On July 29, 2013, Rev. Mark Gruber received a copy of the decree of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith (CDF) notifying him of the penalty of his dismissal from the clerical state and dispensing him from his monastic vows. The decree of the CDF is the conclusion of a series of related events which began to unfold four years go. Saint Vincent Archabbey officials have refrained from commenting publically on the nature of all of these events. Now, in conjunction with the Vatican Congregation’s action, the most important aspects of related events leading up to the final CDF decree are summarized in this press release.
One important event is related to an intense, defamatory campaign against numerous church and monastic officials, including a false allegation against the Archabbot of Saint Vincent Monastery made by a former junior monk. Over the past many months, the false allegation has been widely circulated to the public through the internet, the mail and most recently through broadcast on a local television news program. In a significant development on March 1, 2013, the former junior monk in a signed statement given under oath, stated “None of the allegations I made against Archabbot Nowicki in that affidavit were true.” Explaining the reason for his false allegation, the former junior monk stated: “I felt compelled to sign the affidavit of November 29, 2009, after Fr. Mark Gruber made significant efforts to prevail upon me to do so. Fr. Gruber pressured me to execute this false affidavit to support his own efforts to discredit the Archabbot. He actively assisted in the preparation of this affidavit and wrote parts of it himself. While I deeply regret having filed this false affidavit, I remain fearful of Fr. Gruber to this day.”
At the time they were initially made in 2009, the allegations against the Archabbot were found to be completely without merit by two independent investigators – a former agent of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and a former officer of the Pennsylvania State Police. These investigators concluded in their report to church officials that not only were the allegations false, but also that they were likely part of a conspiracy involving the former junior monk and others to discredit the Archabbot. The task remained to identify the “others” who were involved in the creation and distribution of the false allegation. The affidavit containing the false allegation has been duplicated and distributed countless times over the past three and a half years through an intensive, defamatory campaign.
Knowing that the allegation was a lie that he had originated, Rev. Gruber persisted in his effort to discredit his religious superior, apparently in retaliation for the actions taken against him as required of religious superiors by church and civil law. In July 2009, pornographic images, including inappropriate depictions of himself, had been discovered on Rev. Gruber’s computer. In response to the actions taken against him, Rev. Gruber initiated a libel suit against the Bishop of Greensburg, against the Archabbot and college officials – a lawsuit which he quickly withdrew when it became evident that he had lied repeatedly under oath in an attempt to deny authorship of the incriminating material discovered on his computer.
In February 2011, the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith began its lengthy examination of material related to Rev. Gruber’s activity on his computer. The material submitted to the Congregation included two reports of the Pennsylvania State Police which, contrary to Rev. Gruber’s repeated assertions, did not conclude that he was innocent of the charges made against him.
The Vatican Congregation reached its decision in the case of Rev. Mark Gruber on June 30, 2012. The decree was confirmed by the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI, and admits of no further appeals. The evidence against Rev. Gruber was judged to be irrefutable. The Congregation found him “guilty of the more grave delict of possession of child pornography, the crime of the production of materials which gravely injure good morals, the abuse of the Sacrament of Confession with the aggravating factor of the manipulation of conscience, and the defamation of a legitimate superior.”
The permanent penalties imposed upon Rev. Gruber included the following: “A life of prayer and penance to be lived outside of the Archabbey of Saint Vincent, in a religious community to be determined by the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith; the prohibition against presenting himself as a cleric in public, celebrating the sacraments in public, teaching, and contact with minors under the age of 18.”
Despite the penalties imposed by the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Rev. Gruber was not deterred in a relentless campaign of defamation principally through the agency of close associates and supporters.
After examining numerous appeals and challenges raised by Rev. Gruber in his defense, the CDF determined that he was to report to the Vianney Renewal Center, Dittmer, Missouri, by June 30, 2013, to live a life of prayer and penance. The Vatican Congregation issued its final decree of dismissal from the clerical state and from his monastic vows when Rev. Gruber failed to comply with the directive to report to the Renewal Center. The Archabbey will provide financial assistance and healthcare benefits for a designated period of time to assist Rev. Gruber in his transition to a new state of life.