Do as They Say – Not as They Do


First In a Series

By Kathy Kane

We tell them “to tell.” This generation of children and young people are taught to tell a trusted adult if someone speaks to them inappropriately, touches them inappropriately. There are books from when they are young that describe the areas of their body which are private. We have background checks for all who interact with them at school and on sports teams. They have been more informed and educated than the generations before them and they trust that as adults we would never put them in harm’s way. As adults we would do as we instruct them, we would ‘tell.” We would never withhold information from them even if there was just the possibility of a person being a threat to them.

When the news broke that Fr Paul had been allowed to stay at  Our lady of Calvary for many months while being investigated, my immediate thoughts went to the children of the school and parish. Not just their physical safety but their psychological well being. Keeping information from children concerning their safety flies in the face of all that they have been taught and that we hope to instill in them should they face an abusive situation  in their young life.  Tell someone…don’t keep a secret…don’t hide it.

This could have happened at any parish as we are all part of one large system. A system that has spent countless time and money over the past few years with high priced consultants and pages of new documents. The best scenario this all produced was to keep a priest at a parish while he was being investigated and withhold this information from the parents. Oh how far we have not come.

I have seen the reactions of children when a predator was exposed…I can’t imagine the reaction when it is revealed that trusted adults had information and kept it from them and their parents. Even the most remote possibility that a person in their life could have harmed children…the remote possibility and this information was kept from them.

How would you explain this to your children? That not only did someone they know turn out to be a possible predator, but people they trusted withheld information for many months. Add to the craziness that those same people who “kept the secret” were also in charge of making sure that the priest did not go near the children. Sound like a safety plan that you would like to explain to your children? Me neither.

When people do not practice what they preach, the trust is broken. A child could be pushed back in the closet a child who could be abused at home, on a sports team, a youth group, a neighborhood. The message they are given is…”don’t tell”…”keep the secret”. That is tragic in so many ways and does not get fixed…That lesson will stay in a child’s mind more than any Safety Environment lesson the Archdiocese provides. Why should a child tell when adults did not…we expect children to be the heroes that the adults are not capable of being, even when the threat is just a possibility.
 

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41 Responses to “Do as They Say – Not as They Do”

  1. My message to anyone at parishes involved in these monitoring and safety plans where information is being withheld from parents…take a look at the Fr Paul case and then stop..stop the co operation in this..stop the lack of transparency..stop it for the sake of the children and the mixed message this is sending them. Stop for their physical and psychological well being.

  2. And all this would have been swept under the rug and forgotten if people could just remain quiet. Thomas Merton would have been turning in his grave. But instead, people started exposing what they knew about Fr. Paul.

    It happens again and again as if its a diocesan plan to keep the people in the pews dumbfounded and angry and so they become immobilized in their anger and go right back to trusting again.. Its a conditioning. They even have us quarrelling like siblings and taking sides. How many siblings are at odds because of the abuse that has happened to one of them. How clever!

    I call it ” contempt” from the bishops and those in authority whose hands are at the wheels, Contempt toward the catholic community of teachers, catechists, clergy, children and parents who are trying to follow every recommendation to help the children become empowered so they don’t become victims. of this horrific crime.

    The attitude of contempt had been mastered years ago towards victims and their families. Now that victims are speaking out, the contempt is toward all of us.

    The Proud Alum from Mc Devitt should be proud. Sunday afternoon, (almost as an afterthought) the news release appears in the AD website Sunday afternoon following the news. Its all so very well planned. Its less impact to piggyback his removal from ministry with the others. Their voice of truth helps.

  3. Katherine FitzGerald Reply December 20, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    In the case of Fr. Paul, four different archdiocesan boards or commissions and school personnel had knowledge and/or input regarding the accusations made against him and the resulting plan to monitor his ministry. However, because the archdiocese is monarchical, Chaput had the final say. Chaput is a cleric. In his culture, children are not “precious,” rather fellow clerics and their ministries are. In his culture, “heroes” protect the image of the Church before the well being of anyone, much less children having annoyingly vigilant parents. In his culture, clerics choose board members, commission members, and school personnel who can be trusted to remain loyal to them, the clerical culture, and its groupthink.

    Reform-minded Catholics have spent over a decade calling attention to the harmful and disastrous clerical culture, THE cause of the sexual abuse crisis. Still, however, in one of the largest archdiocese in the country, Philadelphia, people sit on boards and commissions and run schools according to the clerical culture. It is disgraceful the number of people who are still willing to participate in, foster, and sustain it. Indeed, in light of what we know about it, it is unconscionable.

    Who are these people? Who are you? Why?

    • Kate do you remember when we attended the Lynn trial and the day he was questioned about Avery hearing the children’s confessions at St Jerome’s…of course after he was already a suspected predator and was being ‘watched” at the parish.
      The prosecutor asked Lynn about this and Msgr Lynn seemed to go out of his way to very calmly explain that the children were lined up “out in the open”..Avery heard the confessions “out in the open”. A suspected predator heard the confessions of the children “out in the open”…so this made sense. Lynn had been arrested, was on trial, was facing jail time and this STILL made sense to him. That was no act on behalf of Msgr Lynn, it made perfect sense.
      I sat in that row..shaking..of all the horrific things I had heard at the trial for some reason this scenario of innocent children being lined up to go to confession to a suspected predator put me over the edge.

      I ask the same questions as you Kate..how..who..why? How do people go along with this? They may think a priest is innocent..they may believe that..fine..but you do NOT make children guinea pigs and withhold information from parents. I also do not know what college degree makes school principals and fellow priests trained “predator watchers”..

      • Kathy , reading this is so upsetting. My son was one of those children who went to his first confession to Avery and my husband and I sent him with our blessing Avery also was dj at many of the school dances for our daughter . I believe all along that the pastor ( fr graham knew exactly what was going on and deceived all of us. How stange that his brother Monsignor graham is now here at the parish He was part of the old chancery that did all of the cover ups . My husband and I will NEVER give another penny to this parish that continues to insult all of us by bringing in Monsignor graham to moonlight here and still make money working at 222. GOD HELP THEM!!

        • Children do not belong anywhere near these men, their institutions, or their female enablers.

          • “their female enablers” Crystal a few years back when I was working on an issue that involved an activity for children that clearly violated safety protocol, I had a conversation with a female AD employee who told me I was absolutely correct and the priest was absolutely wrong. When I asked her if she was going to call the priest to give him her opinion of the situation she said she could not because of “Canon Law” . That turned out to be a complete lie. But of course she gave me a pep talk “You go girl”..she had the “upmost respect for me”

          • Kathy…
            What a coward of a human being. I’ve found so many working for the RCC who lack courage…but they “support” our efforts. Collect your paycheck while you surrender your moral compass. Cowardice at its best.

        • I can’t remember if it was in relation to Avery but I know there was a situation where a pastor was listed as part of the monitoring plan and was never even told of the allegations or that he was part of a safety plan..I absolutely believe that happens. I think the mentality is that the less anyone knows the better chance to keep it secret and fellow priest /pastors are not even informed.
          Was the clergy at the time of Avery’s stay at St Jerome’s deposed ? I ask because we always like to be accurate in fairness to all involved, and when anyone is mentioned by name we need that person to be part of of a civil suit, criminal trial, deposition ,grand jury report ,public documents etc…in order for us to not pull the name from the comment.

          • worried parishioner..sorry these comments are not under your original comment. Here is the part of the 2011 GJ report which reference Fr Graham’s testimony that he did not know he was part of the safety plan team. I always just like to remind people that although we all have opinions, when we use people’s names we need to present all sides regardless of our feelings

            http://www.phila.gov/districtattorney/PDFs/clergyAbuse2-finalPresentment.pdf

            I am sorry that your son was one of the children who was lined up “out in the open” to go to confession to Avery..sickening. I also made my FIrst Penance to a known predator..known to the Archdiocese, not to us obviously.

          • Thanks Kathy, I understand . God bless you and Susan for all you do. Peace and Joy this Christmas Season.

      • Katherine FitzGerald Reply December 21, 2013 at 1:49 am

        Kathy, not only do I vividly remember how it genuinely made “perfect sense” to Lynn to permit Avery to hear confessions “out in the open,” I know WHY it made perfect sense to him.

        I learned why when I spent years reading about “How Cults Rewire the Brain”.

        • “How Cults Rewire the Brain”

          Catholics, especially those of us who have had our brains wired by the Church’s engineers (priests, nuns, brothers) at an early age must search for a patch. However, we are likely to always to have some type of malicious virus running in the background which can’t be completely removed.

          Constent awareness of this hardwired defect is essential as we take on the clerical devils within this organization.

  4. The people who have “the power” to get answers are the parents from Our Lady of Cavalry. And, let’s be honest, the only way thing stronger than the code of the clerics (as Kathy so correctly detailed) is the almighty $$$!
    If I was a parent, no tuition money would go to OLC until answers were presented. Hold the money in escrow at a local bank – make these statements available to the pastor to show you have good faith to pay your tuition. But YOU’RE going to hold back information – I’M going to hold back something as valuable to you!

    • owlfan, you have a point there…………….a little “civil disobedience” to challenge the risk to our children……………what would occur if a large percentage of the families/parents were to take such action………escrow the tuition money…………

    • owlfan and Mike..I understand your thoughts but unfortunately I doubt parents would be given many answers,regardless of their tactics. What happens is that when these things happen at parishes..we do not ALL stand up ..we do not ALL get involved. A few parents from a parish may be very upset..may speak out and they are like flies buzzing around that get swatted away..looked at nothing more than a nuisance.

      Do you know why the school closings backfired a few years ago?…because it involved so many schools and parishes and it was such a large majority of people from various schools and parishes holding protests..going to the press..having press conferences..too many people to ignore and a PR nightmare for the Archdiocese.

      If we knew what other parishes have priests being investigated and information withheld from parents then those parishes could band together to make a bolder statement..but..we don’t know do we? We know nothing and that certainly will not change.

  5. Kathy, you mention the word “trust”……….so often spoken here in archdiocesan matters, so little evidence of this vital principle. In my opinion, the conduct and decision-making of Philadelphia Archdiocesan leadership re abuse allegations and subsequent internal investigations suggest a different understanding of that most precious commodity, TRUST:

    T…………………………TREACHEROUS
    R…………………………REPREHENSIBLE
    U…………………………UNCTUOUS
    S…………………………SELFISH
    T…………………………TWO-FACED

    With this definition, the machinations and chicanery of their TRUST becomes much clearer.

  6. stilldisillusioned Reply December 20, 2013 at 7:43 pm

    It is this very thing…..the “do as we say, not as we do” philosophy espoused by the Church, that has cause so many practicing Catholics to become disillusioned and doubtful. The continued insincerity when it comes to actually “caring” about our children is so obvious, though they think it isn’t. To withhold information from parents, whose responsibility it is to protect their children, is unacceptable. There is such strict zero tolerance of some behaviors when it comes to students in Catholic schools….Well, then there also should be zero tolerance of even one more child being abused because of their administrators withholding of information and thus causing a child to be put in harm’s way. Messed up priorities….as a parent, it’s exasperating.

  7. I don’t know what you people are so upset about. This is the same Catholic Hierarchy that for years has known about its abusive clergy and done all within its power to protect the abusers and to place more children in harms way. This Archbishop is no different than those who went before him. Nothing has really changed. Not within the Hierarchy of the Catholic Church. Maybe with some very concerned parents who don”t want their children subjected to what many of us victims have gone through. Many have heard our horror stories and because these parents love their children ,they want to protect them . The Catholic Hierarchy only wants to protect its reputation.That seems pretty obvious to me. They have no concern for children. If they did, their first concern would be for victims, past, present and future victims. Their show of concern is a sham.Words without action is a farce.

  8. “we expect children to be the heroes that the adults are not capable of being”

    I will assume everyone sees the problem with this powerful, sad but true statement.

    The nail was hit right on the head.

  9. Dear Worred Parishioner,
    I lost all respect for Fr. Graham and his pompous brother years ago when my whole family would support their Fish Fried Dinners that they had for Fundraising during Lent, if you remember them. Fr. Graham, his sister and the Msgr. sat in the back room (I think the music teacher’s classroom) to eat, while all of us common paying folks sat in the main room. They would not even mingle with the faithful parishioners. If that isn’t a smack in the face, what is??

    And Dennis, I could not agree more. And if these children don’t have the courage to speak up about heinous crimes until they are adults, they are of course still heroes in most sane people’s eyes. But you know well what happens then. The victims are treated like scums, liars, or worse. I will never forget a comment I read in print about how these victims are drug addicts looking for money for their next fix, and how they meet in Rehab and concoct these stories. It also said that Rehabs are a breeding ground for these type of things. And then there was a comment that “the victims should have just said NO.” I know the people that believe this are crazy, brain washed or whatever, but it truly frightens me that some people think this way. What a scary, crazy world…

    • MC,

      Your comment “the victims should have just said No” is only one of the statements that bothers me.

      I don’t know if you are aware of who Bill Donahue is or the organization he represents The Catholic League ? In my opinion I think he proclaims himself the leader of the catholic church and the voice of every Roman Catholic.

      He can be quoted as saying in an interview ” the victims seduced their abuser” Now I know not all Catholics think the way this nut does but there are those out there who believe what he says.

      It is indeed a very scary and crazy world.

      • If you ever want to lose your lunch rather quickly, go on the Catholic League website. My favorite quote from them – its not pedophilia because this refers to children under the age of 11 and most abuse occurs between the ages of 11 thru 17. Well, I feel better now!
        As someone who reported incidents of abuse in a recent case, I understand the fear of victims. Somehow, somewhere – that Catholic guilt – I must have done something wrong – always comes to the forefront. I have told 2 people what happened to me. I just told my best friend of 15 years last weekend – it was the most difficult conversation I have ever had with them. They know me as I am now – confident, self-assured, outgoing, a successful businessperson and leader in the community. They could not understand how I let all these years go by and not tell anyone – not my parents, my siblings, anyone. Until you are walking in those shoes, you have no idea what you will do. But I am proud now that I have made a report and there is an investigation ongoing. And I’m proud that, while abuse occurred, it could have been MUCH worse based on the stories I am hearing from others. I still had the power – I stopped it! Still, my friend was concerned and cautioned me about telling others – “you don’t know how they will react.” Sad but true.

        • owlfan: I remember how difficult it was to go public with the fact that I was abused. I was a forty three year old man who had agreed to do an interview with Daily News reporter Jill Porter. I didn’ t sleep for a week before I did the interview,nor for a week before it was published. This was in 1992. I too worried about how the interview would go over. Would anyone believe me? Would it affect my job? I had talked about the abuse in four step meetings for at least a year. This was different. And you know all the fears I had, none came true. I can now talk about the abuse without my voice cracking or tears forming. I now know that I am not alone. There are many of us out there. I would urge anyone teetering on the edge to step over the line to come forward. It will free you like nothing else can.

          • I meant twelve step meetings. Many of the meetings were held in Catholic buildings and I was talking about being abused by a priest. That didn’t go over real well.

        • Owlfan – Thank you for your courage. It’s survivors like you that will make a difference…

      • I’m aware of who Bill Donahue is and I consider him to be one of the most worthless individuals God allows to walk this earth.

        “Several Catholic organizations have criticized Rush Limbaugh for attacking Pope Francis’ agenda as “pure Marxism.” But one group is standing by him: the Catholic League and its anti-gay leader, Bill Donohue” (MATT GERTZ ).

        http://mediamatters.org/blog/2013/12/16/catholic-league-fine-with-rush-limbaughs-attack/197288

  10. They have campaigns to bring people “home” to the church. People are leaving faster than they are joining. How about asking people why they are leaving and they will discover shock of shocks it’s about trust. They blame everyone and everything else as factors.
    A 5 year old would understand that when you leave the plug open on a bath tub and the water is going out faster than it’s coming in you are going to have an empty tub.

    They want people to pray for vocations. The ranks of the priests are thinning as they age out and between the good guys getting old and the bad guys getting caught there will be almost no one left to serve the parishes if anyone is still in the pews. Except for a few very idealistic individuals who in their right mind would want to be a priest?

    They want people to tithe in our parish. It is not lack of generosity that keeps my checkbook closed. I give money to causes that i trust.
    Are they so blind to miss this?

    And yet I still show up and sit in the back row with conflicted feelings. Fighting the PTSD triggers, pensive about the threads of a song or a feeling that tie me to the happy time in church before the violation, alternating between thinking at communion time that it’s all a bunch of nonsense and another time like Peter when he was drowning and desperately calling out “HELP’
    Am going to church Christmas eve and am anxious to discover which mode it will be this time.
    Wishing you all peace.
    Suz

    • suzpt, I was in Germany recently and according to the people I spoke with RC Churches are empty on Sundays. For the most part they are little more than museums reserved for ceremonial events, funerals, weddings, etc. In Germany there is a “Church tax” for those who wish to be members.

  11. Dennis,
    May I ask what year you graduated from St. Jerome? Also, who remembers Fr. Louis Steingraber, who was stationed there? Thanks!

    • MC,

      I graduated from St. Jeromes in 1976, and yes I knew Fr. Lou as he was called. Tall, skinny man with glasses. I use the word tall as a child would have seen him.

      Please tell me you were not one of his victims on those so-called fishing trips to the Jersey Shore !

    • Yes, I do remember fr Louis Steingraber . He was another predator at st Jerome’s Many stories go around about him
      taking kids in the food pantry trailer that was on the property . And so the st Jerome saga continues . A dark cloud hangs over the parish and will continue to do so until there is sincere repentance. The broken hearts of victims and their families fills the atmosphere …. The big elephant stands … But don’t dare mention you see it. You pay the price !

  12. http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20131222_Friar_who_headed_Archbishop_Ryan_to_be_paroled.html

    Who will be evaluating him and how can we track him? Oh I forgot he has rights, while his victim’s family suffers. How do we express the need for an independent evaluation?

    Is this another sex offender group that members can discuss how to abuse again? They are protected because the “normal” prison population would administer justice.

  13. owlfan,

    Guess What ? You are no longer a VICTIM of the person who hurt you. You are now a SURVIVOR.

    Take that person who harmed you down.

  14. Fr. Lou died sometime in the 80’s or early 90’s in Atlantic City “under suspicious circumstances”. I am not sure if that brings any ounce of peace to my brother or not. We were betrayed as a whole family, as Fr. Lou went on family vacations with us to the shore. I also know that another victim of his commited suicide many years ago as a result of Fr. Lou’s actions. Fast forward to 2011, and the GJ indictments, and another whole can of worms is opened personally for me…when I am able to discuss that one, I will. I pray for healing for all of us – victims and their families alike. Just when I think I’m seeing some light at the end of he tunnel, something else comes out, but it sure is better to know the truth than not. (And Dennis, I graduated from St. Jerome’s 4 years ahead of you.)

  15. I read everyone’s words and I just feel such shock. I cannot bring myself to believe in the Catholic Church anymore. The horror in the church is even an enormous stumbling block to my faith. Nothing is clear or certain any more and there is nothing true or valuable to believe in. It is like the church has this terrifying attraction to darkness. My ax to grind against the church is it is boastful, like a “tough guy,” and obstructing others to prove they cannot be pushed around. And when pride is combined with hopelessness it creates violence. Therefore, the authority in the church is dangerous and it is weak, which I believe is why they need to hold up the church’s “traditional values.” Holding onto these traditional values is pride and this pride is a fundamental denial. It is the denial of the loss of real faith and then I am to find faith in this nothingness. It is just more shock and this faith as faithlessness just feels down right mean.

  16. I was frightened also when I heard of a monitoring plan, and a pastor of one of the suspected did not even know he was on it. We will never know if that was a cop out on the Pastor’s side or the people that put this farcical plan in place. I, however, need to get this off my chest. If a clergy member was indicted at the GJ trial and awaiting his fate at a criminal trial (which resulted in inprisonment), would you not assume that they would be closely monitored, and their whereabouts must be known at all times???. My horror story is that this relative (who is now impisoned) came and gave my Mom Last Rites (she thank God, is alive) 6 short WEEKS after his GJ indictment. He was also seen at Resurrection Rectory during school hours on many occassions AFTER the indictment when school children were around. Let this sink in, and then tell me if you even think there is any serious monitoring going on with priests that aren’t even indicted or suspended from their duties because of suspicion, if ABSOLUTELY NO monitoring is going on after a clergy member is indicted and awaiting a criminal trial. I guess the Archdiocese felt that the Grand Jury findings were a conspiracy to go after the “innocently clergy” and their methods are much more accurate??? I can’t wrap my brain around this. Can you?? (PS – I could make this stuff up if I tried!)

    • No one can know the whereabouts of another individual 24 hours a day..that is why these monitoring plans will never work..period.

    • I get the feeling that this is all one big “f” ing game to them. Innocent children being served up to hungry predators and all this is to them is a game. I am thoroughly disgusted.

  17. Jim this is the way I look at it when these investigations are ongoing and the powers that be are trying to sort things out..There is a chance the accused is guilty of harming children…there is a chance the accuser could be guilty of lying…but you know who is 100% innocent without any question? The children…if they feel that children should not be put in harms way..even if there is just a chance… then this all becomes very uncomplicated ,very quickly.

  18. Kathy so true……. most of these men that don’t have children don’t get it. They will protect the reputation of the priest at all costs even if that results in a child being raped……its out of sight out of mind……….I go home everyday and see my kids………..they are more valuable then a priests reputation……….time for tables to be turned and kids be protected first. I am in no way saying every priest is guilty but why take a chance on something that can be so damaging to a child when it can be avoided.

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