PRIEST NEEDS YOUR HELP
Father Joe Clark suspended for correcting deacon!
August 5, 2005 Bishop Paul Loverde suspended Fr. Joseph Clark without
notice and without serious cause. Why? On Sunday, July 24 Fr. Clark celebrated
the 11:00 a.m. Mass at Holy Family Church in Dale City assisted by a permanent
deacon who committed serious liturgical abuses in handling the Precious
Blood. After Mass, Father attempted to correct and instruct the deacon
who was unreceptive. Father told him in the future he would not permit
him to assist if the abuse continued.
How did the deacon respond?
A few days later Fr. Robert Avella, the Bishop’s
Delegate for Clergy, contacted Fr. Clark to say the diocese received “many”
complaint letters. (The pastor, Fr. Donald Planty, received three.) The
deacon accused Fr. Clark of “harassment” and threatened to
sue. The deacon’s wife and his daughter, who lives half a continent
away and did not witness the incident, sent outraged letters to the bishop.
Father asked to see the letters and the charges against him, but Fr. Avella
refused. These two letters, which were obtained later, slander not only
Fr. Clark, but the “new breed” of young priests in the diocese
who are characterized as “critical and mean-spirited,” basically
for defending the integrity of the Mass. Statements in the wife’s
letter may explain the deacon’s unreceptive response to correction.
She wrote, “I am embarrassed to say we are from this diocese because
we are known…as a very conservative diocese that can’t have
girl alter (sic) servers because the conservative priests are not open
to it…. We have a group of priests that want to take us back instead
of forward.” Clearly more is going on here than the incident with
What did the bishop do?
Fr. Clark was called to a meeting at the bishop’s
residence on August 6 which he thought was a one-on-one opportunity to
discuss what happened. Instead, he found the bishop in the company of
the diocesan lawyer and Fr. Avella. When Fr. Clark asked if it was a juridical
meeting the bishop said yes. With no discussion or warning, Bishop Loverde
presented Fr. Clark with a letter of suspension from active ministry and
an order to vacate the Holy Family rectory within five hours. Fr. Clark
was not informed of the true nature of the meeting beforehand, was given
no opportunity to see the charges against him or have counsel, and was
not allowed to defend himself. To add insult to injury, the suspension
was dated the day before the meeting. The wording of the bishop’s
suspension repeats the uninvestigated allegations from the slanderous
letter of the deacon’s daughter.
What can you do to help?
Fr. Clark must vigorously fight this unjust suspension
which could result in his dismissal from the priesthood. He has hired
a canon lawyer and plans to fight even to Rome if necessary. He needs
your help in bringing this injustice to the attention of congregations
at the Vatican. Please send letters asking for Fr. Clark’s immediate
reinstatement to the Congregation for the Clergy and the Congregation
for Divine Worship. Since the accusations relate to abuse of the liturgy,
please share any experience you have with Fr. Clark’s reverent celebration
of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass and your concern over abuses to the
Holy Eucharist. Please keep your letters brief (two pages at most), respectful
toward the bishop, and unemotional.
Send your letter
Eminence Francis Cardinal Arinze
Prefect, Congregation for Divine Worship
10 Piazza Pio XII 00120
Vatican City State, Europe
Eminence Dario Cardinal Castrillion Hoyos
Congregation for the Clergy
3 Piazza Pio XII 00120
Vatican City State, Europe
don’t include a slush fund for defending against unjust dismissal.
Fr. Clark has no lawyers, staff, or bottomless basket of donations from
people in the pews. He depends on our charity. Catholic Media Coalition
(CMC) has opened a “persecuted priests” account to pay Father’s
legal bills. Because CMC is a volunteer organization there is little overhead.
Even the printing of this flyer was donated. Almost every cent will assist
Fr. Clark and other persecuted priests. Your donation is tax deductible.
Please help! Make out your check to CMC Persecuted Priests Fund and mail
C/O Mary Ann Kreitzer
1216 Mill Rd.
Woodstock, VA 22664
Holy Father, may the torrents of love flowing from the sacred wounds
of Thy Divine Son bring forth priests like unto the beloved disciple
John.... May Thy priests be faithful guardians of Thy Church....
Give us priests who are on fire and who are true children of Mary.
From St. Therese’s prayer for priests
here for a printable .pdf copy.
flyer was prepared by Les Femmes. For more information about Les Femmes