Religious Orders Should Be Scrutinized In Regard to Child Sex Abusers

Click here to read: “Devon case shows how religious orders evade scrutiny in priest abuse cases,” by John P. Martin, The Philadelphia Inquirer, August 19, 2012

“At first glance, the photo seems heartwarming: a man in his 60s, wearing a Santa suit and a grin as he wraps his arms around a boy.

In a different light, the image is unsettling. The man in costume is the Rev. Ted Podson, a former teacher at Devon Prep, an all-boys school on the Main Line.

Podson left the school in 1993 after allegedly sexually assaulting a boy. He was not publicly identified, charged, or barred from ministry.

Instead, Podson resurfaced as a parish pastor in Texas. In 2002, as the clergy sex-abuse scandal erupted, he again pulled up stakes, moving halfway around the world….”

53 thoughts on “Religious Orders Should Be Scrutinized In Regard to Child Sex Abusers

  1. if they throw him out of the philippines he could always go to rome,i think they are looking for a butler for the pope

    1. When the 2011 Grand Jury came up with the 41, and then the 37 priests about whom they were concerned, that number shrunk, as time passed. I believe the AD was involved with the vast majority, but I think there were a number of religious order priests who were a matter of concern to the Grand Jury.

      Does anyone know how those numbers broke out?

      1. Actually, I found the answer to my 2011 Grand Jury qustion about those 37 priests whom the Grand Jury found ‘credible evidence’ about on a March 2011 AP article.

        3 were removed from ministry

        5 would have been suspended but 1 was ‘on leave’ 2 were ‘not active’ and 2 were religious order priests no longer in the Diocese.

        8 were very promptly (March 2011) were ‘found that no further investigation was warranrted’

        21 were ‘suspended’….

        AS to the PI article, I don’t believe Podson was on the ‘shredded list’ , but rather on some additional materials that the Lynn Jury received.

  2. Kudos to John Martin for following up on the locations of some previously unidentified suspected priests. If we can’t prosecute them at least we can expose them and hope that keeps children just a little bit safer. Someone I respect very much told me that the recent trial was important for justice but also important for what would be exposed..very true

    1. Thanks, Joan and Kathy, for your usual attentive and accurate reporting of the precise facts. The Philly AD is banking on people getting lost in the details, but that will not happen at C4C with you two on the case.

      I hope C4C bloggers send John Martin at an occassional e-mail thanks for his continued diligence. He has made a real difference in getting the truth out.

      Without him, Rigali and Chaput could continue unopposed with their misleading spin, while Seth works smoothly on his early mayoral campaign.

      Neither John Martin nor C4C bloggers will let that happen without proclaiming the truth.

      1. Jerry, thank you for the link to John Martin, I just used it.

        I think we owe a huge debt of gratitude to folks like John Martin. Without the media’s ‘attention to detail’ in these abuse matters, and starting with Jason Berry and the NCR and moving on to the Boston Globe, the Dallas Morning News and so many many other media folk, we frankly would not know the magnitude of the abuse problem and the institutional behaviour that so often covered it up.

        I thanked John Martin, and almost said I thought the Holy Spirit was very involved…decided that was a bit much in my thank you….but on C4C I’m OK with saying that

      2. Jerry, I have a question about a letter that is attributed to a now deceased priest. I don’t remember it having been posted anyway but I may have missed it. It opens as follows:

        August 7, 2012

        It is difficult being Catholic these days; has been for a long time now. So many people have their own list of who is wrong and their own version of what page everyone should be on.

        Working with and socializing with non-Catholics, i.e. most of the world, often is very embarrassing because there’s so much that cannot be explained away. There’s the pedophilia scandal and the bishops tap-dancing through the carnage and all that Vatican delay regarding the “American” problem.

        Jerry, if this looks familiar to you would you e-mail me at because I’d like to post it if it’s authentic and if I can get a better copy of it.

        I’d appreciate your help.

        Sister Maureen

      3. You are most welcome, Joan and Kate. Sorry Sr. Maureen, I am not familiar with the lettter. It, of course, could have been written by almost every American priest, sad to say.

      4. A follow up on my questions regarding the 37 priests noted in the 2011 Grand Jury Report:

        From Feb 10, 2011 to March 8, 2011 the 37 priests noted in the 2011 Grand Jury report released on Feb 10 th, as of concern to the Grand Jury were described on Feb 12, by Cardinal Rigali as having ‘no admitted or established allegation of sexual abuse against them’. 

        On March 8, 2011, 21 priests were suspended.

        Between Feb 10 and March 8, 8 priests were exonerated. (see AP citation noted above on March 9). Apparently in a month, the guilt or innocence of 8 priests was able to be determined by the AD.

        It has taken the A D well over a year, to explore the innocence or guilt of 24 priests (part of that 21 group) and we are still waiting to hear about 12 of them. 


        8) Philadelphia PA – Report of the Grand Jury, dated January 21, 2011, released February 10, 2011; see also criminal charges

        Feb 12, 2011: In a letter written on Thursday Cardinal Rigali assured parishioners that, “no priests in ministry today who have an admitted or established allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against them.”

        NY times, March 8, 2011:The Archdiocese of Philadelphia announced Tuesday that it had suspended 21 priests from active ministry in connection with accusations that involved sexual abuse or otherwise inappropriate behavior with minors.

  3. Reading the article, the reference to the Franscican Order is correct, they are a law to themselves, and exempt from episcopal governance.
    Women seeking redress for sex-abuse had that made quite clear by Melbourne Bishop Peter Connors sometime ago, happy to get them off his hands with already a plateful of his own.
    Neuberger was also spot on when stating “you are a made man when you join a religious order”, this one at least, where they’ve claimed other mens wives, fathered children.
    No wonder so few friars try to escape or given rescripts of their vows.
    Keep at it Marty.

  4. Our church is filled with people who turn their backs on all this, averting their eyes and refusing to discuss. Our church is run by evil men, pedophiles, pedophile protectors, and worse. The clever ones have not been caught. Revelation 18:4, “Then I heard another voice calling from heaven, “Come away from her, my people. Do not take part in her sins, or you will be punished with her.”

  5. John Martin did a really good piece and it is greatly appreciated. Once again, we not only have Devon Prep but also the child’s own parents and the Phila AD failing to report the acts to authorities. “Rose Lombardo, a spokeswoman for Devon Prep, said the boy’s parents took their complaint to archdiocesan officials and they shared it with school administrators. Devon Prep suspended Podson and he never returned to campus, Lombardo said.” Not only did the school fail this child so did his own parents and I realize this hard to accept however both parties allowed an evil man to continue hurting children. Had the school or a parent picked up a phone and reported the CRIME how many children would have been spared so much pain…Once again a group of adults failed a child whether it be for the financial impact it “might” have created or the social stigma that “might” come with it. I am sure the folks at Devon Prep are not happy this morning as this draws attention and may just bring others forward.. The statue of limitations might be out however naming names and having victims come forward can only help plant the seed of change that must take place.within a failed institution such as the Catholic church..

    1. Stigma,
      Every adult failed that child. You are right.

      It’s such a passive, powerless dynamic…where did anyone ever learn to think it’s the responsibility of some other institution to protect our children?

      Reaching out to the rcc to do the right thing for children is like grabbing onto an anchor when you don’t know how to swim.

    2. Just for clarity the article does not point out any further cases of abuse but highlights some highly questionable activity with children. The case absolutely should have been reported but I don’t see in the article where it states that others were abused after he left Devon, I don’t say this as any type of rational for not reporting, just for the sake of clarity.

  6. “You are a made man when you join a religious order. They will run interference for you for life.”

    The ramifications are huge, dangerous, sick, and scary for both the men and us.

    Having the appearance of holy yet, in reality, diabolical and rotten to the core.

    1. “Having the appearance of holy yet, in reality, diabolical and rotten to the core.”

      Hadit, you didn’t know it but you paraphrased truth spoken long ago by
      Christ’s spokesman about such “interlopers.”
      2 Timothy 3:1 This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.
      2 Timothy 3:2 For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy,
      2 Timothy 3:3 Without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good,
      2 Timothy 3:4 Traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God;
      2 Timothy 3:5 Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away.
      2 Timothy 3:6 For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts,

      2 Timothy 3:9 But they shall proceed no further: for their folly shall be manifest unto all men, as their’s also was.

  7. Just a question The Oblates of St Charles – Is that suposed to be Oblates of St Francis? Believe that law firm in Wilmington had a few cases against that congregation including one who was working in Africa – posted a few cases from congregations in Penna.and Del. who fled to other countries. Just didn’t remember the Oblates of St Charles in the Philly area?

    Hopefully, we are thanking this author, he needs our support as he continues to educate the public.

  8. I was abused at Father Judge High School by Re. John M. McDevitt, from the religious order, The Oblates of Saint Francis De Sales.

    Because I was abused by a religious order priest, the Archdiocese of Philly says that am I not worthy of the 1-yerar of therapy, because the Archdiocese is not responsible for out-of-state religious order priests, even though there is nothing on their website claiming they are not responsible for the gross behavior of those priests.

    Religious order priests spend more time around children than diocesan priests. Most religious order priests are school teachers and chaplains in hospitals. I’ve been trying to get the world out about these religious priests more than anything. Like I’ve said in the past, look into the Oblates of St. Francis De Sales and you”ll no doubt discover the sickest organization on the planet.

    However, if you were abused by a religious order priest in the City of Philadelphia, at a school within the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, you’re wasting your time writing to the Archbishop and phoning the Victims Assistance Office. Basically, you’re shit out of luck!

    1. This is a thoroughly disgusting story… And good for John Martin for telling it. It is absolutely unforgivable that the Order of the Piarists let this man relocate to Texas and then to the Philippines.

      Rich, You are so right about these “rogue” orders of priests. Every one of them needs to be investigated. The Delaware attorney’s quote in the article says it all, “You are a made man when you join a religious order,” he said. “They will run interference for you for life.”

      I hope that parents at Devon Prep take a second look at the order of men who are educating their sons (at the cost of $20K/yr.)
      They should be horrified.

    2. Rich,

      Does not the AD have ultimate responsibility for the actions of faculty in its high schools?

      The AD is conlfating the priest’s religious superior with his boss at the place of employment. Isn’t the employer accountable?

      1. Yes, the employer is accountable. The AD gives the final “yes” for these priests to serve in their diocese. It’s a rabbit trail to tell victims they aren’t “responsible.” If the order just showed up and took over services in a diocese, the bishop would be all over them for stepping where they didn’t belong without permission. No one serves in a diocese without the authority of the bishop.

        The employer NEGLECTED to effectively supervise their employees.

      2. You would think, Martin. If a Walmart employee was transferred from Texas to work at a store in New Jersey, common sense would lead you to believe that person is now under the supervision and responsibility of Walmart authority in NJ, and is no longer controlled by Texas management.

    3. Rich, with all problems and stories I heard in the 60’s and 70’s about that school, I am very surprized I don’t hear more of the abuse that occured there. One priest was sent to Wilmington and I asked why he was there – “he liked boys too much” – at that point I knew they were not confronting the issues Devitt was with a few at North Catholic ( 60s and 70s) and only one was convicted with no jail time – group from North Carolina came to philly to support him.
      My RCC friends called the oblates “evil” – can’t get them to discuss why. They named two who were convicted and one who was arrested but the charges (80’s) were dropped ( stories again – in the 60’s). The most I got from them in high school was “am I gay because I was approached” (not getting into the “gay” issues, I worked at Christ Church in DC with the gay community there in the early 80’s as a RCC religious). Had similar experiences from girls who thought they “asked to be raped” or “what did I do”. One girl, when I was in college, need the strength to finish her semester so she wouldn’t lose her credits. None of my 12 years of RCC ed friends are roman catholic now.

      They never cared, just wanted to get rid of the problem. We know you are worthy and I knew the (put what name you want to use) who abused you. He was sick in politics and and sick as a(hate using the word) religious.Keep shining your light along with the other victims it will shine through those lies. Most all care for yourself, we need you.

      1. Survivor’s wife comments: “If the order just showed up and took over services in a diocese, the bishop would be all over them for stepping where they didn’t belong without permission. No one serves in a diocese without the authority of the bishop.”

        Victims4justice: “When I first came forward, it was the Oblates who referred me to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia because that’s where I was abused. Now the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is referring me to the Oblates. These people are having fun at my expense and I don’t appreciate it.”

        To S.W and Rich: The manner of ‘passing the buck’ is similar to what happened to me. Theft of my property, as well as emotional, verbal, psychological and physical abuse, were perpetrated against me, through the means of a religious order’s Indoctrination and their hierarchical set-up of obedience to superiors, even when it goes against God-Given Conscience. The local diocese told me to take it up with the order while the order protected their own. They would not investigate my grievances or even reply to my letters and calls and they allowed evil to flourish under the guise of obedience to superiors. They used the group-think, tribal mentality to protect themselves in their ‘unholy cocoon’ while they continued their religious-mission of praying for sinners, as they are a ‘praying-order’. Arrogant, sick hypocrites! I know that God was looking out for me during that time. I also know what it means to have a personal relationship with God. I know that the institutional- church has been hijacking that personal relationship by inflating their importance through calling themselves God’s representatives on earth. I still remember the words of one of the puny-egos, a recent superior, of sorts, who said that she represented God Himself. She was instrumental in removing me from the order by supposedly ‘discerning that I did not have a vocation’. If I had believed such nonsense, how crushed I would be today. During the years of brain-washing …. ops! I mean ‘formation’, the members are trained to become insensitive to the pain of others, as was seen in the reaction of the defendants at the recent trials. How can we have a personal-relationship with God when we are asked to pass through a ‘city of gods’ with their man-made, archaic or newly evolved, spiritual aides as the missal, over-night saints, indulgences, double-talk-church-doctrine, propaganda on ‘The American Problem’ etc. My spiritual journey, over this one year, has taken me to the point of no return. Not that the Institutional-church would care a hoot about my going. There is no resemblance between them and Jesus who would not want to lose one sheep of his flock and who asked us to love our neighbors as ourselves. I believe and care about the victims.

      2. I remember being told some stories, during the 1970’s, about an Order of Brothers who were the administrators and teachers of a Boys High School called St. Anthony’s High School in Lahore, Pakistan, which was adjacent to the Diocese, the Bishop’s Residence and the Cathedral. The Brothers were suddenly whisked off, without any explanation given for this, and they were replaced by lay-administrators and teachers. The fairly wide-spread stories, circulating at that time, were that there was sexual abuse going on. There is every possibility that the Philadelphia Sexual-Abuse Issue is happening all around the world but that poverty and social stigma prevent people from speaking-up, particularly in counties in South-East Asia and Africa. Many people are dependent on church-charity, subsidized education, jobs, fear of social stigma, socially-accepted child-abuse and ineffective laws etc. In her book, ‘Amen’, Sister Jesme spoke about sexual abuse but she was promptly put down by church and community and this served as a warning for other brave-souls. If she was in North America, perhaps she would have a voice. I believe the victims.

  9. Last night 60 Minutes had an article about a real man – the Archbiship of Dublin, who stood up for the victims, against The Church and against the vatican. In America, and especially in Philly, we keep looking for such a MAN.


  10. Let us not forget two other infamous franscians : charles newman (currently in jail for theft ) and his buddy regis howitz, allegedly living a life of prayer and penance in Wisconson, both were from archbishop ryan h.s. And have creditable allegations of sexual abuse, thank you tom caltagirone and ron marsico , et al for protecting these scum bags !

    1. How did they get under the radar.
      In Australia non have been castrated behind bars: is that the right word?
      If not more than one should have been!

  11. “What if” DA Seth Williams changes course and is done chasing the Phila AD after the next trail in early September??? What if the DA’s office made the decision to “move on” thus giving Cistone, Cullen and the rest a break?? Pay close attention to what happens in late September / early October as there might be a change in course….

  12. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia says that it’s not thir problem that I was sexually abused as a child by a religious order priest. A spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia says, “victims of religious order priests are referred to the orders for assistance.” However, the Archdiocese’s website reads nothong about a victim who was abused by a religious order or diocesan priests. It just reads “priests.”

    It’s been over 2 weeks since my first contact with Archbishop Chaput. It is obvious to me today that he doesn’t give a rat’s ass about victims and he’d rather have us depressed, addicted, disappeared, or dead.

    I have been trying to raise the issue of how detrimental it could be for children if they are abused by a religious order priest rather than a diocesan priest. It’s just gives the Catholic Church more ammunition for their cannons they can use to belittle us victims and destroy his/her reputation, and take away what little dignity we have left. It’s all window dressing for the parishioners currently in the pews every Sunday that makes it appear like their church is doing something to rectify sins of the past.

    In my most recent letter I wrote to Archbishop Chaput, I told him about Father Patrick McCormick, whe was recently arrested for soliciting an undercover police office, posing as a prostitute, that he physically shoved me and threatened me from the steps of Saint Timothy’s Elementary School in NE Philly. Father McCormick lied when he claimed in a load voice to his congregation, who was milling around the church after Mass that “Father Thomas Rooney (the priest we were alerting the community about) has been exonerated and is innocent of all crimes.” This was just a few days after Fr. Rooney was listed in the 2011 GJR as having crdedible allegations of abuse lodged against him. Archbishop Chaput has since removed Fr. Rooney from ministry in exchange for a life of penance and prayer.

    The Director of Child and Youth Protection sent me a letter two days ago, “I am sorry to hear that you were physically assaulted and threatened by Father Patrick McCormick. Per office policy, I have forwarded this information to the Office for the Delegate for Investigations. This office was created last year to receive, report, and investigate misconduct by Archdiocesan clergy.”

    I won’t hold me breath!

    When I first came forward, it was the Oblates who referred me to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia because that’s where I was abused. Now the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is referring me to the Oblates. These people are having fun at my expense and I don’t appreciate it.

    I wonder how the Philadelphia Inquire would feel that victims are being turned away right and left by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia’s Victim’s Assistance program, because we were abused within their archdiocese, by a priest from another state.

    If someone from California burned down a church in Philadelphia, could the Californian be charged with a crime in Pennsylvania?

  13. Exactly what you wrote, Rich, is what happened with my husband. He was abused by a priest from a different diocese in another state. He was sent on a goose chase too. We’ve learned that it’s intentional. The victim’s advocate (I don’t even think I could give her that title), was completely ineffective. THEIR LOYALTY IS TO THE PEOPLE WHO SIGN THEIR CHECKS. We weren’t the first or last to report this behavior.

    I’m sorry Rich. I pray they cut through all their bullsh** and rush to your side and offer counseling (and all medications that may be associated) for the rest of your life. Anything less is unacceptable.

  14. Thanks for the link to John Martin. I just wrote him and hope that everyone does. We need to let the journalists covering this issue know how much we appreciate their hard work in keeping the spotlight where it belongs. I believe the victims!

      1. I confess to a certain confusion here. From the above noted citation, we have a soon to be tried criminal molestation case:

        ‘The former altar boy allegedly was passed from one abuser to another at St. Jerome’s parish. On Sept. 4, two more alleged abusers of Billy Doe — Charles Engelhardt, a former priest, and Bernard Shero, a former archdiocese school teacher — are scheduled to go on trial before Judge M. Teresa Sarmina at the Criminal Justice Center.’

        SO, we have a criminal trial on September 4th dealing with abuse allegations very painfully noted in the Grand Jury Report where the same victim is passed around from Avery, to Englehardt, to Spero…a very very ugly story.

        And Avery is very clearly noted in the ‘shredded docs”.

        THEN, it appears that we ALSO have a pending civil suit about the same matter, which includes as defendants, the AD, Bev, and Cullen and Cistone, etc.

        AND in the cited article we have the extended testimony of one of the bishops who ‘shredded’ docs identifying Avery…testimony that I strongly suggest everyone read!!!

        Jerry, I am looking for you…….what does this alll mean?

      2. Joan,
        Also a foundation will now manage AD schools I am wondering how this will affect future liability? First of its kind.Just high scools and special needs schools not grade schools.

      3. Beth, I don’t have a clue what it means to turn the high schools over to a Foundation.

        I’m still back trying to figure out Cipriano’s citation in terms of Sistone and Cullen.

      4. This may help, Joan. Englehardt/Shero’s alleged crimes involve some different factual issues than Lynn/Avery’s case, so for judicial simplicity their criminal trials were separated.

        The current civil case involves a different, easier, standard of proof and a different statute of limitations and is relevant to giving the survivors a legal remedy, whether or not there is a criminal trial.

        Moreover, the civil lawyers will go after the two bishops even where the Philly DA’s office is more hesitant. The Philly AD, like LA and other CA dioceses, are likely to settle for higher amounts if you sue Philly AD bishops civilly since the bishops can buy their way out of testifying.

        Since Cullen and Cistone (and Rigali, as well) appear to have known up to now of the continuing dangers of predator priests being hidden by the shredding of Lynn’s 1994 list, it appears these three have been endangering children up until the recent past.

        This apparent endangering of children does not appear barred by the criminal statute of limitations, but Seth has so far apparently decided he does not want to pursue Cullen, Cistone or Rigali.

        Perhaps further disclosures from the new criminal trial and/or the civil suits will get Seth to reconsider.

      5. Thank you Jerry….hugely complicated….and your data is welcome!

        I take your point about civil suits here in CA….LA AD is finally (thanks to a recent appellate decision) going to have to render forth hidden archival material….and it seems to me that huge civil settlements emerge just before the hierarchy is required to testify…I have this occasional fantasy that with passports ‘at the ready’ some of these guys may be pondering a Cardinal Law ‘evacuation’.

  15. As a result of the discussion re the Oblates and the pending trial of Rev. Charles Engelhardt, a member of the Oblates of St. Francis DeSales, the following information regarding Oblates’ counsel is offered to those participants and viewers at Catholics4Change:

    The Oblates’ attorney Mark Chopko said should the Supreme Court rule the Child Victims Act (in Delaware) unconstitutional, all cases brought only under that law would be dismissed.

    Mr. Chopko has more than 20 years of experience serving as the principal legal officer to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) – an organization that provides a framework by which the Catholic Bishops of the United States addresses important issues of national policy and matters affecting church life.

    Mark Chopko, Partner
    Chair, Nonprofit & Religious Organizations
    Stradley and Ronon
    Washington and Philadelphia

    If you have concerns, questions, issues, etc. relative to any matters involving the Oblates and clergy sexual abuse, Mark Chopko is your man. E-mail, call him or write to him……he always has been quite happy to hear from this writer.

    For those who may wish to hear from Counsel Chopko directly, I recommend this link:

    1. Today’s Daily Times:

      Prosecutors refile felony charges dropped against Philly priest
      Published: Wednesday, August 22, 2012

      PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Prosecutors have refiled felony sex-assault charges against a suspended Philadelphia priest, days after a judge dropped them for lack of evidence.

      A city judge had found the victim’s testimony at a preliminary hearing last week failed to support the most serious charges against the Rev. Andrew McCormick. The judge upheld misdemeanor charges, including indecent exposure and indecent assault.

      But prosecutors insist the 56-year-old priest’s actions amount to felony sexual assault.

      The 25-year-old accuser says McCormick molested him at his rectory in 1997, when the boy was 10.

      The charges refiled Tuesday include sexual assault and deviate intercourse.

      Defense lawyer William Brennan says he’s disappointed by the prosecutors’ decision, but is ready to defend the case.

      McCormick remains free on bail. It’s not yet clear when he’ll return to court.

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