Having criticized the Catholic Church over its history of child abuse, a California priest who was defrocked in March claims his dismissal from the priesthood was merely due to his criticism.
After learning of his dismissal by the Vatican last week, former Father Tim Stier, 73, told the Mercury News, “It impacted me harder than I’d imagined.” “I had mixed emotions. I wouldn’t have been kicked out of the club if I had been raping children.
According to his blog, the former priest of Corpus Christi Parish in Fremont, California, has been organizing vigils for abuse victims and the church’s outcast members since 2005. He wrote on his blog that the 2002 bombshell investigation on clerical sex abuse and its cover up at the Boston diocese, which served as the basis for the Oscar-winning film Spotlight, left him rattled.
He has advocated for “structural reform,” which he defines as including “the excluded: women, gay people, abuse survivors.”
After a local bishop complained, the Vatican initiated an investigation into his protests and reluctance to accept appointments at several parishes across the nation in 2013. He stated at the time to National Catholic Reporter that the church should take additional action. He began disclosing the names of alleged predator priests, and the California diocese begged him to stop.
When asked at the time, Stier said, “Releasing the names of abusers not only communicates to people—especially survivors—that the church is serious; it can also give those who have not yet come forward the courage to do so.”
He anticipated that the Vatican would “come after his collar,” which happened earlier this year as he had predicted to the Mercury News. Only a small number of sexual abusers have been defrocked, which permanently removes a priest from the priesthood. In 2019, Theodore McCarrick was defrocked following decades of credible claims.
On Friday, Stier’s previous diocese of Oakland released a brief statement in which it wished him luck in his new chapter of life.
The retired priest is a rare instance of a prelate speaking out against the global Roman Catholic Church’s cover-up of clerical sexual abuse of children. While California has not had as many recorded cases of abuse as other states, such as Pennsylvania, where a 2018 grand jury report showed that 300 predatory priests raped and mistreated more than 1,000 young children over decades.
Stier has collaborated with survivors’ organizations, such as the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, to continue bringing abuse cases to public notice.
Dear No Longer-Fellow Priests, Bishop Accountability, which maintains a database of abuse complaints, published Stier’s parting letter. Most of you will likely receive this as my final letter, which may be good news for those of you who don’t like hearing from me. He continued by disclosing charges of abuse and cover-ups, both of which he hoped would be looked into.
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