New Orleans Priests Give Archbishop Gregory Aymond Vote of Confidence Despite Sex Scandals

By David Hammer and Ramon Antonio Vargas
Times-Picayune and Advocate
October 16, 2020

Abuse survivors support group still questions his commitment to a full accounting of the worldwide church's clerical molestation crisis

Barely two weeks after new sex scandals drove him to remove a pair of Roman Catholic priests from public ministry, New Orleans Archbishop Gregory Aymond met Friday with the rest of his clergymen and called on them to rededicate themselves to the vows they took when they were ordained, according to priests who attended.

Following the three-hour meeting at Notre Dame Seminary, the leaders of two clerical councils released an open letter to local Catholics, professing confidence in Aymond's leadership as he tries to steer the archdiocese through Chapter 11 bankruptcy, continuing revelations associated with the sex abuse crisis engulfing the Catholic Church and a call from abuse survivors for a Vatican investigation of his ministry.

“All 335 priests in the Archdiocese … emphatically support Archbishop Aymond,” the letter said. “Archbishop Aymond is a dedicated, faithful and holy priest of Jesus Christ. He has always faithfully served the people of God throughout his priesthood.”

One priest said Aymond’s message to clergy in the private meeting was “we need to work to rekindle the fire of the faithful.” Another said Aymond is “trying to do the right thing, but it’s difficult because there’s a much bigger picture and it points to some systemic flaws that need to be discovered and addressed, and he’s aware of that.” Both spoke to WWL television on the condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to comment on internal matters.

The prevailing subject of the meeting was the archdiocese’s removal of the Revs. Patrick Wattigny and Travis Clark from ministry on Oct. 1.

On that day, Wattigny, pastor at St. Luke the Evangelist Parish and former chaplain of Pope John Paul II High School in Slidell, told archdiocesan officials he had abused minor in December 2013, the archdiocese says. He made that admission while undergoing psychological evaluations over improper text messages he had sent to a Pope John Paul II student earlier this year, leading to his forced resignation as the school’s chaplain over the summer.

This week, the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office said it has opened a criminal investigation into the 2013 allegation.








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