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BATAVIA, Illinois, June 11, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) — A faithful, tradition-minded and beloved priest has been ousted from his Illinois church without reassignment or clear explanation, and has been denied residence in any diocese rectory.
Hundreds of Catholics have been rallying to the defense of Fr. James Parker in recent weeks in response to the news of his dismissal, holding public rosaries and prayer vigils to pray for Fr. Parker and other persecuted priests in the Diocese of Rockford, which is led by Bischop David John Malloy.
Almost 800 people attended a holy hour during one such evening at Fr. Parker’s parish, Holy Cross Catholic Church in Batavia, Illinois. The crowd appeared as a sea of blue, which attendees wore in honor of the Mother of God, to whom Fr. Parker has a deep devotion.
Many are lavishing effusive praise on Fr. Parker, who is, by all accounts, an extraordinary priest. At least several people are in agreement that Parker is the “holiest priest” they’ve ever known.
One Holy Cross parishioner told LifeSiteNews, “I have had people reach out from all over the United States leaving me stories about how he has helped their family. It’s amazing, the impact that he’s had on people’s lives. Saving families, saving children, sending people money.”
“There has been zero written communication to the parishioners or to Father on why he’s being asked to leave and not be reassigned. We believe that this goes back several years,” the parishioner noted.
Potential motives for being asked to leave
Parker told LifeSiteNews that he gets the impression it isn’t just one incident that led to his removal, but rather several occurrences over time.
“The first time I realized Bishop Malloy was angry with me was May of 2019, because Bishop Athanasius Schneider had come to the parish in February of 2018,” said Parker. Despite its reluctance, the diocese did give permission for the visit, and Parker followed all of the related diocesan rules. After more than a year had passed, Bishop Malloy made a comment expressing his disapproval of the event.
Fr. Parker had also received backlash for celebrating Mass ad orientem, and expressing his intention to put up a communion rail for his parishioners. He was already celebrating ad orientem Masses when Bishop Malloy sent out a letter on January 11, 2017, shared by well-known blogger Fr. John Zuhlsdorf at the time, asking that no Latin Masses or ad orientem Masses be celebrated “without his permission.” This directive directly contradicts Pope Benedict’s Summorum Pontificum, which stated that a priest “does not need permission” to celebrate Mass according to the 1962 Missale Romanum.
Even the rubrics of the new Roman Missal take into account the celebration of Mass facing the cross instead of the people.
Bishop Malloy also wrote that approval would be needed for any “modifications” of churches, including “questions involving altar rails.”
Fr. Parker recounted, “Right about that time, spring of 2017, we had our Spring Clergy Day, and he actually talked about stuff like that, we can’t do communion rails, ad orientem. I was a little upset. I mentioned it to the Vicar for Clergy that day. I said, ‘You know what, I’m gonna put a communion rail up, because people have the right to kneel.’ Shortly after that, I got the message, ‘Did we make ourselves perfectly clear?’ That was a text message I got.”
A parishioner added that Fr. Parker used kneelers for communion after his request for a communion rail was denied.
Parker said, “When the bishop came out with that letter, that was like a line of demarcation. And my personal feeling, is that it’s the Cardinal Cupich effect. He’s friends with Malloy, and he’s the diocese right next door to us. I personally thought that Cupich was fighting against tradition. It’s my personal opinion that it would win him points with Cupich.”
He continued by revealing that his bishop had also faulted him in their last meeting for “not following all of the COVID regulations.” Fr. Parker explained that even after the diocesan priests were instructed to give Communion in the hand only, he continued to give Communion on the tongue. He also revealed that when attendance was restricted to ten people per Church, he allowed ten additional people to watch a livestream of the Mass in the church hall, where he sent a permanent deacon to distribute Holy Communion.
“The bishop called and said, ‘You can’t do that.’ I said, ‘The people aren’t going to understand — they go to Walmart, they go to Woodman’s, they have a couple hundred people in there. And we can’t have ten people in the church hall? It fulfills CDC requirements for safety.’ So basically I had to pull the plug on it.”
More recently, in January, Bishop Malloy felt personally attacked by something Fr. Parker said during a homily: “He was upset with my statement, ‘Our faith is in Jesus Christ, not in any particular bishop or diocese.’ He took a personal affront to that. I was not referring to him … In all honesty, in my heart, I was just talking in general terms.”
A parishioner added that the diocese put an end to Parker’s fundraising for a 24-hour adoration chapel, which was to be “designed to look like the old Traditional Holy Cross Church on the other side of town.” She told LifeSiteNews that the diocese disapproved of the way he went about the project.
Bishop refused to meed with Parker’s canon lawyer
Fr. Parker explained that he met with Bishop Malloy on February 28 to discuss “concerns” about his priestly ministry, after the bishop refused to meet with him for a planned February 3 meeting, because Fr. Parker’s canonist, Marc Balestrieri, was present at the time.
“After waiting in vain for two hours, my canon lawyer and I were informed that I needed to schedule another time to meet with the bishop without my canon lawyer present,” wrote Fr. Parker.
He says he left his meeting with Bishop Malloy on Feb. 28 “perplexed” and unable to discern what the bishop’s main concern was. He added that the bishop also complained that he had in a homily once brought up concerns about the COVID jab’s impact on fertility. He told Fr. Parker that the topic was a “political, not a moral issue.”
“He was most upset that I had the audacity to have a canon lawyer, to have representation,” Fr. Parker told LifeSiteNews.
Bishop Malloy also reportedly refused to give Fr. Parker a final blessing when he requested one. “He said, ‘Jim really, we are beyond that,’” Fr. Parker recounted.
Fr. Parker explained in a written statement how he was later informed about his removal:
“Monday, May 24th, Msgr. Steve Knox, the Vicar for Clergy, called and told me I have no new assignment beginning June 16th. I responded, ‘Then you are telling me I need a place to live.’ He responded, ‘Yes, and you cannot live in any rectory of the diocese.’ No alternative housing was offered or mentioned to me.”
A Diocese of Rockford statement affirms that “Father James Parker was informed that his time as pastor at Holy Cross Parish in Batavia will soon conclude,” and that “Father Parker was not given a subsequent assignment at this time.”
However, the diocese contradicts Fr. Parker in saying that “he was given the option of accepting a diocesan offer of residence which he has declined.”
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A Holy Cross parishioner firmly insisted, in reaction to this discrepancy, that Fr. Parker “would never tell a lie.”
The Diocese of Rockford also claims that Parker “refused to engage” in conversation about concerns about his priestly ministry, despite Fr. Parker’s testimony that he met with Bishop Malloy in February precisely to discuss those “concerns.”
Fr. Parker also pointed out, “Everything I have heard from the diocese has been by phone, through Msgr. Knox. Nothing has been in writing.”
Fr. Parker has assured his parishioners that he does not intend to leave, but will continue to care for their spiritual needs, since he has not yet received a written notice concerning his departure.
Other priests in the diocese were treated like Parker
“According to the Code of Canon Law, canon 193 paragraph 4: ‘For a decree of removal to be effective, it must be notified in writing,’ explained Fr. John Lovell, another priest who has been removed from ministry without just cause by Bishop Malloy.
Fr. Lovell was the first priest, and one of over a dozen, to be sent to “The Farm” by Bishop Malloy. “The Farm” is a term used in the Diocese of Rockford to describe the state of priests who are punished by being denied a parish assignment.
A Holy Cross parishioner explained to LifeSiteNews how when she first heard the term, she dug through the diocese website “trying to find out, what is ‘The Farm,’ who are these guys?’”
“What I found was, under active priests, there’s a bunch of priests that have no assignment, they just have the same post office box. It’s the same post office box that they use for retired priests, or priests who are assigned to work in the diocesan offices. But they don’t have a title for the diocesan office.”
A Holy Cross parishioner told LifeSiteNews that Bishop Malloy is not only driving out tradition-minded priests, but is also “annihilating the vocations,” pointing out that the diocese has had a very low number of vocations in recent years. This year, three men in the diocese are being ordained to the priesthood, while last year, only one man was ordained, and in 2018, none were ordained to the priesthood in his diocese.
Bishop Malloy, who is the chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace, has been accused of removing “every traditional priest” in his diocese by a Complicit Clergy survey respondent. “Most have been cleared of all accusations and some cleared also by Rome, yet he refuses to reinstate them. This is a disgrace,” the respondent continued.
Other comments indicate that Malloy has a reputation for being anti-tradition, and another source maintains that Catholic orthodoxy in general is not a priority of Malloy, pointing out that one recently deceased lesbian woman who was living with another woman served the Rockford Diocese as a Catechist and Eucharistic minister, as her obituary confirms.
Two respondents to the survey said Malloy had fired two priests who were diocesan exorcists.
Parker himself is a former student of exorcist priest Fr. Chad Ripperger, and a believer in spiritual warfare, having been one of seven priests who prayed prayers of exorcism over a Rockford abortion clinic in 2011, reportedly causing the abortion mill to close for the day.
One woman also shared how Fr. Parker prayed over her with prayers of spiritual protection when she was suffering because of an experience with a homosexual priest in the Rockford Diocese who stalked and harassed her husband, leading to the destruction of her marriage and family.
“He was the only priest in the whole diocese who grieved with us over what happened. Everybody else was defensive and quiet and hush-hush. It wasn’t his fault, he wasn’t even there — but he said he was sorry on behalf of those who should have said they were sorry and should have prevented it from happening in the first place.”
One member of the group Caritas in Veritate, created in support of Fr. James Altman, is a key driving force behind the movement to support Parker. She told LifeSiteNews, “When we saw that there was a plight for Fr. Parker, we decided that no more are we going to allow good priests be persecuted and be picked off one by one. They try and isolate us so we can’t do anything, and we are stronger in numbers.”
Her aim is to find and defend persecuted priests wherever they are, and to “spread the word so that everybody writes, calls, faxes, whatever they have to do. We will be silent no more. We are the 25 percent who actually still goes to church, who believe in the Real Presence, and who actually put the money in their coffers.”
A 24-hour prayer vigil will be held outside Fr. Parker’s rectory on June 15 to support him and “make sure that he’s protected in prayer.” Those who wish to attend can sign up to pray for one hour or more.
To donate and help support Fr. Parker, there is a fundraiser at GiveSendGo.
Those who wish to keep abreast of events in support of Fr. Parker can join the “We Stand with Fr. Parker” Facebook page. Those who wish to can follow Fr. Parker on his recently created YouTube channel.
Contact information for respectful communication
Most Reverend David J. Malloy
Office of the Bishop of Rockford
PO Box 7044
Rockford, IL 61125
Telephone: (815) 399-4300
Marc Cardinal Ouellet
Congregation of Bishops
Palazzo della Congregazioni 00193
Piazza Pio XII, 10
Archbishop Christophe Pierre
Apostolic Nuncio to the U.S.A.
3339 Massachusetts Ave. N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20008