GREAT FALLS- The four priests from the Great Falls-Billings Diocese have been trending on social media since President Trump’s visit to the Electric City. Claims were made when the men were seen smiling and laughing as President Trump made controversial remarks.
After reviewing the video, Bishop Michael Warfel and Father Garrett Nelson, one of the four priests, explained those claims are not true.
"We didn't do any of that. There's portions where I am smiling but. And a lot of times when I get nervous or uncomfortable that's kind of my reaction," said Nelson.
Fr. Garrett attended President Trump’s rally in support of Matt Rosendale, who he’s been friends with for several years. Rosendale gave Fr. Garrett the VIP tickets, and told father to invite whoever he wanted. When the priests got to the rally, they were ushered to the front and center.
"You know even while we were sitting there, we were kind of talking back and forth. Should we sit here? Should we not sit here? And then the though kind of prevailed, like well we're going to see the President, he's going to walk right past us," said Nelson.
In a statement sent out today by Bishop Warfel, he attached an updated version of the basic political involvement for the Diocese of Great Falls-Billings stating that if priests do not go to political events, they are not to wear their clerical grabs.
"I'm reminding all our priests of our policy on political activity. And they're not to wear clerical attire if they go to some other event to demonstrate that they are representing the Church of the Diocese," said Warfel.
Bishop Warfel said he spoke with all four priests and believes their apology.
"They're actually very humble pie you know in terms of they’re apologetic, and they said they had no intention of causing this, and they're sorry for any hurt or upset that they've caused," said Warfel.
Bishop Warfel added that he knows the priests on a personal level, and sees them in their clerical garbs out and about all the time except for when they’re working out at the gym.
"Accept their apology. They didn't go there with the intent to make a statement, but they unwittingly made a big statement,” said Warfel.
KFBB did reach out to the other priests who attended the rally. Fr. Ryan Erlenbush, a priest in Corpus Cristi declined to comment. Fr. Lebsock from the Cathedral of St. Helena did not wish to make a statement. We have not been able to contact Fr. Christofferson, a priest in the Ronan area, but are continuing to try and reach him.