According to sources, on Friday, June 26th, Father Louis J. Kolenkiewicz attended a funeral at the chapel of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa. He was in full priestly attire. Why is that a problem? Earlier this year, Archbishop Chaput placed Kolenkiewicz on administrative leave. Parishioners at St. Bede the Venerable in Holland in Bucks County, (his most recent assignment) were told he had a pornography addiction. The diocese had disciplined him in both 2005 and 2011, but took further action when the Bucks County District Attorney’s office informed them that of the 12,000 images he downloaded in 2005, up to 12 could have depicted juveniles. (Read Philadelphia Inquirer article here.) An archdiocesan statement issued this February stated, “While on administrative leave, he is not permitted to exercise public ministry, administer any of the Sacraments, or present himself publicly as a member of the clergy.” I’d say showing up in his black cassock and a white collar at a funeral qualifies as presenting himself publicly as a member of the clergy. Three other priests were in attendance. They may have contacted their superiors. But this brings to mind the subject of monitoring. Should the archdiocese be responsible for monitoring its priests who have been removed or placed on leave? Please note that they priests are still receiving financial assistance.
Here is an interesting passage from Opus Bono Sacerdotii. The group works on behalf of priests with “sensitive situations:”
Question: “This is the first time I hear of the ‘monitoring’. Is this happening in more than one diocese? Does this mean you can function in full ministry now? How often do you see this ‘monitor’? Can he just drop in on a surprise visit?
(Answer) First, there is no reason to simply “cave in” to monitoring, especially if there has been no canonical action taken against you. If you are not under a penalty, impediment or irregularity — which has been formally declared in a canonical action of some sort, you can challenge the bishop’s attempts to monitor you as a violation of your right to privacy under canon 220 (“No one is permitted to harm illegitimately the good reputation which a person possesses nor to injure the right of any person to protect his or her own privacy.”) A canon lawyer should be more than happy to help anyone interested in preparing a letter to his bishop to begin such a challenge….
As for the procedures, many dioceses and religious orders utilize monitoring. Monitoring can be handled by a priest, or official of the Archdiocese, or a professional investigator of some sort. Typically the visits are weekly and yes, they are unannounced visits. The reason for this is to insure that your conduct is appropriate at any given moment, however, it also has value for the one being monitored since there is a quantifiable record against any suspicions of restrictions violation.
All that being said, monitoring should be reserved to those that are in most need of it because of grievous continued inappropriate behavior. These priests are usually very accepting of the restrictions that are placed on them having full knowledge of their personal need for supervision. Unfortunately, there is a gross abuse of the monitoring program by dioceses and religious orders. They are now implementing monitoring for just about any priest that has been accused even if nothing has been proven, or the behavior was so long ago the priest has proven himself over many years without ever re-offending.
We are aware of a monitoring case in which a priest who had never been formally placed under any sort of canonical penalty was subjected to a system of monitoring. The priest appealed the matter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), and the CDF responded that the bishop’s actions were inappropriate since no formal process had ever been undertaken in this priest’s case and such monitoring constituted a violation of the right to privacy expressed in canon 220. Again, a priest could address this matter by getting a canonist willing to present a petition to the Archbishop asking that his decision to initiate this monitoring be revoked.”
The Chicago Archdiocese has a monitoring program but its effectiveness has been called into question in recent years. The Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey also has one. (Read about it here). Accused priests are under no legal obligation to listen to the bishops’ terms. However, one would think their pensions and pay would provide some leverage.