St. John Fisher Roman Catholic Church

30 Jones Hollow Road, Marlborough, CT 06447

3rd Sunday of Advent, C18

“Shout for joy!”[1] “Brothers and sisters: Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!”[2] On the 3rd Sunday of Advent we are called to rejoice.

But the Church in the United States has difficulty in rejoicing this year because of the sex abuse scandals which once again made headlines, maybe even worse than the original stories 16 years before. As a member of the clergy, I can only apologize for the behavior of some of my brothers. As I said this summer, I am sickened by their crimes against children and young teenagers. I am appalled by the bishops who covered up the crimes, listening to their lawyers rather than to victims. And I was shocked by the credible accusations made against some priests that I have known for years, not ever suspecting they were guilty of sexual abuse of minors. They hid their depravity well.

Why does it happen? Some cast the blame on homosexuals. But there are homosexuals in all types of employment and walks of life. Are there homosexuals who are priests? Certainly. There have always been; and, I suspect, there always will be. They take the same vow of celibacy as we heterosexuals do. And mostly they keep it. Research has shown homosexuality isn’t the cause of pedophilia. It begs the question: why are girls also sometimes victims? A 2nd reason given is celibacy. But, married men commit these heinous crimes as well, sometimes against their own children.

We are looking for a simple answer. We would like to blame a class of people making them scapegoats for what has happened, but that would be unjust. It would be like blaming all attorneys, doctors, educators, boy scout leaders or coaches if a few of them commit crimes or otherwise bring shame on all the rest.

Archbishop Blair is trying his best to address this longstanding crisis. Included in this week’s bulletin is a letter from him in which he states among other things that next month he will be publishing the names of all priests who have been credibly accused since 1953, the year the Archdiocese was established, as well as the amount paid out to victims of their abuse. He’s taking a risk by giving some another excuse to either leave the Church or stop supporting it financially.

As the people asked John the Baptist, “What shall we do?”[3] I pray that all of you will remain firm in your beliefs, and “Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.”[4]

Why? “The Lord, your God, is in your midst”[5], now and always.

Addenda: As you know I studied Theology in Rome for 3 years. My only contact with the Vatican was when I was appointed by the NAC to be the go between for students who wanted tickets for papal audiences and ceremonies. I would enter the Vatican offices and pick up the tickets from a functionary like myself. Funny story: Swiss Guard saluting me as I entered. Voice saying: Quick! Take a picture. He must be important!

I know no secrets about the abuse of minors; I’m not on the Personnel Board of the Archdiocese and never have been. My only jobs outside of being a parish priest were being appointed to the Priests’ Senate in the 1970’s until it was reorganized by Canon Law becoming the Presbyteral Council to which I reported after being named Director of Continuing of Priests by Archbishop Mansell from around 2003 to 2016 when Archbishop Blair thankfully relieved me of that post. In addition, I taught Moral Theology, Homiletics, and Old Testament to Deacon candidates starting soon after ordination which ended when Archbishop Cronin put the diaconate program on hold while it was being reorganized. I was also on the Board of and wrote for Small Christian Communities until that office was closed.


[1] Zephaniah 3:14

[2] Philippians 4:4

[3] Luke 3:10

[4] Philippians 4:6

[5] Zephaniah 3:17

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