No Thank You

Closeup of the neck of a priest wearing a black shirt with cassock and white clerical collar

By Kathy Kane

There are 19 pages highlighting the case of Father Peter Dunne in the 2005 Grand Jury report on the Philadelphia Archdiocese Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal.

“Father Peter J. Dunne, ordained in 1954, served the Philadelphia Archdiocese as a teacher, pastor, administrator of a school for delinquent boys, and assistant director of the Archdiocese scouting program for 40 years. He remained a parish priest for seven and a half years after Archdiocese officials learned, in 1986, that he had sexually abused an altar boy who had been in the priest’s Boy Scout troop. During those seven and a half years, Father Dunne was diagnosed as an untreatable pedophile. He personally paid $40,000 to silence a victim. The Archdiocese was warned repeatedly that he had many victims, that he was most likely continuing to commit sexual offenses, that he should not be in a parish setting, and that he should not be around children or adolescents.”

It recently came to our attention that Dunne’s name is included on a parish website along with other priests who have served at the parish. The section expresses gratitude to all of the priests who have shared their time and talent.

Last year we had to contact the Archdiocese to have the flattering biographical paragraphs of abusive priests Father John Paul and Msgr. John Gillespie removed from a parish website. Gillespie was accused of abusing children at the very parish that still listed his information as a former pastor.

There obviously needs to be Archdiocesan policy on how parishes should handle the inclusion of abusive priests in parish literature and websites. We are asking the C4C community to weigh in. We think a common sense policy would require each parish to list the names of any abusive priest who volunteered or served at that parish. No more whitewashing with information that omits the abuse history of the priest, and no “thank you” to priests who have violated innocent children.

Please share your thoughts on this subject in the comment section or join the conversation on the Catholics4Change facebook page .

6 thoughts on “No Thank You

  1. Why not list the name and make mention that the man was removed from ministry for a credible allegation/founded incident of abuse. This is why others will know it is part of the parish’s history. We cannot make these things “go away” but we sure can remember them in a more honest way.

  2. You can be sure if they steal money from a church, they won’t be on the list. But rape a few kids, no problem.

  3. No more whitewashing with information that omits the abuse history of the priest, and no “thank- you’s” to priests who have violated innocent children.
    At the very least omit the thank yous.

    But more appropriate would also be a list of abusive priests and the responsibilities they had and the years of their “service” in that parish. And an expression of compassion to victims and families and a list of non-clerical resource people would also be appropriate.

    These lists don’t need to be on the same page but a clear link should be included on the good priest page and/or on the front page of the parish website.

    1. Mona,

      I read you book “Traces of Hope, Surviving Grief and Loss” and I am sorry for the heavy grief you have experienced. Your book expresses these black holes that appeared to drain life out of you, as you describe these times when exerting yourself in any way was extraordinarily difficult. In your deep suffering you express how you found a good therapist who appeared to help you with feeling depressed and alienated from yourself and others. You describe these times your disappointment with life became consuming and appears to have made you feel this need to scream at life. At times, it appears you felt the inner light was going out and yet hidden within you appear to be communicating this inner spring of courage to move against these external difficulties. Your courage appeared to be offering faith in yourself, which appears to then become your hope.

      It appears to me Mona real faith has nothing to do with beliefs or even convincing ourselves certain beliefs are true, as in your book you describe this belief of wanting things back to normal. Yet you appear to recognize these beliefs no longer work for you, even your beliefs in the Catholic Church. By dropping your beliefs, you gradually appear to recognize the actual support you have in the presence of others and your Supreme Being within you. This support you receive appears to allow you to give this support to others. You appear to recognize this part of you cannot be harmed and allows you to become a Hospital Chaplin.

      Your hope, within your faith, appears to be this unshakable confidence in life now. The support your hope offers you appears to be saying this soulful nature cannot be harmed or lost. This hope now appears to allow you to have an inner freedom and to be more spontaneous with whatever emerges in the moment. Your book communicates you are no longer bound to beliefs, doubts and learned procedures. Your guide is from within and now you are offering this ability to rest in hope to others.

      This is my impression of you from your book Mona and now you are an effective leader because you know what the unknown feels like and to look for someone else to help. Again, I am so sorry you had to experience all this pain and suffering, physical breakdown and the edge of insecurity your grief caused you. Yet I want you to know your courage is a high achievement and I thank you for the hope this offers humanity. Also, thank you for finding your true authority within you, as the authority of the catholic church now no longer belongs to you. Your confidence to rest in HOPE speaks for you and needs no apology.

  4. Syd, I have never received such a detailed response. Thank you so much for the time and effort you took in summarizing my faith journey, and thank you for the support your words have given me: someone read my story and understands my journey.
    Thank you again.

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