Our friend over at Restore DC Catholicism informed me (and it is on her blog) that they have placed Fr. Marcel Guarzino on Administrative Leave.
At this point, I have written this blog posting at least six or seven times but just can't seem to get it right. Nevertheless, here is what I think...
1. The letter by Bishop Knestout says many things, and yet it says very litte. There are accusations (or at least complaints) of intimidating behavior but no one knows what they are. It could be as simple as "Fr. told me to do this in red and that it is the way it is to be done. I think lime green is a much better choice and did not like his style choices. When did the cardinal make him a fashionista?" Or it could be "Fr. told me, in a very stern voice, that I could not do something." We don't know. I would bet that the scent of blood is in the water, and some have decided to take advanage of it.
2. He is placed on admin leave but for all purposes, his priestly faculties have been suspended. He cannot publicly say Mass, Confessions, etc. More than likely, he will be allowed to say it privately, but cannot appear in public, etc. You can slice it any way you want, but that is probably what has happened. I wonder if he is still living in the rectory. Usually, when these things happen, a couple of priests show up at the rectory, tell the priest in question he has 24 hours to pack his stuff and find a new place. Where he goes, they do not care. Just get out.
3. They claim it is a personnel matter. This allows for confidentiality. Can't say anything to anyone, lest we violate Fr. Marcel's privacy. But you know, those who have accused him may come forth to tell their side of the story.
4. From the public relations front, this is a disaster. They may be trying to shield themselves from their own mistakes, but I think that this only makes things worse. The gay and lesbian community will call this a victory.
5. If, Fr. Marcel did what they said he did, when did these accusations appear? Are they new or old? If old (and true -- and we do not know), did the Archdiocese meet and counsel him on what he did or did not do? In other words, did the Archdiocese follow their own public relations statements, as it pertains to a catholic in persistant and public sin, in dealing with a priest who may have not handled things right.
6. Personally, I wonder how the other priests in this Archdiocese feel? I learned of this story late in the afternon, way after Mass, so I did not get a chance to talk to my pastor...but he probably would tell me that he could not speak about it.
7. Were there large numbers of contributors to the Archdiocese who told the Cardinal to either get rid of Fr. Marcel or we will cut our donations to you? I don't know but I suspect that some of that took place and he could not afford a drop in $$$.
So, what can we do...
1. Pray for Fr. Marcel.
2. Hold your donation to the Cardinal's Appeal. Do not give and give to another charity.
3. Be prepared to reduce or eliminate your weekly offering to your parish. This one is the hardest, as we are all members of a parish and want our parish to continue to survive. I am ready to cut my donation in half, if needed. But I will wait at this moment for that.