Young Priest Discusses Vocation in Midst of Scandal

“Young Philadelphia priest seeks to be an instrument of healing,” by Monica Yant Kinney, The Philadelphia Inquirer, June 12, 2011.

“I didn’t cause the problem, and I can’t undo events that have caused people such sorrow,” Friel tells me. “But what I can do is . . . be an instrument of healing. Because that is what’s really needed.”

28 thoughts on “Young Priest Discusses Vocation in Midst of Scandal

  1. When I saw your post I had to read the article immediately. I know David from when he was in the youth group in high school at Mount Carmel. He is a wonderful person and I am sure will make a great Priest. I wish he were woking with me at St. Cyril’s
    Thoroughly enjoyed the article, especially his comments about obedience and listening helping us to get to the truth.
    My hope is that he be an instrument of healing. Healing is very much needed. My hope also is that he be an instrument of HONESTY, TRANSPARENCY, OPENNESS and an instrument of ultimate concern for the victim’s rather than the reputation of the institutional Church.

  2. For people in the pews I can understand where Fr. Friel is saying, however, what about us as survivors who are unable or choose to not attend Mass who also need healing? One of the ways he could reach out is support the two laws hanging in harrisburg, but then that would take courage to stand out.. The front page of the Inquirer fills me with so much grief as these courageous men come forward because they are tired of running. There are so many victims out there that if we were all to come forward I am sure the whole of the catholic church would be stunned and shocked at the sheer numbers. Remember, one priest does not stop at one child, they go through dozens before they are ever stopped, if ever.

  3. With all due respect to the young priest, his youth and enthusiasm is not enough. As he matures and as the reality of the life he has chosen presents itself to him. will there be any avenues for him to make adjustments? As he matures, he may want a home and a family; as it stands now, that is impossible.
    As the parent of adult children, I would not want any of my children to make a choice that I think is unhealthy at the age of 25.

    Real changes in the RCC must involve the respect for human growth and development that does not exist at this time. Until these changes are instituted, I believe the priesthood is a sham. I believe that this disrespect for humanity is at the heart of all of the problems the RCC is facing.

    1. Elizabeth, your comment is one of the most ignorant and horribly flawed rant I have ever heard, ofcourse you cover that with “with due respect”. Are you suggesting that this young man does not know the reality of the choice he has made? are you also suggesting that thw many fine, holy and faithful priests around the world who are serious with their vocation, do not understand what they are doing? Obviously you do not know Fr. David’s background. This is a young priest who has enganged himself with many things and finally found peace in the priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ. The fact that a few priests have hurt people terribly does not take away the validity of the priesthood. (I am not suggesting that a few priests justifies any evil, but to use that to call the priesthood a sham is realy silly). As we continue to seek justice and healing for people who have been hurt, we also continue to pray for and support our good and holy priests. God bless us.

      1. Peter -“A few priests have hurt people..” ???
        You might want to check the numbers and think again. There are aprox. 7000 sex offending priests in the US. Their victims number in the hundreds of thousands. The accounts of the sex crimes are horrendous… poor children, deaf children, orphans, handicapped, boys, girls, seminarians, innocent human beings ….The monetary damages for this atrocity amount to over three billion dollars.

        Enough priest worship already. The catholic priesthood is a disordered, disgraced institution. I’d have my kid’s head examined if he pursued it.

  4. I give Father Friel credit for trying. However, I think he is going to have his head handed to him. The problem and the solutions are far beyond his capabilities.

  5. So this guy is going to become a priest and take on the Catholic Church all by his lonesome? Gosh, he’s got guts, but unfortunately I don’t think he has any idea as to the scope of the situation. I think joining the priesthood right now is like joining the Taliban – it’s just not that popular.

    As for healing the victims who didn’t survive, again he probably has no idea of just how large-scale this epidemic is. I tell you one thing, he doesn’t look a day over 12, and he said he’s 25???

    More power to him if he things he’ll be able to change things, but when a man takes a vow of obedience in the Catholic Church, he’s basically signing away “free will.”

  6. I don’t think this priest is saying he is going to take on the Catholic Church. I think he is saying he will minister in the best way he can as an individual. I wish him and any young priest the best. We need good ones. The priests who committed the abuse and those who committed the cover up are still a minority. I don’t think equating the entire priesthood with the Taliban is an accurate portrayal. While we need our priests to speak up on the issue and report to the civil authorities when necessary, I don’t think the entire priesthood needs to be eradicated. Get rid of the guilty ones.

  7. I respect the young priest’s intent. What I don’t respect is the dysfunctional culture of the priesthood, documented by a host of formidable psychologists and sociologists.

    Until the culture is changed, the Church has no business whatsoever encouraging young men to enter an institution wrought with dysfunction.

    Would you want YOUR son there, Susan?

    When will the Church come to understand and value the health and well being of Catholic children, Catholic priests, Catholic women…?

  8. I agree on the cultural problems. I would be very supportive of my son if he became a priest. I’m raising him to always follow his moral compass. It will be sons like him who change the Church. As a mother, I would hope he would choose an easier path, but that would be the same if he wanted to enter the military or become a fireman. I’d like a nice nursing home, so I guess I should push for something financially lucrative. (-;

  9. “Who will cry for the little boy, lost and all alone?
    Who will cry for the little boy, abandoned without his own?
    Who will cry for the little boy? He cried himself to sleep.
    Who will cry for the little boy? He never had for keeps.
    Who will cry for the little boy? He walked the burning sand.
    Who will cry for the little boy? The boy inside the man.
    Who will cry for the little boy? Who knows well hurt and pain.
    Who will cry for the little boy? He died and died again.
    Who will cry for the little boy? A good boy he tried to be.
    Who will cry for the little boy, who cries inside of me?
    -Antwone Fisher

    I’ve added my own second verse here:

    Who will hold the little boy? Lost and all alone?
    Who will hold the little boy? Forgotten among his own?
    Who will hold the little boy? Wanting for a word of love.
    Who will hold the little boy? Wishing for a peaceful cove.
    Who will hold the little boy? Knowing naught but tears.
    Who will hold the little boy? Giving a haven from his fears.
    Who will hold the little boy? Impossibly he fights alone.
    Who will hold the little boy? Swimming, sinking, gone.
    Who will hold the little boy? Trying again to be a man.
    Who will hold the little boy? Failing again, mocked by man.

  10. If you’re looking for a nice little Kumbaya distraction to make yourself feel good about yourself, this is ok. Now let’s let the grown ups take over.

    If he came in and said, “The was the Catholic church is handling this problem is 100% wrong, and I will live on the streets preaching the word of God if I have to”, that would be a news story. Only a handful of priests in history have done this.

    Give the rookie a few years to see if he falls into the same pattern as a million other priests. If he doesn’t, then write a story.

  11. I’ve got a better story, because it tells the truth about the Catholic church. Read the full version at

    The Catholic church:

    – hired a priest named Robert Johnson
    – knew he was an admitted pedophile
    – didn’t tell the congregation
    – allowed him around children

    and he raped 3 more children (that we know about).

    However, the powerful lawyers of the Catholic church found a technicality in the Missouri law, so the Catholic church didn’t have to pay for therapy for the victims of child rape.

    By the way, this happened in Missouri, home of Fr Robert Larson, who raped at least 17 boys. FIVE committed suicide in their twenties. He served prison time for 5 years, and now lives at the St. John Vianney Renewal Center in MO, courtesy of the Catholic church and your donations.

    What an embarrassment to God.

    1. Patrick
      I called you this weekend and left a message-not sure if you got it. There are many people who follow this site,some victims who are in the early phases of telling family about the abuse,seeking therapy,coming forward. Rich has often spoken of “triggers” that can sometimes upset people,it varies widely from person to person.We have heard that some of your posts have been triggers for some victims.They know priests raped children,Bishops lied and the congregation let them down-they have lived it. I don’t want a person who comes to this site for support-even silently- to feel that they constantly have to be reading your posts that may be too “in your face ” for them. People’s feelings vary widely,what works for one person doesn’t for another and we need to respect that.

      1. I rather prefer the way Patrick writes. People need to know the facts and sometime you just can’t tap them on the shoulder, but you have to hit them with a sledgehammer. The horrible gross statistics need to get out there. People need to see the slime covered mess that effects every single victim and the way in which church officials mishandled and ignored complaints of what happened to us. We were alone then, ostracized from an entire organization because we were too afraid of confronting the problem, because we are the victims. Today, we are shunned again, because we are the victims and the church still turns a blind eye and a deaf ear to us.

      2. Rich
        You know what I am talking about.You know how victims react differently.It is not fair for some people to come to the site read a post and the related comments and then be hit with one of Patrick’s comments.Many victims choose to not even read news reports about some of the details concerning this crisis.I don’t have a problem with Patrick’s comments-but if someone is not expecting it because it has nothing to do with the original post-they cannot shield themselves from that.
        We need to be respectful of where people are in the process.I don’t agree with “hitting someone with a sledgehammer” if that person is a victim who is coming to the site for support and leaves feeling blindsided.Sorry but we need to think of everyone in this scenario.

  12. I wish him well and will say a few prayers for him. I admire his courage and faith. I think most of us were naive at that age. I just think right now the institution is in such a mess it is hard or almost impossible to follow your moral compass especially if God forbid you need to report a crime and nothing is done about it and you know it could still be going on. We need good priests but till the system is cleaned up I would not want my son to be a priest. I would not want him to deal with all the repercusions it seems priests have to deal with for being whistleblowers. When and if the the system becomes more Christ-like that would be a different story.

  13. The culture’s problems are the reasons for the multi-faceted sex abuse crisis. Are you saying that we should make every effort to protect children from the culture, but not the men who are called to it?

    We’ve seen that priests have difficulty “following their moral compass,” due to, again, the oppressive, hierarchical culture (and the vow of obedience).

    The culture is the priesthood’s nemesis. Since when is advocating a person’s participation in an institution that is plagued with dysfunction wise, kind or moral?

  14. Kathy,

    Trust me, there’s not many victims coming to this site for support. No offense, but this site is the opposite of support for victims. This site seems more dedicated to making Catholics feel like they’re doing something so they can feel better about themselves. Just calling it the way I see it.

    If this was truly a “support site for victims” then you would try to understand my anger, or the anger of others.

    Peace out!

    1. Rich
      I don’t think this is a support site for victims it started as a forum to share information,thoughts and opinions on the current crisis.However I can tell you that there are victims who do follow the site and hopefully see that their are people who are willing to speak up about the events in the Archdioceses.
      This is a huge problem, has been around for centuries and is not going to be fixed overnight.I realize that I have been the target of some of your anger and have taken it personally-all I can say is just like everyone-I am human too. Kathy

    1. Virtus is the brand name of the awareness program/risk management-loss prevention program created by an insurance company called National Catholic Risk Retention Group Inc., of which the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is a policyholder. Here is some info about its roots.
      Here is some info about National Catholic Riskj Retention Group Inc.
      Virtus is the brand name of the sexual abuse awareness program that all employees, clergy, and volunteers must go through if they are to have contact with children (at least 1X weekly) in this diocese. VIRTUS is also the brand name of the sexual abuse awareness program(Teaching Touching Safety) used in the grade schools in this diocese. This program has been in use for a few years now in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. When people talk about the “safe environment program” this VIRTUS program is usually to what it is they are referring.

  15. I’m impressed with the young man’s hope. Reminds me of first year teachers…until the politics of the system eat them alive. I pray for his strength and courage to stand AGAINST the typical attitudes and behaviors of the hierarchy he just VOWED to be obedient to.

    I actually feel sorry for him in some ways…because the very people “training” him are corrupt and since he’s “in” it, he can’t see it. Rigali ordained him, right?

    God help him.

    1. No longer Catholic??? give me a break. You follow all things Catholic, comment on all things Catholic and desire all things Catholic. How can you call yourself nolonger Catholic. This supports the truth that once a Catholic, always a Catholic. You are obviously angry and disappointed by the wrongs you find in the Church, but obviously too, your heart and mind is still with the Church. So please. turn to prayers and come and help to renew the Church you obviously still love. Thats better than going around speaking evil of the Church.

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