Wednesday, January 15, 2014

THIS PUBLIC WAR

Because the commenter resorts to name calling, we will not post his/her comment, but will still address the commenter's accusation that Fr. Paul was a $%^& for "going to the media", and that this should have been handled internally.

First, at no point in this war between the Archbishop and Fr. Paul, which began on July 16, 2013, has Father Paul ever initiated any contact with the media. In fact, the first person to "go to the media" was Fr. Adrian Cristobal, who issued this press release early on in this affair on July 22, 2013.


The truth is, each time Fr. Paul, himself, or a statement of his, has appeared in the media, it is because the media went to him. Also, Fr. Paul, until yesterday's press release, has not sent anything to the media, his supporters did.

The public nature of this war was initiated by the Archbishop on July 16, 2013, when instead of calling Fr. Paul in for a private conversation to pastorally express his concern (something actually mandated by Canon Law before the process for the removal of a pastor can even begin), the Archbishop summoned Fr. Paul to the Chancery where he handed him a letter and told him to read it.

The letter 1)"asked" (haha) Fr. Paul to resign as pastor of Santa Barbara, 2) relieved him of his position as Vocations Director and Director of Diaconate Formation, and 3) effectively kicked him out of the diocese by telling him to go find another bishop who would take him.

The reason for the "haha" after the "asked" is because the so-called request was followed by the words "or endure an arduous and painful closure to your assignment". That's the language of threat, not request. 

At this point, Fr. Paul advised the Archbishop that he would notify his congregation of what the Archbishop had demanded. The Archbishop did not attempt to negotiate any sort of amicable solution and was fully aware that the people of Santa Barbara would learn of his actions against Fr. Paul. Apparently he didn't care, probably because he believed no one would dare stand up to him. 

Fr. Paul wrote his letter to the congregation of Santa Barbara and made it available after Masses on July 20 & 21, 2013. This was the only time Fr. Paul initiated any public statement of his situation, and, as pastor, and out of charity to the congregation, he had a responsibility to do so.

The Archbishop then sealed the public nature of his actions against Fr. Paul by appointing a parochial administrator to the parish, effectively firing Fr. Paul in a very public (and canonically illegal) way.

The only time Fr. Paul has initiated any contact with the media is the aforementioned press release of January 14, 2013, which was issued to answer questions from the media about the Archbishop's statements implying that Fr. Paul was involved in a homosexual affair with Mr. Lastimoza. The media was not made aware of the documents relating to the affair by Fr. Paul. The media was made aware of them by our publication of them on this blog.

Fr. Paul has counselors and advisors, and it was they who decided to share this information with the public, not Fr. Paul. The matter is doubly public in this case because the Archbishop has named a lay man as the other person involved in the alleged affair. In doing so, the archdiocese no longer has any right to continue to cloak this as an internal matter.

The archbishop had no business standing up in front of 30 plus priests and deacons in the first place and airing these ugly things. The clergy were on retreat, hoping to deepen their spiritual lives and enjoy a bit of respite. Yet, the archbishop took the opportunity to burden them all with this so-called "private matter."

So let's review. We have 1) the Archdiocese going to the media first with its press release last July, 2) the Archbishop's public firing of Fr. Paul by replacing him with an administrator, and 3) the public allegations to the clergy as a whole that Fr. Paul was involved in homosexual affair.

It is VERY CLEAR who made this fight a public one. And even when Fr. Paul did speak to the media, his major concern was addressing his decision to help a man, a former prisoner, who admittedly committed a horrible crime more than three decades ago, but had expressed great sorrow and a wish to be reconciled with his faith. Fr. Paul chose not only to assist the man spiritually but materially as well, giving him a small job as a maintenance man. 

How sad that Fr. Paul was not just called in by the Archbishop to have a private chat about the concern in the first place. But correcting the alleged problem was not the aim of the firing of Fr. Paul. The Archbishop wanted to get rid of Fr. Paul for another reason. The issue of Mr. Lastimoza was just the cover. Everyone knows this. And in an upcoming post we will provide the evidence for it.

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