Friday, January 28, 2011

Of Aquinas, Augustine, and Euteneuer: Reflections on Fr. Tom on the Feast of St. Thomas Aquinas

Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury...[he] becomes guilty...of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor...[t]he right to the communication of the truth is not unconditional...[t]his requires us in concrete situations to judge whether or not it is appropriate to reveal the truth to someone who asks for it. --Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2477, 2488

I thought he was a saint; but he turned out to be a bum. --an eyewitness to the damaging effects of several years of Fr. Thomas Euteneuer's exorcisms
St. Thomas Aquinas by Boticelli (attributed to) 1481 1482Several years ago, in his inaugural speech as head coach of the Fighting Irish, Charlie Weis began his press conference by publicly decrying the record of his predecessor. While not exactly saying ex-coach Willingham's record was sinful, Charlie did state that he will not accept mediocrity, because "at Notre Dame, 6 and 6 is not good enough." And yet, after being let go himself after finishing his final three seasons with records of 3-9, 7-6, and 6-6, Weis seemed not only baffled at the criticism of his coaching performance, but puzzled as to why all of these pronouncements on his tenure couldn't be made in private. Similarly, Fr. Thomas Euteneuer, former head of Human Life International and Notre Dame Class of '84 and once-bold critic of all public figures who supported abortion and sexual perversity, now also seems offended that his own sexual failings should find their way into print. But with all due respect to CCC #2488, this "concrete situation," like demonic abortion itself, calls for immediate action. For as much as I like the Fighting Irish, there is something greater at stake than football here.

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)."

In addition, a culture of negligence (as far as Church authority goes) developed, in which Father Tom, apparently without the official blessing of either the diocese or HLI, flew around the country for years performing prayers and exorcisms on vulnerable women on his own, fueled by cash or checks made out to Fr. E rather than the diocese or HLI. After some initial success with healing, many of these relationships went on for years with minimal positive results; either because exorcism, unlike the Consecration at Mass, is not a sacrament and thus depends on the holiness of the priest for its success, or worse, because (according to another lady who knew him), Father was [sexually inappropriate] with "more than one woman...many women...targeting confused, vulnerable women, often under the guise of spiritual director." Thus, while Fr. Tom might have a case for invoking CCC #2477 if it was just the one or two women HLI acknowledges (since they apparently were paid off and their settlement involved silence) it is for these other women, other victims, that the Catechism allows us to speak out. And if that last scenario allows us to speak out, the following case nearly compels us to.

This week, the vicar general of the Palm Beach Diocese (Bishop Barbarito himself was out of town at the time) while expressing their sorrow for Father's victims, also stated Fr. Tom has been pulled from public ministry and "he will not be doing exorcisms ever again." Although I have no reason to question their sincerity and agree Father's days as the jet-setting performer of "exorcisms-plus" are probably over, the following account (brought to my attention by multiple e-mailers) still gives me cause for alarm. 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. Even if this incredible situation somehow proves to be perfectly innocent, 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.

For if abortion was accurately described in Euteneuer's book as being "raped by the devil," what would HLI call having sexual relations with a priest who himself may have become infested by demons while fighting them?

I'm sure to some this article may appear to be the spiritual equivalent of "piling on" Fr. Tom (a man I have long admired) but let me assure you that this is not the case. Unlike most of my sports writing contemporaries, I did not revel in Tiger Woods' dramatic fall from grace, but hoped (and still hope) for his return to golf glory--provided it is accomplished by a true spiritual conversion. Reflecting today on the lives of my patron saints, while I realize it's true Fr. Tom can no longer be an Aquinas (at least the part about his lifelong sexual purity), Father still can become an Augustine. For just as my second patron saint's conversion from playboy into one of the greatest writers in Church history was in some ways more inspiring than the story of a saint who had never fallen, Father Tom's reconversion account could be an inspiration to many in the post-Christian culture of the 21st century. Yes, the road from "bum-dom" back to sainthood is not easy, and a return to a public pro-life/exorcism position must be ruled out. Still, with Father Tom's writing and leadership skills, a great behind-the-scenes ministry (perhaps in a cloistered monastery) is certainly a possibility. For as much as I would love to see a Catholic Tiger Woods win the Masters after seeking wisdom from Summa Theologica between putts, how much more would I rejoice to see Roe v. Wade fall due to the efforts of Fr. Thomas Euteneuer and his new order, the "Priests in Eucharistic Adoration for the Unborn."

Please see related posts here.
Reprinted on RenewAmerica and Spero News.


Anonymous said...

I do not believe the voices who speak against Fr Tom at this hour.
Has satan not accused Fr Tom and threaatened 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. He never leaves us or forsakes us.

Bob said...

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 woman who are possesed also have other mental problems like ADHD and Bi-polar and these people lie very often just to get attention. I am confident that Fr. Tom will work through whatever the evil one has tried to do to stop his ministry. Could you imagine the hatred that satan has for Fr. Tom? He is the evil one's worst enemy because of his work, his public life, and his book that is bent on destroying satan's hold on this world. We need to pray very very hard for Fr. Tom, because he is under heavy attack right now by satan,all his demons, and the demon driven media that is thirsting for his demise.

PRAISE GOD said...

I absolutely agree with Bob and his comment..
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.

Adele said...


If done correctly, all persons who might be in need of exorcisms are expected to go through rigorous psychological tests to rule out any other preexisting medical, psychological or psychiatric illnesses that could be the actual basis for the suffering and rule out the need for exorcism. This begs the question, if that was not being done, then Fr. Tom was grossly out of line, doing exorcisms on people who were not screened. If this was done, then those persons he was praying with were of more sound mind than you or I who may not have been screened.

As to the twisting about explanation, the Bishop would not pull him for that. It was much more serious and he admitted to "an inappropriate relationship" in his resignation letter. See:

Yes, pray for Fr. Tom, but pray also that the truth be shown, because darkness is where the devil loves to hide. Only when we bring things to the Light, can Christ's healing power come in.

I know it is very hard to accept that someone so seemingly squeaky clean, seemingly Holy, prayerful, handsome, organized, and seemingly loyal could have such a dark side, yet, as someone in the know said to me; abusers, at least savy and intelligent ones, pick their targets well. To others they often seem completely wonderful.
If abusers walked around wearing horns, looking disheveled, and messed up, no one would want to be near them. God bless you. God alone is all Pure, all worthy of all our honour, and praise! To Him alone be the Glory!

B_Mo said...

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! Also, each of the "mental" conditions have various degrees of severity. Further, the severity is also effected by social environment. The best treatment for these conditions is unconditional LOVE!!

Adele said...

See update at:

RC said...

Amen to Adele's post! If a priest has attempted to conduct exorcisms without medical screening, something is gravely wrong. The permission of the bishop is also important, as exorcism is an exercise of authority.

Matt C. Abbott said...

The reaction of those who are attacking the victims in this situation echo those who defended the late disgraced Marcial Maciel for so long.

Blaming the victim(s). Sickening.

Peter said...


I regret this public rebuke, but your entries have given the impression that you are a journalist. If, so then from one journalist to another, it is a disgrace to our profession that you put "off-the-record" information into print. It is not "background", it is not "deep background", it is "off-the-record" meaning there was an understanding that what you were told would not get into print. That is a serious breach of trust, and harms the ability of journalists to obtain information effectively.

In our profession, we do not make a judgment until we have examined the facts, witnesses, evidence, etc. with proper attribution and documentation. We do not hold something as true based merely on the allegations of others. We investigate for the sake of the public, we do not rumor-monger.

This is journalistic malpractice. Even the National Enquirer has higher standards. Without taking the precautions of our profession, we expose ourselves legally to libel.

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. Regarding Fr. Tom, well, I will get back to the public when I have established the facts thoroughly and carefully. It's what the public deserves, it is what HLI deserves, it is what the accused deserves.

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. As a warning: a Jesuit priest at my alma mater was falsely accused of sexual abuse by a former student. The investigation did not clear him until 11 months later - during which time he could perform no priestly duties. He was welcomed back, but a broken man - and went into rehab for alcoholism several weeks later, never to return.

I have observed many allegations, even allegations of evidence, but no record of substantiated evidence that an investigative reporter would have to obtain. It's time for the rumors to stop, and for the professionals to do their jobs.

Lisa Graas said...

Praying for all. Thanks for the article.

Tom O'Toole said...

Peter -- There's a difference between "off the record" and "don't use my name." The article had to be written now (remember Watergate?) because while Fr. T gets due process, he is free to have sexual contact with disturbed women ... and by all accounts is.

I cannot let that go by without speaking up either as a journalist, a blogger, a Catholic, or just as a man.

God's grace & Mary's prayers,

Susan said...

The way Fr. Thomas has seemingly been protected and the way people are defending him is so familiar to me and my experience with Regnum Christi and Fr. Maciel, especially the column that talked about all the "good things" he did. (Can't remember her name...)

We cannot take whatever is good and cover up the evil with it. Only Christ can wash away sins. And what does it take for this to happen? We must confess, repent, and do penance.

A public organization or person must publicly confess to avoid scandal to all. Rebuilding trust takes truth. The LC still avoid the truth. Seems like HLI is doing the same.

Even Jimmy Swaggart knew that he must publicly confess.

Magdalene said...

What I do not understand is that if these allegations are true and if there is any criminal act discovered, why would he not be turned over to civil authorities immediately? Priests all over the country have been removed and excoriated on unsubstantiated allegations and in a public manner. They are guilty until proven innocent in essence. So why is this priest not thrown under the bus? The talk of pay-offs and so forth is from another era--isn't it?

And also 'with friends like these, who needs enemies'?

Allan Wafkowski said...

This is sleazy. There so no right or reason to post salacious allegations about Father Euteneuer. Even if he had committed the sins that are being whispered here under cover of dark, it is the sin of detraction to make them known. No one has the "right" to know another's sins unless there is a need to know due to impending danger if the information is not revealed. A general "alert" to the whole world does not meet that criteria, I suspect.

It is evil to make known scandalous information. An evil useful to only the devil and corrupt trial lawyers.

One more thing: there is no right to a monetary settlement (for those with dollar signs in their eyes).

Brad said...

We are talking about possessed women here. Not merely oppressed. Possessed. Of course they are going to be overtly sexual in the presence of an exorcist. Also, they (the demons inside of them) will try to slur the reputation of the exorcist.

We all need to read exorcism accounts and transcripts to remind ourselves just how much heat goes on in these things. Ground zero at bikini atoll. It would make any one of us laymen go running screaming from the building to come face to face with a demon and hear its voice.

That said, I hope Father was not himself seduced by his prey. All we can do is hope and not assume his guilt.

Adele said...

Brad, you are truly ignorant. Misogynism is alive and well. What about predatory men? Was poor Maciel just vamped by somehow sub human seminarians?

Gordon said...

I may have some respect for your views if they were not such a rambling, ill considered mess. If you intend to publish your views, certainly it is your right to do so, you may be more convincing if you wrote using proper English and did not present as an attck dog with an agenda.

Peter said...


In the journalistic profession: "deep background" or "background" are terms that refer to a journalist being provided information he can put on the record without specific attribution. That preserves anonymity of the source. Those terms are equivalent to "don't use my name." The difference is of degree. In general, on background, a journalist can quote a source anonymously, on deep background, you don’t even quote the source. In any case, that is an understanding made clear between the journalist and the source.

However "Off the record" is agreed by those in my profession to indicate what it means: the source provides information for the journalist's personal understanding only, but in no way is the source authorizing the journalist to mention either the source's identity or put the information on the record for public consumption.

You specifically mention in your article that you broke journalistic ethics by publishing what you admitted is off-the-record material. This compromises the integrity of your reporting and the authority of your story, regardless of any good intentions.

The journalist's job also is not simply to repeat what is vaguely asserted as true "by all accounts", but to check it out for himself and verify the evidence on behalf of the public, in order to report accurately the facts, and eliminate speculation or exaggeration.

Again, Tom, I am merely saying that the way journalists (or any other profession) do things is just as important as the end in mind. If you compromise the means, you put in jeopardy the end you seek, namely to report the truth to the public. If you want to publish information obtained anonymously, you have to inform your source that you are looking to cite him as a deep background or background source. This should be indicated to the public as well. But off-the-record is off-limits. That’s the way journalists and nearly all of the reading public understand the term. If persons don’t trust a journalist to keep information off the record, it endangers our ability to gather information that can direct us to other leads, sources, etc. who can shed more light on the situation.

That’s my only comment on this situation. As for the situation discussed in this post, the truth will come out when trained journalists get to work exposing the facts in a thorough, professional matter.

Anonymous said...

Peter -- Until you drop the veil of anonymity and tell us your name (first and last), and connect us to *your* website/blog (or point us to your writings), your commentary will no longer be accepted.

Thanks for understanding!