Dizzy from Archdiocesan Spin and Furious About the Facts

by Susan Matthews

Kathy Kane noticed that Father John Paul’s name was removed from the official clergy list at some point this past week. Father Paul resigned as pastor of Our Lady of Calvary Parish in Philadelphia on Sunday, Nov. 10 for “physical and spiritual” health reasons stemming from two separate allegations of child sex abuse. A name removal from the clergy list is significant and usually doesn’t result from a resignation. For instance, Father John Wackerman of St. Joseph’s in Downingtown resigned the same day. His name is still on the list. To be clear, unlike Father Paul, Father Wackerman did not resign under the cloud of sex abuse allegations. However, the archdiocese seemed to defend their decision allow Father Paul to remain in ministry, despite accusations. So why remove his name from the list now? We are waiting for a response from the Archdiocesan Office for Communications.

A carefully-worded article on CatholicPhilly.com, the official news source of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, covered the details Father Paul’s resignation.

Note that children are referred to as minors. I’m a mother of two children – not two minors. Are you a parent? How many minors are you raising? Please don’t dehumanize. I especially enjoyed this line – “after review the Philadelphia district attorney declined to press charges.” Declined? There’s some spin. The current statue of limitations on child sex abuse makes it impossible for the DA to press charges. The decision may have had absolutely nothing to do with evidence, guilt or innocence. It could have everything to do with our current crappy state laws. There’s no statute of limitations on murder. There shouldn’t be one for child sex abuse either.

Back to the article. It goes on to share the archdiocesan official statement, “Father Paul remained in ministry at the parish since that time in a restricted capacity ‘in that he had no unsupervised contact with minors.’ Appropriate notification of his restrictions was made to pertinent parties and a monitoring and support plan was implemented and followed.” I’d like to know who was put in charge of babysitting Father Paul 24/7 to ensure that he had no contact with minors. He was a pastor running a parish and school. How does one avoid children in that position?

“Pertinent parties were notified.” The archdiocese did not consider parents “pertinent parties” when it comes to child sex abuse allegations. Who could possibly be more pertinent? The archdiocese did not give parents the opportunity to make an informed decision regarding the safety of their children. Anyone outraged by this? And, finally, what exactly is a monitoring and support plan? Really? How about a leave of absence during the investigation?

I want to be clear that Kathy and I aren’t passing judgment on Father Paul’s guilt or innocence. We are furious that parents continue to be the last to know when it comes to child sex abuse allegations in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. This isn’t Our Lady of Calvary’s problem. This a problem for every Catholic parent. The archdiocese is asking for thoughts on family issues for the upcoming Papal visit. I’ve got a few. How about you?

22 thoughts on “Dizzy from Archdiocesan Spin and Furious About the Facts

  1. As you mentioned, these issues have little to do with Father Paul’s guilt or innocence. The “spin” skill set knows no bounds. Bottom line……….some of our archdiocesan leaders are simply not honorable men.

    Also, honorable men would certainly not leave the unpleasant and difficult news to the two women administrators of the parish school. How do these leaders stand up?

      1. pertinent “relevant or applicable to a particular matter;” who more relevant than a parent
        Can you imagine for one minute as a parent, being involved in any way in these matters,knowing that a group of parents have no idea that a possible child predator is in their midst. I use the word possible because even if there is .0000001% that the person has harmed children in the past. In this case the article says it was various people/departments that were involved in this case. How dare they…how dare they as fellow parents.

        1. I am referencing on the Archdiocesan level. This is only one of the reasons of many that I said NO when asked to be on an Archdiocesan committee dealing with school safety. When my kids and grandkids google my name..because everything lives on the internet..every article a person writes,every decision or part a person played in situations and no way would I have my name associated in any way possible when these things still go on..no way..my kids and grandkids and future generations will never have to wonder where I stood in relation to children and their safety. How dare they!

          1. Kathy, wise move and evidence of your wisdom about the danger of being co-opted. ALL of these committees, whose members surely have admirable intentions, will continue to provide cover for the system where one man has all of the power – the very root of the sex/power abuse crisis. I would hope that members of such groups would resign and others would refuse to join until they have some real authority.

          2. Martin the committee I was asked to serve on was
            “vanilla” very benign..nothing having to do with weighing in on priest allegations and still my answer was NO. If I were a parent/lay member involved in allowing a priest with allegations to stay at a parish and NOT inform the parents..if I even had knowledge of that..I would scribble my resignation…drive to the parish and stand there the next morning alerting the parents that they were being kept in the dark.
            Last year when I found the patient from Vianney on the grounds of an Archdiocesan high school..a week went by and the parents were not notified..of course Archdiocese attorneys had been notified but not PARENTS ..when I inquired as to why the parents were not notified it was like it never crossed anyone’s mind..literally that is how much parents count in these situations.
            It is a combination of having no respect for the role of a parent and continuing to operate in the dark like in the past…neither acceptable

  2. To add to what Susan said. Fr Wackerman did not leave a parish because of allegations, Fr Paul resigned due to “stress” from allegations. and now his name appears gone from the clergy list. There are many times that priests retire, resign, take a needed medical leave and their name remains on the clergy list such as Fr Wackerman. Within one week it appears Fr Paul has gone from resigning to now his name removed from the clergy list?

    There are so many odd occurrences in the Fr Paul case. He was allowed to stay at the parish while being investigated. He resigned while his case had not been finalized by the Review Board. The article by catholic philly was like an article a priest has written on a jubilee or some other milestone..future travel plans and study? He was accused of abusing children…the outcome of his future had not been decided by the Archdiocese and this article?? I have never seen this happen with other accused priests. Is this the new way of doing things?

  3. There is collusion in silence; the Catholic church seems to an expert on being silent when it comes to sexual abuse. I am a progressive Catholic that demands transparency and accountability from “my; church. Every incidence of cover-up. omission and silence undermines the credibility of the Catholic Church in my opinion.I am a 66 year old retired social worker, worked with sexually abused children for many years and know the devastation that the assaults leave behind. I want the archdiocese to know that Catholics have, and will continue, to turn away from the Church if they do not change antiquated, sexist beliefs that further contribute to the pain and devastation of sexual abuse to survivors, their families and the communities.

  4. I specifically asked Leslie Davila in an email how long the internal investigation would take. In her reply she said it is “difficult” to provide a time frame in such matters. She then provided a link for me to the official process from the AOP website. I asked her many other questions in my original email which she did not specifically address in her reply to me. Everything from her was very vague or she just redirected me to some official verbiage on the website. She also mentioned the Professional Responsibility Review Board. The most interesting point she made is that the Archbishop has the final say on what, if any, restrictions will be placed on Fr. Paul. So no matter what the investigation turns up, Chaput has the final say. Final say, unless of course more recent accusations are brought forward. From what I read online, students at Kennedy Kenrick complained often about Fr. Paul, but their complaints were not taken seriously and I don’t think those complaints were made to law enforcement, just to school administrators.. He was there in the late 90’s. Kathy or Susan do you know the cut-off year for any accusations to fall within the SOL? Where was his last assignment before Calvary?

    1. The SOL’s can be tricky and it is important for law enforcement to determine if charges can be filed in situations. I always tell people to file a police report regardless .

  5. This is outrageous. You do a good job pointing out all the spins, obfuscations, and basic lies. Nothing seems to have changed. They are really slow learners and continue to believe they can get away with these deceptions.

  6. It is like we are going backwards..this article from November 2010 and the suspension of Fr Ayers. His name was announced..the previous assignments listed..sent to live at the Villa during the investigation…total opposite of what happened in Fr Paul’s case.
    Even though the authorities did not press charges against FR Paul he was allowed to stay at the parish while that part of the investigation was taking place…not the case with Fr Ayers. WHY? something is so odd about this situation.


  7. The longer I live the more disgusted I have become regarding the Catholic Church and its, political maneuvering with regard to the sexual abuse of children. With two Grand Juries issuing very clear denunciations of how the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has handled accusations of abuse by its’clergy,it continues to evade responsibility for what has happened. Very little seems to have changed since the first Grand Jury report was issued in 2005.They seem to think that they can evade taking responsibility for their criminal clergy.I am thoroughly disgusted.

  8. Does this mean that he has been moved? I have spent the week reliving what this monster did and now he is just gone?

  9. Does this mean that he has been moved? I had to relive what this monster did and now he is simply gone?

    1. When a name is removed from the clergy list it means that the faculties of the priest have been restricted.. cannot function as a priest in the Archdiocese.

      1. Kathy I had no idea that is what the removal from the list meant. Do you think that means an announcement will be made? Any idea where Fr. Paul is now?

        1. An announcement? who knows. I noticed the name was removed late Friday and sent an email and haven’t heard back. I would encourage anyone to email and inquire also.

          1. I would email anyone that you communicated with this past week and add Kgavin@adphila.org and Mgambino@adphila.org. That gives the communications and catholicphilly office the opportunity to respond . I always include everyone and the kitchen sink on my emails so all have been given ample opportunity to answer …or not.

          2. Well, I sent an email on Sunday and no response. Anything else we can do or has anyone else received a reply? How long will we get the silent treatment?

  10. Catholicmom,
    I think you’ll get the silent treatment as long as the AD isn’t forced, by law, to answer you. IF they respond, it’s usually with defense, and some blah, blah, blah about the Charter and their guidelines. The savvy wordsmiths will usually put a Scriptural spin to their response or reference Jesus in some way.

    That’s been my experience.

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