Fr. Haley and the Arlington Diocese “Boys Club” …Virginia Bishop who Knew About Gay Activities in the Vatican Mysteriously Dies in Rome After Meeting With Pope

The Rev. John R. Keating, the Catholic bishop of Arlington who had presided over the explosive growth of his Northern Virginia diocese, died in Rome after he had a private audience with Pope John Paul II.  Keating, was in Rome to report to the pope on the state of his parish, a duty every diocesan head must fulfill every five years..Wash Post

Father Haley and “The Boys Club”
by Mark Fellows

For years governments have had laws protecting whistle-blowers, These laws shield from retaliation those employees who come forward with evidence of illegal or immoral practices within their agency. The case of Father James Haley makes it evident that the Catholic Church in America offers no similar protection to its priests.

Father Haley, a priest in the diocese of Arlington, Virginia, has been permanently suspended by Bishop Paul Loverde for testifying in a legal deposition about the immoral practices of his fellow diocesan clergy. In a formal notice to Haley, given on October 28, 2002, Bishop Loverde stated that Haley was guilty of violating an order for him not to publicize priestly wrongdoing in order “to avoid scandal, to maintain ecclesiastical discipline and to protect the reputation and privacy of both the faithful and priests of this diocese.” 1. As quoted in The Washington Times, November 13, 2002.]

In fact Father Haley never went public with any of his incriminating information. For years he went privately to Bishop Loverde, not just with his complaints, but with indisputable evidence of clergy immorality in his diocese. Bishop Loverde’s reference to Haley “publicizing priestly wrongdoing” concerns deposition testimony given by Father Haley pursuant to a law suit brought against Bishop Loverde and his diocese by a parishioner, James Lambert. The suit alleged diocesan negligence in failing to remove an obviously unfit priest who had given public scandal for years. 2. The lawsuit was eventually dismissed for failing to comply with the statute of limitations.

After failing to get a judge to keep the contents of the deposition sealed, the Arlington diocese claimed Haley was not legally required to give testimony, but did so voluntarily. This, according to Bishop Loverde, meant that Haley had violated a “no talk” rule the Bishop imposed upon him a year previously. But the deposition, which is reproduced in its entirely on the Roman Catholic Faithful website, 3. See In addition, Father Haley’s attorney, Greg Murphy, has sent me a copy of the original subpoena requiring Father Haley to testify. Although the Arlington diocese publicly maintains Haley was not subpoenaed, in their legal efforts to seal his deposition testimony diocesan lawyers admitted that Father Haley was testifying “in response to this subpoena.” Letter to Bishop Loverde, from Greg Murphy, Esq., January 3, 2003, p. 5. clearly reveals that Father Haley was subpoenaed. 4. Deposition of Father James Haley, conducted by Gregory L. Murphy, Esq., on July 24, 2002, pursuant to the civil lawsuit Lambert v. Bishop Paul Loverde and the Diocese of Arlington, p. 4. (Hereinafter cited as “Deposition, p. __”). This means he was legally required to answer questions under oath about certain priests and practices in his diocese. Consequently, even if one considers deposition testimony “publicizing”, Haley did not do so voluntarily. Since Haley was legally and morally obligated to tell the truth, Bishop Loverde’s treatment of Haley strikes many as retaliation.

The Outsider

Although Father Haley has been silenced, his story is told in his deposition testimony. Here we learn that James Raymond Haley was ordained a Roman Catholic priest in 1987 at St. Thomas More Church in Arlington, Virginia. “Homosexuality within the priesthood is something that I did not know about when I was ordained,” the forty-six year old Father Haley testified, “but from my very first assignment at Saint Mark’s (in Vienna, Virginia) became more and more aware of.” Haley “started to see associations between those who were exhibiting homosexual behaviors and friendships.” Homosexual priests supported each other, and adopted “a defensive attitude towards anyone who might threaten them.” 5. Deposition Testimony, p. 139

Haley was also troubled by what he heard about the homosexual priest network in the confessional, but the list of priests he could confide in was getting shorter. One of his seminary classmates was also a priest in the Arlington diocese. He told Haley about entering the rectory at St. Mary’s and finding his pastor having anal intercourse with the maintenance man, and the time he visited another parish where the priest had an eighteen year relationship with another homosexual man. Haley’s former classmate complained to the diocese, became depressed when they did nothing, and left the priesthood. 6. Deposition, p. 146.

Determined not to leave the priesthood, Haley sought out Bishop John R. Keating, then bishop of the Arlington diocese. Over the course of many meetings Haley recounted to Keating “a whole list and litany” of homosexual activity in the diocesan clergy. Like the “extraordinarily gay-looking masseuse” who regularly came to the rectory to give closed door massages to Haley’s pastor. Or the event that occurred a week after Haley began his first parish assignment. There was a knock on the back door. A man asked for Haley’s associate, calling him by his first name. Haley knocked on the pastor’s door. The priest, expecting his friend, surprised Haley by answering the door naked. Haley told him a man was downstairs, and the priest said, “Send him up.” 7. Deposition, pp. 141-142.

Bishop Keating confirmed Haley’s alarm over the homosexual network in the Church. According to Keating the problem went higher. “He indicated a problem existed even among the bishops and cardinals, naming some that surprised me,” Haley testified. 8. Deposition, p. 140. Although he was sympathetic, in the end Keating was no help. According to Haley, Keating said “he could not do anything about homosexual priests or their activities.” 9. Ibid

The Rev. John R. Keating, the Catholic bishop of Arlington who had presided over the explosive growth of his Northern Virginia diocese, died in Rome after he had a private audience with Pope John Paul II.  Keating, was in Rome to report to the pope on the state of his parish, a duty every diocesan head must fulfill every five years..Wash Post

Haley was stunned to learn that “A bishop would knowingly ordain a homosexual man…I thought that they would want to know that a man or a seminarian or a priest was homosexual. And they couldn’t care less, so I started to feel like the outsider, like maybe I was the unique guy. That it wasn’t the gay men that were unique, it was the straight men that were unique.” 10. Deposition, p. 144.

Adding to his discomfort was what he was hearing in the confessional: “I was becoming aware of some significant sexual problems among our priests, which I could not say to anybody.” In 1995 Haley began seeing a psychologist, “to help me deal with the emotional burden of knowing what I did not want to know about my fellow priests through confession.” 11. Deposition, p. 118.

“The Boy’s Club”

In 1997 Father Haley was transferred to All Saints Church, the largest parish in Virginia. He joined two other associates to Pastor Jim Verrechia, an up and coming priest who seemed destined for bigger and better things than parish life. Father Verrechia was on the Board of Directors of Catholic Charities and St. Mary’s Seminary; a Judge on the Diocesan Tribunal; a frequent columnist for the Arlington Catholic Herald; the Bishop’s Master of Ceremonies, and so on. 12. See Arlington Diocese Racked By Sex Scandals, by James Bendell, Esq., He also liked to visit homosexual pornography cites on the Internet, a fact Father Haley discovered while using the rectory computer. 13. Deposition, p. 18. Another discovery was over three hundred e-mail letters Verrechia had written to a married female parishioner.

This last discovery was less a surprise than Verrechia’s appetite for homosexual pornography. Father Verrechia had for some time conducted a very public romance with Nancy Lambert. The two spent hours together, sometimes socially, like the parish party where they sat together in a hot tub drinking wine, Verrechia’s arm around Nancy. Other time was spent privately, like the time Haley ran into Nancy coming out of Verrechia’s bedroom very late at night. It was called “the Father Verrechia show,” and was a source of scandal to All Saints parishioners, and a source of pain for Nancy’s husband and children, who were also parishioners.

“It was a full-blown scandal by the fall of 1998,” Haley testified. 14. Deposition, pp. 211-212. Numerous parishioners and one of the associate pastors complained to the diocese about Father Verrechia and Nancy, but nothing changed. Bishop Keating died in 1998, and in 1999 Pope John Paul II appointed Paul Loverde as Arlington’s diocesan bishop. That same year Father Haley presented to his new bishop indisputable evidence of Verrechia’s misconduct: he downloaded Verrechia’s letters and visits to gay porn sites onto compact disc, and presented it to Loverde. According to Haley, Loverde told him he was going on vacation and didn’t have time to look at it. 15. Deposition, pp. 70-71.

Haley stressed the importance of the situation, and Loverde repeatedly said he was going on vacation first. According to Haley, Loverde did not seemed surprised by anything Haley told him about Verrechia, and was not happy to receive hard evidence concerning the bad priest. Haley testified that when Loverde finally found time to look at Haley’s evidence, he suggested that Haley authored the e-mails. When Haley laughed aloud at the idea that he had composed hundreds of e-mails, Loverde implied that Haley had “doctored” the e-mails.

Word got back to Verrechia far more quickly than Loverde got back to Haley. The day after he delivered the evidence to Loverde, Haley discovered that Verrechia had deleted all his e-mails to Nancy Lambert from the rectory computer. Shortly after this Haley was transferred to St. Lawrence Church in Alexandria.

Here he met Father Erbacher. One of the first activities the two priests shared was Erbacher going through the St. Lawrence picture book and showing Haley “the boys of the previous pastor.” 16. Deposition, p. 145. By this he meant altar boys the former pastor had paid $500 or $1000 to continue as his altar boys, a duty that included, among other things, vacations at the pastor’s beach home. 17. Deposition, p. 153, which includes a similar story concerning a different priest. Erbacher was either very careless or very confident, for he also told Haley how he regularly embezzled funds from collection baskets. The trick to embezzlement, according to Erbacher, was that “you have to be consistent” in how the money is taken. According to Haley, “there were conversations that indicated Father Erbacher had been trained by certain priests of the diocese on how to handle and obtain money.” 18. Deposition, p. 149-150. Some of the stolen money was used to increase Erbacher’s collection of homosexual pornography, which featured young boys. 19. Deposition, p. 225-226. Pictures of much of this evidence were marked as Exhibits at the deposition. In addition to evidence of embezzlement, there are also photos of a large pornography collection. One of the titles is “Merry Christmas.”

Erbacher also voluntarily revealed to Haley many more of the homosexual priests in the Arlington diocese. He called the gay priest network “the boy’s club.” Erbacher’s chattiness may have come from the security of being well connected to “the boy’s club.” One of Erbacher’s best friends was Chancellor of the Arlington diocese, and rumored to be, like Erbacher, a homosexual. This did not stop Haley from presenting to Bishop Loverde: “pictures of his (Erbacher’s) homosexual pornography collection of basically young boys, very similar to what Father Verrecchia had been looking at, but much more extensive…And so I had gone to Bishop Loverde and told him he had a significant problem at Saint Lawrence. That there was immoral and criminal activity occurring and that it was very obvious and that he needed to go and see it.” 20. Deposition, pp. 155-156.

Bishop Loverde did not visit St. Lawrence. The only immediate change in the parish was Father Haley’s transfer, to St. Mary’s parish in Fredericksburg. Two months later word of Erbacher’s activities was leaked to the media. After Father Erbacher’s activities became public knowledge, Bishop Loverde immediately removed Erbacher and ordered a financial audit of St. Lawrence. The Washington Post reported that Fr. Erbacher stole approximately $320,000 from parish collection baskets. 21. Washington Post, December, 28, 2002.

Father Haley had noticed a pattern. He was being transferred shortly after each conversation he had with Bishop Loverde about immoral priests. Upon arriving at St. Mary’s, Haley testified that the parish priest, Father Daniel Hamilton, was “involved in extraordinarily graphic and incredibly disturbing sadomasochism, sexual torture, cross-dressing, transgender pornography that involved she-males. He (Hamilton) was completely addicted, daily immersed in this kind of sexual horror.” 22. Deposition, p. 183.

In September 2001 Father Haley went to Bishop Loverde again. He asked Loverde for a leave of absence “to find a place in the Church outside the diocese of Arlington, where a true respect for priestly holiness and morality and some sort of policy against homosexuals and homosexual activities was to be found.” 23. Ibid After requesting leave to find another diocese, Haley also mentioned that there were “problems at St. Mary’s.” According to Haley, Loverde replied “he was tired of me telling him these vague references to people – priests with problems – and unless I gave him substantial, credible information he couldn’t do anything about it.” 24. Deposition, pp. 184-5

Haley had presented Loverde with substantial, credible evidence concerning Fathers Verrecchia and Erbacher. Loverde’s response with Father Verrecchia was to suspect Haley of manufacturing and doctoring the evidence. While Loverde stated he had told Verrecchia to stop seeing Nancy Lambert, Verrecchia was not suspended or evaluated for his unpriestly behavior. His relationship with Lambert – and the public scandal it caused – continued until Spring of 2000, when Verrecchia voluntarily and abruptly left the Church to marry the newly divorced Lambert (on Holy Saturday), after impregnating her earlier that year.

Bishop Loverde was equally ineffectual with Father Erbacher. He never visited St. Lawrence’s parish to investigate the evidence Haley had given him, and only acted after Erbacher’s activities were publicized. Loverde appeared more effective at transferring good priests than disciplining bad ones. “It seemed,” said Father Haley, “that the only person that was getting into trouble was me.”

The trouble continued one week later, when, in response to Bishop Loverde’s complaint that he couldn’t do anything without evidence, Haley presented to the bishop evidence of Father Hamilton’s perversity. “At the end of that meeting,” Haley testified, “which was basically a slide show of the pictures of his (Hamilton’s) incredible collection, the bishop told me that I had better watch out, that I did not know what he (Loverde) was capable of doing.” 25. Deposition, p. 190.

One week later Father Haley was summoned to the chancery. Loverde handed him a letter of resignation and told Haley to sign it. Haley refused, and asked Loverde what he was going to do about Father Hamilton. Loverde thrust forward another piece of paper, which according to Haley, read: “I hereby instruct you to get out of Saint Mary’s parish by 7 o’clock this evening.” 26. Deposition, p. 192. Haley persisted in asking about Hamilton, and Loverde said Hamilton was being told of Haley’s allegations. He did not say that Hamilton was being investigated, evaluated, or suspended. 27. The Washington Post article (previously cited) reported that Bishop Loverde ordered Hamilton to undergo treatment. Father Hamilton resigned from St. Mary’s parish in August, 2002, and appears to have left the priesthood. The Post article is interesting for the fact that it scrupulously referred to “pornography” rather than homosexual pornography that was beyond stomach turning. Then Bishop Loverde produced another piece of paper, which Father Haley describes thusly:

“If you tell anybody by any means what has happened to Father Hamilton or anybody you will be immediately suspended from the priesthood without any warning. And (Loverde) gave me a further document that (sic) if I said anything about any priest, past, present, or future, in any behavior (I suppose it would include criminal behavior or child rape), that I would be suspended. And I said you mean I’m going to get suspended if I tell the truth to anyone but you, but if I tell you the truth you don’t seem to do anything about it. So he took away my faculties, he took away my ability to preach.” 28. Deposition, pp. 193-194.

Diocesan spokeswoman Linda Shovlain confirmed that Haley’s right to celebrate Mass and administer the sacraments was revoked in October, 2001. 29. The Washington Post, December 28, 2002. Bishop Loverde has referred to this episode as granting Haley a requested “period of discernment” to discover whether he had a vocation to the priesthood, but very few priests in the history of the Church have begun a period of discernment by being stripped of their priestly faculties, forbidden from any type of pastoral ministry or preaching, and slapped with a (seemingly immoral) penal precept of silence. Loverde’s period of discernment sounds more like a prison sentence.

Moreover, according to his sworn testimony, Haley had requested a leave of absence to find another diocese to be a priest in, not to decide whether or not to be a priest. He claims he told Loverde “emphatically, that I have never in the whole course of my priesthood asked to leave the priesthood.” 30. Deposition, p. 206. In a June 14, 2002 letter, Haley told Loverde: “I have never requested a departure from the sacred priesthood.” 31. Letter to Bishop Loverde by Greg Murphy, p. 4.

In spite of this, in all the letters Loverde has addressed to Haley since imposing a “period of discernment” upon him, the Bishop repeatedly writes: “Since it is your intention to leave the priesthood…I am more than happy to help you in your laicization from the priesthood.” Haley believes that Bishop Loverde “is trying to strangle me out of the Church.” 32. Deposition, pp. 205-206. He maintains Loverde has insisted that Haley enter treatment before he can regain his priestly faculties. He also states that Loverde “indicated to me in the letter of June 28th that on his part, he would not give approval for a transfer to any other bishop. So even if a bishop would want me, Bishop Loverde will not allow me to be transferred.” 33. Deposition, p. 209. Father Haley presently subsists on a modest stipend from the Diocese of Arlington, which has required him to relocate several times. In January of this year he was back in Arlington, trying to meet with Bishop Loverde. His perseverance is noteworthy, particularly in light of his testimony concerning bishops and “boy’s clubs”:

“If everybody in these stories (about homosexual priests) gets together we’re going to find out one little center and it always is the bishop in the diocese…they seem to know, but they will protect every single other person from knowing what they know.” 34. Deposition, p. 173.
Bishop Loverde

Paul Loverde was born in Massachusetts in 1940, and ordained in the diocese of Norwich, Connecticut in 1965. He earned a Licentiate in Canon Law from the Catholic University of America. Father Loverde was an instructor in Canon Law and Bishop’s Delegate for Clergy, as well as Chairman of the Presbyterial Council and Diocesan Pastoral Counsel. He became Auxiliary Bishop of Hartford in 1988, and was Bishop of Ogdensburg, New York, when Pope John Paul II appointed him Bishop of the Arlington Diocese. 35. From the USCCB Office of Communications announcing appointment of Bishop Loverde to the Arlington Diocese, January 25, 1999 (

Bishop Loverde cannot be blamed for the condition of the diocese he took over. His predecessor appears to have allowed “the boy’s club” to become firmly entrenched before Loverde arrived. In these circumstances it is understandable that a new bishop might, in prudence, take some time to familiarize himself with the homosexual order in the diocesan power structure. In this respect Loverde appears to have been very prudent. Initially, however, his actions pleased Arlington Catholics. Shortly after his installation the new bishop held prayer services outside several abortion clinics. Over 400 Catholics attended, and Loverde led small groups in the recitation of the Rosary. 36. Arlington Catholic Herald, April 8, 1999, reproduced online at”. Loverde also canceled an event at a Dominican retreat house when he learned that radical feminist speakers, including Mary Hunt, had been invited to speak to retreatants. 37. Arlington Catholic Herald, reproduced at In his decision Loverde quoted Mary Hunt referring to herself “as a Catholic feminist liberation theologian, pro-choice and lesbian.”

But under Bishop Loverde the Arlington diocese was also home for many “mini-Assisi” events, like the inter-faith prayer service Loverde hosted in February 2001, where care was taken to present the Bishop as an equal among equals with his separated Protestant brethren. 38. Arlington Catholic Herald, February 1, 2001, which features a picture of Loverde in the background, while in the foreground a Protestant minister leads a “Litany of Thanksgiving” at St. Bernadette’s Catholic Church. I am in the possession of numerous other flyers and parish bulletins indicating that the insipid and dangerous drivel known as post-conciliar ecumenism – including inter-faith Good Friday services and petitions “For the Jewish people to enjoy a New Year” – is flourishing in the Arlington diocese. 39. These materials, too numerous to cite here, were provided to me by RCF attorney James Bendell.

Then there is the apparent belief of Bishop Loverde that unity in liturgy bars kneeling to receive Communion. This was enforced in his Cathedral during the same week Loverde permanently suspended Father Haley. The Cathedral rector not only refused Communion to Virginia Delegate Richard Black, he chased Black to the back of the Cathedral, shouting that Black was “a conservative idiot” and a “liar.” 40. This incident was widely reported in the electronic press. I am quoting from an eye-witness, Joseph Strada, who wrote Loverde a letter of complaint. This lesson on how unity at all costs only causes disunity appears unheeded. 41.The Director of Seton School in Manassas, for instance, has declared that the custom of receiving Communion standing is “the custom and posture in every parish in the Diocese…we should avoid confusion and disunity…The fostering of unity in the Diocese of Arlington is one of Bishop Loverde’s hopes since his arrival…” Sentinel, Thursday, January 25, 2001. Also unheeded is a Vatican statement declaring that “any refusal of Holy Communion to a member of the faithful on the basis of his or her kneeling posture to be a grave violation of one of the most basic rights of the Christian faithful…” 42. Statement of The Congregation for Divine Worship and Discipline of the Sacraments, Responses to Questions on Kneeling, published in the November-December 2002 edition of Notitiae.

As miserable as these anecdotes are, they only support the remarkably unremarkable conclusion that Arlington Catholics are victims of the usual post-conciliar muddle. But Bishop Loverde’s treatment of Father James Haley has definitely raised the bar. Instead of acting like a shepherd by promptly investigating Haley’s evidence in order to protect his flock, Loverde disbelieved Haley’s proofs, transferred him twice, failed to give him promotions due a priest of his tenure, threatened him, stripped him of his faculties, publicly discredited him, blocked his transfer to another diocese, and permanently suspended him. Some of his public statements appear knowingly false, like his claim that Father Haley was not subpoenaed. The diocesan attorneys knew this, and surely Loverde either knew this as well, or should have investigated the matter before making his public statement. It is very probable that he also knew that diocesan lawyers tried repeatedly to postpone Father Haley’s deposition, then declined to appear at the deposition to question Haley. 43. Deposition preamble by Greg Murphy, Esq.

Bishop Loverde appears unmoved by the protests of Arlington Catholics over his treatment of Father Haley. He maintains that he has acted properly in disciplining Father Haley, and in his treatment of the priests Father Haley exposed as unfit. “I expect every priest to live a virtuous life in keeping with his sacred calling, including his commitment to celibacy and chastity,” he affirmed recently. 44. As quoted in Whistle-Blower Priest In Trouble With Diocese, ABC News Report, December 2, 2002.

This public statement conflicts with testimony Haley gave concerning statement Loverde allegedly made to him regarding homosexual priests. According to Haley, Loverde told him “there was nothing wrong” with homosexual priests, that “he never asks” if a priest is homosexual: “He said ‘I have no right to ask.'” 45. Deposition testimony, pp. 157-158, p. 187. If true, this is a curious attitude not only for a bishop, but for the NCCB Chairman of the Vocations Committee, another position Loverde currently holds. 46. See U.S. Catholic Bishops, Secretariat for Vocations and Priestly Formation, Interview With Bishop Paul S. Loverde, at

“When he consecrated the Sacrament, his voice would just tremble with emotion,” a parishioner said of Father Haley. “We were bitterly sorry to lose him.” 47. ABC News, Whistle-Blower Priest In Trouble With Diocese, December 2, 2002.

In the upside down world of the American Catholic Church, it appears that to have a vocation to the priesthood is grounds for suspension, and questioning whether a priest is a homosexual is morally abhorrent. As the rays of sunlight from the New Springtime of the Church fail to provide warmth, as we behold bare branches unadorned by the green leaves of renewal promised from the “New Pentecost of Vatican II,” may Father Haley and other faithful Catholics gain consolation from the prophet in Wisdom:

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