Back in August, a couple months after the publication of his book on exorcism, Fr. Thomas Euteneuer abruptly resigned from his position as president of Human Life International. He offered no explanation other than obedience to the bishop of his home diocese. At the time, and since, I took the whole thing as “nothing to see here.” I have given the benefit of the doubt to both Fr. Euteneuer and his bishop, presuming that, as Fr. Euteneuer has increasingly turned to spiritual warfare, he probably felt he was not properly serving the mission of HLI, and he probably wanted to turn to full time exorcism ministry.
Others have engaged in rampant speculation in one direction or the other. Many have suggested that his bishop was trying to “shut him up.” I have responded that, in situations like that (i.e., Fr. Pavone and Cardinal Egan; Fr. Fessio and the Jesuits), the official statement usually gives some indication of that. Others have suggested some ghastly scandal.
A couple weeks ago, a column suggested the “mysterious circumstances” of his disappearance from the public eye and discussed how his book, now out of print, is selling for hundreds of dollars online. This has led to a firestorm of discussion on the Internet, mostly unwholesome speculation of the kind I mentioned above.
Sadly, the truth is not as pristine as I had hoped, but it is not as horribly scandalous as some have speculated. Fr. Euteneuer admits to having engaged in a sin against chastity with a woman whom he was counseling. This sounds very much like the situation that was used to defame Fr. Haley. He says there was no sex act involved, but there was a violation of chastity. He says that he normally does spiritual counseling and exorcism with a third party helper, but occasionally made exceptions in what he believed were emergency situations. This one incident started to cross a line, and he attributes it to his own arrogance.
Sadly, the speculators are calumniating not only Fr. Euteneuer in some cases, but members of his family, his bishop, HLI and other church officials. It is to protect these people’s reputations that Father has bravely made this public statement. We should all pray for him.