Live Webinar: Wednesday 12/5/18 at 7pm – The Survivors’ Compensation Fund: Your Questions Answered.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE WEBINAR

DATE: Wednesday, December 5, 2018
TIME: 7pm to 8pm Eastern Standard Time
SPEAKERS: Susan Matthews, Catholics4Change; and Brian Kent, Esq., an attorney representing survivors

This webinar will address several questions we have received from our community about the Survivors’ Compensation Fund.

If you are a survivor of clergy abuse and have received information from your Diocese about a compensation plan, this webinar will give you the opportunity to ask questions and fully understand your options

The webinar will be moderated by Susan Matthews from Catholics4Change. We will be joined by Brian Kent, Esq., an experienced clergy abuse attorney who has represented several survivors in prior Compensation Funds.

Please submit your questions via:
1) Email to susan@susanmatthews.com; or
2) you will be able to ask questions anonymously via the chat feature on the webinar

Note 1: If you are represented by an attorney in a civil claim involving the clergy, then please inform your attorney that you are attending this webinar.

Note 2: This Webinar will not be recorded. All attendees are anonymous and your information will not be shared with anyone.

CLICK HERE TO REGISTER FOR THE WEBINAR

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.

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 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.

PA Senators Vote This Week: Tell Them Window Protects Kids

Dear Senators Scarnati, Corman and Costa,

As a kid, you might have been told you had a guardian angel who watched over and protected you? We were. It was fascinating to think there was an invisible presence keeping us from harm. Some kids even named their guardian angel and wondered if they’d meet them in heaven.

We’ve met our children’s angels. Their names are Vicky, Mark, Mike, Shaun, Julie Ann, Mary, John, Patty, Carolyn, Jim, Jeanne…. Every victim and survivor in Pennsylvania who has spoken out about their clergy abuse is helping to protect kids. They’ve sacrificed privacy and emotional wellness to warn future generations of Catholic families about predator priests. They’ve done everything in their limited power to ensure no child endures the horror they experienced. But it’s not enough.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has been the subject of two Grand Jury reports (2005 and 2011), which lead to dozens of abusive priests being removed from ministry and some legal reforms. The PA Grand Jury Report has revealed so much more.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia touts their victims’ assistance program and child protection efforts. But the devil is in the details, literally.

  • The PA Grand Jury Report points out what we already know, that child predator priests from all over the country are shipped to a Catholic facility in Pennsylvania located across the street from 1,000 Archdiocesan students.
  • The Archdiocese has a set of standards for all church personnel who interact with children and young people but they don’t educate the kids and teens on the standards. How will they know what to report?
  • The Archdiocese will not agree to implement policy agreeing to notify parents of a child when church personnel violate the standards. 
  • In Philadelphia, a victim can pick up a newspaper and read that Bishop Michael Fitzgerald, the head of Office of Child and Youth Protection/Victims Assistance has celebrated the funeral of a child predator priest.
  • Parents at a parish find out that a priest being investigated for child sex abuse was left at the parish for almost a year while being investigated.

When Archdiocesan leadership promises they will report sexual abuse, that’s because it’s the law now. Anything less than law leaves it to their judgment, which has been proven to put children at risk.

Yes, their victims assistance program provides free therapy. Imagine if a car manufacturer knowingly sent cars with defective brakes out on the road and then offered free physical therapy for those injured as a result. Would that be enough? We’ve witnessed victims, and family members of deceased victims, ignored and even hassled.

This institution takes more guidance from attorneys than the Gospel. We say this as Catholic moms, both the product of Catholic schools, who sent our kids to the same. Lucky to have only been betrayed, we trust in God and in our legal system. We don’t believe the bishops. Neither should you.

Window legislation benefits all Pennsylvanians. Civil suits can expose even more abuse and cover ups. A copy of memo, made prior to it being shredded, listing the names of 35 abusive priests was introduced during a criminal trial in Philadelphia. One priest from the list was still in ministry at the time. Archdiocesan leadership knew, but did nothing until his name was revealed in a court room. Children are the safer for it. Civil suits will offer the same opportunity for discovery.

The victims, survivors and their family members have been heroic in their efforts to protect our children. They deserve justice and they deserve to be released from the clutches of the Church, whose reach extends to our commonwealth’s capitol. And what about abuse survivors who aren’t Catholic? The bishops and Catholic Conference lobbying efforts block justice for those abused by a uncle, coach or neighbor. 

Who is lobbying on behalf of our kids?  It’s the victims, those who were raped and molested as children. It’s tragic and beautiful that they are the ones on the front lines. We wish we could offer the words that express the empathy, gratitude and respect they deserve. But you can offer those words in new legislation.

Please extend an opportunity for civil justice, an opportunity to expose child predators and the institutions that hide them, and an opportunity to better protect all Pennsylvania children.

Sincerely,

Kathy Kane & Susan Matthews

_________________________________

WRITE & EMAIL YOUR LETTERS TODAY

Please  share your thoughts with these senators and your own:

jscarnati@pasen.gov

https://www.senatorcorman.com/contact/

http://www.senatorcosta.com/contact/

This week is the final time the Pennsylvania Senate will be voting before the two-year session ends in November. So much is at stake for victims and children.

Excerpts from: As Pa. Senate session winds down, last-minute push would allow two-year window for clergy abuse victims, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 14, 2018

Senator Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, has declined interview requests and “his office circulated a counter-proposal calling for the creation of a ‘tribunal’ of judges appointed by the state’s appellate courts that would, in turn, select an administrator to manage a compensation fund. Mr. Scarnati’s proposal also would create some sort of public registry that would allow victims to petition courts to have an abuser’s name added to it.

The proposal was swiftly opposed by victims and their advocates, many of whom characterize it as a bailout for the Catholic Church and the insurance industry. Both have argued that it could lead to devastating financial blows.

‘We don’t need more bureaucracy,’ said York-area advocate Kristen Pfautz Woolley, who was abused as a child. ‘We need a two-year window for survivors to use the existing court system to obtain justice.’

Ms. Woolley said her abuser was not a priest, but a man her family trusted. She said for many victims, compensation has little to do with achieving justice.

‘I want to face my abuser in court,” she said. “I want to make sure that he never harms another child.’

Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, declined a media request made last week through his spokeswoman.

Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, said he believed there was support in his caucus for the measure, but he didn’t have a specific vote count.

‘I think there are a number of members in our caucus who would like a two-year window, but I don’t believe that that is where our colleagues in the Senate Republican caucus are at,’ Mr. Costa said.”