Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Kabuki Madness

Some of you may remember the story last week about the priest in the diocese of Bridgeport -- i.e. Fairfield County, Connecticut, the richest place in America -- who took the trap-door exit after a private investigator that he bilked his parish in excess of $200,000 on expenses for his, er, lifestyle... with another man.

Well, it gets better... Worse, actually. But you get the idea.
A priest hired to replace a pastor accused of using church money to pay for a lavish lifestyle with another man has resigned, admitting he was the one who hired a private investigator to look into the pastor.

Bishop William Lori said he agreed to the request Tuesday by the Rev. Michael Madden to resign as acting administrator of St. John Church in Darien. Madden was appointed last week to replace the Rev. Michael Jude Fay in response to suspicions of financial wrongdoing. Fay resigned last week....

Madden admitted Tuesday that he and the parish bookkeeper hired the private investigator with their own money even while working with the diocese in connection with its own probe of Fay.

"I'm sorry Father Jude did what he did," Madden told parishioners Tuesday, according to a copy of his remarks obtained by The Associated Press. "I'm sorry that the accountant and the finance board were asleep at the switch. And I am sorry and angry that the diocese failed to come to my rescue when there were red flags waving everywhere."

Madden called the past four years "a living hell" for him. He said the diocese is "ripping mad" at him and the bookkeeper "for what we saw as a prudent effort to protect ourselves."

"I don't know what is going to happen to me now, but whatever it is, it will be a welcome relief from the extreme physical and emotional strain I have been suffering," Madden said. "I simply could not stand behind that altar and look out at you good people, knowing what was being done to you."

Suffice it to say -- as if it wasn't enough being Chairman of the CUA Board, Supreme Chaplain of the Knights of Columbus and (not to be outdone) Chair of the USCCB Committee for Doctrine and Pastoral Practices -- Lori's got his hands full these days.