by Fr. Christopher M. Walsh, Pastor of St. Raymond Church, guest blogger
A member of the “Catholics4Change” community recently forwarded me the following questions: I am asking you and your hierarchy to tell the truth about who the perpetrators and enablers are. Also where does the money come from that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia uses for the lobbying group Penna. Catholic Conference? Why is Abp. Chaput lobbying against HB 832 & HB 878?
Unfortunately I do not believe I am able to provide complete answers to these questions. I am not unable due to a desire to protect my brother priests or our bishops, or out of a desire to protect the institution of the Church or out of arrogance. I truly do not know the answers you are seeking although I have been asking some of the same questions. Based on what I do know, I can offer the following…
At this point the Archdiocese of Philadelphia website publishes the names and photos of priests and deacons who have been accused and whose accusation has found to be “credible” by the Archdiocese. I realize that this system does not include all the accused, which is a concern to many given the belief of the Philadelphia District Attorney that the Archdiocese’s process was often flawed and left children at risk.
Regarding the identification of “enablers”, I am not aware of the Archdiocese doing this at all. Again, the various Grand Jury Reports did name a variety of priests who worked for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia who they believed contributed to the system that continued to place children at risk (which led to the current prosecution of Msgr. Lynn). One of the recurring conversations among priests in recent months has been on this topic: who knew what and when (I assure you that those who were having these conversations truly did not know what was happening regarding the victimization of children and their families). While there is continued encouragement to move forward in faith and seek healing, I do not believe that this can happen for many people until there is clarity and transparency on “who knew what and when”. Like the person who posted this question, I too would like to know a complete answer from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.
Regarding the finances that the Archdiocese contributes to the PA Catholic Conference, the “public affairs” arm of PA’s Catholic Bishops and our Dioceses: sadly, the answer remains “I do not know”. I do not know the budget of the PA Catholic Conference (nor is the information available online) nor do I know the amount of contribution made by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (not listed in the Archdiocese Financial Statement). The Conference advocates on a variety of issues including: school choice, respect life issues, poverty concerns, marriage and family issues, and I imagine they will soon be advocating on behalf of the Bishops regarding the proposed lifting of the statute of limitations to allow for civil suits against perpetrators of sexual abuse. In general, the income of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia comes from a few sources: interest from investments, the assessment levied against parishes and gifts in kind made to the Archdiocese. I imagine that any support for the PA Catholic Conference comes through these sources however I do not know that for certain.
Finally, I do not know that Abp. Chaput is lobbying against the proposed legislation that would allow civil suits on behalf of victims of childhood sexual abuse. I have not had a conversation with Abp. Chaput about this matter nor has he communicated anything to priests at this point.
As I am able to gain more complete answers to these questions I will share them on this forum and in other ways as I continue to seek a renewed integrity in our Church for the glory of God and the good of the human family.