Will Catholics Ever Get Angry About Cover Ups?

Click here to read: “Law officers, clergy forged ties stymieing prosecutions,” by Caitlin McCabe and Maria Panaritis, The Philadelphia Inquirer, March 6, 2016

Editor’s Note:

Having faith and holding leadership accountable should not be mutually exclusive. We can have faith in God and send Bishops to jail. We can be Catholic and refuse to tolerate the cover up of clergy child sex abuse. How many Saints died for their faith? The least we can do is speak up to protect our Catholic faith from its morally and criminally corrupt leaders. Or, we can sit in Church and put our blinders on. After all, everyone makes mistakes. Just so long as a priest doesn’t make a child rape “mistake” with their own grandson or granddaughter.

This is where I’d like to insert a string of expletives but I’ll continue to use the vocabulary the Immaculate Heart Sisters taught me. Pope Francis is a breath of fresh air but the Church needs a hurricane now. It needs every Catholic voice to say, “We will not tolerate this.”

If you can’t get angry about child rape then maybe muster up some irritation at the amount of money going to victim settlements. These could have been avoided if the Church stopped predators when they were first discovered. That money should have gone to feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless or keeping your parish open. How much have you put into the collection basket over a lifetime? How much did your parents? Keep it coming.

According to the US Bishops Conference, the Catholic Church spent almost $3 billion on settlements, therapy for victims, support for offenders, attorneys’ fees and other costs in the United States from 2004 until 2013. Restitution to victims is fair and right. But I’m sure victims wouldn’t have traded their childhoods for it. Wouldn’t it have been better to shut the abuse down in its tracks before the numbers grew? Instead they covered it up and caused immeasurable spiritual, emotional damage and still growing financial burdens.

In 2015, the Philadelphia Archdiocese agreed to a $5 million settlement for “Billy Doe.” Many questioned why the Church would offer such a large sum when the star witness had credibility issues. Perhaps Church leadership didn’t want damaging documents in evidence to get any more attention. Their definition of transparency is very limited. Imagine perusing Msgr. Lynn’s day planner. Aside from the cover up, what notations might be made about the personal problems of the priests with whom he was meeting. Those could be very embarrassing for the priesthood. This I know. And here we have arrived at the motivation for the entire cover up – clericalism and protection of the institution at all costs. Until we address this, it will continue.


47 thoughts on “Will Catholics Ever Get Angry About Cover Ups?

  1. Thank you a million times over for keeping this ongoing, serious problem within the Church in front of us, Susan! Very few journalists are keeping it in the public eye – and it must be kept public! Children’s lives are at stake….

    1. I believe the Catholic Church owned Tom Corbett a 2 and 1/2 time Attorney General of PA and the former disgraced Governor of the Great State of PA. I believe Tom Corbett a Saint Mary’s graduate framed PSU for crimes they did not commit as a smoke screen so the Archdiocese of Philadelphia could settle large class action lawsuits. I believe we are getting closer to the truth and I believe the Philadelphia Inquirer has been compromised by the Catholic Church but the truth is getting nearer.

  2. Where is the call for the present bishop to resign & for the former bishop to be indicted on endangering the welfare of a child?

    Sent from my iPhone


    1. To answer Susan question when will Catholics get angry over the cover-UPS ? I think many are but what recourse do they have ? They can put less in the collection basket, remove their children from catholic schools or not go to church. Not alot of options available. This is a subject I spoke about many times. The catholic parishioner has no say what happens in the daily operation of THEIR church. Parishioners should be able to question why a priest who is coming into their parish has been to five other churches in five years. Why is the church spending thousands of dollars to fight changes in the SOL laws and how much money has been paid out to victims. If lucky the only information the parish pastor would release to the parishioners was a quarterly operation costs in the church bulletin. Some may not agree with this statement but priests, pastors, bishops etc. should be treated as employees first who work for the parishioner. The church as it is now should no longer have this CONTROLLING mentality. “Who are you to question us”. As Peter mentions above why do you have to wait for a bishop to resign ? If one is breaking the law he is gone. The dictatorship must stop. That is why I believe the church would be best served by a makeup of parishioners from different parishes to oversee those daily operations. A board of directors if you will of lay people.

  3. I believe that Billy Doe was paid the 5 million because Avery’s name was on the shredded memo and there are priests and Bishops other than Lynn who knew of that memo..so that 5 million brought closure to that subject.

  4. Until the faithful decided they have had enough (hit a bottom) with this criminal behavior it will continue. I continue to believe the “good” priests will be told to remain quiet or else. I also believe there is a “back channel” or whispers in the rectory that they are aware of certain priests continuing to act out sexually with children. The good priest’s will be silenced one way or another. I believe there should a sitting Grand Jury in every diocese convened to investigate the church. Then watch all the paid lobbyists go crazy….

  5. Thank you, Susan, for the wonderful work you do. I am so disgusted and heartbroken about this whole tragedy. It feels like “my” church that I valued all my life has taken my soul and torn it into pieces. It is life shattering – I can only imagine how the actual children involved have felt all their lives. Where is justice? How can we ever restore trust in the catholic church? I just wish all the perpetrators could be jailed at the very least. We MUST get rid of this ridiculous Statute of Limitations. These crimes cannot be left to just drift into the past. Those men murdered the souls of those children.

  6. Thanks for keeping this on the table. I am still bringing this to the attention of the powers to be. We will continue to pray (and protest where warranted) for all clergy. I hope someday to find out what happened to those who were on the list generated by Msgrs Lynn and Beisel. For example, there was a Fr. Reardon who was on the list, then found himself assigned to the archdiocese working on annulments for 10 years or so, while he was chaplain for the Knights – Fr. Galen Council, and while there, was made pastor in Roslyn, PA by Cardinal Rigali. After the secret list, that Cardinal Bevilacqua ordered destroyed, surfaced in the Lynn trial, Reardon was removed from ministry.

    An article in Phila Mag. (not a reliable source, but does link a victim to Reardon) noted that Lynn said to an alleged victim Reardon would not continue his ministry, yet he did. Reardon was named in another list that came out one month after Cardinal Rigali made his famous denial there were priests that needed to be investigated. I assume Reardon was defrocked, but I can not find a public record of that.

      1. Kathy, thank you so much for the link. Just imagine, he was made a pastor (very likely after the crime against a minor).

    1. Very good point. As a survivor I sometimes stereotype all priests as abusers and ask God for help to overcome those thoughts because deep down inside my heart I know that’s wrong. I know there are very good priests out there who only want to do good and are angry as much as we are seeing what is happening in the catholic church. But there is that fear if they speak up the retribution they may face. This is another good reason why this board of directors of lay people is a good thing. These good priests have a place to turn to better their church without the fear of punishment for doing the right thing. Look at it this way. If Msgr. Lynn had a place to turn with the information he had would he be in prison today ? It’s to late now to question the what ifs.

    2. You beat me to it, Kate. I was just about ready to post that very question. They all have their blinders on, or look the other way because they are so fearful that they will lose their job, well, i have a question for them decide which is more important to you, lose your job or lose your soul? Explain your decision when you meet your God.

      1. Vicky, were the priests to get angry, Catholics would follow… average Catholics, sheep, conservatives, progressives… Everyone would follow.

        I read about a Philly archdiocese priest who was angry, Fr. Christopher Walsh. Fr. Chris helped organize the “fledging,” since its inception, Philadelphia Priest Association. In 2012, when the archdiocese informed its priests that their pension fund was on life support, Fr. Chris boldly (not fearfully) said in a Philly.com article, “I was certainly horrified to learn that our pension fund was not secure, as would be any person who works in any organization.” He was “horrified.” Trust me, he was angry, too, as any of us would be. Then, he said that he hoped Chaput would “quickly establish a secure pension fund as a matter of justice.”

        Maybe priests get selectively angry. Like when it’s about them. Maybe priests selectively comprehend justice issues. Like when it’s about them. Maybe priests selectively speak out fearlessly. Like when it’s about them.

        Need I remind Fr. Chris and the rest of the priests that the sexual abuse crisis, the cover ups, the injustices, the victims and the Church in chaos are because of them and ABOUT THEM.

          1. Kate the good news is that Fr Chris speaks out about a lot of things..he was the first priest in the archdiocese to contact us for our efforts on behalf of victims and children and he also signed on C4C as one our ‘guest panel” who people could ask questions..the other people on the panel were an attorney and a victim. He answered every question we ever sent his way and we printed his answers on the site. This was probably weeks after the 2011 GJ report when everyone else was hiding. Maybe it’s an Irish thing because like you,Susan and myself..he speaks up!
            The priests are who I have been most disappointed in and like you said if more spoke up the people in the pews would follow…pathetic that it would take the “permission” of a priest for them to feel okay about it..but I agree with you on that 100%.

        1. Kate, I envy your way with words, you express with such passion and truth, I have such respect for you. Isn’t it sad, that one looks the other way when it doesn’t concern them, it’s a whole different story when it hits home. i so agree with you, it is about them and it is because of them. Keep silent, keep allowing innocent children to be raped, don’t care about the suicides or the addictions or the destroyed lives you helped create in your silence. God will not forgive you as you lay dying, because what you allowed IN HIS NAME will not warrant absolution. You had your chance to do the right thing and you choose evil in My name!

        2. Kate, your words honor the suffering I have endured and that of every survivor. I wish you could have seen the tears well up in my eyes as I read what you wrote with such compassion, my heart was touched. Thank you !

  7. The scope and continuing nature of this situation are hard to comprehend. Maybe that’s why some have a hard time understanding and maintaining their horror. Thank goodness for people like Susan Matthews who are continuing to investigate and report, despite/because of their disgust at their findings. Many abusers, and their enablers may be beyond the arm of the law because of the unfair statute of limitation laws, but that doesn’t mean we should stick our heads in the sand and pretend it hasn’t happened, and continues to happen. Susan’s tireless work to change the statute laws is commendable, and is the only way to really stop the deplorable abuse and concurrent coverups. Once the Church hierarchy and the individual abusing priests know they cannot hide behind this flawed legality, their accountability will be more likely.

  8. Thank you Susan for the work you are doing. Beneath the cassocks the truth must be exposed. Only then might the Catholic Church see & change the error of their ways in covering up deviant behavior with our precious youth.

  9. Yes, congratulations to the founders of this site. I cannot understand the passivity of Catholics in the pews. Or the lack of outrage. Some people mention to me how sad they were or are. Not one sense of anger at all, just sadness.

    The absolutely best way to go forward is to pass what is called “window legislation” as part of statutes of limitation reform. Watch bishops sit up straight then, as any survivor would have access to justice for a few years, a “window” to file a civil suit for past abuse.

    Then through lawsuits, the secret archives can be opened for document releases to reveal the truth of who knew what, when. I think there are about 4 states that have passed window legislation: CA in 2003, DE in 2007, MN in 2013 and another I cannot find. There are many bills in various state legislatures to extend SOL deadlines, and establish a window period to come forward. Bishops fight these tooth and nail to keep the secrets, Survivors still have to meet evidence standards, so beware of cries of how unfair it all is. In each state with a window provision, important cases have been revealed publicly.

    Any diocese that has an AG, DA or grand jury investigation will, I firmly believe, find the same patterns of cover-up and criminal negligence like that found in Altoona-Johnston. The eight other investigations already done confirm that:


    1) New York NY – Westchester County Grand Jury Report, June 19, 2002

    2) Rockville Centre NY – Suffolk County Grand Jury Report, February 10, 2003

    3) Manchester NH – Attorney General’s Report with investigative archive, March 3, 2003

    4) Boston MA – Reilly Report and Executive Summary, July 23, 2003

    5) Philadelphia PA – Report of the Grand Jury, September 25, 2003 (unsealed September 15, 2005; made public March 29, 2011)

    6 ) Portland ME – Attorney General’s Report, February 24, 2004. See also the attorney general’s investigative materials released on May 27, 2005 and July 8, 2005.

    7) Philadelphia PA – Grand Jury Report, September 15, 2005

    8) Philadelphia PA – Report of the Grand Jury, dated January 21, 2011, released February 10, 2011; see also criminal charges

    Never do you see a straightforward bishop’s admission of culpability for obstruction of justice, criminal endangerment of children, failure to report under the law, perjury,or accessory after the fact. Stop the bleached language of spin; try the truth for a change.

    And really,diocesan bankruptcies mainly stop all litigation, so bishops do not have to testify under oath, or give depositions Bp Jerome Listecki in Milwaukee, also a civil lawyer, played vicious legal hardball for five years through 2015, putting victims through bankruptcy hell. I believe he has no shame, truly. See http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2015/07_08/2015_08_05_Marie_Reporter_Milwaukee_sex.htm

    The beat goes on…and they get away with everything.

  10. While I praise you and others for the work you do for the protection of children, I am dismayed by the comment this pope is a “breath of fresh air”.
    I followed the Wesolowski story from the first report of mountain villagers hunting down the parish priest (Gil) for abusing their children. This pope refused to return Wesolowski to the Dominican Republic where his victims could persue justice (cover-up). This pope allowed Wesolowski to roam the streets of Rome unsupervised for a year allowing him to download child pornography (100,000 images according to several reports) (enabled).
    Smells like the same old stale air to me.
    There should be NO statutes of limitations on child abuse in our country. It is the ‘murder’ of the person that child could have been.
    ( Sorry, I do not know how to do links but everything on the Wesolowski story was on Bishop Accountability site starting July 2013. It is a sordid story.)

    1. A different kind of jargon does not make this pope “a breath of fresh air.” Indeed, in light of the circumstances, it’s shameful.

    2. Don’t forget that this pope also covered up for his good buddy a priest who was molesting children in Argentina, also the Cardinal Pell from Australia he is protecting, his air stinks where i stand.

    3. Eileen, I can’t argue with that. I should have qualified that statement. I meant in reference to other issues. You are correct in regard to child welfare. I don’t call the formation of yet another committee meaningful change. I also agree on the SOL. There is no statute of limitations on murder in PA. There should not be one for child sex abuse.

  11. So I think most Catholics are angry and saddened by the cover-ups. But I think your average Catholic (including myself) doesn’t know what to do about it other than hope that it will get better. What can the average Catholic do that would make a difference?

    1. Thank you for asking the question. Let me suggest silence is the least effective option. For me it has meant writing letters to the editor, op-eds, demonstrating at the cathedral, attending Voice of the Faithful meetings, supporting SNAP gatherings, writing blog posts, writing the bishop and copying the press, and so forth. Donate to reform and survivor support groups.

      Work with state legislators to pass statutes of limitation reform; go to hearings, hold meetings for sponsors of the bills. One thing leads to another.

      It’s showing up, speaking out, and finding others who share your views. It’s not expecting results other than the satisfaction of knowing I did something to get the truth out. Become informed. Read an AG investigation text that will open your eyes beyond imagining. Learn about http://www.bishopaccountability.org and study its comprehensive archive.

      You wrote a message here, representing many with similar questions. That’s a great start! Keep the conversation going. Expect backlash though; comes with the terrirory.

      But savor in your heart the knowledge that you did what you could. The old saying still pertains:The only thing necessary for the conquest of evil is that good people do nothing. I forget the exact wording but that’s the message. Best wishes.

      1. Carolyn, your suggestions above are excellent! I have one more to add, ask a survivor to speak at a parish, or a neutral place eg. a starbucks, at your home with a small gathering. As a survivor, thank you for all you have done to support us and our truth.

    2. KJC, your question is excellent: “What can the average Catholic do that would make a difference?”

      There is no doubt in my mind that literally a list could be put together outlining courses of action, and I am not against a list. But I have found that people of good conscience who are thoroughly informed are naturally angry and compelled to react, and naturally inspired to invent courses of action that fit their personal strengths, talents, means and lifestyles. I think most people are of good conscience. So, when people ask me what they can do to make a difference, I always say, “become informed, stay informed, relentlessly inform yourself.” The two– a good conscience and being well informed– might sound flat, tame, dull, bland and docile. Do it. What detonates will floor you.

      1. “Become and stay informed” is excellent advice, micklega. and the perfect place to do that is http://www.bishopaccountability.org. Check legal documents especially and read about the unbelievable memory losses of bishops in depositions.

        The Phila 2011 grand jury report; Rigali’s rebuttal of the 2005 report, followed by the response of the DA’s office is particularly instructive (how many lies is it possible to tell and twist all at once???). It’s a lesson in never taking chancery communications at face value. Read the Altoona AG report text there, and Australian Cardinal Pell’s responses in Rome last week before an Australian investigation commission by video link.

        The best daily source of news worldwide is the abuse tracker at http://www.bishop-accountability.org/AbuseTracker/ — with links to reports and documents.

        For those who saw “Spotlight,” here is a copy of the 1993 letter survivor lawyer Eric MacLeish wrote to the Boston archdiocese: http://www.boston.com/globe/spotlight/abuse/documents/macleish_092793o.htm

        See what Law and his auxiliary John McCormack KNEW back then, while insisting on secrecy as a stipulation for settlement.

        MacLeish alerted the Globe and the Herald, and both papers ran 1-day stories that essentially buried the news.

        Yes, be informed, and take it from there. This is not history, but history in the making.

  12. Sometimes I just want to stand up in front of the parishoners and yell: Why don’t you get angry? Why don’t you DO something to stop this from ever happening again? Do you not care about innocent children and vulnerable adults? Every person who allows this to continue is guilty of inaction and apathy.

  13. As a survivor, I’m heartened by those who care, but I don’t attend church anymore as there’s no place there for me. I say this with sadness, but so much damage occurs on Sunday spoken, or not spoken. When I was younger, I used to leave in a state of ambivalence or anger, and I was always envious of those around me who were so happy. There’s much beauty and good I know, but until there’s real substance coming from the pulpit instead of carefully crafted talking points, I have no use for it. I’ve seen and experienced too much. The wilderness is my healing place. https://ariverknowsmyname.wordpress.com/

    1. Tim thank you for your comments. I am a survivor who left the church in 1965. I converted to Greek Orthodox about 15 years ago for my religion. I am a member of AA and have been in active recovery for over 36 years. I have sponsored RC priests in AA and really learned a lot about my recovery from them concerning priest sex abuse. It is sad one of them died as a result of suicide while under the influence. He could never get honest and tried to hold on to his secret. The same has to happen with the leaders of the church. Stop the lying. No wonder the relapse rate of tecovery is high.

  14. Gabe I am with you 100%. I am not throwing stones because I have been aware of the issue of clergy abuse since 2002 and then in Philly the 2005 GJ report..I felt horrible about the children who had been harmed but really never thought to do anything for them and also thought the problem was ‘cleaned up” Ridiculous to think in hindsight I now realize but it is what I thought at the time . Then came the 2011 GJ report and the information that 26 priests who may be a danger to children were still in ministry and we had no idea who they were..and people just sent their kids off to school as if nothing was wrong. My kids were 11 and 14 at that time and in catholic school and I was outraged and could not understand the silence…just send you kid off to school not knowing if one of the 26 priests was at your school/parish?
    I could not send this message to my kids about safety…let’s just go and pretend this isn’t happening. As a parent I was furious that the archdiocese was now interfering with the safety of MY children. I could not let my kids ask me later in life what I did when all this happened when they were young. My motives of how I became involved in all this are very clear..it was about my children. I then met great people along the way and many victims who welcomed me with open arms and I felt terrible for having not cared what had happened to them . How people do not speak up for the safety of their own children or all children is something that baffles me 5 years later and something that I do not understand how they will explain to their kids later in life.

  15. Tim. I’m with you. Wish I could be in joyful company but my church is now the woods! Whenever I have to attend an event like a funeral all I can focus on is my discomfort being in a place like the one where I was violated.

  16. For my part, I have been sending letters/email to family, friends and clergy. My wife and I left St. Robert Bellermine because Msgr. Beisel would not meet with his parishioners regarding his role in a cover up. He testified at the Lynn trial that although he worked with Lynn that first crucial year, when the list of 37 was put together by them, and ordered shredded by Cardinal Bevilaqua,, he was only a messenger, yet I have reviewed trial documents that I find otherwise. Because Beisel never told us what he knew about the shredded list, yet he participated in putting it together, he left serious doubt about his role in a cover up.

    Just to take one priest that was on the list – Reardon. It took the grand jury investigation to get him many years later. Now he is out, but he spent 10 yrs in the archdiocese offices where he was promoted twice, the latter being a pastor.

    I was in extensive communication with Archbishop Chaput, who first said he would have his committee look into my recommendation to remove Beisel as pastor, then after many months said he would not make a change. We left the parish after 20+ years.

    My sad moment of the Philadelphia Papal visit: Cardinal Rigali’s participation in the Mass!

  17. Kathy or Susan, Because of this topic, I think my “letter from a survivor” April 9, 2012 would be most appropriate. Would you consider posting it again on this topic?

Leave a Reply