As a friend and former parishioner of Father James Jackson, FSSP over the past 15 years or so, I feel no need to rush to his defense against the contemptible charges being made against him for the simple reason that no defense is truly necessary. This is a priest beyond reproach who, for reasons only known to God, has been entangled in a bizarre and suspicious cyber-sting operation which smacks of a deliberate frame-up either by corrupt officials, a malevolent hacker who took offense at something this priest wrote or said, or a combination of both. Nor would Fr. Jackson be the first innocent person to be accused or convicted of child porn possession and distribution. Today there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of innocent people whose lives have been ruined by similar accusations. A Nov. 8, 2009 NBC News / Associated Press investigative article bears this fact out. It begins “Of all the sinister things that Internet viruses do, this might be the worst: They can make you an unsuspecting collector of child pornography.” The piece goes on to report the ease with which malignant viruses can capture an unsuspecting user’s PC and load it with porn. (the complete article can be found at http://www.nbcnews.com/id/wbna33778733)
Are we to believe that somehow, 12 years later, this problem has abated even as major corporations and vital pipelines have been hacked and compromised by malicious malware? If Yahoo, Target, and Colonial Pipeline, employing legions of cyber-security experts, cannot prevent such breaches, are we also to believe that someone with a minimal literacy in computers, such as a Fr. Jackson, would be invulnerable to malicious hackers? His case has all the earmarks of the recent Cardinal George Pell travesty in Melbourne, Australia: a patently false accusation and prosecution, apparently orchestrated by corrupt Vatican insider Cardinal Angelo Becciu, himself now disgraced and under indictment for financial fraud. And although ultimately exonerated by Australia’s high court, Pell’s slandered reputation will never be restored.
So before rushing to judgment over such ludicrous accusations, as most of the media has already done, I would beg my readers to view the classic 1953 Alfred Hitchcock thriller I Confess starring Montgomery Clift. Clift’s character is Fr. Logan, a priest accused of murder who cannot exonerate himself without breaking the seal of confession. Consequently, he must watch the ruin of his reputation, face criminal prosecution, and the wrath of a hostile mob. Perhaps we are now being treated to a case of art imitating life, because there is an uncanny physical resemblance between Clift’s Fr. Logan and the real Fr. Jackson that we who know him well have come to love. I wish more Catholic media reporters would reflect on the sins of both slander and detraction before jumping to rash conclusions, but Mr. Dan Dougherty addresses that issue better than I could which is why I have included his recent letter as an addendum, below.
The Fr. Jackson I know is a quiet, thoughtful, and very humane individual whose real desire was to be a contemplative monk. In fact he has spent a year or so in a monastery in France before God called him into an active priestly ministry. Although naturally reserved, he loved playing rugby and became a Marine Corps chaplain before finally joining the traditional Latin FSSP community in 1996. Fr. Jackson is a hard-nosed realist who possesses a truly contemplative soul that longs above all for God. His writings show it, his sermons demonstrate it, his gracious and courteous manners around all sorts of people manifest it, and above all his great love of beauty all indicate how his life is totally ordered to union with the Divine Will.
Such a man does not suddenly turn, after 66 years, to a trifling, soul deadening amusement like pornography. One does not suddenly acquire such a degrading habit at that age. I work with the Road to Purity, a recovery program designed to help people caught up in pornography and sexual addictions, and if such a propensity had been there all along it would have surely manifested itself long before this point. Father Jackson is not naive about human nature. He wrote with real insight about priestly life in his weekly parish bulletins. For instance, “Without the faith (I mean real belief in God) and the pursuit of the interior life, celibacy just creates a class of professional bachelors who are still saying Mass and doing baptisms, but are overcome with isolation and even depression… They naturally turn to the natural for consolation,” he warned. “And with that turning from God, there is hell to pay.”
These are the measured words of someone with a rich interior life, fully aware of the corrupt McCarrick culture infesting the modern Church, so one must ask, what is the real story behind this Kafka-like turn of events? Are we witnessing just another burlesque script from the same authoritarian bureaucrats and media lackeys who have been feeding us Russian collusion, a false pandemic, and now imposing medical tyranny? My perspective is that Fr. Jackson is being targeted for the crime of pointing out unpopular truths: whether it be calling out “psychosexually dysfunctional” priests or challenging an emasculated priest-class he calls “professional bachelors” or leading a prayer rally against a Satanist black mass in Salem. All these things will earn you great enmity in the world. After all, if his foes can take down a high ranking prince of the Church like Cardinal Pell, how difficult would it be to target some lowly unknown pastor in Providence, R.I.?
But at a deeper level we must realize that the priest acts in persona Christi – in the person of Christ, and it was Christ himself who was falsely accused, condemned, and led to crucifixion. “If the world hates you remember that it first hated me.” (Jn 15:18) The faithful priest must therefore be prepared for immolation in the world which is exactly what I see when I behold the sad, pensive expression in Fr. Jackson’s eyes from the police mugshot. “Like a lamb led to slaughter, he was silent and opened not his mouth.” (Is 53:7) That, to me, represents the true essence of our Fr. Jackson – a willing victim suffering vicariously for his beloved flock.
In the end, Fr. Jackson will be vindicated, perhaps not in the eyes of the world but in the court that truly matters – the eternal judgment seat. Falsely accused, falsely judged, and wrongfully treated is, for his faithful priest, a sign of God’s special love and providence. Please keep him in your prayers, and also those who are persecuting him. We are living in a time of white martyrdom, and Fr. Jackson is not alone among the many faithful priests today who are likewise being “led to the slaughter” simply for speaking the truth.
Francis J. Pierson + a.m.d.g.
Addendum: Letter of Dan Dougherty to Church Militant below