Frustrated members of Mobile Archdiocese calling for removal of some leaders

Published: Sep. 26, 2023 at 10:14 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 4, 2023 at 7:48 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - UPDATE: As of Wednesday night, the petition has gathered 13,172 signatures.

UPDATE: As of Monday night, over 1,100 people have signed the petition which calls for new leadership within the Mobile Archdiocese, removing Archbishop Thomas Rodi, Father Bry Shields, and McGill-Toolen Principal Michelle Haas.

ORIGINAL STORY (9/26/2023) A group of frustrated members of the Mobile Archdiocese protested over the weekend, calling for the removal of some prominent leaders in the Catholic Church.

That includes Archbishop Thomas Rodi, Father Bry Shields, and McGill-Toolen principal Michelle Haas.

This coming hot on the heels of the scandal between former Mobile priest, Alex Crow and a former McGill-Toolen student.

Protestors said that incident was just the tip of the iceberg.

“I was totally not surprised because I was on the Italy trip with them in June,” said concerned McGill-Toolen parent Bud Hadley.

He said before news became public in July about Alex Crow and a former McGill-Toolen student’s alleged inappropriate relationship, he knew something was out of place while on a trip the month prior with a group of seniors.

“Everybody noticed the inappropriateness with Father Crow and the girl,” said Hadley. “I knew at least a year, probably longer, that parents and students had been going to the administration at McGill, and the leadership at the Archdiocese, telling them that Crow is acting inappropriately with girls at McGill.”

Hadley said that was the final straw.

He and a small group of protestors decided now is the time to speak up, following what they believe has been years of sweeping many things under the rug by the Mobile Archdiocese.

They gathered at Cathedral Square Sunday, and now there is an online petition with over 200 signatures asking for removals of the leaders.

“It never should have gotten to that point,” said Debbie Cooper, another frustrated member of the Mobile Archdiocese. “They had every opportunity to stop it before it got to that point, and they failed. They failed us and the parents of the child, they failed a lot of people, including our whole archdiocese.”

Hadley said the leadership needs to change.

“We just need good leadership that takes accountability and responsibility, and not only does that but executes in fixing the problem,” said Hadley.

Nearly one month after the scandal became public, Archbishop Rodi posted a four-minute statement to YouTube.

“I join with you who are concerned, sad, angry about the behavior of Alex Crow, and how his behavior is affecting the young woman with whom he is travelling, their families, and the entire family of the Archdiocese in Mobile,” said Rodi. “Now all of us want to know the truth. All of us want to know the facts of this case.”

This was the first and only time the archbishop addressed the issue publicly.

“Alex Crow was immediately notified that he could no longer perform any priestly ministry,” said Rodi. “He could not dress as a priest, he could not tell people he was a priest, and we see no way for Alex Crow to return to ministry.”

The Mobile Archdiocese sent a statement in response to the protest and petition.

“The Archdiocese of Mobile takes every accusation of sexual misconduct with a minor seriously. Sexual misconduct with a minor is not tolerated and we work together with school and parish leadership, in whom we have full confidence, to ensure the enforcement of our Safe Environments Program. Upon learning that Alex Crow had left the country with a recent McGill-Toolen graduate, the Archdiocese immediately reported this to the Mobile County District Attorney, who opened an investigation. While the Archdiocese understands the public’s desire to know as much information about this situation as possible, since this is still an active criminal investigation, we continue to defer all further comment to the District Attorney and Mobile County Sheriff’s offices, with whom we are fully cooperating, so as not to hamper the investigation.”

“I know that when this first came out, Rodi was very focused on defrocking Crow,” said Cooper. “Rodi should be defrocked. Shields should be defrocked.”

At last word from the Mobile County Sheriff’s Office, the young woman and Alex Crow are still in Italy.