U.S. Bishops: Not Shaken, Nor Stirred

By Kathy Kane

It had been a long day of travel, prayer and protest for the Mom Squad from the Philadelphia Archdiocese. A stroke of good luck had enabled us to book the very last room available at the pricey Marriott Waterfront where the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops was being held.  Accumulated travel points covered our one-night stay, a rate so high it would have cost the average Catholic a few months of donation basket envelopes. A very nice hotel employee upgraded us. This gave us access to the 31st floor concierge lounge where free food was available along with beautiful views of the Baltimore harbor and skyline. Somehow, on a shoe string budget we managed to live like Bishops for a night.

The first person I recognized when we walked through the Marriott lobby bar on Tuesday night was Bishop John Mcintyre, an auxiliary bishop from Philadelphia. 

We hadn’t been sure we would see any clergy during our stay. A church insider told me that most clergy would be laying low, at least for optics sake. That made sense due to the prior day’s news that depicted a hierarchy reeling from the Vatican directive to delay reform along with the eyes of the world watching in the wake of the McCarrick case, PA grand jury report and PA federal investigation. 

Instead, the atmosphere was what you might expect at any corporate convention. Priests and bishops circulated throughout the public areas of the hotel as well as the lay employees with their USCCCB lanyards.  Everyone looked healthy and not too malnourished from all the fasting. All seemed to hold their liquor well too despite that drinking on an empty stomach can be a disaster.

There were clergy in the concierge lounge, some grabbing a bite to eat, others enjoying a glass of wine or evening cocktail.  One Bishop with a booming voice and swagger of a CEO, talked loudly on his cell phone.  At the dessert table a lay employee took it upon herself to loudly identify each dessert to a bishop, treating him like a helpless man child.   

A Study In Contrasts

There were clergy in the main lobby throughout the day, talking and enjoying each other’s company. In contrast, protestors came in from the cold whipping winds of the waterfront to warm up for a minute or use the bathroom. Security was polite but ever present. Protest signs were forbidden and the Mom Squad had to conceal them or risk those losing their stay and accumulated travel points.

Tuesday, Theresa and Beth attended an event where they heard a survivor named James speak. He had been abused by the former Cardinal McCarrick. 

I connected with Father Chris Walsh, who came to Baltimore with a busload of parishioners and friends. This energetic crowd was interviewed by local Philly press outside of the hotel. They were passionate about children and the Church. Bob Hoatson of Road from Recovery was also out in front of the hotel on Tuesday. His calm presence and friendly demeanor was the opposite of the indifferent vibe inside.

Our Mom Squad had deep conversations throughout the day and into the evening.  We asked each other, Do they believe what they preach? How can one believe and at the same time have allowed such crimes and cover up? Do they fear death or a final judgment? Why don’t the ones not involved in crime or cover up speak up louder and tear down the wall of clericalism? What if the ultimate “fraternal correction” awaits them all in the afterlife – where there are no teams of attorneys at their beck and call. 

We struggled through conversations about our devout parents and disillusioned kids, trying to makes sense of how we ended up at this corporate convention of Christ protesting a hierarchy that allowed and covered up crimes against children, crimes against humanity. None of us would have predicted as Catholic kids that we would be here at this moment.

What happens when a bishop and three moms walk into a bar….

By the time we went to the lobby bar Tuesday night we had solved the Church’s problems 10 times over in our conversations. That’s when I saw Bishop McIntrye sitting nearby with a group of clergy. I signaled to our waiter and asked him what the man a few feet away in the blue sweater was drinking. “Cointreau on the rocks.” The Mom Squad immediately nicknamed the group “Top-Shelf Bishops.” I sent Bishop Mcintyre a drink compliments of Catholics4Change but somehow that message was bungled by the waiter so we changed it to sent from “Moms from Philly” and that got his attention. 

He came over and I introduced myself as did the other members of the Mom Squad. I told Bishop Mcintyre it was nice to meet him but that I was disappointed that emails to him in the past had gone unanswered. This is not an issue isolated to Bishop Mcintyre, the hierarchy simply ignores whatever mails they don’t want to answer.  Actually, at this point even the Archdiocesan staff ignores C4C emails.  I told him maybe now that we have met in person and I bought him a drink, it would ring a bell if I emailed him in the future. He thanked us for the drink and made an exit.

That night as the Mom Squad bunked together in our accumulated travel points hotel room, we talked in the darkness into the night. Theresa said, “I always think of the survivors.”  We agreed and added the families of victims who have have died are always on our minds. Beth spoke of how the abuse took so much from so many, so often leaving someone abused and without the faith that many lean on in crisis, because the leaders of their faith actually caused the crisis.

The next morning Theresa departed early, Beth and I took a walk outside and found Siobhan O’Connor and her friend down by the waterfront standing in the cold with signs in hand. Siobhan is the whistleblower lay employee from Buffalo who recently appeared on 60 minutes. The irony of the person who protected children being relegated to the sidewalk is a story repeated over and over in every Diocese, this time at a national conference.  How is it that victims, survivors, and advocates are the “outsiders”? Siobhan is a truly lovely woman with a heart as big as her conscience.

The Mom Squad lives on in a group text as we have kept in contact to sort out our feelings about the trip. Before she left Baltimore, Theresa drove by a Church where many years ago a relative had been the pastor. She texted that she was in tears as she headed toward I95. She was thinking about the hardship and sacrifice of those who brought the Catholic faith to the U.S and how it has been destroyed by the leadership in the past few decades. Beth texted that she went to adoration to talk to Jesus and told Him that she found saints outside the hotel at bishops’ conference. 

You never know going into a trip like this what each person’s takeaway will be. For me, the one thing I am sure of, is that the next time I need to email the hierarchy in Philadelphia, the subject line will read “Cointreau on the rocks.” Nothing else has gotten their attention.

Maybe cocktail diplomacy is the way to go.

Join Support Group for Archbishop Chaput

two hands reaching together in support for sarcastic article on the pain the press has caused Archbishop Chaput

by Susan Matthews

Media outlets, specifically The Philadelphia Inquirer, have allegedly victimized Archbishop Charles Chaput while reporting on the Catholic Church coverup of child predator priests.

Why would the press unjustly target the prelate who successfully helped defeat statute of limitation reforms in Colorado? It was clearly a coincidence that he was then assigned to the Philadelphia Archdiocese in the wake of the 2011 Grand Jury Report.

“You saw the job they tried to do on me,” said Archbishop Chaput to Inquirer columnist Maria Panaritis during the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. In an effort to protect himself from further pain, he reportedly refused to answer questions. Read her column here.

The alleged adult victim of molested character and scrutinized actions must be suffering beyond imagination. Catholics4Change is shifting our focus. Those abused and raped by priests as kids are better equipped to handle their devastation. Archbishop Chaput needs us more.

Catholics4Change is forming a support group for Archbishop Chaput. Please join us for a “listening and healing” prayer service. We will meet at St. Persecution’s complex on the 5th of never. Please join us.

Our new support hotline is open for any member of the clergy whose personal suffering is disproportionate to reality.

Or, offer it up to the cross. 


With These Shepherds, Whose Afraid of Wolves?

by Susan Matthews

Pope Francis directed U.S. bishops to postpone decisions regarding clergy child sex abuse accountability as they gathered in Baltimore for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. They had planned to vote on a code of conduct and to establish a lay commission to investigate misconduct from within their ranks. They will obey the pope and these measures were taken off the agenda.

My headline is borrowed from a comment posted by a C4C Facebook follower in response to the news. He’s right. This latest development makes me wonder if an entire institution can be classified as sociopathic.

The Vatican ambassador to the United States reiterated the pope’s wishes and warned bishops not to rely on lay investigations.

The Washington Post quotes him…

“There may be a temptation on the part of some to relinquish responsibility for reform to others from ourselves, as if we were no longer capable of reforming or trusting ourselves,” said Archbishop Christophe Pierre.

“Assistance is both welcome and necessary, and surely collaboration with the laity is essential. However, the responsibility as bishops of this Catholic Church is ours.”

He went on to quote a French author who said that “whoever pretends to reform the church with the same means to reform temporal society” will “fail.”

Damn straight. Civil law, ethics and morality mean absolutely nothing within their arrogant clerical bubble. And, they’ve also proven time and again that they aren’t capable of reforming themselves.

So now what?

The “change” in Catholics4Change does NOT refer to a change in the Church. It refers to the change within each of us that has been brought about by the abuse and the hierarchy’s criminal coverup.

  1. Demand that your senators pass window legislation for justice and prevention.
  2. Demand thorough federal, state and county investigations.
  3. Demand the full measure of the law be applied to those found guilty of covering up the sexual abuse of children.

We aren’t sheep.

Coming soon: Coverage from the concierge lounge and lobby bar at the Bishops’ Conference. C4C’s Kathy Kane investigates.

Dear Pennsylvania Senators…

By Carol Galante

Dear Pennsylvania Senators:

I am writing to ask that you vote for Senate Bill 261.

I want to be clear that I do not hate the church but I hate the behavior of those in charge. I have been an active member of the Catholic Church in Philly (40 years) and worked as a director of parish religious education for children for nearly 20 years. The altar of my wedding (40 years ago), I now see as the altar of an accused priest whose identity was disclosed in the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report. My beautiful memory of that sanctuary has changed forever.

I have been following the church closely on this matter since the scandal broke. I was a theology student and worked with children through Church programs back then. Moral theology and social justice were the focus of my study and writings. When I read those papers now, I realize how my reaction has intensified over the years toward those who selfishly protect predator priests and deny the abuse to victims, survivors and their families.

Within the church it’s called sin, but in society it’s called crime. The pope needs to handle internal Church changes. Lawmakers need to handle this civilly.

I have many friends (lay and clergy) in the Catholic Church who want to reclaim our church. They were told to shut up, mind their own business and obey the bishops. Too MUCH of the bishops’ power is spilling over in our state and country.

A two-year window would support Catholic teaching within the principle of “restorative justice.” I wonder if the catholic lobbyists and even the bishops are aware of these teachings. It’s what our current moral theology teaches. Opening a two-year window would help heal and restore my church, survivors and society.

Across the US, all eyes are watching Pennsylvania to see what happens with this bill. We know where this is heading in our country with a federal investigation. There are continued revelations of clergy abuse and a systematic cover up. How is PA going to be perceived if this bill fails to go through? I have heard PA called the “pedophile state.”

My sibling’s question echoes. “How can you work in a church that abuses children.” I thought I could help change things from within, but I have learned that can’t be done now. It’s up to you. Our laws need to reflect our values and we need to care for children.

Let’s face it, if the bishops knew what was right to do for the people, it would have already been done. They listen to lawyers who encourage secrecy. Bishops don’t have to follow their own Charter for the Protection of Children.

I can’t expect all lawmakers to be know what makes this church tick, but I can expect that you can look at this as a bill and know that it would protect children and families.

We need our legal system and our politicians to lead the way. Please vote yes for HB 261.

Thank You!

Carole Galante

Editor’s note: Please contact your PA state senator to let him or her know that you’d like them to vote yes for a two-year window for victims of childhood sexual abuse whose cases previously fell outside the statute of limitations. Find your senator’s name and contact information at this link.

10 Things To Consider When Choosing A Law Firm To Represent Your Interests As A Clergy Abuse Survivor

Its Brian Kent here. Thank you for allowing me to present at the webinar. It was my pleasure.



 
One of the questions I received after the webinar was from an attendee who has contacted two law firms about representation and wanted to know how to choose between them.



Since the Grand Jury report release, I have noticed several law firms from outside of Pennsylvania specifically target clergy abuse survivors here in Pennsylvania with ads on TV and social media. Like my law firm, they are accepting new clients who are survivors of clergy abuse, even where the statute of limitations has expired. However, I do not know if they are also willing to help survivors with a fund claim.



Here are 10 things I would consider if I were in your shoes:


  1. Has the law firm actually handled a civil case against the church in the past? If so, what was the outcome?

  2. Who would be the attorneys you are working with if you do retain them? What percentage of their work involves representing survivors of sexual abuse? What experience do they have?

  3. Has the firm ever been involved in assisting clergy abuse survivors through a fund process? This is important, as the fund option may be the only recourse depending on how the window legislation moves ahead in 2019.

  4. Where is the law firm located? Are they familiar with the PA catholic church structure? Are they local so you can meet them if necessary?

  5. How do they treat their clients? Check their reviews online. Search the name of the firm and reviews. Or ask the firm for references.

  6. In the event there is no window passed by the legislature, will the firm just drop you, or will they represent you through a church fund process, or other process?

  7. How many similar cases are they currently working on? Are you just a number in a large pool of people?

  8. Will the law firm treat the case as a class action or individual civil claim?

  9. What fees will you need to pay the firm? Is it purely contingency fee? Are you responsible for any fees and expenses should the case not work out?

  10. If you dismiss the firm from representing you or seek to change counsel, is there a clause that would result in a lien being placed on future recoveries for work performed to date? If so, what are the rates they charge?




Knowing all this information will help you choose a firm that aligns closer to what is important to you. I believe it is important to be transparent so expectations are set. If you do consider my firm as one of the firms you are looking at, we will be sure to outline all of the above so you can make an informed decision as to whether we are a good fit for your needs.



If you have any questions about any of the 10 points above, don’t hesitate to contact me via email: BKent@laffeybuccikent.com or call my office: (215) 544-3580.

Catholics4Change Steps It Up

Kathy and I never imagined we’d still be publishing Catholics4Change eight years after its inception in 2011. But here we are at the close of 2018 with more at stake than ever before.

With the world watching the federal investigation of the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania and the possibility of window legislation, we are stepping up our game. We are evolving to be at the forefront. Kathy and I plan to bring you more information by way of valuable blog content, webinars, podcasts and videos.

We’ve opened the door to Catholics4Change advertising sponsors. They may or may not align with your specific needs, but none will impact our editorial content.  These sponsorships provide us the time and budget to advertise our C4C content and to launch other important initiatives. 

As we move forward, we welcome your input. We are grateful for your continued post comments and conversation. You are the heart and soul of this blog. We promise what the Church doesn’t seem to be able to deliver – transparency, truth and commitment. 

Kathy & Susan

Catholics4Change Moderates Survivor Options Webinar Monday

The day began with the Pennsylvania Senate pushing a vote on a civil Statute of Limitations window into the next term, but it ends with a sweeping Federal investigation of the Pennsylvania Catholic Church. There’s room for hope that justice will no longer be denied – only delayed.

With that in mind, Catholics4Change is participating in a free webinar this Monday, 7-8PM, that will provide survivors with more information on the civil court process and their options.

Brian Kent, a Philadelphia-based attorney, will explain the latest proposed legislation and the possibilities they present. He will outline the details and outcomes of two criminal trials and one civil trial involving Father Andrew McCormick.

Nicholas Joniec, a clergy abuse survivor, will share his experience pursuing justice in the courts.

Susan Matthews, of Catholics4Change, will introduce panelists and moderate the webinar attendee questions and answers portion.

The identity of webinar attendees will not be visible and names will not be shared before, during or after the webinar. Your privacy is important to us.

For more information, please click here to visit the registration page.