‘Duped’ Pastor Urges Cardinal to Meet With the Faithful


Click here to see the letter – MMR-

Msgr. John T. Conway, pastor of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer in North Wales, also sent a letter to Cardinal Rigali. In it, he urges Cardinal Rigali to visit the Montgomery County area faithful. Conway wrote the letter after a March 28 meeting with parishioners. The gathering was called to discuss the appearance of his name in the 2005 Grand Jury report in relation to his role as regional vicar. (He is not accused of abuse.) He explained to parishioners that he was asked to help place priests without being told of their history of sexual abuse.

In the letter he writes that it made him “angry as hell” and that he felt “duped” when he found out the truth. “On behalf of the suffering Catholics of this area, and at their request, I am asking you to arrange to meet with your people and speak with them heart-to-heart about regaining the trust of their bishop. I know you cannot visit each parish of the Archdiocese, but please schedule a time to come to the Montgomery County area to assure us that our children will be safe as clergy are reassigned to our parishes in the future.”

Sources tell me the Cardinal declined his offer and Conway was issued the equivalent of a summons to the principal’s office by Bishop Timothy Senior, Aux. Bishop of Philadelphia.

It’s interesting to note that the parish stationary includes the prayer, “Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, help us share in the work of redemption.”

Read another story on this in today’s Montgomery County Intelligence on PhillyBurbs.com.

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37 Responses to “‘Duped’ Pastor Urges Cardinal to Meet With the Faithful”

  1. Finally, a Priest who feels that he has been lied to as well and wants the Cardinal to come and speak to his Parish. We need more Priests like this to come forward and speak out.

  2. Bishop Senior is from Montgomery County- so why can’t he come out an speak to the hurting faithful? Will he choose to be part of the problem- the cover up, the silence? Or part of the solution- honesty, apology, a promise of change? I hope he is calling Msgr. Conway in to commend his honesty and to make plans for the Cardial’s visit.

  3. Out of 100,000 priests in the United States, one is finally speaking out about the way that all of the others have allowed children to be raped. And he gets called into the principal’s office.

    Catholics have completely lost perspective. Here’s perspective. God is the boss, not Rigali. If Rigali (and his predecessor Bevilacqua) enabled child rape in the community, you don’s ask them to please come to a meeting. You TELL them to come to a meeting because that’s what God would want. You make them accountable for their recklessness, and you remove them from their jobs if they were derelict in their duties.

    You stand up for the children that were raped, and you show your own children that you have some guts to do the right thing. You aren’t fighting tanks in Tiananmen Square. You are fighting against unarmed Cardinals that have done the devil’s work – they lied about child rape, and they put further children in danger.

    Stand up like an American. Stand up like one of God’s followers, because when you die someday, He’s going to ask you what you did. Here’s your current excuse: “well, I thought I should be respectful of the cardinals even though they clearly expressed no concern for children that were raped by priests”. That excuse is going to sound pretty stupid when you’re waiting in line to get into heaven.

    Who do you think is the boss here?

  4. Cardinal Rigali and others Church leaders in similar situations, never agree to such meetings. They simply will not be able to address the questions that the people ask, without implicating themselves, and further damaging the Church’s image.

    For clarity, here is a parallel example. In court, when a lawyer knows that his client is guilty, the defendant is almost always advised NOT to take the stand in his own defense. There’s just too great a chance that they will say the wrong thing, and the case will be lost.

    Cardinal Rigali is too well advised to make such a mistake. He will never show-up in a forum where the people and the press can freely ask him questions publicly.

    Every statement made by Rigali is carefully crafted by all the experts at his disposal before being made public.

    Remember Tony Hayward the CEO of BP? As you know, he’s now the former CEO. Hayward became a PR person’s Worst Nightmare when he stated, “I want my life back.” The public response was, “WHAT ABOUT THE LIVES OF THE VICTIMS?

    Rigali could meet the same end by publicly dialoging with the press and the public. You’re never going to see him outside of carefully orchestrated events.

    Remember, Rigali is first the Church’s CEO, not the People’s Shepard. His primary interest is not that of the abuse victims. His function is to protect the image of the Church, and you can be sure that Ben XVI is watching every move he makes.

    • Then why not just get your spiritual advice from the CEO of BP?

      The point is that the church values its reputation and money over children. Children that they raped. And lied about. And then ignored.

      And if that’s your church, go do charity work for an hour on Sunday instead and worship at home.

      • I might just as well get my spiritual advice from the CEO of BP; it would likely be of equal value to that which a Prince of the Church would provide. Holiness plays little role in climbing the Church’s corporate ladder.

        As for worshiping at home, I do exactly that. Physically occupying a pew for an hour in a RCC on Sunday is my charity work; it makes my wife happy. I have de facto left the Church when I left seminary a decade ago.

        I do not not contribute anything to the collection. My money goes to causes that account to me for how it is used.

  5. Thank you Patrick. You took my thoughts and put them in words better then I ever could.

    Where is the outrage? I barely see it.
    Where are the voices? Barely a whisper.

    Why? Because we continue to be rule following Catholics, sitting quietly in our pews, praying yes, but quietly. Praying (again) that our leaders will do the right thing.

    SHAME ON ME. SHAME ON ALL OF US FOR LETTING THIS CONTINUE. MAY GOD SHOW US MERCY.

  6. Marge:

    I believe that Bishop Senior, Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, would be an ideal substitute/candidate (in place of the Cardinal) to address the faithful at Mary, Mother of the Redeemer parish for the following reasons:

    1) Timothy Senior was born in North Wales, Pennsylvania (Msgr. John T. Conway, is pastor of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer in North Wales)

    2) In 2004, Senior was named Archdiocesan Vicar for Clergy by Justin Cardinal Rigal (responsibility for clergy in the parishes)

    3) Bishop Senior pursued full-time graduate studies at Boston College, where he received a Master’s in Social Work and Master’s in Business Administration in 1992. (Boston College – a Catholic Jesuit university which follows the Ignatian imperative of “man for others” – of course, in this context, it is “man for children”)

    4) Currently, in the organizational structure of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, Bishop Senior is responsible for the Office of General Counsel, the in-house legal resource for the archdiocese. (Bishop Senior has oversight re the legal policies, procedures, etc. issued from the Office of General Counsel).

  7. It is a good sign when our parish priests begin to speak up. It is a slow beginning, but, it is a beginning. While I completely feel the same anger and outrage that the poster, Patrick O’Malley, feels, I am not sure he understands the Catholic Church’s system. I would agree that we must tell the Cardinal that he must send someone within the diocesian hierarchy to speak to each local parish, I also understand that it is not the parishes which control the “hiring and firing” of cardinals and bishops. These are papal appointments.
    Much of the anger comes from our own failure as parents in blindly trusting authority. For that we are all culpable. The very best we can do as parents, aunts, uncles and caregivers of our children is to be relentless in demanding complete accountability. You keep the pressure on by keeping this topic in the public eye. However, we are Americans, as O’Malley suggests, and Americans get bored easily and soon enough, we tire of hearing about the “bad news” and we are soon off to the next windmill. So, care must be taken not to allow the Cardinal and others let this topic “play itself out.” You see, that is what they have done in the past. The Church has counted on the “Americans” to do what we do best… get riled up and then tire of the fight! I am only stating past experiences. My one hope is that we stand up like Catholics not just Americans!

    • I grew up Catholic, and spent 12 years in Catholic schools, so I know the whole drill.

      I know laws, and structure, and people who think they know “the greater good”.

      I also know that there is a basic right and wrong, and you’re going to answer to God for what YOU did or didn’t do. Every Catholic is going to die and go the pearly gates, and God is going to be surrounded by over 100,000 children that were raped by priests. He’s going to ask you what you did in the biggest, most obvious test of your life.

      You’ll start with the first excuse, “It happens everywhere”. He’ll say, “I don’t care”. You’ll say, “the bishops told me what to do”. He’ll say, “They aren’t up here. I have a special place for them. They disgraced Me, and all of my children.”

      When you start with the excuses, He’ll bring out the DVD of your life.

      He’ll show you your cowardice. He’ll show you their lives, one by one. Raped at age 10. In shame for something that wasn’t their fault. Suppressed by a powerful church. He’ll show you walking by them, as they begged for help. You didn’t want to make the bishop mad. You had to go watch the Sixers game. You walked by for years.

      God’s children.

      Go read the Grand Jury report. You’ll get to see those stories 100,000 times in eternity. THAT’S your hell. No blazing fire. Remember, eternity is a long time.

      The good news is that your hell is better than the bishop’s hell.

      God’s smarter than you think.

  8. Again we the Faithful are presented with the facts that those who run the Church are more like oil company executives than spritual leaders. Those who are still in the pews and those who still cherish their church are looking to their priests and bishops as spiritual leaders and mentors. Many believe that their parish is the source of truly holy men and that the scandals have no place in their world. Please God, the spritual growth of such parishes will continue and will flourish.

  9. the response of the cardinal or lack of speaks volumes! Now catholics are waking up to who these so called shepards are! Again all they want from the parishioner is pray, pay and obey like good little sheep who by the way are pretty stupid.

  10. I have to agree with Patrick. It is far past time to ask members of the hierarchy to come and assure anyone that their children are safe. The only possible encounter of value would be one in which they acknowledge their catastrophic failures and beg for forgiveness. I don’t see an encounter like that in the near future but if I’m wrong, I’d be happy to admit it.

  11. “Sources tell me the Cardinal declined his offer and Conway was issued the equivalent of a summons to the principal’s office by Bishop Timothy Senior, Aux. Bishop of Philadelphia.”

    I would like to known when Conway’s command appearance before Senior is scheduled to take place? Immediately or after Easter?

    Will Conway share the results of that meeting with his parishioners or will he cease and desist under orders? That has been a pattern with clergy who speak out. They’re told what to say and how to say it.

    Sister Maureen

    • I heard that the meeting already took place. If I had to place money on what transpired – cease and desist. It will be interesting to see how Msgr. moves forward.

      • If Msgr. John T. Conway is in anyway silenced, I would assume that he was in someway threatened and intimidated.

        That’s where the laypeople come in. The people need to stand up for a brave priest. Pressure needs to applied to Rigali, e.g., demand a press conference, camp-out in front of the chancery, etc.

        If we want priests to stand up to these THUGS, then we have an obligation to stand-by them when they do!

        God forbid that we leave Msgr. Conway twisting in the wind if Rigali attempts to intimidate him in anyway.

  12. Sorry, but I don’t want the archdiocese to send “someone”. I want the guy in the red hat to show up, but since he is more of a lawyer than a shepherd, he won’t ever show up. I was present at the meeting with Msgr. Conway and am very proud of his courageous stand. We told him that we would back him up if he refused a transfer of any priest unless he could view the priest’s personnel file and know for certain that there were no complaints against him. I don’t see Msgr. ceasing and desisting; he was very upset that he was duped.

  13. Holy Thursday – beautiful example in that Jesus models for each of us the role of “Servant Leader.” There’s no way to visualize Jesus in the costly outer garments of Rigali. Jesus washed feet in service.

    Rigali most resembles Judas in the betrayal of the people he is called to serve. It’s more about money than the victims, or innocent children, or us.

    Thank you, Susan, for your courage to continue. God help us all.

  14. I have followed this for years now and I hate to say it but nothing will ever be accomplished. This website is amazing and I love the job that Susan is doing but the diocese is just too powerful. I love the idea of newspaper ads to put pressure on them but I feel as though Rigali loves the idea of people focusing on him. I believe he is still here to take all the best punches then as the fight comes out of the masses, he will be removed to a nice position in Rome and a new bishop without any blood on his hands will be put in place. I firmly believe that if we really want answers that we would be better served to place ads in papers that target the church’s enablers. Rep. Thomas R. Caltagirone (D., Berks) is a bought man, if we put ads ( which would be cheaper ) in the Reading Eagle blasting him for a few weeks, he might not be so nice to the lobbyist. The same goes for Rep. Ron Marsico (R., Dauphin), the new leader of the Judiciary committee. These two men block hearings and I find it to be absolutely rediculous. We have now had 3 Grand Jury reports, spanning almost decade between the first and the last, on systematic child sex abuse and cover up within an organization that is powerful enough to get away with it. How the heck can the legislator not hold hearings. I am telling you now the only way rigali ( tired of capitalizing his name ) responds to anything at all is if his enablers in Harrisburg start feeling major pressure- at that point his lobbyist group will report back that he had better do something. Trust me he listens to them. My donation for whatever you chose to do with it is coming next week as well as members of my family. Thanks for listening!

    • Dave you stated, “I hate to say it but nothing will ever be accomplished.” “…the diocese is just too powerful.” I hate to say it but I believe you’re right. It would be like me stepping into the ring with Mohammad Ali back in the day. Nonetheless, there’s just something gratifying about being in there.

      As it has been widely reported, “Pope Benedict XVI bestowed a special honor on Philadelphia Archbishop Cardinal Justin Rigali, asking him to represent the pontiff at a special church celebration in the Czech Republic in June.” He obviously likes his performance in Philadelphia.

      So, as far as Rigali being moved to a nice position in Rome, he’s certainly seems to be packing his bags.

      I can see it now, Ben XVI welcoming Rigalli to Vatican City: Ben replies, “Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!”

  15. Dave,

    You mentioned Rep. Thomas R. Caltagirone (D., Berks) as “a bought man.”

    I can’t speak to that but I was shocked a few years back when Caltagirone, a “good Catholic” as far as I know, was quoted in the media as saying that victims of sexual abuse (and I think he was speaking specifically of the now adult victims of clergy sexual abuse) were only in it for the money.

    He then went on advocating for better laws to protect dogs and cats.

    I love animals but Caltagirone’s hardness of heart and his lack of humanity regarding victims of childhood sexual abuse (by anyone) is very disturbing to me as a human being and as a Catholic.

    What I do expect of Pennsylvania legislators is that do much praying and reflecting on this issue during these Holy Days and what is left of this month of April, CHILD ABUSE AWARENESS MONTH.

    All victims of CHILDHOOD SEXUAL ABUSE should be able to access the justice that is supposed to be the right of everyone.

    Support PA House Bills 832 & 878 removing all SOLs criminally and civilly going forward and provide a two year civil window for previously time barred cases of sexual abuse, by anyone.

    Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
    Victims’ Advocate
    maturlishmdsnd@yahoo.com

  16. I’ll add a little more perspective and tough love.

    You aren’t being asked to stand alone against Hitler in Nazi Germany.

    NOTHING bad can happen to you. God gives everyone tests, and this is yours. He never gave anyone an easier test. You are all so afraid. Its so hard.

    Stand outside Mass on Easter Sunday and protest. Tell the news to be there – they will. Convince people that it’s not ok that priests raped children and church leaders lied about it. And still do.

    Make them read the first 6 pages of the Grand Jury report at
    http://www.philadelphiadistrictattorney.com/images/Grand_Jury_Report.pdf

    God is going to judge you. Not Hitler. Not the Cardinal.

    God cares about what you did for children that were raped and leaders that disgraced His church. He cares just as much if you did nothing. God isn’t stupid, and won’t accept your excuse just because the excuse was good enough for you. God hates passive wimps who had an opportunity to do the right thing.

    If I wasn’t 10 hours away, I’d drive downfor Easter Sunday. Instead, I donated to your cause. Sunday, I’m driving 70 minutes to New Hampshire to protest a bishop that moved known pedophiles to rape over 100 children. I’ll get yelled at and spit on by people who don’t oppose child rape and lying from their church. God will smile, even though he knows I’m not exactly fighting Hitler.

    If I die Monday, I’m comfortable going to see God, who won’t accept stupid or lazy excuses.

  17. “Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” -Margaret Mead

  18. Msgr. John T. Conway has answered the question “What would Jesus do”! If the big bad Aux Bishop gives you a lot grief tell him to “man up” or maybe the term here should be “Jesus Up”… Finally, we the people have someone from the clergy willing to take a stand with us. Now it is time for rest of priests to take notice of your actions. Msgr. Conway, you are my hero this week!

  19. I am impressed with Monsignor Conway’s direct approach. There are a lot of angry priests out there. The are guilty by association. They have been blatantly disrespected by their supposed leadership. Troubling to me, is the gossip and labeling surrounding the letter Monsignor sent, by folks who work for the Archdiocese. it continues to be a troubled place.

  20. Dear Msgr Conway-

    I would like to come meet you because you are a courageous and honest man who seems to “get it” and understand what is going on in our church today. I read yesterday your letter to the cardinal and the corresponding commentary on the website Susan has begun.

    What you did in bringing your parish together is what every parish should be doing but unfortunately just the opposite is happening. We are all being stonewalled by deafening silence which is so typical of this diocese. The Cardinal should be demanding that every parish hold such a meeting.

    Is it true that Senior called you in? If so we would like to know. That is shameful. What you did was certainly in your purview as a Pastor to bring your people together. Everything is about protecting the church instead of speaking the truth.

    The difference between the way you are handling this situation and the way our parish is handling it, St. Cyril’s in Jamison is more than night and day. It’s shameful. Silence is the name of the game. Push it under the rug.

    I am very pleased with your action. Thank you for your honesty and your willingness to stand up to the powers. You represent us. We need your voice. Because our church which so many of us love for the right reasons is crumbling around us and most seem to be oblivious. Please stand your ground. Don’t give in. Tell us how we can help.

    Please call me at any time at 215 896 6649. I would love to chat with you.

    Peace
    Dan Rackers

  21. We should all organize and go to his church for a few Sundays. It would be nice to sit in church where the Pastor has some backbone. What a great message it would send if it was standing room only at his church on Sundays.

    • I would think that it would be a much, much bigger message if you stood outside the bishops or cardinal’s church before mass with a sign saying “We want everyone to tell the Cardinal how he should have dealt with priests raping children”.

      Talk to everyone that goes by. See who supports the Cardinal.

      You aren’t fighting Hitler in Nazi Germany. What is everyone so afraid of?

    • Dave, Great idea. You and another reader prompted the latest post and the next off line Catholics4Change gathering. I like the positive message this sends to other priests. Thank you.

  22. I am not surprised that Msgr. Conway spoke out. I worked with him when he was a “young priest” just arriving at Stella Maris in South Philly. His deep spiritual presence, great sense of community, cooperation with our great school, the teachers, kids, etc…. not just their all important spiritual guidance, but also, academic, service to the parish in the CYO, and his all around genial and great sense of humor. This is a priest whom I call, “another Christ.”

    • JUST STOP PUTTING MONEY IN THE BASKET–NOT JUST AT MMR BUT THE WHOLE ARCHDIOCES –THEN RIGALI AND HIS HENCHMAN WILL RESPOND–AND WHY ARE WE PAYING FOR LYNNS DEFENSE–DONT KNOW IF CONWAY IS GUILTY OR NOT BUT HE SURE MUST HAVE STRUCK A NERVE– AND IF SENIOR IS FROM THE AREA HE SHOULD HAVE MORE SENSE OR IS HE JUST ANOTHER PUPPET–NO MORE CASH UNTIL ANSWERS–OH AND CONWAY HAVE ANOTHER MEETING AND THIS TIME TELL PEOPLE–ENOUGH IS ENOUGH–CLIMB DOWN RIGALI WE OWE YOU NOTHING

  23. Joe is correct — starve the beast and stop giving them money. If you want to donate to causes you believe in, find another outlet. Personally I have no faith the money I’d be putting in a church collection isn’t going to defend child molesters, and there’s nothing they could say at this point to make me believe otherwise. The Church has proven multiple times over multiple years that they are far more interested in covering up, sweeping under, and paying off then they are addressing the crimes that have been committed. It’s pathetic and criminal. I’m a Christian but I no longer call myself a Catholic. I go to church because it’s important to my wife and because she wants that for our children, but I’d rather find another house of worship, one where I don’t sit in a pew and every Sunday look up and wonder, did this guy rape the altar boy to his left and does Church leadership know about it but do nothing? Sorry, I know the idea of this site is to rally around change and I applaud Susan for her efforts, but when the devil on my back is the whole of the church, this kid is leaving for another dance hall.

    • BONO – I’m with you all the way. I also go to church because it’s important to my wife. Personally, I like the Orthodox Church of America (OCA.) All their sacraments are valid, and the RCC acknowledges that fact.

      On the rare occasion that a pedophile is uncovered in the OCA, he’s out the door, no cover-up that I am aware of. It just seem to be a much healthier Church, from my knowledge of it.

  24. Bono & drwho13,

    I wish more of the congregation would walk to another church, and certainly stop donating money.

    The modern Catholic church has proven, over ten thousands of times in the US alone, that they

    1) raped children
    2) lied about it or covered it up
    3) ignored the victims

    What does it take for people to realize that this isn’t God’s church? What does God have to do?

  25. I just don’t understand. How can anyone continue to attend mass and contribute money when the archdiocese has done the devils work? Certainly, God would not allow children to be raped inside HIS Church. This simply cannot be the Church of God. It just can’t be. This scandal reaches all the way to Rome and to the Pope. Every where the same story, all over the world, the same story. Please, if you love Jesus, do not give these evil men the money that they will use to defend themselves from the punishment they deserve on earth. Give your donations to the survivors of abuse network. Do some good, or God will judge you as being in conspiracy with these demons. Keep your children away from this Church and it’s evil schools. Certainly, none of you can claim you didn’t know what would happen to them. The parents of abused children trusted the priests and the Church, certainly you know better by now. If you turn a blind eye, you are responsible too.

  26. Very, very, well said Joanne. This is a test in intelligence and conscience, and the remaining Catholic faithful appear to have none of either.

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