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Priest, bishop clash in sex, theft scandals
THE WASHINGTON TIMES ^ | 11/12/2002 | George Archibald

Posted on 11/12/2002 6:42:27 AM PST by robowombat

The Washington Times --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Priest, bishop clash in sex, theft scandals George Archibald THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Published 11/12/2002


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.

The lawsuit was filed by a parishioner whose wife was impregnated by a Catholic pastor of a Manassas church.

Bishop Loverde, who declined repeated requests for interviews, declined to say why he took away Father Haley's priestly faculties, saying an explanation "would require the diocese to discuss detailed private matters involving him." "Father Haley has his own issues and in conjunction with him they are being addressed canonically. It would simply not be appropriate for the diocese to discuss these matters," the diocese said in a statement.

Bishop Loverde's handling of the incidents follows in the wake of lay questioning of the way American bishops have dealt with priests who violate their vows of celibacy. Last month, the Vatican declined to approve the U.S. bishops' plan for disciplining errant priests. Vatican spokesmen called the plan adopted in June by U.S. Roman Catholic bishops gathered in Dallas to address, primarily, the problem of priests sexually abusing children, too ambiguous and "difficult to reconcile" with church law.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, meeting this week in Washington on the sex-abuse policy, has declined to look into the Haley matter. On Oct. 10, Bishop Wilton D. Gregory of Belleview, Ill., head of the bishops' conference, denied Father Haley's appeal to review evidence that he brought to Bishop Loverde over the past four years and the priest's charges of retaliation.

Mark E. Chopko, general counsel of the bishops' conference, says the body did not have jurisdiction to investigate Father Haley's retaliation charges. "In the church, it is a matter that exists solely between Father Haley and Bishop Loverde," Mr. Chopko said in a letter to the priest's attorney, Gregory L. Murphy of Alexandria.

Father Haley, 46, says the bishop did not act on the information he disclosed. The scandals involved:

•The Rev. James A. Verrecchia, 45, former pastor of All Saints Catholic Church in Manassas, who he said carried on a yearlong sexual affair with the wife of a parishioner, Jim A. Lambert, and impregnated her in late December 1999. Mr. Verrecchia married Nancy Lambert the following year. Father Haley was subpoenaed to testify in a civil lawsuit brought by Mr. Lambert, who charged that Arlington Diocese's cover-up prevented him from winning custody of his three children. The lawsuit was dismissed in August.

•The Rev. William J. Erbacher, 55, former pastor of St. Lawrence Catholic Church on Franconia Road in Fairfax County who, according to Father Haley's July deposition, embezzled from church collections and collected homosexual pornography. Since last month, he has been at St. Stephen the Martyr in Middleburg, Va., where he is said to be "assisting the pastor."

•The Rev. Daniel E. Hamilton, 59, former pastor of St. Mary's Parish in Fredericksburg, who had an extensive collection of bondage pornography kept at the rectory. Father Hamilton resigned two months ago, after a judge refused to seal Father Haley's deposition.

Several priests in the diocese, speaking on the condition of anonymity, say the bishop is "angry" that Father Haley "invaded privacy rights" of Father Verrecchia, the woman with whom he was having an affair, and Fathers Erbacher and Hamilton.

Parishioners at Virginia churches where Father Haley has served since 1987 expressed shock and concern over his suspension. "He's very holy, and that's his problem," said Marie K. Shaughnessy of McLean, a parishioner at St. John's Catholic Church, where Father Haley was assistant pastor from 1995 to 1997. "He doesn't budge from the straight and narrow. He doesn't accommodate."

When seeking a pastor position at Our Lady of Hope in Sterling, Father Haley told the bishop that Father Verrecchia was having an adulterous affair with a married woman he was counseling for marital difficulties. Father Haley said he found Father Verrecchia and the woman together at 1:30 a.m. in a darkened rectory office, according to diocese and Arlington County court records. After the encounter, the woman complained in a letter to the bishop that Father Haley had asked parishioners "about my personal life."

The bishop then transferred Father Haley as assistant pastor to St. Lawrence in July 1999. Upon Father Haley's transfer to St. Lawrence, according to his deposition, he was told by Father Erbacher that there was a network of "gay priests" within the diocese, including Father Erbacher himself and the bishop's chancellor, the Rev. Robert J. Rippy. "I had no idea of the interconnections of all this until I lived with Father Erbacher," Father Haley testified. "I never knew that a diocese or bishop would knowingly ordain a homosexual man."

In February 2001, Father Haley talked to Bishop Loverde about Father Erbacher's disclosures of a homosexual network of priests. In another meeting, June 6, 2001, Father Haley set out what he said were details of Father Erbacher's library of homosexual pornography and evidence that he was stealing from church collections.

He gave the bishop photographs of pouches containing thousands of dollars of cash, stored in Father Erbacher's bedroom closet, and the priest's personal bank records showing deposits averaging more than $99,240 per year, 5½ times his annual income as a pastor. More than half the deposits were in cash.

Father Haley was transferred to St. Mary's in Fredericksburg three weeks after he sent the bishop the evidence about Father Erbacher's finances. The diocese began an internal investigation of the St. Lawrence theft accusations after it discovered "substantial financial irregularities" at another parish.

At St. Mary's, a maid told Father Haley that Father Hamilton had large quantities of homosexual pornography in his room, said Mr. Murphy, Father Haley's attorney. Father Haley asked the bishop for another transfer or leave of absence for "discernment" to find another diocese, Mr. Murphy says. The bishop refused in a letter Oct. 8, 2001. "I would direct that you remain as a parochial vicar at the church of St. Mary in Fredericksburg while continuing your initial discernment with your spiritual director," the bishop wrote.

Angered, Father Haley confronted the bishop Oct. 16, 2001, with "factual self-incriminating evidence on Father Hamilton's completely outrageous sexual addiction" in a further effort to be moved out of the rectory. "And at the end of the meeting, which was basically a slide show of the pictures of his incredible collection [of pornography], the bishop told me that I had better watch out, that I did not know what he was capable of doing," Father Haley testified.

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." Regarding the bishop's action concerning Fathers Verrecchia, Erbacher and Hamilton, the diocese said: The bishop "confronted Father Verrecchia with the information [about his adulterous affair] and eventually ordered him to break all contact with the person with whom he had a questionable relationship. Father Verrecchia is no longer serving as a priest in the diocese."

The diocese accepted the resignation of Father Erbacher after receiving the results of an "independent forensic financial audit and a psychological evaluation." It said the bishop confronted Father Hamilton about the pornography, and he was sent for a "psychological evaluation and is no longer the pastor of St. Mary Catholic Church in Fredericksburg, Va." The bishop did not comment on Father Erbacher's role at St. Stephen the Martyr in Middleburg and declined to comment on the treatment of Father Erbacher and Father Haley. He said the diocese does not discuss personnel matters.

Mr. Murphy says Bishop Loverde's assertion that he had addressed Father Haley's complaints was a "blatant lie." The bishop's "duplicity has no boundaries," Mr. Murphy says. "His response was keep it quiet, move [Father Haley] around, and when he was forced to testify in legal proceedings, he silenced him."

Copyright © 2002 News World Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.


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TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Culture/Society; US: Virginia
KEYWORDS: catholiclist; clericalscandels; pederestpriests
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Tireless marprelate Geo Archibald sniffs out another clerical scandel.
1 posted on 11/12/2002 6:42:27 AM PST by robowombat
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To: robowombat
Parishioners at Virginia churches where Father Haley has served since 1987 expressed shock and concern over his suspension. "He's very holy, and that's his problem," said Marie K. Shaughnessy of McLean, a parishioner at St. John's Catholic Church, where Father Haley was assistant pastor from 1995 to 1997. "He doesn't budge from the straight and narrow. He doesn't accommodate."

Sounds like my kind of Priest.

2 posted on 11/12/2002 6:58:46 AM PST by Andyman
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To: robowombat
It appears that for the good of the Church the entire executive structure that is involved in coverups must go. The Catholics can no longer afford even an appearance of impropriety. It gives to much justification to the Secular Humanists and Atheist for their sick anti-religious propaganda. Every administrator who has been involved in cover-ups should be purged. That would go a long way into returning confidence. Actions like this suspension only reveal that there is far more dirt being covered up.
3 posted on 11/12/2002 7:15:44 AM PST by Seruzawa
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To: Andyman
Send him to Dallas, we need this guy at St. Pius X church.
4 posted on 11/12/2002 7:16:07 AM PST by TEXASPROUD
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To: Polycarp; patent; Siobhan; Salvation; NYer
Outrage ping

Can anyone vouch for this priest?

1. The preist asked the bishop to address grave scandals.
2. The bishop did nothing.
3. The priest refused to live with a sado-masochist sex-addict priest - and told the bishop in vivid color.
4. The priest was told to shut the eff up.
5. The people quoted in the paper say he is a holy priest and won't accept any nonsense.
6. According to a self-professed gay priest, the bishop's right hand man is rumored to be part of a gay network in the diocese.

What is going on?
Who is the villain?
This whistle blower priest or the bishop?

5 posted on 11/12/2002 7:33:34 AM PST by Notwithstanding
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To: Notwithstanding; ArrogantBustard; Romulus; eastsider
I do not know about this situation. But if the reportage is correct, then Bishop Loverde is clearly the villain. We would need to do more digging to verify.

I'm pinging Romulus, eastsider, and ArrogantBustard who may know more about this situation.

6 posted on 11/12/2002 7:51:37 AM PST by Siobhan
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To: nickcarraway; american colleen; sandyeggo; redhead; LadyDoc; Askel5; JMJ333; EODGUY; Fury; ...
A grave concern ping. If this is true, it is an enormous outrage.
7 posted on 11/12/2002 7:54:13 AM PST by Siobhan
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To: Siobhan
We have a lot of work left in order to take our Church back.

One by one, we need to flush out these corrupt bishops

8 posted on 11/12/2002 7:57:42 AM PST by LO_IQ
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To: Notwithstanding; *Catholic_list; .45MAN; AKA Elena; al_c; american colleen; Angelus Errare; ...
Who is the villain? This whistle blower priest or the bishop?

Unfortunately in this age the safest assumption is that the villian is the bishop.

Bumping for further input...

9 posted on 11/12/2002 8:09:37 AM PST by Polycarp
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To: Siobhan; allend; ArrogantBustard; COBOL2Java; ltlflwr; nina0113; Steve0113; Zviadist
Pinging Diocese of Arlington FReepers for comments.
10 posted on 11/12/2002 8:18:24 AM PST by Romulus
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To: Siobhan
This is but another example that the Catholic faithful must take an active role in ridding our Church of Her demons, especially because of the level of hierarchy they may have assumed.

11 posted on 11/12/2002 8:19:29 AM PST by EODGUY
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To: robowombat
As an ex-Catholic, all I can say is that until the lay people are able to take control of THEIR churches and as a body manage their affairs, this secret crap will go on and on and on.

I for one will never go back - after finally reading the Bible for myself, there is waaaay too much I cannot accept - not the least of which is this drama unfolding.
12 posted on 11/12/2002 8:20:24 AM PST by txzman
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To: Notwithstanding
Actually, in all 3 cases the bishop did take action and disciplined the offending priests. The real question is, "What does this say about the diocese of Arlington when an assistant priest is sent to 3 consecutive parishes where the pastor is involved in sexual and financial immorality?"

By his actions, Bishop Loverde has admitted that all 3 pastors were guilty as charged. The case of the priest who married the parishioner has become a nationally-reported scandal. Even today, the ex-priest who married the guy's wife still has custody of the guy's kids.

If these situations were a small percentage, then what are the chances that a "straight" priest would be sent to live with 3 of them in a row? Let's say that 10% of pastors are engaging in homosexual pornography, stealing church funds, etc. Then the odds that Fr. Haley would be sent to 3 in a row equals 1 in a thousand. Such odds are not impossible, but must be considered highly improbable, to say the least.

Here's another scenario that's more in keeping with the facts: A straight-arrow priest finally gets fed up with looking the other way, and starts blowing the whistle on corruption. He finds (and conclusively documents) such corruption in EVERY parish to which he's sent. The fact that he is now living in a trailer park is evidence that there are no parishes to which he could be sent where he wouldn't encounter the same thing. The manner in which he has been treated indicates that the reports he received about the corruption going right to the Chancery office may be correct.

Remember also that the Diocese of Arlington is routinely held up as an example of one of the most conservative and best run diocese in the US.
13 posted on 11/12/2002 8:34:58 AM PST by Maximilian
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To: txzman
Question: when you read the part about "Unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood, you have no life in you" - what Church did that sound like?

How about when you read the part about confessing your sins to one another? Or the part about giving Peter, and later the apostles, the power to bind and loose sins on earth? What Church did that remind you of?

Finally, does the church you now attend regularly consume Christ's body and blood, hear confessions and forgive sins?
14 posted on 11/12/2002 8:35:36 AM PST by Aristophanes
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To: robowombat
I don't know anything about Bishop Loverde. I do know that the diocese of Arlington enjoyed a sterling reputation for orthodoxy under its previous bishop. It was famous for its high number of priestly vocations, and famous for its orthodoxy. Therefore I would guess that Bishop Loverde is probably one of the good guys, unless I hear convincing information to the contrary.

Does anyone have first-hand knowledge about this dispute? Keep in mind that many of these secular news sources cannot be trusted to tell the true story--nor indeed can many so-called Catholic sources. The Washington Times is generally conservative and trustworthy concerning things that it knows about, but I seriously doubt that it understands the internal workings of the Catholic Church.
15 posted on 11/12/2002 8:35:54 AM PST by Cicero
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To: Romulus
Pinging Diocese of Arlington FReepers for comments.

Thanks. Was just about to post this. I live in Arlington diocese but do not go to a diocesean parish, as you know. I know a priest who formerly held a very high post in the Arlington diocese who told me of the homosexual cabal that runs the diocese and particularly the vocations. If you are not pro-homo your vocation is not accepted. He left his post in disgust. He was an honorable man who could no longer stand the corruption in the diocese.

16 posted on 11/12/2002 8:44:57 AM PST by Zviadist
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Send him to Dallas, we need this guy at St. Pius X church.

Just what I was thinking: he would make a great Traditional priest.

17 posted on 11/12/2002 8:45:53 AM PST by Zviadist
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To: ultima ratio
See this?
18 posted on 11/12/2002 8:47:22 AM PST by Zviadist
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To: Polycarp
Really looks to me like Fr. Haley is the one that should be left standing when the smoke settles. But this is only one parish this is going on in many others. The church I went to when I was living in FL had a wonderful Priest that had been instrumental in building a most beautiful church, even a stepped alter where a railing could have been added. The Bishop (Diocese of Palm Beach) was not a good priest at all and our conservative priest ended up being sent to Rome for a year to study. The next Bishop was no better..
19 posted on 11/12/2002 9:10:21 AM PST by .45MAN
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To: Romulus
This story is quite distressing. Here are a few other items to consider:
"Bishop Paul Loverde (Arlington Diocese of Virginia) removed Vocations Director Fr. James Gould from his job. Loverde reportedly did so because Gould allegedly opposed allowing a man with a long history of homosexuality into the seminary. Bp. Loverde has not denied this report. Loverde also supported a homosexual 'civil rights' bill in Connecticut in 1991. That law allows homosexuals to adopt children and act as foster parents. The law 'also permits the state to impose quotas for homosexuals on employers,' reported RCF. Loverde is a bishop in 'good standing.'"

If these things are true, it is our recommendation that the parishioners of Arlington write to the Papal Nuncio in Washington D.C., and to the Vatican, requesting the removal of Bishop Paul Loverde; the restoration of Father Haley's right as a Catholic priest to offer mass and the sacraments; and a thorough independent investigation (not under the auspices of Bishop Loverde) into the allegations of homosexuality and other sexual perversions occurring in the rectories of the Arlington Diocese.

I will be writing a letter to Bishop Loverde concerning these scandals. I have already sent a letter to him concerning the horrible treatment Del. Richard Black received from Fr. Irace at St. Thomas More Cathedral. Del. Black, as you may recall, knelt to receive Communion but was denied reception by an irate Fr. Irace. I have yet to receive a response from Bishop Loverde. I won't hold my breath.
20 posted on 11/12/2002 9:10:36 AM PST by ltlflwr
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