Friday, September 25, 2009

Bishop Loverde, where is Fr. Buckner?

Sigh...thinking about good priests who have disappeared amidst unproven allegations makes me sad. Fr. Christopher Buckner was swallowed up in the ether of vague accusations several years ago and has not, to date, resurfaced. While he had a reputation for a bad temper, he also had a reputation for being a good, solid priest. So where is he and what's the state of his case?

I have no idea, but I came across this August post today and thought I'd link to it.

The Performer, the Politician and the Priest: Funerals, Fanfare and Felonies

The performer, of course, is Michael Jackson and the politician...need you ask? Both of them whose lives were filled with scandal, left the scene honored, no idolized. But a good solid priest who merely lived out his vocation serving God and neighbor? Thrown out amid innuendoes that he was an abuser, the same innuendoes used against Fr. James Haley. Innuendo is the tool of a dishonest man. It lends itself to all kinds of evil imaginings. Here's an excerpt from the blog that I found particularly interesting:
The Diocese kept the accusation vaguee. To date, more than 2 years later ,there have not been any charges filed against Fr. Buckner. There has been no civil trial. No criminal trial. No canonical trial. There hasn’t been any word about where Fr. Buckner is. He’s just in canonical limbo, suspended as a priest, without any due process.

My mother in law told us that, shortly after the suspension, they brough this whole investigative crew to St. Mary’s. They were told the people would be there for 4 weeks investigating the case against Fr. Buckner. It was a regular witch hunt, and they summoned people in trying to dig up dirt.

And they couldn’t find any.

They left in less than two weeks because no one was able to corroborate anything, and no one was willing to denounce Fr. Buckner.

There was no evidence.

But with some of our bishops all it takes is an unsubstantiated accusation and a good priest, perhaps a troublesome priest, is out of his hair. And who keeps watch over the bishops? Apparently no one judging from the silence over Archbishop Weakland's scandalous book and Cardinal Mahony's ability to outlast every new outrage. Which bishop is gone? Joseph Martino who bravely spoke out for the truth. It is the way of the American Church.

I mourn and I write. What else can I do?

In the end all injustice will be righted by our all-just God, but how much damage will be done in the meantime? I mourn for the persecuted priests who have disappeared and sometimes I mourn even more over some of those still serving who live secret second lives of perversion. They are honored and pampered, but face a severe judgment unless they repent.

But what of those priests whose earthly lives are destroyed? Will they continue to be faithful in exile or will they commit the spiritual suicide of despair? Oh, how I pray they will not.

In this year of the priest please think often of the persecuted priests in exile. They deserve better than to be abandoned and forgotten.


  1. May God bless all those priests whose have been kicked out of our Church without the protection and benefits of canon lawyers or defense lawyers. Keep them in prayer.


  2. I am bereft! It's June 7, 2010, and I have just found out about allegations against Fr Buckner. My spouse took a class from him at Catholic Distance University. Another fine priest thrown under the bus! Lord God, when will we come to our senses and throw out the DISSIDENT priests?!

  3. I knew Father Buckner very well during the entire time he was pastor at St. Mary in Fredericksburg. Although he was well known for his acerbic demeanor, he was a fine priest and an outstanding teacher. Father Bucker has been temporarily relieved of his duties while the Arlington Diocese investigates allegations of misconduct. How long does an investigation take?
    I am puzzled as to why the vague accusation that was made in May, 2007 has not been publically resolved. Where is the transparency that was promised?
    I am beginning to think that there is a lot more to this story we will ever know.

  4. I am appauled. THe Arlington Catholic Diocese owes it to the faithful and its member parishoners to notify us immediately if Father Buckner should be absolved or found not guilty of these baseless accusations. If something does not appear soon, I will STOP all contributions of any kind to the Diocese or its parishes.

  5. Fr. Buckner was a good priest - and the one thing I really admired about him was his humility. Like the rest of us, he had some problems and issues, but I trusted him with my children on many occasions (I was a parishoner). I still remember verbatim one of his sermons, (ok, it was real short, but powerful), and I still remember his first sermon as pastor, when he told us what we could expect from his pastorage - he told us we could expect the truth - and that the gospel of Jesus Christ would be preached from the pulpit. Sadly, we have had many priests since then who talk almost exclusively about themselves during the sermons. I have never felt more spirtually alive and closer to the church and Christ then when he was our pastor. God bless him.

  6. Father Buckner was a guest in our home many times. I knew him as a deeply spiritual man who was devoted to the church. He never had a negative comment about his fellow priests or superiors. When pushed for a comment on an administrative problem in the church, his stock reply was always, "I don't know, I'm in sales, not in management." Our children loved him and there was never a problem.

  7. I didn't like the man. He was rude, egotistical and unpleasant. But that doesn't make him an abuser of young boys. He had no place serving at a parish with young children, not because he was an abuser, which I doubt, but because he couldn't relate to anyone less than 18 years old. He didn't know how to talk to regular folks - always spoke way above us with big words only someone with a theological degree could understand. He openly ignored my child when the little 6 year old boy attempted to say hi and acknowledge the man as a priest. I don't miss him, but I don't wish him any ill will.

  8. Another year later, and still no word on Fr. Buckner.

  9. I went to seminary with Fr. Buckner many years ago. I dropped out and did not become a priest. However, I remember him as a deeply spiritual and devoted seminarian. I have no doubt that he was, and is, a fine priest. I only wish him the best.

  10. I have spent many years at Holy Spirit; I did K-8, was an altar boy for as many years as I could, and worked nights at the rectory all through high school. I saw a lot of priests come and go. Of all of them, in all those years, Fr. Buckner was the one I most respected. He was never patronizing, he didn't mince words, and you knew where you stood with him. He possessed a sharp intellect, and I always looked forward to those times when he came to the classroom to teach us. It was through him that I was first exposed to philosophy and the meta-aspects of religion (apologetics was a favorite topic of his). He was smart, he didn't talk down to us, and he challenged us with ideas that I never encountered during homily. He and I were close, and we spent a lot of time talking before/after school and mass. Because of him I was inspired to be a priest.

    Flash forward many years: I fell away from the church before I got anywhere close to becoming a priest, and I mostly regret the fact that I didn't get a public school experience (all my friends went to Braddock). Yet: I value the time I spent with Fr. Buckner. He was kind, honest, frank, and he challenged me with new ideas. He expanded my horizons about what religion was and why Catholicism is what it is; these were topics that, in my experience, no one expected a grade-schooler to be capable of handling. If it isn't yet obvious, the man made a lasting mark on me, else I wouldn't be here writing this.

    I'm sad to hear about the allegations and the fact that he's essentially disappeared as a result. I am not saying that great people aren't corruptible, but during my time with him I never experienced a single thing I would classify as inappropriate.

    Fr. Buckner, I hope you're doing okay.

  11. The altar boys from Holy Spirit did experience physical abuse from Fr. Buckner. When it came out he was shuffled away quietly. I hope there was no sexual abuse. Since I work with survivors of sexual abuse I know that men and boys are less likely to report abuse.

  12. I hesitated publishing your comment, Anonymous. Of what value is an anonymous accusation about...what exactly? None!

    But you illustrate the damage that a whispering campaign can do. Vague accusations, implied abuse, etc. How do you define "physical abuse?" I find that difficult to believe, especially in view of the fact that I have been called "violent" for strongly disagreeing with heretics.

    I know a priest who was labled "abusive" by a dad because he hurt the feelings of his son as an altar boy. I'm not in favor of hurting kids' feelings, but the dad could have talked to Father and urged him to be more like St. John Bosco. Another dad, a former army officer, had a different take on the priest. When his sons complained, he told them to act like men, that Father cared very much about the Eucharist and was trying to teach them and didn't intend to hurt their feelings. People have different styles and personalities.

    I don't believe for a minute that Fr. Buckner was beating up on kids.

    As for your comment about hoping there was no sexual abuse, you remind me of Iago in Shakespeare's Othello, using honeyed words to imply evil about those he wanted to destroy. It makes me wonder if you have your own axe to grind against Fr. Buckner.

  13. I could not stand Father Buckner, I thought he was rude. They had one very nice and friendly priest and they sent him to another church in Springfield. The priest that replaced him is even worse. I no longer go to St. Veronica. My church is St. Timothy's and I stopped going there years ago. The priests there turned my entire family against the church. That's the reason we started to go to St. Veronica, then the changes came and we left for HOly Trinity. We were happy there until last spring when the priest we enjoyed left. My problem is the priests need to come down to our level, speak to us about the bible as it relates to us today and they should leave politics out of it.

  14. It is good to see so many people still care about Fr. Buckner. Of course, he could be stern and some people may misinterpret that as harsh. But despite the exterior, Fr. Buckner has the warmest heart I have ever seen in a priest.

    When will Fr. Buckner have justice and his good name cleared? I am ashamed of a Church that denies justice all in the name of political correctness. I am sure God knows, as many of us know, that Fr. Buckner is a good man and a good priest. In a world begging for priests, why do we persecute the good ones?

  15. I went to catholic school here in NYC with Chis Buckner. He was always being bullied and made fun of. He was a very humble kid and was made fun of for being a saint. I guess he is still being persicuted. I'd love to hear from you chris. My email is

  16. I, too, was close to Fr. Buckner at St. Mary's. I remember the sermons referred to in an earlier comment (especially, "Death. Are you ready?" for the First Sunday of Advent, but I could probably synopsize at least a dozen). Though his manner was sometimes brusque, blunt or bull-headed (most of us attributed this to the fact that he was a New Yorker), he always exhibited a deep and humble reverence for the Faith, the priesthood, and most of all, for Jesus Christ in the Eucharist. We left Virginia in '99, and I've only seen him twice since then, but he remains in our family's thoughts and prayers...especially these weeks following the ordination of one of his favorite St. Mary's altar boys -- the one of whom he frequently remarked, "That kid, you know, he could be a priest." His suspension makes me sad, not so much for Fr. Buckner himself, who knows himself as priest to be alter Christus, ipse Christus, but for the faithful of the Arlington Diocese.

  17. Are there any updates on Father Buckner or Father Haley? What on earth happened at St. Mary's? It breaks my heart. I knew both men, Father Buckner better than Father Haley. Both were powerful preachers. My friends knew Father Buckner for many years, and they were altar servers with him at Holy Spirit. They thought very highly of Father Buckner, even going to visit him after they were in college. It wasn't until another friend of mine who was from New York explained his "New York personality" that I understood Father Buckner and how he dealt with people. I would imagine today some might say he has Asperger's, in that his intellect is amazing but his social skills were not the best. At any rate, God bless them both and may the truth be known, whatever it is.

  18. No updates. Sorry. These men tend to just disappear as if they never existed...unless they are bishops, of course. They just retire and write books about their their disgraceful lifestyles - like Rembert Weakland. But all will be righted in the end. Woe to the false shepherds!

  19. Has anyone heard anything on Father Buckner??? My brother is in CRISIS and Father Buckner was the ONLY one whom he could confide in and trust in regards to matters of faith...he is experiencing his 'dark night of the soul!" Please Blessed Virgin, lead Father back to us!!!

  20. I have no idea where Fr. Buckner is, but I'll certainly pray for your brother.

  21. I will say this, as a boy I was an altar boy at St Mary's. I went to College down the street at Mary Washington. Fr Buckner was my friend and confessor. He and I were alone MANY times. He never did anything more than hug me a bit longer than I would call normal, and that was loneliness, not sexual. I can't say if he ever did anything to anyone, but he never did anything to me, and he had plenty of opportunities. In the interests of disclosure, I have since become an atheist, but that has nothing to do with Fr. Buckner. I wish him we'll.

  22. I met Fr. Buckner in 1998. I was a student at Liberty University and on of the very few Catholics there. My friend Billy was always taling about his church and the Holy Lands pilgrimages. The first time I met him we, Father and a bunch of college kids went to IHOP. A young deaf woman who worked there was crying in a seats over. Unlike us, Father went over and began to offer support to the woman. My lasting though of him was of man of compassion and action.
    I was a kid from Maine, away from home and not feeling good about where I was in life, not sure where I was going. Father asked me to go to the Holy Lands Pilgrimage with them. I explained that I didn't have the fiscal means. He said "Jimmy, that wasn't what I was asking. Do you want to come with us."
    This 10 days in the Holy Lands Changed my course in life. I left Liberty, and pursued a degree in Theology with minors in philosophy and Greek and Latin. It also led me to working extensively in live in support with developmentally disabled adults. 5 Years ago I got a Masters degree in Counseling. Since then I have been working extensively with kids and families. I firmly believe without this man I would not be living my vocation in life.
    Father will always hold a special place in my heart. He helped me to find hope, faith in myself and inspired my work with youth.

  23. I was a student at Holy Spirit grade school and in high school I worked at a restaurant in King’s Park West (1991-ish.) Fr. Buckner was friends with the restaurant owner and would often come to the restaurant later in the evening for dinner. I always enjoyed chatting with him. Perhaps because it was more of a casual environment he was a little more good-natured? I found him to be pleasant and looked forward to his visits toward the end of a long shift. I do recall his homilies being a little stern – but I actually remember two of them from over 20 years ago, so he must have been doing something right! I hope he’s okay and if he didn’t do anything improper I certainly hope he can return to ministry.