Ex-Priests-The Anonymous Legion of Decency

 Early in 1961 an ex-priest came to me at Memorial Hospital to ask help in securing a job.  He was the second ex-priest to visit me that week.  A few days later he brought his wife, a young and very beautiful woman.

She emphasized the fact that she was an ex-Catholic but that she had left the Church long before she had met this ex-priest.  She said that her home was Amarillo , Texas and she had attended school at Flintridge , California .  'Oh," I said, "you mean that fancy Catholic girls' finishing school?" "No," she replied, "I mean that fancy girls' reform school.  I was sent there at the suggestion of the pastor in Amarillo because I wouldn't give in to him and I quit the Church." "Did the priest proposition you?" I asked.  "He certainly did," she replied; "he went after every girl he could get.  He finally dropped dead of a heart attack in a girl's apartment."

In our time it is impossible to tell how widespread is the disregard of the law of celibacy.  Priests, like most people, keep their illicit sexual affairs as secret as possible, The decrees of the council of Trent and the modern Code of Canon Law forbid them to marry, and if they have children they cannot will Church property to them.

The Canon Law Digest by Rev.  T. Lincoln Bouscaren, S.J., quotes Pope Benedict XV as amplifying Canon 132 in 1919:

 The law of clerical celibacy cannot be permitted to be in any way brought into question, as the Holy See regards it as the peculiar ornament of the Latin Church, and one of the principal sources of its active vigor.'  

In 1920, the Pope stated: "We solemnly testify that the Holy See will never in any way mitigate, much less abolish, this most sacred and most salutary law."'

The ideal of celibacy and the consequent vow of chastity is gradually instilled into the mind and emotions of modern students for the priesthood by isolating them from secular life and indoctrinating them in the concept that virginity is most sacred, and that females are dangerous, seductive and must be avoided at all costs.

After eight or nine years of this seclusion and intense brainwashing, the young man is told that he is free, and believing this to be so, be signs an oath that states:

 I declare that I clearly understand all that the vow of chastity and the law of celibacy prescribe, and I firmly resolve with the help of God to observe these obligations in their integrity until the end of my life.

 Canon 1072 uses a phrase regarding priestly marriage that has become a byword or colloquialism among Cathoum I Tic writers.  It is "Matrimonium attentat ' (attempted marriage)?  In other words, the marriage is merely attempted-it is never realized.  This phrase is insultingly hurled at every known ex-priest who is vocal and thus becomes a burr under the ecclesiastical saddle.

Dale Francis, the vituperative columnist of Our Sunday Visitor, which is circulated very widely among Catholics, wrote a pamphlet listing a number of ex-priests and describing their moral heinousness.  Of every married one, including myself, he said "he attempted marriage," as though the priest were living in adultery with some other man's wife, or in an illicit relationship with a woman.  AU his Catholic readers, therefore, would brand the children as bastards, for in the realm of marriage, as in other moral situations, Catholics consider their laws above the laws of the land.

Practically no Protestants and very few Catholics know anything about the laws of the Church concerning "solicitatio in confessione" (solicitation in the confessional).  The stringency of these laws and the punishment upon violation prove very graphically that even now, in spite of the smugness of papal statements, the problem of keeping the clergy celibate has not been resolved more satisfactorily than a thousand years ago.

"Solicitation" is the sin of seduction in the confessional of a person confessing.  Usually those "solicited" are women, although they can be men.  Rev.  Henry Davis, in his Moral and Pastoral Theology, describes solicitation as "inducement by a confessor (the priest) of a penitent to sin grievously against the Sixth Commandment (Thou shalt not commit adultery) mutually or personally, or to convey the inducement to another person in behalf of the confessor." 4

 This method of seduction has plagued the Roman Catholic Church ever since it inaugurated, sometime about the fourth century, the ceremony of auricular confession and labeled it a sacrament.

In one book, Lea devotes a large part of a chapter to solicitation.  He points out that "it cannot be a matter of surprise that the seduction of women in the confessional has always been a source of anxiety to the Church."'

 The frequency of the abuse can be judged by the punishment.  An early regulation deposed a guilty priest  if caught, and enforced penance for twelve years.  If the woman succumbed, all her possessions were confiscated (for the benefit of the Church, incidentally) and she was confined to a convent for life.

In the thirteenth century, St. Bonaventure declared that few parish priests were free of this or some other incapacitating vice.'

Lea details the constant preoccupation of popes, councils and prelates with this sin, but points out the lack of success in suppressing it.  Women were afraid to reveal such seduction because of the tendency of Church courts to protect their fellow-priests and because of the low esteem in which the veracity of women was held.

A common practice was to require male penitents who were confessing carnal sins to name the women involved.  Many priests then used the names as candidates for their own seductive advances.  Popes railed against this practice but with little success, either in the past or in modern times.

Another experience resulting from the confessional was flagellation, in which the priest prescribed scourging as a penance for sins of the flesh.  He could administer the punishment himself or order its self-infliction in Ms presence.  The penitent would be stripped as far as necessary.  When the priest ordered the lash administered to the IC sinning parts 11 of a woman, the clergy could watch with intense interest, if it did not actually participate in the episode.

Throughout earlier centuries Church legislation favored the seducing priest over the woman seduced.  The same is true today under the new Code of Canon Law.  The price is punished by suspension from saying Mass, hearing confessions and, in aggravated cases, by deprivation of ecclesiastical privileges (Canon 2368-1).  However, the woman solicited must within a month report the priest to his bishop or to Rome or be excommunicated (Canon 2368-2).  But if a woman falsely accuses a priest she sins seriously and can be forgiven only by the Holy See.  This is the only &in the forgiveness of which is reserved to the Holy See (Canon 894).  She is also excommunicated and can be released from this punishment only by the Holy See (Canon 2363).1

Now, as in former times, the frequency of solicitation in the confessional can be judged only by the severity of the punishments in the code and the exhortations against it. The Church abhors scandal much more than it does Sin.  AU proceedings regarding this sin are conducted in secret so as not to shock the faithful or even the other clergy.

In Latin countries, particularly in South America , celibacy is not lived up to much more strictly today than in previous centuries.  For one thing, there is no strong Protestant group carefully watching the clergy and compelling the latter to be at least publicly discreet.  A letter (dated September 25, 1955) from an American who has been living for some time in Venezuela states succinctly.

 The common belief here is that the village priests soon forget their vows of chastity and sire children as they are able-but no one holds this against them as they are tolerated as being harmless old fools.

 The traditional corruption of the Roman Church in Latin America was commonly assumed when I was in the priesthood, but it had only been hearsay to me until recently.  On a trip to Mexico and Peru , I saw this vast, miasynic thing that has stifled thought, strangled progress and enslaved the minds and bodies of millions for four centuries.  The illiterate crowds kissing the reclining death mask replicas of their saints and saviors in the huge churches and cathedrals seemed engaged in a continuous wake in chain-store mortuaries, paying tribute through ubiquitous offering boxes to an embalmed and mummified religion. nis Limosna a San lose –Alms to St. Joseph . Limostm a Nuestra Senora de Merced -Alms to Our Lady of Mercy.  These were typical of the come-ons begging the centavos and soles for the aid of saints dead for almost two thousand years.  Their religion is not a living vital force helping the people towards a better moral life.  I could see no difference between Catholicism in Latin America and the ancestor worship of the Orient.

In the Hotel Cuzco, twelve thousand feet up in the Andes , in the ancient capitol of the Incas, I met an American official of Pariagra-Pan Arnerican-Grace Airways.  He told me that he had been raised a Catholic, had attended Catholic schools, but had rejected the Church since living in South America .  "No thinking American can remain a Catholic down here," he told me.  "In the United States , the Catholic Church deceives its people and the public by posing in a tuxedo as respectable.  Here you see it naked and in the raw." He spoke of the incredible wealth of the Church at the expense of the poor, of the illiteracy and gross superstition of half the populace because of the apathy of the hierarchy, and the complete disregard of the clergy for celibacy or any other restraint on their indulgences.

I saw Holy Mother Church "naked and in the raw" and brought back hundreds of photographs to prove it.

A characteristic throughout these countries is the sneering contempt in which even nominal Catholics hold their priests.  In Cuzco our driver had to stop at the intersection of the narrow Inca streets because the way was blocked by a priest in his robes chatting merrily with a young woman.  "Doesn't he have a lot of nerve blocking the street?" I asked our twenty-year old guide, a well educated -native Cuzcoan.  "Oh, he's busy arranging to meet her later tonight," was his contemptuous reply.

He took me into the Catholic Church erected upon the walls of the Inca Temple of the Sun where the Conquistador Pizarro demanded a room full of gold and two of silver as a price for the Inca ruler's life-and then killed him.  A lone Dominican monk was lounging in the corridors.  "Do they have enough priests?" I asked the guide.  "They say not, he answered, "but I think there are too many." "Aren't you a Catholic?" "I suppose." "Then why don 7 t you become a priest and help them out?" He looked at me as though I bad asked him to blow his brains out.  "We Peruvians know the hypocritical lives they lead.  No decent young man will join them.

They have to bring in American priests to help them."

 A few minutes later he took me through the bishop's palace and into his private chapel.  It would make most American churches look like barns in comparison.  A shimmering altar of gold (said to be 23 karat) rose from the floor to the ceiling.  It was so brilliant that I obtained perfect photographic results, using Kodachrome color film with a #5 flash bulb at a distance of forty feet and 1/50 second exposure.  "Just look at this," the young man said bitterly.  "All this wealth for one man-the bishop.  Did you notice the poor Indian beggars outside the door?  Even those who look old are young, but they are dying.  They die of malnutrition and cirrhosis of the liver because they have to stay drunk on chicha and cbew coca leaves to kill the pangs of hunger."

The number of churches (one small city in Mexico has 365 Catholic Churches), their vastness, the multiplicity of "side" chapels (many as large as an American cathedral) each with its altar of gold or one-eighth inch beaten silver, reminded me of the Christian Brothers Brandy court case and Pope John XXIII's encyclical, Mater et Magistra.  While the Holy Father insisted that the nations which have should pour foreign aid into the nations which have not, the Christian Brothers contended in federal court in Sacramento that their brandy distillery in California belonged to the pope, and therefore should be tax exempt.

The gold and silver altars in Peru belong to the pope, too, making the Vatican so fabulously wealthy that Croesus was an indigent pauper by comparison.  If the pope is putting action to his own recommendations, his very efficient public relations counsel has missed it.

 In Lima a friend who lives there told my wife and myself that the priests never allow their clerical duties to interfere with their social life.  One priest was regularly assigned to say mass for a convent of nuns. if the party was pleasurable he could always phone the Mother Superior and say he was detained administering to a sick Catholic.

I asked a guide to show me the old city where the poor lived.  Lima with 1,700,000 people has a telephone directory only one-third the size of that of Phoenix , with 500,000 residents.  Utility outlets are usually considered a symbol of high community economic status.  My background as chairman for many years of the Phoenix Housing Authority had made me interested in slums everywhere.

When we had driven back and forth through miles of rundown inhabited ruins of ancient buildings, I asked the guide who owned the buildings.  "The Catholic Church owns most of them," he told me,  and collects the rent from these impoverished wretches." He reminded me that the Church had been there for four hundred years.  As families died out it was customary to will their property to the Church in return for masses for their souls.  Gradually the bulk of this property came into the hands of the Church-where it still is.  "When communism comes to Peru ," he prophesied, "the priests will be the cause of it." He said that only two American priests in the whole city were really working for the poor, a Maryknoller and a priest sent by Cardinal Cushing in Boston .

 Every time we passed a Peruvian priest be muttered, “Hombre negro”-black man! Negro en la ropa?"-black in his robe?  I asked.  "No, senor, negro en el corazon, black in his heart.

"Tienen el mejor vino y las mejor muieres"-they have the best wine and the best women.  "The wine, yes," I teased him, "but surely not the women?" He looked at me as though I were an idiot: "Maybe not in the United States , but they certainly have their women here."

I found these sentiments shared by everyone I met.  The rnaitre-&ho'tel of one of Lima 's finest restaurants told me that he was a native Austrian and had been born and educated in Europe as a Catholic.  But a few years in the hotel business in South America and the observance of the lives of priests, particularly in their relationship with young women, had disillusioned him.  He was through.  He also asked me to ship him some birth control pills.  They were unobtainable, he said, in Peru .

 Many Americans, living in Mexico for the purposes of business, leisure, or evangelization, have had first-hand experience with the almost complete disregard of the clergy for the vow of chastity.  Ernest Gruening in his very authoritative book Mexico and Its Heritage, states: Concubinage exists unabated.  Dr. Nicola's Leon, the anthropologist, told one of his University classes of arriving in a Michoacan parish with a curate newly assigned there.  They were met 'by a delegation of villagers who, on finding that the priest had come without a woman , insisted that he either get one or choose one at once from the village, as they felt that otherwise their wives and daughters would not be safe.'  

Another authority, Dr. Gamio, is quoted by Gruening' as finding in a survey that "generally priests live conjugal

lives," and that "the increased expenses of this mode of living are met by the parishioners."

During the Mexican revolution, Gruening reveals, official Church records were seized and they reveal that "solicitation in the confessional is still common practice and that it escapes punishment other than nominal.'

An ex-priest with whom I have become well acquainted was a missionary in China .  While still a young priest, he was sent to relieve a colleague who had to go away for his annual "retreat." On the first night, as he prepared to retire, the Chinese maidservant undressed and started to get into bed with him.  He asked her what she was doing.  She replied, "Why) the other father always wants me to sleep with him."

Many books have been written by former priests and nuns who have served the Church in Canada , Italy , Spain and Latin America ; the story they tell is invariably the same.  Many priests leave the Church and usually marry.  The majority, who do not leave, indulge in a variety of violations of their vows of chastity.  Lucien Vinet, who wrote I Was A Priest, details the dismal story, giving names and places of the seduction of young boys and girls in Catholic schools and young women in the confessional.,

In Protestant countries, Roman Catholicism is under the constant scrutiny of vigilant Protestant groups and individuals. it must hide its skeletons far more carefully than before the Reformation, because it claims to have reformed, and because it is in competition with Protestantism.

Celibacy or chastity, although somewhat more widely observed in the United States today than ever before in

history, is nevertheless not adhered to in this country as the public is led to believe.

Youthful idealists, studying for the priesthood, see only the example of specially chosen priests who are assigned to teach in seminaries or to live in the major monasteries.  The regulations of the Franciscan Order are similar to those of other Roman Catholic seminaries:

 The Superiors shall place no one in the house of studies except religious (priests and lay brothers) who are exemplary in their zeal for the regular observance and the perfection of community life.  Otherwise the students cannot be promoted to orders (the priesthood).

 During the strict testing of the novitiate year, the students are isolated and indoctrinated in a manner that Americans are loathe to believe:

 Let a place be set aside in the novitiate house separated from that in which the professed (those who have already pronounced vows) live, and having its own enclosure (walled off area).  Therein only the master shall live with the novices. . . . The novices are not allowed to enter the cells of the professed or of other novices, nor are the professed allowed to admit a novice to their cells.  Those acting otherwise shall be severely punished.  No novice is allowed to speak with any secular person (except at various times with his father or mother) nor with the religious of any Order except for a necessary cause approved by the Master, and in the presence of the Master or his assistant. . . . They shall now and then take part in moderate bodily exercise.  They shall engage in modest recreation which may be held in a solitary place outside the enclosure once a week.  However, the Master or his assistant must always be present.'

 These regulations, which are based on Canon Law, indicate not only the complete isolation of the students, but also the hierarchy's realization, perhaps through experience, of the danger of homosexuality.  The books on asceticism euphemistically call it "particular friendship."

During my years of study, several contrite priests who had left the priesthood and subsequently returned were confined to our monastery to "do penance." We heard rumors that they had done wrong, but any sexual affairs with women were carefully concealed from us.

I can recall as a student the pastor of one of the largest Franciscan parishes suddenly appearing at our Santa Barbara monastery and in the refectory assuming a place below that of the other priests.  We knew he was being punished.  The story told us was that in pastoral counseling he had given poor financial advice to a widow in his parish.  She lost all her money.  He felt conscience bound to repay her losses.  He left the priesthood and took a job until this was done.  We believed the story.

Later he was assigned to an Apache Indian mission in White River , Arizona .  He frequently visited St. Mary's in Phoenix while I lived there as a priest.  One day he told the lay brother at the mission that he was going to visit anther Indian center.  He vanished and was never heard from again.  He had sold everything movable from the rectory and the church, withdrawn the bank account, and stolen the parish car.

The sexual affairs of priests in the United States are more closely guarded secrets than the classified details of our national defense.

Newly ordained priests are generally carried along in their personal dedication to chastity by the habits of the years of seclusion in the seminaries away from contact with women.  One of their most shocking disillusionment’s -occurs when they hear the confessions of priests.  The Church tries to discourage young priests from hearing the confessions of mature priests who have been "hardened" by contact with the "world of sin" and the charm of women, especially playful and designing women who achieve a sense of unusual conquest in titillating the dormant sexual proclivities of the "holy men of God."

Like other Catholics, priests try to confess to priests who cannot recognize their voices through the confessional screen. (I know a Catholic doctor, with a reputation for performing abortions, who told me that he always confessed at a Mexican church in Phoenix because the Spanish priests could not understand what he was talking about.) In larger cities secular priests usually go to downtown churches of religious orders.  In Phoenix we heard the confessions of priests from the outlying communities of the state and during the winter tourist season of priests from all over the country.  Fornication, adultery, homosexuality, the "solitary sin" and arranging an abortion were so common that we took them for granted.

In spite of the censorship, the jealousy and the pious front displayed by the hierarchy, a priest soon learns the pattern of clerical behavior in the diocese in which he works through the years.  When he learns the facts of priestly life in his own diocese, he knows the truth of the lives of the entire American Roman Catholic priesthood.  All the dioceses are the same.  I have had personal verification of this opinion through conversations with ex-priests and ex-Catholics from all parts of the nation.  

First, there are the ex-priests.  Most Catholics, of course, condemn them or pity them.  But they are really to be admired.  They have had the courage to defy the most vindictive and unrelenting organization on earth.  They are willing to step from security into a seemingly hostile world, unprepared to earn a living, but determined to learn.  They respect women enough to marry them and not merely to play with them.

The Catholic Church spreads the most devastating rumors about former priests.  They are either drunken sots, gravely ill as a curse from God, divorced by their wives or back in a distant monastery to do penance for their sins.  The facts are that most of them become average, home-loving, working American citizens.  Many of them are outstanding ministers of Protestant churches, college professors, school teachers, successful businessmen, authors and legislators.  Two are now prime ministers of new republics in Africa .

No one knows, because of censorship and jealousy between the groups of the clergy, how many ex-p'riests there are in America .  The number unquestionably runs into the thousands.  Roman Catholic periodicals constantly reiterate the wishful thinking of the hierarchy that practically all of them return to the Church before they die.  Some, of course, do.  But those that do had never really left Rome in the first place.  Their sexual urges were too strong to control, and they felt marriage to be the only decent thing.  But when the fires burn low they go back to the security of the cloister or the rectory.  The majority Of ex-priests, however, never go back.

In the more than thirteen years since my severance, I have received numerous letters from ex-priests or from

priests who want to leave.  As of this writing I am in touch with ex-priests in Georgia, New York, Colorado, Nevada and many other places-all asking me to help them secure employment in an atmosphere where they can stop hiding and hold up their heads as free Americans.

An ex-priest has an extremely difficult time holding a job in most parts of America .  Catholic employers will fire him the instant his personal references disclose his identity.  Protestant organizations, such as our hospital, are under pressure from fanatical Catholics to force the man's dismissal under the threat of boycott or economic reprisals.  School boards that hire former priests are badgered as bigoted and anti-Catholic.  These men try to conceal their pasts, never argue about religion, and seek to sink unknown into the ranks of the "great unwashed."

The following letter came from Austria ; it arrived on April 6, 1961 . 1 showed it to an ex-priest whose wife read it and said: "Well, it is going on all over the world.  If Catholics would only be honest enough to admit it

 A few days ago I received a present from a true friend in the United States ( Lansing , Michigan )-your fine autobiographical book People's Padre.  I very gratefully read the opening pages and they are both confirmation and consolation for me.

I am an ex-priest of the secular clergy, dioceses Linciensis (of the Diocese of Linz) in Austria .  With a great idealism I started my studies as well as my work as a priest of the Roman Catholic Church.  I was the most successful student at the university, wrote an eminent dissertation, and was going on to absolve my examinations for a doctoral degree.  But the rector of the seminary-a Rome-true favorite of the bishop, who did not love me because I was the son of a general laborer-persuaded the bishop that it would be better to send me to a strenuous parish in Upper Austria .

 So it happened that I came first as a cooperator (assistant priest) to a parson, who lived in concubinage with his secretary and was the terrible phantom of every young girl in his . b. I was twenty-four years old and remembered a word pans of our professor iuris canonici (professor of canon law), who said: "The Roman Catholic Church's law of celibacy is in Austria observed by forty per cent of the priests, in Italy by ten per cent, in Brazil by zero per cent!" I asked: What means this law, if it is not obeyed?  My parochus in concubinatu (pastor living in concubinage) was honored by the bishop with the title Cons-iliarius Spiritualis (Spiritual Counselor).

My next rector, a tyrannical and loveless man, was the scandalum, proximum (immediate reason) for me to say goodbye to the priesthood.  In this rectory I stood about two years, and there was the following hierarchia personarum (rank of authority): The rector himself, lady-cook, dog, and then two cooperatores (assistant priests)!  From the seventy dollars of my fee, the rector took fifty dollars as board!

Now I have been an ex-priest for a short time.  I have no lucrative job, because Austria is ninety per cent Catholic, and ex-priests do not find many friends.  I earn ninety dollars a month for myself, my wife and my child (a second baby is on the way).  We have to struggle, but we are happy in our home of only thirty-two square meters.

Many thanks to you for your fine book!  The best wishes to you, your wife and your hospital work.

 A priest in Ohio wrote in similar vein to an ex-priest friend of mine:

 Emmett McLoughlin's pamphlet, which I received some months ago, really described my own thinking and my own situation.  As he may have told you, I first entered an order.  The restrictions of that life I found unbearable after a while I applied for entrance into the diocese of........... and was accepted.  However, since I came in later, my seniority is way down the line.  Meanwhile, I had hoped that, in view of the fact that it didn't cost this diocese a cent for my training

in the seminary or my training as a teacher, and since I was a bit older, I might get some consideration and get out from under this usual tyranny of the older set of pastors.  But no, because I was a bit older, I have been stuck with one unbalanced god almighty old crone after another.  My last one was almost sadistic in his treatment of his assistants, while he sat in his plush apartment with its plush bar and thought up more things for the assistants to do.  This present one is very definitely a hypochondriac . . . and effeminate to boot, although, in all justice to the man, a very frustrated one I am sure.

 Anyhow, being subject to the will and whim of a number of queers has driven me crazy.  I get one day a week free; but the rest of the week, I live under the domination of a man whose guts I hate.  Well, you know the story.  What I want is freedom to live my own life, freedom to be myself.

 The following story of the struggle of an ex-priest and his wife for survival and freedom shows the ruthlessness of the hierarchy in its attempts to suppress the "scandal" of a priest leaving its ranks.  American laws and guarantees of freedom mean nothing to it.

The facts of this case have been carefully verified.  Sworn depositions could be furnished.  I know the couple very well personally.  Their names are omitted to spare further harassment and threats, particularly to the life of their child.

Father X was ordained in Ireland and therefore subjected to an indoctrination of fear even more intense than that of native American priests.  He came to America , and settled in a southwestern parish where he became disillusioned by the alcoholism and sexual promiscuity of his fellow-priests.

After nineteen years a priest he made the break and married a woman of his parish.  They moved to various western cities seeking work.  After two years his wife became pregnant.

At work in San Francisco he was accosted by a city detective who flashed his badge and said, "Tu es sacerdos in aeterriurn" (thou art a priest forever).  His family in Ireland had traced him and the Catholic policeman cornered him like a murderer.

Then began the usual emotional pressure from his family: "Go back to God"-"Leave that sinful woman" -"Give up the child"-"What does it profit a man?"

Father X was still not an American citizen; he was broke, frightened, and with a wife five months pregnant.  He called his former archbishop for financial help.  After all he had given his life to the service of the Church.  That dignitary ordered him to a Trappist monastery in Dubuque , Iowa to do penance and promised to take care of his wife.

The terrified woman, very sick with her first pregnancy,, was sent to a small Sisters' hospital in another state.  The local parish priest, also a native Irishman, harangued her frequently about her crime.  She bad seduced one of "God's anointed." She must protect the Church, not use her husband's name, and avoid contact with the laity who might learn the identity of the baby's father.  She must give up the baby or it would be taken from her and perhaps done away with.  She was suffering from toxemia of pregnancy, but the nuns kept forcing her to take medicine which caused her to hemorrhage so violently that she thought she would lose her baby.

The priest would not even give her absolution.  Her crime was so heinous (much worse than murder) that only the Sacred Penitentiary (a department of the Vatican ) in Rome could forgive her.  The archbishop, on hearing the case, ordered: "Get that woman out of my diocese."

In despair she sneaked to a bus station and back to her home city where she hoped friends might be sympathetic.

She called a Catholic doctor she knew and thought she could trust.  He called the archbishop who sent a priest with his orders.  He made her change her name and remain hidden until the baby was born.  The archbishop then ordered a fictitious birth certificate prepared which the doctor had already signed when it was presented to her.

Mrs. X had missed her husband during the trying hours when, like Mary, "her time had come." She bad written him constantly but had heard nothing.  Now she demanded permission to go to him and take her baby.  The archbishop agreed only on condition that she solemnly promise to leave the city and never return.  When she Pleaded her civil rights, the priest told her that the archbishop said, "Canon law is above civil law."

She promised, so Church arrangements were made for her to meet her baby's father secretly in a convent in Chicago .

During all this time Father X was doing penance in the Trappist Monastery in Dubuque .  He was not permitted to say Mass and was forbidden to leave the monastery property.  He could have escaped, but the lack of American. citizenship, and the mental fears of his lifelong indoctrination as to the physical powers of the Church, erected a wall as effective as that of stone or steel.  When his shoes wore out, be was taken to a store flanked by two lay brothers physically able to assure his return to the monastery.

None of his wife's letters, even those sent by registered mail, were delivered to him.  He has proof that his archbishop ordered the Trappist abbot to withhold all mail.

They met in the Chicago convent.  She was not permitted to show him the baby, in spite of the archbishop's promise.  They were not allowed a moment alone.  The abbot, in the name of his archbishop, offered her two thousand dollars to take the baby and leave him forever.  She was destitute, took the money and went to Denver with her baby.

Fr. X had been appealing for months for a decree of laicization (reduction from the priesthood to the lay state).  He had come to realize that his wife and baby meant more to him than his other relatives and all the religion of Ireland .  Mrs. X's mother threatened to go to court to effect his release.

The archbishop finally ordered X's release from the monastery, but only after his solemn oath never again to enter the southwestern city where he had caused such scandal.  The archbishop ordered penances, fifteen rosaries a week for life, in addition to the "divine office" and, of course, forbade him to join his wife and baby.  He did it anyway.

Since that time the couple have been hounded from job to job.  Priests have continued to call her a "priest spoiler" and the child's life has been repeatedly threatened.

 This is not a story from Maria Monk days; not from Colombia or Spain .  It can happen here-and it does, repeatedly!

 On May 6, 1961 1 had the pleasure of taking the whole family to the Shrine Circus in Phoenix and introducing them to many of my Masonic brethren.  The child is now seven years old.