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Sunday, August 31, 2014

Follow up on priest who refused to hear confession

By Connecticut Catholic Corner


On July 5th I wrote about an incident I had with a priest who refused to hear my confession because he felt placing envelopes on the pews was more important.  

****Please read the whole story HERE.

Since that post I have gotten a lot of email asking me if the Bishop responded or did anything.  So here is an update of all that has happened since July 5th…. 

OK… so after that, I went to confession in another town with a wonderful Capuchin priest who apologized to me on behalf of the angry priest, said the priest should not have behaved that way BUT reminded me we are all human, make mistakes and are in need of forgiveness.

I forgave “Fr.S” for refusing to hear my confession and on the suggestion of the Capuchin priest, began praying for Fr. S whenever I thought of him –especially if I was feeling bitter toward him.

Inside a week I was completely over it.  I had offered it up to Jesus and decided to simply pray for Fr. S as often as I thought of him and I thanked God for Fr. S because he answered the call to the priesthood.  As I mentioned in the original post I had written to Fr. S’s Bishop telling him about the incident and figured if the Bishop had a word with Fr. S it would all be over by now.

So a few weeks later I went to Mass at Fr. S’s parish.  I didn’t think he would remember me, but he did.  As soon as he noticed me sitting in the pew, he made his way over to me.  

Father skipped the greetings and cut right to the chase.

Fr. S:  “Are you still mad at me or have you forgiven me?”

Me: “I forgave you weeks ago Father.”

Fr. S: “Good, that is all that matters.”

And Father walked away not once apologizing to me.  I took a deep breath and offered it up to Jesus all during Mass.

A month later, once more at one of Fr. S’s Masses, Father approached me again.

“Can we talk after Mass?” he asked.

“Sure.” I said completely baffled as to why this priest would want to talk to me.  I thought everything was over and done with.

I was wrong.

After Mass I remained in my pew as the parish emptied.  Father finished shaking hands with people and asked me to wait while he removed his vestments.  Once he returned he surprised me again, by saying “Let’s go to my office.”

Now I was really baffled…why would this priest need to talk to me in his office?

We left the church and walked across the parking lot to the rectory house not saying a single word.  He led the way to his office closing all the doors once we were inside (there were 3) and stood over me in a peculiar manner- like he wanted to intimidate me.  Just staring at me- I think he was expecting me to cower.  Honestly... That is the impression I got.  

Other women will probably know what I am talking about if they've ever met a man or had a boss who thought his mere size and authority could cower a woman.  It's a thing some men do and women hate it.  

Had he closed all those doors to intimidate me?  To keep anyone from possibly hearing what was about to go down?

Unfortunately for this priest I am not a woman who cowers. 

I stared right back at him wondering if I was in some bizarre dream. I simply couldn't figure out his behavior, his asking me to his office, closing all those doors like we were in a bank vault or his staring at me like he was sizing me up!  

It was weird and I was wishing very much I had not agreed to talk with him after Mass.  I just wanted to get home and forget about this very strange priest.

Then his face changed and I could see the anger.  This man was angry.

“So, you wrote to my Bishop about me?”  He said leaning across his desk staring me down.

“Yes.”

“What happened between us was between us and should not have involved the Bishop.”  He said.

I got ticked.  I’ve got a short fuse with people (even priests) who attempt to bully me and this priest was doing just that.

“No it wasn’t.  When a priest refuses someone the Sacraments without valid reason it is something his Bishop should know about.”

"You shouldn't have brought the Bishop into this." He insisted.

"You and I and the Bishop all know you were wrong to refuse me the Sacrament of Confession when you had 45 minutes before Mass.  You have to know the Sacraments are more important than placing envelopes on pews."

"I was making up for someone else's lack..."

I interrupted him here... "Yes, I know already.  Someone else was supposed to put the envelopes on the pews and they didn't.  That has nothing to do with your priorities as a priest and you know it Father."

He knew it, but he refused to acknowledge that he did anything wrong.

"There were other witnesses there..."  He let that dangle as if the witnesses would back him up.

"Yes Father and I know one of them very well."

We exchanged more words (I won't give all the details but to be clear, this priest was MAD and he wasn't holding back) mostly him accusing me of being unfair to him by telling the Bishop what happened.  On and on and on- back and forth and back and forth until I think he realized I wouldn’t be intimidated and then (I SWEAR TO YOU) he changed tactics.  I could see it in his face- it was like flicking a light switch.

“Well…I just wanted us to clear the air and apologize.”  He smiled at me then, but it didn't reach his eyes.  His eyes were still glaring at me from across his desk.

I noticed the “us” and “apologize” was lacking any apology from him to me.  After all, he is the one who was in the wrong for refusing to hear my confession.  All I did was walk out and tell the Bishop.  I honestly don’t see anything I need to apologize for.  And I wasn't really buying his version of an apology- I think the Bishop told him to apologize to me and Fr. S was just about choking on the words.

“I thought we had already cleared the air weeks ago.”  I said and I truly believed we had.

Silence.

He just kept sitting there staring at me across his massive oak desk.

He STILL wasn’t done with me.  

We’ve now been in his office for TWENTY MINUTES going back and forth over what I thought was old news and forgiven weeks ago.  When I went to Mass that day I had no hard feelings toward this priest.  I was completely over the whole thing.  I truly had forgiven him and moved on.
  
He clearly wasn’t having it.

He changed tactics again.  This time he was trying to guilt trip me by telling me I was evil.  I kid you not.

“So you came to me for Confession and do you know what happened?”

“Yes, nothing because you refused to hear my Confession.”

“No.  Evil entered you!”  He said leaning toward me across his desk.

“What?!”  I thought my ears were playing tricks on me.  I couldn't - I honestly could NOT believe what he was saying to me.  It was crazy!  I was beginning to think HE was crazy.  I'm still not sure that he isn't crazy!

“You came for Confession, you were supposed to be humble and seeking forgiveness and the moment you did not hear what you wanted you got angry and evil entered into you!”

At this point I honestly almost laughed but he was completely serious and VERY angry.

“Father it was you who was angry that day, I was merely shocked and hurt at your refusal to hear my confession.  My anger came hours later when the shock began to wear off.”

At that he leaned back in his high back desk chair and stared at me again.

I waited, but was nearing the end of my tolerance for this priest.

His tactic changed again.

“Well, I just want you to know that I don’t hold any hard feelings toward you.”

Seriously… he believes that HE was the victim in this situation?

That was it.  I was DONE.  Biting my tongue to keep from saying anything I would regret I got up to end this verbal battle.

“Good to know, are we finished Father?”  I asked looking at him across his desk.

“I guess we are at a stalemate then.”  He said to me.

I turned my back on him and walked to the door.

“If that is how you wish to see it…” and I walked out with him right on my heels.  In complete silence we walked down the hall to the front door.  I left without so much as a goodbye between us.

So once again, I leave Fr. S feeling completely shocked and stunned by this priest.

I have never met a priest with such anger and hostility.

And apparently it isn’t just me.

I kept quiet about it for a week while I prayed about it and wondered if I should just let it go, or let the Bishop know things didn’t go so well.  I decided to seek a second opinion from a trusted Catholic friend who didn’t know the priest any better than I had until this happened.  

Unfortunately she herself had witnessed him yelling at an elderly volunteer woman who was cleaning the welcome mat at the parish office by beating it on the stairs.  He shouted out his office window at her to “STOP THAT and do it somewhere else” then slammed the window closed.

I am glad I didn’t see him talk to her like that because I would not have been able to keep silent.  

So it isn’t just me who has been on the receiving end of his anger.  At this point, I have decided to do nothing else except pray for him.  He’s got serious issues and lots of anger.  Should he and I have any future problems I will without hesitation write to the Bishop again.

But from what I know now… I imagine the Bishop will be hearing from other people about Fr. S very soon- once they get over his intimidation.

I am very interested in hearing how my readers would have handled this situation.

Please leave your comments or drop me an email.

Have you ever had anything like this happen to you?  What did you do?



In Christ,

Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner


P.S. And to those of you who would suggest I simply never go back to that parish... well I have friends there and sometimes because of all the "yoked" parishes around here, his parish Mass times are better than others.  Besides, I am not a woman to cower or run away because of one wayward priest.  Like him or not, the Sacraments are still valid because he is a Catholic priest.   I will never again go to him for Confession- I know that for sure- but Mass is a different story.






25 comments:

Restore-DC-Catholicism said...

Do not be silent and passive and just "let it go". Knowing what you do now, I think you have a serious moral obligation to see this matter through. If you gave your account over this blog, why not before the bishop? Please do so asap. My two-cents worth.

TTC said...

Julie,

Nicely done. May God Bless your faithfulness and perseverance.

Yes, similar things have happened to me and countless others, numerous times with numerous priests.

It's called bullying and I would absolutely send a followup letter to the Bishop.


Terry Carroll said...

I second the previous two comments. Send this "follow up" blog posting to the bishop.

Yes, it is good, even essential, to continue to pray for Fr. S but, since you informed the bishop in the first place, it's only right to write and thank him for having heard you but also to bring him up to date. Fr S is likely, if asked, to tell his bishop that you both met and give an entirely different "spin" to how this was all "resolved."

You are most likely not the only one who has had a bad experience with Fr. S, but you might be the first to have had the courage to speak to his bishop. Fr. S hasn't exactly "repented" from what you report here!

M. Prodigal said...

I suggest you NOT ever try to go to confession to him again! Yes, I have known priests who refuse to do their duty and hear a confession, even during posted confession times. That is SIN for them! Once my son needed to go to confession (he could not receive Holy Communion until he did) and it was a posted confession time but Father refused so he could go to a Serra Club meeting. And he chewed me out for asking! My former parish had a homosexual priest who hated confessions and hired the retired priests to hear them. He would always refuse during the week and tell people to come back on Saturday (when the retired priest would be there).

Thanks be to God, I now belong to a parish with confessions every single weekday. THAT is how it should be! Not a half an hour on Saturday afternoon...no, daily. Dear priests, please be faithful to your Ordination. You were not ordained to put things in pews or attend meetings--those things are not important. Hearing confession is your duty before God.

Lee Gilbert said...

For one incident you write the bishop?

Restore-DC-Catholicism said...

Mr. Gilbert, in light of the entire story, why do you question her actions?

Connecticut Catholic Corner said...

Thank you all for sharing your opinions with me on this situation.

I will seriously consider another letter to the Bishop to let him know how "Father S" treated me once he knew I had written the Bishop.

----

To Lee Gilbert, the "one incident" was a big one in my opinion. Suppose Father S denied a person in mortal sin Confession and that person died? Father S had no idea what sins I needed to Confess, he simply knew I was there at the proper time for Confession and he refused. A priest who denies the Sacraments to someone without a valid reason IS something a Bishop should know about. What is more important than the Sacraments - pink envelopes on the pews?

In Christ,

Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner

bleusmon said...

Julie, I am sorry you ran into this man who behaves more like a human buzz saw than a priest.

However, quite apart from his terrible behavior which assuredly warrants a complaint, I do question your complaint about his refusal to hear your confession outside the posted times for the Sacrament. No priest is obligated to stop what he's doing to hear an impromptu confession, although most will if there is time to fit it in to their other activities.

It has always been the case that if Father says he can't right now, we respectfully attempt to make arrangements elsewhere if our need remains. Of course, if one is on mortal sin, that can be shared with Father. If in his prudential judgment he lacks time to do what needs to be done, he will say so.

While I agree that Confession is of a higher order than menial tasks, the fact remains it is Father's call, and not ours. Only he knows the situation he faces; I can understand that he may have been the only one there who could get envelopes out before Mass, and the consequences of failing to do so would have been very disruptive to other related needs.

BTW, I've been in the situation asking for Confession from a visiting priest at a local parish after weekday Mass, where I was accosted by the sacristan about waiting afterwards for Father to ask it of him. He challenged our right to ask, and I had to educate him that I was doing so while prepared to accept it if Father needed to return to the seminary where other duties awaited him. I was in mortal sin that day, but I still would have accepted Father's response if it had to be in the negative (Father agreed; we did it on the parking lot).

To claim a priest MUST drop his other obligations outside the scheduled times for Confession is simply untrue. As an act of charity most do, but it is not for you or me to judge that, correct?

You don't say if the Bishop responded to you, so I assume he did not. We need to be careful not to assume the bishop agreed with you, because bishops leave such matters to the prudential judgment of their pastors and associates. However, he may have dressed down this priest about his attitude if you had reported that, which I'm thinking you probably did.

Let me be clear that I do think you are on solid ground regarding his lack of overall charity towards you. it would appear he has serious problems, and prayer for him is indicated, as it is for all priests subject to attack you and I normally do not experience.

Connecticut Catholic Corner said...

Bleusmon you clearly didn't read the original post. I went to the SCHEDULED Confession time (3-3:45 pm).

The priest heard ONE person's confession and REFUSED EVERYONE ELSE because someone was supposed to put pink envelopes on the pews and they didn't. He was angry that day too.

So the priest decided putting the envelopes on the pews was a priority over the Sacrament of Confession.

I certainly would NOT have written to the Bishop if the situation had been any different.

Please read the original post about what happened on back in July to begin all of this.


In Christ,

Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner


Lee Gilbert said...

Julie, I read the original post alright, and it still amazes me that you wrote the bishop over a one-off incident. You evidently have never had a bad day, made a bad decision or failed even once in a serious obligation, or even by your bad example, failure to pray, fast and do penance put an immortal soul in danger by your negligence. It is good to know that in your mortally serious obligations as a lay person you are totally on top of your game! At least SOMEONE has it altogether.

Whatever may be the failings of this priest- and I am sure you will keep us informed- I doubt very much that you have come close or will ever come close to making the sort of sacrifices he has made to be a priest. You don't come alongside him and ask your fellow parishioners or the world at large to pray for him, but rather you detail his failings. If any one of your readers knows the name of this priest, this is detraction. If I knew the name of your bishop and your full name and address I would write to your bishop and ask him to give you a direct order to stop blogging. Your idea of a Catholic blog is a menace to this priest, to the Church and to yourself. That is, I would write to your bishop in this fashion if I thought you would obey him, but since I don't think you would obey him since you operate on higher principles than the Gospel, I would not want to put you in danger by presenting you with such a very clear and overwhelming temptation to disobedience and further righteous indignation to be detailed in full on your blog.

I have, by the way, written to my bishop over this very issue concerning a pastor who over a period of weeks left an overhang of ten unconfessed persons without expanding the schedule or offering to hear their confessions after Mass. In other words, he had and has a POLICY of negligence, but as I recall your priest offered to hear your confession after Mas that day- though this recollection may be incorrect.

Since you are so greatly concerned for the salvation of souls, please ratchet down your scandal detector since it is outrageously super-sensitive at the moment. The resulting chirps, beeps and squeaks are distracting and unhelpful to everyone, including your readers, the priest, his bishop and yourself most of all. If you are going to strike a prophetic stance, for the love of God take on some ENTRENChED evil rather than the foibles of priests.

Connecticut Catholic Corner said...

HAHAHAHAAHAA! You are too funny Lee Gilbert. No Bishop can tell a lay person to "stop blogging" and if you were any kind of Catholic you would know it.
Also, it was the Bishop who clearly went to the priest and told him to knock it off and apologize. The priest was corrected by the Bishop, not me. :)

In Christ,

Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

I'm curious as to whether this is a "progressive priest." I had an experience in a Detroit suburb with a priest who omitted the Creed at Sunday Mass. Other things in the Mass also indicated a less than orthodox style. I made a friendly overture after Mass praising what I could then said, "but Father, you shouldn't omit the Creed." At that point he leaned over and said in my ear, "You're full of it, honey!" and stomped off giving me the finger over his shoulder.

I think that type of immature behavior and anger indicates a real problem. And the whole cornering you in his office is just bizarre. I think you were justified in writing to the bishop. You've preserved the priest's anonymity here so I see no problem with the post. Obviously the priest you later went to Confession to thought the priest was wrong since he apologized for him. I'd say keep praying for him and for those who make snide comments.

Lee Gilbert said...

Well Julie, your amusement is very understandable given your ethos: "Distance from me is the measure of absurdity." Similarly, you are the measure of what is truly Catholic. As pastor of your soul and of his entire diocese, certainly the bishop can ask you, even command you not to to use the word Catholic in the tile of your blog. I do know that a bishop has the right to oversee the use of the word Catholic. I wonder if you would be so good as to indicate the name of your diocese so that I can apprise your bishop of your activities and express the wish that you be commanded not to use the word Catholic in the title of your blog? This would be a very great help to the Church, the priesthood and you, for that matter.

TTC said...



Lee,

The Bishop has zero authority to tell a Catholic in good standing to stop calling themselves a Catholic - hence - Massachusetts Catholic, Connecticut Catholic, Catholic mother, Catholic grandmother - is much different than using Catholic, thus: Massachusetts Catholic bookstore.

Perhaps this would be a good time to stop posting information that makes clear your level of knowledge on Catholicism is lacking substane.

Connecticut Catholic Corner said...

Hi Mary Ann Kreitzer, welcome!

I can't really say he is progressive - if he is I haven't seen it.


--------

Lee, my Bishop already knows about this blog- its because of my blog that I was asked by the dioceses to come in and help them create their own blog. I am not a stranger to my Bishop- who is a wonderful Bishop by the way.

I have not named the priest or the parish - only my personal experiences which I am free to do.
I am just as able as any other Catholic blogger (have you seen the number of Catholic blogs out there?) to keep on blogging.

If you don't like it, don't read my blog.


In Christ,

Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner

Lee Gilbert said...

Dear Julie, Not long ago I read the comment of a woman who had been thinking about joining the Church, but drew back because of the way Catholics speak to and about one another on the internet. We know from Scripture that the way Christians spoke to and about one another in the early Church was a strong motive for conversion: "Look at the Christians, see how they love one another." It does make a difference, and should make a difference, for after all God is love. If He is not present in our writing and in our conversations to and about one another, what evidence is there that He is present in us or among us at all? In that light I find this whole thread from beginning to end completely sickening- including my part in it. What are we about exactly? How does this- any of it- further the cause of Christ? Make no mistake, I could- and there is a temptation to do so- lay out my credentials as a well-educated Catholic in sufficiently convincing fashion as well as to supply here and now the draft of a letter regarding all this business to all three bishops in Connecticut and pursue it it to the nth degree, but to what end? It is pride from beginning to end and it doesn't take a saint to see it. As for what bishops can or cannot command, anyone who has the slightest notion of the place a bishop plays in one's life as a Catholic does not need a command, but only an indication of what line of conduct to pursue in one's apostolate. "Do nothing without the the bishop," says St. Ignatius of Antioch. Perhaps your bishop is fully cognizant about the sort of thing you are writing about Catholic life and about one of his priests, but I truly doubt it. What good can come of this for anyone- the priest, you, the diocese, the blogosphere, the Church, potential converts? In any case, I wish you well and have decided that there are better uses of my time and things more pleasing to God than any effort that would put you in bad odor with your bishop. God's peace be with you, Julie!

Connecticut Catholic Corner said...

As I already said Lee, my Bishops knows about my blog. I was called to the dioceses office to help them with their blog because of THIS blog.
My Bishop did not correct me for anything I have said or done, yet he did take that parish priest to task for refusing me the Sacrament of Confession.
That should tell you something.

In Christ,

Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner

Connecticut Catholic Corner said...

Correction: that should be "Bishop" not "BishopS".

Sorry for the typo.

Consolamini said...

I am not so sure you are over it, had forgiven him, or have yet to forgive him A careful reading of your account indicates that you still have a tremendous amount of anger and resentment towards this priest. I am not saying that it isn't justified, only that I think you are still holding on to it and will hold on to it as long as you have a "need" to tell the story. I will pray for you

Restore-DC-Catholicism said...

Julie, Consolamini has trolled my blog a number of times, trying via guilt trips, to shut me up too. I'd pay him/her no attention.

susan said...

Consolamini is a MALOR-league troll, and probably comments also under the pseudonym "Lee Gilbert".

:)

Orbitgal 54 said...

This is not bullying in my opinion. I had a similar experience with a priest and it was the worst experience I have ever had. It looks to me like this priest could be very dangerous. He probably has already sized you up, at the first couple of times he has meet you. The incident with the confessional, most likely was a set up from the beginning. He is trying to get involved with you, on a personal basis. His bishop already knows he has issues, but he most likely has issues with himself and is allowing this behavior to continue. If the bishop told him to knock it off, do you think he would have gotten you off by himself and engaged with you? No, he would be leaving you alone. I ended up leaving the Catholic church in this town completely, because of the gas-lighting that went on, when I turned the predator into the Bishop. They will circle the wagons around the priest, not you. In the end, you will be the loser. So, my suggestion to you if you love the community you are in, stay, but do NOT be alone with him ever again. Stay as far away as you can. If he does anything to hurt you, call the police. Do not trust the Bishop or any other priest. Trust them at your own risk, interact with them to induce immediate nausea. Fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me... They do not want strong women in the church. Get what you need for your own spirituality, and leave the rest behind.

Sensei Mitch said...

From the description of Fr. S's behaviour and demeanour I am wondering if "Lee Gilbert" is his pen name!! For someone with "better uses of my time" he sure has a lot to say...

As for your post, all I have to say is well done. I have often said to my Priest, Father your job is to watch after your flock, our job is to watch after you! To many people place their priests above reproach. While I am always respectful, our priests are still men. They are men with a vocation which as you explained one not to be taken lightly.

But my favorite art of your post was the PS, it reminded me that despite some of the sickening progressive ideas some clergy try to peddle, it is still important to go to Church and not let them drive us away.

Thank you for the food for thought.

Charles Feicht said...

Sounds to me like the priest is demonized. This is not trivial. He is a spiritual threat. Warn others. Petition the Bishop.
Read about the St Benedict medal, a powerful sacramental. Have it blessed, by a good priest, preferably in Latin, and wear it. Say the Rosary and St Michael the Archangel prayer daily. God will protect you.

jzreparatrix said...

Julie! I know this is years after the incident, but did it occur to you that this priest is in psychological Difficulties? YES you should have followed up with the Bishop, but it should have indicated some concern for the priest. The bizarre interaction and shifts in mood mean the man needs help.

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