Tag Archive: Roman Catholic Church

The Sounds of Fundamentalism: Catholic Woman Eats Puke Instead of Leaving Jesus in a Plastic Bag

communion wafer

This is the one hundred and eightieth installment in The Sounds of Fundamentalism series. This is a series that I would like readers to help me with. If you know of a video clip that shows the crazy, cantankerous, or contradictory side of Evangelical Christianity, please send me an email with the name or link to the video. Please do not leave suggestions in the comment section.  Let’s have some fun!

Today’s Sound of Fundamentalism features a video clip from the Catholic program Take 2 with Jerry & Debbie. A woman by the name of Mary called in to tell a story about giving a hospitalized woman a communion wafer. The woman ate the wafer and immediately puked it up. The sick woman evidently received spoiled meat — remember the wafer is literally the flesh of Jesus. What did Mary do? She gathered up the puke-covered Jesus and put him in a bag. Faced with an existential crisis of leaving Jesus in a plastic bag, Mary decided to the eat the puke-covered Lord of Lords and King of Kings.

Lesson of the day? Sincere religious beliefs will make some people do bat-shit crazy stuff.

Video Link

Religion, Death, and the Afterlife: St. Catherine of Alexandria, Columbia City, Indiana

st catherine of alexandria columbia city indiana 2018 (6)

As many of you know, Polly and I travel the highways and byways of Northwest Ohio, Northeast Indiana, and Southeast Michigan looking for photography opportunities. I have developed an interest in how we as Americans — particularly Midwesterners — memorialize life and death.  Of special interest is the various means religious people use to remember the dead. This interest might seem odd for someone who is an atheist, but I am attracted to roadside memorials and cemeteries. From time to time, I plan to share a few of the photographs I’ve shot while stalking death.

I shot these photographs at the St. Catherine of Alexandria in Columbia City, Indiana.

st catherine of alexandria columbia city indiana 2018 (5)

Questions: Bruce, What Were Your Views on Catholicism?


I recently asked readers to submit questions to me they would like me to answer. If you would like to submit a question, please follow the instructions listed here.

ObstacleChick asked, “As an Evangelical Protestant pastor, what were your views on Catholicism?”

First, for many years I wouldn’t have labeled myself a Protestant. I was a Baptist, part of the True Church®. Protestants are people who came out of Roman Catholicism. As a Baptist I never came out of anything. I was a part of the church founded by Jesus. Thank you, very much!

Of course, this belief of mine had no historical foundation. None, nada, zip. However, I grew up in churches and attended a college that promoted Landmarkism; a type of Baptist ecclesiology that said the Baptists were true Christians; that the first century churches were Baptist churches. (See Baptizing E.T., Mork, Alf, and Worf: Alien Baptism and The ONE True Church of Jesus Christ) Keep in mind that the college I attended did NOT teach Christian church history. The Bible was viewed as the church’s history. Want to know what a New Testament church is? Read the book of Acts. It was when I embraced Calvinism that I learned that the history of the Baptist church traces not back to Jesus, but to seventeenth century English separatists. Jesus wasn’t a Baptist, and neither was John THE Baptist or any of the apostles. They were, to a man, Jews.

An honest reading of history forced me to conclude that the Christian church — in the main — was birthed out of Judaism and grew into what we now call Roman Catholicism. Now, knowing this didn’t make me sympathetic towards Catholics. Not in the least. I saw the Catholic Church as a Christian sect gone astray; a sect that stopped preaching the gospel and practicing the one truth faith. For many years, I frequently harangued Catholics from the pulpit, denouncing their works-based plan of salvation, idol worship, and worship of Mary. I believed Catholics were unsaved and in need of good old-fashioned Baptist new birth.

For eleven years, I pastored a Baptist church in the Southeast Ohio community of Somerset. Somerset had TWO large Catholic churches, one of which was the oldest Catholic church in Ohio. Here was I, Bruce, the Baptist, ready and willing to evangelize these fish-eaters and convert them into Baptists. In the eleven years I pastored in Somerset, I had not one Catholic convert. Not one. I continued to preach against the great whore of Babylon (Revelation 17) and the Catholics politely ignored me.

My view of Catholicism began to moderate somewhat in the early 1990s, thanks to my Catholic doctor, Bill Fiorini. I won’t tell the story again here. Please read What One Catholic Doctor Taught Me About Christianity. By the early 2000s, I no longer believed that Catholics were false Christians. While I still had reservations about many of their beliefs, I came to believe that Catholics were Christians too — as were a number of other sects formerly deemed by me to be false. For seven years, I pastored Our Father’s House in West Unity, Ohio. The church’s slogan was, The Church Where the Only Label That Matters is Christian! Needless to say, more than a few of my colleagues in the ministry believed that I was becoming a liberal; an ecumenicist. They, of course, were right. After decades of deciding who is in and who is out; who is saved and who is not, I decided to let God sort the sheep from the goats. If someone said to me, I am a Christian, I accepted their profession of faith at face value. (I suspect had I known back then about the sexual abuse going on in Catholic churches, I might not have been so accepting.) This allowed me to enter into relationships with people I would have otherwise kept at distance, including the three Catholic girls my oldest sons married. Meeting and befriending Catholics went a long way towards driving religious bigotry out of my life.

About Bruce Gerencser

Bruce Gerencser, 61, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 40 years. He and his wife have six grown children and twelve grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist. For more information about Bruce, please read the About page.

Bruce is a local photography business owner, operating Defiance County Photo out of his home. If you live in Northwest Ohio and would like to hire Bruce, please email him.

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Rodrigo Duterte May be a Psychopath, But He’s Right About God

rodrigo duterte

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is a psychopath. Duterte’s approach to drug abuse and trafficking brought the praise of American sociopath Donald Trump, but most governments rightly condemned him for murdering addicts and traffickers alike. Duterte sees himself as a Filipino version of President Trump. Trump admires thugs, autocrats, and dictators, and I suspect if it weren’t for the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law, the president would likely behave as Duterte does. Imagine how Trump would resolve the immigration problem if he were unencumbered by law and public opinion.

Last Friday, Duterte riled up Catholics and Evangelicals in a televised speech shown on CBS News when he said:

Who is this stupid God? This son of a bitch is then really stupid. How can you rationalize a God? Do you believe?

[Duterte lamented that Adam and Eve’s sin in Christian theology resulted in all the faithful falling from divine grace.] You were not involved but now you’re stained with an original sins [sic] … What kind of a religion is that? That’s what I can’t accept, very stupid proposition.

Perhaps Duterte knows the Christian God better than offended Christians think he does. You know the old adage, it takes one to know one. Duterte, a psychopath, knows a fellow psychopath when he sees HIM.

Filipino Catholic Bishop Arturo Bastes had this to say about Duterte:

Duterte’s tirade against God and the Bible reveals again that he is a psychological freak, a psychopath, an abnormal mind who should have not been elected as president of our civilized and Christian nation.

Ponder, for a moment, what Bishop Bastes is saying here; that people who don’t believe in the existence of the Christian God and don’t buy the notion of original sin have abnormal minds and are uncivilized. Evidently, Bastes has never read anything about the history of his church; especially the days when people were tortured and murdered by the church, and secular powers blessed by the Catholic church pillaged countless villages, raped women and girls, and murdered thousands of people.

Duterte is an interesting psychopath to the degree that he doesn’t see religion as a tool to use for the advancement of his cause. In this regard, Duterte is different from the American Psycho. The president, every bit the atheist that I am, understands how valuable certain Christian sects — namely Evangelicals, conservative Catholics, and Mormons — are to the advancement of his anti-human agenda. Trump knows as long as he pretends he cares about abortion, religious “freedom,” and other hot-button cultural issues, Evangelicals, Catholics, and Mormons will continue to support him. Trump, I’m sure, is paying attention to the outrage over Duterte’s comments. Just say the right things, Donald, the president says to himself, and take care of My Evangelicals®, and they will make me dictator for life! Praise Jesus, right?

Black Collar Crime: Catholic Priest Kenneth Lewis Facing Child Sexual Abuse Charges

kenneth lewis

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Kenneth Lewis, a Catholic priest, is facing child sexual abuse charges stemming from an allegation that he sexually assaulted a thirteen-year-old boy while on trip. Lewis has been accused numerous times over the years of sexual abuse, but due to the statute of limitations, he was never prosecuted. Astoundingly, in 1995, after yet another round of sexual abuse allegations,  Lewis was allowed to continue in the ministry once he received “treatment.” According to Chicago Sun Times, Catholic officials ordered Lewis not to be alone with children. This is akin to a sugar addict working in a candy store being told not eat the merchandise.  The crimes Lewis is now accused of were allegedly committed in 2001. It seems, then, that whatever “treatment” Lewis received did not cure him of his predilection towards sexually abusing children.

Black Collar Crime: Australian Catholic Bishop Philip Wilson Covered Up Child Sexual Abuse

archbishop philip wilson

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Last week, Philip Wilson, the Archbishop of Adelaide, was found guilty of covering up child sexual abuse. He will be sentenced on June 19, 2018. Wilson pleaded not guilty, but the judge found the evidence against him compelling. After his conviction, Wilson stated, “I am obviously disappointed at the decision published today. I will now have to consider the reasons and consult closely with my lawyers to determine the next steps.”

The charges against Wilson hail from his days as a young priest. Several children came to Wilson will allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic priest James Fletcher. Wilson did nothing. Fletcher would continue to abuse children for decades until he was arrested and  convicted of nine counts of child sexual abuse in December 2004. Fletcher died in prison in 2006.

Frank Brennan, an Australian Jesuit priest, human rights lawyer and academic, stated:

I would think that the mind of Pope Francis at this stage would be that if there be a conviction of a bishop in relation to a failure to disclose abuse in circumstances where the state thought that was criminal activity, then I would think the mind of the pope would be that that doesn’t measure up in church terms either and that therefore it would be impossible for someone to remain in the job as a bishop.

There’s no doubt that Archbishop Wilson in recent years … has been one of the good guys. He has been one of the bishops in the Catholic Church who have been trying to clean things up

But this relates to when he was a young priest. Even someone like him who later got it back in those years was so confined by our culture that it would seem there was no disclosure.

Brennan seems to be saying that people shouldn’t be too hard on Wilson. His nondisclosure of the allegations was typical of the times; and that Wilson in recent years has been one of the good guys, someone who tried to hold priests accountable for their criminal behavior. Really? Where’s the evidence for this claim? How many pedophile priests were reported, arrested, and prosecuted for their crimes under his watch? How many other children found deaf ears when they reported being sexually abused?

According to Wikipedia, Wilson did not change his ways as Brennan alleges. In May 2010:

…. Wilson came under scrutiny regarding two incidents relating to sexual abuse in the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle.

The first of these cases related to the alleged sexual assault of two girls in 1985 by Father Dennis McAlinden, a priest in the diocese. Wilson, the diocese’s vicar general at the time, was sent to speak to parents at the school where the assault was alleged to have taken place. The principal told the media that Wilson’s response was to remove McAlindon from his position and to provide help for him. In fact, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), “McAlinden was … transferred to a remote parish in the Pilbara region of Western Australia. Over the next decade he sexually assaulted five more girls under the age of 10”. In 1995, Wilson was again asked by Bishop Leo Clarke to deal with the case, requesting that he take statements from the alleged victims. Wilson took the statements and returned them to the bishop. The ABC reported that the statements were never provided to police and, instead, Clarke defrocked McAlinden, with the promise “that his ‘good name’ would be protected”. In a statement to ABC in 2010, Wilson said he told Clarke that McAlinden should have been confronted in 1985 and, that as far as he was aware, this had occurred. He denied involvement in McAlinden’s transfer to Western Australia or his defrocking.

Robert Stone, the magistrate who found Wilson guilty, had this to say about the Bishop’s crimes:

The likelihood of two young boys individually telling the accused [Wilson] of acts of sexual misconduct by another priest who the accused knows … are matters I am very confident would be remembered for a very long time. You have to ask why the accused did not do what he himself says he would do now [go to the police] in the same situation. The answer I believe relates to the accused having a sense of knowing what he was hearing was a creditable allegation. In addition, the accused wanted to protect the church and its image.


Black Collar Crime: Catholic Priest David Poulson Facing Child Sexual Abuse Charges

david poulson

David Poulson, a Catholic priest with the Diocese of Erie, stands accused of sexually abusing two boys over a period of many years.  Worse yet, the Centre Daily News reports that the officials with the Diocese of Erie knew about Poulson’s predatory behavior since May 2010, but did not report it to law enforcement until September 2016.

According to the Centre Daily News:

the alleged assaults would usually occur on Sundays, after the boy served as an altar boy during mass. Poulson would then allegedly require the boy to make confession in the church, and confess to the assaults — to Poulson, who served as the priest receiving the boy’s confession.


Diocese officials then interviewed Poulson, who admitted he owned the hunting cabin and took about 20 trips there — half of which were with young boys. He allegedly admitted he was attracted to young boys, and provided the names of the boys he took to the cabin. The diocese, in cooperation with the attorney general and grand jury investigation, then turned over the names of the boys to investigators.

In addition to the two boys from which the charges stem, the grand jury heard from nine others who recalled Poulson befriending them, flirting with them, joking and wrestling with them when they were minors. Poulson allegedly piled them with gifts, cash, dinners and alcohol. Prosecutors believe a sexual assault occurred in at least one of theses cases, but it was barred on the grounds of statute of limitations.

If these allegations are true, Poulson is one sick man. I hope authorities are looking into criminally prosecuting the Diocese employees who knew about Poulson’s abhorrent behavior and did nothing. They are every bit as culpable as he is.

Black Collar Crime: Catholic Teacher Everest Moore Accused of Sexual Abuse

everest moore

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Everest Moore, a teacher at St. Joseph Catholic School in Williston, North Dakota, stands accused of sexually assaulting several girls.

Jamie Kelly, a reporter for the Williston Herald, writes:

A teacher at St. Joseph Catholic School who was arrested last month and charged with molesting three young girls has been accused of doing similar things to two more girls.

Everest Moore, 28, was charged Thursday with two class A felony counts of gross sexual imposition. The new charges allege Moore had sexual contact with two girls younger than 15 between August and February.

As in the case filed in March, the Williston police used the verbal testimony of investigators to support an arrest warrant, as opposed to the more common practice of using written affidavits.

Williams County State’s Attorney Marlyce Wilder said when the first case was filed that was done because of the sensitive nature of the allegations and to protect the identities of the girls.

The latest charges came about as part of the original investigation, according to Sgt. Detective Danielle Hendricks with the Williston police.
Investigators at the Williston Police Department started investigating Moore in mid February when someone who is legally mandated to report suspected sexual assault or child abuse told them of the allegations, police said.

At a bond hearing Thursday, Nathan Madden, assistant state’s attorney for Williams County, asked Northwest District Judge Paul Jacobson to set Moore’s bond in this case at $50,000, in addition to the $50,000 he posted in the previous case.
As part of the conditions of his release on bond, Moore was ordered to have no contact with St. Joseph Catholic Church or the school. Madden said that Jeff Nehring, Moore’s attorney, had reached out to both the state’s attorney’s office and the church to see if there was a way for Moore to attend Mass at another church in the parish.

Nehring, however, said Moore is a devout Catholic and that his actions show he is abiding by the terms of his bond. He asked Jacobson to allow the $50,000 Moore previously posted to cover the new charges.

Moore has strong ties to the community, Nehring said, and he has maintained his innocence.

“When we learned of the new charges, Mr. Moore turned himself in,” Nehring said.

Jacobson said he thought it would be appropriate to increase Moore’s bond because of the two new class A felony charges. He set bond at $70,000 for both cases, so Moore will have to post an additional $20,000 to be released.

Moore has taught at St. Joseph for five years, according to Nehring. He was also an assistant coach for the Williston High School football team and had been head coach for the Williston Middle School Track and Field team, but did not have a contract for this season, according to Williston Public School District No. 1.


Black Collar Crime: Catholic Diocese of Erie Releases List of Priests Who Have Been Accused of Sex Crimes

lawrence persico

Bishop Lawrence Persico

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Today, the Catholic Diocese of Erie released a list of fifty-one priests and laypeople who have been credibly accused of sex crimes.

GoErie.com reports:

Bishop Lawrence Persico likened the event to ending a kind of darkness.

In a stunning break from years of Catholic Diocese of Erie policy, Persico on Friday released the names of priests and laypeople credibly accused of sexually abusing minors or engaging in improper behavior with minors since 1944. (scroll down for the list of names.)

“When everything is shrouded in cloud, everybody becomes suspicious,” Persico said. “Now that we have turned on the light it should be somewhat of a relief.”

He apologized to the victims on behalf of the diocese and said the release of the list is meant to help victims by letting them know “they are not alone.” He encouraged more victims to come forward.

“We are willing to listen to them and accompany them as we search for the truth,” Persico said.

The cases on the list span from 1944 to the present and the list is made up of a total of 51 people — 34 priests, 21 of whom are dead, and 17 laypeople, two of whom are dead. Persico said the statute of limitations had expired in all the cases except three more recent cases in which criminal investigations are active.

Those on the list include the late Erie Catholic Bishop Alfred M. Watson, who died at 80 in 1990 and who the diocese said had been credibly accused of failing to stop abuse that was “credibly reported to him.” Persico said someone was abused because Watson, who served as bishop from 1969 to 1982, failed to act on the abuse allegation.

Also on the list is William P. Garvey, the former president of then-Mercyhurst College, who died at 81 in August. The diocese said its investigation showed Garvey had been credibly accused of abusing minors when he was a youth basketball coach at St. John the Baptist School in the 1960s and 1970s. The Erie Times-News first reported the allegations against Garvey in 2004, but Garvey called them “patently untrue” and Mercyhurst disputed them, citing “a lack of solid evidence.”

Persico’s release of the 51 names is unusual for Roman Catholic dioceses in the United States, most of which have kept such names secret. And the release of the names is unusual because the list includes laypeople and not just clergy.

“If we’re going to protect children, it is not just priests, but it is laypeople, too,” Persico said. “Why would I just put (in) priests if we know people who have not protected children?”

He said the release of the names, which he announced during a news conference at St. Mark Catholic Center, is also meant to help the community and the church, accused of covering up for abusive priests since the clergy sex-abuse scandal exploded nationwide in 2002. The Erie diocese on March 21 said it intended to release the names of accused priests soon. The diocese released that statement a day after the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo released the names of 42 accused priests, 24 of whom are dead.

The Erie diocese’s disclosures also come as a statewide investigative grand jury is in the final stages of its review of how the Erie diocese and five other Catholic dioceses statewide handled allegations of clerical sexual abuse. The Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office is running the probes, which started in 2016.

The grand jury’s term is expected to end by April 30, with its report to be finished soon after. The report will be public and is expected to name abusive priests, based on previous grand jury reports on other Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania. A year ago, the attorney general’s office released a highly critical 147-page grand jury report on the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown.

Persico said he “probably” would have released the names of the accused priests and laypeople if the grand jury had not been meeting. [bullshit] He said he expects the grand jury report will include the names of more victims. The Erie diocese has cooperated with the investigation, which has included a review of diocesan records.

“We were going to do this regardless of what the report said,” Persico also said. “This is something I felt has to be done. We have to do all we can to protect children and minors across the diocese.”

“I know people stand firmly on both sides of whether or not releasing the names of these individuals is the right decision,” Persico said. “Some will say that it has taken far too long to publish these names. Others think we shouldn’t do it at all. They say we are not showing mercy.

“As Catholics, we believe the Lord has infinite mercy and absolution for those who are contrite and sincerely seek forgiveness. But that does not mean they are free from the ramifications of their behavior.”

He also said, “there will be some who will say this is not enough.”

One of those people is James Faluszczak, 48. He is a former Roman Catholic priest in the Erie diocese who in March said he was abused as a teenager in Erie in the late 1980s by Monsignor Daniel J. Martin, a former pastor of St. George Church in Millcreek Township who died at 88 in 2006. Faluszczak said the abuse occurred between when he was 16 to 19 years old. Martin’s name is on the list released Friday.

Faluszczak said he is grateful that Persico released the list, but he said he would have liked the bishop to also disclose where the accused priests and laypeople had been at the time of the abuse to help victims get a better idea of the scope of the problem.

“It is a start, but even the bishop acknowledged that more names will be coming,” Faluszczak said. “I think it would have been best to provide a list of where all these priests have served.”


You can read the entire story here.

Black Collar Crime: Catholic Youth Worker Brian Werth Sentenced to Three Years in Prison for Sexual Abuse

brian werth

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Brian Werth, a youth worker at St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church in Rockville, Maryland, was sentenced yesterday to three years in prison for the sexual abuse of a church teenager.

The Bethesda Magazine reports:

A former youth minister at St. Elizabeth’s Catholic Church in Rockville was sentenced Tuesday to three years in prison for the sexual abuse of a teen parishioner, according to Montgomery County prosecutors.

Brian Patrick Werth, 34, had been arrested in 2016 in connection with the abuse of a then-16-year-old girl, to whom he had sent explicit text messages for two years and had sexual contact with her earlier that year. He was charged with a fourth-degree sex offense, sexual abuse of a minor and second-degree assault.

Judge Karla Smith sentenced Werth to one year for the sex offense charge and two years for the assault charge, according to a State’s Attorney’s Office press release. The two terms will be served consecutively, followed by five years of probation with COMET, a sex offender monitoring program that will include periodic polygraph and psychosexual testing. Werth is also required to register as a sex offender for 15 years.

Smith went beyond state guidelines, which recommend zero to six months for the charges, in the sentencing. Ramón Korionoff, a spokesman for the State’s Attorney’s Office, said the sentence was appropriate.

“It is our hope that this above-the-guidelines sentence will send a strong message that people in position of authority and trust must not abuse that power over the young people they are supposed to be serving,” he said in a statement. “Hopefully, yesterday’s sentence will be the first step in healing for the victim and the church community in this matter.”


Werth, who lived in Montgomery Village at the time, had known the victim through the church, and learned that she “adored him,” according to prosecutors. They began texting, and police later discovered he had sent graphic and sexual texts to her since the summer of 2014.

On about May 20, 2016, Werth kissed the teen and had other inappropriate sexual contact with her during a youth event at the church, according to police.

St. Elizabeth’s had fired Werth in 2016 after the pastor received a complaint against him that summer, according to a statement from the Archdiocese of Washington at the time. The pastor contacted the Archdiocese’s Child and Youth Protection Office, which then reported the case to county police.


Black Collar Crime: Catholic Priest Frank Lenz Accused of Sexual Misconduct

frank lenz

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Frank Lenz, a retired Catholic priest, stands accused of sexual misconduct.

UpNorthLive reports:

A northern Michigan priest is on administrative leave after allegations of sexual misconduct.

According to the Diocese of Marquette, Father Frank M. Lenz, a senior (retired) priest with the Diocese is being accused of sexual misconduct with a minor dating back to the 1970s.

Records show Father Lenz has denied the allegation.

The Diocese said Father Lenz has been removed from all public priestly ministry and prohibited from presenting himself as a priest in accordance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

The Diocese said this is not a final determination of guilt. Administrative leave is a precautionary measure while a credible allegation is being investigated.

“On behalf of the Catholic Church, I offer a sincere apology to all victims of clergy abuse,” said Bishop Doerfler. “There is no excuse for what happened to you. You are in my thoughts and prayers, and I am willing to journey with you to find Christ’s peace and healing.”

Bishop Doerfler encourages anyone who may have suffered sexual misconduct by clergy, a church worker or volunteer to come forward to receive pastoral care leading toward healing. [ Yes, right after you report your allegations to law enforcement.]


WNMU-FM adds:

The action against Father Frank Lenz was taken because of a recently-made credible allegation of misconduct with a minor in the 1970s. Lenz has denied the claim.

The allegation has been reported to law enforcement and the Marquette County Prosecutor’s Office. Lenz has been removed from all public priestly ministry and prohibited from presenting himself as a priest, in accordance with the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People. The diocese says administrative leave is a precautionary measure while a credible allegation is being investigated.

Lenz was ordained in June of 1969 and retired to Senior Priest status in 2007.

Diocese Bishop John Doerfler responded by saying, “On behalf of the Catholic Church, I offer a sincere apology to all victims of clergy abuse. There is no excuse for what happened to you. You are in my thoughts and prayers, and I am willing to journey with you to find Christ’s peace and healing.” [Sorry Bishop, but if you have been paying attention of late, offers of thoughts and prayers no longer suffice.]


Black Collar Crime: Catholic Priest Jonathan Wehrle Accused of Embezzling Millions From Church

jonathan wehrle

The Black Collar Crime Series relies on public news stories and publicly available information for its content. If any incorrect information is found, please contact Bruce Gerencser. Nothing in this post should be construed as an accusation of guilt. Those accused of crimes are innocent until proven guilty.

Jonathan Wehrle, pastor of St. Martha Church in Okemos, Michigan, stands accused of embezzling more than $5 million from his church, using the money to lavishly improve his properties. Evidently, taking a vow of poverty meant something different to Wehrle than it did other Catholic priests. I previously wrote about Wehrle’s crimes in May, 2017.

The Lansing State Journal reports:

A Catholic priest accused of embezzling more than $5 million from his central Michigan church spent about $100,000 on an indoor swimming pool and stained glass windows for his six-bedroom, 12-bathroom home, according to a lawsuit seeking to recoup some of the money.

In addition to the $45,000 indoor pool and nearly $55,000 in stained glass windows, the Rev. Jonathan Wehrle spent more than $134,000 on landscaping at his 10-acre (4-hectare) estate in Williamston and other properties, according to the lawsuit filed by Princeton Excess and Surplus Lines Insurance Corporation, which insures the Catholic Diocese of Lansing.

Wehrle faces six counts of embezzling $100,000 or more from St. Martha Church in Okemos, which is just east of Lansing and about 70 miles west of Detroit. Prosecutors allege that Wehrle spent the money on himself, including to build and maintain the estate.

The home, which has 10 fireplaces and three barns, was appraised at $1.28 million in 2012, when construction was only halfway complete, according to court records.

Police said bills for work on the property matched checks written from St. Martha.

Wehrle’s defense attorney, Lawrence Nolan, said the pastor had family money and an agreement with a bishop, now deceased, to use parish funds for a private residence.

Assistant prosecutor Andrew Stevens has said that Wehrle, who founded St. Martha in 1988, had “maintained pretty autonomous control” for nearly 30 years.

Princeton Excess also sued Wehrle this month after learning he wasn’t paying property taxes and that his homeowner’s insurance had lapsed, according to attorney Randy Marmor.

Wehrle’s estate was placed into receivership after a judge approved the insurer’s request Wednesday, the Lansing State Journal reported . The insurer said it’s paid out about $2.5 million to the diocese so far and wants to protect assets to cover those losses.