Confirmation – Avery Tells the Truth

By Susan Matthews

As my son became an adult in the Church, I sat in the last pew contemplating whether or not to remain a member. I could keep my faith but leave the religious institution. I prayed for some sign that I haven’t been on a fool’s errand in my efforts.

My father leaned over and whispered, “Did you hear about Avery?” My heart sank at the short prison term, but the victims finally got to hear some small part of the truth exposed. My son took Anthony as his Confirmation name – the patron saint of lost things. By the end of the Mass I’d found hope, a slim ray of it.

Confirmation includes the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit:

Wisdom; Understanding; Right Judgment; Courage; Knowledge; Reverence; Awe of God. We need this gifts more than ever in Philadelphia.

As my son climbed into bed, I explained how we are called to Christian action and the Holy Spirit will help him to know what is right. Sometimes what’s right may seem confusing but if he asks, “What would Jesus do? it will become very clear.

Our Church leadership is failing to ask that question or answer with their actions.  So it is up to us – every member of the Church. The 99%. We can’t fail to speak or act. Children are depending on us.

Many of you have commented about the silence of clergy. Stop waiting for them. As Catholics, we believe all members of the Church are called to share in the priesthood through Confirmation. We are called to publicly profess the faith of the Catholic Church. Start doing it – with your neighbors, your lawmakers, your pastor, your bishops.

We are the Church – the clergy abuse survivors, the D.A., your children and mine. The institution is broken. We aren’t. I received confirmation of that yesterday.

102 thoughts on “Confirmation – Avery Tells the Truth

  1. Heartfelt and inspiring thughts and words from you Susan. But, how do the people in the pews wrest the real Church away from the Vatican which has had complete control for 2,000 years. They are powerful. They are intrenched. They have lots of money. They have the bully pulpit. They have the lawyers. They still have all too many of the raithful on thier side – intimidated, fooled or concerned that they must hang on – no matter what.

    Except for the upcoming trials there has not been any direct confrontation with the power structure from the faithful.

    All the best in your continuing efforts.


      1. Yes, we have God Susan. And the hierarchy believes they do too. What they don’t have is integrity.

      2. Bumper stickers with ‘I believe the victims’….preferably observed in church parking lots.

      3. Susan, I hope that you and C4C readers remain resolute and alert.

        Avery had been defrocked already. He was a minor threat compared to the many that may still be hidden in Chaput’s secret files.

        Avery got a “soft deal”, it appears from today’s Wall St. J. report, without being obligated to testify about others.

        As far as I am concerned, Williams and Sarmina have so far mainly continued the same old failed Philly criminal justice routine.

        Where is Rigali whose lawyers sat on the shredding memo for 5 years while he was Cardinal?

        Why are we still denied our right of public access to the judicial process by Sarmina’s inexplicable gag order? Sarmina sentenced Avery before the public even knew of this “soft’ plea deal. That was unjust to Philly citizens.

        Please see my soon to be posted NCR comment and cross-links under, “And the Game Goes On”, accessible by clicking on at:

      4. SW, You noted “…we have God Susan. And the hierarchy believes they do too.”

        No, the hierarchy believes that they are God. There trying to beat the rap just like any other common criminals would. They in fact have little to do with God, other than wearing Him as part of their trappings.

        To the hierarchy God is nothing more that a Miter, they put them both on when it makes them look good.

        Don’t forget these are not holy men! They are criminals and actors.

    1. Reid,

      I don’t expect anything to break the history of control of the hierarchy. We can get to the point where we are able to incarcerate the clergy for their sins, but we may never, ever, come to influence their myopic obsession with Tradition. The years ahead will be difficult for Catholics who seek change and reform. Ultimately, the faithful will be forced to ponder a breakaway Church, one independent of Rome. It will take great resolve, insight and courage on the part of the faithful who will be deemed heretics and anti-Catholic by a hierarchy with 2,000 years of perverting the Church and the priesthood of Christ.

    2. SRW, is reporting that defense lawyers are now seeking a delay and selecting new jurors because of the “surprise soft deal” for Avery that DA Seth Williams and Judge Sarmina quietly worked out. Please see my reply below to Crystal about the behavior of the DA and the Judge that concerns me greatly. I hope Susan doesn’t open a new thread yet, because I think she has already framed the current situation well and more C4C bloggers should read and react to the existing comments. I for one will be unable, due to other committments, to repeat my several major comments here on a new thread.

      1. The turn of events is appalling… what the heck is going on??!!
        Now I feel the DA and Judge cannot be trusted.

      2. Thanks Jerry. “Surprise deal” for Avery. Who are they kidding? This entire case seems manipulated. A few days before the trial, they release the secret creeper list, then Avery cuts his deal…then ask Judge for a delay and new jurors.
        OJ’s lawyers should be proud.

    3. Reid much of the American Church (which has been the cash cow for Rome) has already left and I would not be a bit surprised to see that exodus continue.

      Recent stats suggest that the second largest religious denomination in the US are the thirty million Catholics that have left the Church. Of the remaining catholic population only 21% attend weekly.

      I think the bishops power has faded, and their street cred is pretty much gone.

      It’s not so much a matter of ‘wresting control’ as observing the demise.

      Personally, I have a lot of confidence in the Holy Spirit and suspect that the RC of 2050 is going to look different and hopefully, a lot better.

  2. This is so beautiful, Susan. I want so much for the many apathetic Catholics to listen, take heed and take action. How can we get the message to them, when there is so much out there blocking that message? I was reading comments here on this site, in response to many other posts. I was so moved and felt that these truths are what is so needed for others to hear. Then I went to the current articles on and was so upset to see responses that attacked SNAP and attacked the victims. I can not wrap my head around it. The complete denial and conspiracy theories seem rampant? I was so distraught and discouraged to think that many rank-in-file Catholics believe that the Church has done nothing wrong and is being attacked. Last year I was a PREP teacher and a lector. I had returned to the Church after my first child was born. I was trying to be a part of the Church and I encountered many who seemed, if not brainwashed, just afraid to speak their minds. I am no longer going to Church. It causes nothing but stress, frustration and anger for me and my family. My husband has such anxiety before going to Mass, that it is palpable. I used to find solace there. I still do find quiet and solace there, when the church is empty and quiet. But Mass does not hold good feelings for me anymore. I guess I am just wondering…. and this question is for anyone who wants to respond…. How can I help? What can I do to spread the truth and stand up for the victims and stand against the hypocrisy? Much love to you all, and to the victims, your strength is amazing and inspiring.

    1. Michelle, I wanted to try to respond a bit to your very thoughtful post!

      This blog has been wrestling with the how to get folks to listen, understand, care and take action on behalf of victims since I found the blog in July.

      Clearly the problem persists. There was an original focus on getting priests involved, much discussion of clericalism, and I think now, a consensus that the criminal justice system may be an effective educator.

      Throughout history major abuses have occurred because there was a silent majority. I think in some ways that’s what it’s all about.

      But I am also reminded of Margaret Meads dictum that a few very organized folks working together can create major change, I think that’s C4C, SNAP, Thomas Doyle, Richard Sipe, Jason Berry, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch et al, are about.

      The verdicts not in, stay tuned!

  3. SRWIII,

    “They have this…they have that…”

    We have the truth. It trumps everything else. It’s taken a long time and this is just one AD…but, one by one…the stories are being told.

    I think back to the early pioneers, the victims whose voices we’ll never hear…their truths are being shared through those of us who believe the victims and have the courage to speak.

    $, power, control, bully tactics, lawyers, influence…TRUTH trumps them all. It may take time, but it always comes out! Always!

    This is the hope I hang onto.

    1. Survivors Wife, ” How long? Not long, because No lie can live forever ” Martin Luther King

    2. SW you are so right. Jesus tells us he is the Truth and the Truth is Jesus what a wonderful gift for those with eyes and hearts to see……….

  4. As I said in a previous comment,some clergy will speak on this, some will give inspiring homilies. Will they publicly support the GJ recommendations given by law enforcement, recommendations that provide justice to victims and protection of children….doubtful. Probably just more words about the evil,anger and forgiveness. In the end it is all about power and authority and victims will still be blocked in many various ways on their journey. I do believe some clergy want victims to have peace and healing, I also believe that clergy want victims to reach this on clergy’s term,not the victim’s terms.

  5. I agree with Reid’s sentiments expresssed here – that the Church hierarchy is immoveable, and nothing can break the strangle-hold of that on the Church as “institution”.
    However, we Catholics may wish to purchase the schools and parishes the various dioceses are closing now. We’d need to do this by NOT contributing money to the Church in its present state – but rather form our own non-profit groups. For instance, I envision a Church for “Alternative Catholics”, one which consists of our current doctrine and beliefs for Roman Catholics, but one which would be run by lay people voted in by such Catholics. This is a tall order, but if all these buildings are going at fire-sale prices, and various school districts by them up to use as charter schools or social service agencies, as so many have in Phila., then we too can form similar structures to fund our own alternative Catholic schools and churches. When I spoke of this a decade ago, people were shocked and thought it could not, nor should not, be done. But now, I believe we MUST do this, if any form of Catholicism is to survive.

  6. Kathy, if clergy were to support the GJ recommendations which want an independent group to research and handle abuse claims, because the Grand Jury understands the conflict of interest that exists, when the abused go to the abusers and enablers…..

    and the GJ advises victims to go to civil authorities first, then clergy would be admitting that THEIR CHURCH system is a failure, which of course, it is.

    Clergy would have to deny the cosmetic Charter Efforts by the bishops. They would have to acknowledge the screaming conflict of interest that exists between victims and hierarchy.

    They would be fighting the hand that feeds them..not going to happen.

    1. Kathy…here is the Grand Jury recommendation… protect victims from the hierarchy.

      • Fund a victim assistance program that is independent of the Archdiocese and its lawyers.

      Our observations of two victims’ experiences with the Archdiocese’s victims assistance program are sufficient to convince us that the program needs to be completely overhauled and removed from the control of the Archdiocese. It is impossible for church
      employees to wholeheartedly serve the interests of the victims. As Mary Achilles, the consultant who tried to improve the victims assistance program, recognized, conflicts of interest are unavoidable. Victims of sexual abuse suffer today from the assistance coordinators’ split loyalties.

      The Archdiocese should either refer victims to the already existing Pennsylvania Victims Compensation Assistance Program, and then reimburse the program for aid that it provides to people harmed by Archdiocese employees, or it should fund an independent nonprofit that would administer assistance to the victims.
      The important element would be complete separation between the people who administer the fund and the Archdiocese and its lawyers. Decisions about assistance would be based solely on the needs of the victims. Information about the victims, their mental health, and their treatment would not be shared with the Archdiocese. The fund administrator would have to develop a process to determine eligibility.

      1. Joan,
        For over a year now, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has contracted with an outside agency called NOVAbucks. (
        Services for victims/survivors in the Philadelphia AD is provided by NOVAbucks. While folks can choose to use their own mental health providers, NOVAbucks staff provides the support group for those abused by clergy in the diocese of Philadelphia and provides free counseling. The Office of VictimsAassistance will refer people to NOVAbucks for services.
        The staff of NOVAbucks ( also provides the trainings about the PA Mandatory Reporting laws in PA to the volunteers, employees and clerical staff of the Archdiocese.

      2. Michele, This is my own skepticism talking…How trust worthy is NOVAbucks? Given the fact that the Archdiocese contracted them, how effective are they in helping the victims without a conflict of interest? Forgive my ignorance.

      3. Just checked out site. It seems like a great resource. However, when I look deeper, I see why the AD contracts with them…

        Here’s their little blurb under the individual counseling. (Again, I’m not knocking it…just saying the victims of clergy abuse have to heal on their own timeline, not the hierarchy’s).

        “NOVA provides one-on-one short-term counseling to help victims, their family members and significant others identify and work through thoughts and feelings surrounding their victimization. On average, the duration of counseling ranges from 10 to 12 sessions over three to four months.”

        How about this. I’ll take my doctorate level, experienced specialist in sexual abuse therapist for$150 an hour for as long as I need therapy and send the AD the bill. I don’t need a master’s level trained counselor for 3-4 months, only to be referred to someone else the AD may or may not approve payment to.

        Trust me…anytime the AD gets involved in “figuring out” what’s best for a victim, they inevitably make choices based on what’s best for themselves.

        Our diocese contracted through Catholic Social Services. Are you kidding me? Like a victim should go to a counselor being paid by the organization that abused them and lied about it? Regardless of how “professional” that counselor may be, the victim has to choose their own. And an OUTSIDE therapist (with the client)determines the length of time needed.

      4. I posted this in the wrong spot. I have had many conversation with the staff at Nova and was impressed each time. My question- is this still being referred through the AD. Meaning a victim contacts the AD first and then is referred to Nova or chooses an individual therapist? On the AD website the numbers are still there for victims to contact the victims assistance office. It would be nice to see the number to NOVA posted instead-victims could go right to the source. Maybe this has changed-it had not last time I checked and Susan recently contacted the AD to follow up on this article which was posted last year. Must victims first report to the AD to get access to outside services? Many victims simply cannot do that. If I am wrong Archdiocese,feel free to weigh in. Who do the victims contact first,the AD or NOVA directly? I know NOVA offered a survivors group in the past where the AD did not know the names of the survivors but is this true for services such as individual counseling or does the AD know the name of the victim receiving services? Again I have been impressed with NOVA. It is refreshing to speak with people who have absolutely no defensiveness in answering questions and actually welcome questions and opinions.

      5. Just clarifying…

        I’m sure the people at NOVA are wonderful and helpful and professional in all ways.

        What victims do not need is the AD involvement in any way. Why contract with any agency at all? Victims choose, AD pays. That’s how it goes. Don’t like that? Then don’t rape children and lie about it.

      6. Kathy,
        I followed your link. That is scary! The AD is going to create an “independent” program? That’s not possible. If you create it, then you fund it. If you fund it, you determine budget and hiring. There’s nothing independent about that.

        It’s a way to cut corners on the cost of counseling for victims. That’s what a victim needs…some cut-rate counseling to help them heal. The church doesn’t want to be at the mercy of the therapists who charge $150+ an hour. When they talk about apostolic works and helping those in need…this is a NEED…and they created it.

      7. Details from the AD website for “Support and Assistance for Outpatient Counseling Services”.

        Please note that NOVAbucks is one agency to whom the VA office might refer someone needing support/counseling for sexual abuse.
        Given that the AD has contracted with NOVAbucks for training services, it would be expected that they would also refer people to NOVAbucks for counseling/support services.
        I know the VA office is also are able to provide the names of local therapists if someone needed help finding a therapist or other support service.

      8. Maybe someone from PA who has interacted with the Philly AD VA Office can speak to the climate and effectiveness of the services given.

        Something to note: Victims Assistance Coordinators are hired by the AD, answer to the AD, and are in a unique situation. They are told where to guide victims coming forward, which “suggested” therapists or agencies to use first and how to “handle” victims. We tend to be loyal to the people cutting our checks. I think you will find in the Grand Jury Report (which you can access at the top of the page under Resources…just call me Joan 🙂 ), they speak to the challenges facing VA Coordinators and the needs of the victims not being met.

        Our diocese has an ineffective VA Coordinator…there are several victims from other states that have had lukewarm experiences (at best) with the VA of their respective dioceses. The consensus was that they were nice people, just not effective. Maybe they were effective…just not to the victims?

      9. SW, think you are absolutely right. Victims should not seek help from any agency, no matter how far ‘removed’ from the AD that is paid for by the AD.

        The Grand Jury had it right : “Our observations of two victims’ experiences with the Archdiocese’s victims assistance program are sufficient to convince us that the program needs to be completely overhauled and removed from the control of the Archdiocese.

        It is impossible for church employees to wholeheartedly serve the interests of the victims. As Mary Achilles, the consultant who tried to improve the victims assistance program, recognized, conflicts of interest are unavoidable. Victims of sexual abuse suffer today from the assistance coordinators’ split loyalties.”

        it is interesting that the same Mary Achillies that is quoted in the Grand Jury report as recognizing the victim conflicts with the AD were ‘unadvoidable’ is now staffing this one step removed from the AD but funded by the AD program.

        Actually it is sickening.

    2. Joan, I agree that the bishops will not take action on their own. That is why we must demand that our presidential candidates, all of them, commit to passing a mandatory national child sexual abuse reporting law that only a few states now appear to have.

      Ireland’s PM, Enda Kenny, addressed child sexual abuse with reporters at the White House this week. He is about to enact major new child protection laws in Ireland. I don’t know if he discussed it with Obama. But we definitely should. If the Irish can break the hierarchy’s grip on Ireland, we should surely be able to break it in the US.

      We may currently be unable to control our pope, but we can force by our political pressure our political leaders to make the pope and bishops obey child protection laws.

      As we lock up our bishops, we can begin to replace them with real vicars of Christ.

      We can and must do it.

      1. So right Jerry, We don’t live in the Vatican –We live in the USA – a place where truth and justice matter to people.

    3. Joan ,I wonder with the recent embezzlement charge against the former CFO ,if the AD was open to recommendations from law enforcement about how to protect their finances from future theft. I am thinking that answer is ….yes.

    4. I have had many conversation with the staff at Nova and was impressed each time. My question is this is still being referred through the AD. Meaning a victim contacts the AD first and then is referred to Nova or chooses an individual therapist? On the AD website the numbers are still there for victims to contact the victims assistance office. It would be nice to see the number NOVA posted instead-victims could go right to the source. Maybe this has changed-it had not last time I checked and Susan recently contacted the AD to follow up on this article which was posted last year.

      1. Kathy, you need to check out these church run services and compare them. The Arcdiocese of Melbourne has their own Response process and it has caused so much grief. An Independant Commissioner paid for by the church, is known for tipping off clergy they are an object of covert operations, undermining the law enforcement officers involve.
        The Towards Healing process, that Angela Ryan CSB was involved
        with, with best of intentions, too has been compromised.
        Look up Chrissie Foster on the net and see what her experience
        was and tragedy within her family and due processes within church. She has written a book; Hell on the way to heaven. America and Australia maybe miles apart I know, but your
        dealing with the same mentality within the same institution.

    5. survivors wife, I understand what you meant. My interaction with NOVA was pertaining to the mandatory reporting training they were contracted to teach to all volunteers,clergy,staff etc.. I called them for follow up questions from the training. It was simply delightful to speak to people who THANKED me for my questions,responded to each of my phone calls promptly and respectfully and valued me and my concerns/opinions. Wow was that a change!

  7. Which is why we will hear the message about the evil,anger and forgiveness..more words which will change absolutely nothing.

  8. i’d need to hear one of our legal-types “spill” a bit more on his or her thoughts or predictions for the events of yesterday and to come… please(?!)

    1. Crystal, see my “bottom line” above. As far as I am concerned the DA and Judge are operating often secretly behind a gag order, cutting ‘soft’ deals with no public oversight, and so far have not given me little confidence that full justice will prevail.

      Reportedly, the current Philly Democrat DA had worked for the Philly AD’s main law firm and one of the Philly AD’s current lawyers, former Assistant Philly DA Gina Smith, is now ex-PA Governor and former head of the US Democratic party, Ed Reindell’s law partner.

      Also reportedly, the Judge would eventually like a Federal judgeship. Ed is close to Obama, the man who now appoints Fed. judges. Moreover, we have seen how successfully Cardinals Bevilacqua and Rigali “managed” the political and criminal justice systems before.

      I have no proof of improper pressures being applied, and can only speculate here based on how the prosecution is being handled so far, but the results so far give me real pause. Chaput and his brethren “cultivate” both political parties.

      It is truly sickening for me!

      1. Jerry, how disappointing…i hate politics. Do any of these people you’ve mention have a 10 year-old boy?

      2. Jerry, thank you for your forthright and likely, accurate analysis. I think it is possible that the AD encouraged the deal so that it could call for the trial to be delayed, and for selection of a new jury. Then maybe it would do the same thing all over again.

        The judge should deny the request for a new jury because there is nothing in the news of one guilty priest that taints the jury. She can give an effective limiting instruction that will preclude error. And the judge should not delay the trial because there is no reasonable basis to do so. There is no need to call different witnesses, and there is no need for further discovery. Let the trial commence as planned so the people can see justice at work.

        The bad news is that the church has been through this many times over the centuries and in countries all over the world; and they’ve always walked away with impunity because they are the power behind the throne. It’s no different today.

        But you can vote with your feet and stop attending. You can always remain a catholic, in fact I’ve found that all of the other mainline churces recite the same Apostle’s creed, one holy catholic and apostolic church… At baptism you were given an indelible mark, and there is nothing they can do to take that away from you.

        Keep your faith and vote with your feet. STOP ATTENDING. That’s the best message you can send. You will feel better about yourself, and you will be able to keep your integrity by dissociating yourself from these beasts. Let them know you are not interested in their fake story line and will have no more of their conniving manipulation.

      3. Mark, Thanks for the incisive comments. Your advice about leaving the Church is certainly reasonable. Yet some with young families, some older ones like me with thicker Irish heads, may want to hang and fight awhile longer.

        We can more easily get control of our government by voting, etc., than we can get control our Church at present. If we can just get our officials like DA Williams and Judge Sarmina to do their duty diligently, we can begin to lock up criminal heirarchs who violate child protection laws.

        We then can move to selecting our own bishops again. What once was, can be again.

        If the Philly AD gets a pass here, and Williams and/or Sarmina eventually get promotions, I will help lead the protest before the Philly Ad Bastille personally!

      4. mark, i hear you and agree…but as Jerry mentions, leaving is complicated for some because life is complicated. Catholic society is complicated– and so are families and marriages and jobs etc…

        This storm that has devastated our church HAS GOT to be causing untold friction in all areas of life for so many of us. This is not easy – it’s heartbreaking in so many secret ways.

        It’s coming between husbands and wives who promised one another to raise their children in the church – how does a couple who are in disagreement about the scandal, or on staying or leaving the RCC, now come to a decision for their children? Do they all go their separate ways on Sunday? How about on Christmas and Easter?Do they promise not to bring up the AD scandal at home so that they don’t argue? How about those of us who are employed by the church or catholic institutions – how do we square this with our feelings about leaving? and on and on and on…

        I take it day by day..My husband and I disagree 100% on the RCC matter. We see the potential it has for causing difficulty in our home — but we’ve worked to not to let it come between us… It’s not easy.

      5. Crystal, you have my sympathy, big time. Fortunately, like Kathy, I am married to a guy who has the same ‘take’ as Kathy’s husband, doesn’t like the abuse et al, AT ALL, takes priests as they come…just men, actually my husband thinks that many are spoiled and immature.

        But there are some unspoiled and mature guys he likes a lot.

        So this mess is so much easier for us.

        For us it’s been politics where the divide occurs, tough in an election year.

        But from the vantage point of 54 years of marriage, I think respect for each other has been hugely important for us. I wish you that blessing!

      6. Hanging tough with the church because …. you’re Irish? Really? The Prime Minister of Ireland declared to the world in the Chamber of the Irish Parliament that, “the Cloyne Report excavates the dysfunction, disconnection, elitism….the narcissism that dominate the culture of the Vatican to this day… as little as three years ago, not three decades ago. The rape and torture of children were downplayed or ‘managed’ to uphold instead, the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and ‘reputation’. Erin go bragh.

      7. Mark, I am not Irish, have read 6 regional Irish reports including Amnesty International’s In Plain Sight, have a great respect for Ireland’s Prime Minister, am glad he called the Vatican accountable and sincerely hope he does not reopen the Vatican Embassy!

    2. crystal, You bring up so many good points about friction within families. We actually did a post about this back when we first started C4C.I will try to find that and provide a link. My situation is different because my husband converted to catholicism 15 years ago. He did so with no pressure from me -completely his own choice. Even though it was his choice, I still can’t help but feel a huge sense of embarrassment(not quite sure that word captures it) about him being caught up in the fiasco this has become .
      Having not been raised Catholic he has what I would call a healthier view of priests and religion. I am NOT referring to abusive priests We have had a few situations where I have been so angry and humiliated at some treatment we have received and he takes it in stride. His outlook is they are just men -that’s all -no different from you and me. He looks at it no different than if someone at a business was rude or arrogant. I am like “but he is a priest! he should be better” he thinks that is an unrealistic view and simply treats them as good or bad as they treat him.
      As for the abuse,he is horrified and just as disgusted as I am. He supports my work on this 100%. Sure there are times it takes up some time or takes me away from my family and that can cause some friction but he understands the importance .I think it would be very difficult to not be on the same page about this issue and can imagine the emotions surrounding that. One story a friend told me was that her husband is just beside himself with anger about this and has really done the work involved to inform himself. She can’t bring herself to read the GJ reports so her husband gives her sections to read that she thinks she can handle. I used to say that everyone should read the reports -I have no right to say that -I don’t know someone’s personal history and why something could be so difficult. I thought this was a nice gesture from this husband ,and also from the wife who was scared but also wanted to understand all of this.
      I imagine their are many families at odds about their future in the Church -there is nothing simple about this.

      1. Hey joan and kathy..I can sort of handle disagreeing about the RCC with my husband — It’s disagreeing with our elderly mothers on this, that i’m REALLY scared of!!!– now that’s REAL trouble!! (lol)

      2. crystal…I laughed at that …at 73 I AM the mother in law and NEVER discuss these issues with the kids…trust God, trust the kids!

      3. I’m the oposite, as a convert I expected more, I’m the only Catholic in my family, and many dear friends of other faiths who have the same mentality of your husband.
        I have to say, I was completely caught off guard when a franciscan walked through my front gate with a bottle of wine and a red rose, believing it was quite in order. Admittedly he sought a rescript of his vows denied, due to the “evident cause for scandal”.
        There are many little prodigies of St Francis walking among us, all paid off with confidentiality clauses, signed by the mothers.
        I wonder what your husband thinks of that?
        Probably that they are only human. This one was looking for a home and family of his own, entering junior seminary at 13 years old and too young to be separated from hearth and home.

  9. St. Peter taught in his Epistles, “Ye are kings and priests!” St. Paul taught about “The priesthood of all believers!” Both teachings come from the New Testament, but unfortunately, I didn’t learn of them until after I left the Church! An “Ordained Priesthood” is nothing more than a white-wash of the truth, found in the Gospels and the Epistles. It only exists to keep the Culture of Clericalism alive in the church. Without it, men would look kind of ridiculous prancing around in Belgian Lace and long frocks, acting like arrogant, spoiled, Medieval Princes! Jesus didn’t “Ordain” men at the Last Supper, otherwise there would have been proof in the Word, specifically, John, chapters 15 and 16, which tell of the events at the Last Supper. The people in the pews need to assert their rights and bring down the Hierarchy!

  10. Awesome outlook, Susan. Beautifully written and you expressed my sentiments exactly. I’ve read your blog and I have followed the ups and downs of this journey. I’m glad you had a sign to continue speaking out. Your words speak for all of us.

  11. Jerry, I am muddying the waters here with a discussion of the AD NOT supervising Avery’s 6 ‘adopted kids’…What liability does the church have under those various hierarchs from 1992 or before to now?…If these kids were severely abused as I think quite possible?

    Here’s the stuff.

     Father Avery and his ‘adopted children’ 2011 Grand Jury Report

    What did Father Avery do to these very fragile ‘adopted children’ Why didn’t the AD monitor this situation?  Were these kids abused too? Has the prosecution looked into the matter.  The AD certainly hasn’t.

    “Father Avery also informed Msgr. Lynn in 1992 that he had adopted six Hmong children – three girls and three boys. Archdiocese officials did NOTHING (my caps) over the years to investigate the welfare or safety of these children entrusted to the accused child molester.

    Father Avery was discharged from Saint John Vianney  ( a ‘treatment center’ ) on October 22, 1993. In a memo to Msgr. James E. Molloy, then the assistant vicar for administration, Msgr. Lynn listed the treatment center’s recommendations. These included “a ministry excluding adolescents and with a population other than vulnerable minorities; a 12-step Alcoholics Anonymous meeting for priests; and any further involvement with the Hmong be in an administrative or pastoral capacity.” Saint John Vianney also advised that an aftercare team was necessary to keep watch over Father Avery.

    Msgr. Lynn and his colleagues also appear to have ignored Father Avery’s continued involvement with the Hmong, despite Saint John Vianney’s explicit recommendation to limit his contacts with that community. 

    According to Cardinal Bevilacqua, restrictions on an abusive priest’s ministry are normally documented in his file. There is nothing, however, in Father Avery’s file to suggest that his access to the Hmong children whom he adopted, or his non-pastoral relationships with the Hmong, was ever restricted or even monitored.

    Archdiocese documents indicate that, in 1996, Msgr. Lynn was aware that Father Avery was still deeply involved with the Hmong community – three years after therapists had urged that he be kept away from “vulnerable minorities.” There is no indication that church officials ever checked on the welfare of Father Avery’s “adopted” children – even though Msgr. Lynn and the Cardinal were the only people in a position to protect those children, having concealed from the community that the man entrusted with their welfare was an accused child molester.

    1. Sorry, Joan, but Avery is a done deal now. C4C bloggers should focus of the critical balance of the case they have been following for a year now. That is my priority now. Other issues may be interesting, and even important, but getting the DA and Judge now to protect Philly’s kids is what is most important now. I have only so much time and will no longer reply to questions unrelated to this priority. Perhaps some other lawyers may.

      1. Jerry, While I appreciate what you are saying re the fact that avery has been sentenced re this one case. I would suggest that his actions toward the victim here showed such poor control and depravity on his part that there are undoubtedly other victims. Any number of these victims may be within the SOL and additional charges and sentencing time could be applied. That would be protecting Philly’s kids. I agree that the larger issues here are the systemic/heirarchical ones though and they deserve our attention and activism. I am grateful for the energy and focus that everyone on this blog brings to the table, it’s been a lonely world out here. I am not at liberty to comment in more detail or publicly because of the gag order in this case. This is a source of frustration at the moment but it has spared the victims in this case from having to see their lives dragged through the media. As the bard said truth will out….. and the truth we have in abundance.

      2. James@15,

        The acts of abuse that victims endured were, alone, horrendous. But far too many of the sheep and the hierarchy fail to comprehend the years and decades that followed for victims– “the lonely worlds” they endured while either burying their ordeal deep within the recesses of their own minds, or stumbling through, in and around the innumerable mental, physical and emotional health issues resulting from abuse, or confronting systems and institutions meant to represent justice yet failing to deliver it. It is unconscionable that people, systems and institutions have permitted victims to endure such lonely places in themselves.

      3. James, I thought the same thing, with Avery’s long troubling history there could be other cases that fall within the statutes. When you said “it has been a lonely world out here” that has been reflected by so many others survivor and family members we have met over the past year. The one thing I always hear is that C4C has been a place for them to finally read and hear of Catholic laity’s reaction to this issue. The silence has been overwhelming and hurtful on so many levels, for so many years. I know that Vicky has said that to know people actually care has helped her on her journey. I hope people find some comfort on this site,whether they follow silently or comment, that people do care and that world feels a little less lonely at times.

      4. James@15,
        In our loneliness and brokeness we can learn to be compassionate and understanding towards others……..that is what I have learned especially from this site……….their are many people on this site that truly care for our victims and I am one of them.You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  12. Satan gets bolder, as Cardinal Dolan steps in on his blog and tries to intimidate the victims of child rape in the Catholic church. See He knows teenagers are likely to read his blog, so they’ll get the message. So will older victims.

    You want to fight the Catholic church? The Catholic church has the biggest lawyers in the world, and they couldn’t care less about the truth or the victims of their heinous crimes.

    Fr Avery’s lawyers tried to intimidate a child sex victim, humiliating him in every way they could, but he had the strength to fight back, even though Avery had lied for 30+ years about not sexually abusing him. There should be a parade for the victim that the guts to maintain the fight. God bless his supreme strength.

    Cardinal Dolan should be thrown in prison for his despicable leadership. He will certainly get a table with Bevilacqua in hell in the afterlife.

    God is making this so easy to understand.

    1. Neil, great idea. Perhaps some of you in Philly could have a parade for Avery’s brave victim. He surely deserves it. I am very serious this. Perhaps it could be linked to the upcoming April 6 First Friday vigil.

      It could also favorably prod Lynn’s trial along.

      Also, I hope Susan or somone moves forward with the brilliant idea advanced here earlier–tee shirts that simply say, front and back, in large dignified letters—“I believe the victims…” .

      Like “yellow” and “pink” ribbons, this would catch on! What more powerful way to move the “pew potatoes” we all moan about than sitting next to them, quietly and repectfully, with that tee shirt on.

      It will also usefully provoke the priest when you face him at communion with your tee shirt glaring at him.

      Put me down for two tee shirts, Susan, “XL”, I am afraid!

      1. Great ideas.

        And God would be proud, and every Catholic would really have to decide how to look at that strong, tough victim, who deserves an apology from every one of them.

      2. I agree that something visual and loud should be done to show support for the victims. There have been some excellent ideas. But I agree that the most effective step we can take is to firm up all children protection legislation across the country. Your idea of national initiative is interesting and promising.

      3. Susan, thanks. I think the tee shirt idea is an excellent idea and also know, if you concur, you could pull it off spectacularly. I realize that many would feel anxious at first wearing them to Mass, but it is a minor discomfort compared to victims’ perpetual anxiety. As to Federally legislating a reporting obligation, it could be passed if enough spoke up as they did in 1994 with the Federal Megan’s Law. It appears to me that many who push only state law SOL reform, Sr. Maureen and a few others excluded, are prodded by lawyers who profit from state law based abuse cases. I believe lawyers should be paid, but it is important to be aware of their incentives.
        As to Mark’s Irish comment, my reference to my thick Irish head was mainly in jest.

        On the other hand, my Irish ancestors died to preserve the faith my Irish parents passed on to me. I will be damned if I will let a group of Mafia types in red gowns steal my faith from me without a fight. If I have to wear a protest tee shirt to Mass, bring it on!

        The hierarchy have a lot of money, yes. But they are blinded by a lust for power and wealth, and they not very bright to boot! Just look at the current slapstick routine of the Dynamic Duo, Dolan and Donahue, as they hopelessly try to destroy SNAP before SNAP can compel the pope to testify under oath in SNAP’s criminal proceeding pending against the pope at the International Criminal Court.

        So I will stick around and keep punching until I run out of gas or they are locked up.

      4. “To go to Rome is little profit, endless pain; the Master that you seek in Rome, you find at home or search in vain.” Attributed to an Irish monk.

    2. I have just read the link you provided along with dolans ‘cv’ and it indicates he never worked a day in his life. The photos he had taken of himself indicates a huge ego along with a huge waistline. I believe that the rcc can, should and will be held accountable for all the EVIL it has committed as public awareness grows so will the pressure. Is their any Country / Continent that the rcc has not enabled and abused VICTIMS ? As far as dolan / donohue said that the rcc will get tough lawyer to fight VICTIMS then the VICTIMS need to get even tougher in holding the rcc accountable. The first step of success is to stop donating and expose all the politicians stonewalling legislation.

  13. There are many posts about leaving the RCC and starting another or joining a community not in uniate. Following that advice leads us to our own personal sin. Those who committed the crimes and conspired to hide them will have to pay for their crimes for nothing is hidden from God. We hope they pay for their crimes here on earth; justice demands it. In additions, we know that these shepherds are responsible for the souls of their flock; they will have to answer for the damage they’ve done in eternity. We’ll all be happy to see them pay here on earth, but remember, they will have to answer at the last judgement as well. 2-1/2-5 years in jail will seem like child’s play.

    If the ultimate goal is to change the RCC, leaving is also fruitless. If everyone who cared about this evil left, who would be left to fight the battle? The hierarchy is under no obligation to hear laity if they are apostates. Under canon law, laity are obligated to make their needs known and the hierarchy is obligated to hear them. Under canon law, bishops and others can be removed for their failures. There are lay Canon Law Professionals. Put them to work enforcing canon law which has largely been ignored. In this way, we can exercise our Baptismal vocations as priest, prophets, and king and claim righteousness.

    Other things we can do: remove our children from parish schools and prep programs; we have the obligation to educate them and so we can do that via homeschooling. We can designate parish donations to a particular fund and give our charitable donations to local needs like food banks. Those of us in lay ministries, paid or volunteer, can make it our duty to NEVER leave a child alone with an adult. Insist on remaining in the sacristy, or the church, or the office with the priest. The good priests welcome that! For those of you who feel you must leave the Latin Rite, consider attending an alternate Rite– but write a letter to Chaput and Benedict so they know what you are protesting!

    And above all, pray! In Fatima, Mary reminded us that her Son is already much offended. How He must be wounded over what has been done to His innocent children! Work with Him, not against Him.

    1. “Under canon law, bishops and others can be removed for their failures.”

      They do remove bishops and priests for (1) stealing money and (2) talking about the day WHEN women will be priests.

      Chaput went on a search and destroy mission for the Vatican in Australia. Bishop Morris, who merely raised the question of women as priests, was forced to resign and never saw Chaput’s report. Chaput gets appointed to Philadelphia.

      Father Ray Bourgeois being kicked out of Maryknoll for advocating for women priests has led to a sick joke: “He should have copped a plea — lied and confessed to abusing a child.”

      1. I understand that using canon law seems to be pie in the sky, but I think a part of that is because lay people think canon law is inaccessible and think of canon lawyers as priests for the church. There are independent lay canonists, and perhaps it’s time for laity to claim their power.

      2. Actually, Cleanstart, I think it was Peter Borre who successfully with much interface with Rome, used canon law on behalf of potential church closings in Boston,( Jason Berry, Render Unto Rome) and Fr Jim Connell (a canon lawyer ) who cited it in Madison on behalf of SOLs windows being opened in Wisconsin.

        The downside that I have heard is the law itself depends on the will of the Pope and can be altered to accommodate current Church orthodoxy.

      3. cleanstart,

        While lay people can employ the services of an independent lay canonist to represent them, still, it remains that they and their lay canonist are confronting Canon Law. Canon Law grants few rights to lay people, and little to no recourse for holding clergy accountable. Canon Law favors protecting the image of the clergy and the Church over the dignity of lay people. Clergy serve as judges in cases of Canon Law. Clergy acting as judges mentally substitute the word “hierarchy” for the word “Church” rather than correctly interpreting it as “the people of God.” Many clergy have transformed the apostolic duty to serve the least among us into a superiority complex, and have perverted leadership into manipulation– believing clergy need to manipulate simple minded lay people of simple faith for their own good and salvation. Were lay people and their independent canonists to confront Canon Law, they could expect threats, humiliation, fear, deception, lies, ignoring, ostracizing, stalling and evasion.

      4. Martin, he also upset Archbishop Bathersby, by setting a precedent taking responsability and apologising for the sex-abuse, some raped, of five thirteen year girls, at one if his parish primary schools.
        The fallout, his own education officers [under the Archbishop} were complicite in covering it up, the principal, later charged for failing to call the police.
        The full story still online; The Australian National Affairs The Vatican punishing the crusader……May 11 2011.

      5. We were just discussing canon law, and I said it could be adjusted to the Popes convenience. Today’s NCR, covering the Popes visit to Mexico which is under the cloud of the Legionaires of Christ, a cult like group with strong papal support and a Mexican founder  who was a serial pedophile, with several wives and assorted kids, in a book released today….:

        In the book’s most striking accusation, Barba, who holds a doctorate from Harvard in Latin American studies, writes that in 2001 Cardinal Ratzinger and his chief canon lawyer, ArchbishopTarcisio Bertone, modified the statute of limitations in church law regarding sex with minors “retroactively in favor of the Legionary founder, and injuring the human rights and legitimate interests of us, his victims.”

        Thought victims survivors and concerned others might be interested in the Popes, canon law adjustment to protect his friend, major donor and serial pedophile…

    2. Cleanstart, many years ago, in the late 60’s, in a summer M Div program I heard a Spanish Jesuit with the largest religious Ed responsibility in the Church, (he was in charge of Catechetics for the Far East) say something that shocked me at the time, but doesn’t now. He said there would be many folks who would be saved because they left the Church, and many damned because they stayed.

      I don’t know if he was right, but I find that, at least personally, I don’t want to judge folks on that issue.

      Rather I would like to comment on the importance of prayer, especially if folks are dealing with the tough stuff that C4C is struggling with.

      Every now and then on this blog, there will be a Merton quote. For younger folks this may not make too much sense, but Thomas Merton in the mid twentieth century wrote very extensively as a mystic about his personal relationship with God. He brought that dimension back to our times with a lot of vigor. And most of us read Merton.

      Richard Rohr, a modern day very pragmatic Merton, is doing the same right now.

      I spent a weekend recently listening to Rohr, and snagged him at a break. I told him I was fussing around with some abuse victims issues and I became very angry when I learned the specifics of the abuse, and didn’t want to be anger dominated. He said two things….stay with the issue and pray more.

      I don’t know if Rohr’s materials would even interest you, his most recent book, Falling Upward, is aimed at second half of life folks…but he is a very funny, but serious guy..and there may be folks reading this, who might profit from a bit of Rohr.

      1. Falling Upward… loved it! I’m jealous that you recently spent a weekend with Richard Rohr

      2. Martin, truth in blogging, I read your web site and an article with a lot of credits, and with one exception I knew them all. No surprise that we agree on these matters!

        I am very struck by the fact that because of the ‘territory’ C4C encompasses, evil is an issue. Think Rohr’s advice to me and perhaps others was important. Which is why I responded to Cleanstart, as I did.

      3. I’ll add that book to my summer reading list. I’m familiar with some of his other works. Liked some, didn’t like others. I like to read his reflections. One of my favorite questions he challenges us with: “How do I stand against hate without becoming hate myself?”

      4. Cleanstart, I have two Rohr’s on my table right now, The Naked Now, and Everything Belongs….as to Merton there is no Merton I don’t like, but Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, Thomas Merton in Alaska ( right before he died) and in his letters, Hidden Ground of Love and Road to Joy, are all favorites. Actually there are a lot more…and I really like Basil Pennington on Merton as well.. So much for ‘book discussion’!

    3. Two parish schools that were ordered to close in Philadelphia have just recently gone this route,appealing the decision using canon law I believe.

    4. Cleanstart,
      Interesting idea getting a lay cannon lawyer. How do I get one?I think the best way to stop child sexual abuse in the church is the consequences from civil law at this time and law changes. Cannon law seems to be too slow and biased. At the same time cannon law does need to change and after the church is cleaned out by leadership being jailed it does seem reasonable that cannon law being reformed is the next step. Clearing out the criminal leadership would hopefully make room for changes. In a way the priests association in philadelphia could be a catalyst for that if they chose. I think about leaving the church all the time but when i pray God asks me who will rebuild my church and fight for my church if you leave?

      1. Hi, Beth,

        If you want an independent canon lawyer, start here:

        I also agree that there need to be more consequences from civil law. The laws do need to change. My siblings’ abuser will never face justice on earth. The SOL has long since run out. Even if it hadn’t, the paltry sentences are nothing compared to the life sentences abuse victims suffer.

        We also need the Church to change, too. We need canonical penalties for those who may have not technically committed a crime but for those who certainly abused their power or are guilty of misconduct and mismanagement.

        Canon law is slow and biased. It will be a challenge. But we still need to do this for our children. If the current Pope is not cooperative, we still can put up the challenge because the next pope or bishop will be changed by the challenge of the laity. The priests that are left will be changed; they are already much concerned about how canon law and may very well join us. Or perhaps, if the whispers are correct, we may be joining them.

    5. Haditcatholic, you said: “Were lay people and their independent canonists to confront Canon Law, they could expect threats, humiliation, fear, deception, lies, ignoring, ostracizing, stalling and evasion.”

      This is what all victims have faced and we still encourage them to speak out, promising to support them, and cheering them for their bravery. Why shouldn’t we be willing to face the same?

      Even if we get small increments of change, it’s a start. For example, abortion brings the the automatic penalty of excommunication. A few years ago, a doctor in Brazil performed an abortion on a 9 year old child who would have died if she carried her babies to term. The mother and doctor were excommunicated. But the step-father who raped her? Anyone who has sex with a child should also incur the penalty of automatic excommunication!

      Just because it’s hard doesn’t mean we should quit. Even brick walls succumb to constant pressure.

  14. Susan, I too recall sitting in the pew beside my daughter, a student Special Minister of the Eucharist, hoping she would not succumb to a crisis within the church.
    She eventually did, unable to deal with the hypocracy.
    What could I say, where do no harm with the precepts of honesty, justice and truth were instilled as a child.

    1. I wish C4C bloggers all the best. I am unwilling to spend more time here. I can contribute more overall to reforming the Church at NCR and hope what I write there is of help to those of you who read NCR. I hope I have helped, but need now to tighten my focus. We are down to crunch time and I just need a more focused site that fits better my approach. Good luck.

      1. NCR has and will continue to play a formidable role in reforming the Church. But the role of the laity in reform is crucial as well. No where, NO WHERE, is there a more formidable, lay-focused, grassroots cite than C4C, located in the epicenter of the sexual abuse crisis. NCR has been twiddle its thumbs for years waiting patiently for the masses to get informed, rise up and respond to not only the sexual abuse crisis but the critical issue of Church reform. Neither NCR nor C4C is better or worse, we are both passionate and dedicated forces intent on accomplishing the same thing. Without each other, we would be nothing. Remember that Jerry. Thank you.

      2. Hadit, thanks for your somewhat disappointing lecture, but you misunderstand me. I think C4C is a wonderful site that has benefited many, including me, and will continue to benefit many, I hope.

        I am a lawyer whose tool is argument. I can do that more effectively at NCR given the site’s different format. There are only so many hours in a day, the struggle is approaching a critical point and I must blog where I can make my contribution best.

        I mentioned NCR not to tout it, but just to tell C4C bloggers where to find me if they want my current views on the Philly scandal. C4C bloggers, including you, have directed questions to me occasionally. As a courtesy. I wanted them to know I am moving on so they don’t waste their time directing specific question so me.

        I haven’t blogged long at NCR and am well aware of its limitations, which I regularly complain about to its editors. I agree with most of your NCR criticism. NCR and C4C have some overlapping goals and audiences, but they are different and both important, in my view at least.

        Unless and until I learn how to set up my own blog, it is the best available for my objectives.

        I hope all of you continue to press the Philly AD on this site. I have already given C4C bloggers my current advice to follow if it suits them.

      3. Thanks Jerry – It’s certainly understandable that you need to do this. I’ve learned a ton from you! Give ’em heck at NCR – I’ll be reading!

    1. I always find it interesting how other people view things. There is a very disturbing video on gloriatv about Pope John Paul and Assis Prayer Service. Anyway from viewing the above video I guess you could say I am a fanatic also:) If a fanatic is someone that believes in all the teachings of the church. I lived in India 6 months and the poverty there was way worse than the poverty here. I literally saw people rottening away before me from Leprosy and all types of mutilation of children many horrible sights. Because many are hindu in India they believe in caste system and believe you must have done something wrong in your past life to be born poor so they don’t help their neighbors and many are left to die in the streets.I believe this has been changing as they get more Westernized. The amount of people in poverty is over whelming. We are very lucky to live in a judeo.Christain country because our view to help one another is very Christain. It’s easy to criticize and not be the one picking people up from the gutter. Maybe someone else should volunteer to do the step after that instead of criticizing. I think when people are good they think others are like them and don’t always see the evil in them…..meaning some of the corrupt business men etc.I think she felt she could do only so much politically and focused on abortion and the pooerest of the poor.

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