Dome to Dome: Philly Archdiocese Shares Vatican’s Slow-to-Reform Pace

By Susan Matthews

In what might be the most epic delayed reaction in history, Pope Francis opened the Vatican Summit on clergy child sex abuse this morning. The publicized purpose of the four-day conference is to better educate and train Church leaders on how to deal with the global crisis. One would think a summit had already taken place given their universally executed coverup.

As the head goes, the body follows. From the Vatican dome to the dome of the Cathedral Basilica of SS Peter and Paul, coverups have been remarkably proactive and reform has been reactive and slow coming.

Big Problems In Child Protection 

  • It’s almost two years that we’ve advocated for a policy that would require the Archdiocese to inform parents when their child has been the victim of a boundary violation by church personnel. No progress and no policy.
  • The Archdiocese doesn’t include the Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries in the annual Safety Environment lessons given to students. How can students know when there’s been a violation, if they don’t know what they are? An example: clergy messaging a student via social media or text.
  • Grand Jury Reports and newspaper articles revealed that many priests, who pose a danger to children and young adults, have been sent to the St. John Vianney Treatment Center. This center is located directly across the street from Bishop Shanahan High School in West Chester, PA. With priests being shipped in from all over the US, it’s a lucrative gig for the Archdiocese. Money, not children, is the true treasure of the Church.
  • The recent discovery that Father John Meyers had been left in ministry for months while being investigated for child sexual abuse shows this generation of kids is still at risk.

Creepy Clerical Culture 

In the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, priests who violated the bodies of innocent children have their funerals presided over by Church leaders. Bishop Michael Fitzgerald, who heads the office of Child and Youth Protection, was the celebrant at Father John Cannon’s funeral in 2017. Cannon’s prolific abuse of children dates back to the 1960’s.

Some priests in good standing socialize with former or current priests who have violated children or had other child-related issues. Dinner and drinks with the creeps is concerning, but what about owning a home with a child predator? One priest doesn’t have a problem with it. Laity, get to Googling and scanning social media. They don’t even hide it.

Those who participated in the cover up receive heartwarming obits on CatholicPhilly.com and some parishes need to be told to remove glowing bios of abusive priests from their websites. Revisionist history.

Re-Victimizing Survivors

In November 2018, just as the statute of limitation/window legislation had its most promising chance in years, the Archdiocese announced the Independent Reconciliation and Reparation. With it, victims of clergy abuse may file a claim for financial compensation. Victims who were abused by religious order priests are left out of the program, even though the Archdiocese relied on religious orders to staff many high school and parishes. This is odd considering the Diocese is lead by a religious order priest – Archbishop Chaput.

A vigil arranged by young Catholic laity was interrupted by a priest who was unhappy the Cathedral staff had not been alerted. He was being a bit self-important considering the vigil took place in a public park across from the Cathedral. He said his concern, “was for the people in his Church.” Jesus, whom this priest represents, would have wanted victims, victims’ families and advocates to be seen and heard. He would have invited them IN!

A few weeks later, at yet another “Healing Mass,” the father of a deceased victim was asked to leave the sidewalk of the cathedral. Message received. “We will pray that you go away.”

Sheep Herd the Shepherds

In recent months, we’ve heard from more laity than ever before and we thank everyone for your interest and efforts.

In the Pittsburgh Diocese a newly-formed group of 1,000 lay members will address various issues of the sex abuse crisis with the hierarchy.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is currently being investigated by the Department of Justice.

There’s a long way to go, but we are in good company with all of you.

5 thoughts on “Dome to Dome: Philly Archdiocese Shares Vatican’s Slow-to-Reform Pace

  1. So, now they are coming up with another handbook!!! That’s what we need…another handbook. Until they address clericalism (something they are afraid to do), abuses will continue. I remember about 20 years ago, I was at a celebration at my parish for the pastor. I was approached by the assistant pastor and deacon who asked me if I was wearing panties. I was embarrassed and so hurt. I left the celebration in tears. I never told the pastor. That’s my fault. Now, I am outraged that two clerics had the audacity to approach me and ask me such an outrageous question. I do believe we were raised to respect the clergy. No handbook is going to fix this issued. RE-FORMATION has to happen!

  2. What needs to happen for the Catholic Church to gain credibility is the following:
    1. Although homosexuality is a genetic predisposition, potential priests with such tendencies should not be allowed to enter the priesthood.
    2. Education begins in the seminary not in the Vatican with bishops.

  3. Tonite I was thinking about rosaries and security guards. What a weird mix but in light of recent events not so strange after all. Let me explain a good friend was in Rome some months ago and while praying at St. Peter’s he asked God to say something to him and God said pray the rosary. He had never really prayed the rosary and I found it alittle comical that he asked was the rosary still valid if he didn’t reflect on the mysteries as he knew the prayers but hadn’t memorized the mysteries yet. I told him I thought that God would understand and made a few suggestions like watching utube while praying it or looking at a book. I never really prayed the rosary consistently myself but with the encouragement of my friend I have begun praying it again. I usually pray it while I am on the elliptical at the gym. A week or so ago I was at the gym praying the rosary and the words “blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus..” jumped out at me. It was the same week everything was coming out in the news about Cuomo and Dolan and the new abortion law and victims act. I was reflecting how sad it is that Jesus was the fruit of Mary’s womb and that the womb is a sacred place where God infuses a soul into flesh and man/woman cooperates with the Creator. I was also thinking how “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit”. It’s sad we don’t value children as a gift and there are forces in and out of the church seeking to destroy both their souls and bodies.Earlier today I was watching video of the bodyguards of Archbishop Gomez blocking a lay person from giving him a petition with 7,500 signatures to do something about Mahonys presence in LA. Then tonite I was at the old grade school I attended as a child for a relatives function. Nothing much had changed except pictures were removed from the old hall and a Saint Michaels statue was placed on the outside of the building. Different memories came flooding back memories of a kid that approached me before mass as I was waiting to get into guitar group who said he didn’t go into church he just walked around the building til mass was done. Memories of kids that I knew and memories of school days.I looked and saw the Mary statute by the rectory at one time it had been vandalized. I remember being horrified as a kid that someone could do such a thing and had the same thoughts when someone shot bb’s through the hall windows. I figured it was the “bad kids” at night with nothing to do on a weekend. Driving passed a few houses I reflected on suicides that had occurred at two houses that had been on the path on my walk home from school. I thought about one kid who was a very nice kid and had been an altar boy and who took his life many years later. All these thoughts seemed to haunt me on my drive home. I was thinking how my experience as a girl may have been so different compared to the boys who were altar boys when Fr. Cannon and Fr. Smith where there. I got home finally and saw the cheap plastic blue and white rosary I had shoved in my pocket and taken to the bishops conference in Baltimore. I began thinking of the conference and all the people we met. I was thinking of how I accidently dropped that rosary on the floor as I was getting something out of my pocket. There was alot of security guards at the entrance as we were going into the hotel as thats were so many of the bishops were staying and the conference was being held. After going to the front desk I turned around and a security guard was handing me my rosary which I hadn’t realized I lost. He was very kind and every security guard I passed on my return asked if I had gotten it back. When I got to the guy at the front door he asked if I got it and he said he didn’t know what it was but he knew it was important because it had Jesus on it. I told him it was a rosary. I was very surprised by their kindness and their reverence for an object they didn’t understand except that it had Jesus on it. I was very touched not because it was something expensive I had lost but because (externally it was just pieces of plastic on some cheap string ) it had value to these three men because they recognized Jesus. It was a beautiful testimony to Jesus and faith in the strangest of circumstances, at such a controversial and surreal event by the least expected people.So many times I have sat in adoration telling Jesus I love him asking him what he wants of me, crying for our survivors, his church and my childhood classmates. One thing I do know is to Love Jesus is to love your neighbor and to find him everywhere even in the least expected places and in the humblest of people.I can’t help but think that if the bishops and cardinals loved Jesus and prayed the rosary more there wouldn’t be horrible things like abortion and clergy child sex abuse and there certainly wouldn’t be anymore need for security guards to protect bishops from the laity..

  4. Thank you so much Kathy for keeping us informed. End child abuse now. One reporter got it right today “CLERGY SEX CRIMES”. Think Sodom and Gomorrah. Raping innocent impressionable children been a CRIME for centuries!

  5. I have been reading about all the survivors and advocates that went to Rome for the Summit. I just want to thank you for everything you have done and continue to do. You are living the Beatitudes and Jesus always keeps his promises.

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