Archdiocese of TorontoCatholic Pastoral Centre
1155 Yonge Street
Toronto, Ontario M4T 1W2
July 18, 2015
Statement from the Archdiocese of Toronto re: Sacred Heart Parish, Uxbridge
Over the past several years the Archdiocese of Toronto has been working closely with Fr. John Duffy to address a number of issues concerning his responsibilities as pastor of Sacred Heart Parish. We have also been deeply concerned about his personal health and well-being.
After numerous discussions, Fr. Duffy commenced civil litigation against Cardinal Thomas Collins. After mediation involving a retired Superior Court of Ontario judge and legal counsel, Fr. Duffy decided to retire from active ministry, effective July 13, 2015.
We are working with Fr. Duffy to provide the financial and pastoral support he needs. We are grateful for his many contributions both to the Sacred Heart community and in his previous assignments.
Fr. Joseph Rodrigues has been appointed pastor of Sacred Heart Parish and will arrive this week to begin serving the faithful. We pray that he will be welcomed with open arms.
We extend our thanks to the parishioners of Sacred Heart for your ongoing support and engagement in your faith community. We pray for Fr. Duffy and Fr. Rodrigues with the hope and prayer that your parish will continue to serve as a beacon of faith, hope and love to all.
There is an online petition published on behalf of Father Duffy and a great number of persons have left comments. A remarkable show of support for Father Duffy, as well as shock for the circumstances, is evidenced in these comments. They are nearly unanimous in their very high praise for their priest`s service and influence in their lives. It does leave one to wonder what could possibly have taken place on such a secret level for so long in Father Duffy`s life that virtually nobody as close to him as those who left comments would have suspected the very grave action taken by the Archdiocese.
The Archdiocese claims that Fr. Duffy decided to retire from active ministry but Fr. Duffy`s final sermon as well as the online petition paints the picture that he was suspended from ministry by the Archdiocese. In fact the spokesperson at Sacred Heart Parish confirmed to me that Father Duffy has been suspended with loss of faculties. My understanding is that except for behaviour that is a cause of very serious scandal it is normally very difficult for a Bishop to suspend or “laicize” a priest, even if he wants to. Conversely, we know how much hell can be raised if a Bishop supports his priest and sticks with him through thick and thin.
Also my understanding is that in cases such as this if the priest contests the Bishop`s actions and appeals his suspension, the execution of the penalty is suspended until such time as the Vatican has made a decision on the matter, i.e. Fr. Duffy should still be serving his parish until the Vatican rules on the matter.
To be clear, this is only conjecture on my part on the basis of readily available information on the internet regarding canon law. I called the Archdiocese for further details on the matter but they declined to give further info and suggested I call Sacred Heart Parish.