Seventeen days ago, the bishop issued a decree prohibiting me from exercising priestly ministry. This decree has no apparent legal basis. Nonetheless, I must obey it, pending its appeal. Which will take some months, apparently.
As I mentioned two weeks ago, my canon lawyer and I notified the bishop that I intended to obey the prohibition, while we wait for the Vatican to act on the case. I told the temporary administrator of the parishes: I will maintain my normal routine of half-week residence in both towns, but I have no intention of interfering with your work.
The following day, the administrator handed me a no-trespass order for the church properties, including the two residences. Then he had the locks re-keyed.
I can only regard this as an act of violence against my person. It has taken me a couple weeks to recover from the shock. And I still have to contend with the danger of further thuggish bullying of this kind.
That said, the administrator’s attempt to lock me out of the properties has basically failed.
As things stand today, I continue my normal routine of half-week residence in the two rectories. Church law clearly accords me the right to do so, while we wait for the final disposition of my appeals of the bishop’s decrees 1. removing me as pastor, and 2. suspending my ministry.
I miss everyone in the parishes a lot. All of us have had a difficult spring. Once-in-a-lifetime difficult. I know it will comfort me just to see the faces of the people I have missed for so long.
I will stand at the entrance to the parish property prior to all the Masses this weekend, to say hello. I will make a habit of doing this every weekend.
Also, we will have an opportunity to celebrate the anniversary of my ordination with a drive-thru party, at St. Joseph’s in Martinsville tomorrow afternoon, 4:00-6:00pm.
Look forward to seeing you, if you decide to make the trip to church this weekend. Or before Mass sometime soon. I very much appreciate your love and prayers. Count on mine for you.