How credible is “credible” in allegations against priests?

The accusations – based on a repressed memory of something 40 years ago – about Fr. Eduard Perrone in the Archdiocese of Detroit continue to raise questions.  Dark questions.

Something is not right about this.

Michael Voris is digging in.  He attends Fr. Perrone’s parish, but this case is far far bigger than allegiance.  It concerns how accusations against priests are being handled everywhere, according to or not according to Canon Law the the Dallas “Norms” (which infamously don’t apply to bishops).

Voris has posted a couple of video commentaries at Church Militant.

In today’s video – “Anatomy of a Takedown” – there is something that everyone should listen to or read.  He provides transcripts of his videos.   Voris remarks today on the phrase “credible allegation”.

What he says should raise red flags and alarm bells in every Catholic everywhere in these USA.

Here’s the text.  If you want, you could swap out the proper names.  It seems to me that this could be applied pretty much everywhere right now, not just in Detroit.  My emphases:


The word “credible” which Msgr. Bugarin bandies about freely is, for all intents and purposes in American diocesan chanceries, a very dangerous word because it is being commonly employed in alleged clergy misconduct cases in an entirely different way than authorized by canon law.

In regular usage, it means exactly what it sounds like: “worthy of belief.”

But in the arcane language of canon law, it is a higher standard than what canon 1717 of the Code of Canon Law actually requires as a criterion to be used: “semblance of truth.” That is a positive determination, not a negative one. This gets a little into the weeds here, but allow us to explain because it’s important. God is, after all, in the details.

Currently, American diocesan officials are using the terminology “unless an allegation be manifestly false or frivolous” as the definition of a “credible” allegation.

This non-canonical definition actually shifts the burden of proof to the accused priest to demonstrate, not just allege in his defense, that any allegation made against him was “manifestly,” “obviously,” “evidently” false or frivolous, as opposed to the diocese actually having positive or affirmative evidence in support of a claim of sexual abuse.

That is a vast difference between common chancery Orwellian “newspeak” and the official canonical criteria legislated by the popes over many centuries.

When Abp. Vigneron and his non-independent review board and Msgr. Bugarin approved the use of the language against Fr. Perrone that the charge had a “semblance of truth,” that is grossly misleading.

In reality, the term, “semblance of truth,” according to the AOD itself in its own documents, is defined as “it is not manifestly false or frivolous” or “serious” or “substantive.” That’s from the AOD’s outdated Sexual Abuse of Minors Policy dating back to 2007.

Again, the phrase “semblance of truth” in canon law carries a vastly different meaning. It does not mean that any allegation is credible unless it can be rebutted as
“manifestly false or frivolous” by the accused priest.

However, according to the AOD’s and most diocesan sex abuse policies currently in effect, the practical bar that needs to be crossed in a case like this is extremely low — so low in fact that it’s almost laughable.

So for Abp. Vigneron to approve a press release with language like “credible” and “semblance of truth” is massively disingenuous and dangerous and a misleading account taken of what those terms actually mean, in the context of the AOD’s own actual policies, practices and posted Q&As found online on its website.

In short, they deliberately let the public think they mean something that they themselves say they don’t mean.


Did you get that?

I would very much appreciate comments of canonists on this.

Here’s how I read that.  The way “credible” is being used lowers the bar and results in placing the burden on the priest himself to disprove the allegation.  Meanwhile, a diocese/bishop, in effect, throws the priest to the wolves and has circumvented due process.  The are attending to secular advisers (lawyers, insurance companies) and worrying about the press more than the advise of sound canonists and in the interests of truth.

But it’s an efficient way to get rid of a troublesome priest.  And, these days, we know what “troublesome” means.

Here’s the video, which I have set to start just before the part I quote, above.

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  1. Thomas S says:

    Our Judicial Vicar flat out told us that “credible” means the priest had the mere opportunity. As loose a connection as “the accused priest was assigned to the accuser’s parish at the time the alleged abuse occurred.” That’s it. They will throw priests under the bus at the drop of a hat while circling the wagons for their own depraved cabal.

    [This is exactly the point.]

    Fr. Z's Gold Star Award

  2. Chris in Maryland 2 says:

    Also – remember this:

    It was the arch-fiend McCarrick and his pals like the arch-liar mafiosi coverup artist Mahony who crafted the “2002 Dallas Standards.”

    These men are arch-enemies of Jesus, His Church, and every single Catholic child, teen, young adult and parent.

  3. Kerry says:

    Credibly, incredibly despicable.

  4. FrankWalshingham says:

    Thank goodness for Micheal Voris and Church Militant exposing the filth and corruption wrought upon the people of Detroit. They are cracking down on Father Perrone just because he exposed the problem with homosexuals in the AOD seminaries to the Vatican.

  5. I’m very glad to see attention given to this. Yesterday in the Wall Street Journal (July 12, 2019), law professor Marci Hamilton had this advice for the U.S. Bishops: “Settle as many cases as you possibly can, because statute of limitations reform [which Ms Hamilton has heavily promoted] is inevitably going to pass.” Settlement lets the Bishops “have the dual action of looking generous but protecting as many assets of the organization as possible.”

    When I was accused, a lawyer for my accusers was quoted thusly in a local paper in 2002, “Church officials did not even ask for basic information such as dates and specifics of the abuse” before handing over $5.2 million. “I’ve never seen anything like it,” he said.

    The true standard of “credibility” has become whether or not money changes hands.

    Thank you, Father Z, for covering this.

    Fraternal blessings, Father Gordon MacRae (Father George is typing this for him)

  6. Hidden One says:

    We need more good canonists–and civil lawyers–to correct such injustices as these.

  7. s i says:

    @FrankWalshingham You are so right. The filth and corruption in the Archdiocese of Detroit is deeper than anyone can know. Pray and do penance for Michael Voris and CM to get to the bottom of this, and help clear Fr. Perrone’s name. The good priests of this Archdiocese are being persecuted left and right now by the scum running the show here.

  8. FrankWalshingham says:

    Taking about the filth and corruption in the Archdiocese of Detroit, Micheal Voris lays open the belly of the beast in his latest expose:

    Be sure to watch the video clip of confirmation at Father Perrone’s Parish, Assumption. Grotto. When Archbishop Vigneron’s sidekick, Bishop Hanchon starts strumming inappropriately on his ukulele the church organist starts playing away to drown out the inappropriate hootenanny from the pulpit. Now do you see why the AOD has been gunning for Father Perrone? Because he won’t play games in their very dysfunctional sandbox!

    Don’t miss the pictures of the disgraced, predator protecting, and former archbishop who bankrupted the Archdiocese of Minneapolis, John Clayton Nienstedt, concelebrating at Allen Vigneron’s annual presbyterial mass at Detroit’s Sacred Heart Seminary. The same John Nienstedt who was barred from any activity in Minneapolis by his successor Archbishop Hebda, until he faces up to the multiple charges of perverted activity during his tenure there. Why in the world would Allen Vigneron invite this disgraced prelate who has multiple and very credible charges of homosexual predation filed against him into Detroit’s seminary to concelebrate mass? What kind of message does that send to our seminarians and to the Detroit faithful about bishop accountability? And the biggest question of all is why hasn’t the Vatican acted to put John Clayton Nienstedt on canonical trial and to laicize him?

    Please pray that God saves the Archdiocese of Detroit from those who would persecute faithful and orthodox priests.

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