Charlie from Church Militant: "We've got some audio tests to do to make sure things are just right."
Nine priests are sharing their stories about being sidelined for upholding Church teaching on faith and morals. They represent many others punished for their orthodoxy and fidelity to the Church.
The summit kicked off with a litany of questions on what could legitimately sideline a priest.
Have any of you been unfaithful to your vows? Have any of you embezzled money from your parish or any other source? Have any of you molested a child? Have any of you taught heresy or anything beginning to approach it? Do all of you believe every single thing the Catholic Church teaches? Then why are you sitting here?
That fundamental question, why they're being persecuted, demands a truthful answer. Father Michael Suhy was the first to respond.
One of the things I've observed is that the men that are sidelined are those men that make believing in Jesus Christ attractive to normal people. So, as I become aware of each of my brothers' stories, these are men that had a heart to making Jesus Christ known and loved, and they were effective at doing it.
Father James Altman is never at a loss for words.
Fr. Altman: "When are they going to wake up to see this little experiment they've tried for the past 50 years has failed? We've lost the Faith. It's their fault, and, oddly enough, they're mad at us."
Like many of the others, Fr. Stephen Lefort was ordered to get psychological counseling. This, after helping a penitent examine his conscience in the confessional.
They labeled me with a personality disorder (unspecified), with narcissistic and histrionic traits so he [the bishop] could say that "this man is unstable for ministry." But even the John Vianney Center wanted me to go back into ministry. They said, "You're not really a threat to anybody and you can go back to ministry." But the bishop said, "You're not going to benefit the diocese."
Father Mark White's priesthood began under a cloud, being ordained by disgraced then-cardinal Theodore McCarrick.
Fr. White: "I think we all were shaken — I know I was — to learn that the shepherd who gave me Holy Orders should have been in jail that very day."
Father Ryszard Biernat slammed the cover-up subculture that exists within the Church.
Fr. Biernat: "My struggle is that our founder, Jesus Christ, taught us 'the truth will set you free.' Why are we hiding? Why are we lying about the truth? It's simply to protect predators, like McCarrick."
And this just scratches the surface. The priests also talked about the elephant in the room — the crisis of homosexuality in the clergy — as well as the scandal of silence that has surrounded it.