Brzyski Finally Faces Judgment

The archdiocesan coverup of sexual abuse in Philadelphia successfully protected James Brzyski from prosecution. A monster to at least 100 victims, he has been found dead in a Texas hotel. The priest was only defrocked after the 2005 Grand Jury report exposed the hidden allegations of rape and molestation.

Please read: “James Brzyski, infamous Philly priest, found dead in Texas hotel,” by Maria Panaritis, The Philadelphia Inquirer, September 13, 2017.

Excerpt: “But, like 62 other priests the grand jury said abused hundreds of children over decades in the five-county archdiocese, Brzyski was never criminally charged or prosecuted. After top archdiocesan officials learned about his assaults, Brzyski admitted to acts of sexual misconduct, and he was sent to a Catholic treatment center, where a top clinician said the priest manifested pedophilia.

Brzyski walked out on treatment, however, and refused to stay in ministry. Church officials chose not to report him to law enforcement and only told parishioners at St. Cecilia’s that he had left for medical reasons. The church further issued a policy instructing that no effort be made to locate victims from St. Cecilia’s, the grand jury found.

By the time prosecutors conducted their expansive probe of clergy abuse decades later, the statute of limitations had expired, barring the filing of criminal charges or any lawsuits against him or the church that had once overseen him.

Editors’ Note:

Kathy and I would like to extend our thoughts and prayers to his victims. We know his death brings far more complicated feelings than just relief. Please know that you can reach out to us and the Catholics4Change community.

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Philly Diocese Fogs Up Again

Is there a new transparency issue? Why isn’t Father Louis Kolenkiewicz listed in the online Archdiocesan clergy directory? He is listed in the clerical appointments that went into effect today.

Father Kolenkiewicz is returning from a removal from ministry and his new gig as parochial vicar at the Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul prompted an article in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Given this, you’d think all the i’s wouldn’t have been dotted and t’s crossed. But as of 3pm today – his name does n

The clergy directory omission is important. Both priests and laity have come to rely on the directory as a source of information. For example, a bride may request a specific priest for her wedding. Her pastor may check the clergy list to see if the priest has full faculties. Some priests don’t want to enable those removed to falsely present themselves. They know these guys bring them down and I’m sure they resent the tarnish.

Child safety and victim advocates also routinely check this list to track information.

If a priest has been removed from ministry for any reason, his name is taken off the list. Priests who do not have a clerical assignment remain on the list as long as they have full faculties. Does Father Kolenkiewicz have his full faculties? Maybe not.

The removal of faculties is a bit different than laicization. It means the bishop has removed that priests ability to perform ministry in that diocese, such as celebrating the Mass. This removal can be temporary or permanent. The removal can be specific or general. An example of specific would be if the bishop said the priest could not give homilies but could say Mass. General means that all faculties have been removed. Laicization is decided at the vatican and can be voluntary or involuntary.

Bottom line: Transparency and clericalism issues persist.

 

Mom Gets Kiss-Off; Abusive Priest Gets Great Send-Off

by Kathy Kane

Father John Cannon, an Archdiocese of Philadelphia priest, passed away recently. A traditional obituary was published and, as is custom, a bishop will preside at his funeral Mass. In this case, Bishop Michael Fitzgerald along with other con-celebrants.

John Cannon was a child abuser. He violated the bodies of children. The Archdiocese knew about him since the 1960’s when he abused boys at a summer camp. The group of boys who reported the incidents were believed by other priests. John Cannon even provided a half confession.

They could have gotten rid of him and reported him to the police in 1964. Instead, they implemented the tried and true Archdiocesan parish shuffle. He was assigned as a teacher at an Archdiocesan high school and put in residence at local parishes.

John Cannon was a priest for many years at my childhood parish. I believe he heard my first penance. In October of 1985, my father died and my mother asked him to preside at the funeral because he had graduated in the same high school class as my dad. Cannon called her the day before the funeral and told her he was “suddenly and unexpectedly” called into the Archdiocesan offices. He was worried he wouldn’t be back in time for the Mass.

Another priest filled in but John Cannon did make it back in time.  He was on the altar and then stood in the back of the Church crying as the funeral procession left the Church. It always struck us that he cried at the funeral, at the time we thought it was out of sadness at my father’s death. But that was not the case.

John Cannon was gone from our parish by the time my mother went to drop off a thank you card. He was also pulled from the Archdiocesan high school and reassigned to an all-girls school and a nursing home. A mid-year, overnight switch.

It seems that “sudden and unexpected” meeting he was called to at the Archdiocese must have been very critical. However, you wouldn’t guess that while sitting in the courtroom during the Lynn trial. When evidence regarding Cannon was introduced, there was no information about why he was pulled in 1985 – only evidence from the 1960’s. Did they “lose” those notes? Something triggered another sudden shuffle a full 20 years after the first reports.

John Cannon continued to abuse children after 1964. And the Archdiocese gave him the ability to do so. He lived his final years in the Prayer and Penance program rather than prison where he belonged. His funeral will be celebrated by Bishop Michael Fitzgerald. I have emailed and called Bishop Fitzgerald many times about child safety in the Archdiocese. He has never responded. Not once. I guess a pedophile ranks higher than a concerned mother in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
http://www.bishop-accountability.org/reports/2005_09_21_Philly_GrandJury/Philly_05_26_Cannon.pdf

http://cavanaghfuneralhome.tributes.com/obituary/read/Fr.-John-A.-Cannon-104841518

 

Note from Susan:

The enormity of this coverup hits home when you realize how many lives one abusive parish priest can touch (literally). While I was at work a few years ago, a colleague shared his own story about Father Cannon. As a high school student in South Phildelphia, his friends learned to avoid the priest during summer days swimming at the pool.  He was prone to grabbing their genitals under the water. Because he was a priest and because they assumed he’d say it was an accident, they never told anyone. It didn’t matter. The archdiocese already knew.

The opportunity for this to happen again exists because clericalism continues.

 

Don’t Miss ‘The Keepers’ On Netflix

“The Keepers” is a seven-part documentary series about the unsolved murder of a nun who knew too much about sex abuse in Maryland 50 years ago. It’s now available on Netflix. Click here to read The New York Times review.

Porn Addict to Parochial Vicar

Click here to read: Priest to return after porn investigation but questions remain, Philly.com, May 2017

As Kathy comments in this article, imagine what would happen to an archdiocesan lay employee in the same situation? Would he or she get another good job within administration? No.

In the two most recent cases of archdiocesan embezzlement, the woman was fired and charged while a priest kept his leadership position.

Compare and contrast: Monsignor admits to embezzling $500K to cover gambling debts

Former Philadelphia Archdiocese CFO Gets Prison Term

Clericalism is alive and well. And it still puts our Church at risk.

 

‘The List’ – Watch Here or On WHYY

“The List” tells the hidden story of one of the worst criminal cover-ups in America’s history – the clergy sex abuse scandal in Philadelphia. The victims, hundreds of children whose lives were destroyed. The perpetrators, Catholic priests protected by their church.

Catholics4Change is honored to have been a part of the making of this documentary. It will appear on WHYY, Friday, May 12th at 10:30 pm. You can also view it through this link:

Watch “The List.”

Survivor Leaves Vatican’s Abuse Commission

Click here to read Marie Collins’ first-person account: “Exclusive: Survivor explains decision to leave Vatican’s abuse commission,” by Marie Collins, The National Catholic Reporter, March 1, 2017

Excerpt: “The most significant problem has been reluctance of some members of the Vatican Curia to implement the recommendations of the Commission despite their approval by the pope.”

Another SNAP Leader Steps Down

Click here to read: “Barbara Blaine, leader of priest sex-abuse survivors group, steps down,” by Chicago Tribune Staff, Chicago Tribune, Sunday, February 5, 2017

Excerpt: Barbara Blaine, who also describes herself as a survivor, founded the group in Chicago nearly three decades ago. Her resignation, effective Friday, comes a week after SNAP announced the departure of its national director David Clohessy, effective Dec. 31, 2016.

Both were named in a lawsuit filed in Cook County last month by a former SNAP employee, accusing the leaders of referring potential clients to attorneys in return for financial kickbacks to the group.

But Blaine said her leaving had nothing to do with the suit and “no bearing” on her leaving.

Unsolved Murder: The Nun Who Knew Too Much

Click here to read: “Buried In Baltimore: The Mysterious Murder of a Nun Who Knew Too Much,” by Laura Bassett, Huffington Post, May 27, 2015

Excerpt:

The case remained cold for two decades. Then, in 1994, two women came forward with bombshell accusations against Maskell that tied him to the young nun’s murder. Identified in court documents at the time only as “Jane Doe” and “Jane Roe,” the women accused Maskell of raping them when they were students at Keough….The women were too afraid of Maskell and his old police friends to use their real names back then. But Maskell died in 2001, and Jane Doe and Jane Roe are finally ready to speak out publicly.

Editor’s Note:

This story has ties to Philadelphia. Father Joseph Maskell’s roommate was Father John Carney. His name is also on the list of accused priests and religious in the Baltimore Archdiocese. Carney had served as hospital chaplain at Misericordia Hospital in Philadelphia from 1982 to 1995. In 1991, he was accused of sexually abusing someone in the early 1970s. He denied the allegation. In 1995, he confirmed that his conduct was inappropriate. At that time, the Archdiocese of Baltimore removed his faculties to perform ministry.

David Clohessy Resigns from SNAP

This email just arrived in my mailbox:

We want to share with you that David Clohessy has voluntarily resigned from SNAP effective December 31, 2016.  We are eternally grateful for David’s dedication to SNAP and its mission over the past almost thirty years.  

His passion, his voice, and his kindness have touched us all.  We will miss David and we wish him much happiness.  David will always be a friend and an inspiration to SNAP and its many dedicated and hardworking volunteers.    

Mary Ellen Kruger
Board Chair