The Next Great Priestly Scandal: Priests Who Have Fathered Illegitimate Children

And in December 1999 came the bombshell revelation that in Peru, it was estimated that 50% – 80% of all Roman Catholic priests in that county had wives and children, but hid them from public view![19]

In 2003 priests in South Africa admitted their sexual misconduct against nuns, which at times resulted in the nuns falling pregnant.[20]

In 2006 another case was reported, of an elderly priest fathering a child by a young woman.[21]

In June 2009 a Roman Catholic archbishop from the Central African Republic resigned, following an investigation into priests in his diocese who lived with women, sometimes quite openly, and fathered children.[22]

The situation, in fact, is so bad, that in July 2009 a Roman Catholic cardinal, John Njue of Nairobi, Kenya, president of the Kenya’s bishops’ conference, admitted it was very difficult for bishops to monitor the daily lives of priests to ensure they do not live with women.  He said, “It is a big challenge.”  He added that children fathered by priests must be cared for by their fathers, who must take responsibility for their actions.[23]

In the 1980s the lover of a Franciscan priest, Henry Willenborg, told him that she was pregnant.  He urged her to have an abortion.  She had a miscarriage but became pregnant again, and this time the superiors of Willenborg’s Order of Friars Minor, urged the woman to give the child up for adoption.  She refused, but she did agree to a vow of silence – a signed confidentiality contract.  She undertook to keep the priest’s identity secret in exchange for financial support for her son – $50 000.  She said, “They said: ‘Here, take this money, sign this contract and you’ll have support for your child.’  I was very naive and I signed.”[24]

Think of the lengths to which Rome will go to hide the evidence of priestly failures to uphold their vow of celibacy!  In the case of priest Willenborg, he had a lover, she falls pregnant, and he urges her to abort the child – contrary to official Roman Catholic teaching.  When his superiors learn of the second pregnancy, do they follow official Roman Catholic procedure as outlined above?  No – instead of ordering the priest to leave the priestly life, accept his responsibilities and be a father to the child, as required by their own “Church’s” rules, they tell the woman to give the child up for adoption.  And they get her to sign a contract of silence!

Willenborg was suspended from his parish in Ashland, Wisconsin, and “treated for sex addiction” (a psychological invention) – but thereafter he was returned to his priestly duties.

The woman spoke up in 2009, when the Franciscans refused to meet part of the cost of treatment for her son, who died of a brain tumor.

Was this just an isolated case of a priest and his bishops flaunting the rules of their own “Church”?  By no means.  “In America, Britain, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy and Austria, women made pregnant by priests have signed such pledges in exchange for hush money from the church.”[25]  According to Sabine Bauer of the Austrian branch of We Are Church, a reform group, “The children of priests, and their mothers, are the next ones who will take legal action against the Church.  Their numbers are large”.[26]

According to the Good Tidings association, a U.S. charity for priests and their lovers (which gives an indication of how many there are!), almost 2000 women who had relationships with priests had contacted it by 2010. And in Britain at that same time, Adrianna Alsworth, who had two children by a priest and who ran the Sonflowers helpline for women who have had relationships with priests, said she knew of several women who had been urged to sign confidentiality contracts in return for child support.  “The children aren’t given an opportunity to have a normal family life, and they suffer,” she said.[27]

In Ireland, Pat Buckley, a former bishop who ran Bethany, a support group for women in relationships with priests, said he had dealt with two women whose abortions had been paid for by their priest lovers.[28]

Just a few more examples from 2010:

In Maryland, two children of priest Francis Ryan were suing their local archdiocese and a Romish religious order for $10 million, after DNA tests proved the priest was their father.  The two said that Ryan never admitted he was their father, nor did he ever make any payments to their mother.  The girl was sent to an orphanage and the boy was put up for adoption.  At the time of the lawsuit they were 58 and 65 years old respectively.

In German-speaking countries it was believed that there were literally thousands of priests who had fathered children.

In Italy, a woman who had a son by a priest was told by her bishop, “If you give up the baby for adoption, you can stay with the priest and I’ll pretend there’s nothing wrong.”  She refused, and after she parted ways with the priest he refused to recognise his child.[29]