The bishop of the Baker Diocese has withdrawn a reassignment to tiny Merrill for former St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church pastor the Rev. James Radloff.
In a letter sent to Radloff last week, Bishop Liam Cary wrote that due to several of Radloff's Facebook postings in late October, as well as “other developments,” Cary no longer plans to send the priest to Merrill, a town of about 900 people southeast of Klamath Falls. Radloff had been expected to begin working in Merrill at the end of November.
Radloff, who had headed up the church since 2011, was stripped of his position Oct. 1. In a statement at the time, Cary did not explain why Radloff was being removed, saying only that the priest had done nothing illegal and remained a priest in good standing.
Radloff then appealed to the Congregation for Clergy at the Vatican, requesting his removal be reversed and the reasons he was dismissed be made public.
The Rev. W. Thomas Faucher, serving as Radloff's canonical adviser and procurator, said the Congregation for Clergy had three months to issue a decision.
“Until that appeal is decided, there cannot be a new pastor appointed to St. Francis,” Faucher said.
Faucher said the response to Radloff's appeal could affirm or reject the bishop's decision, could ask for more time to make a decision or could change the removal and include new stipulations in the bishop's decision.
“It isn't an absolute where they must pick one side or the other,” he said. “They can find some middle ground.”
Appealing a removal is very rare, Faucher said. He guessed that worldwide in an average year appeals take place “only a few times.”
In last week's letter, Faucher said, Cary suggested Radloff stay in Illinois until December. Radloff is currently in the Chicago area staying with his mother, Faucher said.
“He is on hold until he hears from the bishop, and the bishop is in Baltimore” at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops this week, Faucher said. According to the letter, Radloff can expect to hear from the Rev. Richard Fischer, who serves as the diocese's vicar general and also administrator at St. Augustine Catholic Church in Merrill.
Faucher also noted Cary had expressed his distaste for articles about the reassignment and appeal that had been published in two newspapers.
“He has a difficulty with the fact that articles have appeared in the National Catholic Reporter and in The Bulletin,” Faucher said. “Now, what his difficulties are, he didn't say.”
Cary could not be reached for comment.