Publisher pulls new book by priest for plagiarism

A Catholic book publisher has scrapped a new book one day after its release, following allegations the priest who wrote it had plagiarized material.

Loyola Press announced Jan. 10 it would pull from publication "60 Seconds for Jesus" by Father Jim Sichko, a priest of the Diocese of Lexington, Ky., and a papal Missionary of Mercy known for his motivational talks, generous donations and active social and mainstream media presence.

Among his recent speaking engagements was a three-day event in July 2022 at St. Joseph Church in Conway. His visit to Arkansas was the 50th state where he had preached. 

The book — drawing from Father Sichko's "60 Minutes for Jesus" talks and billed as a "do-votional" that gave readers "specific actions they can do to find purpose and possibility" — had been slated for release Jan. 9.

However, Loyola Press president and publisher Joellyn Cicciarelli told OSV News in a Jan. 10 statement, "We have made the decision to pull the book from publication and all rights have been returned to the author."

Cicciarelli said Loyola Press had been contacted on Jan. 6 regarding allegations concerning the book, and "immediately initiated a detailed review of the content."

In an online statement Jan. 10, Father Sichko said he was "saddened by this turn of events, but not disheartened."

"In my mission, I often share and repost comments found on the internet, many of which are reposted and reshared several times before reaching me to inspire action," he wrote. "I apologize, sincerely, to anyone who did not receive proper acknowledgment for statements I made. My intention has, and always will be, to uplift and inspire. While I do not claim to be the originator of many quotes I share, I share in faith that words inspired by love will echo on, from one heart to the next."

The statement also included an email address, attributionsfj@gmail.com, through which creators could contact the priest for attribution concerns.

"I am grateful to Loyola Press for their gracious and expedient efforts guiding me in the appropriate next steps," wrote Father Sichko.

OSV News is awaiting a reply to a request for comment from the Diocese of Lexington.

In a lengthy Jan. 10 post on his website, Legionary of Christ Father Matthew Schneider took credit for alerting Loyola Press and described Father Sichko as a "habitual plagiarist."

"Our investigation revealed missing attributions for certain statements in the book," said Cicciarelli in her statement, noting that the decision to cancel publication" was made as soon as practicable based on the events and the review.

Father Schneider, himself an author, listed multiple instances of what he called "straight up plagiarism" in Father Sichko's book.

He said Father Sichko had engaged in systematic online plagiarism, citing the X account @RevPlagiarism, which had identified and listed "over 300 plagiarized tweets" by the Lexington priest.

Father Schneider said in his blog post that Father Stephen Vrezel, an Archdiocese of Mobile, Ala., priest, was "behind" the @RevPlagiarism account, and that Father Vrezel "had tried hard to convince Father Jim to stop plagiarizing before this."

Referencing recent scandals at prominent U.S. universities, Father Schneider said in his post that "plagiarism was enough to bring down the presidents of Harvard and Stanford.

"We Catholics should have higher standards for honesty than them," he said, adding that Father Sichko "does not even pass some of the lowest bars you can set for plagiarism."

Latest from News