The Vatican has confirmed the bishop of the Archdiocese of Baker’s decision to remove a Catholic priest as pastor of Bend’s St. Francis of Assisi Church.
Father James Radloff headed the church for nearly two years before he was removed Oct. 1 by Bishop Liam Cary.
With the help of the Rev. Thomas Faucher, who served as Radloff’s canonical adviser, Radloff appealed his removal from the Bend post to the Congregation for the Clergy, which serves as a sort of court for disputes of canon law between clergy.
The diocese has never publicly explained the reason for Radloff’s removal, other than to say he remains “a priest in good standing.”
Richard Fischer, the Diocese of Baker’s vicar general, declined to comment Friday.
In a statement, Faucher wrote that the Congregation for the Clergy on Jan. 31 confirmed Bishop Cary’s removal of Radloff as pastor of St. Francis of Assisi “and rejected Father Radloff’s appeal of that decision. The congregation has also declined to order Bishop Cary to make public the reasons for the removal,” he wrote.
The group had also declined to order Cary to end his ban on Radloff celebrating Mass or other public ministry.
Radloff has been banned from all ministry since Oct. 1, and Faucher said there’s “no explanation as to why.”
Now, Faucher said, it’s “really up to Bishop Cary to decide what he wants to do with Father Radloff. It’s just so sad.”
Initially, Radloff was reassigned to take over as pastor of a parish in Merrill, a small town southeast of Klamath Falls. That assignment was withdrawn in November. Faucher said the diocese has continued to pay Radloff’s salary and housing allowance and will continue to do that, because he is a priest of the diocese.
“And he’s a ‘priest in good standing,’” Faucher said, “but he cannot say Mass or minister, and he has no assignment.”
Faucher said he’d spoken with Radloff, who did not return a call for comment, and said Radloff was surprised and saddened by the decision and was waiting for Cary to make a decision about his future.
“It’s a major shock, and it’s just a very, very sad day for Father Radloff and the Diocese of Baker and the city of Bend,” Faucher said.