Father James Jackson, FSSP, in the weeks leading up to his arrest on child pornography charges, wrote at length in his parish bulletin about sex abuse scandals perpetrated by “psychosexually dysfunctional” priests, singling out former cardinal Theodore McCarrick as a “creep” who hid a sinful private life with outward good works with the help of corrupt friends in the Catholic hierarchy.
“Any man who tries to live his celibacy without faith, sanctifying grace and a serious life of prayer and dedication to the interior life will eventually (and sometimes this takes only a few years) turn to empty amusements and pleasures in drink, food, fancy vacations at best and pornography and the pursuit of sexual relationships at worst,” he wrote.
“Without the faith (I mean real belief in God) and the pursuit of the interior life,” he continued, “celibacy just creates a class of professional bachelors who are still saying Mass and doing baptisms, but are overcome with isolation and even depression.”
“They naturally turn to the natural for consolation,” he warned. “And with that turning from God, there is hell to pay.”
Jackson’s writings appear in weekly church bulletins of his former parish, St. Mary’s Church in Providence, Rhode Island. Reviewed by CNA, they provide a window into the priest’s thoughts at a time when authorities allege Jackson possessed and distributed child sex abuse material online.
Jackson, 66, was arrested Oct. 30 by members of a Rhode Island state task force executing a search warrant at St. Mary’s rectory. He was charged with possession of child pornography, transfer of child pornography, and child erotica prohibited.
Two days after his arrest, federal authorities filed additional charges against him — distributing child pornography and possessing and accessing with intent to view child pornography — in U.S. District Court in Providence.
A forensic analyst with the Rhode Island State Police found “hundreds of image and video files depicting [child sexual abuse material]” during an on-scene forensic preview of a two-terabyte external hard drive located in an office area adjacent to Jackson’s bedroom, according to an affidavit filed in support of the federal charges.
“These image and video files depicted prepubescent females, including infants and toddlers, engaged in sexual acts,” the affidavit states.
Jackson was released from custody with electronic monitoring Wednesday on an unsecured bond. A federal magistrate has permitted him to live with a relative in his home state of Kansas until the charges against him are adjudicated, though a Providence television station has reported that Jackson has COVID-19 and must fully recover before leaving Rhode Island.
Meanwhile, an online fundraising campaign has garnered tens of thousands of dollars for Jackson’s defense fund, with many contributors attesting to his character and asserting his innocence.
Jackson, a member of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter (FSSP), became pastor at St. Mary’s Aug. 1. Prior to his assignment in Providence, Jackson spent 15 years at the FSSP apostolate at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Catholic Church in Littleton, Colorado.
Jackson is the author of “Nothing Superfluous,” a book about “the rich theological meaning behind the art, architecture, words and gestures of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite, the Rite of St. Gregory the Great.”
In the biography he provided in the St. Mary’s bulletin shortly after he arrived in the parish, Jackson said was raised “nominally Protestant” in Kansas.
“My boyhood was spent playing sports, hunting, fishing, camping and participating in the Boy Scouts (I didn’t get my Eagle),” he wrote.
“I especially liked winter camping. I learned snow skiing at Steamboat Springs, CO in 1963 and have been an avid skier since. I also picked up scuba diving and dove for about 22 years. I even dove down to see a German U-Boat which the U.S. Navy sunk in 1945 located a quarter of a nautical mile off Narragansett, RI.”
Jackson said his studies in the Pearson Integrated Humanities Program at the University of Kansas, where he played rugby for three years, set him on a new path.
“In this program I fell in love not just with learning but the truth. That was the basis of my conversion to the Catholic Faith,” he wrote. He said he was received into the Church in 1976.
“I thought I wanted a career in the Marine Corps and was in the Platoon Leaders Class for that purpose, but with conversion came an intense desire to serve God more directly,” he wrote.
“I left to enter a Benedictine Monastery in France — Notre Dame de Fontgombault. My vocation was not monastic, and not knowing where to go, I joined the Diocese of Wichita, KS and was ordained in 1985.”
“Slowly but surely” Jackson “fell in love” with the Traditional Latin Mass, and he entered the U.S. Navy Chaplain Corps, serving with the 1st Marine Division.
“I joined the FSSP in 1994 and it has been a good home to me,” Jackson wrote at the conclusion of his biography. “And I drive an old red truck.”
FSSP pastor arrested on child pornography charges in Providence
Father James Jackson, 66, the pastor of St. Mary’s Church in Providence, Rhode Island, is accused of possession of child pornography, transfer of child pornography and child erotica prohibited, according to the state police.