And now, let us Facepalm.

Breakups are hard, and many people experiencing difficult times turn to their trusted religious counselors for advice. However, those religious counselors are usually real people and not the product of an elaborate catfishing scheme to harass their ex-spose. Virginia attorney Joseph Ray Pope and his wife separated in 2019, and their relationship became more and more contentious. Pope wanted to reconcile, his wife, Kathy, did not. Kathy was a lifelong practicing Catholic who had Pope convert before their marriage, so obviously she would take advice from a priest, right? Well, out of the clear blue sky, here comes a priest! Kathy started getting emails from a Catholic priest named “Father Thomas Wein,” from whom Pope had been seeking guidance, with some great advice–Kathy was “committing a grave sin against God,” and “it is the duty of the deserting spouse (Kathy) to come to the deserted spouse (Pope) face-to-face in humility and love, and seek forgiveness and reconciliation.” He also had a little advice for Pope himself on how to deal with his ex–“Leave room for the wrath of God, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.”

For months, Kathy and her friends received messages from the phony Father, many of which threaten Kathy with religious ostracism, refusal of communion, and even excommunication if she did not reconcile with Pope. And, can I just stop here for a moment and note that this guy’s name is actually Pope. POPE! Seriously! Can you believe it? He’s pretending to be a priest, and his name is Pope! Ok, moving on.

After some sleuthing, Kathy’s IT pro bestie found the messages were in fact coming from Pope (POPE! Sorry….). A Google search turned up the real Fr. Wein, an actual priest, who assured Kathy he was not behind those messages. After her friend sent a message to the Father trying to verify his identity, Kathy received an email from Pope– “Please do not have your ‘friend’ email Father Wein to ‘confirm’ his email address. I assume you believe I made him up.” Well, yeah. Unfortunately, Pope followed up his dubious Mrs. Doubtfire routine with some serious legal intimidation tactics and more falsified records. A protective order and a bar disciplinary hearing later, Pope is now stripped of his license to practice law in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Bless this mess! Facepalm achieved.

P.S.– I changed the names in this story to protect the innocent. Except for Pope. POPE! His name is really POPE!



The Facepalm Archives (March 2024)

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