Catholic Church Aborts Pro-Life Morality

By Susan Matthews

The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference (PCC) highlighted its flawed morality when it shamed a clergy child sex abuse survivor on its Facebook page yesterday.

Why do you have to troll here Carolyn? Don’t you get enough media attention?”

Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, Facebook Comment, 5/15

The comment was aimed at Carolyn Fortney, who was sexually abused from age two to 12 by Father Augustine Giella.

The originating post celebrated the passing of a bill restricting abortion. Fortney’s comment read, “Next up… statute of limitations Reform with a 2 year retro active window to give victims of Child Sexual Abuse Justice and to EXPOSE pedophiles and co-conspirators who helped to cover it up so we can be #ProChildren and protect them.”

#ProChildren

Albert Gnoza, the PCC communications director told Kathy Kane that he didn’t expect many people to see his reply to her comment. Sadly, Kathy had to point out the one person who would absolutely see it is a child clergy sex abuse survivor. Aside from exposing a detrimental deficit of public relations and social media skill, it highlights an alarming lack of empathy.

Gnoza went on to say that Fortney’s comment didn’t relate to the original post. Even if this were an acceptable excuse, he is wrong.

The pro-life movement is intended to protect ALL human life from conception to death. It advocates against abortion, murder, assisted suicide, the death penalty and more. Clergy child sex abuse has often been referred to as “soul murder.”

Bishops Pratice Cafeteria Catholicism

As the public affairs arm of Pennsylvania’s Catholic Bishops, the PCC lobbies for legislation that protects unborn children while it lobbies against legislation that would help to protect ALL children from sex abuse by any adult.

I’d venture a guess the Bishops have spent far more on the latter to protect themselves. Who funds the Bishops? Parishioners across Pennsylvania. Some unknowingly and some whole-heartedly. Shortly after founding this blog, my husband and son were approached by a fellow parishioner after Mass. He loudly told them that what I was doing was wrong. This was especially surprising to me because this man was an active member of the pro-life group. Aren’t children equally important as unborn babies?

The Bishops promote this moral blind spot. Their credibility on social issues crumbles as they defy the answer to “What would Jesus do?”

Carolyn, your life is sacred and worthy of protection. The Church failed you. We will fight hard along with you to ensure children are protected now and in the future.

That’s the appropriate reply.

Read more here.

Philly Archdiocese Breaks Promises

There was recent news that may have been shocking to many parents who volunteer in the Archdiocese and have to go through what sometimes feels like a Secret Service level of background checks and clearances before being allowed to simply chaperone a school dance, or hand out candy canes at the school Christmas party. In the past two months, in separate incidents, an Archdiocesan priest was arrested for the rape of a minor and a Catholic lay teacher was arrested for institutional sexual assault. The priest allegedly raped the teen in his private quarters in the rectory. The lay teacher used his school office for the alleged assaults. Both perpetrators also were charged with providing alcohol and drugs to minors.

Promise to Protect

Before a situation rises to the level of sexual abuse there is often a period of misbehavior by the adult that includes what the Archdiocese refers to as “boundary violations.” A person with bad intentions is never going to follow the rules, so many times it is up to others to realize that rules are being broken. With that thought in mind, one would expect that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia would incorporate the Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries into the yearly Safety Environment lessons for the students . If a teacher, coach, or priest is contacting kids through social media, isolating them alone in an office or rectory, or giving them gifts, many kids observing the behavior will recognize it as creepy. But do they know that this grooming behavior is actually violating specific Archdiocesan Standards and should be reported to a trusted adult? Currently the Archdiocese teaches safety in general, not specific to the environment where these kids live, eat, and breathe each day. The actual population that would be targeted by a perpetrator remains an uninformed “sitting duck”. We have advocated for the Standards to be incorporated in an age appropriate level into the yearly Safety Environment lessons. We have not been successful.

Parents, you know the Archdiocese is quick to get in touch if a tuition payment is late, but is your phone ringing if your child’s safety is at risk? When a boundary violation has taken place and the Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries are violated, it would seem logical that the first phone calls would be to the parents of every child or student who was a victim of the violation. Unfortunately there is no written policy of parental notification when a child is a victim of a boundary violation. Not only is there no policy, but from our own first hand experience it is not even the practice of the Archdiocese to inform all parents. So a child could be subject to grooming behaviors that the Archdiocese is aware have occurred, but the parents have no clue. Sound like a good plan for child safety? We have advocated for parental notification. We have not been successful.

Many students in Archdiocesan high schools turn 18 years old before graduation. In every instance the Archdiocese continues to treat the student as a minor. Permission slips still require a signature from a parent, absent notes need to be written ,the school nurse calls if an 18 year old student is ill. Literally nothing changes when the student turns 18 years old, except maybe your child’s safety. Is it possible that the Archdiocese does not consider 18 year old students as being included in the specific Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries that are in place to protect minors? Not only is it possible, but in a phone conversation about boundary violations with the Investigations Office of the Archdiocese, it was actually stated in reference to boundary violations that “some of these students are already 18.” We have advocated for the Standards to be updated to use the word “student,” rather than “minor,” so that that every young person’s safety is equally protected. We have not been successful.

We have advocated for these simple, common sense, child protection policies for the past 2 years after these issues came to light on a boundary violation that we reported. The Archdiocese at this point has shut us down and will no longer communicate with us about these advocacy efforts. All that is expected from parents is their tuition payments and background clearances. They do not want to hear from parents who are informed about the gaping holes that exist in their “Promise to Protect”.

A teen is raped. A student is sexually assaulted. Drugs and alcohol are brought into a parish and a school campus by Church personnel. Sounds like they have it all under control. Why would they listen to us?


Major Flaw In Pope’s Promising New Law

This week Pope Francis issued a mandatory reporter law requiring all Catholic diocesan priests and religious orders, including sisters, to inform Church authorities when they have “well-founded motives to believe” abuse has occurred. It also directs them to obey civil reporting requirements where they live. This Church law is retroactive and includes past abuse.

Those reporting will receive whistle-blower protection and dioceses must have a confidential reporting system in place by June 1, 2020.

But there is a glaring flaw in the new law.

The Definition of Insanity

Bishops will continue to investigate reported bishops. History has proven this fails. Former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick is an excellent point in case. Fellow bishops knew about McCarrick’s predatory behavior. Worse than doing nothing, they put him in the role of spokesman on the subject of child sex abuse prevention measures.

Truth Or Consequences

We might get somewhere if the bishops who didn’t report McCarrick were laicized as well. That’s not happening.

Speaking of the failure to report, there is no punishment for an individual who neglects to report abuse or for dioceses that don’t have a confidential reporting system.

Laws without consequences are ineffective, if not useless.

Clericalism Strikes Again

Instead of merely allowing lay experts to assist, Pope Francis should have made it law that qualified laity investigate all cases. But clericalism got the last word in this law.

Why We Need More Info With ‘Credibly Accused’ Clergy Names

By Susan Matthews

New York’s Cardinal Dolan recently released the names of 120 ‘credibly accused’ priests. His belated transparency is missing a few key details.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan should update his list to include, at a minimum, the work histories of each accused priest so that communities where abusers served know to look for survivors in their midst,” according a statement from SNAP issued on Friday. “Similarly, he should include information about when the archdiocese first received the allegations and what they did in response.”

The Catholic Church should release work, volunteer and accusation history along with each name. Why?

It Wakes People the Hell Up

Child sex abuse feels very distant to most parents. It’s something that happens to other people’s kids. When one learns a predator had proximity to their own child, it finally clicks. The betrayal and the potential harm finally make it real. We need that kind of awareness for protection, prevention and justice.

Connects the Dots

Priests can have more than a dozen assignments, chaplaincies and volunteer positions that spread across diocesan and state lines. A credibly accused priest in NY may have once served in a Philadelphia parish. Along with the allegation history, a timeline of positions held helps investigators connect the dots.

And as we’ve found, the lapse between accusations being found credible and removal can be extremely concerning. If compelled to release this information, Church leadership might accelerate better response to avoid scrunity.

Empowers Victims

Information is power. Victims could finally believe in a world where they may have an opportunity for justice and to protect others. This results in more survivors coming forward. Which…

Creates A Safer Environment

The safe environment programs will be a sham until we demand all the facts, the full truth and crystal clear transparency.

Read more from the NPR article here: “Archdiocese of New York Names 120 Clergy ‘Credibly Accused’ of Child Sex Abuse”

Shanahan Grad Reveals Unawareness of Vianney Center Concerns

by Kathy Kane

For years, we have sounded the alarm about the proximity of the St. John Vianney Treatment Center to Bishop Shanahan High School in Downingtown, Pa.

As a Shanahan parent, I sat in the school parking lot waiting for my daughter and watched a patient from the facility walk by my car. Neither the school nor the Vianney Center had any idea of his presence on the school campus. He was supposed to be on the Vianney Center grounds and simply walked off. That priest patient was not a child abuser, but the encounter gave me a front row seat to the cast of characters employed by the Vianney Center and the Archdiocese who are supposed to be protecting our children.

We have documented cases of child predators sent to the facility in recent years. My youngest child graduated from Shanahan in 2017. This is a current issue. Priests who possessed child pornography. Priests who have assaulted children and young people. It’s not just my word. Grand Jury reports and newspaper articles name allegedly abusive priests from around the country sent to the facility.

On this blog, I’ve shared my communications and the details of my meeting with Vianney Center administration as well as school administration. A Shanahan mother appeared on a news segment. A handful of parents were supportive but not nearly enough to make an impact. I guess parents believed the misleading statements issued by the Archdiocese. Parents should use Google to get to the truth. Any concerned parents can still always contact us, I have enough information to give a PowerPoint presentation about the concerns related to the Vianney Center.

It’s refreshing to see a Bishop Shanahan graduate address this issue in a published commentary. Thank you, Ian. You give me hope. Maybe it will be the young people who will make a difference.

“The Pennsylvania report focuses on many small towns throughout the state.  One of those towns — mentioned more than a dozen times — is an outlier. It’s a town you wouldn’t think to look for unless, like me, you were born and raised there.

In 2002, around the same time the Boston Globe published its bombshell report on sexual abuse of children in the Archdiocese of Boston, I was a freshman at Bishop Shanahan, a Catholic high school in Downingtown, Pennsylvania.

I don’t remember paying much attention to the Boston Globe report. Nor was I aware that, during this same time, multiple priests accused of child abuse were being sent to a clergy treatment center directly across the street from my high school

Click here to read the entire story: “How the Catholic Church Used Treatment Centers To Hide Priests Accused of Child Abuse” WHYY


If any Shanahan parents are inspired after reading Ian’s article, I can be reached at kmkane242@gmail.

Finding Fr. Meyers: A C4C Investigation

By Kathy Kane

The strangest thing happens when you are not even looking for an abusive priest – you end up finding him. What started from an obnoxious comment by a priest on the C4C facebook page created a series of events that led to the discovery of Fr. John Meyers’ new life in Tucson, Arizona. Meyers was found unsuitable for ministry in January 2019 by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for a credible and substantiated allegation of the sexual abuse of a minor.

Sometimes the way things fall into place can’t be explained although Jeremy Roebuck did a fantastic job chronicling the series of events in his article. Thank you to Carolyn Fortney who is a tireless advocate for children . Carolyn is a clergy abuse survivor and her eagle eye helped crack this case wide open. Maybe someday the Pennsylvania legislators will join the efforts to protect children by enacting very important SOL Window legislation. Until then it is amazing what a few women with a laptop can accomplish.

Click here to read: “From victim to vigilante: Clergy sex abuse survivor finds accused Philly priest online, working for charter school system in Arizona,” by Jeremy Roebuck, The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 23.

Excerpt: “This is a prime example of survivors working together to take the law into our own hands,” said Carolyn Fortney, the Harrisburg woman who uncovered Meyers’ new life in Tucson. “We’ll do what we have to do to protect children.”

Philadelphia Priest Placed on Administrative Leave

Fr William Waters, pastor of St Augustine Church in Philadelphia, has been placed on administrative leave while being investigated for an allegation of the sexual abuse of a minor. News outlets in the Boston area reported on this development yesterday as Waters is one of two Augustinians accused of the abuse which is alleged to have occurred in Lawrence, Massachusetts.

Ken Gavin, of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, stated that Fr Waters has been placed on administrative leave however one full day after this news broke Waters name remains on the Archdiocese clergy list. The clergy list shows all priests with full faculties in the Archdiocese. As many who have followed our efforts over the years are aware, we have had to contact the Archdiocese many times for errors on their list.

Stay tuned.

https://www.wgbh.org/news/local-news/2019/04/09/andover-philadelphia-pastors-put-on-leave-amid-sexual-abuse-allegations