TribLIVE

| News

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Defrocked priest says he'll appeal to pope

Lindsay Dill | Tribune-Review
Mark Gruber is photographed in front of Leander Hall Wednesday, July 31, 2013 at the St. Vincent Seminary. Gruber has been relieved of his duties as a priest and a monk in the Benedictine order.

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Richard Gazarik
Wednesday, July 31, 2013, 11:47 p.m.
 

A defrocked priest ordered by the Vatican to leave St. Vincent Archabbey near Latrobe and enter a treatment center said he's not going anywhere until the pope hears his appeal.

Mark Gruber on Wednesday challenged Archabbott Douglas Nowicki's contention that Gruber coerced a former junior monk into making false sexual allegations against Nowicki.

Under oath, the former monk later recanted stating, “Father Gruber pressured me to execute this false affidavit to discredit the archabbot. ... I remain fearful of Gruber to this day.”

Gruber has been ordered to leave St. Vincent on Tuesdayand report to the Vianney Renewal Center in Dittmer, Mo. The center offers treatment for priests with drug and alcohol addictions, depression and other vocational issues. His dismissal stems from a lengthy case that began when photographs of naked men were discovered on his computer in 2009.

Nowicki said the decree “very clearly states there is no appeal” and he is relying “on (Gruber's) good judgment. I probably would just refer it back to the Holy See.”

In July, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith relieved Gruber of his monastic and priestly duties. He is no longer allowed to wear clerical garb, celebrate Mass, dispense Holy Communion or administer certain sacraments, except in special cases.

During an interview, Gruber wore a dark blue T-shirt and black jeans. He said he has no money and is allowed to eat at the seminary, adjacent to St. Vincent Basilica, where he has lived for four years under “ecclesiastical house arrest.” He spends his days meditating and praying, he said.

He said he is not permitted to leave the seminary grounds or be on the campus of St. Vincent College, where he had taught anthropology. He said he is shunned by other priests and monks and is not allowed visitors.

“I speak to no one. Virtually, it's a hermital life. I'm treated as a criminal,” he said. “I'm not allowed to go out.”

Nowicki disputed Gruber's description of his life at the seminary.

“He comes and goes as he pleases, as he always has,” he said. “It's my hope he can get on with his life. It's been a painful experience for everybody. He's no longer a member of the Benedictine community.”

The first Vatican decree, issued July 2, 2012, ordered Gruber to report to a monastery where he would spend the rest of his life in prayer and penance. Later, he learned he would be sent to the Missouri treatment center.

Nowicki said an internal investigation by the archabbey discovered that Gruber was behind a plan to discredit him by forcing the former monk to level charges against Nowicki. The former student, now married, later signed an affidavit stating that the allegations were false.

Nowicki said Gruber and the former junior monk were very close.

“When Father Gruber realized the trouble he was in, he got him to make the false statements,” Nowicki said.

Gruber denied he was behind the allegations.

He said he was in contact with the former monk as recently as July 17 when he received a text message from him. The message made no reference to the affidavit or the recantation, Gruber said.

“I didn't know any document had been signed. I had no knowledge of that until I saw the press release,” he said.

Richard Gazarik is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-830-6292 or at rgazarik@tribweb.com.

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Westmoreland

  1. Derry man gets 19-year prison sentence for recording sex assaults of girl
  2. Southmoreland School director named
  3. Convicted home invader from Monessen wants new lawyer
  4. Kecksburg celebrates its UFO history with annual festival
  5. Girl, 10, forced to strip in Sewickley Township home invasion
  6. Greensburg YMCA seeks soccer sites for fall
  7. Music on way to Westmoreland’s Twin Lakes Park
  8. Contract talks progress in Derry
  9. Hempfield murderer serving life sentence promises restitution when he’s released
  10. Westmoreland torture-slaying convict Smyrnes says death row isolation too cruel
  11. Extremes in weather hurt crops in Westmoreland