The diocese did nothing when informed

The diocese did nothing when informed

You may recall the case of Fr. Michael Jude Fay who was the priest of the Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut, who resigned his pastorship after he was accused of embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from his parish. The Dallas Morning News prints a New York Times followup on the case highlighting Fay’s extravagant lifestyle, his aloof and arrogant behavior, his relationship with a New York wedding consultant, and more.

Fay was brought down, not because of a diocesan investigation into parish funds, but because the parish bookkeeper and his pastoral associate hired a private investigator and then turned the information over to the police. What they found was that Fay had been given the plum assignment at St. John’s in Darien, Connecticut in 1991, that he had remained there past the usual term for pastors and that the diocese had not audited the parish’s books in violation of the diocese’s own policies. Why?

The diocese says that Bishop William Lori may have given him some slack because Fay had been diagnosed with cancer, but does that really explain it? Fay had been given responsibilities above and beyond his pastorship—serving as the only priest on the diocesan sexual review board, for instance—and was well known for his extravagant and lavish spending.

A list of Fay’s alleged excesses

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
  • Once you give in to sodomy, why not add embezzelment and fraud to your list of vices.  Does anything merit instant dismissal these days?  Guess not.  One of the reasons why there are more and more empty pews at St. Enron’s.

  • Did you notice the homosexual lover doesn’t come up until 2/3 of the way through the story, and they only then call him Fay’s “friend.”  Not that this is central to the story on stealing, but somehow I expect had it been a woman the headline would have been “Priest Robs Faithful While Shacking Up With Floosie.”

    Those objective journalists at the NYT.

  • Actually, there is nothing in canon law to prevent a pastor from “handpicked” finance and pastoral council members. In many cases, quite frankly, he’d get better results than he would in elections, which often are little more than popularity contests. (Not always, just often.) No, the problem is with the man himself, and those who keep him there.

    And there won’t be an end to “safe touch sex education” programs, until the bishops run out of people to blame besides themselves.

    When they begin to turn on each other—ah, yes, welcome to the next level.

  • Good post, Dom!

    Recently, I was having a conversation with a fellow Catholic who is “in the know,” and this person indicated the problem of clergy embezzlement is very much on the radar.

    We’ll see what (if anything) happens…

  • It looks silly that Bishop Lori did nothing here when apparently he was presented with the “facts”.  What information was he given?  Was it conclusive?

    If not (which is what I think was the case, given Lori’s generally positive reputation), then what should you do.  Should Catholics in general “give the benefit of the doubt (while you monitor and investigate)” or “rush to judgment and implement ‘zero-tolerance’” to any possible scandal?

    Since the zero-tolerance of the behind-covering bishops’ meeting in Dallas a few years back, we almost expect quick removal on any allegation (which may or may not appear to be true).  Is zero tolerance what we want?

    This definitely looks bad given the facts that have now come out.  But did Lori have all this info?  If we had a bunch of unsubstantiated allegations would we have removed the priest?  Would we want our priests to be removed without a fair process?  If so, that is going to happen to many solidly good priests too!!

  • I wouldn’t call them unsubstantiated allegations since the private eye was able to come up damning information pretty quickly.

    If nothing else, perhaps Bishop Lori could have done the parish financial aduit that wasn’t done for five years. All that was required was the normal due diligence, nothing extraordinary.