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.
In the wake of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report on clergy child sex abuse, 900 survivors have called a hotline launched by the attorney general’s office.
PA Clergy Abuse Hotline: 888-538-8541
For many, that call was the first time they shared their abuse.
I vividly remember the first time our pediatrician went over good touch/bad touch with my toddler-aged daughter during a routine exam in 2000. It took me by surprise. The doctor explained it was part of her training and protocol. It was a simple protective measure that hadn’t occurred to me.
Growing up in the 80s, there wasn’t an ABC afterschool special titled, “The Day Father Mark Molested Me.” It wasn’t even a blip on my radar. I knew kids were abused, but I thought it was really rare and happened somewhere else.
It took the release of the 2011 Grand Jury Report about the clergy sex abuse in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia to hit home – literally. I couldn’t understand why the world, or at least my part of the world, wasn’t more shaken.
Many of the survivors were my age and grew up within miles. After suffering in silence for years, they were telling loved ones and strangers that they’d lived a lie by omission – and by necessity.
There’s a fine line between self-preservation and self-destruction when it comes to surviving child sex abuse. The disbelief, rejection, stigma and additional trauma of disclosure has to be weighed against the hope for acceptance, support and healing.
It may finally be easier to choose the latter. I sense a cultural shift since the latest grand jury report, the Me Too movement and widespread media coverage of sex abuse.
According to therapists, when those who endure trauma share their story out loud, it helps them acknowledge it. Then healing can begin, but only if those listening really hear them.
It’s become loud and clear. Public awareness and support is growing. Maybe even more important, survivors know their numbers now. The percentage of the population is staggeringly high.
Neither Kathy or I are survivors, but the statistical odds tell us that someone we love is a survivor or will become one. Neither is an acceptable circumstance. Support and protect.
“The Vatican knew of a cover-up involving abusive priests, Pennsylvania AG says,” by Holly Yan, CNN, August 28, 2018
“Pope Francis Long Knew of Cardinal’s Abuse and Must Resign, Archbishop says,” by Jason Horowitz, The New York Times, August 26, 2018
Does anyone believe that the Pope didn’t know? Clearly many in Ireland believe he knew or stopped considering the Church altogether. Not surprising given the horrific abuses the faithful there suffered at the hands of the institutional Church.
“Pope Ends Visit To A Disillusioned Ireland, Where Church Authority Has Plunged,” by Frank Langfitt, NPR, August, 27, 2018
Speaking of disillusioned, Catholics In Action organized a gathering near the Cathedral Basilica of SS Peter and Paul on Sunday, August 26. Advocates, victims and their families met to share outrage, support and prayer.
“Philly Catholic group calls for action outside the Cathedral Basilica,” by Antionette Lee, KYW.com, August 26, 2018
This homily was delivered a week prior to the release of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report by the pastor of the parish where I would attend Mass if I were a “practicing” Catholic. I’m just an average Catholic.
I met Father Marks, who delivered this homily, at an event a year ago. Prior to his ordination, he worked in business and then as a lawyer. He’s the kind of priest who makes me miss Mass. Statistical likelihoods aside, I remind myself that any person I meet could be an awful human being. So, I don’t assume that every priest I encounter is a child predator or involved in a cover up. So when a friend shared this link, I listened.
His message of not letting evil get in the way made me think. I’ve separated my faith from the tragic abuse and cover up – the divine from the human. So why can’t I just plunk myself down in the pew and participate?
“And Jesus went into the temple of God, and cast out all them that sold and bought in the temple, and overthrew the tables of the moneychangers, and the seats of them that sold doves, And said unto them, It is written, My house shall be called the house of prayer; but ye have made it a den of thieves.”
Jesus didn’t intend for us to ignore our sins or the sins of others in the Church. As our moms taught us, saying sorry isn’t enough. We also need to act differently. There are hundreds of Cardinal McCarricks who remain in ministry – many even seemingly rewarded with positions – even at the Vatican.
The hierarchy hasn’t driven evil out. Instead, it enables cover ups to flourish. They only take action when public outcry reaches the highest decibel or the legal system demands it. Leadership hides behind arcane, politically-driven Vatican protocols that trickle down into a warped culture of clericalism. Many, including myself, feel participating in the institutional Church makes them complicit in the hypocrisy and deceit.
Father Marks is confident in Catholicism’s future based on its 2,000 years of existence. This offers him proof of God’s intent. My Dad has said the same. That’s a long time. But Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam and many other major religions also share that timeline.
Why can’t I just plunk myself down in the pew? I turn to the always helpful follow up question, “What would Jesus do?” “What would He do if abusers and those who cover it up refuse to leave the Church?”
Clean the temple out. Or one day, only the moneychangers will remain.
Archbishop Chaput’s response to the PA Grand Jury Report is topped off by a website banner that refuses to acknowledge the truth. It neglects to say the Archdiocese isn’t in the latest Grand Jury Report because its abuse and cover up was revealed in Grand Jury Reports released in 2011 and 2005. Why were two Grand Jury Reports necessary? Because the lie and cover up continued after the first investigation and report. They seem to continue today.
Here is a recap of the last two months on C4C:
· Priests from the Philadelphia Archdiocesan hierarchy preside at the funerals of predator priests.
· A porn-addicted priest investigated for possible child porn is reinstated and stationed at the Cathedral, where he was present at a high school Baccalaureate Mass. A clergy sex abuse survivor happened to be in attendance and was shocked. No response from Leslie Davila, Archdiocesan director of office for child and youth protection (OCYP).
· C4C contacted the Archdiocese twice requesting that an abusive priest’s falsely flattering bio information be removed from a parish website. No response to Kathy’s email sent to Leslie Davila, OCYP director. No archdiocesan outreach to victim.
· Some abusive priests were transferred from the prayer and penance program at Villa St Joseph to St Francis Nursing Home…. where young children visit grandparents. Visitors not informed.
· Although the Archdiocese touts the Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries as protecting children, they never teach kids the specific Standards. How are children supposed to know what and when to report?
· The Archdiocese has never adequately answered this question: Do the “Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries” apply equally for 18-year-old high school students as they do for their minor peers. In other words, is it age-based or student-based?
· After 15 months of Kathy’s advocating, the Archdiocese will still not agree to a written policy that parents must be informed when their child is the victim of a boundary violation. No one from the Archdiocese has helped – including OCYP.
· The just-released Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report details that child predators were sent to St. John Vianney Treatment Center – located directly across the street from Bishop Shanahan high school. CHILD PREDATORS. We have worked on
that issue for 5 long years. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia owns the facility and they also receive payment to accept the priest child predators from out-of-state Dioceses.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Adult men disguised as God force their penises into 1,000 defenseless children – ripping apart their skin, souls and minds. Then, other adult men, also disguised as God and in positions of authority, cover it up. This is in essence what the just-released Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report reveals.
Please God, let this report be a tipping point.
The report investigates clergy child sex abuse and its cover up in six Catholic dioceses has just been released. It covers Allentown; Erie; Greensburg; Harrisburg; Pittsburgh; Scranton. Philadelphia and Altoona were were the subject of earlier Grand Jury Reports.
Despite the horrifying details it revealed, too little has changed since the Philadelphia Grand Jury Report. Our post could be rewritten today. In 2002, Catholics were warned by Boston Globe headlines breaking the epic priest abuse scandal there. But back then everyone thought it was isolated. Now we know better. It’s global and deep.
Child sex abuse can and does happen anywhere. It will flourish where its sheltered by ignorance, denial and self-serving interests. The Catholic Church has become one of its best anywheres.
Some Catholics think the media is unfair. Others don’t know what to do. And then, there are those just counting the minutes until Mass is over.
Be smart. Be Catholic (clericalism-free and Christ-like). Be present. Read the report.
After you’ve thrown up dinner, call your state rep. Demand a civil window for victims whose abuse falls outside the statute of limitations. Delaware and other states got one. Don’t Pennsylvania citizens deserve the same? Information from those cases will shine a light on ALL child predators (not just priests), bring some justice for survivors and protect against present and future child abuse.
If you can’t stomach the report, please read “Catholic Church Covered Up Child Sex Abuse in Pennsylvania for Decades, Grand Jury Says,” by Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times, August 14, 2018
Kathy and I thank the survivors and witnesses who cooperated with The Grand Jury Report at great personal expense. You are heroes and child protectors.
Catholics4Change supports a one-time, two-year window for survivors who were previously blocked by the civil statute of limitations.
If you agree, contact your state legislator.