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

I Want You to Tell the Truth

by Fr. Christopher M. Walsh, Pastor of St. Raymond Church, guest blogger

A member of the “Catholics4Change” community recently forwarded me the following questions:  I am asking you and your hierarchy to tell the truth about who the perpetrators and enablers are. Also where does the money come from that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia uses for the lobbying group Penna. Catholic Conference? Why is Abp. Chaput lobbying against HB 832 & HB 878?

Unfortunately I do not believe I am able to provide complete answers to these questions.  I am not unable due to a desire to protect my brother priests or our bishops, or out of a desire to protect the institution of the Church or out of arrogance.  I truly do not know the answers you are seeking although I have been asking some of the same questions.  Based on what I do know, I can offer the following…

At this point the Archdiocese of Philadelphia website publishes the names and photos of priests and deacons who have been accused and whose accusation has found to be “credible” by the Archdiocese.  I realize that this system does not include all the accused, which is a concern to many given the belief of the Philadelphia District Attorney that the Archdiocese’s process was often flawed and left children at risk.

Regarding the identification of “enablers”, I am not aware of the Archdiocese doing this at all.  Again, the various Grand Jury Reports did name a variety of priests who worked for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia who they believed contributed to the system that continued to place children at risk (which led to the current prosecution of Msgr. Lynn).  One of the recurring conversations among priests in recent months has been on this topic: who knew what and when (I assure you that those who were having these conversations truly did not know what was happening regarding the victimization of children and their families).  While there is continued encouragement to move forward in faith and seek healing, I do not believe that this can happen for many people until there is clarity and transparency on “who knew what and when”.   Like the person who posted this question, I too would like to know a complete answer from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Regarding the finances that the Archdiocese contributes to the PA Catholic Conference, the “public affairs” arm of PA’s Catholic Bishops and our Dioceses: sadly, the answer remains “I do not know”.  I do not know the budget of the PA Catholic Conference (nor is the information available online) nor do I know the amount of contribution made by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (not listed in the Archdiocese Financial Statement).  The Conference advocates on a variety of issues including: school choice, respect life issues, poverty concerns, marriage and family issues, and I imagine they will soon be advocating on behalf of the Bishops regarding the proposed lifting of the statute of limitations to allow for civil suits against perpetrators of sexual abuse.  In general, the income of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia comes from a few sources: interest from investments, the assessment levied against parishes and gifts in kind made to the Archdiocese.  I imagine that any support for the PA Catholic Conference comes through these sources however I do not know that for certain.

Finally, I do not know that Abp. Chaput is lobbying against the proposed legislation that would allow civil suits on behalf of victims of childhood sexual abuse.  I have not had a conversation with Abp. Chaput about this matter nor has he communicated anything to priests at this point.

As I am able to gain more complete answers to these questions I will share them on this forum and in other ways as I continue to seek a renewed integrity in our Church for the glory of God and the good of the human family.

Q&A: Is Lack of Giving Having Impact in Right Place?

Q. This is a question for Father Walsh. I wonder if he would be able to clarify whether or not there is a specific stipend that each parish must send to the Archdiocese from their donations. If so, will a parish (and possibly parish school) indeed suffer because of a reduction in donations? I need to figure out if our purposeful lack of giving in the last few months has made an impact in the right (or wrong) place. Thank you.
– Jackie

A. Dear Jackie,

Thank you for your question.  I have had conversations about this topic with many people over the last few months, including the people in my own parish. Your concern for your parish is praiseworthy as is your desire to make a purposeful statement around your objections to the manner in which you believe the Archdiocese has handled cases of sexual abuse.

You are correct that each parish in the Archdiocese pays an “assessment” annually. The assessment is a percentage (roughly 10%) of the parish’s Sunday collection. The Archdiocese uses the money from the assessments to subsidize the Archdiocesan High Schools, fund Evangelization and Ministry to Youth and Young Adults, train the seminarians and deacons as well as to fund the other operating costs of the Archdiocese. It is also correct that the parish is liable to the Archdiocese for this annual assessment.

If a parish is unable to pay its assessment for some reason (perhaps decreased Sunday offerings or increased school deficits) the amount of the assessment becomes a liability to the Archdiocese which will need to be paid off at some point in the future. Thus, the withholding a tithe from your parish has a tremendous impact on your parish financial stability at many levels.
– Fr Chris Walsh

Father Chris Walsh is Pastor of St. Raymond of Penafort Church in Northwest Philadelphia. Prior to this assignment, he served as School Minister at Archbishop Wood High School in Warminster and Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Ransom Parish in Northeast Philadelphia. Father Chris is originally from West Chester and is a graduate of Temple University.  He firmly believes that the Holy Spirit is at work in the Church, even in these difficult days, and that the Catholic Church remains a true instrument of God’s grace in our broken world.

Editor’s note: This assessment is calculated every few years. So the percentage may not reflect current giving but is still enforced at the calculated amount.

If you have a question for our panel, please send it via the Contact page. Please indicate whether you would like to remain anonymous.

Q&A: How Can Priests Reach Those Who Need Them Most – the Victims?

Q. Fr. Chris, I appreciate your communication with us. My concern is that this crime continues because of silence and lack of action. If your silence means you are acting quietly then there is still hope. As for speaking out during homilies and in bulletins that would mean you have to attend mass……..the people that need to hear you the most….the victims in many cases have panic attacks at the mere mention of going to mass or seeing a priest. Thus the population that needs to hear what you have to say the most is despairing and a few even killed themselves. How are you reaching out to those that don’t come to you…..if you are not speaking out publicly?

– Beth

A. Dear Beth,  I am grateful for the insights shared by yourself and the many people who have posted comments on my last answer.  In no way do I claim to have all the answers (this is the attitude that led us into much of this nightmare) so I am grateful for sharing in this ongoing conversation which allows me to learn from the experience and wisdom of others.  

In regard to your comments/question, I feel that we need to clarify something. When you write that the “crime continues” which crime are you referring to? If the crime is the abuse of children, then in no case should a priest or any other person remain silent. This type of silence is inexcusable and immoral. This type of silence is certainly a crime that was committed by many priests over the years as they said nothing about what they knew was happening or at least suspected was happening.  

If the crime is the coverup that seems to be have been orchestrated or at least allowed to unfold by the Archdiocese, then once again this type of silence is inexcusable. If people who worked for the Archdiocese (priest or laity) had knowledge that the crime of obstructing justice was being committed they too had the duty to speak out in defense of the victims. I do not believe that the vast majority of priests currently serving in the Archdiocese would fit into either of these “crimes” – I think that most, like myself, were and sadly are very ignorant about specifics in the majority of cases. If this is not the case (and I am open to being proven wrong on this), then I too believe these men should be brought to justice in some way (by the state or by the Church).  

If you are using “crime” colloquially in reference to the fact that so many faithful Catholics are feeling like “sheep without a shepherd” because their priests are not offering guidance, consolation or expressing the outrage or anger that ought to be expressed at a time such as this then once again, I agree that this silence is a problem. You are correct that in the parishes where priests are talking about these issues, the voice is (praise God) being heard. However in many parishes that voice in absent. In the lives of most people (since the vast majority of Catholics do not attend Mass and accounting for all of the people in our society who are not Catholic, thus not at Mass either) this voice is not being heard. Thus is a grave problem (which would not be a problem is the Bishops were being the Bishops the people need them to be and I believe God wants them to be).  

So to get to your question – how am I reaching out to all those who are looking for something? This blog is an obvious attempt at that very thing (again, not to offer “answers” but to offer ‘insights” from the perspective of one priest). In addition, I try to share my thoughts on this issue (and related issues) via social media like Facebook and Twitter (which reaches many non-Churchgoing folks). I know that the people of our area are longing to hear from the collective voice of the priests of the Archdiocese on these matters – yet, the priests are just not there yet (again, I can offer lots of reasons why, most of which would not satisfy many people).  

I can tell you that a significant number of priests from the Archdiocese met for a second time this week to share their frustrations and hopes, to seek answers on what happened and why and to continue seeking the best way for us (as a group) to act. I shared with my brother priests your desire. Please pray for us as we continue to meet, talk, discern and strive to be the priests you want us to be and the priests God wants us to be for you and your families.

– Fr. Chris

Father Chris Walsh is Pastor of St. Raymond of Penafort Church in Northwest Philadelphia. Prior to this assignment, he served as School Minister at Archbishop Wood High School in Warminster and Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Ransom Parish in Northeast Philadelphia. Father Chris is originally from West Chester and is a graduate of Temple University.  He firmly believes that the Holy Spirit is at work in the Church, even in these difficult days, and that the Catholic Church remains a true instrument of God’s grace in our broken world.


Q&A: Why Are So Many Priests Silent?

Q. Why are members of the priesthood silent on the various issues that challenge the church, today? What are the factors that silence them? Why do they permit the factors to silence them? Why don’t they organize and provide substantive insights and remedies. And, why do we call silent priests “good priests”? If there is anything I will never come to understand, it is that.
– submitted by Katherine Fitzgerald
A. Dear Katherine,

Thank you for this insightful question that has been raised by many in the weeks since this latest round of crisis began.  I will try to offer my own insights on this question. In no way do I claim my answer to be anything other than my own insights as a priest who has had many conversations with other priests throughout this sad chapter in the life of our Church.

I think it is important to begin by stating that not all priests have been silent.  There are many priests who have spoken out strongly against the abuse of children, the perceived cover up, and the lack of communication and authentic pastoral concern. These priests have spoken through their homilies, in their bulletins, in parish meetings and in casual conversations with concerned people like yourself.

I believe other priests are trying to find their voice and express this same frustration and concern in a manner in which they are comfortable (some research has revealed that by personality preferences, many priests prefer to avoid conflict which might explain some of what you are experiencing). As priests, we live in a culture that makes every attempt to resolve things privately.  I am not offering this as an excuse, but as a possible reason for why priests are not being as vocal as you and many others would prefer.  In addition, on the day of our ordination we made the promise to “respect and obey” the Bishop of our Archdiocese and as men of integrity we seek to do this very thing (even when our respect and obedience may be perceived as tacit approval, which it is not).

Thus, I believe priests are trying to make their voice heard in a way that will be received as respectful of the Archbishop and his assistants. Priests have been offering insights and possible remedies to the Archdiocese through a variety of forums and this will continue. I know of several priests who have had meetings with different Bishops that they found to be productive and very hopeful. I ask that you not take the silence of all of your priests to mean that they are not concerned, nor that they are not having meaningful conversations, nor that they are not searching for the best way to raise their voice.

As a priest of this Archdiocese I believe that the Holy Spirit is moving amongst the priests in a new way (especially as we prepare for Pentecost) and I pray that the priests who minister to you will find the voice that is needed to continue announcing the Good News of Jesus Christ!

– Father Chris

Father Chris Walsh is Pastor of St. Raymond of Penafort Church in Northwest Philadelphia. Prior to this assignment, he served as School Minister at Archbishop Wood High School in Warminster and Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Ransom Parish in Northeast Philadelphia. Father Chris is originally from West Chester and is a graduate of Temple University.  He firmly believes that the Holy Spirit is at work in the Church, even in these difficult days, and that the Catholic Church remains a true instrument of God’s grace in our broken world.


Panel of Experts to Answer Questions on Catholics4Change

Clergy sex abuse, the cover up and related issues raise so many questions. In an effort to serve our readership, Catholics4Change has assembled a panel of experts to answer queries related to their specialties. Whether your question involves PA legislation, Canon Law, archdiocesan policy, spirituality, victim support – we will do our best to get it answered. Use the private contact form on the Contact tab located in the bar at the top of this Web site to send your question. Please indicate if you wish to remain anonymous.

All of these panelists have generously volunteered their time, so please be patient as you await reply. Questions and answers will be published as new posts on the site and then archived under the Q&A category.

Meet the Panel:

Father Chris Walsh is Pastor of St. Raymond of Penafort Church in Northwest Philadelphia. Prior to this assignment, he served as School Minister at Archbishop Wood High School in Warminster and Parochial Vicar at Our Lady of Ransom Parish in Northeast Philadelphia. Father Chris is originally from West Chester and is a graduate of Temple University.  He firmly believes that the Holy Spirit is at work in the Church, even in these difficult days, and that the Catholic Church remains a true instrument of God’s grace in our broken world.

Sister Maureen Paul Turlish is a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur. She is a founding member of the National Survivor Advocates Coalition, a member of the steering committee of the Greater Philadelphia Voice of the Faithful and a member of the Child Victims Voice Coalition. She has taught and chaired departments at both Archbishop Wood and Lansdale Catholic High Schools in addition to teaching at St. Bernadette, Drexel Hill and St. Albert the Great, Huntingdon Valley.

David Clohessy has served as national director of SNAP (Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests) since 1991, setting up local support groups and doing thousands of interviews (including Oprah, Sixty Minutes, the Phil Donahue Show, Good Morning America). He’s been a community organizer in poor neighborhoods, and has done political and public relations consulting. In 2002, Clohessy was one of only four survivors to address all of America’s Catholic bishops at their historic meeting in Dallas. In 2007, he received the Lifetime Achievement in Advocacy Award from the Institute on Violence, Abuse and Trauma (IVAT).  

Daniel F. Monahan has been handling personal injury cases, including clergy sexual abuse cases for state and federal courts, for more than 30 years. He graduated cum laude from the University of Delaware with a Bachelor of Arts in History in 1975. He graduated from Villanova University School of Law in 1978 and earned a Masters in Law from Villanova University School of Law in 2000. Monahan is a member of the American Association for Justice, the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, the National Crime Victims’ Bar Association, and the Pennsylvania Bar Association. He and his wife of 35 years live in East Goshen and have three grown children.


Please note:

We invited the Archdiocese to have a representative on the Question & Answer panel. They thanked us for reaching out but declined to participate.

Catholics4Change will continue to seek experts to add to the panel.