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« Joy & Depression | Main | Bishop Bernard Fellay: "I am sure of a 'happy ending'" »

Tuesday, December 19, 2006



Fr. O'Brien obviously doesn't care about hurting the Church. His personal desires and comforts come first, no matter who may be scandalized. God reward all the faithful priests who would never do this!

A Catholic Mom

Father OBrien's attitude is a perfect illustration of how most Americans/Christians have completely lost the understanding of what it means to avoid giving public scandal--even if there is nothing going on! A man and woman who are not married should not be travelling together. Not only does it LOOK bad, it actually does present the near occasion of sin--or at least it does in appearance. Priests USED to know this. Now it seems they are no better than the rest of us. We have completely lost our sense of modesty and chastity and it is very, very lamentable.

John Roda

Give the priest a break or at least the benefit of the doubt until we have some better evidence. Are we all so sex starved that we really care about these appearances? If the priest and his secretary have violated the 6th commandment, then so be it, and they will be held accountable for the offenses. Until then, relax, please.


What better evidence do you need? A photo of them in bed together? It doesn't even matter if this relationship is sexual or not, it is wrong! Have our standards for priests fallen this low, that we have no problem with them going out in public in lay clothes, escorting women while hiding their priesthood? Are you married? Would you spend hours alone with another woman or be seen with another woman alone in public while not wearing your wedding ring? If this is the best we can expect from priests today, then get ready to pay up, because the abuse will not just continue, it's going to flourish!


He may not be having an affair with her, but there is no doubt that he has become too closely involved. After so many years of working together, it is natural for a personal friendship to develop between two people. Yet while this may be natural, is still important to be prudent and to keep the friendship within professional limits. Fr. O'Brien's relationship has crossed that line. Travelling together on personal vacations is certainly inappropriate and would give rise to reasonable suspicions in any such situation. Indeed, even if Fr. O'Brien were to become so closely involved with a male secretary, in today's day and age, suspicions would also arise. Even if Fr. O'Brien is not romantically involved, he has certainly developed too strong an emotional dependency on this woman. This is inappropriate for his position, and it is no wonder that his parishioners are upset.

Ron Borowski

Jesus said, "He who is without sin, cast the first stone".
It appears that both the free-lance investigative reporter, Robert Kumpel, and some of the email reponders have already been the judge, jury and want to be the executioner.
In his own words, Mr. Kumpel has turned himself into the victim, claiming the stripping of his Rights. What about the rights of those that you accuse, Mr. Kumpel? Or have we stooped so low as to now judge based on heresay, innuendo and how it looks? Or are all priests now guilty based on the abuse scandals?
Allow the process to unfold, under the American legal premise of "Innocent until proven guilty".
Our Lord, Jesus Christ, will once again come in less than a week.
Merry Christmas to all!


Looks to me like all that Kumpel did was subpoena the travel records of this priest. If that's all it took to make the good Father shoot himself in the foot, something is wrong. Who's judging? Who's executing? Don't Catholics have a right to demand higher standards from priests after all the rot we have paid for?

Charles Martel

This is terribly, terribly sad. I cannot believe that any bishop would accept this kind of behavior from his priests, even if they are old buddies from the same country. Of course, this priest is only human, but it's the bishop who is ultimately culpable for allowing this mess to get this far. If we can't trust the shepherd, what will become of the flock?


I think the claim of matching outfits and PDA at Sam's club makes the person "reporting" this sound a little odd - I wouldn't wear the same outfit as my husband so I don't know what they are trying to prove by observing that. And the priest does refer to it as gossip, which I took as a denial but I guess that doesn't mean it isn't true.
I think this is gossip and should be treated as such, until we have the facts.
I think it is wrong to put their names and faces with this story online if you don't know the truth. And I think it perpetuates the scandal by doing so when we don't know the scope of what is going on or what is going on. I do agree with Thomistic that this man has been to lax, to say the least, in guarding his reputation and not avoiding the appearance of impropriety which doesn't help matters.

Sheryl Temaat

If my husband did all the things Fr. John O'Brien admits doing with Carolyn Klemm, there wouldn't be much left of him for the woman to travel with, cook for, and be hosting. Who do these priests think they are? They are fed, clothed, and sheltered by the laity, and give us back scandal and dissent.


Some people are clearly missing the issue. and then others get it. This is not about being "sex starved" or "misjudging..." The relationship has been going on for 10-12yrs. Parishioners have approached Father John and the Bishop about the "Perception" and the concern throughout this time and nothing has changed. Father John as a Priest is held to a higher moral & ethical standard. He must be above reproach, set boundaries and limits in all relationships. He has not done this. Instead he blames the reporter and others for what he failed to do. He has yet to accept his role in the problem. He needs to be responsible and accountable to adjust his behaviors and in turn perceptions may change. However, with his "confession" there will always be questions. However, he needs to move forward to readjust the boundaries and apologize for his error. If unable or unwilling to do this, then he needs to move out of his role as a Priest. If he chose not to move forward then I would wonder if there is more to the relationship, or if he is just believing he is above the ethics of his role as a priest or he was unable to because of other cognitive or emotional limitations needing medical and spiritual attention. As others noted, we need to be concerned about not lowering standards, values... They are other parishioners who will cook and clean for him. His secretary does not need to travel with him. Honestly! Perhaps we all need this kind of Personal attention. Try it & I am sure there will be lots of talk.

Joe McQuiston

I have worked as a lay minister for over 30 years in various Catholic parishes. Because of the nature of celibacy, priests, being human, must find friendship in appropriate ways that do not cause scandal. Of the many priests I have personally known and worked with through the years, without exception, each have the same emotional needs of friendship as you and I. The friendship I refer to has nothing whatsoever to do with sexual activity. I have lunch with priests frequently for business and also for friendship and support of these men. It would be disheartening to have someone think there is a homosexual possibility by being seen with a priest in a public place. Jesus certainly spent time and ate with all kinds of people and I'm quite sure received the same criticism for it as some level against this priest. Judge not or at least hold your tongue until the facts are clear.


Gee Joe, do these priests travel alone with you? While there is a problem of homosexuality in the priesthtood, homosexuals comprise a VERY small percentage of the population and historically, it has been safe for men to be seen with each other. When you have lunch with priests, are they disguised as layman or do they wear their clerics? I would guess that your priest friends have done nothing to create any air of suspicion. You are right. None of us can judge the state of one's soul. But Jesus didn't tell us to not use any common sense. This priest has admitted his frequent non-professional contact with this woman. The age of the "anything goes" priesthood has got to end.

Thomas A.

Shopping at Sam's club may be one thing, but
traveling to Europe twice with the same woman is indicative of 1) poor judgment
on the part of this priest; or 2) an inappropriate relationship, either of which
wounds the body of Christ. Pray that it is
the former, and that Father O'Brien seeks
a new secretary - - for the good of the Church in general, and his parish in particular. Above all, pray for good priestly vocations!


Suspicion is not fact. We should not be treating peoples suspicion as though it's fact when it has not been established as such. If something is going on, we don't know exactly what. And if some of you are so worried about scandal, why are you gossiping about this?

Nancy is right though when she wrote:

However, he needs to move forward to readjust the boundaries and apologize for his error.

The only thing I know for sure that this priest has done wrong is give off a bad appearance and not correct people and he's encouraging gossip with his questionable behavior.

I can be completely wrong about what is going on but until you know you shouldn't be trying to sort it out what the truth via public opinion.


It could be worse....he could be dating his MALE assistant! At least he's not gay!!!


Carol G.

I was very careful not to accuse Fr. O'Brien or Ms. Klemm of anything beyond being imprudent about the impression they have been giving.

That's why I said:

Priests should do everything to safeguard the reputation of the Church. This is especially so after the sex abuse scandals. Whatever else may be said, it must be said that one is always safer when careful precautions are made to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, because it is also human nature to recognize that where there's smoke, there's fire.

Nobody has posted that any type of sexual impropriety has occurred. Neither have I given that impression. The facts have been presented so as to assist people of good faith involved in the situation (including, I assume, Fr. O'Brien, his bishop, and Ms. Klemm) in seeing the appearance of things objectively.

The objective appearance is of an improper relationship involving poor boundaries between a priest and a laywoman.

That appearance cannot be disputed, because Fr. O'Brien has, himself, admitted this appearance exists (and not just in the mind of one person).

This situation should be rectified, and not by attempting to silence anyone who suggests that something is amiss, but rather by, as you said, readjusting the boundaries.

That is all I have suggested, and it is all I have seen anyone else suggest.

The suggestion was made in private to Fr. O'Brien. It was not heeded. It was made to his bishop and was met with a restraining order. So, it would seem, that the only recourse is to allow objective eyes outside the situation to assist those too closely involved in seeing that something's rotten in Denmark.



Joe McQuiston

Scandal is not something new to the Church. Inspite of the terrible toll it exacts on victims, every generation has experienced it. I personally have been affected by the clergy scandal.

That said, I believe this particular blog site seems particularly interested in accusations, scandals, and controversy. The lead headlines read like the evening news...focusing on the sensational, while missing the grace filled moments which could bless people so much more.
I find it very sad to continually read on this site the mean spiritedness that is obvious in so many posts and the headlines that provoke them. For example, the ongoing dribble about "halloween" Masses. Halloween is over, why don't you comment on the beauty of the liturgy which is the norm in parishes that may have "gotten creative" rather than used good liturgical sense once during the year. Are the "halloween" Masses still continuing...of course not. But you fail to report the overwhelming number of positive things going on...hence you appear out of balance. I am critical of the evening news for doing the same thing...let's try to be more objective and balanced in our comments.
For example, how difficult would it be for those Bishop Tod Brown detractors to point out the very many good things taking place in his diocese because of his leadership. Keep in mind, as one draws a LINE between those we love and those we hate...nothing good can come from that. Dialogue ceases and bitterness hardens our positions and relationships. My challenge to those who "draw lines" which divide us is to discover the goodness of those you now see as your enemy in the same way Jesus did. The Good Samaritan is a story of Jesus uplifting the image of the villified Samaritan people. The strong commendation He gave the Roman soldier for his faith...all this in spite of what others thought of them. Ask yourself why Jesus uplifted the status of those who were hated by so many. Try to remain more openminded and openhearted; avoid hasty judgment and tongue wagging. We may find our hope that Jesus offers us is in reconciliation, not insult and bashing one's enemy. Where is the love in that? The world has enough hate. Be remembered for your kindness, slow to anger, rich in mercy....

Try to make friends with those you disagree with. I realize it isn't easy to do. Our world is filled with failure as the evidence of so much conflict demonstates. Why be part of the problem. Discover the true solution in our Lord who challenged the sinner, but did so with great compassion and hope. Hatred just entrenches us more deeply in our divisions. By the way, I enjoy the many helpful links and posts that are uplifting and contribute to the solution. I am also grateful for this blogsite in providing a forum for fruitful discussion of issues that we all feel so passionate about. The many comments, however given, demonstate a faith that is living. I like that too. We Catholics are not giving up on our Church, nor should we give up on our Church leaders.

Philip Saenz

These two individuals with a fallen human nature are too close to each other. That alone gives scandal. And don't forget the children who are scandalized and what Jesus said about humans with a fallen nature, who scandalize little children. These two individuals, the priest and his secretary are at least very stupid. They should at least desist their chumminess before their fallen nature caves in if it hasn't already.

Edgar A Suter MD

Mr. Kumpel should insist on a forensic audit of the parish accounts. When there is sexual abuse, there is usually accompanying embezzlement.

In view of the the worldly priest’s parish bulletin solicitation of tithing and a large building fund, a forensic audit is certainly in order

One source of local referrals for forensic accountants is:


At least he's not trolling for boys. Thank God for small favors.

Chuck Stout

I have known Robert Kumpel for many years. I not only vouch for his accurate reporting, I vouch for his courage. Mr. Kumpel began the exposition of tyrannical heretical homosexual pedophile priest Gary Holtey of the San Diego diocese. If it was not for Robert Kumpel, Father Holtey would still be up to his goal to destroy the Catholic faith and seduce prepubecent boys. You folks better listen to him. Chuck Stout


I know you have been fair in your presentation Thomistic and my comment was not addressed to you. It was to the other person who asked if we needed a picture of them in bed when we don't know what's going on, how bad it really is and to others who are assuming the worst and treating it as though it is fact. We don't know the full scope of his errors although the appearances admittedly are very poor.

What we do know, and I used your words in my first post since it is so well put, is that he is not "guarding his reputation and not avoiding the appearance of impropriety" which doesn't help matters.

Unless someone is very public and very unrepentant about their sins and/or rejection of the faith, where it publicly must be confronted for the sake of others, I'm the type that prefers things handled as cautiously and quietly as possible. But I understand the sense of urgency others have to get to the bottom of what is going on and deal with it. If things are as bad as some people fear and as they sometimes seem this priest he should be disciplined.


"at least he's not gay!!!"

give me a break! as if that's the absolute worst thing that could happen to a person - being gay. "being gay" isn't a sin; acting on it is, just like having sex outside of marriage for 2 heterosexuals is a sin. homosexuality is intrinsically disordered and persons living with same-sex attraction need our prayers to live chaste, integrated lives. it takes a lot of courage to do so, hence the name of the vatican-approved support group *courage* for those living with SSA.


Another naughty priest.

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