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Clarifying his status

By Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. ( articles - email ) | Oct 10, 2003

Diogenes has been commenting on the case of the murder of a young man on Cape Cod and the connection with two priests. The status of one of the priests, Father Donald Turlick, is unclear and news reports have not helped. So I called the Diocese of Bridgeport and talked to its spokesman.

The spokesman told me that Turlick was ordained for Bridgeport in 1961 and in the late 1970s the bishop gave him permission to live and work outside the diocese and pursue his education and counseling work. He has had no assignment from the diocese since the late 1970s. There have been no complaints about him and he remains a priest in good standing with the diocese. It is also their understanding that he has not been active as a priest with a public ministry. And he had no good idea why Turlick was not listed in Kennedy's comrepehensive 2002 Catholic Directory and thought it might have been a clerical error.

This brings up another question regarding priests who serve outside their home diocese, especially in jobs that have nothing to do with the Catholic priesthood. Who oversees people like Turlick? Who ensures he is living and working and teaching according to the Catholic faith? In a time of a priest shortage, why is a priest working as a therapist outside his home diocese? Did Turlick have to check in with his home diocese more than two decades later?

Someone may reply that if you remove all priests from any job except parish ministry you may lose a Catholic influence in that area. Of course, that would be excessive clericalism. Why must a priest provide that Catholic influence? Where are the laypeople that Vatican II said should evangelize the secular world? Just a thought.

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