News came to me today, via Catholic News Agency, of two priests who were involved in gross sexual misconduct and perversion. First, we have the account of Father Pat Wattigny, chaplain of John Paul II High School in Slidell LA. He had sent explicit text messages to a student. Apparently the Archdiocese of New Orleans was aware of it for some time, but never advised school administration of the problem, nor of another episode of sexual misconduct in Wattigny's past. When Archbishop Gregory Aymond made the matter public, he also removed Wattigny from public ministry. Wattigny had actually resigned from the school at the end of the most recent school year, only to be replaced by someone probably worse.
Father Travis Clark, along with being the new chaplain of the school, was also pastor of Sts Peter and Paul in Pearl River, LA. A few weeks ago, a local resident noticed the lights on in the church. He looked in and saw Father engaged in a "threesome" with two women - on the altar! The three were quickly arrested. The altar was surrounded by stage lighting and one of the women was a paid pornographic performer and a "dominatrix". He too was removed and is expected to face canonical sanctions for desecrating an altar. The altar has been removed and burned, and a new one will be installed and consecrated this weekend. I'd suspect an exorcism of the church and rectory might need to be done.
Notice in the title that I wrote the singular word "scandal" and not the plural "scandals". I highly suspect both of these errant priests are part of a network. Both are in the same diocese and they both "served" at the same high school. How else would Clark have known how to contact that dominatrix? Both of them need to undergo a thorough investigation, to include:
- Examinations of all financial records - bank statements, credit card statements, purposes of each and every transaction
- Records of their times in seminary
- Cell phone records detailing calls made and received
- Careful inspections of any church computers they used
- Requests for expense reimbursements, particularly travel expenses
- Interviews with parishioners and/or students who may have had issues with them.