By Fr. Wilson ( articles ) | Oct 10, 2003
In my diocese (Brooklyn), the vicar general makes a huge effort to see to it that he knows where priests "released from diocesan assignment" are, and that contact is kept up with them. Years ago, there were 150 Brooklyn priests in that status -- some teaching, some serving in dioceses elsewhere, some not in assignments. The Bishop began recalling the externs to work here, so I'm sure there are fewer today.
Unfortunately, there are some priests who simply cannot be in assignments, because of the havoc they wreak. If you have a healthy priest or two living with someone who is deranged, you're going to end up with three very stressed priests.
But I have no idea how one would devise a system for keeping track of these guys. As careful as our VG is with this, we still had the case this week of a Brooklyn priest arrested for obscene phone calls, whose apartment was awash with pron, Nazi paraphernalia and bags of bills looted from a Long Island church's collection plate. He had been released from diocesan assignment since 1968, by which time he had been ordained four years and had had three parish assignments. Obviously, he was a disaster in parish ministry. Released to teach, he did so, living in a residence he inherited from his folks.
How do you keep tabs on a guy like him? As I've said, I think our VG is scrupulously careful about this, but surely you can't send in swat teams of chancery staffers to sweep through a private residence. It's a daunting task. I'm glad it isn't my job.
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