all your fault

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Dec 05, 2006

Perhaps you remember the case of Father Michael Fay, the light-fingered priest who evidently lifted $1 million or more from the collection plates at his parish in Darien, Connecticut. This was possible because:

  • A priest whose salary was about $28,000 threw himself a black-tie dinner at the posh Pierre Hotel in New York, and the diocese didn't see any reason to investigate.
  • The pastor was away from his parish for 1-2 weeks a month, and the diocese didn't see any reason to investigate.
  • The priest and his steady male companion were featured as a fun couple, and consulted about ideal romantic evenings together, in Philadelphia Style magazine, and the diocese didn's see any reason to investigate.
  • The pastor refused to discuss parish finances with his own parish financial council, and the diocese didn't see any reason to investigate.
  • The pastor and his boypal shared luxury homes in Fort Lauderdale and Manhattan, and the diocese didn't see any reason to investigate.
  • The diocese hadn't audited the parish for 5 years-- a violation of its own norms-- and.. well, obviously didn't see a reason to investigate that. Shortage of staff, you know.

What was it, exactly, that the diocese wasn't investigating? The Norwalk Advocate offered a sample:

During a single week in November, for example, Fay spent $2,800 at Cartier in New York, $2,300 at the Polo store in Philadelphia, $1,400 on designer men's wear at the Ermenegildo Zegna Boutique in New York, $1,200 at the Tumi luggage store on Madison Avenue, and $473 on tickets to the Broadway production of "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang," according to credit card records.

Finally the Darien parish fell behind in its payments to the diocese. That was a reason to investigate.

But still not a reason to take action. The fingers of suspicion were all pointing toward Father Fay as of last fall, by all accounts; still he remained in place, with his hands still in the cookie jar. His associate and the parish secretary gave a detailed report to the chancery. Same result: Fay stayed in charge.

Things finally changed, as OTR readers may recall, in May, after the associate pastor hired a private eye to expose the theft. Then, after the scandal became public, Bishop William Lori took action, forcing the pastor's resignation (and, just to show who's boss, disciplining the priest who'd had the temerity to hire an independent investigator).

Now, 8 months later, investigators are still unraveling the details of the former pastor's illicit spending, which apparently ran to well over $1 million. And Bishop Lori-- whose diocesan leadership motored so blithely through all those flashing yellow lights-- knows where to place the blame:

"If people within the parish who knew what was going on had come forward sooner, "we could have saved a lot of money," Lori said.

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  • Posted by: annedanielson4099 - Aug. 06, 2010 7:23 PM ET USA

    Why would US Catholic publish this piece unless they did not believe Christ when He said, "Have you not heard from The Beginning that a Man shall leave his Father and Mother and be joined to his Wife and the two shall become one Flesh..." Only in a complementary relationship can two become one body, one spirit in Love thus creating a new Family, which is the essence of Marriage.

  • Posted by: Gil125 - Aug. 06, 2010 6:54 PM ET USA

    At this reading there are three comments on this piece in US Catholic. All of the readers of even that publication disagree with the writer's redefinition.