Saturday, September 10, 2011

Harassment and Bullying in the Church

Harassment and bullying are not tolerated in most secular jobs and societies.  Many secular governments and institutions enact laws and rules not only protecting people from harassment and bullying but giving recourse for victims and society to hold aggressors accountable.  This is true whether the aggressor is an individual, group, or official.

Since church leaders promote themselves as superior purveyors of truth and justice, one might expect the church to be less tolerant of harassment and bullying behaviors than secular society.  However, Canon Law barely addresses the topic other than in cases where someone was coerced into receiving a sacrament.  Quite frankly, laypeople can be harassed or bullied because Canon Law grants few rights to laypeople and little to no recourse for holding clergy accountable when bullying occurs.   

In addition to the reduced rights Canon Law hierarchically affords laypeople, Canon Law interpretations further enable harassment and bullying because they usually favor protecting the images of clergy and the institution over laypeople’s dignity.  This occurs for a few reasons:
1.  Clergy serve as judges in cases of Canon Law.
2.  Clergy acting as judges almost universally incorrectly perform a mental substitution of the word “hierarchy” for the word “church” when it appears in Canon Law rather than correctly interpreting it as “the people of God”.
3.  Many clergy such as Pope Benedict have transformed the apostolic duty to serve the least among us into a superiority complex, and perverted leadership into manipulation - believing clergy need to manipulate “simple minded” laypeople of “simple faith” “for their own good and salvation”. 

However, manipulation is a form of harassment and bullying, as is coercion.  These tactics combined with power imbalance induce stress and exasperate a person so as to control their behavior or get rid of them if they can’t be controlled. Threats, humiliation, fear, deception, lies, ignoring, ostracizing, stalling, or evasion to control people or situations all constitute harassment and bullying. Sometimes bullies try to make the victim seem like the bully which in itself is a bullying tactic. 

In the case of coercion, aggressors present themselves as allies of the victim and then work to neutralize the victim's critical thinking skills.  Consequently, victims gradually lose their decision-making abilities to exercise informed consent or dissent and instead complacently follow the group’s ideological dictates, conditioned by fears of rejection, exclusion, humiliation, excommunication, or damnation.

Any of these tactics place and maintain the victim in a state of disequilibrium.  Victims often remain silent about the abuse because the abuser holds some form of power over them, or successfully undermines their confidence or credibility.  By confusing, intimidating and silencing their victims, people who benefit from these behaviors often evade exposure, accountability or prosecution.  Canon Law provides little to no protection, support or recourse for victims and actually promotes silence in the interest of preserving public image.  However, harassment and bullying destroy church unity. 

Stopping harassment, bullying, manipulation or coercion requires recognizing the abuse, naming it, rejecting it and exposing it.  Since the people are the church, if we want the church to be intolerant of harassment and bullying, we must collectively reject it in our institution and its leaders.

In the spirit of educating people so that they can be aware of and name abuse, at the end of this article I provide some examples of harassment, bullying, manipulation and coercion that I’ve witnessed in the church.  I have noted some examples where Canon Law actually promotes or allows such tactics to highlight the systemic support Canon Law provides individual abusers within the church.  Individual and group codependent behavior combined with Canon Law and governing structures enable these types of harassment to occur.  Until laypeople recognize and reject the behaviors en masse, only superficial corrections or improvements will occur.

Jesus did not commit, condone or permit harassment and bullying.  He actually was a victim of these behaviors because he confronted religious bullies.  Do we do likewise? 

What harassment and bullying do we tolerate in the church?  Why?  How do we enable or contribute to such behaviors?  What will we do to reject harassment and bullying in the church?  Do we avoid exposing and rejecting abuses or supporting victims so as to maintain our stature, esteem or favorite ministerial duties within the church? 


Harassment and bullying DOES NOT include persistently pursuing someone to perform tasks or duties reasonably associated with that person’s job or role.  I mention this first because a pastor or other church leader might incorrectly try to label as “a bully” a parishioner who persistently pursues them to address a parish or church concern.  Addressing parish and church concerns is a normal and reasonable duty to expect of church leaders.  Thus someone persistently expecting church leaders to do this is not a bully.  However, a leader’s evasion of duty is harassment and it is bullying if leaders label as “a bully” someone who expects them to perform their duties.  Under Canon Law, the layperson has a right to question when this occurs but no recourse if their questions remain unanswered.

Harassment and bullying include:
Deliberate insults, unsubstantiated criticism, ridicule, slandering or maligning the person or the person’s family
Example: A priest or parishioner calls a person “dissenter”, “out of communion” or “non-Catholic”, or even makes fun of the way the person participates at Mass.  The goal is to undermine confidence and credibility.  An excellent example of this occurred last week when an anonymous person wrote a comment in this blog inaccurately calling me “out of communion with the church” and ridiculing my singing at Mass.  The anonymous nature of the comment added yet another dimension to the bullying. 

·         Discussions or supervision of the person without his/her knowledge. Though this practice is de-humanizing and not acceptable in most secular jobs, Canon Law explicitly permits it.
Example: A Director of Religious Education discusses “issues” about a catechist with the pastor or diocesan personnel without the catechist’s knowledge.  A parishioner is discussed at parish staff or parish council meetings without their knowledge.

·         Administrative penalties which are suddenly directed against an individual without any objective cause, explanation or effort at jointly validating or solving underlying problems. Penalties could be removal from office or dismissal from duties.  This often results after secret discussions have occurred.  The victim is “accused”, “tried”, “convicted” and “sentenced” without knowing the charges, being able to refute or defend against them, or having the opportunity to address valid concerns.  This allows the harassers to avoid addressing facts or opinions contrary to theirs. Canon Law permits non-ordained people to be treated this way because Canon Law says laypeople don’t have a right to any ministerial position.  Thus a layperson can be dismissed from any paid or volunteer position at the whim of clergy without due process or explanation.
Example: Continuing the example from above, the catechist is barred from all teaching ministries but had no knowledge that there was an issue.  She is denied an opportunity to understand the concerns or address them because the desired effect is to eliminate her, not to have everyone in the situation learn and grow.  

·         Deliberately withholding information, supplying false information or spreading rumors Canon Law permits this tactic.  It asserts that since laypeople don’t have a right to any ministerial position they don’t have a right to the human dignity of an honest explanation for dismissal.  Canon Law explicitly calls for image management which inspires many church leaders to use this bullying tactic without any tinge of remorse.  However, this tactic violates one of the Ten Commandments – that of bearing false witness.  Thus, the rampant practice of this tactic indicates a cultural acceptance of favoring human-made Canon Law that permits deception, over God’s Commandment that demands truth. 
Example: The church offers countless examples of this.  Bishops have masterfully used this tactic covering up sexual abuse and moving sex offenders.  However this occurs in many other ways too including by parish staff members.  The parish receptionist tells a parishioner that “Fr. is out” when he is in his office but just doesn’t want to deal with this person.  Fr. tells someone they must relinquish a volunteer position “for their humility” when Fr. really just doesn’t want to deal with the person.  A bishop orders a pastor to sanction a parishioner but forbids the pastor from telling the parishioner why.  The list is seemingly endless.

The Archbishop of Detroit recently provided a public example of this when he warned people away from the American Catholic Conference by spreading false information about the event. Cardinal Rigali likewise misinformed the public earlier this year when he said that no priests accused of sexual misconduct were active in ministry when dozens of them were. 

All of these are not only examples of bullying and harassment, but also of breaking a Commandment.

·         Isolating, ostracizing, boycotting, dismissing or disregarding the victim. This tactic is being used increasingly, especially by orthodox and conservative individuals, groups and clergy.  It often coincides with the previous tactic of withholding information.   
Example: Theologians are censured and barred without explanation.  Their financial livelihood is impaired severely.  People are ex-communicated.  Even those remaining in full communion but with whom the orthodox crowd disagree suffer isolation, or elimination from church ministries and groups.  Clergy do not acknowledge or respond to parishioners’ communications.  Parishioners are barred from church sponsored ministries.  A parishioner suffers “the silent treatment” from parish staff or clergy.  The list is long.  

·         Intimidation, persecution and threats of persecution – In the church threats of excommunication, censure and dismissal are common tools for trying to control behavior.  Excommunication tries to threaten people with eternal damnation, an especially cruel form of bullying.  These tactics are permitted under Canon Law.
Example:  People supporting female ordinations are threatened with excommunication.  A church employee is forced to resign for running a progressive Catholic website.  A bishop is dismissed for suggesting dialogue within the church on certain topics.  People lose or fear losing their jobs and livelihoods for speaking their conscience.  

·         Humiliation, or repeated unsubstantiated negative remarks, criticism or sarcasm – These are permitted in the treatment of lay people by clergy because there is no recourse for those who suffer this treatment.  Sadly, ill-formed clergy mistake humiliation for humility.
Example: The pastor puts a Catholic school teacher on the spot during his homily with the intention of “putting her in her place”. An instrumentalist who regularly participates in music ministry is told in front of the choir that his gifts are not needed one day when he arrives for Mass. 

Manipulation tactics include:
Delay Tactics: “I know you are a trained and commissioned lector but I don't know when we can get you on the schedule.”  “I can’t do anything about that until we have a meeting”…but the meeting never gets scheduled.  

False Fronts: One justification is given as a front instead of the real, hidden, motive for the action or event.  “We just don’t need any more help right now” is given as an excuse when the real reason is, “We just don’t want you.”  Or, a bishop says, “we need to close this parish because of the priest shortage” when actually, “I want to close this parish because I can sell the property for a good price.”  The pastor tells the parish, “We need you to donate for a new roof” when the parish already has funds to pay for the new roof but the pastor wants more money. 
False Fronts and Possibilities: These are used to deceive by claiming that something is impossible giving false reasons when it is actually possible but the person just doesn’t want to permit it or discuss it. A pastor tells a parishioner, “I’d love to have you help in this ministry but the bishop won’t permit it” when actually the pastor just doesn’t want the person to help.  A bishop says, “I can’t help with this situation because the pastor has rights under Canon Law” when Canon Law actually gives the bishop the power to act but the bishop just doesn’t want to deal with the situation. A bishop claims, “Canon Law prevented me from removing that pedophile priest” when Canon Law allows a bishop to remove a pastor for any reason he deems valid but the bishop didn’t want to undertake the administrative effort to follow the process.  

Divide and Conquer: This uses division and conflict so that the different conflicting groups can be more easily manipulated or controlled.  For example, the pastor tells members of the conservative organization things about progressive parishioners and vice versa.  Both groups assume he is an ally but he is really working to keep the two groups divided and reliant upon him.  If they actually cooperated, they might be too strong of a force for him to control.

Divide and Dismiss: This tries to weaken complaints by dividing or dismissing the complaints.  Dividing the complaint pulls apart the argument and causes multiple people to deal with a fragment of the complaint when often complaints need to be addressed in the context of the entirety of circumstances.  This is used to discredit complaints or make them seem trivial.  A parishioner tries to show needs for systemic improvements in parish hospitality by assembling one example from each major ministry.  Rather than deal with the systemic issue, the pastor looks at each individual example as a stand-alone matter for each individual ministry lead to handle.  The single example, isolated from the full body of the complaint, looks trivial to each ministry head who is unaware of the totality of the examples.

Changing the Rules: The person in control arbitrarily changes operating rules to their benefit.  For example a pastor tells parents that school tuition is based upon tithing a set percentage of income but then imposes a minimum tuition amount after he realizes some families’ incomes are so low they will contribute below his desired target.  A parish employee is hired under an agreement that she will work for benefits instead of wages, but then is told she must take a part-time wage with no benefits.  The pastor used to allow girls to be altar servers but doesn't anymore.

Security and Authority: Sometimes authorities or organizations will provoke attacks on themselves so that they can obtain more power and authority to address the attack.  This is often used as a front to deal with legitimate complaints directed at them.  For example, Legionnaires for Christ did this when the atrocities of its founder sexually abusing children and seminarians were exposed.  They said it was an attack by the devil and members should redouble their efforts defending the organization and its leader.  When pedophile priests and their enabling bishops are pursued for accountability, they cry they are being persecuted and ask the faithful to rally around the guilty rather than address the problem. 

Administrative Maze and Complexity: This is used to discourage complaints.  This tactic occurs when a person creates nebulous or complex feedback procedures to discourage grievances or complaints. It is actually a direct result of Canon Law permitting laypeople to ask questions but granting them no recourse when their questions are ignored, or answered with false answers.  This is a common operating practice of many church leaders. 

Ambiguities: No answer is provided to questions at all, or answers are given as an ambiguity. Ambiguities give the illusion that an answer has been provided when one has not.  The pastor responds to an inquiring parishioner that he has read her expressed concerns.  This might satisfy the parishioner to assume that his reading the concerns means he is going to address them.  The hope is that providing an ambiguous response will get the person off his back so that he doesn't have to address her concerns.

Coercion tactics include:
1.  Establish control over the person's social environment, time and sources of social support by a system of rewards and punishments. Social isolation is promoted. Contact with persons who do not share group-approved attitudes is limited and set as a thing to fear.  Canon Law indirectly permits this tactic to occur.
2.  Prohibit non-conforming information and non-supporting opinions in group communication. Rules exist about permissible topics to discuss.  Canon Law explicitly permits this tactic.
3.  Create a sense of powerlessness by undermining the person's self-confidence and judgment.  Canon Law indirectly permits this tactic to occur.
4.  Create strong aversive emotional arousal in the subject by using nonphysical punishments such as humiliation, loss of privilege, social isolation, social status changes, intense guilt, anxiety, manipulation and other techniques.  Canon Law both explicitly and implicitly allows these tactics in certain situations.


  1. By definition, a Catholic subscribes to the Catechism of the Catholic Church and non-Catholics don't. If any priest or bishop is under the impression that you are a Catholic in good standing, he clearly hasn't read this blog. If the Pope and all his successors have been wrong about everything for 2000 years, thank goodness that you've arrived!

  2. @StevieD, Your above comment borders on inappropriate but I published it anyway so that I can publicly address your errors.

    1. Yes, my bishop sees my blogs and a book manuscript I've written of similar content. We have had specific communications regarding this which is how I am quite certain that I am in full communion.
    2. A priest does not have the authority to excommunicate me. That is reserved for a bishop. And as I noted above, mine has not excommunicated me.
    3. I have sent my questions like this to other bishops, archbishops, cardinals and the pope. None have excommunicated me. Some have responded entering into dialogue with me.
    4. The parts that are borderline in your comment pertain to judging my knowledge and attention to the CCC, as well as my standing in the Church. You are not a credible judge of that and have no right to insinuate anyone's superior or inferior mastery of Church doctrine. You have no right to assess my or anyone's standing in the Church. If you would like to continue to participate in this blog, you will need to discontinue judging. I say that because in just a short period of time tonight, though you seem to disapprove of my writings, you submitted a flurry of comments.

  3. I've been thinking more about StevieD's assertion about the Catechism as pertains to this blog posting. Do you think that the CCC says we should accept bullying?

    Also, this blog article mainly discusses the Code of Canon Law. That is not considered infallible doctrine. It's not considered doctrine - it is law - human-made law. It is changeable and has been changed. There actually was no form of codification for the first 500 years of the church. For more information on the history of Canon Law at least up until 1917 (there was a major revision published in 1983) you might visit the Catholic University of America's site at

    As Pope John Paul II said when he signed the 1983 Code into law, canon law "is in no way intended as a substitute for faith, grace, charisms, and especially charity in the life of the Church and of the faithful."

  4. You're a bully! In fact the very definition. You will not accept any criticism of your self yet you chide, criticize and bully church leaders in other blogs about their weight, demeanor, etc. Look at your self lady

  5. Actually, I do accept criticism as demonstrated by publishing your comment and other critical comments to this blog; thus your comment is inaccurate and invalid.

    As to whether I am the "very definition" of a bully, I offer this thought. Persistently holding someone accountable to do what is reasonably expected is not considered bullying. Please highlight specific comments that you consider bullying since your two examples don't draw anything to mind. Saying things people dislike, or with which they disagree, or offering constructive criticism are not considered bullying.

    Also, bullying implies a certain power structure. What power do you believe I have over church leaders?

  6. And, you violated the rules of this blog in that you did not identify yourself. Please identify yourself and take responsibility for your comments. Nonetheless, I published your comment anyway.

  7. Another thought occurred to me. I have solicited criticism and guidance from numerous church leaders on my writings, including the pope, some cardinals, archbishops, bishops and pastors. I've also asked some of them to act as my spiritual director. So Anonymous, this further indicates that your accusation is inaccurate. Thank you for investing your time to read my blog.

  8. Ewe are so hit the nail on the head with this! So many of the examples that you cited have actually happened to me and my co-workers. I was employed by my parish for the past 11 years as business office administrator. One and a half years ago I filed a grievance with my diocese against our parish administrator (a deacon) and business manager for bullying, intimidation and retaliation and named the pastor as having knowledge of it and allowing it. Per my employee handbook, I was assured that there would be no retaliation taken against me for my complaint. After filing my complaint, for the past year and a half, I was subjected to isolation, false rumors, and administrative penalties, just to name a few. Just 2 weeks ago my job was eliminated under the guise of "restructuring the business office." I was a long time employee with ten years of excellent evaluations, well-like by co-workers, volunteers, and parishioners alike. Even the way I was informed about my job being eliminated was blatant bullying and harassment. How do you continue to move forward as a member of the Catholic Church when you know this is happening? After seeing what goes on behind the scenes and seeing how clergy are allowed to hide behind "their collar" or Canon Law, I have great difficulty continuing to worship in the Catholic Church. My faith in God and Jesus Christ is as strong as ever. I know Catholicism is more than just the clergy, but I have great difficulty viewing Catholicism other than by the men who are in these roles of leadership, who are allowed to abuse their power to harass, bully, and intimidate anyone who does not submit to their egos.

  9. "Church governance" is almost an oxymoron. Even if you cite the Canon laws broken, bishops often don't take effective corrective actions. The only escalation above bishops is the Vatican, often unresponsive. Maybe this is why some people turn to secular courts.

    Naming the behavior and openly discussing it helps. It may give others the vocabulary and courage to name and share what they are experiencine. Silence enables abuse.

    Unless one's paycheck or ministry is tied to the church, the clergy have no real power. In your case, the clergy had the power of your paycheck and I'm sorry you lost your job. Sadly, unjust treatment by the church as an employer is common.

    I was bulled from doing volunteer ministry. It was very troubling because I hoped church people didn't behave that way. But, I learned it's actually a common mode of operation. The pervasiveness of bullying in the culture offers little consolation, though.

    I stayed in my parish because a) most people in the parish value me; the bullies are a small minority who harbor delusions of power b) I don't cede power to bullies. c) the Creed doesn't say I believe in the hierarchy or clergy

    Some coping mechanisms (application varies depending upon circumstances):
    1. Name the bullying.
    2. Document the bullying and request it stop; Send to all the bullies; copy the bishop. In some cases publish more broadly.
    3. Read books during the homily when the hypocrisy between priest's words and actions are unbearable (or is uninspiring).
    4. Redirect financial contributions to organizations that accept your time, talent, treasure and whole person - not just your treasure (and that better espouse gospel principles). Send the pastor a letter explaining your actions and copy the bishop.
    5. Write letters to your bishop regularly (citing how Ignatius of Antioch instructs people to stay close to their bishop). Worst case you get a condescending response but if you expect it, it doesn't faze you.
    6. Stay factual versus emotional.
    7. Go to confession, to the priest who did this and say, "bless me father for I have sinned...I'm really struggling to have a Christian response to being bullied by you and your staff..." This is a sincere use of the sacrament because you probably are struggling.
    8. Don't whine or gossip. Rather, be concrete and specific when speaking of the bullying and air examples at appropriate times unemotionally).
    9. Participate in parish activities, especially formation activities, and candidly use the bullying examples as food for thought (versus venting or a personal therapy venue). You might get bullied but you may learn that most people are unaware of the bullying, and agree that this behavior is unacceptable (not to mention contradicts the gospel). Ask the group - what should we do when these things happen? Move from making people aware to engaging them in problem solving.
    10. Shift from participating in inwardly focused ministries (liturgical ministries, R.E., etc..) to outwardly focused ministries (like working with the poor, or homebound) and perhaps ones not sponsored by the parish.

    Not knowing your employment situation, I don't know if you can shift into the secular realm. But, you may find secular organizations embrace gospel values as an employer better than the church.

    I taught R.E. and adult formation. I found another outlet (this blog) and went from reaching a few dozen people every year to having over 20,000 visitors from over 90 countries to this blog. I hope you find some other outlet too.

  10. Thank you! Your response will indeed help me cope with my situation.

    There are so many people in the parish: co-workers, volunteers, and parishioners who are extremely upset - and angry - over my termination. They feel it was wrong and inhumane, the way may job was eliminated. Most people do not know that this was a case of retaliation and that I had filed a grievance. I am now inclined to let as many people know as possible about the bullying, harassment, and retaliation. How do I engage others in problem solving?

    I will be moving into the secular realm most definitely. After my experience, I will not be working at another Catholic church!

  11. Is there any other information available on the Internet about non-sexual verbal abuse, bullying, and other demeaning behaviors within the Catholic Church? Have any studies been done about how these reports have been dealt with?

  12. There is a 1991 publication describing codependency and the church. Specifically it talks about the prevalence of co-dependency in people who go into ministry. That seems to tie to the whole bully questions. Here is a link to that document.

    I referred to that document when I wrote a blog article on codependency and the church.

    Other than that, you might want to search on bullying and the church.

    I think such a study would be very valuable and eye-opening.

  13. Perhaps an Internet search of newspaper reports by this questionner as to when a parish, diocese or other church institutions were alleged to have violated US labor laws & standards & formal complaints were made would give a sense of how pervasive such practices are...

    Comparision of what Church encyclicals on labor relations with employers teach compared to the behavior exhibited in the above articles might also be instructive.

  14. Thanks for the suggestions. I have done some searches about violations but there are a few things to consider. 1) I experienced this treatment as a volunteer so there's no recourse via US labor laws, 2) the courts have declared that church employees are "ministers" and therefore the church is often exempt from following US labor laws, 3) many people who are wronged by the church feel they "shouldn't" sue the church.

    Here's an example of the church arguing that the 1st Amendment protects them from following US Labor laws.

    Here's one where the person is suing due to being defamed in character, but this is rare because people don't want the expense or hassle to clear their name.

    Some other suits:

    An article about "ministerial exception" ruling from the Supreme Court that advises churches how to qualify for it:

    Another article about the "ministerial exception" Supreme Court Ruling

    A blog article bullying in defense of the church's "right" to bully.

  15. At first I was silent when the bullying occurred, but now I'm telling anyone and everyone, when appropriate, so this church is exposed for what it is: a cruel, hypocritical, festering sore in our community: Richmond Heights, MO.

    1. As valid as your claim is, I beg you to reconsider
      "this church" as a whole as to blame. Remember we are the Body of Christ and those whom are not living and practicing the Gospel are tearing grievous wounds into the Body of Christ. We, as a whole suffer as does Christ wounds Him deeply. So please, place your faith squarely on HIM and HIM alone not the administrators, pastors, leaders...because our faith is in Christ.

  16. I currently work for a Roman Catholic Church and have been having problems with a couple that are also parishioners of the same church. Last December I made a mistake in setting up the altar for evening mass. I apologized to the priest right after mass. The next day CCC (the man's initials) wrote me a nasty email stating I am incompetent and need to give up my ministry and let someone more attuned to detail take over. I took this up with the pastoral assistant who said I have rights as an employee. The arrogant CCC sent me two more emails accusing me of ridiculous actions such as stalking and harassing him and his wife after mass on several occasions. The pastor decided NOT to do anything about it. I took my case to the diocese, they did not help either. I am stressed at work and it has become harder and harder for me to find joy in serving the Lord of late. These people are wanted in Nevada for fraud and scamming. They have a rap sheet a mile long and I, who had a background check by the FBI, have been made to feel like I'm the problem. The woman approaches me to start a conversation as if nothing is wrong. I am ready to quit and find another parish.

  17. Does this church not fall under state labor laws? You have a valid grievance.

  18. Our parish has a priest from another country on a temporary 3 year assignment. He has been with us for a year and 5 months. After that he will return to his home. Since the day he came he has been in culture shock and has expressed he hates it here. From the beginning he exhibited outbursts of anger, took communion away from a parishioner, threatened to quit two times, and has verbally abused and harassed 10 women that we know of. We have lost our organist, one of our choirs, our DRE and those in charge of setting up for mass at two of our missions. With the exception of one, these were all women. We have been afraid to say anything because of retribution from him. One day he slammed his fist into a door in anger, and now some are afraid of him physically. He continually harasses our female office secretary. We are considering going to the Archdiocese, but are expecting no help. The last resort would be to make the situation public, but we don't want to hurt our church. We never imagined a man of God could do this to us. He is obviously emotionally disturbed.

    1. There was a recent case of a priest and his questionable activities with his partner. The Church as a whole, got together, hired an investigator, had a formal investigation done and presented it to the Diocese. The issue and pastor were addressed if I recall correctly. I cannot remember the names in the particular case, Mike Voris may have reported on it?

      Maybe this is possible for you? I tend to be very honest and such, I am not very good at a--a plan or beings "shrewd as serpents and harmless as doves" Mt 10:1

  19. And people seem perplexed as to why GenX ers arn't practicing their faith. They're too smart for this. The real question is where are Catholics going to worship now? What faiths are they switching to?

    1. Not leaving the faith. Resisting. Defending the Church against these attacks. Attending more traditional parishes, where reverence feeds the soul to worship deeply and fully.

  20. Im going to Buddhaland

  21. Thank you for this post. I am a social psychologist and my research area is bullying within the Christian church. You have done a very, very good job in this blog. I am delighted to have found it. I am very sorry you have been subject to the negative comments that some have posted. I co-authored a report for the Church of England, published in 2008, "Dignity at Work". I would love to be in touch with you, but don't know how to do that through this blog. I presume you will have my e-mail address as I am posting here. Do please feel free to contact me. with best wishes, Anne

    1. thank you I had a Preist just last week I have food and environmental allergies He insistest I sinned Last week and needed to go into confessional with him at am a military vet and women of over fifty he argued with me I had sinned because I missed mass what a hoax he tried to out talk out argue and dominate me by saying I had missed mass ai almost said your fellow work coligues need t
      O ask each other each week have you molested a child or tried to touch or harm a women I was not having it I will not return to this church building Mr Father former stockbroker is sorely mistaken on the intelligence of the Irish women from Major east coast cities He seems in a word predtitory confession Free will has always been a teaching of Christianity and the Irish culture. Loyality is not ignorance,neihter is my free mind to devide sin.

  22. I came to the Catholic church as an enquirer in 2008. I studies the catechism with a Priest who I would describe as being an intelligent person with an excellent education who dealt with me as an intelligent adult. On the day that I was received into the church I joined a group of about eighteen people to pack a magazine that was distributed at the time all over the world. A conversation took place between the priest and four men that went something like this. You've gone into your menopause haven't you? Yummy for you. You don't have any trouble with your chastity do you? Then the priest and four men took it in turns to say the following. No she's junk. She's trash. She's rubbish. She's finished. At their age they don't feel a thing in the world. I was a forty eight year old woman. The problem was aggravated by the mother of the priest who responded to this revolting statement squealing Oh yummy. The priest set about interrogating me. He literally was pumping questions at me. You don't have to worry about anything do you. What's your problem. I told him that I preferred to speak to a woman which was ignored. I was asked over and over again if I had any sexual feeling. The woman responded by saying comments like she'll be right. The men will take care of everything for you. I was constantly interrupted. They asked me questions and then someone else usually the priests mother answered on my behalf. The woman was terrified of the men and couldn't allow me to speak for fear of what I might say. It became a fight because the priest just would not stop this sociopathic discussion about me that treated me like a biological bit of junk. One male parishioner kept repeating requesting that I slap my lips at him. Like a baby sucking on a teat. I was addressed at all times like a baby. I was asked to bounce my bosom to show my yumminess which I declined. The priest asked again. I declined. He became aggressive and said beneath your dignity? I was asked what my problem was. I was ganged up on by both men and woman in the group. Treated like I was stupid. Didn't you know how yummy it is to go into your menopause. She doesn't understand.
    Why the priest turned on me I am not sure. There was gossip going around the church. I had no involvement. It smelt to me of a backside covering exercise. The priest kept swinging his hand at me in an overly dramatic dismissive gesture when he talked about me. He was a shocking actor. It stank of self serving. I think the priests mother took the gossip back to the friars and they put their desiccated coconut brains together and came up with a misogynist solution. Make Robyn the fall guy. There was no relationship whatsoever between the way I was treated during the catechism and the way I was treated on the day I was received inot the church. I was abused as a child by a man in the family who used to interrogate me from a very young age and sexualise every move I made. These men were interrogating me and treating me like a de-sexed cat. Their behaviour was disgraceful and I left their church immediately and never went back. I should have reported them to the police. Surely they have to exercise some duty of care.

  23. I came to the Catholic church as an enquirer in 2008. The church in Melbourne Australia is run by the conventional Franciscans. For five months I studied the catechism with a priest who seemed to me to be a kindly and intelligent person. He always treated me respectfully. On the day that I was received into the church the following conversation took place between the priest and four men.
    Has she gone into her menopause (me)
    Idon't know. Why don't you ask her.
    Have you gone into your yummy time sweetie. Makes weird slapping motion with lips.
    You've gone into your menopause haven't you.
    Well you will be going into your menopause soon won't you?
    I will try to arrange it at your nearest convenience Father.
    What's your problem.
    What's yours.
    Will you stop enfantilizing me.

    I was interrogated by this priest who could not or would not stop talking to me like I was a baby and an idiot. Everyone else felt free to join in including the mother of the priest who is the world biggest grovelling forelock tugging treacle dripping crawler that ever walked and more than happy to make declarations like the following. She doesn't have any sexual feeling at all, and she doesn't want to talk she just wants to yum yum yum yum. I was attacked by almost though not all of the people in the room because the way I was being spoken to was humiliating. Truly I wish I had reported the lot of them to the police. Their behaviour was despicable and self serving and treated me like biological junk. I left the church and never returned.

  24. I'm sorry this happened to you and you left. If they harass you for leaving, make sure you document everything that transpired. This happened to my family and I documented everything. When the nasty phone calls started, I taped the bastard priest and let him know what I was doing. I changed my number and he never bothered my family again. They have done this to other people and shouldn't misuse their power but they always do. The priest that harassed our family got caught doing something illegal to a child and the family sued and he got suspended and fined. Hopefully this will happen to the people that did this to you.

  25. Thank you so much for this information & for tackling this subject. My parish here in the UK has, since Sept. 2014, been harmed by a priest who refuses to consult, communicate or 'value the input of laity' as the Archbishop put it in writing to a parishioner.

    We’ve lost over 200 parishioners from our parish in that short time. It's heartbreaking as the previous priest had spent 12 years rebuilding our parish after a verbally abusive priest was sent here & destroyed it all approx. 15 years ago. (That figure can be confirmed as the previous priest was happy to publish attendance figures each week in our newsletter whereas that does not happen any longer)

    We have tried to be in regular contact with the Bishop & Archbishop. Since last June though, (2015) they refuse to communicate. They refuse to help. Despite the Bishop stating in a public meeting that they knew when sending this priest here that they were sending ‘trouble.’

    He acknowledges, in person, that over 200 people leaving a small parish is a huge vote of no-confidence in this priest, but refuse to help because not enough people have written to the Bishop!! Apparently writing to the Archbishop, as many have, does not count - so says the Bishop. People have to write to him.

    Obviously people walking away would think that would send a big enough message, especially when that 200+ is approx. two thirds of our little congregation! However, the Bishop threatened me that if I were to explain to people who had left the parish, and even the church over this, that they needed to write to him, he would label me a troublemaker! Nice threat!

    We had a thriving, growing, full-of-goodwill parish family, who eagerly packed the first weekend Masses of this new priest, ready to help him settle in. Yet he shunned everything & everyone to follow his own way. He said in his 1st Sunday sermon he was not going to change anything & yet has changed everything about the parish, and started that change within the very first week!

    Sadly it has become obvious that our thriving, growing, stable community had one thing going against it - everything was achieved through the efforts of (mainly) two priests, who are what is labelled as 'liberal' - and what we had worked! That was not acceptable to our new priest and so had to be destroyed to accommodate his preferences for the Traditonal - and that would seem to include the kind of dictatorial and controlling attitude that my 75 year old mother, whom he last year described as not worth talking to, experienced in her youth.

    The Archbishop just says he is 'at a loss'. So all hierarchy are utterly powerless & the Code of Canon Law is apparently a voluntary code, to be adhered to if clergy feel like it!!

    So, our little parish, within 15 years, has twice been almost destroyed. Twice, under two different Bishops, two different Archbishops & two different Popes!

    Our parish is this Diocese's dirty little secret, but it can't stay that way forever. The Church harms itself when it acts this way, as well as these hundreds of laity in one little parish in the UK. Is Our Lord pleased with His Church ‘staff’ when they act this way? Where is the courage of conviction of the Gospel values within our hierarchy? It's a mystery frankly & an extremely poor example of faith!

  26. The truth is the devil has infested many dioceses and many in so-called authority want nothing to do with the responsibility of feeding and protecting the flock at any cost. Pastoral care has become a-kind-of political game which disregards the dignity of human beings for the sake of gain. I, too, felt the sting of oppressive regimes and abusive conduct from the clergy; to serve only to receive a penalty for selfless charity is demonic. I am convinced that the devil gives vocation in the Church also. To support sin is to let it continue to happen, to aid and practice virtue is to reverse the mess of corruption by God's grace and power. In the end, it is always about your personal walk with Christ for the betterment and salvation of your soul. The Catholic church is your instrument by God's providence.

    John Paul

  27. The Roman church is not the only one to suffer from clergy who bully. My family is dealing with bullying by Robert H. Malm, rector of Grace Episcopal Church in Alexandria VA, The latter has directed parish staff and lay leaders to shun us.

  28. I have a question.....I have worked for this Church for over 4 years...sense the new Church Council has been elected, the new Council president has complained about me and talked about me non stop. This person has even told lies on me. I love my job and I do not want to quit but every time I turn around it is always something. The other Council member tell me to please don't leave they love me working here but I feel this Council president is harassing me. What do I do? I leave my job here almost every day in tears and extremely stressed, always wondering what's next? Please advise me of what to do? I even thought about showing up to the next Council meeting to confront this.

  29. This talks about abysmal behavior by Franciscan Daniel Barica. Is this the pastor of St. Simon and Jude in Huntington Beach, CA?

    This talks about his sexual energy. Was he finally removed?

  30. Than you, Ewe, for your brilliant analysis of the unspoken and generally unknown non-sexual abuse/sins of CC clergy and pastoral staff. I was born Catholic and have 27 years of formal Catholic school education (from kindergarten to Ph.D. level) and have just recently become a victim of several forms of the abuse you mentioned. Just after I said good morning to him, our pastor screamed at me, bullied me, and spit in my face twice while yelling so loud it could be heard on the next block. All of this occurred without warning or provocation except the (unknown to me before he screamed about it) gossip from his favorite middle aged lady friend. It was not based on any true incident. The rest of the story is long but the outcome is that the diocese has strung me along for eight months promising a "solution" if I would only "be patient." I am now beginning to see that I am being "handled" instead of finding justice.
    In my new parish, I applied to be a part of a ministry I have done before and the staff member who approves these requests just keeps being "unavailable" or tells me to "be patient" until the "approval comes through." It has been six months since I applied and others who came after me are already working in the ministry. This occurred in other ministries in my new parish -- ministries for which I am well qualified by education and experience. You get the drift.
    After over seven decades as a joyful and loyal member of the Catholic Church, I am considering another denomination.

  31. I am a volunteer DRE and for the last few months my priest has spoken down to me, scolded me like a child, accused me of being contaminated by another volunteer, has said I only think negatively, he doesn't like things that I do including the way I dress for Mass. I was ill and was not able to attend Holy Week and he even told me that I should have been there especially on Easter Vigil. Yesterday day was the 3rd meeting I have had with him each meeting has last 2 to 3 hours and I make any comment and he turns it against me making me feel at fault and wrong. I suffer from PTSD due to a very abusive childhood and now I just begin to cry anywhere I'm at I hurt so bad emotionally and am afraid he will tell me to leave the church as he had made it very clear he has that authority has not used it but can if he needs to. I just want to serve God no more no less. He is upset I question background and ovase training for adults taking our youth on retreat I know for a fact one lady for the last few years has refused one and still works with ACTS Teen. He as forbidden me to even talk to the adults in charge of them and he even forbid the ACTS core team. It's a group of young adults he hangs around with All the time and if someone even looks at them and they tell him St he did not like it get ready because he will scold you. And how can I forget every time he reminds me He is the Pastor, I don't leave cause my heart won't allow me to abandon the youth and the community I am lost every where I go for help I need to write it down they wants dates time etc. and to see the Bishop I need to request an appointment in writing also. I am going crazy, I'm scared if I can't to Mass there with my community how embarrassing.

    1. I am being harassed by a pastor. He has recruited others priests to harass me, too. He slandered my name using my most private and confidential information. I am shunned by most in the church as they don't know the man who wears the collar with disgrace. The diocese has taken no action as it is swept under the rug. This behavior has been going on for years. Who can put a stop to this battering?

  32. What about priests who bully? Pope Francis needs to stop this problem too. These articles might help you be brave enough to say something at your church about narcissistic and abusive priests:

    At St. Simon and Jude in Huntington Beach, CA, people tiptoe around the pastor Fr. Daniel Barica who is said to be the bully. Parishioners and staff who are upset but will not speak up are actually his enablers. He usually stops talking to people who do say something. Then no one helps them through the emotional abuse this puts on them. Many have left. His sermons and behavior really contradict each other. I know people who have reported him to the bishop of Orange but there has been no change.

    There is so much on the internet about what is going on here. Millennials do not put up with these types of priests like my generation did, so they just leave the church. You would think the bishop would be worried about future donations.

    More families left after hearing what he said about other religions during this past school year at a eucharistic meeting with the parents. I heard it too. The pastor said any religion other than the Catholic religion is a cult. Can you imagine the reaction from all the non-Catholic parents in the room? To me this is a racist remark because referring to Jews, Muslims and Buddhists as members of a cult is an insulting and hateful comment. Even Lutherans and other Christian religions are cults? I know families who were so upset that they transferred their kids. There used to be a waiting list to get into this school. Not any more.

    1. Im getting the cold shoulder right now. Father, one of his admin people, and a new parishioner have tried it. Mind you, Ive done some heavy duty praying in this regard. It seriously hurt at first, becausevI had no clue what I have done. Still do not. Its actually funny, bc I KNOW who is in charge. And I love Holy Mother SO much. You do know, people like this usually recognize when someone is a real Christian. Its uncomfortable and painful for them. Ask yourself why, and pray for them. Jesus tells me He's working something out in my parish.

  33. Someone told me things about this church that kind of bothered me. She said one of her girlfriends goes to church at Simon & Jude and has invited her to come over to meet this priest Daniel Barica. Her friend said he goes to her house on Lake Street often for dinner. This person does not go to that church so she wanted to know which one it was. Her girlfriend told her there are 2 priests named Daniel, one with gray hair that is well liked and another that is taller and good looking, but not very well liked. Liked or not, I think telling someone a priest is good looking and inviting him over often does not seem appropriate with all that has been going on with priests.

  34. You would think after the Academy winner for best picture Spotlight, priest abuse would not be covered up anymore. What Bill Cosby, Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein did was so wrong. They took advantage of the fear people have to report them. I read abuse does not have to be sexual to be wrong. So do not let a priest take advantage of your fear of reporting him for bullying, harassing, shunning, or inflicting emotional abuse on you or someone who has confided in you. No more cover up... any form of abuse by a priest or anyone else must be made public. Reading about this priest in California is very disturbing. The church should do something.

  35. You would think after the Academy winner for best picture Spotlight, priest abuse would not be covered up anymore. What Bill Cosby, Kevin Spacey and Harvey Weinstein did was so wrong. They took advantage of the fear people have to report them. I read abuse does not have to be sexual to be wrong. So do not let a priest take advantage of your fear of reporting him for bullying, harassing, shunning, or inflicting emotional abuse on you or someone who has confided in you. No more cover up... any form of abuse by a priest or anyone else must be made public. Reading about this priest in California is very disturbing. The church should do something.

  36. I have worked at the same catholic church for 25yrs during that time there have been 14 priest of those there was only 1 that I would consider priest in every sense of the word and the rest decided around their 50's to become priest all of them having been in the business world at one time or another the first had been in the banking business no one liked him much but I tried to accept all the priest I worked for because I needed my job being a single mother(not by choice) I needed my job, there was something sexual that happened once and to this day I don't know how it happened, it was New Years Eve 1999 soon to be the scary "2000", we were at my sisters house and had all been drinking and celebrating and before I knew it he started kissing me and then we were in the bedroom and his penis was in my mouth, when I realized what was happening I jumped up and ran out it was never spoken of again and not long after he was moved to another church but before he left he gave me a 6,000 a year raise. He was not at his parish long before someone in New York where he had first been a priest accused him of having sex with a young boy years before, what happened to this case we never found out but he is still listed as a Priest in our Diocese even though he no longer even lives in this state. The there was the next who was an alcoholic and very openly gay, the magazines that he received were embarrassing and one time he received a package and opened it in front of me and the church secretary, there were three pair of men's silk bikini underwear, going to mass and looking at him it was hard not to think about that, he eventually drank himself to death and died, the Dean of our church made sure to get to the rectory and gather all of his porn and other incriminating things before anyone was even told he was dead. Next came a priest that had been a nurse for years and then again around 50 became a priest. He was never there much always traveling and he was addicted to gambling spending and loosing thousands and finding a way for the church to pay for it. The priest we have now again was a lawyer and not even Catholic but converted and became a priest, he is presently our parish priest and I am the business administrator, they all have their secrets and while I think he is very clever at it he spends way too much time around the kids, but what I can prove is that he is a racist, has a filthy mouth always spouting off these innuendos, just yesterday he wanted me to order some medals and told me to order some lingerie to cut down on the shipping, I have so many emails of racist jokes that he has sent me, and I have learned to document document, our secretary is also in charge of doing all the background screening and the "Safe Haven" administrator, she hears the things he says and especially in her position she should report him, I have searched everywhere to find out how to report this and when I came across this blog I couldn't believe everything on here is exactly this priest, when I found this I was trying to find out how to go about reporting him and all I can find are sexual abuse against children, it disheartens me that priest get away with the things they do and not accountable for anything. They make a decent salary and have to pay for nothing, can you imagine receiveing 2,000 a month with no bills, housing, car food medical everything paid for by the church and no matter what they do the Catholic Church will continue to support them for as long as they live.
    It has been good to be able to get some of my thoughts down in this post. I can't say anything to our Diocese because SC is an "at will" state meaning he can fire me at any time for anything. I hope to retire in a few years and at 60 don't think it would be easy to find a new job.

  37. For 5 years, I taught law in a law school in Bangalore, India which was run by the Church.
    Born a protestant, I was never a regular church-goer. But
    I had great respect for the priests at the time I took up that job. I didnt know that some of them are such manipulative psychopaths who wouldnt stick at anything. They harassed me, 'moulded'me and I did not mind beacuse they did it for 'my' benefit. I left that job 8 months back and they still harass me in my current job in a secular institution because my boss is beholden to them.

    I wrote to SNAP but they wrote back saying that they dont deal with cases of emotional abuse

    Then, I wrote to the Prime Minister's office, knowing that his party is a anti-minority and anti-Christian. The harassment stopped and I got a respite for a month or so. But they have started it again. So, I have just written a lengthy complaint to the Vatican and I have made it clear that they are driving me to commit suicide.

  38. I belong to a parish like this. Im a new convert. I see SO much going on, I had to pray, to make sure what I saw was real. It is. I am currently being shunned, and I STILL dont know why. Because Im an actual Catholic, I think. Ive been yelled at by Father, one if hus admin people, and a new girl. Ive noticed people who are afraid of him, have not much self-confidence. HUGE parish, and he won't accept help from any other priests. I have a pretty good idea why, but Im not a gossip. He tried making fun of me, but meh. Seriously. Shunning? Are we in High School?? NO ONE can take my faith. Mary and Jesus have had their hands on me since my birth. I KNOW whose child I am. We respect our priests, because of their calling. Saul was called, and David would not touch him. He left it to G-d. Pray. Pray a lot. The devil knows his time is short, and goes about seeking whom he may devour

  39. You are right about some priest we have this Spanish speaking priest since he came to our parish ,he is destroying instead of building a better parish ,he is not the pastor , he is a bully and is using the church ,the parishioners to get rich he lies steals, all the time , he knows who to manipulate, the poor, people uneducated , that does not speak English, and is always talking bad about our Pastor and the White people About being racist and being humiliated and he has to defend the Spanish speaking Comunity from them is all a lie I’m recording him at mass because his homily are pure dirt against the people that he can’t control because he is dividing our church our groups people are living the catholic faith because he verbal abuse and always asking for help (money) is sad can I take him to court for harassment ) He is the first priest that I encounter that is has nothing to do with Jesus

  40. Hello, nice to meet you! I am a theologian and a church worker (Sunday school) at an Anglican church in Canada. I have worked at the church more than 1 year, but my job position has been questioned since the end of April. Church committee members insisted that it has been terminated. I expect that moral harassment is behind this story. I am a theologian, so I am researching "harassment in churches" and try to share my story with the community members by talking and posting on Facebook and my blog. Then I found your article about "Harassment and Bullying in the Church." This is helpful article for me and them to figure out my case. May I ask your favor to allow me to share this article with the community member by posting on Facebook and my blog? I want to think together with them about the problem within the church... I am glad to get you know that you share your questions within churches with many people through this blog.

  41. There are negligence laws in every state and a Federal Volunteer Protection Act, some of which may apply if a non-profit causes harm to a volunteer. I was subject to harm (a horrific migraine) as a result of a youth minister who called me outside of parish grounds from his personal cell to mine about a project already approved by the pastor in writing that he pressured me NOT to do. I have never experienced more rudeness in my life, and I do not ever get migraines. Now, however, I tape record all of my phone calls and I have a Legal Shield program for myself and my business. I would have them write this piece of work a letter regarding unethical behavior, negligence, harm to me, and that he better knock it off. Sadly...we had a woman commit suicide in the diocese due in large part to the negligence of the parish and her unceasing harassment by certain parishioners which was well known. So... I am not longer messing around about this.

  42. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  43. Just reading this shows how dysfunctional this organisation is ...the toll on the mental health of churchgoers some are vulnerable to abuse.

    The church needs a complete transformation...perhaps it will over the next few years if it shatters as a result of allegations and a clear light shone on it

  44. Hold on, if Father Rusty knows money was taken by Father Daniel then Father Lackie has to know and is also protecting him. Hiding this and Santa Barbara fighting back is lying to us about his past. Anonymous is correct, Father Daniel is only as powerful as Father Lackie and every parish donor and enabler who does not do something. I got the May 31 parish email with Provincial Gaa promising transparency but a well known church employee told me they receive many complaints and are told to disregard all the ones with no names.

  45. The above is about Fr Daniel Barica of Sts Simon and Jude in Huntington Beach, CA. Google his name to see a lot more. Looks like a lot of bullying going on. With all the abuse problems out there, the bishops need to stop protecting priests like this. The Orange County Diocese own facebook account even has reviews from upset people wanting Barica removed, posted on July 9 and 13, 2018.