FrankenChurch Publisher, Author, Speaker and Columnist Outed in Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report as Ex-Priest Who Abused 17-Year-Old High School Junior

Posted by Oakes Spalding on THURSDAY, AUGUST 23, 2018

FrankenChurch Publisher, Author, Speaker and Columnist Outed in Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report as Ex-Priest Who Abused 17-Year-Old High School Junior

[The story of how a priest-molestor can get kicked out of the priesthood and still get around and make a sucessful living in neo- and liberal-Catholic circles until “outed” in the PA grand jury report]

In 1996, Barry M. Hudock was a 27-year-old assistant priest at St. Peter’s Cathedral in Erie when he initiated a sexual relationship with a female 17-year-old high school junior at Erie’s Mercyhurst Preparatory School.

According to the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report (p. 416):

This sexual abuse occurred in several different locations within the victim’s local parish community, as well as in different states. In 1997, the Diocese of Erie assigned Hudock to The Catholic University in Washington, D.C. Prior to that appointment, Hudock, the victim, and another high school student traveled to Washington in the summer of 1997. Trautman documented that Hudock and the victim had engaged in kissing prior to the trip in the church rectory. He also wrote that a “major episode occurred” in a hotel room where the three stopped to stay for the night. Subpoenaed Diocesan records revealed that Hudock groped and kissed the victim on numerous occasions. It was also reported that Hudock showed the victim pornographic videos, undressed her in his rectory and sexually assaulted her.

The report does not explicitly say when the diocese became aware of these events, but a source close to the investigation indicates that it was not until 2008, after Hudock had left the priesthood … It appears that diocesan officials acted on the information swiftly and appropriately.

[AQ Tom: Read more (much more) at ; below is Barry’s “rap-sheet” from the Bishop-Accountability website, which serves as a chronological outline of events in Oakes Spalding’s article, and which he also references in it]
Rev. Barry M. Hudock– Assignment History

Summary of Case: Barry M. Hudock was ordained in 1997 for the Diocese of Erie. His first assignment, as an assistant priest at St. Peter’s Cathedral, was followed by an unexplained two-year gap, after which he assisted and was then sole priest at St. Anne’s in Wilcox. He is not indexed in the Official Catholic Directory beyond 2001.

At some point Hudock was laicized. In July 2018 he was working at Ligurgical Press at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, MN. He is a published author and maintains a blog. Per his blog’s bio, he worked for several nonprofits in Mingo County, WV before settling in Albany MN with his wife and seven children.

Hudock’s name was added May 15, 2018 to the diocese’s list of credibly accused priests, lay employees and volunteers.

: 1996

Start Stop Assignments Town/Allegations State Position Notes

Diocese of Erie

Bishop was Donald Walter Trautman (1990-2012).

1997 St. Peter’s Cathedral Erie PA 2/6


The Cathedral had a school with 356 students.
1997 1999 Hudock is not indexed in the 1998 or 1999 Directories, nor is he listed as at his previous or next assignments in the diocesan pages.
1999 2001 St. Anne’s Wilcox PA 2/2,1/1
1999 2001 Holy Cross Rasselas PA This was a mission of St. Anne’s in Wilcox.
2001 Hudock is not indexed beyond the 2001 Directory. At some point he was laicized. He went on to marry, worked for non-profits in Mingo, WV then eventually settled in Albany, MN with his wife and seven children. He is a published author, working in July 2018 for Liturgical Press at St. John’s Abbey in Collegeville, MN and maintaining a blog.
Priests in a Parish: We use the following convention to show a priest’s place among the clergy of a parish: 1/2 means that he is the first priest listed in the Official Catholic Directory (usually the pastor) and that there is a total of two priests at the parish. The shorthand 3/4 means that the priest is listed third on a four-priest roster. See our sample page from the Directory.

SourceOfficial Catholic Directory (Kenedy & Sons, 1997-2001).

 Lists of Accused Priests Released by Dioceses and Religious Institutes, BishopAccountability, May 18, 2018 
 Public Discloure, Diocese of Erie, May 18, 2018 
 Erie Bishop Seen As a Reformer by Some – but Not by Clergy Sex Abuse Victims, by Ivey DeJesus, PennLive, May 23, 2018
 About Barry Hudock,, accessed July 14, 2018 
Faith Meets World, Barry Hudock’s webhome, accessed July 16, 2018

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One comment on “FrankenChurch Publisher, Author, Speaker and Columnist Outed in Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report as Ex-Priest Who Abused 17-Year-Old High School Junior

  1. [Ex-Fr. Hudock on one of many AQers’ favorite theologians – but not favorably (i.e., Barry’s treatment)]

    What To Do When Your Church Changes on You: The Case of Fr. Joseph Fenton

    by Anthony Ruff, based on a presentation by Barry Hudock at Saint John’s University on October 15, 2015.

    Joseph Fenton was born in Springfield, MA in 1906. By 1931, he was ordained to the priesthood and had obtained his Roman doctorate in theology – from the Angelicum. On the question of religious liberty, he stood solidly with the church. And the official teaching had been expressed repeatedly:

    ~In 1832, Pope Gregory XVI called the idea of religious liberty “absurd” in an encyclical.

    ~In 1864, Pope Pius IX listed both religious freedom and separation of church and state in his Syllabus of Errors.

    ~In 1888, Pope Leo XIII called religious liberty “false” and “greatly hurtful” in an encyclical.

    ~In 1906, Pope Pius X said the idea of separation of church and state is “eminently disastrous and reprehensible.”

    The official position was held well into the 20th century. In April 1948, an article in the Vatican-approved Civiltà Cattolica stated that the Roman Catholic Church is “convinced of being the only true church,” and hence she alone has a right to freedom. Other religions “shall not be allowed to propagate false doctrine.” When the majority of people in a country are Catholic, “the Church will require that legal existence be denied to error, and that if religious minorities actually exist, they shall have only a de facto existence, without opportunity to spread their beliefs.” Protestants should understand that the Catholic Church would betray herself “if she were to proclaim … that error can have the same rights as truth.”

    As the reader perhaps knows, it was Fr. John Courtney Murray, SJ, who did the most important work in the development of doctrine regarding religious liberty in the decades before the Second Vatican Council. Limited by the accepted theological constrictions of his time, he was forced to argue that the condemnation of religious liberty was not really the “traditional” Catholic teaching (though it was taught repeatedly and emphatically by popes). He claimed that it merely was, as Barry Hudock puts it, “an adaptation … the church had made in a specific historical context, a specific set of circumstances that were true in a particular time and place.”

    Fr. Joseph Fenton emerged as the primary opponent in battle against Murray. Fenton was a theology professor at the Catholic University of America and a close associate of Cardinal Alfredo Ottaviani, prefect of the Holy Office (now called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith). If Christ is King, as Fenton pointed out that the Catholic liturgy calls him, then it is obligatory that nations follow and worship him in their laws. In an article in the American Ecclesiastical Review, Fr. Fenton wrote:

    In the event that Fr. Murray’s teaching is true, then it would seem that our students of sacred theology have been sadly deceived for the past few centuries. They have been told that the state has an obligation to worship God according to the precepts and the rites of the true religion…. It is hard to believe that any Catholic could be convinced that an entire section of Catholic teaching about the Church itself could be so imperfect.

    Cardinal Ottaviani for his part said in 1953 at a talk at the Lateran University in Rome, “The enemies of the Church in every time have opposed her mission….” It’s not surprising when those outside the church do this, but it’s even worse when those inside it “attempt to snatch the weapons of truth and justice from her hands.” But that it was he saw happening then. He then went into the dispute between Fenton and Murray, and cited Murray’s thinking almost verbatim as it had been presented in a recent Fenton article. The church’s principles, he said, are “firm and unmovable.”

    By 1954, Fenton was in Rome submitting secret reports about Murray to Ottaviani. Fenton wrote in his diary, “There is a good chance that I have taken a leading part in an action which may turn out to be one of the most important in the history of the Catholic Church in the USA. There seems to be ample evidence that the big boys over here are working in the right direction.”

    Then, later in 1954, the Holy Office condemned four errors:

    ~that the Catholic confessional state is not the ideal;

    ~that full religious liberty can be considered as a valid political ideal in a truly democratic state;

    ~that it is sufficient for the state to guarantee the freedom of the Catholic Church by a general guarantee of religious liberty; and

    ~that the teaching of Leo XIII on the obligations of states to God is not applicable to the democratic state.

    Murray was ordered to submit his writings to the censors in Rome before publication. His Jesuit superiors ordered him to write no more on the topic of religious liberty, to which he acquiesced.

    In 1957-1958, the Holy Office was preparing a document on religious freedom. A draft included a list of 21 errors, 14 of which were drawn from Murray’s writings. But then, on October 9, 1958, Pope Pius XII died. And on October 28, John XXIII was elected. He called the Second Vatican Council in 1959.

    Fenton was present at the first session of Vatican II in 1962 as Cardinal Ottaviani’s peritus (theological expert). Murray was not invited to the Council. Fenton worked with Ottaviani to have the Council condemn religious freedom, and the Holy Office had been preparing a document to this effect. Meanwhile, the newly-formed Secretariat for Christian Unity was also preparing a document on religious freedom which took an entirely different and more positive approach.

    Cardinal Spellman arranged to have Murray invited to the second session of Vatican II as his advisor. Murray received the invitation to Vatican II the same week he was barred, along with Fr. Godfrey Diekmann, OSB, from speaking at the Catholic University of America. Murray’s ideas were advanced vigorously by the U.S. bishops on the Council floor.

    But not without vigorous opposition. When the Council fathers were presented a draft document affirming religious freedom:

    ~A Spanish cardinal said that the proposed declaration: “certainly contradicts the explicit teaching of the Roman pontiffs up to and including Pope John XXIII.”

    ~Another Spaniard said that the document “perverts the doctrine taught for centuries by the magisterium of the Church.

    ~Cardinal Ottaviani said that it was “contrary to common [Catholic] teaching.”

    Fenton face the factsAs events progressed in the course of November 1965, near the end of the final session of Vatican II, it became clearer that the proposed document was moving toward approval. Fenton wrote in his diary, “We should, I believe, face the facts. Since the death of St. Pius X the Church has been directed by weak and liberal popes, who have flooded the hierarchy with unworthy and stupid men. This present conciliar set-up makes this all the more apparent.”

    After much to-ing and fro-ing, with plenty of backstage politicking and what some would no doubt call “synod rigging,” the Council fathers eventually approved the declaration on religious freedom, Dignitatis humanae. The vote on December 7, 1965, the day before the close of the Council, was 2,308 in favor and 70 against.

    Dignitatis humanae states in its opening paragraph what it is up to: “The council intends to develop the doctrine of recent popes on the inviolable rights of the human person.” And here is the key sentence in the declaration: “This Vatican Council declares that the human person has a right to religious freedom.” It is interesting how the declaration understands the source of its teaching:

    This doctrine of freedom has roots in divine revelation, and for this reason Christians are bound to respect it all the more conscientiously. Revelation does not indeed affirm in so many words the right of persons to immunity from external coercion in matters religious….

    The (new) teaching is not explicitly found in divine revelation, but it is enough that its “roots” are in divine revelation. This was enough to make development, indeed reversal, possible.

    And where was Fr. Fenton at this point? Fenton left Rome in late November so as not to have to be present for the promulgation of Dignitatis humanae. He had resigned as editor of the American Ecclesiastical Review the previous December. He became pastor of a parish in Massachusetts, and no longer expressed himself on the issue of religious liberty. He died in 1969. One can only wonder what the final years and days were like for him.

    Barry Hudock’s presentation, which formed the basis for this post, is based on his recent book from Liturgical Press, Struggle, Condemnation, Vindication: John Courtney Murray’s Journey toward Vatican II. Pray Tell published the conclusion to that book here.

    [Two comments by Barry from the combox to this article]

    1. What Fr. Fenton most likely had in mind was the ratcheting down of Rome’s efforts to stomp out modernism. These efforts by no means ceased following Pius X, but they didn’t have the intensity of the efforts made by him and his immediate predecessors. (Note, besides Pius XI and Pius XII, Benedict XV also followed Pius X.)

    Fenton maintained a view of the world and the Church much like that reflected in Pius IX’s Syllabus of Errors: modernity could only be seen as an enemy of the Church, and as a result, the world and the Church were destined to be locked in mortal combat. (He wrote several articles expressing this, published in the American Ecclesiastic Review, the journal he edited.) For Fenton, Ottaviani, and those who thought like them, accepting religious freedom as a human right could only be seen as a traitorous capitulation to modernity.

    John XXIII’s dismissal of the “prophets of doom” who could see only “prevarication and ruin” in modern times was a pretty clear reference to this mindset. Fr. Fenton would have taken it as an obvious sign of weakness and liberalism.

    2. Like Murray, Joseph Fenton was plagued by heart problems during and after the Council. He resigned his teaching post at Catholic University midway through the Council years, and following the Council was assigned as pastor of a parish in Chicopee Falls, Massachusetts.

    He remained frustrated by the Council’s teaching, but his diaries don’t suggest rejection of it or even strong bitterness. He kept in contact with Ottaviani and visitrd Rome on vacation a few more times. He gave some thought to writing a book about being a priest in the Church post-Vatican II, but never got seriously started on such a project. He died in his sleep in the parish rectory, of a heart attack, in 1969, at age 63.

    Murray had died of a heart attack in a NYC taxi cab 2 years earlier. Cardinal Ottaviani died in 1979. May they all rest in the Lord together.

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