Steve Jalsevac

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A disturbing encounter with Fr. Larry Richards

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March 24, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – I had never planned to write about this. The recently publicized video of Fr. Larry Richards falsely telling a large gathering of influential Legatus members that Church Militant threatened to kill him, and his subsequent inadequate apology via a tweet that he was wrong to say that, have compelled me to relate my own disturbing encounter with the celebrity priest. 

Before I begin, let me acknowledge that I have learned that Fr. Richards has inspired and helped many people to deepen their understanding of the faith and to better their family lives. He has been very actively pro-life. His preaching is greatly appreciated by many. But that is what makes LifeSite’s and others’ negative experiences with him all the more puzzling.

Early in the evening of April 6, 2017, I received a call that a Fr. Larry Richards had strongly condemned LifeSite the night before during a mission he was conducting at a parish in Ajax, Ontario, a town about an hour away from my home. I was also told he warned his audience of about 1,000 people that they should not have anything to do with LifeSite. 

I had never heard of Fr. Larry Richards. I knew nothing about him. It was disturbing to hear that this priest was trashing our good name and reputation to such a large, captive Catholic audience while I was not aware of any communications between him and any of our staff.

Exhausted and not feeling well at the time I got the call, I knew I still had to quickly drive out to that parish and try to at least briefly speak to the priest at the end of this last day of the 4-day mission. 

The circumstances, if I did get to meet him for a few minutes, would obviously not be conducive to more than a brief chat. I decided I would not confront Fr. Richards but just respectfully encourage him to later communicate with our editor-in-chief, John-Henry Westen about his concerns about LifeSite. 

At least that was the plan. I did not remotely expect the very hostile reception that I got.

I got there for about the last 20 minutes of his presentation. I stood way back near the entrance of the Church since the inside was jammed.

There were a few things I could not help notice about Fr. Richards. He was an entertainer – joking a lot, then yelling, walking and gesturing heavily while he was talking and then talking quietly while making some very good points of spiritual or family life direction. 

His energy was intense. He was also casual – way too casual during one period when he was talking while walking back and forth just a couple of feet in front of the Holy Eucharist exposed in a monstrance – and not acknowledging Our Lord there at all. I had never seen a priest do that before. Then he casually leaned with his elbow on the altar which held the monstrance while talking about his anger issue and the temptations of being a celebrity priest. 

I did not know how I was going to get to talk to him, but then, amazingly, right after he finished he walked up the one crowded aisle that I was facing and stopped within just a few feet from me to wait for the pastor to conclude with his remarks. This seemed to me to have been arranged by our guardian angels.

So… I gently went up to Fr. Richards, smiled, and introduced myself as being Steve Jalsevac from LifeSite. 

He kind of went into shock, turned almost white, jerked back as though he was seeing the devil and told me he knew who I was and to get away from him. I held out my business card and politely asked if we could later talk to him about his concerns about LifeSite. I said the number of our editor-in-chief John-Henry Westen was on the card and urged him to call John-Henry whenever he could.

He kept turning away from me and rejecting the business card. The more I gently appealed to Fr. Larry to just please call us, the worse he got. He very angrily gestured with his finger right up to my face and said, “I’ll only talk to you when you stop criticizing the pope!” I was almost certain that he was going to hit me. He was completely out of control, swore at me and did not seem to care at all that there were women, children and others all around us. 

I appealed for some charity on his part and he took that as an attack on him. He said, “I’ll give you charity” while raising his fist at me.

I never once raised my voice in return or criticized him or attempted to get into any of the issues or discuss the Holy Father.  His reactions were so bizarre and unreasonable that I did not know how to respond to him. 

All of this took place over only a couple of minutes. A person behind me then touched me on the arm to get my attention and urged me to leave Fr. Richards. I agreed and immediately did so. There was clearly no point in continuing to try to talk to someone who was so disturbed and angry.

Witnesses came forth

I went outside in front of the Church and stood rather shaken wondering what had just happened. Just then, an old friend, Mel Collie, from my Cursillo Movement days, who I hadn’t seen for at least 15 years or more, came up to me with a friend of his. They said they had been attending the last three days of the mission and really enjoyed it, but they witnessed the entire encounter with Fr. Richards and were shocked by how badly he treated me. They were really concerned and wondered how I was doing after that.

That was reassuring since I wondered if I somehow did something wrong, but they assured me that I was respectful and Fr. Richards hardly let me get a word in. I asked Mel to write down what he had witnessed and to send his summary to me so that I had an objective witness record in case I ever needed it. 

The next day Mel wrote that he gave “Fr. Richards a 10 out of 10 for his Frank, Bold, Edifying and brilliant talks on Jesus.” However, he also related that “what emerged” from the encounter that night

“… was a very hostile response From Fr Larry, including some army barrack room language….go to hell….I know who you are….I couldn’t believe my ears…..even though at every conference talk during the 3 days Fr Larry gave us huge insights into his Irish temperament…..he was totally intolerant and mighty blunt with anyone who would challenge Church doctrine….says he got this from his grandmother was a very Holy woman who used the “F” word frequently when she wanted to make a point!”

Fr. Richards tells his parishioners a whopper

The next week a supporter sent me a link to Fr. Richards’ Website and the homily he gave on Palm Sunday to his parish in Erie, Pennsylvania just two days after I met with him. During part of the homily, he gave his extraordinary version about the encounter with me at the end of the Ajax parish mission. 

I was stunned by the very self-serving whopper that he told his parishioners. They, of course, believed him and laughed and assumed all that he said was true. Who could blame them? 

Listen to those comments by him in the one minute, 32 sec. video below.

I sent the link to the homily to Mel, deliberately did not say anything about it, and asked him to listen and give me his response when he could. 

Here is what he wrote back:

From: Mel Collie < >
Date: Thursday, April 13, 2017 at 1:29 AM
To: Steve Jalsevac < >
Subject: Re: Fr. Larry Richards podcast

“Hi Steve thanks for sending me the podcast and I was appalled at the inaccuracy at Fr: Larry Richards' version of the what took place at the St Francis de Sales, main front door exit, where I was situated,  when you approached Fr: Larry to provide him with information relating to LifeSite news, just so that he can correct any false notions he has about that organization as well as Michael Voris’s Church Militant. “

…….

“I was so appalled at Fr: Larry’s language/ demeanour/hostility as soon as he met you, and heard you announce who you were….I  don’t think you got more than two words in,  when Fr Larry’s loud outburst accompanied with some barrack room language and threats which could be heard by everybody nearby, also heading for the exit.

As soon as we stepped outside, I was determined to meet you, and discuss Fr: Larry’s unpredictable behaviour ..I along with my partner Al, a parishioner,  were both stunned and couldn’t make any sense out of this incident!!”

Here is the text of what Fr. Larry told his parishioners: 

A man came there and he started with me
And I’m standing that, like what?” “And then I turn around
He starts with me some more and I sat there”

I’m more of the hosanna type of person. So, I start back with him. Right. And I start yelling.

He has a website. He is co-founder of a website that I will not mention. I don’t wanna give them any more glory that goes against Pope Francis almost every day. And I had talked about them and I said stay away from the website. Far be it for me to know that the co-founder was there.

So he starts with me. And he says “you call us and talk to us!”’  And I says you stop picking on the Holy Father and then I’ll talk to you. “We will not!” And I said, “Yes, you will!” And I started and he started.

 And I said you get away from me or I’m going to…And he said “where is your charity!” I’m gonna show you charity! Right now! And they pulled him away from me cause I was gonna hit him. 

 And then I thought, I’m gonna get all the men I know to go against this place and show them. No one goes against the Holy Father. We are here to protect the Holy Father and that’s the way I would have been with Jesus.

From his telling of the event, I was aggressive and demanding. That just did not happen. This is fiction, which is a polite way of saying that he lied to his parishioners about what happened.

I did not “start with” him and “start some more”. I very respectfully walked up to him trying to hand him my business card and introduced myself while smiling at him.

His statement that I said “you call us and talk to us!” is an outright lie. I would never have talked to a priest that way. I just quietly and respectfully urged him to take the card and at least talk to us.

I never said “We will not!” when he said he will talk to us when we stop criticizing Pope Francis. I said nothing. I did not know what to say to him because he seemed so disturbed. And he did not say “Yes you will!” It just never happened.

I did ask him to be please be more charitable because of how vicious he was but I did not at all demand, “where is your charity!” That would have been stupid.

Lastly, I really did think he was going to hit me. He was so irrational and angry while shoving his finger into my face.

Fr. Richards condemns parents of   daily-Mass-going large family

To give you an idea of what I endured that evening, see this one and one-half minute clip from a video of another talk Fr. Richards gave during which he severely condemned the parents of a “very Catholic” large family that goes to daily Mass. The talk was given during the Building A Legacy 2017, Catholic Men's Conference in Grand Rapids Michigan - Fr. Larry's first talk to over 1200 men at West Catholic High School.

After the fiction that he told his parishioners about his encounter with me, and then the lie that he told Legatus about Church Militant wanting to kill him, I have to suspect that Fr. Richards told another whopper about this family in order to enhance his image as a powerful preacher and defender of the faith. 

His attempt to use the example of this family to condemn hypocrisy is not convincing, especially given his now revealed tendency to wildly exaggerate and make up facts.

If you listened carefully, there was a big clue to Fr. Richards' condemnation of those parents, and of LifeSite, Church Militant, and One Peter Five (who all are actually very different from one another). He says about the family, “they hate Pope Francis because he is not their type of pope.” 

The organizations listed above, plus that “Very Catholic” family are all deeply concerned about the current pope but surely none of them “hate” him. But, Fr. Richards spits on all of them and makes up condemning stories about them for this. 

The only hate apparent here is from Fr. Richards himself. 

He is extremely intolerant of any questioning of the current pope who very many Church leaders, at all levels, are deeply concerned about. This is also curious given that he says that he is a strong defender of Church doctrine while Francis has been seriously undermining various doctrines or at least downplaying the importance of doctrine. 

Over 80 bishops, for example, have given credibility to the Vigano testimony and asked for a full investigation of its claims. Are they, too, all “haters”?

Fr. Richards blasts Church Militant as the 'Catholic ISIS' and 'from the devil'

The last brief two videos are of Fr. Richards' condemnations of Church Militant. 

In this first one-minute video Fr. Richards says of Church Militant, “They are evil, they are filled with hatred. I like to say about these kinds of groups (LifeSite, CM, One Peter 5) is that it is the Catholic ISIS. This is the Catholic version. They haven’t killed anybody – yet, but they’re getting close to it.”

ISIS murders and rapes thousands without mercy. How can a Catholic priest make such a terrible comparison? How can he imply that the traditional Catholic organization may actually end up murdering someone because of their concerns about Pope Francis? That is reckless defamation.

The second video is in response to a question during his weekly EWTN radio program.

That is a near hysterical, total condemnation of all that this organization dedicated to Catholic orthodoxy tries to do every day.

Fr. Richards strange softness towards the moral heresies of Fr. James Martin

The most curious part of the second video is, after condemning CM, all of a sudden, he becomes super charitable towards the notorious Fr. James Martin who, among other things, blasts nearly everyone who opposes same-sex “marriage” as “homophobic” and repeats his mantra that his critics are just secretly gay.

Fr. Richards states, “I don’t agree with Fr. Martin’s stuff with this stuff, but you know what, he’s a good priest who’s trying to seek God’s will. We don’t have to agree with him but we cannot demonize him. And of course we must reach out to gay people.” 

How can Richards, who fancies himself as being a militant defender of the faith and Jesus Christ, say “Fr. Martin is a good priest who’s trying to seek God’s will?” It is more than obvious that he cannot possibly be that. At the very least he is a very confused priest who openly rejects the moral teachings of millennia. 

But what is Richards’ real reason for being so oddly soft on Fr. Martin? I suspect it is because Fr. Martin shares Fr. Richards’ very high regard for Pope Francis and Pope Francis appears to have no problem with all the moral heresy that Fr. Martin is spreading wherever he speaks. Martin has been made a consultor to the Vatican and was invited to speak at the Vatican sponsored World Meeting of Families.

Fr. Richards' statement that Fr. Martin is a priest “who’s trying to seek God’s will” is obviously a reference to Pope Francis’ infamous statement, “If a person is gay and seeks God and has good will, who am I to judge him?” That unqualified statement has caused untold damage to the Church’s constant teaching about the gravity of homosexual relationships. 

Martin has stated his admiration for Francis because “Pope Francis has gone out of his way to appoint “gay-friendly” bishops and cardinals in the Catholic Church.” “He’s the first pope to use the word ‘gay’, you know, in a sentence”.

And yet, LifeSite reported that “Fr. Martin was blasted by Archbishop Viganò in his first testimony concerning sexual abuse, cover-up and patronage in the highest echelons of the Church hierarchy. Noting Martin’s exalted patronage in the USA, the hard-hitting diplomat called Martin a “sad recent example” of a “deviated wing” of the Jesuits.”  

Cardinal Burke says Martin, “is not coherent with the Church’s teaching on homosexuality.”  Bishop Joseph Strickland of Texas questioned whether his brother bishops believed that homosexual acts are, in fact, immoral, and if so, why certain bishops have allowed a homosexualist message to be preached in their dioceses by Fr. Martin. 

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput has also criticized Father Martin for failing to be clear about the sinfulness of homosexual acts. Cardinal Sarah, in response to Fr Martin’s new book at the time in 2017, delivered a strong rebuke, calling attention to the fact that the Church teaches “ ... things in the Catechism about homosexuality that some members of the clergy choose not to quote, including the clear warning: ‘under no circumstances can [homosexual acts] be approved’ (CCC 2357).

“A good priest?” So then, what are all the other priests who teach and uphold the true teachings of the Church on homosexuality? Bigots? Demonizers? 

Are Vigano, Strickland, Burke and Chaput also demonizers of Fr. Martin?

Celebrity priests who are all very loyal Francis followers – no matter what

One of the things that Fr. Martin and Fr. Richards have in common is that they are celebrity priests who travel a lot and give many talks. Fr. Martin also shares Fr. Richards' hostility towards LifeSite, Church Militant and others and also makes false charges against those groups. 

Austin Ruse wrote, “Fr. Martin charges that outfits like Church Militant and LifeSite are nothing more than social media mobs sent to harass the innocent... “However, counting Facebook and Twitter, Fr. Martin’s social media presence is twice the size of Church Militant, LifeSite, and Lepanto combined. And Martin has never hesitated to unleash this sometimes-threatening social media mob.” “Making false charges is straight out of Fr. Martin’s playbook,” he added.

In a tweet Martin has stated, “What can be done about groups like @Church_Militant @LifeSite @LepantoInst and TFP, who traffic in the personal vilification that led to the kind of violence that plagued Aaron Bianco? Report them to @Twitter and @facebook when you see evidence of hate. Then write to your bishop.”

And then there is a third celebrity priest, Fr. Thomas Rosica, who is also a prominent, well-traveled speaker, a close associate and admirer of Pope Francis and who also viciously criticizes the same orthodox Catholic groups. 

LifeSite reported in 2011 that Fr. Rosica is the priest who, back in 2009, criticized Lifesite during an appearance on a Catholic radio program as “not credible,” “not ethical,” “not honest,” “bombastic,” “derisive,” and who said that, insofar as it is “divisive,” LSN is doing “the work of Satan.” 

Does this not sound similar to Fr. Richards saying certain named Catholic groups, all of which Rosica also intensely opposes, are doing the work of the devil?

Fr. Richards compares the Internet groups to the Catholic ISIS. Fr. Rosica stated to the Toronto Star, “There’s a certain form of Taliban Catholicism out there right now that would like to dictate everything and, really, it doesn’t speak to the future.”

Fr. Rosica is also a defender of Fr. Martin and is long known to be gay-friendly.

The three celebrity priests have a lot in common – frequent anger, condemnations of those whom they disagree with, strong affiliation with Pope Francis and a propensity to attack perceived opponents with false charges and exaggerations.

It appears there are significant spiritual dangers to being a celebrity priest. 

We all need to pray for them.

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Steve Jalsevac

Steve is the co-founder and managing director of LifeSiteNews.com.