Our Christmas Wish For You

With decades of clergy child sex abuse coverups, the Catholic hierarchy has given plenty of reasons to curse the darkness. But you have all chosen to light a candle. The bright glow of truth has revealed so much to the world this past year.

Survivors and betrayed Catholics can probably relate to the Christmas message in Isaiah Chapter 9. I was Google searching for something else and it popped up. That kind of spiritual serendipity happens a lot with Catholics4Change. Kathy and I appreciate how it has connected all of us and helped C4C grow into a community. This Christmas, we wish you the gifts of peace and hope.

The people who walked in darkness

have seen a great light;

Upon those who lived in a land of gloom

a light has shone.

You have brought them abundant joy

and great rejoicing;

They rejoice before you as people rejoice at harvest,

as they exult when dividing the spoils.

For the yoke that burdened them,

the pole on their shoulder,

The rod of their taskmaster,

you have smashed, as on the day of Midian.

For every boot that tramped in battle,

every cloak rolled in blood,

will be burned as fuel for fire.

For a child is born to us, a son is given to us;

upon his shoulder dominion rests.

They name him Wonder-Counselor, God-Herod

Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.

His dominion is vast

and forever peaceful,

Upon David’s throne, and over his kingdom,

which he confirms and sustains

By judgment and justice,

both now and forever.

The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this!


No Law or Order With Victim Compensation Fund

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

Victims who were abused by order priests stationed in archdiocesan schools aren’t eligible for the Victim Compensation Fund rolled out by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

This is just another rock solid reason for the PA legislator should pass a two-window for civil cases. It would allow those whose abuse previously fell outside the statutes of limitation two years to file a civil case and seek justice. 

Wouldn’t it seem the archdiocese was serving in a supervisory role, given that these men were working with children in archdiocesan schools. It’s no different than the responsibility they should accept for a lay teacher who isn’t an archdiocesan priest. 

Of course, the religious orders are also responsible for their clergy members and for hiding abuse.

Click here to read: “Catholic Church: Religious orders kept reports of child abuse secret for years,” by Lindsay Schnell, USA Today, Dec. 16, 2018

“Religious order priests make up roughly one-third of all priests in the USA, according to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. They’re often known best for achievements outside the church. The Jesuits, for example, run some of the most prestigious academic institutions at the collegiate level and some of the most dominant athletic programs in U.S. high schools.”

Are you wondering what the difference is between archdiocesan and order priests? Here’s a Catholic classroom link that explains.

Subterfuge & Strings: Examining the Victim Compensation Fund

hand holding puppet strings

The Archdiocesan Victim Compensation Fund was received by many as a responsive step in the right direction. Under scrutiny, it shapes up to be a very strategic solution – just not for survivors. Its primary goal seems to advance Archdiocesan interests. Participating may be nominally beneficial to some who would never consider civil proceedings. But it comes with serious strings attached.

Those strings could strangle a survivor’s options for future legal justice, public awareness and child sex abuse prevention. Is the confusion surrounding it just another layer of the subterfuge? Click below to read more on this by journalist Max Mitchell in The Legal Intelligencer.

Attorneys Accuse Archdiocese of Sowing Confusion About Victim Compensation Fund

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.