Monday, October 21, 2002

From the NYTimes (LRR) one more story about the priest from Holy Angels in Chicago who's standing firm against his dismissal.

For the choir members who wear "Justice for Father John" pins on their robes — and for Father Calicott, who now drives 50 miles every Sunday to sit, in plain clothes, in the back rows at the Mass he used to celebrate — the letter from Rome offers renewed hope. Father Calicott, who was an altar boy at this South Side church and grew up in the Ida B. Wells housing project nearby, is one of five ousted priests in the Archdiocese of Chicago, and several dozen nationwide, who have filed appeals asking the Vatican to reconsider their suspensions.

At a reception after Mass, the cardinal declined to be photographed with Father Calicott, who had taken Communion from a priest at the back of the church, near his seat, rather than approach the prelate at the altar....

He returns here each Sunday, quietly unzipping his Bible from its leather case, singing along with the choir and raising his hands in prayer as someone else pours the wine, distributes the wafers and preaches the word."What I want is to get back to my ministry," said Father Calicott, who wore a gray sweater that matched his salty goatee. "I think I'm a good minister."Without providing details, Mr. Calicott acknowledged that "there was inappropriate behavior" with the teenagers in 1976, shortly after his ordination, adding, "for that I have apologized." His return to the parish in 1995 was contingent on continued counseling and a promise that he would never be alone with children.Today, Father Calicott emphasized that his situation was distinct from those of serial pedophiles like the defrocked John J. Geoghan in Boston, and said the retroactive zero-tolerance policy was akin to tightening restrictions on drunken driving, then stripping generations of their licenses. "There is intellectual dishonesty in taking today's standards and looking 20, 30, 40 years ago," he said. "Realistically, human beings make mistakes. Just throwing people away doesn't make sense, and doesn't protect children."Outside, on the parish billboard, sandwiched between the Mass schedule and a greeting for the cardinal, was the Holy Angels mantra: "Justice for Fr. John."

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