A Legal Note on Comments


Tomorrow is bound to be an emotional day. I’d love to offer free rein here but Kathy and I need to err on the side of caution. We don’t want anything to jeopardize the community that has been created within the comments section.

Commenters must respect oth­ers and the facts here. All facts stated in a com­ment must be accu­rate. If what you are stat­ing is an opin­ion, it must be clear that it’s an opin­ion and not a fact. Statements deemed to contain libel, slander or defamation state­ments against oth­ers will be removed as quickly as possible.

Commenters speak only for them­selves and/or their orga­ni­za­tions. Publication of a com­ment should not be taken as an endorse­ment of that com­ment by this blog or any­one asso­ci­ated with it.

Thank you all for your passionate contributions.

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94 Responses to “A Legal Note on Comments”

  1. And that is what makes this a valuable and reliable site! Thank You.

    • I did not have an opportunity to hear Archbishop Chaput’s press conference today but have dug into it a viewed it, read in detail allthe comments and frankly, I think his address was on target to get this matter resolved and address the issue so we do not ever see anyone inthe Philadelphia Archdiocese covering up any crimes inthe future. I think he has taken prudent steps working with law enforcement to address, put a process and sytem in place and provide support to the victems.

      JOE GABLE

      • Joe,

        I’m nominating you for the position of unofficial C4C heckler, (keeping it Fair & Balanced).

        You make me laugh, and I enjoy the levity (unseemly frivolity) you bring to this site. We can all use a break when dealing with such a serious matter, and you are very good at what you do.

        You also provide the added benefit of potentially waking-up a Pew Potato; well, it’s possible! Please keep posting.

        • drwho13, Honest — this site is for addressing the need to build the activity of the lay people and to help, that is key, “help” bring about change in some matters related to our faith and the involvement of earthly directives from Rome or our dioceses. Today, giant steps were made in how the Philadelphia dioceses will function now and in the future. this is one small step for Catholics one giant step for Change.

      • Joe’s letter to Archbishop Chaput on behalf of child protection was excellent and gained the respect of more than a few C4C commentors. I think it is important that those still in the pews do the same and express their thoughts. I am glad Joe posted his letter on the site for all to read the other day.

        • Thank you Kathy, I am Catholic for the reason outlined in the letter to Archbishop Chaput and this site of “Cathlics4Chang” is for individuals who have a strong belief in our faith and desire to see some changes in how the earthly “managers” handle our faith! mI am confident that Archbishop Chaput is putting into place procedures, systems and process that will prevent the hierarchy from ever being involved in a “cover-up” of a crime now or in the future!.

      • Joe Gable,

        You’re correct; I apologize for my crass post.

        I do however respectfully disagree regarding the depth of the press conference. I learned very little from it. The AD had over a year to determine the status of the remaining priests, but they have not yet completed their investigation.

        Furthermore, it’s incongruent to offer an apology to the people while simultaneously paying (with the peoples money) for a vigorous defense of the accused priests.

  2. With the decisions coming tomorrow and more decisions in the next weeks/months about the fate of the suspended priests,we cannot have accusations about any “cleared” individual priest’s guilt or innocence. If you have an allegation or evidence of any wrongdoing by any priest in the Archdiocese, please contact local law enforcements.

    • Sadly, the only evidence some have is the fact that certain priests have violated the Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries. There is no proof of a crime but many are certain that it was only due to the brave intervention of others that prevented the crime from occurring. Violating those boundaries should have been enough to remove the violating priests, but it isn’t. These men will be returned to ministry. No one will be warned. Those who have knowledge of how dangerous they are will still be required to remain silent. Even by this blog.

      • No we are not telling people to be quiet in the face of children being in danger,I understand that some boundary violations are not crimes and cannot be prosecuted. If people know of things such as boundary violations..go to the media..tell your story..we are a blog ,not reporters,we can’t interview,fact check,,therefor we won’t publish accusations against anyone.

      • Don’t worry, Kathy. We Sisters have carried a heavy burden for a long time. We may not all have been “fearless” in facing the corrections that have come our way. We’ve often being blamed for being silent when we’ve had to quietly share this information amongst ourselves and not with the public. It’s actually reassuring to know that bloggers blink when faced with the possibility of libel after decrying the silence of others. It affirms the truth of what we knew all along; there are limits to our ability to speak out. We believe the victims. We will do what we can to continue protecting children from becoming more victims. We hope that those who have complained about our “conspiratorial silence” will remember that not being able to speak publicly isn’t the same as being silent.

      • I understand what you are saying but I believe in this current climate anyone who has first hand accounts can find a place to tell their story in a way that can be investigated more than anything we can do on this blog. Some of the policies Susan posted are in the best interest of the commentors, not the blog. If people have concerns about children being in danger they need to shed their anonymity and tell the specifics of their concerns in a forum that will be productive, any anonymous accusations against any individual are simply that..anonymous…. and that does not protect children or gain any results.

      • Sister, staying silent because one does not have enough data to bring in the legal authorities to remove a clergyman or fellow religious sister/brother from ministry does not mean that one is powerless to do anything about another adult’s dysfunctional and abusive behavior.
        So, go ahead and stay silent, but that better be until it is you have enough data to contact law enforcement. Until that point, you better be using the knowledge you have to put practices into place that protect children. You and your fellow sisters better dig down deep and find the courage and fortitude to develop a network of child protectors to combat the network of child abusers.
        If child protection policies and procedures are not being followed in your community, your school, your parish, then you have an obligation to notify someone that children are not safe because the policies and procedures are not being followed. You have a responsibility to identify the adult who is not adhering to child safety policies and procedures. This is not libel or slander. It is cold, hard, facts–data that can be used to further support an action against someone who has become a BOUNDARY VIOLATOR.
        I beg you all to please put any data, any facts you have, into WRITING and contact CHILDLINE and Leslie Davila at the Office of Child and Youth Protection. Be willing to speak out, not be anonymous, stand up for holding others accountable. Leslie is being paid to oversee the OCYP–hold her accountable for doing her job. If she is not contacted, she cannot do anything. If she is contacted and she does nothing, she can be held accountable. If the system is flawed and useless, then let’s flush out those flaws and work to FIX the problems, rather than not using the system because of mistrusting the system to work.
        If your concerns about a BOUNDARY VIOLATOR are disregarded by the OCYP, then send your WRITTEN notifications to the Archbishop himself. If you still find you are not getting support in addressing these matters, then take it to the media. Oh how they will sit up and respond when faced with media scrutiny! PLEASE DO NOT JUST SIT BACK AND DO NOTHING, under the guise of “having to stay silent”.

      • Michele, we know that we aren’t powerless. We’ve known that all along, even as we listened to the accusations that we were complicit. We also know that the system doesn’t work. Evelyn, Leslie, Chaput, and Ballard-Spahr, and Childline have the facts. The fact they won’t reveal, but is the bottom line, is that violations of the Boundaries of Ministerial Behavior is not enough to have a predator removed from ministry. The other fact that we must face is this: It’s easy to say, “Speak up! Go to the media. Stop being anonymous!” when you’re not the one involved. But when you’re wearing the shoes, as the owners of this blog are, then you understand that there are situations that prevent us from speaking publicly. I am asking the readers here to think on that every time one is tempted to accuse another of being silent for their own self-preservation. We believe the victims. We will do all we can to prevent more victims in all the ways we can, even when the laws and the blogs can’t help us.

      • Hello, Sister,

        Thank you for your comments, we need this dialog desperately – specifically with the clergy. I have been wanting to have an open discussion with my pastor, but have not known what exactly to say. The good Lord has placed you here with us, so may I ask you? I understand the distinction you make between not speaking out publicly vs. being silent. I want to help strengthen the church so that we all can have a voice – even publicly. If I can stand with you while you challenge a person or policy deemed above you, I am here and I will. Please, Sister, how can we help to make a change in this organization for you? The good works that the Holy Spirit performs through you is doused by this awful evil that is gripping our church. Through confirmation we professed our faith as soldiers of Jesus Christ. Let us serve in this army together – with no one left behind. I would very much like to discuss more with anybody who is willing, how can we as laity help the clergy feel safe and supported to speak out? It may not be as big as a public event, but what if a Sister needs a hand to hold while giving information to police? Will you accept our help? Is this what the Sisters need on a smaller scale? Thank you for any insight you will share. Please pray for me, Sister.

      • Sister,
        As I understand it, you are publicly stating that the Leslie Davila form the Office of Child and Youth Protection, Archbishop Chaput, and CHILDLINE workers have all been notified that a clergy member is a known boundary violator, about whom who you have reasonable suspicion to believe is a danger to children, is in active ministry-or about to return to active ministry- and they have done NOTHING about this matter. As I understand your post, you are publicly stating that you know this to be true and fact and you have evidence to back up what you are publicly stating.

        As I understand your post, you are publicly stating that a known boundary violator has been reported for violating the Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries to Leslie Davila of the OCYP and Archbishop Chaput and that there have been no repercussions, no consequences, no removal from ministry as a result of said reporting. As I understand your post, you are publicly stating that you know this to be true and fact and you have evidence to back up what you are publicly stating.

        Sister, as I said before you and your fellow sisters better dig down deep and find the courage and fortitude to develop a network of child protectors to combat the network of child abusers. There is nothing that better stand in your way. There are no limits to your ability to put yourself between a possible predator and children.

        You might not be able to name names because of libel or slander, but you and your fellow sisters can start speaking and teaching about the warning signs of predatory behavior. Start educating the parents and children in your midst about childhood abuse on a regular basis–not just relegating this to a one time event as part of the parish safe environment training for children. Start modeling appropriate boundary setting and raising awareness about the issue of childhood abuse in your immediate communities. You do not need the permission of anyone to do these basic preventive measures.

        If you tell me that you and your fellow sisters cannot do even this basic preventive work, because of some kind of imposed constraints, then God help any child entrusted to your care.
        I will scream from the roof tops for every parent to remove their child from any church related program or school–even if it means the loss of employment for our family. You see sister, I am not am outsider, I am inside fighting like hell to get those with first hand information about known predators to start doing what is necessary to protect our kids.

      • Michele ,thank you very much for your informed and passionate responses. Sister if you feel that you have clear evidence of boundary violations and the system in place does not work then you need to do something about it,plain and simple. I am going to share my own experience and I do not do it as any type of pat on the back to myself or anything of that sort. I am responsible for having a child protection policy implemented in the Phila. Archdiocese. I simply did not give up over a 6 month period. I called,emailed ,wrote letters did anything I possibly could. When I was told the policy might not be able to be enacted, I went higher up the line. I “made noise” and DID NOT give up. Actually a few times I sort of folded under some pressure and then went right back to making more noise. My name is very well known within the Archdiocese. So now there is a policy in place concerning mandatory overnight situations that can help to protect thousands of children in the Archdiocese. I put my name,my reputation..everything on the line to protect children. I did this on my own.I have also written posts on C4C with my name attached explaining the flaws in the system of child protection within the AD.
        If you feel that the system is flawed and those in charge cannot do anything about it,then take your concerns to the media. The Inquirer just did a series on violence in the public school system and won a Pulitzer Prize. The story of a young girl from Archbishop Carroll who challenged the AD policy concerning prom policies was covered by the local press and even made into a New York newspaper. Anyone in the Philadelphia media would be interested in people in the AD having data and situations of boundary violations . The other thing about the media is that all involved get to have their say. I am going to contact Leslie and let her have a chance to respond to your comments.If the system is broken it needs to be fixed but anonymous statements on a blog do nothing to protect children. In my situation,if I had not put myself “out there” then the policy I advocated for would not even exist. We all need to do whatever it takes to protect children.

      • Cleanstart,
        Thankyou for what you have been doing behind the scenes to protect children. I helped put a predator in jail and it was at great personal cost………I will never be the same……….it was me against evil and a system of denial and it was only my relationship with Jesus Christ that made it possible……there is alot of things that go on that make you feel like you are the crazy one or things might not be what they seem. In the end protecting children is right and what Jesus would do and I would do it all over again if I had to.

      • I also want to say everytime I got scared etc. I would think it is nothing compared to what the survivors have been through and I would ask Jesus to strengthen me.

      • Maureen, thank you. Your attitude is exactly what we need to bolster us. Far too often we are accused of not doing enough. Accusations are filled with all the “You, you, you’s” so I thank you for asking how you can help. We cannot do it alone. We never could.

        We aren’t afraid to speak up. Although I am anonymous here, Chaput et. al. including the accused and their lawyers know who we are; we don’t have the privilege of anonymity when we make a report. We know we aren’t powerless and we will do everything we can to protect the children entrusted to us, especially if the one’s we’ve reported are returned to ministry.

        But for the children’s sake and for the Lord’s, help us. Screaming from the rooftops is not an effective way to prevent abuse from happening. Pulitzer prizes will not prevent abuse from happening.

        Listen to the victim’s stories and learn from them. Read and know the Boundaries, too. Adhere to them, but don’t for a second think that they offer real protection. We need people to protect the children, not more paperwork and information sessions. Do not allow priests to be alone with children, not in classrooms and not in sacristies and definitely never in the rectory. The good ones will thank you for it. Insist that Boundaries be enforced, not just with priests and religious, but with coaches, teachers, uncles, aunts, and so on. We would be overjoyed if a parent said, “Oh, you’re the only one here? I’ll wait for another adult,” instead of dropping John or Mary unattended at the door. Stay and wait if you witness another parent do that. Don’t be afraid to speak up when you see a child being singled out for “special treatment.” Arrange car pools with trusted parents instead of allowing the youth minister to give that one child a ride home again. Encourage parents to speak up. Believe the children when they say there’s a problem. Teach them to trust their own instincts when they don’t want to be with someone because the person is “creepy.” Be willing to stand in the gap when you encounter parents who fail to protect their own child. Don’t allow parents to say, “Oh, a priest/sister/teacher would never do that.” That’s what we need. In each and every case of abuse, there was an adult witness who should have been willing to speak up. Not all of them were religious.

        Beth, thank you for your courage. May you be abundantly blessed for your sacrifices.

        We’ll know how broken the system still is at 2PM. I look forward to Leslie’s response.

      • survivor's wife Reply May 4, 2012 at 5:39 pm

        Cleanstart,
        I don’t understand. The way you phrased “not being able to speak publicly isn’t the same as being silent,” is a mincing of words. It reminds me of Fr. Christopher Walsh’s comments months ago about how priests have a way of helping without actually getting their hands dirty.

        Does anyone realize THIS IS THE PROBLEM? Go ahead and talk amongst yourselves, process the ills and mishandlings with each other, do all you can within your corner of the world, but whatever you do, don’t go public. Rinse and repeat…the same as Chris Walsh. A sick, family dynamic if there ever was one.

        If you want the RCC to be healthy, it will have to be transparent. It will not bind the mouths and actions of those doing His work. I have no doubt you are troubled by what you witness and clearly care about victims, but this ill will NEVER be healed as long as you aren’t allowed to speak of it publicly.

      • survivor's wife Reply May 4, 2012 at 5:55 pm

        Cleanstart, you said to Maureen: “Your attitude is exactly what we need to bolster us. Far too often we are accused of not doing enough.”

        At a gut level…

        Ugh. Please do not tell me that we need more people with a sympathetic ear to the plight of those who have been silent. I am so sick of that response. It’s hurtful and distracting.

      • Thank you, survivor’s wife, for illustrating exactly why I’ve chosen to remain anonymous on this blog. I didn’t ask, nor do I want, your sympathy. What we need is help to protect the children. How many times have you called Childline this year? I averaged a call a month so far. None of those have been about clergy abuse, but they are heartbreaking all the same, especially for the children. Without giving details, the end result is that I no longer am able to find more information on some of those children. While everyone is yelling “You, you, you,” who will protect him?

      • As a social worker I placed calls to the appropriate agencies also and yes sadly not always able to save a child from an abusive situation . I made the decision to not remain anonymous in my efforts within the church for protection of children,everyone is so afraid…of what? I did not have a support system in reporting child abuse,I did not have a support system as a parent in my efforts with the Archdiocese. I am just not getting the point here. We are adults…they are children

      • Obviously my frustration is coming through in my comments. I think sometimes religious think there is a whole world of support out there we laity all have…not really. As an underpaid ,overworked social worker I handled abuse cases on my own.The people I worked with were phenomenal but had their own caseloads to deal with.
        In dealing with the AD I will be the first to admit that my Catholic guilt or whatever it is, got the best of me a few times. I told my husband “I think I might get into trouble” for what? Protecting children?
        Thank God my husband is a convert and would look at me and say “what are they going to do to you” It made me realize how ridiculous my statement sounded. What are they going to do to me for standing up for children?What? Once you can break free of that and get to the other side it is the absolute best feeling in the world. But it is a process to get there,but the quicker we all get there the more children are protected.

      • My point is that there are limits to what we can do, limits to what this blog can do. I am disappointed by that in general, not at any one personally. While I am anonymous here, I am not at all anonymous in my dealings with the AD. It’s discouraging that the assumption is made that a person on a blog is cowardly because she opts to remain anonymous on that blog, especially after the owners have expressed their limited power to protect anyone who posts here. Sorry to cause disruption. I shan’t be posting again.

      • No, not at all an assumption of cowardice. The statements you made about your own thoughts of boundary violations and children not being protected are informative and alarming..if you feel that things are not being handled appropriately internally..then to me a next step has to be taken. You stated “those who have no knowledge of how dangerous they are will still be required to remain silent” that is a frightening statement to me as a mother.

      • I quoted you incorrectly I meant “knowledge” and wrote instead “no knowledge”
        Beth I see that one of the removed priests was also at one point a chaplain at Prendie…that brings the count to 4 already laicized or suspended chaplains from Prendie.

      • If I may chime in, a few points…

        Sister, please keep coming back, we need to plow through this united. We don’t all agree, things can get tense, etc. but we must keep talking.

        Survivor’s Wife, when I read the first paragraph, I had the same “ugh” feeling. As I kept reading, I looked for what advice I could glean, and realized that to support (or insist) on a vocal clergy, it is helpful to have this exchange. I thank you, Michele, and Kathy for your strength in this conversation and in all that you do. My voice is not that strong yet, which leads to my next point …
        I choose to be anonymous here because sometimes 35 year old mom, professional, adult, just needs to let 7 year old Maureen cry her face off. This very sentence is as public as I have been about my own molestation at the hands of an older child in my neighborhood. I just haven’t worked on my own recovery enough to be publicly strong. Someday I will be though, and I am so grateful that I will have such butt-kickers to stand with.

      • survivor's wife Reply May 4, 2012 at 8:48 pm

        Cleanstart,
        Are you saying that you publicly speak up against abuse to the AD, priests and community?

        I can’t apologize quickly enough if that is what you had communicated here. If it’s just that you remain anonymous on this board, but have no problem speaking out publicly to the AD, priests and in your community…then, I am sorry for my misinformed comments.

      • survivors wife,I think an important thing you said was “community” If people are speaking up in the communities where there are priests that pose a danger..to me that is sharing concerns publicly and with parents..the part that always amazes me is how the hierarchy never thought to inform the parents at the schools/parishes with abusive priests. We should all be vigilant with children but if people know of concerns those concerns simply have to be shared with parents.

      • Maureen ,I am sorry and you need to take care of yourself and what you need for your own well being. I am where I am at this point as a non victim and just as an angry and concerned mother who has some experience with the system up close and see the flaws…so when others share their own concern..my initial reaction is let’s go,let’s do something, no more talking. I actually share similar concerns as cleanstart,we probably agree on more than we disagree, but if there is a person near children posing a risk then the voices need to be loud and public to the parents and community.

      • Oh, thanks, Kathy. I have a good support system and am actually doing pretty well. Being here is helping me find my voice in several ways. I love your Mama Bear instinct, and appreciate where you are. I have enough Irish feistiness in me that I can go there at times, and always where kids are concerned. I was a teacher for just a few years in my first career – I had at least two parents and a weak administrator miffed with me for calling them out on not doing right by a child. Anyway, I am going on but I really mean to say I get it and appreciate you more seasoned advocates.

      • Kathy……..I hear you about the Prendie chaplains………I don’t remember any of them teaching any classes only saying mass. The whole thing is ashame……………

      • clean start,. I spoke to Leslie Davila concerning the issue of clergy being removed for violations of the Standards for Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries (boundary violations). All concerns about any boundary violation are now reported to the Delegate of Investigations Al Toczydlowski and then go before the review board which is a new policy. Leslie also pointed out that 4 of the 5 priests removed last Friday were for violations of the Standards. They had previously been placed on administrative leave and now deemed unsuitable for ministry and will not return.
        I am the last person to defend the AD ,but I do see some changes. Boundary violations may not be criminal and then we are forced to depend on the AD to determine these matters. At least,and I do mean at least, these violations are now going to the Delegate and review board. With the Philly AD being under the microscope one can only hope that these type of violations may be taken more seriously than in the past. I was thrilled to see the 4 priests removed for boundary violations which often include grooming…let’s not wait until kids are abused. My only suggestion would be if any past cases which you were involved did not go through this process then contact Al and ask for an investigation. I understand all of the conflicts of things being handled in house,with boundary violations there is little choice. We can thank the victims and the work of the DA’s office in getting to the point where with all of the publicity with the GJ reports and current trial,that hopefully any issue criminal or boundary is given the serious attention it deserves. And if all else fails alert the parents in the community if you feel their child is in any type of danger.

  3. “It is my opinion,” the Catholic Church will protect its own like it always has done!

    • I think it is going to be a mix of “cleared” and “removed”.

      • For thoe victims of rape and incest and clerical abuse – not whether guilty or not guilty just cleared or removed as Kathy stated. We need to continue to reform rape laws and sexual abuse laws to protect all victims.

  4. Either way, I think we will have possible predators out in society with few people knowing of them….and the problem will continue.

    • Yes, Jackie, we will have possible predators out in society with few people knowing of them. We always do. Yes, Jackie, the problem will continue. Unfortunately that is a harsh reality of life, whether in or outside the Catholic Church. In my meager 10 years of parenting, I have come to learn that the world is full of soul-sick people. However, that does not mean we are powerless to combat this problem.
      What we need are thinking, educated people in our world who model the development and sustenance of strong, healthy boundaries (physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual) to help us, to help our children, remain safe.
      Thus, it is the responsibility of parents and other adults in our communities to dig down deep inside themselves and deal with an uncomfortable topic: child abuse. Parents and other adults in our communities need to educate themselves about the dynamics of childhood abuse, SO THEY CAN EMPOWER AND PROTECT THE KIDS in our communities. In doing so, one might recognize similar patterns in themselves, their own family or local community–be it the schools, churches, sport organizations, neighborhood groups, work places, etc.
      It is not enough to recognize the patterns though. We as adults must be willing to undertake the hard work of addressing those patterns, be willing to work to change them. Re-routing dysfunctional patterns into healthy, functional dynamics so that we grow into wholly(holy) functioning adults, who can model healthy boundaries to our children and to the adults around us who might continue to struggle themselves with this very issue. This might mean having to get counseling for ourselves, for our own families, to address dynamics that foster ABUSIVE BEHAVIOR. It is then that our kids can grow up and pass along the information and knowledge about HEALTHY PATTERNS OF RELATING TO OTHERS to their children. It is the one way we have some power to stop the cycle of child abuse. Knowledge is power.
      Moreover, it is the responsibility of parents and other adults in our communities to model the setting of healthy boundaries for our children; model the calling out boundary violations by other kids, and yes, even other adults in our families, neighborhoods, schoools, and our churches. It is not an easy job, and believe me, there will be much backlash to face. However, there is a cyber community here at C4C that will help support each another in these efforts.
      We have a responsibility to the children entrusted to our care to work to create a safer world for them, to empower our kids to develop the skills to help them keep themselves safe. So, keep talking about abusive behavior (be it physical, emotional, verbal, or sexual) for what it is, ABUSE. Keep fighting to get this topic into the public spotlight. Keep talking about it in our families, our schools, our churches, our neighborhoods. Let our kids see healthy adults standing up, speaking out, and calling to task those who ABUSE.

  5. Understand your position “crystal clear” and would not want it jeopardized…A little CYA is good at times…. Anyway, today is the big day….HAHA… Once again the Philadelphia AD is a day late and a dollar short when is comes to tending to their own flock…. I am sure the Pew Sheep will be up in arms and this will just add MORE jet fuel to the fire… What do you really expect happens today other than some bad apples are thrown into the pig pen…Same Church; Same People: Same Outcome….

  6. Michele ,thank you very much for your informed and passionate responses. Sister if you feel that you have clear evidence of boundary violations and the system in place does not work then you need to do something about it,plain and simple. I am going to share my own experience and I do not do it as any type of pat on the back to myself or anything of that sort. I am responsible for having a child protection policy implemented in the Phila. Archdiocese. I simply did not give up over a 6 month period. I called,emailed ,wrote letters did anything I possibly could. When I was told the policy might not be able to be enacted, I went higher up the line. I “made noise” and DID NOT give up. Actually a few times I sort of folded under some pressure and then went right back to making more noise. My name is very well known within the Archdiocese. So now there is a policy in place concerning mandatory overnight situations that can help to protect thousands of children in the Archdiocese. I put my name,my reputation..everything on the line to protect children. I did this on my own.I have also written posts on C4C with my name attached explaining the flaws in the system of child protection within the AD.
    If you feel that the system is flawed and those in charge cannot do anything about it,then take your concerns to the media. The Inquirer just did a series on violence in the public school system and won a Pulitzer Prize. The story of a young girl from Archbishop Carroll who challenged the AD policy concerning prom policies was covered by the local press and even made into a New York newspaper. Anyone in the Philadelphia media would be interested in people in the AD having data and situations of boundary violations . The other thing about the media is that all involved get to have their say. I am going to contact Leslie and let her have a chance to respond to your comments.If the system is broken it needs to be fixed but anonymous statements on a blog do nothing to protect children. In my situation,if I had not put myself “out there” then the policy I advocated for would not even exist. We all need to do whatever it takes to protect children.

    • Kathy, your description of your tenacious effort to develop a child protection policy is inspiring. I am wondering if in the process of that work you enlisted the assistance of professionals in the field of abuse, if perhaps they accompanied you when meeting with AD folks?

      • Joan no meeting ever took place just many communications. I did not have anyone from the outside helping me ,luckily my work as a social worker and experience with advocacy and child welfare was all I needed. The person who helped me the most was Msgr. Marino who at the time was the local vicar of our area. Without a priest on board,not much of a chance. I understand the difficulty of speaking up and the process was far from easy in any way,shape, or form but also very necessary for the sake of child protection. I have 16 years of Catholic education and was taught by Sister’s of St Joseph,Sister of Mercy and IHM’s. They taught me to be a strong woman and to speak out in the face of any injustice,I believe their influence is was lead me to choose the field of social work as a profession.
        Sister ,I disagree about the use of the media. If policies are inadequate then they can be examined in the press for all to see. Shining a light in dark places is sometimes what is necessary. Yes we can be vigilant with our children and examine policies but in the end if a system is broken in any way then that needs to be fixed.

      • Joan here is a post I wrote many months ago about child protection in the Archdiocese. My name appears in print along with my thoughts. We offer guest blog posts ,if anyone at anytime would like to publish a post with their concerns about boundary violations, child protection etc ,with their name attached,they can submit that info to Susan through the contact page.

        https://catholics4change.com/2011/05/15/philly-archdiocese-protection-policy-seriously-flawed/

  7. FYI,, My Fox Philly will stream the conference live. It will take place at 2 PM Eastern (1 PM Central, 11 AM Pacific). This link should take you there..

    http://www.myfoxphilly.com/dpp/news/local_news/Philadelphia_Priest_Criminal_Probe_Announcement_050312

  8. Claire Matthews Reply May 4, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”

  9. Claire, please excuse the editing, but I think yours is a misquote:

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that (_______) men do nothing.”

    Please feel free to insert whatever adjective you may deem appropriate; When referring to archdiocesan leadership, clearly the adjective “good” is inaccurate.

  10. Anyone want to take a bet with me?

    I bet that if any priests are removed today, it will be the oldest of the bunch. Maybe they might throw in one or two younger priests, but I think generally those older, who must be considered less useful to the church now since they’d be retiring soon anyway, will make up the list of those removed.

    Meanwhile the Pope, who knew all about these guys worldwide, gets to keep his post? Rigali living it up somewhere like a king? Cardinal Bev never having to face any consequences for years of cover-ups. The Church always has good timing. Go figure!

    • I think you are right about this. The cynic in me also wonders who it is most expensive to keep around – can they get out of pension obligations once a priest is defrocked?

  11. Please keep the victim of Fr Close in your prayers and thoughts, he is extremely nervous and on edge and trying to cope, the waiting is exhausting and overwhelming…!!

  12. This guy reads on a 3rd grade level. What a dope!

    And oh by the way, that was a very heartfelt apology. Yeah right!

    • Agree, that apology was COLD! Got it done, and got out of there.

    • I’m sure that Father Close is on ‘pins and needles, as well. So, why not keep him in your prayers too?

      • Fr Close needs to be on pins and needles.. Pleeeeaaasssee keep his victims in your prayers….they are really struggling…tks, Judy

      • Joe if he is guilty I pray he repents…………I know from experience people don’t just make up the fact they are abused……….do you know something we don’t know? I really don’t understand what your point in that comment.

      • Joe,
        Why do you seem to dislike victims so much? Your comments are hurtful.

      • Beth – we all have ‘fallen short’ – in one way or another. We need prayers for ourselves and our loved ones, for the victims and for those who abused them. That’s all I was trying to get across.

        A priest gave the following advice in a sermon: – ASAP – Always Say A Prayer. Good advice, in my opinion.

      • Joe B.,

        In regard to Beth – “we all have ‘fallen short’” “Always Say A Prayer. Good advice, in my opinion.”

        I agree; but, as the AD DOES, I would ALWAYS supplement that prayer with the BEST LEGAL REPRESENTATION MONEY CAN BUY!

      • Hi Beth,

        You asked if I ‘disliked’ victims of clergy sex abuse. No, I don’t dislike them and no hurt is intended on my part.

      • Joe,
        I pray for everyone. I even pray for my husbands offender that he repent. I guess you don’t know how you come across at times. It just seems that in trying to be fair and balanced you minuimize the suffering of our victims. I pray for my parish priests as from their faces they are suffering. I encourage them to take that suffering unite it to Christ and reach out to the victims who feel abandoned and that no one cares.

      • Beth – one last (I promise) message before I leave as I just saw your comment tonite.

        I’m really sorry that your husband was hurt by a priest, and I didn’t mean to cause either you or him any further distress. If I caused any hurt, please accept my apologies.

        I can tell from your postings that you are a genuine and very sweet lady. Your husband is very lucky to have you as his loving and supportive soulmate and spouse.

        Your willingness to pray for his abuser is another testament to your inner goodness. God will never forget this kindness to His priest and will reward you both abundantly here, and hereafter.

      • Joe. B.,
        I might have confused you but my husband was not abused by a priest but a member of another denomation and actually my husband became catholic. My faith helped me through that bad period in my life and I want those who come to the church to be helped not further hurt. You would be surprised how many people were first abused by someone other than a priest and went to a priest for help and were abused by the priest. I asked my priests for help and they helped with my situtaion. I wish I could say that for our victims. I want everyone to know the love Christ has for them.

      • Joe,
        I once was sweet:) Now I know my flaws are many………keep me in your prayers as I will pray for you, our victims and those that come to this site to change things and protect children.

  13. I am absolutely 110% offended by this entire news conference. Whatta scam!

  14. That’s our Church.

    That’s the public in the audience.

    The audience was dismayed by our Church.

  15. So, I just watched the supposedly announcement by Chaput—of priests who were removed and those whe were put back in ministry…that lasted over an hour… What a joke.. !!

    WHAT THE HECK ARE THE NAMES OF THESE PRIESTS.???.. I have victims who are struggling to stay alive …

  16. Here are the names. Susan was at the press conference,she will be posting something later

    http://www.philly.com/philly/news/breaking/20120504_Chaput_removes_5_priests_from_minstry.html

    • Kathy….perhaps you could help me with the ‘numbers’.

      The 2011 Grand Jury report over a year ago, identified, I think 41 priests that were a serious concern to the Grand Jury.

      That 41 somehow became 37. What happened to those 4?

      Of that 37, 21 to 26? were ‘suspended’.

      Apparently, several more priests were added to the ‘suspended’ category and one has died. Perhaps in the ‘suspended’ category those currently on trial are noted? I am not sure, are they?

      There apparently were religious order priests named by the GJ and one such priest is a defendant in a future trial. I believe the Archdiocese deals only with their own priests…so how many religious order priests were part of the ’41’…and who is dealing with them?

      Of the remaining ? 26 ?, yesterday 3 were restored to ministry, 5 were designated as unfit for ministry and the balance were/are still being ajudicated.

      It’s been well over a year, and 3 of the original 41 have been exonerated. 5 have been ‘removed from ministry’.

      THis is NOT a ‘track record’ to be proud of.

  17. With the scandal in the RCC being at the forefront of so many newscasts and written articles almost daily, the Philadelphia Archdiocese is under the microscope for ALL to see, not just Catholics. By now everyone knows that priests found guilty of impropriety by their superiors are simply kicked out and free to roam, work, and live wherever they please. No prosecution, no Megan’s Law……….nothing! It still, to this day, amazes me that until now the power of the church had protected so many predators from legal action. The trial is definitely blowing the lid off of Pandora’s box. I have to wonder how the population at large is handling this. Will there be outrage from the general public after Chaput’s press conference as they hear or read that more priests are being defrocked and simply placed back into society? I certainly would not want them roaming free in my neighborhood. The other alternative, if they are not defrocked, is that they are shipped to neighboring states to celebrate mass, teach, and mentor where no one knows them. This practice has been going on for years! Forget the pew Catholics blindly defending the church and screaming “persecution”!! I think that the real outrage is yet to be heard. The AD will have to answer to everyone…….not just Catholics!

  18. Totally agree… It was like a hour long pat on the back for themselves…. and all so many wanted to hear were the names.. ! There are victims out there who are worried they still will not be believed… This is so tragic..

  19. How sincere can an apology be when you are paying the exorbitant legal bills (with laity’s money, no less) to defend a man who you know covered up abuse and let it go on? An apology might make more sense when blame is actually accepted. We know Lynn’s bills are being paid as insurance that he will not take anyone else down with him (except the deceased C. Bevilaqua which conveniently hurts noone else in their midst). It’s also hard to accept an apology when the recommendations of the Grand Jury Report have been largely ignored. Actions speak louder than words…..and always will.

    • Fr Feret was in the admin. at Cardinal Dougherty HS back when I attended in the 1970’s…He was very extroverted…and memorable. As the Activities Director, he had access to at least 2000 boys each year in that school…….and here in 2012, the archbishop finally decides to make a stand against him. I’m glad they got around to it..

      From Chaput’s wording, I think we’re supposed to be highly impressed and grateful at the lengths they went to in their investigation so far….Isn’t it wonderful they paid that “multidisciplinary team ” to assist them in this ..they must be some kind of freaky geniuses to figure it all out…It sounds like rocket science, deciding whether or not to let men who wreak of pedophilia, stay in the priesthood and have contact with OUR children.

  20. Susan just gave an excellent interview on CBS National news..will post a video when available

    • The National Catholic Reporter just posted this article on today’s Philly events http://ncronline.org/news/accountability/chaput-removes-five-philly-priests-ministry

    • Susan was terrific on CBS news.

      • As usual, I can’t get the CBS piece but am sure it was great, and Susan did superbly.

        Sister Maureen in an National Catholic Reporter article that is timely. http://ncronline.org/blogs/examining-crisis/philly-trial-reveals-unreliability-religions-self-policing-policies

      • From the NCR citation of Sister Maureen’s:

        “Philly trial reveals unreliability of religions’ self-policing policies
        UNITED STATES
        National Catholic Reporter

        by Maureen Paul Turlish on May. 04, 2012 Examining the crisis

        I found out something significant about the Code of Canon Law of the Roman Catholic Church as I sat inside Judge M. Teresa Sarmina’s criminal courtroom in Philadelphia April 30 and listened to Msgr. Kevin Michael Quirk, a church canon lawyer from the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, W. Va.

        Quirk, the presiding judge during the 2008 canonical trial of Rev. James J. Brennan – one of two defendants in the current Philadelphia priest abuse trial – for charges of child sex-abuse, was on the stand to authenticate the transcript of that trial, as well as provide insight into the procedures of a canonical trial.

        One revelation proved startling.

        While possible victims of childhood sexual abuse and other lay witnesses are asked to take an oath to “tell the truth, the whole truth etc.” during a canonical trial concerning the public good, an alleged priest-perpetrator is not. Canon 1728.2 says, “The accused is not bound to confess the delict [crime] nor can an oath be administered to the accused.”

        Why in God’s name would anyone believe that an individual like the criminally charged Brennan is necessarily telling the truth during acanonical trial when he is not even required to swear to the truth of his statements? ”

        The balance of the article is excellent and the citation is in the earlier link.

  21. These are SOME of the things that disappointed me as I watched the live stream of the announcement, today:

    1. Neither Chaput nor the woman in charge of this weekends parish-based “counseling initiative” (“response trauma”) could articulate how it will proceed after this weekend. They are going to watch things and see. The initiative lacks scope and clarity at this point.
    2. The “counseling initiative” was presented, today, in light of the fact that, statistically, 1 in 4 people will be victims of sexual abuse. The “counseling initiative” was presented in a way that seemed more focused on the national epidemic of sexual abuse than the Philly AD’s history of abuse and cover up which is THE main cause of parishioner distress and lack of trust. The “counseling initiative” seems to want to take the focus off the AD and put it on the general issue of sexual abuse.
    3. How can the “destruction of trust” be repaired by the AD when the fates of so many accused priests remain on the table? It looks like Philly Catholics will be exposed to a series of calculated doses of priest-fates that could conceivably go on for another year or two. To think that trust can be repaired in this broken up, no timeline, no deadlines, and unfinished scenario is ridiculous. While the fates of priests remain on the table, there is no trust.
    4. Does Chaput limp? He seemed to be limping, today. Is Donna Farrell friendly? No. She’s short with people and intent on protecting her people from hard questions. She’s a rottweiler.
    5. When Chaput was asked by Susan Candiotti of CNN why it took a grand jury report to get to today’s announcements, he responded, “I don’t know. I’ve only been here 9 months…” Trust me, he knows!!!
    6. Chaput said that the facts and details of individual priest-cases would not be released in order “to protect the victims.” Why can’t victims remain anonymous while the facts and details of individual priests are released? In not releasing the info, naturally, the priests are the ones protected!
    7. Chaput is in charge of monitoring the 5 priests who will not be returning to ministry. God help us. Of course, won’t be Chaput, but may be the person who holds Lynn’s former position. What expertise, skills, methods and devices does the AD have for monitoring abusive priests?
    8. There is a humanizing feel to everything that was delivered, today. Everyone’s (victims, abusive and falsely accused priests, parishioners, etc) best interest is always taken into account by Chaput, the commission that investigated abuse cases, and the woman in charge of the “counseling initiative. The Gospel ethic is the effect. But the only one’s who, presumably, seem to really feel, or experience, or benefit from the effect are the priests.
    9. Susan asked how the “counseling initiative” would reach people who have left the Church. The response to her question, by Chaput, I believe, was unclear to me. All I can say is, from a person who has left the Church, today’s announcement only reconfirmed for me that I did the right thing. The entire media event made me sick.

    I invite everyone on C4C to go to Ralph Cipriano’s piece, written today, and read the comment under it (if there are multiple comments, it’s the first one). I like Ralph’s piece, but the comment says it all.

    http://www.priestabusetrial.com

  22. had it, are you coming to Philly this week? I am going to try to get to the trial one day..which days will you be in town? I didn’t have the chance to watch the Q&A from the press conference. I will say that Donna has been very respectful in my dealings with her over the past year. Susan is going to post something about the press conference

    • Yes, Kathy, I’m coming to Philly. I’ll be attending the trial on Tues., Wed. and Thurs. of next week. What time does court reconvene after the lunch break? Not sure if I can do Thurs. afternoon because I have to fly out at 4:45. Maybe I can get an hour in. I hope I can meet you there! Susan?? What about other C4Cers? Let’s try to get a group together! Sister Maureen has encouraged everyone to step into room 304. The experience will enrich our advocacy, inform us, and stir our insightfulness and hearts. It’s a human drama we must, MUST participate in!

  23. Here is the report that includes Susan’s CBS National interview http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7407516n&tag=contentMain%3BcontentBody

    • Kathy, thank you for posting this. Susan great job.
      Unfortunately I didn’t get to see the whole press conf, but I hope to catch it online. Reading coverage just isn’t enough. I prefer to see and hear the delivery. So far, from what I’ve read, I’m left empty.

  24. Very recently an inordinate number of ‘thumbs down’ have appeared on this site. I believe someone is stuffing the ballot box. “Vote early and vote often” is what they used to do in Chicago, not Philadelphia. Lets try to keep it “Fair & Balanced.”

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