The Bishop is Back in Town

By Kathy Kane

The lucky streak continues. It was revealed today that Bishop Michael Bransfield has been living in Philadelphia since last fall after leaving his diocese in Wheeling, West Virginia. Just the news we needed on the heels of a Philadelphia priest being arrested for rape last week.

Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore has banned Bransfeld from ministry in two dioceses after completing the preliminary investigation into sexual harassment and misconduct allegations, as well as looking into possible financial improprieties.

Don’t count Bransfield out yet as he has been able to keep his head above water in the past amid allegations. His comments to a reporter today seem to be plotting his next move. He sounds quite confident given his circumstances. Hopefully we won’t see him doing the Rocky run up the Art Museum steps while he’s here.

“After Bransfield stepped aside, a person familiar with the matter told The Inquirer that at least three priests had come forward with claims that Bransfield had subjected them to unwanted sexual advances and physical contact. A hotline set up subsequently drew more than 75 calls alleging misconduct in West Virginia, Washington, and Philadelphia that stretched back decades.”

Read more here.

Breaking…Father Armand Garcia Arrested

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

Catholics4Change broke the news in March 2018 that Father Armand Garcia was placed on administrative leave while being investigated for possible misconduct with minors. At that time the Archdiocese made an announcement to the parish St. Martin of Tours, but there was no press release or announcement to the local press.

Today we share the news that Garcia has been arrested and is facing charges of rape, corruption of a minor and sexual abuse of a minor. The alleged crimes took place in 2014.

We pray for any child who was harmed and we pray for justice.

Statement from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Regarding Reverend Armand D. Garcia

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.

Retreating from the Truth

FatherJohn Meyers, former rector of the Malvern Retreat House, was found unsuitable for ministry in January of 2019 for a credible and substantiated allegation of the sexual abuse of a minor. The press release from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia stated that Meyers was placed on administrative leave in late 2018 and his priestly faculties were restricted following the receipt of an allegation that he had sexually abused a minor in the early 1980’s.

From the wording in the statement many might think that the allegation was received in late 2018. We attempted to clarify with the Archdiocese, but our email to John Delaney, Delegate of Investigations went unanswered.

We recently were provided with information that tells a different story than the information released by the Archdiocese. It seems that the allegation was first reported to the Malvern Retreat House and the information was quickly handed over to the Archdiocese on March 1, 2018. What didn’t happen quickly however was Meyers removal from the Malvern Retreat House. Meyers remained as rector for seven months after the allegation was known to the Archdiocese. During that time the criminal and internal investigations were carried out.

It seems that “restrictions” were in place during this time for Meyers being with minors. What clergy or staff at Malvern were tasked with watching a potentially dangerous man? What were their credentials for watching a possible child predator and enforcing the restrictions?

Was Meyers escorted from the grounds when the high school students showed up for the overnight Kairos retreats? Did Archbishop Chaput swing by and pick him up before the kids ages 4-12 from Camp Guadalupe came for the summer day camp? Did Leslie Davila of the Office of Child and Youth Protection take Meyers to the mall for the day while the teenage girls were at Malvern for the Young Women of Grace retreat? Did the staff announce to the families at the Family Labor Day weekend retreat that the rector was under investigation? Who watched him when the young people employed by the retreat house showed up for work?

The information was kept from parents. The parents who pack up their little ones up with snacks and drinks for the day camp. The parents who help their excited high school student zip up the overstuffed suitcase for Kairos weekend. The parents who drop off their nervous teenager for their first day of work at the retreat house.

There are dangerous people everywhere in the world, but for the Archdiocese to send children and young people into a situation knowing that someone in that environment could pose a risk, and to withhold that information from parents is something that defies the very relationship between parent and child. It defies basic nature. It defies basic respect.

My parents were long time supporters of the Malvern Retreat House. We have a bench dedicated to my father on the grounds. When I was 18 years old, the Men of Malvern came to my father’s funeral and shared stories with my family about my father that exemplified both his faith and his character. Many years later when my children went on their Kairos Retreats I told them to look for the bench and to enjoy their time at a place that meant so much to their grandfather.

My 19 year old daughter was devastated when I told her that one of the recently removed priests had been the rector at Malvern . Her Kairos retreat was a few months before Meyers arrived at Malvern Retreat, but the feeling that a person who had harmed a child was on that campus is a feeling that she can’t shake. She wanted to know how long they knew about Meyers and how long they left him at a place where children frequent. She wanted to email the Archdiocese and demand answers. A 19 year old was ready to go bat for the kids.

It was so difficult to explain to her that in this type of situation it is not just the decisions of Archbishop Chaput, but it is also the many people involved in these situations who are parents who go along with the decision to keep information secret from other parents. None of this works without lay staff willing to go along with the decisions.

If my father were alive he would be on the doorstep of the Malvern Retreat House demanding to know why an investigation of child sex abuse was kept from the retreat community. My father was a man of great faith and great character. It is possible to have both. Someday the Church might finally learn that lesson.

Thank you to everyone who provides us with information and trusts us to tell the story. The full truth will always come out. It just won’t be in a press release from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Double Trouble:

Second Investigation of Msgr. Logrip Reveals Two Archdiocesan Sins of Omission

It was deja vu when the Archdiocese of Philadelphia recently announced that Msgr. Joseph Logrip would be placed on administrative leave while being investigated for an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor. Logrip was first placed on administrative leave for an earlier investigation in 2011, along with 26 other Archdiocesan priests. He was reinstated in 2014.

Along with this second investigation, a related mystery has reemerged. When a priest is found unsuitable for ministry or placed on administrative leave, the Archdiocese includes that priest’s assignments in the removal announcement. But Logrip’s decades-spanning involvement with St. Aloysius Academy for Boys is missing in BOTH the 2011 and 2019 removal announcements.

Located in Bryn Mawr, St. Aloysius Academy is an all-boys, private, Catholic school for grades K through 8. It’s administered by the Sisters, Servants of the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Logrip seems to have served as the school chaplain for many years. A book published in 1995, celebrating the Academy’s 100th anniversary year, reveals the following:

  • A photo of Msgr. Logrip from 1978 identifying him as the school chaplain.
  • In 1988, during Catholic Schools week, Msgr. Logrip blessed the new chapel at the main school building.
  • In the 1980’s the First Friday Masses were celebrated by Msgr. Logrip
  • In the 1990’s he celebrated the opening school Mass that kicked off the centennial celebration year for the school.
  • At the Centennial Gala dinner he gave the benediction and is identified as the school chaplain.

A former St. Aloysius student remembers Logrip being on the school campus a few times each week during the late 1980’s through the mid-1990’s. He says the priest was often accompanied by St. Charles seminarians.

Logrip is mentioned in a lawsuit filed in 2011 by a former student alleging abuse by Father Martin Satchell in the early 1990’s. Satchell seems to have been a seminarian at the time of the abuse. The former student alleges he told Msgr. Logrip in 1995 that someone had hurt him but that Logrip did nothing to help him.

Despite Logrip’s well-documented history at the school, nothing pertaining to his time at St. Aloysius is mentioned in the 2011 or 2019 official Archdiocesan removal announcements.

Back in 2014, we asked the Archdiocese why St. Aloysius was missing from Logrip’s list of assignments. They responded that Logrip had volunteered as their chaplain. They hadn’t assigned him. But they knew about it! A subtle distinction was their reason for omitting information that could aid an investigation, inform the public and spur important conversations among those who attended or worked at the school.

It seems the Archdiocesan definition of transparency and accountability is very, very limited.

In 2019, with Logrip’s second removal for investigation, in an era where transparency is preached from the pulpit, the Archdiocese had a second chance to get it right. They failed. Did they forget we are watching?

Once again, they withheld Logrip’s long history with St. Aloysius Academy for Boys.

One has to wonder why?

NY Senate Passes Child Victims Act

Survivors of child sex abuse and advocates won an important victory for justice and prevention when the New York state senate passed the Child Victims Act.

Catholics4Change thanks and congratulates all who fought this uphill battle for many years. May the headlines in New York be repeated in the many states where this legislation needs to be enacted – including Pennsylvania.

The new law does away with the statutes of limitations that have prevented some alleged abuse victims from going to court to seek damages. And it includes a one-year “look-back window” that will allow others who weren’t able to sue in the past to file fresh claims.

Passage of the Child Victims Act is an exhilarating and empowering moment for those of us who have been waging this battle in Albany for a dozen years,” Stephen Jimenez, a sex abuse survivor and advocate for other victims, said after the vote.”

Click here to read “N.Y. Senate votes to give victims of child sex abuse more years to sue, ending years-long battle” at NBC.com.

Consider the Source: Archdiocesan Press Release Short on Facts

As we predicted, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia waited until late Friday afternoon, a dead-zone in the news cycle, to issue a revised press release about three priests removed from ministry.

We alerted the Office of Communications to specific inaccuracies in their press release a week prior. Even though we provided corrections, they needed a lot of time to confirm the truth. Go to Google and people in the pews if you want clergy sex abuse facts.

As was likely intended, local new sources relied upon and quoted the inaccurate and incomplete press release during the week it remained unrevised. Read the updated press release here.

Rev. Raymond Smart’s parish service has been updated. The date of the sexual abuse of a minor allegation is also revised.

Negligent or Deliberate?

In an email regarding the inaccuracies, Ken Gavin, of the Office of Communications, explained his office used the official clergy personnel assignment list. This means, that despite three separate investigations since 2011, the Archdiocesan Office for Clergy didn’t have accurate records of Father Smart’s living arrangements and ministry for the past 16 years. Or, they didn’t pass on complete information to the Office for Communications.

Maybe a bishop’s after-dinner drink spilled and damaged pages? Maybe a clergy office staffer lost a few pages after tripping over the cot we suspect is set up for Father Joseph Gallagher, an alleged abuser who is M.I.A. We will never know. We’re just really glad we could help update their records.

The Archdiocese was also off by an entire year in regard to when the allegation was received. It stands to reason it would be the Office for Investigations responsibility to ensure the accuracy of allegation dates.

In the past, clergy suspension and removal announcements have been coordinated between the Office of Investigations and the Office of Communications. We know this because an investigator once hit “reply all,” forgetting to remove us from an email thread.

It’s still unclear when the allegation concerning Father John Meyers was received by John Delaney, Delegate of Archdiocesan Investigations. He has not replied to our emails.

Scooby Doo Where Are You?

We will publish a separate post this week on the now twice-removed Msgr. Joseph Logrip. His assignment record in the press release still does not show where he resided between 1983 and 1990, nor does it indicate his many years serving as St Aloysius Academy’s chaplain.

A few years ago, we shared troubling information about an Archdiocesan priest with the police and the Archdiocesan Investigations office. When we followed up with the police, they said the Archdiocese told them the priest was in his 90’s and living in a private residence. We knew this was wrong based on our limited information and were quickly able to estimate his age based on his ordination date and a newspaper article found online. Why were we able to land within one year of his actual age but the Archdiocese was off by decades? Also, the priest wasn’t living in a private residence.

The Archdiocese had supplied the police information on an elderly relative of the priest, who happened to share the same name. The detective said the Archdiocese should hire us.

But does the Archdiocese of Philadelphia really want accuracy and transparency?