Summer Required Reading: The 2011 Grand Jury Report, Fourth Installment

Our fourth installment of the 2011 Grand Jury Report reprints its “Recommendations” section. This is relevant in light of today’s cover story on our new Archbishop’s legislative lobbying in Colorado.


Obviously, nothing will really change in the church until there is a will to change. In the meantime, there are steps to be taken, both inside and outside the Archdiocese, that may be of some help in preventing new victims and assisting old ones.
First, experience now demonstrates that programs for aiding victims of clergy sex abuse cannot be operated by the church itself. Victims should be assisted by the state Victim Compensation Board, or by a completely independent non-profit organization that is not subject to Archdiocesan control. In either case the church must provide the necessary funding. The church, through its lawyers, is of course entitled to defend itself against civil or criminal claims; but it can no longer try to play both sides of the fence with its victims.

Second, as the previous grand jury requested seven years ago, the Legislature should pass a “civil window” statute that will allow for lawsuits on otherwise time-barred claims. That is the only way the public will be able to learn of and protect itself from abusive priests that the church’s review board refuses to reveal.

Third, there is another way in which the Legislature may have power to influence the actions of the church. Although parochial schools do not operate at public expense, they do receive various targeted funds for ancillary items. The Legislature should consider reduced funding to schools, public or private, that fail to create a safe environment for their children.

Fourth, we urge victims of clergy sexual abuse to come forward to the District Attorney’s Office. You are not required to go to the Archdiocese first; nor are you precluded from going there if you first report your abuse to law enforcement officials. There is no other class of crimes where we expect victims to rely on their assailants for a resolution. That was the attitude in the past in relation to domestic abuse, but the criminal justice system has worked to change that mindset. The same should be true in relation to clergy abuse. We think the wall of silence may be cracking.

A final word. In light of the Archdiocese’s reaction to the last grand jury report, we expect that some may accuse us of anti-Catholic bias for speaking of these painful matters. We are not church-haters. Many of us are church-goers. We did not come looking for “scandal,” but we cannot close our eyes to the powerful evidence we heard. We call the church to task, to fix what needs fixing.”

18 thoughts on “Summer Required Reading: The 2011 Grand Jury Report, Fourth Installment

  1. after reading todays story about our new bishop in the inquirer it would seem he is here for damage control and has more success then ragelli but i guess time will tell .i dont want to prejudge him but i get this awful feeling ………………..

  2. Putting this man in this position was a calculating move on the part of the hierarchy. He is in Philly to shut down the movement toward greater accountability from the hierarchy to the people- which includes not just the Catholics, but everyone. Sexual assault creates a ripple effect which travels through the greater society, as victims often need mental health and substance abuse treatment and sometimes lose their full potential as contributors to the community. I hope the people of Philadelphia are willing to face the hard truth, which this victim/survivor had to face a long time ago: the Catholic hierarchy exists for one reason and one reason only, to perpetuate its own power.

  3. The 3rd installment, around page 106 and beyond is absolutely chilling when you realize how calculating and evil they were in prolonging the canonical trial (a victim’s military discharge papers not calculating into the statute of limitations)…misleading a victim into believing he’s “helping” the process, when in reality they were abusing him all over again. SICK! They went out of their way to ABUSE him again!!!! It wasn’t that they weren’t aware or made missteps in their handling of the situation. They intentionally masterminded the abuse AGAIN.

    What adds another dimension of ill to this is the fact that lay people, as well as clergy were a part of the canonical trial…HOW could anyone knowingly do this to a victim AGAIN?!!! Wasn’t there any time during the entire “canonical trial” that ANYONE had a conscience? I am so angry at the spineless behavior of so many.

    Name names…who was on that review board? Who was a part of the canonical trial? Where are they today? Cowards.

    1. I sat down and read the Grand Jury Report on the day it came out. It was before I would spend over 7 hours in front of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in protest, so I had to know why I was there. To be honest, I could never read another word of that report. Once was enough. I don’t know how anyone can do it more than once.

    2. Interesting because it seems that there have been some changes to the review board recently. I don’t know exactly the names of who left the Board but I did notice a few new names added when I looked at the AD website the other day.Also says there are to be 8 Review Board members and right now seems to be only 7. The Review Board is also top heavy with people who are attorneys and not enough people with backgrounds in child welfare or child advocates.

    3. I know that Ann Schenberger of the review board has a extensive background in child welfare. But why 3 attorneys on the Review Board?

      1. If Ann has an extensive background in child welfare, that doesn’t say much about her role on that board, does it? I get how an attorney can see a victim as a threat, non-person, dollars and sense…because they are hired to have a lense of “protect the church at all costs” attitude to do their JOB. There shouldn’t be attorneys sitting on a review board, anyway.

        Was she on the board at the time Mark (and others) were being re-abused?

        If she was…shame on her and anyone else that says they work for children.

    4. Survivor’s wife,

      Never forget they are the enemy!

      Disrespecting them, whenever and wherever I can – drwho13.

      1. drwho13,

        I choose not to see them as the enemy…for me, that would be too easy and it lets them off the hook.

        I choose to see them just like any other institution that has lost their moral compass. I pray for them…and I see them for what they are…corrupt.

        Witnessing my husband handle the hierarchy taught me some lessons. He never lost his cool (I don’t know how he didn’t) with them. When the hierarchy finally spoke to us, it was interesting to watch my husband remain calm, look them in the eye and speak the truth…something they NEVER could do. All of a sudden, they didn’t know what to do with my him…they couldn’t “trash” him because he never disrespected them.

        Don’t get me wrong…I am disgusted by their actions…but to become like them, means i have lost.

  4. If you all believe that this new Cardinal is here to make sure that certain legislation is not passed to protect children in Pennsylvania, then we’ve already lost the battle. Yes, this is an uphill climb, but if we keep the pressure on nobody can beat us. So what… they pay lobbyist millions of dollars to fight this type of legislation, but you’ve forgotten that they lack one very important aspect we have – the truth!

    I’m a believer in the truth. Sure, I get down and out, and sometimes the fight is just very exhausting , but what I know to be accurate and what I’ve been through will, at some point, make a difference. If we’re counting ourselves out now, before we even give ourselves a chance, then we’ve already let them win.

    I quote a passage that gives me hope everyday…

    “All beauty comes from beautiful blood and a beautiful brain. If the greatnesses are in conjunction with a man or woman it is enough… he fact will prevail through the universe… but the gaggery and guilt of a million years will not prevail. Who troubles himself about his ornaments or fluency in lost. This is what you shall do: Love the Earth and the Sun and the animals, despise riches, gives alms to everyone who asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body… You shall not spend your time in unneeded work. You shall know that the ground is already ploughed and manured. Other may not know it but you should. You shall go directly to the creation. Your trust shall master the trust of everything you touch and shall master all attachment.” – Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

    The legislation that we would like to see passed in our Senate Judiciary Committee would protect all children, regardless of the religion they practice. Incest victims would be protected. Random rape victims would be protected. The public school teacher that abuses a child would be held responsible. The daycare worker who beats a child could be held accountable. These laws do not only reflect the ability for victims of clergy sexual abuse to file lawsuits or charge their abusers criminally within the Catholic Church. These laws should be on the books to protect all children. If we can’t protect our youngest, well what the hell kind of people are we? If you don’t want to protect children, what the hell kind of person are you?

    The only way I see it, even though I was abused by a Catholic priest, is to remove the argument that “current laws protect Catholic clergy who abuse.” The fact is, current laws protect every person who abuses a child. Most children are abused by their own biological parents, then another family member, a family friend, and so on. Clergy sexual abuse accounts for a very small percentage of child sexual abuse victims. It’s time we take the fight to our government and protect children inside and outside of the Catholic Church.

    1. You made me smile………………yes we have the truth……………….yes…………that’s all that matters……… pursue the truth and everything falls in place………….I know because it happened for me and my husband before………………That’s why I have hope too………………

      1. Well that’s my goal, Beth. If I can make someone smile, then I haven’t wasted today. 🙂

  5. Victims4Justice,

    Recognizing the truth of the hierarchy’s motivation is a good thing, and not an impediment to passing legislation. It just means you won’t waste your time trying to persuade people who won’t be persuaded and you will concentrate your efforts elsewhere, on those legislators who are not in the pocket of the RCC.

  6. Very well put. Though exactly what many of us, who have chosen to be vocal about our upsetment of the handling of the abuse scandal, have been feeling. To imply that one can only love thier religion/church/parish/school if they turn a blind eye to all that is going on around them is confounding. Not speaking up would be the wrong thing. Not caring or wanting to pretend it isn’t happening around us would be ignorant. How the church moves forward will define for many of us who are questioning all of this, will we continue to support them and continue to go to church at all. Time will tell.

  7. I read the Grand Jury Report when it was released. I just need to make the comment that as I read it I literally started to shake. My hands started to tremble and I literally had a hard time breathing. But I continued to read it. If this was my reaction to this testimony, then oh my dear God, how must the victims of clergy abuse feel. An acquaintance asked me why I insisted on reading such a dreadful thing if it caused me to be that upset. My response, was that if this is what is happening in the Church why wouldn’t its members want to know. So, when the Church’s members cry that these victims are doing this for money, they need to read this and feel the horror of it, no one would get on a stand and do this for money. They need to be believed, they need to be freed from the secrecy and the shame and all those terrible feelings and thoughts connected to sexual abuse. Money, prayer, is simply not enough, I don’t know what will ever be enough, but I will continue to fight, support or whatever it is that must be done to help put an end it happening again and again.

  8. Last week, an 87 year-old priest in the Bronx, NY sexually abused a 15 year-old girl. Once again, this proves that the Church is unwilling to protect children and expose the predators. The girl told someone and the priest was arrested.

    This particular abuse doesn’t stretch back to years or decades ago, but just last week, which also proves that the Church continues to do little to control its clergy. Promises that have been made to protect children and expose clergy who abuse have been thwarted, once again, by the Church’s “secret policies” that enable child abusers, rather than protecting children.

    So again, we continue to show that this type of behavior is still going on. The Church does nothing to protect children and everything to defend their moral grounds in society and save face.

  9. indeed, if the Chuch (us, the people) refuse to acknowledge what if going on, then there will never be an end to clergy abuse. I don’t know what it takes to open people’s eyes. I read with disgust in a previous post, from another blog, where a relative of someone was abused by multiple priests and the family took it “very hard”… HELLO, took it very hard, and yet this person was defending some teacher accused of inappropriate behavior toward a teenage girl. The poster said, she thought of this teacher as a father-figure and could not believe he was guilty. I am not the type of person who decides someone is guilty immediately upon some rumors, etc. but let’s face it, if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. I am just so totally astounded that people want to keep clergy abuse a secret. WHY?????????????????????

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