of reason, justice and compassion. 

Let's support and love our priests and let the devil take the hindmost!





  1. Yeah, I feel sorry for these priests. They have targets on their backs painted red. Tat, and their parishoners expect them to be the second coming of GOD himself, with no human failings. I don't pray a lot, but sometimes I do ask God to hold them a little closer. They give up everything and get so little in return.

  2. TabbyCat: parishioners do expect a lot, too much, from our priests. I was touched by your comment that you don't pray a lot, but you do ask God to hold priests a little closer. How beautiful. I love our priests, even those who are in prison. It is important to me for them to know that God still loves them despite their failings. That is something that their own bishops and fellow priests don't seem able to do: to love them.

    Please let us hear from you again!


  3. thank you, charlene for this reflection....i have done prison
    work....i have done work with people with addictions, etc...i
    never am fixcated on "what a person did, or their crime"
    do the crime, you do the time...HOWEVER, i deal with people as
    "where are you now, what are you doing with your talents now,what
    are you doing for your spiritual life now, etc...."...and i treat
    our priests in prison the same way,,,"what are you doing now?"...
    forgiveness and compassion for others( our Lord commanded that we
    must "care for widows, children and prisoners")...i challenge
    anyone who judges, criticizes priests or anyone in prison, to
    exam their own living of our Lord's call for compassion and
    forgiveness, as He even did as He died on the cross..this goes for
    bishops who have abanduned some priests....dncrowley

  4. Absolutely brilliant and long overdue. Count me in.

  5. Our old pastor was smeared by a druggie trying to make a quick score. It got dragged around the courts for awhile, then finally he was exonerated and the case dismissed with prejudice. Last I saw, SNAP still had him on at least one of their pages. SNAP are pure scum, as are all the other internet lynch sites.

  6. The first time I read that the victims were be given money to 'cure' their problems, I knew that there would be many more people claiming to be victims. I think if the victims were sent to doctors or some kind of therapy instead of getting tons of money there would have been several cases and then the situation would have died a natural death. You have to remember that some poeple will do anything for a buck. The lawyers are the real evil ones - they goet a third of every settlement on every case they work on. I'd hate to be them when they face Our Lord someday and He says, "what you did to the least of My brethern you did to Me."