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Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Statement of Fr. Tom Euteneuer: Setting the Record Straight

For more details see LifeSiteNews

January 31, 2011

It is with great sadness, but also with a certain measure of relief, that I can now respond to the many inquiries about my departure as president of Human Life International (HLI) at the end of August 2010. It has been painful for me to remain silent in light of the ongoing speculation, particularly when much of it assigned blame to those who were, in fact, blameless. I am thankful to be able to set the record straight so that speculation can stop and blame can be placed right where it belongs - with me.

The circumstances that led to my departure from HLI were related exclusively to my own decisions and conduct within the ministry of exorcism that I carried out independently from my responsibilities at HLI. The vast majority of my decisions and conduct, both personally and in this ministry, were morally sound and consistent with all standards of pastoral care of persons. Moreover, they were all motivated exclusively by my desire to give priestly assistance to people in great spiritual distress. I must acknowledge, however, that one particularly complex situation clouded my judgment and led me to imprudent decisions with harmful consequences, the worst of which was violating the boundaries of chastity with an adult female who was under my spiritual care.

I take full responsibility for my own poor judgment, my weakness and my sinful conduct that resulted from it. I offer no excuse for my professional or moral failures, nor do I shift the blame to anyone else. I state without reserve that I am deeply sorry for my actions. I have personally apologized, where possible, to anyone I have harmed. I am saddened beyond words for my fall, not only because of the harm done to my priesthood and my family, but also because of the harm done to all others who are affected, to the faith of those who placed so much trust in me and our Church, and to the pro-life movement so populated with heroic, faithful people. I must face and make amends for the disappointment I have caused. I have, of course, asked for God’s forgiveness and I have confidence in his boundless mercy. I am now grateful to be able to publicly ask for all of yours as well.

As to my departure from HLI, Church officials are completely without blame, having dealt in a timely and appropriate manner with a crisis that was not of their making. I offer this statement as a matter of justice to vindicate Church officials who have been unjustly criticized by those writing and speaking in ignorance of the facts.

While I would much prefer to allow this public act of contrition to stand alone, I regret having to address the malicious falsehoods that were published this past week on various internet sites. I can only say that I am shocked to the depths of my being at the malicious efforts by supposedly faithful Catholics to destroy a priest who has served the Church faithfully for 22 years. The campaigners have made intolerable attempts to contact my family, to defame innocent co-workers and even to solicit and to persuade others with whom I have prayed that they are victims despite their unequivocal statements to the contrary. Some have even claimed falsely and maliciously that there is a possessed person living in my family’s home. No one should have to endure such malevolence or such treatment of innocent family members. Despite the rhetoric of justice and truth-seeking, the sinful campaign has not made one single positive contribution to the resolution of this difficult situation that has already been handled appropriately by Church authorities for nearly six months.

While I would otherwise willingly suffer calumnies in silence to atone for my sins, and knowing how pointless it is to respond to every crackpot with a website, I cannot remain silent when such falsehoods threaten to damage the Church, the priesthood, and other innocent persons and organizations that are or have been linked to me. I therefore affirm and will never deviate from my affirmation that the following are true:
•My violations of chastity were limited to one person only, an adult woman;

•The violations of chastity happened due to human weakness but did not involve the sexual act;

•The accusation that I “targeted” vulnerable women or otherwise sought them out for spiritual direction is utterly false and a serious defamation of my character and ministry;

•With rare exceptions, my exorcism/prayer ministry was always conducted with prayer helpers (third parties) present; situations where prayer or pastoral care occurred without helpers present were exceptional situations where I believed it was necessary for me to act quickly in order to help the afflicted person; while not proper protocol, these departures from the norm were never done with a motive to be alone with vulnerable women;

•I repudiate any allegations of financial impropriety in conducting my prayer/exorcism ministry; I never, under any circumstances, solicited money for the ministry other than travel-related reimbursements, nor did I use HLI donor funds to carry out this work; any gifts offered to me were unsolicited and only accepted so as not to offend the giver and in most cases immediately given to those more needy than myself;

•I have no knowledge of any persons who received any financial settlement in this matter, nor have I asked for that to be given.

I pray that my two decades of faithful priestly ministry and my efforts in the defense of life will be seen in the light of the good fruits they have produced and not denigrated because of my moments of weakness in a most challenging ministry. I also wish to state that I have never entertained even the slightest thought of leaving the holy priesthood or the Roman Catholic Church as a result of my failings. Currently I am under obedience to my bishop who has allowed me to make this statement and in whose hands I leave all questions of continuing priestly ministry. I conclude with an expression of deepest gratitude for the prayers of the many generous supporters of my priesthood and of the prolife movement.


Papa Alex said...

bloggers need to be more patient before posting false reports. This man failed but we all do. He's done much good and now has been calumnized.

Shan Helsley said...

I have been a daily communicant at HLI for many years. My son was an Altar Server for Father Euteneuer. We love the man, and all he has done!! I respect him, and continue to pray for him daily! I was disturbed to read the crap some people are posting. I forgive Father completely, and he before he asked. My goodness!! I can't image the temptations that must assail a person in such a position. Having said that, I want him to know that he is a friend, and I will defend him to the end. I think people should STOP talking about him, and pray for him! In the end, we are responsible for not praying hard for this man!! I have done much worse!
Please, make sure he knows we are keeping him in our hearts and in our prayers.

Shan Helsley

Anonymous said...

Dittos to what Papa Alex has said.

The Scriptures say, "Never admit any charge against an elder (presbyter) except on the evidence of two or three witnesses." - I Tim 5:19.

A witness needs to stand up and be counted, not operate out of the shadows spewing accusations. So if one of Father's accusers cares to continue on with this, I suggest he or she come out of the shadows.

Otherwise, enough with the calumny.

Anonymous said...

Something stood out in reading the Gospel of Matthew recently. At least twice, Jesus stated that He asks mercy, not sacrifice. As Lent approaches, this may be a good reflection on rash judgment.

Anonymous said...

Fr's statement that he followed Protocols concerning his Exorcism Ministry is not quite accurate enough.His inclusion of a group of women on the internet via email's allegedly for prayer support during the Rite, violated the very protection of secrecy that was formerly a part of the practice of this Rite. This is key to protect both the humility of the priest and the anonymity of any victims.The invitation to these women opened doors of curiosity and pride for them also to be one of father's inner circle.
Exorcism in general has become a topic of morbid curiosity in the media, especially amongst Faithful Catholics and I point to the sects within the Church for responsibility of that.Perhaps a way to revert back to the moral authority of the clerics that has been diminished by the abuse scandals?It is NOT the right way though, and I personally desire to see the Bishops speak as loud as Fr E did concerning the abortion industry and sexual perversion. This priest was trapped on many levels by Satan and despite the misguided praises directed at his Bishop now, I for one still hold them to the tasks and responsibilities of their Office.They let this priest down and they have grossly let the Faithful down.

Jim said...

"I can only say that I am shocked to the depths of my being at the malicious efforts by supposedly faithful Catholics to destroy a priest who has served the Church faithfully for 22 years."

Well, so sorry for your shock, Father. And, no, you haven't served the Church faithfully for 22 years. You've given her one, big, humiliating black eye. Your destruction is a thing entirely of your own making. If it wasn't for bloggers, your sin with this woman (or, as HLI claims, multiple accusers) would be covered with a TRANSFER like all the rest. Lest you try to pull a Bill Clinton on us, violations of your chastity are sexual acts. You need not quibble to reduce your culpability.

Could I just say, thank God for Catholic bloggers who love the truth, and aren't taken up by the cult of celebrity priest-worship. In his "apology" letter, he smears them as "crackpots." Some show of humility for a guy who is mad that he's been caught!