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Wednesday, June 5, 2024

When Shepherds Become CEOs, It's a Sad Day for the Church!

Anyone familiar with the case of Fr. Gordon MacRae knows that false accusations against 
Catholic priests are not unusual. The Church is seen as a cash cow by unscrupulous ambulance chasers and "trauma counselors" eager to fleece the flock. Fr. MacRae describes one lawyer who has brought hundreds of cases against the Church often seeking dead priests to accuse, since they are no longer here to defend themselves. Some on diocesan websites listed as "credibly accused" are innocent. One in my own diocese who remains on the list was exonerated. Some of his brother priests who wanted his name removed objected but it remains on the list to this day. 

I suspect that bishops eagerly add to the list of "credibly accused" to show how vigilant they are to protect the flock. Perhaps they feel it exonerates them for moving priests around to abuse again, lying to victims and their parents, and covering up criminal abuse. In too many cases any priest accused is presumed guilty unless proved innocent. That's a little difficult for accusations that are decades old and have no evidence except the word of someone who stands to gain big bucks for the accusation.

Some bishops act like CEO's defending their organization and personal reputation. They are so vigilant over their own good name, that they declare the priest guilty even before he goes to trial. That's what happened to Fr. MacRae when his New Hampshire diocese published a press release essentially convicting him before a single piece of evidence was presented in court. Throwing his son under the bus appeared to be an easy call for Fr. MacRae's spiritual father. And the bishop and the diocese have gone on to play "Who's that dude?" ever since. In almost thirty years Fr. MacRae never saw his bishop, and his brother priests abandoned him as well. That is not an uncommon scenario even for priests who are thrown under the bus for no more reason than the bishop doesn't like them. 

What an opportunity to be united to Christ abandoned, to suffer His passion alone except for John, the youngest apostle, His Mother Mary, and a few women. That's the life of the innocent accused priest! 

It's all about human respect, one of the greatest temptations on the planet, in my opinion. For many of our shepherds, human respect and the almighty dollar seem to top the list of priorities. The reputation of the bishop waxes large! Stand by an innocent priest when he's already been found guilty by public opinion? Risk media criticism of your reputation? A little collateral damage to the priest causes less pain than bad publicity. 

Many of our pathetic shepherds serve up their sons to the wolves with hardly a shrug. I know too many. We helped one priest by raising money for a canon law suit. He ended up back in ministry after being removed primarily because our former bishop didn't like him. But the stress took a heavy toll on his health. He ended up in a nursing home and died young. Another priest I know was promised a return to ministry after ancient history from his past was exposed by a scoop-seeking former parishioner. Our current bishop promised him that after the situation calmed down he'd be given a new assingment. Never happened! Instead he was pressured to "retire" years before the mandatory retirement age. 

As far as abuse accusation are considered, the M.O. seems to be settle quick whether allegations are true or not. Skip the investigation; go straight to the verdict! The Queen of Hearts works in the chancery. Get the diocese out of the headlines. Hey it's the flock's money, no loss to the bishop. Just close a few parishes beginning with the most orthodox if the money gets tight.

Innocent priests? Who cares! Better for one priest to die for the diocese. 

Study Fr. MacCrae's case and realize that probably half the cases against the Church are bogus. SNAP doesn't care about legitimate victims; they use them to advance their own hate-the-Church agenda, then throw the victims to the curb. One victim described his association with SNAP as his second abuse. The Catholic League has covered SNAP's bigotry extensively. Go here.

During the meeting on the Dallas Charter in 2002 that shifted all the blame for the abuse scandal away from the bishops and onto diocesan clergy and laity, Bishop Bruskewitz described his brothers as "this pathetic bench of bishops." Not much has changed in the twenty plus years since then except that Pope Francis has given us more pathetic bishops to suffer.

The problem is bigger than ever except for one thing. Most of the younger men entering seminaries are more orthodox than their predecessors. Not only that, but despite the attack on the Traditional Latin Mass, the laity continue to discover and embrace it. The numbers are small, but remember that the Church began with twelve apostles, most of whom were simple men, with laughable credentials in the world's eyes. So there is plenty of reason for hope and joy.

Scandalous shepherds are nothing new in the Church. I'm reading a book at present called Bad Shepherds by Rod Bennett describing four major crises in Church history beginning with the Arian heresy when the whole world groaned and found itself Arian. These periods challenged the faith leading many sheep into heresy and harm. And who were those scandalizing and betraying the sheep? Those with the biggest obligation to defend them -- bishops and priests. Today's crisis may be the biggest in world history. But nothing is too big for God and we have nothing to fear. 

Catholics have an obligation to support the Church, but they don't have to support the bishop. For years we designated our donations for parish maintenance to avoid the diocesan tax. We would not give a plug nickle to the bishop and his Lenten appeal. 

Love of money is the root of all evils. And too many bishops are addicted to the money. It's an act of charity to starve their addiction.

The Church survived.

She will survive this time of crisis as well. The suffering of innocent priests will be part of the medicine that restores her. Let us pray for Fr. Gordon MacRae and every priest unjustly treated by his bishop. When we see that happen, the best thing we can is pray for the name. The next best thing is to encourage them. 

May Jesus Christ; Priest, Prophet, and King; Have mercy on us.


  1. I doubt that half of the alleged abuse cases are bogus. From what I have read, even a 90% guilty figure may be low. (See the book "Sacrilege," by Leon Podles,) But the point of this article is well taken. I think that dioceses are run by lawyers, accountants, and insurance men, with bishops a distant fourth. I have a lay choir director friend who was accused last year of something very slight and almost certainly innocent, if it even happened at all, something that was alleged to have occurred ten years ago. The diocese ran scared, and his pastor fired him, with wife and nine children. Just disgusting.

  2. I would have agreed with you before I read many posts on Fr. MacRae's site. He was approached by someone an inmate who wanted to add an abuse allegation to his case and was looking for the name of a dead priest from decades ago to accuse. His lawyer was involved and they offered to give Father money (a finder's fee) for providing a good mark to target with the abuse allegation. Reading the articles about Fr. MacRae's case is a real eye opening about the liars and grifters who don't mind lying to get big out of court settlements from the Church.

  3. My husband and I were recently discussing how this has happened to some cops. If their chief doesn't back them it seems the cop ends up being the scapegoat for whatever activist accuses them unjustly.

    It seems to me if the bishops would support his priests during these trials with the understanding that those convicted will get their just punishment we'd have way less of this nonsense.

    But I suspect that these bishops aren't just seeking to look vigilant and get better press. They are throwing anyone under the bus hoping no one comes after them for similar behavior.

  4. Let's also not forget that many (some have retired or died in the interim) of the bishops discussed above also denied us laity the Holy Sacrifice and the Sacraments during the covidmania year of 2020! That crime is far more grave than the very grave crime of throwing an innocent priest under the bus. They'll be knock-kneed in terror when facing the Just Judge!

  5. Great piece Mary Ann, thank you for all that you're doing.

  6. Someone please explain what “credibily accused” means. We used to have a standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt “. If proof beyond a reasonable doubt exist, these individuals should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. To ruin a person with a “credible accusation “ is wrong and repulsive.

  7. Leon Podles was challenged by author Ryan A. MacDonald about his presentation of the Fr. MacRae case in his book. Mr. Podles admitted that he did no investigation or research and relied only on news articles for his facts, many of which were not facts at all. David F. Pierre, Jr. at has a feature by a Los Angeles attorney who conducted a forensic study with a former FBI special agent. Their conclusion is that a full 50% of claims against priests in the United States have been false and motivated by settlement money.

    Eileen Wright

  8. I've lost contact with Fr. Haley. He had a bad case of COVID. Please keep him in your prayers.

  9. Somehow I got cut from your emailing list to Please put me back on.

  10. It's a blogger problem, turkeyridge, according to my techie son-in-law. They stopped sending out updates for new posts. I don't have a separate email list. So sorry.