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.

PA Senators Vote This Week: Tell Them Window Protects Kids

Dear Senators Scarnati, Corman and Costa,

As a kid, you might have been told you had a guardian angel who watched over and protected you? We were. It was fascinating to think there was an invisible presence keeping us from harm. Some kids even named their guardian angel and wondered if they’d meet them in heaven.

We’ve met our children’s angels. Their names are Vicky, Mark, Mike, Shaun, Julie Ann, Mary, John, Patty, Carolyn, Jim, Jeanne…. Every victim and survivor in Pennsylvania who has spoken out about their clergy abuse is helping to protect kids. They’ve sacrificed privacy and emotional wellness to warn future generations of Catholic families about predator priests. They’ve done everything in their limited power to ensure no child endures the horror they experienced. But it’s not enough.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has been the subject of two Grand Jury reports (2005 and 2011), which lead to dozens of abusive priests being removed from ministry and some legal reforms. The PA Grand Jury Report has revealed so much more.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia touts their victims’ assistance program and child protection efforts. But the devil is in the details, literally.

  • The PA Grand Jury Report points out what we already know, that child predator priests from all over the country are shipped to a Catholic facility in Pennsylvania located across the street from 1,000 Archdiocesan students.
  • The Archdiocese has a set of standards for all church personnel who interact with children and young people but they don’t educate the kids and teens on the standards. How will they know what to report?
  • The Archdiocese will not agree to implement policy agreeing to notify parents of a child when church personnel violate the standards. 
  • In Philadelphia, a victim can pick up a newspaper and read that Bishop Michael Fitzgerald, the head of Office of Child and Youth Protection/Victims Assistance has celebrated the funeral of a child predator priest.
  • Parents at a parish find out that a priest being investigated for child sex abuse was left at the parish for almost a year while being investigated.

When Archdiocesan leadership promises they will report sexual abuse, that’s because it’s the law now. Anything less than law leaves it to their judgment, which has been proven to put children at risk.

Yes, their victims assistance program provides free therapy. Imagine if a car manufacturer knowingly sent cars with defective brakes out on the road and then offered free physical therapy for those injured as a result. Would that be enough? We’ve witnessed victims, and family members of deceased victims, ignored and even hassled.

This institution takes more guidance from attorneys than the Gospel. We say this as Catholic moms, both the product of Catholic schools, who sent our kids to the same. Lucky to have only been betrayed, we trust in God and in our legal system. We don’t believe the bishops. Neither should you.

Window legislation benefits all Pennsylvanians. Civil suits can expose even more abuse and cover ups. A copy of memo, made prior to it being shredded, listing the names of 35 abusive priests was introduced during a criminal trial in Philadelphia. One priest from the list was still in ministry at the time. Archdiocesan leadership knew, but did nothing until his name was revealed in a court room. Children are the safer for it. Civil suits will offer the same opportunity for discovery.

The victims, survivors and their family members have been heroic in their efforts to protect our children. They deserve justice and they deserve to be released from the clutches of the Church, whose reach extends to our commonwealth’s capitol. And what about abuse survivors who aren’t Catholic? The bishops and Catholic Conference lobbying efforts block justice for those abused by a uncle, coach or neighbor. 

Who is lobbying on behalf of our kids?  It’s the victims, those who were raped and molested as children. It’s tragic and beautiful that they are the ones on the front lines. We wish we could offer the words that express the empathy, gratitude and respect they deserve. But you can offer those words in new legislation.

Please extend an opportunity for civil justice, an opportunity to expose child predators and the institutions that hide them, and an opportunity to better protect all Pennsylvania children.

Sincerely,

Kathy Kane & Susan Matthews

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WRITE & EMAIL YOUR LETTERS TODAY

Please  share your thoughts with these senators and your own:

jscarnati@pasen.gov

https://www.senatorcorman.com/contact/

http://www.senatorcosta.com/contact/

This week is the final time the Pennsylvania Senate will be voting before the two-year session ends in November. So much is at stake for victims and children.

Excerpts from: As Pa. Senate session winds down, last-minute push would allow two-year window for clergy abuse victims, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, October 14, 2018

Senator Joe Scarnati, R-Jefferson, has declined interview requests and “his office circulated a counter-proposal calling for the creation of a ‘tribunal’ of judges appointed by the state’s appellate courts that would, in turn, select an administrator to manage a compensation fund. Mr. Scarnati’s proposal also would create some sort of public registry that would allow victims to petition courts to have an abuser’s name added to it.

The proposal was swiftly opposed by victims and their advocates, many of whom characterize it as a bailout for the Catholic Church and the insurance industry. Both have argued that it could lead to devastating financial blows.

‘We don’t need more bureaucracy,’ said York-area advocate Kristen Pfautz Woolley, who was abused as a child. ‘We need a two-year window for survivors to use the existing court system to obtain justice.’

Ms. Woolley said her abuser was not a priest, but a man her family trusted. She said for many victims, compensation has little to do with achieving justice.

‘I want to face my abuser in court,” she said. “I want to make sure that he never harms another child.’

Senate Majority Leader Jake Corman, R-Centre, declined a media request made last week through his spokeswoman.

Senate Minority Leader Jay Costa, D-Allegheny, said he believed there was support in his caucus for the measure, but he didn’t have a specific vote count.

‘I think there are a number of members in our caucus who would like a two-year window, but I don’t believe that that is where our colleagues in the Senate Republican caucus are at,’ Mr. Costa said.”

 

 

 

St. Martin of Tours Pastor Under Investigation and Placed On Leave

BREAKING NEWS: Father Armand Garcia, pastor of Saint Martin of Tours Parish in Philadelphia, was placed on administrative leave and is the subject of a criminal investigation.

According to a statement shared with the parish community, the Philadelphia police department notified the Archdiocese on Friday, March 16th that they’d received a report regarding Father Garcia’s alleged misconduct with minors. A search warrant for the rectory was issued that same day.

Kenneth Gavin, chief communications officer for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, stressed that no charges had been filed against Father Garcia as of Friday, March 23.

Father Garcia is no longer present at the parish (where do priests go while being investigated?) and his status is pending the outcome of the investigation, according to Gavin.

This comes on the heels of trouble for a former auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia…

Pack Up Your Troubles In Your Old Kit Bag

Law enforcement would not disclose what they were searching for when police raided Bishop Joseph Cistone’s residence in Saginaw, Michigan on March 22. Perhaps it was his “old kit bag?

Bishop Cistone left the Philadelphia archdiocese for his promotion to bishop in the wake of the 2005 Grand Jury report. Is your blood pressure medicine handy? This Philly.com article, from that year, highlights Cistone’s complicity in covering up clergy abuse.

Seems not much has changed.

Saginaw County prosecutors have said that Cistone and the Diocese haven’t followed through on promises to support investigators looking into sexual abuse allegations against Father Robert DeLand and others there.

 

 

 

 

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.