They Knew and They Let It Happen

Many have already read this excellent Inquirer editorial but I wanted to post just in case someone missed it. Click here to read: “Time can’t heal sexual abuse by priests,” by The Philadelphia Inquirer Editorial Board, March 8, 2016

Excerpt: The grand jury recommended lifting the statute of limitations for sexual offenses against children and suspending the statute of limitations to file sexual abuse civil suits. Those are good steps. Some crimes are too heinous to ever avoid prosecution, or deny victims restitution.

Editor’s note: The grand jury in Philadelphia also made the same recommendation as above. Yet supportive Pennsylvania law makers face a huge battle. The PA Catholic Conference,  insurance lobbyists and the chair of the House Judicial Committee work hard to make sure this doesn’t happen. Please call, your state representative and senator today and let them know what you want. If you don’t know how to reach them, please check our “What you can do now” tab at the top of this site.

50 thoughts on “They Knew and They Let It Happen

  1. Rep Murt:

    Thank you Rep. Murt for your courage and determination to stand with fellow supporters of these valuable proposals, including the strongest champion of this effort, Rep. Mark Rozzi, an adolescent victim of clergy sexual abuse.

    What good is our government if we do not protect ALL of our children from sexual abuse and predation, regardless of the location of the alleged crime? Our victims are entitled to a “voice” in government, access to legal redress both civilly and criminally to the most heinous of crimes……the destruction of the innocence, body, soul, mind and spirit of our youngest citizens.

    It is unconscionable that elected officials would intentionally block or restrict access to these valuable legislative proposals that would extend and/or eliminate the SOL’s for child sexual abuse, both criminally and civilly, as well as provide a “window” of time during which past victims can take legal action so as to identify possible unknown predators living in our communities.

    Rep. Ron Marsico, Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, should schedule public hearings for these proposals NOW ! As a fellow Catholic like Rep. Murt and this writer, it is time for Mr. Marsico to show all Pennsylvanians how precious and important our children are to all communities and families across the Commonwealth and should our children and young adults in the future fall victim to the horror, devastation and humiliation of sexual abuse, they will be guaranteed legal access and redress when they are strong enough to come forward to report the childhood abuse.

    This advocacy can never end until such legislation is passed in Harrisburg, since for many of its supporters, it involves not only children, but in this writer’s instance, grandchildren as well.

    Michael Skiendzielewski
    Captain (retired)
    Philadelphia Police Dept

    1. Capt. Mike thank you for your letter. Until certain politicians let abuse survivors tell their stories to elected officials face to face and the horrors recorded officially nothing will change. If I may make a suggestion to the church….fire your lobbyists now. Until money gets out of the process nothing will happen. How many GJ’s will make recommendations to get rid of SOL,s before they get the message? I am a retired DC police officer who for 13 years of my career investigated child abuse and sex abuse cases. I know of what I speak. I am also a priest sex abuse survivor who went before the Philly GJ twice.

      1. Jim and Mike thank you both for your efforts. After the pope’s visit to Philly there was some backlash about all of the security..roads closed..people not able to get into events etc. Archbishop Chaput in a press conference after the visit said something to the effect that they had no choice but to hand over the security to the professionals and if the diocese had been in charge it could have been a disaster….I am paraphrasing but that was the message. He is right what does a diocese know about police work?..not much and rightfully so..but in the case of the SOL when so many in law enforcement have recommended the SOL reform that can protect and expose they certainly get involved there with their opinions. maybe they should just leave it in the hands of the professionals as they did with the Pope’s visit. But that will never happen. The statement Pennsylvania Catholic Conference puts out every time in relation to SOL..memories fade..etc..because of course they understand more about this issue than law enforcement?

  2. I find it very interesting that I always have a problem retrieving info from this site (i.e. reading ALL INFO). Also problem reviewing comments and usually problem leaving a comment. I fill in proper info, leave my full name and website email address. I will see how this goes this time!

    1. Hi Kathryn, Thanks for visiting the site. Could you please be more specific about the info you’re not able to read? No one else is reporting a problem. First-time comments go into moderation, but I always put them through asap.

  3. I don’t think this is such a great editorial when you consider the Billy Doe case and what looks like a fraudulent abuse of the courts, both criminal and civil. Lifting the statue of limitations would increase the chances for more Billy Does. Also, as any criminal defense lawyer will tell you, these cases are impossible to defend. As I have documented on my blog,, alleged victims have been able to use tactics in these cases that were protested during the Salem witch trials. Such as in the Father Andy case, where the alleged victim was allowed to tell jurors about a dream he had, where Father Andy was viscously attacking his helpless little nephew. It didn’t seem to matter that the dream never happened.

    Also, the reason the Inquirer can write such one-sided editorials is that they continue to ignore the Billy Doe case, and all the problems with it. I recently corresponded with the head of the Inky editorial board who had no idea what was going on with the Billy Doe case, and the recent Newsweek stories. Ignorance is bliss.

    1. Ralph, so what you’re saying is that one possible fraudulent case should negate an opportunity for justice all the victims of child sex abuse. The John Jay study and others found the number of false claims to be under 2 percent. There is no statute of limitations for murder in PA. And DNA evidence rarely comes into play.

      Sent from my iPhone


      1. I have been told there are many other cases of false abuse reports, but I have not researched the issue. I do know it’s often cheaper to settle than duke it out in court. That means there is potential for abuse.

        I’m not saying I have any answers, or that there aren’t legitimate victims out there. In the case of the Inquirer, it’s wrong to ignore the Billy Doe case that happened under their watch. Having seen these cases in action, I am troubled by the difficulty of defending one’s self against decades old accusations. Again, these cases have disturbing parallels to the Salem witch trials. And Seth Williams has not answered a single one of my questions in four years. That does not inspire any trust.

        In Philadelphia, we depend on the Inquirer as the city’s paper of record and Seth Williams as our chief law enforcement officer. Neither is trustworthy. I also am here to tell you watching the courts in action, they have done a lousy job with these cases. So I have no confidence in our court system to deal fairly with accused Catholic priests or victims. The cases I have covered for the past several years have been a travesty. Prosecutors have overreached, with no regard for the truth. Judges are biased, defense lawyers have an impossible mission, the press, especially the Inquirer, is incredibly biased. And victims groups are howling for blood. A recipe for more abuse that will not right the scales of justice.

        1. Ralph, I have been told the moon is made of green cheese and at one time all the ” experts agreed that the world was flat “

        2. ” Billy’s case must have met the burden necessary in order to proceed, now why the rcc folded has to be answered by the pretender from Denver , none other than chaput. There are well over a hundred priests named in both grand jury reports so that means there at the very least are over a hundred VICTIMS, the rcc is responsible for this mess by ” Covering. Up and For the enablers and abusers, they acted IMMORALLY and will continue to do so until the LAWS are changed at which time they will either comply or die, personally I am rooting for the latter.

          Tell us oh wise one what should the VICTIMS who are still ALIVE do ? Should they just fold up and say oh well what are you going to do , or should they continue the struggle and expose the enablers and abusers, really tell us if this were you or your child what would you do .

          Please do not respond with ” gaseous rhetoric ” !

          Will you as a gifted writer be part of the solution or part of the ongoing problem paid for by the pope/vatican/rcc / hierarchy / politicians/ insurance lobby/ LEO or the idiots in the pews who refuse to acknowledge the truth b/c it destroys their illusions !

          I know I want to be part of the Solution and will continue up until my last breath and beyond !

    2. Ralph, no one on this site is so naive as to buy-in to that position. We’ve been at this game too long to believe in what you’re selling. You may have more success trying to persuade some neophytes, and they normally don’t post here.

    3. Ralph, your excessive zeal regarding Billy Doe not only impairs your intelligence on the matter of SOL reform but it obstructs justice and calls into question your integrity.

      There are several statistics putting the number of fraudulent claims under 2 percent. Let’s give you all of the praise and compliments you deserve for revealing Billy Doe’s false claim (assuming you are correct). Good for you. Good for your career. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. Keep up the good work. But, for God’s sake, don’t throw the baby out with the bath water! Ninety-eight percent of claims are NOT fraudulent. The victims deserve justice. Stop using Billy Doe to obstruct SOL reform and ask yourself whether the real reason you use him with such passion and excessive zeal is because, when you do, things egotistically circle back to you, everyone is reminded that you authored and revealed his fraudulent claim. You keep your Newsweek story alive.

      If your passion and zeal center on fraudulent claims, then join the rank of decent human beings who support SOL reform and invest your energy and investigative and writing skills in addressing the presumed problem that SOL reform will result in an increase in fraudulent claims. Why not become the czar at exposing fraudulent claimants?

      Right now, all you are doing is trying to get rid of a bad (fraudulent claims) by eliminating something good (SOL reform). C’mon.

      Put the Billy Doe story prize on the shelf.

      And remember who you are.

      1. Whenever a reporter chases a story he is accused of being too zealous. I heard the same argument from Cardinal Bevilacqua and Brian Tierney when I was busy exposing them. Believe it or not, this isn’t about me.

        As far as my “career” is concerned, nobody’s going to hire a guy who successfully sued his own paper for libel. So we can move on to other issues.

        If “reform” leads to more Billy Does, count me out. I also am skeptical about your statistics on false claims. The lawyers and priests that I talk to tell a different story although it admittedly is anecdotal.

        Seth Williams has poisoned the sex abuse debate in Philadelphia by staging a witch hunt against the church starring Billy Doe/Danny Gallagher and Mark Bukowski. What has happened is a travesty that put innocent men in jail. Nobody here wants to deal with that.

        1. Ralph, you did a good job using this discussion thread to remind us of your-lens atrocities and where you invest your blood, sweat and tears– the Billy Does, the Newsweek article, Seth Williams, the Inquirer, Devilacqua, Tierney, biased judges, prosecutors and law enforcement… Your baggage is huge. You did a good job patronizing us with “ignorance is bliss,” “nobody here wants to deal with that,” “howling for blood,” and implying that none of your atrocities are shared by us. You did a good job presenting yourself as self-righteous, more invested and involved in the thick of things and in things that matter more, and arrogant. But you did a poor job defending your position against SOL reform. It’s not that you’re against it. It’s more like you stubbornly refuse to acknowledge your acceptance of it because, when it’s interposed between your blood, sweat and tears atrocities, you fear it detracting from them, reducing their worth and value, reducing your work, passion and zeal, and reducing you.

          When I sat next to you at the Lynn trial, you never could have told me…

        2. Ralph, as you have your crusade against what you believe is a travesty of Justice, others may have a crusage against the travesty of Justice being denied to VICTIMS , therefore :

          You stole my child.
          You hoped I would go away
          You underestimated my love
          I will never give up
          I will be a voice for my child
          I am not alone
          There are many like me
          By circumstances united
          Together we all be heard
          We will never fighting until Justice is served

          Vigilantism begins when Justice is no longer pursued !

    4. It is also abuse in institutions outside of the church such as athletic organizations..boy scouts..and so many others. Ralph, if GM knowingly allowed faulty cars to be produced and God forbid you were the victim injured because of one of their cars..can you imagine the argument that because of a slight chance of fraudulent claims you should not be allowed any justice, The possibility of fraud exists anywhere and everywhere but do we block exposing more crimes against children because of that? Do we let institutions totally off the hook who have covered up crimes? Do we let child predators who will never have a criminal charge against them at least be named in a lawsuit?

  4. Keep in mind when I started covering these trials I had been ripping the archdiocese in print since the early 90s. At the start of these abuse trials, I had a hang ’em high mentality. I believed they were all guilty, and that it should have been Bevilacqua and all of his top bishops on trial, and not just a scapegoat such as Msgr. Lynn.

    Has anybody here sat through every minute of the Lynn trial, the Engelhardt-Shero trial, the Father Andy case? I have. And what I have seen has sickened me. Don’t shoot the messenger, but sometimes the war doesn’t always turn out the way the generals thought it was going to go.

  5. Ralph it seems to me that you have an axe to grind in re the Doe case…that is your choice. I really wish you would put half the energy looking at the solution to priest abuse. Let the SOL be removed and let the victims get justice we deserve. Go to any open speakers 12 Step meeting and listen to lives ruined by the priests that abused children. The ones that are not severely damaged emotionally. I have maintained a low profile as far as my on-going recovery from Phila priest abuse, the latest GJ jury report ended that. I will be in Harrisburg on Monday the 14th to support fellow victims.

  6. Ralph, Brennan was not convicted.,McCormick was not convicted and Lynn was not found guilty on most of the charges. What is going on with the Brennan case? when does that come up again,5 years is a long time for that case to still be dangling. Also with some of the tactics allowed such as the “dream” in the McCormick that just in priest abuse cases?..have you sat in on non priest child abuse cases? As always I ask these questions with curiosity and not condemnation. I feel that the internet is a great way for communication but the problem is that everyone reads the comments in the ‘tone’ they wish and sometimes that adds to the inflammatory back and forth on all sides.

  7. I think that what upsets many is the cases that were introduced as evidence and could not be prosecuted..the Cudemo’s, Gana’s etc where there are multiple victims..multiple clergy and other staff having given warnings to the Archdiocese..slam dunk prosecutions if prosecution could have taken place and they remain free living near kids. One of them literally lives a stones throw from the largest park in Sea isle. And nothing fires me up more than knowing that kids remain at risk from these people because as a society it is our job to protect kids and we can’t in these situations..they are free as birds out there and abusers don’t stop abusing. Everyone can leave a situation with their own lasting impression and that was mine..they are all out there. And I was surprised that Englhardt was convicted and I think it is ridiculous that Bevilaqua was not indicted and only Lynn was..and I am deeply concerned for the safety of kids who reside near the ones who got away. That’s my take.

    1. Brennan is scheduled to be retried in October; word is that’s just a smokescreen and that there are so many problems with the case it will never go to trial.

      No, Kathy, have not sat in on any non-priest sex abuse cases. But I have seen things happen in these archdiocese sex cases that I’ve never seen before in 40 years of being a reporter. It’s stuff that can only happen in a stampede, with grandstanding politicians inciting the mob, victims advocates calling for blood, and the press abandoning it’s traditional role as watchdogs for all. In this town, the media has become part of the mob.

      I covered the 05 grand jury report. The problem is the Cudemos and the Ganas should be in jail. That was the time to open up the SOL, and make all of them pay. Bevilacqua should have also gone to jail. That was the time to try a member of the Catholic hierarchy for endangering the welfare of a child, as Lynne Abraham’s prosecutors wanted to do.

      But it doesn’t even the score, as Seth Williams did, to string up a patsy [Lynn] and put two guys in jail [Engelhardt and Shero] who were innocent and the victims of a fraudulent witness [Gallagher] and a craven scheming politician with no scruples [Williams].

      The Brennan case is ridiculous and should have never gone to trial.

      While some refer to my experiences as baggage, I prefer to think of it as wisdom, often painfully acquired.

      As far as what should real victims do, I have no answers, except to stay vigilant. But I’m afraid the war in large part has already been won. The safe that held the secret archive files have been emptied, the contents revealed. I never thought that would happen in my lifetime. The archdiocese will never again be able to get away with the crimes they were able to cover up for four decades. They have been thoroughly exposed, even though the real guilty parties have escaped punishment.

      But vengeance isn’t justice; especially when it involves retaliation against scapegoats and innocent parties. I have seen families destroyed during Seth’s crusade, reputations ruined, and one innocent man die in jail for crimes that in all probability never happened. These people are victims too.

      1. You would think that after the 2005 GJ report the Archdiocese would have cleaned up its act but like the 2011 GJ report showed there were still 26 priests in ministry with allegations/boundary violations…they were suspended after the GJ report and I believe 15 were then removed from ministry on a permanent basis after an internal investigation.
        I agree that with so much being exposed they would not be able to pull off the crimes of the past to that degree but I can’t go so far as to say we are out of the woods. A priest who was finally removed in 2013 had so many people come forward and supposedly the Archdiocese did not have single complaint about him on record in 40 years..I find it hard to believe..did some records make their way to the trashcan years ago? Was the shredded memo the only shredding? is it a possible there could could still be some in ministry with no paper trail?..anything is possible And so many priests in ministry at present did not have the psych testing that is now done when people enter the seminary..and we are stuck with them.
        And the perps from the past endanger all kids, not just catholic ones because now they are out there in the real world..I still can’t get past that to move on to other injustices but am understanding that everyone works on the issue that is most unjust to them or feels deserves resolution.

        1. I am passionate as a Mom in the are passionate as a reporter..can you imagine the passion of the people who were raped as kids and know their perps are still out there with access to kids and some child could suffer the same fate ? I don”t think people want vengeance instead of justice but with all the depravity that has gone on and some their own bodies violated, I understand why they aren’t spending their time on the Billy Doe doesn’t mean they want injustice it means they are focusing on child protection and laws and the Doe case will play out in the courts.

          1. I have spent some time during the archdiocese sex abuse trials talking to victims and their relatives. When you hear a father talk about a son who was abused and then lost forever, you’d have to be a stone not to feel something.

            When I heard real sex abuse victims testify at the Lynn trial day after day, it was devastating. When I read the 05 grand jury report, I wanted to see the archdiocese burned to the ground and its bishops hanged.

            But the courts and the criminal justice system exist to stop us from taking the law into our own hands and acting on our own worst impulses. The Catholic Church with its crimes against humanity has blasphemed the name of God in this town and perverted religion. And now Seth Williams and Billy Doe have perverted justice and the court system. And I don’t feel any better because of it. And the cause of justice has not been advanced; indeed, it’s gone the other way.

    2. And that would be the icing on the cake so to speak on this whole tragic situation…if a case that was not true would be the one to make it to court. My point being that not everyone was in the court everyday..not everyone finds some of Billy Doe’s characteristic so odd because they have seen this themselves with a family member who has been abused or in their own journey. I didn’t find many local victims out for blood..I attended parts of the trial and many times went to lunch with victims and their family members and we talked about the things people talk No one was ranting in the halls of the court building. the DA claimed they had a case. Victims,family members and other showed up to witness this event..why wouldn’t they ?
      I think you uncovered an injustice you feel passionate about and are wondering why others don;t feel that way and in some ways it is like “welcome to the club of no one one believing or listening to you” or they have read your findings on the case and feel differently. Victims and their families did not go out and find Billy Doe and indict him.

        1. It doesn’t help your cause to lump Billy Doe/Danny Gallagher in with real victims, and say he would not seem so strange to others who have gone through the horrors of real sex abuse.

          I’m not the only one who’s on to Billy. People in the DA’s office know he’s a fraud, they know he’s not a real victim. They know nothing in his story checked out. They know innocent men went to jail because of his false claims and that one died there; indeed, some of them were involved on the eve of trial in trying to swing a deal that would have prevented the gross miscarriage of justice that followed.

          He’s a fraud from every angle. The defense lawyers know it; the cops know it; the prosecutors know it. My guess is even his own family and his lawyers know it. If people would only say what they know this would have over long ago.

          1. I am not lumping people together I am saying a friend of mine had a trajectory very similar to Billy Doe and nothing about it made sense at the time..the addictions..the crimes..and even when he told others about the abuse years ago there were gaps..there was some conflicting things..and this is someone who has no suits against the Church and never will and has zero desire to at all. Some of the things I read about Doe remind me exactly of him at that time. It is not saying that makes Doe believable or not .
            Has the story picked up interest outside of Philadelphia since the story in Newsweek ? is it only locally that you feel the lack of interest or push back?

    1. The story was the talk of many Catholic blogs across the country. The media bias crowd also jumped on the Rolling Stone angle. Philly mag did a couple of stories on it, one good, one bad. Phillyvoice wrote about it; so did a blogger on I appeared on a couple of radio talk shows here and one in Green Bay of all places. The Inquirer continues to pretend it’s not happening.

      Newsweek ran a follow Friday:

  8. Ralph, your comment……

    “………..But I’m afraid the war in large part has already been won. The safe that held the secret archive files have been emptied, the contents revealed. I never thought that would happen in my lifetime. The archdiocese will never again be able to get away with the crimes they were able to cover up for four decades. They have been thoroughly exposed, even though the real guilty parties have escaped punishment……..”

    I do not know how you can be so certain about the assertions in this statement.

    Michael Skiendzielewski

    1. I’m not certain of anything. I was taken on a tour of the archdiocese HQ in 1992. People told me about the room where they kept the safe that had the secret archive files. I was told only two or three people, including the cardinal, had the combination, and how everything was kept on paper files.

      I am still amazed that they were forced by multiple subpoenas to cough all that stuff up. To me, that’s an amazing victory, hanging all their dirty laundry out to dry like that. I have been told often that Philadelphia was supposedly the first place in the country where the secret archive files kept by every diocese were exposed.

      1. Ralph, I was not just talking about the “secret archives”. What about the statement:

        “The archdiocese will never again be able to get away with the crimes they were able to cover up for four decades.”

        The last two cases exposed in the archdiocese, Rev. Mark Haynes in West Chester (20 years in Fed prisons two months ago) and the other priest removed from Our Lady of Calvary in N/E Phila……both had a track record of multiple assignments, mysterious removals, treatment, etc…….how do we know what went on during those times?

        1. Not familiar with Lady of Calvary case. The FBI bagged Haynes. I agree the church is a mess. Centuries ago, they should have decided to allow married men [and women] to become priests. The only solution to that problem is to vote with your feet like I did more than 20 years ago and get the hell out.

          1. In theory I don’t disagree except then all that is left behind is a bunch of Catholics that do not question anything and that does not protect kids.
            Yes the Feds got Haynes but in the sentencing remember that the Church had sent him to one of his treatments for “anger management” and that is not what he was being treated for..
            The Calvary case is the priest that was left in ministry for a full year while being investigated and the parishioners were only told when he was on his way out the door…they had a “monitoring team’ watching him for the year he was being investigated..a concept that former Review board members have already spoken out about using.
            From watching Lynn on the stand it is clear that it is only through laws that the church will change .

  9. You do allow people who are no longer Catholic to post on you site, so what’s wrong with some one who was Catholic for over 60 yr. posting a great disappointment in the facts we now know are true about clergy in the RCC.?? ( as it should be)IMHO
    I have not been physically abused but my faith in the RCC leaderuship has dramatically life but still allows the HOLY SPIRIT to guide me as HE did while I was a Catholic. I think for myself along with HIS PRCIOUS GUIDING light in my heart. ” HE will never leave me or forsake me!”
    ..I thank the Lord for the Academy award for the movie ” Spotlight” It is. an answered prayer !
    I asked why HE wasn’t doing something. And an Academy Award is really a big thing.for HIM TO DO. No excuses now for the laity to be blind sided by the Corporate executives who run the Catholic Church. by looking the other way when their cohorts choose evil. over good.
    .I would really like an answer. Are you,( Catholics ) God’s only saved people or are we( all Christians)saved by HIS precious Blood.??

    1. glorybe, God saves, not Catholicism or its Church or anyone or anything else.

      According to Pope Francis, God saves all good people, including atheists and not limited to Christians.

      1. Thank you.micklega…….. I was a convert at age 12 along with my
        mother to bring my Dad back to the church and I was an arrogant Catholic apologist my whole life and never believed what anybody told me about the bad things that were going on in the church, Including my relatives that were in religious orders.
        .But in 2001. we found out every thing they had said was true. We could no longer stay in the Catholic church. We left right after a 50th Wedding Anniversary mass was said by a dear friend priest, on the back deck of our boat in San Diego.( where we summered to get out of the Az. heat) & arranged before we knew of the scandals.
        We told him & he said ” I understand completely.” He gave communion to everyone of our friends, 1Jewish, 2 non C., (1 fallen away Catholic movie star), & he said he wanted to give us a dispensation, just in case. We said no. He did it any way. because we had just found out Tom had (stage 4b lung cancer. We were devestaed..
        I used to have a healing ministry in a Charismatic Renewal Community in the Phoenix area They allowed women to do that as it was ecuminical (only til hierarchy found out) then it was taken over we left the community not the church. & it was very hard…leaving our friends……
        So I prayed over my husband daily and got on line for every prayer line I could find all over the world. I did n’t care what religion they were, as there is only one GOD . They prayed, wrote letters of encouragement and our Lord healed Tom. The Lord had more for him to do.
        I have so many stories to tell of GOD PRECIOUS LOVE TO help the abused know how much our GOD loves them and does not condemn them in any way. We all have, like Paul,” thorns in our sides” but without them we would be ,as I was , forever an arrogant CATHOLIC. If we have a true relationship with HIM on a daily basis, HE knows our every need and helps us through our days, nites, months & years.HE IS THE CREATOR OF ALL WE HOLD DEAR,SEE AND EXPERIENCE THAT IS GOOD.We are HIS and HE knows us. Many more miracles
        to share…

        1. Glorybe, it’s likely that most people who visit C4C are cradle Catholics. You, however, were a convert to Catholicism at the age of 12. Without descending into stereotypes, because every Catholic is different, I think it’s important to understand how betrayal can be experienced very differently by cradle Catholics and converts.

          I invite cradle Catholics to put yourselves in Glorybe’s shoes at the age of 12, an especially poignant age… straddling childhood and adolescence. The pact between Glorybe and her mother to convert to Catholicism and bring dad back to the Church is moving. Imagine, quite likely, the motivation, on fire-ness, urgency, hopefulness, commitment, and depth of purpose. Imagine the scariness of it all. Imagine having to fit into an unfamiliar Catholic community, culture and identity. Cradle Catholics, however, baptized at infancy, are essentially unconscious when they are brought into the faith.

          In order to convert to Catholicism, Glorybe was exposed to an adult formation that likely led her to be more orthodox, more knowledgeable about Church teachings and scripture, more scrupulous in adhering to them, more vulnerable in terms of having greater difficulty accepting infractions, and more loyal to the institutional Church. Cradle Catholics, however, tend to be less orthodox, more comfortable with doubt and disillusionment, and less loyal to the institutional Church.

          Say, too, that Glorybe had a conversion event or experience or “awakening” or “change.” It is nearly impossible for cradle Catholics to understand the complexity, powerfulness and force of such an existential experience.

          Betrayal for cradle Catholics and converts is shattering. But I think it can be especially difficult and devastating for converts mainly because of the acute consciousness around which they were brought to the faith, learned the faith, and practice it.

    1. Kathy, one of the things I tend to do is to become infuriated with the generations of parents who would not believe their children, or who saw behaviors between their children and priests that should have sent up red-flags but did not, or who backed down or assumed positions of powerlessness when systems– law enforcement, the Church, laws, hotlines, etc.– failed them. Take you, for example, I can’t see ANYTHING preventing you from hearing and believing the experiences your children convey to you, discerning red-flag behaviors, and bashing through systems that act as obstacles to reporting abuse. No way. Not you. Why them, then? I have never been able to accept that it was a different time and place for parents, but that is the truth of much of it. That parental responsibility evolves and becomes increasingly informed has been an extremely hard lesson for me to learn because, in the meantime, children are often times left lost, defenseless, underrepresented, or under protected while parents grow, learn and evolve. It’s not supposed to be that way…

      1. Kate I grew up going into convents alone in the morning for piano lessons..staying after school alone with teachers to help out..even being taken by a priest to Irish dance at a party without my parents..I guess he was my caretaker for the party The Church was the “safest ” place for kids…right? And it was for me..nothing ever happened to me. My parents were protective,caring,,strict,,and this was determined to be a safe place for kids..and we know it didn’t work out that way. We know that now because of the victims/survivors. A former classmate disclosed abuse a few years ago . If he had disclosed this back when we were all in school together we probably would have made fun of him and not believed him…granted we were kids not adults.

        Kate I have not always been so really happened a few years ago just months before the 2011 GJ report when I sat in a meeting across from a priest who sat there and told me what he determined to be a safe situation for my daughter..something I disagreed with..this had nothing to do with clergy abuse or even priests..But as he sat there telling me his opinion all I could think is WHO THE HELL ARE YOU?? No doctor, one had ever crossed the line of telling me what they thought was safe for my kid..and the flip was switched and the table was almost flipped (ha) but until then I was your basic Catholic parent.

  10. micklega…What an incredible understanding you have of my plight, or any adolescent choosing a faith. Your analysis is so professional. I could even understand it, which I could not until you wrote this. You are so caring to have written it..I thank you with all my heart. I want my ( 1out of 4 )child who has continued to be a Catholic along with his family to read this, as he says he understands but I wonder.
    I thank you again & again for your attentivness to this. blog & this ageing great grandma.
    TOM passed last July 23 (85) and asked us not to rescue him again. He was surrounded by the angels ,& said , ” I’ll be in touch”. He was.!, it was most joyful for the whole family.He used his extra time( 14years) to bring Glory to The LORD with every fiber of his being.It was a beautiful passing.Thank you again..GOD IS SO GOOD! Gloria McNamara Sullivan (86)married 64 yrs.

Leave a Reply