Prosecutors’ Prophetic 2006 Letter Begged Cardinal to Consider His Conscience


In July of 2006, Maureen McCartney and Mariana Sorenson, two prosecutors assigned to the 2005 Philadelphia grand jury investigation wrote Cardinal Rigali a letter foreshadowing the 2011 Grand Jury Report.

“We are writing to you as private citizens and advocates of legislative reform because we are alarmed by the message – propagated by Church lobbyists and echoed in legislative chambers and New York Times advertisements – that the Church has fixed the problem. Surely, when you consult your conscience rather than lawyers or public relations advisers, you must know that the problem of sexual predators in the priesthood is not fixed in Philadelphia….”

In 2011 – Still relying on lawyers and p.r. specialists.

“…On December 5, 2005, the Philadelphia Archdiocese declared on its website that it would support some of the grand jury’s legislative proposals, significantly including the elimination of the statute of limitations for the criminal prosecution of child abusers. That appeared to be a positive step, but has proved meaningless. It is meaningless as long as the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, which you head, refuses to lend its support – or worse, if it is quietly opposing the bills, as we have been told. We are confident that if the Pennsylvania bishops backed the five criminal law bills now pending in the legislature, they would pass immediately and with little opposition….”

In 2011 – Still not supporting legislation (and working against it).

“…Abuse victims have asked for good-faith gestures, such as those undertaken by Cardinal O’Malley in Boston – for example, selling the Cardinal’s mansion, opening financial records, and apologizing for the hierarchy’s actions – that would show with deeds as well as words that the Church accepts accountability and is sorry for what happened….”

In 2011 – Abuse victims still waiting.

“….Anyone can do the arithmetic: at least 169 priests accused in Archdiocese files, 121 of them Archdiocesan priests – and only 57 accounted for on the Archdiocese website (17 laicized, 12 dead, 21 in prayer and penance, and 7 pending before the Holy See).  The result, evidently enough, is that many of the accused priests named in Archdiocese files but not in the report must still be in ministry (unless there has been an unusually high death rate among accused priests). Because the Archdiocese refused the grand jury’s request for copies of interviews conducted by the Review Board’s investigator, we cannot know the basis on which the board failed to recommend that these priests be removed from ministry. Monsignor Lynn, the Review Board investigator, and the grand jurors all said that they found credible almost all of the allegations they heard against priests. The Archdiocese trumpets its new policies and programs aimed at preventing childhood sexual abuse. But it is troubling – and telling – that the Church has not revealed the names of many accused priests or explained why it has evidently kept them in ministry.

In 2011 another Grand Jury Report released. Some priests finally removed. How many sexually abusive priests still remain in ministry?

Please note that Mary Achilles, Victims Advocate and Msgr. Timothy Senior, Secretary for Clergy were copied on their letter.

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29 Responses to “Prosecutors’ Prophetic 2006 Letter Begged Cardinal to Consider His Conscience”

  1. This from the 2011 Grand Jury Report

    Part way through the Grand Jury’s investigation of the rape and molestation allegations brought by Billy and Mark, we learned something that surprised us. Karen Becker, the director of the Office of Child and Youth Protection, testified that the Archdiocese does not always remove priests from their assignments, pending investigation, when they are accused of sexually assaulting minors. That revelation led to a question: How many priests have been left in ministry – either temporarily or permanently – after the Philadelphia Archdiocese received
    allegations that they had sexually abused children?

    Ms. Becker did not know off-hand how many accused priests have stayed in ministry, but she assured us she could get that information for the Grand Jury. After Ms. Becker testified, the Grand Jury issued a subpoena asking the Archdiocese for the names of all priests who remained in ministry after January 1, 2005, after being accused of improper behavior with minors. In addition, the subpoena requested that the Archdiocese provide all abuse reports against those priests. Ms. Becker testified more than four months ago, on September 3, 2010. Yet the Archdiocese still has not fully complied with the Grand Jury’s subpoena.

  2. First, the ‘dallas charter for the protection of children’ does not apply to religious order priests. Second there are two creditably abused religious order members, one is ‘charles newman’ currently in custody for stealing one million dollars from archbishop ryan high school and the other is ‘brother regis howitz’ neither have been removed from ministry nor are they listed on the arch’d of phila web site. Along with being the ‘greatest salesmen in the world I believe it would also be fair to bestow on them the tittle ‘ greatest liars’ in the world. Nothing will change until the Law Changes, hopefully the Legislators in Harrisburg will realize this and pass the two pending legislative bills. This conduct and PR will continue as long as the laws remain the same as the ‘rcc’ will continue to employ the best law firms and PR firms that the ‘faithfuls’ money can by, you want an end to this then CHANGE THE LAWS AND HOLD EVERYONE AND ANYONE ACCOUNTABLE PERIOD !

  3. Wow! This is some of the most damning information I’ve seen on the deception and hypocrisy still being practiced by the hierarchy of the archdiocese. If we, and other members of the clergy and laity, do not take action, count on another Grand Jury report in 2015.

  4. Perhaps the only thing we can do now is to lobby our representatives. Telephone, write letters, email, and do it again and again.

    The RCC will not changed because they do not understand the need for change. They really do not get it. All of the blather and obfuscating should tell us that they really think the rules do not apply to them. Somehow they think they are above the law.

    • There is a lot more that you can do. – you can stand in front of the biggest Philadelphia church and protest on Sunday just before the most popular mass.

      Get the rest of the congregation to learn what the church has been hiding. Do it relentlessly. Do it like you were fighting an organized crime unit that committed child rape and hid it. That IS what they are.

      God wants you to fight the current leaders of the church. He couldn’t have made it more obvious or easier. God isn’t asking you to fight Saddam Hussein in Iraq. There is no downside for you, except that you might be disliked by people who protect child rapists.

      When you die, and God asks you about this (unless you think God is stupid and will forget), and your place for eternity is being determined, what answer will you give?

      God will make it simple for you – “What did you do to defend and protect God’s children that were raped in the Catholic church?” God will also stun you with the obvious statement – the Catholic church in the year 2011 wasn’t God’s church.

      Cardinal Rigali won’t be there to defend you. Let me say the truth that will make a lot of you hate me – Rigali is doing the work of the devil. God couldn’t make that clearer. Rigali knew that children were raped in his church, and Rigali made no effort to protect them. He still break’s God’s rules defiantly – lying, distorting the truth, ignoring the victims.

      Pick a side – either side with God and the children or with Rigali and the devil. God will know what side you picked, and you will be accountable for eternity. And if you sit at home and do nothing, you are on Rigali’s side, and God isn’t stupid enough to let you off the hook because you were lazy or gutless.

  5. What I cannot understand is how the employees of the Office of Child and Youth Protection could know that there were abusive priests in ministry and not speak out.All the efforts they put into victim assistance is like bailing out a sinking boat with a bucket with a hole in it.
    Can you imagine working with victims knowing there were still priests in ministry who could be abusing children?
    Many of the employees who work in that area are social workers or have related degrees.The thing that was constantly repeated to me in college and grad school in my social work courses was to “know who your client is”.If I am a social worker in a hospital,even though the hospital is paying my salary, my client is the patient.If I am a social worker in a school ,and an employee of the school district,the student is my client.It doesn’t matter who your employer is,your allegiance and efforts are focused on the needs of your client.
    With what I have read in the Grand Jury report it seems that the Office of Child and Youth Protection was operating as the Archdiocese being their client,not the children or the victims.Knowing “who your client is” is basic Social Work 101.
    As a social worker, am I going to work for an organization that was still putting children at risk by leaving abusive priest in ministry? That answer is “No” because the children would be my clients.

    • Kathy, I have those same thoughts everyday. I cannot understand how one can continue to work at CSS. I worked at CSS agencies for several years. Are people working to improve this situation from the inside?

      “The sexually abusing priests were bad enough – the diocesan cover-up is 100 times worse.”

      • I know that obviously with all that has gone wrong, the Archdiocese has hired new staff along with the existing employees to try to improve the situation.Nothing will change however if the staff views the Arcdhiocese as their client.
        There are so many issues that play into this:clericalism,Canon Law,lack of transparency by the Archdiocese.
        The victims and children are the client,not the Archdiocese.All of the advocacy,efforts and work needs to be directed towards the needs/best interest of the victims and children. Will that happen?

        Even after the 2005 grand jury report the victim assistance was often meeting the needs of the Archdiocese.I know that is supposed to be changing but why has it taken yet another Grand Jury report? As for the safety of the children currently in the Archdiocesan system-there are many policies in place,but little accountability.

  6. Only one workable solution—stop donating to the church and encourage a campaign to expand this solution to a wider number of Catholics.

    This is not wishful thinking. An effective campaign to withhold donations will surely get the attention of the hierarchy.

    • I would love not to donate weekly to the church and redirect the “charitable contribution” elsewhere….The problem is that I have kids both in catholic grade school and high school. If you don’t contribute a specific amount each year, your tuition goes up drasticly. I cannot afford this! I feel like I am between a rock and a hard place.

      • Sue you bring up a great point,many are obligated to the weekly donations if their children are attending Catholic school.
        The other factor is the reality that many people will not with hold their contributions. Even if 30% of the laity in Philadelphia agreed to stop donating,the Archdiocese would simply work around that. The Catholic Standard & Times on their website has an online survey. The questions they ask are specifically about the crisis impacting people’s involvement and contributions. I believe it is around 50% that have answered that the current crisis will not effect their participation or donations.
        This survey was posted just 2 weeks into the current crisis.The Archdiocese is already planning on how to reorganize based on people’s continued or lack of further commitment. As long as there are “sheep” they will lead that flock,even if the flock is smaller in size.
        The only real hope is changing the legislature concerning the statute of limitations and supporting the efforts of law enforcement.

      • Here’s some tough love:

        Sorry, Sue, but I don’t see the rock and the hard place.

        The worst thing that happens is that you take your kids out of Catholic school, which is what you would do anyways if you really committed to fighting against child rape and it’s cover up by this church. I’ve said this before, and every Catholic sheep hates it, but this is an organized crime unit that committed child rape and continues to defiantly cover it up. The article above is more proof.

        If you wanted to do God’s work, you’d tell the church that you are taking your children out of the Catholic school for that reason, and God would be proud of you. So would your children.

        Some day your children will look back on this and evaluate what you did. Some day, probably in their teens, they will read that Philadelphia Grand Jury report, see the horrifying things this church did to children, see how they continued to cover it up. They will see what their mother was up against, and see how hard she fought. Or how passively she fought.

        They will see how this church made a mockery of the Catholic religion, raping children, lying about it, and ignoring the victims. Your children will realize that the Catholic church doesn’t practice the religion.

        There isn’t a much better cause to fight for than the fight against child rapists and the people that protect them. Its even worse if those people wear priest outfits and Cardinal outfits. History is being written, and your children will read it. The honest version will be on the Internet, since the honest version won’t be taught in Catholic schools.

      • Patrick, I do hear what you are saying, I do believe what you are saying! But I feel that I have no other alternatives! I live in the city and the public school system scares the life out of me. We are unable to leave the city (oh i wish i could) because my husband is a city employee. I need my children to receive a good education without the daily fear of violence. I know of many families that feel the same way….as soon as the kids are out of high school, not a penny more will be given to the church.

      • If you want to support your local parish and not the archdiocese I was told by a reliable source that if you state on your check parish use only and not to be sent to the diocese they keep your money in the parish otherwise a certain percentage goes to the archdiocese.

      • I see the rock and the hard place. Protect your kids. God bless you, You are struggling with the need to show you don’t support this abuse and protecting your children from the problems in the public schools. You are your child’s protector. Also, my children – now adults wished I shut up at times looking back at what I was speaking out against.

      • Sue, I was raped in a Catholic school. My parents are very Catholic people. My uncle was Cardinal John O’Connor of NY. Try being stuck in that situation. I sincerely doubt you or any parent would want their child to experience the hell of my life, but unfortunately I’m afraid that sometimes it might take the abuse of a dedicated Catholic’s child before they start heeding my warnings.

        I am WARNING you! I don’t want any kid to every go through what I have. It’s not a good life. What would you rather pay? The cost of tuition or the costs of your child being abused?

        I feel, especially more now than ever, if you have a child in Catholic school you should STOP donating. Protect your kids!

        http://www.Victims4Justice.org
        Victims4JusticeNow@yahoo.com

  7. Kathy Kane:

    “….Many of the employees who work in that area are social workers or have related degrees.The thing that was constantly repeated to me in college and grad school in my social work courses was to “know who your client is”.If I am a social worker in a hospital,even though the hospital is paying my salary, my client is the patient.If I am a social worker in a school ,and an employee of the school district,the student is my client.It doesn’t matter who your employer is,your allegiance and efforts are focused on the needs of your client…”

    Kathy, from my many years advocating both personally and professionally in the disability field, the most significant issue is that which you indicated in your statement above. The way I summarize this persistent dillemma in service delivery organizations is this:

    “The goals and objectives of the organization are one thing; the goals and objectives of the clients being served are another; only very rarely do the goals of the organization and the clients coincide.”

    Case Study: The Archdiocese of Philadelphia

    We always could ask John Jay College to study this particular issue; but wait, we would like an institution with academic integrity and not one where a reporter with the NY diocese newspaper is also involved in doing the research on the topic being examined. The primary investigator and researcher (Dr. Karen Terry) responsible for the John Jay College report last month was the academic supervisor for the diocesan newsreporter’s work on her master’s thesis at John Jay College.

  8. Anyone who is an employee of the Arch. of Philly is not going to speak out. There cannot be any trust for an institution that looks at “a priest abusing a child no differently than a priest having sex with a man or woman, because in the eyes of the RCC it’s all considered the same sin.”

    Any person or organization that blames the 60s for vast numbers of children being abuse is just crazy. There is no other instution on the planet where anyone would consider this, even remotely a possibility for the rampant sexual abuse of children.

    5,948 US Catholic priests have been implicated and/or charged with abusing children and vulnerable adults. If it was nearly 6,000 Walmart employees found credible in abusing kids, people would be protesting in droves! Furthermore, I seriously doubt Walmart would transfer abusers from one store to another, to abuse more children.

    I have come here, not to argue the points of your religion, or to burn down your church. I am here to protect kids! I am here to make sure the abuse I went through, by a Catholic priest, never occurs again.

    Bugging the Church and begging them for answers makes no sense. There is no other crime where you would expect the victim to implore a perpetrator for answers. In no other crime, would a victim expect the perpetrator to police himself, or pay for meaningless studies to explain why he committed the offense. The law would prevail and justice would be served (except if you were abused by a priest in Philly and you’re 31 years-old.)

    The Catholic Church is a sick and demented institution, controlled by evil people. Just watch “Deliver Us From Evil,” and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

    http://www.Victims4Justice.org
    Victims4JusticeNow@yahoo.com

    • Well said, Rich. Keep it up.

      I would argue that the only way to save this religion is to burn down this church and start over. Otherwise, every teenager in the future will read about these stories and leave the Catholic church as soon as they can. Everyone had pivotal points in their life when it was tough to fight peer pressure and remain a Catholic, and it will be impossible for teenagers in the future to survive those pivotal points when their friends are showing them the Philadelphia Grand Jury report on their IPhones.

      True Catholics would want all of these bishops removed for their complicity and complacency about rampant child rape. True Catholics would want the church to admit wrongdoing and sell buildings to pay for therapy for the children that were raped. True Catholics could then argue that the church showed the world how to do what God wanted.

      There are no true Catholics working in the Catholic church.

      Now – somebody tell me where I’m wrong.

  9. I have spoken to many, many victims… probably well over a couple hundred. I have listened to stories of men and women who were abused as children by one priest or even several. Some were raped by 4-5 priests at the same time. I always wondered how you could get 4-5 people to all agree on doing the wrong thing. Then it occurred to me, these guys gravitate to each other. They are surrounded by each other and they are psychological experts. They choose a child who is isolated, maybe a child who has an alcoholic parent, or divorced parents, or maybe he/she is questioning his/her sexuality, or maybe he was abused in the past, or maybe he doesn’t have any friends. Whatever the case, child abusers find and fill a void in that child’s life. They groomed us by getting close to us, promising us things we never dreamed off, and showing us the attention we lacked from others. They pretending to really care about us. Then they coerced us, forced our hand, and taught us to lie. Our abusers convinced us that God wanted this to happen.

    Then they started abusing us. We didn’t understand why this was happening or what we could’ve done to prevent it. We respected priests and we were taught that respect by our parents. In my family, priests were revered and usually held more authority that police officers, because cops couldn’t put you in hell.

    We were taught “Yes, sir. No, sir.” We learned our prayers and were eager to loudly rejoice them. We didn’t know why, but we knew if we didn’t know our prayers that priests who scold us and abuse us. Sometimes the abuse became so horrible, so shattering to our innocent lives, we swallowed a bunch of painkillers in the hopes of the abuse ending, even if it meant our own life ending. Once we were unsuccessful at killing ourselves, we became even more depressed that we were so messed up that we couldn’t even kill ourselves properly.

    Then we grow up and we’re expected to be productive members of society. Holding down a job, getting married, supporting the family, finding happiness. But, all we ever really did was search the ends of the earth looking for any means of surviving. We didn’t have time for the family thing, or the trips to Disney World, or a night out on the town with friends… we couldn’t even breathe, because our lives had progressed into something so unbearable. We became isolated once again, just like we were before the abuse started.

    Then we finally find a voice, and a District Attorney shakes his head in the affirmative that everything I’m telling him that the priest did to me is like something he’s heard 100 times. “Sorry, Rich. There’s nothing we can do for you. The Statute of Limitations has expired. No justice for you!”

    Then as the weeks follow and the months, you find out “you were not the only one.” In fact, once you go public with your story, seven more victims of the same priest come forward. You find out that they went through pretty much the exact same thing. You find out that the abusive priest had numerous allegations of abuse against him 25 years before you ever came in contact with him. You find out that he was transferred eight times because of complaints of sexual abuse. You discover that the dirtbag retired, lived, and died less than 2 miles from where you live now.

    Then you try to suck it up, pick up the pieces and move on. Hopefully, you think, “I got this out and maybe my life can get better.” Maybe if I try to protect other kids from experiencing what I had gone through, I can help heal myself. But because I protest these crimes and the people who commit them and the people who cover it up, I’m called a “money-hungry leech.”

    I don’t want your money, Catholics. I want my life back.

    http://www.Victims4Justice.org
    Victims4JusticeNow@yahoo.com

    • What can the catholic laity do to help you heal?

    • Rich: You have every right to be angry. I want to assure you that God is very, very angry as well and these clergy abusers and bishops will be greatly accountable. They will get their day with God’s pure justice. Trust me. The slate will be cleaned up.

    • Rich, So sorry to hear that you were one of the victims. I have such respect for you for having survived. You have been wronged by a Catholic church that disgraced God, and a congregation that didn’t have the heart or guts to care.

      Someday your redemption will come. God gave us social media – blogs, YouTube, Facebook, et cetera, and there will be an uprising against the evils of the Catholic church, and it will happen faster than people think, because your story is a powerful one. I know how to do it, but I need your help. Contact me at 617-PATRICK if you are interested.

      Someday, the world will look at you as one of the strongest people that has ever lived – one who had the strength to fight the worst psychological damage that an institution could inflict on a child. A new group of Catholics will develop a new church, and they will welcome you back as a hero, and so will the rest of society.

      Those who still go to the current, wealthy Catholic church that raped children, lied about it, and ignored the victims will be shunned by society as enablers of child rape and vicious dishonesty.

      Your day is coming, my friend, and I will fight with you shoulder to shoulder to see that it happens soon.

  10. What can the Catholic laity do to help me heal?

    Maybe you could stop throwing coins at me outside of your church, when I’m only there to protect children and alert the community and church parishioners that a priest from their church was removed for abusing children.

    Maybe, just maybe… instead of calling me a liar, you can stop and ask me what happened. Why do you disbelieve my truth before you believe it? I can prove my truth to you, because at the end of the day, it’s all I’ve got.

    Instead of throwing money into the collection plate at church, which is used to hired powerful lawyers to fight giving justice to victims and their attempts to paint picture of lies of victims, and the Church’s spending of millions of dollars on lobbyist to defeat laws in State Legislatures across the country that would protect kids and allow justice for those already abused, why not make a charitable donation to the Oganization for Missing & Exploited Children? Write letters to your government, demanding the fundamental values of protecting children.

    Instead of yelling and screaming at me, as I protest in front of your church, or school, or Archdiocese Headquarters, why not stop and ask me “why I’m here?”

    Rather than throwing the “money aspect” at us, why not read your state’s laws and realize that for many victims who come forward, there is no money involved. Most of us are well passed the Statute of Limitations and will never be able to charge criminally and/or civilly. Maybe some of us just want our voices to be heard. We want Catholics to know what hell we’ve gone through, and we want to protect present and future children from suffering the experiences of our lives.

    Instead of asking questions of Cardinals, that will surely go unanswered, why not demand accountability, transparency, and honesty? Don’t ask for it, demand it! Demand it and stop giving them money!

    http://www.Victims4Justice.org
    Victims4JusticeNow@yahoo.com

    • Rich,

      You get it, and you understand that this is a fight that shouldn’t be fought meekly. I can help. I have some powerful ideas that can change the world quickly.

      Please contact me at (617)-PATRICK.

  11. Rich
    Thankyou for your reply.I believe you. It’s important we hear your story. In fact it was because I heard a victim’s story I was so outraged and saddened I felt I need to get involved. I was thinking the other day about what Dr. Nick said and you drove home today. People should donate to Missing and Exploited Children or children advocay groups instead of donating to the church til the statue of limitations is passed. Money talks unfortunately and if your money says stop molesting kids the church heirarchy will have no choice but to listen. Susan maybe that should be our campaign Dr. Nick was talking about. Stop donating to the church start donating to groups that will protect kids til the statue of limitaions changes clean out the church. Rich yes I hope people read the above and call their legislators to pass the two bills that would eliminate the statue of limitations. Making your anger positive as you are… you will change things for the better and keep kids safe. Peace and God Bless you Rich !

  12. I have a friend who keeps a little role of typed up remarks and places them in the collection plate at her parish.

    I don’t remember the exact wording, but her little piece of paper says something like this:

    As a matter of conscience, I cannot donate to a Church that abuses children and passes on predators. My normal weekly donation now goes to: Name of program that helps abused children

  13. Joan, many thanks for the very intelligent and timely suggestion about the collection basket in relation to supporting victims of sex abuse instead of the church that raped same victims and then, covered up.

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