LAFAYETTE, La. — In a memo obtained by KATC Investigates, Lafayette Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel has forbid any seminarian from being “associated” with The Society of St. Peter Damian.
“Any seminarian known by me to be associated with or be a member of the Society of Saint Peter Damian shall be dismissed from the seminary and no longer be a student for the Diocese,” Deshotel wrote in a memo dated September 12.
The SSPD is critical of the church’s handling of the clergy sex abuse scandal, and was featured in KATC’s Special Report The List. In their posts on social media, the SSPD has called into question the effectiveness of the church’s Safe Environment Program and called for transparency in the clergy sex abuse crisis.
“The diocese claims to have a 100% safe environment rating. This is simply not true, it's demonstrably not true,” said Quinn Hebert, a former seminarian and member of SSPD. “When we bring attention to a violation ‘the priest has been corrected, gently corrected in private’--but seminarians will be removed from seminary for associating with us?”
In a statement, a diocesan spokesperson said “Bishop Deshotel has no comment.” This isn’t the bishop’s first warning against the group. Last year, he released the following statement:
“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.”
“We are not aware of having lied about anything,” said Hebert. “We have not committed slander, but he has said that we've committed slander, so I would invite him to contact us and let us know what he's thinking.”
Hebert says he and others are not intimidated and will continue their work.
“The truth must prevail and we will not rest until the truth prevails,” he said. “Jesus Christ was crucified but was innocent. Those of us who claim to follow him, should not expect any better.”
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