A retired priest of the Diocese of Boise is facing multiple charges involving child pornography and drug possession, which has sparked a feeling of shock and betrayal in the local bishop.
“When I heard the news for the first time, certainly sadness entered my heart, followed by shock and a sense of betrayal,” said Bishop Peter Christensen in a Feb. 11 announcement from the Diocese of Boise.
“I wish I could take away the pain that follows such horrific stories, but I cannot,” Bishop Christensen continued, saying that “we live in troubled times.”
The allegations were brought against Fr. W. Thomas Faucher, a 72-year old retired priest, who spent 20 years as the spiritual head of St. Mary’s Catholic Church and School in Boise. Fr. Faucher retired three years ago, and is now facing charges for allegedly possessing or distributing child pornography, as well as being in possession of marijuana, LSD, and ecstasy.
According to the Idaho Statesman, there had been no previous complaints against Fr. Faucher, who was arrested after authorities had received a tip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children last week.
As Faucher faces court, Bishop Christensen said the Diocese of Boise will not be funding Faucher’s legal defense or financially contributing to a bond for the priest's release, which is currently set at $250,000.
Christensen also said that the diocese will not be paying for Faucher’s housing, further noting that the church is working towards evicting Faucher from his church-owned home for the safety of the surrounding neighbors.
Faucher’s preliminary hearing will take place on Thursday at the Ada County Courthouse.
According to local reports, Christensen addressed the scandal at St. Mary’s parish last Sunday, where he thanked the current priest, principal of the school, law enforcement, and media. The bishop also called child pornography “the work of the devil,” and lamented the alleged crime.
Christensen also noted how the alleged scandal affects the universal Church, saying that such crimes “breaks the morale for the priests.”
“I do not know what the eventual outcome of Fr. Faucher’s legal case will be. Regardless, damage has been done to so many who have put their trust in his past leadership and friendship,” Christensen said.
“I encourage our Catholic community to seek God’s healing presence in each of our lives, placing our dependence and trust in Him. Let us pray for all children who are victimized by all forms of abuse and exploitation. Let us also pray for each other, and for our Church.”