(LifeSiteNews) — There are all sorts of priests who see the scandals happening in the Church and in the world and yet say nothing, or next to nothing. And there are some very real reasons why they keep silent. Sure, that silence harms the faithful, but speaking up can have real consequences for priests.
The newly formed society for cancelled priests demonstrates that the growing trend of priests being suppressed, suspended, or even excommunicated is no longer a rare phenomenon.
More and more priests are suspended, some for celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass, others for refusing the COVID jab, and still others for standing against abortion, homosexuality, and contraception. We are seeing this all over the world.
Back in November 2021, Archbishop Mark Coleridge of the Archdiocese of Brisbane, Australia, announced that any clergy in the Archdiocese of Brisbane who do not take the abortion-tainted COVID-19 injections would be removed from “pastoral duties” and suffer “suspension of faculties” until vaccination was complete. He also made a point of saying that any conscience-based objections to receiving the jab would not be considered valid, or would priests receive exemptions based on those concerns.
Just a month later, in December 2021, Father Tony Del Ciancio, a priest in the Diocese of London, Ontario, was suspended, and his parishioners learned about it in the weekly parish bulletin at Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Windsor, Ontario. Father John Comiskey, the diocese’s Moderator of the Curia, wrote, “[Father] Tony has been given a leave of absence for failure to produce ‘proof of vaccination’ as outlined in the diocesan ‘COVID-19 Vaccination Policy.’” This policy was mandated in October by Bishop Ronald Fabbro. So, for the crime of keeping his medical information private, Father Tony Del Ciancio was suspended.
The same thing happened in January 2022 when Father Peter Williams, longtime pastor of Holy Family parish in the Diocese of Burlington, Vermont, spoke out in a video because his bishop, Christopher Coyne, was trying to do the same thing to him.
In Father Williams’ original message, he said, “I’m just saying that before we rush to accept all of these things, we should be asking ourselves, individually, are they moral? And do they pass the test for me individually?”
“And so that when I stand before God, that I haven’t violated my conscience, that I have been informed about what went into the production, the testing, the development, all of that kind of thing,” he added.
Father Williams took a stand against the vaccine mandate and, against the abortions that made these jabs possible, on his parishioners’ behalf, to stand up for them. Father Williams went so far as to battle the Diocese of Burlington on the legal front, hiring a canon lawyer in the U.S. to mediate his interactions with Bishop Coyne. Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, Texas, retweeted Father Williams’ video with these words of encouragement: “Please pray for this priest & so many others caught up in similar situations. Pray that priests & bishops may be drawn close to the Sacred Heart of Jesus Christ Our Lord. Living close to His Heart in the Eucharist is our greatest hope for peace & Justice.”
Unfortunately, Father Williams was removed from his parish, despite his valiant effort. He posted a video update in June 2022. Take a look at this:
And it’s not just the vaccine. Several priests have been suspended for celebrating the Mass in the traditional Latin.
In August 2021, Father Sixto Eduardo Varela Santamaría, a priest in the Diocese of Alajuela, Costa Rica, was suspended by the bishop of the diocese, Bartolomé Buigues Oller, for offering the Novus Ordo Missae (NOM) in the traditional (and still official) tongue of the Church and facing ad orientem.
Father Luis Hernández Solís, the diocesan communications director, wrote a letter that explained that Varela had already been warned by the bishop “two previous times” against celebrating the NOM in Latin, and that Varela had previously celebrated the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) according to the 1962 Missal but ceased to do so after Buigues ordered him to stop. Solís reported that Varela had “continued to celebrate the Tridentine (TLM) after the publication of Pope Francis’ motu proprio Traditionis Custodes” and that his punishments, such as being removed from his parish and enrolled in a psychological treatment center, “are expected to be measures that will restore the ecclesial communion and the priest’s well-being.”
Varela has been treated unjustly. Canon 928 of the 1983 Code of Canon Law states that “[t]he eucharistic celebration is to be carried out in the Latin language or in another language provided that the liturgical texts have been legitimately approved.” In other words, Varela was acting within the bounds of the law when celebrating the NOM in Latin.
Later, in July 2022, Father Jesusmary Missigbètò (a pen name for Abbé Janvier Gbénou), a “canceled” Opus Dei priest from Ivory Coast, wrote four open letters to Pope Francis after which the pope confirmed the sanctions imposed on the priest by Opus Dei. He wrote this in his first letter:
I cannot, in conscience, renounce my public criticism of Pope Francis because, since 2016, you yourself have seriously lacked “respect and obedience to God and the People of God.” Indeed, before being pope and bishop, you are a priest and, according to the Code of Canon Law, “in leading their lives, clerics are bound in a special way to pursue holiness since, having been consecrated to God by a new title in the reception of orders, they are dispensers of the mysteries of God in the service of His people” (276).
When Father Jesusmary joined me on the show, he was very clear about why he did this.
My motivation is very simple. The Vatican has to speak clearly and follow the traditional path of the Church, not go out. Because tradition is the preservation of the truth, and it’s the way we must choose to go to heaven. So this is my motivation: to help Pope Francis understand that it’s better to follow the path of Saint John Paul II and Pope Benedict and all recent popes.
Father Jesusmary was suspended not only because he celebrated the Latin Mass, but also because he stood against the pope’s support of gay “marriage.” He said “there is an apparent victory of homosexuality over the papacy, which is considered the last moral bulwark of humanity. Of the 266 Popes the Catholic Church has had, Pope Francis is the first to have accepted homosexual civil coexistence laws.”
This reminds me of another priest, 85-year-old Father Donat Gionet, who was suspended in 2011 for speaking out against homosexuality and abortion. In the Diocese of Bathurst, New Brunswick, Father Wesley Wade, the diocese’s vicar general, told Radio-Canada that Father Gionet’s comments were consistent with Church teaching but lacked the proper “pastoral” sensitivity. Father Gionet had been accused by parishioners of “homophobia” in the media after he criticized a homosexual parade in Moncton in an August homily. The mayor of Saint-Leolin, Joseph Lanteigne, an open homosexual and member of the parish council, demanded the priest’s suspension. In an open letter, Father Gionet said that the diocese didn’t give him an opportunity to explain himself before suspending him. He wrote, “To you, the diocesan authorities: did you ask me what I said exactly during the homily in question? They did not, but only listened to people who are frustrated.”
And this was back in 2011. It has become so much worse now.
Our very own Father James Altman from Faith & Reason, a priest formerly at the parish of St. James the Less, experienced this same thing in July 2021. Here is a clip of his first reaction to his bishop, William Patrick Callahan, from the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin, removing his faculties by way of a FedEx letter. Father Altman said a FedEx in the mail is “pretty minor,” but that he does have a real concern.
WATCH: Fr. Altman reacts to bishop suspending his priestly faculties
Father John Lovell, co-founder of the Coalition for Canceled Priests, talked about why priests are removed from their positions, and he says it’s because they are “too conservative.” He talks about his own suppression on The John-Henry Westen Show:
Bishop Malloy has removed over 12 priests that have no accusation, no allegation against us. And he just simply removed us because we’re not “yes men,” or we’re too orthodox or too conservative.
Clearly, this has been going on for a while.
And what do we do about it? We can’t roll over and give up on Catholic doctrine.
Well, today our guest is a priest who speaks the truth in season and out of season. He gained attention in October with a homily that went viral.
Father Leon Pereira is a Dominican from England and chaplain to the English-speaking pilgrims in Medjugorje, Bosnia and Herzegovina. He has made a point of clearly calling out the evil infiltrating the Church and the faithful but in a tactful and humorous way:
Heresy does not breed a new generation because heresy is contracepted and sterilized. Therefore, it seeks to propagate itself by commandeering and imposing itself on others like a virus. We see much of this in the pre-synodal reports of certain countries. They clamor for changes to doctrines and morals; they claim holiness is an ideal rather than a goal. They seek to accompany, by which they mean keeping people exactly where they are. What is sinful is no longer called sin. We are reassured that hell is not eternal or that it is empty. Holiness is not sought. We are fine as we are.
And then a little later:
So the truth comes out. We keep being told all are welcome, except, of course, when you’re not. We are told the Church must listen, but we don’t want to listen to you.
And we all see how true this is, especially over the past few years. Father Pereira makes an excellent point about heresy today:
You see, the heretics of old at least had some courage they were open about what they were denying. The modern heretics are more subtle. They will say, “Oh yes, we agree with Saint John Paul II, we reaffirm Church teaching.” And then in the next instant they proceed to deny it in their actions. And they blame the Holy Spirit for all their errors. “We are a listening Church, and we must keep walking forwards.” Yes, listening to whom? And where are you walking to?
Why would Father Pereira dare to speak the truth even in the face of cancel culture running rampant in the Church? Because he is ready for martyrdom.
In another homily in November, Father Pereira talked about martyrdom: “Martyrdom is not about dying. Martyrdom is about being faithful to Christ no matter what.”
There it is. There is the answer for us moving forward as we discern what to say and when to say it in this culture starving for Truth, but which also is so ready to persecute those who do tell the truth.
Up next, Father Leon Pereira. This is The John-Henry Westen Show.
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