Whistleblowing priest punished for hiring PI

Whistleblowing priest punished for hiring PI

How many times have we seen this pattern with regard to diocesan scandals? Last week, we heard the story of the Connecticut priest, Fr. Michael Fay, who resigned after it was revealed he allegedly embezzled funds from his parish to support a lavish lifestyle for him and his male companion. According to the reports, the story came to light after a private investigator hired by someone in the parish found out the details.

Now we learn that the PI was hired by the other priest at the parish, Fr. Michael Madden, and the parish secretary, and now the second priest, who was put in charge after Fay resigned, has himself resigned. What a tangled web. Madden has apparently changed his story, too. In his first remarks to parishioners he said he hired the PI when he got fed up with Fay’s antics and claimed that Fay had made his service at the parish a living hell. He also said that he hired the PI when the Diocese of Bridgeport failed to take action and now the diocese is “ripping made” at him for his actions.

“I don’t know what is going to happen to me now, but whatever it is, it will be a welcome relief from the extreme physical and emotional strain I have been suffering,” Madden said. “I simply could not stand behind that altar and look out at you good people, knowing what was being done to you.”

Drinking the Kool-Aid

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  • One of my best friends was a seminarian for the diocese of Bridgeport in the 90s, a few years behind Madden.  He said Madden was a straight-shooter and a man of integrity.  Madden apparently stood up to a seminary rector at Seton Hall to do something about some “garbage” going on there – which led to then Deacon Madden being asked to leave that Seminary.  So it’s in Madden’s character to see something that smells and to have the guts to do something about it, despite the consequences to himself.

  • Other stories—see Amy Welborn’s site for links—have quoted Madden as saying that he was given the option of becoming parochial vicar again, but only until the new administrator is settled and then being put out to pasture—I mean going for a period of rest and meditation—or he could be put out to pasture now. He opted to be a man and stick around as long as he could.

  • Keep the honest one, defrock the other one and let him go live with his buddy without a church pension.  Tell him to go to mass incognito somewhere else if he can manage to keep himself in a state of grace long enough.  Period.

  • You should note that the PI’s estimate of embezzled funds is only for a 25-month period.

    Fay was pastor for 15 years.

    Two questions:  (1) Do you really believe that this has only been going on for two years?  And (2) Do you really believe that the diocese will make public the results of any audit they do of the previous 13 years of his leadership?

  • Catholics are so accustomed to secrecy regarding Church finances that most of us don’t even question it.

    I served on two separate parish councils in the 1980s and 1990s and was never allowed to see a complete budget for the parishes, yet we did “approve” the budget. We had no input into salaries paid to parish or school staff, yet several on our parish council were to officials at large companies where we dealt with sensitive financial data all the time.  Question: Why does the Church distrust the laity on these matters?

    There is plenty of evidence that this kind of secrecy only enables the worst corruption—as well as ordinary corruption, for that matter—on the parish and diocesan level.

    The books of parishes should be wide open in most cases. There is no real good compelling reason for this financial secrecy in the Church. But bishops and priests have a thousand reasons they want their decisions to be unknown.

    Read what Charles Wilson says about secrecy in the Catholic Church:  http://www.catholicculture.org/docs/doc_view.cfm?recnum=4299

  • It’s obvious Bishop Lori read Fr. Madden the presbyteral riot act.  From the perspective of the bishop, Fr. Madden was a loose cannon, and the bishop knew full well that The Canons were on his side, and I’m sure he made this quite plain to Fr. Madden.

    No doubt, too, Fr. Madden should have realized that taking the kind of action he did without prior approval would be looked upon very dimly by his bishop.

    Considering all the nonsense that has been happening lately, it might be helpful to have a course in the seminary on protocols for dealing with intolerable situations.

  • Fr. Larry refers to “protocols” for dealing with “intolerable situations.” He’s GOT to be joking!

    That’s right.  I was joking.  It would be interesting to see how such a course might be titled or designed.

    Even so, it should not be surprising how clumsy we priests can be when we decide to blow the wistle, or even to complain in the first place.  My point was there are no courses in the seminary for dealing with moral corruption in the Church.  Maybe there should be.  Implementing such a course would do more than raise a few eyebrows.  It might actually get people to think through something that’s been neglected for far too long.

    For example, it might really take the courage and perseverence of a St. John of the Cross to deal with intolerable situations.  It might be helpful to understand and appreciate that at the beginning of these sagas.  “Or what king marching into battle would not first sit down and decide whether with ten thousand troops he can successfully oppose another king advancing upon him with twenty thousand troops?” [Luke 14:31]  It would help for the wistleblower to know what he’s up against.

  • Such clericalism!  Don’t they know that hiring a PI to investigate the pastor is the prerogative of the laity?  grin

  • I have no problem with that, RC.  If people were paying attention, like they’d ought to be, we’d have less abuse, less embezzling and fewer affairs.

    Just sayin.