.- Father Thomas Euteneuer, former president of Human Life International and a popular Catholic media figure, has broken the silence regarding his abrupt departure from public life last August.
He left HLI after “violating the boundaries of chastity with an adult female who was under my spiritual care,” Fr. Euteneuer said in a Jan. 31 statement released by LifeSiteNews.
“I state without reserve that I am deeply sorry for my actions. I have personally apologized, where possible, to anyone I have harmed,” he added.
Fr. Euteneuer said his offenses had been limited to one woman and “did not involve the sexual act.” He added that the “difficult situation … has already been handled appropriately by Church authorities for nearly six months.” He said that no “financial settlement” had been paid out in connection with the matter.
Fr. Euteneuer left his post as head of one of the world’s largest pro-life organization without warning last August, saying only that Bishop Gerald M. Barbarito had called him back to his home diocese of Palm Beach, Fla.
He had been president of HLI since 2000 and was one of the pro-life movement’s most visible spokesmen. Last year, HBO aired a documentary, “12th and Delaware,” that featured a crisis pregnancy center that Fr. Euteneuer had established across the street from an abortion clinic in Fort Pierce, Fla.
In recent years, Fr. Euteneuer had become increasingly involved in the ministry of exorcism. He became a popular speaker on the topic and wrote a highly regarded book, “Exorcism and the Church Militant.”
In his statement, Fr. Euteneuer said his “fall” came during the course of this ministry. “One particularly complex situation clouded my judgment and led me to imprudent decisions with harmful consequences,” he said.
“I take full responsibility for my own poor judgment, my weakness and my sinful conduct that resulted from it,” he added.
He said that the “vast majority” of his decisions and conduct had been “morally sound and consistent with all standards of pastoral care of persons.” He denied allegations he said were being made on “internet sites” that he had “targeted vulnerable women” in his spiritual direction ministry. He also denied allegations of any “financial impropriety” related to his exorcism work.
Fr. Euteneuer expressed sorrow for the harm that his “fall” had caused to his family and to his witness to the priesthood and the pro-life cause.
However, he said that he had “never entertained even the slightest thought of leaving the holy priesthood or the Roman Catholic Church as a result of my failings.”
He said that Bishop Barbarito had authorized him to release his statement and that he was “under obedience” to the bishop, who would decide “all questions of continuing priestly ministry.”
There was no immediate comment from Bishop Barbarito or Human Life International on Fr. Euteneuer’s statement.