‘Brotherhood’ Trumped Protection of Children

The unfolding situation in Ireland illustrates underlying clergy abuse issues still debated in the U.S. Does the culture of the priesthood skew attitudes regarding children? Is canon law contradictory with civil law? Attempts to protect other adults and the Church at the expense of the “least of us” could destroy the Church.

“Deputy to Bishop John McGee ‘should have resigned,'” BBC News, August 24, 2011

Excerpt: “In July, Monsignor O’Callaghan said he was sorry that in responding to allegations of abuse he had sometimes become ’emotionally and pastorally drawn to the plight of the accused priest.'”


33 thoughts on “‘Brotherhood’ Trumped Protection of Children

  1. “drawn to the plight of the accused priests” Does Msgr O’Callahan mean that we should be sure that we do not find them (the accused) guilty before a judge finds them guilty….?

  2. No. I wish that were the case. Please read the linked article. Msgr. was not willing to allow an Irish court that opportunity. He was drawn to their plight in such a way that he obstructed justice.

  3. I need to recommend a fantastic book to all your readers. Render Unto Rome by Jason Berry, publised 2011 (Crown Press). Mr. Berry has written signiificant books and reports on the coverup by bishops and Rome, as well as the financial squandering of the peoples’ money. Althoughy he does not directly touch the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, he presents enough material to raise questions as to procedures and to the financial processes used to protect abusers and the various dioceses of this country (USA). The significant section on the book is on Maciel Marcial and his financial linkage to John Paul II, Cardinal Sodano and how the Legion has pushed so much money into Roman establishment officials.
    Fascinating yet disouraging reading especially at this moment for Philkadelphia.

  4. In hindsight, I accept that I should have resigned on the point of principle from my role as delegate once I came to realize the implications of the 1996 guidelines for the overriding duty of pastoral care,” the former vicar general wrote.

    In his letter to the Irish Catholic, Msgr. O’Callaghan consistently used the term “pastoral care” to refer to his efforts to help accused priests. He did not mention “pastoral care” for abuse victims or for young people who might be endangered by the continued public ministry of priests with a history of abuse.

    Archbishop Dermot Clifford of Cashel, who has served as apostolic administrator of the diocese since Bishop Magee resigned under fire in 2009, agreed that Msgr. O’Callaghan should have resigned in 1996.

    However, the archbishop expressed his distaste for the stand taken by the former vicar general, saying that Msgr. O’Callaghan’s approach was “not a sufficient response to allegations of child sexual abuse.” He urged Msgr. O’Callaghan to “refrain from any further public comment on this controversy as it will only cause further distress and hurt to survivors of child sexual abuse and their families.”

  5. The news about losers like Msgr O Callaghan to suggest it might have been better to resign, echo VP Cheney saying he had a resignation letter locked in a safe. Never used.. These fakers think that their maybe, shoulda, woulda is like the real deal.. geeze.[ I shoulda bought Apple at 6 bucks..] That these ‘men’ think that their shoulda is news or a valid excuse is an amazing insight into their self important stance. .

  6. Why are we so shocked that loyalty to the priestly brotherhood trumped service to the people of God? We lay Catholice have put our clergy on a plane that tends to see them not as humans who serve the people in the Name of God, but as little gods themselves. It is a pity, and it has hurt us all.

    As long as we continue to believe that just because they are priests that men can the life of deprevation that Catholic priests are called upon to live then we will continue to have the tragedies we are having. I can understand Msgr. O’Callahan. He was honestly reacting to the miserable lives priests are asked to live in the RCC. Of course they don’t care about the children they hurt, The priests are asked to sacrifice all: their lives, their financial security, their comfort ias a member of a family, to minister to people who often couldn’t care less
    about them or their mission. I’m not saying this is a reason why sick men abuse children, but I am saying that maybe sick men become priests because it is basically a sick life.

    There is no reason that the life of priests in the RCC should continue to be as miserable and sick as it currently is. Optional celebacy, women priests,

  7. continued…
    and a more open governance of the RCC would go a long way to enhancing the life of the priests and might even encourage more men and women to enter service to the people of God in the Name of God.

  8. I beg to differ about the “miserable” lives of priests. Most of the priests I know vacation several times a year to exotic places, wear designer clothing, eat at the best restaurants, belong to country clubs, have housekeepers and chefs. Please don’t tell me how miserable their lives are. They expect (and get) free services, super deals on purchases, all because they are priests. they chose this life and they like it. The catholic laity is beginning to wake up and see how it really is. They protect each other because they like living the life of a mini “god” and they don’t want any changes in the church. They act like gods because they are treated like gods. The minute one of them get “caught with their pants down” (pun intended) they they like to shout that they are only men, human, capable of sin, just like everyone else. The difference is, they are protected by the shield of secrecy and the truth gets buried so deep, that no one cares to dig it up. But things are changing and now maybe some “good” (I use this term very loosly) priests will begin to weed out their sick brothers.

    1. Abigail, My experience as a seminarian in a religious order was a life of luxury. I had use of a nice car at all times; if it broke down I had it serviced at the order’s expense. I used all the gas I wanted, put it on their card. My education and health care were outstanding, and cost me NOTHING. I lived in a mansion (literally), and a maid cleaned my room. Our chef was excellent!

      I was told that all that could continue to be mine if I would just SHUT MY MOUTH about the sexually immoral lifestyle of many priests in the order. It made me sick. I left.

      That being said, there are missionary orders that truly live a a very tough life of true poverty (Order of Friars Minor Capuchin – Father Benedict Groeschel.) May God bless them!

  9. Unmarried men are not the cause of sexual abuse within the Catholic Church or in any other area of society. In fact, if you do just a little bit of research you will find that it’s just the opposite. More children are abused by married men, and/or their own biological fathers. The priesthood doesn’t breed deviant behavior. It is deviant men who become priests. However, I also believe that because of the secrecy and the protect-the-church-at-all-costs standards, the Catholic Church has contributed to the sexual abuse of children by dismissing the complaints by many that a priest has molested a child. I believe, when you have credible knowledge that someone is abusing a child and you do nothing, you are no better than the abuser “itself.” In fact, I have more hatred for those who knew about my abuser and did nothing. In it unfathomable to me to think that someone may actually know or have seen a child being abused and they don’t intervened, even though my life is full of experiences of those who could’ve stepped in to protect me and didn’t. If I knew of or have seen with my own eyes someone abusing a child, there’s a good chance that “someone” wouldn’t be alive after I was finished declaring justice by my standards. At the very least, I would be on the horn with 911 and if this was a person who worked for me, he’d be out of a job, and I’d make damn sure he spends the rest of his life in prison.

    As a child, I was taught many lessons. In was engrained into my psyche that priests were considered God on Earth. They were not considered mere mortals like the rest of us, but human vessels of God’s presence in the world. Being the nephew of Cardinal John O’Connor, I wouldn’t argue with how important a priest was and how much he should be revered. I look around and see that priests actually live life very well from most people’s standards. I have seen priests driving brand new shiny sports and luxury cars. They have no bills to worry about, and many get to travel the world (especially if they abuse children). My uncle, the Cardinal, lived in the residence behind St. Patrick’s Cathedral, and I’m certain he never worried about paying the rent or keeping the electricity on. He wore the equivalent to a gold bar around his neck and ate caviar with Presidents and celebrities. He had an entire staff to chauffer him, cook for him, do his laundry, and make his bed. With all the starving people in this world, the decay of society, and children suffering in silence, the life of a priest doesn’t sound too miserable to me.

    Also, I don’t believe people who abuse children are “sick.” I believe people who abuse children are “evil.” I cannot use the word “sick” to describe my ailing mother, and then use it again to describe someone who rapes a child. I don’t believe men who become priests are sacrificing anything. If you ask some, I think you would hear that they heard a calling from God. In that case, I don’t believe they would consider such a vocation as a “sacrifice.” Besides, most of them live better than all of us. To top it all off, they don’t even have to live by society’s standards and laws. Priests may not be God, but I’m sure most of them have God complexes.

  10. Rich, you said it and you said it right, EVIL not sick. Like I stated before I was a victim of another type of abuse growing up but nothing, nothing can warrent any explanation of keeping child sexual abuse a secret. I think that once your book is published 🙂 many more people will understand how “devout” catholics grew up. We not only worshipped statutes, we put priests (and nuns) on the same level as God. Keep telling your story, because it really explains what is the truth.

  11. Susan – “Attempts to protect other adults and the Church at the expense of the “least of us” could destroy the Church.”

    When I was in seminary during the 90’s, we were told in no uncertain terms never to “snitch” on a brother priest or else; we would be isolated, and our lives would be made unbearable.

    I now trust neither my children, nor my soul to these filthy pigs.

  12. drwho13, thanks for your honesty about the seminary you attended. Just out of curiosity, did you and you fellow seminarians ever discuss the men who you thought were capable of sexual abuse? I get so amazed at the fact that no priest or even seminarian ever discusses any of this. When you went home to visit your parents, did you confide in them what a mess being a priest could be. Just wondering?

    1. My husband was in seminary…(that’s a long story for another day and time…but it was his attempt to “fix” things)…anyway….

      He will tell you the majority of the young men in seminary were either social misfits or gay. The “straight” guys made jokes about the others (as wrong as that is)…but, even in that group half of them were gay or “not conducive to ministry.” He said he could name on one hand the young men who were truly “called.”

      He said seminary was the perfect environment to produce sexually repressed, holier-than-thou, warped men who look to their superiors as Gods and then are thrown into the role of “assistant” or parish priest with little to no training. And if there was any training, it’s done by the system(superiors) already in place…and we all know what that’s like, now don’t we? It’s literally a breeding ground for another wave of conformists with God complexes.

      For those who are truly called…God help them. But, for the rest who are “working out their issues” or living a “repressed” lifestyle…what better place to fit in? Honestly, the very people (priests) who could help break the cycle are blind to it, because they are living it…how can they spot someone who isn’t conducive to ministry when the church is desperate for priests, and they can’t see the plank in their own eye? It’s a sick circle.

      So yes, young men talk about it…if they don’t “identify” with it. If you do, then mums the word…and it’s business as usual.

      A guy I went to school with became a diocesan priest…and here’s what was said when his “peers” learned he was going into seminary…”he’s the class liar…he couldn’t tell the truth if he wanted to…he’s gay…he should NOT be a priest!” Not kind words and I’m sure horribly judgmental…but…4 years of seminary and “”voila!” …a parish priest. Fast forward about 7 years and he gets caught manufacturing GHB with some other young men (of course the details are sketchy). Any questions are dismissed as a “drug issue.” Why? Because we all know GHB is a date rape drug commonly used by rapists so their victim won’t recall what’s done to them. Hmmmm….sure…a drug issue. Combine that with the fact that he had “parties” for the altar servers at the rectory. That was all hush-hush…and he quickly admitted to the drug charge. Yeah, yeah, innocent until proven guilty. He plea bargained, did a couple of years and now’s he’s out serving in a parish again. Now I ask…if a bunch of 18-20 year olds can tell you “That man should not be a priest!”…Where the hell are the measures through 4 years of seminary that would have weeded him out? The answer is simple…there aren’t any…it’s more like, “Welcome to the brotherhood…this is how we do things…and we vow to never tell on each other.”
      As you can see, I’m a little pessimistic about what is being cranked out of seminaries. There’s got to be a correlation to what’s going in and what’s coming out. Do the math.
      My own personal disclaimer here…the fact that anyone is gay is not the issue and has nothing to do with the abuse of children whatsoever. The examples I used were to show that “outsiders” could tell what was going on with someone…when the insiders didn’t want to (or couldn’t) see it.

    2. Abigail, Yes I did discuss it with a very few trusted fellow seminarians, and a good solid priest. In fact, I worked together with this priest to help put a pedophile priest in prison. He has been in the priesthood for about 50 years, and is still active. He stood up to tremendous abuse from his fellow priests, all of whom were gay, and many of them were actively covering for the gay pedophile priest (yes, there are gay rings in the RCC.) The vast majority of seminarians I related to left for moral reasons, as did I.

      When you’re inside the organization you have to be very careful, when and to whom, you reveal this type of information. It’s like being on a corrupt Mexican police force; say the wrong thing to the wrong person and you’ll be in for a very rough time. It’s difficult to find people in the Church that you can trust, and it takes a lot of time.

      My parents could not relate to the things that I was telling them. It’s just too foreign for many people outside of the organization to understand. They were in denial. They did not want to accept the reality of what was taking place in the Church that they loved.

      I’m so happy to be away from all that.

      1. I’d love to say that I am surprised by all of this, but I am not. I was a very devout catholic but as time passed I became very skeptical of the conduct of our priests. I was very active in CCD etc and considered myself to be up on the catholic faith. Unfortunately, there were many priest whom I knew/know personally who were accused/convicted of child molestation. Then I left. I supported them for far too long. When I finally realized what an evil club the clergy was, I could no longer tolerate being catholic. I shook the dirt off my sandles and moved forward. I no longer attend any church. I follow my own instincts. Thank you so much for your honesty, it makes me believe that this terrible problem will end because of people like you who will tell their story.

  13. Thank you sw for an explanation with which I totally agree. I often sense that many young men who leave for the seminary right after high school seem that they have no sexuality at all. It’s like they are sexually immature. I don’t mean it in a sense that they did not have sexual intercourse yet, I mean they can’t even decide if they are straight or gay. So I often wonder if they get in there and then have all this sexuality (normal/abnormal) in front of them, they get favored by the heirarchy, etc. spoiled by parents, grandparents, neighbors, friends, etc and stay child-like. then when they practice some type of sexual activity they look to the innocent because they think of themselves as children. Pampered, whining little children who usually get their own way. I’m not saying this is fact or that it happens in every case, but many of the priests I’ve come in contact with are usually whining, complaining, pampered brats who can’t do anything on their own and complain about having one Mass per day and usually need an extended vacation after Lent and Easter. Believe me I am now down-playing the seriousness of their evil problems, I’m just saying maybe they should start acting like adults and being treated as adults from day one.

  14. I am not getting updates. I read the recent posts only after going to the RSS Feed. What is up? Anyone able to help out?

  15. updates for what, how about the 21 suspended priests, any updates on them. We now know they kept their healthcare and salary. Wow, they couldn’t say Mass or participate in their parish, here’s an update, I bet they are crying the blues while they vacation with full benefits and no obligations. Boo Hoo. They are patiently awaiting September 7th when they will be let loose to again do what they do best… get money from old ladies, ingratiate themselves with wealthy families, and well… you take it from here

    1. Abigail,
      I guess I was not clear— I mean I don’t receive email updates on the strings anymore. I am subscribed as far as I know, but I get few if any emails from Catholics4change anymore. I check by going back to old strings or RSS feed.


  16. Thanks Susan. I hope the “cane” was easy on you and the others up there. I’m in Florida and we once were the target of many , many “canes.” I prayed real hard a couple years ago and we haven’t been hit since. [Just kidding]

  17. The “gay pedophile priest,” as if I haven’t read that phrase so many times in the past, I wonder if people think before they write and if they have any idea with what they’re talking about. The majority of pedophiles are not gay! Most are heterosexual married men who abuse their own children. Any adult who a abuses a male or female child doesn’t classify them as heterosexual or homosexual but rather a pedophile. I do take exception to words that are so ignorantly put together when I happen to be gay and some people think there’s a correlation between homosexuality and pedophilia. For the record, I am gay and I have never wanted to abuse a child. Adult men who abuse little boys are not gay, they are pedophiles. It would be similar to my saying, “Well adult men rape little girls because they are heterosexual.” Does that seem logical?

    Furthermore, who cares if the members of the clergy are gay? Who cares if they’re heterosexual? They’re not supposed to be having sexual relations anyway. The only thing that bothers me to no end is that most times the priest who is condemning my sexuality is the same priest who secretly hangs out in gay bars and propositions men on the street for sex. But, if an entire society is devoted to abstinence why does it even matter what their sexuality happens to be?!

    Maybe I’ll start pointing my finger at the “straight pedophile priest.”

  18. I am so glad you clarified that Rich. Everytime I hear someone associate homosexual with pedophilia it makes me crazy too. Same thing as when people think that if you let priests marry the problem with the pedophile priests will go away

  19. I need to get caught up on your blog. In reading all the comments I come back to the same conclusion, we cannot change the church unless they are forced to pay a price so incredibly painful that it will shake the culture of the church’s hierarchy.

    I advocate for legislation that forces all institutions (we cannot unfairly focus just on the Catholic Church) that harbor criminals in their midst to avoid scandal. I advocate for criminal and civil sanctions against the highest levels of the church in order to change the culture of deception and dishonesty that is rampant in the curias today.

    I no longer consider myself to be a victim, I am a Survivor and I want a significant and real change in our laws. I want justice and the truth. Funny, I never have asked for a dime, but I am portrayed as a gold digger looking for an easy payout.

    1. Welcome to the C4C site Michael. I agree,the real change will come from the change in laws,contiued investigative actions by law enforcement,and the media keeping the spotlight on this issue.

  20. I hear ya, Michael! I never asked for one penny either, but when the Church decided to throw money my way, I became the one portrayed, as one person called me, “a money-hungry leech.” Luckily, she was a little old lady and with any luck, she and the many true believers in the Catholic Church will be dead soon! I’m not usually the guy who wishes death on many people, but sadly it is those unwavering 80 year-old lifetime Catholics that seem to leave forever.

  21. Hey, I consider myself and “old lady” but there is no way on earth that I can accept what is happening in the church. When I left the church, all my “church friends” disappeared and treated me (and still do) as an outcast. I don’t care. I know what I know and I feel what I feel. WWJD, well I know he wouldn’t approve of what is going on in the present day church. So please, don’t wish me dead yet….:)

    1. Abigail, I second that. As I’ve said in the past I attend Mass on Sundays because it makes my wife happy. Apart from that my participation is zero, and my contributions are zero.

      After my experience in seminary and religious life it would be sinful for me to support that origination. To be faithful to my conscience I can no longer endorse the RCC. I now see my mission as telling my story, and warning others.

  22. abigailReplyAugust 26, 2011 at 4:15 pm



    Abigail wrote:

    Rich, you said it and you said it right, EVIL not sick. Like I stated before I was a victim of another type of abuse growing up but nothing, nothing can warrent any explanation of keeping child sexual abuse a secret. I think that once your book is published many more people will understand how “devout” catholics grew up. We not only worshipped statutes, we put priests (and nuns) on the same level as God. Keep telling your story, because it really explains what is the truth.

    I agree about that last sentence— let me explain. If those who remain “faithful” to the Catholic Church were NOT placing the priests on the same level as God, then they would not be “faithful Catholics” BECAUSE [and here is my logic]— then what would be left is just the Word of God, and without the priest’s interpretation of that Word there is no hint of such a thing as a Roman Catholic Church being OF GOD.
    In other words: One must first believe the priests speak for God or the other choice is to believe the bible speaks for God. When one does the latter, with the help of the Holy Spirit, one must withdraw from Romanism.

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