A curiously incurious reporter

A curiously incurious reporter

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?

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
10 comments
  • Maybe the secular news media assumes most priests are gay, and so when its a woman involved they consider it news.

    NOTE:  I just bring this up.  I don’t think most priests are gay.

  • Domenico,

    Please pull my comments from this thread. 

    Stunted,

    The priest is now retired, so no, I haven’t taken it up with the Archbishop.  This happened years ago.  I said living with a man (not a fellow priest or religious) and having an obscene version of the Lord’s Prayer on the wall was scandalous.  Obviously people can disagree about that.   

    I shouldn’t have given identifying details.  I’m up much too late and discernment gets affected.  I’m sorry.

  • A Church which lives for centuries can have a patient approach to reform.

    People, who don’t live for centuries, often do not.

    The worst aspect of the “scandal”, the one most difficult and painful to root out, is the protection and promotion of open and notorious sinners by closeted sinners whose own sins are well-hidden.

    The cynicism that is involved in appointing a man like this to the sexual misconduct review board, or, as is often the case, to panels to ensure the safety of children, is staggering.

  • Stunted:

    The only men whom priests should be living with are fellow priests. Either in the parish rectory, in a retirement setting or in the format of a religious community. One priest living together with one other man in suburbia is never good. Your request for solid evidence that the priest and his partner are in a homosexual relationship is fatuous. Unless one has access to the house and actually sees the two men being intimate, everything else can be explained away as mere friendship.

    In fact, this is how the recent scandals in the Church were nurtured. Until these men were actually accused of abuse and gross misconduct, the clear evidence that they were homosexual was ignored, dismissed or covered up.

    As for identifying the man…….I say “good”. Personally, I certainly want to know which priests are living together with another man. I help pay their mortgage. Note that this is not because I want to inflict anything upon them but because I want to keep my children well out of harms way. I’m not going to wait until I actually see the priest holding hands with his boyfriend. “Shacking up” is enough for me.

  • I posted hurriedly last night with many interruptions…at which point I normally just delete and forget it. 

    The only reason I was even checking Dom’s blog that late was to see if the baby had come yet. I’ve had five of them, babies are real important to me.

    I made a mistake and included too much information, which I do regret, and have asked Dom to remove.  But now he is very busy with much more important things. 

    My original point was going to be more to the effect of:  these things don’t happen only in progressive-leaning circles….but I botched it and wish I could fix it.

    I won’t make this mistake again.

  • In my parish, which I try not to attend (having a chapel of a religious order nearby) has a pastor who has talked the parish into building four townhouses for the four priests and one for the vicariate bishop. 

    It wasn’t enough to have a very nice rectory with separate bed-and-baths (and a new state of the art kitchen that cost $100,000);  he didn’t want to live above the store!  He has a staff budget higher than that for the school and has meetings in all the parish facilities and also in the dining room below the priests bedrooms which is disturbing his life—that’s his excuse.

    In this day and age, it would seem that a pastor would want all his priests living under the same roof so that they could vouch for one anothers’ probity.

  • It has to make you wonder how often the homosexual priests are involved in theft of church money.  Looking at this story and the one posted above about the $2 million in NJ and one I am rather close to.

    http://www.snap-newmexico.org/Frank_Murphy.htm

    MONSIGNOR FRANK MURPHY was my wife’s choice to perform our wedding in Alaska.  Just as we were to begin preparation he sort of disappeared due to an alcohol problem.  18 years later the rest of the story comes out in a newspaper series. 

    In the middle of this long story it mentions $57,000 missing from the parish and hints that it was much more and that Fr Murphy used the money to buy property. The Archbishop would not cooperate with the police to prosecute him.

    Sex, booze and money.

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