By e-mail Fr Rob Johansen forwarded this denial by the Archdiocese of Sydney of the “miracle fraud” priest. Cardinal Pell weighs in:
Fr Abourjaily never went to Perth with my permission – in fact this was against my wishes. He has no rights to publicly celebrate Mass and the sacraments.
The original Sydney Morning Herald story from last Sunday had a few more interesting bits, including this:
Father Abourjaily could not be contacted because was away on a “pilgrimage”.
I suppose the question of whether the man will be returning from his pilgrimage is now relevant. Check out this news profile from a few years ago in which he discusses the virtue at the root of his vocation:
For Richard Abourjaily, truth was a key determinant in his view of his calling and an expression of his faith – his biggest commitment to his parishioners.
“True joy consists in knowing, understanding, that Christ is relevant in our lives … to show as a priest the truth and beauty of our faith – truth in a world where relativism has sway, not just to youngsters, but to people of all ages.”
What else was in the media? The director of the archdiocesan adult education centre spoke favorably of the man’s rehabilitation. That’s a fairly high-profile word of support.
That original story also contained this reference:
Father Brian O’Loughlin confirmed the priest was in Perth with the permission of Cardinal Pell and had been helping out in a local parish.
Fr O’Loughlin isn’t identified in the SMH piece. I found out he is the vicar general of the Archdiocese of Perth. I’m aware that transferring a priest for temporary duty involves either taking the man’s word he is a priest in good standing, or verifying a paper trail between bishops. Clearly, Perth was taken in by the guy’s persuasiveness, given Cardinal Pell’s denial. The archdiocese doesn’t list him on their web site today.
I know Fr Rob has been hanging out with a priest from Sydney. Any inside information on Fr Abourjaily? Why would Fr Flader speak confidently of him? Is it usually so easy to sneak into pastoral duty in a new diocese in Australia? What do his brother priests think of this?