Tuesday, November 12, 2002

The Washington Times turns its attention to the strange case of Father Haley of the Arlington Diocese who repeatedly took evidence of his brother priests' misbehavior to his bishop and has been suspended for his trouble.

A local Roman Catholic priest says he is being retaliated against by his bishop for providing evidence that three priests in separate incidents stole church collections, impregnated a married parishioner and collected homosexual pornography.The Rev. James R. Haley says he was suspended by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde after blowing the whistle on the three priests in the Diocese of Arlington, The Washington Times has learned. "I believe that he's trying to strangle me out of the church," Father Haley testified in a civil lawsuit. He is barred from revealing any evidence of priestly wrongdoing to law-enforcement authorities or the public under a canonical "penal precept" issued by the bishop in October 2001.....

A week later, Bishop Loverde summoned Father Haley to Arlington, gave him four hours to move out of the rectory and into a hotel in Fredericksburg, and ordered him not to return to the rectory without an escort. He stripped the priest of his faculties, which authorize him to wear a clerical collar, say Mass, take confessions, and perform baptisms and funerals.

In a series of "decrees" dated Oct. 23, 2001, the bishop also expelled Father Haley from any diocese post and gagged him with the canonical penal precept. Under the suspension, Father Haley has been denied church housing for the past year and restricted to monthly pay of about $2,000 for housing and all other expenses. He is living in a house trailer in Northern Virginia.

Bishop Loverde agreed only to answer written questions from The Times. Chancellor Rippy did not respond to questions nor requests for an interview.

"Bishop Loverde takes very seriously any credible allegation of misconduct on the part of a diocesan priest, employee or volunteer. [He] has not and will not punish anyone for bringing him a concern or complaint."

This continues to be a strange case. Experience tells us that there is usually more to a story than a newspaper article suggests, but even if Haley had some other problem, the "punishment" (which, no matter what the diocese says, is exactly what it sounds like) for bringing these matters to the bishops' attention seems harsh.

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