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?

Pope Addresses Clergy Abuse Victims in Philadelphia

Excerpt from, Sept. 27, 2015
Pope Francis met with victims of clerical sex abuse today and promised to hold those responsible accountable.

The 30 minute meeting was with five adults who had suffered sexual abuse as minors by the clergy or members of their family or teachers, according to the Vatican. The meeting, held on his final day in the United States, also included a family member of each victim.

Later, while addressing U.S. bishops attending the World Meeting of Families, Francis renewed his promise that those responsible will be punished.

“I carry in my heart the stories, the suffering and the pain of the minors that have been sexually abused by priests,” Francis said. “I’m overwhelmed by the shame that people who were in charged of caring for those young ones raped them and caused them great damages.”
“I regret this profoundly. God cries!” he continued. “The crimes and sins of the sexual abuse to minors can’t be kept a secret anymore. I commit to the zealous oversight of the Church to protect minors, and I promise that everyone responsible will be held accountable.”

Has a Bishop Helped You Heal from Clergy Sex Abuse and the Cover Up?

Click here to read: “The Latest: Pope lauds bishops’ response to sex abuse crisis,” by Associated Press,, Sept. 23, 2015


Speaking before the bishops Wednesday at a worship service in Washington, Francis lauded them for what he called their “generous commitment to bring healing to victims.” He praised them for having courage and acting, as he saw it, “without fear of self-criticism.”

Editor’s note:

Kathy Kane and I think it’s very important to let clergy abuse victims speak to this topic. As a victim do you feel a Bishop has helped you heal?

Clergy Sex-Abuse Victim Tunes Out Pope’s Visit

Click here to read: “A conflict for abuse victims,” by Julia Terruso and Jeremy Roebuck, The Inquirer,, Sept. 17, 2015


Mariana Sorensen, the retired prosecutor who authored both grand jury reports in Philadelphia, said the stalemate on a change to the statute law was most troublesome for parishes far from the city.

“People think it’s Philadelphia that’s the problem, but because we did have the grand jury we exposed most of the priests,” she said. Sorensen said she remained concerned about “anyplace else in the state where an independent body has not had a chance to look at things.”

Catholic Church Continues to Lobby Against Child Protection Law Reforms

“Statutes of limitations exist to ensure a just verdict can be reached,” said Amy Hill, spokeswoman for the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, the bishops’ political arm in the state.

“Over time witnesses’ memories fade, evidence is lost or never found, and in many instances perpetrators or witnesses may be deceased.” –

Hill’s argument doesn’t hold water because there is no Statute of Limitations for murder in Pennsylvania. All the evidence challenges she mentions would also apply to murder trials. There should not be a Statute of Limitations on Child Sex Abuse.

This is just a case of the Church trying to avoid fiscal and moral responsibility.

Click here to read the full story: “As Pope visit nears, U.S. sex victims say Church remains obstacle to justice,” by Scott Malone,, September 10, 2015

Clergy Sex Abuse Not On Pope’s Official Philadelphia Agenda

As a child, I was among the million Catholics lining the parkway for Pope John Paul’s visit in 1979. My father propped me up on a mailbox. The sea of people was a sight to behold – one huge Catholic family. That memory is marred by what I now know as an adult about our institutional Church. It had very little regard for that “family” in so many instances around the globe and here.

According to a recent article in the Washington Post, the official itinerary for the Pope’s visit to Philadelphia on September 25 and 26th does not include clergy sex abuse. What topic could be more timely or appropriate to the World Meeting of Families? What is the short-term plan for the 1,446,508 Catholics in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia whose trust has been betrayed by the institutional Church and whose children were put at risk in parishes and schools?

The Vatican Commission and Tribunal may be workable long-term solutions, but Pope Francis could give practical meaning to his pastoral message of love and mercy by offering triage here at ground zero.

Three Grand Jury Reports (2003, 2005 and 2011) revealed case after case of allegations of clergy sex abuse covered up by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia under three Cardinals (Krol, Bevilacqua and Rigali). Abuse and cover ups occurred in several other US dioceses and globally.

This isn’t a problem in the distant past. Our Archdiocesan children were potentially put at risk here as recently as 2013. Father John Paul was allowed to remain pastor of Our Lady of Calvary for over a year while under investigation. Eventually several people came forward with allegations and he has since chosen voluntary laicization. The Statute of Limitations prevents further criminal or civil action. He is able to live anywhere he’d like without monitoring.

To add injury to injury, The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference continues to lobby against the safety interests all children and against justice for the victims of all child sex abuse (not just clergy) in the Commonwealth. The Church seeks refuge from financial and criminal responsibility under the current Statute of Limitations knowing that it allows child sex abusers to remain unidentified in our communities.

Divorce, marriage, abortion, homosexuality, poverty — all these issues and many more are so important. But as a Catholic mother, none of these things matter if my child isn’t safe. A Church that doesn’t honor and protect its children will one day be empty. It’s worth a conversation or at least a mention during this visit. Don’t you think?

Archdiocesan Priest Placed On Leave Presents Himself as Clergy In Public

According to sources, on Friday, June 26th, Father Louis J. Kolenkiewicz attended a funeral at the chapel of the National Shrine of Our Lady of Czestochowa. He was in full priestly attire. Why is that a problem? Earlier this year, Archbishop Chaput placed Kolenkiewicz on administrative leave. Parishioners at St. Bede the Venerable in Holland in Bucks County, (his most recent assignment) were told he had a pornography addiction. The diocese had disciplined him in both 2005 and 2011, but took further action when the Bucks County District Attorney’s office informed them that of the 12,000 images he downloaded in 2005, up to 12 could have depicted juveniles.  (Read Philadelphia Inquirer article here.) An archdiocesan statement issued this February stated, “While on administrative leave, he is not permitted to exercise public ministry, administer any of the Sacraments, or present himself publicly as a member of the clergy.” I’d say showing up in his black cassock and a white collar at a funeral qualifies as presenting himself publicly as a member of the clergy. Three other priests were in attendance. They may have contacted their superiors. But this brings to mind the subject of monitoring. Should the archdiocese be responsible for monitoring its priests who have been removed or placed on leave? Please note that they priests are still receiving financial assistance.

Here is an interesting passage from Opus Bono Sacerdotii. The group works on behalf of priests with “sensitive situations:”

Question: “This is the first time I hear of the ‘monitoring’. Is this happening in more than one diocese? Does this mean you can function in full ministry now? How often do you see this ‘monitor’? Can he just drop in on a surprise visit?

(Answer) First, there is no reason to simply “cave in” to monitoring, especially if there has been no canonical action taken against you. If you are not under a penalty, impediment or irregularity — which has been formally declared in a canonical action of some sort, you can challenge the bishop’s attempts to monitor you as a violation of your right to privacy under canon 220 (“No one is permitted to harm illegitimately the good reputation which a person possesses nor to injure the right of any person to protect his or her own privacy.”) A canon lawyer should be more than happy to help anyone interested in preparing a letter to his bishop to begin such a challenge….

As for the procedures, many dioceses and religious orders utilize monitoring. Monitoring can be handled by a priest, or official of the Archdiocese, or a professional investigator of some sort. Typically the visits are weekly and yes, they are unannounced visits. The reason for this is to insure that your conduct is appropriate at any given moment, however, it also has value for the one being monitored since there is a quantifiable record against any suspicions of restrictions violation.

All that being said, monitoring should be reserved to those that are in most need of it because of grievous continued inappropriate behavior. These priests are usually very accepting of the restrictions that are placed on them having full knowledge of their personal need for supervision. Unfortunately, there is a gross abuse of the monitoring program by dioceses and religious orders. They are now implementing monitoring for just about any priest that has been accused even if nothing has been proven, or the behavior was so long ago the priest has proven himself over many years without ever re-offending.

We are aware of a monitoring case in which a priest who had never been formally placed under any sort of canonical penalty was subjected to a system of monitoring. The priest appealed the matter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), and the CDF responded that the bishop’s actions were inappropriate since no formal process had ever been undertaken in this priest’s case and such monitoring constituted a violation of the right to privacy expressed in canon 220. Again, a priest could address this matter by getting a canonist willing to present a petition to the Archbishop asking that his decision to initiate this monitoring be revoked.”

The Chicago Archdiocese has a monitoring program but its effectiveness has been called into question in recent years. The Archdiocese of Newark, New Jersey also has one. (Read about it here). Accused priests are under no legal obligation to listen to the bishops’ terms. However, one would think their pensions and pay would provide some leverage.

Father John Paul Laicized After Being Allowed to Stay as Pastor During Secret Investigation

Father John Paul has chosen voluntary laicization. It’s a quiet end to a situation that enraged parents and those who came forward with allegations. Due to Pennsylvania’s Statute of Limitations for Child Sex Abuse, he can not be charged with any crimes.

In November of 2013, Father Paul resigned as pastor of Our Lady of Calvary Parish in Philadelphia for “physical and spiritual” health reasons. It was revealed that those “health” issues stemmed from two separate allegations of child sex abuse. At the time, we were outraged that the Archdiocese permitted him to remain as pastor for over a year while he was secretly investigated. When the information became public with his retirement, the Archdiocese suspended him.

The archdiocesan official statement stated, “Father Paul remained in ministry at the parish since that time in a restricted capacity ‘in that he had no unsupervised contact with minors.’ Appropriate notification of his restrictions was made to pertinent parties and a monitoring and support plan was implemented and followed.” He was a pastor running a parish and school. How does one avoid children in that position? Pertinent parties did not include parents. That shows very little respect for families. Maybe our archdiocese leadership will attend some helpful workshops during the World Meeting.

The resulting news coverage in 2013 prompted over a dozen alleged victims to come forward. Many had been students from high schools where he taught. Several were from Bishop McDevitt during the 1980s.

This cover up took place in 2013 – not in the distant past. Parents must continue to be concerned and aware.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 478 other followers