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CATHOLIC PRIEST SAYS HE WAS SILENCED BY THE CHURCH FOR APEAKING OUT ON ABUSE.

By Star-Ledger Guest Columnist Mark White

This spring, I received a letter from my boss ordering me to take down my blog or lose my job.


Workers all over the country have found themselves in this kind of situation. But I may yet become the first Catholic priest removed for blogging.

Until recently, I was the pastor of two parishes in southwest Virginia, one in Martinsville and the other in Rocky Mount. I love my work and my community of some 800 families. I began blogging in 2008 as an additional way of reaching the faithful. For the first decade, my digital homilies and musings attracted little attention outside my parishes.

In 2018, though, like many Catholics, I was shaken when news emerged of sexual abuse by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, the archbishop of Washington.

I had been a seminarian when the Catholic Church was rocked by revelations of abuse 16 years earlier, in 2002. One of the many distressing facets of that crisis was that bishops had covered up the crimes of abusive priests, often transferring them to new positions instead of calling the police. McCarrick led much of the U.S. Catholic Church’s response to that scandal, speaking often to the press and championing a supposed “zero-tolerance” approach.

McCarrick ordained me in 2003. Back then, I believed I was entering the church at the outset of a new era of openness.

But as the world later learned, McCarrick himself molested seminarians under his authority and young boys. In the early 2000s, he arranged settlement payments to his victims, even as he stage-managed the church’s response to the crisis.

In 2018, as accusers came forward, the church stripped McCarrick of his status. It quickly emerged, though, that senior clergy had been aware of allegations against McCarrick for years. Pope Francis promised a thorough study of what the Vatican knew when. But today, two years later, the church has still not produced a public report.

When I learned of McCarrick’s misbehavior and the surrounding cover-up, I was deeply upset. I had received Holy Orders from a criminal — and felt a responsibility to explore how my church had failed. On my blog, I began to question and criticize Catholic leadership.

I understand why my superiors are not keen on a priest speaking out against the church. But Christianity directs the faithful to speak the truth freely. The church was literally founded on that principle, with Christ speaking the truth in the face of oppression. The Second Vatican Council recognized the centrality of this freedom when it asserted that “the search for truth must be carried out in a manner that is appropriate to the dignity of the human person. That is, by free inquiry, with the help of teaching and instruction, communication, and dialogue.”

Unfortunately, Bishop Barry Knestout, the leader of the Diocese of Richmond, does not appear to agree. In November 2019, he ordered me to remove my blog from the internet. I initially complied. But when the pandemic hit, I felt it was important to connect with my parishioners online. I resumed posting this past March.

In April, the bishop transferred me away from the two towns I know and love to serve as a prison chaplain several hours distant. While this is important work, Knestout’s intention was to punish and silence me, as he indicated when he wrote that “the restoration of your priestly faculties . . . will be dependent on your taking down your blog.”

I appealed to the Vatican and was awaiting an answer when Knestout prohibited me from practicing ministry in any form. He even changed the locks on the two churches I served, which include my living quarters. I have no other home in the area, and my mother resides in an assisted living facility nearby. At this point, I have to rely on the kindness of parishioners.

My problems are nothing compared to the larger issues facing the Catholic Church. Its leaders have not been forthcoming about McCarrick. Who enabled him to obtain one powerful position after another, in New York, New Jersey and Washington D.C., rising through church ranks over decades, even as accusations against him reached the Vatican? We still don’t know.

The faithful deserve a forthright conversation that would allow the church to reckon with its past and to prevent abuse in the future. To respond to that call with dictates for silence is to repeat the mistakes of the last two decades.

Right now, I can’t be sure of my future as a priest. But I do know that we need people speaking the truth freely in the Catholic Church more than ever.

Father Mark White is a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Richmond, Virginia.

136 replies on “CATHOLIC PRIEST SAYS HE WAS SILENCED BY THE CHURCH FOR APEAKING OUT ON ABUSE.”

Surely it’s a human right to express oneself. A blog is a means of communication not a description of the content of that communication.
Attempting to prevent someone from blogging would be like ordering them not to read newspapers, as distinct from the content of particularthe of newspapers. Or, not to look at TV rather than a particular programme.
A bishop should have no say whatsoever on the media of communication employed by priests of his diocese. This is s travesty of the promise of obedience taken at ordination.
A good lawyer would not be long in sorting out this mess.
Has Kenstout some connection with McCarrick?

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I felt very sad when I read this article. This priest appears a very decent human being who has felt his ordination and his priesthood were in some way tainted by the actions of his superiors and most particularly by Theodore McCarrick who ordained him. How many people baptised or married by abusers or how many families of those buried by abusers feel the same. Whilst we don’t want priests in lace who are plaster saints, the behaviour of priests who abuse or cover up abuse is the ultimate betrayal. Their faith must be pretty thin.

If the situation is entirely as portrayed in this article – and I’m aware there are two, three or four sides to every story – I hope there is a resolution which treats this man as he deserves. Sadly, I suspect he is on the down escalator to the exit door. Where Christ is in such behaviour, I have no idea. I suspect I shall now be attacked with block capitals for not kneeling in obedience and shame to the Church and its bishops and will be told I will burn in Hell. (I’m not certain some contributors are real). I’m afraid the only person who will decide on that is God who, I feel, will have much finer judgement than at least some of his priests.

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He was DISRUPTIVE-
he didnt follow the party line and could not be trusted to support THE CHURCH!
The outcome of this behaviour if it continues will be mass exodus of the laity.

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Anon@ 8:49: You say: “The outcome of this behaviour if it continues will be mass exodus of the laity.”
Well said sir, or madam. It well sums up the outcome of abusive behaviour, …..by the bishop in question.
MMM

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Internal Catholic personnel matters are NOYB, so-called MMM. I bet you don’t creep about Protestant blogs and opine on their internal matters.

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Thank you for that helpful advice A@10:10.
I see you’re also a punter:: gee gees or greyhounds as well?
MMM

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Nothing changes, protect the institution at all costs, remove the errant priests income and home and he’ll soon come to heel or disappear! Bullying!! #ItsHeppening2020 #YearOfTheCanon2020 #CanonMattGetsTheHat2020

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No it’s not. This man took a vow of obedience to his Bishop. He will do what he is told, or is free to leave. Well done to his Bishop!

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7.34 it never, ever, ever covered obedience to evil. We aren’t told enough of the story but it’s definitely nowhere near clear that the bishop had real cause to order him to cease.

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Bobby Goodwin
Nonsense. The promise of obedience is not a declaration that one will do what another orders him to do.
Think Nürnberg!
Obedience: ob audire – to listen to. When one has done so conscience enters the equation.
Very bad work on the part of Knestout! Who is he trying to impress.

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The Scotties are all trying to get a hold of the wee rampant homo from Paisley. His social media is still down tonight

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8.18: Are you out on a drag night? Such meaningless nonsense. What are you really saying? The priest in this article is to be commended for his integrity of conscience. Truth tellers and whistle blower iften fear for their jobs and well being nut some are courageous like this priest. But what a price to pay – to lose your livelihood and be treated like dirt by his Bishop and other church personnel. Wish I had his courage! God bless him.

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20:21.. this is a personal vendetta from yourself and and your wee mates. No one is taking you up on it. Just give up!

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When I started work in a semi state body many years ago a colleague on the brink of retirement sang an old ditty “If you work hard and do your best you’ll get the sack like all the rest, but if you laze and lark about you’ll live to see the job right out”. I can’t remember the rest. He was so right, I believed in what I was doing and worked hard at my job. What a waste of time, all my superiors did was place obstacles in my path, they crunched numbers to make it look as if they were achieving their set goal (Adult Literacy), they weren’t. All they wanted me to do was nothing, collude with them and massage the statistics. they were getting a huge government grant and that was all they were interested in. In hindsight that’s what I should have done, it would have made my life so much easier. Big institutions suck you in, gobble you up and spit out the remains. Fr. Mark reminds me of myself at that age,he should get out. His Bishop doesn’t care about him and the Vatican definitely only cares about the institution.

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20:21 – has he had another breakdown? Can he not handle pressure? I hear he usually hits the bottle when that happens. Is it true he is staying with Keenan (aka Turpin)?

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On his blog, Fr Mark explains what he does not wash women’s feet on Holy Thursday: “I could not in good conscience maintain the manner in which I execute the footwashing rite if a woman were sitting before me. I do not imagine myself to be Brad Pitt on wheels. But neither am I eighty years old and altogether beyond the virile stage. I could not engage in the physical intimacy (which, to my mind, the rite demands) with a woman who was either married to someone else or unattached. It would be unbecoming for us both.”

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Quite right. There were no women Apostles, the washing of whose feet by Jesus is recreated in the rite. Washing women’s feet is a liturgical abuse that went on for years, before the Vatican gave way, as has been the usual pattern with things that started as liturgical abuses (eg Communion in the hand, altar girls) and then bishops petitioned Rome to regularise the abuse that Rome had refused to discipline them over.

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11.17
Not correct! You are confusing apostles with the Twelve. Any person sent on mission is a apostle. That’s what the word means. Luke tells us the Lord sent 70/72 others – i.e. apostles – without identifying their sex.
Secondly, liturgy is not the re-creating of a historical event. If that’s what you are looking for the theatre and cinema will be your destinations.
Liturgy effects something far greater: it makes present the event it celebrates. If the Last Supper was a Passover meal there would have been women and children present.

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What you do is, you very quickly and vaguely dab with a damp sponge (well below the ankle, and ignoring everything above) and then a less damp one. Everyone brings their own hanky. The feet washing (also of blokes) always was silly but in an extremely small way in the scale of things.

White is far less compromised than Knestout. But he has let himself be turned into a nervous wreck before he had to face anything important. It would be interesting to know all about the values his VD and his seminary trustees held. Pat Buckleysurvived because free individuals wanted to show lots of friendship from the start. The “devout” of White’s environs have been cold shouldering White just the same as they have been cold shouldering each other.

It’s easy for us layfolks to disaffiliate by missing our annual smarties deadline (to peeve JP II who made it compulsory). Clergy have got to prioritise shrewdly, especially in the non-relating atmosphere of nowadays. White should be given his home, and light duties, and should carry on blogging. The functionaries that lured White into THEIR unrealistic model of priesthood, and the shallow individuals slamming him here today because they uphold the same model, are equally heartless.

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9.18
What a load of twaddle.
Just as well he isnt a doctor or nurse.
If White is so lacking in self-discipline, he shouldn’t be anywhere near people.
White is a traditionalist priest who is averse to the presence of women simply because they are women.
Pat’s blog paints him as a martyr; he is nothing of the kind.

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Fr Mark against gay marriage (and also apparently against legalization of divorce — not to bizarre when you remember that divorce was illegal in Ireland until recently): “If and when the time comes when the laughable decision [anticipating Obergefell] could cause me and other priests, deacons, and bishops, to have to pay fines and/or go to jail, we’ll let you know. For now, the people who need our advocacy and prayers are a) anyone involved in health care who, reasonably, refuses to have anything to do with in vitro fertilization and other similar child abuses, and b) case workers confronted with “married” couples who have no legitimate claim to be considered as potential adoptive parents.”

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The usual legalistic claptrap from the Bishop, why did he not visit Fr Mark to express his concerns? Arrogant Merchant Banker. Fr Mark is telling the truth.

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Fr Mark on the Pope: “Not a competent shepherd. Father Aidan Nichols and Co. do not prove their case for a heresy conviction. But the pope has shown himself incompetent to govern the Church. That’s the reality we have lived with for some time now.”

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The truth is revolting, but the truth will set us free – not the truth about mismanagement of funds but the other truth or half truths whatever they may be.

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The church will create a whole generation of Bishop Buckleys if it’s not careful. It definitely feels beyond tipping point to a split which will no doubt be phrased in theological terms.

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JC, PAT! 😲
Do you know where you’re at, at all at all. 😕
White is an extreme, right-wing nutjob, who should, frankly, never have been ordained for his doctrinal inflexibility, and for his moral extremism. He would regard you, and homosexual relationships. with moral anathema. And rightly so.
Didn’t you learn ANYTHING at all from your brief flirtation with Patricia McKeever, and CTS?
Pat, are you really so desperate for revenge on a church which , in my opinion, rightly gave you the order of the boot for your petulant and childish rebellion?

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I enjoy the British sidesaddle queens too, Bp Pat. A further instalment on JPL must be due soon.

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You are right, the pair that split their paltry 4 million are the light hearted analogy, while the “Good” run off with thousands of billions of ordinary folks’ NON donated.

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Yes 12;23. I agree. The craic is much better when the blog sticks with mainly Irish subjects with a bit of uk stuff thrown in.
Also greater censorship of those whose venom and bile turned lots of great contributors away.

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“the restoration of your priestly faculties . . . will be dependent on your taking down your blog.”
In the past, ‘blog’ would substitute for ‘pants.’

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When is Captain Underpants starting in Mullagh? That car crash would make a brilliant reality TV show, leaving Fr Ted in the shade. The underpants collection is a priest thing, you wouldn’t understand.

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How or why is it possible for someone to be dismissed by the SJs as unsuitable to be a novice, yet be judged suitable to be a PP?

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The Captain’s appointment takes effect from 12 September. Watch out for huge articulated removal trucks negotiating the boreens of Mullagh as the big keks transfer gets underway.

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Late entry to the clerical nickname compendium/glossary.
Paul Prior, incoming PP Mullagh, ex-nSJ, and ex-director of formation X 2, aka Captain Underpants, the Captain, Paulette, Paula, the Pryer.

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Perhaps they should publish the “public report” on McCarrick. They said they would do the same with the late shuntyard captain, Keith O’Brien, but +Annie Walker just ended up announcing “the Vatican is finished with Cardinal O’Brien.” And that was that.

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This Fr White may well have had some tough, but right, things to say about bishops and their coverup, and the McCarrick abuse and still awaited report. However, I intuit that there may be more to this story than that and a bishop who does not like the truth being told by one of his priests. Between the lines, I sense that Fr White has a rather hard line, culture wars sense of his priesthood, and probably has been preaching a pretty rigorous line about anything that touches on morality, sexuality, life issues etc. A few of the excerpts from his blog about in vitro fertilisation, the issue of marriage and remarriage, the matter of sexuality etc., all these seem to be on the usually autistic black and white hard line spectrum exhibited by these moral culture wars warriors. So, maybe his bishop has decided that Fr White lacks the pastoral skills and sensitivities to minister the Gospel to people in a way that encourages and loves them, rather than whacking them over the head with the full rigour of moral teaching and making them feel guilty all the time ? I bet there is something of that in there in the bishop’s decision to move Fr White on, and a lot about Fr White digging in his heels and being intransigent and awkward. There are always many sides to a story.

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10:15 am

If what you say is the case, does that mean those clerics who hold black and white hard line views should also be told to move on? What’s the teaching of the Church on morality, sexuality and life issues- is Fr. White teaching a morality not in accordance with the teaching of the Catholic Church?

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10.25
No. NO. NO!
They are NOT the teachings of ‘the Church’; they are the musings of a few old men IN the Church.
Jeez! Will people EVER learn?😕

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If only Fr. White had kept his mouth shut , his head down and not criticized the clerical clubs upper echelons he’d have prospered. You can’t call him a moral coward, like most of them.

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4:15pm

That may be the case.
However most of the laity of the Rcc consider the Catechism of the Catholic Church still the official teaching. Most people are too busy, earning their livelihoods, rearing their children and paying their mortgages, etc, to be concerned with theology or theological advances.

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4.33
Most lay Catholics have never looked at the cover of the CCC, let alone what is inside it. And most couldn’t care less what was.
The days of nanny Church setting moral boundaries for her charges ( telling them what’s what, and what is acceptable and what is not) began to decline with free state education and growing entry into third level study.

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A@ 4:45: You make a very pertinent point about education and unfettered reasoning diminishing the former pervasive stultifying shackles of the RCC. Third level education has especially been a major factor, ……except in the seminary systems of “training” clerics.
Mind you there’s many who would not class that as tertiary education at all.
MMM

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I don’t know what 10:26 is talking about, the sidesaddle was invented by a disabled English huntsman to enable him to hunt the hounds.

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Women traditionally rode side-saddle on horses to protect their modesty. Throwing their legs over either side was seen as inappropriate and unladylike.

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4:45
I have no idea how many lay Catholics have looked at the cover of the CCC. Most practicing Catholics look to the Vatican, particularly the Pope, for leadership. The Vatican has the CCC on its website as official teaching. It is also widely referenced to as official Catholic teaching.Maybe the Vatican is being duplicitous considering what Martels book revealed.
There’s far more to Catholicism than morality. And, maybe their are too many wannabe popes amongst the clergy.

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My mother told me that on the day that I was born the nurse said her, whilst handing me over: “Ohh dear, I’m afraid you’ve got your hands well and truly full there, luvvy. He is going to be a right little live wire.”
… Was she right lol?
Thank you for your very kind and sensible words, Bishop Pat.
You are a light which shines in the darkness x

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Classic bishop trick of punishing a priest by sending him to the toughest, farthest-flung assignment in a diocese. Ring any bells, Pat?
Parishes and assignments are used as patronage to reward favourites and to punish those out of favour with the bishop.

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11.59: Just in for a lunchtime break…and I find this piece of utter crap. What an inane comment. I just wonder what world you and many like you on this blog live in? It’s not a REAL WORLD of work, responsibilities, commitment to others, time keeping at office…etc…You get my drift, you gombeen. Whoever you are, get out from behind your lace curtains and up off your lazy arse and engage in something meaningful.

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Lol this comment might even be from Captain Underpants himself.
You keep going, love, 12:49 loves to be all aflutter.

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1:45
You think Fr. White is a nutter for questioning and criticizing Catholic leadership particularly relating to child abuse and the promotion of corrupt hierarchs. Are you a corrupt bishop?
Get real.

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3.20

Read more widely about White. He’s a traditionalist Roman Catholic priest with a moral and liturgical line in inflexibility that makes steel look like plastic.

White is right up there with Michael Voris and the rest.

White is a mysogynist, and moral legalist.

If you didn’t suffer with scruples before a visit to White, you would afterwards.

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4:20 – Just what I thought. And, I bet you, a lot of his dealings with the bishop will be over that inflexibility and moral arrogance rather than what he is claiming himself it is about. The guy is trouble, he is troubled, and he is troublesome. I don’t blame the bishop for sidelining him.

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It’s sad to a priest hounded out by Carrick secretary now Bishop. You ask yourself what’s point of joining a priesthood or thinking of becoming a priest if any man who aspire or dream of becoming a priest see this news.

There are number of priests especially in the states who have been kicked out by their Bishops even at last munute but not here in Ireland except for Pat Buckley which I only know of one to date.

Most bishops don’t like the truth re abuses and many others such as cover ups. Cardinal Dolan for one.

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4.35
Of couse they are, substantially. But since they relate to one man, White, they must be considered in the round.
Today’s blog tells only one tiny aspect of White’s biography.
If you were to engage White, you’d want a rounded picture of him, wouldn’t you?

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Check out the Newry Team. Two Polish included and both very strange men. Also check out Fr Tony Corr the campest vocations director in the whole of Ireland.

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4:58 pm
White was ordained in 2003 and blogging since 2008, while running two parishes, so his views must have been well known. Criticizing and questioning the hierarchy, as White did, following the summer of shame in the USA church in 2018, is a major clerical No No.

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Any further word on this bonnie wee laddie who has the wee Scotties all a flooter and a flutter? Would he be a blondie wee laddie? How is The Inspector’s investigation going? I’m sure he will thoroughly inspect every crevice, cranny and crack with his big magnifying glass.

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I was shown his picture the other day, he is a wee looker but not a blondie. His social media is all down apart from his Instagram which is now private…trying to hide?

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Paul Laverty and Colm Docherty, Seminarians from
Paisley – investigation complete. Good lads and they will make excellent Priests.

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Bishop Boyce appointed him to Newry. I agree Fr. Des has moved a lot in a short space of time but that doesn’t say there is anything sinister.

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It seems Fr Desmond took time out then was at Ballynahinch, then Dromore and very quickly to Newry. All in quick succession. What’s the story Pat.

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Boyce annoyed the Dromore clergy. Firstly, because of his own background and then arranging the most unsuitable characters on the chess board in Dromore Diocese. Des has loads of health problems, granted, but there are more sad issues to emerge.

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It’s interesting that Pat chose this article for his blog. He did so because of the issue on which this priest is being harassed – whistle blowing – for which he deserves our admiration. The reality of sexual abuse and its cover up by senior prelates is morally repugnant at all levels. Yet, further insights into Fr. White’s life show him to be ultra conservative on many issues which do not conform with Pats! In fact, they are diametrically opposed on almost every moral and theological belief. I’ve no doubt that very soon this “hero priest” whistle blower will be the focus of damning, nasty, venomous judgment and personalised attacks because of his conservatism. A strange world indeed on this blog!!

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7:44

Is White a “hero priest” whistleblower ? I don’t think so.
Maybe White is being made an example of to other priests.
The issue is one of JUSTICE regardless of his conservatism.

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8.14: I understand your point. Fr. White is morally right to be a whistle blower. It us about true justice. My point is that thosevl who are feted on this blog as “models” of virtue are quickly denigrated, particularly if their religious views are of a conservative nature. Pat builds up but very often he demolishes the same people!

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Inspector Taggart, **** ******** is in fact the seminarian for Paisley and the rampant homo of Scotland. Please look into him and report back to us on what else you know. He is in residence with Keenan as we speak.

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+Pat. This update refers to Fr John Sweeney from Archdiocese of Glasgow. The Diocese did a deal with the Newspapers, so interesting that the article doesn’t mention him being a suspended Priest.
A SCHOOL chaplain is to stand trial accused of having sex with a girl.
John Sweeney, 45, allegedly committed the offences between September 2016 and June 2017.
Sweeney is also accused of kissing and cuddling the girl, who was under 18, as well as sending her naked pictures of himself.
The charge states Sweeney was chaplain at a secondary school in Glasgow where the girl was a pupil. It claims Sweeney met her outside school and took her to various locations in his car.
He is charged with repeatedly engaging in sexual activity with the schoolgirl while in a position of trust. It is also alleged the girl was supplied with alcohol and asked about her sexual history by Sweeney. Sweeney faces a separate charge of behaving in a threatening or abusive manner at a parish house in the city.
The charge claims Sweeney swore, uttered sectarian remarks as well as repeatedly make a threatening gesture in October 2016.
Sweeney pleaded not guilty on Friday during a hearing at Glasgow Sheriff Court.
A trial has been set for March next year by Sheriff Andrew Cubie.
Sweeney, of the city’s Royston, was granted bail meantime.

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Pat/Inspector Taggart…. there are 2 Scottie lads preparing to release more info about the Scottish rampant. Any info on this?

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Like so many other former Catholic Clergymen I want to commend you for your Christ like courage. . I left for many reasons, but you are staying for right ones. Keep up the great work
Jesus said He was the truth – you are merely (ahem) echoing his words today and Pow you get ejected by your overseer. What a shame, but it is in step with the feudal vision of the catholic church the bishops continue to espouse. Damned be Francis’ field hospital model.
Anyway, illigitimi non coroubundum young man.- they are simply not worth it. You are worth so much more! Preach the word in season and out of season.
Mike

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