Trial Uncovers a Culture of Secrecy and Lies

Click here to read: “Evidence in clergy abuse trial shows a culture of secrecy,” by John P. Martin, The Philadelphia Inquirer, May 20, 2012


“Over eight weeks, jurors saw a parade of witnesses and close to 2,000 documents, some decades old, that detailed what bishops, pastors priests, and church officials knew and did about Philadelphia-area priests suspected of abusing children.

Together, the evidence pointed to a long-standing culture in the hierarchy – and at times the ranks below – that chose secrecy over transparency and the welfare of the institution over victims.

“It was all about the good of Mother Church,” Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington said in arguments to the judge Thursday. “They cared about money, they cared about the business of the church, not the flock and not the parishioners.”

29 thoughts on “Trial Uncovers a Culture of Secrecy and Lies

  1. Todays readings were so ironic………..they were about Judas being replaced………….because he had decided to go “his own way” instead of God’s way………….sadly the same can be said for our insititional church……..the next reading gives us hope that we are his beloved and that among those who love that is where God is found because God is love……I have seen that love on this site by the way victims are reaching out to each other and how many on this site are trying to make a different……..thankyou all for making Christs love visible when many have needed it the most.Peace

    1. Beth, thank you for your message. I finally talked with my parish pastor and was glad to open a dialog with him about what it means to “stay”when there are so many reasons to leave. Before I approached him, I prayed for the Holy Spirit to help me find the right words. I thought of you and the C4C bloggers, my daughter, the survivors. I often pray “God, help me to feel your presence and to feel encircled by your peace and love.” I asked tough questions and was honest and real about what I need and expect. We talked about how to be a vocal Catholic, and the discussion was helpful. I have now asked for the gift of the fighting spirit to keep my mouth opened. I am not the victim of a priest, but an older child. I have found healing here. I pray for all of you daily. There is so much to be done, and blogging is the easiest, but being here is giving me strength to now move onto the “real world” action. Thank you.

  2. OBEY – PRAY – PAY………….Need we say anymore about “our” church… How does one wake the “Pew Sheep” who want this to all go away as if nothing happened…

    1. They need to hear the survivors. I am the “baby” of a big Catholic family. It is not easy to be around any of them – those who have left see this only as a Catholic problem, so they are not engaged in SOL reform or anything to do with advocacy. Those who stay, myself included earlier on, seem to not be in “a good place” to handle seeking the truth, or even being told about it. I keep gently nudging both groups. When someone seems ready for a real shaking of a wake-up, which I gauge by their replies to me, I tell them what I have learned. When the apologists start feeding me “it happens everywhere” kind of nonsense, I say “well shouldn’t we work to prevent it and prosecute for it everywhere?” It is usually at this point that I bring up the House bills in PA that our hierarchy, with our money, is lobbying against. Information like this incites people to think, then hopefully act. Minimally, they know I am someone who talks about it so they 1) initiate future conversation, OR 2) know not to try to feed me the bullcrap. My reading and talking has led to my own action. I encourage the same for them just by making my stance known. Sorry for going on so long, but that is what I have been doing to wake people up. I plan to keep at it.

    2. Just an observation: I have been “monitoring the national news” like PBS, Fox News, etc. There is virtually no mention, day after day of the Philly trial or related news. Only if one goes “on line” and specifically “look for ” news , can you find it. I try to “not care” because that is the way Christians should respond, I think — Not to fret over what the “world” is up to. Until Christ returns to earth, evil and sin will continue unabated, no matter what. We only can do what we can do, calmly and peacefully. .Some comments say the RCC is being destroyed. No. All the big religions- Catholic, Bud dist, Hindu and Muslim will remain in the world until Christ takes His Body out– then retribution will fall on the world. As Jesus Christ said to the Jewish leaders, and by extrapolation to the world “HOW WILL YOU ESCAPE THE WRATH TO COME?”

  3. Many of the ‘Pew-Sheep’ are also the ‘Guard-Dogs’ who protect the group-think culture and are on the watch-out for dissenters. I no longer see this group as submissive, misinformed, indoctrinated, in denial etc. I have seen self-interest suppress righteous anger while the resulting frustration is displaced onto others lower on the totem-pole… classical bullying behavior interpreted as the ‘purifying fire’ for the growth of humility, obedience, holiness, etc. Have we been duped? Teachings are given in clerical rhetoric … intellectual arguments … biblical research … scholarly encyclicals. I need a degree in theology … cannot understand the double-talk … too complicated for lay-people … back to OBEY – PRAY – Pay.

    During the Vatican investigation of the Lay-Order called ‘Regnum Christi’, it was reported that their constitution permitted authoritarian-leadership which, in turn, led to the abuse of power, particularly as they believe that they stand in place of God Himself. I do not believe that the ‘Pew-Sheep’ want to be woken-up… it is painful to awaken ones conscience to the plight of others. There is power ‘by association’ on being a member of the largest, oldest, wealthiest, and most powerful institution to date and for some, this is more than enough. Everyone to his own. I want more.

    1. I’d say Speaking Up, you are a Truth-seeker! I know I am.
      I have been seeking the truth virtually all my life, and now it is almost over (79).

    2. So agree Speaking up … these lay order types and pew guard dogs are certainly a thing –a very real and ugly thing of our generation, which has brought our church down and done such damage to so many. I’ve seen them in my own life –yuck.

      BUT..As the parent of twenty something’s and older teenagers, I have to say, this next generation has no interest in such abstract hocus-pocus/ religious rhetorical nonsense –no matter what level of cath. education they’ve achieved…They recognize cult control tactics when they hear them — and if not, the internet is there to debunk any doubts..They’re not buying the Pew sheep, opus dei- type of nonsense. In fact, it’s an absurd joke to them.
      So how much longer can this uber catholic mentality survive with no recruits coming up?–a decade– maybe?

  4. Sadly, neither the national media nor or course the Catholic media have given the trial in Philadelphia the time and attention it deserves. I suspect that the topic of priests sexual abuse and it’s mishandling by the Catholic hierarchy is “old news”…..what does that say about our Church?

    1. Leo,

      I think that much of what the media prints and broadcasts is what readers want to see and hear. That’s part of how media outfits get by. When Catholics across the country fail to register interest in Philly’s trial, why should the media outlets? When there is no apparent hunger to satiate, why put food on the table? Additionally, there are still many large and small media outfits across the country that remain unwilling to take on the Catholic Church, especially if they don’t have to. Many have nurtured allegiances to the clergy in their communities for decades. They don’t want to rock the boat. Yes, it says something about our Church which is comprised of “we.” In my area in northern NY, few if any Catholics even know that the trial is going on, nor do they care. If Philly Catholics had attended the trial in hordes, it would have attracted the daily attention of media outfits across the country. However, they didn’t. If the trial is not a big deal to Philadelphian Catholics, why should it be to a large number of Catholics around the country?

      Kathy, if you are reading this… I’m interested in your opinion on the prayer and penance program. Thank you.

  5. To Amazed: Is it rewarding or frustrating to be looking for the Truth all your life? I guess for a ‘searcher’, there is no turning back. Does the search continue in our after-life?

    To Crystal: I’m encouraged that this ‘pew-mentality’ is on its way out.

    To Leo: What it says about our Church is that there is no chance of change … same ole business as usual conducted in more sophisticated ways, better suited to the times. This is very discouraging … feel duped.

  6. Speaking up posted: “To Amazed: Is it rewarding or frustrating to be looking for the Truth all your life? I guess for a ‘searcher’, there is no turning back. Does the search continue in our after-life? ”
    Well, right now I would say it is both rewarding and frustrating. Truth is its own reward; however, it is frustrating when one learns not everyone desires to know the truth. There is no “turning back.”
    In the next life we will live in the truth—no falsity will exist then.

  7. At the trial this morning, Lynn was portrayed as a “lower-level manager,” on the “bottom-rung” of the hierarchy. Previously noted was that he lacked knowledge of psychology, was not a detective, was learning by doing, and really brought no skills whatsoever to the job.

    To Lynn, human beings, victims of child sexual abuse, persons whose bodies and souls were taken from them, brought their torment and ordeals. To whom did they bring their torment and ordeals? To a “lower-level manager,” on the “bottom-rung,” who had no knowledge of psychology, who was not a detective, who was learning by doing, and who really brought no skills whatsoever to the job.

    The degree to which Lynn and our Church failed the victims of abuse verges on incomprehensible. Literally, the scenario is inhumane.

    1. Hadit, Lynn knew fully well what he was doing to advance his clerical career. By now blaming his dead boss to advance Chaput’s “dead Cardinals are solely to blame” PR campaign, he has also “indicted” his living bosses, Rigali and 3 bishops (and indirectly perhaps Chaput as well, as he stonewalls on the more than a dozen yet suspended priests who are not being monitored at present).

      So much for Chaput’s smart lawyers!

      Now Seth Williams must follow up and act on this substantial additional trial evidence, some of which clearly relate to crimes that occurred under Rigali and the 3 bishops, e.g., the suppression of the shredding memo, etc.

      1. I completely agree with you, Jerry, that Lynn knew what he was doing. I was in court the day the nun on the stand looked at him and said, all he had to do was say NO, I will NOT do this. I hope to God the jury remembers that as vividly as I do. Additionally, I am hoping that every last hierarchical cleric falls, including Chaput and Benedict, and that Seth Williams goes ballistic with the additional trial evidence. Hadit!

      2. I just realized, after reading an interview of Richard Sipe that all of this- the trial, the discussion, everything is BESIDE THE POINT. If one is to give any credence at all to the disclosures of a man [Sipe] whose entire career has been to understand clerical abuse, then one must see that anything short of putting the RCC “out of business” is akin to treating an insect bite when one’s entire house is eaten-up by vermin. Will the truth EVER be faced or will this monster live on?

    2. Hadit, I couldn’t agree with you more, as to the church’s Inhumane treatment of abuse victims…As a mother, grandmother, a human being, I am revolted…by the treatment victims received.

      I am also adding a post, which in some ways is totally off the subject, and yet not. In Wisconsin it took a jury FOUR HOURS to decide the following:

      It took a jury today in Appleton, Wisconsin barely four hours to conclude in a landmark decision that the bishops and senior managers of the diocese of Green Bay had committed fraud in concealing and transferring serial child sex predator, Fr. John Patrick Feeney. 

      What is so significant about this decision is that the jury reached its conclusion even though the judge had severely limited the amount of evidence, including hundreds of pages of internal church files, that they could examine.  If the jury had seen the totality of Feeney’s file they would likely have reached their decision in even less time.

      1. Joan,

        Few if any of us have not had the experience of a family member being seriously ill, a victim of a crime, or emotionally unwell. Few if any of us did not respond with “the best,” providing the best doctors, therapists, medical care, treatment and practices. It just pierces the core of me that victims and families who approached the AD were met by “company men,” conspiring, colluding, and inept.

        I am not surprised at all that the jury in Appleton, Wisconsin, arrived at a verdict in four hours. I have repeatedly said on C4C that, historically, in priest sex abuse trials, the jurors “get it.” Indeed, they “get it” loud and clear, being horrified by both the testimony and the systemic criminal activities of the hierarchy. When I left 304, I believed the jury “got it.” At the same time, there has been no trial comparable to the one in Philly, and the defense has to finish up. I am hopeful.

      2. Thank God, Hadit that the Philly trial has been what it is…

        And I really do thank God…a LOT, especially the Holy Spirit. It’s no accident that this trial has taken so long, covered so much and anyone that has ‘eyes that can see, ears that can hear and hearts that are open’ gets it.

        My gratitude to those wonderful DA’s, those very functional Grand Jury members, law enforcement and court folks is pretty much unlimited.

        I often argue that change is a marathon, not a sprint…BUT these folks have speeded up the process!!!!

        I also want to thank you for helping me distinguish between justice and mercy!….to say nothing of your very functional on the scene reporting.

        I don’t know how the jurors will decide the issues….but NOW, finally the appalling internal church machinations are a very organized and lengthly matter of public record.

        I think Susan and Kathy deserve huge thanks…Susan has noted that she has a sense that C4C was no accident. I think she is absolutely right…

  8. Meanwhile…

    What kind of lives did Cullen, Molloy, Cistone and Devil. lead? Nothing but the best. The best care, the best living arrangements, the best cars, the best Scotch, the best shore homes, the best cigars, the best travels, the best domestic help. Nothing but the best… while victims were offered the man on the “bottom-rung.”

    1. Hadit,

      You could have all the evidence in the world, develop the most sound and valid arguments, and there are Pew Potatoes who would remain unconvinced.

      Marshall Applewhite of the Heaven’s Gate cult convinced 21 women and 18 men to voluntarily committed suicide in order to catch-up with the spacecraft that they believed was hidden behind the Hale-Bopp comet. Some people are completely resistant to any appeal to reason.

      Many of us have tried without success to help our fellow Catholics to see the fraud that the Church has enslaved them with. It’s time to let these fools board the spacecraft that the RCC has constructed for them, using their own contributions. I simply can’t take the frustration anymore.

      Last Call, All Pew Potatoes Aboard! The AD spacecraft is ready to liftoff to Nerverland.

      1. drwho,

        If you can’t take the frustration anymore, stay away from bilgrimage. The excellent pieces, there, on the Catholic Church’s “other” activities will turn you explosive.

      2. I can’t and won’t do that drwho13, because I love my wife [Catholic] and through Christ I love the other Catholics. They are All Victims. If not abused physically, they are abused spiritually by having been subjected to indoctrination by a false religion, masquerading as a “Christian denomination.” Read Richard Sipe, he has them NAILED. If one gives even 50% credibility to Sipe, one has to conclude the RCC is a public enemy — IMO.

      3. I hasten to add to my contribution in this thread: Some [and I include my dear wife, are still “ensnared” but they have believed the gospel of grace by faith, in spite of the depredations of the clergy. Those I am concerned for are those that have not heard the Word of truth at all.

  9. To Amazed and victims4justice:
    I am with you in that truth has its rewards and its frustrations. Some people cannot handle the Truth and, for some, the Truth conflicts with their vested interests so they do not want to hear it. We cannot waste valuable time on them … just shake the dust off and move on. The Truth will find a way to be heard.

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