Chair of the Phila. Archdiocese Review Board Speaks Out

“The Fog of Scandal,” by Ana Maria Catanzaro for Commonweal, May 12, 2011

“This article is my attempt to answer the question being asked by Catholics in Philadelphia and across the nation: What went wrong?”

This is a must-read. Wow!

40 thoughts on “Chair of the Phila. Archdiocese Review Board Speaks Out

  1. Why is everyone surprised at this ? You really expect the arch’d of phila to be forthright ? They (rcc) are a business trying to limit damages and part of this is a Public Relations Campaign to reassure their customers ( pew catholics) that all is well and it is Ok to resume buying their product “SALVATION”!

    Let get real and pass legislation to remove the Statue of Limitations and Open a Window for the Victims,no more “gaseous rhetoric” !!!

  2. Archbishop Rigali already asked to retire……..we need a breath of fresh air and change with a new Archbishop and new statue of limitations……..Ana has alot of common sense solutions now all we need is an Archbishop to listen…..

  3. This is the Watergate of the Catholic Church. This is not more of the same stuff. This is criminality exposed by an insider. This is not speculation but hard facts. It is obstruction of justice. Someone must go to jail behind this revelation.

    I am calling for an independent investigation similar to the Watergate hearings. The Catholic faithful must be informed.

    Participants in these hearings should be a diverse group of faithful laity from all areas of the church, progressives, conservatives etc.

    Finally, hopefully, the national press can cover this as well.

  4. To Ana… thank you for this honest first-hand account of the review board process. The difficulties outlined in this essay lay groundwork for much needed improvement in the way the Archdiocese has handled allegations of abuse and boundary issues, as well as the need to clarify definations of abuse and the need for civil law interpretation of allegations. The recommendations you list at the end of the article are much needed changes.

    A pastoral response is what is needed and expected… those in the pews need that, the innocent priests need that, and the victims and their families need that.

    I agree with Dr. Nick Mazza that this can be the Watergate moment for us.

  5. Bishop Michael Fitzgerald, who oversees the Office of Child and Youth Protection, is also the Founder, Office for Legal Services, Archdiocese of Philadelphia (now Office of General Counsel) 1991 – 2004

    Shortly after the release of the First Grand Jury Report in Sept. 2005, I contacted Msgr. Fitzgerald in his office at St. Charles Seminary in order to find out what happened in the Office for Legal Services during his leadership when allegations of clergy sexual abuse were delivered to his office. After numerous messages and faxes, his assistant informed me that Msgr. Fitzgerald wanted me to know that such allegations of clergy sexual abuse were not handled by his Office for Legal Services.

    I’m sorry, Msgr./Bishop, but your statement is just not believable. At the time of your appointment as Founder of Legal Services in 1991, you were a civil attorney for nearly 20 years. Within the next two years, you will be a civil attorney for 40 years and are responsible for the Office of Child and Youth Protection. With your professional training and experience in legal matters, who else would the Cardinal trust with such potentially devastating legal matters as clergy sexual abuse allegations?

    Why have we had three Grand Jury Reports over this time, arrests of clergy, and the violation of the bodies, minds, and souls of our youngest Catholic parishioners which continues to this day?

    1. Michael
      Thank you for always sharing the research and investigations that you have have been working on for the past few years. The more informed people are,the better they understand the situation we are confronted with at present. Kathy

  6. Canon law puts the age at 16? think a few of the victims are under that!

    These two priests were my heroes until:

    News station tell stories of how our kids are being used as sex slaves and we read of clergy abuse of kids and we still do nothing (not this group and others like it). Read the stories about children used as sex slaves during the Superbowl and then wonder why we don’t have the political will to protect Our children.

    Did my clinical pastoral education in DC during the early 80’s under a “protestant” minister. Found out what real ministry was. Couldn’t go to a Catholic Church – could not find someone who was certified.Was “lucky”, many of the members were ex-catholics. Heard too many stories about their treatment by priests.

    Too many wounded and not enough workers. Too many workers and members abandoned by their Church drained trying to help those wounded.

    Will believe reform when I see it.

    1. Ed: Thanks for your fine sharing. My concern about canon law is that the Catholic faithful and the general public need to be protected by US criminal law. The church can not and should not be allowed to operate under canon law when individuals have been criminally abused in our country.

      Again, we have been mislead by the local church. We were under the impression that credible cases of child sex abuse by clergy we now going directly to the prosecutor. In fact, they (archdiocesan officials including the bishops, priests, monsignors and canons) were applying the more loosely intrepretations of the canons and giving a pass to criminals, their priest’s buddys.

      Who are they trying to trick? They have openly lied. Isn’t that against one of the commandments? Resignations are required. Change the Church.

      How can they lead us when they have no regard for the safety of innocent children? Someone needs to get very mad.

  7. Beth you stated, “Archbishop Rigali already asked to retire.” This is another factor that points once again to Rome. It’s Ben 16’s fault; Rigali would be gone today if he ordered it. That’s why it going to be so interesting to see if Atty. Jeff Anderson’s law suits directed at the Holy See have any effect.

    Dr. Nick, in order to have any punch the the national press will have to cover this. Frontline, 20/20, or 60 mins. would be particularly helpful.

    1. Yes……I didn’t realize til recently he asked to retire alittle while now and the Pope does nothing……..leads you to think….he likes his job performance if you can even call it that…….I was up late thinking about all this and if I didn’t have a few encounters with Christ thru the Catholic Church I could not go to mass anymore. If I did not try to change things I would have to leave……but where do you go……..?

      1. Beth you said, “I could not go to mass anymore. If I did not try to change things I would have to leave……but where do you go……..?”

        I understand; where do you go? This is an issue for me, and I suspect for a number of other Catholics as well.

        I am trying to change things and been for 15 years, so I’m not optimistic. My efforts started in the seminary when I blew the whistle on a pedophile priest. He is now in prison.

        As I have mentioned before, I would go to the Orthodox Church in America today, if it were not for my wife. All of their sacraments are valid, and the RCC acknowledges their validity.

        I hold most of the RC bishops (including the Bishop of Rome) in disdain. As you may have read, Amnesty International recently placed the Vatican on their list of countries guilty of violating human rights. The Holy See’s crimes against humanity of course involve the sexual abuse of children.

  8. “Three promoters of justice (canon lawyers) were appointed by the archdiocese to help us interpret the charter and the norms. After the 2005 grand-jury report, a civil attorney employed by the archdiocese also began attending meetings.”

    This paragraph in Ms. Catanzaro’s article says it all. First, we have “promoters of justice” aka “canon lawyers”. Can anyone say, OXYMORON? Second, an archdiocesan civil attorney began to attend meetings — for what purpose, end or objective? Did this archdiocesan attorney provide legal counsel to the “promoters of justice”? Finally, was a “child advocate” ever designated to attend any of the meetings of the Review Board?

    Latin, the ancient language dear to the hearts and minds of archdiocesan religious leadership, says it all: “Falsus in uno, Falsus in omnibus.” This certainly is not what they preach (to the faithful), but it sure is what they (archdiocesan leadership) practice !

  9. To quote Edmund Burke:


    Thank you to all of the good women and men with the courage to bring this evil to light. THIS is what Jesus would do.

    1. Love that saying. Here’s another applicable one:

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

  10. Ana Maria Catanzaro was derelict in her duties. Like others, she treated bishops as friends she was fortunate enough to hang around with. Instead, she should have treated them the way the police treat criminals, being suspicious of everything they said and did, since there was historically a ridiculous amount of evidence supporting the fact that they are an organization that hid child rape for decades.

    The investigating body should contain investigators and victims, not members of the congregation. Fortunately, society isn’t stupid enough to let the mafia investigate the mafia. Catholics get indignant when you use that analogy, but its so clear to me that the bishops are worse than the mafia. The mafia never raped children, and if the mafia found out that one member did, they’d kill them that day, and that rapist would never rape again.

    The Catholic church is now an organized crime body where the crime is child rape, and they hide it with a voracity that makes them inhuman. If they were Christians, they’d at least help the victims after the fact. They don’t do any of this.

    God is the boss – not Rigali or Bevilaqua. In fact, they may be the “false prophets” that God was talking about. They could not have been worse at their jobs, hiding child rape and lying about child rape.

    In the future, others will look at the judgement of the Catholic congregation and wonder what kind of people would tolerate child rape and do nothing about it. They will laugh at the arrogance of the “one, holy and apostolic church”, and the only pathway to heaven. They will laugh as Catholics say, “other than tolerating child rape, we do some really good things”. So do child rapists, and nobody listens to them.

    1. Patrick: Ana Marie Catanzaro, like most of us, trusted in our church leadership. Her eyes were opened when they stabbed her in the back. Thank God she took the brave step she did and exposed them for who they are.

      For that I applaud her.

      1. Dr. NM,

        I understand, but I think that “the faithful” have taken far too long to take this seriously. “The faithful” are supposed to have faith in God, and not in the priests and bishops that disgraced God.

        At this point, they shouldn’t get the benefit of the doubt. I doubt any of them are innocent at this point – they either committed the crimes, or they knew about it, or they hid it.

        They should be treated accordingly.

    1. I agree the way they treated the victims during the abuse was terrrible but after……is beyond understanding and it lead many to despair………

      1. Dr. NM,

        They don’t read the blogs, but everybody will notice if some people protest in front of your biggest church.


        Why doesn’t the Catholic congregation realize that this Catholic church doesn’t practice Catholicism?

  11. I think what could have been a defining moment in the future of child protection in the Philadelphia Archdiocese was lost by Ana Catanzaro and her fellow review board members listing the improvements as as “recommendations”. They should have been listed as “demands”.
    If the Archdiocese refused these actions,then the review board should resign and hold a news conference alerting everyone to the lack of cooperation from Archdiocesan leadership.”Recommendations” is to weak a term to be used when it applies to actions that can protect children. If the review board is serious about wanting to protect children,they will not cross the threshold of 222 N.17th st until their “demands” are met.
    I believe that Ms. Catanzaro and her fellow board members were duped,but now with their eyes wide open they need to take control.Don’t ask for recommendations to met.Demand change.

    1. Amen, Kathy Kane.

      That whole board should be removed and replaced with the victims of Catholic child rape or their family members.

      The legacy of that board is that they were sot on child rape.

      The legacy of the Catholic church will be

      1) committing over 100,000 child rapes
      2) lying about it
      3) and ignoring the victims.

      In a decade, try telling someone about those 3 things, and then try telling them about all the good things that the Catholic church does. See when they stop listening…

  12. Patrick I think your question “why doesn’t the catholic congregation realize that this catholic church doen’t practice catholicism?” is extremely important… hits on the heart of the problem with precision. I think if they did then you would have the uproar and the outrage that is needed to spur the changes that are desperately needed to salvage the church we love. As in any situation there are many reasons… we have been taught by a corrupt generation of church leadership so we might be duped into thinking their brand of catholicism is correct, basic ignorance, shallow faith of the laity, convience of looking the other way…….it’s easier not to become involved, not personally knowing a victim, an unwillingness to take a second look and dig deeper into the horror of the abuse…….I also see people who are upset and just leave the church thinking they are powerless…..lack of connection of people who are outraged…….some people are outraged and don’t know where to go…..that’s why this site is so important…….I also think that forming groups at each church is a good idea but many pastors are afraid of these forming so even outraged parishners have no place to meet,vent and discuss necessary changes. I think building awareness thru Ads etc is a great idea also word of mouth. You would be surprised how many educated people don’t read the paper and have no idea what is going on….ironically in this information age.Discussion and meeting as a physical body I think will move things along…..I believe from what Kathy was saying this is now happening……It’s like Poland before the government fell…….they were unhappy with the government but they felt isolated…… a sense of community and common purpose and they were unstoppable……..these are just a few of my thoughts ………

  13. Beth,

    In Egypt and Libya, people are risking their lives every day to fight for freedom.

    The Catholic congregation can’t get 20 people to risk a couple of hours to fight for victims of child rape against a Catholic church that doesn’t practice the religion.

    It’s like they think they need the approval of bishops instead of God.

    1. Patrick. I hear you. There were not as many people at the Vigil as I would have liked to have seen but more than when I was there before. I do think we had at least 20. I need to follow up on a few things and then maybe we will have your 40..50 men and woman………

  14. I believe that varying the location of the vigil/protest may bring positive results and more intense media coverage. For example, I would recommend that an occasional vigil/protest be scheduled at a location where a member of senior archdiocesan management, either lay or clergy, resides or conducts business. As with any other peaceful, legitimate protest, such an event must be coordinated with local government officials and law enforcement responsible for that particular area.

    Even though I have not participated in the 222 N. 17th St. vigils, I think that advocacy must seek out different, unique and, yes, unpredictable avenues of bringing attention and focus to this critical issue of the protection of our children. It has always been my belief that individuals, not organizations, are responsible for this horrific conduct and decision-making and I believe that these same individuals should be held accountable for their actions through new and vibrant methods of advocacy.

    Individuals, lay or clergy in senior management, who have facilitated, abetted, covered-up and ignored documented instances of criminal sexual abuse should indeed be held PUBLICLY accountable. Advocacy does not need lawyers and courtrooms to bring the unethical, un-Christian and despicable conduct and decision-making of certain archdiocesan leaders to the attention of the public in and around the Delaware Valley.

  15. I agree.Also varying time and day. Fri. at 12 is a week day to many and it may be hard to reach the city for some.

  16. drwho13
    You could go to the Orthodox church……I just got an email though from someone that made me cry……it told me what I needed to hear and I knew was true but needed to be reminded of….. we are all the Body of Christ even if part of that body is wounded or there are possible Judas popes, bishops or priests in out midst……that was the jist of the email……the answer is there is no where to go if you truly believe what Jesus taught….. that means we need to stay and fight for the “Body of Christ” and his church on earth especially for the part that is wounded……what would have happened if Peter said I give up it’s is too hard or if Paul said I am tired of being jailed, shipwrecked and beaten…. Today our martyerdom might not be physical but measured by mental, emotional and and spiritual endurance ……wish it was easier but Christ never promised it would be easy…….he just said come follow me and take up your cross……….I am taking mine up for love of him………Ever watch the movie “Amazing Grace” it took the man 30 or 40yrs to stop slavery and Michael you would be happy to hear they stopped slavery in England by thinking “outside the box”

    1. No one has been asked to risk less for their martyrdom than the people who step up for this cause.

      It’s easy, it’s a no-brainer, but most Catholics still won’t do it.

      However, it will hit a tipping point where everyone will finally say, “Wait. I get it. Child rape is bad. Lying is bad. God wouldn’t want me to listen to priests and bishops if they rape children and lie.”

      When it hits the tipping point, things will change quickly, and everyone will wonder what took so long.

      1. Patrick this was in response to drwho13 earlier blog asking” where do you go if you leave the catholic church?” Organizing a protest is easy……restoring the church to what Christ wants it to be is the hard part. Patrick just out of curiosty have you left the catholic church?……..or do you go to mass that is the part I struggle with. Attending a church that is not what it should be…..which we already touched on earlier…..but please share your thoughts on this………

      2. Yes Patrick, “Child rape is bad. Lying is bad. God wouldn’t want me to listen to priests and bishops if they rape children and lie.”

        I can no longer tolerate the leadership of the RCC.

    2. Beth,

      Understood, the position you cite is my wife’s position, so I choose to remain a RC. However, I have seen so much evil; for so long, my heart has grown cold to the RCC. In that respect, I have no more left to give, and no heart to receive what the RCC is offering in terms of their leadership. I have no problem with the sacraments.

      At 8 this morning I will be sitting in that pew with my wife; but it is as if my cadaver is in the pew, my spirit has left. So, I guess I am De facto (in practice, without lawful authority) Orthodox, yet De jure (in law) still RC.

      Nonetheless, I will continue to try to correct the wrongs within the RCC. I do not like to see evil go unchallenged. Have you seen the TV show “What Would You Do?”

      1. I feel the same way lately…….then I try to focus on Jesus and he renews me. I am involved in a catholic Bible study and that helps too……….I do look at those around me and the priest sometimes and am like do they really know the depth of the pain of the victims? If they did I would see them at the Vigil that’s were Jesus would be and yes I understand the evil…….I was horrified by what I saw and felt I went to hell a few times realizing the sense of abandonment victims felt and feel……they never had a chance with these Evil people…..I even felt Satan presence a few times (with his offender)the only thing that made Satan leave was the Blessed sacrament………believe me I was laying flat on the floor in church in front of Jesus a few times fighting evil…….it really is spiritual warfare……..the people in church must have thought I was nuts but………everthing line up perfectly and he when to jail and alot of weird stuff happened and I know it was Jesus not coincidence…….

    3. Beth,

      Restoring the Catholic church is easy, and I have a simple solution.

      Start a new church – worshiping in garages, gymnasiums, warehouses, or whatever you can find.

      “Whenever two or more are gathered in my name, I am there.” -Jesus

      See if God cares how beautiful your building and your real estate is when you worship.

      If you can get a woman priest, let them hold the services, since NOTHING in the bible prevents that. The anti-woman-priests decision was made by the same Catholic church organization that hid child rape. Women are less likely to rape children, and will probably be more nurturing of the victims.

      Do the same service. Give people a choice

      1) the church that raped children, lied about it, and ignored the victims
      2) the church that worships God, doesn’t rape children, doesn’t lie, doesn’t ignore victims, and fights for those poor children that were raped on the other church

      Simple solution. Requires 2 people. Google women priests Philadelphia and ask one of them to perform some service. Its more honest than the one in that other church.

      People don’t seem to understand this, but God isn’t stupid. He will love the people in church #2. That church will also fill more each week. This is how it started a long time ago when it was much harder to do. Eventually contributions will come in to pay minimal amounts for rent and “vow of poverty” salaries for women priests.

      Now, please tell me what is wrong with my plan.

  17. Here’s an idea for a plan, but it may make some people mad:

    – Protest in front of the biggest church before the most popular mass
    – Have signs that say

    Priest raped children
    Bishops and Cardinals lied
    What Would You Do?

    – talk to anyone that will listen
    – have printouts of the first 6 pages of the Grand jury report, probably shrunk down to a page
    – 2 minutes before mass, go into mass and sit in the first few rows
    – when they pass the collection plate, STAND UP, and don’t donate
    – if people ask, say you are “standing up” for the victims of child rape
    – when the priest asks you to sit down, remain standing. This isn’t Libya. You aren’t going to get shot.

    This would get the word to the congregation that doesn’t use the internet. It would scare the leaders into some action.

    You’re so afraid, and I don’t understand why. You’re fighting against child rapists and liars that don’t practice your religion, yet they are running your church.

    Besides the fact that you are too scared to do it, tell me one thing that is wrong with this plan.

    1. God love you Patrick ………..I don’t see anything wrong with your plan……I would actually like to get the ball rolling I know Susan and Kathy have been working on some things and hopefully will fill us in soon……….

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