We have learned of an article published recently by a website calling itself “Church Militant,” in which allegations of serious misconduct are made against priests of the Society of Saint Pius X, including priests of Saint Thomas More Priory. Beyond noting that this website has a very public anti-SSPX agenda, it is not our place to address all of the allegations raised in the article. With respect to the allegations made involving our own priests, however, we believe it necessary to affirm the following points:
1) As any properly-educated Catholic knows, priests cannot violate the Seal of the Confessional even to defend themselves from attacks made by penitents. This duty of silence also applies to a priest giving spiritual direction. Thus, any Catholic publishing statements alleged to have been made in these contexts must realize they are attacking someone who cannot defend himself.
2) Outside of information learned through the Confessional or in the course of spiritual direction, the priests of Saint Thomas More are aware of, and fully comply with, their obligation to report allegations of the abuse of minors to the authorities. With respect to allegations involving adult victims, we encourage them to inform law enforcement if they believe they have been the victim of a crime – which is precisely what the accuser of Father Duverger was told.
3) We are not aware of any criminal investigation involving such misconduct, either current or past, directed at any priest of Saint Thomas More Priory – all of whom have, per our policy, received a national and local criminal background check through the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
4) The nature of the allegations of misconduct against Father Duverger has been grossly misrepresented in the article. Voluminous written documentation of the alleged misconduct was provided by the accuser to Father Wegner, which far from revealing any criminal conduct, did not even evidence any sin against purity. It seems that, failing to get the desired affirmation of her narrative from either the authorities of the Society or the civil authorities, this young woman has decided to look for, and not surprisingly found, a sympathetic ear among the Society’s avowed enemies.
While believing that, in view of the very public nature of the attack on our priests, we could not remain completely silent, the faithful should not take this statement as an occasion to satisfy idle curiosity by reading, much less sharing, this scurrilous article.