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Tuesday, April 23, 2019

The Diocese of Arlington criticizes "lapse of journalistic standards" over Fr. Escalante article.

Fr. Ron Escalante
Below is the statement on the Arlington diocesan website responding to the Blue Ridge Leader's article about the unjust treatment of Fr. Ron Escalante who was removed as pastor at St. Francis de Sales in Purcellville over an alleged "boundary violation" with a teenage girl. [See article here.]

Excuse my eye-rolling over the diocese's statement. What a bunch of hooey! We hear all the time about how bishops want openness and transparency. Don't believe it! My mom raised me to be too much of a lady to use the language that comes to mind. I doubt if protecting Fr. Escalante's privacy is the main point in all this and their attack on the Blue Ridge Leader is nothing but a diversion. I want to commend Valerie Cury and the Blue Ridge Leader for defending the rights of a good priest. I trust their investigation more than I trust the diocese's. If the sex abuse crisis has taught us anything, it's to be skeptical, not of the Church, but of the Church bureaucracy. My comments are in red.

Response to Valerie Cury's article, "New Revelations in the Father Escalante Saga" published in the Blue Ridge Leader on April 17, 2019

April 23, 2019

Confidentiality and professional ethics keep the Diocese of Arlington from publicly disclosing the entirety of the information we have received in relation to the allegations against Father Ronald Escalante. Nevertheless, the Diocese is compelled to make the following response to the article “New Revelations in the Father Escalante Saga” by Valerie Cury in the Blue Ridge Leader. [The M.O. when good priests are accused is to always hide behind "confidentiality," a strategy that is often used to protect the diocese, not the accused. According to friends at St. Francis de Sales they get regular "updates" that tell them nothing. My advice to parishioners is to keep the pressure on. Write letters to the Blue Ridge Leader thanking them for the article and demanding a return of Fr. Escalante and copy them to the diocese.]

This story reflects a serious lapse of journalistic standards on the part of Ms. Cury, who has used claims by anonymous sources to impugn the character and honesty of an alleged minor victim and her family. Alleged victims, especially minors, deserve far better treatment by the news media than what has been afforded by the Blue Ridge Leader. [What nonsense! Valerie Cury's sources requested their names not appear. They are certainly not anonymous to her any more than "Deep Throat" was anonymous to Washington Post writers Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. The Washington Post won a Pulitzer in 1973 for the coverage. And, of course, minors are protected so the girl would never be identified. It's interesting that the diocese has no apparent concern for the abuse to the child by those who used her like a pawn to get rid of a "troublesome priest."]

The supposed “new revelations” and “evidence” contained within the article are provided exclusively by anonymous sources and are not acknowledged by the author as having been corroborated by additional, credible sources or other reliable evidence. [More baloney!] This is highly peculiar, to say the least. Readers have a right to know the identity of most sources so that readers can determine on their own the believability of those sources’ claims as well as their potential motivations. [The entire parish is in an uproar over this. The diocese can find many "credible sources" including the several families that were approached to slander Fr. Escalante who spoke to Cury.] Not to publish a single on-the-record source is unprofessional and, in most circumstances, would have been stopped by an editor. (The author of the Blue Ridge Leader article is also the publication’s owner and is therefore not accountable to a supervisor who would uphold journalistic standards). This is not the first time Ms. Cury has relied on unnamed sources in publishing an article about Father Escalante’s situation. [I suspect the real issue here is that the Diocese was unable to intimidate Valerie Cury into pulling the article permanently. According to the grapevine the reason she pulled the article temporarily was to consult an attorney. I have a call into her and hope she'll talk to me about her relations with the diocese and what kind of threats she received.]

The Diocese of Arlington has provided parishioners of St. Francis de Sales Church, as much information regarding Father Escalante’s status as confidentiality reasonably permits. [Yadda-yadda-yadda.] As has been noted in past communications, there is an ongoing internal investigation of allegations and, out of respect for the reputation and good name of Father Escalante and of those who have come forward, the Diocese of Arlington is limited in the amount of information it can provide publicly at this time. [Nobody wants any more information or excuses. Just send Fr. Escalante back to the parish!]

With regard to the article’s unsubstantiated allegation of financial irregularities at St. Francis de Sales Parish, the Diocese of Arlington thoroughly investigates any such reports that it receives.

From: Billy Atwell, Chief Communications Officer, Diocese of Arlington

Note that the diocese hasn't disputed one..single...claim in the article. They simply resorted to an attack. Remember the saying, "The best defense is a good offense." What they are doing is the same thing a conjurer does. Use a fancy flourish to distract your audience while you do the trick.


  1. Thanks so much for exposing this!

  2. The hero here is the girl who told her mother what her friend revealed about the scheme to destroy a good priest. God bless her for going to an adult with this information in spite of pledging confidence to her friend.

    I am grateful to the parents who made the effort to expose this outrageous scandal and all who conspired to create it.

  3. Billy Atwell is the respondent from the diocese, but Burbidge is accountable. Atwell knows nothing and couldn't get a regular job. His main function seems to be lobbing softball questions at Bishop Burbidge to gush about during his "Walking Humbug" podcasts. He is typical of the public relations entourage gushing Bishop Burbidge has surrounded himself with as if he's a cult. The editor of the Bishop's newspaper can't publish one edition that doesn't have at least 3 pictures of the bishop in it. The Diocese of Arlington has gone from bad to worse under Burbidge. Mass attendance fell from 37% of registered parishioners in 2017 to 29.7% in 2018 and what is Burbidge concerned about? Climate change, "diversity" and virtue signaling. For example he wasted no time jumping on the bandwagon against Gov. Northam over blackface costume but said nothing about black Lt. Gov. Fairfax. Likewise he immediately sent out a statement on the NZ mosque shooting but 3 days after Muslims bombed Catholic Churches in Sri Lanka he is crickets.