Last week we learned that Fr. Michael Lastiri in the Fresno diocese was being reassigned to a parish. It seemed strange since he’d been removed from his previous assignment after it was alleged that he’d been using the Internet to arrange homosexual encounters and later he was accused of “misdirecting” $60,000 in parish funds, including $19,000 in personal travel over a 20 month period.
Uproar ensured and the pastor of his parish and the bishop defended the reassignment of Lastiri. Alas, it was not enough. Now Lastiri won’t be going to his new parish. I suppose they’ll wait until the heat dies down. Their only miscalculation was that they thought people had forgotten about him.
It’s fascinating how history gets re-written. Lastiri was found to have been advertising himself on gay hookup web sites. But Bishop Steinbock says Lastiri was removed after he “admitted he had indulged in sexual fantasies over the Internet.” There’s a big difference between indulging a fantasy and carrying it out. Neither is moral, but one is worse than the other. It’s one thing for a married man to indulge a fantasy about a beautiful model (which is still sinful matter), but it’s an order of magnitude worse for him to sign up on a dating web site. His wife might be miffed at the former, but she’d be furious at the latter and rightly so because it is a betrayal of their vows.