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.
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.
HOW SURVIVORS HAVE CHANGED HISTORY by Thomas P.Doyle, O.P.
Set forth below is Fr. Thomas P. Doyle, O.P.’s extremely important address on August 2, 2014 at SNAP’s 25th Anniversary Convention in Chicago.
A letter sent by the Vicar General of the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana to the papal nuncio in June, 1984, was the trigger that set in motion a series of events that has changed the fate of the victims of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and clergy of all denominations. The letter informed the nuncio that the Gastel family had decided to withdraw from a confidential monetary settlement with the diocese. It went on to say they had obtained the services of an attorney and planned to sue the diocese.
This long process has had a direct impact on much more than the fate of victims and the security of innocent children and vulnerable persons of any age. It has altered the image and role of the institutional Catholic Church in western society to such an extent that the tectonic plates upon which this Church rests have shifted in a way never expected or dreamed of thirty years ago.
I cannot find language that can adequately communicate the full import of this monstrous phenomenon. The image of a Christian Church that enabled the sexual and spiritual violation of its most vulnerable members and when confronted, responded with institutionalized mendacity and utter disregard for the victims cannot be adequately described as a “problem,” a “crisis” or a “scandal.” The widespread sexual violation of children and adults by clergy and the horrific response of the leadership, especially the bishops, is the present-day manifestation of a very dark and toxic dimension of the institutional Church. This dark side has always existed. In our era it has served as the catalyst for a complex and deeply rooted process that can be best described as a paradigm shift. The paradigm for responding to sexual abuse by clergy has shifted at its foundation. The paradigm for society’s understanding of and response to child sexual abuse had begun to shift with the advent of the feminist movement in the early seventies but was significantly accelerated by the mid-eighties. The paradigm of the institutional Church interacting in society has shifted and continues to do so as the forces demanding justice, honesty and accountability by the hierarchy continue their relentless pressure. The Catholic monolith, once accepted by friend and foe alike as a rock-solid monarchy, is crumbling.
The single most influential and forceful element in this complex historical process has not been the second Vatican Council. It has been the action of the victims of sexual abuse.
There are a few of us still standing who have been in the midst of this mind and soul-boggling phenomenon from the beginning of the present era. We have been caught up and driven by the seemingly never-ending chain of events, revelations, and explosions that have marked it from the very beginning and will continue to mark it into the future.
It has had a profound impact on the belief systems and the spirituality of many directly and indirectly involved. My own confidence and trust in the institutional church has been shattered. I have spent years trying to process what has been happening to the spiritual dimension of my life. The vast enormity of a deeply ingrained clerical culture that allowed the sexual violation of the innocent and most vulnerable has overshadowed the theological, historical and cultural supports upon which the institutional Church has based its claim to divinely favored status. All of the theological and canonical truths I had depended upon have been dissipated to meaninglessness.
Some of us who have supported victims have been accused of being dissenters from orthodox church teaching. We have been accused of being anti-Catholic, using the sexual abuse issue to promote active disagreement with Church positions on various sexual issues. These accusations are complete nonsense. This is not a matter of dissent or agreement with Church teachings. It is about the sexual violations of countless victims by trusted Church members. It is not a matter of anti-Catholic propaganda but direct opposition to Church leaders, policies or practices that enable the perpetrators of sexual abuse and demonize the victims. It is not a matter of defaming the Church’s image. No one has done a better job of that than the bishops themselves.
For some of us the very concept of a personal or anthropocentric god has also been destroyed, in great part by an unanswerable question: If there is a loving god watching over us, why does he allow his priests and bishops to violate the bodies and destroy the souls of so many innocent children?”
Those of us who have been in twelve step movements are familiar with the usual format recommended for speakers: we base our stories on a three-part outline – what it was like before, what happened, and what it is like now. This is the format I want to use as I look back on thirty years and try to describe where I think we have been and where we are going. Much to the chagrin of the hard-core cheerleaders for the institutional Church, there is no question that the victims and survivors of the Church’s sexual abuse and spiritual treachery have set in motion a process that has changed and will continue to change the history of the Catholic Church. The Catholic experience has prompted members of other denominations to acknowledge sexual abuse in their midst and demand accountability. It has also forever altered the response of secular society to the once untouchable Churches.
What It Was Like Before.
The basic facts need no elaboration. The default response to a report of child, adolescent or adult sexual abuse was first to enshroud it in an impenetrable blanket of secrecy. The perpetrator was shifted to another assignment. The victim was intimidated into silence. The media knew nothing and if law enforcement of civil officials were involved, they deferred to the bishop “for the good of the Church.”
A small number of perpetrators were sent to special church-run institutions that treated them in secrecy and in many instances, released them to re-enter ministry. The founder of the most influential of these, Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, firmly believed that no priest who had violated a child or minor should ever be allowed back in ministry and should be dismissed from the priesthood. He made his unequivocal beliefs known to bishops, to the prefect of the Holy Office (1962) and to Pope Paul VI in a private audience in 1963. He was ignored.
The Lafayette case involving Gilbert Gauthe was the beginning of the end of the default template. I suspect that none of the major players in the case had any idea of the magnitude of what they were involved in. I was one of them and I certainly could never have imagined how this would all play out.
The Lafayette case sparked attention because of the systemic cover-up that had gone on from before Gilbert Gauthe was ordained and continued past his conviction and imprisonment (see In God’s House, a novel by Ray Mouton, based on the events of this case). Jason Berry was singlehandedly responsible for opening up the full extent of the ecclesiastical treachery to the public. Other secular media followed suit. The story was picked up by the national media and before long other reports of sexual abuse by priests were coming in from parishes and dioceses not only in the deep south but in other parts of the country (Required reading! Lead Us Not Into Temptation by Jason Berry).
The report or manual, authored by Ray Mouton, Mike Peterson and I, is the result of our belief that the bishops didn’t know how to proceed when faced with actual cases of sexual violation and rape by priests. Many of the bishops I spoke to at the time admitted they were bewildered about what to do. None expected the series of explosions that were waiting just over the horizon. I asked several if a document or short manual of some sort would help and the responses were uniformly affirmative. Some of the bishops I consulted with were men I had grown to respect and trust. I believed they would support whatever efforts we suggested to deal with the developing, potentially explosive situation. Peterson, Mouton and I did not see it as an isolated, one-time “problem.” Rather, we saw it is as a highly toxic practice of the clerical culture that needed to be recognized and rectified.
Some of the men I consulted with and to whom I turned for support and guidance, in time became major players in the national nightmare. The two most prominent were Bernard Law and Anthony Bevilacqua, both men whom I once counted as friends.
It was not long before I realized that the major force of opposition was the central leadership of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the General Secretariat in particular. We had initially hoped the Bishops’ conference would look at the manual and consider the action proposals that accompanied it. The main blockage was, I believe, at the level of the general secretariat and the executive leadership. It was bad enough that they simply ignored the effort to help but they delivered a serious blow to their credibility when they made public statements to the effect that they knew everything that was in the manual and already had programs and protocols in place. When questioned by the media about this they were forced to admit that these protocols and policies were not written down.
Throughout this period the three of us were hopeful that the opposition was not representative of the entire hierarchical leadership. We wanted to believe that the pushback from the Conference was the reaction of a small group and that it was based on a turf battle between the Bishops Conference and the Papal nuncio. Our realization that the reactionary attitude was more extensive began when the bishops, through the office of the general council, publicly accused Mouton, Peterson and I of creating the manual and the making the recommended action proposals because we saw the growing problem as a potential source of profit and hoped to sell our services to the various dioceses. At this point the three of us had to accept the painful reality that episcopal leadership was far more interested in their own image and power than in the welfare of the victims. It was becoming very clear that in the Church we were trying to help, integrity was a scarce commodity.
At the recent Vatican celebrations for Saint John XXIII and former pope John Paul II, George Weigel and Joaquin Navarro-Valls created an outrageous fantasy about the role of John Paul II, claiming that he knew nothing until after the 2002 Boston debacle. This was a blatant lie. John Paul II was given a 42 page detailed report on the sex abuse and cover-up in Lafayette LA during the last week of February 1985. It was sent as justification for the request from the papal nuncio that a bishop be appointed to go to Lafayette to try to find out exactly what was going on. The report was carried to Rome by Cardinal Krol of Philadelphia precisely because the nuncio wanted it to go directly to the pope and not be sidetracked by lower level functionaries. The pope read the report and within four days the requested appointment came through. The bishop in question was the late A.J. Quinn of Cleveland who turned out to be a big part of the problem rather than a part of the solution.
Quinn visited Lafayette two times and accomplished nothing. We were suspicious of his intentions by the end of 1985 and quite certain by 1986. In 1988 he wrote to the nuncio: “The truth is, Doyle and Mouton want the Church in the United States to purchase their expensive and controvertible leadership in matters relating to pedophilia…The Church has weathered worse attacks…So too will the pedophile annoyance eventually abate.” (Quinn to Laghi, Jan. 8, 1988). Archbishop Laghi didn’t buy it, evident from his cover letter to me: “While I do not subscribe to the conclusions drawn in this correspondence, I want you to know of some of the sentiments expressed in some quarters…” (Laghi to Doyle, Jan. 18, 1988). In 1990 Quinn addressed the Canon Law Society of America and advised that if bishops found information in priests’ files they did not want seen they should send the files to the papal nuncio to be shielded by diplomatic immunity. Quinn, a civil lawyer as well as a canon lawyer, was then subjected to disbarment proceedings as a result of his unethical suggestion.
The papal nuncio, the late Cardinal Pio Laghi, was supportive of our efforts and was in regular telephone contact with the Vatican. There were very few actual written reports sent over although all of the media stories we received were transmitted to the Holy See. Cardinal Silvio Oddi, then the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, visited the nunciature in June and asked to be briefed. I was deputed for the task. By then we had more information on the rapidly growing number of cases in all parts of the country. I recall that by that time we were aware of 42 cases, which I naively thought was a very significant number. I prepared a lengthy report that was not only detailed but also graphic in its content. I read the report to the cardinal and responded to his many questions. At the end of the meeting at which only he and I were present, he announced that he would take this information back to the Holy Father. “Then there will be a meeting of the heads of all the dicasteries [Vatican congregations] and we will issue a decree.” I understand that he did take the information to the pope but there never was a meeting of the heads and no decree ever came forth.
Our efforts to get the bishops’ conference to even consider the issues we set forth in our manual, much less take decisive action, were a total failure. Looking back from the perspective of thirty years direct experience, I believe they acted in the only way they knew how which was completely self-serving with scandalous lack of sympathy for the victims and their families. There were individual bishops who were open to exploring the right way to proceed but the conference, which represented all of the bishops, was interested in controlling the fallout and preserving their stature and their power.
We sent individual copies of the manual to every bishop in the U.S. on December 8, 1985. By then we still had hope that perhaps someone would read it and stand up at the conference meetings and call the bishops’ attention to what we had insisted was the most important element, namely the compassionate care of the victims.
In October 1986 Mike Peterson had flown to the Vatican to speak with officials at the Congregation for Religious and the Congregation for Clergy. He was in a better position than anyone else to expose this issue to them because he knew how serious and extensive the problem of sexually dysfunctional priests was from his experience as director of St. Luke Institute. He returned from Rome dejected, angry and discouraged. I remember picking him up at the airport and going to dinner. They not only were not interested but brushed his concerns off as an exaggeration of a non-problem. Mike was willing to keep trying with the American bishops. He arranged for a hospitality suite at the hotel where the bishops were having their annual November meeting. He invited every bishop to come and discuss the matter of sexual abuse of minors by the clergy. There were over three hundred bishops present. Eight showed up.
Between 1986 and 2002 there were several important developments in the unfolding history of clergy sexual abuse. I would like to mention a few that influenced the historical process.
1. The bishops addressed the issue secretly in their annual meetings. The direction was consistent: defense of the dioceses and the bishops. There was never any mention of care for the victims.
2. The media continued to cover the issue from coast to coast generally showing sympathy for the victims and outrage at the Church’s systemic cover-up.
3. Pope John Paul II wrote a letter to the US bishops in June 1993 which clearly revealed his attitude.
4. The bishops formed a committee in 1993 and produced a four-volume handbook. The handbook and the committee had no appreciable impact.
5. There were increasing cases of sexual abuse brought before the civil courts. There were also several very public explosions during this period: the Thomas Adamson related cases in St. Paul; St. Anthony Seminary, Santa Barbara CA; St. Lawrence Seminary, Mt. Calvary WI; Fr. James Porter, Massachusetts; the Rudy Kos trial, Dallas, 1997. None of these jarred the bishops loose from their arrogant, defensive position and none served as a sufficient wake-up call for the broad base of lay support for the bishops.
6. The “problem” which John Paul II declared was unique to the United States, was amplified in other countries: Mt. Cashel, St. John’s Newfoundland, 1989; Brendan Smyth and the fall of the Irish government in December 1994; the exposure and forced resignation of Hans Cardinal Groer, archbishop of Vienna, September 1995. So much for the U.S. as the scapegoat!
7. SNAP was founded by Barbara Blaine and The Linkup by Jeanne Miller in 1989.
8. The first gathering of clergy abuse victims took place in Arlington IL in October 1992, sponsored by the Linkup. The main speakers were Jason Berry, Richard Sipe, Andrew Greeley, Jeff Anderson and Tom Doyle.
9. In 1999 John Paul II ordered the canonical process against Marcial Maciel-Degollado, founder and supreme leader of the Legion of Christ, shelved. In 2006 Pope Benedict XVI acknowledged the truth of Maciel’s crimes against minors and removed him from ministry. In 2009 the Vatican announced that Maciel had led a double life, having six possible children with two women.
The pope made a total of 11 public statements about clergy sexual abuse between 1993 and his death in 2005. The letters showed little comprehension of the horrific nature of the problem and no acknowledgement of the bishops’ enabling role. The culprits were, in the pope’s eyes, secular materialism, media sensationalism and sinful priests. He never even acknowledged much less responded to the thousands of requests from individual victims.
The U.S. bishops issued a handful of press releases and a number of intramural statements, most of which came from the office of the General Council. To their credit their general counsel sent out a memo to all bishops in 1988 which contained suggested actions which, had they not been ignored by the bishops, might have made a significant difference.
The bishops’ approach in the U.S. and elsewhere followed a standard evolutionary process: denial, minimization, blame shifting and devaluation of challengers. The bishop’s carefully scripted apologies expressed their regret for the pain suffered. Never once did they apologize for what they had done to harm the victims. Likewise there was never any concern voiced by the Vatican or the bishops’ conference about the spiritual and emotional damage done to the victims by the abuse itself and by the betrayal by the hierarchy. It became clear by the end of the nineties that the problem was not simply recalcitrant bishops. It was much more fundamental. The barrier to doing the right thing was deeply embedded in the clerical culture itself.
January 6, 2002 stands out as a pivotal date in the evolution of the clergy abuse phenomenon. The Boston revelations had an immediate and lasting impact that surprised even the most cynical. I was not surprised by the stories because I had been in conversations first with Kristin Lombardi who wrote a series based on the same facts for the Boston Phoenix in March 2001 and later with the Globe Spotlight Team. The continuous stream of media stories of what the bishops had been doing in Boston and elsewhere provoked widespread public outrage.
The bishops’ cover-up of sexual abuse and the impact on victims were the subject of special reports by all of the major news networks and countless stories in the print media. Newsweek, Time, U.S. News and World Report and the Economist all published cover stories about the “scandal.” The number of lawsuits dramatically increased and the protective deference on the part of law enforcement and civil officials, once counted on by the clerical leadership, was rapidly eroding. Grand jury investigations were launched in three jurisdictions within two months with several more to follow. It was all too much for the bishops to handle. They could not control it. They could not ignore it and they could not minimize it or make it go away.
The most visible result of the many-sided pressure on the hierarchy was the Dallas meeting. This was not a proactive pastorally sensitive gesture on the part of the bishops. It was defensive damage control, choreographed by the public relations firm of R.F. Binder associates. The meeting included addresses by several victim/survivors (David Clohessy, Michael Bland, Craig Martin, Paula Rohbacker), a clinical psychologist (Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea), a lay theologian (Scott Appleby), a Catholic author (Margaret O’Brien Steinfels). The tangible result of the meeting was the Charter for the Protection of Young People and the Essential Norms. The impact of Charter and the Norms has clearly been mixed. The lofty rhetoric of the bishops in the charter has not been followed up with action, to no one’s surprise.
The Essential Norms have not been uniformly and consistently followed. As proof we can look to the steady number of exceptions from 2002 whereby known perpetrators are either allowed to remain in ministry or are put back in ministry. The National Review Board showed promise at the beginning, especially after the publication of its extensive report in 2004. This promise sputtered and died as the truly effective members of the board left when they realized the bishops weren’t serious, and were replaced by others who essentially did nothing but hold positions on an impotent administrative entity that served primarily as an unsuccessful public relations effort to support the bishops’ claim that they were doing something.
Sexual violation of minors by clerics of all ranks has been part of the institution and the clerical culture since the days of the primitive Christian communities. Over the centuries the stratified model of the Church, with the clergy in the dominant role and the laity relegated to passive obedience, has held firm and allowed the hierarchy to maintain control over the issue of sexually dysfunctional clerics who, by the way, have ranged from sub-deacons to popes.
The paradigm shift, evident in the institutional Church since the years leading up to Vatican Council II, laid the foundation for a radically different response in the present era. The victim/survivors, their supporters and the secular society have shaped and guided the direction and evolution of the clergy sexual abuse nightmare. The Vatican and the bishops throughout the world have remained on the defensive and have never been able to gain any semblance of control. Those very few bishops who have publicly sided with the survivors have been marginalized and punished. The general response has been limited to the well-tuned rhetoric of public statements, sponsorship of a variety of child-safety programs, constant promises of change and enlightenment and above all, the investment of hundreds of millions of dollars in attorneys who have used every tactic imaginable and many that are not imaginable to defeat and discredit victims and prevent their clients from being held accountable. The apologetic public statements, filled with regret and assurances of a better tomorrow, are worthless from the get-go, rendered irrelevant and insulting by the harsh reality of the brutal tactics of the bishops’ attack dogs.
While the institutional Church has essentially remained in neutral, various segments of civil society have reacted decisively. Between 1971 and 2013 there have been at least 72 major reports issued about sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. The early reports (three in the seventies) were about sexual dysfunction in general among the clergy but since 1985 they have been about sexual abuse of minors. Some of these have been commissioned by official bodies and are the result of extensive investigations such as the U.S. Grand Jury reports, the Belgian Parliamentary Report and the Irish Investigation Commission Reports. They come from several countries in North America and Europe. A study of the sections on causality has shown a common denominator: the deliberately inadequate and counter-productive responses and actions of the bishops.
The unfolding of the events in this contemporary era can be divided into three phases: the first begins in 1984 and culminates at the end of 2001. The second begins with the Boston revelations and extends to the beginning of 2010. The present phase began in March 2010 when the case of Lawrence Murphy of Milwaukee revealed that the Vatican was directly connected to the cover-up. In this case, in spite of the pleas of an archbishop (Weakland) and two bishops (Fliss and Sklba) that Murphy, who had violated at least 200 deaf boys, by laicized, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith with Ratzinger as Prefect, refused. Instead, he allowed the culprit to live out his days as a priest.
The three phases are arbitrary demarcation points based on the level of exposure of the Church’s true policies and actions. The difference is only in the depth and extent of information discovered about the bishops’ responses to decades of reports of sexual violation by clerics.
In 1993 and 1994 Pope John Paul II attempted to persuade the world that sexual abuse by clergy was an American problem, caused primarily by media exaggerations, materialism and failure to pray. At the conclusion of his first public statement on sexual abuse, a 1993 letter to the U.S. bishops, he said, “Yes dear brothers, America needs much prayer lest it lose its soul.” It is ironic that this comment came from the leader of an organization that had not so much lost but gave up its soul. By 2014 there was no doubt anywhere that geographic boundaries are irrelevant. This highly toxic dimension of the institutional Church and its clerical sub culture has been exposed in country after country on every continent except Antarctica, where there are no bishops, no priests, and no minors. The presence of God is found in a few scientists, some U.S. military and a lot of penguins.
The focus had finally shifted to the Vatican. In September 2011 the Center for Constitutional Rights assisted in the filing of a case before the International Criminal Court in The Hague. In January 2014 the U.N. Commission on the Rights of the Child delivered a blistering criticism of the Vatican’s response to sexual abuse by clerics. In May 2014 the U.N. Commission on Torture issued a report equally critical of the Vatican’s handling of sexual abuse claims and its opposition to U.N. policies. This is truly momentous. The world’s largest religious denomination has been called to account by the community of nations.
What Its Like Now
The foregoing paragraphs have provided a sparse but factually correct description of the second element of the 12 Step presentation, “What Happened.” Now I would like to shift the focus to “What Its Like Now.” Any conclusions at this point, thirty years later, are obviously very temporary since this is not the end of the issue but simply a milestone along the way.
I’d like to summarize by asserting that in spite of all that has happened since 1984, I do not believe there has been any fundamental change in the hierarchy. It may be true that individual bishops have either changed or have been compassionately supportive all along but in general the hierarchy is behaving today just as it did in 1985. The dramatic events in St. Paul-Minneapolis are the latest example of this intransigence. After all that has been revealed over these thirty years, one would think that the constant exposure of the official Church’s duplicity and dishonesty as well as the vast amount of information we have about the destructive effects of sexual abuse on the victims and their families, would cause some substantial change in attitude, direction and behavior. The bishops and even the pope have claimed they have done more to protect children than any other organization. There may be some validity to this claim but what is also true is that there has not been a single policy, protocol or program that was not forced on them. In 30 years they have not taken a single proactive move to assist victims or extend any semblance of compassionate pastoral care. Programs and policies promoting awareness or mandating background checks do nothing for the hundreds of thousands of suffering victims. The bishops as a group have done nothing for them either because they will not or more probably because they cannot.
There seems to be little sense in continuing to demand that bishops change their attitudes or at least their behavior. We have been beating our heads against the wall for a quarter of a century and the best we can hope for is that the sound will reverberate somewhere out in the Cosmos and eventually cause a stir before the end of time or the Second Coming, whichever comes first.
The institutional Church’s abject failure has revealed fundamental deficiencies in essential areas, all of which have been directly instrumental in perpetrating and sustaining the tragic culture of abuse:
1. The erroneous belief that the monarchical governmental structure of the Church was intended by god and justifies the sacrifice of innocent victims “
2. The belief that priests and bishops are superior to lay persons, entitled to power and deference because they are ontologically different and uniquely joined to Christ.
3. A lay spirituality that is dependent on the clergy and gauged by the degree of submission to them and unquestioned obedience to all church laws and authority figures.
4. An obsession with doctrinal orthodoxy and theological formulations that bypasses the realities of human life and replaces mercy and charity as central Catholic values.
5. An understanding of human sexuality that is not grounded in the reality of the human person but in a bizarre theological tradition that originated with the pre-Christian stoics and was originally formulated by celibate males of questionable psychological stability.
6. The clerical subculture that has propagated the virus of clericalism, which has perpetuated a severely distorted value system that has influenced clergy and laity alike.
Has Pope Francis brought a new ray of hope? I believe he is a significantly different kind of pope but he is still a product of the monarchical system and he is still surrounded by a bureaucracy that could hinder or destroy any hopes for the radical change that is needed if the institutional Church is to rise about the sex abuse nightmare and become what it is supposed to be, the People of God. The victims and indeed the entire Church are tired of the endless stream of empty statements and unfulfilled promises. The time for apologies, expressions of regret and assurances of change is long gone. Action is needed and without it the pope and bishops today will simply be more names in the long line of hierarchs who have failed the victims and failed the church.
I believe there is reason to hope, not because of the engaging personality of Pope Francis. This pope’s overtures to victims are grounded on three decades of courageous efforts by survivors. Without these efforts nothing would have changed. Survivors have changed the course of history for the Church and have accelerated the paradigm shift. If the Catholic Church is to be known not as a gilded monarchy of increasing irrelevance but as the People of God, the change in direction hinted at by the new pope’s words and actions are crucial and if he does lead the way to a new image of the Body of Chris it will be due in great part because the survivors have led the way for him.
Thomas P. Doyle, J.C.D., C.D.A.C.
Annual SNAP Conference, Chicago, Illinois
August 2, 2014
Pope Francis: ‘One in 50’ Catholic priests, bishops and cardinals are paedophiles
Pope Admits there are Child Rapists at Every Level in the Church
Francis pledged to drive out the ‘leprocy’ of child abuse from the Church
by Adam Withnall
Blogger Notes: A study done by The National Center on Child Abuse and Neglect found that even though only 25% of citizens in the U.S. are Roman Catholic, 54% of the sexual abuse cases were perpetrated by Catholic priests. The church has paid at least 2.6 billion to settle sexual abuse cases. In 2007 alone the Los Angeles Archdiocese on July 15 announced the largest church settlement of sexual abuse lawsuits to date, agreeing to pay more than 500 alleged victims a total of $660 million. The abuse continues and the wealthy Vatican is easily able to cover these claims. The Vatican even has insurance policies to cover these operating costs.
Pope Francis has revealed that “reliable data” collected by the Vatican suggests that one in every 50 members of the Catholic clergy is a paedophile.
Speaking in an interview with La Repubblica, the Pope said his advisors had tried to “reassure” him that paedophilia within the Church was “at the level of two per cent”.
He pledged that he would drive away the “leprosy” of child abuse that was infecting the “house” of Catholicism.
“I find this state of affairs intolerable,” he said.
Pope Francis said his advisors at the Vatican had given him the two per cent estimate, which included “priests, bishops and cardinals”.
He also warned of much greater figures for people who were aware of the existence of abuse – sometimes within their own families – but who stayed silent because of corruption or fear.
His comments came a week after the Pope met with six victims of clerical paedophilia to apologise for their abuse at the hands of priests.
The meeting, with six British, Irish and German Catholics, was designed to acknowledge the gravity of the Church’s guilt and complicity.
Despite Pope Francis’s popularity, there has been criticism of Francis for failing to take a high-profile stand against the global paedophilia scandal.
His predecessor, Benedict XVI, met with victims of sexual abuse by priests, in Washington in 2008. He then met with victims in Australia, Germany, Malta and the UK.
In February and May, critical reports released by two separate UN committees condemned the Church’s “code of silence” on paedophile priests. It said this silence was allowing known sex offenders to continue working with children.
Independent News Service
Bill Donohue and the Catholic League: DATA PROVE NO SEX ABUSE CRISIS
Bill Donohue comments on the 2012 Annual Report by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on the subject of sexual abuse:
The survey, done by an institute at Georgetown University, shows how utterly absurd it is to maintain that the Catholic Church continues to have a problem with priestly sexual abuse. Of the nearly 40,000 priests in the U.S., there were 34 allegations made by minors last year (32 priests, two deacons): six were deemed credible by law enforcement; 12 were either unfounded or unable to be proven; one was a “boundary violation”; and 15 are still being probed. Moreover, in every case brought to the attention of the bishops or heads of religious orders, the civil authorities were notified.
Not counting those of unknown status, in 88 percent of the total number of cases (independent of when they allegedly occurred), the accused priest is either deceased, has been dismissed from ministry, or has been laicized.
Most of the allegations reported to church officials today have nothing to do with current cases: two-thirds date back to the 1960s, 1970s and the first half of the 1980s. As usual, the problem is not pedophilia: 19 percent of the allegations involving those who work in dioceses or eparchies, and 7 percent of religious order priests and deacons, involve pedophilia. In other words, the problem remains what it has always been—an issue involving homosexual priests (85 percent of the victims were male).
Anyone who knows of any religious, or secular, organization that has less of a problem with the sexual abuse of minors these days should contact the Catholic League. We’d love to match numbers.
One more thing: since nearly 100 percent of our priests did not have a credible allegation made against him last year, this should be picked up by the media. But it won’t be. Look for the story to get buried.
Above is the verbatim commentary Mr Bill Donohue of the Catholic League made on the recent data released by the 2012 Annual Report by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on the subject of sexual abuse.
Mr Donohue goes on to say: The survey, done by an institute at Georgetown University, shows how utterly absurd it is to maintain that the Catholic Church continues to have a problem with priestly sexual abuse.
Apparently Mr Donohue does NOT seem to get the message. He does seem to evade and avoid the real problem here in association with the rapes of children, the torture of children, the abuse of children by those of the Roman Catholic Church and the Leaders who covered it up.
While it is admirable that the church is now cleaning up it’s act, I have some reservations using a report brought to us by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops when the leaders of the RCC, especially Bishops and Cardinals had a massive hand in moving child rapists and abusers around from parish to parish without warning or telling anyone about these child rapists and abusers. Then these same abusers went on to abuse even more children.
Sure there may be less children being harmed by sexual degenerates who prey on young children in the RCC and sure there are now eyes everywhere, there is still a massive problem with the leaders who covered it up getting away with their crimes.
There is ample and irrefutible evidence against many Cardinals: Timothy Dolan, Donald Wuerl, Roger Mahony, Justin Rigali, Bernard Law, Sean Brady, Keith O’Brien, George Pell, Franc Rodé, Humberto Medeiros, Dominik Duka, John Krol, Leonardo Sandri, William Leveda, Richard Cushing, and too many Archbishops and Bishops to name, who participated in a massive cover up of child rapists and abusers and put the church before the safety and welfare of children. Mr Donohue has to get this through his thick skull. There is still ample evidence of stonewalling in the Diocese and of course the now infamous strategy to fight and call any victim now who comes forward liars and gold diggers and fight them, delay them and subtrefuge them every step of the way.
No Mr Donohue, the Roman Catholic Church has gotten off too damn easy. Your Popes, John Paul II, Benedict XVI, your Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops and others who turned a blind eye to the destruction of the soul, heart and mind of a child to satisfy some sexual perverted feelings among your clergy must be rectified before anyone can honestly believe the RCC is actually cleaning up their act. This means the immediate resignation, or forced resignation, of all credibly accused Cardinals et al who participated in these cover ups and submission for prosecution. Sure plea bargin if you will, but you all must face a court of mans law for justice to be truly gotten for the victims of your sick and twisted child rapists and abusers.
Mr Donohue, I recall when you compared what rape victims of these pedophiles go through is what you went through when you got smacked on the wrist by a nun. Well Mr Donohue, I have been smacked on the wrist by a nun for being left handed. I was raped and tortured by one of the Roman Catholic Priests. He was supposed to protect me for one damn night. Instead he consigned me to a life of living hell, where I actually believed I was pure evil, that I deserved what happened to me, that I was condemned by God and Jesus Christ himself to eternal damnation. I even took the name Damien, the name of the antichrist child in the Omen movies because I believed the horror this sick and twisted scumbag drilled into my terrified mind. He told me I was evil, doomed to hell because I broke one of the Ten Commandments. He ripped from me everything that night.
Mr Donohue, I would rather two thousand nuns smacked me on the wrist than go through what that twisted sub human put me through, dressed and disguised as a man of God that night.
Letter to the Editor, Manchester Union Leader, April 18 2013 How can Catholics cheer those who hid abuse?
My letter to the editor, which appeared in the Manchester Union Leader, April 18, 2013: How can Catholics cheer those who hid abuse?
How can Catholics cheer those who hid abuse?
To the Editor: As a survivor of priest rape, I and many other survivors wonder if the parishioners of the Roman Catholic Church can understand how it feels to us victims to hear them cheering the Pope or cardinals like Timothy Dolan. Benedict and Dolan are just two who participated in the coverups of child rape by their priests. Yet we victims have to hear you cheer them on. Put yourself in a rape victim’s shoes and imagine what that is like for us.
On Bishops Accountability, there is a database. On this list, there are 3,763 priests and nuns, just in the United States, who were credibly accused. You look at this list, then come back and tell us it was just a few priests who did this, and remember, this is just for those in the U.S.
To put it bluntly, we victims feel that is the parishioners and the good bishops, cardinals , priests and nuns do not demand the immediate resignation of all of these leaders of your church credibly accused in the coverups, and the prosecution of these people for their crimes against children, then in our eyes you are just as guilty of these crimes as the perpetrators.
Talk to the victims and see if the church is in fact doing all it can to help us.
Shame on you for cheering the Pope
My letter to the Editor that appeared in the Berlin Daily Sun on Friday March 1, 2013
Next Pope & Only Some Cardinals Are Immune For Abuse Crimes
By Jerry Slevin, a retired Catholic and Harvard “schooled” international lawyer
Tens of thousands of survivors of priest rape worldwide, and many millions of other people, surely think it outrageous that either the Pope or any Cardinal is immune from prosecution for child endangerment. Nevertheless, the next Pope and Cardinals at the Vatican are likely immune, as Cardinal Law well knew when he fled Boston for the Vatican.
Philly’s Cardinal Bevilacqua lacked immunity, but died last year before his likely imminent indictment. His successor, Cardinal Rigali, appears to remain at risk as the civil case against him proceeds. Their top subordinate, Monsignor Lynn, today sits in prison for following the cover-up orders of his Cardinal.
Los Angeles prosecutors, recently emboldened by an evidentially “Vatican blessed” public shaming of Cardinal Mahoney, are feverishly combing through recently released files apparently trying to find some basis to prosecute Cardinal Mahoney.
Neither Cardinal Rigali nor Ireland’s Cardinal Brady have been publicly shamed, so far at least, for their well reported abuse cover-up misdeeds, nor has convicted Opus Dei Bishop Finn, a St. Louis protégé like Cardinal Dolan of the Vatican clique’s longtime colleague, Cardinal Rigali.
It appears that, for the immune Vatican clique, there are different shaming standards depending on which Cardinal misbehaves. Apparently, Cardinals like Mahoney, who may be disapproved of politically by key plutocratic Republican Vatican contributors, are at a higher risk of public shaming. If this arbitrary process fails to make some Cardinals anxious, they should have a serious talk soon with their criminal lawyers.
Overall, few Cardinals outside the Vatican are likely legally immune from local prosecution for child endangerment. Most Cardinals must now worry if they face potential prosecution whether the next Pope will offer them the “Cardinal Law shield” or the “Cardinal Mahoney shaft”. Hierarchical “hardball”, to be sure!
Moreover, neither the Pope nor any Cardinal is immune from prosecution for crimes against humanity by the mother who is currently serving as Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court. She has been involved recently in a major conviction of a senior political leader for aiding and abetting crimes against humanity. The Pope and Cardinals Sodano, Bertone and Levada are currently the subject of a criminal complaint filed for crimes against humanity allegedly for the worldwide cover-up of priest rapes of innocent children. The Pope’s resignation has likely reduced the political resistance to this case proceeding, possibly with the addition as criminal defendants of other Vatican Cardinals who may have played a role in covering-up or in suppressing canonical judicial investigations under the “omerta” approach.
The octogenarian Vatican clique is now trying to ram through quickly a subservient new Pope who will do their bidding for their few remaining years, leaving younger Cardinals, Bishops and worldwide Catholics to fend for themselves thereafter. Cardinals are now being stampeded to vote early. Will all Cardinals be so shortsighted to fall for this? Will at least one-third of them slow the election process down and still salvage the Church (and themselves) instead? There is a way they can do this as described below.
All Cardinals, if only in their own self-interest, need to act now to begin to fix the Church first before it is too late, especially before a complicit new Pope is installed for life to protect the Vatican clique. Prosecutors are increasingly moving into the Church, while Catholics are steadily moving out, and all will continue to do so if the Church is not fixed promptly.
President Obama’s new Catholic chief of staff just said on Meet The Press, in effect, that the Church will do fine if it does the right things. And what if it continues to do some bad things as is obscenely reported almost daily in the international media? President Obama and a U.S. Presidential investigation commission, similar to Australia PM Julia Gillard’s new commission, would have the clout to compel much of the fix needed. President Obama has condemned institutional child sexual abuse. Cardinal Dolan and Archbishop Lori continue to try to derail Obamacare with their absurd “Taco Bell” ploy.
Will Cardinals instead try to fix the Church themselves now or just continue the risk of sitting in prison cells, as some of them very well may be doing soon, wishing they had fixed it when they could have? Philly’s Monsignor Lynn, former top subordinate to Cardinals Rigali and Bevilacqua now in jail for child endangerment, proves this risk is real. Make sure you ask Cardinal Rigali about this at the conclave next month.
Here’s what smart Cardinals can and should do. They need to block by a one-third vote any papal candidate that will not agree publicly now to take the following three actions:
(1) Serve only a three year term subject to re-election thereafter. Pope Benedict just proved by resigning that the papacy is not a lifelong position.
(2) Appoint now a special committee to identify and recommend within nine months needed structural and pastoral changes, as described in my April 2010 Washington Post web column you should read now that tried to warn Pope Benedict three years ago about what he was facing, that he foolishly failed to acknowledge, and which is linked here at:
(3) Implement the needed changes so identified at a worldwide council held away from Rome within six months of receipt of the special committee’s recommendations as described in my Washington Post column.
Alternatively, Cardinals can give the Vatican clique their blank papal proxies, then hire expensive criminal lawyers and pray for a miracle. How do they really think God will respond?
Pertinently, among some of the relevant guidelines generally ascribed to Jesus are that he was opposed to a self-important, excessively scrupulous and overly indulgent religious hierarchy and that he thought children should be protected from harm. These points have neither been consistently understood nor respected in the Vatican for decades, even for centuries. The “Good News”, or the Gospels, have often been disregarded by the Catholic hierarchy where a Renaissance culture of opulence and celibate incomprehension of children still predominate today.
Where in the Gospels did Jesus say predatory priests are to be protected before innocent children, like the Vatican has done for decades, if not centuries? Where did Jesus instruct his followers to wear $30,000 outfits paid for by donations like Cardinal Burke reportedly does? Where did Jesus tell his followers to launder money like Cardinals reportedly do through the Vatican Bank?
If, as Benedict has clearly indicated, a Pope should go if he is unable to perform his duties, should he be removed if he is unwilling to perform or performs badly? Should there be term limits or maximum age limits? Of course, the only logical answer is yes to all of these related questions. But the Vatican is run by power politics, not logic, or even spiritual values for that matter. Some Vatican Cardinal will likely leak soon the real reasons Benedict is retiring. Benedict will meet soon with top Italian leaders who seem to be benefiting in their own election contests from the media attention on the Pope. Is an immunity deal in the air? In any event, the real story should be our soon.
It is time to restore Catholic leadership to the consensual approach that Jesus and early Catholics followed for over three centuries until Roman Emperors converted the Catholic Bishops, including the Pope, into an imperial bureaucracy dominated by a Vatican clique that dictated ruthlessly for 1,700 years, and still dictates, top-down to Catholics seemingly to fill the clique’s coffers. It seems significant that key Vatican powers, Pope Benedict and Cardinal Sodano, were both born in 1927 and spent their formative years under totalitarian dictators, Hitler and Mussolini, respectively. This is well reflected in their hierarchical approach, but they seem to forget that the Fuhrer and Il Duce eventually got their gruesome rewards, mainly at the hands of constitutional democracies. The Vatican no longer has powerful European monarchs or opportunistic dictators to protect it and plutocrats flee weakness quickly. The Holy Roman Emperor’s phone has been disconnected for almost a century.
Catholics will not likely in their lifetimes have a better opportunity than in connection with the papal election to reform the Church, and at the same time to protect children as Jesus commanded. It is time to restore the consensual church management structure that the overwhelming vote of Vatican II Cardinals and Bishops contemplated would be adopted a half century ago before a minority of Cardinals like Ottaviani, Wotyla, Ratzinger, Sodano, Bertone, Levada, Rigali, Mahoney, Law, Burke, Bevilacqua, Brady, et al., subverted its implementation.
Pope John XXIII issued in 1962 the main secrecy order on priest child sex abuse. But he also realized that accountability had to be restored to save the Church. He took the first step by trying to get the Vatican Cardinals to share power with the worldwide bishops. He died soon thereafter and the Vatican Cardinals’ clique rejected power sharing craftily. Since then, they have installed compliant Popes who like the papal prestige and are happy to do the clique’s bidding. But the democratic rule of law has run out of patience with clerical child abusers and Popes no longer have any effective political power, as the re-election of President Obama and papal political setbacks in the Philippines, Australia, the United Kingdom, France and elsewhere just proved.
The International Sheriff appears to be on his way to Rome and the Pope cannot hide for long with Gorgeous Georg in a refurbished convent. Some of his own Cardinals, or his butler, may likely help nail him, it appears. The Vatican clique’s unending stream of blunders, the latest including (1) appointing Cardinal Law’s former canon lawyer as chief Vatican prosecutor of predatory priests, (2) appointing as part-time Vatican Bank “chief” a German investment banker, who is reportedly also overseeing a major arms dealer, and (3) the selectively and gratuitously shaming of Cardinal Mahoney publicly.
But at this point does any of this matter to most Catholics worldwide? While it may seem overly pessimistic to say so soon that the next Pope will likely fail too, it is just being realistic; and yet there is also room for much optimism. The papal resignation is tantamount to an admission of failure and will lead to de-mystification of the papacy quickly. Pope Benedict XVI, soon to again be non-Pontiff, Joseph Ratzinger, and his Vatican clique led by Cardinal Sodano et al., have already set the stage for the next failure.
The sudden call for a quick election conclave substantially diminishes any chance of a real opposition being mounted by non-Vatican Cardinals. Since the Pope apparently knew for some time he would resign, the suddenness seems well planned. Ratzinger will soon be living a few hundred yards away from the new Pope in his refurbished retirement base, hardly a monastery.
Ratzinger and Sodano already likely know who will be the next Pope and one would be foolish to bet against them. Perhaps Cardinals might save some money by just mailing in blank proxies to Sodano.
The reason for some optimism is that the Vatican clique’s apparent raw power grab will now just accelerate the sinking of the Vatican Titanic that much sooner. Even overly trusting Catholics will see through the clerical charade. Various prosecutors and survivors lawyers can now be expected to be able to reach Ratzinger, who may lose his legal immunity in a few weeks. Once the rule of international law starts pulling hard directly on papal threads, the Vatican hierarchy can expect to be quickly uncovered and forced to initiate reforms, perhaps after some senior officials face prosecution, which is likely not too far off.
For example, longtime Vatican Cardinal Rigali is still at risk of prosecution in Philadelphia where his predecessor, Cardinal Bevilacqua, last year apparently escaped a likely imminent criminal indictment for child endangerment by dying first! Their hapless senior aide, Monsignor Lynn, took the fall so far and is in prison.
Yes, Cardinals apparently will now go to Rome, but they could have demanded first that a conference be convened soon, before any election occurs, to be held far away from Rome to address seriously and comprehensively the Church’s major problems, which are just getting worse with the recent decades of papal inattention and will continue to get worse if Ratzinger and Sodano elect their man.
Catholics are not and should not be waiting on Cardinals. Australian and Irish Catholics have already gotten their governments to act. Now many from different faiths and no faith all across the USA, and even worldwide, including some of those harmed by the abuse of the deaf victims in Milwaukee, have already signed my petition calling on President Obama to step up. They have indicated they have had enough with the domination of local prosecutors and legislators by the Catholic hierarchy and its well paid apologists and lawyers.
More signatures, including yours, will help accelerate the establishment of the U.S. national investigation commission, especially important now when the Vatican may be at a turning point.
We all have a moral obligation to protect children and signing a petition is a simple, yet potentially effective, way towards meeting that obligation. Please take a minute and sign it at:
Please, as well, ask those you respect and who value children to sign it also. If you are active in a U.S. advocacy group, ask your leadership to support the petition. Similarly reticent progressive Catholic voices, like the National Catholic Reporter and Commonweal, seem reluctant to press for the positive prospects of President Obama establishing a U.S. national investigation commission. They need now to take a stand.
What are they all waiting for? Blogging, writing, debating and prayer, however admirable and well intentioned, have to date barely influenced the Vatican clique and their subservient U.S. Bishops on reforms and will likely do little more in the future, certainly in the near term as more children are raped by priests, while duped Catholics continue to contribute enabling complicit bishops to protect priest pedophiles and predators perpetually.
I have separately proposed that President Obama consider appointing First Lady, Michelle Obama, to chair the new Obama commission. She is well respected as a Harvard lawyer and devoted mother. She would be an ideal choice with her established credibility if she were willing to accept the appointment.
The First Lady of the USA could consult with another effective former practicing lawyer, Julia Gillard, Australia’s Prime Minister, who just established a national investigation commission that already has the Catholic hierarchy and the Vatican running for cover.
Prime Minister Gillard recently disclosed that the tipping points in her decision to call for a national commission were the numerous disclosures that the Catholic Bishops, as part of their cover-up, moved predatory priests to avoid prosecution to other states and even other countries, where the predators continued their sexual abuse of more trusting and innocent children. The multistate and multinational dimensions of the crimes against children apparently convinced Prime Minister Gillard she had to take action at the Federal level. This moving of predatory priests interstate and across national borders has, of course, happened repeatedly in the USA as well, necessitating a Federal response in the USA as well.
If the First Lady would oversee this, President Obama would still be able to focus on his many other priorities, including resisting the Vatican’s and its plutocratic Republican contributors’ unrelenting and opportunistic efforts to derail Obamacare over contraception insurance and immigration reform over gay marriage.
U.S. voters recently made clear their rejection of the Vatican’s lobbying efforts to deny marriage equality for gay U.S citizens. Now the Vatican appears to be trying to deny it for gay immigrants. As to the Vatican’s relentless and futile anti-contraception crusade, 79 year old conservative Cologne Cardinal Meisner, recently approved a “morning after” pill of the type that, only a few months ago, many U.S. Bishops were condemning President Obama for helping U.S. women gain affordable access to. Does the Vatican understand how contraceptive pills work? Does the Vatican understand that President Obama has been re-elected?
If there tragically were not over 200 million “unplanned” children living miserably in countries where Vatican lobbying effectively denied their parents access to affordable contraception, a dispute among octogenarian celibates over permissible forms of contraception would make good political satire! But sadly, the Vatican’s anti-contraceptive efforts, apparently mainly to please the Vatican’s plutocratic Republican donors by keeping family planning wedge issues in political play, will very likely only fail again, while these efforts continue nevertheless to burden families and children.
Does the right hand talk to the left among Cardinals and the Vatican clique? Do the unprecedented, selective and well orchestrated shaming by an Opus Dei Archbishop of Cardinal Mahoney, and the unexpected support from Cardinal Meisner for contraception that is reportedly starting to stir up German Bishops, indicate a Cardinals’ revolt is brewing. Will this revolt affect the papal elections next month? We may soon find out.
Please click on to the black text at the top of this column for my analysis of related topics. In particular, for more analysis of the powerful political influence of the Catholic hierarchy here, please see my remarks at
For more analysis of how the emerging divisions among Cardinals might have changed the papal election process, please see my remarks at
Finally, I hope some of you will consider linking this statement to your comments at appropriate websites, such as at:
(1) National Catholic Reporter ( http://ncronline.org ) and of
(2) Commonweal ( http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/ ).