Editor’s note: This story was updated to clarify the details of who administered communion to Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
The diocese “didn’t know what to do with me,” Stier said.
“They were hoping I’d come back. I was a well-respected, competent pastor.”
Tim Stier served for decades as a priest in the diocese of Oakland, CA…
This month the letter appeared on BishopAccountability.org, a website and database that tracks alleged abuse by clergy.
Tim sent this letter on May 31, 2022.
The nonprofit Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, defended and praised Stier in a statement.
“It is ironic that a priest who showed integrity has been defrocked for taking a stand for what he believes is just,” the statement read, “while priests who molested children were hidden, paid and never forced to leave the church.”
Tim begins his farewell letter, “Dear No-Longer-Fellow Priests,” and I can’t help but think of Father Al, and his best friend, fellow former priest, and exorcist—known worldwide as “The Exorcist” by best-selling writer Malachi Martin…
This will likely be my farewell letter to most of you, which may be glad tidings to those of you who do not enjoy hearing from me.
Tim has the faith he’s greater than any god earth has conceived of thus far, regardless of this priests’ faith…
Tim Stier, a native of Oakland, California, was ordained a priest for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland in 1979. For 25 years, he served in five parishes including 12 years as a pastor. In March 2005, after prayerful discernment and years of working for church reform, he felt called to chose exile from active parish ministry to advocate for groups within the Church who have been marginalized and unjustly treated. Among these are women, sexual abuse survivors, and LGBT persons. In 2010, he began a weekly protest outside the Cathedral of Christ the Light in Oakland to stand in public solidarity with the excluded. In his book, Crying Out For Justice Full-Throated and Unsparingly; A Parish Priest’s Story, he reveals the depths of the crisis in the Church from an insider’s perspective and offers a way forward.
Tim Stier figured it was only a matter of time. Since 2005 he’s refused parish assignments as an Oakland Diocese priest over its handling of clerical sex abuse claims and spent more than a decade outside its cathedral on Sundays calling for church accountability and justice for the victims.
He had no plans to end his self-imposed exile and resume work as a parish priest. But when the Vatican finally came for his collar a few months ago, removing him from the Roman Catholic priesthood, Stier said it still felt like a blow.
“It hit me harder than I’d expected,” said Stier, 73, whose removal was disclosed this week. “I felt sad and angry. If I’d been raping kids, I wouldn’t be thrown out of the club.”
The Diocese of Oakland said in a statement Friday only that “we wish Mr. Stier all the best in this new chapter of his life.”Vatican defrocks priest who scolded Oakland Diocese over handling of child sex abuse—“It hit me harder than I’d expected” via The Mercury News
In the Spirit, via Tim, our brother in faith, commentary and response to email@example.com:
- I would like you to know at least a little about his egregious abuse of authority during his 26 years at the helm of our diocese. I have written to him more than once and asked him to publicly make amends for his choice to put the reputation of the church and protection of its assets ahead of the safety of children. He appears to be in blissful denial: “We made some mistakes.” Keep reading to learn the difference between a mistake and a crime.
- What his opaque words did not mean or include was an ounce of concern for the people in this angry priest’s parish, some of whom were being driven away by Fr. X’s erratic behavior. Never could I have imagined then that Cummins making excuses for troubled and authoritarian priests would have extended to priests who sexually abuse children and teens. In 1980, I had never heard of a priest abusing a minor with the exception of Steve Kiesle at Our Lady of the Rosary, Union City, but Cummins knew of many right here in our diocese.
- This list of known examples of John Cummins putting the good of the Church’s reputation ahead of the safety of children is far from exhaustive. He was equally protective of priest abusers like Gary Tollner, James Clark, and Stephen Kiesle, each of whom had several victims.
- All well and good except that accountability for Begin and Cummins has yet to happen. In March, 2018, Barber authorized The Catholic Voice, the bimonthly newspaper, now magazine of the Oakland diocese, to devote an entire issue to honoring Bishop emeritus John Cummins on the occasion of his 90th birthday. Not one word in the Catholic Voice’s tribute was allotted to Cummins’ history of aiding and abetting sexual abuse of children under his care while scores of individuals and groups from throughout the diocese and beyond sang his praises.
- Jesus’ harshest criticism was directed at hypocritical religious leaders. How can we trust that children are safe in the Oakland diocese when John Cummins is treated with deference and unqualified and undeserved respect?
- …instead of protecting you by calling the police, they conspire to keep the crime a secret by silencing your parents with a non-disclosure agreement and monetary payout, and then either leaving the priest in your parish or moving him to one at the other end of the diocese where he continues to sexually abuse more children. This scenario happened again and again and again under Cummins’ leadership.
- I hear from many clergy and lay people that things are better now: safer environments for children, “no more secrets”,…
- Many people rationalize John Cummins’ behavior in putting the reputation of the Church over the safety of children as the way that most bishops of his time behaved. That argument provides a chilling insight into the evil of clericalism as a culture and a system of power governing the Catholic Church. All the Church’s preaching, teaching and laws about the primacy of Jesus as Lord and head of the Church is revealed to be empty rhetoric and glaring hypocrisy.
- The victims of John Cummins’ decades-long refusal to hold himself and the priests under his authority accountable were CHILDREN AND TEENAGERS. The ones still alive suffer devastating ongoing trauma. And all Cummins could say in a trial deposition was that “we made some mistakes”. Tell that to the scores of victims…
- ….why he has not held John Cummins accountable for aiding and abetting the sexual abuse of children and teens for 26 years? If he really wants to show that he is pro-life, not only pro-birth, why not ask him to stand up for the hundreds and hundreds of children whose lives as adults are a daily train wreck because he and every one of his predecessors lacked the courage and Spirit to say ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, and to put those words into action for justice. … As a lay person, I cannot preach or celebrate sacraments any longer, but I am available to share with your parish the dark history of our diocese.