Doppelgänger

Gosh. Is it just me, or does Fr Kevin Lee, the Parramatta priest formally suspended yesterday, remind you of someone else?

I can’t quite place the similarity. Maybe it’s the fact they’re both married priests. Though of course only one of them is married sacramentally.

36 Comments

  1. Fr Bob
    May 2, 2012

    Uncanny.

    • Anne
      May 3, 2012

      Fr Bob, it has been said that everyone has a “double” somehwere, including you and me heaven forbid! well here is his. Or alternatively someone in his family tree got around.

  2. Florence
    May 2, 2012

    It is a shame that the Parramatta priest entered into a civil marriage a year ago. There is no shame if a priest decides that he can no longer be a priest and he wants to get married. He should do so honourably by approaching his Bishop and giving in his resignation. He should then get married Sacramentally. Then all would be well. I admire anybody who is gutsy and who is honest with himself/herself. There is no harm and no shame if a priest wants to leave the priesthood and get married, but he should do it the right and honest way.

    Well, I am not going to go into the whys of the situation. I just think it is an unfortunate situation that he deceived his parishioners for one whole year.

    I presume, he would be able to get married sacramentally now. If he is able to correct the wrong by getting married sacramentally, then all should be well for him and his wife. This priest should not be tormented by the media or by the community. We should pray that all would be well for him between him and his God.

    • Fr John
      May 3, 2012

      Florence, you’re very compassionate, which is laudable! But we need to call a spade a spade. Rescinding one’s priestly vows to marry is no different to rescinding one’s marriage vows to marry.

      I’m sure it takes an adulterer a lot of courage to fess up to his wife and leave her. And it’s an act of honesty which is more honorable than one alternative (deceiving everyone and leading a double life). But still, it’s not a course of action which should be celebrated.

      • + Wolsey
        May 3, 2012

        It’s doubtful, for reasons I will not go into here, whether it’s even possible to take the kind of implied vow presupposed by canon law. What’s indisputable is that this fellow made a promise not to marry (not all promises are vows, but all vows are promises). He should have sought a dispensation.
        In any case, if things were as they should be, he wouldn’t even be in this situation. He would have been able to get married sacramentally at the very least, prior to ordination to major orders.

      • Anne
        May 3, 2012

        +Wolsey shall westrt again like yesterday? You are referring to the celibacy issue again arent you?
        this is about dishonesty. Awhole years worth. He knew what he was doing. He didnt even have the decency to resign, he wanted “his cake” etc.
        At his ordination he made a sacramentum (vow) not promise. A sacramentum involves God.
        How could he copnsecrate? baptise? bury? give absolution, when he was living such a lie?
        Scandalous….

      • + Wolsey
        May 3, 2012

        Sorry, it’s not a vow. A vow is not made with the threat of holy orders being withheld if one refuses to make the “vow”. It’s a promise of exacted under duress.

        But far more serious is the diriment impediment to marriage of holy orders.

        He should have followed the procdure advocated by Florence.

      • Fr John
        May 3, 2012

        You’re right Wolsey. I should be more precise in my terms. Religious make vows of chastity, but diocesan priests make promises of celibacy.

        I wouldn’t be so hasty to claim it’s a promise made under duress though. Not in our society anyway. It’s hard to imagine anyone desperate to become a priest, and forcing down the promise of celibacy as though it’s the unwanted vegetable which must precede dessert.

        My own generation of semianarians and priests take celibacy and priesthood as a package. I gave equal weight to the discernment of each. Perhaps a case can be made that an earlier generation of clerics were ordained all the while hoping that “the spirit of Vatican II” would soon dispense them of their promise of celibacy. But even that’s stretching credibility. Ordaining married men has precedence; marrying ordained priests is unheard of East or West.

      • + Wolsey
        May 3, 2012

        I think clerics were getting married prior to, and after ordination to the subdiaconate until Lateran II. But prior to Vatican II there were the minor seminaries. It is hardly likely that someone institutionalised since they were 12 or 13 years old could reasonably have understood what they were giving up, so as to have taken a valid vow in any case.

      • Florence
        May 3, 2012

        Fr John, We need to pray more for priests. Maybe we are not praying enough.

    • Fr Thomas
      May 5, 2012

      Florence, he may apply for a dispensation from the obligation of celibacy. That is a separate request from asking for laicisation. A priest may be laicised without being allowed to marry. He may well be given both, but that is not automatic, and a deacon undertakes the commitment of celibacy knowing it is for life. People should pray for him that he will live in grace. Will permission to marry help him in this regard? Many priests who received permission to marry later divorced. His prior admitted infidelities and deceit are not a good preparation for a happy marriage.

    • Julie
      May 5, 2012

      Florence the trouble is to make a smoke screen for his lies and betrayal and make himself look like the injured party he intends to publish a book outing priests, he also says that celibacy increases pedophilia a ridiculous claim. This story goes so much deeper, he also claims to have never kept his vow of celibacy in the last 20 years. The parish to be honest is better off without him and will hopefully receive a dedicated, law abiding priest. His expose book is typical Kevin, it is just a huge smoke screen to justify his lies. If he knows of wrong doing in the church as a police chaplain he should of said something, as for others priests being married I find it highly unlikely and this he also should of gone to the Bishop about. There are many Kevin followers at the parish because apart from the really strong catholics the rest of us left as it was just made too uncomfortable for us to stay. It was always the Gospel according to Kevin when I listened to his homilys, which often distressed me as they went against my beliefs. It has taken a long time for me to trust anything a priest says since I left. This news simply confirms my suspicions and I pray the community there and hope they can find peace and unity.

  3. marcus
    May 3, 2012

    FR John, I don’t think making light of this situation is doing a service to the church, what has occurred is a complete breach of trust to his church and to parishioners, to further come out and throw mud is beyond the pale. Good priests and that is the majority, love the Church its traditions and culture, love the Bible and love the Pope, those who deceive only love themselves. Little wonder people are turning against the church, undoubtedly the media will have a field day and further try to weaken the church, a new phase has also hit the airways where ex priests throw doubt in held beliefs ie no resurrection, no last supper and doubt that a Jesus Christ ever existed.
    Fr John no need to advertise what is evil, give us positive news please!

    • Fr John
      May 3, 2012

      I hear you Marcus. It’s a sad case.

      I don’t think that this post throws any mud. It’s just a look-alike. But I’ll wear the “making light” accusation.

      That said, let’s not attach too much gravity to the case. I’ll pray for Fr Lee, and for his wife, and for his parishioners. But worrying about the fate of the Church writ large is better left to the Lord.

      Pax.

      • Anne
        May 3, 2012

        Fr John when I saw this news item on channel 7 it broke my heart. What was his motive for doing it this way except to use it as a way to corner the church into the “celibacy” issue again, and married priests, and women priests etc.
        Like, Florene I would have had respect for him if he had the integrity of seeing that he could not live without his “lady love” go to his Bishop, leave his “first love” (‘Church) and do the right thing.
        As it is, he was dishonest, dishonest dishonest. There is nothing redeeming in his action including going to the media whose “love” (or lack there of) is well known.
        No there was nothing to be achieved in his action just more self acclaim.

      • Florence
        May 3, 2012

        Fr John, the Catholic Church has survived for 2000 years. Stray incidents like the above will happen here and there. Thank you for giving us this information. Now we have one more additional type of category to pray for and we must pray in earnest. Jesus Christ is a forgiving God and the Holy Spirit is kind, gentle and compassionate. All of us must get down on our knees and pray for Our Beloved Catholic Church.

      • David
        May 5, 2012

        Fr John,

        Is it in fact correct to describe her as his ‘wife’? Is it not the case that if a Catholic marries outside the Church (without authorisation) then the Church does not recognise the validity of the marriage, and hence would automatically issue a decree of nullity. Given this, Fr Lee has also done a grave injustice to this woman who (I assume) believed she was his wife.

        I’ve been following a blog about a priest in India, Fr Gali Arulraj, http://gali-arulraj.blogspot.com/ which is unbelievable (except that it seems to be true). This priest has a ‘wife’ and a couple of kids, and is awaiting trial after embezzling the equivalent of 3-4 million Aus dollars, and yet his bishop refuses to even suspend him from the priesthood. I was pleased, by contrast, to see the sensible statement by Bishop Anthony Fisher of Parsamatta indicating that it was obvious that after his actions Fr Lee could no longer function as a priest.

  4. marcus
    May 3, 2012

    Fr John, taking a light approach is just not good enough, firstly I am NOT making a personal judgement but what has occurred has left me speechless, this was premeditated and planned and has brought unnecessary negative attention to the church, The ex priest has made nasty allegations, I have now heard comments from people, like if a priest isn’t a pedophile he must have a women on the side. The priest in question showed no respect to the people he served but acted in a selfish way, The question one might ask is why didn’t he leave the priesthood before he got married.
    It is high time all priests and indeed all Catholic make it perfectly clear that what occurred in this instance was wrong and certainly not in accordance with its teachings.

    • + Wolsey
      May 5, 2012

      If the Latin church adhered to the original discipline of voluntary clerical celibacy situations such as this would be rare indeed. The law tries to make virually universal among the clergy that which cannot be legislated – one cannot legislate the possession of a charism. Hence the all-too-common failures to live up to the law.

  5. Florence
    May 4, 2012

    Marcus, I agree with you. If the ex-priest wanted to get married, he should have given in his resignation to the Bishop. Yes, he should have left the priesthood and then got married. For any lay Catholic not to get married Sacramentally is wrong. It is absolutely unthinkable for a priest to enter into a Civil Marriage. In fact it is shocking. Yes, this ex-priest did wrong and if anybody does ask us, we will admit that it is against the teachings of the Church. As Fr John was mentioning, I think this priest did not go for confession regularly because if he did, he would not have been in this predicament. So, I agree with Fr John that all people should approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation on a regular basis. Every time we go for confession, Jesus Christ forgives us our sins and He gives us the grace to prevent us from committing this again. But if we do commit the same sort of sin over and over again, we should confess the same sin over and over again until Jesus Christ removes this sin from its roots and we will not be bothered with it again.

    • marcus
      May 4, 2012

      Thanks Florence for your comments and support, its a shame priests are silent on this matter (Fr John included)… Undoubtedly the church is going through a difficult time… be prepared that attacks on the Bible is next to follow…this will be worse than anything else we have gone through.

      • Fr John
        May 4, 2012

        Interesting observation Marcus. There are some things I think priests should never be silent about. Clerical abuse for example. I know lots of people say, “it’s in the past; let’s move on.” But for the victims and their families, the past is also the present, and it will be for a long time. Given the history of institutional cover up, I think it’s especially important for clergy to continue speaking up about this — acknowledging that evil occurred, recognising and hearing victims, and renewing the apology on behalf of the whole Church.

        But in a case like Fr Lee’s, I’m not so sure. Bishop Fisher has said what needs to be said. Surely it’s presumed that I would object to Fr Lee’s conduct — not to mention his preposterous statement that I, too, am leading a double life. I’m not sure how adding my voice to the chorus can help anyone. Still, my mind is open, and you’ve got me thinking.

      • Fr Justin
        May 4, 2012

        Concerning speaking up about abuse, priests should do so enough for people to clearly know where we stand, and enough to help them deal with what has happened in the context of their own spiritual lives.

        But the people in the pews haven’t done anything wrong, and they do have the right to eventually ‘move on’, to not have their own faith journey unduly dominated by the crimes of other people. They hear enough about it from the media. Likewise, there do exist victims who have moved on in effect, but for whom every new mention , whether by us or the media, re-opens the wounds.

        And if in our pews there are victims who haven’t been able to move on, I don’t think our endlessly returning to the matter will help them move on. And if they don’t believe our first apology, why will they believe our second? I speak as one whose own family history has been affected by this matter.

        Concerning whether we should speak about secret clerical marriage, everyone knows what the teaching of the Church is. If people in the pews already know clearly that a priest believes in the Church’s teachings, that he believes in mortal sin and in hell, then they will know what he thinks about secret clerical marriage. Unless they conclude he’s a hypocrite even when he talks about the first part – but then they won’t believe him when he talks about the second part either. So I see no point in such a priest mentioning the case of Fr Lee at Mass.

        Only if a priest thinks people might still be unsure of where he stands on Church teachings, or on the seriousness of the moral life, might it be worthwhile (I’m not sure) for him to bring it up – but in a sad and compassionate way, not an angry way.

      • Fr John
        May 4, 2012

        Thoughtful as always Fr Justin. Though perhaps things are a bit different in the country and in the city. In a country town, if the local newspaper splashes clerical abuse on its front page day after day, the topic which is dominating conversation is predetermined. That’s the context, I think, in which official silence is unhelpful. But as you say, dwelling on it doesn’t help either.

        That said, I hadn’t been thinking about any of this in the context of the Sunday homily. I wonder if that’s what you mean Marcus? Or are you speaking of priests speaking up in other media: blogs, newsletters, radio appearances, etc?

      • marcus
        May 5, 2012

        Fr John, Understanding, respect and being non judgemental is one thing, forgiveness for sin is left in Gods hand, the decline in the catholic church is largely the fault of bad priests,who give bad example and have a lukewarm approach to church teachings. A person looking at the church from the outside would observe that priests don’t live by example, don’t practice what they preach and don’t believe in what they preach, if they were employed in the private sector they would have been sacked a long time ago.

  6. Wide
    May 4, 2012

    Talking about dishonesty, I was once a parishioner in his church. I left due to the fact, I have witnessed a lot of indecincy with his actions. He has been involved with his parishioners, some married. And so for him to come out in the open might give him a better chance of redeeming his place in heaven.

  7. Numb
    May 5, 2012

    I attend Padre Pio, Glenmore Park and I have felt lost, upset, angry, hurt, used and I could go on and on about Kevin Lee and his statement early in the week.

    I was also at the Mass that was filmed and I am still very upset we were lied too.

    I don’t know what tomorrow will bring when I walk into Church for Mass with my family but I do know we are a Community very much divided.

    I have tried to voice my emotions only to be battered by they all suppor him. I feel for those that are like myself and my family and are devote Roman Catholics and assume that our connection to God here on earth is Faithful to his Religion.

    I would have had more respect had Kevin resigned . Let us not forget he has admitted in his years of being a Priest he has had 20 relationships.

    How much of the offerings made in our Masses has been used for him to keep these relationships going.he has been on many retreats etc.

    I agree about him attending Confession, how can he have lived this lie for so long and not practice what he instructs us to do. He has as good as had an affair.

    • Fr John
      May 5, 2012

      “He has as good as had an affair.”

      This is an astute observation. In the course of our celibacy seminars in the seminary, we were told of the grieving process which occurs when a priest resigns his parish and marries. It can be compared to the fallout of adultery and family breakdown.

      You and your family — and the other parishioners, whatever their reaction — are in my prayers.

  8. Michael Webb
    May 5, 2012

    As a Catholic I think you should think outside the churchy square ( or is that circle).

    Haughty and arrogant aspects in church rules are not to be treated as DE FIDE. Also we are Catholics and not cold Jansenists. Priests who wish to marry should be allowed to as of right with a quick laisisisation and dispensation done as a neat package to allow them to move on, if they cannot bear the celibate state any longer.

    Some priests are subject to the effects of horrible events in childhood. One of these is the notorious Gerard Majella brothers many of whom were child molesters. They acted all trditional, were approved by the Church in Australia. They are no more. However there effects live on. Also some priests have a parental ( usually a mother) co -dependency problem. If a mother is very traditional and outspoken, this can be passed onto her children. Some kids feel that they must become nuns, brothers or priests to make their paretns daily prayers for one of them at least , to come true. In other words these are in house church authority and laity psychological cultural problems.

    Deep anger is often seen years later when not only perpetrators are exposed ( whcih is a good thing if backed up by evidence) but sadly the homosexual tendencies in some good men who do not act out such things, get outed. However I trust that this won’t be the case with the Kevin our family knows.

    Meanwhile, the attacks from well meaning or self serving holyjoes who have their rule book out against Kevin, need to shut up with their sanctimony and start getting holy. Holy in thoughts means to understand whilst not condoning teh course of action unfolding now. But sadly no. We have a sick young generation -small lin number in Australia who, unlike their parents generation, are apeing the worst aspects of culture war alleged conservatism.

    Some work for the Church. They do no represent the majority of laity in the pews who pray for their priests and who would smile and shake the hand of a priest who quite rightly is extricating himself from old Irish Australian rigidity and conflict. It is a spirituial quicksand for whcih the Church has to work through and stop blaming Kevin Lee.

    • Fr John
      May 5, 2012

      If by “churchy,” Michael, you mean “ideological,” I agree with you entirely. But the supernatural and pastoral can’t be eliminated in the name of humanism.

      We do need to allow space for the “righteous anger” which will be directed at Fr Kevin. The comment by “Numb” is a case in point.

      But I don’t think you were referring to that. You’re right that ideological and/or sanctimonious attacks on Fr Lee don’t help anyone. And they don’t please the Lord.

    • + Wolsey
      May 6, 2012

      Michael,

      There’s no excusing this latest “episode” – it would be unacceptable for a married priest to get involved in what, 21 lillicit relationships – I think that is where the righteous anger comes in.

      Nevertheless, real all my comments above – you’ll see I am no supporter of compulsory celibacy. Of course, had this priest, as a seminarian, the same opportunity to get married as the Eastern-rite catholic seminarians do, then, I argue that the emotional/psychological nexus that created this priest’s disastrous situation would never have arisen. The law of celibacy demands the possession of a special grace by all Latin-rite clergy (exceptions exlude of course) the problem is that God doesn’t give the charism of celibacy to all Latin-rite clergy. God doesn’t decide to call married men to the proesthood in the East and not call men with vocations to marriage to the priesthood n the west.

      What concerns me far more is the allegation that he regularly preached “the Gospel according to Kevin” – such a thing is far more serious.

  9. Michael Webb
    May 6, 2012

    Wolsey, Fr Kevin Lee never preached his own gospel. I beliong to another parish however occasionally went to Mass in Fr Kevin’s parish with my family. He said Mass reverently and his homiletics went to the person of Jesus as well as being aimed at us singularly and collectively to interiorise for our times and in our lives.

    Kevin is from a strong praying family. He has another brother who is a priest and another brother that I know personally who is a good and decent married man with a lovely family. This brother is deeply involved in the Legion of Mary .

    I do not support the way Fr Kevin went about things at all however support him as a friend. It is not the Catholic way to snub mates.

    As for the alleged number of illicit relationships I wouldn’t know . He is now married. I have heard people now saying , well he knew other women. Well it is normal for married men, before they are married , just like many women also do, to go out with the opposite sex as boyfriend/girlfriend ( chastely of course) until they eventually find their true love. Kevin did much the same. So that says to me he is a normal bloke like the majority of mankind. Are you part of the majority of mankind Wolsey?
    In other words Kevin was not suited to the priesthood under the current rule in the Latin Rite. I hope we move back to the earlier tradition of both married and unmarried priests so that one less neurosis- ie sexual and psychological paralysis can be removed from the list as described so well in James Joyce’ s great book , DUBLINERS.

    • + Wolsey
      May 7, 2012

      Yeah, Mick, I am.

      What about you? Or is the fact that I am against the compulsion of celibacy proof, according to you that I’m not.

      Don’t be dim-witted.

    • + Wolsey
      May 7, 2012

      Another thing – you know as well as I do that 20 relationships prior to hitting the romantic bull’s eye is not normal.

  10. Numb
    May 7, 2012

    I attended Mass yesterday at my Parish of Padre Pio. I like a lot that attended these services over the weekend conducted by our Bishop sat and cried openly. We were all Grieving and everyone was talking about their own feelings on the matter. The bishop and Fr Chris along with Archdiocese staff stayed around for those that needed someone to talk to.

    The Bishop had the Homily recorded and it will be posted to the Parramatta Archdiocese website one it has been approved. It was very moving and also very insightful to hear the truths rather than what had been made out in the media that has made this a 3 ringed circus.

    Facts stated by Bishop Anthony Fisher
    Fr Kevin Lee was not removed from the Parish! He left of his own free will.
    Fr Kevin Lee has not returned any of the calls or attempts of communication by Our Bishop.
    Fr Kevin has NOT been excommunicated.
    The Bishop did say however Fr Kevin knows that after the revelation of his Marriage that he is unable to remain Parish Priest of Padre Pio.

    I pray that Kevin Lee is able to return to Australia and address the matters that have rocked his Church Community.

  11. Numb
    May 7, 2012

    This is the link to the Homily from yesterdays Mass with the Bishop.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=batHCbaKqng