Category Archives: Archdiocese of Chicago

CLERGY SEX ABUSE TRANSPARENCY ACCORDING TO CARDINAL GEORGE


CLERGY SEX ABUSE TRANSPARENCY ACCORDING TO CARDINAL GEORGE

Thomas Doyle

January 20, 2014

The leadership of the Archdiocese of Chicago has a mediocre to poor track record in responding to reports of clergy sexual abuse and their honesty with the public.  Cardinal George’s recent statement to the archdiocese (January 12, 2014 in The Catholic New World) does nothing to change this pattern.  This statement was issued to prepare the archdiocese for the release of the files of thirty priests confirmed as sexual abusers. His statement is defensive, misleading and insulting in addition to the fact that it does not reflect the reality of the key issues.  A significant part of the statement is devoted to the defense of his mishandling of the Dan McCormack case.  The McCormack files are not among those released!

In 1982 the parents of a minor boy reported that former Fr. Bob Mayer had sexually abused their teenaged son.  This was under Cardinal Cody’s watch.  They reported the abuse to the archdiocese and in return were intimidated and even threatened with excommunication by the chancellor at the time, Fr. J. Richard Keating, who later became the bishop of Arlington VA.  In 1988 they finally settled for a measly $10,000.00 that didn’t even cover their legal costs.  The boy’s mother was not about to succumb to the scare tactics nor was she buying any of the dishonest mumbo-jumbo served up as excuses for their deliberate neglect.  She went on to found the Linkup which quickly became one of the two most influential victim support organizations in the world.

Knowing about Mayer’s track record Cardinal Bernardin who had by then succeeded Cardinal Cody, gave him two more assignments as a parish associate and in 1990 made him pastor of a parish in Berwyn IL.  During this period the archdiocese received other allegations and ordered Mayer not to be alone with anyone under 21.  The infinite wisdom of the archdiocese in imposing this restriction was apparently not infinite enough.

 In 1991 Mayer was charged with sexual abuse of a minor girl.  When confronted by the angry parishioners, the auxiliary bishop dispatched to deal with the incident lied to them about Mayer’s background.  In 1992 Mayer was sentenced to three years in prison.  He has since been laicized.

 Cardinal Bernardin died in 1996 and Cardinal George replaced him in April 1997.  He was ordained bishop in 1990 and served first as bishop of Yakima WA and then as archbishop of Portland OR.   Both Portland and Yakima had their share of sexual abuse problems during George’s time.  Equally important, he was a member of the U.S. bishops Conference during the years they started to at least talk about clerical sexual abuse.  During those years George and his fellow bishops received numerous documents from the conference headquarters that provided detailed information about clergy sexual abuse and the serious risks it posed the Church.  He was also present, at least presumably, when a variety of outside experts addressed the assembled bishops on the very serious nature of sexual abuse of children.  These included Fr. Canice Connors, at the time President of St. Luke Institute; Dr. Fred Berlin, Johns Hopkins University, on diagnostic concepts, treatment and ethical considerations; Dr. Frank Valcour, psychiatrist at St. Luke Institute on expectations of treatment; Bishop Harry Flynn on care of victims; Jesuit psychiatrist James Gill on priests, sex and power and Fr. Steve Rossetti on the parish as victim.  During this period Pope John Paul II addressed his first public communication of clergy sex abuse to the U.S. bishops and that same year, 1993, the bishops established their first committee to deal with the problem.  The claim voiced by the Cardinal and his auxiliary, Francis Kane, that “had they known then what they know now they would have handled the allegations differently,”has become a mantra for bishops when they are confronted with their disastrous actions.  It’s also so worn out that one would think the conference spin-doctors would come up with a fresh excuse.

 If Cardinal George read any of the numerous documents sent by the conference and if he was awake for even part of the lectures given at their annual meetings he would certainly have known the serious nature of clergy sexual abuse.  So what is it they did not know “then” that they know now?  It’s fairly obvious.

They did not know that their duplicitous defenses and paper-thin excuses would gain them no traction.  They did not know that the deference and unquestioned credibility they had taken for granted had eroded.  They didn’t know that the victims and their attorneys would not be intimidated or put off by the endless legal delaying tactics.  In short, they didn’t know they’d be caught!  That’s what they didn’t know then that they surely know now.

The Cardinal has apparently not learned that the excuses from the bishops’ playbook have gone moldy.  He invokes clericalism but applies it to the offending priests, claiming that it causes them to try to avoid accountability for their actions.  That’s not clericalism, its just plain fear. The cardinal is smart enough to know that the truly egregious examples of clericalism are not provided by the perpetrating priests but by the arrogant bishops and cardinals who insist they are above accountability and entitled to twist the truth to suit their own purposes.

The next excuse, deemed not only historically and sociologically invalid, but actually ludicrous, is borrowed from the second John Jay Report.  He tries to shift the blame to the social and cultural trends of the seventies and eighties as if these trends cause sexual dysfunction or hierarchical arrogance.

The Cardinal’s statement really breaks down and falls apart when he gets to his version of the Dan McCormack story.  He claims the plaintiff’s attorneys “fashioned” the story and distorted facts that would “mitigate the charge of archdiocesan neglect.”   The lawyers didn’t have to do anything to demonstrate archdiocesan, i.e., the Cardinal’s negligence.  His documented actions do a sufficient job of doing that without any outside help.

McCormack was first arrested in September 2005.  It’s true that the police questioned him but what the cardinal does not tell his readers is that his priest-personnel representative, who was called by McCormack from the police station, was also a civil attorney who told McCormack not to cooperate with the police investigators.  He was released but if his ministry was restricted and if he was put under monitoring, this existed only in the Cardinal’s imagination.

The archdiocesan review board eventually received the results of the internal investigation, which came up with sufficient information to allow the board to make a solid recommendation to the Cardinal that McCormack be removed from the parish for the protection of children and not be put back in pastoral ministry.  The Cardinal says,  “no one involved in investigating the allegation, not even the review board that struggled with their justified concerns, told me they thought he was guilty.”  This is nonsense.  It was no one’s job to assess guilt or innocence especially the review board.  The sole issue was suitability for pastoral ministry and probability that the allegation was true.  On that the board members were clear.  Guilt or innocence would be determined later.

Against the review board’s urging Cardinal George retained McCormack as pastor.  He also kept him on as a regional dean.  On January 20, 2006, he was again arrested and it was determined that more children were harmed, primarily because of Cardinal George’s arrogance and willful negligence.

On January 28, 2006 the review board sent the Cardinal a letter.  Portions of it tell the real story.  “The media statements that the board was unable to reach a decision because they did not have access to the alleged victim or his mother (Sun Times, January 25, 2006), and ‘after the family made the accusation in August, the Archdiocese’s Office of Professional responsibility referred the allegation to the Independent Review Board (Tribune, January 24, 2006), imply that we as a board chose not to act.  Clearly this is not the case.”

Contrary to what the Cardinal would like people to believe, the review board made clear recommendations:  “These included removing Rev. McCormack from St. Agatha’s and suspending him from ministry pending further criminal investigation.”

The board presented their recommendation to the Cardinal on October 17, 2005.  Instead of heeding them he returned McCormack to his pastorate. When questioned about his action at the time of McCormack’s second arrest the Cardinal and the archdiocesan spokesperson came up with a convoluted and obviously misleading story that tried to spread the blame to the archdiocesan process, misunderstandings about national policies and canon law and finally lack of information.  In a 2013 deposition he said, concerning the review board, “They gave me that advice, yes, I thought they had not finished the case investigation.”    All pure nonsense.  The review board’s letter tells what really happened:  “Our recommendations were presented to you on October 17, 2005….You chose not to act on them, and now we have a situation that reflects very poorly, and unfairly, on the board.”  As to George’s excuse that he thought the investigation was incomplete, the review board saw it much differently:  “We resent the media implication that the Professional Review Board did not find Rev. Daniel McCormack to be a threat to the safety of children.  These reports do not accurately reflect the situation, and we take offense at the lack of truth telling.”

In the second to last paragraph the Cardinal claims that the money for the multi-million dollars in settlements came from revenue “entirely separate from regular donations or investments.”  He then says that the sale of unused properties has provided funds for the settlements.  Where exactly does he think the money came from to buy the properties?

Attorney Jeff Anderson knows the detailed history of the Chicago archdiocese’s response better than anyone else.  His summary of why things happened the way they did applies to Cardinal George and his predecessors: We see this as a long-standing pattern of top officials of the archdiocese making conscious choices to protect their reputation and to protect the offenders,” he said. “That means conscious choices were made to imperil the children over the years.”

 It goes without saying that the Cardinal and the archdiocese would have been much better served had he said nothing.  But he didn’t remain silent.   The McCormack fiasco was not the result of confusing or bungled procedures, incomplete information.  It was the result of the Cardinal’s arrogance, his over-riding concern for his and the Church’s image and worst of all, his disdain for the victims.  The attitude that underlies the Cardinal’s statement is not unique to him.  This attitude, painfully evident wherever clergy sexual abuse has been reported throughout the Church, shows that the bishops in general have a long, long way to go before their actions began to match up with their promises.

Docs Reveal A Diocese’s Sins


Docs Reveal A Diocese’s Sins

From the link: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/01/22/chicago-diocese-releases-secret-documents-on-predator-priests.html

The Chicago diocese of the Catholic Church has released a trove of 6,000 documents that show terrible child abuse by priests—and a coordinated effort to shield the predators from victims’ families and the law.
For the victims of predatory priests and their families, there will never be enough transparency to counter the years of perceived lies and secrets at the hands of the Roman Catholic Church.  But thanks to a legal settlement between the archdiocese of Chicago and the victims of 30 pedophilic priests, a cache of 6,000 secret documents has just been made public, proving what victims have always believed: that the Catholic Church knowingly covered up years of abuse.

Some of the documents released on Tuesday and published on the website of attorney Jeff Anderson, who brokered the deal in 2008, are deeply disturbing.  Many show a terrible level of child abuse, including detailed allegations by young boys of sodomy, forced oral sex and, in one case, a young girl who recounted how a priest masturbated and ejaculated on top of her. One complaint details how a priest threatened his victim at gunpoint not to tell authorities about the ongoing rape.  The documents also show how the hierarchy within the Chicago diocese willingly moved priests around and lied to the victims’ families, legal teams and even the local police.  At one point, as many as 60 percent of the churches in the Chicago archdiocese had pedophile priests, according to a Voices of the Faithful study conducted in 2010.

Several documents also show that Chicago bishops petitioned the Holy See in Rome and asked for guidance, despite years of denials from Rome that these matters were dealt with on a purely local level. In the case of Father Daniel Mark Holihan—who, according to the documents, was referred to as “Happy Hands Holihan” by his Catechism students—a memorandum was submitted to the Chicago church by a representative from the Archdiocese of Chicago Office for Child Abuse Investigations and Review. “I referred this matter to the Holy See on 15 September 2003, receiving a reply on 16 June 2004 dispensing from canonical prescription and instructing me to conduct an administrative penal process,” the memorandum said.

According to complaints against Holihan spanning 10 years, the priest had been seen unzipping a young altar boy’s pants, and he had been caught in bed masturbating an underage minor. He was eventually removed from public ministry in 2002 and sentenced to a life of prayer. According to the memorandum, “he is directed to spend at least one hour per day in prayer for the victims of abuse, particularly those whom he has harmed.”

According to the website Bishop Accountability, which keeps a detailed record of predator priests and those who move them around, Holihan was removed from public ministry but never laicized.

Many of the documents show how the bishops in charge of the Chicago archdiocese signed off on transfers of problem priests to other American parishes. In some cases, the priests were moved with their case file, alerting the new diocese that the incoming priest had disturbing carnal weaknesses. In other cases, there was no warning at all, effectively sending the known predators to new diocese where they could reoffend unhindered.

Chicago attorney Marc Pearlman, who, together with attorney Jeff Anderson, secured the release of the documents in a settlement with the church, says that they only cover 30 of 65 priests known to be sexually abusive in Chicago. At a press conference in Chicago on Tuesday, Pearlman said that each case file shows “systematic cover up of abuse.” He said that in each instance the victims “reported abuse, reported allegations, the archdiocese worked hard to cover it up and keep it secret, then the transfer of priests.” Pearlman says the clergy knew exactly what they were doing. “They were not mistakes,” he said.

One of the more disturbing letters is from Cardinal Francis George to Father Norbert Maday, who was convicted and is serving 20 years in prison for child abuse, explaining how the diocese has tried to lighten his sentence. “We have tried, as you known, a number of avenues to see if your sentenced might be reduced or parole be given early,” the cardinal wrote. “So far, we have not had any success, but we’ll keep trying and I personally hope that you will not lose hope.”

Maday was accused of abusing between 35 and 45 children in Wisconsin, which is under the Chicago Archdiocese. According to the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (Snap), he was even accused of bringing troubled children to his diocese under false pretenses and abusing them. One of the priest’s victims committed suicide in 2002, leaving a heartbreaking note blaming the priest for his loss of hope. According to the Chicago Tribune, Maday was released in July 2013 and is living in Oshkosh, Wisconsin under a program that monitors sexual predators.

A Vatican spokesman refused comment on the Chicago document dump. But the Chicago Archdiocese released a statement: “The Archdiocese acknowledges that its leaders made some decisions decades ago that are now difficult to justify. They made those decisions in accordance with the prevailing knowledge at the time… We realize the information included in these documents is upsetting. It is painful to read. It is not the Church we know or the Church we want to be. The Archdiocese sincerely apologizes for the hurt and suffering of the victims and their families as a result of this abuse.”

Of the 30 priests whose files were outed in the Chicago documents, only four were removed from the priesthood and four were convicted in secular courts. Only one was both convicted and defrocked. Fourteen of the priests are deceased. The Chicago Archdiocese also says that the practice of covering up for the sins of the priests is over. “Today no priest with even one substantiated allegation of sexual abuse of a minor serves in ministry in the Archdiocese of Chicago.” But for the victims of the abuse who have been vindicated after years of apparent lies, assurance from the Church is simply not good enough.

3 say defrocked priest abused them in new archdiocese lawsuits


3 say defrocked priest abused them in new archdiocese lawsuits

Thursday, February 20, 2014

From the link:http://www.vaticancrimes.us/2014/02/3-say-defrocked-priest-abused-them-in.html

CHICAGO ILLINOIS – Three unidentified young men who say they were abused by Daniel McCormack, a defrocked Catholic priest who in 2007 pleaded guilty to several counts of criminal sexual assault, each filed separate lawsuits Tuesday in Cook County Circuit Court.
The suits named the Catholic bishop of Chicago, the Archdiocese of Chicago and Cardinal Francis George. It claims that they were negligent in allowing McCormack, who as of last month was confined in a mental health facility after his guilty plea, to work with young boys unsupervised when they knew or should have known that he had a history of sexually abusing minors.
“The case is against the church for allowing him to be in the presence of young children when they knew he had had a propensity to try to take liberties with young boys,” said their lawyer, Richard Levin.
All three plaintiffs were members of the basketball team at Our Lady of the Westside School and were abused by McCormack at different times spanning 2000 to 2005, Levin said. A $3.15 million settlement was announced in January involving a sex-abuse victim who said McCormack abused him in 2002 at the same school.
“They unfortunately all had similar types of experiences,” Levin said of the three new plaintiffs. “They were all within two or three years of each other.”
A spokesperson for the archdiocese said that they could not comment because archdiocese officials have not seen the lawsuits.
McCormack was sentenced to five years in prison after his 2007 guilty plea. A petition to keep him committed to state custody indefinitely as a sexually violent person is being considered by a Cook County judge.
In January, thousands of pages of internal Archdiocese documents were released as part of a settlement. The documents show how leaders of the local church for the past half-century failed to protect children from abusive priests.
Prior to the files’ release, George admitted mishandling McCormack’s case, and his files remain sealed.


 

 

III. Evidence & Hearings: Canada


III. Evidence & Hearings: Canada.

II. The Unrepentant


II. The Unrepentant.

I. The Proclamation


I. The Proclamation.

A priest rape survivor speaks not in hate…but in hope


You Parishioners on here find my postings insulting and degrading, you find my words disgusting and nasty. Well I would ask YOU to read this posting. It will NOT be full of my swears but it speaks the truth. I just want you all to hear, from the words of a Priest Rape Survivor why we cannot forgive you just yet.

When I was diagnosed with PTSD over my priest rape and soul torture, I thought it was bull. I believed that the ONLY people whom could be classified as someone with PTSD were soldiers or those in war zones. Then my therapist started explaining to me what a person whom they diagnose with PTSD goes through, what their life is like…it was like they wrote most of that definition for me.

Yet people still think what I went through can simply go away if I just get over it, forgive the priest, forgive the church, forgive those whom harmed me.

That if I just forget…somehow this will make me all better.

What those whom think this way do not realize, for 33 years I hid what that priest did to me. I felt guilty, I hated myself for what he did to me. I called myself the Antichrist because of it.

When I thought I was the ONLY one who got raped by a priest…once I came out and started raising my voice about this evil…I found there were tens of thousands of us. Then I found out what the leadership did to protect the rapists and not us. Then I found they continue to rape us and harm us by their actions against us.

They continue to deny us justice. They just wish we would shut up and go away. They insult us, denigrate us, call us faggots, say we enjoyed and wanted what happened to us. They call us liars and gold diggers. They say we should look at others whom do the same thing.

How can anyone with what I or others went through EVER hope to get any healing from this, hope to ever find it in our hearts to forgive those whom harmed us…when they continue to do this to us?

Whom do you think Jesus Christ is going to one day, heal our pain and wipe away our tears, take away the never ending nightmares we suffer from because what those whom called themselves priests, Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops and even Popes did to cover this evil up? I have some hope with Pope Francis…we survivors had none with Pope Benedict.

This is my first communion. I am in the first row with my two brothers. My older brother Joe on the left of me, my twin brother Paul on my right.

This is my first communion. I am in the first row with my two brothers. My older brother Joe on the left of me, my twin brother Paul on my right.

I onced loved the RCC with all of my heart and soul. When I was a young boy taking my Catechism and doing my First Communion…I was hooked to the beauty and the mysticism and most of all…the love of God and Jesus Christ. That I just had the incredible honor of having my first Communion, of taking the Holy Body and Blood of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ into me and that meant the world to me at that moment.

That was taken away from me in one night due to the perversities of a priest. Whom that night decided his vows he made to God, Jesus Christ and all of us did not matter, that his lusts mattered, and in that night…he took the soul, the faith and the life of a scared, young boy whom had just ran away from a foster home and thought the next day he was going to go to prison til he was 18 for it.

So when YOU PARISHIONERS hear us survivors of these crimes against us, speak out in anger, speak out in pain, speak out in horror about the evils done to us…do not condemn us…help us…help us heal from all of this suffering, all of this pain. Stand up for us. Stand up for your children. I know if you are true to the church…you have some God children. Remember the vows YOU TOOK…to protect and defend the life of this baby…with your very own if you need to.

If this is true to your heart and soul, if you took vows like these and you felt them burn within you…then do this again. Take the vow again to stand up and defend the Children of the Roman Catholic Church.

Help us heal our pain, help us heal our suffering. Help us.

Former Promoter of Justice for Congregation of the Faith Addresses Canon Law Society about Abuse Situation: For Whom Is Canon Law Designed?


Former Promoter of Justice for Congregation of the Faith Addresses Canon Law Society about Abuse Situation: For Whom Is Canon Law Designed?

From the blog: Bilgrimage
Link: http://bilgrimage.blogspot.com/2013/10/former-promoter-of-justice-for.html

In my previous posting, I referred to a report Fr. Thomas Reese has published at National Catholic Reporter regarding Bishop Charles Scicluna’s recent address to the Canon Law Society of America. Scicluna was previously the Promoter of Justice for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in the Vatican. In that capacity, he was, as Reese notes, roughly the equivalent of the Vatican’s “chief prosecutor” for cases of clerical abuse in the Catholic church.

As I read what Scicluna has to say about how canon law addresses abuse cases, I’m struck by the following:
1. The emphasis of Scicluna’s reading of canon law (and this reflects the emphasis of canon law itself) is far and away skewed in the direction of protecting the rights and serving the needs of clerics–while the rights and needs of lay Catholics, and notably of lay Catholics abused by clerics, are only distantly addressed by canon law.
2. Scicluna notes that canon law envisages three ends in any process considering the guilt of a cleric: these are “reparation of scandal, restitution of justice and the conversion of the accused.” Only the second of these ends can in any way be said to address the needs of those abused by priests, and it does so only in a glancing way.
3. What’s very clear in Scicluna’s presentation is that canon law itself sees the primary problems in an abuse case as tamping down all reports that can lead to scandal and as “converting” the priest himself. Canon law has almost no room at all for considering the needs of lay Catholics who have been sexually abused by a priest, or for addressing the hurts and mending the injuries done to those who have been abused.
4. Scicluna makes three affirmations that, to my way of thinking, are mind-boggling, in that they cannot possibly hang together, and one cannot coherently affirm all three statements at the same time:

1. Pastoral leaders must find “the courage to tell victims to move on,” to stop creating “a persona out of being victims.”

2. “A tragic consequence of abuse is the loss of faith — a loss of faith in a God who is compassionate, merciful and loving. I have met victims who have renounced the faith as a consequence of what they suffered, and my attitude is silence and prayer.”

3. “The victims evangelize us.”

As I say, these three affirmations cannot possibly hang together. How is it possible for victims to evangelize us, when we tell victims that they must move on? How can someone who is not there evangelize the rest of us?
How can someone we’ve told to consider herself or himself as less than the rest of us, as an unworthy part of the body of Christ–Just move on–possibly evangelize any of the rest of us in the body of Christ? When we make people invisible, how do they retain the ability to evangelize us, to remind us of good news?
And so in what way does it make any sense at all to speak of victims renouncing “the faith,” when the faith itself clearly renounces them by informing them that they must move on, must stop being professional victims? There is, isn’t there, something egregiously evil about blaming those who are victims for their loss of faith when we ourselves–Just move on!–have created the conditions for victims’ loss of faith by treating victims of clerical sexual abuse as less than human?
What gives any human being the right to tell another human being suffering from childhood sexual abuse that it’s time to “move on,” to stop suffering, to shut up and get over it? Where does such astonishing hubris come from on the part of Catholic pastors and canonists, and how can Catholic pastors and canonists possibly imagine that they’re behaving pastorally when they engage in such hubristic, insensitive, cruel behavior?

As long as we have bishops (with canonists who think as Rev. [Reginald] Whitt [of St. Paul-Minneapolis] does to advise them) who assume that their primary pastoral responsibility as bishops, bolstered by canon law itself, is to “save” pedophile priests while ignoring the needs of the people of God, we’ll continue to have dangerous priests placed by bishops in positions in which they’ll have access to minors. And we’ll have cover-ups.

The roots of the abuse crisis in the Catholic church begin with the very governing system of the church itself, and are inscribed in that governing system’s code of canon law, which creates a two-tiered system that allocates power exclusively to the ordained, and excludes the non-ordained from all governing power and from fundamental rights within the church. Until that deeply unjust system of governance, which is itself a recipe for abuse, is rectified, the abuse will continue. And it will continue to be covered up.

Catholic priest recalls fleeing after sex abuse confession


Catholic priest recalls fleeing after sex abuse confession

9/9/13 By Gillian Flaccus of Associated Press

From the link: http://news.msn.com/us/catholic-priest-recalls-fleeing-after-sex-abuse-confession?stay=1

This undated photo shows a man identified as Carlos R. Rodriguez on the "Megan's Law" online sex offender registry maintained by the state of California. Rodriguez, 57, was a priest with the Vincentian order who confessed to molesting a 16-year-old boy in 1987. His confidential personnel file was released Monday, Sept. 9, in Los Angeles along with those of five other priests from three religious orders.

This undated photo shows a man identified as Carlos R. Rodriguez on the “Megan’s Law” online sex offender registry maintained by the state of California. Rodriguez, 57, was a priest with the Vincentian order who confessed to molesting a 16-year-old boy in 1987. His confidential personnel file was released Monday, Sept. 9, in Los Angeles along with those of five other priests from three religious orders.

 

The Rev. Carlos Rodriguez’s account of his flight after confessing to molesting a boy was among files released Monday under the terms of a lawsuit settlement.

LOS ANGELES — The orders the Rev. Carlos Rodriguez got from his religious superiors after he confessed to molesting a 16-year-old boy just hours before were swift and decisive: Leave immediately. Check into a motel. Don’t tell anyone where you are going. Await further instructions.

Rodriguez, then 31, picked up cash and waited by the phone. The next day, the regional leader of his religious order called and told him to book a plane ticket out of state. By the time the victim’s family went to police, he had checked in at a residential treatment center for troubled priests in Maryland.

“I felt like a fugitive. But what else could I do under the circumstances. I had no other choice but to follow orders,” he wrote years later in an essay that was included in his Vatican petition to be defrocked.

The essay was part of a 303-page confidential personnel file on the priest that was released Monday along with files for five other priests who were also accused of molesting children while working for their Roman Catholic religious orders — the Vincentians, the Norbertines and the Augustinians — while on assignment in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Rodriguez’s file stands out because it includes a candid and detailed autobiographical account of his actions in 1987 and the steps his religious superiors took to shield him from the family and civil authorities.

The file also makes clear that officials with Rodriguez’s religious order, the Vincentians, and the LA archdiocese worked together to intercede. Both knew of Rodriguez’s confession, but no one spoke with police until the boy’s family filed a police report a month later, according to the file.

“The thing that Carlos Rodriguez does is, he lays out the truth, the underbelly, and exposes that for all that it is,” said Ray Boucher, a lead plaintiff attorney in the clergy litigation who secured the release of the files.

The religious order files are the second set to be released and more are expected in the coming weeks as religious orders comply with the final terms of a 2007 settlement with hundreds of clergy abuse victims in Los Angeles.

The archdiocese itself released thousands of pages under court order this year for its own priests, but the full picture of the problem has remained elusive without records from the religious orders, which routinely assigned priests to work in Los Angeles parishes.

Without access to Rodriguez, the police case dried up and the priest was back at work within seven months, where he molested two brothers. Rodriguez, who was defrocked in 1998, was convicted of that abuse 17 years later, in 2004, and sentenced to prison. He was released in 2008.

Now 57, he lives as a registered sex offender in Huntington Park, a gritty, industrial city southeast of Los Angeles. He has been accused of abuse in at least five civil lawsuits.

“It still weighs heavy on me,” Rodriguez, who wore a cross around his neck, said on Monday when reached at his apartment. “It’s nothing proud to talk about. I still feel remorse and it still hurts.”

The Rev. Jerome Herff, the Vincentian regional provincial who told Rodriguez to leave LA after his 1987 confession and placed him back in ministry the following year, said he urged him to leave because the boy’s family was irate and he feared for the priest’s safety. The treatment center, he said, was recommended by a law enforcement authority, although he declined to say who.

“I did what I thought was best and had to be done and what happened, happened,” Herff said in a brief phone interview. “I’ve lived with this for years and I just don’t want to go back there anymore.”

Rodriguez’s troubles began when he took two teenage boys on a trip to the Grand Canyon in 1987, roughly a year after he was ordained. The three checked into a Holiday Inn in Flagstaff, Ariz., and in his essay, Rodriguez wrote he began molesting one teen who was asleep on the floor.

The boy awoke and the novice priest, terrified at being discovered, drove nearly 500 miles through the night to deliver both teens to their families and immediately went back to his parish, where he took a shower and confessed.

The Vincentians sent him to the residential treatment center. While there, Rodriguez fretted in letters home about the “seriousness of the law in Arizona” that could get him up to 15 years in prison and asked the Vincentians for character references that would convince the Arizona prosecutor not to press charges.

When the family contacted the Los Angeles police a month later, Rodriguez’s superior told the investigating detective that the “church was aware of the situation and the defendant was currently hospitalized,” according to court papers.

The victim’s former attorney, Drew Antablin, said his client, who could not be reached for comment, was part of a larger settlement with the church in 2007.

After his release, Rodriguez was assigned to work for the archdiocese’s office of family life in Santa Barbara in 1988 and then to St. Mary’s Seminary in Santa Barbara. He took a leave of absence in 1993 after complaints of abuse surfaced again — but his superiors soon discovered he was saying Mass in a neighboring county in violation of his status.

In 1996, Rodriguez asked the Vatican to be defrocked and was exiled from the priesthood two years later.

In 2004, he pleaded guilty to molesting two brothers whom he met in 1988, just after his return to ministry. “He used his position in the church and used the victims’ faith as a weapon against them,” said Deputy District Attorney Anthony Wold, who handled that case. “It was outrageous and unforgiveable.”

Associated Press Writer Greg Risling reported from Los Angeles and Huntington Park, Calif.

Cardinal Roger Mahony defends legacy on church abuse in blog


Cardinal Roger Mahony defends legacy on church abuse in blog

2/2/13 By Gillian Flaccus

From the link: http://news.msn.com/us/cardinal-defends-legacy-on-church-abuse-in-blog

Cardinal Roger Mahony

Cardinal Roger Mahony

On his blog on Friday, retired Cardinal Roger Mahony said he was ill-equipped to deal with sexually abusive clergy when he took over the archdiocese in 1985 and quickly sought to develop policies and consult with leaders in other dioceses.

LOS ANGELES — The public rebuke of retired Cardinal Roger Mahony for failing to take swift action against abusive priests adds tarnish to a career already overshadowed by the church sex abuse scandal but does little to change his role in the larger church.

Mahony can still act as a priest, keep his rank as cardinal and remain on a critical Vatican panel that elects the next pope.

While Archbishop Jose Gomez’s decision to strip Mahony of his administrative and public duties was unprecedented in the American Roman Catholic Church, it was another attempt by the church to accept responsibility for the abuse scandal that has engulfed it.

Victims were quick to point out that Mahony’s new, paired-down local standing was in stark contrast to his continued position among the prelates at the Vatican.

The decision “is little more than window dressing. Cardinal Mahony is still a very powerful prelate,” Joelle Casteix, the Western regional director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said at a Friday news conference outside the Los Angeles cathedral. “He’s a very powerful man in Rome and still a very powerful man in Los Angeles.”

The Vatican declined to comment Friday when asked if the Holy See would follow Gomez’s lead and take action against Mahony.

Tod Tamberg, the archdiocese spokesman, said Mahony was in Rome several weeks ago for meetings unrelated to Thursday’s announcement. He said he did not know if Pope Benedict XVI was aware of Gomez’s announcement.

The cardinal and Gomez both declined interview requests from The Associated Press.

In a letter to Gomez posted on Mahony’s blog Friday, the cardinal said he was ill-equipped to deal with sexually abusive clergy when he took over the archdiocese in 1985 and quickly sought to develop policies and consult with church leaders in other dioceses. He reminded Gomez that he was well aware when he took over in 2011 of the steps Mahony had taken to safeguard children.

“Not once over these past years did you ever raise any questions about our policies, practices, or procedures in dealing with the problem of clergy sexual misconduct involving minors. I have stated time and time again that I made mistakes, especially in the mid-1980s,” he wrote.

“Unfortunately, I cannot return now to the 1980s and reverse actions and decisions made then. But when I retired as the active Archbishop, I handed over to you an archdiocese that was second to none in protecting children and youth.”

Gomez’s public criticism is almost unheard-of in the highly structured church institution and would have been cleared by the Vatican in advance, said the Rev. Thomas Doyle, a canon lawyer who worked for the Vatican’s Washington, D.C., embassy.

“He’s an archbishop — he cannot order a cardinal around,” said Doyle, who co-authored a 1985 report warning of a coming clergy sex abuse scandal. “The Catholic church is a monarchy. If you’re one of the princes of the realm and you’re a duke, you don’t dump on a prince without the king’s permission or you’re no longer a duke. That’s what the deal is.”

Gomez went as far as he could within this authority, but only the Pope has the power to sanction a cardinal or laicize him, he said.

Gomez made the announcement Thursday as the church was forced by a court order to turn over thousands of pages of confidential priest personnel files after a bruising, five-year legal fight. The archbishop also accepted a resignation request from one of Mahony’s top aides, now-Bishop Thomas Curry.

The move came two weeks after other long-secret priest personnel records showed Mahony and Curry, in particular, worked behind the scenes to protect the church from the engulfing scandal.

Mahony is a member of three Vatican departments, including the Holy See’s all-important economic affairs office, and he remains a member of the College of Cardinals. At 76, he is still eligible to vote in a conclave to elect a new pope.

The Vatican’s former sex crimes prosecutor, Bishop Charles Scicluna, has said Canon Law provides for sanctioning bishops who show “malicious or fraudulent negligence” in their work, but has acknowledged that such laws have never been applied in the case of bishops who covered up sex abuse cases.

In the past, lower-ranking members of the church hierarchy who have spoken out about their superior’s handling of the clergy abuse crisis have been rebuked by the Holy See.

In 2010, for example, Viennese Cardinal Cristoph Schoenborn criticized the former Vatican No. 2, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, in an interview for his handling of a notorious sex abuse case. Schoenborn didn’t use Sodano’s name in his critique, but was nonetheless forced to come to Rome to explain himself to the pope and Sodano.

The Vatican publicly rebuked Schoenborn, saying that only the pope has authority to deal with accusations against a cardinal.

The Vatican’s silence after Thursday’s announcement indicates they were aware of it, said Patrick Wall, a former Benedictine monk and priest and vocal church critic who consults on clergy abuse cases.

“Gomez was as brilliant as a sniper the way he orchestrated this because he did not overstep his authority against the Pope and yet at the same time it appears that some type of penalty is being imposed,” said Wall. “He cannot force Mahony to resign. It’s brilliant and this has never happened in the U.S.”

Mahony will reduce his public appearances, including numerous guest lectures nationwide on immigration reform, and no longer perform confirmations, Tamberg said. However, he remains a priest in good standing and will continue to live in a North Hollywood parish and can celebrate the sacraments with no restrictions, he said.

Several of the documents in the newly released files echo recurring themes that emerged over the past decade in dioceses nationwide, where church leaders moved problem priests between parishes and didn’t call the police.

Studies commissioned by the U.S. bishops found more than 4,000 U.S. priests have faced sexual abuse allegations since the early 1950s, in cases involving more than 10,000 children — mostly boys.

In one instance, a draft of a plan with Mahony’s name on it calls for sending a molester priest to his native Spain for a minimum of seven years, paying him $400 a month and offering health insurance. In return, the cardinal would agree to write the Vatican and ask them to cancel his excommunication, leaving the door open for him to return as a priest someday.

It was unclear whether the proposed agreement was enacted.

“I am concerned that the Archdiocese may later be seen as liable — for having continued to support this man — now that we have been put on notice that one of the young adults under his influence is suicidal,” a top aide wrote in a memo about the priest to Mahony in 1995, urging him to stop paying benefits to the priest.

The cardinal added a handwritten note: “I concur — the faster, the better.”

In another case, Mahony resisted turning over a list of altar boys to police who were investigating claims against a visiting Mexican priest who was later determined to have molested 26 boys during a 10-month stint in Los Angeles. “We cannot give such a list for no cause whatsoever,” he wrote on a January 1988 memo.

Mahony, who retired in 2011 after more than a quarter-century at the helm of the archdiocese, has publicly apologized for mistakes he made in dealing with priests who molested children.

Associated Press writer Shaya Tayefe Mohajer contributed to this report.