|Fr. Hugh Monmonier on left and Fr. James Haley on right after |
our 25th wedding anniversary Mass at St. Anselms Abbey in 1994.
Searching for the article on the Post's website, I found another, more in-depth report about the case and it certainly is similar to the disgraceful treatment Fr. Haley! received at the hands of a Church court. Here are some of the similarities in the two cases:
- The trial was held in secret. "No family members or independent observers were allowed to attend." [Ditto for Fr. Haley. I and others volunteered to be character witnesses, but none were allowed.]
- The accused had "no opportunity to present witnesses or evidence in his defense." [Not to mention the fact that Fr. Haley's canon lawyer was threatened with retaliation for defending him.]
- There was evidence that the trial was linked "to the internal tensions among the political factions." [In Fr. Haley's case, the trial was directly linked to his exposure of homosexual clergy in the diocese. I suppose one could call that "internal tensions."]
- The verdict of guilty was released but, "It was uncertain what the verdict is and whether there is a sentence." [People still ask, "Whatever happened to Fr. Haley." The answer can only be found in the Twilight Zone!]
- The reporter's brother said the verdict announcement, "follows an unconscionable pattern by Iranian authorities of silence, obfuscation, delay, and a total lack of adherence to international law." [Yup! "Silence, obfuscation, [and] delay sum up Fr. Haley's trial. The court was pretty much a law unto itself unrelated to the most common elements of justice.]
|Fr. Haley at baptism of our oldest grandchild|
And why do the Church courts operate in such silence? It's certainly not to protect the interests of the accused (although that's what they always claim). Fr. Haley would gladly have been tried in public court. But just like the bishops who told parents of abuse victims to be quiet for the sake of the Church, it's all about protecting the institution. It all reminds me of the way Jesus' trial was conducted by the Pharisees: at night, with trumped up charges and false witnesses. (I can think of one diocesan priest who fits that description.).
One thing about the reporter's situation , however, is completely different from Fr. Haley's. There is at least the possibility that the reporter will be freed from the hell imposed on him by Iran. He can hope one day to return to his normal life. Fr. Haley, however, is cast out with no hope of exoneration. The only life he ever wanted, that of a priest, is pretty much over.
There is something truly bizarre when the Church acts as bad or worse than a repressive government toward a priest. The Post reporter had all the money and power of a tyrannical government arrayed against him. Ditto for Fr. Haley who faced a bishop with a staff that fills a seven story building in Arlington and an endless supply of cash contributed by Catholics in the pew. How can a priest on a limited income hope to fight a bishop with unlimited resources?
The bishop reaches retirement age soon and also celebrates 50 years as a priest, a milestone Fr. Haley will never get to reach. I pray that before he retires he does something to right the wrong he did to Fr. Haley. Please pray for both Bishop Loverde and Fr. Haley.