Dispelling rumors and ending the speculation.
Fr. Euteneuer was given permission to make a statement regarding rumors that have swept the Internet. It is a beautiful, humble acknowledgement of a moral failure and his subsequent repentance and penance. If it is sincere, it is an edifying testament to God's mercy and love.
Father's statement comes none too soon since many have been scandalized by all of the speculation in his regard, not to mention misled into imagining worse scenarios due to the lack of forthright information coming from those closest to the situation.
Garrigou-Lagrange and other moral theologians have written on how even very holy, faithful persons can sometimes fall into mortal sin, and by their sincere repentance, great humility and love, can be quickly restored to their former state of sanctity by the mercy of God - sometimes lifted even higher in the mystical life on account of their profound humility and faithful cooperation with grace after the experience. Felix culpa - oh happy fault - which we sing in the Easter Exultet fits in well here to shed light on such a mystery.
John Paul I, in a Wednesday allocution once said something to the effect - that God, who loves humility so much, sometimes allows certain souls to fall even into mortal sin, that they may learn and acquire deeper humility in and through their sincere repentence, trusting even more in the Divine Mercy as a result.**
I am so grateful for good and faithful priests, and I pray for Fr. Euteneuer - let us all pray even more for him now that the truth is emerging. What follows is an excerpt from his public statement:
Statement of Fr. Thomas Euteneuer: ‘Setting the record straight’
"While I would otherwise willingly suffer calumnies in silence to atone for my sins, and knowing how pointless it is to respond to every crackpot with a website, I cannot remain silent when such falsehoods threaten to damage the Church, the priesthood, and other innocent persons and organizations that are or have been linked to me. I therefore affirm and will never deviate from my affirmation that the following are true:
•My violations of chastity were limited to one person only, an adult woman;
•The violations of chastity happened due to human weakness but did not involve the sexual act;
•The accusation that I “targeted” vulnerable women or otherwise sought them out for spiritual direction is utterly false and a serious defamation of my character and ministry;
•With rare exceptions, my exorcism/prayer ministry was always conducted with prayer helpers (third parties) present; situations where prayer or pastoral care occurred without helpers present were exceptional situations where I believed it was necessary for me to act quickly in order to help the afflicted person; while not proper protocol, these departures from the norm were never done with a motive to be alone with vulnerable women;
•I repudiate any allegations of financial impropriety in conducting my prayer/exorcism ministry; I never, under any circumstances, solicited money for the ministry other than travel-related reimbursements, nor did I use HLI donor funds to carry out this work; any gifts offered to me were unsolicited and only accepted so as not to offend the giver and in most cases immediately given to those more needy than myself;
•I have no knowledge of any persons who received any financial settlement in this matter, nor have I asked for that to be given.
I pray that my two decades of faithful priestly ministry and my efforts in the defense of life will be seen in the light of the good fruits they have produced and not denigrated because of my moments of weakness in a most challenging ministry. I also wish to state that I have never entertained even the slightest thought of leaving the holy priesthood or the Roman Catholic Church as a result of my failings. Currently I am under obedience to my bishop who has allowed me to make this statement and in whose hands I leave all questions of continuing priestly ministry. I conclude with an expression of deepest gratitude for the prayers of the many generous supporters of my priesthood and of the prolife movement." - Statement of Fr. Thomas Euteneuer: ‘Setting the record straight’
Update 2/1/11 @5:30PM: Bishop of Palm Beach reacts to Fr. Euteneuer release in internal memo to priests
Update 2/2/11 @10:26AM: HLI Press Release: There were more...
** Papa Luciani said: "I will limit myself to recommending one virtue so dear to the Lord: He said, 'Learn from me who am meek and humble of heart." I risk saying an error, but I am saying it: the Lord loves humility so much that, sometimes, he permits grave sins. Why? So that those who have committed these sins, afterwards, having repented, may remain humble. One is not tempted to believe oneself half–saint or half–angel, when one knows that one has committed grave faults. The Lord so much recommended: be humble." - Translation thanks to Don Marco.