Catholic Accountability Project Forming Parish Groups Now

by Margaret Reif, for the Catholic Accountability Project, Guest Blogger

People have been asking what is going on and what needs to be done.

When an accusation is made, it’s often long beyond the statute of limitations. Charges can’t be filed, so our children’s safety is dependent on the Archdiocesan investigation of the claims.

IF they find the allegations credible, they send the priests for treatment at St. John Vianney, where there is no strict supervision. In many cases, they are moved to another parish after their treatment only to “re-offend.”

Those found to be a real problem are either “retired” at Villa St. Joseph in Darby (again without supervision) or simply “laicized” — cut loose with a payoff (in Avery’s case, $87,000) — and sent out to live among us as neighbors, teachers, coaches, etc.

Because charges are never filed, known child abusers are not required to register in accordance with Megan’s Law. If the statute of limitations were eliminated, we would no longer need to worry about having known child abusers living among us. Church officials are lobbying against these bills (HB 832/878) saying it has nothing to do with justice, but rather about money. We disagree.

The Archdiocesan Web site admits to having laicized 20 abusive priests, but when I asked Mary Achilles where they were, she said they “didn’t know.”

That is unacceptable.

There is much to do to protect our children, but it’s not going to be done by individuals. It’s only going to be accomplished if we all speak up together with one voice and demand change.

We have been communicating with various parishes in the area and working to form groups around the Archdiocese so we CAN speak up with one voice.

Please join us tomorrow for a Downingtown-area meeting if you are interested in learning more.

Please RSVP via the contact form at: so we can properly plan for space and give you location details.

17 thoughts on “Catholic Accountability Project Forming Parish Groups Now

  1. I went to a meeting this group held a few weeks ago.If anyone has the opportunity to attend the meeting on May 3rd I would highly encourage them. This group is very informed,proactive and passionate about the crisis in the Archdiocese. They have done a lot of groundwork,made many connections and have alot to offer. You can either rsvp to the site posted above or directly to Margaret at

  2. How about this idea, which would take a small number of people who think its more important to do what’s right even if it means getting your church leaders mad at you.

    Go after Rigali.

    Pressure the District Attorney to go after him for reckless endangerment of children, and a handful of other charges that could be prosecuted under the RICO act. According to the New York Times at, he told the congregation that “there were no credibly accused priests” in the diocese, even though he had read the Grand Jury report from 2003.

    Then, when the Grand Jury report became public, he suspended 21, then 37 priests. If you didn’t read the grand jury report, read the first 6 pages at

    If you read those 6 pages and you don’t think Rigali endangered children by leaving those priests in front of children, you aren’t fit to be a parent, and you are a cowardly Catholic.

    God chose Philadelphia to help Him clean out his church. He gave you Rigali. He gave you 37 pedophiles, and there are a lot more. Rigali is shutting everybody up, including you. God & I don’t understand why.

    The DA isn’t going to prosecute if those few thousand Catholics that remain are going to vote him out next year. However, if you convince the DA and the congregation that he is fighting someone who clearly, obviously lied to thousands of church goers about the safety of their children against known child rapists, then everyone is fighting for justice.

    Do the right thing because you’re a parent or because you’re a Catholic or because it’s the right thing. If you don’t, make up a really good story for St Peter. Maybe he doesn’t care about child rape either.

  3. Just did some research, and found out that your Philadelphia DA, R Seth Williams, “is also proud to serve on the boards of … the Catholic Social Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, St. Cyprian Catholic Church”, so now you get to see if he is also afraid to prosecute the Cardinal. Send him a public letter, and tell him that if he delays, and someone eventually prosecutes Rigali (which WILL happen someday), you’ll make sure everyone remembers the letter.

    You should also go after Cardinal Bevilacqua, who was at least as bad as Rigali, if you read the grand jury report. I don’t care if he’s in a hospital bed.

    Those kids that were raped deserve to have some gutsy Christians fighting for them.

  4. Margaret.
    I need to correct a mistake you made in quoting me. My answer of “i do not know where they are” was to a question regarding laicized priest. I was not responding to where those who are living in the Prayer and Pennance program. They are in Darby at the program site.
    Mary Achilles

  5. I am aware of where the priests in the “Prayer and Pennance Program” are…and I am also aware of the fact that they aren’t supervised beyond signing in and out as they freely come and go…but that wasn’t what we were talking about that day.

    I asked you where the laicized priests were.

    I did not make a mistake in quoting you…
    I said in my note that…”The Archdiocesan Web site admits to having laicized 20 abusive priests, but when I asked Mary Achilles where they were, she said they “didn’t know.””

    You’ve been in this business a long time, Mary…you know the abuse isn’t going to stop just because they are defrocked.

    Please tell me…how can I feel my children are safe when you/Cardinal Rigali are sending KNOWN pedophiles out into the public without ANY supervision??

  6. It is incomprehensible to me that priests who are known pedophiles and are in Archdiocesan “treatment programs” can just come and go as they please with a simple sign in, sign out procedure. Does this happen at St. John Vianney which is within footsteps of an Archdiocesan HS and many child oriented shops and venues including Chuck E Cheese and a bowling alley? Where is the common sense? There seems to be no regard for the protection of children either in the Church or in the community.

    1. Jackie,
      Sorry to say even with convicted child molesters this happens. We put a predator in jail last year and he is already out on parole for good behavior……….that’s because there were no kids in jail!!!!!!!!!!!! Anyway I saw him at Starbucks in a middleclass neighborhood on a bench having coffee and when he saw me he got up and left……..because the crime happened so long ago he is not even on megans list because the law did not exist when he did his crime. We are still suffering and he is out with friends having coffee……..Again because he committed his crime awhile ago the laws at the time of the crime were used which were not that strict they have since changed. He has parole for life and once a week group therapy which by the way I hear he hates……..never let your kids out of your eyesight there are pedophiles walking down the grocery aisles…….I know.

  7. After possibly scaring you with the reality of pedophiles walking around free……. I just want you to know that most pedophiles are not”snatch and grab” many are “groomers” looking for the kid that can keep secrets, the good quiet kid, the kid thats father abandoned him or is from a single parent home ,the kid no one is watching out for, the vulernable kid with disabilites or lots of siblings. They look for trusting kids with parents that are busy or going thru a crisis……lots of times they offer to help the parent or parents out by keeping the kid busy. So be aware and teach your child to trust their gut and tell an adult etc.

  8. Beth you make some very valid points. This is why the Pa. house bills are so important to ALL children.
    I agree that most sex crimes against children are not the “snatch and grab” but rather involve the grooming that you speak of.It seems some however can be be rather random.
    I know that Megan Kanka the 7 year old who the Megan’s Law was named after lived across the street from 3 convicted sex offenders. She was riding her bike when the one man asked her if she would like to come into the house to see a new puppy,she was raped and murdered. It seems that it was a rather random violent act,it doesn’t seem that this child had any type of neighborly relationship with the offender. He was living in the neighborhood and she probably felt safe entering a neighbor’s home.
    Pedophiles live everywhere,no community is 100% safe for any children. However the communities where priests are living a life of “prayer and repentacte” with the only supervision is signing in an out of the facility,are obviously in a precarious situation. How many priests are living in the “prayer and repentance” program and St Joseph’s Villa? 5,10,15,20? How could any families in that local area not be concerned about a disproportionate rate of child sex abusers living among them? It is a scary thought.
    I read an article about a priest in another state who was also living in this type of program and went on to commit more sex crimes against children.I will try to locate that article and provide a link.

  9. I agree with you Kathy that is alot of offenders in one place I would not feel safe near them with kids. I just want people to understand how lax the old laws were in general and they were not what we thought but at least someone is checking up on him with parole and yes I can’t wait til the laws are changed and improved. This crime against children was never taken seriously til recently. That is why I want people to understand you can’t take for granted that things will take care of themselves and that we all have to get involved.

  10. Absolutely Beth,agree with everything you stated.We do all have to get involved,there is still so much that needs to be done to protect the children.
    I am still searching for the article I referenced. These few examples point out some of the concerns that Margaret stated.
    Some priests who were laicized go on to continue patterns of abuse.One priest who had previously been convicted, was found to be receiving child pornography while residing in a church run facility.

    A former Philadelphia priest (Joseph Macanga) who was working as a teacher in Lumberton, N.J. was arrested on child porn charges. The FBI seized his computer last fall after an agent found him in an Internet chat room used by pedophiles. He had more than 300 images of child pornography were on his computer. Evidence showed that he had accessed nearly 30 chat rooms with names like “baby&toddlerlove.”

    A former Louisiana priest (Gilbert Gauthe) was arrested in Texas for refusing to register as a sex offender so that his neighbors were unaware of his criminal conviction. He was the very first serial pedophile priest to ever generate national headlines back in the early 1980s.

    Last year:

    A Delaware priest (Francis G. DeLuca) who’d secretly been barred from ministry in 1993 for child molestation pled guilty to sexually abusing a Syracuse boy from 2002 to 2005. He was later sentenced to 60 days in prison and six years probation. Several new lawsuits have been involving allegations against him have been filed in 2008.

    Other recent similar cases:

    In 2005, a Wisconsin priest (David Malsch) who was previously convicted of a sex crime involving a child, pled guilty to receiving child porn in the mail while living at a church facility in Missouri. Nearly 30 images of child porn were discovered in his room by federal investigators in 2003.In 1993 he had been convicted of child enticement in Wisconsin. (

    In 2005, an Iowa priest (James Janssen) was caught attending a training session for adoptive foster parents, holding himself out as an authority on troubled teenagers. The year before the Davenport Diocese paid a combined $9 million to his 38 victims. (In January 2008, he was sentenced to six months in jail for hiding assets and faces perjury charges stemming from charges that he fraudulently transferred his wealth to family after being sued for child molestation.)

    In 2004, a Wisconsin priest (Raymond H. Bornbach) was suspended for credible allegations that he’d molested a nine-year-old girl in 1971. Six months later he was caught molesting an elderly woman at a nursing home.

    In 2003, St. Louis priest (Joseph R. Ross) was arrested in Arkansas and cited for ‘loitering for deviant sex.’ Years before, he had at least two prior sex offense arrests and another accusation of sexual misconduct, according to police reports. In 1988 he pleaded guilty of sexually molesting an 11-year-old boy during confession.

    In 2002, a Worchester priest (Joseph A. Coonan) was removed from active ministry for molesting Oxford children years earlier. Twice since then he has been arrested for allegedly beating up his elderly mother and sister, though no charges were filed.

    SNAP – Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
    PO Box 6416 Chicago IL 60680
    David Clohessy 314 566 9790

    Barbara Blaine 312 399 4747

    Barbara Dorris 314 862 7688

    1. We now know molesters can not be cured just treated and basically kept in line and away from children. If not in treatment and away from children they will offend again. What molesters do is a crime and a sin because it destroys the intergrity of the victim’s soul,body and mind.

  11. Mary Achilles

    I just had a question about laptops are the priests in the “prayer and penance program” allowed to have them and if so are they randomly checked? This seems to be common sense as child porn is all over the internet and alot more predators are meeting their victims online. Is this a voluntary measure you have implemented I ask because paroled offenders are required to do this or not have a laptop and also they can have random lie detector tests also. I believe this helps the priest who is ill and also keeps kids safer.

  12. Beth,

    The priests in the “prayer and penance” program come and go and are simply required to sign in and out, state where they are going and with whom. They agree never to be around children without another adult present. All of this is done on the “honor system” (because they have shown themselves to be such upstanding citizens, they ARE priests, afterall).

    I am going to venture a guess that their computer use is not monitored, but will make some calls and see what we can find out about that.

    What concerns me, though, is that at least these priests agreed to abide by these rules! …the ones that wouldn’t agree were laicized. ugh…

    1. They should have been excommunicated when they chose to be laicized rather than abide by the so-called “rules.” At least send a message that this is not acceptable within our religion.

  13. This is a very important topic. Kathy Kane, great links to the incidents posted at BishopAccountability. We should all thank God every day for a site such as BishopAccountability which provides an invaluable resource, historically and chronologically of these horrific crimes against our children, their spirits and their families.

    Another uphill battle for sure. “Catholic (Leadership) Accountability”

    When you take out your home Webster dictionary, you will find the phrase “Catholic Leadership Accountability” as the primary example listed for the word “oxymoron”.

  14. Mary,

    I’m still interested in a direct answer to the question Margaret left for you May 6. I think all of us with children, in Catholic schools or not, would like an answer to this. I consider it a matter of public safety. Does the Archdiocese think this isn’t relevant information? Or do you just not know? You were able to respond when you thought you were being misquoted. I think for the many concerned parents out there, we deserve a response to where these people are at the very least. Since the Archdiocese hasn’t been very forthcoming with much information, maybe this would be a good place to start. Trust is earned, not given.

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