Category Archives: Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua
To ALL the Roman Catholic Pedophile Lovers and Defenders coming to my blog and being PIGS
Honestly? I could give two flying shits less, what you scumbag, pedophile loving, pew polishing, demonic shit stains on the underwear of humanity of the Unholy Roman Catholic Cult say, or whether YOU like what I am doing here or not. And I am DAMN SURE YOU are not going to like what I am going to say in this posting, but again, I could give two flying shits less if YOU do or not.
Plain and simple, rabid dogs deserve more mercy than any of you shit stain scumbags of this cult of pedophiles. A rabid dog does NOT know what it is doing. But all your disgusting, demonic, scumbag Pedophile Pimps do. All of you do. Each and every one of you low-life, scumbag pedophiles? Each and every one of your Pedophile Pimps? Each and every one of you retarded, brain-dead, brain-washed, pieces of shit pew polishers who defend them?
ARE ALL DESERVING OF DEATH, AND A DEATH THAT WILL INCLUDE YOU SCUMBAGS BEING TORTURED WITH YOUR OWN TOOLS OF YOUR INQUISITIONS, BEFORE WE CUT YOUR FUCKING HEADS OFF, PUT THEM ON PIKES IN FRONT OF YOUR VATICAN AND YOUR CHURCHES WITH THE WARNING THIS IS WHAT WILL HAPPEN TO ANY OF YOU SCUM WHO MESS WITH OUR CHILDREN.
I agree with your Saint Peter Damian when he said the following all the way back in 1049:
“Listen, you do-nothing superiors of clerics and priests. Listen, and even though you feel sure of yourselves, tremble at the thought that you are partners in the guilt of others; those, I mean, who wink at the sins of their subjects that need correction and who by ill-considered silence allow them license to sin. Listen, I say, and be shrewd enough to understand that all of you alike are deserving of death, that is, not only those who do such things, but also they who approve those who practice them.”
Letter 31, the Book of Gomorrah [Liber Gomorrhianus], containing the most extensive treatment and condemnation by any Church Father of clerical pederasty
YOU ALL CALL YOURSELVES THE ONE TRUE CHURCH OF JESUS, THE ONE HE OFFICIALLY STARTED. YOU CALL YOURSELVES THE HOLY ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH AND THEN WITH ALL THAT YOU HAVE DONE TO CHILDREN AND TEENS? RAPING THEM? BRUTALIZING THEM? BEATING THEM? ENSLAVING THEM? USING THEM AS MEDICAL EXPERIMENTS INCLUDING FORCED STERILIZATIONS AND ABORTIONS? AND EVEN MURDERING THEM? THEN YOU GOT THE UNMITIGATED BALLS TO STATE TO ALL OF US HOW YOU ARE THE PROTECTORS AND DEFENDERS OF CHILDREN BECAUSE OF YOUR STANCE AGAINST ABORTION AND CONTRACEPTIVES?
WHO THE HELL DO YOU THINK YOU ARE TRYING TO FOOL OR CON?
THEN? YOU FUCKING ATTACK US? YOU INSULT US? YOU DENIGRATE US? YOU CALL US THE LIARS, THE GOLD DIGGERS OUT LOOKING FOR A PAYDAY?
OR BECAUSE WE SPEAK OUT AGAINST THE CRIMES…NOT THE SINS….COMMITTED AGAINST US, HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF US? HELL MILLIONS OF US ALL THROUGH THE HISTORY OF YOUR DAMNABLE CULT? YOU DARE CALL US ANTI-CATHOLIC BIGOTS AND HATERS OUT TO DESTROY YOUR CHURCH?
OR SHIT STAINS LIKE BILL PIG FACE DONOHUE OF THE CATHOLIC LEAGUE SAYS BECAUSE WE DID NOT PUNCH OUR RAPISTS IN THE FACE, THAT MEANS WE WANTED IT, WE ENJOYED IT AND WE ARE HOMOSEXUALS BECAUSE OF IT?
OR THAT WE SEDUCED OUR RAPISTS?
OR ALL THE OTHER EVIL, DISGUSTING, SHITTY THINGS YOU SAY AGAINST US?
HOW FUCKING DARE YOU!!! HOW FUCKING DARE YOU ATTACK US AND DEFEND YOUR CRIMINALS? HOW FUCKING DARE YOU DO THIS TO US? WHO SUFFERED INCREDIBLE HORRORS, PAIN AND SUFFERING BECAUSE YOUR SHIT STAIN PRIESTS, BROTHERS, NUNS AND SISTERS FUCKED US, RAPED US, TORTURED US, BEAT US, BRUTALIZED US AND MURDERED US!!!!
WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE? WHY I KNOW WHO THE FUCK YOU ARE.
YOU ARE SCUM, YOU ARE FUCKING DEMONS IN HUMAN FLESH, YOU ARE THE LOWEST FORM OF HUMAN LIFE ON THE EARTH, YOU DESERVE NO RIGHTS, YOU DESERVE NO MERCY, YOU DESERVE NO COMPASSION, YOU DESERVE NOTHING BUT FUCKING DEATH!!
PLAIN AND SIMPLE, YOU GODDAMN PEDOPHILE PIMPS, YOU POPE FRANCIS, YOU POPE EMERITUS BENEDICT XVI, YOU PEDOPHILE CARDINALS, BISHOPS AND ARCHBISHOPS, YOU PEDOPHILE PRIESTS, BROTHERS, NUNS AND SISTERS AND ALL OF YOU SCUMBAG PEW POLISHERS WHO STAND UP AND DEFEND THEM AND ATTACK US? ARE FUCKING DESERVING OF DEATH, JUST LIKE YOUR SAINT PETER DAMIAN PROCLAIMED IN 1049.
SO FUCK YOU ALL.
OH AND I TRULY WISH YOU ASSHOLE, SCUMBAG, PEDOPHILE LOVING AND DEFENDING SHITSTAIN ROMAN CATHOLIC PEW POLISHERS WHO SPEW YOUR SHIT TO ME, WHO THREATEN ME WITH DEATH? WHO SAY I SHOULD BE RAPED? WHO SAY I AND MY SONS SHOULD BE PUT TO DEATH FOR SPEAKING OUT?
WELL I FUCKING WISH, I REALLY WISH, WITH ALL OF MY HEART AND SOUL, WITH ALL OF MY BEING, YOU WOULD HAVE THE BALLS TO SAY YOUR SHIT TO MY FACE, IN PERSON, BECAUSE FUCKING TRUST ME IF YOU DID?
YOU WOULD FIND OUT IF YOUR GOD AND JESUS ARE REAL, CAUSE I WOULD HAVE NO FUCKING PROBLEM….IN BEATING YOU TO DEATH WITH MY FISTS AND FEET RIGHT ON THE SPOT THE MOMENT YOU OPEN YOUR PEDOPHILE LOVING OUTHOUSE PIEHOLES TO ME.
SO FUCK YOU.
The Catholic Church’s defiance and obstruction on child sex abuse
From the Link: https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/defiance-and-obstruction-on-child-sex-abuse/2016/04/19/22efc3de-0351-11e6-9d36-33d198ea26c5_story.html
IN THREE years at the helm of the Catholic Church, Pope Francis has been a source of inspiration for millions of faithful around the world. In one critical respect, however, he has fallen short of his own promise: to come fully to terms with decades of child sex abuse by clergymen and the institutional cover granted to them by bishops and cardinals.
Francis has pledged “the zealous vigilance of the Church to protect children and the promise of accountability for all.” Yet there has been scant accountability, particularly for bishops. Too often, the church’s stance has been defiance and obstruction.
In his trip to the United States in the fall, Francis told victims that “words cannot fully express my sorrow for the abuse you suffered.” Yet his initiative to establish a Vatican tribunal to judge bishops who enabled or ignored pedophile priests has come to naught. Not a single bishop has been called to account by the tribunal, which itself remains more notional than real.
Meanwhile, church officials have fought bills in state legislatures across the United States that would allow thousands of abuse victims to seek justice in court. The legislation would loosen deadlines limiting when survivors can bring lawsuits against abusers or their superiors who turned a blind eye. Many victims, emotionally damaged by the abuse they have suffered, do not speak until years after they were victimized; by then, in many states, it is too late for them to force priests and other abusers to account in court.
Eight states have lifted such deadlines, known as statutes of limitations, for victims who are sexually abused as minors. Seven states have gone further, enacting measures allowing past victims — not just current and future ones — to file lawsuits in a finite period of time, generally a two- or three-year window.
A typical case is Maryland, where bills to extend the statute of limitations until the alleged victim turns 38 have failed even to come to a vote, owing to opposition from House of Delegates Judiciary Committee Chairman Joseph F. Vallario Jr. (D-Prince George’s) and the Catholic Church, among others.
In his trip to the United States, Pope Francis praised bishops for what he called their “generous commitment to bring healing to victims” and he expressed sympathy for “how much the pain of recent years has weighed upon you.” Yet by its actions, the church’s “commitment to bring healing” has seemed far from generous. And it seemed perverse to address the bishops’ “pain” when the real suffering has been borne by children.
2 Paths, No Easy Solution on Abusive Priests
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN and JODI WILGOREN
Published: March 3, 2002
ST. LOUIS, March 1— It has been 20 years since John Scorfina’s family complained to church officials about the Rev. Leroy Valentine’s sexualized horseplay with him and his two brothers, which they say ended with the priest molesting 11-year-old John.
It has been four years since the Scorfina brothers took $20,000 each from the Archdiocese of St. Louis on the condition they never speak of the settlement, believing that lawyers for the church had promised to remove the priest from parish work.
But when the three men recently learned that Father Valentine, who has denied any wrongdoing, was an assistant pastor at a church attached to a Catholic elementary school, the order not to speak could not contain their outrage.
”I just don’t want any kids to go through what I went through,” John Scorfina said this week.
Across the Mississippi River in Belleville, Ill., the priests who have been accused of sexual abuse no longer work in churches. One performs karaoke on Wednesday nights at the Lincoln Jug restaurant in Belleville and another pumps gas at his mother’s service station in the small town of Columbia.
In the mid-1990’s, the Diocese of Belleville publicly ousted 13 priests accused of inappropriate sexual contact with children, leaving them in an odd limbo — on the church payroll yet without portfolio, called ”Father” but barred from administering sacraments or wearing the collar. ”In the church,” said one, the Rev. Raymond Kownacki, ”you’re guilty until proven innocent.”
Here in the center of the country, these two dioceses — one, in a major city in which a third of the population is Catholic, the other a sprawling 11,000-square-mile expanse of small farm towns — have taken divergent paths in handling accusations of sexual abuse by clergymen.
While Belleville made headlines by removing priests, St. Louis quietly moved them around. Each diocese has a board to review the cases. In Belleville, a victim’s say-so was often enough for the board to strip priests of their church ministries; in St. Louis, many victims said they were unaware of the board’s existence.
As church officials nationwide rethink their approaches to the issue amid recent scandals, each bank of the river offers lessons about the intractability of the problem.
Belleville’s broad public sweep of priests from the altar may have eased victims’ pain, but it also left some parishioners uneasy that innocent men were being maligned, while others worried about potential pedophiles being released from the rectory, unwatched. The policy in St. Louis, until this week, of keeping nearly all accusations secret as the archdiocese moved the priests into new parishes, retirement, or low-profile posts, angered victims and may have led to further offenses.
The issue of sexual abuse by priests has taken on new urgency in recent months after disclosures that the Boston Archdiocese had known for years about the sexual misconduct of a priest who was accused of molesting some 130 children. That case led to repeated apologies from the leader of the archdiocese, Cardinal Bernard Law, who reversed his policy of keeping the matter within the church and gave state authorities the names of some 80 priests accused of abusing children over 40 years.
Since then, church leaders in New England and Philadelphia have informed parishes of similar accusations against priests, handed priests’ personnel files to prosecutors and relieved some of the accused of their duties. In Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger Mahoney issued a public apology to victims and released a new policy vowing that a priest who had abused a child would never return to active ministry.
Here in St. Louis, an archdiocese of 223 parishes, church officials announced the removal of two pastors today, saying they had ”raised the bar” about who is unfit to serve in a parish post. The standard, since 1996, had been that any priest deemed to pose a future risk would be removed. Since the Boston incidents, they say that any priest with a substantiated accusation against him will be ousted. The two priests received treatment after the accusations, which are 15 and 14 years old, officials said.
”As painful as it is, we’re going to keep the trust of our people,” said Bishop Timothy M. Dolan, the vicar for priests. ”We have to be able to say, we have to be able to believe, that there is no priest in a parish against whom there is a credible claim of clerical sexual abuse.”
Accusations about pedophilia have plagued the Roman Catholic Church in the United States since the first major case arose nearly 20 years ago in a Louisiana parish. Experts warn that, like alcoholism, pedophilia is a disease that can be controlled but not cured, and that problem priests should not be reassigned to parishes where they are at risk of abusing again.
David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, who lives in St. Louis, says the experiences of Belleville, while flawed, are a starting point as bishops review policies. St. Louis, he says, is a model of what to avoid.
”In Belleville, like virtually every diocese in America, the survivor who comes forward has a long tough road,” he said. ”But in St. Louis, that road is steep, uphill, and seemingly endless.”
Parishioners Uneasy But Dependent
Father Valentine was the favorite of many children at St. Pius X, a parish and school in Glasgow Village, a community of identical aluminum-sided bungalows in the northern part of St. Louis. The priest took them out for ice cream and cheeseburgers. He lavished affection on children like the Scorfinas, who came from single-parent or troubled families. ”He was like the dad that wasn’t there,” said John Scorfina, who now runs a construction company.
Father Valentine, in an interview on Thursday at the rectory of St. Thomas the Apostle, where he is now an associate pastor, said he was barred by the legal settlement from discussing the case. When told that this was his opportunity to respond to whether there was any truth to the accusations, he looked down and shook his head. The senior pastor, the Rev. Henry Garavaglia, who sat in on the interview, said, ”Emphatically, I would say no.”
Then Father Valentine looked up and said suddenly, ”At the same time, parents should always be concerned who’s working with their children.”
Others who lived in Father Valentine’s parish said they felt uneasy about him, particularly when he wrestled with groups of boys and slid them over his body in a game he called ”crack your back.”
Tom Joseph, 32, remembers a 1982 trip with Father Valentine to the Illinois River in which he says the priest playfully tackled him, pulled down his pants and spanked him. Mr. Joseph, then 13, did not tell anyone, but says that he never went anywhere with the priest again.
Margie Lewis, a single parent, said that one day she called home and was surprised to learn from her daughter that Father Valentine was there wrestling with her son and his friends. She said that she asked him to come to the phone, but he would not, and that he left suddenly.
The Scorfina brothers were also home alone on the day they say that Father Valentine came over, and initiated a wrestling session. Soon, they say, the priest fondled two of the boys and then took John into a bedroom and sodomized him.
”I remember I had a Pittsburgh Steelers poster on the wall, and he made me name all the players until the deed was done,” John Scorfina said. Asked in his 1998 deposition how long it lasted, Mr. Scorfina said, ”About 10, 15 minutes, maybe, give or take, say, forever, 26 years.”
Katie Chrun, the Scorfinas’ mother, recalled that when she arrived home her youngest son asked: ” ‘Mom, should a priest touch you like that?’ I said, ‘Like what?’ ”
Mrs. Chrun said she contacted the authorities, but was told by pastors and a policeman that it was an internal church matter and to keep quiet and be forgiving.
Then, three months later, Mrs. Chrun, her mother and her sister went to meet with Father Valentine in the rectory. Mrs. Chrun and her sister, Linda Thurman, both say that he apologized and said that if he did something wrong, he must have blacked out.
Asked about the meeting, Father Valentine said, ”It was an apology that they had taken something wrongly.” He said he never said anything about blacking out.
Within the month, Father Valentine was removed with no explanation to the Scorfinas or the parishioners, and in the next 12 years was reassigned to three parishes, two of them with schools. Not until the Scorfina brothers filed their lawsuit, in 1995, were parishioners at the church where he worked at that time informed that there were accusations of child sexual abuse against him. The Scorfina brothers sued the Archbishop of St. Louis and Father Valentine and the archdiocese settled with the family in 1998.
Though they refused to discuss specific cases, Bishop Dolan, who also handles sexual abuse cases for the archdiocese, as well as the archdiocese’s lawyer and a psychologist who sits on the review board acknowledged that Father Valentine had been evaluated and treated by medical professionals, and that he had been put on sick leave for four years.
In 2000, as Father Valentine was assigned to his current post in Florissant, a St. Louis suburb, the church’s senior pastor sent parishioners a letter informing them about a 1982 accusation of sexual misconduct against Father Valentine. The letter said Father Valentine had ”unambiguously denied the allegation” and that therapists had concluded he posed ”no threat to children.”
Some Settled, Some Unheeded
Interviews and court records suggest Father Valentine’s is not the only St. Louis case where accusations led to transfers — or where victims complained of being ignored by the chancery.
Church officials refused to say how many priests, before last week, had ever been publicly removed because of sexual abuse. Doug Forsyth, a lawyer who has handled about two dozen cases against the archdiocese — 15 of which he said were settled — and victims’ advocates said the only cases they were aware of in which removal was publicly attributed to pedophilia were ones in which the priests did not deny the accusations in court.
One of those priests, the Rev. James Gummersbach, admitted in a 1994 lawsuit that he had abused boys in several parishes over decades. Further, in a sworn statement, he acknowledged that from his ordination in 1954 through the 1990’s ”the only known action taken by the defendant archdiocese in response to the accusations that defendant Gummersbach had sexual contact with minors was to transfer Gummersbach and instruct him to obtain personal counseling.”
One man who said his complaints about a priest went unheeded was Steven Pona. Court records show Mr. Pona, now 33, wrote to the the vicar general in 1983 contending that that the Rev. Bruce Forman, director of the Young Catholic Musicians orchestra and choir, tried to seduce him at a drive-in screening of ”Fast Times at Ridgemont High.” Mr. Pona said the incident followed at least five occasions in which the priest tried to approach him sexually.
”During the movies he had his arm around me in a funny sort of way, sort of at the waist,” Mr. Pona wrote in a teenager’s cursive. ”I pushed his arm back forcefully and said, ”Don’t, I’m not that type.’
Diocesan directories show that Father Forman, who did not return calls for comment, was moved only once in the last 20 years, in 1986, to the parish where he remains pastor. Mr. Pona’s letter, in a sealed envelope, was placed in the priest’s file, marked, ”To be opened by archbishop only,” according to court records.
Mr. Pona’s lawsuit, filed against Father Forman and the archbishop, was dismissed because of the statute of limitations. But as the issue resurfaced in the news in January, Mr. Pona said, he went to see Bishop Michael J. Sheridan, who at first was compassionate but later phoned to say he had researched the case and found no evidence.
On Friday, Bishop Dolan said Mr. Pona’s recent complaint might have gotten lost because it arrived shortly before Bishop Sheridan left for another assignment. Bishop Sheridan did not return several phone calls on Thursday. In the interview today, Bishop Dolan urged parishioners to ”tell us again” if they were unhappy with how complaints had been handled.
The archdiocese’s new strategy of removing priests based on substantiated accusations rather than assessment of future risk has already spawned criticism. Parishioners at St. Cronan’s Church, where the pastor was removed on Wednesday, gathered that evening to pray for their priest.
”People are feeling that it’s sort of an infringement of our Christian community to have someone taken from us without any consultation and without any explanation,” said Bill Ramsey, a member of St. Cronan’s. ”I don’t think anybody wants sexual abuse anywhere, but it’s a fact of life and there are more constructive ways to deal with it than ordering people away from other people.”
Model System Still Falls Short
The church used to shuffle priests accused of sexually abusing children among the 127 parishes in the Belleville diocese, too.
In a 1995 lawsuit against Father Kownacki, one of the ousted priests, and the diocese, Gina Trimble Parks asserted that while she was the priest’s teenage housekeeper, the priest repeatedly raped her over two years and ultimately fed her a quinine potion to bring about an abortion. Court records show Ms. Park’s family made the same assertions to the bishop in 1973, and that Father Kownacki had two previous complaints of sexual abuse against him from other assignments. He was sent for treatment and later returned to a parish.
The lawsuit was dismissed because of the statute of limitations. ”I was too old to fight it,” he said of his ouster in a recent interview, adding that his family and friends ”know the accusations aren’t the truth.”
The Rev. Clyde Grogan, longtime pastor of St. Patrick’s in East St. Louis, said he brought several victims and their families to the chancery to register complaints in the 1960’s and 1970’s, and nothing happened.
”You know how it was handled?” asked Father Grogan, raising his hand and forming a zero with thumb and forefinger. When victims complained, he added, ”The bishop would give lots of assurances. I think the strategy was, what do the people want to hear?”
That changed in 1993, after The Belleville News-Democrat published an article describing how a priest had molested high school boys aboard a houseboat on Carlyle Lake 20 years before. The accused priest was immediately removed and church leaders began rewriting their sexual abuse policy.
Four priests were ousted in the weeks that followed and eight more priests and a deacon were pushed out in the next two years as the diocese investigated a swell of complaints, most of which first appeared in The News-Democrat.One as eventually returned to a parish.
”We were kind of learning as we went,” said Msgr. James E. Margason, Belleville’s vicar general, who helped write the new policy. ”We were damaging someone’s reputation, we didn’t know if the allegation was true. What drove us was to protect children.”
Margie Mensen, a social worker who was the administrator of the Belleville review board from its formation until 1998, said a credible accusation from a victim was enough to remove a priest, often within days of the complaint. Many of the priests never presented their side to the board; only one admitted the abuse. Several refused treatment.
The diocese has since settled at least three of eight lawsuits (one is still pending in federal court) and paid for counseling for 49 people, including victims and their families. Though the state’s attorney subpoenaed all the review board’s records, it filed no charges, because the accusations were years old and lacked corroboration.
But if Belleville has been heralded as a model, many in the community remain dissatisfied with the process.
Father Grogan says the diocese’s 80-some priests are still divided as to whether they believe the abuse accusations. Parishioners at one church wore yellow ribbons to protest their pastor’s removal. Donations dipped for years as people feared the Sunday collection plate would go to defray legal expenses.
Those who say they are victims remain outraged that the priests retain their titles, salaries and pensions.
”That’s kind of a slap in the church’s face, my face, everybody’s face,” said Mary Aholt, whose husband was among those to receive a settlement. ”Everybody that’s paying their salary, and that’s everyone that belongs to the Catholic Church.”
Others worried that the church is not properly supervising the people it had deemed a problem. The Rev. Louis Peterson works in a restaurant in Lebanon, Ill. Father Kownacki collects coins and stamps in a dingy first-floor apartment in Dupo, Ill., where he said he sometimes celebrates Mass for family and friends, against the rules of his administrative leave. The Rev. David Crook has left the area.
”I have a whole new life,” said the lounge singer at the Lincoln Jug Restaurant, Msgr. Joseph R. Schwaegel, who still faces a federal lawsuit, along with the diocese, by a California man who asserts that Father Schwaegel repeatedly touched his genitals and raped him in 1973, when the plaintiff was 8. Father Schwaegel declined to discuss the case.
The Rev. Robert Vonnahmen, a former camp director who faced at least three lawsuits accusing him of luring boys to his cabin for massages that led to molestations, runs a Catholic retreat center and a $3-million-a-year tax-exempt tour company, formerly owned by the church, which leads Catholic ”pilgrimages” to dozens of destinations. (Two of the lawsuits were dismissed because of the statute of limitations, a third was settled out of court.)
At his office the other day, Father Vonnahmen wore a short-sleeved black shirt with Roman collar, button open, defying the church’s sanction. He has denied all accusations against him, twice petitioned the Belleville review board to reinstate him and has now appealed his case to the Vatican. ”I’m not going to give up on the Lord or the church, either one,” he said. ”I know these things happen occasionally. I can’t imagine the large number of people in Belleville. There was a rush to judgment.”
No Belleville priests have been removed since 1997. Monsignor Margason said the 800-number set up to receive abuse complaints has been silent for a year.
The Catholic Church’s Secret Sex-Crime Files
How a scandal in Philadelphia exposed documents that reveal a high-level conspiracy to cover up decades of sexual abuse
| September 6, 2011
The five co-defendants sit close enough to shake hands in the Philadelphia courtroom, but they never once acknowledge one another. Father James Brennan, a 47-year-old priest accused of raping a 14-year-old boy, looks sad and stooped in a navy sweater, unshaven and sniffling. Edward Avery, a defrocked priest in his sixties, wears an unsettlingly pleasant expression on his face, as though he’s mentally very far away. He and two other defendants – the Rev. Charles Engelhardt, also in his sixties, and Bernard Shero, a former Catholic schoolteacher in his forties – are accused of passing around “Billy,” a fifth-grade altar boy. According to the charges, the three men raped and sodomized the 10-year-old, sometimes making him perform stripteases or getting him drunk on sacramental wine after Mass.
Heinous as the accusations are, the most shocking – and significant – are those against the fifth defendant, Monsignor William Lynn. At 60, Lynn is portly and dignified, his thin lips pressed together and his double chin held high. In a dramatic fashion statement, he alone has chosen to wear his black clerical garb today, a startling reminder that this is a priest on trial, a revered representative of the Catholic Church, not to mention a high-ranking official in Philadelphia’s archdiocese. Lynn, who reported directly to the cardinal, was the trusted custodian of a trove of documents known in the church as the “Secret Archives files.” The files prove what many have long suspected: that officials in the upper echelons of the church not only tolerated the widespread sexual abuse of children by priests but conspired to hide the crimes and silence the victims. Lynn is accused of having been the archdiocese’s sex-abuse fixer, the man who covered up for its priests. Incredibly, after a scandal that has rocked the church for a generation, he is the first Catholic official ever criminally charged for the cover-up.
The deluge of sexual-abuse cases in America’s largest religious denomination began in 1985, when a Louisiana priest was sentenced to 20 years in prison after admitting to sexually abusing 37 boys. But it wasn’t until 2002, when civil suits in Boston revealed that Cardinal Bernard Law had shielded rapist priests, that the extent of the scandal became widely known. In Germany, the church is overwhelmed by hundreds of alleged victims, and investigations are under way in Austria and the Netherlands. In Ireland, the government recently issued a scathing report that documents how Irish clergy – with tacit approval from the Vatican – covered up the sexual abuse of children as recently as 2009.
Battered by civil suits and bad press, the church has responded with a head-spinning mix of contrition and deflection, blaming anti-Catholic bias and the church’s enemies for paying undue attention to the crisis. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops helped fund a $1.8 million study of sex-abuse cases against priests, but the results read like a mirthless joke: To lower the number of clergy classified as “pedophiles,” the report redefines “puberty” as beginning at age 10 – and then partially blames the rise in child molesting on the counterculture of the 1960s. The church also insists that any sex crimes by priests are a thing of the past. “The abuse crisis,” the study’s lead author concluded, “is over.”
That echoed statements by Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, who went on 60 Minutes declaring the scandal “nothing less than hideous” and then, with a sweep of his hand, announced, “That’s over with!” Dolan, in turn, sounded a lot like Bishop Wilton Gregory, the former president of the USCCB, who framed the lie more eloquently: “The terrible history recorded here is history.” That was in 2004, seven years ago.
Given how the innermost workings of Catholic culture have long been cloaked in secrecy, the case in Philadelphia offers a rare opportunity to understand why the cover-up of sexual abuse has continued for so long, despite the church’s repeated promises of reform. The answer, in large part, lies in the mindset of the church’s rigid hierarchy, which promotes officials who are willing to do virtually anything they’re told, so long as it’s in God’s name. “It’s almost like the type of stuff you see in cult behavior,” says a former Philadelphia priest who asked not to be identified for fear of retribution. “Someone on the outside would say, ‘That’s crazy.’ But when you’re on the inside, you say, ‘It’s perfectly right, because everything is divinely inspired.’ If you have a monopoly on God, you can get away with anything.”
Long before he became the guardian of the church’s secrets, Bill Lynn was a boy with a higher calling. In the fall of 1968, after graduating from Bishop McDevitt High School in the suburbs of Philadelphia, Lynn arrived at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, a stately campus whose soaring chapels, somber libraries and marble sculptures with heads bowed in prayer gave off an aura of reverence, history and costly precision. Lynn, a friendly, overweight boy whose acne-scarred face was topped with jet-black hair, was ready to begin his eight-year path to priestly ordination, a process the church calls “formation.”
At St. Charles, Lynn was plunged into an environment in which every moment was accounted for. Strict rules governed all aspects of life, especially the personal. Besides the obvious prohibitions on sexual contact – including with oneself, or even in one’s imagination – no seminarian was allowed to get too close with his peers, since he was to concentrate on developing bonds with God and the church. Seminary is a form of military-style indoctrination, molding men to think institutionally, not individually. “It’s like a brainwashing, almost,” says Michael Lynch, who attended St. Charles for nine years but was rejected for priesthood after repeatedly butting heads with his superiors. Lynch recalls a priest barking at his class, “We own you! We own your body, we own your soul!”
The goal of priesthood is a lofty one: a man placed on a pedestal for his community to revere, an alter Christus – “another Christ” – who can literally channel the power of Jesus and help create the perfect society intended by God. To model that perfection and elevate themselves above the sinful laity, clergy adopt a vow of celibacy, which has served as a centerpiece of Catholic priesthood since the 12th century. It’s a tall order to sculpt chaste, living incarnations of Jesus out of the sloppy clay of your average 18-year-old male. Even many of those who wind up being ordained fail to maintain their chastity: According to a 1990 study by psychologist Richard Sipe, only half of all priests adhere to their vows of celibacy. It is not just the sex-abuse epidemic the church seeks to deny, but sex itself.
“The real secret here is the sexual life of cardinals and bishops,” says Sipe, a former Benedictine monk who specializes in treating clergy and who has followed the case against Lynn. “If you pull the string in a knitted sweater, you’ll unravel the whole thing. This will unravel all the way to Rome.”
Many seminarians dropped out of St. Charles; others, informed that they weren’t priestly material, were “invited” to leave. Those who remained were the ones willing to surrender to the process of formation: men prepared to bend to the will of their higher powers, both earthly and divine. Such intensive focus on preparing for one’s “priestly burdens,” however, often meant that men emerged from the incubator of seminary ill-prepared for the complexities of life itself. In 1972, while Lynn was still at St. Charles, a landmark study called “The Catholic Priest in the United States: Psychological Investigations” found that three-fourths of all American priests were psychologically and emotionally underdeveloped, or even “maldeveloped.” The attitudes of these grown men toward sex, the study concluded, were on par with those of teenagers or even preteens.
Lynn thrived in seminary, where he made an impression as an affable guy who always toed the line. At his ordination, he took a solemn oath of obedience to the bishop, sealing himself into the church’s vertical framework, in which everyone is bound to the strata above them. He was assigned first to a parish in Philadelphia, then to a wealthy church in the suburbs. His parishioners liked him, and Lynn’s deference to his senior pastor made an impression on the archdiocese. In 1984, when a job as dean of men opened up at St. Charles, Lynn was plucked to fill it. “The dean is there to make sure you’re being formed properly,” explains a former Philadelphia priest familiar with the appointment. “A dean is also the type of person you want your students to want to be. We wanted to replicate priests in the model we had already been creating – nice, compliant, faithful priests. So we put Bill Lynn there: a nice, compliant, faithful priest we wanted young men to look up to.”
Over the next eight years, Lynn was a hands-on adviser. He’d wake seminarians who overslept for Mass, take them to task for missing household chores and monitor their spiritual progress. Lynn proved himself to his superiors as someone who didn’t disrupt the status quo, someone who could be trusted. In 1992, at age 41, he was named secretary of the clergy, a position that effectively made him the human-resources director for the 400 or so priests in greater Philadelphia. It was a job that required the utmost loyalty and discretion. Lynn now reported directly to Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua. If a priest broke the rules or stepped out of line in any way, it would be Lynn’s job to discipline him and inform his superiors. That, says the former priest familiar with St. Charles, is precisely why Lynn was chosen for the job: “They sure as hell weren’t going to pick someone who was going to send priests to jail.”
Every Catholic diocese has Secret Archives files – it’s mandated by canon law as a repository for complaints against priests so scandalous that they must be kept out of the regular personnel files. Few outsiders know the secret archives exist, and only the most trusted clergy have access to them. In Philadelphia, the sole keyholders were the cardinal and his closest aides. The files were kept in a row of unlabeled, gray-green cabinets in a windowless room on the 12th floor of the archdiocese’s Center City office tower. Inside was an exhaustive compendium of scandals dating back more than 50 years: priests with drinking problems, priests who had gotten women pregnant, aging stacks of confiscated pornography. Then there were the reams of carefully typed memos that discussed priests with what the archdiocese delicately referred to as “unnatural involvements” or “unusual patterns.” Priests, in other words, who had sexually abused the children in their care.
One memo directed to Cardinal Bevilacqua in 1989 described a pedophile priest’s evaluation at an archdiocese-owned hospital, in which the doctor “is of the very strong opinion that Father Peter J. Dunne is a very sick man” who should be removed from ministry; the memo warned that Dunne’s problem was so acute “that we are sitting on a powder keg.” Another file began with a sheaf of letters that Father Joseph Gausch, an active pastor, had sent another priest detailing his sex with an eighth-grade boy in 1948, three years after his ordination. Gausch called it “the closest approximation to an old-fashioned roll that I have had in years… and the subject was oh-so-satisfactory and (this is what makes the story) willin’.” In both cases, the response from the cardinal was the same: secret therapy, then reassign the offending priest to a new parish and pretend nothing had happened.
In the thick file devoted to Father Raymond Leneweaver, who had been moved to four different parishes after admitting to molesting at least seven boys, officials fretted in 1980 that they had run out of places to send him “where his scandalous action would not be known.” Scandal is a word that pops up throughout the Secret Archives files. The officials writing the internal memos almost never express concern for the victims – only concern over the risk to the church’s reputation. If the risk was deemed low, an offending priest was simply reassigned to a different parish. If the risk was high, priests were shipped to a far-off diocese with the permission of the reigning bishop, a practice known as “bishops helping bishops.”
Even in rare cases where word of a priest’s crimes leaked out, the cardinal was reluctant to expose the priest. Leneweaver was such a case; his ministry career ended only after he resigned. “His problem is not occupational or geographical,” wrote the cardinal at the time, “and will follow him wherever he goes.” Having acknowledged the severity of Leneweaver’s compulsions, the cardinal released him from the clergy but still chose not to inform law-enforcement officials of his crimes. With his clean record, Leneweaver, an admitted child-rapist, went on to take a job as a teacher at a public middle school in suburban Philadelphia.
Bill Lynn understood that his mission, above all, was to preserve the reputation of the church. The unspoken rule was clear: Never call the police. Not long after his promotion, Lynn and a colleague held a meeting with Rev. Michael McCarthy, who had been accused of sexually abusing boys, informing the priest of the fate that Cardinal Bevilacqua had approved: McCarthy would be reassigned to a “distant” parish “so that the profile can be as low as possible and not attract attention from the complainant.” Lynn dutifully filed his memo of the meeting in the Secret Archives, where it would sit for the next decade.
Over the 12 years that he held the job of secretary of the clergy, Lynn mastered the art of damage control. With his fellow priests, Lynn was unfailingly sympathetic; in a meeting with one distraught pastor who had just admitted to abusing boys, Lynn comforted the clergyman by suggesting that his 11-year-old victim had “seduced” him. With victims, Lynn was smooth and reassuring, promising to take their allegations seriously while doing nothing to punish their abusers. Kathy Jordan, who told Lynn in 2002 that she had been assaulted by a priest as a student at a Catholic high school, recalls how he assured her that the offender would no longer be allowed to work as a pastor. Years later, while reading the priest’s obituary, Jordan says it became clear to her that her abuser had, in fact, remained a priest, serving Mass in Maryland. “I came to realize that by having this friendly, confiding way, Lynn had neutralized me,” she says. “He handled me brilliantly.”
In his very first year on the job, Lynn received a letter from a 29-year-old medical student that would trigger the events that led to his arrest 19 years later. The student – whom the grand jury would call “James” – reported that as a teenage altar boy he had been molested by his priest, Father Edward Avery. The popular and gregarious Avery, nicknamed “The Smiling Padre,” was considered hip for a priest; he moonlighted as a DJ at weddings and invited lucky boys for sleepovers at his house at the Jersey Shore. The med student included a copy of a letter he had written to Avery. “I have let too much of my life be controlled by this terrible wrong you committed,” it read. “You had no right to hurt me the way you did. You have no right to hurt anyone else this way.”
This was a code-red situation that Lynn had to get under control. He began by interviewing James, who described how Avery had molested him at the beach house, at the parish rectory and on a ski trip to Vermont, sometimes after plying him with beer. James said he wasn’t looking for money – only an assurance that Avery would no longer be a threat to children. That was surely a relief: the risk of scandal was clearly low. Next, Lynn confronted Avery, whom he’d known in seminary. According to Lynn’s memo, the priest admitted that some of the allegations “could be” true – but insisted it had been “strictly accidental” and that he had been so drunk at the time, he couldn’t recall exactly what had happened.
According to church protocol, an admission of any kind meant a priest must be sent for medical care. So Lynn recommended that Avery seek treatment at St. John Vianney Hospital, a facility in the leafy Philadelphia suburb of Downingtown that maintained a discreet inpatient program that treats sexually abusive priests. Cardinal Bevilacqua approved the request, but the bureaucratic wheels moved slowly: Avery remained in the pulpit for another 10 months before he was hospitalized for his secret therapy. After his release, his doctors prescribed that he be monitored by an aftercare team consisting of Lynn and two other priests. But the church did not take the recommendation seriously. The team did not meet for more than a year – one priest later testified that he didn’t even know he was on the team.
Avery’s doctors also recommended that he be kept away from teens and other “vulnerable” populations. Instead, the church assigned Avery to a new residence with plenty of exposure to kids: St. Jerome, a parish in northeast Philadelphia that included an elementary school. (The rectory had an empty bed because its previous resident, Rev. Bill Dougherty, had been quietly moved to another parish after being accused of abusing a high school girl.) Officially speaking, Avery didn’t work at the parish – he simply lived there, with an assignment as a chaplain at a nearby hospital. With encouragement from Lynn, he became a regular presence at St. Jerome, serving Mass and hearing confessions. He took on more DJ jobs than ever, booking gigs almost every weekend. “He seemed mesmerized, focused, as if he became a different person DJ’ing,” recalls Rev. Michael Kerper, who split shifts with Avery at the hospital. Kerper, under the impression that Avery had been moved to a low-pressure chaplain job after a nervous breakdown, worried that Avery was risking another collapse by spreading himself so thin. One day, when Avery failed to show up at the hospital while on call, Kerper wrote the archdiocese to express his concern. He addressed his letter to Monsignor Lynn.
Lynn surprised Kerper by calling him directly and telling him to mind his own business. “You’re not going through the proper channels,” Lynn snapped. “You’re not his supervisor.” Avery was permitted to continue working as a DJ and pitching in at St. Jerome. The following year, according to the grand jury, Lynn received an e-mail from James, who was looking for assurance that Avery had been reassigned to “a situation where he can’t harm others… for my peace of mind, I have to know.” Lynn reassured James that the archdiocese had taken proper steps. Then Lynn met with Avery and instructed him to be “more low-keyed.” In doing so, says the grand jury, Lynn helped set the stage for the horror that came next.
“Billy” was a 10-year-old student at St. Jerome School in 1998, and an altar boy just like his older brother before him. A sweet, gentle kid with boyish good looks, Billy was outgoing and well-liked. One morning, after serving Mass, Rev. Charles Engelhardt caught Billy in the church sacristy sipping leftover wine. Rather than get mad, however, the priest poured Billy more wine. According to the grand jury, he also showed him some pornographic magazines, asking the boy how the pictures made him feel and whether he preferred the images of naked men or women. He told Billy it was time to become a man and that they would soon begin their “sessions.”
A week later, Billy learned what Engelhardt meant. After Mass, the priest allegedly fondled the boy, sucked his penis and ordered Billy to kneel and fellate him – calling him “son” while instructing him to move his head faster or slower – until Engelhardt ejaculated. The priest later suggested another “session,” but Billy refused and Engelhardt let him be.
A few months later, while Billy was putting away the bells following choir practice, he was taken aside by another priest: Father Avery. According to the grand jury, Avery told Billy that he had heard all about the boy’s “session” with Engelhardt – and that Avery’s own “sessions” with him would soon begin. Billy pretended not to know what Avery was talking about, but his stomach lurched. Later, after Billy served a morning Mass with Avery, the priest led him to the sacristy, turned on some music and told him to do a striptease. When Billy dutifully started shedding his clothes, Avery instructed him to dance to the music while undressing. Then the Smiling Padre sat back and watched the awkward performance before taking off his own clothes and ordering the naked boy onto his lap. He kissed Billy’s neck and back, telling him that God loved him. Then he allegedly fondled the boy, fellated him, and commanded Billy to return the favor, culminating in Avery’s ejaculating on Billy and congratulating him on a good “session.” A second session allegedly followed weeks later when Avery, finding Billy cleaning a chalice after a weekend Mass, ordered the boy to strip. The priest then fellated Billy while making the boy masturbate him to climax.
Billy never told anyone what had happened. But from then on, he made sure to trade assignments with other altar boys to avoid serving Mass with Father Avery. After summer break, when Billy returned to St. Jerome and entered the sixth grade, he was assigned a new teacher, Bernard Shero. His abuse seemed to be a thing of the past, something best forgotten.
One day, according to the grand jury, Shero offered Billy a ride after school. Instead, they stopped at a park about a mile from Billy’s house. “We’re going to have some fun,” Shero told him. He ordered Billy into the back seat, helped him undress, and then allegedly fellated and anally raped him, managing to insert his penis only partway because of Billy’s screams of pain. Then Shero made Billy perform the same acts on him. “It feels good,” he repeated over and over. Afterward, he made Billy get out of the car and walk home.
Before long, Billy began to change in disturbing ways. He often gagged or vomited for no reason and became increasingly sullen and withdrawn. He stopped hanging out with his friends and playing sports. He started smoking pot at 11; by his late teens, he was addicted to heroin. Billy spent his adolescence cycling in and out of drug-treatment programs and psychiatric centers, once spending a week in a locked ward after a suicide attempt. His parents, who later took out a mortgage on their home to pay for Billy’s care, were beside themselves, clueless as to what had sent their sunny child into such a downward spiral.
When his mother found two books about sexual abuse stashed under his bed, Billy brushed off her suspicions. The books were for an assignment at school, he told her, and refused to say anything more.
Billy’s alleged abuse at the hands of the Philadelphia priests might have remained a secret, if not for the church’s inept attempt at spin control. After the abuse scandal in Boston broke open in 2002, every Catholic diocese in America had rushed to reassure its parishioners. Philadelphia was no different: Cardinal Bevilacqua declared that in the previous 50 years, his archdiocese knew of only 35 priests who had been credibly accused of sexual abuse. That was news to Lynne Abraham, the city’s district attorney at the time, since not a single one of those 35 cases had been reported to her office. When Abraham asked the archdiocese’s law firm for details, it refused to cooperate. In the face of stonewalling, Abraham moved for a grand-jury investigation and assigned a team of prosecutors nicknamed “The God Squad” to probe the archdiocese’s handling of sex-abuse claims.
The God Squad had no idea what they were in for. The archdiocese fought the investigation at every turn. “It was like trying to infiltrate a racketeering organization,” recalls former Assistant District Attorney Will Spade. “Most of these guys just seemed to be in the wrong professions. They weren’t kind or understanding or any of the things a priest should be. They were just thugs.”
The grand jury subpoenaed the church’s internal records. Compelled by the court, the church’s lawyer began meeting with prosecutors at a Dunkin’ Donuts midway between the archdiocese’s headquarters and the DA’s office, handing over the Secret Archives files piece by piece. “I felt like I was living in a detective novel,” says Spade. Though the prosecutors had been anticipating some sort of internal records, they were taken aback at the very existence of the secret files. “I always thought it was funny, them calling it the Secret Archives files,” he says. “You morons! If they’re so secret, why are you even calling it that?”
When the secret archives were finally unlocked, prosecutors were stunned to find thousands of documents that detailed the hundreds of victims who had allegedly been abused by 169 priests. “There was so much material, we could still be presenting information to the grand jury today if we followed every lead,” says Charles Gallagher, a former Philadelphia deputy district attorney who supervised the investigation. “We ultimately had to focus.”
In 2005, the grand jury released its 418-page report, which stands as the most blistering and comprehensive account ever issued on the church’s institutional cover-up of sexual abuse. It named 63 priests who, despite credible accusations of abuse, had been hidden under the direction of Cardinal Bevilacqua and his predecessor, Cardinal Krol. It also gave numerous examples of Lynn covering up crimes at the bidding of his boss.
In the case of Rev. Stanley Gana, accused of “countless” child molestations, Lynn spent months ruthlessly investigating the personal life of one of the priest’s victims, whom Gana had allegedly begun raping at age 13. Lynn later helpfully explained to the victim that the priest slept with women as well as children. “You see,” he said, “he’s not a pure pedophile” – which was why Gana remained in the ministry with the cardinal’s blessing.
Then there was Monsignor John Gillespie, who was not sent for medical evaluation until six years after Lynn began receiving complaints about him. Therapists subsequently reported that Gillespie was “dangerous” – but Lynn was more concerned about the priest’s insistence on apologizing to his victims. To keep the scandal from becoming public, Gillespie was ordered to resign for “health reasons.” Cardinal Bevilacqua then honored the priest with the title of pastor emeritus – and allowed him to hear the confessions of schoolchildren for another year.
“In its callous, calculating manner, the archdiocese’s ‘handling’ of the abuse scandal was at least as immoral as the abuse itself,” the grand jury concluded. Immoral didn’t mean illegal, however, and the grand jury found itself unable to recommend any prosecutions, in part because the statute of limitations on all of the abuse cases had run out. But the nightmare had been revealed, and the Philadelphia faithful recoiled in shock.
Perhaps no one was more disturbed than the new parishioners of Lynn, who had been quietly reassigned to a plum job as pastor of St. Joseph’s, a rich suburban parish. The job was essentially a promotion: Lynn’s predecessor had just been ordained a bishop and given a diocese of his own. A kind and jocular pastor, Lynn had swiftly become beloved in the parish, always happy to pitch in at events held by the Home & School Association or to host dinner parties in his rectory. Stunned by the grand-jury report, parishioners were at a loss to square the unfeeling church official who had manipulated innocent victims with the compassionate pastor whom they knew. In the rectory dining room, one woman confronted Lynn in tears.
“How did you do this?” she demanded, sobbing. “Why did you do this?”
Lynn looked her right in the eye. “Don’t believe everything you read,” he said firmly. “I put them in treatment. I took care of the families.”
The first of the 63 priests listed in the grand jury’s catalog of abusers was Father Avery. By then, Avery had been placed on administrative leave – but he still remained in the ministry, more than a dozen years after the allegations of sexual abuse against him had first surfaced.
Once again, it was the most powerful word in the secret archives – scandal – that spurred the church to take action. As the grand jury was preparing to release its report, Cardinal Justin Rigali “urgently” petitioned Rome to take the extreme step of defrocking Avery against his will. “There is a great danger of additional public scandal so long as Father Avery remains a cleric,” he wrote, explaining that accusations against Avery had been in the papers and that his files had been subpoenaed. The Vatican needed to remove Avery from the priestly rolls, the cardinal urged, to avoid “additional scrutiny.”
Rigali needn’t have worried. According to the grand jury, Avery was persuaded to request a voluntary defrocking, thanks to a severance payment of $87,000. The laicization process of transforming a priest back into an ordinary civilian, which usually takes years of canonical trials, was completed in less than six months.
With Avery disposed of, Cardinal Rigali went about calming Philadelphia Catholics. The archdiocese retained a consultant to help it improve the handling of victim complaints. A centerpiece of the reform was an independent clergy-review board that evaluated accusations of abuse. It was a terrific idea, one that would inject transparency and accountability into the process by taking cases out of the shadowy archdiocese and putting them into the unbiased hands of others. In practice, however, the archdiocese simply cherry-picked cases to send to the board – a fact that board members themselves learned only after the secrecy was revealed by the grand jury last February. “The board was under the impression that we were reviewing every abuse allegation received by the archdiocese,” board chair Ana Maria Cantazaro complained in an essay for the Catholic magazine Commonweal.
In the few cases that were actually submitted to the panel, the grand jury found that “the results have often been worse than no decision at all.” Using lax standards developed in large part by the canonical lawyers, the board dismissed even highly credible allegations. The results of those decisions could be devastating. In 2007, a man named Daniel Neill complained that he had been abused as an altar boy by Rev. Joseph Gallagher. According to a lawsuit filed against the archdiocese, Neill gave three statements to an archdiocese investigator – only to be informed that the review board didn’t believe him. Devastated, Neill killed himself in 2009. After the grand-jury report, the archdiocese finally reversed itself by suspending Gallagher.
Under another reform instituted by the archdiocese – the Victim Assistance Program – abuse survivors like Neill could receive counseling paid for by the church. “I urge anyone who was abused in the past to contact our Victim Assistance Coordinators, who can help begin the healing process,” Cardinal Rigali declared. In reality, the grand jury found, the program was used as a way to discourage victims from calling the police and, even more insidiously, to extract information that could later be used against the victim in court. In a recent lawsuit against the archdiocese, one victim recounts how, in return for any assistance, the church pressured him to sign an agreement that “prohibited” the archdiocese from reporting the abuse to law enforcement. “All along, they were acting like they wanted to help me,” says the victim, “but really they just wanted to help themselves.”
When Billy, the altar boy allegedly passed around by Avery and others, sought help in 2009, the archdiocese’s victim coordinators once again took measures to protect the church. Instead of immediately offering to take the case to the police, the grand jury found, a coordinator named Louise Hagner and another staffer showed up at Billy’s house, where they pressured him into giving a graphic statement. Returning to her office, Hagner wrote up her notes – including her observation that she thought Billy had pretended to cry – and informed the church’s lawyers that Billy intended to sue.
At least one good thing came out of Billy’s case: When his allegations were finally brought to the district attorney’s office, his case, which falls within the statute of limitations for criminal prosecution, became the foundation of the grand jury’s current investigation. Even the Vatican itself appeared to take drastic action: On September 8th, Cardinal Rigali will be replaced by Charles Chaput, the charismatic archbishop of Denver. The Vatican insists, however, that Rigali’s resignation has nothing to do with the scandal. Indeed, Pope Benedict XVI has shown nothing but support: In April, when the pontiff needed a special envoy to appear on his behalf in the Czech Republic, he chose none other than Rigali for the honor.
As for Cardinal Bevilacqua, under whose watch Billy and other children were allegedly abused, the grand jury regretfully noted that it could not recommend criminal charges in the current case, since it lacked direct evidence against the cardinal. Bevilacqua, now 88, has rejected responsibility for the abuses that occurred during his tenure. When he testified before the grand jury in 2003, Bevilacqua conceded that any move involving the reassignment of accused priests was “ultimately my decision.” But he was quick to stress who was really at fault: In every instance, he insisted, he had “relied on my secretary of the clergy’s recommendations if anything was necessary to be done.” With Bevilacqua insulated from prosecution, the district attorney grabbed at a lower-level bureaucrat, one the cardinal himself had hung out to dry: Monsignor Bill Lynn.
Lynn stands in the courtroom in Philadelphia, having been sworn in by Judge Renée Cardwell Hughes. Hands clasped, his face pulled into a frown of concentration, the monsignor proceeds to answer a series of routine questions: He holds a master’s degree in education. He takes medication for high blood pressure. He has never been treated for mental illness or substance abuse. He understands that the charges against him carry a maximum penalty of 28 years in prison.
Then the judge comes to what she considers the most pressing point: Does Lynn truly understand the risk he faces by allowing the church to pay his legal fees? If Lynn’s attorneys are paid by the archdiocese, their loyalty to their benefactor may put them at odds with his needs as a defendant in a criminal trial.
“You have been charged. You could go to jail,” Hughes says gravely. “It may be in your best interest to provide testimony that is adverse to the archdiocese of Philadelphia, the organization that’s paying your lawyers. You understand that’s a conflict of interest?”
“Yes,” Lynn replies.
The judge massages her temples and grimaces, as though she can’t believe what she’s hearing. For 30 minutes straight, she hammers home the point: Do you understand there may come a time that the questioning of archdiocese officials could put you in conflict with your own attorney? Do you understand that you may be approached by the DA offering you a plea deal, in exchange for testimony against the archdiocese? Do you realize that is a conflict of interest for your lawyers?
“Yes, Your Honor,” Lynn continues to insist cheerfully, though his voice grows fainter as the minutes tick by. In one final plea for rationality, the judge asks if Lynn would like to consult with an independent attorney for a second opinion. He declines and returns to his seat, looking flushed and unhappy.
Lynn’s lawyers, citing a gag order on the parties in the case, declined to allow him to comment for this article. The archdiocese also refused to comment, citing its emphasis on what it calls “moving forward.” So far, Lynn’s attorneys have simply argued that the case should be dismissed: Because charges of child endangerment are normally reserved for people directly responsible for kids – parents, teachers – Lynn’s remove from the victims means his prolonged efforts to cover up the crimes were not technically illegal.
The court has rejected that argument, and the trial against Lynn and his co-defendants – all have pleaded not guilty – is scheduled to begin this winter. It may include videotaped testimony from Cardinal Bevilacqua, as well as the release of some 10,000 potentially incriminating documents. Lynn must know on some level that the church could be using him as a shield one last time in its systematic campaign to hide decades of monstrous abuses against children. But his willingness to sacrifice himself – his unswerving obedience to his superiors, even in the face of criminal charges – is what makes him such a loyal and devoted servant, all the way to the bitter end.
This is from the September 15, 2011 issue of Rolling Stone.
Reflecting on the human cost of abuse and its prevention By Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, O.F.M. Cap.
Reflecting on the human cost of abuse and its prevention
EDITORS NOTE: In July 2012 when Archbishop Chaput’s investigation cleared one accused priest, SNAP reacted with sharp criticism of Chaput’s procedure, saying decisions were “held in secrecy for months or weeks until the archbishop and his public relations staffers deem it’s most advantageous to disclose them. Chaput continues to act recklessly and selfishly … with little or no regard for children’s safety.” At the same time, SNAP also called “again” on Archbishop Chaput to proceed to defrock Lynn after his conviction; and for “eliminating Pennsylvania’s archaic, arbitrary, predator-friendly statutes of limitations”. In January 2014, the archdiocese, prominently defended by Chaput, posted bail for Lynn. In April 2015 the state supreme court upheld the initial conviction and revoked Lynn’s bail. He was returned to serve the balance of his 3-to-6 year term. PLEASE read the Editors Notes following the end of the story.
The hypocrisy of Archbishop Charles J. Chaput in the following story is incredibly revealing.
Now from Archbishop Charles J. Chaput’s own hypocritical words:
Throughout the weeks of April, our Commonwealth, along with the rest of the country, has been focused on National Child Abuse Prevention and Awareness Month.
Here in Pennsylvania, our people have come through a very difficult decade on this issue. But the abuse problem is much wider than any one state, profession or demographic group. It cuts through every level of society. Child abuse is an ugly crime; abusing children sexually compounds the evil. Every year we see many thousands of cases of child sexual abuse across the country in a full range of institutions, public and private, religious and secular.
In response, Pennsylvania legislators have passed 20 new laws aimed at preventing child abuse and providing better support for survivors. In doing so, they’ve offered a model for the nation. We owe them our gratitude for their good work. And it’s important to stress that as a Catholic community, we too are committed — just as everyone should be — to ensuring safe environments for children and young people.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has a zero tolerance policy for clergy, lay employees and volunteers who engage in sexual misconduct with children. If an accusation of this nature is made, we take immediate action by reporting the matter to law enforcement and cooperating with authorities fully in the course of their work.
We’re committed to educating all those who work with children, as well as the children in our schools and parish religious education programs, so they can recognize signs of abuse and make a report.
As we come to the end of April, it’s worth highlighting some key archdiocesan statistics:
* More than 280 designated Safe Environment Coordinators are now working in our parishes, schools and youth ministries to ensure compliance with state laws and archdiocesan safety policies.
* More than 92,000 adults have received training to recognize, respond and report child abuse since 2003.
* Nearly 30,000 adults have received mandatory reporter training.
* More than 100,000 children have received age-appropriate abuse prevention education.
* The archdiocese has invested more than $2.4 million in education and training aimed at preventing and reporting sexual abuse since 2006.
In addition, the archdiocesan Victim Assistance Program offers compassionate and substantial assistance to individuals and families every year. During the 2013-14 fiscal year alone, the Church in Philadelphia dedicated more than $1.6 million to various modes of assistance including counseling, medication, and vocational support for survivors and their families.
To put it simply: The Philadelphia Catholic community is, and will remain, fully committed to helping survivors of childhood sexual abuse and their families heal, no matter who committed the crime against them or when the crime occurred.
Evil actions in the past can’t be erased and shouldn’t be forgotten. Over the decades sexual abuse has wounded hundreds of innocent lives, both within and outside the Church in Pennsylvania. But the sins of the past need not determine the present or future.
The Catholic Church in the Greater Philadelphia region is dedicated to protecting our young people and families from sexual predators and the suffering they cause — now and always.
EDITORS NOTE: The Archdiocese of Philadelphia did NOT dedicate itself to protecting young people from sexual predators, nor did they do anything about the suffering of the victims. This is extremely well documented.
Cardinals John Krol and Anthony Bevilacqua covered up for their pedophile priests.
Bishop Joseph Cistone also participated in the cover ups, including silencing a nun who tried to alert parishioners at St. Gabriels parish of an abusive priest. Cistone also covered up for other priests and showed himself he was more concerned with the public relations than the sexual abuse of children.
Bishop William Lynn, who was eventually convicted in his part for covering up for “Father” James J. Brennan among others. “According to a scathing grand jury report, Lynn, as secretary of clergy for the archdiocese, concealed the crimes of accused priests and put them in positions in which they could harm more children.
Lynn figured prominently in a scathing 2005 grand jury report that found 63 priests in the archdiocese had been credibly accused of child sexual assault over several decades while local church officials turned a blind eye..
Some of the pedophile priests they covered up for were:
1. “Father” John McDevitt, a religion teacher at Father Judge High School for Boys, abused Richard Green for six months in 1990 and 1991. At the time, the victim’s uncle, Cardinal John Joseph O’Conner served as Archbishop of New York.
2. “Father” Edward Avery, 69, known for his moonlighting work as a disc jockey, pleaded guilty to involuntary deviate sexual intercourse and conspiracy to endanger the welfare of a child. He was immediately sentenced to 2½ to five years in prison. The charges stem from Avery’s abuse of an altar boy at St. Jerome’s Parish in northeast Pennsylvania in 1999, when Avery was 57 and the boy 10. Avery was at St. Jerome’s despite a credible 1992 complaint that led him to undergo psychological testing at an archdiocesan-run psychiatric hospital, according to a 2005 grand jury report. He was pulled from his parish, put on a so-called “health leave” and then reassigned in 1993, the report said.”
3. “Father” James J. Brennan: Brennan is accused of the 1996 rape of a 14-year-old boy.
The Diocese of Allenstown PA had 22 pedophile priests: Thomas J. Bender, Luis A. Bonilla Margarito, Bernard A. Flanagan, Stephen Forish, Francis (Frank) J. Fromholzer, James F. Gaffney, Edward R. Graff, Richard Gulliani, Leo Houseknecht, William E. Jones, Michael S. Lawrence, James J. McHale, Francis J. McNelis, James J. Mihalak, Gabriel M. Patil, Joseph A. Rock, John Paul Sabas, William J. Shields, David Soderland, A. Gregory Uhrig, Andrew A. Ulincy, Ronald J. Yarrosh.
The Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown PA had 27 pedophile priests: Joseph J. Bender, Harold N. Biller, John J. Boyle, Martin A. Brady, James F. Bunn, Andrew Campbell, Thomas M. Carroll, Athanasius C. Cherry, Dennis E. Coleman, Alvin T. Downey, Elwood F. Figurelle, Joseph Gaborek, Bernard V. Grattan, Leonard Inman, Robert J. Kelly, George D. Koharchik, William Kovach, Thomas M. Lemmon, Anthony B. Little, Francis E. Luddy, Thomas K. Mabon, Joseph D. Maurizzo, Francis Mcaa, Martin D. McCamley, William A. Rosensteel, James F. Skupien, Joseph J. Strittmatter.
The Diocese of of Erie PA had 11 pedophile priests: Michael G. Barletta, Donald Bolton, Robert F. Bower, Chester J. Gawronski, H. Desmond McGee Jr., William F. Presley, Samuel B. Slocum, Thomas E. Smith, Daniel J. Taylor, and two un-named priests.
The Diocese of Greenburg PA had 6 pedophile priests: Dennis Dellamalva, Mark F. X. Gruber, Francis M. Lesniak, Gregory F. Premoshis, Roger A. Sinclair, Roger J. Trott.
The Diocese of Harrisburg PA had 7 pedophile priests: John G. Allen, John R. Bostwick Jr., Augustine Giella, David M. (H?) Luck, Guy D. Marsico, Joseph M. Pease, Patrick J. Shannon.
The Diocese of Philadelphia had 133 pedophile priests: Edward V. Avery, William G. Ayers, Phillip R. Barr, James J. Behan, Michael C. Bolesta, John F. Bowe, H. Cornell Bradley, Michael J. Bransfield, James J. Brennan, Robert L. Brennan, Leonard W. Broughan, Craig F. Brugger, James A. Brzyski, George B. Cadwallader, Raymond J. Cahill, Hugh P. Campbell, John A. Cannon, Paul A. Castellani, Pasquale R. Catullo, Gerard W. Chambers, Michael A. Chapman, Arthur B. Chappell, John A. Close, Richard J. Cochrane, James J. Collins, Michael F. Conroy, James J. Coonan, George A. Costigan, Nicholas V. Cudemo, John J. Delli Carpini, Edward M. DePaoli, Joseph L. DiGregorio, Richard D. Dolan, Michael J. Donofrio, John C. Dougherty, William J. Dougherty, Phillip J. Dowling, Peter J. Dunne, Ernest A. Durante, Thomas J. Durkin, James M. Dux, Charles F. Engelhardt, Francis S. Feret, Mark E. Fernandez, Leonard F. Furmanski, Robert W. Gaghan, Francis J. Gallagher, Joseph J. Gallagher, Joseph P. Gallagher, Stanley M. Gana, Stephen M. Garrity, Mark S. Gaspar, Joseph P. Gausch, Francis A. Giliberti, John E. Gillespie, Charles Ginn Jr., David W. Givey, Joseph M. Glatts, Thomas J. Grumm, David I. Hagen, Steven Harris, James T. Henry, Robert J. Hermley, Gerard J. Hoffman, Daniel J. Hoy, John F. Hummell, James M. Iannarella, Stanley Janowski, Richard G. Jones, William T. Joseph, William N. Killian, John Kline, Thomas M. Kohler, Matthew J. Kornacki, Albert T. Kostelnick, Edward P. Kuczynski, Dexter A. Lancetot, David T. Lawlor, Raymond O. Leneweaver, John R. Liggio, Joseph L. Logrip, Joseph E. Macanga, Nilo C. Martins, George J. Mazzota, Joseph F. McCafferty, Michael J. McCarthy, John F. McCole, Charles P. McColgan, Andrew D. McCormick, James J. McGinness III, Joseph M. McKenzie, Richard J. McLoughlin, Donald J. Mills, Joseph R. Monahan, John H. Mulholland, John J. Murray, Michael G. Murtha, Zachary Navit, Henry “Harry” J. Nawn, Charles Newman, John P. Paul, Stephen B. Perzan, Leonard Peterson, Terrance Pinkowski, Ted (Theodore) Podson, Robert Povish, Richard T. Powers, John D. Reardon, Francis P. Rogers, Thomas Rooney, Gerald J. Royer, Joseph F. Sabadish, William L. Santry, Martin J. Satchell, Charles J. Schaeflein, John P. Schmeer, Thomas F. Shea, David C. Sicoli, Charles J. Siegle, Edward J. Smith, Thomas J. Smith, DePaul Sobotka, Louis M. Steingraber, Michael W. Swierzy, Peter Talocci, Carmen F. Taraborelli, Joseph W. Thomas, Francis X. Trauger, Alyosius M. Vath, David E. Walls, Sylwester Wiejata, Thomas J. Wisniewiski.
The Diocese of Pittsburgh PA had 42 pedophile priests: Alvin J. Adams, Jerome Binder, Robert J. Castelucci, Mauro J. Cautela, Charles J. Chatt, Anthony J. Cipolla, M. Eric Diskin, Jason R. Dolan, Richard J. Dorsch, David F. Dzermejko, Ralph J. Esposito, John P. (Jack) Fitzgerald, Richard Ginder, James G. Ginder, James G. Graham, Bernard Joseph Hartman, William Charles Hildebrand, John (Jack) S. Hoehl, Edward G. Huff, Joseph G. Karabin, John Keegan, William Kiefer, James Kline, Henry R. Krawcyzk, John Lukasik, Julius F. May, William J. McCashin, Francis Meder, Ralph Mrvanitz, Lawrence O’Connell, George J. Parme, Francis Pucci, Edward Smith, James E. Somma Jr., Bartley A. Sorenson, Andrew J. Suran, Daniel J. Tisak, Alberta Veri (nun), John W. Wellinger, Joseph Wichmanowski, George Wilt, Robert G. Wolk, Richard “Sade” Zulu.
The Diocese of Scranton PA had 23 pedophile priests: Phillip A. Altavilla, Robert J. Brague, Francis Brennan, Robert N. Caparelli, Christopher Clay, J. Peter Crynes, Eric Ensey, Robert J. Gibson, Unkown First Name Hazzouri, Albert M. Liberatore Jr., James M McAuliffe, Neil P. McLaughlin, Russell E. Motsay, Father Ned, W. (William) Jeffery Paulish, Edward J. Shoback, Thomas P. Shoback, Thomas D. Skotek, Virgil Bradley Tetherow, Robert M. Timchak, Carlos Urrutigoity, Lawrence P. Weniger, Steven J. Wolpert.
The List Cardinal Bevilacqua Didn’t Want You to See
March 20, 2012
This “list of priests who have been guilty or accused of sexual misconduct with a minor according to the file material” was attached to the memo from Msgr. William J. Lynn to Msgr. James Molloy dated February 18, 1994. This is the list that Cardinal Bevilacqua ordered to be shredded.
The leadership involved certainly put the secret in secretariat and endangered countless children over decades. Our children. Mine and yours. Please don’t let this go unchallenged. It’s up to the courts and lay Catholics now. No more empty promises of accountability. Insist that the archdiocese acts on all the recommendations of the 2011 Grand Jury report.
REPORT FROM THE SECRETARIAT FOR CLERGY
- Reverend James J. Bryski (1977) Exit in 1985 – Activity occurred more than five years ago.
- Reverend Nicholas V. Cudemo (1963) Restricted faculties/living with relatives.
- Reverend Peter J. Dunne (1954) No official assignment. – Activity occurred more than five years ago. Encouraged to seek laicization. No response to the request for laicization at this time. Living on his own in his private residence.
(Editor’s note: Peter Dunne was finally exposed in the 2005 Grand Jury Report. Good thing, too. My family had no idea there was an issue.)
Guilty of Sexual Misconduct with Minors
- Reverend Edward V. Avery (1970), Chaplain, Nazareth Hospital/ Resident St. Jerome. Sexual relationship with same minor three times. Action occurred more than five years ago. (Editor’s note: as if it might clear up over time – like a rash).
- Reverend Pasquale R. Catullo (1963), Pastor Annunciation B.V.M. Sexual relationship with highs school junior (1968-69). Self reported. No complaint issued. Requested transfer.
- Reverend James M. Dux (1948) Associate Pastor, Saint John the Baptist. Diagnosed in 1965 as sexually deviated and this problem is deep-rooted and of chronic duration. Sexual advances (kissing) teenage boys reported. Pornography. Action occurred more than five years ago.
- Reverend Francis J. Gallagher (1973) Associate Pastor, Immaculate Conception, Jenkintown. Alcoholism and solicitation of adult males. In psychological evaluation. Self-disclosure of mutual masturbation with two adolescent boys with whose family Father had a personal friendship. No complaints ever filed.
- Reverend Joseph Gausch (1945) Retired. Living in Cape May, NJ. Sexual activity with young men. Actions occurred more than five years ago.
- Reverend Richard Jones (1963) Inactive. Encouraged to seek laicization. Living in Florida. Files indicate actions with one minor (17 years of age) and adult males. Actions occurred more than five years ago.
- Reverend Raymond O. Leneweaver (1962) Exit in 1980. In 1968 admitted sexual acts with high school boys. Actions occurred more than five years ago.
- Reverend John J. Murray (1947) Retired. In 1992, fondled a teenage girl while under the influence of alcohol.
- Msgr. Richard T. Powers (1963) Pastor, Incarnation of Our Lord. Had a sexual relationship with a 17 year old girl in Caracas, Venezuela while with the Society of St. James. Action occurred more than five years ago. (Editor’s note: just removed from ministry).
- Reverend Martin J. Satchell (1963) Health leave, Villa St. John Vianney, Downingtown. Self-reported sexual contact with teenage boys.
- Reverend Charles Siegle (1953) Deceased. Sexual contact with boys. Actions occurred more than five years ago.
- Reverend Aloysius H. Vath (1940) Deceased. Sexual acts with young boys over a period of 18 years. Actions occurred more than five years ago.
- Reverend Thomas J. Wisniewski (1974) Staff, Tribunal, Resident, St. Justin, Narberth. Sexual contact with a teenage boy over the period of three years (1984-1987)
Allegations of Sexual Misconduct with Minors with no Conclusive Evidence
(Editor’s Note: Conclusive evidence eventually surfaced regarding many of the below)
- Reverend Michael C. Bolesta (1989) Associate Pastor, St. Agatha/St. James
- Reverend Robert L. Brennan (1964) Associate Pastor, Resurrection of Our Lord
- Reverend Raymond Cahill (1947) Deceased
- Reverend John A. Cannon (1948) Chaplain, St. Joseph Home, Holland
- Reverend Richard D. Dolan (1962) Exit
- Reverend John C. Dougherty (1945) Associate Pastor, St. Bartholomew
- Reverend Stanley M. Gana (1970) Pastor, Our Mother of Sorrows, Bridgeport
- Msgr. John E. Gillespie (1953) Pastor, Our Lady of Calvary
- Reverend James T. Henry (1964) Associate Pastor, St. Patrick, Norristown
- Reverend Dexter A. Lanctot (1976) Faculties Restricted, resident, St. Catherine of Siena, Horsham
- Reverend Joseph F. McCafferty (1961) Chaplain, St. Mary’s Manor, Lansdale
- Reverend James J. McGinnia (1978) Associate Pastor, St. Joseph, Collingdale
- Reverend James E. McGuire (1970) Associate Pastor, St. Ignatius, Yardley
- Reverend Richard J. McLoughlin (1969) Associate Pastor, St. Bede Parish, Holland
- Reverend Joseph M. McKenzi (1951) Deceased
- Reverend John H. Mulholland (1965) Associate Pastor, St. Francis of Assisi, Norristown
- Reverend John D. Reardon (1973) Resident, Presentation B.V.M., Wynnewood
- Msgr. Charles J. Schaeflein (1949) Chaplain, Mount Nazareth
- Reverend David C. Sicoli (1975) Pastor, Our Lady of Hope
- Reverend Joseph W. Thomas (1955) Resident, Archdiocese of San Francisco
- Reverend Francis X. Trauger (1972) Associate Pastor, St. Michael the Archangel, Levittown.
A sunrise broken by gunfire on a school bus. An investigation as to the root cause of the gunfire suffocated. Wuerl let it be suffocated.
A sunrise broken by gunfire on a school bus. An investigation as to the root cause of the gunfire suffocated. Wuerl let it be suffocated.
By Patrick Pontillo
by guest writer Mike Ference, detailing the experience of having
a son get shot in the back of the head and then to be treated as
an impediment to Wuerl’s rise to power. Edited as to its syntax.
Diplomatically abridged as to its contents.
The sodomizing of youth by Catholic clergy members and then covered
up by church hierarchs was something seldom discussed. It was seldom
discussed until the media broke open the seals of secrecy that were once
glazed over Cardinal Bernard Law’s disgraced Boston Archdiocese.
It was twenty-three years ago when I was forced to begin investigating
similar things in the county where sits Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. This
was because a fifteen year old youth allegedly preoccupied with the
Occult, Satanism, and devil-worship attempted to murder my son,
Adam, on a school bus. The same youth then killed himself.
My investigation began in December of 1989. This means that I was
forced to start my work thirteen calendar years before veteran journal-
ists of the Boston Globe exposed Catholic Church red hatter Bernie
Law for having habitually covered the criminal actions of priests. Ten
years after having begun my investigations, the Philadelphia district at-
torney’s office put to bed the prosecution of every Philadelphia area
cleric accused of the same old crimes and the same old cover ups.
Being a molester in Pennsylvania was a lucrative pastime, at the time.
The attack on my son took place on the morning of December 5, 1989,
around 8:00 am. A bus carrying Serra Catholic High School students
began its approach toward the school’s entrance doors. A bus loaded
with dozens of teenagers was beginning to cross onto Serra Catholic
school grounds when the would-be assassin pulled out a loaded hand-
gun and blasted a shot into the back of my son’s head. He next placed
the gun to his temple and fired the second shot.
Two ambulances transferred my son and the shooter to the McKeesport
Hospital. Both young men were admitted to the same emergency room,
separated by the curtains surrounding their beds. A telephone call from
Brother Chuck, the guidance counselor of Serra Catholic, served notice
to our family to get to the McKeesport Hospital Emergency Room as
soon as possible.
Ironically, my wife, my eldest son, and I arrived at the hospital before
the ambulances did. While a paramedic was pushing a gurney through
a hallway, I shouted to the man, “If that’s Adam Ference, tell him his
parents are here.” The body was completely covered. Deep-down in-
side, and without saying a word, I hoped and I prayed it wasn’t Adam.
Seconds later came another gurney, being pushed through the hallway.
It was Adam, sitting up. He was conscious, but I wasn’t sure how
alert he was.
A nurse came to escort me back to where my son was. I still didn’t
know what happened. A disheveled detective from the McKeesport
Police Department approached my wife and I. He recklessly pulled a
gun from a brown paper bag and asked if we had ever seen the wea-
pon before. Confused and bewildered, we shook our heads sideways,
quietly saying no. A teacher would then pull the detective to the side
and tell him that we weren’t the parents he needed to talk to.
I watched an ER room’s bed sheets get saturated with blood as the
shooter lay dead, no doubt from the 32-caliber self-inflicted gunshot
wound. It was a shot taken seconds after the shooter blasted my
son’s skull with his first shot, done while my son sat directly in front
of him, half asleep.
Minutes later, a nurse called me into the emergency room, to see my
son. I tried to reassure him that everything would be alright, as he
seemed to daze in and out of consciousness. I caught myself glanc-
ing back and forth from the wound in the back of my son’s head to
the blood-stained sheets of the shooter in the bed next to my son.
It were as if I was watching a tennis match or a ping pong game.
I prayed and promised God that I would do whatever I could to make
things right, not knowing what that meant, and still not knowing what
exactly happened. Now, I knew that Adam could never intentionally
harm anyone with a gun. But, I figured that he might have accidental-
ly tripped someone, resulting in multiple gun shots being unleashed from
a loaded weapon. So, I kept promising God that I would do whatever
it took to make things right. Sadly, I heard a father crying; weeping
over his son’s dead body. All but for the grace of God, the father in
anguish could have been me.
Twenty-three years later, I’m still trying to keep the promise I made
in the McKeesport ER. Needless to say, Donald Wuerl has been a
ruthless antagonist, preventing the truth from being uncovered. This
Wuerl keeps us in the dark, in so many diabolical ways.
Several weeks after the shooting, my son was well on his way to re-
covery. Several weeks after the shooting, a seasoned law enforce-
ment officer who actively participated in the investigation, ended up
sitting in my living room, alleging to my wife and I that the investiga-
tion of my son’s attempted murder was deliberately quashed by the
McKeesport Police Chief (Thomas Brletic) and his investigating of-
ficers. The man who alleged this to me was and is William Scully.
At the time, Scully was the Public Safety Officer of Clairton. At the
time, Clairton no longer had a police force, due to the economic woes
which followed the demolition of the Pittsburgh steel industry. Prior
to being Clairton’s public safety director, Scully was assistant chief
of police for the same town of Clairton and served several years as
a police officer there.
To compensate for the case being allegedly quashed, Scully provid-
ed me with specific notes and details about the shooter. He alleged
that the shooter was sexually abused by Fr. John Wellinger, a parish
priest at Holy Spirit Church in West Mifflin, PA. Prior to Wellinger’s
assignment at Holy Spirit, he was an assistant pastor of Saint Clare
of Assisi Church, in Clairton. The shooter served as an altar boy for
Fr. Wellinger at St. Clare’s.
According to several sources, the shooter was often an after-school
guest of Wellinger, at the parish rectory house, along with other boys.
It was a parish house equipped with a pool table, pinball machines
and other facilities which keeps young boys amused for hours.
Scully also provided specific information about Wellinger allegedly
harming a teenager from Holy Spirit Church in West Mifflin. This
harming allegedly occurred circa 1987 or 1988. I even received an
email from the alleged victim in 2011 that suffices as evidence that
easily confirms my allegations on the topic.
As time progressed, I would eventually speak with several sources.
The sources included a retired police chief of West Mifflin, as well
as a police officer of the same West Mifflin whose son was alleged-
ly molested by the same John Wellinger. My sources also included
several ladies who worked along side Wellinger at Holy Spirit Parish.
There was even the matter of a woman who may have known John
Wellinger intimately. Added to the list is the former Pittsburgh Post
Gazette investigative reporter who alleged that Wellinger once made
a homosexual pass at him. An additional source included a Florida
man who once visited Wellinger at Holy Spirit Parish, and alleged
that Wellinger wanted to perform an unnatural act on his person.
Plus, there was the teenager to whom Wellinger allegedly supplied
a spiked alcoholic beverage which knocked the youth out for hours.
Concerning the youth, he eventually returned to consciousness and
dialed 911. He then allegedly staggered down apartments stairs, to
meet an awaiting ambulance which allegedly took the youth to then
Presbyterian University Hospital (now part of the University of Pitts-
burgh Medical Center).
According to the allegations, he and his family were victimized yet
again, in the alleged cover-up that followed. It’s sad that it has taken
over 23 years for me to release my information with just a scant hope
of justice finally being served. Tragically speaking, as I have tried to
draw attention to the various crimes and cover ups, I can only imagine
how many more victimscould have been saved from being victimized,
if only Wuerl and government officials would have applied an element
of human decency and did what needed to have been done.
Michael Unglo is one person who immediately comes to mind. Mike
committed suicide shortly after the Diocese of Pittsburgh, under Bish-
op David Zubik, stopped financing his psychiatric treatment. Now, the
Pittsburgh diocese had already payed $300,000 in psychiatric bills for
Michael. But, Mike suffered from flashbacks, due to the alleged mo-
lestations of the defrocked Richard Dorsch who receives a thousand
dollar a month stipend (pension) from the diocese.
Meanwhile, homosexual con artist Fr James Torquato immediately
canceled all business contracts with his accuser’s uncle, and Wuerl
ratified Fr. Torquato’s act of economic terrorism, as if Wuerl were
performing the terrorism himself. Basically, James Torquato black-
mailed his accuser’s uncle. The uncle was to get Torquato’s accus-
er to retract his accusations against Torquato or else lose significant
I would like to point out something about my son’s attempted murder.
The shooter was not sitting is his regular seat that day, nor did he get
on at his regular stop. My son did sit in his regular seat, close to the
window. The shooter was allegedly in the aisle seat behind him. This
means that he was originally catty-corner to Adam. Well, he alleged-
ly switched seated and was now exactly behind Adam.
The exact conjecture as to what was transpiring during the attempted
murder of my son was thwarted by parents not allowing their children
to be interviewed by law enforcement investigators. Depositions exist
which can be supplied as proof of a community-wide cover up.
Concerning Adam’s case, I had sought help from many people in gov-
ernment. I was referred to an Allegheny County detective by form-
er a PA State Trooper, named Robert Griffin. Griffin was brought
into the case in 1989 and investigated the Satanic and Occult inter-
ests of my son’s shooter and the shooter’s friends. The detective to
whom I was referred simply stated that the Diocese of Pittsburgh
was covering up crimes for years. The offending priests would be
shuffled from one parish to another, the detective alleged. He made
it sound as if there was nothing he could do about it.
There is a long list of state troopers who did absolutely nothing. Like-
wise, the same nothing came from former Pennsylvania Senator and
Catholic Church lobbyist, Rick Santorum. Senator Arlen Spector al-
so chose to ignore my case, as did Congressman Mike Doyle. Plus,
Carol Burke, Chief of Staff for State Rep David Levdansky, simply
advised me to get over it.
An FBI agent did exist who was well-aware of Wellinger’s alleged
sexual shenanigans, but the agent was preoccupied with the investi-
gation into a drug raid gone bad which resulted in a fellow agent be-
ing killed. So, the Pittsburgh diocese has been getting a free pass,
ever since the tenure of Anthony Bevilacqua. Include Wuerl’s ten-
ure also, especially in light of the fact that Wuelr paid no price for
his alleged absence of cooperativeness during an investigation that
resulted in the arrests of Wolk, Zula, and Pucci. Wuerl also paid
no price thus far, for ratifying the Torquato retaliations.
Allegheny County’s Courthouse is located on Grant Street, in down-
town Pittsburgh. Supposedly, justice is served there. Sadly enough,
some of the PA judges were bought and sold like stolen merchandise
at outdoor flea markets. I cite the infamous Luzerne County “Cash
for Kids” scandal that sent two greed-infested Pennsylvania judges to
federal prisons, after years of locking up children in private juvenile de-
tention centers for things as petty as summary offenses.
The detention centers are owned by Gregory Zappala, son of former
Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Stephen Zappala, Sr and
brother of Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala, Jr.
Sadly enough, one of the victims of this barbaric practice would end
up committing suicide after two incarcerations. His death would take
place on the 10th of June, 2010, the same day when Allegheny County
District Attorney Stephen Zappala was sworn in as a member of the
board that oversees clergy sex abuse allegation, under the auspices
of the United States Bishop’s Conference.
It’s pertinent to point out that the attempted murder of my son took
place in McKeesport, PA. It’s a section of the Mon Valley jokingly
referred to as Mob Valley. It’s the last place one expects to find any
semblance of justice. McKeesport is filled with case after case of
systematic and deliberate cover ups of criminal behavior, most often
alleging McKeesport police and democratic officials as being at the
center of the alleged cover ups.
Some allegations involved: 1] a dead teenage girl whose body was
found in a McKeesport cemetery, 2] a woman held captive for al-
most a decade by a McKeesport School district security guard, and
3] the Cornell Elementary School scandal which allegedly involved
two McKeesport teachers doing their best to imitate dogs in heat,
while two other teachers allegedly did their best to act like watch-
dogs. All actions were either well concealed or never happened.
None the less, the allegation that Fr. John Wellinger molested the
shooter of my son, as well as had drugged-up the drink of another
youth, were things stated in Scully’s notes. Thus, these allegations
came from someone who had official status.
I’ve also met and talked with yet, another accuser of former Pitts-
burgh clergy member, John Wellinger. This accuser was one of the
plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit against the Diocese of Pittsburgh.
His parents were parishioners of Holy Spirit Church in West Mifflin.
For now, I want to caution people from outside of Pennsylvania that,
if you’re contemplating moving here, you would do better to just stay
put. Jim Potts, founder of Democracy Rising and advocate for hon-
est government in Pennsylvania, opined on a Pittsburgh radio station
that “Pennsylvania may be the most corrupt state in America.”
I agree with Potts. However, I would extend his opinion to include
most third world countries.
Consider the following before you plan a visit to Pennsylvania, or
worse yet, to move to this commonwealth: 1] the Cash for Kids
Scandal; 2] the Jerry Sandusky and Penn State scandal; 3] the
grand jury investigations into the rape and sodomizing of innocent
children in the Philadelphia Archdiocese; 4] the Tanya Kash case
involving a McKeesport School District security guard allegedly
holding a teenager captive for almost ten years; 5] Cardinal Don-
ald Wuerl’s proven triple cover-up of Wolk, Zula, and Pucci, by
which he ignored the Child Protective Services Act and was ac-
cused of having been uncooperative during the criminal investiga-
tion of the three priests he tried to conceal … followed by Wuerl
facing zero accountability for his evil commissions and equally
All of these cases allege police and government officials being all
too willing to delay or hamper investigations involving children in
harm’s way. In a Philadelphia archdiocesan case, a ten-year-old
boy was alleged to have been sodomized by his teacher in a park.
When the teacher had satisfied his barbaric cravings, the alleged-
ly victimized youth was forced to make his way home on his own,
bleeding from his rectum.
Pennsylvania is a pro-pedophile state, in my opinion. My opinion,
of course, comes from personal experience and a lot of investigat-
ing, done free of charge. So, you can either take my word for it or
risk your own children’s lives to prove me wrong. In Pennsylvania,
even adults were the victims of power abuse. Concerning this, you
can either take my word for it or else risk your own future to prove
Trick or Treat Bishop David Zubik
I sent this press release out in 2013 around Halloween. It’s time to repost. I met a woman who was friends with the victim who I have described in the press release. I’m hoping to interview her soon. She talked to the victim the night that Father John Wellinger drugged him. That’s right a witness is stepping forward to tell us what the victim went through the night that Father John Wellinger drugged him.
It’s a shame that Donald Wuerl, David Zubik and all the other Roman Coward clerics who covered up crimes in the Pittsburgh Diocese don’t simply come forward and tell the truth and really help survivors heal.
For Immediate Release
Contact: Mike Ference
Pittsburgh, PA – October 29, 2013 — If ever there was cleric gone wild who should be dredged up on devil’s night, Father John Wellinger is that evil spirit. As an advocate for clergy sex abuse victims for almost a quarter of a century I’m convinced that the Pittsburgh Diocese concealed Wellinger’s criminal activities with the help of law enforcement authorities, the university and medical community, elected officials at all levels of government, legal community and of course plenty of hierarchy from the Roman Catholic Church.
How could this to happen? We now know that protecting predator priests, clerics and the institutional church trumps God’s most precious commodity – innocent children. It’s the standard method of operation in every diocese and in every country.
On Thursday, October 31, 2013, in downtown Pittsburgh on the Boulevard of the Allies in front of the Pittsburgh Diocesan headquarters I’ll pass out literature outlining who knew what, where, when and why about the devastation caused by one predator priest Father John Wellinger and how everything was covered up.
Here are some of the details.
Sometime in 1987, possibly March, while Anthony Bevilacqua was serving as bishop of the Pittsburgh Diocese; Wellinger allegedly drugged and possibly raped and sodomized a University of Pittsburgh student. The alleged crime took place in the student’s apartment that was shared with his brother, also enrolled at the University of Pittsburgh. According to the victim, who I interviewed, he was knocked out for hours. Awakening, he intuitively called 911. Sadly, that’s when his real nightmare began.
Running down the stairs and into the street to meet the Pittsburgh paramedics, the teenager would be whisked away to Presbyterian Hospital emergency room (now University of Pittsburgh Medical Center). According to the victim, he was admitted, but never examined by a doctor. Keep in mind this young man was given a drug that knocked him out, administered by a lay person with very bad intentions. Wellinger also provided alcohol, yet no doctor wanted to be bothered by this case.
Could it be that the call to 911, answered by Pittsburgh paramedics, was the first step in alerting Pittsburgh Diocesan officials that one of their own had harmed another, again? Would diocesan officials then alert hospital officials to avoid contact with the patient?
Or, is it more reasonable to assume that medical personnel, sworn to care for and help others in need, would just say no to a young man drugged and possibly raped and sodomized by a Catholic priest? I don’t think so. An emergency room doctor, spending so much money on medical school and with so much to lose, would never make that call.
Was this normal protocol during the Bevilacqua years as bishop when priest after priest was charged with molesting minors? Bevilacqua even welcomed known predator priests into the Pittsburgh Diocese, Father John P. Connor being one of them. It’s called passing the trash from one diocese to the next. This year I spoke to a victim of Connor from the north hills section of Pittsburgh. How many other victims of Connor, just like Wellinger, are still suffering.
We now know how badly the Bevilacqua regime treated children in the Philadelphia Archdiocese since two separate and distinguished district attorneys from Philadelphia had the courage to protect children over dysfunctional, super sex freaks. Is it more reasonable to think Bevilacqua would protect sexual perverts only on the eastern side of Pennsylvania or that his criminal behavior would be congruent and consistent across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania?
Sadly, Allegheny County district attorneys have done more to protect video poker parlors than children abused by grown men in priestly garb. If I’m wrong, please let the current or a past district attorney of Allegheny County or, any elected official for that matter, stand and sing your praise.
According to the victim, Wellinger trailed him to the emergency room, the victim alerted the attending nurse on duty that he, Wellinger was the priest who drugged him. Still nothing was done. Security was not alerted, police were not called. The teenager would simply leave with his parents for a long ride home.
My interview with the victim was not the first time I was made aware of this event. As early as January of 1990, former Clairton Public Safety Director William Scully, a seasoned law enforcement officer, would sit down with my wife and me, in our own living room and tell us firsthand his knowledge of this alleged crime. Scully even provided me with details, notes and instructions to contact the victim’s parents to get all the facts.
There’s much more to this story, sadly, the victim’s mother was also traumatized by Wellinger. Just one more reason the crime and the priest were able to blackmail all parties concerned, so charges would never be made and Wellinger would never be held accountable.
Looks like this Trick or Treat season, Bishop David Zubik has two choices; fess up or continue to flip the bird to victims of ruthless, sexual predators.
THESE ARE CRIMES, NOT SINS, GET IT RIGHT ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH!!!
By Frank J LaFerriere
Dear Roman Catholic Church,
When YOU assholes call what you all did to us? When YOU call crimes such as child abuse, child rape, child slavery and yes, child murder just sins? YOU lessen the impact of these crimes.
Get it through your sick and twisted disgusting heads right now.
1. Raping children is a CRIME.
2. Covering up the rapes of children is a CRIME.
3. Enslaving children in your Magdalene Laundries is a CRIME.
4. Murdering children and victims, by their suicides, is a CRIME.
5. Gang raping and gang beating children, like you all did in your Industrial Homes, like the one at Artane, is a CRIME.
6. Standing up and defending these kinds of CRIMES makes YOU an accomplice.
Asking for victims of your crimes to forgive you is WRONG!!! We did absolutely nothing wrong, YOU DID. Why should we even accept YOUR FAKE APOLOGIES when YOU STILL blame US and attack US for your crimes against US? Why do YOU feel we should forgive YOU when you continue to do the following against us:
1. DENYING US JUSTICE FOR THE CRIMES YOU COMMITTED AGAINST US.
2. BLAMING US FOR THE CRIMES THAT WERE COMMITTED AGAINST US.3. ATTACKING US AS THE EVIL ONES FOR STANDING UP AND CRYING OUT ABOUT THE CRIMES YOU COMMITTED AGAINST US.
4. DECLARING US THE EVIL ONES FOR SPEAKING OUT AGAINST THE CRIMES COMMTTED AGAINST US BY YOUR PSYCHOTIC PEDOPHILE PIMPS, YOUR PSYCHOTIC PEDOPHILE AND ABUSIVE PRIESTS, YOUR PSYCHOTIC PEDOPHILE AND ABUSIVE NUNS.
5. USING YOUR SCUMBAGS PSYCHOS LIKE BILL DONOHUE OF THE CATHOLIC LEAGUE TO INSULT AND DENIGRATE US.
You all deserve to be arrested for your crimes against us. You all deserve to pay for your crimes against us, including the murder of us. For when ANY victim of your pedohiles have committed suicide, that is murder and YOU should be charged for it.
YOU DO NOT DESERVE TO BE CALLED HOLY MEN OF GOD. YOU DO NOT DESERVE DIGNITY AND RESPECT. YOU DO NOT DESERVE ANYTHING LESS THAN TO BE CALLED FOR WHO AND WHAT YOU ARE….
YOU ARE DISGUSTING CHILD RAPISTS. YOU ARE DISGUSTING PEDOPHILES. YOU ARE DISGUSTING PEDOPHILE PIMPS. YOU ARE DISGUSTING CHILD MURDERERS.
YOU HAVE RAPED HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF CHILDREN. YOU HAVE ENSLAVED THOUSANDS MORE IN YOUR LAUNDRIES. YOU HAVE BEATEN AND TORTURED AND BRUTALIZED THEM. YOU HAVE DESTROYED THEIR LIVES. YOU DO NOT DESERVE PRAISE AND WORSHIP FOR THIS, YOU DESERVE CONDEMNATION AND OSTRASIZATION FOR THIS. YOU DESERVE TO BE ARRESTED AND TRIED AND UPON CONVICTION FOR YOUR CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY AND THE CHILDREN OF THE WORLD, EXECUTED FOR YOUR CRIMES. NO GREATER CALL FOR A DEATH PENALTY PUNISHMENT THAN THE BRUTAL RAPES, BEATINGS, ENSLAVEMENT AND MURDER OF CHILDREN THAT YOU ALL HAVE DONE AND ARE GUILTY FOR SHOULD BE CALLED FOR. YOU DESERVE TO BE EXECUTED ACTUALLY, IN MY OPINION USING THE VERY TOOLS OF THE INQUISITIONS THAT YOU USED TO EXECUTE OTHERS!!!
Each and every one of the following named individuals, have overwhelming, convincing and clear evidence against, that they were in fact, Pedophile pimps, in that they moved dangerous pedophile priests, from one parish to another, covering up for the rapes and abuses of children by these disgusting pedophiles and then they raped and abused even more children.
THERE IS OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE AGAINST EACH AND EVERY FOLLOWING NAMED INDIVIDUAL, THEY PLACED THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CHURCH, ITS PEDOPHILE PRIESTS AND NUNS, IT’S PSYCHOTIC, ABUSIVE PRIESTS AND NUNS, BEFORE THE SAFETY AND PROTECTION OF CHILDREN.
There is clean and convincing evidence, against each and every following named individual, that they are part of the larger organization, The Roman Catholic Church and that worldwide, have committed atrocities and crimes against the children of the world and humanity that are overwhelming provable:
About 35,000 children and teenagers who were orphans, petty thieves, truants, unmarried mothers or from dysfunctional families were sent to Ireland’s network of 250 Church-run industrial schools, reformatories, orphanages and hostels from the 1930s up until the early 1990s. For six decades, priests and nuns terrorised boys and girls in the workhouse-style schools with sexual, physical and mental abuse.
This does NOT include the crimes against children and humanity, where ever these Roman Catholic Churches institutions were found, from Belgium, France, Italy, Australia, New South Wales, Germany, United States, Canada, and the world over.
EACH AND EVER ONE OF THE FOLLOWING PEDOPHILE PIMPS SHOULD BE ARRESTED AND TRIED FOR THEIR
CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY AND THE CHILDREN OF THE WORLD!!!
Pope Emeritus Benedict
Cardinals: Adam Maida, Agostino Vallini, Angelo Scola, Angelo Sodano, Anthony Bevilacqua, Bernard Law, Dominik Duka, Donald Wuerl, Franc Rode, Francis George, Francisco Javier Errazurtz Ossa, George Pell, Godfried Danneels, Hans Groer, Humberto Mederios, John Cody, John Krol, Joseph Bernardin, Juan Cipriani, Justin Rigali, Keith O’Brien, Leonardo Sandri, Ludwig Mueller, Marc Ouellet, Norberto Rivera, Oscar Andres Rodriguez Maradiaga, Partick O’Malley, Peter Turkson, Raymond Burke, Richard Cushing, Roger Mahony, Sean Brady, Silvio Oddi, Tarcisio Bertone, Thomas Winning, Timothy Dolan, Vinko Puljic, Wilfred Fox Napier, William Levada.
Archbishops: Andre Richard, Anthony Sablan, Charles J Chaput, Denis Hart, Diarmuid Martin, Ernest Leger, Frank Little, Gerhard Ludwig Muller, Harry Flynn, Jerome Hanus, Jerome Listecki, John Charles McQuaid, John Clay Neinstedt, John Meyers, John Roach, Jose Horacio Gomez, Josef Wesolowski, Luciano Storero, Mario Conti, Peter Gerety, Peter Sartain, Pio Laghi, Rembert Weakland, Ricardo Ezzati Andrello, Robert Carlson, Silvano Tomasi, Theodore McCarrick, Valery Vienneau, William Cousins, Ricardo Ezzati Andrello.
Bishops: Peter Anthony Libasci, A.J. Quinn, Andrew Cozzens, Anthony O’Connell, Antonio Sarto, Bill Wright, Carl Mengeling, Christopher Foster, David M O’Connell, David Zubik, Donald Kettler, Edward Cullen, Eugene Laroque, Gabino Miranda, George H. Guilfoyle, George Leo Thomas, Gerard Frey, Henry Kennedy, Howard Hubbard, James Garland, James Hoeppner, James Kavanagh, James Murray, James Timlin, John B McCormack, John Doerfler, John Magee, Joseph Cistone, Joseph Devine, Joseph Imesch, Joseph V Adamec, Kieran Thomas Conry, Kenneth Povish, Laurence Glenn, Leo Clarke, Louis E. Gelineau, Marco Antonio Ordenes, Michael Bransfield, Michael Jarrell, Michael John Browne, Michael Malone, Patrick Cooney, Patrick Cotter, Peter Conners, Raphael Michael Fliss, Raymond Lahey, Richard Sklba, Robert C. Evans, Robert E. Mulvee, Robert Finn, Robert Rose, Roger Vangheluwe, Rogello Livieres, Seamus Hegarty, Thomas Curry, Thomas Daily, Thomas J. Tobin, Vincent Leonard, William Lynn, Wilton Gregory, Wojeciech Polak, Maurice Schexnayder.
For A. J. Baselice: Sins of the Father
Father Charles Newman, once head of the largest Catholic high school in Philadelphia, sits in jail after stealing nearly a million dollars. But as one family knows, he committed acts of evil far more chilling than that
WHILE THE FAITHFUL and holy gather in the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, Art Baselice stands outside, bearing witness in his own way. He isn’t interested in prayers for Bishop Joseph Cistone, who is leaving Philadelphia to run a diocese in Michigan. He isn’t hoping to shake hands with the cardinal and all of the archbishops, who have come together on this summer afternoon for Cistone’s farewell benediction.
Surrounded by a handful of priest abuse victims and their advocates, he holds a sandwich-board sign bearing photos of his son, Arthur Baselice III, and two clerics, Brother Regis Howitz and Father Charles Newman. As a pair of clergymen head into the service, Baselice raises up his billboard. They look over for a moment, then move on. “See what I get?” Art says. “There’s a man of God. He turns his head.”
Back home in South Jersey, the ashes of Art Baselice’s son sit in a marble urn, surrounded by trinkets and photographs, as if part of a funeral that never ends. The man Art holds responsible is Father Charles, the former president of Archbishop Ryan, the largest Catholic high school in the city. With his wife and two children, Art would attend Saturday mass, and walk up the aisle to Father Charles, who would place the Holy Eucharist in their outstretched hands or on their tongues. Art is mostly bald now, and stocky, with the meaty hands of a prizefighter. He rarely smiles, and when he speaks, there’s an edge to his words, like he’s spitting them out — partly the South Philadelphia Italian in him, partly the ex-city cop. But his sharp cadence is mostly a reflection of what he can’t stop thinking about. “He started grooming Arthur the day he met him,” Art says of Father Charles. “Not only Arthur. He groomed us.”
That Father Charles was sent to prison in May for stealing more than $900,000 from his religious order and high school gives Art little comfort. In his mind, there are crimes for which the priest, and the Philadelphia archdiocese, haven’t been punished. His son is dead. So is his faith. As Bishop Cistone and his holy brethren worship inside the cathedral, Art tightens his grip on his sign, trying to make sense of how he — the ex-cop, the devout Catholic, the father — ended up here, and when his healing will begin.
This isn’t a story like so many that have surfaced since 2002, when the Boston Globe’s reports on Catholic clergy abuse tore apart that city’s archdiocese. Since then, tales of pedophile priests have been told by the hundreds, as other cities, including Philadelphia, began to examine the church in a way they once dared not. In 2005, a grand jury investigation launched by district attorney Lynne Abraham culminated in a 418-page report. The revelations it contained were horrifying. One priest molested a fifth-grader inside a confessional booth. Another raped an 11-year-old, then took her to a clinic for an abortion. Sixty-three priests were named in all, and the scores of children they violated would grow up battling addiction, suicidal thoughts and mental illness. But there is another group of victims and survivors — the families whose lives were ruined by depraved men cloaked in priests’ vestments.
Art and Elaine Baselice are among the forgotten collateral damage from Philadelphia’s clergy-abuse scandal. In the early 1970s, the Baselices were like a South Philly fairy tale, two young Catholic kids in love. Art, a Bishop Neumann grad who served in the Air Force, married Elaine, a pretty Maria Goretti alum from the neighborhood. Despite the cost of Catholic education, their kids, Arthur and Ashleigh, would grow up the same way they had, with the discipline and moral guidance of the church. Fortunately, Archbishop Ryan High was less than a mile away from their new home in the Northeast.
Arthur Baselice didn’t stand out among the rest of his freshman class when he arrived at Ryan in 1992. He wasn’t a straight-A student, nor a delinquent, partly thanks to the discipline at home from his father, who had worked hard years in homicide and narcotics. Arthur loved rock music and sports, especially football, playing tight end at Ryan. Still, he was more of a goofball than a macho jock, always quick to crack jokes and laugh. He didn’t seem destined for Princeton or the NFL, but Arthur’s parents were proud. He was a good kid.
Elaine Baselice first met Father Charles at Ryan’s annual mother/son dance during Arthur’s freshman year. The priest approached her and asked if she was Arthur’s mother. “What a fine-looking son you have,” Father Charles said. It was a strange introduction, but dressed in his brown friar robes, with glasses and a round, soft face crowned by thinning hair, he certainly looked harmless enough.
Father Charles wasn’t a typical priest, though. He’d joined Ryan’s staff in 1978 as a lay teacher in the English department. There, he was drawn to the spirituality of the Franciscans, who lived at the friary on Ryan’s campus and worked at the high school as teachers and administrators. Newman left to join the seminary, and when he returned in 1985, in his mid-30s, he had become Father Charles.
As an adviser for the school theater group and chorus, Father Charles was a talented organist and well-liked. In the hallways, though, he was a disciplinarian. It was his business-like manner, not any schmoozing with the archdiocesan elite, that would ultimately lead to his promotion to principal. He was also appointed treasurer of the friary — not an important job, it seemed, for priests who’d taken vows of poverty, as the Franciscans do.
In his private life, Father Charles was more likely to stay in his bedroom than have a beer at the friary’s Friday happy hours. One friend of his, Brother Regis Howitz, was a custodian at the school. Otherwise, Father Charles didn’t have an obvious social circle. Like a method actor who was always “on,” he maintained a holy aura at all times and was rarely seen wearing anything but his habit. Father Charles seemed to be a man who fully understood the power of the priesthood. So when he began calling Arthur Baselice into closed-door meetings, no one thought to question him about it.
FATHER CHARLES WAS promoted to principal before Arthur’s sophomore year, and though Arthur wasn’t in his class, and wasn’t an actor or a singer, something drew the priest to the boy. In the hallways, Father Charles would call him “Elvis,” a playful reference to Arthur’s sideburns. He summoned Arthur to his office and adjusted his grades to spare him from summer school. The priests at Ryan were revered, and Arthur thought the most respected of them all, his principal, was also becoming his friend.
Arthur later detailed his experience in a court complaint he filed against the archdiocese, as well as in statements to investigators and letters. By his junior year, he was seeing Father Charles every week, first in common rooms at the friary, then upstairs in his bedroom. While Arthur wore the priest’s black socks, Father Newman would sniff his feet and masturbate. In return, he would give Arthur alcohol and $200. After a few months passed, Father Charles pushed his victim further, performing oral sex on him while Arthur wore his socks. Drugs followed, with the priest’s bribes escalating from booze to pot, cocaine and OxyContin. Father Charles made Arthur urinate on him. According to Arthur’s complaint, Brother Regis also abused Arthur — sometimes in the presence of his friend, Father Charles, and other times alone.
Silence, it seemed to Arthur, was his only option. Along with the shame and confusion he felt, there was Father Charles’s warning: If Arthur ever spoke of what happened between them, the priest would kill himself. But as the rituals continued in secrecy, Arthur’s parents began to notice changes in their son. His grades fell. His cheerful attitude soured. He was spending more time with his girlfriend, Noelle Millar, after school. The summer after his junior year, Arthur made a stunning announcement — Noelle was pregnant. Angry and desperate to straighten out their son, the Baselices threw him out of their house and withdrew him from Ryan. Noelle’s parents took him in, and the Baselices thought Arthur was attending public school in the fall. They didn’t realize that Father Charles had told Arthur he would personally cover his tuition at Ryan.
After learning that Arthur was still at the school, his parents brought him home and agreed to let him stay at Ryan. It was a victory for the priest, in more ways than one. He kept Arthur close and drew his parents into the mythology he’d created for himself. They believed he was as concerned for Arthur’s future as they were. Why else would Father Charles visit Arthur and Noelle in the hospital after the birth of their son? Or take Arthur to Colorado for a hockey trip? He even brought Elaine a handbag after a visit to San Francisco. It made it easy to ignore the odd moments, like the time Elaine heard Father Charles say to Arthur, “See you later, stud.”
The sexual torture finally ended in 1996, when Arthur graduated and made up a story he told the priest about contracting a venereal disease. But Father Charles found another way to control his favorite pupil — with money. Arthur said that what began as casual drug use with his priest was spiraling into addiction, first to coke and pills, then eventually to heroin.
Arthur broke up with Noelle and over the next several years seemed to be adrift, struggling with community college, wandering from one odd job to the next. The only constant in his life was the drugs, and though Father Charles had pledged a life of poverty, he managed to fund Arthur’s habit for years with envelopes of cash, sometimes thousands at a time, and checks in Arthur’s name, one of which was for $10,800. When Arthur needed a lift to a local bar where he’d score coke, Father Charles would take him. All of that money could have sent Arthur to rehab, but what if, in his cleansing, the boy exposed his molesters? By Arthur’s account, Father Charles kept him stoned and silent.
Living on his own helped Arthur hide the depth of his addiction from his parents, who thought their son was simply partying too hard. As their concern for Arthur’s health grew, so did their suspicions about the priest. Whenever Arthur was pressed for cash, he always found work thanks to Father Charles — odd jobs around the school or friary. When the family moved to South Jersey, Father Charles came to bless their home. Why was he still so interested in their son? One evening, Art Baselice paid a visit to the friary with that mystery in mind.
Father Charles led him into a dim, wood-paneled meeting room, where the air was thick and stale. “I asked him point-blank — ‘What is your relationship with Arthur?’” Art recalls. “‘Are you giving him money?’ He would never answer my question. And because of my upbringing, the way I’ve been conditioned that a priest is a representative of God, I never pursued it.”
Art knew how to interrogate, thanks to 13 years with the Philadelphia police. This man, though, was a priest — his priest. Art had been baptized, confirmed and married by men like Father Charles. In the spiritual chain of command, Father Charles stood at the top: “It was like asking God a question, and He doesn’t answer.”
Art set aside his role as inquisitor and again became a humble congregant. As he’d done so many times before, he asked Father Charles to offer him penance.
“Bless me, Father, for I have sinned,” Art said. At the end of his confession, Father Charles said, “Say three Hail Marys for your lovely wife,” and granted him absolution.
ARTHUR AND HIS PARENTS weren’t the only ones whose faith was manipulated by Father Charles. In 2002, the priest was promoted from principal to president of Archbishop Ryan High, which put him in charge of the school’s finances and fund-raising. By now, Arthur was a full-blown heroin addict, and the priest was in the perfect position to bankroll Arthur’s self-destruction. From his first days in the new job, those who worked with Father Charles noticed unusual withdrawals and checks. Like Arthur’s parents, they were initially hesitant to doubt the priest. But after six months, three staffers reported their concerns to Stephen Pawlowski, of the archdiocese’s Office of Catholic Education. Pawlowski — a layman who was Ryan’s previous president — thought Father Charles was just handling his business differently and deserved some leeway to learn on the job. Six more months of curious activity passed before Pawlowski notified the archdiocese’s finance director of Father Charles’s suspicious transactions.
On November 24, 2003, the archdiocese announced that Father Charles had resigned from Ryan after an internal audit revealed “financial irregularities” at the school. An investigation turned up a five-figure check written to Arthur Baselice, who was then seven years removed from Ryan. A private detective working for the church contacted Arthur and asked about his connection to Father Charles. For the first time, Arthur felt compelled to release what he’d been holding inside for so long. He confessed the abuse to the detective, who in turn spoke with Art Baselice. “Your son,” he said, “needs help.”
Arthur decided to give his parents a letter he’d written years earlier but had kept to himself. The lines run together with the panicked urgency of someone who’s afraid that if he puts his pen down to consider his thoughts, he may never pick it back up again.
Dear Mom and Dad,
First of all I love both of you very much. I was going to tell both of you what set my compulsive behavior off a couple months ago but chickened out afraid of what people would think, but I can not go on living like I am and hurting the ones that love me the most. You wonder why I would rather see a shrink than go to NA or AA, that’s because I need professional help. When I was 17 … I was a desperate young man and I was taken advantage of. … I went to Father Charles for advice, and on numerous occasions he got me drunk and high and taken advantage of me at the time it seemed right I mean I did not know any better. … He is the one who started me drinking and gave me the money to buy drugs so he can have his way with me. I truly believe in my heart one hundred percent he made me the person that I am!
Across three handwritten pages, Arthur’s conflicted feelings toward Father Charles are laid bare. “I feel guilty saying something,” he wrote, “because I think he really cares about me.” On the final page, he changed course: “You always thought I liked Father Charles the truth is that I hate him.”
The Baselices already had their suspicions, but they weren’t prepared for what they were hearing from their son. The priest’s comments and behavior, all of those clues that they’d submerged over the years, suddenly became buoyant.
His parents’ anguish only deepened when Arthur moved back home in 2004. Arthur couldn’t hide the abscess on his arm, or his swollen, bloated hands, like those his father had seen on the heroin junkies he used to lock up, and in the halfway houses he still patrolled for the New Jersey parole department.
The Baselices had reached their breaking point. Determined to show the church firsthand what Father Charles had done, they dragged Arthur — colorless and gaunt, sick from withdrawal — into a tense meeting with counselors for the archdiocese. “The only thing I want is my son back the way you got him,” Art Baselice said. “You broke him. I want you to fix him.”
The counselors took detailed notes, then passed the Baselices along to the Franciscans for help. Since Father Charles wasn’t a diocesan priest, they reasoned, he wasn’t the archdiocese’s responsibility. At the Baselice kitchen table a few days later, Arthur and his father met with three Franciscans, including Father Thomas Luczak, the regional head of their order. Before Arthur told them his story, Art excused himself. He couldn’t bear to hear the details of his son’s abuse by a man he’d once shared dinner with in that same room.
The Franciscans agreed to send Arthur to rehab. Less than a week into his stay, Arthur received a $50,000 offer from Luczak in exchange for a waiver of his right to sue. Arthur returned home without signing the agreement. “You know, Dad,” Arthur said one night, “I think Newman wanted me dead. I think he was trying to get rid of me.”
THE BASELICES CONVINCED Arthur to talk to a lawyer. Civil court was their only recourse for justice, since the criminal statute of limitations had already expired; that’s also why no criminal charges were filed in the wake of the 2005 Philadelphia grand jury report about priest abuse. Charlie Gallagher, the assistant district attorney who led that investigation — and, later, the one that would send Father Charles to jail for his thefts — wasn’t sure he believed victims who waited a decade or more to come forward with their stories. The grand jury investigation changed his mind. The same patterns of abuse and cover-up that had emerged in other cities were unfolding before his eyes. “Someone coined the phrase ‘soul murder,’” says Gallagher. “These victims I dealt with — their soul was killed, their spirit was killed, their faith was killed.”
Gallagher first met Arthur Baselice after Arthur filed a civil lawsuit in June 2004. He no longer resembled the young man from his high-school football photos. The drugs had cut him down below his normal weight, and there was an emptiness behind his blue eyes, making it hard to tell whether he was seeing what was in front of him or replaying the past. A year later, a state appeals court would dismiss Arthur’s suit and 16 others, not based on merit, but because the complainants came forward too late.
Still, there seemed to be reasons for hope. On the final Wednesday of November 2006, Governor Ed Rendell expanded the state’s criminal statute of limitations for sex crimes and made other changes to the law that were a direct result of the grand jury’s recommendations. It was too late to help Arthur legally, but he seemed to have already turned a corner. After violating probation on a drug possession charge, he completed six months in court-mandated drug rehab and a halfway house. He returned home and held down a job, installing granite countertops. At 28, he was spending time with his son and staying clean. For the first time in a decade, the Baselices had their boy back.
On the night that Rendell signed the sex crimes bill, Arthur ate lasagna with his mother, gave her a kiss, and left the house for a Narcotics Anonymous meeting. Elaine didn’t know that earlier in the day, her son had called his sponsor. That old feeling was back, and it scared him. No one is sure why Arthur left NA and drove to Camden. Perhaps he was fighting the urge to kill himself, like the time he nearly jumped from a second-story window in a drug-fueled frenzy. Maybe, as he wrote in one of his letters, he’d had another nightmare that he was wearing black socks with Father Charles.
The next morning, a man stirred in a Camden apartment around 4th and Royden streets. He looked over at Arthur, who was on the floor, leaning back against a chair where his hooded sweatshirt, phone and keys sat. His skin was cold to the touch, and his nose and mouth were caked with a foamy fluid. Seeing that Arthur was dead, the man took a shower, called the police from a pay phone, and walked away.
That afternoon, Art Baselice answered his doorbell to find two Camden officers, their faces as grim as the news they carried. He realized his son had died in the same drug-infested neighborhood he combs on his parole beat. “That,” he says, “is what we get for being good Catholics.”
IN HIS FIFTH-FLOOR office in Center City, Bishop Joseph McFadden, who oversees Catholic education for the archdiocese, is dressed in black, bearing a cross around his neck and a look of heavy concern on his face. The only archdiocesan or Franciscan priest who agreed to speak on the record about clergy abuse and Father Charles, McFadden expresses his sadness for the Baselice family and other victims. He also points to a study that suggests there are more predators in public schools than in Catholic ones. As for what the church has learned after decades of inaction or subterfuge when predatory priests were accused, McFadden says it’s “not only a learning curve for the church. I think it’s a societal learning curve. … We have to listen clearly to children, with a much more discerning ear than before, which I think sometimes we used to dismiss. The church has learned we take this seriously now. So what did the church not do back then? We did what society did. Sometimes we didn’t pay close enough attention.”
And so, 13 years after the passing of Megan’s Law, six years after Boston’s scandal, and four years after the grand jury report that Cardinal Justin Rigali discouraged Catholics from reading, the church refuses to accept responsibility in unequivocal terms. In the wake of Father Charles’s thefts, the archdiocese sued the Franciscans, their longtime partners in faith, for damages, and accepted a $488,631 settlement. Yet it settled only a handful of claims with abuse victims after the grand jury report. No high-ranking church officials stepped down.
Instead, it’s largely business as usual. Consider Joseph Cistone, the bishop whose farewell mass Art Baselice protested this summer. The grand jury report cast him as an enabler who shielded Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, then head of the archdiocese, from firsthand contact with abuse allegations. Monsignor William Lynn, who is named hundreds of times in the report for his flawed investigations of accused priests, now runs a parish in Downingtown. Arthur’s parents were told the church was praying for their healing, and the archdiocese agreed to pay for Arthur’s medication before he died, as well as therapy for Elaine and Ashleigh. But the church’s lobbyists continue to block legislation that would give victims a chance to face their abusers in court.
It’s no wonder the Baselice family feels they were as much betrayed by the church as they were by Father Charles. “I don’t believe anybody in the hierarchy knows what to do,” says victims advocate Father Tom Doyle. “To them, spirituality is obedience to them and to liturgy. I don’t think they understand the damage, nor do they want to understand. They say, ‘Go back to the church. We’ll heal you on our terms.’ You’re asking people to go back to Auschwitz for dinner.”
FATHER CHARLES NEVER stood trial over his relationship with Arthur. At his sentencing hearing for theft, he denied giving drugs to Arthur, claimed they only had sex once (when Arthur was 18), and said the money he gave Arthur was to help pay gambling debts. But in his disjointed remarks, he never explained what happened to the $900,000 he stole. “You’re not telling the truth,” the judge responded. “I don’t even know if you’re admitting to yourself what you really have done.”
Upstairs in the Baselice house, Arthur’s bedroom has been faithfully preserved, like a museum display. His workout schedule and a pack of Marlboros sit on his nightstand. A football jersey hangs on his closet door. It gives Elaine Baselice some small comfort. She can’t bring herself to join Art when he stands in front of archdiocese headquarters with other survivors, holding his sign. This has become his crusade. He knows there are more victims. Arthur told Elaine he once walked in on Father Charles while he was molesting another boy, but refused to give up his fellow victim’s name.
With Father Charles in jail for three years, Art has tried to arrange a meeting with Brother Regis, who is still a Franciscan but restricted from service. “I want to know why he did what he did,” Art says. “Are you happy that my son is no longer with us?” But in September, Art was informed that it wouldn’t be in his best interest to meet with Brother Regis.
Art scours clergy abuse websites and jots down movie quotes about justice and revenge on index cards. If a priest walks into a restaurant where he’s eating, he’ll demand a table far away. Somewhere deeper inside, there’s also the anger he feels toward himself, for being too clouded by faith to save his only son.
His wife sits on the living room floor, leafing through a binder filled with Arthur’s letters. Art walks over to the white urn bearing the boy’s name. “This is what I get to kiss and touch every day,” he says, his jaw beginning to tremble. “It’s not warm. I can’t smell his hair or his cologne. That’s what I got.”
Perhaps their only hope for healing lies in Arthur’s son, whom they see every week. At 14, he loves rock music and football, just like his dad. He’s still too young to understand what his father endured, or how he himself, just by being, may lead his grandparents to salvation in a way no priest or church ever will.