Reading Between the Lines of the Parish Bulletin Insert


We read between the lines and hope you will, too. Please see our comments in blue. Archdiocesan bulletin insert text is in black.

Moving Forward In Faith

This is the first in a series of periodic bulletin inserts developed by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to provide information to parishioners. Each bulletin insert will focus on action steps the Archdiocese has taken to assist victims, advance the protection of children, and ensure the integrity of the Priesthood.

 We counted two action steps

1- the hiring of Gina Maisto Smith and her team to review allegations.

2- the hiring of a delegate for investigations.

There are 10 other immediate steps Church leadership could easily take for victims, children and priests. See related post. How long should we wait? Will action only be “periodic” like the inserts?

 

Information About Priests Placed on Administrative Leave:

· Cardinal Rigali has placed a number of priests on administrative leave over the last several weeks following the recommendations of Mrs. Gina Maisto Smith, a former Child Abuse prosecutor hired to assist the Archdiocese in responding to the Grand Jury Report. These administrative leaves are interim measures pending a fuller investigation of each case. They are neither judgments nor final determinations.

What happened to the promised zero-tolerance after the 2005 grand jury report? Why didn’t all cases go to the review board? Why did it take until now to remove those priests for investigation?

· In order to reach her recommendations, Mrs. Smith conducted an initial administrative review of files through the lens of the current Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Act, the Pennsylvania Crimes Code, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, and the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s responsibility to protect children.

The Act, Code and Bishops guidelines have been in existence. Why were they not used as a “lens” prior to this?

· The complaints in these cases range from potential boundary issues as outlined in the Archdiocesan Standards of Ministerial Behavior (http://bit.ly/AOPministerialstandards) to allegations of sexual abuse. As such, it would be unfair to paint all priests currently on administrative leave with the same broad brush.

Then why not share the category of each allegation for each priest to remove that broad brush stroke? Why is there a legal disclaimer leading into the Standards? This isn’t present on other U.S. Diocesan Web sites.

· While on administrative leave priests do not reside in a parish nor participate in any parish or school activities and they may not exercise their priestly ministry publicly (say Mass or administer the Sacraments). They may wear clerical attire.

· Out of respect for those most affected by this situation, the Archdiocese cannot discuss the details of these cases. As an active investigation is moving forward, it would be inappropriate and unfair to those parties to share further information as no judgment or determination has been reached.

Who are those most affected? Most victims want information disclosed to the public so other victims may find the strength to come forward and children are protected.

· The administrative review process has moved into the fuller investigation phase which includes, among many components, an examination of each case by a multi-disciplinary team.

· Members of the multi-disciplinary team possess a variety of competencies, which add to the thoroughness of the administrative review. Members include a forensic psychiatrist with expertise in the assessment of victims and perpetrators of sexual abuse, a psychologist with expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of sex offenders, a pediatrician with expertise in child sexual abuse, and two veteran sex crimes investigators.

Are members of this team being paid as consultants or as full-time employees of the Archdiocese?

· Although we cannot predict the timing with certainty, we are hopeful that the administrative review will be complete within 6 to 9 months. What is most important is that each case receives the attention it deserves.

The Archdiocese hired Gina Maisto Smith only after the Grand Jury report revealed the Archdiocese had allowed credibly accused priests to remain in ministry with access to children. It seems to have taken a public outing to get the most basic action.

· As the review of each case is completed, and if it is determined that a priest will return to active ministry, a decision regarding his assignment will be made at that time.

Will parishioners at their assignments be given info as to what the allegations were and access to the review teams findings?

 

Information About Those Indicted:

· Consistent with its policies, the Archdiocese itself reported to law enforcement the allegations of sexual abuse that led to the Grand Jury investigation.

 So the Archdiocesan leadership follows some policies and not others. Why?

· These indictments are related to the investigation of sexual abuse allegations that are alleged to have occurred in the late 1990s.

· It is not the purview of the Church to publicly discuss the workings of the criminal justice system or make comments regarding ongoing criminal prosecution.

· The Archdiocese is not paying legal fees for defendants charged with sexual assault of a minor.

 But is the Archdiocese paying for the legal fees of those accused of boundary issues?

· The Archdiocese is paying for legal counsel for Monsignor William Lynn as the charges against him relate to the position he held. Those legal fees are being paid from unrestricted funds in reserve for use at the discretion of the Archbishop. These funds come to the Archdiocese through unrestricted bequests or the sale of Archdiocesan property and not from parish collections, the Catholic Charities Appeal, nor from the Heritage of Faith—Vision of Hope Capital Campaign.

Aside from Msgr. Lynn’s legal fees, how does the Archdiocese pay for its own ongoing legal counsel? What property will be sold? Will How are the salaries of the Smith’s team, Mary Achilles and the new Deputy of Investigations being paid?

 

Information About The Delegate for Investigations:

· The Delegate for Investigations is a new position created by Cardinal Rigali on February 16, 2011. The Cardinal has appointed to this position Mr. Al Toczydlowski, a former Deputy District Attorney with over 30 years of experience in the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office.

· With Mr. Toczydlowski’s appointment, all investigations are now separate and distinct from the Victim Assistance Office.

Will the Victim Assistance Office be moved to an independent source.

· The Delegate for Investigations is now the point of contact for all complaints of misconduct—ranging from potential boundary issues to allegations of sexual abuse. He is responsible for reporting all such complaints and allegations to law enforcement and other appropriate authorities.

Does point of contact mean there is a direct hotline number to Toczydlowski? Does that mean he will only share information with the D.A? Who is his supervisor? A delegate, by definition, he is an agent those who employ him.

· The delegate will oversee and facilitate all aspects of Archdiocesan investigations from receipt of a complaint through examination by the Archdiocesan Review Board to the presentation of a recommendation to the Archbishop.

So we need to trust the Archbishop will act on the recommendation. Sounds like we are right back where we started.

For continuing updates and additional background information visit

www.archphila.org

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4 Responses to “Reading Between the Lines of the Parish Bulletin Insert”

  1. “Consistent with its policies the Archdiocese itself reported the allegations of sexual abuse that lead to the Grand Jury investigation”
    A bunch of “legalize” How about consistent with its moral obligation the Archdiocese reported the allegations. But they would never say that,they would rather act from a legal standpoint than moral obligation. More of the same,nothing new in this “insert”

  2. Members of the multi-disciplinary team possess a variety of competencies……

    The only competencies that matter with respect to the protection of our children are integrity, candor, honesty and compassion.

    And, even those such items seem in short supply at the leadership level ever since the release of the 1st Grand Jury Report in September 2005, the best part is such qualities require no special training or expertise…….just adherence to the teachings of Jesus Christ.

  3. Susan, When I try to get to the site describing “potential boundary issues” ( Archdiocesan Standards of Ministerial Behavior) an Error pops up. Thank you for any help.

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