Jeff Miller over at the Curt Jester points his readers to a sad story about a Catholic journalist doing some investigation in a small town in Georgia and ending up being driven from his parish via restraining orders. Now, reading both sides, it’s apparent that one party is not telling the truth. My gut tells me that the journalist — Robert Kumpel — is the truth teller here, and as a humble blogger, I have that right. It’s just a hunch, though. I wouldn’t do justice summarizing, so go and read, and come back. Jeff has all the relevant links in his post.
You’re back? Good. A pretty amazing story. Several things come to mind. First, this is essentially denying of sacraments over a civil disagreement. Isn’t there some appeal that Mr. Kumpel can make with higher ecclesiastical authorities than his local bishop? There has to be some structure in place to check misuse of authority of local bishops. Second, this is certainly indicative of the kind of behavior that a small number of priests from the old generation suffered from. Back then, with a large Catholic family, one boy would be all but forced into the priesthood, resulting in a lot of priests that really were going through the motions. A priest and bishop from the Old Country, both of the pre-Vatican II generation? Bingo. I think I’m warm here. And lastly, if I were him, I’d move out of the diocese. It sounds as though his faith and exercise thereof is a central thing in his life, so it’s either that or wait the bishop out. Even if there is a process that the Church has to resolve these matters, it would probably take years to do so, and would be a long shot.
I will say that it sounds like the only thing that could move this case without involving the Vatican would be either very high powered Catholic lawyers working for free, or a campaign to publicize this and keep the light shining on this parish for a long, long time to come.
A sad story, and brings into relief how human the Church is. Honestly, they’re acting like children, and not as adult Christians.