Sex & Gender

Cross Purposes? North Miami Priest Learns He's a Father

Monsignor Chanel Jeanty in a photo published to the St. James Catholic Church Facebook page on March 28, 2020.
Monsignor Chanel Jeanty in a photo published to the St. James Catholic Church Facebook page on March 28, 2020. Screenshot via Facebook
What happens when Father's a daddy?

The Catholic Church has never been known for its transparency. But that's the question being pondered after the Archdiocese of Miami made a surprising and uncharacteristically forthcoming announcement yesterday: One of its priests has learned he has fathered a child.

According to a prepared statement from archdiocese spokesperson Mary Ross Agosta, Monsignor Chanel Jeanty of St. James Catholic Church in North Miami learned in late December "that he fathered a child from a relationship that ended over a year ago."

"Monsignor Jeanty has already sought God's forgiveness, and he is asking for the forgiveness of his parishioners, who will be disappointed when they learn of his lapse," the statement reads. "Monsignor Jeanty must face his parishioners and seek to regain their trust, as he continues to serve, and at the same time attends to his responsibilities to the child."

According to the statement, the priest was given the news by an unidentified third party.

In the Catholic faith, priests and nuns take a vow of celibacy and are generally not allowed to involve themselves in romantic relationships. Some priests and nuns even wear rings to symbolize their "marriage" to the church. But research by A.W. Richard Sipe, who studied 1,500 Catholic priests over 25 years, suggests that at any given time only 50 percent of priests were celibate.

"One of the most important teachings given to us by Jesus Christ is the gift of forgiveness," Agosta tells New Times, before invoking John 8:7, which reads, "He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone."

Jeanty, who became an ordained priest in 2004 and joined St. James as pastor in 2015, could not be reached for comment.

Agosta tells New Times that Jeanty will remain in his post at the church and that no internal investigation will be conducted, nor will any disciplinary action be handed down. The archdiocese declined to disclose basic information about the circumstances surrounding the relationship, such as how long it lasted, whether the woman was a parishioner, and when the child was born.

"What has occurred is not something the Vatican would be involved in. Yes, a vow has been broken, and Msgr. Jeanty is now hoping to repair the damage, both personally and pastorally," Agosta says. "And, yes, a sin has been committed, and forgiveness is the key. Msgr. Jeanty asks for forgiveness and apologizes to all affected by his actions."

In Roman Catholicism, the Sacrament of Reconciliation is observed when an individual confesses their sins to a priest who in turn offers penance and forgiveness through God.

"Msgr. Jeanty is hopeful that his parishioners will provide that gift to him, as he has to so many through the Sacrament of Reconciliation during his priesthood," Agosta explains.

The revelation of Msgr. Jeanty's child is hardly the first time a priest has landed the Miami archdiocese in hot holy water.

Last October, Father Jean Claude Philippe — formerly a priest at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Homestead — was convicted of raping a female parishioner in 2018. Jeanty, who is not accused or charged of any crime, was listed as a witness in the investigation because he attended a meeting with Philippe where the woman was present. Jeanty was never called to testify.

Two other priests from the Archdiocese of Miami, Father Alberto Cutié and Reverend David Dueppen, drew scrutiny in 2009 when it was revealed they each had intimate relationships with women. Cutié, according to the Herald, left the Catholic church and became an Episcopal priest.

Dueppen fathered a child with a woman he met at a strip club and was placed on indefinite administrative leave.
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Michael Majchrowicz is a former staff writer at Miami New Times. He studied journalism at Indiana University and has reported for PolitiFact, The New York Times, Washington Post, the Post and Courier, and Tampa Bay Times.