The Archdiocese of New Orleans has responded to Concerned Classified City Employees group facilitator Randolph Scott's inquiry as to whether Loyola University president Rev. Kevin Wildes, a Catholic priest who chairs the New Orleans Civil Service Commission, is prohibited by Canon Law from sitting on the public body. As Gambit previously reported, the archdiocese and the local office of the Jesuit order had promised to look into the matter.
In a letter dated Nov. 10, Archbishop Gregory Aymond tells Scott that Canon Law 285 #3, which says "Clerics are forbidden to assume public offices which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power," does not apply to Wildes' position on the Commission.
(Complete letter and Scott's response after the jump)
Dear Mr. Scott:
Once again I acknowledge your letter of October 30th and my response to you that I would consult with a Canon lawyer concerning your question about the involvement of Fr. Wildes as a member of the Civil Service Commission for the City of New Orleans.
The Canon lawyer who reviewed this case states that Canon 285 #3 does not apply in this particular situation.
Concerning his actions and decisions, that would be a matter that must be taken up with the civil authorities.
Wishing you God's blessing, I am
Sincerely in Christ,
Most Reverend Gregory M. Aymond
Archbishop of New Orleans
Scott, however, told the Civil Service Commission, at its monthly meeting this morning, that he will continue to pursue the matter.
"We think it does apply," Scott said, "We simply forwarded this matter to the Vatican."
Wildes, who did not respond to Scott, was notably wearing street clothes to the meeting. During the commission's October meeting, he wore his clerical clothing.
Gambit asked archdiocese spokeswoman Sarah McDonald for clarification. The letter doesn't say why the law doesn't apply in Wildes' case, nor does it name the lawyer Aymond consulted. McDonald, however, wouldn't elaborate on the finding, saying the archdiocese would prefer to leave its response as is. McDonald also declined to provide the name of the Canon lawyer.
On McDonald's recommendation, I've sent the details of the story to the School of Canon Law at the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. I'll post an update if or when I receive a response.