False accusations of priests

I have posted before about priests who are falsely accused of crimes against minors and other crimes or sins.

I saw an entry at The Media Report about new evidence which may exonerate a priest, Fr. Gordon J MacRae who has been in prison since 1994.

What a horrible thing it is for anyone to be falsely accused of something, but when the victim of a false accusation is a priest, the consequences are horrifying. Not only is a false accusation a terrible sin of lying and harming a person in malice, but when it is aimed at a priest it also also the sin of sacrilege, since it is aimed at a consecrated person. And this is not just about false accusations of crimes against minors.

We know that there is no sin that we little mortals can commit that is so terrible that God cannot forgive it if we truly repent. However, I shudder to think of the terrible judgment of someone who goes to God unshriven after making a false accusation against the Lord’s anointed.

In any event, there is a book about priests who were falsely accused. Not exactly light reading, but this is an important topic… and not just for priests and bishops!  Everyone should be concerned about this.

Frankly, I think we will see a lot more of this tactic in the future, if not for personal monetary gain, but also to silence and intimidate priests and bishops who stick with the Church and preach her message clearly.

Check out David F. Pierre Jr.’s book Catholic Priests Falsely Accused: The Facts, The Fraud, The Stories.

It is available for US readers HERE (Kindle version HERE) and UK readers HERE (Kindle version HERE).  Need a Kindle?  US HERE and UK HERE.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Rouxfus says:

    Injustice is relatively easy to bear. What stings is justice. [H.L. Mencken]

  2. rodin says:

    Thank you for the information about the book, which I have now ordered. Sorry, I cannot agree that injustice is easy to bear. Unjust accusations are borne as well by those who have not been accused. The seeds of injustice are widely scattered and very likely will never be collected and destroyed.

  3. digdigby says:

    Thomas Grover, the accuser is a spectacular psychopath. The diagnosis of ‘psychopath’ is meaningless as it describes a set of behaviors, not causes. These ‘psychopaths’, especially serial killers, tell us with monotonous regularity about the ‘other’ person in them. That ‘other person’ could perhaps be Intelligent Evil – and off course, this case also has a sinister spiritual dimension.

  4. BaedaBenedictus says:

    It’s a horrifying reality. A priest I know, after over 40 years of ministry, was falsely accused of abuse that supposedly occurred three decades ago. His politically-minded archbishop threw him under the bus. It was so sad seeing him at the Sunday TLM at the cathedral, kneeling in the pew in lay clothes! After 4 years of suspension, he was finally exonerated. But back in ministry? Nope. The archbishop considers him as good as done. All over a single accusation.

  5. catholicmidwest says:

    We have both cases: those that were unjustly persecuted and those who were never caught up with. That’s what happens in messes like this. Whose fault is it that we have all had to endure this? The ones who actually did abuse children, and the men who protected them, whether they got away with it or not.

  6. rodin says:

    BaedaBenedictus has related an especially sad tale. In this day of a shortage of good priests one, and one is too many, has been sacrificed on the altar of political correctness. The laity must constantly goad our bishops to the courageous response that has lately been on view. Going back to sleep is not an option. Those guilty of calumny should be prosecuted, but further agony for the innocent victim probably precludes that.

  7. EXCHIEF says:

    “Frankly, I think we will see a lot more of this tactic in the future, if not for personal monetary gain, but also to silence and intimidate priests and bishops who stick with the Church and preach her message clearly.”

    Fr Z your words as I quoted them are particularly frightening, but alas will prove to be true. The true, Orthodox Holy Roman Catholic Church is the single most feared adversary of any totalitarian or would be totalitarian regime. We have seen in history, and I fear are about to see again, the best way to squelch opposition and at the same time instill fear and demoralize is to falsely accuse and incarcerate the clergy. If the little Marxist in DC persists in enforcing the HHS mandate, and if the Supreme Court fails to reverse, there will be at least some authentic Catholic clergy and lay people who will peacefully protest–and wind up in jail as a result. St. Michael lead us in battle.

  8. PostCatholic says:

    I wonder if the book makes mention of a family friend of mine, Rev. Thomas Curran of Boston. He was undergoing open heart surgery when he was suspended due to an allegation that later proved false.

  9. James Joseph says:

    Correct me if I am mistaken…

    Isn’t Father McRae the fellow who was offered a plea-deal of only a few months if he plead guilty, but he maintained his not-guilty plea and was subsequently railroaded with a 70-year prison sentence, and his case was taken up by Jewish New York law firm pro bono as a mitzvah?

  10. James Joseph says:


    I also know of another Boston priest who was cleared several years ago. Everybody knew it. I mean how do you take an allegation seriously when someone publically admits in the bar-room in Somerville that he’s going to accuse a priest just so that he can get some money to buy a house.

    We have also have two family friends who said they were abused as altar boys. They got checks. Never were they altar boys and I am pretty sure they’ve never even stepped foot in a church. Still they got checks. My dad asked them why they did it. They said because they can.

    So ridiculous and so reactionary.

  11. MaryW says:

    Father MacRae has a website called “These Stone Walls”. There’s a link on Father Z’s sidebar.

    He is allowed to say Mass in his cell once a week on Sunday evenings at 11:20pm. He invites anyone interested to join him in a Spiritual Communion. (This would be EST as the prison is in New Hampshire).

  12. digdigby says:

    from “A ram in the thicket ” blog on the Gordon MacRae case:
    “Why he is viewed differently is unknown, and if Father MacRae himself knows, he isn’t saying. Those who know him say that throughout his ordeal he has declined to say or write a single word criticizing his bishop or fellow priests in public. The only apparent difference between the MacRae case and three other New Hampshire priests who have been in prison – and the fifty others who have been accused – is that Father Gordon MacRae is the only one who has maintained that the claims against him were a fraud. He is serving a sixty-seven year sentence imposed after he three times refused a “plea bargain” in which he was offered a sentence of one to three years. And it gets WORSE. Much worse.

  13. Liz says:

    Did you all see the local news story? http://www.wmur.com/video/30519235/detail.html

    Woohoo! God bless, Fr. MacRae!

  14. frfrank says:

    Thank you, and it’s about time. that someone even acknowleges that there have been false accusations made against Catholic Priests.
    I have two priests friends who were falsely accused around the time of the false accusation that came about Cardinal Bernardin. At the same time that Cardinal Bernardin got cancer my two friends were diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and intestinal cancer. They both died within 6 months each other. I always believed that 100 years from now the church is going to have a feast commemorating the martyrs who died because of false accusations of sexual abuse during this terrible time of trial.

  15. PostCatholic says:

    I’m quite familiar with the litigation and I don’t really believe there are settlement checks in the Boston case paid to people without a reasonable claim, James Joseph. In any event the stats relating to the settlement were thus:
    * RCAB listed of 159 names of priests accused of sexual abusing a minor . It admitted there were as many as 250 accused.
    * There were another 69 names it omitted because the accused were dead, were not publicly accused, were already dismissed, or left the priesthood prior to canonical process.
    * There were also 22 priests whose names were omitted because the accusations could not be proved, and nine of those were still in ministry.

    Twenty-two of 250 is almost 10% accused against whom the allegation could not be proven. Of those 22, some and perhaps even most of them undoubtedly are not guilty of the crime and were falsely accused. (Inability to substantiate the accusation is not the same thing as innocence.) That is a sad statistic. No one should be defamed for something he did not do.

    22 of 250

  16. frjim4321 says:

    My impression is that the wave of accusations that were made public in March, 2002 were quite often genuine, however the percentage of false allegations in recent years has increased mainly due to the possibility of monetary rewards.

    The possibility of a false allegation is a sword hanging over the head of every priest.

  17. Elizabeth D says:

    James Joseph, if you have reason to think your family members made fraudulent claims, and especially if they acknowledged that, why not contact the diocese, or someone, to say that? It is bearing false witness, and stealing from the Church, when someone does that. The money comes from ordinary Catholics who gave for the building up of the Church and doing good works.

  18. sirlouis says:

    I, too, know an accused priest who, after ten years, was cleared by a diocesan tribunal (long after the district attorney had scolded the Church for trashing the priest’s rights), only to be shabbily pushed into the trash can by his bishop. He won’t return this excellent priest to ministry, won’t allow him to wear clericals, and refuses to let him excardinate to a diocese that is very willing to take in an orthodox, competent, hard-working, pastoral priest. I am beginning to have scruples about encouraging young men to consider the priesthood.

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