By October 2, the Society of St. Peter Damian vowed to publish evidence of “institutionalized corruption” if Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel didn’t respond to their request for an independent investigation of the church. Monday, October 1, the bishop did respond both publicly– and much differently, the group says, in private.
E-mails provided to KATC by the Society of St. Peter Damian reveal a different tone from Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel about the group’s efforts to expose “corruption” in the Diocese of Lafayette.
“The bishop’s initial public statement, refusing to respond to our request, and even warning us of hellfire, caused us pain,” the group said in an e-mailed statement to KATC. “But we were heartened, although confused, when he did respond kindly, expressing solidarity with our aims and a willingness to meet, one hour later privately.
At 2:04 p.m. Monday, the Diocese of Lafayette issued a news release to the media. The news release stated in part:
“The Diocese will not respond to deadlines, bullying and ultimatums issued by any non-Diocesan, anonymous group. I also remind such groups that slander, detraction and defamation of character are mortally sinful. Those who commit them must receive sacramental absolution in Confession and in justice restore the good name of those offended or risk losing everlasting life at the final judgment.”
At 3:13 p.m. Monday, the SSPD received an e-mail, apparently from Bishop Deshotel.
“I am happy to meet with 2 or 3 core leaders of your organization to listen to your views,” the bishop apparently wrote. “I firmly believe that face to face meetings provide better opportunities for clearer understanding. I think we can arrive at a better plan. As spiritual shepherd of the Diocese I too am passionate about our beautiful Catholic Faith in our Diocese.”
“Our perplexity at this made us request some assurance of mutual trust,” said the Society of St. Peter Damian. “Unfortunately, the bishop, even in his reply, has completely ignored this request. We pray that the bishop have a change of heart.”
Where is the evidence?
Since the group did receive a response from the bishop by October 2, they are holding off on releasing what they claim is evidence of corruption– at least for now.
It seems to us our integrity demands we hold off on publishing the information regarding corruption so long as there is at least some possibility we might share it with a third-party investigative board.
— Society of St. Peter Damian (Lafayette, LA) (@SSPDLafayette) October 3, 2018
“We will indeed move forward, but because of all the reports of our identities being hotly pursued for litigation and canonical action, we must do so with even greater patience and discretion,” the group said.
Anonymity being challenged
KATC has spoken with members of the “Society of St. Peter Damian,” who wish to remain anonymous. Among them are parishioners of the Diocese of Lafayette, who tell us they formed the group because of what they felt was a weak response to the latest church scandals locally and worldwide.
“We have heard numerous reports about certain men, having only the interest of the diocesan institution at heart, who will sue the SSPD if they release any information about corruption in the diocese,” said the group. “At every turn, our identities have been hunted for this end. This is what happens when laity attempt to hold the hierarchy accountable. This is why pedophilia and fraud will continue.”
KATC is awaiting comment from the Diocese of Lafayette.