Will Pope Francis Discipline/Remove Bishops Involved in Coverups?

Editor’s note: Kathy and I are so pleased that Pope Francis was chosen as Time Magazine’s Person of the Year. It shows that the Catholic Faith can still be relevant in today’s society. It shows that a Christlike approach is appreciated by all – not just Catholics. Yet, all that can be undone by the evil and ignorance still thriving in regard to clergy child sex abuse.


Guest blog: by Sister Maureen Paul Turlish 

Will Pope Francis address the single most critical issue of the Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal? 

Given the description of the pope’s commission on clerical child abuse, especially coming after a “United Nations panel criticized the Vatican over its handling of abuse cases,” with the Vatican saying, “that the responsibility for such cases rested with individual bishops,” expectations on such a significant level have been decidedly mixed. 

Pope Francis’ words establishing this new commission in the church’s central bureaucracy would be commendable if at the same time he announced plans for disciplining and removing those bishops who, by the abuse of their episcopal and moral authority, were complicit in the sexual abuse of thousands of children in this country.  

In the Netherlands alone Dutch bishops have acknowledged the abuse of tens of thousands of children according to a December 03, 2013 Reuters article by Tom Heneghan.

If Cardinal O’Malley’s statements are accurate, the pope’s creation of such a committee appears to be more along the lines of putting the cart before the horse than anything else.  

There really is no way to avoid this issue. 

Remember that diocesan bishops, their underlings, along with the provincials and superiors of religious congregations, created this horrific scandal by protecting known clerical sexual predators with essentially no regard for the Lord’s little ones; leaving these lambs unprotected before ravaging wolves.

“The new commission is expected to tell church officials to collaborate with civil authorities and report cases of abuse,” O’Malley said. 

Is this a decision that calls for a papal commission?
The hierarchy has already exhausted its credibility and moral authority through its actions these past decades and neither will be regained by having the ecclesiastical body responsible for covering up the scandal charged with either its evaluation or correction.  That has not worked well since 2002.  

Moreover, statement like those quoted above seem ludicrous given the nature of the violation; crimes against the humanity of children.

Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
Advocate for Victim/Survivors & Legislative Reform
25-E Highland Blvd.
New Castle, Delaware 19720

21 thoughts on “Will Pope Francis Discipline/Remove Bishops Involved in Coverups?

  1. I agree completely. I find the bishops who covered for the abusers for more guilty than the abusers themselves. The abusers may be mentally ill but the bishops who permitted them to continue abusing our children have no such excuse and should be spending time in jail instead in diocesan palaces.

  2. Absolutely agreed on all counts, James and Sr. Maureen. You both spelled out the real issues perfectly. Sr. Maureen, you are a gift to all of us. Having the guilty bishops removed or punished in some way is the only thing that will help me return to my beloved church.

  3. Certainly Msgr Lynn covered up crimes by moving the guilty clergy and is doing jail time for it, but what about others soldiers who helped Lynn over the years. They are going about their duties today, like Archbishop Cistone of Saginaw who actually signed as a witness the cover note, verifying the shredding of Lynn’s list of suspected priests. The Pope can view the doc. right now online:
    http://www.bishop-accountability.org/docs/philadelphia/2012_02_24_Commonwealth_v_Lynn_Motion_of_Lynn_t o_Dismiss/1994_03_22_Molloy_Shredding_Memo_Exhibit_B.pdf

    Maybe some do not deserve jail time, but some should be removed from ministry, especially those who will not admit their role or seek forgiveness from the laity. It would help if people like Matthew Kelly (Dynamic Catholic) would say more about this problem instead of a few sentences to the effect that the media would have you believe all the priests are pedophiles. This statement I witness two days ago when I attended his lecture. My conclusion is he dismissed this as not a factor as to why so few attend Mass and the sacrament of Reconciliation.

    Thank you Sister for you much need comments.

    PS: Remember the award Person of the Year is a person of controversy (Hitler was a past recipient). Most often, it is a popular person. I think it was Rush Limbaugh that got this going when objected to the Pope’s comments regarding capitalism.

  4. How ironic sister brings up this issue, when yesterday, the Pope removed American Cardinal Burke from the Vatican position of Congregation of Bishops. The congregation oversees the vetting of bishops’ nominations, so I think the future does not look so bright for removing those bishops involved in protecting those who committed these sex crimes against our children. This is on the heels of the Pope stating the church should focus on the essentials not just certain few issues (such as abortion and gay rights). To this, Burke said last week, we could never talk enough about marriage and “…the massacre of the unborn”.

    Oh my, there is a disconnect here. In the past, Cardinal Burke, our American hero, resigned from a Catholic hospital board because pro abortion Sheryl Crow was performing a concert for the hospital, and he stated J. Kerry, and all politicians, should be refused communion, if they vote pro abortion, yet the Pope has seen fit to replace him with Cardinal Wuerl who states he would not refuse communion to these politicians, so Nancy P. and Joe B. you can express your abortion views and tell people you are a good Catholic, as Nancy has already done.

    What you have here is Burke, who maintains his post as equivalent of Chief Justice (Perfect in the Apostolic Signatura), probably the Church’s key expert in Canon Law, who has cited the sections of the law that prohibit distribution of communion to politicians, being replaced by Wuerl who stated he will give them communion-how tragic.

    Finally, Cardinal Burke’s remarks in a 2012 Canon Law Convention in Kenya sums up the failure of bishops to investigate crimes against children in our country. In his lecture he referenced the cause of the tragedy of child sexual abuse as being “the absence of a proper discipline in the Church to deal justly with such abhorrent situations”. The lack of a carefully articulated process for investigation was not followed, he noted, and he said “The discipline in place was not followed because it was not known and, in fact, was presumed not to exist.” This relates to the failure of leadership in the education and application of canon law in the investigation of clergy offenses.

    Our new pontiff has cast some doubt on the direction of our Church by his remarks and actions thus far. J Heary

  5. “Will Pope Francis discipline/remove bishops involved in cover-ups?”

    So… while we’re on the subject of asking absurd questions, I was wondering if anyone else is as excited as I am and believes the Sixers have a great chance of winning the NBA Championship this season?

    May I ask some others?

    At a movie theater, which arm rest is yours?

    What if the woman that thinks I’m the dad isn’t the mom?

    I was bitten by a turtle when I was a little kid. So… should I still drink orange juice?

    What incantations work better for summoning Jesus?

    If pro and con are opposites, wouldn’t the opposite of progress be congress?

    When does it stop being partly cloudy and start being partly sunny?

    Is there a time limit on fortune cookie predictions?

    What do you do when you see an endangered animal that is eating an endangered plant?

    Why can’t doughnuts be square?

    I made Jesus-shaped pancakes for breakfast and burned them. Am I going to hell?

    Peace out!

    1. Rich,
      I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at your post! Thank you for that.

      I especially loved, “I made Jesus-shaped pancakes for breakfast and burned them. Am I going to hell?” It sounds like something my mother in law would say…in all seriousness.

    2. Oh, and did you know? Doughnuts can be square! I’ve seen them!

      Will Pope Francis Discipline/Remove Bishops Involved in Cover-Ups? Ummmm……no.

      1. Well my intention was to elicit sarcastic humor with my post this morning, but still I can’t help but wonder the logic of this question. I mean, really?! I mean no offense toward Sister Maureen and I know she’s just looking to start a discussion on this topic. There are very few members of the Catholic clergy I respect… actually only two to be specific and Sister Maureen is one of them and Bob Hoatson the other.

        After everything that people now know about the Catholic Church’s history concerning events in which clergy and lay employees abused children and the countless number of allegations that have been covered up over the last 2,000 years, I can’t see how any person could even misconstrue this question or find even a miniscule speck of value or relevance in order to conjure up an intelligent answer. Isn’t is obvious to the supposed minority, which is commonsense people, that the majority of those in a position of leadership in the Catholic Church, including the pope, will never admit the folly of their actions, which has always been “inaction,” and to expect that this institution will never admit to wrongdoing and profess a couple thousand years of cover-ups and lies? I never really suspected that someone had to be head cashier at a Jiffy Lube to figure out the reality of what this religious-based institution is capable of admitting. I have painfully experienced firsthand exactly what the Catholic Church is capable of doing, and I’ve been offended by the way in which they portray themselves so completely opposite to the way they treated me and so many other children and adults.

        If you’ve ever seen the documentary “Deliver Us From Evil” you will know who Father Oliver O’Grady is and what he’s done. For anyone who doesn’t know who I am talking about, Oliver O’Grady mostly worked in the Los Angeles Archdiocese, and it was here that he abused the majority of the 300 children he has admitted to abusing, including “babies.” 300 children! Babies! Just stop reading this for a moment and try to imagine something as awful as a grown man who admits he actually attempted to penetrate a baby! That’s not a sickness. That’s evil! Anyway, in the documentary O’Grady said he felt it was okay to abuse children because he didn’t receive much disciplinary action from his superiors when they first learned he had been abusing children in the parish and community, and even after he continued abusing and it was discovered, still not much more than a slap on the wrist was done to protect children from him. We all know that this is the reality within the Catholic Church and has been the standard for too long. Now knowing how such a monster was handled by his own superiors should be enough to send most people reeling with anger for a century, but it was a comment O’Grady made that infuriated me to the point of undeniable rage that I have not been able to shed an ounce of this rage since seeing the documentary about 4 years ago. O’Grady said, “I abused this child and then I went to confession and admitted my sins and I felt like anything I had done before didn’t matter and I went back out to get nearer to other children.” That is the problem with the Catholic Church. Whether or not the church forgets about what someone has done yesterday, the bigger issue is that a scumbag like O’Grady was permitted to believe that the children he had already abused after he confessed his sins didn’t matter and he was allowed to believe he was absolved of guilt. I just feel that this type of thought process is what continues giving clergy the permission to abuse, and since penance is one of the most fundamental beliefs within the Catholic religion I don’t see how it’s even possible that anything can change.

        If Walmart believed and practiced the same sort of rhetoric bullshit people would surely become detached from reality and orchestrate their own agendas to dismantle the corporation and seek to charge everyone involved with the appropriate crime. If Walmart employees had been raping children in their stores’ dressing rooms all over the country and parents later discovered that management knew, but transferred those predator employees to other stores in different communities, I truly believe parents and common people would react much differently than they have reacted to their pastor abusing children. Why? I think that’s the more pertinent question to ask. Are Catholics so insecure with themselves that they would feel their belief in Catholicism changes for the worse if they choose to demand justice from their religious leaders and continue their worship outside of the church instead of risking the safety and well being of their own children, or any children for that matter, by taking them inside?

        Here’s another question I’d like to ask, because I’m just dying to know what someone’s answer might be. I’ve seen comments from people on this blog recently who fear for their child’s safety in Catholic schools and while interacting alone with Catholic priests. Why, if you are convinced that the story me and so many others are telling is true, and you believe the criminal conviction and removal from ministry for certain priests is/was justified, and you also question whether or not all of the predators have been uncovered and removed, why in the hell would you subject your own child to the potential, no matter how small or great, to such potential trauma? That’s the one question I would really like answered, because I just don’t get how a parent could rationalize their child’s spiritual and academic education to be of greater importance than to your child suffering from the horrible experiences that so many of us had to and continue to endure even in our adult lives today?

        I find it strange, and very reckless also, that people believe me and others, and they believe the facts exposed in the Grand Jury Reports, the evidence of abuse by priests from every corner of the world, and worry that predator priests who have yet to be exposed are still possibly presenting a danger to children, but they continue sending their kids to Catholic schools and allow clergy unsupervised time with them. The experiences in my life and my life as a whole is not exactly the example I would want kids or parents to emulate.

        Peace out!

        1. Hi Rich, I just wanted to let you know the headline was from me rather than Sister Maureen. But you had the intention right. I meant it as a conversation starter on what clearly (to the rest of the sane world) needs to be done.

        2. Rich I don’t talk about my kids on the site for many reasons and I know you can respect that. When the 2005 GJ report came out and my kids were in grade school..where was I?..who knows. I read the newspapers and believed it..I became at arms length …no way would my kids be altar servers or have any up close situations..never. The parish school they attended was all middle age Moms as teachers..no nuns..priests in the rectory but with this priest shortage there are not priests around like when we were young. Plus the priests at the parish never seemed too interested in the school..fine with me!

          So then the 20011 GJ report..what?? How can this happen..isn’t everything cleaned up? Then the news that the former pastor admitted to sexual abuse of a teenager 30 years ago.
          Fast forward to November 2013..Fr Paul allowed to remain at a parish while under investigation and this information kept from the parents…what????

          I have found out more in the past month than in the past 3 years…I don’t think I can be shocked anymore. I thought there was absolutely chances that there was still predator priests just as their are predator teachers,coaches,etc…etc..etc..What I didn’t think was that they would leave them in the rectory and not tell the parents.

          1. Kathy: from reading your post, I get the distinct impression that you do not trust the Catholic Church to keep predators who happen to be priests away from your children. That is progress. When I was growing up in Roslyn Pa. my parents and all the other parents encouraged their children to interact with the priests at our Church. I remember hanging out at the school on weekends and during summer vacation. The priest who molested me and the other priests were always around the school. We looked up to them as Gods. When my children were growing up,I never let them interact with any adult unless I was present. Maybe I overreacted because of what happened to me. But I was trying to keep them safe. I believe I did that. Once when my son was about ten, a friend of his invited him to sleep over at the friends church. I didn’t sleep that night. Perhaps, I seem over protective but in no way would I ever want my kids to go through what myself, Rich and other victims have gone through.

          2. Jim it is so different now and I don’t say that meaning that abuse can’t happen but the attitudes of parents are so different from a generation ago. Not all parents of course but most. I don’t many who would send their child off with a priest or teacher or coach for that matter. There are also so many rules now about being alone with children..of course a predator will break rules but hopefully those around realize a rule is being broken.

            A few weeks after the 2011 GJ report my daughter was making her Confirmation. The years previous the sponsors and children always gathered in the cafeteria before the ceremony..the Bishop would speak to them as a group etc.. So in 2011 a letter comes that the children are to be dropped off at the rectory??? And the sponsors to go to the cafeteria??? Hmmm WHAT? A few weeks after the GJ report and you want us to drop our kids off at the rectory? And not with their sponsors? Do you think that happened Jim? Do you think the parents went along with that? NO!

            Also take into account the attitudes of the kids themselves. Growing up I could not even picture a priest going to a movie …it was like they were not human..so abuse a child? Last thing from my mind as a kid. When the former pastor at my parish admitted to abuse I was shell shocked..a young person who was with me at the time commented on how shocked I was. I asked him ” You thought he was an abuser?” The answer from the young person..”I think they all are”

          3. “A few weeks after the GJ report and you want us to drop our kids off at the rectory? And not with their sponsors?” (Kathy).

            “Obtuse” is defined as “stupid or unintelligent : not able to think clearly or to understand what is obvious or simple.”

            The AD clearly doesn’t think much of the learning curve of Catholic parents.

            Sorry Bishops, the People of God are onto the way the Church works. The 1950’s and 60’s are gone, thank God!

          4. Kathy,

            “I think they all are.”

            How messed up is that? How completely messed up is it that an entire generation of Catholic youth have to receive what they believe to be the Body and Blood from corrupt enablers and/or abusers?

            I find it arrogant of parents to think they are more discerning when it comes to trusting priests. So completely arrogant…as if they are so much smarter. Sorry. How wise is it to train up a child to distrust their hierarchy because they’ve essentially been taught “they all are” (abusers/enablers)?

            This story is far from over…namely because the RCC hasn’t properly healed, nor could they. Do you think our children and grandchildren will be as vigilant as we are right now? I don’t. I believe they will be more “removed” from it…that is, if they even stay in the Church.

            And lest our memories fail us…there was a young person who received inappropriate texts while working in the rectory…right under the noses of all those discerning, watchful Catholic parents….they then posted here, defending the inappropriate actions of the priest. Remember?

            This is going to be a festering, generational
            wound warping the spirituality of many Catholic youth. Pope Francis disciplining bishops? Not likely. It requires the courage the victims had to tell the truth. I don’t see that happening in any leadership role in the RCC presently or in the near future.

          5. survivors wife, it makes me laugh when I hear or read anything from the Church in regards to them blaming secularism as an evil influence on this generation of kids. Do they not think that the actions of the Church influence young minds?

            Kids deal with uncomfortable situations with humor often and you would not believe the things I have heard or read in relation to what they think about priests…online cartoons..jokes..etc…

            I remember when we were young and being told what TV shows to avoid..movies and books that were banned etc..not that we always listened but we respected the source. That source now is tainted more than any R rated movie and has done more damage to a young mind. No I can’t imagine being young in this climate.

  6. It is asked if this Pope will address the sex abuse scandal. I personally do not think so, as he is sick as the Catholic Church and has deteriorated into dependency on the church’s rules and beliefs. This Pope needs real faith that goes beyond rules, doctrine, beliefs and learned producers. We need courage from this Pope and courage that arises from the heart. We need courage as an expression of faith, beyond following the rules, what others tell him to do, and being obedient.

    The courage I am speaking about is fearlessness. True courage draws on tremendous strength and is supportive. This faith as courage takes guts and is recognizing the support of God even in death. If this Pope needs to believe the Vatican is beyond the rules and does not apply to them then his faith is weak. He is then completely at mercy of anxiety. This anxiety is faithlessness. It is unpleasant and it is dangerous. It is like they are looking to God to save them. Yet I say find the guts to manifest great courage and the depth of courage that even puts his life in jeopardy. We need moral courage and a willingness to put his life on the line, which is a faith that is beyond any rules or belief.

    1. So you think Francis submitting “in all humilty”, on his knees to the Evangelical pastor with his hand over his heart with full participation of their faithful, [assisted by a Franciscan friar] has awarded him nought?
      I think it did, considering around the same time the president of Buenos Airies pardoned military junta leaders, guerrilas and human rights violators to “move on ” from Argentina’s dirty past and start afresh, just like any elected pope who with a new name and a clean slate as Christ’s delegate on earth.

Leave a Reply