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Fr. Ken Roberts, REST IN PEACE

154549133261636553bFr. Kenneth Roberts died Thursday, December 20, 2018 around 4:50 ET in Cincinnati, Ohio.  Born and raised in England, he later became an American citizen.  He was 89 years of age.  A charismatic and articulate priest, he easily made his early reputation as a stark defender and teacher of Catholic teaching.  (Back in 1989, I got to meet him over a dinner in Birmingham, Alabama.)  At the time he was filming programs locally for Mother Angelica and EWTN.  His book PLAYBOY TO PRIEST was one of the works that influenced many young men to discern a vocation to the priesthood, myself included. Another notable book was NOBODY CALLS IT SIN ANYMORE.  He is well remembered for his books, tapes, television appearances, retreats and support for the Medjugorje apparitions and messages.

His defunct website noted the following:  “Throughout his life, Father Ken has been especially devoted to our Blessed Mother, realizing that the love and graces of her Immaculate Heart are the surest and most expedient way into the saving Sacred Heart of her son Jesus Christ. Father Roberts has dedicated his priesthood to the Blessed Virgin Mary.”

Although he traveled a great deal, he was a priest (ordained in 1966) from the Diocese of Dallas, Texas.  Given credible charges of misconduct with minors, he was suspended from ministry in 1998 (November 13) by Bishop Charles Grahmann and incurred serious restrictions (such as not being able to wear clerical garb and from presenting himself as a priest in good standing). Although ordered to do so, he was hesitant or slow to terminate his national online ministry.  He was especially popular with young people and his site got as many as 50,000 hits a day.  When the revelations of misconduct were made public, his supporters were in utter disbelief and rallied to his defense.  Unfortunately, accusations of improper behavior dated back to the 1970’s.  Since 1995 he had been directed to avoid ministerial contacts with youth and men thirty years of age or younger.  He disappeared into retirement, stripped of all the trappings of priesthood, even the title, FATHER.  An official monitum or Church warning went out in 2007 that he was allegedly celebrating home Masses and was associating with children and teenagers in violation of his suspension and earlier restrictions.  I recall one vocal critic who complained when she spotted the elderly Roberts praying quietly in the rear corner of a parish church.  It looked to her that he was wearing a clerical shirt, albeit not black and without the tell-tale Roman collar.  If I recall the correspondence correctly, someone may have even called him “father,” although I suspect that he was also called many other things of  a far more offensive nature.  My response was to remind the critic, who had every right to be upset and disappointed in the wayward priest, that we are all sinners and the Church will never close her doors to any soul seeking to make reparation for wrongs and to find healing in Christ.  Given that the charges were true, maybe he was bringing the many victims to prayer?  We leave ultimate judgment to God.

I was a big fan of his YOU BETTER BELIEVE IT program on EWTN. It was a wonderful show which he co-hosted with a Catholic and Protestant teenager.  It spoke to the youth in a non-threatening language that they could understand.  His small booklet in response to the anti-Catholicism of Jimmy Swaggert was also right on the mark.  Of course, the misconduct soured or ruined the positive impact of much of what he did. 

As with the many other scandals facing the Church, it is all so terrible and hard to believe.  How must we respond?  We must pray for victims and their perpetrators.  We must seek transparency in our discipleship and shed any duplicity.  We must seek justice and healing for those harmed.

His family and friends kept his passing quiet so as to avoid sensationalism.  That is as it should be.  The reason I posted this information was to urge all his past fans, friends and critics to pray for the repose of his soul.  He was buried from Holy Cross-Immaculata Parish in Cincinnati on December 27, 2018.  The Mass was celebrated by Fr. Timothy Reid.  He was buried at Gate of Heaven Cemetery (11000 Montgomery Road, Cincinnati, OH  45249).

  • Opening HymnBe Thou My Vision
  • First Reading:  Daniel 12:1-3
  • Responsorial:  Psalm 23
  • Second Reading:  Romans 6:3-9
  • Gospel:  John 6:51-58
  • Offertory HymnGood Christian Friends, Rejoice
  • Communion Hymns –  Ave Maria / Alleluia, Sing to Jesus
  • Closing Hymn –  O God Beyond All Praising

He very much believed in the power of prayer and frequently urged that we remember the poor helpless souls in purgatory.  I suspect that he has now joined their company.

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Funeral Mass Program – Fr. Kenneth J. Roberts

Eternal rest, grant unto him/her O Lord and let perpetual light shine upon him.
May he rest in peace. Amen.

May his/her soul and the souls of all the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.

Remembering Father Ken… I hope and trust that he knew the graces that come with repentance.  REST IN PEACE.


http://www.ncregister.com/site/article/dallas_bishop_suspends_father_ken_roberts

https://www.poynter.org/reporting-editing/2003/former-student-pursues-charges/

https://www.crisismagazine.com/2018/gay-priests-open-letter-fr-james-martin

21 Responses

  1. I knew Father Ken. It was a joy and privilege. I could not judge him nor did I ever want. I knew not his sins but I am thankful that I could call him my friend as well. He was a great supporter of Medjugorge and loved our Blessed Mother.I pray for the repose of his sole as well as anyone that may have been victimized…by him or anyone.

  2. Fr Joe, with all due respect to you I did say I will pray for Fr. ken then I said I will pray to him whichever God would allow to be. The reason being is we really dont know where he is. He may have repented like the good thief and was canonized by Jesus himself at the time of his death and went to paradise. Or to equate him to a Saint Paul who was Saul at one time persecuting Christians and assisting in the stoning of St. Stephen. He suffered much from the time of being knocked off the horse,blind, beaten ,shipwrecked,imprisoned and finally beheaded! He won the race and maybe Fr. Ken won also. We really dont know, so I will do both pray for him and also pray to him just in case he can help. No harm done,no wasted time,God will align my prayers, that is my prayer!

    FATHER JOE:

    My view is really the Church’s view, not just my opinion. There are rules about whom we can publicly promote for intercessory prayer. As much as I admired his books and recordings, the allegations against him were substantial and deemed credible. I have no doubt that he spent his final years in prayer and penance. However, should he still be in purgation, then I personally would want to make sure that no prayer is misdirected. We combine our love to the love of God. Like the billows blowing air upon a fire, we seek to enhance the fire of grace that purifies the soul. Sanctoral prayer is best reserved to those for whom we have every reason to think are saints in heaven. If there be any doubt, we are urged to pray for souls instead.

    We live at a time when the sin of presumption is prevalent. Many embrace a universalism (that all will be saved), not endorsed either by the sources of public revelation or by the various instances of private revelation (as with the Marian apparitions). You are correct that we cannot judge Roberts’ soul; we leave that to God. Our hope as Christians would have us pray for him as a poor soul in purgatory. A saving faith requires a discipleship lived out in charity, repentance of sin, and amendment of life. Perfection requires that we must also be free of venial sin even if this final weaning should take place after death. This includes purification from the habit of sin and the temporal punishment due to sin. Today, I suspect that too many presume that the dead go swiftly to heaven, with no reference to purgatory or hell, whatsoever.

    Under the papacy of St. John Paul II, we had the promulgation of the formerly suppressed Divine Mercy devotion. As an extension of the Sacred Heart, this appreciation of Christ can help us in our orations for the fallen priest: “Eternal Father, I offer you the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your Dearly Beloved Son, Our Lord, Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world. / For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.”

    The Blessed Mother meant a great deal to him and I suspect that Roberts would direct our attention to the vision that Our Lady gave to the children of Fatima: “As Our Lady spoke these last words, she opened her hands once more, as she had done during the two previous months. The rays of light seemed to penetrate the earth, and we saw as it were a sea of fire. Plunged in this fire were demons and souls in human form, like transparent burning embers, all blackened or burnished bronze, floating about in the conflagration, now raised into the air by the flames that issued from within themselves together with great clouds of smoke now falling back on every side like sparks in huge fires, without weight or equilibrium, amid shrieks and groans of pain and despair, which horrified us and made us tremble with fear. (It must have been this sight which caused me to cry out, as people say they heard me). The demons could be distinguished by their terrifying and repellent likeness to frightful and unknown animals, black and transparent like burning coals. Terrified and as if to plead for succor, we looked up at Our Lady, who said to us, so kindly and so sadly: You have seen hell where the souls of poor sinners go. To save them, God wishes to establish in the world devotion to my Immaculate Heart. If what I say to you is done, many souls will be saved and there will be peace.”

    While we do not have all their names, I feel deeply that we must always remember in prayer the seven or so purported victims of abuse.

  3. Eternal rest grant unto him oh
    Lord, let Perpetual light shine upon him, may he Rest In Peace
    I have been praying for him for a long time. We went to his missions
    When he was in the Houston area. Our son Greg went on a pilgrimage to Medjugorie with him and a group of youths. He also helped my son
    James, when his wife left him. We will continue praying for him always🙏🙏🙏

  4. I will pray for him and pray to him also, whichever God allows, I hope the latter one. Fr. Ken pray for me, thanks.

    FATHER JOE: I would suggest praying for him but NOT to him. The poor souls in purgatory are helpless and need our prayers. Along with traditional thinking on the matter, it is my recommendation that intercessory prayer requests be reserved to when the cause for canonization has been opened and the candidate is declared “Venerable” by the Church. Given the many allegations against Kenneth Roberts, no such cause will ever be opened. Pray for his soul and pray for those who are his victims, still suffering from his tragic violation of their trust and of their bodies.

  5. If he was stripped of his priestly duties why is he still called Father?

    FATHER JOE: A laicized priest is still a priest, even though he has no faculties to function. As for the title FATHER in the posting it is used for purposes of identification. We still know him as Fr. Roberts even though he could no longer use or claim the title personally.

  6. We learned a lot from Father Ken Roberts at Medjugorje conferences in Chicago. I never believed that he did anything wrong. As I recall, he did have an alcohol problem and passed out and so couldn’t remember anything – and couldn’t justify himself. I never believed someone who went from Playboy to Priest would be interested in young boys. I think the devil tripped him up with the alchohol problem — because Father Ken was bringing many to the priesthood. Rest in peace Father Ken! I believe you will be vindicated in Heaven!

  7. God is merciful, permitted a soul repents. Never judge! To die in grace, and last sacraments, is a good thing.
    I too met Fr. Ken in the mid 90’s in Southern California and later learned from my pastor he stayed in Colorado Springs for a short time too, my home for the last decade.

    I have nothing against the priest, his stories, his movement regarding Medjugorje was exceptional.

    ANYONE, regardless of the degree and number of sins, is exempt from hell, if they repent. A common word for this is, “Mercy”.

    I suggest PRAY for the victims and the guilty alike, and forgive, and continue to ask for forgiveness for this demonstrates well how a Christian stands apart from other religions.

    My return to the faith, was from Medjugorje in the early 90’s too.

    I LOVE Medjugorje!!!

    Peace

  8. The thing that bothers me is that charges in 1997 against him were when he was a young priest in 1970. People and Priests can repent and change as they get older and more mature. It was a shame he had to shut down when he was doing so much good. He had a week long retreat at our parish and it was so excellent.

    FATHER JOE: If I recall correctly, he mentioned drinking blackouts as a factor.

  9. Our family and the cities of Baton Rouge and New Orleans learned a great deal from Fr. Ken. He was a good teacher and loved to help with vocations thru Medjugorje; but really he was a lonely man one on one.

    God rest his soul and forgive him his wrongs. Let the instrumental role he played in many conversions be pitted against his sins and wipe out his offenses.

    I am reminded of what the Pope said to Michelangelo in the 16th Century when he told the painter who never wanted to paint but to Sculpture: “I will pit my sins against the ceiling you never wanted to paint & spend less time in purgatory.”

  10. Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.
    Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.
    May God have mercy on Fr. Ken Roberts and on all the rest of us poor sinners. Amen.

    Although I did not know this man, I give thanks for all the good God worked through him as priest and beg forgiveness for the wrongdoings he committed and complete and thorough healing for all.

  11. May Fr Ken rest in God’s eternal & merciful peace. May his goodness outshine his sins & may the same be said for all of us… I will miss you…

  12. RIP, Father Ken.

  13. His book “Up On The Mountain” was an inspiration to me as a Protestant to go to Medjugorje in 1999.

    I subsequently also enjoyed his videos, one in particular, when he was with the Medj. Visionaries in the upstairs room during an apparition. You could hear the wind blowing in the microphone, and he was blown to the ground!

  14. I met Father Roberts in Irving Tx,he was a Priest at Holy Family,I Hate the bad things he was accused of doing,he gave me Holy Communion numeris times,I talked to him a lot an I liked him,I had no idea what he was accused of at the time,RIP Father Roberts..

  15. Oh my! I just watched the video you shared! What a beautiful message to us all! Fr. Kenneth Roberts, thank you for sharing that message through Father Joe, and may you rest in peace! If everyone reading this would take the time to watch it all the way through, it can change your life!

  16. In our family we pray for all priests, living and deceased, especially for those who have endangered their immortal souls and the souls of those whom they have harmed so egregiously. There is no excuse for these acts! No excuse! It is not MISCONDUCT! Bad behavior? It is SEXUAL ABUSE, death to the souls and spirits of those they abuse. It is one of the worst ways to hurt children. Many never recover and go on to lives of destruction, because a priest chose to prey upon the innocence and the purity of a child, a defenseless child of God, a pure soul who in 9 out of 10 cases looked up to the priest and wished to be “holy” like him. Only he wasn’t (isn’t) holy; not only is he not holy, he has become evil incarnate, because of the murderous actions he(was) is involved in. Yes, murderous! We cannot sugar coat it, but many try to. He did fine things, they say. He was a special man, they say. He had many gifts, they say. He was popular with young people, they say. He had a wonderful show, they say. And on and on! He was a child predator, he was in collusion with the devil, he ignored the promptings of the Holy Spirit, he was dead in the Spirit, he chose evil over good, he manipulated defenseless, innocent children. Our Lady of Fatima showed the 3 little children what happens to priests and bishops who participate in grave sin as this man did. May God have mercy on his soul! And may God heal his innocent victims of mind, memory, soul, spirit and body. May they forgive him, not because he deserves forgivness, but because that is what Jesus asks us to do. May they live to honor and love children in response to the horror they suffered at the hands of a “priest.” No, I’ve never been abused by a priest. In my childhood and youth I was around many priests, but not a single one of them harmed me in any way. On the contrary, they showed me what a man of God truly is and how he lives out his vocation in a good, healthy, holy way. I thank God for those priests every day, and I pray that all evil, demonic priests be removed and replaced with good, holy priests, even if it means we have less priests. We pray!

  17. Good post, Father.

  18. Very Sad. I too read Playboy to Priest and learned alot from his books and shows. His teaching helped form what i believe is the truth today. I am aware that he hurt some people. I pray for his soul and that all can find peace.

  19. May God have mercy on his soul. We’ll all be judged by our maker.
    Fr. Roberts, rest in peace!

  20. I met Father Ken Roberts in 1989 at the Serra International Convention in New Orleans. I have traveled with him many times. I consider Father Ken to have been a very good priest and a very dear friend. May he rest in the Mercy of God. Flo Murphy San Diego.

  21. He was a very special man and God gave him special gifts. Many miracles went through his hands, things you can never make up. . He had the gift to know if God was calling someone to Religious life and he helped many on this path. He gave Mother Angelica her last rights and on a Good Friday, prayed for her the whole day on Holy Saturday which also happened to be the 50th anniversary of him entering the Priesthood, and God lifted her peacefully out of her bedridden misery on Easter day. You can’t make this up. I believe God will make Fr. Ken a Saint. God bless you Fr. Kenneth Roberts! Fiat!

    FATHER JOE:

    I am afraid you are making it up. The sacraments of absolution, Holy Communion and unction are only the LAST RITES if one immediately dies. Mother Angelica died in 2016. She did not receive the Last Rites from Fr. Ken because he was forbidden to offer any of the sacraments since 1998 (eighteen years previous). It was Father Paschal Mary Yohe who offered Mass in her room and gave her Viaticum.

    Database of Publicly Accused Priests in the United States: “Roberts was alleged to have abused one youth in 1960s in Dallas. Bishop transferred him to Ft. Worth for a time. Sent to MO for therapy in 1968 and allowed to work there on a temporary basis until 1994. Also worked in Belleville Diocese. At one time he was national head of Catholic Youth Organizations. Faculties suspended in 1998. Several civil suits filed naming St. Louis and Dallas and/or Belleville Dioceses. At least seven known victims. Some cases settled; one was in Peoria.”

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