Louisiana priest who desecrated altar charged with vandalism
New Orleans, La., Mar 22, 2021 / 07:01 pm MT (CNA).- A priest of the Archdiocese of New Orleans arrested last year along with two women after filming a pornographic video on a parish church altar has been charged with vandalism.
Fr. Travis Clark, 37, along with Mindy Dixon, 41, and Melissa Cheng, 28, were charged March 18 with felony vandalism by the local district attorney.
Each face up to two years imprisonment if found guilty.
On Sept. 30, 2020, Fr. Clark, recently the pastor of Ss. Peter and Paul parish in Pearl River, 40 miles northeast of New Orleans, was discovered filming himself in sex acts with Dixon and Cheng on the altar of the parish church.
A local resident told police they noticed the lights were on in the church and looked through the windows, discovering the three. One of the women is reported to be a self-avowed satanist.
Fr. Clark was arrested on an obscenity charge Oct. 1, and was released from jail on a $25,000 bond.
He was also removed from priestly ministry Oct. 1.
Sarah McDonald, communications director at the New Orleans archdiocese, told CNA last year that Fr. Clark been asked to “seek laicization immediately.” If he does not request dismissal from the clerical state, he could face the penalty as the result of a canonical trial.
Archbishop Gregory Aymond of New Orleans performed a penitential rite required for continued use of the church for sacramental purposes Oct. 10, and consecrated a new altar.
Fr. Clark was ordained a priest in 2013.
A seminary professor told CNA in October that Fr. Clark had been a poor student who made little effort, which should have been a red flag.
Chistopher Baglow, a theologian who taught Fr. Clark in seminary, told CNA that he believes the priest’s misdeeds point to a problem with seminary evaluation.
In the seminary, nothing about Fr. Clark’s behavior suggested that the priest would later do the things of which he is accused, Baglow said. But he did recall concerns about the seminarian.
The theologian remembered Fr. Clark for being a student who didn’t participate in class, was negligent of assignments, and seemed often “to be flying under the radar.”
“It was clear he wasn’t trying, and some made it known,” Baglow said. “It was often countered that pastoral gifts and holiness do not require great theological genius, and the concern was expressed by some colleagues that we should avoid focusing too much on academics.”
But Baglow said his concern about Fr. Clark, or other students who gave evidence of not trying, was not about academics, but character.
Baglow said he does not expect academic excellence from all students. But he does believe seminaries should expect effort, and evidence of virtue, in students.
“Tolerating mediocrity in a man allows tolerance for other kinds of unacceptable things.”
“Mediocrity can be a cover for other problems — sometimes very serious problems,” Baglow said.
Condoning “mediocrity” in the evaluation of seminarians, the theologian said, lowers the Church’s standards in the calibre of men who become priests. The Church should accept men for priesthood who want to be excellent academically, spiritually, pastorally, and morally, Baglow told CNA.
The theologian told CNA that in his view “the system isn’t broken, it’s just missing a part.”
He urged that seminaries develop committees of “well-formed knowledgeable Catholic lay people who are part of vocation evaluation and discernment.”
Such committees would give recommendations about the suitability of candidates for orders independent of seminary staff or faculty, Baglow said, giving bishops the benefit of perspective and judgement outside the clerical and ecclesiastical milieu.
I cannot comprehend how a priest descreates an altar by having sex on it.
Such a priest must be either very ill or very evil – or perhaps a mixture of both.
However, in New Orleans, we see how a bishop should cope with such a blasphemy.
Archbishop Aymond had the altar destroyed and held a penitential ceremony for the blasphemy.
Then, a new altar was installed and blessed by the archbishop.
BUT KILDORREY AND CREAN:
In Kildorrery in the diocese of Cloyne in Ireland, the sexual desecration of an altar was handled in a thick and stupid way by a thick Kerry man bishop, Crean.
Crean convinced himself the altar sex didnt happen.
He further convinced himself that the photos of the homosexual altar sex was “photoshopped”.
And he believed poor Father Lomasney, a long term alcoholic and active homosexualist, who denied the incident.
A further complication of the Kildorrery incident is the allegation that a seminarian was the other party involved with Lomasney?
Crean knows tge name of the seminarian and the seminarian’s bishop has also been informed.
Rome is also involved.