Philadelphia Archdiocese Evades Punishment

Click here to read: “Column: Penn State case bad, but church sex abuse worse,” by DeWayne Wickham, USA Today, July 29, 2012

Excerpt: “According to that grand jury report — and another in 2003 and 2005 — the Philadelphia archdiocese’s coverup of pedophile priests started before Bevilacqua became its leader and lasted after he was replaced.

So why hasn’t it been penalized in some way for its bad acts — for sending pedophile priests to counseling instead of turning them in to the cops? Why hasn’t its tax-exempt status been revoked for a number of years? That might be a real deterrent against a repeat of such harmful indifference in Philadelphia and elsewhere.”

163 thoughts on “Philadelphia Archdiocese Evades Punishment

  1. The scale of the evil and corruption is overwhelming.The clergy of the AD of Phila. shielded dozens and dozens of Sandusky’s over the years. Everyone knows it, and the AD stands to pretty much get away with it. Can this really be happening in a free and enlightened society in 2012?

  2. I happened to be in State College last weekend as the statue was being taken down and as everyone there waited for the NCAA to announce the sanctions against Penn State. I did not attend PSU but was there with friends who had. The mood and the sense of betrayal was similar to what so many here in the AD have felt these past few years. Since then I keep wishing comparable sanctions could be imposed on the AD and on every diocese in our country and around the world found to have covered up abuse of children. The swiftness of the Sandusky trial and the reaction of the NCAA makes my head spin in contrast to the years of coverup, subterfuge and denial on the part of our church leaders, and still they seem to get away with their behavior without any consequences (except for Msgr Lynn-who was just one among many who are culpable). It all leaves me feeling numb. I cannot imagine how the victims feel.

    1. It’s interesting that this article is in USA Today…a national paper with huge readership…

      And the qeustions they pose….why so long an investigation with

      1. Cont. re USA Today article:

        The author asks perfectly logical questions about the Church vs PSU…questions any normal human being would ask…..why so many Grand Jury Reports with so many Sanduskys, with so little to show for it… low level episcopal manager with a 3-6 year term.

        Why not huge fiscal penalties, the loss of exempt tax status, have we no Freeh?

        And yet we are hugely grateful that one underling has FINALLY been convicted of something in the bishop realm ….child endangerment….well knowing that there are so ever many other Phillys in the US and quantum numbers of gross clerical abuse worldwide?

        I think David Clohessy has it about right and I cite:

        So why hasn’t it been penalized in some way for its bad acts — for sending pedophile priests to counseling instead of turning them in to the cops?

        Why hasn’t its tax-exempt status been revoked for a number of years? That might be a real deterrent against a repeat of such harmful indifference in Philadelphia and elsewhere.

        But the Philadelphia archdiocese is not likely to suffer the same fate as Penn State, even though three grand juries found it left pedophile priests free to prey upon children for years after church officials became aware of them.

        That’s because saving the church from scorn was more important to them than protecting children from those monsters.

        “As powerful as Penn State officials are, their power pales before the power of the Catholic hierarchy,” David Clohessy, director and spokesman for the Survivor’s Network of those Abused by Priests, told me.

        “When sex abuse happens in a religious setting, many people back away. I think a degree of fatigue has set it.”

        I hope for the sake of the children who were abused, and those who might be victimized in the future if nothing is done, that what happened in Philadelphia will produce enough outrage to force the archdiocese there — like Penn State — to pay a hefty price for its indifference to the sexual abuse of children.

        I hope so too….

      2. From Davis Cloessey’s statement, “When sex abuse happens in a religious setting, many people back away. I think a degree of fatigue has set it.”

        What about this fatigue? Who’s fatigued ?- legislators, law enforcement? Are we electing them and paying them to be fatigued in the face of the power of the church?
        I do hear a sort of societal despair over the oddities of the RCC in general, especially for its age-old sex abuse problem. Non-Catholic observers seem to say…”Well duh! The “celibate” catholic priesthood is custom designed for pedophiles and other predators. If those arrogant, silly catholics are stupid enough to demand that their priests never have a relationship in their entire lives…then they’re just asking for all sorts of sexual problems to crop up.. So if catholic parents think it’s a good idea to place their kids into churches and schools run by these men, then they shouldn’t be surprised when their kids are preyed upon…..Nobody’s got a gun to their heads..They’re adults…If Catholics want it this way –They got it.”

      3. ….not to belabor my point but I also hear our “fatigued” non catholic society say “…Let the catholics solve their own internal problems before they ask society to do it for them. Why should we set ourselves up to lose votes, or to be called “bigoted or anti-catholic” for stepping into their scandal, and trying to save them from the clergy they assign titles to such as Father or Eminence and whom they revere as god-like. Why should we have to police their goofy religion?

      4. It’s not just fatigue Crystal….since 1982 the National Conference of Catholic Bishops have been busy little campers working with US bishops and their lobbying arms, to limit the laws that would help victims seek criminal or civil relief for their abuse, ANd protect perps.

        Victims that testified during the ‘bad acts’ section of the Lynn trial are a perfect example…their access to law enforcement ‘termed out’ before they were able/ready to report. AND the reporting period was a joke. I think it was Lynn who said he did not have to report to civil authorities because only the abused child could make the report!

        The list goes on and on and it is a tragic one. Meanwhile PSU was not spending 30 years setting up blocks to Sandusky’s conviction and the Feds had laws that applied to PSU in a way that doesn’t apply to the RCC….

      5. And I hope the moderated remark gets UN moderated alludes to the P catholic conferences efforts to protect is some data from the trial addressing those issues.

        City prosecutors today continued trying to undercut that portrait using documents from the church’s Secret Archives on abusive priests that were turned over to prosecutors in February on the eve of the trial.
        A 2002 memo from Bishop Joseph Cistone to Lynn, introduced by Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington, refers to the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference, the church’s lobbying arm in Harrisburg, and its effort to prevent the legislature from extending the deadline for purported victims of sexual abuse by priests to file lawsuits against the church.
        A 1994 memo calls to Lynn’s attention the special committee created by Bevilacqua and other Pennsylvania prelates trying to come up with ways to safeguard Secret Archives documents from being subpoenaed for use in civil lawsuits filed by victims of clergy sexual abuse.
        The documents introduced by Blessington were part of a cache of papers — including a list of pedophile priests compiled by Lynn in 1994 — that Archdiocesan lawyers say were shredded on Bevilacqua’s orders. Lynn himself described the list and documents to the grand jury eight years ago but testified that he was unable to find them.

      6. The National conference of catholic bishops were alerted to the abuse problem as early as 1992…

        ‘1992 .NCCB/USCC staff assist personnel from two dioceses in appreciating the civil liability risks involved in child molestation cases. Occasional inquiries about specific complaints follow over the next eighteen months.
        Misconduct of Father Gilbert Gauthe of Lafayette, Louisiana, focuses public attention. NCCB/USCC staff have limited discussions with diocesan administrative and legal personnel about concerns presented by resulting claims. Additional claimants in other dioceses come forward. NCCB/USCC staff act as resource to Bishops and their staffs who have ultimate responsibility for responding to claims.
        Several state legislatures change child abuse reporting statutes. NCCB/USCC legal staff survey and provide summary of statutes to dioceses.

        As a point of correction, I do not know if the bishops were specifically attempting to modify state laws during this period, but they were clearly aware of ‘civil liability’.

      7. Crystal stated, “…not to belabor my point but I also hear our “fatigued” non catholic society say “…Let the catholics solve their own internal problems before they ask society to do it for them.”

        That’s an excellent point Crystal. For example, I have little concern for problems within the Church of Scientology, and have no desire to police what I consider a goofy religion. I don’t care what they do! If they have a problem, it’s Tom Cruise’s problem, not mine.

  3. It is also noteworthy that when the Sandusky verdict was announced, the leadership of Penn State asked the victims and their attorneys to come in so the university could discuss what they could do to heal the damage done to these individuals.

    The Archdiocese issues a whining statement after Msgr Lynn was sentenced complaining that he was being treated unfairly; that the problem was solved in 2005 (a blatant lie); and that the statute of limitations has expired so they have no obligation to the victims. They then went back to obsessing over school vouchers, gay marriage, and contraception. They also are persecuting nuns who de-emphasize these issues to spend more time caring for the poor and the sick.

    It is a sad day when the morals of a football team are better than the morals of these men who claim to speak for God. Sadly, they also claim to speak for us in the pews when they lecture our political leaders.

  4. “no doubt that (Bevilacqua’s) knowing and deliberate actions during his tenure as archbishop also endangered thousands of children in the Philadelphia Archdiocese.”

    Dying was the best career move Bevilacqua ever made. He knew exactly the right tine to “get out of Dodge.” He “LIVED LARGE” in this world, but it appears to me that Hell was designed especially for him.

    1. And what about “teflon Cardinal” Rigali, the “Eminence” who so far has eluded Seth Williams. Rigali was in charge from 2003 to 2011 of the Philly Archdiocese’s priest pedophile paradise! Is Lynn waiting for Rigali to confess? Fat chance. Time for the Seth to stop coasting on Lynne Abrahams’ efforts and to show his own initiative by some diligent and independent investigations of Rigali’s role in covering up for several dozen priests, including Fr. McCormick, suspended by Rigali last year. You can’t blame Msgr. Lynn alone for that.

      1. Of course, I meant is Seth waiting for Rigali to confess, although Msgr. Lynn at this point may be praying for it too.

      2. Wise words and I agree 100%. Why do political animals who aspire to a higher office shoot themselves in the foot? Why fear becoming famous for championing the underdog? Americans love it and it makes great headlines.

        Re your comment on Jul 31 @ 11:43. Thank you.

  5. In comparison Penn State acted with swift decisiveness and morality aimed at doing the right thing after it was discovered that sandusky was enabled and protected, while the rcc / archdiocese of Phila uses the money it collects from the pew catholics to protect itself in that it uses the catholic conference of bishops to stall legislation that will hold it accountable. Aslo it has friends ( tom caltagirone / ron marsico and the guy running for the AG’s office) in Harrisburg that aid in the rcc hiding its crimes. Until the legislation is changed and the SOL removed and a Window for Victims is enacted the rcc will never be made to rest, chaput we know why you were sent here so wake up and do the right thing !

  6. Still wondering why Rigali, Cistone, Cullen, Bransfield, Gana and Cudemo are not being brought in for questioning and/or being charged. It seems that our “religious” leaders continue to be held to a different standard than others.

      1. It comes down to Seth and Catholics. BOTH have to exert their outrage and implement every means for bringing the Church to justice. Seth is slow to move. Catholics are not unified in their outrage. Meanwhile, the most evil and vile institution on earth is getting away with murder. I agree with Crystal, the scenario is altogether incomprehensible in the 21st century.

      2. Come on Seth wake up.

        You don’t want to be late for work, or you might just miss the chance you’ve been given to get in front of the pack and be a national hero for kids.

  7. crystal commented:
    August 1, 2012 at 12:50 pm

    From Davis Cloessey’s statement, “When sex abuse happens in a religious setting, many people back away. I think a degree of fatigue has set it.”
    What about this fatigue? Who’s fatigued ?- legislators, law enforcement? Are we electing them and paying them to be fatigued in the face of the power of the church?

    So if catholic parents think it’s a good idea to place their kids into churches and schools run by these men, then they shouldn’t be surprised when their kids are preyed upon…..Nobody’s got a gun to their heads..They’re adults…If Catholics want it this way –They got it.”
    When the people decide the offenders are a “cult”, they will step in.

    1. Nicholas

      Five thumbs down. Wow. You rocked their boat.

      Sometimes it’s hard to look in that mirror and address the face that stares back at you.

  8. Can citizens sue the District Attorney’s office for its failure to go after unconvicted felons and institutional corruption? Don’t tell me we can vote Seth out of office. Doing so would have no effect whatsoever on the state of affairs in the Church. If the DA’s office won’t step up to the plate, there should be a means that forces them to.

    1. Just a hunch but I would not be surprised for another grand jury report in the next year . Just remember that many of the unconvicted felons in the AD are due to the statute of limitations which has been the problem since the investigations that began with Lynn Abraham. That being said I don’t think we have seen the door close on the investigation.

  9. Here are my conclusions as to why church hierarchy “get away with it”. One of the most often quoted and/or misquoted bible verses by Catholics is “I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it”.

    Catholics sit waiting for God to defend His church from the gates of hell never considering that God is waiting for them to act according to His teaching. Pondering how Protestant’s act with wayward ministers I stumbled upon this enlightening article.

    You’re all correct. Seth (legal system) and Catholics (moral system) must act or suffer the consequences of inaction.

    1. Be the change…If I had a nickle for every time I get told the old “gates of hell won’t prevail” verse as an excuse for why a fellow catholic feels OK just settling for this mess in the RCC….In fact, I believe I heard it alluded to on a thread here just yesterday! lol!

      1. Crystal
        Haven’t found any perfect religion, and I would be out of place with perfection anyway. Although sure am uncomfortable with the label catholic considering……..

      1. What I don’t understand is, with all the Charismatics around the world, their spiritual or heavenly language, words of prophecy, wisdom and whatever else, Mary as our Heavenly Mother who interceeds for all , has never whistleblown on her priest’s on the assault of the most innocent children
        To spiritually convenient for my liking for as far as I knew, she, as with God, has no favourites.

  10. A bunch of scared men professing obedience to another man who sits on the other side of the Atlantic in a castle like setting. The only way to inflict change on the church is to cut off the money… Another words, stop putting your hard earn dollars in weekly collection and cancel those pledges you made at a weak moment. Should you have a child in a Phila AD school ask the school to confirm in writing (fat chance) that none of your dollars are going downtown. That weekly “required” gift you are paying to send your child to the parish school IS GOING downtown…Like it our not, money is like oxygen and the church needs it to breath thus cut off the cash and WE WILL GET THE CHANGES that are so desperately needed… Think about it for a moment…. Do you want to be associated with an organization that allows children to be raped…..? This will be hard for some to come to grips with as it goes against everything you have been taught however I am sure Lynn had none of that “Catholic guilt” when reassigning priests such as Avery. The time has come to be a good Christian First and a Catholic Second…

    1. WR

      Some would rather be a Catholic and sit on their faith, rather than be a Christian Catholic and act on their faith. They wait for God to save them and God waits for them to act on the Biblical message Jesus left them in His example and words when He said, “Come follow me”.

      They cling to the message “Love the sinner” and forget the part “Hate the sin”, so they feel no obligation to cleanse the church of this blasphemy, and satan grows in strength while the risk to their children, the church, and the world increases as satan corrupts Christ’s church with lies, blasphemy, and immorality and slowly extinuishes the Light Christ’s church was to be to the world.

      1. AND the very horror withe the abuse of 200 deaf children has just been made into an award winning documentary….Oscar winner’s ‘explosive’ film about abuse at St. John’s to premiere at Toronto film festival
        Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

        By Duane Dudek of the Journal Sentinel

        Aug. 1, 2012

        “Mea Maxima Culpa: Silence in the House of God,” a documentary about a pedophile priest at St. John’s School for the Deaf in St. Francis will have its premiere in September at the Toronto International Film Festival.

        The film was directed by Alex Gibney, who won an Oscar for his Iraq war documentary “Taxi to the Dark Side.” It is set for wider release this fall.

        The film chronicles the sexual assaults of as many as 200 deaf boys over three decades by Father Lawrence Murphy and includes testimony by some of of his victims.

        It cites Pope Benedict XVI – then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – as being aware of complaints against him. A release for the film described it as being “explosive.”

      2. Joan

        Thank you for your unceasing efforts to share information and perspectives on RCC clergy child abuse and cover up.

        Appreciate the link and info on the documentary. I will check them out.

      3. Joan; I just finished watching the video with Fr. Thomas Doyle. It was excellent.This man obviously understands this issue better than anyone I have come into contact with. I just finished reading ‘Sex.Priests and Secret Codes”, the book that was in the background for part of the video. I plan on rereading it. It was one of those books that was so full of information, one couldn’t possibly get it in one reading. Thanks for the connection.

      4. Jim, we all have our heroes and heroines…some are active on this site and certainly Susan and Kathy factor in big time! Who else has given us an opportunity to really ‘speak to each other’ ?

        But Thomas Doyle, Richard Sipe, Patrick Wall, sister Maureen, Marci Hamilton, Barbara Blaine, David Clohessy and all those SNAP guys, Jeff Anderson, Lynne Abraham, and Seth….Theresa Sarmina…the whole Philly group including all those Grand Jury members AND Lynn trial jury members….the list is long and I have only touched on it, lightly.

        Most of all….the victims who have had the courage to come forth, testify and make this a safer place than they experienced!!!

        The situation is appalling…and still needs a huge clean up….but, I think God is good and has sent us some very serious players.

        I am so grateful.

      5. Joan,

        I love the question put forth by the interviewer to Doyle asking if newly ordained priests are more reform-minded. Doyle responds by saying quite the contrary, which I have argued here on a number of occasions. Doyle says they are imbued and obsessed with clericalism and the fancies that go with a patriarchal monarchy– the robes, the titles, the power and the perks. This is the mindset emerging from seminaries, today. Couple it with the gross psycho-sexual immaturity that inflicts seminarians and priests, and the obedience/loyalty indoctrination. Nothing like creating human misfits who are dangers to themselves and who threaten the health and well being of the rest of us. It boggles the mind that rational people would remain connected to such a dangerous and dysfunctional institution. It boggles the mind that loving parents and families having men “called” to the priesthood would consider it a noble, healthy, and suitable profession when, in reality and by the standards of 21st century knowledge, it is nothing more than one, sick, dangerous, and immoral cult.

      6. Joan,

        Finally got the time to watch Father Doyle. About 24 minutes in when he was speaking about gays in the priesthood, his statement, “They (the hierarchy) all claim to have all the answers for everything” plus his reference to the fact that the hierarchy blame everything but themselves targets the core of the problem.

        The hierarchy are caught in a never ending circle of lies. In addition to what the child predator has done, as much if not more damage was done by the hierarchy as they pointed fingers at innocent people: victims, families, gays, catholic laity, news media, and etc, The hierarchy compounded the injury done to victims by blaming them for the problem. By their abusive actions, the hierarchy have broken so many commandments especially the two greatest: Love God and Love others.

        I have thought for awhile the hierarchy were narcissistic, Father Doyle referred to that in this video. At times one begins to wonder if you are crazy or did the world go mad while you were sleeping. In a real way, Father Doyle identified and confirmed the hierarchy went mad while we were sleeping.

        Again, thanks for sharing.

      7. Thanks for posting Tom Doyle. Good interview! What a great man. I agree with Kate’s thoughts – Come to think of it, some people really are drawn to “things medieval” aren’t they?…It’s sort of like a male-only, global Renaissance faire.

    1. Your art is beautiful: both your words and video.

      Sure wish you could see yourself right now as I see you: brave, talented, compassionate, loving, dedicated and a very gifted human being.

      1. Rich,

        Your art is beautiful: both your words and video.

        Sure wish you could see yourself right now as I see you: brave, talented, compassionate, loving, dedicated and a very gifted human being.

      2. Rich,I just got through saying never give advice to victims and…..

        Your videos are so powerful and tell your story so bloody well…that I am wondering if they should go ‘viral’ maybe with a bit more detail for folks who don’t relate to the Philly scene?,….. THERE, I’ve done it, when I said no one should.

  11. I wrote the following letter to DA Seth Wiiliams, After identifying myself as a former Philadelphia priest, dispensed by Pope Paul VI in 1971, and who attended part of Vatican II and was Chairman of the Dept. of Theology at St. Charles Seminary I said,

    Msgr. Lynn was convicted for following the rules of the Church’s organizational structure. That is precisely why Archbishop Chaput used the Church’s money to defend him, why as reported, priests came to the trial and sided with him without even looking at the victims, and why Chaput is now campaigning for a lighter sentence. From a Catholic viewpoint, the organizational structure itself is spiritually corrupt. And that structure has now been proven to be a criminal one.]

    Because the structure itself is now criminal, I submit to you that you have a sworn responsibility to continue to investigate it to the point of indicting all those in the structure who participated with Lynn in his crime. Did not Lynn himself “indict” Bishops Cistone and Cullen? Did not Lynn work for a while under the direct authority of Cardinal Rigali? Are there not credible victims available who were abused within the statute of limitations? Is Archbishop Chaput himself in the clear? Are these not legitimate questions?

    As you know, there are people who are saying you will not proceed with your investigation because you want to run for mayor of Philadelphia. They say that Ed Rendell is encouraging you. Fine! But I truly hope there is no truth to the suspicion that you might compromise your Catholic faith and moral integrity in the process. I truly hope you would consider that too high a price to pay, even in order to be of service to the city.

    Dr. Anthony T. Massimini

  12. How can the Catholic Church get away with systematically destroying peoples lives? I sure would like to know the answer to that question. Our laws have failed us. And I don’t just mean the victims. I mean all of us. Most politicians only concern is the next election. Nothing else matters to them. Look at how long it is taking the Pennsylvania legislature to take action in regards to the Sandusky and Penn State scandal. It was amazing to see how quickly Freeh got to the bottom of the scandal. Of course, he wasn’t looking at his next election. I am afraid that if the Penn State scandal hadn’t happened[and I wish nobody else was molested] this issue would get hardly any attention. I know of at least two instances where Bishops in Philadelphia told their parishoners who to vote for. They didn’t make it blatantly obvious but the message was there. The truth is politicians are afraid of the Catholic Hierarchy. Maybe it is time to push for term limits, so that politicians concerns would be for the people they represent. and getting re-elected.

    1. Jim, I agree….also wonder if an ad campaign that paints certain ‘candidates’ as not supportive of protecting innocent kids, would be an idea?

      Marsico was moved a bit by ads….

    2. Jim, I think there are prohibitions on 501c3 organizations, ‘electioneering’ ie telling folks who to vote for….and retaining tax exempt status.

      1. Joan
        And that is why the RCC did their Fortnight because they were challenged on that one.
        If you google Chaput and vote, you’ll find several times he alone has done it. I no others have, and Protestant ministers are doing the same because friends have told me so.

    3. Jim,

      For a long time only the victims knew. When the truth came out people went into shock. As people recovered, they started to deal with the reality of it, but justice moves slowly.

      People do not want these pedophiles laicized and released into the general populace to prey on more children.

      They believe you, and the other victims. There are people who care.

    1. Good.

      I imagine he’s pretty terrified right now. This type does not do well in jail.

      1. Joan

        Sorry I missed Kathy’s name when I responded to your earlier post.

        My apologies

  13. And another one

    A Canadian Non Denominational minister is suing an RCC diocese and a religious society over priest sexual abuse. The diocese then sued the religious society who assigned the priest to the diocese. The lawsuit also asks for punishment of the diocese and religious society for helping the priest leave Canada.–pastor-alleges-sex-abuse-sues-roman-catholic-organizations-for-3m

  14. Did His Holiness Pope Benedict the Sixteenth say he would clean things up? I trusted him. Have I missed something? Did he already announce how he would clean up the church’s priestly pedophilia and money corruption? Are we supposed to be awaiting an imminent announcement? I am sick and tired of waiting as the filth continues before our eyes. As Fannie Lou Hamer said, “I am sick and tired of being sick and tired.”

    1. Mark

      The church hierarchy are narcissistic. It is one of the most difficult psychological maladies to correct partially because they don’t see anything wrong with their behavior. To change you first need to recognize your problem, and a narcissist can’t. They manufacture justifications on demand.

      You will drive yourself crazy waiting for a narcissist to change, I know because my mom was one. They don’t change so your only hope is for you to change by getting as far away from them as you can or they will drive you crazy. All kidding aside. If you don’t believe me read up on it.

      Law enforcement and the legal system is the only hope.

  15. Kathy and Kate: I was unable to post for some glitch reason a comment to your recent remarks elsewhere about ongoing Philly DA’s investigations.

    Public pressure must be kept on Seth. He hasn’t clearly shown he will do any more than he is publicly pressured to do, like following up on his predecessor, Lynne Abraham’s eight years of extensive efforts.

    Seth talks about protecting his three daughters ad nauseum, yet he let Avery cop a soft, sudden and inexplicable plea, which undercut the Lynn conspiracy case substantially and almost blew the child endangerment conviction.

    Seth has also let the Philly AD play “hide the ball” with material evidence like the “shredded list” for years now, with no adverse consequences.

    Seth has let the Philly AD “subcontract out” to their own lawyer, Gina Smith, the criminal investigation “teflon Cardinal” Rigali’s dozens of suspended predatory priests.

    Seth, of course, should not announce details of an investigation prematurely and predjudicially, but in the current situation after the extensive Lynn trial disclosures, he should inform us as much as feasible that he is continuing to investigate, as well as what he is investigating.

    The Montgomery County DA did this with her Bransfield investigation. We shouldn’t have to guess or rely on unconfirmable rumors about Seth’s strategy.

    Seth’s tepid approach to date should give us no confidence that he is doing anything if he doesn’t say he is.

    After barely two convictions in 50 years (Lynn and Avery) out of the over 300 problem priest cases Lynn found, we just cannot assume the politically malleable Philly DA’s office is doing its job, without concrete confirmation. If we do just assume this, we will likely be disappointed by Seth’s inaction.

    It’s that simple at this point. There is no longer any gag order in effect, other than Seth’s conveniently self-imposed one!

  16. I can tell you that not one legal/law enforcement person that I have spoken to in the past 18 months has put the blame at the DA’s feet.

    1. Kathy, after practicing law for 30+ years, I can only call it as I see it. If you and your sources think Seth has performed well, I understand that. I just disagree with that view.

      Of course, after striking out for 50 years, a couple of bare single hits like Avery’s plea and Lynn’s single count conviction by the Philly DA’s office must seem like grand slams to some.

      I don’t for a moment deny that even the minimum Avery and Lynn convictions were really great progress and were worth all the effort so many, including some Assistant DAs and you, Susan and other C4C blogeers put in, but we are settling way too low if the teflon Cardinal Rigali is not called to account.

      If Lynn covered up from 2004 to 2011, who was he covering up for? Only Bevilacqua? I don’t believe that and the evidence disclosed at Lynn’s trial will, in my opinion, amply support my view if it is marshalled fully and diligently.

      I have written about this at length in several of my Bilgrimage pieces for all to read, including the Philly DA’s office.

      For now, I accept I haven’t convinced them, but I don’t really think their issues are only about truth. Politics and power are operative here as well.

      I have no desire to argue with you, but thought your speculation that some future criminal proceeding might occur had to be given some more context.

      So far Seth hasn’t said ‘boo’ on the record about where Rigali stands.

      1. This is no argument, this is me sharing what I have learnedober the past year from professionals who prosecute these type of cases. I believe the indictment of Sandusky and the PSU officials took 3 years from the beginning of the investigation. Rigali.. will be very interesting to see what happens with him.

      2. Jerry, You raise some real concerns about the DA. I hope for the best, but there are worrisome conflicts there. Shrewd political alliances and crafty maneuvering, enabled the AD to get to their present position of power in this city…All the players in these proceedings bear careful watching. I don’t think it’s wise or necessary to trust any of them.

      3. crystal, I agree, but do not rule out what the laws of Pa. prevented from being prosecuted. When Lynn Abraham failed to indict anyone,not one person, from the 450 page 2005 GJ report,the push was on to change the laws. One of the laws that was changed had to do with child endargement and NOT having to be a direct supervisor of children in order to endanger them,before that law was changed it read that you had to directly supervise children.
        I do not trust many elected officials and have no allegiance to Seth Williams ,I do not even live in the city limits. My comments are to remind people of the laws that need to be changed. Having worked on the House bills 878 and 832 I am all to aware of politics, alliances and the power of the Church,very well aware, but the laws are the only real hope.

      4. Here is an example and why I constantly harp on the laws of Pa. In the Brennan case the statutes had already tolled on charging Brennan with child endangerment for Mark,the victim who testified. So even though Brennan admitted to showing the porn and sleeping in the same bed, he could not be charged with endangering that child,instead he was charged with endangering any “other ” children. The juror who has written in Cipriano’s blog stated that she was confident that the jury would have convicted Brennan of child endangerment in relation to Mark ,but because the statute had tolled he was not being charged with endangering Mark. It has been a real education over the past year from meetings and people we have met who have been kind enough to explain in depth the limitations of the law.

      5. Crystal,

        I agree with your conclusions and would add that democracy requires “we the people” monitor government and hold it accountable.

      6. Kathy,

        You make a valid point re the laws, but Seth as a major player in that system has a responsiblity to step up. For example, a media interview where Seth identifies his role within the judicial system and his limitations under the laws governed by the legislative system.

        And, where are the brave legislators? The too have a responsiblity to initiate, amend, and/or repeal laws to address the problem of child sexual abuse.

      7. Where are the brave legislators?

        Many are being heavily lobbied by the catholic church, or they are catholic, or they are using their catholic connections for other more important favors. Slippery little suckers.

  17. Brennan went to trial and was not found guilty and Lynn was aquitted of the charges involving him on the Brennan case, actually one charge was even dismissed by the judge. Avery is sitting in a prison cell and Lynn was charged with the one count involving the Avery case…you never know what can happen in a trial.

  18. Kathy and Jerry

    Thank you so very much for all you do and have done on behalf of the victims and to seek justice for them. You just go forward despite all the obstacles with faith that it will work out.

    I know it must be exhausting for both of you. If I could I would send both of you on a tropical vacation away from all of this, instead all I can do is offer a heartfelt thank you and a prayer for each of you that you are rewarded for all you’ve done.

    God Bless.

    1. Cathy,you are too kind. I have had the honor of meeting many of the people who have been doing the real work here in Philly. The victims, their families, advocates, legal/law enforcement that have worked for justice by changing laws in Harrisburg…people who have worked on this for the past 9 years. I am but a drop in a very large bucket of survivors and professionals seeking justice for victims and protection of children.

      1. Kathy, Yes there are many others but you and Jerry also make a huge contribution of time, talent, and personal sacrifice.

        Sometimes it’s hard to hang in there when you can’t see the outcome, but you know thru faith the impossible can happen.
        It will. Know that you are in my prayers. You’re a special lady.

      2. Think you might want to look at today’s NCR article on seminarian screening. I have put the link in and a couple points that I found interesting.

        The whole issue of foreign born priests is a concern. The Bishops Atlanta meeting referenced behaviour of these guys in terms of ‘complaints’…..also found the point about empathy to be important…..see what you think? 

        Plante said one of the major challenges today is how to effectively screen non-English-speaking candidates, as well as priests ordained outside of the United States who want to come here to study or work.

        To start, many countries do not have criminal records that can be checked and psychological testing is nonexistent or less thorough than in the U.S. This reality, Plante said, is a “fatal flaw” in the assessment process of international priests.

        About 50 percent of the newly identified abusers in recent years were seminary trained and ordained in foreign countries that do not have the same formation programs and screening used in the U.S., said Plante, who serves on the U.S. bishops’ National Review Board.

        According to a 2009 study by the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, 81 percent of seminary rectors and 77 percent of diocesan vocation directors said the assessment of such psychosexual development was taken “very much” into consideration when admitting a candidate to priestly formation.
        Additionally, 74 percent of rectors and 80 percent of vocation directors weighed “very much” the candidate’s capacity to be celibate, and 63 percent of rectors and 53 percent of vocation directors said the candidate’s sexual experience was a very serious consideration.

        Eighty percent of the psychologists participating in the CARA study said the candidate’s capacity for empathy should be considered very highly, but only 54 percent of rectors and 51 percent of vocation directors ranked it as a high priority even though the Program of Priestly Formation lists “genuine empathy” as a key component of a suitable candidate.

      3. Think the issue of foreign born priests is a problem given the US priest shortage and

        ‘ about 50% of the newly identified abusers in recent years were seminary trained and ordained in foreign countries that do no have the same formation programs and screening used in the US.’

        What are the US bishops doing to protect innocent kids if they are utilizing the services of these guys?

        Are they doing retroactive screening? Think this question needs a LOT of deliberation!!!

      4. AND along with my concerns about foreign born clergy as cited in the NCR article on seminary training, lets consider the second piece that I extracted from the seminary discussion.

        Would someone please explain to me why only 54% of rectors and 51% of vocation directors felt that a candidate for the priesthood should be strong on ‘capacity for empathy’…you know, that Jesus thing, when 80% of CARA’s own psychologists rated it as a ‘key component for a suitable candidate.’

        Rather, these rectors and vocation directors valued in the 70 and 80% range……the ‘ability to remain celibate’…

        In other words….empathy…not so much celibacy…critical ….thus
        producing….unempathetic celibates….oh great!!!

      5. Joan -interesting article! AileenUSA’s comment #3 underneath it says it all about the culture of the priesthood.

        This pedophile screening sounds like pop-psychish to me. Weeding out pedophiles can’t be done to any degree of certainty, so why create a false sense of security?….The screening process stands only to extract the dumb ones… allowing the clever, discreet, extra-dangerous ones to slip through to the seminary and eventually into the parishes.

        The foreign priest issue seems to me like RCC recklessness at its very finest. We get so many at our parish–and one can only wonder how they performed on their “screening”. I resent when these priests can hardly speak English…while lecturing us on the evils of the American culture…I find myself wondering why he’s not back home in his war-torn, impoverished country doing some good there.

      6. From the USCCB Atlanta report, regarding youth protection.

        Al Notzon III, NRB chair, addressed the bishops on the report ( The report looked at the decade since the 2002 approval of the bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

        All dioceses/eparchies have written codes of conduct for clergy and church employees or volunteers who have contact with children. These codes serve as guidelines for adult behavior toward children and can help someone determine if a behavior is appropriate. The code of conduct gives clear standards of behavior and a concise vocabulary to delinate how to spot and report infractions.

        The clarity around procedures has raised issues beyond criminal sexual behavior – into what are called “boundary violations.” These are behaviors that can cross the line of integrity and professional responsibility – improper touching, excessive tickling, dirty jokes, and the like.

        Audits indicate there are increasing reports of such activities. The number of boundary violation reports that involve international priests is also increasing.

        Many of these priests struggle with the behavioral conventions of United States culture. Behavior that might be culturally appropriate in one place, may not be appropriate in U.S. culture. This issue needs to be investigated more thoroughly and programs instituted to help international priests learn U.S. cultural ways. Because boundary violations mimic grooming behaviors, the National Review Board recommends that the bishops take action to address boundary violations made against any cleric.

      7. Joan,
        Your research is so thorough.

        My husband jumped through every hoop to document the abuse and his treatment when he came forward, so it would “show up” on their audits. It never did. The system for reporting is greatly flawed and not an accurate litmus test to what is happening in dioceses with boundary violations or sexual abuse. I sit in rooms full of victims that have reported through proper channels so it would/could be documented by the audit. Nothing. It never shows up. If the church is noticing an increase, then the average person should multiply that by 10 (at least).

        As far as the guidelines for protecting youth…it seems like common sense…and yet, every detail has to be defined. For what reason? Do we really need guidelines to tell us priests shouldn’t be tickling our children? Are groomers now going to say, “Oh, now that it says I shouldn’t be serving alcohol to our vulnerable youth, I better quit bringing jello shots to the hotel room I share with the kids on the mission trips.”

        Lay out all the guidelines you want, but until they are enforced and there are consequences for not enforcing them…kids will be forever at risk in the rcc.

        The guidelines are a false sense of security for the parents and an ego boost for those who created them. Nothing more.

      8. Actually SW, I think the whole situation is totally unmanageable.

        You have a monumental priest crisis with US dioceses utilizing many foreign priests. You have the USCCB noting guidelines and ‘fraternal correction’ with no ability to actually sanction bishops who do not comply. The guy who made the report inveighed the hierarchy to cooperate….but it was advice, and a plea.

        AND that’s in the US where we have law and media to impose some degree of compliance.

        If memory serves about half of the worlds bishops actually responded to the Vatican request for their ‘plan’ on abuse handling. The Vatican was going to send the other half ‘reminders’…and those plans, such as they are should be evaluated on what kind of ‘teeth’ they have, regarding civil reporting.

        And I believe it was Africa that was exempted. Ask yourself why?

        There are over 400,000 priests worldwide…..the whole situation is totally unmanageable.

      9. Crystal, wasn’t it the local Allentown diocese that just had a case of a Nigerian born priest who got a member of the parish youth group pregnant and took her for an abortion? Technically the person was 18 and charges have not been filed.

      10. Sw and Joan…interesting–and discouraging.

        This is off topic, but speaking of foreign countries, I wonder if any further investigation was done about the 6 adopted Hmong children of Fr Avery’s? If this awful story was true, it’s a grim reminder that these men target not only AD kids.

      11. Joan,
        What you describe is alarming. It doesn’t seem to bother enough people to make a tangible shift in the protection of children.

        This was one thing that was a refreshing change when we switched churches. The policies…the procedures…the high regard for children, youth, vulnerable adults was like salve on wounds. People cared about my child’s safety. Nothing was more important to them than protecting my childrens’ spiritual lives, their precious souls. It’s the attitude. With the proper focus, all policies can flow from Him.

        It’s how every Catholic can know the current policies for protecting children and helping victims heal are lacking. The hierarchy’s focus is off.

        I don’t foresee this changing any time soon.

      12. Crystal,

        You said, “it’s a grim reminder that these men target not only AD kids.”

        And as these laicized priest pedophiles surface within the society of the “faigued” non catholics you mentioned earlier, Seth and the legislature will be very busy dealing with that societies response to this evil invasion of their “safe” world.

        That society will be demanding to know, “why Seth and the legislature didn’t deal with this?” We want to know too.

      13. Crystal, your question about the 6 Hmong children that Avery adopted is a really good one. From the 2011 Grand Jury report:

        Msgr. Lynn and his colleagues also appear to have ignored Father Avery’s continued involvement with the Hmong, despite Saint John Vianney’s explicit recommendation to limit his contacts with that community. According to Cardinal Bevilacqua, restrictions on an abusive priest’s ministry are normally documented in his file. There is nothing, however, in Father Avery’s file to suggest that his access to the Hmong children whom he adopted, or his non-pastoral relationships with the Hmong, was ever restricted or even monitored.

        Archdiocese documents indicate that, in 1996, Msgr. Lynn was aware that Father Avery was still deeply involved with the Hmong community – three years after therapists had urged that he be kept away from “vulnerable minorities.”

        There is no indication that church officials ever checked on the welfare of Father Avery’s “adopted” children – even though Msgr. Lynn and the Cardinal were the only people in a position to protect those children, having concealed from the community that the man entrusted with their welfare was an accused child molester.

      14. Crystal…..I liked Aileen’s NCR comment too! And am pasting it here for C4C…

        Psychological testing is one

        Submitted by AileenUSA (not verified) on Aug. 02, 2012.
        Psychological testing is one tool that can be used for preliminary screening purposes.     But it should not stop there.     Human development exists on a continuum,   with one achieved stage providing a foundation for the next.     Large portions of the developmental stages occur during childhood and teen years…   but it doesn’t abruptly stop at age 18 or 21.     Under normal circumstances humans continue to grow and mature through life experience.     Some people never grow up.
        My concern is that the RCC selectively looks for a certain type of male candidate whose personality structure allows him to become a company man carefully following the establishment rules with vowed obedience to a superior cleric.     He is expected to also promise to live a celibate life,   preferably having no sexual experience even prior to ordination.     One priest friend told me that his seminary instructed their seminarians to stay far away from any contact with women in order to preserve their supposed priestly chastity (the subtext being that women are seductresses sent by Satan to “drag a priest’s soul to hell”).     Quite often the males deemed most desirable began their pursuit of vocational dreams while still in early adolescence,   and some also jumping immediately to some pre-seminary environment of “future priests” enmeshed in that artificial hothouse.     The end result can be developmental stunting,   …producing grown men who are stuck in psychological and spiritual early adolescence.
        After ordination   (and sometimes before),   sufficient stress,   family isolation and sexual frustration,   can lead to childish or adolescent forms of acting-out…   except that now these men are no longer minors and their dysfunction can take more serious forms.     Many quite literally lack a solid developmental foundation and have never experienced adult life in the real world.     It’s not really surprising that these same men have such a perverse obsession with the sexuality of laity and the sexual behavior of others…   often rising to the level of the pathology of voyeurism.
        The cult of clericalism is not a normal state of life for a human being.     It is a contrived environment,   not unlike a bonsai tree,   that requires constant tending to avoid such pitfalls as substance abuse or porn addiction,   and other dysfunctional coping behaviors.     Some older men, like Sean Ratigan, seem drawn to this contrived culture perhaps because they were already developmentally stuck,   and so they gravitated to a familiar dysfunctional place.     The official Roman position comes off as not just philosophical in promoting the priesthood as some special charism and that is all you need,   but also engages in some downright magical thinking where these men are concerned.     The behavior of bishops during the ongoing sexual abuse scandal shows just how deeply entrenched the developmental stunting and magical thinking actually is.
        The whole culture of clericalism is the problem,   and until that systemic problem is addressed,   dysfunctional,   antisocial and even criminal sexual behaviors will continue.

      15. Joan, So I’d guess the adopted Hmong children are now over 18yrs old. -? I hope they survived. Can you imagine these AD men being so unconcerned about children who were so desperately in harm’s way?

      16. Crystal not only were the Hmong children desperately in harms way….but there are few folks on the face of the earth more vulnerable, or for that matter, more primitive.

        I worked with folks who resettled Hmong…they were so primitive that our guys were tearing their hair out trying to figure how to bring these folks into the 20th century.

        And to allow a priest to adopt 6 children is awful adoptive practice, if the priest were saintly, and not a certified, serial abuser. Surely diocesan Catholic Charities who handle adoptions should have intervened.

        The Avery/Hmong story has yet to be truly told.

      17. SW, your point about ‘audits’ is a painful commentary on the problems of ‘self reporting’.

        America had a piece on this and I cite:

        Report Comment
        Please describe why you think the comment below is objectionable, or why it violates America’s comments policy.

        Yes, Tom Rooney’s letter is very impressive and I too associate with much he said. He knows the anguish, but like most Catholics is sadly misinformed about the facts.

        Roomey writes, ”Most dioceses in the United States have implemented the specifics of the 2002 USCCB Dallas Charter well to address past abuse and prevent further abuse.” 

        No, they have not. Even the auditor himself described his work as ”sort of an audit” that is more like a ”program review.” The discrepancies between what the USCCB audits reveal and the DA’s grand jury found are monumental. The audits were nothing beyond self-reports full of holes, because ”auditors” were not allowed to see priest personnel files or confidential materials.

        The recently released Phila grand jury report found dozens of accused priests still in ministry, and Rigali only acted after a searing indictment of his practices; after the fact, he removed 29 priests he had earlier kept active. Yet, Phila is judged fully compliant with the Charter in the USCCB national report released yesterday.

        Today’s Phila Inquirer:
        ”So many priests removed from ministry (And they have NOT been truthful.)
        ”Robert Bennett, a Washington lawyer who served on the bishops’ first advisory board for handling sex-abuse issues, said Monday that he did not think dioceses’ self-reporting was effective.
        ”I don’t know what the alternative would be,” Bennett said, ”but you probably need somebody outside the church apparatus monitoring the process.”…

        Bennett did ”not think Philadelphia was an anomaly” in failing to adequately investigate abuse charges against its priests.
        ”These things are pretty universal,” he said.

    2. Joan,

      You must possess empathy to evaluate empathy. (1) The bishops have shown zero empathy in their response to the victims. (2) The bishops have written instructions from Rome that hinder real accountability; yet Rome claims they do not control what the bishops do. (3) Many laity need to put someone else in charge of their relationship with God. For both laity and clergy these three realities encourage a continuing cycle of lie, deny, glorify.

      As some catholics attempt to take the clergy down from their privileged position on that pedestal; many catholic clergy and laity resist. Not unlike the Penn state dethroning of Joe Paterno.

      You can be a catholic and love and worship God, if you are brave enough to put the hierarchy in their proper place as a teacher of religious doctrine with human qualities and failings equal to your own. This position definitely makes you a minority in the catholic theatre as your position is considered uncatholic and you are rudely told to just leave the catholic church.

      As humans we seek God, we honor God, but no human cleric can ever become God.

  19. The following reported by NCR speaks for itself…

    “Fr. Shawn Ratigan, a Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., diocesan priest pleaded guilty to five of 13 counts of producing and attempting to produce sexually graphic material of minor girls.”

    “While a sentencing date has not been set for the priest, each charge separately carries between 15 and 30 years in prison.

    Speaking on the steps of the federal courthouse in Kansas City following Ratigan’s plea, David Ketchmark, the Acting U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, said he would recommend a “virtual life sentence” for the priest.”

    1. Thank you for sharing.

      The recommended sentence seemed so appropriate that it left me at a loss for the correct words to respond to your post.

  20. I remember back in grade school, at St John of the Cross in Roslyn. Our report cards had marks for the usual subjects, math, english, spelling, reading etc. But their were also marks for character issues, such as obedience, truthfulness, honesty etc. I don’t rember them all. But I do know that when they chose altar boys[no girls allowed back then], they were more concerned with that side of the report card. It seems that even for altar boys, obedience was a major factor. I remember thinking about this when Fr. Lynn was saying on the stand that he was simply following orders. .

    1. i believe it Jim. I’ve seen Lynn described as the perfect employee. Perfect obedience is dangerous. It leaves no room for judgement or morality. It’s no virtue… It’s often the easy way out. I hate to reference the N. trials after WWII, but weren’t we all supposed to learn something from that period of history?

  21. I do not agree at all with giving the priest in KC a life sentence. He is a young, misguided individual, and I hope he could be rehabilitated. He deserves a second chance; and to the best of my knowledge, he has never touched anyone. It is a waste of our own resources to pay to lock him up for so long.

    This ridiculously severe sentence distracts from the REAL CRIMINALS–THE BISHOPS who have been coordinating and covering up all this criminal activity. SEND A FEW BISHOPS TO THE BIG HOUSE FOR A FEW YEARS, and we will see some real change.

    1. Mark, I agree about the hierarchy being held accountable but Ratigan is a danger to children. He photographed children in various states of undress and in situations involving kids at the school. He never touched anyone? Not sure about that because the one child was only 2 years old and was photographed clothed/partially clothed and I believe while sleeping..that child did not take off their own clothes. Child pornography always has a victim..these children are not willing participants. It is astounding though how some sentences for possession of child pornography are harsher than if the person was the one actually abusing the child. The hierarchy needs to be held accountable but dangerous people also need to be kept away from our children. I wouldn’t give Ratigan a second chance with any child I knew or loved..or any child for that matter.

      1. Kathy I agree. The people making child porn swap it with others making and collecting child porn and predators usually the behavior they photograph escalates as they swap and trade pictures and they try to impress each other as sick as it is ….it is a sickeness and a crime with real victims………nothing innocent about that…..there are many articles documenting this behavior.

    2. Mark,

      I don’t know enough about the Ratigan case to address the sentencing aspect, but I believe that the bishops in general should be thoroughly investigated.

      If they are found to have committed crimes, the punishment should be at or near the max the law allows. If this does not happen there will never be substantive change in the RCC.

      Strike at the head of the snake!

  22. Kathy, you do an amazing job running this marvelous website. I think nearly everyone at his low level–where he is acting on an impulse beyond his ability to control because he never has been allowed to mature sexually because of his twisted religious observance and the expectations that others have of him, especially Catholic women–deserves a second chance.

    He also was seduced into a system that does not allow many of these men to sexually mature, ever. It is a system that elevates the Virgin Mary to a Super-God status; grown men engage in a twisted relationship with someone they call the Virgin Mary. That’s very nice, for Don Quixote, as it is not real. I think that the devious bishops, who methodically cover up the abuse for their own benefit, deserve more severe punishment, as they have not acted on impulse, but act in cold and calculating and persistently evil ways, yet they have been getting unlimited chances to do whatever they wish.

    If you are going to lock up everyone who is a danger to children, you will have to lock up millions more men–and women–and children. It’s not the right approach.

    He deserves a chance, he’s not human debris, he actually is a person. The photos were wrong to take; he deserves a year in prison this time; if he does it again, increase the time. But if all he is doing is taking photos, well, it’s wrong, but I am not going to say that he is beyond redemption. I don’t know how that can be said of him. I think he’s mostly immature.

    1. Mark

      I know you’re reply was to Kathy, but I would like to clarify, I never said Ratigan was “human debris” or that “he is beyond redemption”.

      My statement was his sentence was appropriate. He did much more than “take photos”, he sexually abused innocent children . Some of these children have crossed my path, and they are emotionally scarred for life.

      His redemption is between him and God.

      1. Cathy, I was in a seminar a few months ago with a gentleman who is a former NFL player and abused as a child. He told the audience that the abuser took a nude picture of him at age 12 and during the time he was playing professional football he lived in fear that this photo would become public . Tragic.

      2. Kathy

        Many years ago, my daughter brought a 9 year old neighbor to me because her friend was crying and said that her uncle was doing this to her. This little girl begged me not to tell her parents because they would hate her. She thought it was her fault.

        After assuring her it was not her fault, I had to tell her dad. The mental image of the look on the girl’s face and her father’s face will never leave me until my death.

        The family was never the same, and the little girl has a myriad of problems resulting from her abuse. The mother fell apart when she found out what her brother had done to her little girl.

        This is not a victimless crime. Even law enforcement has a hard time processing statements from these victims and their families.

      3. Cathy, child pornography has exploded in the last 10 years on the internet, obviously around a long time but now the internet has changed the game. I agree, it is far from a victimless crime. Whether photos are posted on the internet or kept private by the abuser, it is a violation of a child’s body. Just today in a local newspaper the story of a previously convicted sex offender approaching two teen girls asking to take their picture. They refused and then he grabbed the one girl’s arm and made them pose for a picture..he was caught and easily identified because he was already on Megan’s List. The internet has also allowed these creeps to connect with one another and share their treasure trove of horror.

      4. Kathy

        I must exit from this discussion. Two sisters have been near death for some time. One is expected to pass today, and her children need me. Please pray for her children. Thank you.

      5. Cathy, I am so sorry about your sister,your nieces and nephews are lucky to have you as a comfort during this time.

  23. Mark

    You say, “This ridiculously severe sentence distracts from the real criminals the bishops.”

    Ratigan is a criminal pedophile who paid to watch an innocent child being sexually abused. He is actually worse than the bishops because not only did he know about the child abuse, he paid to watch it happen via video and/or photography.

    Ratigan’s sentence resulted in charges against the bishop. The link from the above article: \

    Here is one child pornography victim impact statement after you read it you may change your mind about whether or not Ratigan got what he deserved.

  24. Sending the KC priest to prison for life is nothing but a witch hunt. It’s over the top and unjust. Even if he took a photo of a naked baby, so what? Really, tell me, so what? MILLIONS of people take and publish and view photos of naked babies. Yes, I agree it’s wrong. But to send him to prison for life for this is even more sick and twisted, not to mention a tremendous waste of our own resources as it costs $100,000 per year, or more, to imprison a person.

    If you Google the words naked baby, you will come up with thousands of photos of naked babies. Are you going to send to prison everyone who posted–or viewed–those photos, including yourself, or are you just going to pretend that those images are not one mouse click away on your computer? That someone in your own household might view them with or without bad intent?

    Judge not, lest ye be judged. For as you judge, so shall you be judged. Let she who is without sin cast the first stone. Woe to those who have no mercy on the indiscretions of others, for they shall be utterly without hope on the day of judgment.

    The KC priest deserves punishment, but I am ashamed for those who say he should be locked away forever, without any chance of coming out, for taking photos that are accessible on your own computer at this very moment. You are so self righteous to impose such a sentence on your fellow human, without giving him a chance to reform. He deserves a right to live his life as a free man at some point if he can show that he has reformed, and I shudder to think that all these so called christians would take that possibility away from him forever, even if he has committed a crime.

    1. Some detail on Ratigan’s picture taking:

      ane Doe 1 was 6 in June 2005 when Ratigan posed her with her legs spread and panties pulled to one side, according to the indictment, which U.S. District Judge Gary Fenner read to Ratigan.

      A repair technician discovered that photograph on Ratigan’s laptop computer in December 2010. At that time, the computer was “turned over to agents for the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph,” according to court documents.

      Ratigan attempted suicide after the discovery and received medical treatment and a psychological examination. Finn subsequently stripped the priest of his duties at a Northland parish, assigned him to an Independence mission house and said that he ordered him to have no contact with children. Diocesan officials reported Ratigan to authorities in May 2011, after he violated the restrictions Finn placed on him.

      In May 2006, Ratigan photographed 2-year-old Jane Doe 2 with her private area exposed at St. Joseph’s Church in Easton, Mo., the court documents state.

      The third count Ratigan pleaded guilty to Thursday involved Jane Doe 3. She was 5 in 2007 when Ratigan took photographs of her naked pubic region, the indictment states.

      Jane Doe 4 was 7 in July 2009 when Ratigan, without her knowledge, took “close-up” photographs of her crotch area while she wore a bathing suit, according to the court documents.

      The final victim, Jane Doe 5, was asleep, court documents allege, when Ratigan pulled down her pants and photographed her. That happened sometime between August 2008 and September 2009 when she was 8 or 9.

      After reading the details for each count, Fenner asked Ratigan if he was “in fact” guilty.

      “Yes, your honor,” Ratigan answered each time in a soft but steady voice.

      Read more here:

      1. After being “caught’ by the Diocese and sent off for medical treatment he broke the restrictions and had contact with children,even taking more lewd photos after being caught. I don’t care of it is sexual deviance, immaturity, psychological problems or as some think, the work of Satan..he should not be around children in the future…children are not guinea pigs. From the descriptions of the pictures,these were not pictures of a suds covered 6 month old in a bath tub..they were posed, lewd pictures of children. He violated these children which ranged in age from 2 to 9 years old. Keep in mind these are the kids and pictures that we know about.

      2. Mark, after reading Kathy’s excerpt about some details about Ratigan…do you still think it’s a witch hunt?

        I’m not challenging you. I truly want to know how people view all of this.

    2. Mark,

      Neither Kathy or I nor our families, judgment or mercy had anything to do with it.

      He said he was guilty of the crime. He was judged in a court of law by a judge and sentenced.

      If others are doing it, I suggest they stop.

  25. Real Player is needed to view this video.
    Real Player is needed to view this video

    This video is about the 12 Elements of Enlightened Catholicism by Geoffrey Robinson. I should not have been shocked when, as explained in the video that, sexual abuse of anyone by clergy is just considered a sin, not a crime. That is why it is just a matter of confession. But on the other hand, why are they hidden until the SOL runs out?

    Geoffrey James Robinson is a retired Australian Roman Catholic bishop. Robinson was ordained for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney in 1960.

    1. Thank you, for the Robinson piece. It’s amazing to me that so many of his 12 points have been discussed so very often, on C4C….Guess the ‘sense of the faithful’ is alive and well, here.

      And with my usual predilection for the whole story, I am pasting his 12 points and the video.

      1. Oops

        Brian Coyne over at Catholica Australia put up a video of Australian Bishop Geoffrey Robinson’s talk on the twelve areas with in Roman Catholicism which need reform, or as he might say, attending to.  It’s a very comprehensive list.  The following is a list of the Robinson’s 12 points and Brian’s short description.  The video is just over 26 minutes and well worth watching.
        The Angry God: This image the institution projects of a God of Wrath and Anger needs to be challenged. It is wrong, and bad theology. It’s also really bad psychology.
         The Male Church: Women have been marginalized and treated as second class by the institution for far too long.
        The Culture of Celibacy: Not so much celibacy per se but mandatory celibacy has to take a major part of the blame as a contributing cause of this crisis.
        Moral Immaturity: The seminary system and training of priests and religious has not encouraged moral and spiritual maturity. That needs to be changed.
        Orthodoxy and Orthopraxy: Bishop Robinson argues there has been far too much emphasis on Orthodoxy (right belief) and far too little on Orthopraxy (right action).
        Sexual Teaching: He argues there needs to be “a profound change in all of sexual morality” within the institution.
        The Mystique of Priesthood: Priests have been placed on a pedestal of perfection for far too long. It’s dangerous to them and it’s dangerous to the people they are meant to be serving. Priests are not God — they struggle with all the challenges that any human beings struggle with in their lives. Often because of the positions on these pedestals they have been placed on they find it difficult to find support in their lives. The laity also have a huge part to play in keeping priests on those pedestals.
        Professionalism: There has been a rise in professional standards across almost all professions — ethical codes, structures that protect and foster professional integrity but the priesthood has largely been excluded. He argues much more needs to be done to lift professional standards of those in ministry with the Church.
        A Pope who can’t make mistakes: He argues that the way the pontiff has been placed on a pedestal and immune from criticism has been especially damaging to the institution. Creeping infallibility is a huge problem not only for some at the top who would seem to believe they have divine perfection already but also for many at the lowest rungs of the Church. This culture needs to be changed.
        The Loyalty of Bishops to the Pope: Their oath of allegiance is to the Pope — not to God, or the Church. He argues significant blame has to be placed at the feet of the late John Paul II for his inadequate responses to the growing sexual abuse crisis.
        A Culture of Secrecy: Bishop Robinson argues that the culture of secrecy in the Church has been a major cause of the problems. Bishops need to present themselves in the best light all the time and the culture of secrecy runs with that. It has been deeply damaging to the institution and needs to be changed.
        The Sensus Fidelium: He argues the institutional leadership need to be listening far more to the thinking of the broad body of the faithful not just to the small sectors that crave authority figures and founts of certitude.
        Bishop Robinson’s presentation is pretty intense and straight forward.  In some sections he doesn’t hold back any punches.  There aren’t a lot of laughs, but the points he makes indicate this is a man who has put a lot of thought into the abuse crisis, what caused the abuse and the cover up, and how necessary it is to change aspects of Catholic culture in order to really deal with the abuse inherent in the system–and not just sexual abuse.  I encourage blog readers to take the time to view the video.  It’s a good exercise for Holy Week.  If the Church is to rise from the ashes of the abuse crisis, it’s going to have to rise in a very different form.  

      2. My apologies….there should be spacing between each point…rather than a blurred mix….tough to do on the Leave a Reply link….can’t get the who article, at one time for appropriate spacing….strongly suggest you listen to the tape as noted on CMWhelan’s post!

  26. Regarding the NCR article on the screening of seminary applicants…

    I have a family member who is a PhD psychologist. Over the years, he has screened several applicants to the seminary and deaconate. He would argue that psychological testing can determine a lot about a person. But he would also argue that few psychologists who perform the testing are savvy to the culture of the seminary and the priesthood. Therefore, the psychologist is confined to measuring the stability of candidates in isolation from the culture into which they seek admission. The disconnect makes it difficult for psychologists to measure the suitability between the candidate and the culture. He would also argue that, while candidates might pass psychological testing, the cultish nature of the priesthood has the ability to ultimately derange even the most suitable and stable candidates. What really floors my family member is the number of candidates who lack an informed, grounded and reality-based understanding of the priesthood and deaconate. He blames this on the manipulative grooming practices implemented by clerics providing spiritual counseling to candidates, and on the “best practices” implemented by clerics associated with diocesan vocation offices.

    1. Kate…thanks for the input!

      I agree that the nature of the priesthood can further complicate the psychological assessment.

      But, I also think that the NCR commenter, Aileen, made a great point….human development is a lifelong process with each new step building on the last step. If you stunt the growth trajectory….maybe sexually, you cause difficulties. Bishop Robinson comments on development issue in his points referenced above, as well.

      Aileen suggests that this psychological sexual stunting of clergy and hierarchy may well explain the Church’s obsession with things sexual, literally for centuries. I thought it was a very significant point and am a bit embarrassed as I have a grad degree in human development..that I didn’t pick up on this point myself!

      1. Cont. human development of clergy…..(see moderated remark, hopefully soon)

        If you read Bishop Robinsons 12 points through the lenses of NCR commenter Aileen…ie human development is a lifelong process, one step after another, AND this process can be stunted at the sexual development level, thus creating stunted folks obsessed with sex….

        Robinsons comments are interconnected wIth Aileen’s thesis!

      2. The priesthood was appropriately likened to a bonsai tree in an article posted here recently.

        Stunted, confused sexual teaching by the RCC? ..We pray to a preteen girl who was a “woman” above all others… a virgin who was born free of the sin of being a human —except she wasn’t really a virgin, because she had a baby —then she married her fiancee, a man who was not the father — and then she remained celibate afterward. –Now what about any of this is confusing to our young people?

  27. It’s a monarchy…so the men who are determining eligibility into the priesthood wouldn’t be able to distinguish suitablity. It’s a toxic, broken system. All the screenings in the world won’t repair the dysfunction that is inherent in it.

    A good “fit” with a broken, flawed hierarchical system will do absolutely nothing for the future of the church. They should be considering candidates that don’t “fit,”…you know…men that are actually self-reliant, independent, mature…men that will challenge the poor decisions of their leadership, will fight for social justice…will actually be bold Christians.

    Define “suitable for ministry.”

    1. Kathy,
      A great reminder that my family is very familiar with for a number of reasons. Because our bishop hadn’t been charged with anything we had to step very carefully. At one point the diocesan attorney “cautioned” (threatened, bullied) my husband about litigation for slander. We knew our rights and what to say and not say…so my husband told the attorney, “If you think it’s in your client’s best interest to sue a victim that has documented proof of his claims, that’s your call. As far as “cautioning” me, that’s not your place. Your comments toward me could easily be taken as a threat, in which case you may find yourself in a legal position you and your client may not want.”

      Our diocese’ number one concern was publicity. So we stood on the chancery steps, invited all the media and told my husband’s story. We watched them shove victims around, bully them, dismiss them, and threaten them. My husband was one man they couldn’t bully and they didn’t know what to do with him.

      It’s the difference between saying, “Bishop So and so is a liar.” and “I noticed inconsistencies in the information bishop so and so presented to me.”

      The Internet is a different deal altogether though.

  28. After being abused at the end of the sixth grade at St. John of the Cross in Roslyn,I became extremely confused about sexuality. As one enters into puberty things are confusing enough.When you enter sexual abuse into the mix it becomes downright terrifying. The following year in seventh grade, it was decided that we would receive some sex education. I think they decided it was necessary after some obscene language was found on one of the blackboards. Boys and girls were separated. Our seventh grade teacher, a nun, explained the facts of life to the girls. And who did the boys get? Fr. (X)*, the priest who abused me gave me my sex education. Funny. he failed to mention sex with children, or the other sexual acts about which he had personal knowledge.

    *We don’t allow abusers to be named on the site unless criminal/civil charges have been filed or the priest has been removed by ministry.

    1. Jim, I agree with Joan. If you see the disclaimer that Susan added to your comment and the removal of the priest’s name. That is standard procedure on any publication, that a civil/criminal action or removal from ministry, in order to publicly name the priest. Mainstream media will not allow people’s (any abuser,not just priest) name to be used unless civil/criminal action has occurred. Some commentors on C4C have named their abusers but that is only if the abuser has been subject to civil/criminal charges or has been removed from ministry.

    2. Jim,
      My heart just breaks for you.

      I understand the reasoning for the removal of a priest’s name on the internet. It just saddens me that any victim has to be censored while the rapists benefit from the laws of our country.

      Stand on the street corner, share your story and then one of us can report about a man who was telling his story “claiming” fr.(insert his real name) abused him.

      1. survivors wife, I actually learned from a victim the penalties that can come with publicly “naming” an alleged abuser without criminal or civil charges, it is why the SOL reform is so important…to name abusers. I know victims that have been threatened with lawsuits..just trying to look out for everyone on this. It also doesn’t matter if the person is deceased or living, just something for everyone to think about.

      2. I should clarify also if someone is named in a criminal investigation and that is public knowledge such as the case with Bransfield. The testimony at the trial from the Gana victims made those allegations public. Same is true of the 2005 GJ charges but a criminal investigation which proved the credibility of the allegations.
        My friend has been working for the past 6 years to have the SOL reform passed in Pa. She was abused by her uncle,in interviews the newspapers will state abused by a “family member”,not even the exact relation (uncle). All she wants is his name public so that other children are not harmed.

    1. Not exactly, Gloria. Victims cannot just go around saying someone abused them (no matter how true it may be). If there aren’t charges or any public record of inappropriate behavior by someone, a victim cannot just “say it” publicly. Well, they could…but, it places them at risk of being sued for slander (spoken defamation of character) or libel (written).

      If a perp has not been charged or named publicly (alive or dead), a victim must choose their words wisely.

      There’s purpose in it. If a group of people decided to target someone by accusing them of vile acts with children, the accused person has a legal right to bring suit against those targeting them.

      On the flip side…the rcc has used this as a bully tactic to silence victims. Example: The diocese knows about a pedophile with multiple victims that to date haven’t come forward. The pedophile is dead. The victim starts leafletting about the accused pedophile, essentially stating, “This man is a rapist.” The church could bring suit against a victim for libel. Most of the time it’s foolish for the rcc to pursue this because there’s TRUTH in the accusation and they know it…BUT, they threaten a victim to shut them up and keep others from coming forward.

      It’s why the church is sinking. The perps groomed and controlled the victims. When the victims came forward, the rcc tried to control them too by silencing them. They knew if the victims started talking, more victims would come forward (more risk of litigation, publicity). The most powerful thing for a victim is their voice. It’s why bishopaccountability is so important. SNAP also plays a large role in being that voice too. Catholics4Change…Let your voice be heard. It’s the last thing the rcc wants, but the first thing it needs.

      The laws have to change so perps can be publicly named. Victims should not be at risk of legal action for telling the truth.

      1. This came up a few months ago when a local famous sportswriter was “outed’ as an abuser. His victims went to police in New Jersey too late for prosecution, but it seems the authorities still conducted an investigation and found credibility to the allegations. The newspaper conducted extensive interviews with the victims,their families,friends,neighbors etc… as well as the authorities who investigated. I think the story was circulating in the local rumor mill and maybe that is why the newspaper conducted such a thorough investigation and ran the story. Still there was a degree of surprise that the newspaper ran the story.
        A few months ago we brought people’s attention again to the disclaimer/comment policy that we have. A commentor accused us of “blinking” or in other words caving? What people do not realize is that we have the policy for your protection, even if posting anonymously,in the end nothing is truly anonymous and people can be held accountable for their comments. I think sometimes people who post here not using their real names feel a type of freedom that they should not. Whatever you post on any online site you need to make sure you would sign your name and say it publicly..for your protection. If not,don’t say it.
        Jim if you are reading this, please know this is not about you/your comments ,just something we try to reinforce from time to time.

  29. Kathy,
    I have a comment waiting moderation. I completely understand what you are saying.

    The comment is in the wrong place…it should have been under yours about publicly accusing someone.

    1. Have a lot of people’s comments been going into moderation? I know if you post a few comments in a short amount of time then then a comment gets held..sort of like a spam protector.

  30. I wrote directly to Archbishop Chaput last week and I actually got a response less than 24 hours later. This is what I wrote:

    Dear Archbishop Chaput,

    I was abused by Rev. John M. McDevitt at Father Judge High School in Northeast Philadelphia in 1990-91. John McDevitt, an Oblate of Saint Francis De Sales, taught religion and human sexuality when I was in school. Recently, I settled a lawsuit with the Oblates in which I was awarded a very minute amount of money. This settlement was certainly too small to continue paying for therapy and medications on my own. I went public in 2009 and because I did so, other victims found their voices and have spoken up. I believe that when all victims of childhood sexual abuse speak up we will eradicate the world from those who would harm our most innocent; children, then we must stand together sir, and fight. Don’t you think so?

    I have called Judy Ransom multiple times and only recieved a call-back once, when members from the website “Catholics4Change” must have badgered the phones within the Victim’s Assistance program. Instead of honoring your word “to provide victims of clergy abuse in the city of Philadelphia for 1 year,” you denied me that promise by refusing to pay for my therapy and psychiatry visits. My personal and lifelong disturbance was commanded by someone other than myself. He took from me inside, something I didn’t want to give away. He took my pride, my self-esteem, my confidence to be anything and do anything I wanted. He destroyed relationships with members of my family, and he also destroyed my chance of finding someone later in life who could know these secrets about me and love me no matter what. The worst part of being me is having no trust for new people.

    The Oblates promised me therapy indefinitely. I have the email from Provicial Supervisor James Greenfield to prove it. However, because of the settlement in Delaware all services have siezed to exist. I believe this now becomes an Archdiocese of Philadelphia issue. I was promised a journey toward healing and all I ever got was grief. Isn’t there a part of the Bishops and Cardinals that is still human? Where is your humanity? I was abused at Father Judge High School which happens to be within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, therefore it is unreasonable the Archdiocese would deny my claim of 1-year of therapy and psychiatric medications at your expense.

    As far as I know, I never hurt a soul and I certainly didn’t deserve to be raped by a grown man when I was just a child. There are numerous grievances uncovered that McDevitt had many, many allegations of abuse against him in Maryland and Delaware, and yet, he was still sent to Philadelphia, to continue abusing children. I think of an adult man within the Archdiocese who had the power to stop it, but instead looked the other way. I think about who I was and who I ought to have been had McDevitt not sunk his fingers into my thighs and breathed on my neck and made me kiss him. I thought about where I would be someday in the world when McDevitt was pushing my body against a urinal and penetrating me with his finger in the boys bathroom. I felt like a part of me just vanished and what was left wasn’t worth living another day. I had to though. I had to go to school every day, and I had to face the Darkness every day. When I refused and said, “No more,” he clenched tightly my testicle and squeeze with enough force that I couldn’t urinate without pain for over a week. He saved me from the school’s bullies, and in return he took my soul.

    I am writing to ask you to please reconsider you denial of therapy and psychiatic care. If I’m ever going to have any shot at all, of becoming a productive person, or finding faith, or discovering God’s plan, surely the Archdiocese of Philadelphia would be generous enough to make certain I am able to live just like anyone else. I think my uncle, Cardinal John J. O’Connor would’ve found the compassion to understand and help.

    I also write this letter with a heavy heart and a warped mind. There are too many men and women wandering around this planet searching for what life is meant to be, rather than living it for what it is, but that’s hard to do when you’ve been killed inside. The way I see it, 99% of childhood sexual abuse was/is completely preventable if adults would stand tall and do what needs to be done for the children. It’s not about religion, it’s about humanity.

    Rich Green (Victim)

    1. Great letter Rich.

      Was Chaput’s response compassionate, dismissive, “my hands are tied,” or better yet, some generic sentiment about the lifelong effects of abuse on “any” victims and how sad and sorry they are?

    2. V4J,
      I am glad u wrote your letter. I no longer judge the Ad by what they say but what they do. I have wrtten to Chaput many times and he has always responded and quickly. I hope you get what you deserve compassion and concrete help .

  31. Actually, the Director of the Victim’s Assistance Office contacted me and said she is looking into what they can do and she’ll be back in touch with me soon.

    I sent her an email reply about how I have very little trust that this will happen, but we’ll see. I’ve always lived by the phrase, “You’re only as good as your word.”

    I am optimistic though. The last time I got such an immediate response was from the Oblates way back when I first reported the abuse to the Philly DA, and then I called the Oblates seeking help from them, which is usually the last thing a victim should ever consider doing. I was tired of waiting for someone else to do the work for me. It was a crazy time in my life and I truly believe I was capable of suicide. The Oblates only responded immediately when I threatened to take my story to the Philadelphia Inquirer if they didn’t get on the ball and provide me with therapy. What usually takes victims months to get approved, and many never get approved at all, took me about 2 hours of phone conversations.

    I’m not threatening anymore. If the Archdiocese of Philadelphia does not respond to my request and live up to their word, it’s all coming out. I promise you, the world will know EVERYTHING! You back a man into a corner far enough and try keeping him there long enough, you might never realize the buttons you’ll push on him. I’m that guy. I seek no money, nor popularity, just truth. I don’t think the Catholic Church is ready for all of my truth to come out.

    1. You are at the place my husband was when he would take no more. No more lies, no more twisting, no more words, no more sympathy, no more fake attempts to “figure it out,” no more sifting through to find out whose “liability” he was (yes, those are the words our diocese used).

      They do not need time to figure out that raping children is wrong and lying about it is worse. No more time needs to be spent figuring out liabilty and jurisdiction. It happened on their watch, in their AD run churches and schools. They NEGLECTED to adequately supervise children and monitor priests…and it doesn’t make a difference if they are diocesan priests or order priests. The AD agreed to have the pedophiles (known and unknown, but more often than not, known) serve in their AD.

      They need to be RUSHING to the side of victims, offering support, paying counseling (to the therapist the victim chooses), offering nothing but compassion and leading the Catholics left in the pews to also do the same.

      The RCC has never been and will never be ready for the truth to come out. Keep standing strong Rich. You are a man of truth! No victim will ever get from them what they have stolen…but, they can offer to help you heal. They need to be willing to go to any length for a victim to heal…any length. Not a year, not 6 months of AD approved counseling, not some lie about insurance coverage, no dodging their approval of an order priest or diocesan priest …ANY LENGTH.

      I know too much about them to ever allow my children into their hands.

      Rich, I hope you get a compassion response. But, moreso, I hope you get a tangible plan of ACTION for healing.

  32. I do not make a habit of posting articles here, only short posts, but in my judgment this is certainly appropriate and germane to discussions in this thread and others. Not that all of us will agree, or like , the conclusions. Anyway, here it is:
    He blames it on secular society
    One of the more ridiculous and outright offensive parts of this letter is when he blames the fall of the dioceses on secular culture, when there is no organization in secular culture that comes close to the scope of the abuses of the Roman priests, especially considering how systematic they were. Besides this, it is utterly hypocritical that the Roman Church would portray themselves as holy and holding the keys to dispense grace, but yet when such rampant, sickening, widespread, and secretive sin comes to light they would blame the secular culture. If they truly held the keys to grace, you would think that they could at least get enough grace to not abuse children and teenagers.
    p 10 Reasons Pope Benedict XVI’s Apology is Worthless
    Evidence that the Pope Skips Confession
    If you haven’t been hearing about the child and teenage sexual abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church, it is about time that you know about it. It has come to light that the Roman Catholic Church has been suppressing information, in some cases by vows of silence, about sexual abuse in their celibate priesthood. In one such case, the offending priest continued to abuse children for 18 years after being caught. Unbelievable. Although there have been cases that go back to 1975, probably with many before that, the Pope has been reluctant to even speak about the sex abuse problems for fear of them being perceived as a connected scandal rather than isolated incidents associated with individual priests.
    Finally, the current Pope, Benedict XVI, has issued an apology about the Irish child sex-abuse scandal.
    Read the Pope’s letter, and see if you agree with the top ten reasons Pope Benedict XVI’s apology is worthless.
    10. It is not an apology
    The Pope admits to shame and guilt but never actually says what his personal involvement was or why it was a scandal. A victim of the abuse, Paddy Doyle, rightly called it, “same old dribble that’s been coming out for years.” An apology is hardly an apology if the offending party won’t even state in clear terms the crime he is personally responsible for, which brings us to the next point.
    9. He is sympathetic rather than repentant
    The whole letter has an attitude that says, “I feel your pain,” rather than, “I am sorry for the pain that I am responsible for.”
    8. He doesn’t disclose action he will take
    He lists a bunch of problems that need to be addressed, but does not mention how they will be addressed. On top of that, he doesn’t even mention if the priests will be excommunicated, or even defrocked. Considering that some of the priests involved in the sexual abuse had already been subjected to their peers for some form of restoration, this is a very empty way to regain the trust of abuse victims.
    7. He asks other people to fix his problem
    Beyond the fact that he doesn’t propose concrete solutions that he will take besides merely visiting the dioceses in Ireland, he does give the worlds’ Roman Catholics some tasks like fasting and works of mercy during Lent in order to, essentially, buy the grace needed for the restoration of the [Roman] Church in Ireland. Wait, I thought this was an apology letter, not a letter to get the faithful to try to fix a church under your oversight. It reminds me of the words of Jesus.
    Matthew 23:2-5a
    “The scribes and the Pharisees sit on Moses’ seat, so practice and observe whatever they tell you—but not what they do. For they preach, but do not practice. They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on people’s shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to move them with their finger. They do all their deeds to be seen by others.”
    Besides all of this, his solutions are entirely sacramental. More on that later.
    6. He blames it on secular society
    One of the more ridiculous and outright offensive parts of this letter is when he blames the fall of the dioceses on secular culture, when there is no organization in secular culture that comes close to the scope of the abuses of the Roman priests, especially considering how systematic they were. Besides this, it is utterly hypocritical that the Roman Church would portray themselves as holy and holding the keys to dispense grace, but yet when such rampant, sickening, widespread, and secretive sin comes to light they would blame the secular culture. If they truly held the keys to grace, you would think that they could at least get enough grace to not abuse children and teenagers.
    5. He is hypocritical about who can receive the sacraments
    Speaking of hypocrisy, the Pope scolds the offending priests briefly, but then proceeds to offer them sacraments by which they can (supposedly) atone for their sins, yet the excommunicated can not even receive the sacraments. A few generations ago, you could get excommunicated for divorce, but now when priests abuse children they are not even defrocked.
    4. He treats the scandal as if it were an isolated event
    The Pope doesn’t address why this is happening everywhere, not just in Ireland. There have been over 400 legal cases in the United States alone, and over 2000 cases of child abuse in the Dublin diocese alone, which have been intentionally covered up by the church, according to a reading of the Murphy Report.
    3. He says nothing about celibacy
    The elephant in the room that none of the clergy including the Pope want to talk about is celibacy. Celibacy in Roman Catholic priesthood, did not become a requirement until 1123 AD. That’s right, there are more years of history in which celibacy was not a requirement than when it was one. Furthermore, mandatory celibacy is repeatedly denied in the Bible. In their justification, the clergy quote Matthew 19, which is not talking about clergy, yet they must ignore 1 Timothy 3 that mentions the behavior of the wives in the qualifications for the clergy. Later in the letter, Paul says something even more startling. Excuse my [interruptions].
    1 Timothy 4
    Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times [1123AD?] some [context: clergy] will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons [harsh, Paul], through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared, who forbid marriage [forbid what?] and require abstinence from foods [meat during Lent?] that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth.
    Finally, the apostle Peter and other apostles had a wife.
    1 Corinthians 9:5
    Do we not have the right to take along a believing wife, as do the other apostles and the brothers of the Lord and Cephas?
    It is truly ironic that the man who claims his authority based on Peter (known as Cephas in other places of the Bible), would insist on a doctrine that Peter himself would have broken.
    2. He is not the head of the universal Church
    The Pope may claim to be the pastor of the universal church but he is not. The word “catholic” means universal (hence it is recited in the Apostles’ Creed by non-Catholics), but there is a funny thing about names. Baptists aren’t the only ones who baptize, Presbyterians aren’t the only ones with elders, Episcopalians aren’t the only ones with bishops, Pentecostals aren’t the only ones with the Holy Spirit, the Church of England is not the only church in England or limited to England, and the Eastern Orthodox church is not the only orthodox church. So the Catholic church is not the universal Church merely because it thinks so. Secondly, Jesus is the pastor of the universal Church, not Peter, nor Benedict XVI, nor any other man who has ever walked the planet.
    1. He promotes a different gospel
    When viewed in light of sacramentalism, the best thing the Roman Church could do for you is excommunication. Sacramentalism is the false belief that your sins are only forgiven when the grace required is merited through works or sacraments. In other words, the Roman Church and the foolish Pope Benedict XVI add works to salvation in order that you may atone for yourself. The scriptural basis against this claim is overwhelming, so endure with me while I overwhelm you.
    Romans 3:20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
    Romans 3:28 For we hold that one is justified by faith apart from works of the law.
    Galatians 2:15 We ourselves are Jews by birth and not Gentile sinners; 16 yet we know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.
    Galatians 2:21 I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.
    Galatians 3:1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?
    John 6:28 Then they said to him, “What must we do, to be doing the works of God?” 29 Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.”
    Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God
    Ephesians 1:13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.
    Genesis 15:6 And [Abraham] believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
    The reason these priests are not bearing fruit in keeping with repentance is because they do not believe the true gospel and are insisting on works-righteousness. The Pope’s gospel is quite different.
    “I ask you to offer up your fasting, your prayer, your reading of Scripture and your works of mercy in order to obtain the grace of healing and renewal for the Church in Ireland.”
    Grace that is earned by fasting, prayer, reading scripture, and works is simply not grace. Webster’s dictionary has a better theology of grace than the Pope when it defines grace as, “unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration or sanctification.”
    The Apostle Paul said in Galatians 1,
    I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
    Paul literally invokes the anathema on anyone who would preach a contrary gospel regardless of his or her status, placing it above not only his apostleship (apostleship being the basis to the authority the Pope claims to have), but beyond even the declarations of heavenly angels. If you get the gospel wrong, it doesn’t matter if you’re a Pope or Protestant, an Archbishop or an Atheist, a Catholic Monk or a Buddhist Monk, if anyone should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you let him be accursed.
    The tragic fact about this apology letter is that it reinforces the false gospel of the Pope, and places people on a road to atone for their own sins and to sanctify themselves. It is no wonder that the Roman Catholic Church can’t rid itself of pedophilia when Jesus’ death on the cross for their sins hinges on works rather than God’s grace.
    If you are in a church, Roman Catholic, Protestant, Eastern Orthodox, or otherwise, and you are hearing a false gospel, leave that church immediately and find a different one. Let the leaders declare any powerless curses that they desire on you and know that Jesus’ death on the cross for your sins is free and for you and received by grace through faith alone.
    Be the first to like this. By Ben Mordecai • Posted in Media, Uncategorized • Tagged anathema, apology, arrogant, Benedict, Benedict XVI, celibacy, celibate, gospel, heretic, homosexuality, hypocritical, Irish, pedophilia, Pope, preist, repent, Roman Catholic, secular, Top 10
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    What is Faith?
    The Black Letter Jesus
    4 comments on “Top 10 Reasons Pope Benedict XVI’s Apology is Worthless”
    March 24, 2010 @ 12:59 am
    “in order to obtain the grace”
    I don’t understand how this line of logic even works. And I especially don’t understand how the leader of a religious group can state it without having people in the congregation think “wait…. isn’t grace a gift? You can’t earn grace…” I mean its the definition of the word. You can’t do enough work to obtain a gift.
    “Now when a man works, his wages are not credited to him as a gift, but as an obligation. However, to the man who does not work but trusts God who justifies the wicked, his faith is credited as righteousness.” (Romans 4)
    If you’re working for something, its a payment. Not a gift. It saddens me more that people will, without question, accept a sentence that makes no sense. Just because the pope said it. We need to be praying for these people, and that they would begin to use their brains and their hearts to see these inherent problems.
    Until then, I really can’t say much to my former-catholic classmates who believe that Christianity is one big lie supported by hypocrites. I only pray that Christ may be revealed in spite of it.
    March 24, 2010 @ 3:23 pm
    powerful stuff…you are obviously passionate about this subject and I think you hit the nail on the head here. I’m gonna repost this to my blog so that others can be enlightened.
    March 25, 2010 @ 7:45 am
    This post is hilariously ignorant of the Catholic faith. I really needed cheering up after hearing of the terrible crimes these wayward priests have committed in the name of Christ. You’ve succeeded in cracking me up quite a few times with your blind protestant polemic. Cheers!
    Ben Mordecai
    March 25, 2010 @ 8:20 am
    @Luke Care to tell me what I got wrong?
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    1. AGAIN, C.M. Whelan…THANKs. Tomas Doyle’s SNAP 2008 presentation is the best piece I’ve seen on the effects of the Church on abuse victims…I read the LONG references are from that source. Please forgive the length of this citation…but it is SO important!

      This sense of rejection is made even worse when segments of the lay community turn against victims or their family members.

      Although the duplicitous response of a lay community is the proper subject for a whole other study a brief consideration is important for it is an essential element in the victims’ spiritual trauma. When victims or their families have “gone public” and engaged the Church in an embarrassing legal battle, the common response is defensiveness and denial.37 Going public with a report of sexual abuse by a priest, especially a highly regarded priest often brings a strong backlash from the community. Victims are naturally bewildered and shocked that lay people, especially parents, would support a man who has sexually assaulted vulnerable children or adolescents. 

      The disclosure rocks the belief system of many in the community because it threatens the symbols that give them spiritual security. They refuse to believe that a priest has committed such a heinous act because they cannot believe it. There is often a defensive reaction whereby the abuse victim is treated as a criminal. His or her crime is not so much in accusing the sacred person of a priest, but in threatening the security of the dependent spirituality of some members of the community. It is not so much that some lay people do not believe the abuse took place. It is more that they cannot bear the emotional pain that comes with accepting the reality of betrayal by a trusted priest. The same can be said of evidence of the institutionalized cover-up. Many simply cannot bear the emotional shock of betrayal by the institutional Church.

      The betrayal by the clergy and the lay community is a powerful step in the complete disintegration of the victim’s religious world and spiritual system. In spite of the assault and related loss of trust in the priest-abuser some victims retained some faith in the community and looked there for support. The conviction of abandonment by God is deepened when the Church community isolates and ostracizes the victim.p 18

      Once the shock of what has happened begins to wear off, a variety of emotions set in and one is anger. For some this naturally begins with anger and rage directed at the abuser but it usually extends to the Church leaders who failed to respond in a compassionate manner. It becomes more firmly entrenched as the victims learn that the Church authorities actually enabled the abuser. The anger can be deepest and therefore most debilitating and controlling if it is grounded in the spiritual betrayal and resulting loss. For most Catholic victims the external Church, with its customs, devotions, absolute teachings and regulations exerted a powerful control over most aspects of life. This control does not evaporate even if the victim separates himself or herself from the Church. The tentacles reach deep into the emotions and the soul and thus enable the anger to retain such a strong hold.
      Fear is another emotional and psychic symptom of spiritual trauma. Victims fear that no power can free them from the sin they have committed through the sexual act. At times the perpetrators manipulate this fear and dependence by promising victims dire consequences should they reveal the abuse. Until the victims find a non-toxic image of God, this fear will continue to create emotional pain and even paralysis. P 20

      The first level of response should be to the victim’s self-destructive belief system.

      The immediate concern should be the victims’ concept of a priest. 

      He or she needs to be aided and supported in shedding the magical notion that the priest is somehow the personal representative of God or the stand-in for God. The dependence of the victim on the priest and on the clerical system needs to be first challenged and then replaced with a deeply rooted sense of personal spiritual autonomy. This “adult spirituality” of the victim-priest relationship will bring freedom from the misplaced guilt that burdens so many victims.

      De-mythologizing the concept of the priest necessarily leads to a re-imaging of the notion of God. This is perhaps the most fundamental and radical dimension of the healing process. Upon it hinges the victim’s concept of Church, sin and even self. Catholic theology is rooted in a theistic notion of the Higher Power. God is a supernatural, personal being who controls all aspects of life. It is possible to move to a concept of God that does not lend itself to the toxic beliefs about guilt, suffering, sin and punishment.42 Such a transition is easiest on the cognitive level but much more challenging to the emotions. Many victims are all too painfully aware of the personal devastation caused by the sexual abuse yet they continue to feel guilt because they have exposed a priest or sued a Church entity such as a diocese. This is all grounded in the irrational belief that God resides in a special way in the institutional Church.

      Once a clergy abuse victim begins to accept a Higher Power that is non- judgmental, non-vindictive and not under the control of the ordained office- holders of the Church, he or she will be able to move to the next necessary level of healing which is separating the visible, institutional Church from the Higher Power. 

      This should include an unfolding of the mysterious emotional ties and reactions associated with the victim’s relationship to the institutional Church. Once the variety of feelings are acknowledged it is perhaps time to cognitively examine the historical and doctrinal bases for the Church’s contention that it was founded by God, is controlled by God through clerics and provides the only authentic source of spiritual security. At this stage the victims may be helped by reading one or more books that provide an objective and scholarly exposition of traditional Church teachings and traditions on the nature of the Church.43 

      As they examine concept of the Higher Power they realize that what they have believed in and feared was not an authentic reality but someone else’s vision of what god was all about.

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