Saturday, May 7, 2011

Parish Priest: Loud Accusation, Quiet Exoneration

Father Mohm, of Osakis, Minnesota, served as a priest for many years. I doubt that he's particularly well-known outside the parts of central Minnesota where he served: except, possibly, for a postmortem accusation of sexual misconduct.

Given America's cultural climate, I'd better repeat my opinion of priests betraying their vocation:
"Pedophile Priests, Ephebophilia, and Facing Facts"

"You've probably heard about those pedophile priests. What some priests have done over the last half-century was very bad. It hurt innocent people. It was not good.

"That said, I'm not going to leave the Catholic Church because a few guys had zipper issues...."
The rest of that page is a link-list of posts in this blog, dealing with the 'pedophile priest' situation.

Requiescat in Pace, Father Mohm

As I said, Father Mohm served central Minnesota as a priest for many years. Then he died.

After that, someone accused him of sexual misconduct. An investigation team descended on the small parish where Father Mohm had served. It was, for this area, a fairly high-profile affair.

No question about it: Father Mohm was accused of sexual misconduct.

For what it's worth, I think it's quite likely that whoever made the accusation believes that it's true.

Like I said, representatives from the diocese - and investigators who weren't with the diocese - investigated Father Mohm's life.

Because he had been accused of sexual misconduct.

Apart from investigation being perhaps a trifle over-zealous: so far, I don't have a problem with responses to the accusation. Accusations of misconduct need to be dealt with.

Then, after stirring the community with a stick, the investigators left.

Time passed.

Finally, a very brief statement appeared in the parish bulletin. There was no basis for accusations against Father Mohm. He was exonerated.

Investigation is Good: So is Exoneration

I learned about Father Mohm's name being cleared at a family get-together today. One member of the family had seen the notice - and had told another who was not aware of what the investigators found.

I think, and hope, that word will get around: and that folks who didn't happen to see the small, terse, message in the Sunday bulletin will learn that the accusation against Father Mohm was shown to be false.

I think that it was proper to follow up on an accusation of sexual misconduct. Albeit one made after the death of the accused.

I also think that, particularly given the efforts that went into publicizing the accusation against Father Mohm, it would have been proper to give his exoneration more attention than a brief message in a parish bulletin.

'Just Routine, Nothing Special'

Priests are human beings. Some - a few - have done bad things. Most haven't: and generally get as little recognition as Father Mohm's exoneration. No surprises there.

I think it's the - colorful? - folks who tend to get the most attention.

About a year ago, I wrote an open letter to our parish priest, for Letters to Priests ( I focused on how he helped my wife and me after another of our children died, just before birth.

The letter is about one priest - but I think it applies to all men who faithfully called God's call to priesthood.
"...After my wife and I got back to Sauk Centre, Father Statz spoke with us. Nothing earth-shattering, no dramatic revelations. Just words of sympathy and assurance. He also explained the idea of 'baptism of desire.' (It's nothing new: Thomas Aquinas and the Council of Trent mentioned it.) And, of course, Father Statz was there when we buried Elizabeth.

"Some of the breaks in Father Statz's routine have been good news, like the new Marian garden between the church and the rectory.

"Mostly, though, Father Statz has been 'just going through the routines:' celebrating Mass, hearing confessions, anointing the sick, that sort of thing.

"He's just an ordinary priest, standing in for Jesus in a small central Minnesota town.

"Which, when you think about it, is a pretty big deal.

"Brian H. Gill"
("Just Routine, Nothing Special"
Letters to Priests (
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Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.