Matt C. Abbott
Persecuted priests: Perrone, Phillips
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By Matt C. Abbott
January 13, 2022

Father Eduard Perrone has lost an appeal to reinstate a dismissed defamation lawsuit against Monsignor G. Michael Bugarin, a fellow Archdiocese of Detroit priest and the delegate for clergy misconduct.

A three-judge panel said in their Dec. 21, 2021 ruling “that state courts cannot have jurisdiction over ‘ecclesiastical matters forbidden under the First Amendment of the Constitution,’” according to a Jan. 4 story in the Macomb Daily.

From the story:

    Perrone was removed in July 2019 as priest at The Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Church, aka Assumption Grotto Church, in Detroit after 25 years there over allegations he molested an altar boy 40 years earlier. The case was reviewed by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith, which early last year ‘decided not to proceed’ with the case, the AOD said last April. No criminal charges were filed….

    Also in 2019, the accuser denied any inappropriate touching or sexual assault in an interview with a Michigan State Police detective, Perrone’s lawsuit said.

Perrone asked to be returned to public ministry, but in its April 13, 2021 statement, the archdiocese said that “a canonical disciplinary process has begun” and that “Perrone’s status remains unchanged: He is restricted from public ministry and presenting himself as a priest.”

Such a process, of course, may not have a set end date and, even if it does conclude in Perrone’s favor, the archbishop, Allen Vigneron, can still keep Perrone unassigned and out of public ministry indefinitely without having to publicly say why. One source told me that Vigneron will use his authority to do whatever he can to keep Perrone out of public ministry.

Catholic News Agency reported April 23, 2021 that Bugarin “avoided describing” the allegation(s) against Perrone “as either ‘credible’ or ‘substantiated’ and emphasized that at this stage the only conclusion had been of a ‘semblance of truth.’ Semblance of truth is a legal standard in canon law usually defined as ‘not manifestly false or frivolous’; it establishes only that an allegation cannot be immediately dismissed as factually impossible.”

Click here to see extensive coverage of the Perrone case by Church Militant.

Meanwhile, Father C. Frank Phillips, C.R., former pastor of St. John Cantius Church, is reportedly back in Chicago – he had been residing in St. Louis for a time – living in a retirement home for the Resurrectionists. However, he remains out of public ministry after being removed by Cardinal Blase Cupich in March 2018 due to “credible allegations of improper conduct involving adult men,” according to a letter signed by Cupich and read to parishioners at that time.

The last public statement Phillips issued was in June 2018 through his attorney, Stephen Komie:

    I wish to express my thanks to Father Gene Szarek, [now former] provincial superior of the Congregation of the Resurrection, for providing an independent review board to examine the accusations against me. Thank you to the members of the review board who spent hours listening to the accusers as well as individuals who gave testimony of the facts and on behalf of my character. I assure you I have done nothing that would scandalize the faithful.

    My prayers were answered when the review board returned its finding of no criminal violation, civil violation, or canonical violation in my case. The review board found me innocent of the accusations which I have vehemently denied. I am returning to serve God in any capacity under the direction of the provincial of the Congregation of the Resurrection to build up the Kingdom of God.

    I want to express my appreciation and gratitude to all those who called me, sent me letters, made phone calls, and spoke publicly in my defense. To all those who supported me, please rest assured that I remember you daily in my prayers and my heart has swelled with knowing that you stood by me in the difficult times I have just experienced. I will always stand by you.

    I am currently [June 2018] in Rome engaged in consultations with the Congregation of the Resurrection and other church leaders. I have heard there is a misunderstanding concerning my status. Currently, by decree of Cardinal Cupich my faculties are suspended only in the Archdiocese of Chicago. I am free to continue in my calling to serve God in all other geographical locations on the planet. Therefore, I will continue to say Mass for you daily and petition for reconciliation with the cardinal.

    Lastly, I want to express my appreciation, gratitude, and thanksgiving for my lawyer Stephen Komie who guided me through the process. As we walked together he provided counsel and advice which allowed me to stay the course, keep my head up, and seek my prayers for justice.

Despite the findings of the independent review board provided by Szarek, Cupich declined to reinstate Phillips and kept his faculties withdrawn.

(In a more recent development, the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius are facing yet-to-be-determined-or-announced Latin Mass restrictions due to the implementation of Traditionis custodes. Click here to see their statement on the matter.)

Both Perrone and Phillips have, to my knowledge, been obedient to their bishops and haven’t publicly criticized them.

–––––––––––––––

On an unrelated matter, veteran pro-life activist Jim Sedlak, who was executive director of American Life League, passed away Jan. 11 at the age of 78.

“Sedlak was the cofounder of STOPP and the founder of STOPP International, Christian parent groups focused on putting Planned Parenthood out of business. Merging STOPP into the American Life League in 1998, Sedlak became an integral part of the organization’s leadership,” according to a news release by ALL.

May he rest in the peace of Christ.

© Matt C. Abbott

 

The views expressed by RenewAmerica columnists are their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of RenewAmerica or its affiliates.
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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 also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 2019 "Unsolved" podcast about the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. He is mentioned in the 2020 Report on the Holy See's Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017), which can be found on the Vatican's website. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com.

(Note: I welcome and appreciate thoughtful feedback. Insults will be ignored. Only in very select cases will I honor a request to have a telephone conversation about a topic in my column. Email is much preferred. God bless you and please keep me in your prayers!)

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