Q: I was a seminarian for nearly five years, and in fifth year I was suddenly and unexpectedly dismissed as a seminarian by the bishop. He gave me three reasons for the dismissal, each of which I protested. For example, the first reason he claimed was that a priest told him that some people said that I was “standoff-ish” during a novena in our cathedral…. The bishop couldn’t or wouldn’t give me any clarification and I was therefore unable to defend myself, except to say that I had never been described in such a way before. The bishop refused to discuss very positive reports about me…. I felt in the course of our meeting that I could respond to and “fix” the charges being leveled against me, but I had the sense that the bishop did not want me to fix the situation.
I later learned that the seminary authorities were expecting me to stay in seminary and were giving me a positive report.
A number of weeks later, my mother wrote to the bishop about another matter – I was not aware of this until after she sent the letter. My mother was astonished when she received a response from the bishop in which he outlined the reasons why he had dismissed me – information which my mother never requested or mentioned in her letter. In fact, the bishop revealed information to her about my dismissal which I was not even aware of myself! There were also inconsistencies in his response compared to what he had said to me…
I wrote a letter to the bishop after my dismissal in order to express my dismay at the lack of clarity during our meeting, and I also expressed my concern at his imprudence in revealing personal information to my mother. I never received so much as an acknowledgement of this letter.
A couple of months later, the bishop resigned on health grounds. This has made this situation even more difficult for me – that a bishop can make such a drastic decision, knowing he is about to resign, but yet not be obliged to give any concrete reasons for his decision….
Don’t get me wrong – I am not questioning the bishop’s authority to make a decision about me, but it appears to me that he abused his authority in this case. Nor do I believe that I have a right to be ordained a priest. I am motivated by a strong sense of justice, and I believe strongly that a serious injustice has prevailed here.
Have you any advice regarding how I might proceed with this? The whole situation has made it difficult for me to move forward in my discernment…. I do not want to jeopardize my chances of being accepted by another bishop, but I would like to know if someone in my position has any sort of recourse. –Nevil Continue reading