My internet friend, Robert Kumpel, is a freelance investigative reporter and a home-schooling dad who used to live in California and did some great articles for the L.A. Mission and San Diego News Notes. He moved to Georgia and got into big trouble in his parish in Valdosta (St. John's) for protesting the inappropriate behavior of his pastor with the office manager, a woman (Isn't that a change?). To make a long story short, Robert ended up in court with a restraining order and was banned from setting foot in his parish. Valdosta, Georgia isn't exactly a thriving metropolis and the next closest parish is an hour away. So now Robert, who has four young children, can't go to daily Mass, can't take his children for visits to Our Lord in the tabernacle, can't be a member of the parish Knights of Columbus (or anything else) and is seriously inconvenienced even to go to Mass on Sunday. It has been a real hardship on this Catholic family.
Ironically, the pastor is dead now; he was killed in a traffic accident. And the woman involved moved away, but Bishop Boland still won't let Robert and his family go back to church together. Is that uncharitable or what?
During the trial everyone who testified said Robert never did anything violent or threatening. And yet the bishop several years later continues to refuse to allow him to attend Mass at his local parish. Oh, his wife may go alone with the children, but not with their dad. What's with that? Shouldn't the bishop encourage intact families? They're a rarity these days.
What a tragedy for a bishop to be so unforgiving that two years after something occurred (which has since been overtaken by events) he continues to treat his spiritual son like a dangerous outlaw. I wonder how often the bishop preaches about mercy.
Robert's canon lawyer said he would win the case if he fought, but it would be years before resolution and cost beaucoup bucks which the Kumpels don't have. So what's a fella to do? The bishops always have a royal flush to your pair of deuces. Maybe that's why they call them princes.
Please pray for my friend. You can visit his blog and leave him an encouraging message. If you'd like to read more about what got him into trouble go here.
And if you really want to do his family a good turn, could you send a polite note to the bishop asking him to let the family return home. Remember the song Tie a Yellow Ribbon? Why not tuck one into the note.
Bishop Kevin Boland
Catholic Pastoral center
601 E. Liberty Street
Savannah, GA 31401
If you'd rather send an e-mail go here.