About 100 local members of Roman Catholic Faithful mounted a national effort yesterday to support an Arlington priest silenced and removed from clerical duties after he provided evidence of adultery, embezzlement and trafficking in homosexual pornography by three diocese priests.
Carrying signs calling on Bishop Paul S. Loverde to “Stop the Coverup,” parishioners of more than a dozen area Catholic churches protested peacefully for the ousted priest, the Rev. James R. Haley, outside the diocese chancery on North Glebe Road in Arlington.
At a planning meeting Sunday evening, former U.S. Rep. Robert K. Dornan, California Republican, told members of the orthodox Catholic group that he would rally prominent local Catholics, including members of Congress, to co-sign a letter to Pope John Paul II if the bishop continued retaliation against the priest that reportedly began in October 2001.
“We have got a battle on our hands. I’m one of your foot soldiers,” Mr. Dornan told the cheering group. “We’ve got to demand answers.”
Stephen L. Brady, president of the Illinois-based Roman Catholic Faithful (RCF), said he was “ashamed” of bishops who “are more interested in saving themselves from scandal than they are in saving souls.”
For reporting misbehavior by priests, “he gets worse treatment than the child abusers get,” Mr. Brady said. “I’m not here to defend Father Haley. I’m here to point out the contradictions.”
Father Haley told the group he is now “an incardinated priest in the Diocese of Arlington without any ministerial assignment, without any room and board, housing, lodging with any of the priests.”
He said the diocese pays him about $1,700 a month, which “doesn’t even really pay my insurance” because he is considered self-employed and must pay full Social Security and income taxes from that amount.
Father Haley, 46, said he has not been allowed to celebrate Mass with other Catholics as a priest for more than a year.
“I said Mass by myself last Christmas and Easter [and] on the anniversary of my mother’s death,” he said. His family and friends “cannot participate in my Masses,” he said.
“I have been sealed to a silence that says that I cannot speak to anyone about the problems I know. It means everyone except for Bishop Loverde.
“Every cell in my priestly body and soul wants to scream out about what has been going on, and the only reason I’m not is for you all, it’s for the church,” he said.
Gregory L. Murphy, Father Haley’s attorney, told the group that the priest was stripped of his clerical duties after bringing the bishop evidence of an adulterous affair by one supervising priest in Manassas, embezzlement of church funds and homosexual activities in the rectory by an Alexandria pastor, and trafficking in bondage pornography by a Fredericksburg priest.
The bishop moved Father Haley from church to church as he brought him evidence of wrongdoing by successive pastors, Mr. Murphy said.
The bishop placed a “penal precept of silence” on the priest when a parishioner of All Saints Church in Manassas sued the diocese for taking no action after he complained about his wife’s adulterous affair with the pastor, who later got her pregnant. Father Haley had told Bishop Loverde of the affair in June 1999.
The bishop now is moving administratively to dismiss Father Haley entirely, Mr. Murphy said, because the priest testified July 24 in a second case brought by the same parishioner, later dismissed, about evidence he provided to the bishop.
Linda Shovlain, diocese spokeswoman, said, “It is our understanding that no subpoena was issued by the court or served on Father Haley. A notice of deposition was served on our civil law counsel, but a notice of deposition is not a subpoena. Father Haley volunteered his testimony.”
Mr. Murphy disagreed. “There were two subpoenas in two cases,” he said, adding that the diocese succeeded in having the first quashed.
“Under a civil law, he had to speak,” Mr. Murphy said. “The only thing that Father Haley is accused of doing wrong, for which the bishop is taking action against him, is for his complying with legal process in testifying in a civil suit. It does raise a serious issue as to whether they’re attempting to intimidate a witness.”
Mary Susan Grayson, an RCF supporter from Kensington, asked, “Where is the outrage? This diocese is not holy. They’re treating us like fleas on their sleeve.”