DETROIT (ChurchMilitant.com) - A priest of the archdiocese of Detroit is categorically denying claims that he abused a minor.
Father Eduard Perrone, longtime pastor of Assumption Grotto, with a reputation for orthodoxy and promoting the Traditional liturgy, was temporarily placed on leave following a single allegation the archdiocese has deemed "credible."
"Effective July 5, 2019, Father Eduard Perrone, 70, has been temporarily restricted from any public ministry due to a credible allegation of abuse of a minor pending the outcome of a Church process," the letter from the archdiocese stated.
The archdiocese goes on to detail its contact with Macomb County law enforcement and the Michigan attorney general's office, adding, "The Archdiocese Review Board subsequently deemed the complaint to be credible, meaning it has a 'semblance of truth.'"
But critics have noted that the letter contradicts Pope Francis' instructions on handling sex abuse allegations. Catholics are also upset that the letter deliberately leaves out any mention that Perrone maintains his innocence.
In guidelines published on February 21, Pope Francis lists 21 points by which he recommends all sex abuse investigations should be handled.
Point number 14 states:
The right to defense: the principle of natural and canon law of presumption of innocence must also be safeguarded until the guilt of the accused is proven. Therefore, it is necessary to prevent the lists of the accused being published, even by the dioceses, before the preliminary investigation and the definitive condemnation.
After the noon Mass Sunday, about 20 parishioners surrounded Msgr. Michael Bugarin, episcopal vicar and delegate for matters of clergy misconduct, demanding to know why Perrone was being treated unjustly.
Church Militant's Michael Voris, a longtime parishioner at Assumption Grotto, specifically questioned Bugarin as to why he violated point 14 of the pope's guidelines by publishing Perrone's name before any "definitive condemnation." Bugarin claimed to be unaware of the document — a stunning claim from the chancery official in charge of overseeing all investigations into clergy misconduct.
Voris and other parishioners also asked why the archdiocese deliberately left out any mention that Perrone categorically denies the allegations, why he is forbidden to make any public statements in his defense and why he is prohibited from even speaking with his parishioners.
"Do you think this is fair? Do you think right now that Fr. Perrone is being treated justly by the archdiocese?" Voris asked.
Bugarin answered yes, explaining, "That's part of the process." It was a phrase he repeated more than a dozen times during the exchange, followed by audible frustration from onlookers.
"We are following the process like we always do," Bugarin repeated.
Voris asked whether they followed "the process" in the case of Fr. Larry Ventline, a notorious homosexual priest who ran a gay massage parlor for years, with the knowledge of the archdiocese, and who was accused of raping an 11-year-old. The police investigation into the allegation was eventually closed without making a determination of guilt or innocence either way.
"It seems to me you're awful silent in this case, and why?" asked an elderly female parishioner, who was visibly upset. "We want to know what is going on with our parish priest!"
She asked about Bugarin's treatment of another priest, Fr. Darrell Roman, who has been placed on an indefinite "medical leave of absence" for more than a year following his abrupt removal as pastor of St. Isaac Jogues Church in 2018. Father Roman also had a reputation for orthodoxy, offering strong sermons and promoting reverent liturgy and daily eucharistic adoration at his parish.
The archdiocese has to this day offered no substantive explanation for his removal, nor has it indicated whether Roman will ever be placed back in active ministry.
Father Roman was the only priest in the archdiocese who signed a petition to Pope Francis in 2017, along with thousands of others around the world, requesting clarity on Amoris Laetitia.
A woman who drives an hour to attend Perrone's Mass told Bugarin, "How many bad people are in the archdiocese of Detroit, and so many of them should be investigated, but they are not — but when a holy priest ... and he's the one who tells us the whole truth of Catholic teachings — he is investigated so quickly, but how about others?"
Father Perrone was instrumental in shutting down St. John's Provincial Seminary in Detroit, after exposing a gay pornography scandal. As Jay McNally, former editor of Detroit's archdiocesan newspaper, has reported:
When Vatican officials came for the first visitation in about 1982 at St. John's Seminary, which was proudly labeled the "Pink Palace" by local homosexuals, Detroit's Cdl. Edmund Szoka was able to prevent any real discussion of the homosexual culture there, until the final day, when Fr. Eduard Perrone forced the issue by secretly delivering a long and detailed dossier about the seminary's homosexual culture to the visiting Vatican official.
The story of amazing intrigue — and courage — by Perrone is included in Michael Rose's profile of Perrone in his book, Priest: Portraits of 10 Good Men Serving the Church Today. Since 1994, Fr. Perrone has been pastor of one of the most orthodox parishes in the Detroit archdiocese, Assumption Grotto Church.
Perrone's dossier led to the Vatican forcing Szoka to shut down St. John's and consolidate the major and minor seminary at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.
During his priesthood, Perrone faced opposition from the archdiocese, which opposed Perrone's catechism, claiming it was doctrinally in error. The priest defended himself against the charges, the case was appealed to Rome and the Vatican ultimately sided with Perrone.
Perrone founded Call to Holiness in direct response to the heterodoxy and dissent promoted by Call to Action, the U.S. bishops' gathering that promoted female ordination, the abolition of priestly celibacy and relaxation of strictures on contraception and homosexuality. Call to Action was founded by Detroit's Cdl. John Dearden, a leading liberal voice in the Church.
Father John Hardon, the Jesuit known for his orthodoxy and who suffered persecution by Detroit clergy, and who mentored Perrone, said of Call to Holiness, "History may show that Call to Holiness was the spark that ignited the restoration of authentic Catholicism in the United States."
Detroit has a long history of protecting homosexual predators, including Fr. Gerald Shirilla, removed from active ministry in 1992 after multiple credible allegations of pederasty spanning decades.
Unbeknownst to the public, Shirilla was secretly placed back in active ministry in the neighboring Gaylord diocese after Cdl. Adam Maida, then head of the archdiocese of Detroit, approved the move with Bp. Patrick Cooney. When local Catholics discovered a homosexual predator was assigned to their parish, outcry ensued, leading to his removal, while the Detroit archdiocese claimed it knew nothing of the decision — in direct contradiction to Cooney's own public statements explaining he'd received Maida's cooperation in the assignment.
Shirilla's most famous case involved abuse of the Paciorek brothers, some who were professional baseball players, who were each abused by the priest.
Bugarin, who remained in the vestibule throughout all weekend Masses at Assumption Grotto, has denied that homosexuality has anything to do with the priest abuse crisis.
During a call-in radio show in August on WJR talk radio in Detroit, when Bugarin was a guest, two callers asked specifically whether gay clergy are a problem in the Church.
Jane, a caller from Toledo, Ohio, asked, "Some of the bishops have stated that there's a network of homosexual priests and bishops and they've stated that we really need to work on that issue. Are you guys acknowledging that in Detroit?"
Bugarin evaded the question, saying, "This isn't a gay problem, a straight problem; this isn't a left problem, a right problem. This is about not living the Gospel and I think that's where we have to keep our hearts."
Church Militant asked a question on air:
How can you claim that there's not a homosexual clerical problem in the Church when the John Jay Report released earlier notes that over 80 percent of abuse cases were homosexual and ... 75 percent of cases in the Pennsylvania grand jury report were homosexual? ... What is the archdiocese of Detroit doing to stop homosexual abuse by priests on seminarians and other adults?
Bugarin acknowledged the John Jay report's statistics, but repeated, "I go back to the quote I stated earlier, this is not a gay problem, this is not a straight problem, this is not a left, right, this is about living the Gospel."
Church Militant has learned that Bugarin forbade priests from asking any questions about homosexuality in a meeting with Abp. Allen Vigneron in 2018, set up specifically for priests to discuss the sex abuse crisis in the Church.
The accuser, an adult male in his 50s, alleges that he was abused by Perrone as an altar boy approximately 40 years ago. The allegations reportedly arise from what he claims are "repressed memories" that surfaced for the first time this year.
He claims he was among altar boys who were invited to spend time at Perrone's mother's lake house, where he claims the priest wrestled with them in the water and at times inappropriately touched them.
"Never inappropriate touching," Fr. Perrone said in comments to the Associated Press. "I never ever would have done such a thing."
He confirmed the outings at the lake house, but made clear that other adults were always present and that everyone was "fully clothed."
A temporary administrator, Msgr. Ronald Browne, has been assigned to oversee Assumption Grotto in Perrone's absence. Perrone has secured both civil and canon lawyers for his defense.
Those wishing to donate to Fr. Perrone's legal defense fund may do so at this link.
7/20/2019: This article was revised to clarify the Detroit archdiocese's doctrinal allegations against Fr. Perrone.