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.
“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.
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?
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.
Link to original post: http://connecticutcatholiccorner.blogspot.com/2014/07/priest-refuses-sacrament-of-confession.html