Italian Bishop Forgives " Playboy in a Cassock"
A Priest Discovered in Bed with a Female Parishioner Had Been " Pushed" into Adultery Claims His Bishop

By Richard Owen
The Times (United Kingdom)
September 22, 2008

A priest who was found in bed with a parishioner's wife has been publicly exonerated by his local bishop, who said the woman had tempted the cleric and "led him astray".

The woman's affair with the priest at Chioggia, near Venice, came to light when her husband returned home unexpectedly from work and found them in flagrante delicto. The enraged husband stormed into the bishop's palace to demand an explanation, but before he could speak to the bishop the police were called to "calm him down."

Writing in the latest issue of the diocesan weekly newspaper, La Nuova Scintilla (The New Spark) the bishop, Monsignor Angelo Daniel, said the priest, 53, a notable Biblical scholar who teaches theology at Padua and Verona and was a "friend of the family", had been "pushed" into sexual misbehaviour.

Bishop Daniel quoted the words of Jesus Christ, "Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgement ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." (Matthew 7, 1-5).

He said priests had a responsibility always to be "an example to others". "But we must not forget that in addition to the many who fortunately support their priest, there is no lack of others who tempt him to fall short of his duty".

He added "We are all fragile and capable of sin. The priesthood and the religious life do not guarantee us against weakness or make us impeccable....Those who share their weaknesses however can always be assured of the mercy and forgiveness of God. "

Bishop Daniel said "I have always respected the priest in question and I will continue to respect him. You cannot discount all the good a person has done in their life just because of one mistake." The priest is believed to have been transferred to another parish.

La Stampa said the story of the "playboy in a cassock" was reminiscent of Dino Risi's 1971 film The Priest's Wife, in which a singer played by Sophia Loren falls in love with a priest, played by Marcello Mastroianni, who goes on to become a monsignor in Rome.


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