Time After Epiphany
vol 14, no. 2

E-mail       Print
The Outsider

Father Haley and "The Boy's Club"

By Mark Fellows continued

    Reprinted with permission of Catholic Family News, see Editor's Notes below.


   Father Haley had noticed a pattern. He was being transferred shortly after each conversation he had with Bishop Loverde about immoral priests. Upon arriving at St. Mary's, Haley testified that the parish priest, Father Daniel Hamilton, was "involved in extraordinarily graphic and incredibly disturbing sadomasochism, sexual torture, cross-dressing, transgender pornography that involved she-males. He (Hamilton) was completely addicted, daily immersed in this kind of sexual horror." 22. Deposition, p. 183.

   In September 2001 Father Haley went to Bishop Loverde again. He asked Loverde for a leave of absence "to find a place in the Church outside the diocese of Arlington, where a true respect for priestly holiness and morality and some sort of policy against homosexuals and homosexual activities was to be found." 23. Ibid After requesting leave to find another diocese, Haley also mentioned that there were "problems at St. Mary's." According to Haley, Loverde replied "he was tired of me telling him these vague references to people - priests with problems - and unless I gave him substantial, credible information he couldn't do anything about it." 24. Deposition, pp. 184-5

   Haley had presented Loverde with substantial, credible evidence concerning Fathers Verrecchia and Erbacher. Loverde's response with Father Verrecchia was to suspect Haley of manufacturing and doctoring the evidence. While Loverde stated he had told Verrecchia to stop seeing Nancy Lambert, Verrecchia was not suspended or evaluated for his unpriestly behavior. His relationship with Lambert - and the public scandal it caused - continued until Spring of 2000, when Verrecchia voluntarily and abruptly left the Church to marry the newly divorced Lambert (on Holy Saturday), after impregnating her earlier that year.

   Bishop Loverde was equally ineffectual with Father Erbacher. He never visited St. Lawrence's parish to investigate the evidence Haley had given him, and only acted after Erbacher's activities were publicized. Loverde appeared more effective at transferring good priests than disciplining bad ones. "It seemed," said Father Haley, "that the only person that was getting into trouble was me."

   The trouble continued one week later, when, in response to Bishop Loverde's complaint that he couldn't do anything without evidence, Haley presented to the bishop evidence of Father Hamilton's perversity. "At the end of that meeting," Haley testified, "which was basically a slide show of the pictures of his (Hamilton's) incredible collection, the bishop told me that I had better watch out, that I did not know what he (Loverde) was capable of doing." 25. Deposition, p. 190.

   One week later Father Haley was summoned to the chancery. Loverde handed him a letter of resignation and told Haley to sign it. Haley refused, and asked Loverde what he was going to do about Father Hamilton. Loverde thrust forward another piece of paper, which according to Haley, read: "I hereby instruct you to get out of Saint Mary's parish by 7 o'clock this evening." 26. Deposition, p. 192. Haley persisted in asking about Hamilton, and Loverde said Hamilton was being told of Haley's allegations. He did not say that Hamilton was being investigated, evaluated, or suspended. 27. The Washington Post article (previously cited) reported that Bishop Loverde ordered Hamilton to undergo treatment. Father Hamilton resigned from St. Mary's parish in August, 2002, and appears to have left the priesthood. The Post article is interesting for the fact that it scrupulously referred to "pornography" rather than homosexual pornography that was beyond stomach turning. Then Bishop Loverde produced another piece of paper, which Father Haley describes thusly:

       "If you tell anybody by any means what has happened to Father Hamilton or anybody you will be immediately suspended from the priesthood without any warning. And (Loverde) gave me a further document that (sic) if I said anything about any priest, past, present, or future, in any behavior (I suppose it would include criminal behavior or child rape), that I would be suspended. And I said you mean I'm going to get suspended if I tell the truth to anyone but you, but if I tell you the truth you don't seem to do anything about it. So he took away my faculties, he took away my ability to preach." 28. Deposition, pp. 193-194.

   Diocesan spokeswoman Linda Shovlain confirmed that Haley's right to celebrate Mass and administer the sacraments was revoked in October, 2001. 29. The Washington Post, December 28, 2002. Bishop Loverde has referred to this episode as granting Haley a requested "period of discernment" to discover whether he had a vocation to the priesthood, but very few priests in the history of the Church have begun a period of discernment by being stripped of their priestly faculties, forbidden from any type of pastoral ministry or preaching, and slapped with a (seemingly immoral) penal precept of silence. Loverde's period of discernment sounds more like a prison sentence.

   Moreover, according to his sworn testimony, Haley had requested a leave of absence to find another diocese to be a priest in, not to decide whether or not to be a priest. He claims he told Loverde "emphatically, that I have never in the whole course of my priesthood asked to leave the priesthood." 30. Deposition, p. 206. In a June 14, 2002 letter, Haley told Loverde: "I have never requested a departure from the sacred priesthood." 31. Letter to Bishop Loverde by Greg Murphy, p. 4.

   In spite of this, in all the letters Loverde has addressed to Haley since imposing a "period of discernment" upon him, the Bishop repeatedly writes: "Since it is your intention to leave the priesthood…I am more than happy to help you in your laicization from the priesthood." Haley believes that Bishop Loverde "is trying to strangle me out of the Church." 32. Deposition, pp. 205-206. He maintains Loverde has insisted that Haley enter treatment before he can regain his priestly faculties. He also states that Loverde "indicated to me in the letter of June 28th that on his part, he would not give approval for a transfer to any other bishop. So even if a bishop would want me, Bishop Loverde will not allow me to be transferred." 33. Deposition, p. 209. Father Haley presently subsists on a modest stipend from the Diocese of Arlington, which has required him to relocate several times. In January of this year he was back in Arlington, trying to meet with Bishop Loverde. His perseverance is noteworthy, particularly in light of his testimony concerning bishops and "boy's clubs":

       "If everybody in these stories (about homosexual priests) gets together we're going to find out one little center and it always is the bishop in the diocese…they seem to know, but they will protect every single other person from knowing what they know." 34. Deposition, p. 173.

Bishop Loverde

   Paul Loverde was born in Massachusetts in 1940, and ordained in the diocese of Norwich, Connecticut in 1965. He earned a Licentiate in Canon Law from the Catholic University of America. Father Loverde was an instructor in Canon Law and Bishop's Delegate for Clergy, as well as Chairman of the Presbyterial Council and Diocesan Pastoral Counsel. He became Auxiliary Bishop of Hartford in 1988, and was Bishop of Ogdensburg, New York, when Pope John Paul II appointed him Bishop of the Arlington Diocese. 35. From the USCCB Office of Communications announcing appointment of Bishop Loverde to the Arlington Diocese, January 25, 1999 (http://www.usccb.org/comm/archives/99-005.htm).

   Bishop Loverde cannot be blamed for the condition of the diocese he took over. His predecessor appears to have allowed "the boy's club" to become firmly entrenched before Loverde arrived. In these circumstances it is understandable that a new bishop might, in prudence, take some time to familiarize himself with the homosexual order in the diocesan power structure. In this respect Loverde appears to have been very prudent. Initially, however, his actions pleased Arlington Catholics. Shortly after his installation the new bishop held prayer services outside several abortion clinics. Over 400 Catholics attended, and Loverde led small groups in the recitation of the Rosary. 36. Arlington Catholic Herald, April 8, 1999, reproduced online at www.geocities.com/Heartland/Estates/4152/loverde.htm". Loverde also canceled an event at a Dominican retreat house when he learned that radical feminist speakers, including Mary Hunt, had been invited to speak to retreatants. 37. Arlington Catholic Herald, reproduced at http://www.petersnet.net/browse/2581.htm. In his decision Loverde quoted Mary Hunt referring to herself "as a Catholic feminist liberation theologian, pro-choice and lesbian."

   But under Bishop Loverde the Arlington diocese was also home for many "mini-Assisi" events, like the inter-faith prayer service Loverde hosted in February 2001, where care was taken to present the Bishop as an equal among equals with his separated Protestant brethren. 38. Arlington Catholic Herald, February 1, 2001, which features a picture of Loverde in the background, while in the foreground a Protestant minister leads a "Litany of Thanksgiving" at St. Bernadette's Catholic Church. I am in the possession of numerous other flyers and parish bulletins indicating that the insipid and dangerous drivel known as post-conciliar ecumenism - including inter-faith Good Friday services and petitions "For the Jewish people to enjoy a New Year" - is flourishing in the Arlington diocese. 39. These materials, too numerous to cite here, were provided to me by RCF attorney James Bendell.

   Then there is the apparent belief of Bishop Loverde that unity in liturgy bars kneeling to receive Communion. This was enforced in his Cathedral during the same week Loverde permanently suspended Father Haley. The Cathedral rector not only refused Communion to Virginia Delegate Richard Black, he chased Black to the back of the Cathedral, shouting that Black was "a conservative idiot" and a "liar." 40. This incident was widely reported in the electronic press. I am quoting from an eye-witness, Joseph Strada, who wrote Loverde a letter of complaint. This lesson on how unity at all costs only causes disunity appears unheeded. 41.The Director of Seton School in Manassas, for instance, has declared that the custom of receiving Communion standing is "the custom and posture in every parish in the Diocese…we should avoid confusion and disunity…The fostering of unity in the Diocese of Arlington is one of Bishop Loverde's hopes since his arrival…" Sentinel, Thursday, January 25, 2001. Also unheeded is a Vatican statement declaring that "any refusal of Holy Communion to a member of the faithful on the basis of his or her kneeling posture to be a grave violation of one of the most basic rights of the Christian faithful…" 42. Statement of The Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, Responses to Questions on Kneeling, published in the November-December 2002 edition of Notitiae.

   As miserable as these anecdotes are, they only support the remarkably unremarkable conclusion that Arlington Catholics are victims of the usual post-conciliar muddle. But Bishop Loverde's treatment of Father James Haley has definitely raised the bar. Instead of acting like a shepherd by promptly investigating Haley's evidence in order to protect his flock, Loverde disbelieved Haley's proofs, transferred him twice, failed to give him promotions due a priest of his tenure, threatened him, stripped him of his faculties, publicly discredited him, blocked his transfer to another diocese, and permanently suspended him. Some of his public statements appear knowingly false, like his claim that Father Haley was not subpoenaed. The diocesan attorneys knew this, and surely Loverde either knew this as well, or should have investigated the matter before making his public statement. It is very probable that he also knew that diocesan lawyers tried repeatedly to postpone Father Haley's deposition, then declined to appear at the deposition to question Haley. 43. Deposition preamble by Greg Murphy, Esq.

   Bishop Loverde appears unmoved by the protests of Arlington Catholics over his treatment of Father Haley. He maintains that he has acted properly in disciplining Father Haley, and in his treatment of the priests Father Haley exposed as unfit. "I expect every priest to live a virtuous life in keeping with his sacred calling, including his commitment to celibacy and chastity," he affirmed recently. 44. As quoted in Whistle-Blower Priest In Trouble With Diocese, ABC News Report, December 2, 2002.

   This public statement conflicts with testimony Haley gave concerning statement Loverde allegedly made to him regarding homosexual priests. According to Haley, Loverde told him "there was nothing wrong" with homosexual priests, that "he never asks" if a priest is homosexual: "He said 'I have no right to ask.'" 45. Deposition testimony, pp. 157-158, p. 187. If true, this is a curious attitude not only for a bishop, but for the NCCB Chairman of the Vocations Committee, another position Loverde currently holds. 46. See U.S. Catholic Bishops, Secretariat for Vocations and Priestly Formation, Interview With Bishop Paul S. Loverde, at http://www.usccb.org/vocations/ordination/loverde.htm.

* * *

   "When he consecrated the Sacrament, his voice would just tremble with emotion," a parishioner said of Father Haley. "We were bitterly sorry to lose him." 47. ABC News, Whistle-Blower Priest In Trouble With Diocese, December 2, 2002.

   In the upside down world of the American Catholic Church, it appears that to have a vocation to the priesthood is grounds for suspension, and questioning whether a priest is a homosexual is morally abhorrent. As the rays of sunlight from the New Springtime of the Church fail to provide warmth, as we behold bare branches unadorned by the green leaves of renewal promised from the "New Pentecost of Vatican II," may Father Haley and other faithful Catholics gain consolation from the prophet in Wisdom:

    "For the creature serving thee, the Creator,
    Is made fierce against the unjust for their punishment…
    Afflicted in a few things,
    In many they shall be well rewarded,
    Because God hath tried them,
    And found them worthy of Himself…"
    "The souls of the just are in God's hands,
    and the elect find grace and mercy."

For the first part of this article, see Part One

    EDITOR'S NOTES: We have received the gracious permission of John Vennari, editor of Catholic Family News to reprint various articles that have appeared in his publication that would be of interest to our readers. We urge you to subscribe to John's excellent monthly publication for only $20 a year by calling 1-905-871-6292 or e-mail them at CFN.

      Time After Epiphany
      vol 14, no. 2
      "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do."