Why Father John Paul Being Left In Ministry Is So Shocking


SECOND IN SERIES BY KATHY KANE

A few years ago when I encountered a breach in the Safety Environment Program, it gave me an opportunity to learn about our archdiocese’s child protection system. A few archdiocesan employees and a kind regional Vicar led me through the process. The most valuable lesson I learned from the experience was concerning the role of the pastor in child protection at the parish level. He is the ultimate decision maker concerning the safety of the children in the school, PREP, CYO, youth groups, altar servers and any other situations, activities or events involving children. Of course on a parish level there are many people involved — such as school principals, Religious Education Directors and many other. But the pastor has the absolute authority. This could not have been made clearer by all involved and even led to discussions on how this might not necessarily be a good thing in some situations.

I also attended the Mandatory Reporting sessions which were required of all volunteers in the Archdiocese. At the session I learned about Pa. law and the reporting process. I was instructed that I was free to make a report of suspected abuse myself, or could report the suspected abuse to the institution. There was a lot of discussion concerning the reporting chain and the institution. In the Archdiocesan written information concerning mandatory reporting, the title of pastor is listed first. For anyone unfamiliar with mandatory reporting and the responsibility of the head of the institution, the upcoming trial of PSU president Graham Spanier is a good example.
So I first learned about the importance of the role of pastor as the decision maker concerning many child safety issues from Archdiocesan employees and then learned about the role of head of the institutions (pastor) under Pa. Mandatory Reporting law.

It was shocking to say the least, when news broke that Father John P. Paul was left as pastor of a parish for a full year while being criminally and internally investigated for allegations of child sex abuse. I don’t care if it was a janitor, a food service worker, a teacher or volunteer who is being investigated, that person should be temporarily removed while the investigation unfolds. A pastor in charge of the safety of hundreds of children should absolutely be removed.

Now knowing all that I did about the important role of the pastor and child safety, I was on search for answers on how Father Paul could have been left in this important position while being investigated. Shockingly, I didn’t get any. What I actually received in a phone conversation with an Archdiocesan employee was a backpedaling of how important the role of a pastor is at a parish. His view varied widely from those I have spoken too previously…very widely.

Not only was the role of pastor now not so important at the parish level but also not so important concerning mandatory reporting. Of course teachers, principals, volunteers are free to make reports themselves but they are also free to go to the head of the institution (pastor) with their concerns if they suspect a child is being abused. In this case parents, volunteers and teachers had no idea that Father Paul himself was under investigation and could easily have gone to him if a situation arose. He was the head of the institution. What better person to go to?

I actually even had to point out to this employee, who holds an important position for the safety of children, various ways a pastor is involved in decisions about child safety on a parish level. There is no good answer here, either it was pure backpedaling because of the mistake of leaving an accused pastor as head of the institution for a full year, or employees with roles in these crucial decisions do not even have a clue to the role of a pastor.

When a pastor is under investigation for allegations of child sex abuse is there a transfer of authority concerning the responsibilities involving child safety? Is there someone else appointed this duty? If so, how is it acceptable to keep governance changes from parents, who under Middle States guidelines are stakeholders in the school? The pastor of each parish school in the Archdiocese is head of the institution…head of the school. Do they even take these things into consideration when making decisions?

Father Paul is now permanently removed from the priesthood, one of the swiftest resolutions in recent history. The spotlight fully shining on an accused pastor left at a parish, with parents, children and teachers not considered “pertinent parties” and left in the dark for an entire year. The Paul case exposed not only his sordid past, but also the fact that accused priests are left in ministry while being investigated.

I get the feeling that the Archdiocese feels a bit burned by Father Paul…that maybe they initially believed him and were betrayed…that maybe they were mislead. The same way that parents in the Archdiocese continue to feel, time and time again.

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42 Responses to “Why Father John Paul Being Left In Ministry Is So Shocking”

  1. Our Lady of Calvary parishioner Reply April 28, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    I’m not so sure she has the moral high ground after reading this article about her.

    http://articles.philly.com/2014-04-27/news/49440027_1_kane-team-fina-five-philadelphia-democrats

    • Different Kathy Kane. Our Kathy Kane is a social worker with her masters from Penn and is not a politician.

      • Now that is funny..and no matter what confusion with my name I claim no moral high ground.Just a concern for kids being left with an accused priest..I don’t think anyone needs a moral high ground for that..just basic human nature!

        Can’t see anyone arguing why an accused priest should be left at a parish but if anyone would like to take that side..please the floor is open…

        • and I think I would be more worried by the fact that accused priests are left in ministry than who authors a post on a blog. OLC just happened to be where Paul landed..it could have been any parish in the Archdiocese ,not the fault of any OLC parishioners or families.
          It always amazes me when confronted with something so frightening as predator priests..the lengths people can go to do cast the attention somewhere else..in this case wrongly identifying me as at attorney general..but even if the attorney general had written this blog post..you are defending Paul?
          I can just see it now..this blog post circulating and that “evil attorney general” being identified as the author..so that everyone feels better…ugh..

          • Kathy – why are you surprised? Isn’t this the modus operandi? Look how people have defended priests –

            [1] Hey – you’re picking on Catholics! Look at the Jewish, Protestant, public school teachers, {insert other group here}. They do it too!

            [2] This happened years ago. It was because there were homosexuals in the priesthood. No more.

            [3] And my own personal favorite – via Bill Donahue and the Catholic League – “it’s not a pedophilia” because “most of the victims were post pubescent,” as old as 12 or 13 years of age. Anything older than that is the fault of gays.

            So dismissing your argument because you are the Attorney General and defending Paul lines right up.

            Yes – he landed at OLC. But where is he now. I wrote to my state representative today and stated that fact. Is he now exposed to small children still – nieces and nephews? Is he living in a neighborhood with bus stops and playgrounds and Little League teams? Do we even know – does the AOP? Have they pulled a Pilate and washed their hands of the situation?

          • owlfan exactly..make me the attorney general to distract.

            The moral high ground part is hilarious..my God this person thinks that someone is claiming a moral high ground by asking questions about Paul? I will continue to ask questions and I will come clean about my own past..I was taken in by the cops one time when I was 17 years old for a curfew violation..5 minutes past curfew coming from a movie theater and was was caught by the men in blue. So now people know the real truth and can rightfully say “this was written by a curfew violator !!!!!” How dare she!

          • owlfan, the other hilarious part is that the person obviously did not read the post. Can you imagine the attorney general having to attend mandatory reporting sessions to learn about the law? They read Paul’s name and got as far as my name and case closed

          • Kathy, Right now I am holding on to my anger at this Parishioner, personally, I think it’s a priest. I am so tired of people like this who put the blame on us and now you. Shame on this person. I totally agree with you and your postings. I thank God every day for people like you and Susan who step up and do the right thing for the protection of ALL children. If I haven’t said it enough, Thank you!

  2. Kathy, there is some wonderful irony here. Archdiocesan leadership relying on or believing in the word of a suspected pedophile. Will someone please help Chaput and crew remove the blinders? Or are they all wearing those rose-colored glasses again?

    I would be very, very surprised, given the totality of the circumstances here in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, if the Pope chose to come to the World Meeting of Families here in 2015. Why any religious leader would choose to come to such an event in an archdiocese replete with misinformation, distrust, lack of accountability and upcoming criminal and civil litigation concerning clergy sexual abuse is beyond my understanding !

    Michael Skiendzielewski

    • Mike I can’t say if they believed him or not but he was left at the parish so….
      Also interesting was the “retirement message” that Paul had arranged to be printed in the parish bulletin that the Archdiocese was not informed about…just leaves me with so many questions as to what was going on that he felt he would be making a clean exit from the parish with no one knowing of the allegations.

    • Kathy, I agree with what Michael said above.

      As far as “Why Father John Paul Being Left in Ministry is So Shocking,” that should be a no brainer at this late date. From bishops on down to the local pastors they pretty much continue to operate with a CONTROL THE FALLOUT mentality as their DEFAULT POSITION.

      Remember, Father Joseph De Gregorio was returned to ministry with Abp Chaput saying that De Gregorio wouldn’t do whatever he did do again. Chaput was sure about that. Of course, Chaput did not elaborate on what he, Chaput, agreed that he, De Gregorio, did do.

      Still following the story?

      Apparently, whatever parish he’s in, the parishioners don’t have a problem with that. Why anyone would automatically accept someone like De Gregorio at face value, all the while believing what the bishops and/or priests are saying regarding this ongoing scandal is beyond me.

      “Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me.” Bevilaequa lied in 2002 about having anyone known or credibly accused priests in ministry in the AOP. It wasn’t true then, it wasn’t true in 2005, and it wasn’t true in 2011 when Rigali said basically the same thing.

      Remember too, that most dioceses in the U.S. do not make public on their websites or in parish bulletins the names of known, credibly accused or convicted clerical sexual predators.

      Remember too, that in every state where Statute of Limitation Reform has been proposed it has been opposed, viciously opposed by the bishops of those states and the expertise of the lobbyists of the respective State Catholic Conference. Proposed legislation was defeated in Ohio and in Colorado, thanks to the efforts on one Denver Archbishop Charles Chaput who misrepresented the bills there. Should anyone be surprised that Chaput was sent to Philadelphia?

      No religious denomination, nor any private institution, no sect or cult can or should be trusted to police their own. They’ve failed in that regard — the Baptists, the Orthodox Jews, Penn State, the Catholic Church, etc., etc., etc. it is society’s responsibility to protect the common good and the vulnerable in society. That’s where the laws of a civil society come in –

      Apropos of that Lobby Day in PA is this Wednesday:

      Please join us in Harrisburg on Wednesday April 30th to support Rep. Mark Rozzi’s HB 2067 and after the press conference join one of our teams who will be meeting with key legislators to ask for their support of this important legislation.

      PRESS CONFERENCE INFO:

      Rep. Mark Rozzi Press Conference on HB 2067
      WHEN: Wed. April 30, 2014 at 10:00 AM
      WHERE: Capitol Media Center, Room 1 East Wing of Capitol, Harrisburg, PA

      Perhaps I’ll see some of you there.

      Sister Maureen

  3. We have begun to see this type of situation play out more often as this “scandal” continues to evolve…..the “situation” is members beginning to turn against one another, whether it be slight variations in their stories about the same incident or completely different versions. Clergy, at all levels of the organization, will begin to realize that they better speak up and stand up for themselves because, quite simply, their leadership cannot be trusted to protect them and take care of them.

    Coming from law enforcement, one is very thankful for this most basic of human behavior (protecting yourself) regardless of the individual’s association and/or allegiance to those he has known for many years. Yes, indeed, there is very little honor among those who would engage in criminal conduct.

  4. Ok so where is the former, retired pastor “John Paul” Now? Do we know where he is residing? Just curious……….

  5. He’s “self-restricting”…….just like the priest who has been accused a second time in Chicago but now remains in active ministry. Boundary violation, self-restriction, etc……the RCC leadership’s desperate euphemisms just keep on coming…..

  6. I try to see a silver lining in everything – try to believe that everything happens for a reason. Maybe blind optimism but it allows me to sleep at night.

    As one of Paul’s victims, I was enraged by his self-serving retirement message. For years, I kept my abuse quiet – believing I was the only one. The story of his need to retire, to pray, to recharge with a retreat empowered me to email the archdiocese that night – as it did dozens!

    Kathy said that his removal is one of the swiftest in recent years – no doubt to the multiple credible accusations against him. In plain English – the AOP knew they screwed up and needed to bury the evidence.

    Kathy also asked about why Paul thought he could make a clean break from the parish. Why couldn’t he? He had been getting away with things for 40+ years – challenging those who threatened him – using his Roman collar as the ultimate power play – the best lie detector test ever given! “Who is going to believe you – you’re just a high school student – a tease – you imagined it – I’m a man of God!”

    For the parents of Our Lady of Calvary – don’t assume your white haired, portly, old former pastor did nothing to your children. Ask your kids questions. Demand answers from administrators. Learn from us.

  7. Katherine FitzGerald Reply April 28, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    Presumably, Kathy fails to note the name of the Archdiocesan, “backpedaling,” and in “an important child-safety position,” person for good reasons. But in not naming him or her, we don’t know who backpedals in the child-safety office on behalf of our children, and we can’t hold him or her personally responsible for backpedaling. In effect, he or she becomes another person in the long and twisted chain of archdiocesan employees who, as Sr. Maureen said, operate with a mentality of CONTROL THE FALLOUT.

    • Kate,
      I still refuse to name the high level person in the Catholic Church who told my husband and and I how to sue our diocese. I don’t owe them anything and they don’t deserve to be protected either….but, I feel like they are taking down the church from the inside…and for that, I’m grateful.

  8. Kate the person I reference is actually not in the Office of Child Protection and I will tell you the reason I did not name the person because I really did struggle with this.
    First, to be honest at this point I think that anyone I spoke with at the archdiocese would have a similar response..I can’t imagine anyone saying “you’re right the pastor plays an important role in child protection and we left an accused pastor at a parish!”

    Second, I talk to people at the Archdiocese all the time for various situations,sometimes on behalf of victims and child protection..sometimes my own questions. I feel like when we ask specific people questions we post that info and with their name, but this was more of a conversation and because of that I left the name out. Even though I have been treated actually very poorly by this person at times, I am nothing if not fair.

  9. Whenever I think of Paul, my senses recall him. I recall the smell of a predator and feel it burning my nose. I used to think perhaps it was the smell of a wolf, but I later realized it was the smell of a fox- the tricky opportunist. A friend told me a story from another culture about the fox. He sits and smiles at you as if he is powerful, but it is only because the tiger is standing behind him that you are truly at risk. How humiliating it must be for the tiger to realize that he has also been tricked by the fox.
    I have no doubt that those who left Paul in his position of power feel burned. I wonder if they can set aside the humiliation of having been wrong and put themselves in the shoes of his victims. He tricked us, too, but we did not have the information they had. We did not have any power to take action against his betrayal because he sat there with his sickening smile knowing that they were standing behind him.
    Imagine being a trusting youth who has never even heard the term, psyochpath.

  10. I choose to look at the complete picture of why something like what Kathy describes above can happen over and over again. Bottom line, the silence of the people in the pews. Shockingly, many of this faith community continue to revere, admire, and worship religious authority figures, even those who have been criminally charged and convicted for abusing children or in Lynn’s case failed to protect children from abuse. It is this blind devotion to religious leaders that continues to leave children vulnerable to sexual abuse. So, one might ask: Who gives religious leaders the power to protect abusive clergy and other pedophiles? And who gives clergy the power that enables them to abuse? The answer is simple: We do!

    • Vicky I just got done reading People of The Lie and it answered some of the questions I had regarding this and it validates a lot of what you are saying.

      • Beth, I have that book, read that book maybe 5 years ago. It is excellent! For those who might be interested, it is about hope for healing human evil by M. Scott Peck, M.D.I especially liked the chapter on Possession and Exorcism. Does the devil exist, you bet! I have personal knowledge of that.

    • Vicky, I have been thinking about what you said and I can see your point being demonstrated right here in the comments on this post. Paul’s story became public in November and there have been a number of posts here and his face has been on the news a few times since then.

      This story is so important because it proves that the AD still has not learned from the past. They have had all this attention focused on them and they left Paul in position of power. After Paul’s story came into the spotlight, swift action was taken, it seems, as a preemptive strike to combat the arguments like the one Kathy presents here.

      On the day it was announced at OLC that there was at least one credible allegation against Paul, they had reactions on the local news. One lady claimed that he had never done anything to her boys and she just did not believe it.

      We have someone commenting here who claims to be an OLC parishioner who seems uncomfortable with the whole sordid mess. We see this same thing over and over. Despite that fact that AD in a statement from the bishop acknowledges that Paul did something..despite the fact that many have come forward and shared about Paul in public forums such as this one…despite the fact that there will be, no doubt, be other reports found credible, we have these “Catholics” who jump up to deflect and cry that their faith is being attacked. They put up a sold wall of ignorance to protect themselves from the thought that they might have been duped by a priest or two.

      You are right, it does not seem to matter how many of us will take a stand and tell the truth or if the AD maintains a list with names and faces of all the offenders. Nothing is going to change until the people in the pews wake up.

      • C&C I agree with every point you make..my radar is up though about this commentor who chose the screen name of OLC parishioner..just seems too convenient as if the person posting wants it to seem like the parish supports Paul when others from OLC already expressed their upset/concern here..No doubt there are Catholics everywhere who still do not believe the abuse even when the Church has thrown the abuser to the curb but this commentor just has my radar raised because they obviously did not even read the post..hmmm..

        • I am with you, Kathy. I am just thinking about who this person represents. There are so many that see the signs and avert their eyes or hear the truth and shout louder.

      • C&C, Thank you for your reply. I understand what you are saying as well. Once in awhile I get discouraged because I don’t believe “they” will ever change and see the “light”. I have been reading and hearing similiar stories of priests like Paul since 1993. I believe that they will always put their priests first and that is their only interest. Just look at all the years this has been going on since the late 80’s. This is why I bloged what I did, nothing will change as long as the people like the one above continue to stand by their priest and church.

  11. While getting ready for work this morning, I started thinking. Is the Catholic church, by its nature, grooming these men with their narcissistic personalities? What are they taught in the seminary – they are descendents of the apostles, God’s representatives on earth. Only they can celebrate the Mass – turn water and wine into the body and blood of Christ. These men are “called” by God.

    Is it any wonder they view themselves as above the law and entitled?

  12. This institution isn’t looking out for your children. The buck must stop with you parents. Keep your kids away from these freaks!

    • And remember, PA laws covering the sexual abuse of children must be changed. If private or public institutions or religious denominations, including the RCC, won’t do the right thing for the right reason they can be held responsible criminally. Being sued for reckless endangerment, failure to report, gross negligence, etc., also works.

      Everyone knows, Money Talks!

      Pennsylvanians: Call your representatives in Harrisburg and tell them to support Rozzi’s proposed legislation and remind them that there is a press conference scheduled for Wednesday, 29 April in the Rotunda.

      Sister Maureen

  13. Called my rep’s office today and he returned my call this afternoon!

    • Suz I can feel your empowerment just through your comments…

    • Suzpt, You go girl!Take your power back, stand tall, head up and your sign waving! I am so proud of you from one survivor to another. Every step you take going forward will either save a child or a survivor or both. One’s efforts are never in vain!

  14. Thank you Sister Maureen for supporting us in Harrisburg today and for all you do to help victims and protect children.

  15. There were the most wonderful contributions by quite a few reps. You can go to Rep Bishop’s site to view her contribution. It was hard to hold back the tears. There were many victims present including 5 from the counseling center that has helped me so much. The founder of the center Kristen Woolley is featured in the video that they produced. I was so grateful for the gift of time after that Sister Maureen gave to me as well. Met Mrs Rozzi as well as the Representatives mother. There are no words to describe the day. I just pray it makes a difference and the bill goes through. There were many students there to observe and I kept looking at their faces and wondering how many of them might be victims too, if thank of them were aching inside and how we need to protect them.
    Suz

  16. I get so angry when I hear of families,organization or religions who have failed to protect children..who have put their own reputation,social standing,or employment over the safety of a child. I just read an article about a 9 year old boy who was killed trying to stop a sexual assault against his 11 year old sister by an older teenager..this 9 year old child did not have a family,institution or organization to cover for , so he was able to act with an honest instinct of protection that cost ultimately cost him his life.
    In other situations, some who could have been whistle blowers and protected kids maybe would have been shunned, demoted, fired, kicked out of a family..but they would not have lost their life…cowards one and all.

  17. Katherine FitzGerald Reply May 6, 2014 at 4:06 pm

    Who deserves removal? Is it Chaput for dereliction of duties OR the Vatican representative for lying?

    I just watched the live stream of the U.N. Committee on Torture grill the Vatican representatives. A Vatican representative emphatically asserted that while a priest is being investigated regarding a sexual abuse complaint, he is removed from his role in the parish church.

    Fr. Paul was not.

    Explain that.

    • Kathy, Lying is one of the things they do best. The RCC is not a moral compass. Hopefully the UN Committee will disregard the nonsense coming out of Rome and force them to change. Change in the Church will only come if external force is applied. Left on their own, they will do as little as possible. People on sites like this have understood that for years, However, many of the People of God still believe these worthless prelates are servants of God.

  18. by a thinker,
    I have been reading the comments and I am very interested in what is being said. I believe this is an excellent forum. I have been in tears at some of news reports on sexual abuse by priests and the cover up by Bishops. I was shocked to hear that sexual relations between a priest and a 13 year old boy would be considered as “gay activity” instead of being willful and premeditated sexual assault by the priest! I was employed by a inter city Catholic High School to teach for approx. 2 months recently. I was informed, in advance, that it was a temporary assignment. I met many hard working and honest teacher, some of whom took hours to help me adjust to the school; (none of whom were priests but just dedicated Catholic people). There were several priests who I also regard highly.

    A priest in authority over the whole school raised his voice in anger at me on my first day after I had been teaching approx. 3 hours. He said that I may not have a job very soon. I froze in place. He did this several times over the months. He also raised his voice in anger at students several times as he suggested they decide if they wanted to stay in that school. That priest worked approx. 80 to 85 hours per week, which including, being a parish priest AND headmaster of the school. My off the cuff guess is that he could have been successful and well paid at a secular job in industry or business, AND also a faithful Catholic lay person. Instead he choose to become a priest. I do not think he was at all involved in any sexual sin. Just remember that priests are under high pressure sometimes and they may turn to improper outlets for the relief. But long hours are not an excuse for any priest to violate the trust of a child.

    I am 67 and worked at several jobs at large and small companies. After college graduation, I was employed at one of the largest chemical companies in the world. In 15 years there I learned a lot about how to treat people with respect, honesty and dignity. I was mentored by and mentored several people there. As my responsibility grew to 21 people at one point, I learned that as a supervisor, my job was to serve those under me. I was told that us supervisors were “messing with peoples lives” by a Human Relations person during a class on how to motivate, train, and evaluate employees for raises, promotions, etc. He was correct about all the power a boss may have. I also worked at one of the largest Insurance companies in America. (Also a large newspaper in a major US city.) One of the small companies I worked for, said at times that they may not make the payroll cost. So I have varied experience in life with holding my own.

    I am saying all this is remind us of this:
    An ADULT who has handled numerous situations over 40 years at work, with angry customers, difficult deadlines, and occasional catastrophic financial pressures CAN be intimidated by a powerful figure like a priest. I could have quit after a week or two but I stayed until my assignment was completed. I prayed in my knees many times that God would remove me from the school. I never prayed for that before or after. I had a hard time getting out of my car in the parking lot at school on some mornings. Sometimes I sat after school and stared out the window until the cleaning crew was turning off the lights, while being so discouraged.
    Please do not assume that a child will tell someone, or try to change the situation when they are intimidated. ASSUME that they will NOT.

    I am very grieved to say that I would not now trust a priest to be out of MY sight with MY children for hours. Please keep on your efforts. Consider that 99.9% of the people at the last mall you visited for shopping were honest and not sexual predators. But would you leave your under your under age children for hours in a mall while you shopped?? The Catholic Church lately said that only 3% of the priests are sexual predators. I want every one who reads this post to stay faithful to God and pray for your kids. But I also want you all to check up on your kids. At random, stand up, at mass or during fellowship time in the foyer or hallway and quietly and quick walk to your kids Sunday school class and open the door and find your kids. Then thank the teachers and mention that you would like to help out with healthy snacks or pencils and crayons.

    We all have seen someone who needs to throw up or use the bathroom when they have stomach virus. They quickly get up and go out of your sight. NONE of us has thought that was odd or discourteous. We all would jump in front of a speeding car or train and get our kids out of the way, without thinking about whether we would live or die. Why can’t we do the same when they are in (admittedly) remote danger of long term emotional scars?

    Please let me have it with both fists if you need to. But take care of your kids and keep posting to this web site. And keep the pressure on state legislators. Write to your Bishop and expect transparency. Thank You.

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