Seminary Student Charged with Seeking Sex with Infants

Click here to read: “Ohio Seminary student arrested, charged with trying to arrange sex with infants,” by Elizabeth Faugl, abc6onyourside.com, January 29, 2016

Editors note:

This unfathomable crime happens more often than sane people can comprehend. The perpetrators come from all walks of life, but we don’t expect them among our Seminary students or priests. What are the standards for acceptance to Seminaries? With a priest shortage can we expect more or less diligence in screening?

I fear there will be less. We try to keep a narrow focus on this blog. Our topics are within the context of current doctrine and clergy child sex abuse. But perhaps it’s impossible not to discuss the priest shortage in connection with the clergy child sex abuse cover up.

The shortage leaves rectories more empty and with less oversight. It leaves good priests with an enormous amount of responsibility. Elderly priests are coming out of retirement to fill the gaps. Just covering Masses is difficult. What about Last Rites, the parishioner struggling with a crisis or a newcomer with faith questions.

In these situations, does “any priest is better than no priest” mode kick in at the administration level?

The same clericalism that allows child sex abuse to go unchecked will be the same that destroys any opportunity to minister to Catholics when they most need it.

Billy Doe Case Doesn’t Define Scandal

Whether or not Billy Doe was telling the truth, the Church DID cover up decades of clergy child sex abuse. The internal archdiocesan documents that emerged from the trial revealed the depravity of the institution. We saw the memos that Msgr. Lynn received and sent. We were able to share the list Cardinal Bevilacqua kept of problem priests.

Justice should prevail. We hope it has in this particular case. If it hasn’t, we hope a light shines on the truth. As a journalist, I’ve found Ralph Cipriano to be unrelenting and fair in reporting facts. However, I err on the side of believing anyone who says they are a victim. Statistically, false claims are rare. No matter which side you take, pray for all involved and remember that the institutional Church is guilty of a cover up.

Click here to read: “Catholic Guilt? The Lying, Scheming Altar Boy Behind A Lurid Rape Case,” by Ralph Cipriano, Newsweek, January 20, 2016

Church Can’t Hide Documents

Click here to read: “Judge rules documents be public in priest abuse case,” by Joseph A. Slobodzian, Friday, January 15, 2016

Excerpt:

“The two-paragraph ruling by Common Pleas Court Judge Mark I. Bernstein was a setback for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, which had asked for an order barring public disclosure of the materials. The church has insisted on confidentiality as a condition for engaging in pretrial discovery with lawyers in suits seeking damages for being sexually molested by priests.”
Editor’s note: So much for the Church wishing to be transparent.

Lynn’s Convicition Overturned – Again

Click here to read, “Lynn’s lawyers ask for bail and a new judge,” by Jeremy Roebuck, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Dec. 24, 2015

Breaking: Archdiocese Removes Father Harris

Click here to read, “Phila. archdiocese removes priest – again,” by Laura McCrystal, Philly News.com, December 21, 2015

Editor’s note: Father Harris is still listed as having full priestly faculties on the Archdiocesan web site and we couldn’t find any public notice there or on the parish web site. There is a mention of the parish Facebook page. Thank you Philly News.com for keeping Catholics informed.

Belated Thanksgiving

It’s a week late, but I want to thank everyone who visits and contributes their comments to Catholics4Change. We are so grateful. Words are powerful and you’ve shared many here.

I was back in Philadelphia for work and to celebrate Thanksgiving with my family. Kathy Kane along with her husband and daughter had decided to see “Spotlight” the same night that my daughter asked me to see it with her. In a synergy that has marked our friendship and this advocacy, we ended up at the same movie theater for the same showing.

While we watched, I thought about all the people with whom we’ve had the honor of connecting with through this blog since 2011. I thought about all those who fought this battle long before us and all of those who will take it up in the future. I thought about how this tragic systemic cover up changed the trajectory of our faith. How it made it stronger yet at the same time isolated us from the culture and institution that made us who we are. But mostly, I thought about the victims and the children whose lives will be shattered by abuse. And they will be – because not enough has been done.

Not only should the Church stop fighting the legislative reforms and hold Bishops accountable, it should fund the research needed to better understand the root causes of child sex abuse. After a global cover up, it owes society that much and more.

 

A Survivor’s Take On ‘Spotlight’

by C4C Guest Blogger

Last Friday night, I saw the movie “Spotlight” with two friends. It had been on my “to do” list since I had first seen the trailer. As a Clergy Abuse Survivor, it was interesting to me how the Catholic Church would be portrayed. All too often, Catholic apologists bash the media and critics as being “anti-Catholic” and haters – convenient defenses to cover the scandal within the Church. I was hoping that “Spotlight” would not fall into that trap.

One of the defenses that is also used is “that was in the past – it is not happening now.” However abuse from the past continues to surface involving present day priests. Two years ago, it became public that my abuser was being investigated.

This public announcement caused dozens, myself included, to file additional complaints with the Archdiocese. After two years of investigations, both by the Archdiocese and law enforcement officials in several counties, my abuser decided to quietly remove himself from the priesthood after one claim was substantiated by the Church. He disappears from the roll of active priests in good standing however does not appear on the list of priests who have had their faculties suspended or removed – sort of a clergy “limbo.”

The movie takes place in Boston – a city with many similarities to Philadelphia. A city of neighborhoods. A city where people identify so closely with their parish – their high school. A city where the Catholic Church has substantial influence. All of the major characters, with the exception of the Jewish editor, identify themselves as Catholic even though they admit that they are not regular churchgoers.

First, I want to say that every Catholic should see this movie. Many have closed their eyes for far too long and failed to educate themselves on the extent of the clergy abuse scandal and cover up. As has been said, “those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.”

“Spotlight” does an excellent job of creating a profile of victims and how the abuse was cultivated. In one scene, that was particularly relevant to me, a Boston Globe reporter is reading a case file of an accused priest. His victims are listed as “7 boys – 1 girl” and another reporter is shocked that a girl is a victim. It is a standard misconception – that this was a crime against only boys committed by homosexual priests. It was not.

In another scene, Michael Keaton’s character realizes that one of the priests that has been removed taught at his High School – probably a scenario that all of us have experienced. He meets with the Board of Trustees of the High School who proclaim that no one could have known that this was going on. Until one brave man speaks up – “they ran this school as a tight ship – they knew everything – they had to know.”

It was a scene that struck myself and my friends very deeply for it is a question that we have all asked. My High School was a small one. The principal was an old school priest who knew when a piece of paper was in the corner of a hallway. My abuser was at the school for 11 years. They had to know.

Finally, there is a scene with Mark Ruffalo, who plays a Boston Globe reporter and should win an Academy Award for his performance, is upset because the Globe is waiting to print the story. His anger – his frustration – come out in this scene. “They knew and they let it happen. It could have been you, it could have been me. It could have been any of us.” Truer words have never been spoken.

I have heard stories of people standing and applauding as the final scene fades to black and, across the screen scrolls city after city, throughout the country, throughout the world, where abuse claims have been made. In our theater – dead silence.

How was the Catholic Church portrayed? The film plays like a documentary and the evidence presented as well as the investigative process that went into it were both flawless. Apologists cannot argue Catholic bias or hate – it was cold hard facts that dominated the script. In fact, several of the main characters struggle with these results and their Catholic upbringing – a point that was not lost on me as I have faced the same struggle personally and when telling people about my abuse.

As a Survivor, this was a movie I needed to see although I could not have seen it alone and was blessed to have two friends who offered to go with me and have been supportive throughout my recovery. We did not have a doubt as to the magnitude of this scandal – in Boston or in Philadelphia. The question remains – does it still go on now? As the movie portrays, my abuser could be living across from a school, from a playground, from your family or mine. Investigations are still taking place – victims still coming forward. So I think the answer is clear.

Catholic Church Child Sex Abuse Scandal Rightfully Remains in ‘Spotlight’

Click here to read, “‘Spotlight’ portrayal of sex abuse scandal is making the Catholic Church uncomfortable all over again,” by Michelle Boorstein, November 9, 2015, The Washington Post.

Excerpt: “The sin and crime of sexual abuse sadly still happens. And while failing to report on or remove an offender is rare in comparison with past practice, it too still happens, and when it does a shadow is cast on the Church’s efforts to restore trust and to provide a safe environment,” wrote Dubuque Archbishop Michael Jackels. “May God have mercy on us and help us.”

Editor’s note: Archbishop Jackels gets it! At least one bishop in the US does.

Spotlight: Movie Shines a Light On Current Problem

“Spotlight” opens in limited-release today. This movie about the Pulitzer-prize winning Boston Globe journalists who broke the clergy abuse story may finally raise awareness to the level of outrage needed to create real change, if not in the Church, in our laws regarding the statute of limitations.

Because I’m not a victim, many have wondered about my passion for this cause. While being a Catholic and a mother is certainly enough of a reason, it’s also because I began my career as a journalist. I worked as an editor with the Catholic Standard and Times – the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Cardinal Bevilacqua was the publisher during my six years there. I worked with talented, dedicated, loving people of deep faith who sacrificed better pay and work hours to spread the news and the truth of the Church.

Years later, I know the absolute evil that was taking place just floors above us. It is enraging and sickening. That’s betrayal that every Catholic should feel. Harder to imagine is the pain of those children who were raped by trusted and adored priests  and then raped again by the cover up that continued past 2011 in Philadelphia.

Many would like to believe that it’s all better now. But Father Paul situations tell us that things aren’t better yet. After  allegations, he was left as Pastor of Our Lady of Calvary without parents’ knowledge of an investigation. Is this the transparency that was promised? Those allegations were eventually deemed credible. He is no longer a priest. Criminal charges were not pressed due to the statute of limitations. The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference continues lobbying against statute of limitation law reform. The Church is still siding against children. And. Father Paul can live anywhere he chooses.

Please see this movie. Please join the many voices demanding real change. The Church must choose to protect living children along with the unborn.

What Would You Like to Be Done About Clergy Sex Abuse? Archbishop Chaput Wants to Know.

“We’ve gone out of our way to explore in the past in response to the grand juries,” he said. “I think the people responsible for the grand jury reports would acknowledge our response as being very positive and thorough. The fact that people want more – what is the more they want that we haven’t done?”

– Archbishop Chaput

Click here to read the entire story: “After pope’s visit, tough talk from abuse survivors – and Chaput,” by Jeremy Roebuck and Julie Terruso, The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 28 and updated 29, 2015

What would you like the Archdiocese, Archbishop Chaput and Pope Francis to do?

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