What Do You Say?


I spent the day hearing from two sides of the issue on the priests placed on administrative leave.

One side thinks that I haven’t given priests their due process and I’m hurting the Church with this site and my comments to the press.

Another side thinks that by saying a particular priest may only be guilty of boundary issues, I’m harming victims. Please see comments under Benefit of the Doubt post.

What do you say?

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31 Responses to “What Do You Say?”

  1. you are being fair and we all like to think innocent until proven guilty.

    i do not want a priest with any cloud over his head near children! and I would hope the priest would want to be removed & placed on administrative leave.

    • The problem is that you can’t tell the good priests from the bad – the church has made sure of that. The only responsible action for a parent is to keep their children away from all priests.

      Read the Philadelphia Grand Jury report. Many of the pedophile priests were loved by the parents and the community. That’s part of the reason the children never came forward.

  2. To blame you for hurting the church is interestimg. Whatever, bad press, or tainted reputation that comes to our Church, is not the fault of those who are upset and fed up. This refrain is similar to the Catholic bashing excuse. The shame and hurt was brought on by secrecy, non transparency, protecting the church, protecting it’s assets, trying to dodge scandal, being more interested in all of the above than with the truth and openness and real efforts at reform. You are not to blame. When will enough Catholics simply say enough is enough. Clean house. Admit the truth and resign.How deeply would our spiritual life as Catholics be hurt if all of the Bishops resigned tomnorrow? I for one would welcome it. We don’t need them. We’re already running the churhc for all practical matters. The hierarchy just won’t admit it. We need someone to provide us the sacraments. That’s all. Teaching credibility is gone. Keep it up Susan.

  3. I say that using phrases like ‘boundary issues’ is a euphemism which is a tactic to deliberately cast doubt on those priest that were removed. I am not saying they are guilty and I am not saying they are innocent , I am saying that the rcc is less than transparent !

    How about the ‘DUE PROCESS’ that has been denied to the ‘VICTIMS OF SEXUAL ABUSE BY THESE PERPS ?

    That is why the Pa Legislature MUST change to LAW so that EVERYONE is accountable.

    Why is the ‘rcc’ so against changing the Law ? What else are they trying to Hide ?

    You would think that a religious institution that claims to be the only true religion would be champing this legislation rather than opposing it , we need to stop and think is it a religion or a business ?

    When the rcc & rigali who heads the catholic conference of bishops diverts money from the collections to pay for the lobbyists in Harrisburg does that money become Taxable ?

  4. The priests have intentionally hidden all the evidence for years so that the pedophile priests couldn’t be prosecuted. It was a Catholic church strategy to delay until the statue of limitations expired. They will get due process in the court system, but tin the court of public opinion don’t deserve due process from

    The victims need help, support, and backing. The church has plenty of that. The only thing they don’t have on their side is God.

    Anyone who reads the first 6 pages of the grand jury report at http://www.philadelphiadistrictattorney.com/images/Grand_Jury_Report.pdf will be sickened.

    If the Catholic church had any leaders in honestly, they would have every accused priest take a lie detector test immediately to clear their names in the court of public opinion. They would never do that because the overwhelming majority are guilty, and probably are guilty of many more crimes than they’ve been accused of.

    Father Cudemo was called “one of the sickest people I ever knew” by Msgr Molloy (a famous pedophile mover himself), and Cudemo was accused in over 10 cases. Now you have a priest accusing another priest of child rape, so there’s one case where you know one of your priests is a devout liar.

    They all make me completely sick and disgusted. There are far more rapists that will never be found, and I’d be surprised if even a single one of these is innocent. They are all an embarrassment to God and Catholicism.

  5. i would like to know exactly who is saying you are harming the church looking for the truth and i would like to know what exactly is a boundary issue??

  6. Susan, keep up the good work. You are providing a much needed service for those of us who have had our spirits crushed by the hidden filth in our beloved church. Your courage and energy is a blessing. If pedophiles had been removed from the clergy decades ago when all of this was first revealed, we wouldn’t all be suffering like this now. The evildoers would have been in prison instead of hurting more innocent children. I wholeheartedly agree with Dan that any of the hierarchy involved in the coverups should resign and then be prosecuted. It would certainly not be a loss for the church.

  7. It is important to know that many of these priests were already cleared. Bishop Senior and others ran scared and threw the whole bunch under the bus. Those with boundary issues are not pedophiles. Someone from the Archdiocese should speak up, rather than ruin these men. There is a complete lack of moral courage here. Shame on the Cardinal and those working for him, especially Bishop Senior.

    • I agree about the Archdiocese speaking up. But why aren’t those individual priests screaming their innocence (of child sex abuse) from the rooftops? Why aren’t they hiring lawyers and denouncing the Archdiocese in the press and everywhere for not revealing their individual allegations – or at least the category of allegations? Why would they listen when a Bishop tells them to remain silent?

      • One priest in this category spoke to an attorney. He needs a $50,000 retainer, which far exceeds a priest’s budget. Regarding their silence, I am also puzzled. There is a great deal of anger among priests. Why not blow the whole thing open? I think it speaks to the level of disfunction among the priests.

      • My guess is that the good priests are quiet because a) they expect to be exhonerated and b) they do not want to give the media more fuel to throw on the fire as it will further scandalize the Church. The Church’s tradition is to investigate these matters secret in order to protect the accused, the accusers and the Church. A good priest will avoid bringing scandal to the Church at all costs. He will fall on the sword and suffer false accusations, imprisonment and even death because he knows this life is temporary and heaven is forever.

        • Wouldn’t it be far less of a scandal if some of these priests were only accused of boundary issues? Judging by the three grand jury reports and what has happened in Boston, LA and around the world – the Church’s tradition of self investigation has been horrendously unsuccessful. According to the U.S. Catholic Conference’s own statistics, very few are falsely accused. I agree that this life is temporary and heaven is forever. I hope the victims can hold on to that as well.

  8. Here is a letter to Justin Cardinal Rigali on his reaction to grad jury report of 2011

    Your Eminence:

    We have lived for more than five decades in the Philadelphia area and have personally experienced only wonderful parish priests.

    Like many Catholics we were shocked and deeply saddened by the revelations in the past decade of the horror of sexual abuse by a small amount of priests and the systemic abuse of power by many in authority in the Church around the globe. It was certainly not the first scandal in the long history of the Church and we believed that reliance on the guidance of the Holy Spirit would lead the Church on reform and rebuilding. We gave the hierarchy of the Church every benefit of doubt and believed that the Church we continued to support financially, as well as, verbally in the marketplace of public opinion had righted its practices and followed the Dallas norms with precision and urgency.

    We were stunned and appalled to read the details of the new grand jury report. Our trust in the Church hierarchy is more than shaken; it is shattered. We in the pews are unimpressed with the response of hiring a new team of consultants and a new lawyer. We ponder the marginal financial costs of abject institutional sin. We prefer instead some priceless honesty, open communication and complete transparency. The series of conflicting actions publicized by the Archdiocese beginning with the “assurance” press release of Feb 10th and up to the March 8th placement of 21 priests on administrative leave have added to and not diminished our disappointment in Church leadership.

    Page 120 of the grand jury report makes the following plea: “We implore Cardinal Rigali and his staff to review all of the old allegations against currently active priests, and to remove from ministry all of the priests with credible allegations against them.” The exercise in legal semantics to differentiate among terms such as “credible” and “established” when describing allegations of sexual abuse does little to serve a flock that yearns for some straight talk and the whole truth. The removal of priests from public ministry is appropriate as recommended by the grand jury and the Dallas norms when credible allegations of sexual abuse exist. Twenty one priests have been branded equally by the Archdiocese; at the same time that it reports that the 21 cases range from actual allegations of sexual abuse to a nebulously described review of “boundary” issues. No further information is provided to the faithful regarding the nature of each case. To have treated each of the 21 equally is gravely irresponsible. A new victim category has been created; priests for whom there is no allegation of sexual abuse, who have lost their jobs, their homes, their parish network, and reputation. It brings to mind the Salem witch hunts and calls into question the primary purpose of such an irrational and rash decision. What is your plan (or Mrs. Smith’s) to restore the good name of any of the 21 who are exonerated? How will you gather all the feathers tossed in the winds and restore these priests in their rightful places in their parishes? How long will they remain abandoned, in their personal agony in the garden, awaiting your next move?

    We accept that no human institution can exhibit the perfection we can only find in God, but we expect and demand much better than what has been demonstrated in Philadelphia from our Church. Our faith and trust in God is constant. We pray that the Archdiocese re-examines its actions and swiftly amends its course to one that supports all of its victims, innocent youths and innocent priests.

    • John makes great points. I think too many people are forgetting about the fact that the vast majority of priests and religious sisters are incredible people with more courage, selflessness, and faith than most. As such, the innocent priests are just as overwhelmed with the revelations about their ‘brothers’ as we are — probably moreso. They are human and trying to find their way in being both loyal to the Church that they have given up their lives for and the people whom they lead. One other important point…the good priests that I know have so much on their plates (since there are so few priests left to share the normal pastoral duties at a parish) that at the end of the day they barely have time to sleep or eat — let alone go on a crusade against their bishops and leaders. Many of these priests are sickened and angry (just like us!) but they also don’t feel the need to jump and down about being innocent themselves. This is not what the Bible teaches them to do — they are driven by what they need to do for eternal life not by human standards for justice.

      • I agree,there are many good religous priests,nuns and also Catholic school teachers and volunteers.I will never deny the good that the Church has done and continues to do. As someone who has worked in the field of social work,I have encountered many of these people who everyday devote themselves to their mission.
        I guess I go back to the pop culture phrase of “What would Jesus do” I can’t help but feel that Jesus would not be in meetings with Archdiocesan lawyers and PR spokesmen. I feel that Jesus would be speaking out LOUDLY for the protection of children and justice for the victims.
        I hate the fact that in speaking up for wanting my Church to do the right thing,people can interpret that as somehow being “against” the Church.When in reality I feel that is what I learned in 16 years of Catholic education. Speak out against injustice,be compassionate for others who are in pain. Why would it be any differnt within the Church?
        I have encountered so many people who if this situation happened in any other sector of society, would be screaming from the mountain tops with their outrage. But in this situation feel that by speaking out,they are going against the Church. Why?
        Why would people speaking up, have others feel that people are saying there are no good priests? I have never said that,and I never will. If the Archdiocese had properly handled these situations and protected children,we would not even be having these discussions.
        I may be conflicted right now, but if I would be called to Jesus today I do not think that speaking up for children and victims is something that he would admonish me for.
        The Catholic Church has done many wonderful things however the good doesn’t cancel out the bad and likewise the bad doesn’t cancel out the good.I can’t look at the good the Church has done and say that makes up for the horror that has also occurred.It is like when your child may fail a test but tell you that they cleaned their room.The two have nothing to do with each other.
        So I will continue to acknowledge all the good that can come from the Church while actively seeking justice for the victims and protection of the children. Will you?
        I simply do not want one child at risk or abused.I don’t want victims ignored by their Church. The situation can get complicated ,but it is really simple.I want the the Church’s action and words to reflect the Gospel message.Is that to much to ask for?

  9. You are doing the church and the parishoners a great service. We all know what is required for things to get better and so does the hierarchy. They just would rather play games with the victims, parishoners and priests. I mean just tell us what is going on straight out, stop wasting money on lawyers, lobbyists and pr people. Lets get these victims and priests their day in court ( stop fighting the laws ) Lets get it all sorted out, so we can all move on!! If it were not for people like you Susan, we would be simply waiting for the fourth Grand Jury report. At this point I feel as though the hierarchy is more concerned with just about anything other than how we ordinary catholics feel. We want them to give us back our peace, not get us in a war over a topic none of us feel good about.

  10. Without heat-butter won’t melt.
    At present it seems we are doing more harm than good by doing pro-active campaign to eradicate the past wrongs.
    But there is no gain without pain-If Jesus would come back-he woouldn’t have tolerated, what is taking place in his chruch as well.
    By initiating the cleansing act ourselves-we have set a precendent for our critics to remove the log in thier eyes before trying to remove the speck in our eyes.
    May Jesus be our Leading Light-where the sinning clergy admit their sins & ask forgiveness in true spirit of Christ at this time of Lent-& become beacons of purity & light for all the (hu)man-kind.

  11. Susan- you are doing the right thing. The Church needs to reform itself or it will not survive the way it currently runs. Centuries of abuse have caught up to itself. Hierarchy that protects its own criminals instead of innocent children is NOT what Jesus taught. Mansions that cardinals live in and the church spending $3 billion on legal fees for sexual abuse cases is the sign of a corrupt organization. Just think about if this was a political party. There would be a revolution. Think of the great revolutions in history- The French Revolution, the American Revolution. I think of our great words in the Declaration of Independence. “WE THE PEOPLE.” Voices of the Faithful and your site are a representation of just that- WE THE PEOPLE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH. It is suppose to be OUR church but due to hierarchy and covered up scandals it does not feel that way anymore. The lives of innocent children are at stake. Now is the time for all this action. It has gone on too long. It is sickening what some of these priests have done. They are serial. This is institutional. This is unacceptable. This is the time for justice. For reform.

  12. I applaud Susan Matthews. If the Archdiocese hierarchy were really concerned about the “good” priests, of which there are many, they would speak up and resolve this horrible situation as soon as possible.

    • Nancy,

      The only explanation for them not speaking up is that the problem is much, much, much worse than anyone knows. The famous “John Jay report”, paid for by the church, said that 4% of priests were accused pedophiles.

      However, it was paid for by the church, so a lot of truth was hidden. For instance, they did the test over the span of 1970-2002, but included priests ordained in 2001, 2000, et cetera. An independent group would have only included priests that were priests for the whole period, since that would give a more representative number, and those percentages would be 8.2-9.9%

      What’s worse is that more than 50% of normal rapes aren’t reported. Child rapes in the church are reported even less, because the victims are immediately scorned by the church and the Catholic community. Ask any sex therapist, and they will tell you that only 30-40% of their clients come forward. This would put the numbers of pedophile priests at 25-35%

      However, many victims never come forward, and commit suicide or drink and drug themselves to death, taking that dark secret with them.

      The bottom line is that the number is “more than anyone could bear”, and the church will never release it unless we stand up for the truth and for the victims.

      When that happens, the church hierarchy will and should fall, and a completely new hierarchy should emerge, or new churches should sprout up, with leaders that can be trusted.

  13. I’ve been following Catholics 4 Change on Facebook and in the media – good for you and Kathy Kane. When the latest allegations came to light, protesters were storming the streets of Egypt. I’m waiting for Catholics to get that disgusted and rally to take back OUR church from the Cardinals, Bishops and priests who would rather protect the status quo than innocent children. Rigali should be replaced before I, and I think most, will take seriously even more promises of reform. Rome needs to wake up and realize that instead of going away, the seeds of discontent and disillusionment are spreading. We need charismatic leadership and bold action before all that’s left are fond memories and empty churches.

  14. I’ve heard people talk about “boundary issues” here. This is a Catholic euphemism. The grand jury report tells you what the real crimes are, and they are disgusting. For instance, on Page 81,

    “The first time Fr. Gana anally sodomized him, Timmy went home and curled up on
    the floor of the family basement, stunned and terrified by what had happened. Later that summer, Timmy’s mother became convinced he was lactose intolerant because of the milky fluid that sometimes emerged when he sat on the toilet. Father Gana told Timmy that anal sodomy was a part of loving someone. He expected the boy to reciprocate.”

    Are you horrified?
    Imagine living through it.
    Imagine being 13 years old.
    Imagine Fr Gana is 375 pounds.
    Imagine everyone in town sayin ghow nice Fr Gana is.
    Imagine trying to do anything at all after that.

    Timmy then got the guts, and told the church, so they set up a full scale investigation – against Tim. See page 83.

    Read more at http://www.philadelphiadistrictattorney.com/images/Grand_Jury_Report.pdf

    This is an evil institution, and I’ll bet every other city in the world has plenty of similar stories.

    This is probably the most noble fight of our lives, but make sure you understand your opponent.

    Boundary issues.

  15. Susan..I believe God has placed this in
    your heart to do what you are doing to stop
    all this mess. The God i know would not be
    happy that this is going on. It needs to
    stop. All the comments above plus myself are
    supporting you in taking this step to save
    our children. If more people would read the
    grand jury report they would be appalled.
    I just dont get it that so many priests
    were transferred so many times and nothing
    was done about it back then..well now is the time for something to be done..I am
    disgusted with the catholic church right now. My grandaughter who is 17 just got
    her school ring at the cathedral and when
    the priest spoke…all my thoughts were
    COULD HE BE ONE OF THEM…its so sad for
    the good priests. I pray something comes
    out of this website so this will all stop
    God Bless you

  16. Sadly, I do not have much hope that our hierarchy will ever provide us with transparency or give us a voice in our Church. HOWEVER, what so many of you have said so eloquently over and over is that the goal is “TO PROTECT OUR CHILDREN”! If nothing more comes of Susan’s (and everyone’s)efforts than to make even one potential pedophile priest decide it’s “too risky” to do something to a child, then it’s ALL WORTH IT. If this cause makes one priest decide NOT to COVER up but to SPEAK up next time, even if only for for fear of prosecution, then it’s ALL WORTH IT. Hopefully, our efforts will save many children, but even one would be worth it. That child could belong to any one of us.

  17. I understand. Just so others know, you don’t have to friend anyone for the C4C page. You just have to click like. It’s open to the public.

  18. As I read each post, and pray that more catholics get involved even though they cannot face the truth about our church, I am encouraged by the almost 25,000 hits that your web site has had in less than two weeks, Susan. If the numbers continue to increase at that rate; everyone will eventually hear, and hopefully join, the ranks of those who can no longer turn a blind eye. My FB friends are reading and forwarding. Thank you for making this possible.

  19. Donna Marie, Thank you. Could you please ask your Facebook friends to also comment here on the site and pass it along to their own friends, too. That’s how this will take off. I need Catholics to know the people next to them in the pews are just as fed up. I want moms, dads, ccd teachers, pro-lifers, Knights of Columbus, teachers, C.Y.O. coaches, Eucharistic ministers, nuns, diocesan priests, grandmothers, grandfathers, volunteers, Christian Brothers, order priests, victims, advocates – every single Catholic – to know they have a voice here. We love our faith and our children. It’s time to protect both. We can change this. We can eradicate a system that allows child abuse. A loud majority are not willing to shut their eyes and hope this goes away. Thank you for being part of it.

  20. Thank you so much Susan Matthews and Kathy Kane. You give me hope where there was none…. Then I started to think it’s hopeless again… throughout history people who loved the church but demanded it reform itself, eventually had to leave like Martin Luther. How can we expect the cardinal to listen to us when it is obvious he is not listening to the Holy Spirit? The posts like Jackie’s above though help me to focus on the main goal… the children. WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE we CAN make it so there are no more folks enduring what Rich has…whose innocence was murdered, trust betrayed and still treated so poorly. I think Jesus looks down at the Church and shakes His head; thinking THAT IS NOT WHAT I MEANT !!!

  21. Thank You Lauren,people like you give me hope. It is about the children,not one more child,not one more victim,not one more life shattered. Kathy

  22. Reading through the comments, several people mentioned the term “boundary issues”. I recalled an article in the Inquirer a few weeks ago http://articles.philly.com/2011-03-11/news/28680437_1_three-priests-review-board-donna-farrell, where Ana Maria Catanzaro, who heads the eight-person independent review board revealed that the board “…considers only cases involving sexual abuse, not general misconduct or boundary issues, such as a priest striking a child, making a lewd comment, or drinking in front of children.”

    One of the problems that was made apparent in both the 2005 and 2011 report was that what might have appeared to have been an isolated accusation oftentimes turned out to be part of a pattern of abuse or questionable “boundary issues”. A pattern of abuse or boundary issues is important information. With transparency, other unknown victims might come forward, and then a truer assessment of boundary issues may be made.

    I believe that the high level of suspicion of the priests who have been placed on administrative leave is a direct result of the lack of transparency by the diocese, and its history of deceit in handling cases of abuse.

    The diocese must be transparent, and this system must be changed for us to trust in our leaders again.

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