In the continuing saga of the two priests on Cape Cod who are connected (allegedly in a homosexual relationship) with a convicted child rapist accused of murdering a 20-year-old man in September, we learn today that parishioners had asked the diocese to investigate one of the priests years ago. Soon after Fr. Bernard Kelly arrived at their parish, collections suddenly dropped, even as Kelly embarked on new home improvement projects for the rectory. An explanation is found in Kelly’s admission last week that he “misappropriated” $50,000 from the parish. Most people would just call it embezzlement.
So why didn’t the diocese investigate six years ago when parishioners wrote to the diocese to complain? The diocese says that fluctuations in donations are to be expected with a change in pastor and that while monthly financial reports are filed with the diocese, they don’t get into the details. Then why bother collecting the reports if they don’t look at them to make sure nothing untoward is being done?
The Fall River Diocese receives many letters about pastors, “some pro, some con,” said spokesman John Kearns. If all such pastors were investigated, “we’d never accomplish anything,” he said.
Sound familiar? Like the brush-off letters many dioceses’ sent out to people who complained about priests having “inappropriate” contact with children?
The complaints weren’t all about finanical matters either, but included Kelly’s pastoral style.
She complained that Kelly was “cold and distant,” read mail-order sermons, sat behind the altar where it was hard to see him, and failed to mention Mother Teresa at Mass the week she died, instead asking the congregation to sing “Happy Birthday” to a visiting tourist.
Okay, it’s not a given that a guy who mails in his ministry, who is only going through the motions in his parish, is not being faithful to his vows and violating the moral law on chastity and homosexual relations, but it isn’t a bad indicator either.
My remaining question is how such behavior could be overlooked by the diocese. Once again, I wonder whether there is a network of homosexual priests who protect one another from scrutiny and accountability. It seems that a lot of them seemed to congregate on Cape Cod over the years. I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but if it walks like a duck ....