Reassigned, but not removed from ministry

Reassigned, but not removed from ministry

A priest of the Richmond diocese who was arrested for trolling for gay sex was reassigned to another parish. He was not removed from ministry because the charge did not involve a minor. I’m not sure why that should matter from a Catholic morality standpoint. What he did was a crime, a volation of his vows, and a serious matter potentially involving grave sin. Bishop Walter Sullivan even admits that the reassignment was not due to the sinful behavior or arrest, but because “many families at Holy Trinity [parish] lost confidence in Father Ball after he pleaded guilty in court.” Will he be more effective as a priest at his new parish?

Sure, he received “counseling” whatever that means, but did he suffer any canonical penalties? Did he spend time contemplating his actions and seeking conversion of heart after his arrest? Yes, such things are normally between a penitent and his confessor, but in the case where this person is also responsible for the shepherding of souls, I would think it might matter to the people of his new parish. Can they trust that he will be preaching the full, unvarnished Truth?

I’m not saying none of this has been done, but the fact that this priest’s ministry had become ineffective at his old parish lends one to think that, absent drastic action, would remain ineffective in a new one.

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli