Ed Peters on “Clerical Slumming” (make popcorn)

The pesky, trouble-making canonist Ed Peters – I am glad he is on the side of the good, the true and beautiful, by the way – over at his site vivisects a priest.

After reading this, I made popcorn and then read it again.

Go over there by clicking HERE.  He doesn’t have an open combox and he doesn’t mind if I post his stuff here, so please go over and spike his stats as a gesture of gratitude.

Clerical slumming

by Dr. Edward Peters

You know what slumming is. It’s where rich kids pretend to be poor and do poor for a spell, knowing it’s all fake for them, of course, and that, when they’re done slumming, they can go home and get a hot shower and have yummy snack and sleep in a clean bed, unlike their slum-buds for whom the poor life is very real and for whom daddy’s dollars aren’t a phone call away and able to make everything alright if they get into trouble.
Well, apparently, there’s a priest who decided to try something similar and pretend that he was an alien trying to get to America. [!] I first heard the story on Univision yesterday but attributed my confusion over it to gaps in my knowledge of Spanish. Now I’m thinking my Spanish was maybe okay; it was the stunt itself that I could not fathom.

Not making this up. [Fact can be weirder than fiction.]

An American priest decided to experience what it’s like to cross the US-Mexico border illegally, you know, so he can talk intelligently about border issues. He lifts $ 3,000 from the parish till (excuse me?), [?!? Niiiiice… huh?  How would you feel if your priest was using the money you put into the Sunday collection to fund his… what is this… hobby?] goes to Mexico, and pays the three grand to coyotajes to lead him to the border (forgetting, I guess that, the North Star points—guess which way?—north, and that one can look at it for free). Anyway, the priest gets to the border, sits down and stares at the iron fence for a couple hours, and then climbs it. No one sees him. After a day of no one noticing a US citizen being in America, the priest turns himself in, provokes a stunning lack of interest in US authorities who release him (I guess American citizens climbing the fence into America must not be a high priority concern for them), and he tells his story to the media. Who treat it as a news story, instead of as a joke.
Per the Chicago Tribune, “The pastor said he believes he is the first Chicago priest to cross the U.S.-Mexico border by climbing a wall.” Well, thank God for that, at least. I mean, how many well-fed, able-bodied American-citizen priests with too-easy access to cash do we need who can pretend to break into their own country, yet can’t get arrested over it for love or money, and who obviously wouldn’t face deportation even if they were arrested, in order to prove that this kind of stunt is pointless?
I would hope, not more than one.

Well done.

I think this is the Univision story here.  Take note of the way this … fellow during his sermon walks around with a microphone as if he were a gameshow host.


I’ve been pondering this lifting of money from the parish coffers for this project.

Is it possible that Fr. Graf called the diocesan chancery beforehand and said “This is what I plan and how much it will cost!”, and then told the members of the parish – through the parish bulletin and pulpit announcements – what he was up to with the money?

Sure. It’s possible.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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

    I was offended when I read it. Perhaps he never read CCC 2241? But then, many of our bishops seem all too willing to overlook that, too.

    I’m sorry, but as CCC 2241 makes plain, no one has a right to demand domicile in any country other than that of their birth. And if sovereignty means nothing, then law means nothing. Are (some of) our bishops in favor of anarchy?

  2. wmeyer says:

    Sorry. “It” being the report of the priest’s escapade.

  3. priests wife says:

    ‘Coyotes’ are criminals- that this priest would give $3000 to perpetuate this slave trade is disgusting. This misguided priest could have made his point if he worked a few days in a berry field.

  4. His bishop needs to do something about the gross misappropriation of $3,000.00 of parish money.

  5. Frank H says:

    Here’s a Chicago Tribune story on it:


    What’s with these Chicago priests? Maybe Frs. Graf and Pfleger should make a return visit to Mexico…and stay there.

  6. pmullane says:

    As part of an examination of conscience one asks oneself of they are contributing enough to the church, both in time and treasure. How much do I earn? How much do I use? How much do I spend on myself? Am I neglecting my duties to my family by giving money to the parish that I should be spending on them? And then this guy takes three grand from people like me and gives it to some people traffickers as part of a publicity stunt/vanity trip. Sorry but that, if true, is corrupt.

  7. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    Me? A trouble-making canonist? LOL. Anyway, I have an idea for a contest:

    The line about him being “the first priest to cross the U.S.-Mexico border by climbing a wall” gets me thinking.

    Who wants to be the first priest to cross the U.S.-Mexico border by—fill in the blank:
    being fired across like a human cannonball.
    sitting in trebuchet and getting hurled over.

    See if you can top THOSE!

    [What popped into my head just now are some of those crazy “races” on the UK version of Top Gear.]

  8. LarryW2LJ says:

    Did somebody do away with “Thou shalt not steal”? It was still there the last time I checked.

  9. Legisperitus says:

    Dr. Peters:

    By tunneling with a spoon!

  10. eyeclinic says:

    How about this:
    The first priest to throw himself out of a homemade hot-air balloon sans parachute, while invoking the aid of the heavenly host “lest he dash his foot against a stone.”
    The first priest to attempt a river crossing while covered in fresh beef steaks the day after the river is planted with piranha.(The priest must swim of course)

  11. CarpeNoctem says:

    Well, as I see it, it is not just STEALING from the parish, but it is redirecting these funds right into the hands of bad guys (and/or gals) who are involved in the CRIME of HUMAN TRAFFICKING, along with whatever else they are doing (drugs, firearm smuggling, prostitution, ???). Whether or not the intentions were ‘good’ this could now be seen, I would hazard, as a HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATION, through at least the indirect, if not direct, funding of this effort.

    Money aside, what’s suprising is that he didn’t have the patience to stick it out with the people he was with… to live in solidarity with them until they got where they were going. I wonder what they would have found on the other side? Freedom? A labor camp? ICE? Some other criminal enterprise? That might have been more interesting and eye-opening than the simple question of “could he get across?” There’s not much personal risk when you jump a fence with a ‘get out of jail free card’, i.e. US citizenship… but placing oneself in the hands of a criminal element……….?

  12. acricketchirps says:

    …by impersonating a Canadian?

  13. Fr AJ says:

    His Bishop should order him to immediately repay from his own funds the $3,000 he took from the parish for this! That’s crazy, it’s not his money to do with as he wishes. Here I am worrying that the parish doesn’t pay me an extra penny that it shouldn’t and this guy just takes $3,000 for his excursion….UGH.

  14. MAJ Tony says:

    wmeyer hits the nail square and puts it thru 2 inches of native oak timber. True, we should give aid to those on journey, but like the misguided idea of providing support beyond what is emergency need when we should be providing assistance that actually helps (education, job search assistance, etc.) just trying to be a big tent for everyone that lives in a less-than-desirable homeland is not a solution. We should be an example for the world, not the end goal future life for everyone in poverty and oppression.

  15. Gail F says:

    I enjoyed the Ed Peters piece — this guy deserves to be laughed at. He also deserves to go to jail if he “misappropriated” parish funds. He can see what THAT’s like too. And giving thousands of dollars to coyotes? I guess he should have his head examined too.

  16. Adam Welp says:

    Sounds like the pilot to a bad remake of Father Ted.

  17. wmeyer says:

    Thanks, MAJ Tony, but I failed to mention, in my original, that immigration is a legal process, not a right. And as we have millions of illegals here who have made no effort to participate in that process, there is no sense in which they can be thought of as immigrants. Migrants, yes, but not immigrants.

    And for those who would charge that I am hostile to immigrants, I am sure that would surprise my wife and step-daughter, both of whom immigrated from China.

    If the process needs repair, so be it, but the only “evidence” of that which I have seen offered is the presence of those same millions of illegals. Sorry, but that’s not proof. And if the “proof” is that it takes a very long time to immigrate, with many forms to fill out and many delays along the way… well, that sounds very much like my experience with the annulment process in the Church, and I have not yet heard any bishop pushing for reform to speed that process, much less to declare an amnesty.

  18. APX says:

    Was he drunk when he did this? No, seriously. This sounds like “I got drunk and did something stupid and illegal”. I’m just waiting for the posting of stupid shenanagians video posted on YouTube.

  19. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    His chasuble-alb with overlying stole was pretty snazzy. I don’t speak Spanish, so that was all that I noticed when I watched the video. And the already-mentioned expertise in microphone handling that Fr. Z discussed above.

  20. ckdexterhaven says:

    Call me when he pays a coyote $3000 to travel through the Sonoran desert south of Tucson in July with the typical supplies the coyotes give, one or two bottled waters to sustain them in the 110 degree heat. Or packed into a windowless cargo can with 50 other illegal immigrants driving through the Arizona desert in July. Not keeping the borders closed seems very cruel to me, so many people die in the desert in the summer. If the border were closed, these people would not suffer the horrible deaths they do.

  21. VexillaRegis says:

    An American climbs into his own country with the help of a coyote? Come on! That’s easy. He should have tried to climb the wall from the US into Mexico instead! Imagine the surprise and bewilderment among the Mexican border police. And then he would have been brought to an asylum from which escaping probably isn’t a piece of cake. That would be something!

  22. Indulgentiam says:

    His Parish, according to the video, is aptly named St. Gall. And he’s got plenty of it. You just can make this stuff.
    The fine for being caught in Mexico without a current entrance visa is up to 10,000.00 & from 2 -10 years in jail.
    “– Illegal entry into the country is equivalent to a felony punishable by two years’ imprisonment. Document fraud is subject to fine and imprisonment; so is alien marriage fraud. Evading deportation is a serious crime; illegal re-entry after deportation is punishable by ten years’ imprisonment. Foreigners may be kicked out of the country without due process and the endless bites at the litigation apple that illegal aliens are afforded in our country (see, for example, President Obama’s illegal alien aunt — a fugitive from deportation for eight years who is awaiting a second decision on her previously rejected asylum claim).”
    Read more here–http://michellemalkin.com/2010/04/28/police-state-how-mexico-treats-illegal-aliens/
    He gave money to coyotes who also deal in the child porn and sex slave trade. It defies description! Boggles the mind! And leaves any sentient person spitting mad. That he should actually give money to….
    At the end of the video he says that illegals should just apologize, as he did for jumping the fence? But he doesn’t say to whom they should confess. To him? And them all is forgiven. The absolute gall of this man. Illegals already walk into every government office, apply for, food stamps, Medicaid, etc… And get it. And the ones I know pay NO taxes. Puhleese

  23. NBW says:

    This is so wrong. The Archdiocese of Chicago is asleep at the wheel. They push away good Traditional priests and keep priests like Graf and Pfleger around. I would like to know how much of the $3000 that Graf spent on his little escapade came from the Annual Catholic Appeal from the Archdiocese of Chicago? Enough is enough, the bishops and the Cardinal have to put their foot down.

  24. One can understand it being virtually impossible these days to get arrested for crossing the border illegally, but it really ought to easier for a simple thief to get into jail. Surely his bishop can help out–by just picking up the phone and calling the police, thereby implementing a zero-tolerance policy for theft from parish funds.

  25. PA mom says:

    This kind of politically motivated stunt really annoys me. Is there some reason that this priest and others like him, including the USCCB, can’t concentrate their efforts on the state of the Church? Arent there sick people to be visited? Prisoners needing counsel? Is average weekly Mass attendance up? Have all of his parish members been to Penance within the last year? Is the parish school teaching heresy? Are the young couples of his parish all cohabitating?
    I mean, can we learn as a Church, to teach the laity well how to be genuine Catholics, and save the constant politics for those laity and have the bishops and priests actually run the churches?

  26. majuscule says:

    But but but…the Tribune article says he paid the coyotes but then didn’t even use them! He got tired of waiting with the rest of the people.

    I am speechless!

  27. Supertradmum says:

    Henry Edwards, are you being sarcastic? Oh, my.

  28. wmeyer says:

    APX, most of us who have had the experience of doing something foolish while drunk share a common trait: we don’t brag about it later.

  29. a catechist says:

    Henry Edwards–sir, I must disagree about the bishop reporting him to the police. That’s what the parish council is for! Maybe they didn’t get the memo about empowering the laity? Of course, it would be courtesy to let the bishop know the phone call has been placed.

  30. mattg says:

    Does cannon law contain cannons regarding parish/diocesan finances? I can’t imagine that it is silent on such important matters of administration. [Cannon law is never silent! Nor is the liturgical Beretta. They both have a lot to say and, when they talk, people listen! Canon Law, on the other hand…. o{];¬) ]

    I’m fairly certain that this priest could be charged with grand larceny (a felony) under civil law if the story is true.

  31. dominic1955 says:

    Cardinal George should find an ugly crozier left over from Bernardin’s reign and bust if over this guy’s head. Really? Pay stolen money to common criminals to make some childish ’60’s-era sounding political point? No Masses to say or confessions to hear? Must also be nice to have all that time to pull this little stunt.

    If he really wanted to do something good for these folks he could have taken a sabbatical to minister amongst migrant workers on his own dime.

    Side point: the USCCB and many American Catholics need to pull their heads out on this issue and others (like gun control). The Left acts like they “care” about immigrants in order to have a voting block of dependents. Folks that are already used to living in a 3rd world Banana Republic with an explicitly corrupt government make great pawns. If the people coming over the borders started getting legal and voting for the Right, the Democrats would be screaming bloody murder about the need to close the borders.

  32. To my way of thinking, it would be even worse if the parish and the chancery consented to this use of $3,000.00 of parish money. That would widen the circle of guilt, and increase the number of people who need to have their heads examined. If everyone had consented to turning that $3K over to Planned Parenthood, that wouldn’t make it any less wrong.

  33. gjp says:

    Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda:

    I know it has been said before, but……
    When given the chasuble, a new priest hears from the bishop: “Receive the priestly vestment, by which is signified charity.”

    When given the stole, it is: “Receive the yoke of the Lord, for His yoke is sweet and His burden is light.” The stole is a sign of the priest’s office.

    In other words, when a priest wears the stole over top of the chasuble, it must be because they care more about their office than they do charity. What other meaning am I to imply from the gesture?

  34. APX says:

    The times they are a’changin. Posting drunken illegal shenanigans on YouTube and having them go viral on Facebook is all the rave these days.

  35. wmeyer says:

    APX, I am old, and don’t get out much. ;)

  36. mamajen says:

    WOW. The whole scenario reminds me of something one might find in a Douglas Adams novel. How hilariously stupid!

    As for the money…well, I know of a few parishes around here that are big on activism and would gladly fund that sort of thing. I wouldn’t be surprised if his parish is one of those.

  37. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    @gjp who said “In other words, when a priest wears the stole over top of the chasuble, it must be because they care more about their office than they do charity. What other meaning am I to imply from the gesture?”

    Oh, two words, my friend, the meaning implied by the stole-over-chasuble-alb is succinctly stated in two words:


  38. markomalley says:

    Do you think that this could have been an example of what the Holy Father was talking about when, a couple of weeks ago, he said, when ideology enters into the Church, when ideology enters into our understanding of the Gospel, no [authentic] comprehen[sion] is [possible].? (homily, 2013-04-19)

    Or when his beloved predecessor said, All of humanity is alienated when too much trust is placed in merely human projects, ideologies and false utopias (Caritas in Veritate 53)

  39. ghp95134 says:

    Dr. Peters! TREBUCHET

    Leftist priest flung by trebuchet (note the beret and pipe)

    Another leftist priest — note size of collar:

    [okay … they probably were not priests ….but we can still dream, eh?]

    Thanks for the laugh!

  40. Johnny Domer says:

    In addition to basically stealing from the parish, can we note how horrible it is that this priest gave money to COYOTAJES (or coyotes or whatever you call them)?! Those guys are horrible people! They’re all drug smugglers, they extort Mexicans who want to get over the border, they commit all kinds of violent acts…they’re REALLY bad dudes. Stealing money from a parish is sinful enough, but giving it to people who’ll use that money to continue committing evil actions is even worse.

  41. wmeyer says:

    At the rate things are progressing, Father, it is cannon law we will soon need!

  42. Pingback: What is This Thing Called Virtue? BIG PULPIT

  43. chonak says:

    I guess this calls for a new lyric to the old Irving Berlin number “Let’s Go Slumming”:

    Let’s go slumming
    where they’re strumming,
    where the guitars play in Mexico:
    We’ll go down where being Mexican’s no setback
    To find out how it feels to be a wetback
    ( hey, you can’t say that! )

    We’ll be humming
    As we’re slumming
    Cheery in the night Nogales air,
    It makes no sense but we’ll scale the fence
    To get back here from there
    Let’s go slumming, nose-thumbing, but I.C.E. don’t care

    For those who don’t know the song:

  44. Magash says:

    I would like to compare this priest with one I has privileged to know. This priest while stationed as a chaplain in EL Paso at Ft Bliss started working, with his bishop’s permission and the permission of the bishop of Juárez, with the people of that area. At the end of his twenty years of military service he returned to his Midwestern diocese, but the needs of the people of Mexico called him back, and he made a deal with his bishop that allowed him to return to Mexico, as long as he was self sufficient. So this ex-military chaplain took his retirement and used it to collaborate with a group of sisters in Juarez. The teachers had been running a school for privileged, the only kind of school that the diocese could afford to support. With father they started a school for the regular people. Every year father, who collaborated with a diocese in the States to process his mail and send out fliers would make the rounds of parishes throughout the United States, where helpful priests would let him beg for support for his mission.
    Then the sisters wanted to start a high school so father began setting up mission trips from parishes in the United States to his little school complex in Juarez. This worked for several years until the drug wars came to Juarez, and one of his Mexican handymen helpers was wounded as a bystander in a fire fight. So then he was back to only begging.
    Many students of the sister’s school have gone on to college, almost unheard of for people of that economic class in Mexico. Few cross the border, because they have a way to be successful in their own country.
    Of course his real problem was that time was bearing down on him. Without a United States sponsor, when he died the sisters would have no one to help fund their school. He passed last year and I’m ashamed to say I don’t know what has happened to the sisters or their schools.

  45. Michael_Thoma says:

    Something tells me Rev. Graf has a boyfriend, a baby-mama, family member that he just got $3000 richer. That’s the optimistic thinking. The other possibility is binge drinking, carousing, and drug habit conveniently during spring break.

  46. cheezwiz says:

    Well, nobody’s all bad. He did give a parishoner part of his liver, which is a rather risky move.

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