A Pastor’s Thought on the Statute of Limitations


According to a Catholics4Change reader this was posted on the Web site of Epiphany Parish in Philadelphia.  It appeared in the July 15th parish bulletin and was written by Father John Pidgeon, the pastor.

“Lifting the statute of limitations and opening a window in which victims can sue is a topic that must be given serious consideration. If this is the way to best protect victims and provide justice for those harmed, then I am all for it. While I am not fully convinced that this is the answer, I do find a major flaw in the argument that lifting the statute of limitations and opening a window for civil lawsuits would unfairly target the Catholic Church. Such an argument is like a driver who is pulled over for speeding saying to the police officer, “Its not fair that you pulled me over and not the others”. Other institutions may very well have similar problems like us but to claim we are being unfairly singled out is like the high school student caught cheating complaining that it’s not fair he was caught while others who were cheating were not. Some get caught and others do not.

That is life. While there may be compelling reasons for not changing the current statute law on sex abuse and opening a window for civil lawsuits, this argument that such an act would unfairly target the church is not one of them. Whether we favor the Pennsylvania legislators changing the statue or oppose it, I think we all can agree that a grave wrong has been done to those abused by priests like Gana and Cudemo and these victims deserve to see justice done. One possible way is allowing civil lawsuits for one or two years. It is not so much the money that they would receive that would provide justice, but that a verdict in their favor would validate and acknowledge that a terrible wrong was done to them. If there is another way of providing some justice for these victims, I am opened to proceeding in that way as well. All I care is that justice is provided for the victims. Please remember to pray for the victims.”

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99 Responses to “A Pastor’s Thought on the Statute of Limitations”

  1. I am so glad to hear words of support for a window statute from a priest. I have become so tainted toward priests due to the abuse, the cover-up, their lack of “speaking up” for what is right, and their failure to make child safety and victims’ healing a priority. It is heartening to read of Father Pidgeon’s seemingly proper understanding of the situation. It is great to hear him shoot a hole in the Church’s defense that it is “an unfair attack on the Church.” That’s the same defense Lynn wants us to buy…..it’s unfair that he has to be punished when he wasn’t the only one. He and the Church are not 3 years old anymore……that argument falls apart after preschool. Yes, it’s unfortunate that some of those who are guilty escape punishment, but that does not exonerate those who are also guilty and get caught. If you can’t face the probable punishment for a crime caught, then don’t commit the crime. If you don’t want to get caught for stealing candy with Johnny at the store, then don’t follow him in and do it. The fact is that he may get away and you might get caught….that’s the way it is. Saying that you were following Johnny is not a defense. Johnny is long gone……and you are still guilty.

    • I think the name of Father Pidgeons church is useful….for that letter was an Epiphany!

      I believe it’s the first time that an AD pastor has spoken up for the SOLs window extension, in this archdiocese… Diocesan official Father Jim Connell did it in Madison).

      So thank you, father!

      And your point about the ‘fairness issue’ is well taken..if memory serves the proposed PA legislation to extend the SOLs windows is NOT limited to the Church but covers a much larger universe.

      Your driver analogy….it was unfair that he was legally ticketed…brings up a point that I take very seriously.

      Abusing innocent children is a crime a very evil crime and when church apologists say that the fiscal impact of the SOLs extensions would harm other Church charitable efforts, I keep coming back to the fact that if you commit a crime, some call it ‘soul murder’ you must deal with your guilt, and make restitution FIRST, long before you run charitable efforts. Simple justice demands that crime and punishment are the FIRST order of the day. And with a SOLs extension, those victims of Gana, Avery, Cudemo and so many others would be validated…that the terrible things done to them would be ‘acknowledged’ ….

      God bless you and many many thanks, Joan

      • Joan you are right. I also wonder how many of the homeless etc are victims of child abuse? Addressing child sexual abuse may also help lower the number of runaway teens etc……..as I keep saying everything is connected…….stop the cancer at the core put away the predator and/or publicly name them would protect many children leading to less pain and suffering as adults.

      • My apologies…I am asleep at the wheel….right now thanks to Marsico et al…there is NO statute of limitations ‘window of one or two years pending in Harrisburg. The ‘window’ got removed when the two bills were consolidated and finally got out of the Judiciary Committee….

        So a discussion of the justice of those bills for victims…is a sadly academic exercise.

      • So a discussion of the ‘window’ for civil suits for victims…is an academic discussion…there are other features in the surviving bill that have merit.

  2. Pastor,

    You’re not as bad as your brethren, but you missed the mark.

    You aren’t being singled out like the one high school student that got caught cheating. You are being singled out like a gang of 4,392 of the richest kids in the US that all conspired to steal the answers to the SATs before they took the tests. You are being singled out because one of your parents, Msgr Lynn, absolutely, positively got caught helping 35 of you cheat, but you all took $11 million (that wasn’t yours) to keep him out of jail, proving that you are resolute in your desire to do the wrong thing and protect the guilty.

    Here’s the solution to the test, which none of your 500,000 partners in crime have been able to figure out – fix the problem as best you can, regardless of human law. Do What Jesus Would Do. Since you don’t know what that is, I’ll give you the answer to the test.

    Tell every victim that they can go to unlimited sessions with a child sex abuse therapist. They don’t have to admit their names to anyone. They just have to walk in anonymously, and get as much therapy as they need, for as long as they need it. Sell as many churches as you have to, and trade down to less elaborate buildings. That is on e of the things That Jesus Would Do.

    Take my word for it – God will not judge you by the size of your churches, the size of your bank account, or the size of the pope’s chair, even though the Catholic church teaches you that He would. The priests who teach in the Catholic church aren’t the smart kids in the class. They just cheated on the test.

    • I don’t think he missed the mark and I actually think his analogy is helpful. Supporting window legislation will do more than selling any churches because it exposes perpetrators and institutions that protect them. When you look at the recommendations of law enforcement they don’t say ‘sell your church building or the pope’s chair” they say “Change the Laws.” Laws will protect children and also bring justice to victims..so I appreciate his thoughts.

      • I think Jesus would also want justice for many victims which would also come with the window legislation. Selling a church isn’t helping a victim abused outside of the church. My friend Tammy who was raped by a family member as a child deserves her justice too. Laws will provide that.

    • The Catholic Church is not being singled out so Patrick please don’t explain why they are being singled out..it is the biggest misperception out there and one the church is thrilled to use! There is similar movement in New York to change the statutes and with all the recent news of abuse within the Hasidic community this would be a blessing to the victims of that community.I have come to know two men abused by rabbi’s and I want the same justice for them..they deserve it.

      • Kathy, it might be helpful on this blog to identify the range of folks who would be impacted with the proposed SOLs reform…if memory serves its a very broad constituency?

      • Kathy, please disregard that request,…..I forgot that the ‘window’ proposal had been removed, when the bills got out of committee…

        God willing they will return….

  3. Kate FitzGerald (hadit) Reply July 20, 2012 at 6:43 pm

    According to its website, Epiphany parish has among its members many Asians, Latin Americans, and African Americans, many of whom are immigrants. I would argue that Fr. Pidgeon’s parish landscape is one where a pastor feels less constricted to boldly and honestly support SOL reform and justice for victims. Why? Because he is not constricted by generations of pew sheep who blindly support everything Catholic, and who never have been victims themselves. Fr. Pidgeon’s congregation knows heartache and hardship. They can identify with it and with victims. They can respond from having been there in one form or another. When called to be empathetic, they can walk in the shoes of another because they’ve worn the same or similar shoes. Shame on the fortunate Catholics, those whose lives have never been interrupted or challenged. Shame on the congregations in the Philly AD who deny the plight of victims in order to protect themselves from being set adrift.

    I commend Fr. Pidgeon for his public support of Sol reform and justice for victims. Who are the parish priests who will follow in this week’s parish bulletins?

  4. After a commentor forwarded this info about Fr Pidgeon’s thoughts, I put a ‘feeler’ email out concerning ‘who is Fr Pidgeon?’ and received a reply that he is a good person with a passion for justice…good for him.

    • Kathy, you had to put a feeler email out there to find out about Fr. P’s true motives. You had distrust. That in and of itself is EXACTLY why all this…yes, all this mess is so sad. Noone nor any group of Christian people seem to trust in the other. Noone seems to feel truth from any direction. I was/am a victim and not an ounce of fear allows me, finally, 31 years later to say, “oh no, I best not say that”. Oh, this or that wouldn’t go over well. Oh, I think of iit. Forget all that. Fr. P, you said it, hopefully you meant it and Enough. There should one or two Priests in every church on every street in every town, saying the same. True religion, I believe starts with kind acts. True faith starts in ones character. Bless Us God, For I Have Sinned. I AM A SEXUAL ABUSE VICTIM…I, God have Sinned. Fr.P………………THANK YOU FOR AT LEAST GETTING THE BALL ROLLING.

      • Absolutely fossil there is so much distrust. I had never heard of Fr P. before and to be honest feel like I have heard something either pro or con about so many priests, I actually never even heard his name before today. I agree that there should be more priests saying the same but in the end it all comes down to how we live our lives and treat others. I am not waiting around for them any longer..I love how you state that true religion starts with kind acts…so true and so simple.

  5. Control over language underpins illicit social control. When one thinks of her group of fellow believers as “The One True Church”, or “Spotless Bride of Christ”, violent harm has been done to the ability to think–and to act–as an independent moral actor. Call it “Holy Mother Church”, same result. When “My Lord”, or “Monsignor”, is given to a churchman about whose personal and professional life little, if any, real substance is known, it opens the door to trouble and quickly conjures an insular world. Saint, same result. Father, now there’s a word that causes multiple subconscious disconnects for anyone who thinks. Because these men mainly have taken a vow to be celibate, they’re not anyone’s real father. That they are moved around every few years in a corporation-style management shuffle–and to cover for who knows how much other chicanery that never has been uncovered–reveals that they are not the kind of father who stays with his family, as a real father would. Then we have the words of Jesus, Call No Man Father. And Father implies that a priest can’t be a woman, so, don’t even ask about women priests. Language must considered carefully, or soon you’ll have a an international chauvinistic, misogynist church that shuffles pedophiles around like players on a chessboard, engages in unlawful international money laundering, and deprives women of their God given right to be fully equal members. I take the words of the Reverend with a grain of salt.

    • Mark, I personally am so past the point of hoping a priest will be a hero in any of this..six months ago yes…but now just so past all of that. When I read Fr Pidgeon’s remarks I thought ‘good for him’ for being a critical thinker,for looking at an issue from different angles.The same I would look at anyone who maybe is choosing a view that may not be popular among their peers, but their view reflects their own personal moral compass.

      • Kathy, thanks. You both have done such good work, we all can’t thank you enough for your courage, faithfulness, love, and wisdom. The hierarchy has misled us, gravely, about many things, and continues to do so. Just keep following your instincts, and don’t stop asking questions. There is much more there.

    • Gerard C. Chapman Reply July 21, 2012 at 1:50 pm

      AMEN! Wait a minute…that’s sexist too! Sorry, just trying to add a little relief to an extremely stressful situation/week.

    • Mark,
      Thanks for educating me. I have to admit I never had the priest worship thing going. I respect them as I respect any other person. If I have a problem I skip the middle man and go straight to God, and I will readily admit I have a very personal relationship with Him that has seen me thru many crises. Guess I’m strange that way.
      Thankfully I’ve never been in a situation that required someone be referred to as Your Lord or Lordship or Your Worship. Because those titles applied to humans conjure up some pretty funny images in my mind. I have met some famous and powerful people and honestly with a few exceptions most are regular people and would laugh if I called them Your Worship, Your Lord or Your Lordship, etc. I recall as a young woman I was nervous about meeting someone and the man next to me leaned in and said just imagine him sitting on the john and you’ll be fine. I smiled the whole time as I was introduced and conversed with this person, and when they left my bottom lip was pretty sore from biting it to keep from laughing at the hilarious mental image conjured up by the other man’s comment.
      Your Excellency for statesman, okay, but for clergy I use bishop or father, because I’m not sure what I would call him if not father. Just like I would call a lawyer attorney, I would call a priest father. No special significance for me. It signifies a professional title. I imagine our terminology will change with women priests as clergy. My Irish grandmother used to call priests men of the cloth, but that was a reference and not a title or form of address. For example, you would not say man of the cloth Kelly, but rather He’s a man of the cloth, which is not a lofty designation. Mark, you have given me a new perspective to consider.
      To me, the Reverend’s comments are just his opinions on that topic.

  6. How long do you think it will be before the Archdiocese removes him from his post at Epiphany, in other words, “reassigns” him, because he is speaking the truth

    • Yvonne, Sadly, I fear you have a point. In Denver the AB very actively opposed SOLs extensions in part, on the ‘fairness’ issue.

      If the AD removes him, Perhaps he would be well suited to some other diocese?

  7. Just listened to the song “The Prayer” and realized just how appropriate these two verses are:

    Let this be our prayer
    Let this be our prayer
    Just like every child
    Just like every child

    Need to find a place
    Guide us with your grace
    Give us faith so we’ll be safe

    The question: Is “our faith” a safe place for our children?

    • Hmmmm. It sounds good. Almost too good to be true. Makes me wonder what’s up? The decades of deception by our clergy has made me completely distrustful of all of them –and I do not apologize for this.
      Is Fr. P.’s statement out of the blue? –or has he been advocating all along for the victims? What will Fr. Pidgeon’s Archbishop say and do about this treason?
      Why does he specify those two priests? (Other than Cudemo was Epiphany’s asst. pastor for 2 yrs in the late ’80’s.)

      • No one is more actively “ex-catholic” than I am; however, I don’t think it is THAT STRANGE for there to be one or more priests around that would write that in their bulletin.

      • I don’t find it strange either and I take it for what it is, nothing more.

      • Actually the first meeting that Susan and I attended last year had victims,advocates,former prosecutor and a priest. Everyone got along just fine,our goal was all the same. If I lump every single priest into one category ,than I have become what I hate..a hypocrite.

      • kathy, I hear you but for me, unfortunately, their vow of strict obedience to Archbishop Chaput lumps priests into one category — at least when it comes to the clergy abuse situation…the priesthood is designed to work this way…and this blind obedience enabled the abuse and the cover up. I wish it were otherwise but there has been no real evidence of any autonomy of thought or action by AD priests. All I hear is their infuriating silence…until reading this today.

        It would be great if Fr. P. has broken step with his AD superiors and has bravely written from the heart about SOL legislation…but I feel the need to hesitate before believing it….I’m distrustful. Betrayal does that to a person.

      • Fr. Pigeon replaced Msgr. Powers as pastor @ Epiphany. I don’t think much harm will come to the good Father

      • Crystal, I think it would be odd to not feel betrayed or suspicous But I am trying to figure out what Fr P’s ulterior motives could be in discussing the SOL issue and can’t come up with any. Remember the Pink Floyd song “Comfortably Numb”? That is my state of mind in regard to the clergy… I just don’t care anymore. If any clergy speak out for victims I say ‘rock on and god bless’ but that is it. Maybe I will meet them at a vigil,maybe they will back track and change their mind about supporting victims. They are grown men they can figure it out, or not.

      • Since Michael posted lyrics..here it goes with some Pink Floyd..very fitting

        There is no pain you are receding
        A distant ship’s smoke on the horizon
        You are only coming through in waves
        Your lips move
        But I can’t hear what you’re saying

        When I was a child
        I caught a fleeting glimpse
        Out of the corner of my eye

        I turned to look but it was gone
        I cannot put my finger on it now
        The child is grown
        The dream is gone
        I… Have become comfortably numb

  8. Michael, what a beautiful post of words for all of us. Thank you. And, as for your question: “Is “our faith” a safe place for our children, I am hopeful that there are good parents out there whose own faith example is far better than the “institution.” God help us all as we struggle to move forward to the Light of God in our lives. With God on our side, we are resolute in providing a God-presence for our children.

  9. Thank you, Fr. Pidgeon. I have been waiting for a priest to come forward because until priests realize that until they join the call for justice, they will not be free of the chains that bind them. May you be the first of many to follow. It has happened in other countries, it can and MUST happen here.

  10. Fr. Pidgeon. Thanks!! Unfortunately your next assignment will be in the basement of the AD building as your your “bosses” can not handle the truth…

  11. I received a copy of this last weekend. My sister sent it to me. Her husband is a cousin of Fr. Pidgeon. I was reluctant to share this because like many of you have stated, I was afraid Fr. Pidgeon would be punished for not following the company line. Now that it is out, I want to personally thank Fr. Pidgeon. I know this took alot of courage. My sister tells me what a great guy you are and I must agree.I know she has shared some of my abuse story with you and I know there are other priests out there who are just waiting for someone to put the victims ahead of their career. Again I thank you.

    • My enthusiasm for Father Pigeon’s support of a SOL’s ‘window’ is somewhat mitigated by the fact that the ‘window’ no longer exists in legislation being considered in Harrisburg. It was removed when 878 was combined with 835….

      God knows, I hope it returns.

  12. In response to comment from “mackerel snapper”: any idea of what’s become of msgr powers?

  13. Kate FitzGerald (hadit) Reply July 21, 2012 at 3:49 am

    What stuns me is that Fr. Pidgeon can write a piece in his parish bulletin supporting SOL reform and justice for victims, while we feel our only recourse is to guess as to why he wrote it, how he feels about betraying Chaput’s positions on the matters, why he didn’t speak up earlier, and what he thinks about his silent brothers. Why aren’t we going straight to the horses mouth and asking those questions? Why are we being delicate with him? Is it because we sense he’s gone out on a limb? We don’t want to break the camels back? A little is enough for now? When we don’t ask those questions, we don’t force priests to take full responsibility for their actions. Speaking up takes courage and has repercussions. Indeed, there isn’t a C4C blogger who does not know that personally. Tiny clerical stands are not good enough considering the enormous burden carried by victims. The priests in Ireland are not taking tiny stands! They have fully accepted the heavy load entailed in doing the right thing. They are publicly addressing the tough questions. Why are we swooning over a cleric who took a baby step? Why aren’t we asking him the tough questions? For all we know, he may answer them.

    • Kate, it is the same dynamic that exists for why people don’t call the AD . People will talk about it, analyze it, question it, complain etc,,,and when I ask them if they ever contacted the AD they look at me like I am crazy. It is like the thought never occurred to them..actually voice a complaint or pose a question to the AD…who would ever think to do that? These same people would take the head off a poor customer service rep who didn’t give them good service,but call the AD and say the same things they so boldly will say in conversations…never. I thought the exact same thing you did, give him a call if you don’t believe him,or if you wonder why he is speaking up,or want to know why he is speaking up. All you need is a google search and a phone. I am on the same lines as Fossil..he voiced his thoughts..enough. If not enough for someone else, just give him call. We are enabling the same culture that got us here in the first place, by treating priests differently than we would treat others.

      • Kathy I get the impression people want someone else to handle the crisis for them, they don’t think they have any power to influence any change or they are so mad they just leave.

      • Kate FitzGerald (hadit) Reply July 21, 2012 at 12:10 pm

        beth, you’d be surprised at the number of people who leave the Church but remain involved in affecting change and working for justice. Because their consciences cannot support their presence in church, does not mean they abandon the issues that strain their consciences.

      • Kate,
        Thanks for making that point. Yes I agree with that also.

      • In his last three sentences he invited input: Any suggestions?

        “If there is another way of providing some justice for these victims, I am opened to proceeding in that way as well. All I care is that justice is provided for the victims. Please remember to pray for the victims.”

        It’s this way folks. I was raped by a man. Are all men then rapists? What kind of life would I have had if I had remained stuck on that conclusion? You are intelligent adults and you know that the above is not a logical conclusion. A does not equal B in this scenario; nor, does some evil priests equal all evil priests, or some evil archbishops equal all evil archbishops.
        You are “profiling.” Why? Distrust? That’s very natural.
        How do you get over it? Education, Therapy, Testing the waters,
        baby steps.

        I speak from the voice of experience: Deal with it or it will deal with you. At some point you have to start to get unstuck. You will be safer if you start to get informed, than if you sit there and let “paranoia” color your thought process and paralyze you with fear and suppositions.

        Peace and Love Cathy

      • Cathy, I could not agree more. People have every right to be feel distrust and a host of many emotions in this fiasco. I won’t however let that lead me to make blanket statements or assumptions about entire groups of people. I have found some priests more sympathetic than laity, I have found some daily pew sitters more sympathetic than fallen away catholics. Each time I am in a situation where I assumed that I would know the thoughts of the person and then am surprised, I think ‘shame on me”. I have been severely let down by the clergy in Philly. I have seen priests turn and walk in the other direction when they see the victims outside the building at vigils, I have seen priests show up at court to support Lynn and ignore the victims. I do realize though that the clergy are as mixed a bag as the laity..so I am not shocked that some priests (probably a small number) would feel that they would like to support the victims . In the beginning of all this I was wishing,hoping and searching for a priest..I don’t do that anymore..that is my own healthy distrust..that is why I say that if priests want to help victims or see the situation as a critical thinker and have informed themselves, I am happy for them as an individual but no longer attach any of my own emotional needs to it.

      • And that is a very healthy position. One should never put another on a pedestal; otherwise you are bound to be disappointed. God sees us all as equals. The pope, the president, your favorite actor or rock star, priests, parents, spouse, children are as equal as you in God’s eyes. We humans make the error of giving them superior attributes and then when they lie, commit adultery, take drugs, betray us or whatever we are shocked and outraged. Why? They’re human and that makes us all equal and all capable of sin. In my mind I see Jesus kneel and write in the sand.
        Even with all my life experience, I still sometimes forget and gradually a person will be elevated to that pedestal, and He has to remind me that is a place reserved for Him alone. As Mark said words, titles can lead us to very wrong conclusions.
        The flip side of that coin is hate which will take you on a journey you don’t want to take. When we hate we give another person control over us. The hate consumes us. Righteous anger yes, but again we need to let it go which can be very difficult. We cannot love and hate at the same time and don’t kid yourself it is humanly impossible. Hate will consume you and it cannot coexist with love. It we choose to hate one person(s), we cannot at the same time love another. Jesus sees your tears and He cries with you and He will take care of it. He too was betrayed. Jesus will give you what you need to deal with your hate, pain, betrayal, disappointment, sadness. So mentally put down your stone and take it to the foot of the cross and leave it there. Only then are you free of your tormentors. Only then can you truly experience a miracle in your life and Dream the Impossible Dream.
        Peace and Love

  14. In one of the recent threads/items I saw a reference to a Vatican document regarding “the Proceedings in Causes involving the Crime of Solicitation”. I went to the vatican site and read the document and have been pondering it a great deal.

    I suspect this discussion thread might be an appropriate location to share the direct link to the document;

    http://www.vatican.va/resources/resources_crimen-sollicitationis-1962_en.html

    The following are the first several lines of text from the document which will hopefully help you decide if it worth reading.

    INSTRUCTION
    OF THE SUPREME SACRED CONGREGATION OF THE HOLY
    OFFICE
    ADDRESSED TO ALL PATRIARCHS, ARCHBISHOPS, BISHOPS
    AND OTHER LOCAL ORDINARIES
    “ALSO OF THE ORIENTAL RITE”
    ON THE MANNER OF PROCEEDING IN CAUSES OF SOLICITATION
    Vatican Polyglot Press, 1962

    INSTRUCTION
    On the Manner of Proceeding in Causes
    involving the Crime of Solicitation

    TO BE KEPT CAREFULLY IN THE SECRET ARCHIVE
    OF THE CURIA FOR INTERNAL USE.

    NOT TO BE PUBLISHED OR AUGMENTED WITH
    COMMENTARIES

    PRELIMINARY MATTERS
    (actual instructions follow)

    I take from reading the document, this has been going on for quite a long time to one degree or another within our church. And, it was at significant level enough that a document had to be written to deal with it! It will confirm some of your why this or that hasn’t happened…

    I was abused when I was 7 or 8, not by a cleric (thank God), but by my dad’s boss. (My dad was from Phily, so I feel a special link to all in the Phily area as well as all abused everywhere.) It took me 52+/- years to finally say it out loud to myself, my wife and then to my therapist. I must admit, it was after following C4C that I had the courage to admit to myself that this secret did indeed have to be taken out of the memory trunk, looked at for what it is and dealt with. I knew the actions have/had affected my life, but I didn’t know to what relative depth and extent the impact and damage was until recently. The more I learn, the more I understand why one day I suddenly felt in the 2nd grade that I was going to hell. That revelation was thrust upon me at St. John B’s during a religion class. It has been a millstone around my neck for all of these years and it has sat in the back of my mind just bubbling along, haunting me for all these damn years.

    As I celebrated my 60th birthday yesterday, I say a special “thanks and a prayer” to the C4C Team, the survivor’s and the supporters of all, who have unknowingly been helping me to get off the dime and try to move the ball down the road toward understanding and healing.

    All of you are a “Blessing”. I thank each and every one of you and I pray for you as well. I wish the institutional church cared for us as much. I am afraid to say it, but I don’t think it will, at least not in my life time. I hope I am wrong.

    (And yes, I will sign it.)
    Tom Guise
    San Antonio, TX

    • Tom, thank you so much for sharing. Happy Birthday and I hope this year brings healing and peace for you.

      • God Bless you, Tom, on your road to healing. You are a brave man and I will pray for you personally.

    • Tomg,
      The beauty of this site is that by posting what you just did you probably helped someone else. Peace and God Bless………

    • Tom,
      A huge cyber hug is being sent your way! 52+ years is a long time to carry a weight that was never yours to carry. I’m sorry for what you went through and hopeful that by your sharing more people will learn about the complex effects of sexual abuse of children.

      God bless you Tom for your transparency.

    • Tom; Happy Birthday. As a fellow sixty something, I understand where you are coming from. I think as we get older, we start to look back at our lives in more depth. We see things that were positive happenings in our lives and things that were just the opposite. I also was molested as a young boy. It happened in 1961 when I was twelve. It happened in the church sacristy after serving mass.I attempted suicide several times over the next couple of years. Nobody ever knew because I wasn’t successful. As i look back I realize how sad that was.Eventually I buried the memories. The effects were there but the memories were not. The memories for me did not come back til I was forty years old and two years sober. I was in group therapy at the time and one of my fellow group members was a Catholic priest. One week after I talked about this in group the priest was gone. I left shortly thereafter. It has been a long and painful road. I wish you nothing but success along that road. In the long term I think it is worth the time.

    • Happy Birthday Tom,

      I’m so very sorry for what happened to you. You deserved better. Glad you opened the trunk and got rid of the millstone. I hope you know Jesus loves you and would never send you to hell for another person’s evil deeds. You are truly brave and by speaking the truth, you pave the way for another victim to speak out.

      Peace and Love Cathy

  15. I do give Fr, Pidgeon some credit for I have seen several good priests who have been supportive of clergy abuse victims, treated with contempt and were subject to swift retribution by Church leaders. So FEW have the fortitude to truly speak their minds for they know the bishop and diocesan officials (and other clergy) will not treat them kindly. How many clergy do you see standing next to or with victims on a sidewalk as they demand justice and call for changes in our laws. THAT’S when I will really be impressed, but I hold out little hope of seeing that. To the clergy: Who among you truly have that kind of courage?

    I think the people of Pennsylvania must make clear to law makers, changing the law without allowing past victims an opportunity of justice…IS NOT JUSTICE! It may be better than what you have now but don’t allow them to believe this is good enough, it is not.

    I certainly don’t know Fr Pidgeon or his true motives and I am glad he said what he did but it is much easier to support this when in fact it has been stripped from the bills language and as long as Rep Marisco is around, this kind of bill (window legislation) will get no where if he has his say. YOU MUST make a concerted effort to help him (Marisco) understand it is time to put someone else in his place.

    The people and children of the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania deserve better. No longer can you tolerate those individuals or institutions that have placed children in harms way. If we have not learned from the recent Monsignor Lynn and Sandusky trials that institutions will instinctively work to protect it’s own interests and reputation before protecting children from sexual predators, then nothing will change. Institutional abuse cases ALMOST ALWAYS have a trail of evidence, previous allegations, investigations, complaints, yes even admissions yet these truths never see the light of day unless such cases get to court.

    Look at all the Penn State Officials and church officials who denied knowing so much during depositions and then as these cases entered the “discovery phase of trial” the real truth was only then, finally exposed. This is not about money it’s about truth, justice and the protection of children. Only when there is TRUE accountability demanded of these institutions will see some real change.

    All Catholics4Change must demand it!

    • Mark, special thanks for your comments…as I was initially enthused about Father Pidgeon’s letter, I was forgetting that the ‘window’ piece of the proposed bills, the two year extension for victims to seek civil relief, had been edited out of the legislation as it finally exited the Judiciary Committee.

      And your point about clergy standing with victims on the sidewalk demanding justice and calling for changes in the law is an excellent one.

      There is one recent example in the Diocese of Madison where that actually happened. A diocesan official, Father Jim Connell stood with Peter Isely a SNAP director for the region and many victims, and their supporters on the steps of the Capitol and spoke strongly for legislation that, I believe, opened the SOLs ‘window’.

      Not only that, but Peter Isely and Fr. Connell have been working with victims and other clergy in an ongoing mutual support program. I asked Peter where else in the nation this was occurring and it appears it is unique.

    • I will say 1st, that I for one was sexually abused by a RC priest, I won’t capitalize priest in this case, as he is no longer a priest. Frankly, I know, that statement is childsplay and to all, I apologize, I am sorry.
      However the statement that not only was the legislation put as two bills into one, then also deleted from vote on behalf of Rep. Marsico, (I believe I have that correct), that statement that the legislation will only go through as long as Rep. Marsico is not there, etc. etc.. I must ask why is that? Why is it common knowledge that Rep. Marsico pushed it out of vote. Is it possible, I am just asking all of you, apparent very honest, Godly and intelligent people, asking all of you is it possible that Rep. Marsico is running on an entirely different agenda than what is (was) expected of those bills and what was expected to come about in regards to them?
      Irregardless of all of that, One, One of the 2 most significant events in the American Roman Catholic Churchs’ Clergy Sex Issue has occured in Pa. How could one man, Marsico, not only not acknowledge that but also how could one man defeat that, oh so important bill, considering what has taken place within this state in more than 15 years and with complete public knowledge? Also, with what has become apparent as to the Churchs’ knowledge and the cover up that followed, much less that which took place in Happy Valley? How could one man have the ability to do that? I HONESTLY, don’t know or understand it.
      Is it possible that he is running a mill of his OWN AGENDA?

  16. By the way, New Jersey has bills pending that will outright eliminate the SOL for child sexual abuse (they did the same for the criminal statute in 1996) and they expand the category of those who can be held responsible, such as the institutions that knowingly protects/harbors predators putting children in harms way. All though the Church continues to oppose them at every turn, I have no doubt justice will eventually be done, it is simply a matter of time.
    The bill numbers are S1651 in the Senate and A2405 in the Assembly and are awaiting a posting for full floor votes in both houses as they have already been passed out of committee. Please do all possible to support these bills passage into law.

    • Mark, on July 21 at 152pm, in your letter you had stated that New Jersey has a pending law and it also goes on to include “verbage” as to how it states the limits or lack thereof, of institutions level of responsiblily in harboring a victim and to what level the institution should be held accountable. I was abused in the early 1980’s and in the early 1990’s, I had received a letter to myself, council and to my family from the Diocese of Harrisbug, Pa, stating there CLEAR STANCE on the fact that they would not be held responsible for a diocesean priest acting on his own time and on his own [agenda], means…and such they would not hold any responsibility towards this (my words) crime against me.
      I simply found your knowledgeable post and the facts of my particular case over here across the Delaware, interesting. Thank you from me to you, for sharing this.

  17. Joan, yes I am aware of Fr Connell and his actions in support of victims, he is a true hero. There are a few, he is not alone, but few are in active ministry. I forget his name but there is a chancellor of clergy for a diocese in the mid west WHO IS NOT A MEMBER OF THE CLERGY (very rare indeed) he is a layperson and parent who wrote a tremendously candid letter to Bishop Wilton Gregory on the church’s failed attempt to handle properly, clergy abuse allegations. It is an excellent read and I will try and find same to post.

    If these guys (the clergy) truly want change they will have to participate en mass to pressure our bishops to due the right thing. So far, a major exodus of the faithful, loss of $$$ billions of dollars donated by the laity, even state laws demanding proper reporting have not been enough to change the mindset of our bishops leaders, in which they place the safety and protection of children before their own (very misplaced notion) that they are in fact protecting the institution. In fact they are tearing it down. One can only hope perhaps, tragically, jail time will help correct these seriously flawed,and grossly incompetent policies???

    • Mark, I read that letter from the Diocesan employee, it was excellent .If I remember he wrote it from the perspective of a father , not a priest ‘father’, but an actual parent. I have had AD employees compliment me and tell me that what we need is parents to speak up..well guess what they are parents too,they should be doing the same.

      • People crave leadership. History shows shows people will follow a bad leader straight into hell rather than think and act on their own. Churches have bad leaders too, and if you blindly follow any leader you may find you’re going in the opposite direction than what you were told or what you thought.

    • You know Mark, one of the things that struck me about Jim Connell is that he is older and I would guess fiscally independent. A late vocation, had been married, still a licensed accountant, (I think he paid for the ad that recruited more victims), a vice chancellor of a diocese, a doctorate in canon law…..not a dependent clergyman with an M Div.

      I think what he has done is terrific…on SOLs extensions, Diocesan Review Board standards and USCCB reporting behaviour. He is uniquely qualified to do these things.

      Organizing clergy without Connell’s background has to be more daunting….I surely think it needs to be done, but ….

      I fear that the only really effective tool to protect kids from abuse is going to be effective legislation, and prosecution. So your New Jersey news is great! And I would love to see that ‘candid letter’….

      • Joan,
        Something to consider. Legislation is one tool, educating people to get out and vote is another. Letters like this are an excellent and effective tool to help educate people as to why and how they should vote.
        To the churches “we can handle it” and then “we are handling it”, this letter replies “no they can’t” and explains “why they cant”.

    • Mark,

      Will I be seeing you at the SNAP Conference in Chicago next weekend? I’ll be there.

      (I’m just writing this short message because the last two or three longer comments didn’t seem to make it. Don’t know what the problem is.

      Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
      maturlishmdsnd@yahoo.com

  18. Yes, a big thanks to Kathy and Mark, as that letter from Mr. Spotanski was/is incredible.

    10 years and 1 day short of 5 months. Has anything really changed? I mean “really” changed, besides the names and seating arrangements of the USCCB?

    Didn’t Cardinal Dolan recently indicate he was at the end of his rope as far as dealing with future claimants?

    “Can anyone communicate anything that has really changed?”

    Do you think Mr. Spontanski would reissue his letter to the new President of the USCCB?

    More importantly, would it really matter?… Or, is it just the SSDD?

  19. “…10 years and 1 day short of 5 months. Has anything really changed?… ”

    tomg/txman28, I wondered the same thing. I had to double check the date on this man’s wonderful letter… Ten years later, and still the same questions hang in the air; same concerns; same baffled outrage at the hierarchy; same pleading tone from the laity begging the hierarchy to do the right thing….
    One significant change since the letter however… That December as we all remember, Cardinal Law escaped to Rome just in time to avoid facing the consequences for having destroyed countless children of the Archdiocese of Boston, and has now retired from his position as archpriest of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in the Eternal City.
    Really, it’s all a joke and the laugh is on us.

    • Crystal,
      Seems they just don’t care………..makes me question why they got into the priesthood in the first place……….seems like many went into it for the image……..not for saving souls……

      • Maybe “we” the laity should start rating these priests and bishops on how many converts they have a year vs. how many that leave. I think you will find the priests living the real gospel bring many to Christ like St. Patrick etc……….he brought thousands to the faith by living the faith…….. I judge them by their fruits and they can judge me the same way……….talk is cheap

    • My thoughts exactly Crystal. Nothing will change— it is what it is! as they say. Children, as well as adults are at RISK. Catholics refuse to acknowledge the existence of a cult, because it reflects back upon their own judgment. How foolish. I myself have had to admit time after time how wrong I have been about things in my life . I Thank God I was helped by God to realize the error of my ways AND the errors of an “ISM”. An “ism” is something made up by fallen men, not God.
      The catholic church is an “ism”— CatholicISM.
      The only way to protect your children is to raise them AWAY from any cult, any false “ism” .

      • Nicholas1
        I personally have learned never to doubt the power of God. He can reach anyone.
        Peace and Love

  20. I attended a mission church in Kentucky last week……we had to drive from 30 minutes away in TN…25 people attended………no altar boys or girls. Position of altar boy was carried out by an adult man. The priest had to go to 4 parishes that Sunday to say mass. The church was extremely small and simple.The young priest seemed on fire with the love of Christ and seemed to wholeheartedly preach his sermon . We said the prayer of St. Michael at the end of mass. I was very touched by this simple church and simple faith it was such a contrast to the complicated and sad situtation in Philly.

    • Tennessee? Knoxville is where Cardinal Rigali hides out from the consequences of the mess he left behind in Philadelphia.

      Beth I love your priest rating idea!… Simplicity is something the church really needs. (BTW- Lucky you, I’d love to visit Kentucky.)

      • Joan
        Yes, I spent many years in California: southern, northern, as well as Santa Barbara, San Francisco and Sacramento. It is a unique culture that encompasses the best and worst.
        I read where Susan Sarandon admonished the pope for his handling of this mess. the church did not like it. Good for her for following her conscience.
        Melinda Gates in Seatte took a stand in opposition to the pope which also was not well received. I am sure they’ll be happy to take her catholic money though.
        Some Catholic athletes have also decided their conscience is calling.
        The Holy Spirit is working overtime all over the world and I’m definitely “staying tuned.”
        Peace an Love

    • Kate FitzGerald (hadit) Reply July 22, 2012 at 12:39 am

      beth,

      Regardless of how simple things appear elsewhere, the same complicated and sad situation in Philly is happening there… whether they know it or not, or deny it or not. The Catholic conspiracy to cover up sexual abuse is present in every diocese in the country. Over the last several decades, at one time or another, it’s inflicted every Catholic parish in the U.S. It’s daunting.

      • To your point, Kate….SNAP released the LA diocese appellate decision on data release! A long overdue, but very welcome decision…..

        Home → Media Statements →
        CA – LA Archdiocese cannot block release of secret priest files, victims respond
        POSTED BY JOELLE CASTEIX ON JULY 20, 2012 · FLAG
        Late yesterday, the California Second Appellate District Court  ruled that Los Angeles Archdiocese officials cannot block the release of confidential priest files of 25 known, admitted, or jailed child molesting clerics. 

        The files were a part of the Archdiocese’s 2007 $660 million settlement with more than 500 alleged victims of child sex abuse. Legal maneuverings by lawyers for the Archdiocese and the accused priests have held up the release of the files for five years.

        We are thrilled that hundreds of pages of long-secret church records about pedophile priests will soon be released. Kids are safest when citizens know more, not less, about dangerous child molesters. The public will also be able to learn what church officials knew about predator clerics and when they knew it. That will help ensure some accountability and justice for people who recklessly put kids in danger.

        It’s heartbreaking that Catholic officials have succeeded for years in keeping this crucial information secret. The only people who benefit from this kind of legal wrangling are predators and the men and women who cover up for them. It’s time for the LA Archdiocese to uphold its promises in the now-five-year-old settlement agreement with men and women who were so terribly hurt as children. Until then, how can we be sure that anything has changed in the Archdiocese?

        The court decision is posted here

      • Yes Kate I am in no way naive to that fact. I stayed in West Virginia and I was thinking about Brandsfield the whole time. No archdiocese is left untouched………just that little church reminded me how things should be.

      • Joan,
        The only thing about Calif that surprised me is the church got away with blocking it for so long in that state. There are a lot of catholic celebrities, but most don’t hesitate to speak out even against church practices. While they may respect a priest or bishop they don’t revere them.
        I tend to think that clergy reached their special status on the east coast due to the strong post colonial poor immigrant population.

      • Kate: I don’t know that I would call it daunting. I think criminal would be my preferred adjective.This criminal activity from all that I have been hearing and reading lately, originates in Rome. The criminal conspiracy to coverup sexual abuse has its’ roots in the Vatican.What other organization in the world would be able to get away with this activity which hurt so many for so long?

      • Jim,
        To answer your question how about the US Air Force to name one; US corporations: and governments.
        And I share your conclusion re the Vatican. Covering up to maintain an image is not a new phenomenom. The church is a business; it is a corporation. Men who run corporations often put the corporate image above all else. It doesn’t matter if the men in that corporation dress in white, red, and purple garb and live in a domed cathedral in Rome called the Vatican. In Jesus eyes they are men and all capable of sin. They might even have justified by saying they were protecting Jesus reputation. Yeah, like He needs us to protect Him. We were warned: Peter denied Him, Thomas doubted Him, and Judas betrayed Him. Why are we so surprised?

      • I might add that to find Jesus you only need look within yourself. You don’t need to look outward toward Rome or anywhere else. Church has a purpose to learn about God and share our knowledge with others, but church can be defiled as per the Gospel re Jesus cleansing the Temple. And, I think He is doing it again. Peace and Love

      • Cathy you are so right! CA is sooooo different from the east coast. We have an immigrant pop, southeast Asia and hispanic, but we are not ‘post colonial’. If CA were an independent country we would rank 6th 7th or 8 th in the world, as a nation (depends on the standard applied). We are a ‘blue state’ who initiated a one year SOL with minimal difficulty and I think, Marci’s help.

        We surely don’t identify ourselves by a parish name…

        We have very sophisticated centers, SF Bay Area, LA, Silicon Valley, even Sacramento….a huge number of colleges and universities and a whole slew of Nobel winners, to say nothing of the movie industry.

        So, why so long to get the LA AD to honor their obligations to release data after that $660,000 settlement.

        I suspect that the there was a fair amount of legal foot dragging on the part of the LA, AD….

        Very recently there was a very large settlement, I think in northern CA which occurred right before Mahoney would have testified…if memory serves it was in the 3.75 million range, one of the largest if not the large individual abuse settlement in the state.

        I see this Appellate decision, in some ways as an extension of the Philly situation. With the release of that data, God only knows what prosecutors will come up with….this is definitely a ‘stay tuned’ issue!!!

  21. To expand on Mark’s suggestion.

    Philly people are smart and creative. Show the world what brotherly love really means.

    Challenge the “thumbs up” to ‘come out, come out wherever you are” and join you in a candlelight vigil (rally, potluck, picnic)? Decide on a common goal (Protection for children? Justice for victims? Break the silence around abuse? Change the Laws?)etc., Choose a desired outcome – signing petitions to change laws? organize via email committees. Pick a time and place.

    You could contact the press and you might get a front page story without spending a dime. You could ask the radio stations to do a free public service announcement of the event. You could contact TV stations or write them with information about your event.] and invent them to attend. You could ask people to wear blue ribbons to the event and bring a candle. You have nothing to lose except learning who your opponents really are in which case you can deal with them. There is strength in numbers, but timing is important because the window of opportunity will close as people desensitize.

    Or, you could (1) Pool your money (2) Take an ad out in the local paper(s) inviting laity, priests, catholic, and non-Catholic, legislators, law enforcement media to join you in a candlelight vigil “To Protect Kids” (time and place of your choice). Send an invitation to the LCWR, Penn State, NCAA, ASCAP, SAG-AFTRA, MADD, SNAP, VOTF whomever.

    A candlelight vigil for Law Changes requires two things: (1) a candle (2) signing a petition to eliminate/change any law that stand in the way of protection for children and/or justice for victims, (or whatever you decide for a goal). Have tables and petitions ready to sign.

    A candlelight vigil would (1) Give everyone a voice with less fear of retribution; there is strength and courage in numbers. (2) Create a document signed by all present to deliver to the Pennsylvania legislature telling them that Pennsylvania voters demand action via signed legislation on the part of every politician to protect children or they will vote to replace any politician who doesn’t or whatever the committee decides as a goal.

    Just some thoughts on making lemonade out of lemons.
    .
    “Have no fear of them…..what you hear whispered, proclaim from the housetops.” Familiar words?

    • Be the Change…..another way to make lemonade…in an election year is paid ads defining the problem/solution and a letter to the editor campaign (people actually read them).

      • Joan,
        Both great ideas.
        Please feel free to call me Cathy. I don’t post my last name to respect those in denial and it seems dishonest to use a false name.

    • Someone mentioned New Jersey legislation, you could use the wording of that legislation as a framework for Pa law in your petitions.
      Of course as it goes thru committee it may get changed but it is a start.
      Also assign someone to work with the office manager or analyst in the office of the Rep in charge of the committee in charge of that legislation.
      Usually you want a Rep who is friendly to your cause to draft the legislation and submit it and then they would be the one whose office staff your rep would work with to keep you updated on the progress of the legislation.
      Office staff of a friendly legislative Rep can be very helpful in directing you on how to get legislation drafted and thru a committee in your state. You would want to consult them before your “candlelight vigil” or whatever. They may even come.
      In exchange you promise the office staff your group will get out the vote for that representative by distributing flyers, etc.

  22. You makes some fair points. However you are missing the larger point. The Catholic Conf is spending tens of millions of lobbying dollars in barring victims from legal recoursei in every state. In doing so they protect not only child rapists in the church but all pedophiles. The vast majority who have no connection to the church. Also they block all victims from justice even the vast majority who were not abused by priests nor are catholic.

    What sir gives the bishops the right to do that? A question you dont even consider. So excuse us if we dont heap praise on your coming round to a smaller point . And dont expect a thank you either.

    • JP,
      I have found and continue to find this fact very disturbing. Show me what a man treasures and there his heart lies……….can’t worship God and money just not possible and actually shows a complete lack of faith……..I hit a point in my life that all I had was Jesus though it was scary……..it also made me free……..

      • Beth

        Read your post to JP and I think we’re soul sisters.

        Peace and love

      • Well said. Let me be clear this is a failure of leadership in the church and elsewhere. The bishopry has resorted to direct threats against state legislators in WI NY IL. And any state that proposes reform in this area.

        i believe most catholics and priests are good and decent souls. They suffer from this too. ive learned you dont need a church to practice christian values.

    • JP, couldnt agree more…what right has the Church, using its money to fund its lobbying arm, the state Catholic Conference, to block legislation that helps ALL victims from seeking civil, or for that matter criminal ‘relief?

      Personally, I find it disgusting.

      • SNAP’s response to the Paterno statue removal and some very good points relating to the Milwaukee diocese…see what you think:

        Paterno statue gone from Penn State: when will Weakland’s turn come?
        SNAPWisconsin.com
        Paterno statue gone from Penn State; when will Weakland’s turn come?
        Statement by Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director (Milwaukee)
        Contact: 414.429.7259
        Today, in a simple and obvious gesture of decency and justice to victims of child rape and sexual assault by Jerry Sandusky, Penn State officials removed coach Joe Paterno’s statue from university grounds.

        Removing the statue is not simply some nice gesture to victims. It was done because Penn State officials realize that if they are going to rehabilitate the honor of their institution and make it worthy of respect and support, they cannot deliberately display a statue of a man who, for whatever contributions he has made to the university, failed to protect children when he could have easily done so. Paterno didn’t because he was more concerned about the school’s reputation than about the school’s actual moral integrity.

        For years survivors of rape, sexual assault and abuse by scores of Milwaukee priests under the supervision of former Archbishop Rembert Weakland have begged the current Archbishop Jerome Listecki to remove from the Milwaukee Cathedral a prominent bronze relief of Weakland depicting himself in the place of Jesus protecting little children. Weakland concealed and transferred so many sex offender clerics that Joe Paterno’s actions at Penn State seem almost trivial in comparison in their scope and consequences.

        But the real reason Listecki must remove Weakland’s bronze honor to himself, which Catholics are forced to pray and worship in the presence of, is not for the sake of survivors and our feelings about Weakland. It’s for the sake of what honor and decency the Catholic Church in Milwaukee might still stand for, especially as Listecki demands the indulgence of the federal bankruptcy court to shield Weakland and others from the consequences of decades of cover-ups.

        SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. We’ve been around for 23 years and have more than 10,000 members. Despite the word “priest” in our title, we have members who were molested by religious figures of all denominations, including nuns, rabbis, bishops, and Protestant ministers. Visit us at SNAPnetwork.org and SNAPwisconsin.com.

    • Sadly, the larger point is even larger that the one you make
      The answer – Nothing
      Anyone seeking praise or thank you from this situation is psychotic
      Truly sorry for whatever wrong was done to you.

  23. Tnx 4 reply Joan. The irony here for me is I was an altar boy and the priests I knew were all good men. One helprd me study for the servus dei merit badge. He was a role model an never made so much as an innappropriate remark.

    I could not even imagine abuse until sent to a protestant boarding school.

    I think SNAP is doing important work to give victiims a chance to fight back. Let us know how we can help.

  24. His chronic addiction to pornography and manipulating married, vulnerable female parishoners into having sex with him finally caught up with him. Even after being discovered he continued to lie about it until multiple victims came out of the wood-work. He’s been outed as a scam artist. He was fired.

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