It’s surely not a shock anymore when you hear that a priest has resigned and the legal authorities have been notified following allegations that parish money was being siphoned off for his personal use. While you can’t say it’s a common occurrence, that a few such incidents would happen in the pool of tens of thousands of parishes in the US each year isn’t surprising.
Yet, when it does happen it’s interesting the details the media like to highlight. When the alleged embezzler has been living the high life with the parish secretary or his housekeeper, you surely hear about that in the first paragraph of the story, if not the lede. But in this AP srticle from the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut, you have to wade down to the seventh paragraph before you find this curious, and utterly unremarked, fact:
Vito Colucci Jr., an investigator based in Stamford, said he documented at least $200,000 in church money used to pay Fay’s lavish lifestyle with another man.
Really? Another man? Do tell. Except they never do. Who is this man on whom Fr. Michael Jude Fay lavished limo rides, dinners at famous restaurants, cruises, and gifts including a $2,600 Cartier ring. Maybe it’s his brother. Shame on you for leaping to any other conclusion.
It’s curious how the reporter seemed completely uninterested in this other man, especially considering not only the strictures of celibacy placed upon Catholic priests—which is why clerical affairs with housekeepers and secretaries elicit knowing titters in newsrooms—but also the Church’s well-known teachings regarding homosexuality. To be fair, we really can’t say for sure that this was a homosexual relationship. But then the AP reporter didn’t seem all that interested in digging that fact out.
Incidentally, it’s mighty interesting that this sordid financial misconduct was uncovered, not by the diocese nor by law enforcement, but by a private investigator hired by an anonymous party. I wonder if perhaps some parishioner was wondering where all his Sunday tithes were going and whether Father’s friend might have something to do with it. Certainly that friend has now become an albatross around the priest’s neck.
Update: Here’s an interesting fact that wasn’t reported. Fr. Michael Jude Fay was the only priest appointed by Bishop William Lori to the diocese’s sexual misconduct review board. That’s ironic, huh?