Action Alert!


By Diogenes (articles ) | May 26, 2004

Meditating -- while in a truck-stop restroom off I-70 -- on the mutability of human existence, Indy priest Fr. Ron Ashmore happened to flash his credentials at a fetching young man who turned out to be a cop. Busted.

He completed a six month course of inpatient therapy and paid his $260 fine. Now Fr. Ron has been proposed to return to ministry, as administrator of three country parishes. Archbishop Buechlein has written parishioners inviting them to share their "candid thoughts" about Ashmore with their pastoral councils.

My own candid thoughts on the matter are unprintable (un-uploadable?), but one would think the archbishop might have realized by his own lights that Ashmore has no future in pastoral ministry. Imagine for a moment that a high school principal were arrested for exposing himself and stayed on in his job. Think of the degree of respect he'd receive from the students. Picture the snickering and cat-calls at the school assemblies. How often could he utter three consecutive sentences without an inadvertent double entendre that would bring the house down?

True, we expect mass-goers to act more decorously than high school boys, but then we expect pastors to deal with more momentous issues than principals. How is Ashmore going to call his flock to self-sacrificing chastity? Will parishioners with a tortured conscience seek him out in the confessional? What will parents tell their children about approaching Father after Mass? ("Well ... so long as you wash your hands afterwards, dear.")

"Father Ashmore has, in fact, been a successful pastor, and I would like to give him a second chance," the archbishop wrote. "We are the Church, and being the Church is about forgiving and being forgiven."

Well, he did say he was sorry, didn't he?

Trolling for creation spirituality in the public restrooms is a pretty negligible offense in the eyes of a bishop, that goes without saying. But even Buechlein ought to wonder whether six months of psychodrama suffices to put a man like Ashmore back in the pitching rotation. (For Sandra Miesel's personal take on Fr. Ron, check out the comments thread at Amy Welborn's blog.) As always, one is forced to conclude that emotionally unstable gays are reassigned to ministry because, for those who make the decisions, the consequences of not reassigning them are even worse.

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  • Posted by: - May. 28, 2004 2:55 PM ET USA

    A hopeful comment concerning dispositions. Is anyone validly ordained who is addicted to grave sin, who practiced the same sin all through his seminary days, ordained anyway by one who knew of his practice, who still practiced his sin after and promoted his addiction. Is he really a priest or received a sacrament. Do not jump right in, think first. Rememnber Luke 24.44 then read psalm 6.5 and psalm 88,10 to 12. I ask does anyone in a state of grave sin receive God's gifts without repentance.

  • Posted by: - May. 28, 2004 12:41 PM ET USA

    Ahhh, that's the life. I never should have left seminary. If only I had kept my mouth shut for six years and dimmed my conscience, I could have had a life of letters and privilege where nothing I did ever brought any real consequence and where I had access to loads of largely undocumented cash. I could have gone about town in fashionable black and spoken down to others who held the Faith as being more than my personal meal ticket. If I screwed up enough, I would be promoted and receive honors...

  • Posted by: - May. 28, 2004 5:36 AM ET USA

    How does it go? "Those who do not learn by history are doomed to repeat it?" Archbishop - remove this man from service. His track record is poor. There is enough scandal and law suits in the Church in America already. Do you really want another?

  • Posted by: Charles134 - May. 26, 2004 3:58 PM ET USA

    In re: shrink's comment: Often I've read that priests caught misbehaving sexually have also been caught dipping their hands into the till. How else can they afford the bed & breakfasts on Cape Cod that they co-own with their lovers? They can't all be trust fundies. I think we're being robbed blind. Is putting money in the collection basket material cooperation with evil?

  • Posted by: - May. 26, 2004 3:07 PM ET USA

    Sounds like Buechlein comes from the same episcopal school as the Davenport bishops as detailed in "the learning curve" below. What will it take for Buechlein to acknowledge that Ashmore IS a problem and should have no clerical ministry whatsoever? Yes, Diogenes' conclusion seems on the money. Perhaps Buechlein - inter alibus - should have no clerical ministry either.

  • Posted by: - May. 26, 2004 1:58 PM ET USA

    Once again we hear this "forgiveness" crap. And once again let it be heard from the housetops - yes, we forgive you fairies, gays and sodomites from the bottom of our hearts! Live long and prosper! But get out of God's sanctuary. Get out for the same reason you should never have entered! The sacrificial priesthood is a vocation from God to which a homosexual is not called. This man should spend the rest of his life in the obscurity of a penal monastery doing penance for himself and others.

  • Posted by: shrink - May. 26, 2004 1:32 PM ET USA

    Bishop Buechlein would "like to give him a second chance". He misspeaks. He means to say that he wants to give him yet another chance. You see, the diocese busted Fr. Ron several years ago for embezzling and misappropriating parish funds, the sums were not insignificant (some guess to the tune of $300000). He left town then with his friend Jerry who lived lavishly at the rectory, and who does not seem to be involved in Fr. Ron's ministry to the trucking industry.

  • Posted by: - May. 26, 2004 1:14 PM ET USA

    Did he really say, he's sorry? Really, really? And just what is it he is sorry about?