Thursday, March 02, 2006

More scandal from the Diocese of Worcester

This is truly heartbreaking. The Rev. Joseph A. Coonan, a priest of the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts who was removed from ministry at St. John's Roman Catholic Church in 2002 after allegations of inappropriate contact with children dating back to the 1970's, has now been charged with domestic assault and battery, assault and battery on a person over 65 years of age (his mother), and one count of intimidating a witness according to court documents.

According to the police report, Rev. Coonan had been drinking at the time of the incident.

While this story saddens me, it does not surprise me. I grew up in the Worcester Diocese. And for many years I opposed dissent from Church teaching at both the parish and diocesan level. I wrote more letters to the editor of the Catholic Free Press then I can remember. In fact, it was because of my continued opposition to the column of dissident moral theologian Rev. Richard P. McBrien within the pages of that newspaper that the column was eventually dropped.

For years I tried to warn anyone who would listen that there were serious problems within that Diocese which needed to be addressed: the homosexual problem/agenda, dissent from Church teaching (and especially in the area of human sexuality), New Age practices, liturgical abuses, and so on and so forth.

Our Lord Jesus said that we would know a tree by its fruit. And while there is much within the Diocese of Worcester which has borne good fruit, there are also so many stories like Rev. Coonan's.

There is a real prayer need here. Pray for the Diocese of Worcester. Pray that there is a renewal there. Pray that these serious problems will no longer be swept under the rug in the vain hope that they will "just go away." And pray for those who make excuses for people like Fr. Coonan or who attempt to dismiss serious and well documented charges against priests or others who have acted inappropriately.

There is sadness here to be sure. But there is also the opportunity for growth. While we cannot succumb to despair over such matters and must retain our hope at all times, we cannot - we must not - adopt the ostrich attitude and bury our heads in the sand of denial. We simply cannot afford to do so any longer. If the New Evangelization called for by Pope John Paul II is to take place, we must not only talk the talk. We must walk the walk. It is our holy example more than anything else which will convert the world.

Let's do it!

Paul Anthony Melanson

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