I was not going to personally blog about this, but given that my comments elsewhere are being circulated, I thought I would repeat them here. I responded to the shocking news that Fr. Francis Mary Stone made a statement on EWTN, saying he would be step down from his show LIFE ON THE ROCK in order to deal with the personal crisis of falling in love with a woman he had been counseling.
Dear Family: Regretfully, I have a message that does not come without significant pain to both you and me. I have to tell you in all honesty and truth, that I have been personally involved with helping a widow and her struggling family. Over the course of time, the mother and I have grown very close. As a result, I am compelled to take some time off to prayerfully and honestly discern my future. I am truly sorry of the impact this may have on so many. I am not unaware of the gravity and magnitude of the situation, yet after much wise counsel, it is really something that I must deal with now for the good of all. With that said, it is best that I deal with it away from EWTN. Therefore, I have asked for and graciously been granted some extended time to prayerfully discern my vocation. To those who are part of the EWTN family locally, and others throughout the world, especially all those who have supported me so faithfully in my priestly vocation and ministry here on Life on the Rock, I sincerely apologize. I ask for your prayers and understanding during this time that is so very difficult, but yet so very necessary. Please lift me up in your humble prayers to Jesus through Mary, our Mother, in Grace and Mercy. –Fr Francis Mary, MFVA
The question was asked, would he be taken back if he wanted to resume his priestly ministry?
I think such a priest would be welcomed back (into the active priesthood) but I would have preferred that he made no public statement. People think the worse and might suppose he has committed mortal sin… which we do not know, do we? Nothing sexual might have happened. It could be an internal turmoil only. Not knowing the details of the case, I can say little. And to be honest, I would not say anything more, anyway.
If he (any priest in such a situation) attempts marriage then he places himself and a person he says he loves into a seriously sinful state. It angers me that men can reject Church law and teachings when it suits their selfishness. If he maintains a brother-sister relationship until (or if) laicization is offered, at least then he shows some respect to the Church and concern about her soul.
Broken promises are always a scandal. But as of right now, has he literally gone “over the wall”? Maybe the discernment is a spiritual and psychological one that is directed to his return as a good priest to ministry? I have known many men who suffered because of the heart-strings, but desperately fought to preserve their priesthood. Such men sometimes seek time off and counsel in order to cope with the emotional upset. After they are done crying into their pillows, and if they regard their priestly promises as permanent, they come back to ministry. Yes, they will be wounded healers, but most priests are in some way or another.
Mother Angelica is pretty strict about scandal. She took a bishop off her station just for closing parishes in his diocese! Even if the good father returns to ministry, I suspect we have seen the last of him on EWTN programs.
EWTN has taken some pretty hard hits about its media ministers:
Fr. Francis Mary Stone (LIFE ON THE ROCK, World Youth Day host)
Msgr. Eugene Clark (INSIDE ST. PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL, RELATIONSHIPS, etc.)
- Rev. Real Bourque (behind the cameras)
- Fr. Kenneth Roberts ( YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT, Marian specials, etc.)
- Father John Bertolucci (GLORY TO GOD, various shows)
We need the nightmare to end.
God give us strong priests with conviction and faith!
REMEMBER to VOTE for FATHER JOE!
The competition this year is steep, especially for BEST PRIEST’S BLOG, but hey, at least I am begging. Voting ends March 17, 2008 so don’t delay! CLICK the logo to vote!