Are Priests Being Quietly Removed from Ministry?

A reader informed us that Father Louis Bier, Pastor of St. Francis of Assisi, Springfield was quietly removed from ministry and the clergy list last week. The FOX news report below has more details and reports that the removal does not have to do with inappropriate contact with children.

However, we have learned that a few other priests have also been removed from ministry in recent months. These removals could be for many reasons. We will keep you updated as facts are verified.

These priests impact the lives of many outside their parish assignments. Does the archdiocese have a responsibility to let the wider diocese know the facts? If the removal does not involve child safety, I don’t believe we have a right to know about personal issues. What do you think?

44 thoughts on “Are Priests Being Quietly Removed from Ministry?

  1. Yes Susan, they have a right to know.
    The Victorian Judicial of Victoria refused to correct a Baptism Register that had been alterd to remove any connection between a father and his child [albeit registered on the birth and subsequent death certificate), to preserve the good name of the clergyman, not taking into account, he had requested a rescript of his vows according to Canon 1139 for the mother and his child.
    Canon 220:
    (a) The right to keep ones good name and reputation:
    (b) The right to have others respect what is intimate to ones self.

  2. Responsibility to the laity?

    I may take some heat for this. Not every decision made by management in regard to personnel needs to be shared with the laity.

    Given their track record and in an effort to build trust, it might be in their best interest to be more transparent though.

    If a priest mysteriously disappears from the radar, that could be due to a variety of reasons.
    I dont’ think the laity need to know every detail of a priest’s personal life, UNLESS it places children and unsuspecting adults at risk. I

    So, if a priest has struggled with alcoholism and wants to seek treatment…in my opinion, that’s not information the laity needs to have.

    The problem is there’s been so much moving around for all the wrong reasons, it’s hard for the laity not to wonder and question.

    1. I agree survivors wife. Priests are entitled to privacy if a health or related issue needs to be dealt with -absolutely. Let’s not jump to conclusions in this comment section. A priest’s removal does not always have a connection to something associated with children.
      I am reading this post for the first time along with everyone else and am just confused. Do priests who take a leave of absence for health reasons routinely have their name removed from the clergy list? I don’t know the answer to that question. I do know that the day of the 21 suspensions the suspended priests names were removed from the clergy list -maybe that concern is what lead to someone inquiring about this situation.
      I do know that in November 2010 a few months before the release of the GJ report a priest was removed for allegations . The info about the removal was posted on the AD website and in the Philadelphia Inquirer-not the actual allegations but the acknowledgment that the removal involved children. Abuse,boundary violations? I can’t remember the exact wording but it was pretty upfront.
      I am asking everyone to please take it easy on these comments -we don’t know the reasons -let’s not create scenarios or situations. And if anyone from St Francis follows this site and can clear up any confusion -please comment.

      1. It covers everything. Clergymen here just disappear off the radar too, especially “if something stinks in the state of Denmark”.
        I was giving an example in my reference, it would have been more to protect any other collaborations as with confession and spiritual directions.
        Not to mention catholic clery are not supposd to have children and if they do, never to claim them as their heir apparent.
        This one did, much to the chargrin of many, silly man.

      2. Normally, a priest is not removed from the clergy list if he takes a leave for health or personal reasons.

        The reader says the priest “was quietly removed from ministry.” What does the reader mean?

        If this priest is no longer in ministry, no longer on the clergy list, and not removed due to misbehavior, then it becomes likely that he has exited the priesthood on his own fruition (such an exit is notoriously hush-hush).

        Another possibility is that he has abandoned ministering in the Philly AD, joining a religious order or another diocese. These moves, however, are very commonly announced well before the priests departure.

        Due to the circumstances in the AD, the upcoming trial, etc., the possible reasons for his departure multiply. For example (this is only an example), what if a priest were to provide the prosecution with testimony (apparently, they are)? Would the AD remove him from ministry and strike his name from the clergy list? Not likely because such a move would result in an outpouring of support for the priest, and a backlash of anger towards the AD

        It never takes long (a day or two, if not hours) for people to learn why a priest quietly disappeared. Since this happened last week, I’d say it defies the norm.

        Did he exit the priesthood?

      3. That’s why I posed everything in the post (aside from the facts) as questions. I don’t know why he was removed. However, in the past, priests with addictions or personal issues have not been removed from the clergy list. I agree we only have a right to know if it involves child safety.

    2. I am rereading my comment and think that I was not clear in what I was trying to express. In this current climate just about everything is questioned -understandably. My thought is this removal,leave of absence whatever it may be, is not abuse related.

    3. Over here, it’s usually called “administraion leave”.
      BrokenRites researchers soon sort out the chaff from the hay.
      One case in a country town, Fr.. disappeared off the radar and sometime later it crops up he’s been under investigation.
      The faithful were left up in the air just like you mentioned, and now to their dismay they will learn why.
      No it isn’t right, as they supported him through their sacrificial giving as do others worldwide.
      So too are many others, who indirectly are supporting their children.
      That’s not right either.

  3. SW – You said: “The problem is there’s been so much moving around for all the wrong reasons, it’s hard for the laity not to wonder and question.” JUST SO. I worry that modern day laity do not know the real history of The Church hierarchy. This child assault history is not recent nor are the crimes and violence committed in the name of The Church. Watched The History Channel presentation of THE INQUISITION last night – a 1990 film piece. The violence, the sadism, even the sociopathy of the purpetrators – the cozy relationship between the Vatican and the various kings of Europe at the time – enough to make your skin crawl. And the violence toward women alleged to be witches was carried on from Europe and used in America by the Puritan Protestants. Does anyone in 2012 really believe that witches actually existed or were just a fabrication to “justify” retaining control and punishment of those who questioned the hierarchy and policies at the time. What goes around comes around. All in the name of the Prince of Peace. What sacrilege.


  4. Remind yourself that up until a year ago, Bevilacqua was hiding 35 known pedophile priests for 17 years. Read any of the grand jury reports to see what they did.

    Remind yourself that RIgali stood up in front of the congregation and told you that “there were no accused priests in ministry”, and then the grand jury report came out less than a month later, and proved that he was absolutely lying to your faces. Your children could have been in the presence of any of those priests.

    Remind yourself of the things Bevilacqua arrogantly said to the grand jury, and according to court reports, he appeared to be annoyed, as he said repeatedly that their top priority was the safety of children. He died not realizing he hadn’t completely destroyed the proof that at least 3 bishops and 2 monsignors knew about the “Philly 35” for 17 years.

    I can’t wait until the Bevilacqua videotaped testimony goes viral on YouTube.

    Remind yourself that Fr Pat McCormick, even knowing that the Philly archdiocese is under the utmost secrecy, still got drunk, went driving, and tried to pick up a new street hooker and some drugs. That’s how worried they are.

    Remind yourself that if a priest gets caught naked with your child, there will be hundreds of parishioners telling you how you should forgive the priest.

    Remind yourself that most child sex victims don’t come forward, and the church isn’t actively asking any children if they were harmed by the “Philly 35” or anyone else.

    Most importantly, remind yourself that when it comes to your children, you are 100% on your own when it comes to protecting your children around Catholic priests.

  5. unabletotrust – perhaps the Catholic Church is only as good as the folks who comment regularly on this site. Only as good as the folks in the pews. They have nothing to cover up, to apologize for, to be ashamed about. As in a democratic government (when it works properly and legally) the politicians, the so-called leaders, or as in the case of the CC, the
    Vatican and various levels priests, bishops and cardinals should be answerable to to the people for whom they work and to whom they OWE honest and open accountability.


    1. Unfortunately we are here because of the lack of accountability and transparency that the rcc has pledged. Like democracy that is supposed to work for the people, it is the people who work for the democracy.

  6. Please, I am sorry to digress from the topic discussed here, but I have to respond to “George” who wrote on the previous blog about “Church Bashing” and attacking Kathy and Susan with the same swipe.
    Please, George, analogy: Because politicians lie, cheat, deceive and even steal, does that make people anti-american hate mongers when they criticize, march, occupy or boycott in their attempt to seek justice and decency??
    Most of us on this site have been raised in a Catholic Culture, ( myself also a priest for 50 years). We have been greatly influenced by that culture and the spirit of love that Jesus has called us to share and witness to in the world. The bashing that you perceive in this site comes from the reality that we have been deceived and misled by bishops and priests who have tried to protect themselves and not the ones that they have been called upon to serve. The Grand Jury report of 2005 named over 100 priests who had victimized multiple little children in this AD. The list gets longer and longer as the 2nd Grand Jury report of 2011 states that even more priests were predators and not placed on some type of leave until the cases were investigated.
    Please, George, do not charge the writers on this blog of being anything but authentic catholics who are trying to bring justice to light. If the institution of the Church seems to suffer, then maybe that institution has to use this lent as a time for repentance. We, laity and simple priests have no real say in the reformation of the church except through this type of expression. We are not listened to by authorities and we are often sidetracked by those in leadership. And in all probabbility, we do need women in ministry and priesthood. Keeping them out is just another form of control and closing the door to meaningful opinions.

    1. Dear Father W…. “Women in ministry and priesthood”… I cannot believe that a priest of God would assert such a thing. It has nothing to do with power or authority, clearly you are mistaken or misinformed. the priesthood is about sacramental serve. How sad that you do not understand your own configuration to Christ, to assert such a heresy! Now I know where you are coming from…. I only alert you to the Church’s teaching…


      “Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church’s judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.

      Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.”

      We need reform in the life of priests, I agree with you father and other 100%!!! Sin in men does not justify changing those parts which are essential to our faith, it does require REformation, not DEformation.

      I pray for you…

  7. This is another example of the residual effects of the Church abuse cover-up. Never anymore will a priest be removed from or leave the priesthood without suspicion and questionning. There will always be legitimate reasons for men to leave the priesthood or maybe even for removal, but now, unless that reason is openly communicated, there will always be speculation and suspicion. This is what they have done to themselves.

  8. Fr. W, similar to John 23rd (at the time of Vatican 2) you are “opening the windows” on this blog, and, like those of us on this blog who are seeking a community of truth, we need one another’s input, support and intelligent, adult conversation.

    1. Good for him. No doubt it was an enormous personal and spiritual struggle. It took great courage. I wish him strength and peace.

  9. The laity certainly deserves to know if the reason for a priest’s removal involves theft –or anything else dishonest, illegal or unethical.
    No more clergy covering up for clergy, just because they’re clergy!

    It’s really very simple….We just want the truth.

  10. Secrecy, coverups, lies, and betrayal and hypocricy have gone on long enough!! The Truth be told. Full disclosure. We deserve to know about our “shepherds” They have a responsiblity to be role models, they have taken on that choice as their priestly role. They answer (or should answer) to a higher standard.

    I agree with the poster who states that priests are NOT removed for health or personal reasons such as alcoholism. I know it for a FACT, having relatives and friends who are priests and nuns.

    We been preached to from the pulpit for centuries on how to live our lives (the laity). We’ve been condemned for the use of birth control. It’s time for reckoning! And I’m with you, patrickmalley.

      1. Susan? c’mon… who they’ve left in ministry– you insult ever good priests that we have with such a statement. I’m shocked…. I thought you and others were being “partial and sincere” I don’t see any of that one here … how sad 🙁

        1. I was referring specifically to Father McCormick. He had many serious issues before his arrest. I should have made that more clear. There are many good priests left in ministry and they are being tainted.

      2. Susan… thanks for specifying… you’re right.. there are some bad guys mixed in… as in every field/vocation/whatever… stereotypes and prejudice are never good… that’s what I meant to say…. no personal attacks… we have to fight evil with love.. that’s what Jesus taught us… love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you… remember… And that doesn’t mean standing by when there are injustices and wrongs.. no we have to stand for what is right and good…but we can’t say that those priests “who are left in the priesthood” as you said… are somehow not good. be fair…

    1. Suitability for the priesthood: druggie, drunk, has sex with children, drunk driver, solicits prostitutes, has a silent wife and kids

      “Non suitability for the priesthood”: he’s gay or said women should be priests

      Suitability for parenthood: you keep your kids away from all priests

      Non-suitability for parenthood: you leave your kids with any Catholic priest

    2. George, before the 27 priests were suspended last March -2 priests had been suspended in the prior months. One priest was involved in a pyramid type business,the other was removed for being a danger to children. Then comes March 2011 with 27 suspended as well as 4 others arrested and headed to trial shortly. Last week a priest arrested for soliciting prostitution and drugs. Now this week another priest removed-with news leaking about some arrest of a male friend associated with the priest -something about selling prescription drugs. In the last day ,we have become aware of an additional 3 more priests who have been suspended in the last few months.
      The number of priests who have been put on admin leave and had their faculties restricted in the past 15 months is approaching 40 priests and you ask Susan about her comment? There are good priests -no one ever said that, however 10% of clergy in Philadelphia have been removed in little over one year. Oh and some of the reasons for removals involved children -children George. Maybe you should call the Archdiocese and ask what the heck is going on rather than misconstrue Susan’s comment. We have been more than fair and sincere .If you are going to feel sad,why not feel sad about the children who were raped and are now adults and the children who have been put at risk over the years. That is what I feel sad about.
      And the funny part is people like George will come on here putting us down while off line we receive messages of support from clergy …yes clergy -far right ,conservative clergy also George – -encouraging us for our efforts of protecting children,justice for victims and shining a light in hopes that there is a future for many in this church.

      1. Kathy… I agree with your comments wholeheartedly, 100%, without a doubt… I’m on your side… I’ve just noticed that people on here are mixing things up, especially people like Father Wintermeyer, who may be “compassionate” and “nice” and “caring” .. that’s great… but it doesn’t justify reordering or dismissing the Church’s essential teaching. Now to what’s important on this website… abuse of children, sexual misconduct etc is wrong, wrong, wrong, it’s criminal, it;s sinful….and needs to be removed from the whole world, not just the Church. Stick to your competence… which is fighting for those kids, fighting for justice and truth…. don’t try to change Church teachings, which we , as lay faithful, need for our salvation! The issue here (eh..hem.. Father W, and his liberal friends) is not Church teaching! the issue is justice and getting rid of the bad eggs…Jesus came to save us and to give us the Father’s joy…. some priests have abused their privileged positive as servants of God and of man…. we need to do our best to reform the church and the world… that’s what I meant Kathy and others… please don’t mistake me for a liberal or a conservative…. I just want to be a faithful catholic and see priests who are faithful, that’s all.

      2. George, I couldn’t agree more about fighting with love. My wording wasn’t clear. The leadership has left some bad priests in ministry (per today’s lastest breaking news and our latest post). But not all priests are bad. I admire quite a few. I only wish they had more to say right now. I’m thankful a couple have been brave enough to minister on this site.


      3. Excuse me but George needs to know that the “bad guys” are not limited to sexual abusers. The “bad guys” include the hundreds of thousands of clergy members worldwide who participated in concealing incidences of abuse, or conspired to cover it up, or destroyed relevant documents, or moved from parish to parish the abusers. Included also, are the silent priests who have relevant information on incidences of abuse but who fail to expose it.

        Other “bad guys” include priests who are aware that fully 50% of their brothers are sexually active at any given time (that percentage is documented, George). When half of your brothers are sexually active, they are “bad.” When the other half turns a blind eye, they, too, are “bad.” The argument that the sexual lives of priests is not our business is hogwash. Read on this subject. Everything written on it says the sexual lives of priests IS our business as long as they purport to be celibate.

        In addition to the inordinate number of “bad guys,” there is the “bad culture”– in particular, the culture of clericalism and the culture of obedience at the expense of individual good-conscience.

        Then, there is the “bad health.” Read Richard Sipe’s works, George. Read about how psycho-sexual immaturity and psychological dysfunction plague priests. And read about how the very bad priests won’t acknowledge or address it.

        Bad priests. Bad culture. Bad health.

        There is not a single priest, not one, who is not inflicted, one way or another, with one or some or all of the BAD.

        Pray, George, that the Holy Spirit moves the Church to reform the priesthood.

      4. George, could not agree with you more, I think dealing with abuse is predominately a justice issue, and a PRIMARY justice issue, before all other considerations, and Hadit helped me with this.

        I have had a history of dealing with poverty issues, both church related and otherwise, which I also see as a justice issue, and about which the church has done a lot.

        However, and this is where we may diverge, criminal sexual molestation behaviour by clerical perpetrators and its cover up by hierarchy, are a primary justice issue. they are a FIRST MATTER FOR CONSIDERATION! everything else is secondary.

        The example I often use is that if I had a personal track record of charity and yet murdered someone and was convicted, the courts
        might weigh my personal style at sentencing, but I would still be heavily punished, and justly so.

        That is the problem we face with the church today. For all of the good stuff that the church has done and does do, there is this horrifying reality that not only has Gods will NOT been done with relation to the care of the most vulnerable amongst us, but it has been dragged in the gutter in ways beyond contempt.

        Until this situation gets sorted out, identified, prosecuted, imprisoned et al, the rest of this conversation is essentially moot!

  11. Supposedly, he was removed for drug abuse and an improper relationship with the person who was dealing the drugs to him, a male from what I have heard. This information came from parish workers who have asked to be kept anonymous. Just another tragic chapter in a Church that seems to be imploding.

    1. I saw a report on cbs3 -it was a little unclear ,something about a male friend of his being arrested for dealing prescription drugs -somewhere near his summer home. I expect we will be hearing more over the next few days.

  12. “Ordinatio Sacerdotalis” ? …. Mystical, celibate, Latin jargon for, “We don’t want any chicks around here to mess up this sweet deal we’ve got going on –.and we’re certain Jesus agrees -’cause He didn’t really have much use for them either.”

    How do these megalomanics make this stuff up – And they still need to wonder where their following went? LOL!

    1. Crystal … you’re very wrong… women are very important and even necessary…. sad that you refer to other women as “chicks” that reminds me of the 70s when other guys in high school used to say that to girls… it’s very demeaning… how sad that you would think that priest would even think of something as demeaning as what you wrote above about women. I think your views are very far from reality….by they way do you even know what a “megalomaniac” is? And why would they “make this stuff up?” what did John Paul II gain by writing that document? as for the following… reports indicate that the catholic faithful worldwide grew …. just because you lack faith doesn’t mean others don’t profess it

      1. Since Jesus made apostles only of mideastern male jews, I guess they are the only ones able to be priests. Al those italians in Rome are fake also all of the american church heirarchy, unless of course if they were mideastern jews first.

      2. George, I’m often wrong and i appreciate that you took time to read my thoughts and do not mean to come off as unfriendly or confrontational here. Unfortunately you are right ..The faith I once had in the institution of the RCC is gone…
        Would a megalomaniac be a man who claims to be infallible when he tells the world what God’s will is for the “one true church”, of which he claims to be the leader –all the while living in a fantastic home in the Vatican (while 15 million children slowly starve to death each year)-?
        Do you realize how many of the world’s children the pope (JP2) intentionally turned his back on– enabling their victimization by his holy men? Countless children. What if one of those precious kids was yours?

        No matter what fancy words they choose, and in what language, most intelligent women understand that the Vatican guys have long considered us ladies, “chicks” — and you’re right again, it IS demeaning.
        -btw- I don’t trust the RCC with statistics measuring the “growth” of Catholicism worldwide. Our Church sadly, is in a tail spin.

      3. Crystal, given the fact the nuns who reported Brennan’s behavior were referred to in court as “rats and wimps” I think “chicks” is an upgrade.

      4. kathy ..i think it’s sad how the nuns were used in the AD system for so long. Although some may have their part in the mess, I’m inclined to feel that they mostly lost out and are now tainted by association.
        If they had been trusted to hold the real power in the administration of the schools, no doubt the kids would have been kept safe. I’ll bet the educ. would’ve been more progressive too. Instead they were treated as inferiors and everyone lost out.
        So many bright minds, such talent and hard work for the AD- in exchange for much disrespect and financial hardship.

  13. Improvement comes only to organizations and institutions when women have equal rights and PARTICIPATION. Until 70 years or so ago there were very few female lawyers, members of congress, CEOs, physicians, ministers, police…………………. THERE ARE STILL NOT ENOUGH.

    When males, from the get-go, started making up the rules and regulations of The Church power and governance it stands to reason that they would never let that go – nor would like- minded men in 2012.

    It is no scecret to anyone that men have maintainted dominance in society from the very beginning.

  14. Latest update that I have heard…. Supposedly police were tracking the male selling the drugs for several months. Tracked him to a vacation home owned by the clergy member in Rehoboth. Arrested the drug dealer inside the home…relationship between the two men was revealed. AOP went to the rectory and told the removed clergy man that he had eight hours to remove all of his belongings and leave.
    Comes from an anonymous, reliable source.

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