A priest removed from his post as pastor of the St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Bend is appealing his case to the Vatican.
Father James Radloff, leader of the Bend church for just under two years, was stripped of his position Oct. 1 by Liam Cary, Bishop of the Diocese of Baker.
In a statement released at the time, Cary did not explain the reason for Radloff's removal, saying only that Radloff had done nothing illegal and remained a priest in good standing.
Since then, Radloff has sent a letter to the Congregation for Clergy in Rome, requesting his removal be reversed and the reasons for the dismissal be made public.
Father Tom Faucher, an Idaho priest serving as canonical adviser to Radloff, said the Congregation of the Clergy serves a role similar to a court of appeals within the structure of the Catholic Church. A combination of Catholic clergy and laypeople from around the world are appointed to the congregation by the pope, he said, and work to resolve differences of opinion between clergy.
Canon law establishes the acceptable reasons for removing a priest from his parish, Faucher said, as well as the proper process for doing so. He said while Cary has followed the correct process under canon law, he and Radloff believe the reasons Cary has provided for removing him will not stand up to public scrutiny.
Radloff has no legal obligation to remain quiet about the reasons given to him by Bishop Cary, Faucher said, but is choosing to do so out of respect for Cary and the established process.
A May letter sent by Cary to members of the St. Francis congregation and shared with the National Catholic Reporter weekly newspaper indicated Cary took issue with Radloff circulating a petition among church members, protesting Cary's decision to transfer a popular priest out of the St. Francis parish.
“In launching this movement to pressure me to do what he wanted, your pastor made a very serious error of judgement,” Cary wrote. “He actively recruited you to stand with him against your bishop. That is not the way to build up the unity of the Church”
A phone message left with Cary and the Diocese of Baker Friday seeking comment was not returned.
The Vatican has a window of three months to issue a ruling on the dispute.