[Your thoughts are welcome at]

Dear Family and Friends
Fr. Tony Ercolano is from Queens, New York City, NY

After more than thirty years of ministry I decided to request a leave from my ministry as an active priest. My reasons are manifold. But stated simply, I am finding it increasingly difficult to effectively represent our church.

I am troubled by the repression of theologians, and by the definition of discussion, debate, and disagreement as disloyalty; by creeping infallibilism; by the lack of real collegiality within the church; by an increasing sectarianism rather than an inclusive, catholic acceptance of even those with whom we disagree; by the centralization of church authority. When elitist, reactionary groups like Opus Dei and the Legionaries of Christ are extolled as examples of true fidelity to the Gospel, I know I can no longer cooperate in this endeavor.

I am disappointed by the negligent and cowardly refusal to creatively address what is truly important (the priest shortage, many deprived of the Eucharist, fewer going to church, the loss of a generation of Catholics), while we insist that lay ministers of Communion can’t fill chalices, which must be made of precious metal.

I am disheartened by the sexual abuse scandal, and in particular by some members of the hierarchy who failed to deal with the problem expeditiously and decisively.

I am offended by the church’s tacit support of George W. Bush’ re-election in spite of his war, his support of the death penalty, and his theft from the poor so the rich can have a tax rebate.

I have always believed that the only way I could change the church was to remain in active ministry and be the best possible priest I could be. I am no longer sure this is realistic.

During this time of discernment, I intend to engage in some form of priestly ministry doing whatever tasks lie ahead.

For the past 32 years, many of you have allowed me the opportunity to serve as your priest. I will always remain grateful to God for that privilege.

Tony Ercolano

P.S. Yes, your marriages are still valid, your children are baptized, and I am still bound by the seal of Confession.




In the Vineyard
October 20, 2005
Volume 4, Issue 14
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