One Irish-American priest, the Rev. Michael Jude Fay, is being investigation for allegedly embezzling up to $200,000 of church funds, using bogus expense claims. Both the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s office in New Haven are said to be looking into the matter.
Meanwhile, the Rev. Michael Madden, a more junior priest, is apparently being victimized by the hierarchy for blowing the whistle. He told parishioners during Mass last week that his concerns along with those of the parish bookkeeper had spurred them to hire a private investigator. He also criticized the diocese for failing to come to his rescue “when there were red flags everywhere.”
There was a time when Irish-American Catholics were content to allow the church treat such matters as internal affairs, to be dealt with in secret and with as little fuss as possible.
That turned out to be a colossal and tragic mistake, one for which many people paid a heavy price. With just a little more public scrutiny, would the church financial scandals of recent years not have been nipped in the bud?
And far more importantly, how many of our children would have been saved from sickening abuse by pedophiles had we simply refused to accept the bishops’ assurances that the church knew best how to deal with the problem?
While the church is not a democracy, it is time the hierarchy came to understand that it cannot act as a dictatorship and expect parishioners’ hard-earned dollars to keep falling softly upon the collection plate.
Cardinal Egan of New York, in particular, should bear this in mind as he plans to sell off community assets built from years of contributions, often by New Yorkers of modest means.