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. 


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.

Survivors No Longer Walking Thin Line

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.

#KidsToo.

 

 

 

 

 

Claims that Vatican and Pope Knew of Clergy Abuse Cover Up Emerge

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

Who Will the Catholic Church Drive Out?

 

Please listen to the homily that begins at the 1:43 minute mark.

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.

– Susan

 

 

Archdiocesan Web Banner Refuses Truth

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.