Matt C. Abbott
April 15, 2008
Help us, Pope Benedict... California priest in 'state of crisis'
By Matt C. Abbott

Perhaps Pope Benedict's visit to the U.S. will be a sign of hope to certain priests who are suffering greatly.

Readers might recall my coverage of Father Joe Baca, of the Fresno, Calif., Catholic diocese. Father Baca contacted me in recent days and seemed distraught. I was, and still am, concerned for his well-being.

Thankfully, Father Baca is working with Joe Maher, president of Opus Bono Sacerdotii ("Work for the Good of the Priesthood"), who has issued the following update to Father Baca's unsettling situation:

    'I just talked to Father Joe Baca at length. He assured me that he was not suicidal; however, he is utterly exhausted and has lost just about all hope. He received a letter from his bishop via e-mail on Monday which I believe threw him into a state of emotional and physical shock. I cannot say more than this due to the confidential nature of canonical cases. I asked Father Joe to send me a copy of the letter and I may talk to his bishop personally to see what can be done to ease his pain and bring some justice to this situation. I don't want to give anyone false hope because bishops often act at their own discretion regardless of canon law. We shall see.

    'All that being said, and based on the thousands of priests' cases we deal with, and one new priest a day on average contacting us for help, Father Joe is in a state of crisis. Now more than ever, he needs the kind of love and support you are giving him here. Very few priests have such a network. When I can give a further update, I will.

    'May Our Lady of Priests be Father Joe's, and your, health and protection.'

Of course, we do have some good bishops, but, sadly, there's no doubt that corruption exists.

Please pray for Father Joe Baca, Father James Haley, and the other persecuted and suffering priests and for those whose lives have been irreparably damaged by clergy/religious/familial abuse and/or negligence.

© Matt C. Abbott


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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He's been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at

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