Twitter with its space limitations and Church Militant with its comments closed on all things SSPX has prompted me to write this post in response to a tweet from Church Militant requesting me to "tell us where we're wrong".
Full disclosure, I am a paid subscriber to Church Militant and think they do great work. I have defended them and Michael Voris numerous times over the years because I believe in the work they do -HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE.
I don't always agree with them 100%, but pretty close. When I disagree, I say so - HERE and HERE and HERE for example. Today is another one of those times.
It all started here (https://twitter.com/cathfamilynews/status/1154551586607095808) with an article shared by Catholic Family News responding to a Church Militant article entitled "Is the SSPX sheltering a Sexual Predator?"
After watching Christine Niles headline news report on this and seeing the Catholic Family News' SSPX response to CM's article I tweeted the following...
Church Militant didn't seem to like my response and a bunch of tweets followed leading to me writing this post. 😒
The standard is my main issue with the articles. So lets back up a bit.
On July 8 of this year, CM wrote an article defending Fr. Eduard Perrone who "has been temporarily restricted from any public ministry due to a credible allegation of abuse of a minor pending the outcome of a Church process".
CM writes: "A priest of the archdiocese of Detroit is categorically denying claims that he abused a minor.
Father Eduard Perrone, longtime pastor of Assumption Grotto, with a reputation for orthodoxy and promoting the Traditional liturgy, was temporarily placed on leave following a single allegation the archdiocese has deemed "credible."
"In guidelines published on February 21, Pope Francis lists 21 points by which he recommends all sex abuse investigations should be handled.Now here's the rub, CM does to Fr. James McLucas exactly what they are upset about happening to Fr. Perrone. This is the double standard so many Catholics on social media are seeing-myself included.
Point number 14 states:
The right to defense: the principle of natural and canon law of presumption of innocence must also be safeguarded until the guilt of the accused is proven. Therefore, it is necessary to prevent the lists of the accused being published, even by the dioceses, before the preliminary investigation and the definitive condemnation."
CM's articles on Fr. Perrone show him in a shining light as a wonderful priest, etc, etc, even giving a link to a fund raising campaign to help Perrone. (links below).
Now maybe Perrone is completely innocent.
I hope he is.
But just as possible is that Fr. McLucas is also innocent.
Does Fr. McLucas not have the same right to "presumption of innocence" as Fr. Perrone?
The CM article about Fr. McLucas who is NOT an SSPX priest, but rather "...a diocesan priest who occasionally helps the Society of Saint Pius X", has an entirely different tone than the articles CM wrote about Fr. Perrone.
In these articles you won't see any compliments or links to fund raising for Fr. McLucas. Instead, you will get articles that seem (to me), to convict McLucas of all charges and paint the SSPX as a haven for sex abusers.
This in my opinion, is slanderous- and for the record I don't personally even know anyone who belongs to the SSPX and I've never even seen a SSPX parish. I have no reason to defend them other than this just seems wrong to me.
CM writes: "With stories of the sexual misdeeds and the cover-ups perpetrated by modernist clergy an almost daily occurrence, it is easy to overlook the fact that the indulgence now being shown towards the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) by Church authorities can allow priests suspended from ministry on account of sexual immorality to function under the cover of quasi-legitimacy should they choose to associate themselves with the renegade organization."
"Suspended from his priestly functions by the archdiocese of New York, McLucas turned to the SSPX, with which he was working by October 2016. For a conservative clergyman guilty of sexual misbehavior to go off into a "traditionalist" apostolate of a disobedient or schismatic nature is not unusual, but those doing so have tended to established so-called "independent chapels" operating under no authority but their own."Anyone else notice the snide tone? That is my second issue with CM's reporting on this. Why are they always so nasty to the SSPX?
Church Militant appears to have a real hatred for the SSPX and I honestly don't understand it. The Catholic Church does not share CM's view of the SSPX.
Moving on...Church Militant's second article defending Fr. Perrone is entitled "MORE THAN 50 ALTAR BOYS VOUCH FOR TRADITIONAL DETROIT PRIEST" ! Again, they come charging to his defense like knights on a battlefield.
CM writes: "More than 50 altar servers are vouching for the moral integrity of Detroit's Fr. Eduard Perrone, placed on leave after a single 40-year-old allegation of abuse arising from a "repressed memory." The longtime priest, known for his orthodoxy and promotion of traditional liturgy, as well as his attempts to expose the homosexual priestly network in Detroit, was placed on leave July 5 by the archdiocese of Detroit. It issued a letter explaining his removal the same day, while leaving out any mention that Perrone categorically denies the allegation and maintains his innocence. Since then, 51 men who at one time served as altar boys for Fr. Perrone have signed affidavits testifying to his character."Church Militant's second article on the SSPX is entitled: "SSPX DEFENDS SEXUAL PREDATOR"
CM writes: "In response to James Baresel's July 24 article titled "Is the SSPX Sheltering a Sexual Predator?" published on Church Militant, the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) has issued a response accusing Church Militant of "slanderous" information about the priest in question.
The subject involves Fr. James McLucas, a diocesan priest whom the SSPX admits "occasionally helps the Society of Saint Pius X."
McLucas was sued in 2012 by a young woman, Maureen Nysewander, who alleged he took sexual advantage of her when she was seeking counseling from him for a serious eating disorder and self-esteem problems.
In spite of the SSPX's defense of this priest, McLucas has never denied that he engaged in sexual relations with her."
1) CM has declared Fr. McLucas "a sexual predator"- something they did not do with Fr. Perrone whom the archdiocese claims has a "credible allegation of abuse of a minor" against him.
2) The second articles are full of "allegedly" and "reportedly" stories that always show McLucas in a bad light, while the same "allegedly" and "reportedly" stories in the Perrone articles put the sex abuse victim in the bad light, while Perrone is pure as the driven snow. Again, he might be, but the stories of the two priests are being reported with a double standard. One is automatically presumed innocent, the other automatically presumed guilty.
3) No where in the SSPX's statement do they EVER "defend sexual predators" - their statement actually condemns sexual predators.
From the SSPX press release:
Protection of All - The Society of Saint Pius X is committed to protecting all minors and vulnerable adults and to cooperate fully with civil and ecclesiastical authorities. In addition, we are committed to both helping victims as well as those that are accused. We do not unduly assume the role of judge and leave any investigation to the proper authorities.
From our internal policy on these matters:
Our commitment includes the protection of children (i.e. minors), and vulnerable adults from harm, and the protection of workers from false allegations...We provide individual care and counsel both for the abuse victim and his/her family...The accused is to be treated with dignity and respect. Clergy will seek opportunity to provide individual care and counsel both for the accused and his/her family until the investigation is completed.
If Church Militant doesn't or won't see their own double standard here that's on them.
I've answered their request to me to tell them where I believe they were wrong in their reporting.
While CM has closed their comments on this subject, my comments are open to all- even the SSPX.😉 Have at it. Let me know what you think about all of this mess.
Julie @ Connecticut Catholic Corner
Updated to add the PA Grand Jury quote about Fr. McLucas: