Sr. Maureen Invites C4C Site Visitors To Prayerful Protest May 6th

There will be the usual First Friday Vigil on May 6th from noon to 1 p.m. in front of the Philadelphia Archdiocesan offices at 222 North 17th Street in center city.

All of welcome to participate in prayer, picketing and protest.

Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
Victims’ Advocate

For more information, email: maturlishmdsnd@yahoo.com

Publishers note:

Lets’ get out to support victims, protect children and renew our Church!!! There is a parking lot at 18th and Vine. Suburban train station is just a three blocks away. Bring signs if you’d like. The protest includes a procession, short prayer vigil and petition signing.

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‘Duped’ Pastor Urges Cardinal to Meet With the Faithful

Click here to see the letter – MMR-

Msgr. John T. Conway, pastor of Mary, Mother of the Redeemer in North Wales, also sent a letter to Cardinal Rigali. In it, he urges Cardinal Rigali to visit the Montgomery County area faithful. Conway wrote the letter after a March 28 meeting with parishioners. The gathering was called to discuss the appearance of his name in the 2005 Grand Jury report in relation to his role as regional vicar. (He is not accused of abuse.) He explained to parishioners that he was asked to help place priests without being told of their history of sexual abuse.

In the letter he writes that it made him “angry as hell” and that he felt “duped” when he found out the truth. “On behalf of the suffering Catholics of this area, and at their request, I am asking you to arrange to meet with your people and speak with them heart-to-heart about regaining the trust of their bishop. I know you cannot visit each parish of the Archdiocese, but please schedule a time to come to the Montgomery County area to assure us that our children will be safe as clergy are reassigned to our parishes in the future.”

Sources tell me the Cardinal declined his offer and Conway was issued the equivalent of a summons to the principal’s office by Bishop Timothy Senior, Aux. Bishop of Philadelphia.

It’s interesting to note that the parish stationary includes the prayer, “Mary, Mother of the Redeemer, help us share in the work of redemption.”

Read another story on this in today’s Montgomery County Intelligence on PhillyBurbs.com.

Reaction to Cardinal Rigali’s Response

What is your reaction to the response? The first parish bulletin insert only indirectly answers one of our 10 questions. When child safety is at stake, we won’t wait months for “possible topics for future inserts.” Waiting with faith brought us the latest grand jury report. We find this response unacceptable. The last question remains unanswered by Church leadership. It also seems to remain unexamined. What would Jesus do?

Pope John Paul II was quite clear on this point in an address to Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bishops in 2004. While his beatification is controversial for some, the text of his address in regard to the role of the laity is important and Pope Benedict XVI referenced it during his Apostolic visit to the U.S. in 2008. Here is some of the text:

“In our meetings, many of you have expressed your concern about the crisis of confidence in the Church’s leadership provoked by the recent sexual abuse scandals, the general call for accountability in the Church’s governance on every level and the relations between Bishops, clergy and the lay faithful. I am convinced that today, as at every critical moment in her history, the Church will find the resources for an authentic self-renewal in the wisdom, vision and zeal of Bishops outstanding for their holiness…

“…this will entail a spiritual discernment and critique of certain styles of governance which, even in the name of a legitimate concern for good “administration” and responsible oversight, can run the risk of distancing the pastor from the members of his flock, and obscuring his image as their father and brother in Christ.3. In this regard, the Synod of Bishops acknowledged the need today for each Bishop to develop “a pastoral style which is ever more open to collaboration with all” (Pastores Gregis, 44), grounded in a clear understanding of the relationship between the ministerial priesthood and the common priesthood of the baptized (cf. Lumen Gentium, 10). …” “consultation and shared responsibility should not be misunderstood as a concession to a secular “democratic” model of governance, but as an intrinsic requirement of the exercise of episcopal authority and a necessary means of strengthening that authority…

That statement validates our mission as Catholics4Change.

“…Experience shows that when priority is mainly given to outward stability, the impetus to personal conversion, ecclesial renewal and missionary zeal can be lost and a false sense of security can ensue. The painful period of self-examination provoked by the events of the past two years will bear spiritual fruit only if it leads the whole Catholic community in America to a deeper understanding of the Church’s authentic nature and mission, and a more intense commitment to making the Church in your country reflect, in every aspect of her life, the light of Christ’s grace and truth.”

The Philadelphia Archdiocesan emphasis on outward stability is proven by carefully constructed letters to the faithful and letters signed by the office of communication. We expect the light of Christ’s truth from our Bishops and Cardinal Rigali. That truth should come in action – not words. These actions are necessary for restoring faith and the renewal of the Church in Philadelphia. Please see our requested actions.

Read the powerful text in its entirety here.

Would the Cardinal Respond on Behalf of Christ?

I wrote a letter to Cardinal Rigali on behalf of the many thousands who have visited and commented here. I respectfully shared your questions and concerns. The following is the response we received on his behalf from the office for communications. This wasn’t a media inquiry. This was a letter from the faithful seeking pastoral answers from our shepherd. We were seeking hope. We got a slap in our faith – not in God; but once again in our Church leadership. Like so many others, our group who according to the diocesan spokesperson “loves their children and their Church,” didn’t get our answers.

Heading into most important week of our spiritual lives, this was an opportunity to restore hope. Jesus hung on the cross for us and yet the Cardinal wouldn’t put his signature on a letter of answers. The way this has been handled shows a fundamental lack of respect for Philadelphia Catholics. It presumes we will settle for below the bare minimum. We won’t.

The Letter On Behalf of the Cardinal:

I write to you on behalf of Cardinal Justin Rigali, Archbishop of Philadelphia, to acknowledge your recent correspondence containing questions regarding Archdiocesan initiatives to protect children in light of the Grand Jury report issued in February 2011. Its release and the resulting actions by the Archdiocese have generated a broad range of reactions and emotions.

We are cognizant of the fact that emotions have been compounded by the limited amount of information available. While the Archdiocese is not able to answer every question from every concerned individual, it is committed to providing as much information as possible to the faithful through a systematic network. In light of this commitment, the Archdiocese recently released the first in a series of periodic parish bulletin inserts designed to provide information to parishioners. A copy is attached. I realize that it does not answer all the questions you posed, but your remaining questions, along with those of other parishioners, will be considered as possible topics for future inserts.

Each document will focus on action steps being taken by the Archdiocese to assist victims, advance the protection of children, and ensure the integrity of the Priesthood.

Again, thank you for your correspondence and your dedication to the protection of children. They are truly our most precious asset and represent the future of the Church in Philadelphia.

Sincerely,

Donna M. Farrell, Director of Communications, Archdiocese of Philadelphia

Trifecta of Bad News Launched Catholics4Change.com

By Elizabeth E. Evans for Reuters, FaithWorld, April 8, 2011

Three seemingly unrelated events – and Susan Matthews found herself at a crossroads.

Reading a letter to the editor assailing the “apathy” of local Catholics… Recollecting an essay she had written when the first grand jury report dealt her family a personal blow…  Overhearing a conversation between two older women critical of the victims of an accused priest.

It was, as Matthews wryly recalls now, this ‘trifecta” that impelled her to act. Outraged at the predator priest scandal that has overtaken the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the Huntingdon Valley resident and mother of two started a blog, Catholics4Change.com.

philly 3
(Monsignor William Lynn leaves the courthouse after
a hearing in Philadelphia, March 14, 2011. Lynn was
recently indicted in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia
sexual abuse scandal/Tim Shaffer )

In February, a grand jury report alleged that as many as 37 local Catholic priests were left in parishes in spite of “credible” abuse allegations. Since then 26 priests have been suspended for allegations or abuse or other boundary violations, two as recently as last week.

In the little more than a month, Catholics4Change (which has close to 25,000 hits within the past two weeks) has become a rallying point for local believers. And Matthews (a former editor of the archdiocesan paper currently a freelance writer and QVC guest host) and another aspiring reformer, Kathy Kane, have become the center of a lively and impassioned debate that goes beyond protecting children but to holding church hierarchs accountable.

“Just because Jesus was the Good Shepherd, doesn’t mean that we need to behave like sheep” Matthews said.

When asked about Philadelphia Cardinal Justin Rigali, Matthews was scathing, saying that he was accountable for what occurred on his watch whether or not he knew what was going on.  “I would like the Cardinal to have the courage to meet with congregant’s face to face, and not have it so heavily managed by P.R. people,” she said. “I would like him to admit fault and seek real change.”

Thanks to a commentary in the Philadelphia Inquirer, appearances on a local television station and a radio talk show, Matthews and Kane have become, to some extent, the public face of area Catholic parents.

“We are a dime a dozen,” said Kane. “I don’t know anyone out there who doesn’t find this a painful situation.”

A former social worker, Kane was spurred by a requirement that her child attend a mandatory overnight sports camp (required to maintain full membership in the parish-sponsored sports program) to seek a change in diocesan policy. With the help of diocesan employees, she says, she was able to get the regulation changed – now no overnight is mandatory.

While the diocese has an anti-abuse program for those working with children, Safe Environment, Kane would like to see a charter that includes practical rules for parish and diocese-sponsored outings and overnights. Kane, Matthews and other local Catholics are getting behind legislationin the Pennsylvania capital Harrisburg to abolish the statute of limitations on child abuse.

In an archdiocese long known for its conservative leanings, clericalism and close ties to Rome, such calls for reform could be considered tantamount to revolution.

philly 2
(Sherry McCormack holds a photograph of herself as
a child near the courthouse, March 14, 2011/Tim Shaffer)

But neither Matthews nor Kane, who both have children in parochial schools and are active in their local parishes, view themselves as zealots. Instead, said Matthews, she believes that it’s time for laypeople to have more of a voice in the way the church is run.

“They have written off a lot of people as leftist radicals,” said Matthews. “I’m going to work very hard not to be categorized that way.” Sympathetic to local clergy who find themselves under suspicion, Matthews holds the diocese responsible for a situation in which parents are “sitting in the congregation wondering if their priest is a pedophile.”

In the wake of the first wave of dismissals occasioned by the release of the first grand jury report in 2005, Matthew’s husband, Damian Dachowski, learned that Peter Dunne, a family friend and priest who had taken him and his brothers on camping trips, was an accused pedophile.

Last week, she found out that an old friend and former editor at her old workplace, the Catholic Standard & Times, David Givey, had been placed on administrative leave by Rigali for unspecified reasons. “As for Fr. Dave, I have no idea what the allegations are,” said Matthews.  “I don’t want to speculate. But that’s what the archdiocese has caused so many to do in regard to the priests in our lives.”

Matthews is preparing a packet of questions for Rigali, collected from her readers,  to be delivered this week by certified mail. But real change has to start at the top, she added. “Our leadership in Rome has to decide to allow a bigger, more important role for lay people in leadership, within the context of our doctrine…not a pretend one with empty titles.”

Read the story on Reuters.

Is Pennsylvania a Pro-Pedophile State? You Be the Judge

By Mike Ference, guest blogger

How many grand jury investigations need to be held in PA before the lives of innocent children are deemed more precious and important than dysfunctional sex freaks from the ranks of PA catholic clergy and hierarchy? This article was written almost three years ago. How many survivors of clergy abuse in PA could have been changed for the better; maybe Michael Unglo would still be alive.

Here’s the link:
http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news2009/05_06/2009_06_11_Ference_IsPennsylvania.htm

Former PA State Rep. Lisa Bennington, D-Allegheny County, held a press conference on May 12, 2008 in Harrisburg, PA to discuss legislation known as the Child Victim’s Act of Pennsylvania, which addressed statute of limitations and identifying sex abusers.

If the bill had passed, it would have changed the age at which a civil suit could have been filed from until the accuser is 30 to 50, bringing the civil statute of limitations in line with the criminal statute. The bill would also have suspended the civil statute of limitations for two years in child sex abuse cases in which the statute had expired so that people over the age limit could file a suit. And it would have allowed the filing of such actions against child sex abusers and their enablers in both public and private institutions.

According to Bennington, it was the private institutions (like in Ireland) where offenders were allowed to move on and continue with their lives. “Their victims left behind to pick up the pieces, never getting their day in court and or a chance to see justice carried out. They live with this horrific crime for the rest of their lives,” she pointed out.

A 2005 Philadelphia Grand Jury Report uncovered 63 priests in the Philadelphia archdiocese who had abused hundreds of children over several decades. In some cases, archdiocese leaders intentionally concealed the abuse to protect the church.

And Bennington stressed, her bill did not target the Catholic Church. Rather, “it pertains to all religious institutions, public schools, youth groups and any organization where child sex abuse has occurred. It would have given all Pennsylvania victims their fundamental right to hold those accountable that afflicted or allowed the abuse to occur.

Sounds reasonable and seems like a good thing. Similar legislation has passed in California and Delaware in recent years. In California, about 1,000 victims came forward and 300 predators were identified. Yet, there’s one PA lawmaker who strongly opposed the legislation and never even intended to give the bill a hearing.

State Rep. Thomas R.Caltagirone D., (Berks County), the House Judiciary Committee chairman, said the proposed bill was driven by victims’ desire to win large legal payouts. Caltagirone goes on to say the bill is all about money, not about justice.

Ironically, Caltagirone was quick to vote with fellow legislators for a 50 percent increase in their pensions in 2001 and the infamous middle of the night pay raise in 2005. The state rep along with other lawmakers chose to take the self-induced pay grab immediately in unvouchered expenses. Many PA residents felt this made the elected officials look like money-hungry crooks, as it was eventually declared unconstitutional.

As expected, the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference deplored the bill. Choosing to continue to protect perverted priests, rather than seek justice. Likewise, the Insurance Federation of Pennsylvania was also against the bill. And, while Caltagirone officially declared the legislation dead, his puppy-protection HB 39 bill – which would forbid dog owners from performing surgery on their pups – is still very much alive.

As someone who has been investigating clergy abuse in Pennsylvania for almost 20 years, this writer can’t help but think that something is amiss in the commonwealth – just like things were amiss in Ireland.

On the eastern side of Pennsylvania the Philadelphia District Attorney’s office issued a scathing report on the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for the high level of sexual abuse among Catholic priests and the cover ups and the reassigning of credibly accused Catholic priests by Cardinals Anthony Bevilacqua and John Krol and their aides. It should be noted that Bevilacqua first served as Bishop of the Pittsburgh Diocese before his transfer to Philadelphia. Insiders claim Bevilacqua left his successor, Donald Wuerl, quite a mess.

For example, while Bevilacqua was still assigned to the Pittsburgh Diocese he agreed to place Fr. John P. Connor, an admitted child molester first within the Pittsburgh Diocese and later, after Bevilacqua took over in Philadelphia Fr. Connor was assigned there. According to testimony in the Philadelphia Grand Jury the arrangement was based on a “tradition of bishops helping bishops.” Sadly, Fr. Connor went on to abuse others and Bevilacqua was found to be a liar according to the grand jury report.

One has to wonder why the Pittsburgh Diocese voluntarily settled with 32 alleged survivors of clergy abuse. $1.25 million for crimes the Pittsburgh Diocese will never have to admit ever occurred. The settlement would not tarnish the stellar reputation of Archbishop Donald Wuerl who never had to pay a dime of diocese money to any clergy abuse victims during his tenure as bishop in the Pittsburgh Diocese.

Oddly enough, an underling – so to speak – Auxiliary Bishop Bradley reconciled the situation, only weeks before Bishop David Zubik was to be installed as the new leader of the diocese. So it seems everything fell into place.

32 survivors received a few bucks, the diocese is off the hook for any future civil or maybe even criminal suits based on the settlement. Wuerl continues to do in Washington D.C. whatever it is that Archbishops do and Zubik was allowed to get a fresh start in the Pittsburgh Diocese without the interference of those civil suits that were resting in limbo for several years.

The settling of the civil suits certainly allowed for an impressive and dignified installation of Bishop Zubik, no hecklers or demonstrators from any groups with compassion for children sexually abused by Catholic priests.

And, although I have no proof, nor anyway to calculate, I would be willing to bet the farm that more money was spent on Zubik’s festivities than was awarded to 32 survivors of alleged abuse by Catholic priests from the Pittsburgh Diocese. No big deal, the worst is over.

Unless of course, somewhere down the road – maybe a year, a few months, a couple of weeks, or perhaps in the next few days – information turns up that the cases of sexual abuse actually occurred and that cover ups were the norm in the Pittsburgh Diocese just like cover ups and shifting priests from parish to parish was the norm in the archdiocese of Philadelphia.

Anyone with a little common sense would be concerned that a man of the cloth might be tempted to hide crimes of clergy sexual abuse of young children only on the eastern side of the commonwealth of PA and not the western side as well.

That’s a lot of ifs ands or buts – only time will tell if Pennsylvania is indeed a pro-pedophile state. For now, we can only laud former Rep. Bennington for trying to make a difference in the lives of those sexually, physically and emotionally abused as children; as for Rep. Caltagirone – one politician who obviously cares more about puppies than children – maybe it’s time for the law-maker to rollover and play dead.

Mike Ference has been an advocate for clergy sex abuse survivors for over 21 years. He has written about the problem and works with clergy abuse families in Pennsylvania and across the United States helping victims work through the corrupt bureaucratic maze of injustice. He attributes much of the problem to corrupt leaders in government, organized crime and Catholic Church hierarchy more concerned about power and money than the salvation of souls. He has labeled the commonwealth of Pennsylvania a Pro-pedophile state where Catholic clergy sex abuse cover-ups are still the norm. Mike can be reached at 412-233-5491 or email him at mike@ferencemarketing.com.