Dalai Lama’s nephew killed in Florida

Jigme Norbu, second from right, with his party of supporters and fellow Tibetan walkers during April 2009 stop at Front Royal's Lucky Star Lounge. Co-owner of the Lucky Star and Norbu interviewer Shawn Patterson is at far right.

Norbu struck by vehicle during most recent ‘Tibetan Freedom’ walk

By Roger Bianchini
Warren County Report

We were distressed to hear of the death of Jigme K. Norbu, the nephew of the Dalai Lama, on Feb. 14. Norbu, who passed through Front Royal during an earlier Tibetan rights walk, was killed when he was struck by a vehicle while walking along the southbound side of State A1A near Palm Coast in northeastern Florida.

According to a local source close to the regional Buddhist community, Norbu, 45, was in the first day of a planned 300-mile walk from St. Augustine to West Palm Beach. She said Norbu had decided to push on later into the night in an attempt to keep on his planned schedule for his latest walk to raise public awareness of the plight of the Tibetan people under Chinese rule.

“Yes, it is true unfortunately,” Tempa Tshering, a representative of the Dalai Lama in New Delhi, India, where a Tibetan government in exile is based, told CNN.

An online report by Lisa Flam at AOL News states Norbu was struck by an SUV driven by 31-year-old Keith O’Dell. O’Dell was questioned but not charged, according to Flam’s post.

Norbu’s home base was Bloomington, Indiana. He was the son of the Dalai Lama’s late older brother, Taktser Rinpoche. Rinpoche died in 2008, and was a high-ranking Buddhist religious official in his own right when the Chinese invaded Tibet.

Rinpoche fled his homeland with his brother, the Dalai Lama, and other Tibetans in the face of the Communist Chinese military assault of 1959. Between 1959 and 1960 a reported 80,000 Tibetans followed The Dalai Lama out of their homeland. Today an estimated 128,000 to 150,000 Tibetans live in exile.

The Dalai Lama and his associates’ experience of the historical epoch of Chinese intervention in Tibet has been recounted in numerous documentary and creative Hollywood films, most notably Martin Scorcese’s “Kundun” and “Seven Years in Tibet”, the latter which starred Brad Pitt as a German engineer “tutoring” the young Dalai Lama while living isolated in the Tibetan holy city of Lhasa in the years prior to the Chinese invasion.

Local stop

To accommodate conflicts in our work schedule, Lucky Star Lounge co-owner Shawn Patterson interviewed Jigme Norbu for Warren County Report during his dinner stop at her East Main Street, Front Royal restaurant during Norbu’s 900-mile “Walk for Tibetan Independence” in April 2009. Norbu was then in the midst of a nine-week walk from Indianapolis, Indiana to U.N. Headquarter in New York City. During his April 2009 interview Norbu commented on how well he had been treated by average Americans he had met during that walk.

“Especially out in the rural country where they come out and give me water, food, even money, and the truck drivers along the way as well. So, it has really showed me how kind American people are … They’d say it was great what we’re doing. You know this is not just for the Tibetan issue. We are doing it for the universal issue of world peace and human rights.”

Norbu expressed a belief in the basic humanity of all peoples but worried over the influence of governments and personal apathy in how nations interact with each other.

“We have nothing against the Chinese people. They’re human beings just like us. It’s the Communist policies we are totally against. And I think the world should know clearly that this has been going on for so long and that Americans should wake up and realize, even though I know America deals with China, that we are feeding that sleeping giant,” Norbu said of America’s growing economic relationship with China while the Tibetan people remain oppressed.

“So it’s something that we have an obligation not only to protect our Tibetan people, but the world. I think no country should experience what we went through. So we have this opportunity to meet great people and good people. To come in here and make new friends who give us support and give us the strength to continue on with what we need to do to accomplish our goal. And that goal is to hopefully one day to see our country become independent. That’s our determination and that’s our goal.”

Talk without results

Norbu’s fellow traveler during that 2009 walk, 66-year-old Tibetan Wangchuk Dorjee, expressed mixed emotions about potential results from the Dalai Lama’s ongoing negotiations with the Chinese for a return of some political, cultural and religious autonomy for his people.

“There are positive signs. You know the last few years his Holiness’s envoys have had a dialogue with the Chinese government a few times. That is kind of a positive, I feel that way. But at the same time while the dialogue is there – not very much has become of it. The Tibetans have tried to speak up about their rights and point of view. But when they do that they are put in jail or are killed and all sorts of unbelievable things are done. It is very, very bad.”

A future without hope?

By coincidence as I helped Patterson prepare our story on Norbu and his 2009 walk, I had just finished a re-read of George Orwell’s dark vision of a totalitarian future, “1984”. Norbu and Dorjee’s observations about Tibet’s current plight mixed with Orwell’s dark vision of mankind’s future, a future it seems the Tibetan people and others on our planet already experience on a daily basis. I suggested we end her story with a reference to the lasting warning to humanity Orwell gave us in 1948, perhaps not coincidentally the transposed final two digits of his book’s title. Patterson agreed and to close that story we quoted from perhaps “1984’s” most frightening passage, as the Party spokesman O’Brien explains the Party’s view of the flow of history to Winston as he is tortured into total submission to the state and its symbolic figurehead, Big Brother.

“Always there will be the intoxication of power, constantly increasing and constantly growing subtler. Always at every moment, there will be the thrill of victory, the sensation of trampling on an enemy who is helpless. If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.”

Jigme Norbu walked to remove that boot from the face of the Tibetan people – and perhaps also to make us all ponder how far our own faces are from the sole of that boot as it is allowed to crush the spirit of others we share this planet with.

On Feb. 14th Norbu’s walk ended on the side of a dark, Florida highway – or did it?

A national/world version of this story appears in The Huffington Post.

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Published in: on February 16, 2011 at 3:35 pm  Comments (1)  

Authorities awaiting complaint in Euteneuer case

Euteneuer ‘confession’ – was it criminal or just unpleasant behavior?

Father Thomas Euteneuer

This story also appears on The Huffington Post.

By Roger Bianchini
Warren County Report

A Feb. 4th statement made by Interim Human Life International President Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro-Carámbula in a Newsletter post acknowledges both “grave harm” to the victim of the admitted “lapses of chastity” by former HLI President Father Thomas Euteneuer, as well as the work of staff at the Front Royal, Virginia-based pro-life headquarters in treating that harm.

The Monsignor’s admission three days after the first public statement by Father Euteneuer acknowledging “imprudent decisions with harmful consequences” stemming from the priest’s “violating the boundaries of chastity with an adult female” who was under his “spiritual care” – the conduct of exorcisms in his role as a Catholic priest – raises questions about potential criminal behavior by Euteneuer.

Exactly what happened between the hard-line, no compromise former face of the pro-life movement and his female victim during the admitted “lapses of chastity” remain unknown to the general public. However, these multiple admissions of “harm”, even “grave harm” to a woman under his professional care as a priest raise complicated questions about the boundary between what is on the one hand unacceptable professional conduct versus potential criminal behavior engaged in by Father Euteneuer.

How can local and state authorities now address what has been admitted to, we asked Warren County Commonwealth’s Attorney Brian Madden on Feb. 11. We wondered if the religious aspect of treatment for what the church defines as demonic possession, but the secular and legal world is more likely to define as a psychologically-based disorder, creates legal complications for secular authorities.

Madden pointed out that from his legal perspective, whether such a “public confession” of lapses of professional behavioral standards was made by a priest or a medical professional made absolutely no difference. He also explained that even during investigations of criminal complaints, it is sometimes determined that the behavior described, while unpleasant by some social or personal perspectives, may not qualify as criminal in nature.

That said, we asked whether Madden was currently in a position to authorize a preliminary criminal investigation by local law enforcement to determine exactly what kind of behavior the priest has admitted to and whether that behavior, the result of which is being dealt with by HLI staff in his prosecutorial jurisdiction, was potentially criminal. Based on Euteneuer’s own statement and other official descriptions of “harm” and “grave harm” to the female subject of that behavior, obvious questions remain about the potentially predatory or even criminal nature of Euteneuer’s admitted behavior.

“Most criminal prosecutions are initiated by an alleged victim or witness contacting local law enforcement to report an incident that might be a crime. A law enforcement officer makes an initial determination – sometimes after consulting with a prosecutor – whether to proceed with an investigation,” Madden began. “Sometimes a law enforcement officer directly witnesses a crime, e.g., drug possession, assault and battery, DUI, etc; sometimes an alleged crime victim goes directly to a magistrate and asks that a perpetrator be charged with a crime.”

Madden added that as of Feb. 11, “No one to our knowledge has contacted local law enforcement or a magistrate regarding any of the incidents reported by you.”

Contacted the following week, Madden said that situation had not changed.

So as of Feb. 14th, perhaps ironically Valentine’s Day, the precise status of the “violations of chastity” admitted to by Father Thomas Euteneuer on Feb. 1st remain in a secular, legal limbo.

Referenced statements

Among the materials local prosecutor Madden reviewed before replying to the question of a possible criminal investigation of Father Euteneuer were the following statements by involved parties:

• “On many occasions I have stated that our main solidarity should be with those who have been harmed … In my role as interim president I am committed to do all that I can to be of assistance. But whatever I can do in this regard totally pales in comparison with the selfless dedication of two of our employees who have put many hours assisting the young woman gravely harmed in this case.” – Interim Human Life International President Monsignor Ignacio Barreiro-Carámbula, from a Feb. 4 HLI e-Column;

• “I must acknowledge, however, that one particularly complex situation clouded my judgment and led me to imprudent decisions with harmful consequences, the worst of which was violating the boundaries of chastity with an adult female who was under my spiritual care. I take full responsibility for my own poor judgment, my weakness and my sinful conduct that resulted from it … I state without reserve that I am deeply sorry for my actions. I have personally apologized, where possible, to anyone I have harmed.” – Father Thomas Euteneuer, from a Feb. 1 statement on LifeSiteNews website;

• “Father Euteneuer has been undergoing intensive evaluation and counseling to address admitted inappropriate crossing of adult heterosexual boundaries on the occasion of carrying out his priestly ministry … Father Euteneuer has cooperated in the process while at the same time expressing contrition for his conduct and the harm it has caused.” – Bishop Gerald Barbarito of the Diocese of Palm Beach, from a Feb. 1 post on LifeSiteNews website. Barbarito recalled Father Euteneuer from his HLI post in August 2010 after the priest’s initial confession to inappropriate behavior.

Roger Bianchini: rogerb@warrencountyreport.com

Published in: on February 14, 2011 at 5:40 pm  Comments (42)  

Hannity discusses scandal swirling around top Va. exorcist priest

Fox News Host Sean Hannity faced off with a top Va. exorcist priest in this now infamous clip from 2007. Father Thomas Euteneuer called Hannity a ‘heretic’ for his promotion of birth control as opposed to abortion among non-believers. In an unusually foreshadowing response, Hannity suggested the priest ‘judge not that ye not be judged.’ Fr. Euteneuer was recently removed from his post and has admitted to sexual misconduct.

By Dan McDermott
Publisher
Warren County Report

[A version of this story originally appeared in MyFrontRoyal.com]

Fox News host Sean Hannity addressed the controversy surrounding a top Virginia exorcist Catholic priest at the end of his Hannity cable news show Wed. night and made note of the unusually favorable treatment he has been getting from Huffington Post commenters.

After playing portions of a now infamous 2007 exchange in which then Human Life International Father Thomas Euteneuer called Hannity a ‘heretic’ and ‘cultural Catholic’ Hannity read part of Fr. Euteneuer’s recent confession to transgressions which caused him to be removed as head of Human Life International.

“I take full responsibility for my own poor judgment, my weakness and my sinful conduct that resulted from it,” Hannity read.

The host then noted the priest’s admission of violating his vow of chastity due to human weakness which Fr. Euteneuer said ‘did not involve the sexual act.’

“Bill Clinton would be proud of that,” Hannity joked.

“Look, I don’t want to make a situation worse. Apparently something happened–pretty severe–and he’s been taken away from his position,” Hannity said.

But Hannity still seemed upset at at having his faith questioned and the priest’s conduct after the appearance on Hannity & Colmes.

“He’s so self righteous. He spent years raising money off this exchange with me and building his name recognition,” Hannity said.

Euteneuer had originally appeared on the program to chastise Hannity for supporting birth control instead of abortion for persons who did not live a Christian life.

“But in this world we live in, do you really think that you can convince non-Catholics, non-Christians [to] wait until marriage to have sex? There’s a certain realistic quality to what I was saying. Not that I like it. It’s just real,” he said.

Hannity said he does teach his own children to abstain from sex until marriage.

One of the panelists joked that the video clip of his face-off with Rev. Euteneuer had ‘brought out the inner liberal’ in Hannity.

Hannity responded ‘That’s like the Huffington Post defending me [today].”

Published in: on February 2, 2011 at 10:58 pm  Comments (9)  

HLI releases statement on Rev. Thomas Euteneuer

[Video of the Euteneuer/Sean Hannity exchange and discussion in our forum: MyFrontRoyal.com]

Human Life International released the following statement today:

FRONT ROYAL, VA – The HLI Board of Directors, in response to a public statement by Rev. Thomas Euteneuer, issues this further statement and clarification:

In August 2010, HLI received allegations of inappropriate conduct by Rev. Euteneuer involving a young adult woman, which occurred within the context of his exorcism ministry. The Board immediately commenced an inquiry into the allegations, and Rev. Euteneuer admitted inappropriate conduct. At that time, Bishop Gerald Barbarito recalled Rev. Euteneuer to the Diocese of Palm Beach, and HLI sought and received Rev. Euteneuer’s resignation.

Since the time of Rev. Euteneuer’s resignation, the Board subsequently learned of additional allegations in connection with his exorcism ministry. As Rev. Euteneuer no longer serves as president of HLI, we are not especially endowed with the competence or authority to investigate, evaluate, or act on these additional allegations, but they have been submitted to the proper ecclesiastical authorities.

HLI received certain assurances that Rev. Euteneuer was no longer engaged in public ministry and therefore, until this time, in our efforts to observe Catholic teaching, we have avoided comment (beyond our original statement). This decision was based on all the teachings of the Church but in particular the Catechism’s instructions as follows:

“Charity and respect for the truth should dictate the response to every request for information or communication. The good and safety of others, respect for privacy, and the common good are sufficient reasons for being silent about what ought not be known or for making use of a discreet language. The duty to avoid scandal often commands strict discretion. No one is bound to reveal the truth to someone who does not have the right to know it.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2489. Emphasis in the original.)

Although it is for the Diocese of Palm Beach and the proper ecclesiastical authorities to address the matters referenced in Rev. Euteneuer’s statement, we ask that the HLI family continue to pray for all those involved. HLI has not been, and will not be, deterred in its fundamental mission as pro-life missionaries to the world, and we likewise ask for the prayers of all that support HLI’s work that this critical mission will never be undermined.

Published in: on February 2, 2011 at 10:05 am  Leave a Comment  

Bishop breaks silence on Father Euteneuer

[Original story is here: Controversy erupts over HLI’s former chief priest]

By Roger Bianchini
Warren County Report

Approximately eight hours after Father Euteneuer’s statement was posted on its website, Life Site News added “with permission” the first official statement from Bishop Gerald Barbarito on Father Euteneuer’s status. It is an internal memo from the bishop to “all the priests of the Diocese of Palm Beach.” That memo posted at 5:51 p.m., Feb. 1, states in its entirety:

“Due to the publicity being given to the situation of Father Thomas Euteneuer, I now feel it is not only fair but necessary to inform the priests of the Diocese of appropriate information in his regard.

“Father Euteneuer has been undergoing intensive evaluation and counseling to address admitted inappropriate crossing of adult heterosexual boundaries on the occasion of carrying out his priestly ministry. Immediate action was taken to deal with this matter and to restrict his ministry as soon as it was brought to the attention of the Diocese. Father Euteneuer has cooperated in the process while at the same time expressing contrition for his conduct and the harm it has caused. No determination has yet been made as to when and under what circumstances he may return to ministry.

“While committed to Father Euteneuer’s healing, I truly regret and apologize for the hurt and harm which his actions have caused. Please pray for the healing needed as a result of these actions as well as for Father Euteneuer himself. Please also pray that this matter will not adversely affect the good which Father Euteneuer’s ministry for respect for life, especially on behalf of the unborn, has accomplished.

“Let us continue to pray for and support each other.”

[Video of the Euteneuer/Sean Hannity exchange and discussion in our forum: MyFrontRoyal.com]

Published in: on February 1, 2011 at 7:35 pm  Comments (2)  

Controversy erupts over HLI’s former chief priest

[Video of the Euteneuer/Sean Hannity exchange and discussion in our forum: MyFrontRoyal.com]

[This story has been updated: Bishop breaks silence on Father Euteneuer]

Controversy erupts over HLI’s former chief priest

Debate, death threats amidst official silence on exorcism sex allegations

By Roger Bianchini
Warren County Report

A priest who gained national notoriety for attacking Sean Hannity as a failed Catholic on the Fox News commentator’s own television show is facing his own rising tide of criticism on Catholic Internet sites five months after his sudden departure from the national pro-life advocacy scene. Then Human Life International President Father Thomas Euteneuer blasted Hannity for his stance on birth control as an acceptable alternative to abortion for non-Catholics.

“Let he who has not sinned cast the first stone,” Hannity repeated several times to Euteneuer during the infamous 2007 TV encounter. Euteneuer dismissed Hannity as a “heretic” and “social Catholic” during his scathing appraisal of the newsman’s stance on birth control among non-Catholics.

Hannity was later reduced to a one-word response – “Wow” – to the priest’s assertion he would refuse Hannity the sacrament of communion for that stance.

On March 15, 2010, Father Euteneuer posted this online reflection on that moment in the national spotlight.

“It was three years ago this week that I sat before the Secular Tribunal of Mr. Sean Hannity in a Fox News interview and inadvertently became the whipping boy for the Catholic Church’s teaching on contraception … As the years go on, and especially during this Lenten season, I hope that the Hannity interview will be a clarion call to Catholics urging them on to greater fidelity to Christ … I still pray for him and hope for his conversion. What I hope and pray for even more is a total return to fidelity of all Catholics to the Truth on the critical issues of life, marriage and family, and the sacrificial commitment that alone will bring America out of its moral decay.”

However it is the alleged moral decay of Father Euteneuer, himself, that has created an increasingly contentious and even threatening online debate over the reason for Father Euteneuer’s sudden and unexpected removal from his decade-old post as President of Human Life International (HLI). Established in 1981, HLI is based in Front Royal, Virginia. It bills itself as the largest pro-life organization in the world with representation in over 100 countries.

That Euteneuer was well thought of in the local Catholic community was illustrated by many online posts and comments, including from local Catholic pro-life activist and Front Royal Town Councilman Tom Sayre to The Northern Virginia Daily at the time of the priest’s recall from HLI.

After fondly recalling playing Men’s Night basketball with the priest at nearby Christendom College, Sayre told the Daily Euteneuer would “be sorely missed by our local and international community because he has traveled the world over spreading the message of love, life and family,” adding that Euteneuer “brought stability to HLI.”

But that stability appears now to have been rocked to its core.

Despite the increasing and shrill debate within the Catholic blogosphere community, the veil of official silence that has surrounded the recall of Father Euteneuer to the Diocese of Palm Beach on Aug. 27, 2010 has not lifted at either HLI headquarters or the Florida diocese.

“We can’t,” HLI Communications Manager Stephen Phelan told us on Jan. 31st when asked for comment on the emerging online controversy over the once, highly visible priest who has vanished into obscurity since his recall by his bishop five months ago.

While our efforts to reach Bishop Barbarito or diocese representatives in Palm Beach about 48-year-old Father Euteneuer’s status and past activities while at HLI were unsuccessful, The Palm Beach Post reported on Jan. 15 “Barbarito is not talking,” adding that a spokesperson said the diocese would not participate in a story on a “matter dealing with priestly personnel.” Palm Beach Post staff writer Lona O’Connor also reported Euteneuer did not respond to a request for an interview.

Front Royal Councilman Sayre and Front Royal’s St. John’s Catholic Church Pastor Father Jerome Fasano could not be reached for comment on the evolving situation (see related story and post by Father Euteneuer) tied closely to their religious community prior to our initial publication.

But if official sources remain silent about Euteneuer’s removal from HLI and now virtual seclusion at his Florida diocese – others are not.

For some the official wall of silence is unhappily reminiscent of the church’s reaction to years of accusations about the sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy that once substantiated worldwide rocked the Vatican seat of world Catholicism to its foundation in recent years. But it is this newest official silence about a former, shining star in the church’s worldwide battle against abortion that has unleashed the Catholic blogosphere “Furies”.

At issue for those posting on numerous Catholic online sites is whether a prominent, international church campaigner for not only the anti-abortion movement, but also sexual restraint and abstinence as the only acceptable means of birth control, did himself succumb to sexual temptation in the conduct of at least one aspect of his priestly duties – exorcisms.

According to Wikipedia, “Exorcism is the religious practice of evicting demons or other spiritual entities from a person or place which they are believed to have possessed … The term became prominent in early Christianity from the early 2nd century onward as the casting out of demons. Nevertheless, the practice is quite ancient and part of the belief system of many cultures and religions.” The online encyclopedia adds that “possessed persons are not regarded as evil – nor wholly responsible for their actions. Therefore, practitioners regard exorcism as more of a cure than a punishment.”

That Father Euteneuer mixed his primary role crusading for anti-abortion causes as president of HLI with trips around the country performing exorcisms gives the controversy swirling around the priest an almost Hollywood screenplay twist. Wikipedia notes in its bio of Father Euteneuer, “After being so public for so long, he has now disappeared. The Palm Beach Diocese will not comment on his present assignment.” – Nor now apparently answer or return phone calls about the priest. Our messages, some repeated, left at the numbers of Bishop Barbarito, his secretary Annette, and Diocese Chancellor Lorraine Sabatello seeking information on the current status of Father Euteneuer went unreturned throughout the week prior to publication.

One fact not in dispute, though debate about the reason continues to swirl, is that Euteneuer’s most recent book about his work as an exorcist, “Exorcism and the Church Militant”, is out of print and like its author, no longer being thrust into the public eye.

We also asked HLI spokesman Phelan if he could elaborate on blog posts indicating a belief there was some sort of mental breakdown or seizure interpreted by some observers as the demonic possession of a woman at HLI headquarters on Thursday, Jan. 27. However he replied, “Same thing,” as in “we cannot comment.”

Post-traumatic stress?

The pace of the online debate over Father Euteneuer’s behavior while at HLI may have been accelerated by the referenced incident at HLI headquarters in Front Royal, Virginia on Jan 27, 2011.

That evening one anonymous blogger posted, “The demons seem to be targeting the same women Fr. Tom was successful in abusing. I witnessed one demonic event just today. It was horrifying. All I can think of is how this poor woman must be feeling so trapped within her skin as the evil uses her voice to roar and curse … The demons, on the other hand, must be loving the irony of possessing the poor, tragic toys of the ‘great exorcist’. Fr. Tom needs our prayers desperately – Desperately, in the truest sense of the word. Even more, his victims need our prayers.”

Posting just four minutes later, at 8:20 p.m. Jan. 27, another “anonymous” blogger added, “There are many of us who witnessed today’s horrible event.”
While other bloggers’ requests for additional information on the referenced event went unanswered, according to Warren County Fire & Rescue Chief Richard Mabie there was a county emergency medical response shortly after noon that day to HLI headquarters for what was officially described as “a medical seizure”. The victim was transported to Warren Memorial Hospital. Further information was not available.

Online debate – accusations

As we perused the Catholic community blog sphere, a string of posts under the name “Adele” at a site titled http://www.journeytotherese.blogspot.com caught our eye – and apparently that of many others as well. “Adele’s” stream created the longest and most vehemently argumentative comments about speculation or even alleged personal knowledge about Father Euteneuer’s activities versus maintaining a code of silence to match that of official sources with past and present authority over the priest. At the center of this Catholic catharsis is a debate over a perceived spiritual betrayal by a clergyman and the enabling silence of his superiors versus a belief by others that a slander, perhaps initiated by Satan himself, against the church and one of its holiest men is under way.

After she posted contact information in one online conversation we were able to reach “Adele” directly. She verified her posts, claiming both a two-plus-year direct relationship with Father Euteneuer based on an ongoing exorcism case involving a family member, as well as what both she and her husband claim was a Dec. 23rd phone conversation with an HLI board member who told them that Euteneuer’s Aug. 27 recall from HLI came as a result of letters sent by two women to the priest’s presiding bishop claiming sexual indiscretions by Euteneuer against them.

“He was recalled to prevent that from going public,” Adele asserts based on the information she says she was given from inside HLI. Adele said the information she received indicated the alleged abuse involved Euteneuer’s conduct of exorcisms involving the women.

Death threat?

On Jan. 30th “Adele” told us she did have some concern about the tone of some posts both attacking alleged victims and those posting about their plight. She said she had removed one as too troubling in a threatening way. The following day we encountered this post from “Adele” citing an earlier receipt from one “Anonymous” blogger dated Jan. 28:

“Everything comes in God’s time, not your time..didn’t Jesus have to wait for His Father on the Cross???… but you’re looking for blood…you’ll get it but it will be yours.”

Adele prefaced the post noting it sounded like “a death threat” and that it had originated from a woman in Florida – “I will be reporting this to the proper authorities,” she added.

Personal experience

Between April 2008 and prior to Father Euteneuer’s 2010 departure from HLI Adele’s family paid Euteneuer directly for as many as 15 visits to their mid-east home to deal with what they believed was the demonic possession of a family member, she told us.

While they experienced nothing that could be termed sexually abusive, both Adele and her family now wonder if their trust in the priest and his healing abilities wasn’t misplaced idealism of a man one blogger observed was treated within the pro-life community “like a rock star”.

Adele reflects on episodes she now perceives to have been counterproductive and emotionally bullying. Those incidents varied from threats to withdraw from the exorcism process due to the subject’s heightened emotional state; to several closed door accusations that the female subject “had a problem with men” due to her jerking her hand away from Euteneuer’s as they prayed together during the exorcism ritual. She added that after such episodes and tensions surrounding the family, the next time Euteneuer was in direct contact with them “it was like nothing had happened.”

Both Adele and her husband agreed the family saw little positive impact from Euteneuer’s repeated exorcism interventions. However they added that once another priest became involved the situation seemed to reach a positive conclusion in fairly short order.

“One reason for failure of such church rituals is a priest in mortal sin,” Adele’s husband offered.

Admitting to not being familiar with the role of the priest in exorcisms other than the classic 1970’s Hollywood version featuring Max Von Sydow as the exorcist battling a possessed Linda Blair, I can’t say whether Euteneuer’s described behavior could be considered typical of a priest’s battle with demons or not.

Silence is not golden

Moving on, I queried Adele about any knowledge about the referenced Jan. 27th HLI “demonic possession” incident posted on her blog stream.

“I heard from someone who attended that Mass at Front Royal the other day that people were traumatized by what happened – a suddenly screaming, howling, cursing person – and are demanding to know what’s going on.”

However Adele, who asked that her family name and location be kept confidential, said the reported incident at HLI accentuates the need for both HLI and diocese officials to come forward with the truth about Father Euteneuer’s situation.

It is the victims, whoever and wherever they are, with whom she is most concerned, Adele says. “I’d like to add that silence only benefits the perpetrator and only when we bring it to the Light can the healing start. I urge anyone who is struggling or pain because of this man to come forward confidentially and contact David Clohessy of SNAP (Survivor’s Network of those Abused by Priests) at (314) 566-9790.”

Clossey told us his organization was not yet ready to comment on the controversy swirling around Euteneuer. However he added that his organization is available to any victim of abuse from any religious community, publicly acknowledged or not.

“For 21 years, I have been the director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 22 years and have more than 10,000 members across the globe. Despite the word ‘priest’ in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers.”

Father Tom vs. Satan?

However despite Adele and other bloggers calls for transparency from both the church and HLI as a means of reaching out to potential victims; others posting on the blog stream questioned who really is the victim in the Euteneuer debate.

“I think these women are shameful. Their attack will probably backfire on them. They are possessed with evil and it seems that they are getting worse whenever someone disagrees with them. They seem very vindictive in character and self righteous. They don’t seem credible to me,” one retorted against the priest’s accusers.

“I have known Fr. Tom personally for more than 13 years and I can assure you of Father’s devotion to the unborn. I have never seen him falter in his ministry as a priest. Being exposed to demons is not an easy thing. Sometimes the demons will purposely twist the bodies of their victims that will have their sexual parts touch the one who is trying to remove the demons. This, I am sure must have happened several times to Father Tom. Many of the women who are possessed also have other mental problems like ADHD and Bi-polar and these people lie very often just to get attention,” one blogger offered.

That defense of the priest led to this counter post, “What’s this ‘mental problem’ like ADHD – and being mentioned like it was of the same ‘weight’ as bi-polar? Your ignorance is astonishing!! I’ve raised a son with Tourettes and ADHD and let me tell you it’s nothing like bi-polar!”

Another of Euteneuer’s online defenders posted, “I do not believe the voices who speak against Fr Tom at this hour. Has Satan not accused Fr Tom and threatened to kill him? Has Satan not come to steal, kill and destroy? We war not against flesh and blood and we should be mindful of it. God will be glorified in this.”

“Neither are you Adele – above the law. And we sincerely do NOT believe your accusations and false testimony. God is your judge, we will all be praying for your soul,” another posted.

However Adele’s blog stream is not the only Catholic online location expressing concern and personal distress over Euteneuer’s mysterious disappearance from the Catholic activist limelight. Most have attracted varying levels of criticism or agreement and some overlap information addressed by Adele.

Crisis of faith

A January 29th post on the Catholic website “Renew America.com” by Matt C. Abbott was titled, “A difficult time – or my crisis of faith?” It appears a direct reaction to the controversy swirling around Father Euteneuer, who had been a semi-regular contributor to his online columns, Abbott told us.

“I’m drained and depressed, not to mention angry. Cynical as well,” Abbott began in what he said would be his shortest column to date.

“For those who are interested: Yes, I’ve been closely following the Father Tom Euteneuer saga. And, yes, I’ve reached a conclusion — a while ago, as a matter of fact. Some of you know it; others not.

“It’s just a sad situation all the way around. Pray for all those involved. Pray that the truth be known. For those who really don’t care, well … carry on.”

We contacted Abbott directly for further explanation of his “Dark Night of the Soul” referenced in his “Crisis of Faith” post.

“The whole thing is a sad mess,” he e-mailed us back. “My on-the-record comment – I’ve lost my trust in the board of directors of Human Life International and in Father Euteneuer.  Thankfully, I haven’t lost my trust in God.”

Then we discovered another blog link to a Jan. 28th post on another Catholic website, “fighting Irish Thomas: Catholicism, politics, saints, and Notre Dame” copyrighted by Tom O’Toole under the heading “Of Aquinas, Augustine, and Euteneuer: Reflections on Fr. Tom on the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas”.

“Let’s start with what has already been made known about the fall of Fr. Tom. The Diocese of Palm Beach has acknowledged (privately) ‘at least one inappropriate relationship,’ while the HLI side said (off the record) that ‘Father [reportedly] admitted to having ‘an inappropriate relationship’ with an employee in his letter of resignation [and] a second woman [apparently] came forward to say that Father had engaged in sexual activity with her – not intercourse, but close to it – while he was performing some type of exorcism prayer(s).”

Crisis of facts

However another blogger took O’Toole to task for violating journalistic standards on the accumulation and reporting of factual information. The writer scolds O’Toole for seeming to print information he may have gathered from official sources “off-the-record” and accuses him of passing on Internet rumors as facts, equating the process to a lynch mob.

“Whether he is guilty or not, a man deserves due process in the course of justice. Not this internet lynch mob – most lynch mobs hung people they believed to be guilty and unworthy of due process under the law, and they had plenty of innocent victims as well as guilty ones.”

The writer then urges patience and an understanding of the timeframe associated with official church investigations of clergy wrongdoings. “As for the silence on the part of Bishop Barbarito in this matter, Catholics should be aware that the diocese is likely in the midst of an investigation, which takes an indeterminate amount of time.”

Crisis of consequences

However, for those on the other side of the debate it is just such an “indeterminate amount of time” to address serious allegations of sexual abuse within the clergy that is unacceptable. For it is during this period of withdrawal of the accused from any public scrutiny or acknowledgment of accusations that additional victims may be claimed, or those already victimized might reach their emotional or spiritual breaking point.

While writing that he was fairly sure that Father Euteneuer’s, “days as the jet-setting performer of ‘exorcisms-plus’ are probably over,” O’Toole adds additional concerns over a specific circumstance also mentioned to us by blog poster “Adele” – a room allegedly rented to one female subject of repeated exorcism rituals presided over by Father Euteneuer at the priest’s parents’ home.

“The following account (brought to my attention by multiple e-mailers) still gives me cause for alarm,” O’Toole wrote. “The claim here is that there is a (possessed) woman who rents a room in Father Euteneuer’s parents’ house, and that Father has gone to perform the prayers of exorcism – ALONE – on her on multiple occasions.”

Adele told us she became aware of this alleged situation directly from the woman in question through Facebook exchanges. – “She told me herself. We had been friends but I cut off contact after she told me that,” Adele said. She added that she feared possible repercussions from the Florida-based woman in question as a result of bringing the situation publicly forward to both the public and concerned officials.

“Even if this incredible situation somehow proves to be perfectly innocent,” O’Toole wrote, “it begs comparison (at least to Chicagoans) to Fr. Daniel McCormack, who after being accused multiple times of being a sex offender, had another priest assigned to monitor him. However, McCormack duped his shadow into letting him perform some seemingly innocuous tasks around the parish alone, which enabled him to molest again. Similarly, while Euteneuer’s bishop is certainly not about to let Father Tom fly across the country now, who’s to say he wouldn’t let him go visit his folks? For this reason, not only does HLI and Bishop Barbarito need to make a statement now, they also need to get Father Tom into 24/7 treatment.”

And it seems if online eyewitness accounts are to be believed, there may be at least one more person in need of 24/7 care and treatment prior to completion of the supposed Palm Beach Diocese investigation of allegations against Father Euteneuer. That person is the female subject transported by Warren County Emergency Services from HLI headquarters the afternoon of Jan. 27th for what was described officially as a “medical seizure” and by others as “a suddenly screaming, howling, cursing person” believed by some of those observers to be a demonically possessed past subject of exorcisms conducted by Father Euteneuer prior to his August 2010 departure from HLI.

Dan McDermott contributed to this story.

[Video of the Euteneuer/Sean Hannity exchange and discussion in our forum: MyFrontRoyal.com]

Published in: on February 1, 2011 at 3:39 pm  Comments (38)  

Euteneuer’s confession: ‘I take full responsibility’

[Video of the Euteneuer/Sean Hannity exchange and discussion in our forum: MyFrontRoyal.com]

Questions remain about breadth of church and priest’s responses

By Roger Bianchini
Warren County Report

As we worked throughout the final week of January on the story of the growing controversy surrounding former Human Life International President Father Thomas Euteneuer things were, indeed, accelerating at a rapid pace as commented on in our lead story. On Feb. 1, we got this e-mail response from Catholic Blogger Tom O’Toole to questions about his post referenced in our story and criticism of his use of “off the record” information in it.

“Despite the lack of witnesses willing to speak on-the-record, I went forward with the story out of concerns for the victims,” O’Toole wrote us. “Although Father Euteneuer is somewhat remorseful, it doesn’t seem to me he is ready to take full responsibility for the episodes or has even grasped the full gravity of his involvement in them. For the diocese to keep quiet and let people continue to believe he is a saint is one thing, but the fact that Father apparently is not in a 24/7 care center is troubling, because it means women are still vulnerable to his advances. The lady living in his parents’ house, where he still visits, strikes me as a terribly toxic situation, which cannot be ended soon enough.”

In response to a follow-up question, with her husband not home, O’Toole’s wife sent us this link to a public statement and apology by Father Euteneuer dated Jan. 31, but posted on the website LifeSiteNews.com at 10:12 a.m., Feb. 1. It may be accessed at this site. – We publish Father Euteneuer’s statement below in its entirety:

Statement of Fr. Thomas Euteneuer: setting the record straight

January 31, 2011

“It is with great sadness, but also with a certain measure of relief, that I can now respond to the many inquiries about my departure as president of Human Life International (HLI) at the end of August 2010. It has been painful for me to remain silent in light of the ongoing speculation, particularly when much of it assigned blame to those who were, in fact, blameless.  I am thankful to be able to set the record straight so that speculation can stop and blame can be placed right where it belongs – with me.

“The circumstances that led to my departure from HLI were related exclusively to my own decisions and conduct within the ministry of exorcism that I carried out independently from my responsibilities at HLI. The vast majority of my decisions and conduct, both personally and in this ministry, were morally sound and consistent with all standards of pastoral care of persons.  Moreover, they were all motivated exclusively by my desire to give priestly assistance to people in great spiritual distress. I must acknowledge, however, that one particularly complex situation clouded my judgment and led me to imprudent decisions with harmful consequences, the worst of which was violating the boundaries of chastity with an adult female who was under my spiritual care.

“I take full responsibility for my own poor judgment, my weakness and my sinful conduct that resulted from it. I offer no excuse for my professional or moral failures, nor do I shift the blame to anyone else. I state without reserve that I am deeply sorry for my actions.  I have personally apologized, where possible, to anyone I have harmed.  I am saddened beyond words for my fall, not only because of the harm done to my priesthood and my family, but also because of the harm done to all others who are affected, to the faith of those who placed so much trust in me and our Church, and to the pro-life movement so populated with heroic, faithful people. I must face and make amends for the disappointment I have caused.  I have, of course, asked for God’s forgiveness and I have confidence in his boundless mercy.  I am now grateful to be able to publicly ask for all of yours as well.

“As to my departure from HLI, Church officials are completely without blame, having dealt in a timely and appropriate manner with a crisis that was not of their making.  I offer this statement as a matter of justice to vindicate Church officials who have been unjustly criticized by those writing and speaking in ignorance of the facts.

“While I would much prefer to allow this public act of contrition to stand alone, I regret having to address the malicious falsehoods that were published this past week on various internet sites. I can only say that I am shocked to the depths of my being at the malicious efforts by supposedly faithful Catholics to destroy a priest who has served the Church faithfully for 22 years. The campaigners have made intolerable attempts to contact my family, to defame innocent co-workers and even to solicit and to persuade others with whom I have prayed that they are victims despite their unequivocal statements to the contrary.  Some have even claimed falsely and maliciously that there is a possessed person living in my family’s home. No one should have to endure such malevolence or such treatment of innocent family members.  Despite the rhetoric of justice and truth-seeking, the sinful campaign has not made one single positive contribution to the resolution of this difficult situation that has already been handled appropriately by Church authorities for nearly six months.

“While I would otherwise willingly suffer calumnies in silence to atone for my sins, and knowing how pointless it is to respond to every crackpot with a website, I cannot remain silent when such falsehoods threaten to damage the Church, the priesthood, and other innocent persons and organizations that are or have been linked to me.  I therefore affirm and will never deviate from my affirmation that the following are true:

My violations of chastity were limited to one person only, an adult woman;

The violations of chastity happened due to human weakness but did not involve the sexual act;

The accusation that I “targeted” vulnerable women or otherwise sought them out for spiritual direction is utterly false and a serious defamation of my character and ministry;

With rare exceptions, my exorcism/prayer ministry was always conducted with prayer helpers (third parties) present; situations where prayer or pastoral care occurred without helpers present were exceptional situations where I believed it was necessary for me to act quickly in order to help the afflicted person; while not proper protocol, these departures from the norm were never done with a motive to be alone with vulnerable women;

I repudiate any allegations of financial impropriety in conducting my prayer/exorcism ministry; I never, under any circumstances, solicited money for the ministry other than travel-related reimbursements, nor did I use HLI donor funds to carry out this work; any gifts offered to me were unsolicited and only accepted so as not to offend the giver and in most cases immediately given to those more needy than myself;

I have no knowledge of any persons who received any financial settlement in this matter, nor have I asked for that to be given.

“I pray that my two decades of faithful priestly ministry and my efforts in the defense of life will be seen in the light of the good fruits they have produced and not denigrated because of my moments of weakness in a most challenging ministry. I also wish to state that I have never entertained even the slightest thought of leaving the holy priesthood or the Roman Catholic Church as a result of my failings. Currently I am under obedience to my bishop who has allowed me to make this statement and in whose hands I leave all questions of continuing priestly ministry. I conclude with an expression of deepest gratitude for the prayers of the many generous supporters of my priesthood and of the prolife movement.”

Published in: on February 1, 2011 at 3:32 pm  Comments (3)  

Free complete print edition: Mid January, 2009

Click here to open

Inside this issue:

  • Front Royal, VA woman loses finger in domestic dispute
  • Browntown Road shooting
  • Additional charges filed in Warren County, VA house ramming incident
  • Two arrested in Papa John’s Pizza robbery
  • Be on the lookout for Daniel Eli of Bethlehem, PA
  • Driveway scams
  • Openings for Citizens Police Academy
  • R-MA teacher honored
  • State River Park attendance down
  • New Linden, VA trash site opens
  • Town of Front Royal, VA approaches liaison: Let’s talk – just not about ‘that’
  • Warren County, VA approves 5-pronged January liaison agenda
  • Capt. Richard H. Furr makes it official – applying for Front Royal, VA police chief’s job
  • Del. Clay Athey’s Report from Richmond, VA
  • Neighbors point fingers (not guns) during shooting debate
  • ‘Pawsitive Pup’ makes dog grooming more convenient
  • NFL playoffs – Still Cheering Purple Pride
  • Activities & events in Front Royal and Warren County, VA
  • Opinion: The Gaza Holocaust
  • Letter: History’s Revenge
  • Front Royal/Warren County, VA Chamber of Commerce news
  • Entire issue is free here.

Also, 2008: The Year in Review

  • 2008 – It wasn’t that great: From bad weather to a lousy economy – good riddance
  • Inventor John Kovak: Childhood machine could be key to clean energy production in Front Royal, VA
  • CPV, Dominion Power make it official – the ‘buy’ is on
  • Paying for our own noose? Front Royal, VA debates the true price of power – 50 years of coal
  • Loss of father, two young children mourned at Candlelight Vigil
  • Town of Front Royal, VA approves corridor, EDA resolutions  – Threat of litigation by Riverton Commons restaurants hovers over passage
  • First Crooked Run Center tax revenue estimates in
  • Town, FDR Services settle water-sewer rate war – Two years of litigation ends with compromise, 15-year service contract
  • Should the Dow be at 3,000? Up a grand, down a grand – Great Depression 2.0?
  • Show me the money – Brooks calls out EDA financing – EDA’s reduced municipal funding request opens a fiscal can of worms
  • Town move on EDA assets likely futile – Virginia state law protects autonomy of economic development authorities
  • Town to EDA – ‘Pretty please with sugar on top’ – Town rephrases effort to gain control of millions in EDA assets
  • Abusive driver fees’ hit the dustbin of legislative history – Refunds included in ‘civil remedial fee’ repeal signed into law by Virginia governor
  • Virginia Governor Tim Kaine cites importance of dialogue in state government
  • Va. Supreme Court rules against NVTA road taxing – Local plaintiff, delegate weigh in on decision, state funding responsibilities
  • Questions remain about Virginia state trooper collision – Public’s right to know at issue as accident investigation continues
  • Humane Society board recalled under contentious circumstances – Accusations fly over membership voting eligibility, animal care priorities
  • Wagner Shelter two weeks later – ‘a remarkable change’; In the wake of contentious board recall, humans & animals move on
  • Monk murder mystery – A personal remembrance of a soul in wonder
  • Entire issue is free here.

STDs get a boost in Va: New “pro life” pharmacy refuses all birth control

Pam Semler, of Fairfax, Va., works the register at DMC Pharmacy in Chantilly, Va. on Monday, Oct. 20, 2008. The pharmacy bills itself as "pro-life" and carries no contraceptive products. Divine Mercy Care Pharmacy is among at least seven pharmacies across the nation that is refusing as a matter of faith to sell contraceptives of any kind, even if a person has a prescription. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

A new drug store at a Virginia strip mall is putting its faith in an unconventional business plan: No candy. No sodas. And no birth control. Divine Mercy Care Pharmacy is among at least seven pharmacies across the nation that are refusing as a matter of faith to sell contraceptives of any kind, even if a person has a prescription.

States across the country have been wrestling with the issue of pharmacists who refuse on religious grounds to dispense birth control or morning-after pills, and some have enacted laws requiring drug stores to fill the prescriptions.

In Virginia, though, pharmacists can turn away any prescription for any reason.

Published in: on October 22, 2008 at 5:15 pm  Comments (1)  

Indian newspaper: McCain’s “race” to the finish

WOODBRIDGE (VIRGINIA): At 74, retired pharmacist Richard Onufrock of Bristow, Virginia, has been a life-long Democrat going back perhaps a dozen presidential elections. Until now. He’s attending a rally by Republican candidate John McCain in nearby Woodbridge, because he believes Barack Obama is the “wrong choice” for the Democratic ticket and to head the country.

“They found him under a tree and raised him in the corrupt Chicago political machine,” he says with ill-concealed rancor. “I also believe he is a closet Muslim.” He has seen bumper stickers, he whispers conspiratorially, that say “Obama ’08 and Osama ’09.” There are also T-shirts that show Obama, with a sickle running through the O to show that he’s a communist, he insists.

Published in: on October 19, 2008 at 5:31 pm  Comments (2)  
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