The Deacon's Bench

Last month, I posted the story of a priest suing his bishop, after being falsely accused and fired.

Now, there’s another twist in the story:

The dramatic case of the monk who filed a defamation suit against St. Vincent College for removing him from ministry after pornography was discovered on his computer has an even more dramatic subplot.

A former student of the Rev. Mark Gruber has told both state police and canonical investigators that he downloaded pornography on the priest’s computer. He says that Father Gruber knew that, but couldn’t say so because he had sacramentally confessed that sin to the priest before the pornography was discovered. Priests are forbidden to reveal the contents of a confession under any circumstance.

But the former student has spoken with Father Gruber’s canon lawyers, state police and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Father Gruber’s suit says that on Dec. 15, the young man gave a sworn statement to the priest’s canon lawyers, for the case that his Benedictine superior filed against him in Rome. He said he had downloaded pornography, and then confessed doing so.

The young man testified that “Father Mark has protected the seal of confession admirably even to the point of losing his job, his priestly faculties and allowing his reputation to be maligned.”

The college’s response includes a state police report on an April 20 interview with the same young man. Troopers, who sought him out after someone from the archabbey showed them his canonical statement, said he provided information that only someone who had downloaded certain images on Father Gruber’s computer should know.

But the college’s attorney says that if the young man’s account is true, it’s not the whole story.

“An admission by another person that they were responsible for some of the pornography on the computer does not negate Father Gruber’s responsibility for misuse of the computer,” said W. Thomas McGough Jr. of the Reed Smith law firm.

There’s much more at the link.

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