A reader, ‘T’, wrote the following in reply to Father Testa’s article on Canceling Conservative Priests, and I thought this required a response outside of the comments section:
Am saddened by such violent references on a Catholic site, and by a Catholic priest (drive by shooting, totalitarian regime …war of annihilation against perceived enemies, Church Militant TV, ‘liberal’ Catholics engaging a war against ‘conservative’ Catholics). Reminds me of right wing media where fear, culture war fear is stoked.
One questionable comment, ‘Some claim that the number of concealed priests is in the hundreds’, is later contradicted by two comments, ‘To claim that there are in Catholic dioceses cadres of conservative priests is quite simply untenable at this point. Tradition-inclined priests are rare because to put it simply, the odds are stacked against such priests or candidates for the priesthood from the get go.’
Most misleading is the suggestion that priests are, ‘summarily removed from their pastoral assignments and charges, most often without the benefit of any prior consultation or due process’. Any large organization would have policies and procedures for progressive discipline, starting with verbal, then written warnings, typically multiple warnings, all documented before any action is taken; at each step the individual has the opportunity to correct his behaviour.
This article seems very personal, written from personal experience and the pain is still fresh. Sadly, the resentment is being spread, not with the benefit of the Church in mind.
Father Testa replies as follows:
Any reader should be saddened by the contents of this article; not because of the terms and metaphors used but because they reflect a very sad state of affairs. I suggest that the reader take the time to watch the interview from Church Militant TV. The testimony of the priests interviewed by Mchael Voris speaks for itself. Their pain is palpable. Many of these priests have not received the benefit of due process. Some find themeselves in administrative limbo even though they have been successful in their appeals, as in the case of Fr. Perrone.
It is Michael Voris who has made the claim that the number of cancelled (not concealed as you write) priests is in the hundreds, but the author of this article cautiously observes that this claim is difficult to substantiate. Nevertheless, I direct the reader to research the Coalition for Cancelled Priests recently established in the United States (canceledpriests.org). It is difficult to establish a coalition to address a non-existent cause.
There is a difference between a conservative priest and a cancelled one. Not all conservative priests are cancelled, but some are.
The claim that priests are removed without the benefit of due process is not misleading but based on fact. The article looks at a phenomenon sadly manifesting itself with too much frequency in our day. It considers this in a sober manner and within the greater context of recent Church history. The use of labels like conservative and liberal has become quite common and it gets the point across.
Lastly, the article effectively ends as does every psalm of lament: with a vow to praise God. Everyone who reads the article, whether they have been proximately or remotely impacted by this sad phenomenon is encouraged to pray not only for priests whose lives have been upended but also to trust in God’s Divine Providence. Would that things were otherwise but they are not; and situations in need of redress must be assessed as they are, even though this may be uncomfortable or disturbing. Only the truth can set us free.