Spin Control in Philadelphia


“Crisis Control in Philadelphia,” by Joan Frawley Desmond, National Catholic Register, May 26, 2011

NCR: “So boundary violations created the discrepancy between the cases in the grand jury report and Cardinal Rigali’s initial insistence that no priests with credible allegations of abuse were still in ministry? That’s why the priests were subsequently suspended?

Mary Achilles: Yes. Gina’s review identified some problems: definitional, evaluative standards, systemic, etc. What she has found to date has been given to the archdiocese’s delegate for investigations, and that is leading us to a new process. The delegate for investigations is attempting to marry the canonical process with what we need to do to comply with local law enforcement.”

Our takeaway question: So if a priest had child porn, was “sexting” or gave kids beer (all boundary issues) it was OK to leave him in ministry?

NCR: The John Jay report last week noted ‘the failure of a significant number of diocesan leaders to comply with their own policies.’ Did that happen in Philadelphia?

Bishop Senior: “We can certainly learn a tremendous amount from that report. I can’t really speak to how it would relate to the archdiocese.”

Our takeaway: Really? Bishop Senior, don’t you mean, “won’t speak to how it would relate to the archdiocese?” “Can’t” implies an impediment.

Kathy Kane made this observation:

They make it  all sound so innocent – just an honest mistake. Below is the brief summary of the case of Father Perzan. Seth Williams identified him as a priest with troubling allegations still in ministry. Cardinal Rigali quickly suspend him a week after the Grand Jury report. Remember that Cardinal Rigali declared that no credibly accused priests remained in ministry at this time. This priest was the pastor of a parish when he was suspended.

“The Archdiocese received two separate complaints from young men who reported that, as boys, they had been fondled on numerous occasions by Father Stephen Perzan when he was assigned as Chaplain at St. Gabriel’s Hall, a residential program for delinquent youth. Despite two similar allegations from two unrelated individuals, despite corroborating evidence from Father Perzan’s superior and from other staff members at St. Gabriel’s, and despite a finding of deception when Father Perzan submitted to a polygraph test, the Archdiocesan Review Board found both allegations “unsubstantiated.”

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9 Responses to “Spin Control in Philadelphia”

  1. The boundary issues that the Archdiocese is currently reviewing,makes it sound like this is brand new unchartered territory.There was a case in the news of a local public school teacher who was found guilty of text messaging students inappropriate and sexually suggestive messages.That teacher was tried in criminal court and sentenced to 2 – 5 years in JAIL.So although this may be new territory for the Archdiocese to now be EXPLORING,these type of boundary issues have been around a long time and are handled by law enforcement.That is if law enforcement has been ALERTED to the situation.

    These type of interviews are just getting more and more ridiculous as time goes on.Just more excuses,more spin.Bishop Senior says they are just priests,not expert sex therapists.The other thing he forgot to mention is that they are also not the police, however they have been acting in that role for too many years and that is what has put children in repeated cases of abuse and at risk.
    Adults who abuse kids – ARRESTED.Adults who show strange behavior around kids-REMOVED.How much more money and training is the AD going to spend on what seems to be common sense to the rest of society?They can create all the policy and programs in order to make everything appear to be improved, however if there is no accountabilty along with those policies,it is not worth the paper it is written on.

    • As for their acountability it will NEVER be apart of their thought process because at any cost they will always preserve the churchs money and power. How much more of their don’t care behavior will it take for catholics to see what is in front of their faces? If you steal from the church you are immediately put out and jailed but if you rape a child you are protected.

  2. Susan: You have their number!

  3. The other misconception is that all of these cases had already been reviewed at one time and the priests had been cleared.Who were they reviewed by? The review board claims to have only seen a very limited amount of the 37 cases referred to by Seth Williams.So who had previously cleared these priests that Gina Smith is now reinvestigating?Cardinal Rigali,the Bishops?Didn’t Bishop Senior just state in the article that Bishops are priests,not sex offender therapists?

    After initially challenging the grand jury’s findings, Cardinal Justin Rigali suspended 21 priests, a controversial action, as these individuals reportedly had already been cleared of charges.

    Read more: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/crisis-control-in-philadelphia/#ixzz1NZFeI6Z6

  4. Let us all be for real. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia not only dropped the ball in the protection of children, but it is incapable of knowing the right from wrong in dealing with people, especially in matters of human sexuality.

    How can an organization so entrenched in a bureaucracy that is based on an incomplete and infantile view of humanity be expected to direct their “employees” in mature behaviors. The bishops don’t get it because they don’t know what normal behavior is.

    Personally, I don’t understand their way of life, but I do believe they are trying to cover up a way of life that most of the people of God would consider “immature” at best. That their way of life translates into danger for our children and our vulnerable adults is what must be stopped.

  5. “The delegate for investigations is attempting to marry the canonical process with what we need to do to comply with local law enforcement.”…..Mary Achilles

    First of all, what the hell does this mean?

    Second, what if you cannot “marry” the two, i.e., they are irreconcilable in that abiding by certain provisions of the canonical process make it impossible to fulfill the mandate imposed by law enforcement, criminal statutes and public reporting requirements?

    Third, will the archdiocesan parishioners be informed of the outcome, the rules and procedures that are developed as a result of this “marriage”?

  6. BISHOP SENIOR:

    “The Church needs the proper competencies to investigate and address victims’ needs and the sexual abuse issue overall.”

    Does this mean that the Church leadership is currently “incompetent” when it comes to managing, reviewing, investigating and taking action regarding sexual abuse/misconduct allegations re certain clergy?

    Bishop Senior, I’ll do my part. I have an extra copy of the PA Crimes Code and after you review the appropriate sexual crimes section, the various offenses as well as the conduct necessary for the specific offense, there will be a pass/fail quiz. Pass, you’re competent; fail, you’re incompetent.

    Wait a minute, you don’t even need to do this. You have William Sasso, Chairman, Stradley and Ronon, and long-time counsel to the archdiocese as well as Cardinal Bevilacqua. Over the past five years, Mr. Sasso has certainly gained a great deal of legal experience reviewing the criminal statutes in PA as they relate to the conduct of archdiocesaan employees and clergy.

  7. Bishop Senior:

    “The Church needs the proper competencies to investigate and address victims’ needs and the sexual abuse issue overall. Bishops are priests; they aren’t sex offender therapists or other kinds of experts. We knew this to some degree before. We were on this learning curve, as other dioceses have been. You need to be listening to the experience of victims and recognizing that the breakdown of trust will make it difficult for people to come forward.”

    After you develop the “proper competencies” Bishop Senior, will the archdiocese then put the safety of the children first? Your comments above indicate that at this late date in 2011, 6 years after the First Grand Jury Report, your archdiocese still does not know how to properly investigate these matters, protect our children and as a result, Bishop Senior, there certainly is a “breakdown of trust”.

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