The Depths of Depravity Revealed As Priests’ Trial Opens


Area Catholics are digesting the full scope of priest sex abuse crimes this Palm Sunday as they read the Inquirer. Some clergy tried to prepare their parishes last Sunday for what one called “the passion of the Philadelphia Church.” But what could ready congregations for the details that have emerged during the trial that began on Monday?

I beg Catholics to get past the sickening salacious details to the realization that this happened to terrified children – children just like their own. I don’t like the word scandal so much anymore. Scandal is fluffy stuff compared to what happened.

Click here to read: “Priests’ trial opens with lurid tales: Stories of stalking and improper touching set an uncomfortable tone in the courtroom,” by John P. Martin, The Philadelphia Inquirer, April 1, 2012

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44 Responses to “The Depths of Depravity Revealed As Priests’ Trial Opens”

  1. Evil is a value judgment. Actions, intents and attitudes help people determine whether a crime is “depraved” or heinous.

    Considering what we have heard in the trial so far, what, exactly, propels it into the domain of “depraved” in your point of view?

    • In a word – corruption. Evil can exist without corruption. This is both, and therefore, depraved.

    • What permits us to deem the “lurid tales” and the conspiracy to cover them up as “depraved” or heinous?

      They fit the definition of “crimes against humanity.”

      Crimes against humanity “are particularly odious offenses in that they constitute a serious attack on human dignity or grave humiliation or a degradation of one or more human beings. They are not isolated or sporadic events, but are part either of a government policy or of a wide practice of atrocities tolerated or condoned by a government or a de facto authority. Inhumane acts reach the threshold of crimes against humanity only if they are part of a widespread or systematic practice.”

      The hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church, a de facto authority, has been engaged in crimes against humanity for centuries. Its victims number in the hundreds of thousands. Its crimes entail the rape, sodomy, masturbation, groping, stalking, threatening, striking, bondaging, etc., of children around the world. For centuries, it has tolerated it, and has conspired to cover it up. The religious nature of the hierarchy creates an enigma that has acted to protect it from legal, moral and ethical scrutiny, permitting it to function as a surreal, otherworldly, organized crime network on Earth.

      Adding to the depravity are people who deny or cannot see beyond what is unfolding in the courtroom in Philadelphia. The daily, sordid details amount to one speck of an epic tale of crime, deceit and corruption. Further adding to the depravity is the failure of modern governments and legal systems around the world to eradicate the hierarchical institution that permitted and perpetuated crimes against humanity, convicting and imprisoning the entire lot of sociopathic, parasitic, and unholy felons.

      • Collectively, as in worldwide, this is what Geoffery Robertson QC, international human rights lawyer+++++++ accused the Catholic Church of when visiting Australia, sometime ago.
        Crimes against humanity. I’m sure he’s watching with unabated interest, whats being unfolded in Philadelphia, played out on the world wide stage.

  2. So true Susan, about the word “scandal”.. It’s an AD-centric word which is completely inadequate. “Scandal” would be an appropriate word in a old-time Newport gossip column, to refer to someone’s frivolous social indiscretion or “fall from grace.”
    IMO, a better word for what was done to our catholic children, and to our church would be “atrocity”.

    • Martin J. Leahy, PhD Reply April 1, 2012 at 5:24 pm

      Crystal,

      There is small s scandal and capital S Scandal. The former is a PR problem for the institution. The latter is a sin against charity. If I tell you about a priest who abused I might create Scandal. I risk turning you away from the Church and thus I put your eternal salvation at risk. I could be responsible for you going to hell. What a powerful way to get people to collude in the silence.

      This is why scandal has a double meaning. The managers had a real concern — the PR problem — but they had an espoused concern, they claimed they worried about the souls of the faithful. They held the sin of Scandal over the heads of parents and other priests: “Yes, Father did a terrible thing but we cannot speak about this lest we lead innocent faithful into doubt about the Church and put their immortal souls at risk.”

      I don’t agree with this teaching but it was what I was taught and can be found in the current catechism.

      • Martin, I am more concerned about the salvation of folks who ‘got it’ and did nothing to protect innocent children.

        A contemporary Sermon on the Mount, might well read “blessed are the Whistleblowers, for theirs is the Kingdom of heaven”.

      • Martin, you’re so right… I grew up with this absurd, dangerous concept too. Thank God our kids are not buying ANY of it –thus putting an end to evil lies like these.

        I’ve just gotta say, I LOVE what’s happening these days in Philly! How lucky we are to live in these times and to be witnessing this… Isn’t this spectacular??!! I just wish more people were tuned in.

      • Their efforts to hide the truth in order to avoid Scandal has done more to turn people away from the Church if they had reported the abuse and been transparent about ut in the first place. In its secrecy, the Church has turned away countless victims and their families, as well as those of us disgusted with its (in)actions. The continued despicable treatment of victims, exemplified in the email from Rich’s relatives and the condoned vitriol from the Catholic League, are driving evermore numbers of Catholics away from their Church in order to find Christ in action.

        I am shaking with anger and sadness for this Church.

        My prayers are with the victims that you may know more and more of us are listening and believing, for your continued strength and healing.

      • I agree, Martin, but how do the remaining Catholic defenders rationalize that God gave us the Internet and social media so that the Catholic church couldn’t keep these crimes silent? Do they think that God had nothing to do with the Internet being created? Do they really think the Internet is too high tech for God?

      • This is a fallacy and just holding responsable parents to ransom and nothing to do with Christianity.
        How many Australian families have been placed into bondage, causing divisions to the point of exclusions, for the sake of protecting the church.
        I know of a few, covering up heinous crimes and sins, across the board, including the Sixth Commandment of the Deacologue which is cause for laicization, leaving legitimate husbands cuckolded and lives in tatters.

  3. The first week of prosecution witnesses…and I would imagine that we have many more weeks of the same:

    This weeks report :

    “Stalking. Groping. Gay bondage porn.

    A sexually graphic love letter to a grade-school boy.

    The topics discussed in a third-floor Philadelphia courtroom last week might unnerve most observers.

    That they emerged in testimony about priests – and at times, from priests – only amplified the uneasiness. After all, a prosecutor told jurors at the start of this landmark clergy sex-abuse trial in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, priests are viewed as God’s agents on Earth.

    Though much of the evidence introduced against Msgr. William J. Lynn had been outlined in two grand jury reports, the first week of his trial added a dimension to a scandal that has roiled Catholics for a decade.

    Aired for the first time were secret church records, typed and hand-written, chronicling what Lynn and the local church hierarchy allegedly knew and did about priests suspected of abuse. There on the stand were victims describing as creepy predators men they had been taught to revere.”

    • Joan, Your last paragraph is what strikes the core. Child sex abuse is always horrific and can happen in homes, camps, etc. This trial is about legal accountability. The Church records indicating what the leadership covered up is the crux. Regardless of this trial’s outcome, I want Catholics to hold their leadership morally accountable.

    • Susan’s comment about a pastor warning his folks that they were entering into ‘the passion of the Philadelphia Church’ totally begs the issue. Philadelphia Catholics were just LEARNING what had been diocesan policy for 70 years.

      IF one wants to talk about the sufferings of Jesus, that passion. Consider the agony of the 5 year olds, 10 year olds, 12 and 14 year olds who were repeatedly sodomized, anally raped, couldn’t tell anyone…the saddest thing I have ever read on C4C and there have been lots of horrors…was V4J comments yesterday, after horrifying and repeated rape. He prayed to God to make it stop, he prayed to Superman. It didn’t stop.

      • Yes Joan. V4J praying to Superman absolutely broke my heart. It screamed of lost hope and despair. In Church today, the pastor cited the Psalm’s verse…My God, My God, why have thou forsaken me. All the survivors comments mean so much to me. The victims are in my daily prayers.

      • Martin J. Leahy, PhD Reply April 1, 2012 at 6:23 pm

        Joan, that comment about the “passion of the Philadelphia church” made me sick to my stomach.

        But, if I think about the church as the people of God, I ask: who was the one handed over to the chief priests and elders? who was put on trial? who was investigated and against whom was evidence sought? whose word was accepted without question? who was condemned? who was the judge? who disowned and who was disowned? who was betrayed? who was mocked, spit on, and struck? what crowd begged for crucifixion? who washed his hands? who died, whether literaly or spiritually?

      • The victims…Martin, as you well know. those poor innocent children asking god and superman to make it stop!

  4. V4J wasn’t just robbed of childhood and a sense of security. The term soul murder sums it up.

  5. Yes Susan, I have called it “Spiritual Murder” for over ten yrs.

    I hope there is some person, who knows this whole “diabolical evil” mess of a story, that will have the “cahones” to tell it! The media has held it at arms length for over ten years, just getting involved a little bit ,because the sensitivity of all the billions of Catholics and a church so huge and so absolutely RUTHLESS, they don’t want to be a factor that could get them killed. I don’t blame them. GOD will put HIS HEDGE of PROTECTION AROUND THOSE WHO TELL THE TRUTH AND GET IT OUT THERE.!!!

  6. Catholics pay for the best PR people in the world, and will try to call rampant child rape a “scandal”, a “crisis”, and “inappropriate touching”, or the Catholic invention, “boundary violations”. These are watered down euphemisms to placate anyone who doesn’t seek the truth.

    How about his phrase – terrorism by cowards. This trial is proving that Bevilacqua and Lynn absolutely, knowingly, willfully, gutlessly, left children alone with known child terrorists, who then did things that should make any normal person puke.

    Also, the remaining Catholics call these criminals priests and bishops. How about calling them “false idols” instead? At almost every turn, they did the exact opposite of What Jesus Would Do, and in their leadership position, they have lowered your standards so far that remaining Catholics think that all of their crimes and sins are no big deal by comparison. They have the congregation convinced that Jesus would fight the victims when they come forward, and that Jesus would care more about money than children.

    By spreading this moral “black plague” for decades, and having it recorded on the Internet for perpetuity, they will diminish the Catholic following by at least 50% per generation. Don’t believe it? Take a look at how few people go to mass compared to 20-30 years ago. Well done, satan.

  7. “Passion of the Church of Philadelphia!!!!” I reject this term with extreme prejudice!

    Talk to me in stead of the “Glorification of Sacerdotalism” resulting in exaggerated religiosity that does not correspond to the Church’s adherents’ perception of reality all around them.

    Bishops prostrate themselves before altars to show remorse; for what? Being outed? They rise and are again their same old arrogant, narcissistic, self-absorbed selves, jealous of their assumed prerogatives, position and prestige.

    Sorry, peddle the “passion” somewhere else.

    • A Sunday editorial in the Delco Times (?) takes a look at one of last weeks abusers, Leneweaver, and the contrast between the defense in Kansas City, where Bishp Finn claims he has no reporting requirements to authorities…it’s the job of his underling, and Philly where the reverse argument is made, not Lynns responsibility. But rather Bev’s.

      I leave it to your judgement.

      http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/vatican-abuse-summit-victim-reports-%E2%80%98death-respect-church-leaders#comment-293039

      “Leneweaver’s abuse had repercussions beyond the children he molested. According to the 2011 grand jury report, the big brother of a boy abused by Leneweaver was beaten by his father into unconsciousness in 1975 when he told his parents of his little brother’s abuse by the priest.

      They finally believed him when they found their younger son bleeding after being raped by Leneweaver. Bevilacqua was informed by Lynn of Leneweaver’s child abuse history when the priest applied to return to active ministry. In 1998, Lynn refused Leneweaver’s request “for his own welfare and the welfare of the church.” No mention was made of danger to children.

      Lynn may be the first U.S. Catholic Church official charged in the clerical sex abuse scandal, but he is no longer the highest ranking. As a result of a Jackson County, Mo., grand jury investigation, Bishop Robert Finn, head of the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese, was charged last October with failure to report suspected child abuse in the case of the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, who is facing 13 child pornography counts.

      Last week, in a reversal of the defense Lynn’s lawyers are using, Finn’s attorneys maintained in court that the bishop had no legal obligation to report the suspected child abuse since a subordinate was designated with that duty.

      It is chilling to note that in both cases, the church administrators charged with these offenses are not denying knowledge of priests in their purviews potentially abusing children, but are claiming that it was
      not their job to inform police about the suspected pedophiles. 

      • Joan, This gets darker by the day. The victim’s older brother was beaten into unconsciousness by his father for reporting the priest’s abuse. Are you kidding me? What the hell is wrong with these parents! I have heard many such comments (parents physically punishing their children for speaking the truth)…and it is abhorrent.

      • John, there’s lots wrong with parents who beat their children unconscious for telling the truth about the molestation of their younger brother.

        We spent considerable time on C4C discussing denial of the depravity….by folks in the pew, but we never discussed beating a child unconscious for truth telling. It’s a whole other and criminal level of denial….not that the more usual levels of denial don’t have complicit characteristics too…ie encourage more predator passing on.

        Clearly time to clean house!

  8. There is a very revealing letter reportedly written by a voluntarily inactivated RC priest, one Dr. Robert Hoatson on The Desert Voice. Having some experience in witnessing, hearing and seeing similar stories of both now inactive and active priests still in ministry. All mothers should read this letter. Consider your sons and daughters.

  9. I am a survivor of clergy abuse and of the cover up. I am located in Australia however I have contacts in many countries with others who have been shunned and repressed from many areas of the community ofr their entire life due to their attempts to speak out.

    I am hopeful of setting up an independent survivor run organization to accept public donations and to distribute them to survivors of childhood sexual abuse by clergy as these people in particular have been excluded from the many settlements and redress schemes that have been established by both church and government and have fallen foul of the same problems that the church suffers from.

    Many will never see the church in a good light again yet they as individual people are entitled to be treated equaly and justly by members of the Catholic and other churches for the first time in their lives.

    Visit the Facebook page to see for yourself and to see how you can directly contact or contribute to indivual survivors or to the overall program.

    • Welcome JohnB…your plans for survivors sound good. Is there an address for donations?

      • Thanks Joan for your reply,

        We are currently talking with an Australian Bank in this regard and hope to have that matter settled in the next few weeks. In the meantime you can donate directly through the paypal system found at http://www.cabaction.com

      • John, I tried to make a donation, but PayPal wouldn’t take it, my address is not in your country…a mailing address might work! Think the idea is a very good one!

  10. john richard,..talk about no fear of any consequences!.. That Leneweaver account was to me one of the saddest and most haunting cases I’ve read. The evil of it stays with me.

    …What sort of catholic could read that account and not be shaken up enough to want to know the rest of the truth about the rcc ?! It boggles the mind….

    • And from today’s Philly.com:

      The boys, at least six of them, came forward in the early 1960s, each recounting how the Rev. John A. Cannon had molested them, sometimes repeatedly, at a summer camp run by their South Philadelphia parish, St. Monica’s.
      A priest documented the accusations, Cannon was transferred to another parish, and a letter about the claims went into his personnel file at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

      When one of the boys, now a man, came forward in 1992 and later threatened to sue, Msgr. William J. Lynn told him that Cannon would be immediately removed, as were all priests accused of abuse.

      “He was told they are never assigned where children are concerned,” according to a memo on their meeting shown to jurors today at Lynn’s trial in Common Pleas Court.

      By that time, Cannon had spent 20 years at Cardinal O’Hara High School. And he remained a chaplain at Villa Joseph Marie, a girls school in Holland, Bucks County, for another decade.

      • And AP on today’s testimony 4/2/12

        Monsignor William Lynn is on trial for child endangerment and conspiracy. Lynn, 61, is the first Roman Catholic church official in the U.S. charged for his handling of priest-abuse complaints. Prosecutors say he helped the church bury them in secret files, far from the prying eyes of investigators, civil attorneys and concerned Catholics.

        In the day’s most startling testimony, a detective read internal church memos about a priest who allegedly “joked about how hard it was to have sex with three boys in one week.” His accuser also stated that the priest had a “rotation process” of boys spending time sleeping with him.

        Defense lawyers argue that Lynn tried to address the problem as secretary for clergy from 1992 to 2004, but was blocked by the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua and others in the Philadelphia archdiocese.

        The testimony Monday also included a 1992 complaint about a different priest who allegedly molested boys at a church-owned camp three decades earlier.

        Several junior counselors complained in the early 1960s that the priest was on the prowl at night, molesting them in their tents. They said it was a well-known secret among teen counselors for several year

        The priest remained in ministry, working at three archdiocesan high schools and serving as assistant superintendent of Catholic schools through 2004. Confronted after a man complained to the archdiocese in 1992, the priest admitted to the “sin” of masturbation and said he had read up on that subject because so many people were mentioning it in the confessional.

      • joan….(ick)…These guys really could say ANYTHING and get away with no consequences.

    • No doubt Crystal.
      “The evil of it stays with me” as well. Every single heinous act.
      It just made our decision to change Churches a layup.

  11. This is an appeal written by Jerry Slevin to the Philadelphia Inquirer encouraging it to remain attentive to the trial and the issue of sexual abuse.

    http://www.bilgrimage.blogspot.com/2012/04/gerald-t-slevin-open-appeal-to.html

    • Jerry’s appeal (linked above) is a MUST, MUST READ! One of the best pieces I have read in the last year! Thank you, Jerry.

      • You are welcome, HADIT. I hope other C4C bloggers read it. It incorporates much that I have learned from all of you.

      • Jerry,

        While it might seem like a fairly insignificant aspect of your multi-faceted appeal to the Philadelphia Inquirer, I was particularly interested in how you brought to light how many newspapers (and publications in general) have nurtured over the decades close allegiances with their local hierarchy and the Church. The allegiances have had the effect of suppressing, and/or obstructing, and/or tainting serious, truthful and full inquiries into the global sexual abuse of children by clerics. Possibly large, urban publications have done a better job at extricating themselves from these allegiances (i.e. the NY Times, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Washington Post, the Boston Globe). However, smaller, “hometown” newspapers get to maintain their local, clerical allegiances because their uninformed readers lack the ability to scrutinize them. Such is the case, I believe, with my hometown newspaper, the Watertown (NY) Daily Times.

      • Hadit,
        Right on target…

        Our local (very Republican owned) newspaper is loyal to the Catholic Church. Op-ed pieces that challenge the church never seem to make it to print. But, we get a priest with a bizarre fascination with breastfeeding and childbirth spouting off his opinion in print regularly.

        It’s like reading a Catholic newspaper.

      • SW,

        My local newspaper is Republican as well. But what does party affiliation have to do with reporting on the sexual abuse crisis so that the veil of ignorance is lifted in a heavily Catholic community that is prone to ignorance in general?

      • Hadit,
        I hear you.

        M.O.N.E.Y The Catholic advertisers would pull their support and the Catholic readers would be upset and cancel subscriptions if the paper printed anything remotely close to the truth about the clergy abuse situation in our area. The people here don’t believe we have a problem. Better yet, the reporters (paid by the Catholic owned) would never get approval to do such an expose’ either. So, reporting the truth in other areas is ok…just not too close to home.

      • SW,

        You hit the nail on the head.

        Too bad the sexual abuse crisis coincided with the fact that online news has caused thousands of small, “hometown” newspapers to be functioning on life-support as we speak. This is the case in my community. Additionally, 3 generations of the same family have owned the newspaper. Any allegiances to the local clergy and Church are longstanding. When you might have to close shop tomorrow, you’re not inclined to extricate yourself from the people you’ve been cozy with for decades.

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