And Who Are You?

Stepping into the Archdiocesan Office Building just minutes before the press conference, I spotted two former colleagues from the Catholic Standard and Times. As I said hello, the elevator doors opened. Cardinal Rigali and Archbishop Chaput emerged and stopped to greet them. Turning to me, Cardinal Rigali extended his hand and asked with a smile, “and who are you?”


I extended my hand and introduced myself. His Eminence recognized my name. It was a polite, uncomfortable and a profoundly sad moment for me.

He had graciously met with my husband, Damian Dachowski, when he ran for a political office a couple of years ago. When I sent the request this past Spring, I really believed the Cardinal, or at least one of the Bishops, would meet with me. I wanted to share concerns on behalf my readers. Many of them are faithful Catholics leaving the Church or on the fence because of the child sex abuse scandal that emerged with the 2011 Grand Jury Report. We needed ministry. Instead, we received a carefully-worded response from the Office for Communications.

Between his time in Rome and a reluctance to personally deal with this issue, it is my impression that Cardinal Rigali left much of the clergy sex abuse issues to his Bishops. Does this let him off the hook. No. His apologies during Tuesday’s press conference seemed genuine but do nothing to help the victims and those whose faith in the institutional Church is shattered.

Later, I would meet a Philadelphia pastor who was brave enough to speak candidly about the issues and recognized the severity of the cover up and its cost, both spiritually and financially to the Archdiocese. He offered me what seemingly so few clergy could – hope. Someone in the clergy “got it.” That hope has kept going.

Now, we need a leader who can renew the hope of all Catholics in Philadelphia. While I’m aware of Archbishop Chaput’s history in Denver, I’m not a fan of knee-jerk reactions. We can leave our minds open – along with our eyes.

33 thoughts on “And Who Are You?

  1. I’m not sure unsettled response to Chaput is a knee jerk reaction, based on his history. Nothing predicts the future more clearly than past behavior. If there is an openness for change, than change can happen. But I haven’t seen it from his actions or words, nor have I seen it on behalf of the church. It’s going to require a lot more than putting on a Phillies hat, and speaking some carefully chosen words. I remain skeptically optomistic?

  2. Susan,
    I have been following this website for months now, and I am inspired by your efforts. I admire your faith and willingness to keep an open mind and open eyes. However, I find it incomprehensible that Bishop Caput has never read either Grand Jury Report.

    1. Catharine McGeever stated, “I find it incomprehensible that Bishop Chaput has never read either Grand Jury Report.”

      Catharine, don’t believe that for a second. He not only read it; he has studied it in depth. Church leaders may be corrupt, but they’re not stupid.

      If you claim that you haven’t read something, how can you questioned about it? Who wants to be questioned? You may say something wrong.

      It’s just a method of blowing us off, and avoiding a stupid statement this early on in his new position.

      Remember, “there are no credibly accused priests currently in active ministry.” I believe that statement was made by some jerk named Rigali (disrespecting them whenever, and wherever I can – drwho13.)

  3. Awhile back you had said you wanted to meet with him and in the back of my mind I wondered why would he meet you………when he will not meet with all the victims? It’s sad……….but even more heartbreaking for the victims………I can only imagine………..I will always have hope though. Romans 5:3 “Not only that, but we even boast of our afflictions, knowing that affiction produces endurance, and endurance , proven character and proven character, hope, and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has poured out into our hearts through the holy Spirit that has been given to us” I believe you have alot of character Susan and that is also why you have hope.Thankyou for all you do.

    1. Thank you for your kind words, Beth. I thought he might meet with me because there would be no legal ramifications as there might be with victims. Let me add, I don’t think the legal ramifications excuse would hold up in God’s eyes.

      1. Good point…….I did not think of it that way. It was and still worth pursuing. Maybe with all the closings and public pressure they will have no choice. It would be nice to think they do it out of compassion but that does not seem like their current or previous position. Just at the time I thought are they going to treat you just like the vicitms……with indiffference and coldness?

      2. Susan,
        I thought the same thing when I tried to reach our diocese. I could understand why they would potentially see my husband as a threat ($), despite no attorneys retained. But, I couldn’t understand why they wouldn’t respond to me. What had I done to them except marry a clergy abuse survivor? I learned (from them) exactly what makes them pay attention to this issue.

        I’m sure they know who you are and what you are doing. Perhaps they couldn’t associate a face with a name…but they’ll know who you are when you have the support of thousands of Catholics demanding change.

  4. Does the prospect of ‘legal ramifications’ outweigh the ‘moral obligation’ ? I can not hurdle the fact that the ‘rcc’ is a business as its concerns for legality is of the upmost importance.

    1. No it certainly does not. But they’ve rationalized that safeguarding the Church finances is the greater good. It’s not. It leaves the Church morally bankrupt.

      1. I agree they are more concerned with the material welfare of the church rather than the spiritual welfare. Ironically what they fear the most is coming about because they are neglecting our spiritual welfare.

    2. unabletotrust – “Does the prospect of ‘legal ramifications’ outweigh the ‘moral obligation’ ?”

      As far as the Church is concerned, you bet it does! In addition, for the Church, ‘image’ is everything. The RCC clearly is a business, and a very corrupt one.

      Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny harshly criticized the Vatican on July 20, saying that Church leaders are steeped in a climate of ‘narcissism’ and sought to defend their institution as opposed to protecting children.

      Keeping in mind that ‘Catholic’ means universal, what applies in Ireland, also applies in Philadelphia, Vatican City, or any other place in the world.

      They don’t care about you or your children. That’s why I show them disrespect, whenever and wherever I can!

      1. Just watched it on utube moving speech. It was obiviously difficult for him to say what he said but he had no choice in the face of such horror and disregard for children. I believe he really is hearbroken. I think many of us feel the same way.

  5. At least he remembered you name and your connection to Catholics 4 Change.

    I consider that a hopeful sign. Perhaps this blog is making more of a stir than we think.

    Please God, it is.

  6. Susan, that is God slapping you in the face with the truth. The Catholic church doesn’t care. They are ignoring you. This situation isn’t a Catholic congregation working with bunch of devout Catholic priests trying to rectify a horrible situation.

    This situation is a Catholic congregation working against priests and bishops that are doing everything in their power to ignore anything that could make them look bad. They know they committed horrible crimes. They have no honor. They aren’t Christians. You can’t even debate that.

    You’ll think I’m crazy here, but you’re much better off thinking of them as Satan’s church. Satan’s church would have sexually abused children. Satan’s church would have lied about it.
    Satan’s church would ignore the victims. Satan’s church would ignore anyone that came forward to jeopardize the empire.

    God is telling what you are fighting against. We have to fight harder.

  7. Thank you thank you thank you Susan Matthews! Please keep up the good work you’re doing! PLEASE do not give up…………

    I’ve been following your site for the last couple of months and I realize you’re saying and writing what I imagine many many Catholics are feeling. We all have to stop “drinking the coolaid” and keep on this…… matter what.

    Archbishop Chaput is just the newest pawn being directed by the Vatican. I’m waiting to see if he continues the charade. He needs to prove to Catholics in Philadelphia that the clergy is not above the law. Maybe he should begin by reading the Grand Jury report and having meetings with the laity. This mess needs to be cleaned up and it won’t begin until the hierarchy makes the necessary moves…………a public confession followed by the appropriate punishment.

    I think we’re all realizing that these things are probably not going to happen. As Maryann Judge recently said in an editorial in the Philadelphia Inquirer, “the leaders of our church are pampered, selfish men who feel entitled to our money to afford them their lifestyles.” Do you think this is what Christ had in mind?

  8. The truth of the matter is, Cardinal Rigali treats his fellow priests with the same disregard. His detachment is the problem with him.
    I have found your efforts, and fellow Catholics to be a huge support. Thank you for your courage.

  9. Susan, excellent writing…keep our minds open as well as our eyes. Thanks to you for putting into words what so many of us are thinking but don’t have the guts to say. Please keep writing because although many of us are filled with doubt and feel badly about it, we need to be reminded that it is okay to question and hold accountable those who are the leaders of our faith.

  10. The Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12)

    Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    Blessed are the meek: for they shall possess the land.

    Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

    Blessed are they that hunger and thirst after justice: for they shall have their fill.

    Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

    Blessed are the clean of heart: for they shall see God.

    Blesses are the peacemakers: for they shall be called children of God.

    Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

    Blessed are ye when they shall revile you, and persecute you, and speak all that is evil against you, untruly, for my sake: Be glad and rejoice, for your reward is very great in heaven.

    Some Preacher said this.

  11. Susan,I want to applaud you for being so vulnerable in expressing how it felt to feel as though you are the enemy. I have read all the blogs here and concur what many have writtian, that you are strong and courageous and as for me I have a deep respect for anyone who steps up to the plate when wrong is being perpatraited especially against children who have no voice or protection. As a survivor my belief and connection with the Divine, gives me all the strength and courage I need because people like yourself stand in the truth. This website has been and continues to be healing for me, everyone who shares their disgust at what is going on helps to heal those of us who for so long only knew silence. Thank you for you and your website and everyone who contributes their truth.

  12. Susan, thank you for creating this site for upset, wounded, righteously angry, horrified, traumatized Catholics, and those who have left the RCC, like myself.

    I must say though, that if right now is not the time for a knee-jerk reaction, there never will be a time, and they will continue in their evil works. Enough is enough.

    Unless Catholics stand up and refuse this evil it is going to continue on for years and years and more years, just as it has been doing! With more committees that do nothing, come to no conclusions, make no real or lasting changes, and they all just go back to the comfort of their leadership roles.

    Not one parent knew what was happening to their children. Every parent trusted THEIR priest or bishop or archbishop or pope, and their religion which was taking their money, their hearts, their souls and the innocence of their children.

    How can anyone take communion from a man who lifts up a piece of bread and calls it the full physicallity of the UNRESURRECTED Jesus, not knowing for a certainty, that he hasn’t also… just held up the innocence of someone’s son or daughter on an altar of confusion and horrors for the child?

  13. I think that Justin Rigali was an absentee landlord to the church of Philadelphia and has responsibility for happened on his watch. Good for you Susan to face him calmly; let the memory of that follow him. A great example has risen in Ireland in the person of their Prime
    Minister, Enda Kenny who gave a powerful speech in their parliament this past week. It is a
    response to the Cloyne Report and can be found on youtube. The hierarchy will not be
    rescuing us from the shambles in which they have left the church. It is up to each of us to
    do our own thinking and take the action it leads us to. Susan you do that here. Thank you.

  14. I read that the chief financial officer of the Philly Archdiocese was arrested for embezzlement. Oakland had this last month. Why is this more common than in secular business? The ‘insiders’ see corruption and rationalize ‘I’ll get mine before the ship sinks’ Jason Berry just put out a book on money corruption in the Church. It is a sign of a pathological institution. The Church garden doesn’t just need change, it needs a thorough up-rooting.
    Keep up your website the faithful need to know that others care as this all plays out.

  15. Susan, I am extremely grateful to both you and Kathy for the gift of this website and for all the time and energy that you obviously put into it. I can’t imagine the demands. You expressed a couple of things in your “And Who Are You” article that touched me. You spoke of faithful Catholics who are walking away and those whose faith in the institutional church has been shattered since the 2011 Grand Jury Report. I am one of those people. My family and I had our own experience with the “diabolical” workings of the archdiocese a few years back when we spoke out against evil behavior coming against our kids from the so-called leaders in their catholic high school. I guess you could say that our “awakening” began then and our financial support ended then.

    But learning the vastness of the horror of the sexual abuse of so many and the disgusting cover-up and corrupt mindsets of the hierarchy and so many others within the system has absolutely done me in. My heart is broken — not only for the allusion I had of the catholic church, but mainly for the countless number of victims and their families.

    My husband and I are members of St. Jerome’s parish, the focus of the Grand Jury Report. We, along with others, signed a petition to meet with the pastor and school principal after the publication of the GJR and were ignored. We then went and sat in on a SNAP meeting a short while after at the Crown Plaza Hotel and it changed my life forever. We listened to the life-altering, soul-shattering stories of survivors. Not only did my heart break sitting there listening to them, but I was overwhelmed by the dignity and graciousness that each survivor exhibited. I cried for 2 hours. I almost couldn’t take it when a father of a victim told his story about the sexual abuse inflicted on his son. He had his son’s graduation picture from Ryan on a poster and the picture of his son’s abuser, Fr. Charles Newman. His precious son committed suicide. Dear God!! I have a son who is 19! And I went to Archbishop Ryan High School. God help us! I can’t even begin to imagine what these people must be going through. My heart breaks but I am also enraged at what they have had to endure. The disdain of the hierarchy, the persecution of other catholics, and the apathy of so many. I am so sorry for my own apathy along the way.

    I witnessed the spirit of Christ in these people — and I can’t find that anywhere in the institutional church.

    1. This brought tears to my eyes. All it takes is for any Catholic (or anyone, really) to hear the experiences of the victims and their families…and they will never be the same. It’s why the hierarchy has done everything they can to SILENCE us…they KNOW what will happen when too many find out what they’ve done behind closed doors.

      On behalf of a victim’s family, thank you for listening. Thank you.

  16. Jane
    Thank you for your thoughtful comments. The one thing you mentioned is so true when you mention the dignity and grace of the victims. Over the past few months and many interactions with survivors I am amazed at the strength that many have shown in speaking up in order to protect children.I simply cannot imagine being abused as a child and then have many in the Church community either ignore or deny what happened to me. As a parent I cannot even begin to imagine the pain of having my child endure this type of abuse. It is overwhelming to even try to comprehend.
    Yes,the C4C site and our work with the advocacy coalition keep Susan and I very busy. I believe people find each other and situations happen for a reason. It could be chance,fate or the work of the Holy Spirit but something larger than either Susan or I has brought us to this place, at this time. Thank you to all for joining us in our efforts.

  17. Susan, you are doing alot of good. We certainly know who you are, and you have finally allowed many struggling Catholics to find their voice> Hopefully soon, Archbishop Chaput will also know who you are, and the tremendous good that you have done in the light of so much abuse and pain. That is my prayer…

    1. Celticseeker,
      Thank you for your kind words, but the good is really being done by everyone who takes to time read, comment and share in the truth. I know Kathy Kane feels the same. I think it’s important to mention that Archbishop Chaput has reached out to us each via email. His willingness to communicate is reason to hope. Prayer works.

  18. That is great news about the new Archbishop. I hope the meeting is fruitful and a true sign that change is going to take place here.

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