UPDATE: 27 Aug 2022 12:14:
From my friend…
GOOD GRIEF! Your readers really responded – as in, immediately! The book is now SOLD OUT, thanks to you. So I’m busy boxing up more copies to send to the Amazon warehouses.
Just in case anyone was wondering.
Originally Published on: Aug 26, 2022 at 15:15
The other day I wrote something about “moral injury” as a phenomenon in the Church, especially involving bishops and priests, pastors and assistants.
Today I had a note from a friend who is a canon lawyer which touched on conflicts between bishop and priest, but goes broader.
FATHERS! Find this post again by looking up “good reputation” or “canon lawyer”.
Here is the note, with my emphases:
Laudetur Iesus Christus!
Hope you are doing well, Father. I wanted to let you know that the JCD thesis I’ve been working on regarding a priest’s right to his reputation is finally done, defended, and now available on amazon (the ISBN is 978-0991325429):
The Right of a Cleric to Bona Fama by Dr. Michael J. Mazza, JCD, JD
Thanks for all your prayers, esp. for your brother priests whom I now helping. If you know of any priests or seminarians who might benefit from knowing about the book or about my work, please pass along the link or give them my contact information (including the spiffy new email). As you may know, the first few hours after an accusation is made are absolutely critical. If anyone you know is called to the chancery, it is vital that they have the advice of a good canonist before heading in.
Again, thanks for your faithful witness to Our Lord. Know of my prayers for you and the people whom you serve.
In Corde Regis,
Dr. Michael J. Mazza, J.D., J.C.D.
US Mailing Address:
Michael Joseph Mazza
514 Americas Way #17147
Box Elder, SD 57719-7600 USA
(+1) 262.239.2010 – cell
Italy Mailing Address:
Michael Joseph Mazza, #302
Via delle Fornaci, n. 28
00165 Roma (RM) ITALIA
Thank you for this post. A brother priest was railroaded based on suspicion and the danger of “causing wonderment among the faithful.” Exact quote.
Never before done for any priest, in one parish where he served, the people were told “if you see him, call the chancery.” The poor man committed no crime or sin nor was he thought to have. But from that announcement, people began to wonder and conjecture. Terrible form.
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On the other hand: 20 years ago, Bishop Loverde in Arlington, VA announced 2 priests had been investigated due to allegations of serious misdeeds, (one being use of parish funds to pay for lots of porn, (i.e. tens of thousands of $) and the other slightly different but (I think) also involving taking money). The Bishop’s announcement was that these were relieved of their posts and being sent to “an institution rooted in a Catholic understanding of the human person…” Later information is that the institution that a lot of dioceses used (St. Luke’s in Md) was nothing of the sort (though I have no concrete information that these 2 priests were sent to that specific place – Loverde was silent about that). The bishop intentionally withheld ANY indication whether the allegations were found to either proven, or well-founded, or substantive evidence was found, or whether the individuals were being charged with crimes, or that they were not, or … anything. He did so saying “Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and work likely to cause them unjust injury.”
What he made NO ATTEMPT to clarify is this: to what extent would disclosing the above kinds of information, do “unjust injury” to a priest who has in fact done such kinds of misdeeds? In fact, the bishop seemed to take the position that disclosing ANY fact, even the most careful, along any lines like “Fr. X admitted to acts against the 6th commandment”, for example, and insisted that these priests had a right to their good reputation. Nowhere did he attempt to address WHY a person who has committed sins of the sort in the allegations would have a right to a reputation that is expressly founded on NOT having done such deeds, if he HAS done such deeds. Nowhere did he attempt to clarify any boundary to the “private” misdeeds that should be kept from public discussion, and other misdeeds that should not be kept confidential – he gave the appearance that ONLY that which came out in a courtroom was fit for being disclosed. One would think that even a bishop could easily see that stealing money from a parish isn’t a private misdeed. One would think that even a bishop could see that if a priest had a decades-long habit of pornography, knowledge of this fact might be needed information to those who had gone to him for spiritual direction.
If Dr. Mazza’s dissertation addresses questions like these, I would dearly like to read it. It is indeed important to protect the reputation of those who are merely suspected of some offense, and (all the more) of being accused-by-hints of some nebulous, unnamed, unascertainable something or other that is merely an unpleasantry to the bishop’s ears. But if a priest has been accused by parishioners of civil crimes, and been the subject of an internal investigation that results in the priest admitting to the diocese that he has done at least SOME of the actions alleged, it seems a bridge too far to rest silence on an assertion of “unjust injury” to his reputation.
Wonder if he can be of help to a group of TLM-goers who have been booted from their cathedral due to TC. To add insult to injury, being told our only option is a small chapel when we know other options exist…