When the Priest, the Stripper and Their Baby Is Not a Joke

david_dueppenI read all the way through the story about the priest, the stripper and their newborn daughter. And nowhere in it is there a punchline.

But there is the story of a man in a job known for its vows of poverty who is now being sued for child support.

All the juicy details appeared in the Miami Herald this week, from the relationship kicked up between the stripper (excuse me, exotic dancer – but really, she worked at a placed called Porky’s) and the priest to the church’s acceptance of their fallen father back into the fold when rejoined the celibacy bandwagon. Which he apparently fell back off – he started up with Beatrice Hernandez (the dancer, by then a store owner), and she ended up preggers (the Herald cites a paternity test as proof).

Fast forward to the baby, now nine months old, and a mom who wants help raising her kid. She’s filed for child support AND a restraining order.

So here we are: a priest who can be called father by two very distinct groups (although not in a church – he is on official administrative leave). And here’s the question: what do you get when you sue a priest for child support?

Contrary to most assumptions, not ALL Catholic priests take vows of poverty, but they are all bound by Church Canon ” to foster simplicity of life and are to refrain from all things that have a semblance of vanity.” Which would make Father David Dueppen just another poor (in terms of his wallet – not in terms of our sympathies) schmoe who got a girl pregnant and left her to deal with it.

And what does that have to do with the rest of us? Turns out there are a lot more people like Beatrice Hernandez these days then ever before. Fathers who can’t pay child support are turning up in droves thanks to the bad economy. In a 2009 survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, thirty-nine percent “of the nation’s top divorce attorneys” cited an increase in modifications being made to child support payments.

The courts are typically forcing parents to turn over a portion of their unemployment checks.

Anyone else wonder what happens when the ex-priest walks into an unemployment office? Now that’s a joke for 2009.


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