Sep 26, 2005

New allegations against USC's Father Messenger

One of the few nice things about doing this blog is that lots of people -- people whom I do not even know -- send me information and stories about people and events which are of interest to Catholics in L.A. (and beyond).

One of these sources has provided L.A. Catholic with the following BREAKING NEWS regarding former USC chaplain, FATHER WILLIAM MESSENGER ...

In late April of this year, it was revealed that an accusation had been filed against Father William Messenger by an adult student (the L.A. Times reported that the student was male). According to the reports, it is alleged that the priest, known as "Father Bill," had touched the student "inappropriately". Father Messenger vehemently denied the accusation but nonetheless resigned as pastor of Our Savior university parish in early June while the investigation proceeded.

It appears that shortly after the Archdiocese started its inquest, other allegations of "abusive conduct" on the part of Father Messenger surfaced. In an official Archdiocesan statement that was read at the Masses at Our Savior's last Sunday, the Archdiocese acknowledged that the most serious of the new "complaints" dates back to the late 1970's. (Messenger was ordained in 1977).

The statement reads:

"If this complaint is true, the person was a minor at the time of the alleged abuse. Please know that Father Messenger has very firmly denied any incidence of abusive conduct with a minor."
THE TIDINGS offers this brief biographical sketch about Messenger and a list of the parishes at which he has served:

A native Angeleno, he was born in 1950 and attended elementary school at St. John of God, Norwalk. Father Messenger entered the high school seminary and finished his theological studies at St. John's. Before his appointment as pastor of Our Saviour University Church at USC in 1993, he served as associate pastor at All Souls, Alhambra; St. Matthew, Long Beach; and St. Eugene and St. Paul, L.A.
When Messenger was still pastor of Our Savior, the USC Catholic Community website was replete with links to Messenger's homilies and essays which are unashamedly heterodox. Fortunately, these links have finally been removed by the new Catholic chaplain at USC. In one of the essays written in the early 1980's for the NCR, "Father Bill" wrote these eerily prescient words about celibacy and diocesan priests:

"I, for one, did not choose celibacy. I chose priesthood and accepted celibacy because there was no choice. I do not consider myself to have been free. There was simply no other way to be ordained."

"We must face the truth that celibacy in the diocesan clergy is abnormal. As in any abnormal situation, the individual must seek compensation."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

As in any abnormal situation, the individual must seek compensation.

Indeed, which is why I attend the indult.

In the real world, if an employee publicly stated that their employment was an “abnormal situation,” I don’t believe that person would work for that same employer very much longer. This dissatisfied employee is not necessarilly fired in retaliation for their comments but rather as a charitable act which permits an obviously unhappy employee to find more “normal” working conditions somewhere else.

Why was someone like Father Messenger permitted to continue to function as a priest when his disparaging views of the priesthood (and his heterodoxy) were made public? Wouldn't it be an act of charity to remove such a person from the "abnormal situation" he was suffering under both for his sake and for those who came under his influence?

Who's in charge over there?

6:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mahony knew about Messenger. And if he didn't, then all he had to do was (1) visit 'Our Savior'; and/or (2) visit Messenger's website where so many of the embattled priest's heterodox views were showcased.

The rot in L.A. starts at the top.

I am not the only one who sent letters to the chancery to complain about Father Bill. I can attest to the fact that there were others and NOTHING WAS DONE. Why? It's not hard to figure out.

It's really a blessing that Messenger is out of there and the new chaplain, although I have not met him, seems pretty good. At least he had the sense to remove most of Messenger's sh**t from the website.

Pardon my French.

7:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The new pastor, Fr. Laurence, is a good guy. He was associate pastor at my Church (St Peter Claver) from his ordination until his reassignment. His homilies, although not terribly meaty, were at least orthodox. I hope he'll do well in his new assignment.

8:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"As in any abnormal situation,the individual must seek compensation"

And what compensation was he seeking? Now that it involves money,do you think the Cardinal is interested(or even cares)?

9:22 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think Messenger meant $ compensation:

To "decompensate" means to fall apart mentally and emotionally. Decompensation occurs during the onset of a psychotic process. Non-psychotic persons may decompensate when the stressors they are faced with are greater than they can cope with.

9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I hope the compensations sought did not bring about the loss of souls.....

1:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I graduated from USC in 1994. I remember the first Mass I saw celebrated by Fr. Messenger, and I'll never forget the first words out of his mouth regarding All Saints Day - "I have no use for holy days of obligation".

This was also the first Mass I attended where crumbly, leavened bread was consecrated.

3:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I arrived at USC in 1993 and continued going to the Catholic Center until... now. That "not terribly meaty" comment from above just about hits the bullseye. I went to just one of Fr. Lawrence's masses, and it was enough for me. It's not fair, of course, but Father Bill's sermons were quite sumptuous. In an academic environment, I don't think it's an inspired choice. I'll be a voice of dissent here, and I'll just say that Father Bill is apparently human. I won't claim to know everything about him, but I attended mass there for 12 years, people, and no one lost their souls, unless we have an incredibly capricious God.

11:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

John, B., we're not supposed to be "shopping around" for priests and/or homilies [God Bless Fr. Laurence, and let's all pray for his success at USC - and for Fr. Bill, too, wherever he is].
As a student at USC I exercised the option of attending the local parish instead of the Catholic Center because Fr. Bill was teaching his own opinions - which ranged from the seriously questionable to outright heterodoxy - as if they were church teaching. It just got to be too much. There were Call to Action pamphlets left around the chapel, no regularly scheduled confessions whatsoever, etc., "God our Father and our Mother" was invoked during the mass, the confeitor and the creed were both omitted from every mass, etc.

And on the very day Mother Teresa died - I kid you not, because I was there with a handful of other people at the noon hour mass - Fr. Bill stated that Mother Teresa was a good person, etc., but - and I quote literally: "... her theology was retarded." He compared her further to Princess Diana (guess who was the more favorable of the two in his view?), who as we all recall died within a week of Blessed Mother Teresa.

7:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can understand why it was hard to be in Fr. Bill's masses. It was different than any mass I had ever attended before. The unique environment made it possible. I am a contrarian, and something about the church and many of the priests and people in it strikes a discordant cord with me, just personally. I believe that there is way too much emphasis on hell and not enough on love. With Father Bill, this was reversed. He asked us all to be intellectually honest, and to do our own work--he did not force his opinions on impressionable youth. There were nothing but college-age kids there. Reactionaries blow. You know what's a boring discussion? About loving people instead of condemning them. Very boring. And very hard.

8:58 PM  

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