A little more now on two Diocese of Pembroke priests who used the sanctuary as a platform to declare Father Howard Chabot’s innocence.
I spent a good part of today on this, tracking down stories to clarify and confirm, and trying to get in touch with both priests
The priests in question are (1) Father Terrence Sirosky, pastor at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Deep River, Ontario, and (2) Father Grant Neville, pastor at St. Andrew Roman Catholic Church in Killaloe, Ontario. I did try to contact both priests for comment. Father Neville was in Pembroke visiting family and will be gone until sometime on Friday. Two messages I left for Father Sirosky have to this point gone unanswered.
I had hoped to contact both priests before blogging, however, at this time I will go ahead and post what I have been told. I do so because I fear the repercussions and damage already done within the Catholic community, not the least of which is the animosity which is being nurtured toward the complainant by Roman Catholic priests.
This is truly unbelievable.
So here is the gist of what I have been told
(1) Father Terrence Sirosky
First, to put this into some context, although Father Chabot is retired he had recently been filling in for Father Sirosky for a number of Sundays. I think in fact if I remember correctly Father Cahbot said in Deep River the Sunday before he was charged.
As for what was said by Father Sirosky this past Sunday at Mass, I have several sources for this, and all basically have the same message.
I am told that right after Mass Father Sirosky said that he is a close friend of Father Chabot, and that he had talked to Father Chabot about the allegations – Father Chabot in turn apparently asked that a message be taken back to parishioners, and he asked Father Sirosky to tell parishioners that he (Fr. Chabot) is not guilty and that he (Fr. Chabot) has a clear conscience. I was also told that Father Chabot asked Father Sirosky to assure parishioners that the truth will prevail, and to pray for both he and the complainant.
Ask for prayers for both he and the complainant? By all means. I would expect such a request from a priest and from the pulpit. But the rest? All of that priestly propaganda about Father Chabot’s clear conscience and innocence? At Sunday Mass?
As it stands, the priestly message is that Father Chabot is innocent.
What, pray tell, does that say for the complainant? As far as I’m concerned it says only one thing about the man who filed the complaint, that being that if indeed Father Chabot is innocent then the complainant is an outright liar.
That’s the message, is it not? How else can we view it?
I am appalled. Disgusted. This is such a terrible abuse of the trust which people place in their parish priest. Whether by accident or design, this is such a brazen manipulation of people’s minds.
Yes, I realize fully that strange things happen when a priest is charged, and that emotions run high. But, I don’t expect this. Not from a priest. Not on the heels of the countless cases we have witnessed in Canada and throughout the world where so many loyal parishioners and friends swore by “Father” and were adamant that he couldn’t possibly have done ‘it,’ and “Father” was equally adamant that he didn’t do ‘it,’ and then, lo and behold, after a little plea bargaining and a whole lot of months “Father” enters an 11th hour guilty plea.
(2) Father Grant Neville
And, much the same but slightly different here.
I am told from one source that Father Neville announced that he and Father Chabot have been friends for years, and that he believes in Father Chabot’s innocence and that this whole thing is just a money grab.
From another source I am told that Father Nevile said that he was in seminary with Father Chabot and he did not believe that Father Chabot could or would have done what he is accused of.
What can I say? I think I said it all above. But, I am sick at heart. Sick for the complainant and his family. Sick that this may deter anyone who may have been summoning up the courage to go to police and pass on information which they feel would prove helpful, or …deter a complainant who may have just summoned up the courage to go to police with sex abuse allegations against Father Chabot.
Those who truly want the truth to come out must in turn acknowledge that a hostile environment will not encouraging anyone to go to police.
Before closing, let me assure that this is not at all what happened in every parish in the diocese on Sunday. This is what I am told was said in two churches last Sunday. There are 48 churches in the Pembroke Diocese. I have had reports from a number of people telling me that their parish priest spoke well about the charges, and there was no attempt to paint Father Chabot as wrongfully charged and falsely accused.
And, one final sad note. I hear that a number of people out and about the diocese are saying that Father Chabot has a clear conscience, and that this is all about money.
Please pray for the complainant.
Enough for now,