February 18, 2005
Arlington Priest Faces Judge

Last week the national media revealed Arlington pastor, Fr. Robert Brooks' arrest in an FBI sting operation against those traficking in child pornography. This week in Arlington we're back to the issue of whether Fr. James Haley can continue to function as a priest.

I know there are those who object to the way Fr. Haley handled this situation and I will probably hear from you. It would be interesting to have ALL the facts to know what other options were left to him after many months of trying to get the chancery to intervene. How long did Fr. Verecchia engage in open trysting (in hot tubs and at parish dances) while the chancery fiddled and talked about Fr. Verecchia's and Nancy Lambert's "privacy." Where was the concern for the scandal to the children?

I am doing research on orthodox priests around the country who have suffered retaliation for exposing the horrors of what's going on behind the rectory doors. And, let's face it, we all know there are more scandals waiting to surface. Better for them to be exposed than for our confessionals and parishes to be schools of scandal, and our children to be endangered by homosexuals and their buddies. Bishop Loverde says Fr. Brooks never injured a child. Let us pray that's true. However, most victims in the recent scandals didn't come forward for two decades. Time will tell.

Let us also pray and work toward the day there will be a FORMAL BAN ON HOMOSEXUALS IN THE PRIESTHOOD.

I will end with a quote from Bishop D'Arcy of Fort Wayne, Indiana who has been fighting this for two decades and warned Cardinal Law back in the '70s against notorious abuser, Fr. John Geoghan. If Cardinal Law had listened, many children would have been saved. Where is Cardinal Law now? And where is Fr. Haley? Is that the kind of justice each of us hopes for in his own life?

Pray for Bishop D'Arcy, a man who has a history of fighting for the truth. Listen to his assessment:

"To put a gay man in the priesthood, in a mostly male environment, is unfair, given the potential attractions.... We don't put these [heterosexual] men in with attractive women,' ...You're putting him [the seminarian] in with men. It's not fair to him, it's not fair to them, it's not fair to the church....If we ordain men with pathologies and difficulties, they will draw the same kind....Don't just pray for priests, pray for priests of good quality." D'Arcy further said, the Church should ordain "men who would be good husbands, men who would be good fathers." Like Jim Lambert perhaps?

I also refer you to an excellent article by Fr. Charles Dahlby, The Elephant in the Church posted at the url below. Until the homosexual issue is dealt with, our children are not safe, no matter how many moms and grannies are fingerprinted and have background checks!



Arlington priest faces judges

By Julia Duin


A whistleblower Catholic priest who says his bishop is persecuting him because of his activism against homosexuals in the priesthood appeared yesterday in front of an ecclesiastical court near Catholic University.

The Rev. James Haley, 48, a priest in the Diocese of Arlington, appeared before a panel of judges and canon lawyers for a final hearing in a case brought against him by Arlington Bishop Paul S. Loverde. The case has lasted more than three years.

The priest submitted five volumes of documents bolstering his contention that the Catholic priesthood is heavily weighted with homosexuals.

"All I am doing is trying to get an answer to a very complicated question," Father Haley said Tuesday. "Is it moral, proper and prudent to ordain homosexual priests?"

Bishop Thomas G. Doran of Rockford, Ill., is presiding over the case, which will be forwarded for judgment to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith at the Vatican, headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.

Bishop Loverde has lodged several charges against the priest for sexual misconduct in a case that began in the fall of 2001. He ordered Father Haley silenced and removed him from parish ministry.

The priest denied the sexual-misconduct charges, then revealed in a July 24, 2002, deposition filed in Arlington County Circuit Court a lengthy account of adultery and homosexual affairs among certain priests in the Northern Virginia diocese.

Bishop Loverde then charged Father Haley with wrongfully revealing information to the press, and turned over the case to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

Father Haley appeared before an ecclesiastical court in March in Philadelphia, and at least two other secret hearings have been held involving witnesses for the accused priest and his bishop. Yesterday's hearing was the first time he was deposed by church lawyers, Father Haley said.

"To this day, no one has asked me anything. I think that waiting three years for any trial is ridiculous," he said Tuesday.

A diocesan spokesman declined comment on the case because it had been forwarded to the Vatican.



19 March 2004

Whistleblower priest on trial; critics say bishop exacting revenge

Bishop Paul S. Loverde is hot under the collar. This week, the leader of the Arlington diocese in northern Virginia is exerting his wrath on a priest he finds particularly troublesome. Fr. James R. Haley was summoned before an ecclesiastical tribunal in Philadelphia on Wednesday to answer to five charges brought against him by his own bishop. If found guilty, these charges could lead to the priest’s "defrocking," a penalty that would effectively reduce Fr. Haley to the lay state.

According to Charles M. Wilson, executive director of the Saint Joseph Foundation in San Antonio, Texas, an ecclesiastical tribunal is "roughly equivalent to a criminal trial brought before a civil court. The offense has to be proven by ‘moral certainty,’ which is similar to ‘beyond a reasonable doubt.'"

Critics say the Arlington bishop is retaliating against the priest for exposing clerical corruption in three northern Virginia parishes. "Fr. Haley has been attacked, vilified, and deprived of his ability to function as a priest," contended Stephen Brady, president of the Illinois-based Roman Catholic Faithful.

Several of the bishop’s canonical charges are related to testimony given by Fr. Haley in a legal deposition in July of 2002. As a direct consequence of his testimony, Fr. Haley was suspended from the Arlington diocese. Despite the fact that the priest was legally bound to respond to a subpoena, Bishop Loverde informed Fr. Haley in a written decree dated October 28, 2002 that he was guilty of violating an order for him not to publicize priestly wrongdoing. In other words, Fr. Haley was disciplined due to his refusal to participate in an on-going cover-up. He is a classic whistleblower.

At the St. Patrick’s Day trial, Fr. Haley was charged with "using instruments of social communication to injure good morals, to express insults and to excite hatred or contempt against the Church or Diocese" (canon 1369); "publicly inciting subjects to animosities or hatred against…the Ordinary [i.e., the bishop]" (canon 1373), and "ruining the good reputation of another." Put in simpler terms, Fr. Haley is being charged for blowing the whistle on the bishop’s administrative incompetence in dealing with clerical scandal.

Priests in the Arlington diocese are reluctant at this point to comment on Fr. Haley’s case. Some have expressed concerns that any comments they make will leave them vulnerable to the kind of charges brought against Fr. Haley. "The Haley issue is a red flag to the priests of the diocese," explained one Arlington cleric. "This means any dissent, discussion, or even mild criticism of anything the [bishop] does can be met with a canonical suit."

The priests seem to believe that the primary problem is not what they might personally think of Fr. Haley, but how his case has been handled and how the whistleblower has been treated.

"This kind of trial is almost unheard of," said Charles Wilson, "especially concerning someone who is maintaining that he is innocent of the charges." Wilson pointed out that the tribunal was presided over by Bishop Thomas G. Doran of Rockford, Illinois. "The fact that Bishop Doran is a member of Rome’s Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura suggests that this tribunal was convened by the Holy See." The Signatura is often referred to as the supreme court of the Catholic Church. "The fact that the trial took place in Philadelphia instead of in the Arlington diocese would seem to support this [assumption]," he added. The status of the tribunal could not be confirmed at the time of publication.

A soap opera series of events

In July 2002, Fr. Haley was subpoenaed to testify in a lawsuit that was brought against Bishop Loverde and the Diocese of Arlington by James Lambert, a Catholic layman whose wife was impregnated by Fr. James Verrecchia, then pastor of All Saints Church in Manassas. Mr. Lambert alleged that the diocese had long known about the public scandal given by Fr. Verrecchia’s illicit relationship with his wife, but failed to remove the priest from the Lamberts’ parish. Although the lawsuit was eventually dropped, Fr. Haley’s testimony corroborated Mr. Lambert’s contention. Nancy Lambert later divorced her husband in order to marry Fr. Verrecchia, who is now an Episcopal priest serving in Atlanta.

Fr. Haley worked as an associate at All Saints, where he discovered that his pastor had stored up homosexual pornography on the rectory computer. He also discovered over three hundred email "love letters" written by Fr. Verrecchia and sent to Nancy Lambert. The emails closed with fancies such as "Feel my hug and know of my kiss."

Fr. Haley testified that Fr. Verrecchia had long been involved in a very public romance with Mrs. Lambert, saying it was a source of grave scandal to parishioners at All Saints. Moreover, Fr. Haley presented Bishop Loverde with incontrovertible evidence of Fr. Verrecchia’s misconduct by downloading all the homosexual pornography and emails onto a compact disc.

According to the deposition, rather than investigating the matter, the bishop accused Fr. Haley of fabricating the emails and transferred him to St. Lawrence Church in Franconia. No investigation was ever carried out; Fr. Verrecchia received no disciplinary notice by Bishop Loverde, and was allowed to remain pastor of All Saints, where he continued his sexual romance with Nancy Lambert until he impregnated her and left the priesthood to marry her.

At St. Lawrence, Fr. Haley discovered that the pastor, Fr. William J. Erbacher, had been embezzling money from the collection baskets on a rather grand scale. He also discovered that this same priest possessed an extensive collection of homosexual pornography, including child pornography. According to the deposition, Fr. Haley went "to Bishop Loverde and told him he had a significant problem at Saint Lawrence. That there was immoral and criminal activity occurring, and that it was very obvious, and that he needed to go see it."

Again, at the bishop’s request, Fr. Haley presented him with documented evidence of the pornography, and again no investigation was undertaken at that time. Instead, Fr. Haley was transferred again.

Two months later, only after Fr. Erbacher’s activities were made public in The Washington Post, did Bishop Loverde take action. He immediately removed the offending pastor and audited the parish to discover that Fr. Erbacher had embezzled $320,000 from Church funds.

At Fr. Haley’s next assignment at St. Mary’s Church in Fredericksburg, he discovered that Fr. Daniel Hamilton was "involved in extraordinarily graphic and incredibly disturbing sadomasochistic, sexual torture, cross-dressing, transgender pornography that involved she-males." Fr. Haley testified that his fellow priest was addicted, "daily immersed in this kind of sexual horror."

Fr. Haley went to Bishop Loverde again, this time to tell him of the disturbing problems at St. Mary’s. According to the deposition, the bishop again asked for "credible evidence" of the pastor’s misconduct. Fr. Haley responded to that request a week later with evidence of Fr. Hamilton’s extreme perversion. "At the end of that meeting, which was basically a slide show of the pictures of [Fr. Hamilton’s] incredible collection," Fr. Haley testified, "the bishop told me that I had better watch out, that I did not know what he [Loverde] was capable of doing."

One week later, Bishop Loverde summoned Fr. Haley to his office and instructed him to be out of St. Mary’s by 7 o’clock that evening. According to the deposition, Bishop Loverde also presented Fr. Haley with a written decree that threatened his priesthood in no uncertain terms. Fr. Haley described the bishop’s threat thus: "If you tell anybody by any means what has happened to Fr. Hamilton or anybody you will be immediately suspended from the priesthood without any warning."

Subsequent to this threat, Bishop Loverde removed Fr. Haley’s priestly faculties and, according to Fr. Haley’s testimony, made it clear to the whistleblower that he wanted him to enter a so-called "treatment center" before he would ever consider lifting Fr. Haley’s suspension. When Fr. Haley requested to transfer to another diocese, the bishop responded that he would not grant approval. Bishop Loverde would settle for nothing less than the priest’s laicization. According to his sworn testimony, Fr. Haley stated that Bishop Loverde "is trying to strangle me out of the Church."

A retaliatory move?

In addition to the canonical charges relating to Fr. Haley’s whistle-blowing, Bishop Loverde is also charging Fr. Haley with "sexual misconduct" and "absolution of an accomplice in sexual sin," an apparent reference to a decade-old incident involving a woman who made sexual advances toward the priest.

Fr. Haley’s attorney, Gregory Murphy explained to The Washington Times [article] last week that "the priest was found not guilty of any impropriety by the former Arlington bishop, the Most. Rev. John R. Keating, who died in 1998."

Roman Catholic Faithful’s Stephen Brady says it’s obvious to him that Bishop Loverde is trying to retaliate against Fr. Haley. Brady’s lay Catholic group has been lending moral support to the harassed priest ever since his deposition transcript was made public. "These misconduct charges involved a woman who made sexual advances toward Fr. Haley years ago," Brady explained, "and he rebuffed her. Later, when she asked for absolution, he granted it to her. This issue was dealt with by Loverde’s predecessor."

Murphy seems to concur. "They’re throwing in any issue they could find against [Fr. Haley]," the priest’s attorney told The Washington Times [article]. "So they’ve dug up an incident that was, right from the start, found in Fr. Haley’s favor."

"I’ve seen the vile filth that Fr. Haley documented in those three rectories," added Brady, who describes the evidence as hardcore homosexual pornography—both magazines and videos. "I’ve got copies of it all," he added, "and the fact that Bishop Loverde failed to act on any of this evidence speaks volumes. Instead, he decides to persecute this priest while perverts and pedophiles walk free."

Asked whether he thinks Fr. Haley was innocent of the sexual misconduct charges, Brady pointed out that Bishop Keating apparently found the priest innocent. He added: "Anybody who has skeletons in his closet doesn’t speak out as loudly as Fr. Haley has. If he were guilty of those charges, he would have been crazy to go public with his evidence."

Ongoing smear campaign

Ever since Fr. Haley’s testimony in the legal deposition was made public and reported in the Washington-area media, Bishop Loverde seems to have been on an offensive to demonize the whistleblower priest. In a December 5, 2002 letter published in the Arlington Catholic Herald the bishop wrote that "Fr. Haley has not been made a pastor because of separate issues concerning his own past conduct," apparently referring to the sexual misconduct charges that Bishop Loverde’s predecessor resolved long ago. At the time the letter was published, at the height of the priest pederasty scandal, Bishop Loverde’s comment was commonly misinterpreted to mean that Fr. Haley was the subject of pedophilia allegations.act the priest did not go to the media, but rather gave testimony in a legal deposition, the transcripts of which the Diocese of Arlington sought unsuccessfully to have sealed. Fr. Haley’s testimony was made public only to the extent that the media had access to those public legal documents. It is also instructive to note that for several years Fr. Haley reported his complaints, accompanied by well-documented evidence, directly to the bishop.

In his public letter Bishop Loverde also stated that Fr. Haley had no duty to give a deposition in a civil proceeding, when in fact Fr. Haley was subpoenaed for his testimony, meaning that he was legally required to answer questions under oath. The testimony was not "voluntary" as Bishop Loverde falsely claimed.

Even in the face of gaping evidence to the contrary, Bishop Loverde asserts in his public letter three times that he has not ignored priestly misconduct, that he treats all allegations very seriously, and that he is committed to doing everything in his power to see that wrongdoing or criminal behavior is punished. The fact that the bishop repeatedly failed to act on the allegations and evidence presented to him by Fr. Haley about three separate pastors of the diocese leaves the bishop open to suspicion that he is primarily interested in one thing: retribution against a whistleblower priest.

In normal circumstances, it could take between six months and a year to adjudicate canonical hearings such as Fr. Haley’s St. Patrick’s Day trial. In the mean time, the priest will remain in clerical limbo. Even if the eventual ruling comes out in favor of Fr. Haley, Bishop Loverde will still have the canonical right to keep from accepting the priest back in the Diocese of Arlington. But it would make it easier for Fr. Haley to transfer to another diocese, should a bishop be willing to accept him. "If Haley wins the case," explained the St. Joseph Foundation’s Charles Wilson, "he would no longer be under suspension. In a way, a canonical trial for Fr. Haley is good. His rights will be respected, which does not appear to have been the case up to this point. The trial gives Fr. Haley a fighting chance. If he has been accused of a serious offense he should be offered a fair trial."

(Editor's note: The full transcript of Fr. Haley’s deposition is available online at: http://www.rcf.org/pdfs/hdep.pdf)

E-Letter Archive

Les Femmes searching for Shepherds to defend the flock.
Joan of Arc
Our Lady of Guadalupe

Les Femmes Inc., 1216 Mill Rd. Woodstock, VA 22664.