Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Cathedral School of St. Jude parents meet to discuss priest's actions

ST. PETERSBURG — Dozens of parents from the Cathedral School of St. Jude met behind closed doors Wednesday night to discuss concerns about how a priest handled the sacrament of confession with their children in the weeks before Christmas.

The meeting came one day after Father Joseph L. Waters, 49, addressed the matter in a letter to the school community, referring to what he called a recent controversy that "continues to disturb the peace of our school.''

Olimpia Calandra, who spoke on behalf of the group of parents, issued a written statement after the meeting at the Seminole Lanes bowling alley.

"We came together tonight to gather information and to discuss incidents that we feel compromised the safety of our children participating in the Sacrament of Penance,'' the statement said. "We have reported these incidents to the appropriate personnel within the Diocese of St. Petersburg and the responses we have received to date we believe are insufficient and do not substantially address the issue regarding the leadership of our parish.''

Calandra said she could not give details of the concerns.

In another letter, Waters said he would not discuss the matter since "the church's sacramental discipline is crystal clear that the secrecy of the confessional is absolute."

In a followup letter sent to parents Tuesday, he said it was tempting to defend himself against the "baseless and false denunciations'' of his sacred ministry.

"Even if these unfortunate accusations were true: That a priest asked about the appropriate use of the Internet or about involvement in sins against the sixth commandment of the Decalogue; what would be so shocking about that? These are real spiritual challenges for our youth,'' he wrote, citing the commandment referring to adultery in the Catholic faith.

In a Jan. 7 letter, the vicar general for the diocese, the Very Rev. Robert F. Morris, told parents that Waters "is a respected and dedicated priest" of the diocese "with whom we have the utmost confidence.''

Bishop Robert N. Lynch, head of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, named Waters head of the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle two years ago. A few months before his appointment, the priest was charged with drunken driving near Riverview. He pleaded no contest to reckless driving and was sentenced to probation and community service.

Waveney Ann Moore can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 892-2283.

Cathedral School of St. Jude parents meet to discuss priest's actions 01/13/11 [Last modified: Thursday, January 13, 2011 12:21am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Another suspicious death in Tampa's Seminole Heights


    TAMPA — Police are investigating a suspicious death in southeast Seminole Heights, near the location of two shooting deaths last week.

  2. Duke tops preseason coaches' basketball poll; Gators No. 7


    Duke has been tabbed the preseason No. 1 for the second straight season in the coaches' basketball poll, released Thursday.

    Florida point guard Chris Chiozza launches the shot of last season’s NCAA Tournament, a winning 3
against Wisconsin that put the Gators into the Elite Eight. Chiozza returns to lead a UF team that’s getting its share of preseason attention, including a No. 7 ranking in the coaches’ poll.
  3. Richard Spencer speaks, and Gainesville emerges weary but at peace


    GAINESVILLE — Fists raised, a sea of defiant student protesters at the University of Florida relentlessly shouted down the white nationalist on stage. Richard Spencer paced, irritated, clinging to his chance to talk.

    Protesters scream at supporters of Richard Spencer after his speech at the Phillips Center at the University of Florida.  [Thursday October 19, 2017] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
  4. Pentagon investigating troubling questions after deadly Niger ambush


    WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary James N. Mattis, troubled by a lack of information two weeks after an ambush on a special operations patrol in Niger left four U.S. soldiers dead, is demanding a timeline of what is known about the attack, as a team of investigators sent to West Africa begins its work.

  5. In the military, trusted officers became alleged assailants in sex crimes


    The Army is grappling with a resurgence of cases in which troops responsible for preventing sexual assault have been accused of rape and related crimes, undercutting the Pentagon's claims that it is making progress against sexual violence in the ranks.