The Catholic Church has had a rough decade. It's not a good sign when one of the first Google search results for the Catholic Church involves their pedophilia problem. More and more people are losing faith in the church, not because of their disbelief in God or religion, but because of the perceived hypocrisies that are prevalent in Catholicism today.
Of course, pedophilia is one of the worst crimes a person could possibly commit. There are only theories as to why this was so prevalent in the church, and it has only relatively recently become public knowledge that all of this was going on. There are going to be some expected cases included in this list, but those are not even close to the only things to which priests have confessed.
Not all of the items on this list are crimes; some of them are only contradictions to the church's teachings. Priests are humans and have human flaws. Many people would consider celibacy to be unnatural, so a priest fathering a child or falling in love is not the worst thing to ever happen. The vast majority of these cases are crimes, though, and often landed the perpetrator behind bars.
Priests are in a position of power, and some of them choose to abuse that power.
15 Drugs/Nazi Support
A video went viral last year that showed 37-year-old Father Stephen Crossan of Ireland snorting coke in a room full of Nazi memorabilia. As far as bad looks go, this has to be one of the worst things for the Catholic Church's brand since...well...they haven't had many great looks lately, have they?
Crossan confessed to his night of partying when the video came out (hard not to), but maintained that it was all in a night of fun and that he doesn't have a drug problem. As far as the Nazi imagery is concerned, Crossan only said that he collects historical items. He didn't go much further than that, but I'm not sure if it's a sufficient explanation for having swastikas plastered all over your apartment.
14 Theft Of 50K
Spoiler alert: this priest's theft isn't the worst you'll see on this list, but it's still a considerable amount of money to steal from the church. English priest, Father John Charles Reid, is facing prison time after pleading guilty to the theft of 50,000 pounds over the course of four years at St. Cuthbert's Church and St. Bede's Catholic.
Reid left the church upon his arrest in 2014 and initially denied the claims. After the evidence mounted, though, Reid changed his tune and offered a guilty plea in return for a lighter sentence.
According to the allegations, the fifty thousand was used for foreign travel, expensive screenings, and dinners. To anyone who asked where the money came from, Father Reid only told them that it was incoherence.
13 Hell Doesn't Exist
Perhaps the most fascinating of priest's confessions deals with a staple of the Christian religion—hell. In an interview, retired bishop John Shelby Spong expressed his disbelief in what he says is a myth meant to control the public.
Spong stated that religion is in the business of controlling people. The Church is the authority on right and wrong for so many people; so if they produce a place of eternal punishment, then they can control the actions of those who believe. Spong believes in an afterlife, but not one that has a specific set of qualifications to enter.
While Spong has grown closer to God through his Catholic faith, he admits that God is not part of any religion and that religions are man-made and flawed. The rituals of Catholicism may enlighten some, but Spong believes they aren't necessary to experience a true awakening.
12 Fathering A Child
Like some others on this list, fathering a child isn't the worst thing in the world for a priest to do. There are a lot more damning accusations that are thrown at the church, and having a child can be considered a good thing in many circles. In fact, when Father Arthur McAnerney of Ireland announced that he had fathered a child in 1998, much of the church supported him.
McAnerney had the child with a woman he was involved with in the 1980's and didn't come clean about it until his daughter was in her teens. He reportedly used his own funds to support the child and (unlike some other priests on this list) never took anything from the parish for his family.
Fathering a child is against the rules, but priests are human too. At least this one had a relationship with a consenting partner of-age.
11 Child P*rnography
Child abuse and child p*rnography seem to go hand in hand, and the Catholic Church is no stranger to either. Stories continue to break of priests and high-ranking church officials engaging in s*xual abuse of minors and possession of child p*rnography.
John Mraz was one priest who was charged with downloading nude photos of children, and he admitted to his crime when pushed. Unfortunately, confessing to a crime and taking responsibility are two different things. Mraz said that he has a serious mental illness that makes him lust after young children, which may be the case; but it sounds like he's just not accepting his role in the perversion.
There were no allegations made against Mraz of any molestation, and the photos found on his laptop were not of any s*xual acts. For these reasons, he was only facing a six-month sentence, which many people would say is far too short.
10 Being A Lady's Man
With child abuse in the Catholic church being disturbingly common, it's refreshing to hear about a priest confessing to a good old-fashioned consensual affair. Father Mark Witte entered rehabilitation after having s*x with multiple women (huh?).
Witte stepped down from his pulpit to seek help, which seems to be the same kind of help they give to convicted child molesters. Apparently, having heterosexual s*x (the only s*x that the Catholic church likes) is on par with being a despicable criminal, but that's neither here nor there.
This was not an isolated incident, and Witte acknowledged that fact. He had relationships with multiple women in his church and was even accused of breaking up a family in 2003. At least this guy is getting down with consenting partners, whether they're married or not.
9 Theft Of 500K
This is the most recent Priest admission that landed Monsignor William Dombrow in prison for three years. When you consider the fact that he stole half of a million dollars from a church's retirement home, three years sounds like a pretty light sentence.
Dombrow was in charge of Villa St. Joseph in Philadelphia, which was home to retired priests and those who were accused of s*xual abuse. The latter were treated at this facility, and the former received periodic payments from the church for their services. Dombrow stole a considerable amount from this fund, which was largely made up of insurance payments from deceased priests.
What did he spend all that money on, you ask? According to 77-year-old Dombrow, he used that money to gamble and eat expensive dinners. He never admitted to any of the extracurricular that come along with that lifestyle, but it's fair to assume that there may have been some illegal activity during these lavish vacations.
8 Destroying A Hard Drive
Destroying a hard drive is one of the worst things a person can do when there is alleged child p*rnography on the computer. Ten times out of ten, that person is going to be guilty, which is why church-goers were so angry with Reverend Andrew Holford when he admitted to destroying the hard drive upon the Church's request.
According to witnesses, people at the church found s*xually explicit images on the church computer when Holford was away. Some of these images were of children, and it was reported to the authorities. Apparently, Holford destroyed this and one other hard drive before they could be submitted to police.
The church wasn't happy either, as they say this act robs them of a chance to clear their name. That's all well and good to say, but another case of child p*rnography won't help a reputation either. Chances are, if the hard drive was destroyed, there was some damning evidence on there.
7 More Theft
Priests and other church officials have access to all kinds of money. There are usually multiple streams of income from a successful church, and sometimes a priest is tempted to get a taste of some of that money.
Father Norman Sullivan of Buffalo, NY came clean to the fact that he stole over $200,000 from the local parish he ran from 2000 to 2008. There was no mention of what he was spending all of this money on, but hopefully, it was worth it because he now faces seven years in prison.
Sullivan is now 74 years old and is expected to get off with probation for his $200,000 bamboozle as he pleaded guilty to the charge. As can be expected for a parish missing almost a quarter of a million dollars, it is no longer open.
6 Having A Family
This one is a bit confusing and doesn't involve a confession so much as a strange way of forming your own rules in the church. Basically, Father Ian Hellyer of Britain is a Catholic priest with a wife and nine children.
Hellyer was an Anglican priest, but felt disenfranchised and made the switch to Catholicism. Apparently, there was a bit of a rule change recently, which allows priests to be ordained in Catholicism while still having a wife. How does he deal with the celibacy issue? Well, he doesn't.
Hellyer basically says "uhhh no" to celibacy, claiming that it isn't a pillar of the Catholic faith. He has some historical precedents to point to, but it generally seems like he's skirting the rules a bit here. To be fair, the celibacy of priests has been proven to be a farce at this point, and I agree with Hellyer that it's about time that the Catholic church revisits its stance on the subject.
Sadly, it shouldn't come as any surprise that there are a couple cases of molestation on this list. If you opened the list, then you were undoubtedly expecting some admissions of s*xual misconduct by members of the church.
Earlier this year, convicted child molester and former member of the Catholic Church Mark Mannix Brown admitted to the charges of which he was convicted. He spent only 15 months in prison in 1990 for assaulting two boys in the 1980's and was again charged with the abuse of three other boys in 2016. When asked about the situation, he apologized to his victims and appeared to admit what he had done.
After everything is said and done, I think we can all agree that with this type of case, the year-long sentence Brown received was despicable.
4 Selling Drugs
There are several ways a priest can make some side money while working for the church. Drug dealing, though, is usually frowned upon.
In 2013, Connecticut Priest Monsignor Kevin Wallin was arrested for having drugs sent to him through the mail. According to the allegations, Wallin is said to have made over $300,000 selling methamphetamine during his time as the head of the church.
Those close to Wallin theorize that he may have been dipping into his own stash. His behavior had become erratic, and Wallin began missing engagements and generally acting like a nutcase.
The cherry on top of this story is that Wallin used a p*rn shop to launder his money. He now faces 20 years in prison for being the kingpin of the local meth operation.
3 The Cover-Up
After the revelations of the extent of the Catholic Church pedophilia scandal, many people were seeking answers from the top. The church was ominously silent on the issue and protected itself using the one tool it had always had at its disposal—secrecy.
It was revealed that the Catholic Church was covering the tracks of these pedophiles for some time. Many would consider the revealed information about the church to be a conspiracy. When Pope Francis was proclaimed as Pope, he spoke out on quite a few issues that would be considered controversial, including the child s*x allegations.
Pope Francis condemned these acts and even admitted that the church had been covering up these pedophilia cases. He said, as most of us would agree, that anyone who covered the tracks of these perpetrators are also guilty and that abuse by priests is one of the worst crimes that can take place.
This story goes way back and involves the murder of a beauty queen in 1960. The 83-year-old former priest, John Feit, was recently extradited from Arizona to Texas to face charges in the murder of Irene Garza. Feit, who was in his 20's at the time of the alleged murder, was always a person of interest in the killing of the beauty queen. There was no sufficient evidence at the time, but new evidence has brought a formal charge of murder to the door of Feit.
Garza was found raped and murdered in 1960. According to former monk Dale Tacheny, Feit confessed to the murder during their time together in Texas. Feit denies the allegations, but he has always been the primary suspect in the crime due to the overwhelming amount of circumstantial evidence.
1 Abusing Deaf-Mute Children
Pedophilia is, again, one of the worst crimes a person can commit...ever. It's sad to think about, but may of these abusers prey on kids who are unable or unwilling to speak out against them. These people prey on the weak, and for one Italian organization that assisted hearing impaired children, this meant a breeding ground for child abuse.
67 children from this school came forward, and many of them named Don Piccoli as one of their abusers. An undercover reporter got a hidden-camera interview with Piccoli, who freely admitted to his abuse during his time at the school. He detailed graphic abuse under the guise of a joke, saying that it wasn't actually a sinful act. He also added that once a person confesses their sin, they have a duty to forget and move on.