Shocked…Not So Much

Click here to read: “The Church’s Errant Shepherds,” by Frank Bruni, op-ed cokumnist for The New York Times, July 6, 2013

Excerpt: Dolan has quibbled disingenuously over whether the $20,000 given to each abusive priest in Milwaukee who agreed to be defrocked can be characterized as a payoff, and he has blasted the main national group representing victims of priests as having “no credibility whatsoever.” Some of the group’s members have surely engaged in crude, provocative tactics, but let’s have a reality check: the group exists because of widespread crimes and a persistent cover-up in the church, because child after child was raped and priest after priest evaded accountability.

Editor’s note: The only shock factor left is the lack of outrage.

40 thoughts on “Shocked…Not So Much

  1. Welcome back, Susan & Kathy. We missed you. What a bold, frank, speak-the-truth, straight to the point column! Frank Bruni is to be congratulated for his courage in telling it like it is. Refreshing! No dancing around, just plain unadulterated truth. Why can’t the pew sitters see all this? It’s right there in front of them.

  2. “When trust is lost, no one knows how to restore it. And no institution has betrayed trust so blatantly as the Catholic church, where the lies and cover-ups are traceable to the highest echelons of the hierarchy, including the Vatican. Now that we have seen American cardinals among those assembled in Rome for the election of a pope, I am angrier than ever. Some of these men are directly responsible for the crisis that has resulted in keeping me and other priests from having warm, healthy relationships with young people” (NCReporter).

  3. To me this priest who knew all these things were going on with his ” fellow priests” should have taken the ” bull by the horns” and called the police.!
    How can he SAY THEY TOOK HIS LIFE WITH CHILDREN AWAY, WHEN HE DIDN’T HAVE the intestinal fortitude to call the police himself.?

    1. Joe Burch for some reason I am unable to post on the early post you wrote so I am posting it here. Just because you didn’t experience what others experienced doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. I attended St. Andrews while I had a perfectly good experience I know now that during those same years Fr. Cannon and Fr. Smith were molesting the boys there.I have heard a lot of stories from peope at St. Andrews and even from my brother that these priests were actively grooming the boys there especially altar boys. Sad that two parallel but opposite experiences were occurring at the same time.

      1. If I have learn anything from my own experiences it is that things are not always what they seem and if you generally are a good person you look for the good in others..I tend to do that but I now know some people are just evil.

      2. “Just because you didn’t experience what others experienced doesn’t mean it didn’t happen” Exactly..just like Beth I attended St Andrews and only later in life found out about the abusive priests,unfortunately others did not have to wait until they were adults to find out..they found out as children. Joe I know you ran home and told your Mother when a creepy guy made advances to you..would you have told her if it wasn’t the neighborhood creep but a revered priest? Maybe you would have and it al would have worked out,maybe you would not have…until you walk in someone else’s shoes, you cannot say for sure. Beth, it was a parallel universe going on..from what we lived compared to some other children.

        1. Kathy – I honestly don’t know how I would have reacted had I been approached by an abusive priest – I never was. I’d like to believe that I would have fled.

          The creepy guy I mentioned attempted anal sex with me in a swimming pool, but I was a good swimmer.

          1. Joe1944:It was not always easy to flee. The priest who molested me in 1961 locked both of us in a storage closet in the sacristy area and then went around and locked all the Church doors. Whether he did that to keep us in or to keep others out, I’m not sure,probably both.I do know that after this happened, I wouldn’t let him get near me which I think amused him.I remember one home visitation, where I hid in the back yard behind a brick grill that my father had built. But kids shouldn’t have to hide from their parish priest. The world is not suppose to be that cruel.

      3. Hello Beth.

        How have you been? Hope everything is working out for you.

        All I can relate are my experiences. I was aware of no grotesque abnormalities of this sort when I studied there. None whatsoever, and certainly none with the faculty. At one point, I knew most of the seminarians reasonably well, and most certainly the 50 or so in my class. I spoke just this morning with two other ex-seminarians with whom I studied and they echoed these feelings. If something were amiss, I would have been aware of it.

        Seminary life – as I remember it – was well balanced: Prayer, study, recreation and reflection. We had confessions every Friday and guidance was always available to us from our spiritual director. During our summer vacations we were required to attend Mass every day as we did at Overbrook, and our pastor would send a ‘fitness’ report on each of us when we returned in September.

        Infrequently, seminarians would just ‘disappear’ – no reason was usually given. Some fellows (like myself) decided upon another vocation, others may have had health issues, etc. Life just went on.

        I don’t know what else I can say. If you like, I’ll give you a call to discuss further. I’ve nothing to hide nor axe to grind.

        1. Joe, There were indeed “abnormalities” (including sex abuse) at the seminary. It was a custom made environment for this. We know now that there were predators and victims galore. You were too young and innocent (and possibly not street smart enough) to understand that you were very much in danger there.

          My heart goes out to those unlucky, unsuspecting boys who fell into harm’s way in the culture of the catholic seminary….the ones who eventually “disappeared” as you put it….the boys who left after seeing that culture for what it really was, and who were never again quite able to trust or feel at peace about their experiences there.
          The thing is, they didn’t just “disappear” …They rejoined society…and many of them told their stories…And we believe them. My dad was one of these boys.

          1. Joe I believe you when you say you didn’t witness certain things occurring. At my high school there was a drug problem but I was never approached by anyone attempting to sell me drugs..never saw kids openly doing drugs, but there were kids on drugs. Joe wasn’t the ‘gang of 7’ in your seminary class? Avery and 6 other infamous abusive priests now all kicked out by the Archdiocese..I believe the graduating class of 1970?

          2. Crystal, I’m sorry your dad was exposed to the sexually active culture that has plagued seminaries for decades if not centuries.

            A young man in my diocese left St. Charles B. seminary in 2011 due to its oppressive gay culture. He is straight.

            There must be a way for gays and straights to attend seminaries together so that one group is not oppressed by the other.

          3. Hi Crystal,

            Except for a few individuals, I knew the circumstances surrounding their departure. For example, one fellow had to leave to support his parents (both were very sick), some were asked not to return because of low grades while others (like myself) just wanted to get married and raise a family. (I was only 15 when I entered and barely 20 when I left). Nothing very mysterious about this.

            The only ‘interesting’ story that I myself was able to tell after I left – – concerned the food. Our German sisters (God bless ’em) had served the same meals each day for the last 25 years (ham and potato salad – for example – every Sunday night). They were truly wonderful, self sacrificing ladies. I remember more than once seeing them on their hands and knees scrubbing the marble floors at 9PM. They all must have high places in Heaven by now.

            Crystal, I never felt ill at ease with any of my fellow seminarians. Never – ever! If anything, a sense of benign brotherhood permeated the place. At one time, I knew over 500 fellows, some obviously better than others. If anything ‘odd’ were happening, it would have quickly become common knowledge. There were very few secrets there……

            What seminary did your father attend??

            Hi Kathy,

            Yes – I would have been in the 1970 ordination class had I remained. I often went back to the sem before my former class was ordained to see how they were doing. Since we had our first child in 1969, I had to jokingly remind them that I was a ‘father’ before they were.

            You mentioned that picture of 7 individuals (the ‘mafia’) to which either Frank Giliberti or Stan Gana referred. That was a separate ordination picture taken in 1970, I believe. I’m pretty sure that Ed Avery was not in it. I know the identities of the other 5 priests and they were never accused of anything whatsoever.

            Over the rolling years, I’ve remained in touch with some of my former classmates, especially two very good friends who have been laicized.

            Send me an e-mail and I’ll send you a copy of our 1964 class picture, or your telephone number if you would like to discuss further.

            I’d gladly (libenter) do so.

          4. Joe, laicized for acts against children or they chose to be laicized?

          5. Thanks Kate. My dad attended a now closed seminary in PA in the 1930’s to early 1940’s. From the few stories I heard down thru the family, my impression was that the sexual impropriety was faculty to student, not student to student. The environment was not fit for healthy emotional development. He left with a broken spirit and was unable to tell his mom of his experiences. He might have been able to confide in his father. I can only hope he had somebody to lean upon afterward. He was drafted into combat in ww2 within a year of his exit, so life probably only got worse. He married late in life and raised 8 kids (a task which often probably made him yearn for a life in the priesthood!)

            I do think that these days in most well-run colleges, straight kids and gay kids are well able to live and learn in harmony together. Things are so much improved regarding sexual orientation but it wasn’t without a lot of work and education efforts.
            I can’t imagine how this issue of sexual oppression sorts itself out in a place like st Charles, where nobody is really supposed to have a sexual orientation or even an identity…. But there are so very few seminarians there now (less than 20, I think) and Chaput is selling off the acreage and boarding it up so fast …And talking of sending them out to get their degrees in the local universities that…Well… does the seminary really even matter anymore?

        2. Joe: All these people on this site that have spoken on this subject. What!No Outrageous Post for them You obviously were wearing blinders when you were in the seminary.You stated once before that there was no bullying at McDevitt. It must be nice to go through life with blinders on, never having to deal with what abuse survivors deal with every day. You still wear those blinders and I suspect you will til the day you die.

          1. Jim Tucker – –

            While I personally did not experience any bullying at McDevitt, I did get whacked a couple of times by our math teacher’s yardstick – remember it? He called it Oscar. He hit me so hard one time on the buttocks that I swear it bent a PTC token that I had in my back pocket.

            I also witnessed some other rather unpleasant incidents, and I remember a couple of times when some of the guys set fire to the #6 PTC bus on the way home.

            Jim – I spent 5 years at Saint Charles and I’m telling you the unvarnished truth. I was doing very well scholastically, ranked high in my class and may have been sent to ‘finish up’ at Rome had I remained.

            I knew all the profs and most of the students.

            During my time at Overbrook, there were none of the outrages that you mentioned, not even the slightest hint. If there were, I would have acknowledged them.

            I am truly sorry that you suffered sexual abuse, and I apologize if I did or said anything to exacerbate it.

          2. Joe: I really appreciate your apology. I don’t think I ever received one before. It means a great deal.

          3. Joe,
            I believe you. I believe you’re sharing the your experiences.

            Do you believe the young men at your seminary had different experiences than you? Do you believe they are telling the truth about their experiences as well?

          4. Hi There SW.

            Good questions. I think our experiences were fairly consistent, and I do believe that the seminarians from my time at Saint Charles – if asked – would be truthful.

          5. Joe,
            Do you believe the seminarians who say they were abused at the same seminary you attended?

            Or do you think because you didn’t experience it, that abuse of others just didnt happen?

        3. Joe,
          I am hanging in there. Everyone’s experience is difference and your experience was true for you and mine for me and for our survivors. I just missed a lot of the signs around me because I was a naivee kid, rather sheltered , believed that the adults around me had our best interests at heart and on and on.Looking back I see the kids the always got in trouble the vandalism of a mary statue , bee bee holes in church glass windows and other things and I can understand a lot of it. Now that I honestly and openly talk to people one person might have noticed something and someone else something else and you put the pieces together and you have a clear picture of what was really going on that you might have missed because you did not have all the information. I think people need to discus this issue on this site because when you have the facts and the whole picture you can make the changes necessary.The problem with the church is that they did not want us to connect the dots and if you don’t have the whole picture and all the facts nothing will change for the better.

  4. “On April 23, one of the most appalling revelations yet was made by a Philadelphia priest. The priest testified that he had had a years-long sexual relationship with a teenager in his parish. The priest also testified that as a seminarian in 1974, he had been tied up and nearly gang-raped by fellow seminarians. Another priest–a friend to the victim–stopped the attack, but that priest later raped the victim himself on more than one occasion.”


    Welcome Back Kathy and Susan

  5. “The only shock factor left is the lack of outrage.” (Susan)

    I think there is a huge and significant group of outraged people. They make up the second largest “religion” in the United States. They are referred to as “exited Catholics.” Their departure, in unprecedented droves, was fueled by unprecedented outrage. Indeed, the unprecedented phenomenon is global. As a whole, these are people who are informed, emotionally and spiritually mature, courageous, and having integrity of conscience. Rational people do not participate in a corrupt institution, even when it is their Church. They disassociated themselves from it because, to associate with it, is to associate with corruption.

    As long as there are people in the pews, in the form of sheep and/or advocates for reform, who put forth all kinds of irrational reasons to defend their association with the Church, hierarchs will have an audience and venue for corruption.

    There is nothing more outrageous and shocking than the people who continue to occupy the pews of a vile and corrupt institution, who irrationally defend their association with it, and who act as the structural body (“We are the Church”) in which the corruption occurs.

  6. As a priest of over 50 years and with 8 years in the seminary ( St. Charles and St. Mary’s in Baltimore (not the Mount) )I can say that I never encountered direct homosexual activity nor did one ever suspect that there would be pedophiles in our class. We never heard the term. It is possible that the Moral Theology books may have said something on those issues, but they were in latin and we did not get to that section any way.
    I do support Joe Burch in his reponse because with 400 people in our seminary, this issue never came up. What is a real tragedy is the fact that in my class of 1962, suddenly we find out that there were multiple pedophiles accused as priests. A couple were “notorious”, from Delaware, from Bridgeport. Friends of mine were overwhelmed as we looked on Abuse Tracker and suddenly found these names jumping out at us.
    Multiple years after ordination, suddenly priests of the Archdiocese of Washington hit the scene as pedophiles. 2 priests from my first parish were named, one jailed, the other died.
    The third parish I was in had a history of sexual abuse by a priest and then a brother. Our Personnel Director (Our msgr. Lynn) had alzheimers and then it was announced that he was a pedophiles and shared a beach house with another pedophile. As two younger priests were accused, one escaped court until he was charged a second time and sentenced to Buttner Prison in NC, the other some how escaped jail but he also was given a chance to change his name and have a new identity.
    The Cardinal Archbishop continued to have seminars on this issue but somehow the issue seemed under “control” until then suddenly the issue of secrecy and collusion and continual abuse poured out.
    Basic priests in the parishes (I was 25 years as a hospital chaplain) had no real knowledge of what was happening. At that moment in time, we “trusted” the bishops to do the right thing and they informed us that they were doing that.
    As more and more priests were arrested and jailed, the issue became really clear that this was a real epidemic and we had been deceived by those who were “paying off victims but with clauses of silence”. So no one in the press was ever notified of their victimization.
    As I go on Abuse Tracker, now, I see the names and the amounts paid but still does this represent those who were “sworn” to silence??
    I never met a direct victim of sexual abuse until 2005 when the Grand Jury here made the facts known. At that time a friend of mine told me that he had been abused. It was then that I got into this fray and wrote and got a meeting with Cardinal Rigali and my friend on the day after Ash Wednesday 2006.
    From that day on, I have felt that this issue and the arrogance of those in authority needed to be confronted, challenged and accused as deceivers. These power people have walked on the “poor people” of the Church, those who trusted them. We do not need this type of leadership nor those who desire and seek such power.
    Quod scripsi, scripsi. (sorry, Pilate’s words to the crowd , I take responsibility for my words)

    1. Forgive me, Rev. Wintermeyer, but the way you and others describe the seminary experience, it sounds like a toxic mix of naivete, oblivion, and orchestrated secrecy.

  7. The first time my cousin ( a new and young ,Notre Dame , Holy Cross Brother) endured the “evil ” in the dormitory for he and the boys in his charge, he told those in charge and they did nothing. He left.. I so admire him now but didn’t then as I didn’t believe him. How sad it was for him. He died of a broken heart way too soon.

  8. Micklega, looking back now after almost 60 years, one would have to say “yes” to your assumptions. Everything was secret then. Students would suddenly disappear at night having been dismissed from the seminary and no one knew what happened.
    In some ways I think the training was in some ways like boot camp training. One was constantly intimidated, but if you held on and kept your cool, you could make the “dream team”, the priesthood. I was threatened with refusal to receive “orders” ( special steps on the way to priesthood – porter, lector, acolyte, exorcist, subdeacon, deacon ) multiple times because I laughed too much at breakfast. Maybe they ( the faculty) thought I was laughing at them.
    Now I see clearly that “clericalism’ was really an enemy.

    1. I think the training was less like “boot camp” and more like a cult.

      Kate FitzGerald

  9. Amen to that (hadit)!. “Boot camp”, according to my Marine Corp. husband, seperated the men from the boys, in a way no priest that I ever knew ,could stand one hour. They all seem to be pretty “wimpy”when it comes to physical stamina……………………………….
    now they have to be smart and cunning and I’d say they all are that or we never would have bought their drivel. Conning is their game and we were ready to be conned. Generational BRAINWASHING.

  10. I just heard that the United Nations is doing an investigation on the Catholic Churh, re” the sexual abuse of children, the hiding of monies and especially the coverups re: the transfers of priests, nuns and brothers, to keep the scandal from hurting the institution.Protection of the church being on their mind, rather than the protection of their people, children and adults for the sake of money etc. But it wont be til next year they said. A lot can happen in the mean time. Be watchful. Let GOD arise and His enemies be scattered”

  11. I think the UN said they were checking on “secret deals” the rcc made to protect the reputation of the rcc. We must be diligent in our efforts to get THE TRUTH OUT!

  12. I am shocked that politicians like marsico & caltagirone continue to protect these serial molesters and the US Gov’t has failed to act !

  13. Absolutely they need the Catholic vote. Most Hispanics are Democrats and are Catholic. The Smart ones have gone to the Non_ denominational churches that give Freedom of thought and a way to worship that Honors GOD and not the institution!

  14. Have you heard of the word “Omerta”? It is a good Italian world meaning hiding suspecicially in a secretive way. Being suspecious but being “Omerta” secretive. That is exactly what the rcc has been doing in all their dealings with the sexually abused by their clerics, brothers and nuns. .

  15. Guess I had a different life. St Mary’s Manor in the 60’s – minor seminary located near Penndel. Most of the boys left because of drinking the altar wine – at least that is what I was told. Surprised how many heavy drinker there were. That can be taken two ways first the number that left and second the number of kids I had to drag off the train tracks after they were drunk and saw no purpose in life – again minor seminary 14 years old. Lasted a year. that along with scouting, freshman hazing, and sports tell a different story in the 60’s. The only protection I saw was against Vatican II and how the pope wanted to allow fresh air into the church – Krol wasn’t buying it.
    Reading the last thread – Philly definitely didn’t want that fresh air – financial or moral. Since I did the night watch at a major camp (Boy Scouts) and was involve with a few hazing incidents which were reported – 15 year old confronting adults- Yeah one merit badge from eagle scout or a few years from becoming a priest – I didn’t want it.
    In the 70’s I was at Oblate College in DC – not run by OSFS. I remember the older seminarians taking the new candidates to gay bar – the one mentioned by either Doyle, Sipe or Wall. Don’t know what happened there, but according to one of the above it was a test to find the orientation of the candidate. When at a retreat and when visiting I knew about the problems at Brisson and other seminaries. Yes, there was more to the gay issue and not just the Oblates were involved .Yes, I was told they weren’t seminarians ( someone’s lover?) or not religious (didn’t take annual vows yet) – that was in Allentown.

    In the 80’s I confronted a person who observed sexual abuse at a camp. As I wrote before I was able to get out some details and a plan of action – I am sure the DA and AD would not offend Catholics in my hometown of Philly. Not going to write all the details, sure the seal of confession had much to prevent some details from coming out, but the review of annual vows was different that year – religious were angry and many were confronted. Yes, religious did express interest in 14 year old kids – not much different that the gay men ( non priests) I met in the 60’s.

    Since I worked with emotional challenged individuals and know how hard it was to get people to believe their stories/memories I have a problem with the RCC or any group that abuses anyone especially children. I read the files of these individuals and know how they were abused, but that label sticks and stories not believed. My family worked with D&A, so I know about why some are there. Hade a “dry” wedding with a few in recovery serving guests while others have done work on my house.

    Haven’t met the victims on this site, but have met victims. I see a person, a child a face a victim. When Rich told of his abuse ,I did try to get answers of why he(his abuser) became an Oblate – know he had a problem with talking to woman as well as a few other abusers. I did express a few problems about D&A recovery – ie meetings being held in a church and abuse victims feeling judged when expressing anger toward priests, a question also asked on this site.

    Jim, wish there was a way to answer some of your questions. I did ask a few by email, but I not sure if the victims can talk about those issues in a forum like this or by email. There is so much pain and I don’t like to address some issues because I hate reading of victims being attacked here. You and all the victims know how hard it is to trust and I am glad you have a forum – there are many more that can’t share certain facts and discussing what happened on this forum would cause serious trust issues. Hopefully, all of you are able to find someone to trust.

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