Judge won't let thieving priest return to pulpit

Now we have an interesting story about Rev. John Regan, a priest-thief who was found guilty of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his parish and was sentenced to court supervision and a requirement to work in a factory making $9.00/hour (min. wage in Illinois is $8.25/hr) to pay back his theft.

The Joilet, Illinois diocese stepped in and paid the parish $300,000, and Regan is paying back the diocese. Now, Regan wants to return to full-time ministry and is crying "uncle" about having to work a menial job to provide restitution. The judge, to his credit, says, sorry, "no go." Regan needs to understand that the parishioners worked hard for the money they chose to donate to the parish.

While this punishment is both creative and rehabilitative, it seems like it may indeed cross the line of preventing the diocese of assigning its "minister" to ministerial duties. The judge is not preventing the priest-thief from celebrating Mass on the weekends. Perhaps the judge has threaded the proverbial Free Exercise needle with this punishment strategy. The diocese, to its credit, is supporting the judge and made the parish financially whole.

From the Chicago Sun-Times:

A Catholic priest who gambled away $295,000 he looted from his Roselle parish lost a bid Thursday to return full-time to the pulpit while he’s still on probation.

The Rev. John Regan wanted to resume his duties as a priest in part to help pay the restitution he owes for his thefts from St. Walter Church in Roselle, his attorneys said.

DuPage County Judge John Kinsella rejected the proposal, saying he wants Regan to continue working a $9-an-hour job at a factory in Will County so he understands how painful the thefts were for parishioners.

“I thought it was important the defendant engage in menial and manual labor,” said Kinsella, who sentenced Regan last August. “People worked hard for their money and quite rightfully were dismayed by the loss of their money.”

That’s more important, Kinsella said, than speeding the pace of Regan’s restitution payments to the Joliet Diocese, which already has repaid St. Walter for the money he stole.

“If that means it takes longer to repay, so be it,” Kinsella said.

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