BOISE, Idaho - Sadness and a sense of betrayal are some of the emotions Bishop Peter Christensen of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise says he felt after learning of the charges brought against retired priest Thomas Faucher. The Bishop says he learned about the allegations the same day the Idaho Attorney General's Office announced the charges.
"You can't help but feel that somebody who should be doing better has done something awful and that awful act is a sense of betrayal. It hurts," said Bishop Peter Christensen of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Boise to 6 On Your Side in an exclusive interview. "I've been a priest for 32 years and never have I heard a story quite like this.
Faucher served as the spiritual leader of Saint Mary's Catholic Church and School for nearly 20 years before retiring three years ago. The disgraced 72-year-old priest now faces twelve charges of possessing or distributing child porn, and additional charges for the possession of marijuana, LSD, and ecstasy.
On Sunday the bishop addressed parishioners of Saint Mary's where he expressed his gratitude to the current priest, principal of Saint Mary's School, law enforcement and the media. Calling child pornography the work of the devil, the bishop wonders if the allegations are true, what went wrong in Faucher's life to bring him to such horrific interests on the internet?
"This is a man they loved, they trusted, and this is a man who has done a horrendous crime if it is as stated, which it sounds like it is, it's a horrendous crime, and that breaks their confidence in who this man was," said Bishop Christensen.
The bishop says Faucher's alleged actions are also hurting church leaders around the state. One priest even telling him "I feel like I was just splattered by the mud of disgusting actions done by one of my brother priests."
"It breaks the morale for the priest in part," said Bishop Christensen. "It's very sad because you spend your life trying to do good for people and when somebody comes along like this it just devalues it a bit."
The bishop is asking the clergy in their diocese to share a letter with churchgoers throughout the Gem State.
The letter states in part:
"The diocese is not paying for Father Faucher's legal defense, nor has it contributed any money toward his bail bond. Also, we do not pay rent for Farther Faucher's home."
Saint Mary's Church is now working to evict Faucher from his Boise home off of hill road which is owned by the church. A move the bishop supports siding with Faucher's neighbors and concerns for his safety.
"I think it's only right I think the community should not be living with turmoil in their own mind and heart, feeling like they have to protect their kids," said Bishop. Christensen, "I think if I were a parent I'd feel the same way."
Saint Mary's made two attempts to evict Faucher from him home this past Friday but failed, either he wasn't home or didn't answer the door. Church leaders say they will continue to pursue their eviction efforts until they are successful.
Faucher is expected in court again this week. His preliminary hearing is scheduled for Thursday morning at 8:30 am At the Ada County Courthouse.