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September 21, 2005

Comments

Der Tommissar

Is it me, or from the little that was excerpted from the Archdiocese rebuttal...did they just throw Cardinal Krol under the bus?

As for Cardinal Bevilacqua, he hasn't exactly cracked my list of favorite prelates to begin with.

Charles R. Williams

I would like a lawyer to comment on the role of a grand jury here. Is it to return indictments where there is evidence of a crime? Then why didn't they just indict Bevilacqua? Is the prosecutor using the grand jury report to score points by attacking the villanous Catholic Church?

Where is the grand jury indictment of Planned Parenthood for failing to report pregnancies of teenage girls?

BTW, I find this story as disgusting and depressing as everyone else. Bevilacqua should resign. Mahony should resign. What's-his-name in New Hampshire should resign.

Tom  Kelty

"Power tends to corrupt. Absolute power corrupts absolutely" Lord Acton, Vatican1

You are familiar with this dictum from hearing and reading it. Think of it every time any Bishop makes a unilateral decision about anything. The same goes for your pastor. The idea that the oils of ordination confer some mysterious power that protects the user from stupidity and venality is long overdue for revision in the Catholic Church. Transparency and accountability are needed and our new Pope has to make a move to discipline a large number of Bishops.

David

Responses link:

http://www.archdiocese-phl.org/grandjury.htm

David

http://www.archdiocese-phl.org/grandjury/grandjuryreport.pdf

David

http://www.archdiocese-phl.org/grandjury/letter.htm

David

http://www.archdiocese-phl.org/grandjury/pressconf.htm

David

http://www.archdiocese-phl.org/grandjury/exesummary.pdf

jcecil3

Greetings!

My only comment is that Bevilacqua is one who has been supposedly barring gays from seminary and squashing dissent and upholding "orthodoxy" - so what does this say about such solutions?

Peace!

Donald R. McClarey

Grand Juries are nothing but tools in the hands of prosecutors. They are a completely lousy means of arriving at truth. I consider it highly unethical for a prosecutor to present alleged evidence of wrongdoing to a grand jury without a clear intent by a prosecutor to to ask for criminal indictments from the Grand Jury. However, these type of public fishing expeditions are the way ambitious prosecutors build political careers. My comments regarding the misuse of Grand Juries should not be taken as an attempt to minimize any crimes committed. My point is simply that evidence presented before a Grand Jury is always heavily one-sided and, by definition, only presents evidence favorable to a potential prosecution case. A Grand Jury may not be willing to indict a ham sandwich at the behest of a prosecutor, but they will almost always return an indictment against any human being a prosecutor wishes to bring criminal charges against.

Joseph D'Hippolito

I agree wholeheartedly with Tom Kelty, but I disagree with Charles Williams.

Bevilacqua, Mahony and "what's-his-name in New Hampshire" should not resign. They should be put to the sword. In fact, the entire American hierarchy (save, perhaps, Bruskewitz) should be put to the sword.

Seriously.

Then we can start with the lace-wearing fops in the Curia.

We will not have change unless we have revolution. Apostolic succession cannot mean the tolerance of corruption in high places.

JTII

Bevilacqua has already retired. Cardinal Rigali is currently serving in Philadelphia.

Victor Morton

In fact, the entire American hierarchy (save, perhaps, Bruskewitz) should be put to the sword.
Seriously.
Then we can start with the lace-wearing fops in the Curia.
We will not have change unless we have revolution.

Y'know, I would normally just smile at another bit of hyperbole. Except for the word "Seriously." Which means I should take it seriously. Cuz that's what "Seriously" means.

Joe, you're not the insane bloodthirsty Jacobin ("revolution") certain people like to paint you as. Please don't give them more ammo.

Der Tommissar

Joe, you're not the insane bloodthirsty Jacobin ("revolution") certain people like to paint you as. Please don't give them more ammo.

Don't sell Joe short! :)

My only comment is that Bevilacqua is one who has been supposedly barring gays from seminary and squashing dissent and upholding "orthodoxy" - so what does this say about such solutions?

It means you should study up on who's currently running the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. Cardinal Rigali is in charge of the Archdiocese now. I wouldn't say the prior Ordinary can exactly be called cut from the same cloth.

David

Mr. McClarey makes solid points. It is easy to write 400+ pages of allegations. Not to say that some, if not perhaps even all, are true, the point is they haven't been proven andif no indictment issues one wonders what the point is.

Dan Crawford

Are the comments of Mr. McClarey et al meant to absolve the hierarchs from any responsibility in this matter? Or in any way to diminish their actions? Or to suggest that they did nothing to deserve even the slightest criticism?

God help us.

David

er, the "David" who posted the links isn't the same as the "David" who remarked about Mr. McLarey's points.

henceforth, I'll be "DavidW"

nedcmike

He's no longer the Archbishop of Philly but Cardinal Bevilacqua was not exactly what you would call gay friendly. Jcecil3's point is still worth considering.

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/677715/posts

'No "homosexually oriented" men, not even chaste ones, are "suitable candidates" for the priesthood, he told a news conference, because heterosexual celibates "are giving up" the good of family and children, while gay celibates give up what the church considers "a moral evil." '

Herb Ely

Amy, It's institutionalized denial. It happens all the time. Large institutions - like New Orleans city and Louisiana - see disaster coming and deny reality that is right before their eyes. The Bishops are no different. It seems to me that one of the major spiritual questions that ought to be before us concerns how entire organizations become corrupt and what is the role of the Christian in changing - redeeming - the institutions in which we live, work and worship.

David

My point is this. If the prosecutor thinks the bishops are criminally liable, she should indict and prove her case. If she cannot do that than what is the status of the claims contained in the report. Certainly true, probably true, more likely than not, some true, some false, more true than false??
Why is is that anyone who thinks that legal rules should be followed in Church sex abuse cases is necessarily using 'technicalities' to thwart justice? Perhaps the technicalities of the law are the best we've got to see that justice does indeed come about. A grand jury investigation operates under far less stringent evidentiary and procedural standards than does a trial, so one cannot conclude that a given party is guilty because an indictment has issued. But where an indictment hasn't issued, what can be said? That some terrible things have happened in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia? Yes, but this is not news at all.

Caroline

My understanding of the role of a grand jury is that it investigates a situation and decides if, according to existing law, a crime has been committed. If the grand jury after investigation decides that a crime has been committed, then comes the indictment. If they decide that according to existing law no crime has been committed, then they don't indict. If in the process of investigation a lot of bad news come to light even if they can't say a crime has been committed, then so be it. In the end the grand jury has to come out with a report on their investigation whether or not it leads to indictment. Of course a prosecutor hopes for an indictment. That's his role in the process.

Patrick Rothwell

"Why is is that anyone who thinks that legal rules should be followed in Church sex abuse cases is necessarily using 'technicalities' to thwart justice? Perhaps the technicalities of the law are the best we've got to see that justice does indeed come about."

One of the peculiarities of the Report is that the DA personally blamed Cardinal B for following the law and taking steps that reduced the liability of the Archdiocese. It read as if she was angry that she couldn't identify a single criminal act of the Archdiocese. When you don't have the law on your side, argue the facts - and ugly facts they are. Some of the details of the abuse, if true, are quite horrific.

I agree with the Archdiocese that the DA horribly slandered Cardinal B. The Archdiocese's defense of Cardinal Krol, however, seems pretty weak and, at least on the surface, it seems that Krol was extremely feckless or reckless in re-assigning priest predators.

Simon

My understanding of the role of a grand jury is that it investigates a situation and decides if, according to existing law, a crime has been committed.

Yes, but a Grand Jury investigation is simply a review of evidence submitted to it by the prosecutor. It's not simply a disinterested fact-finder.

It's axiomatic that a prosecutor can get a Grand Jury to indict a ham sandwich if she really wants to. So it is curious that there's no indictment here.

Rod Dreher

* One priest, described as "one of the sickest people I ever knew" by the Archdiocese official in charge of investigations, was allowed by Bevilacqua to remain a priest with full access to children - until the sex abuse scandal broke in 2002.

* One archdiocese official comforted a priest abuser by suggesting that perhaps the priest had been "seduced" by his victim - who was 11 years old.

* Bevilacqua "agreed to harbor a known abuser" from another diocese, after the priest's activities there started becoming known. The practice was known as "bishops helping bishops."

Bishops helping bishops -- the raison d'etre of the American episcopacy.

I wish I were surprised, or shocked, or even scandalized by any of this. To be scandalized, you have to still care. When the death of the Catholic Church in America is investigated by a future inquest, it will be ruled a suicide.

(N.B., I know, I know, we will always have a Catholic Church. Gates of Hell and all that. I'm speaking figuratively.)

Mike L

Rod,
Yeah, there will always be a Catholic Church, but that doesn't mean it will exist in the United States.

And while most of us want to think that these problems are new to the chuch, that it is a recent failure of our seminaries, if this abuse was taking place over the last 40 years, the bishops that allowed it were in the seminare something like 20 or thirty years before that. So that pushes this trend back to 1930 or 1940. Personally I suspect it has been with us not for decades, but for centuries, and no one wanted to recognize it or admit it.

Zhou

I'm not a lawyer, and I don't play one on TV.

I believe the reason that there were no indictments is that the Pennsylvania statute of limitations for child abuse had expired in all cases. From an article in 2004

Lawyers for victims recently appealed a Common Pleas Court decision that dismissed 17 lawsuits brought against the Archdiocese of Philadelphia alleging sexual abuse.

These are among nearly two dozen suits filed against the archdiocese and former Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua since December. All of the suits allege the archdiocese systematically covered up abuse allegations and allowed known pedophiles continued access to children. The suits represent the first wave of civil litigation against the Philadelphia Catholic Church since the scandals first broke in 2002.

None of the lawsuits falls within Pennsylvania's extremely stringent statute of limitations. (Until 2002 a victim of sexual abuse in Pennsylvania had only two years after their 18th birthday to file charges. After the clergy abuse scandal broke nationwide, the statute was extended to a victim's 30th birthday.)

At a July 8 hearing, archdiocese lawyers argued that the previous statute of limitations be upheld, and described the suits as "stale cases."

Of course, in Massachusetts, the DA did bring charges againgst Bp. Dupre, knowing that the statue of limitations had expired, and the DA had to later withdraw the indictment. Why go to the trouble? To make a statement.

I believe that the Grand Jury report is similarly making a statement, although at 480 or so pages it is a bit of an overstatement.

I also think that the response from the Archdiocese could have been less than 80 pages to say "Yes, we did wrong. But we've improved. It is a learning experience."

I think the whole question of statutes of limitations for child abuse is under discussion in many states. California temporarily suspended the statute of limitataions for such cases for one year, 2003, to allow old crimes to be punished (well, settled in most cases). This brought out 150 cases against Catholic dioceses in Northern California.

Patrick Rothwell

"Y'know, I would normally just smile at another bit of hyperbole. Except for the word "Seriously." Which means I should take it seriously. Cuz that's what "Seriously" means.

Joe, you're not the insane bloodthirsty Jacobin ("revolution") certain people like to paint you as. Please don't give them more ammo."

If Joe goes postal at the USCCB with machine guns, don't say we weren't warned.

Rod Dreher

It is interesting and instructive that more commentators here are cheesed off by Joe D'Hippolito and the Philly DA than the evil conduct of the Catholic hierarchy of Philadelphia.

reluctant penitent

'The idea that the oils of ordination confer some mysterious power that protects the user from stupidity and venality is long overdue for revision in the Catholic Church.'

It would be long overdue for revision if it were an idea that the Catholic Church actually endorsed. Inform yourself Mr. Kelty before you grace us with your ex cathedra declarations about what doctrines the Church should or should not revise.

Zhou

More from today's news, in Colorado, more suits: Priest to high school music student: your 'bone technique will be better if you take your clothes off."

Pathetic.

reluctant penitent

'It is interesting and instructive that more commentators here are cheesed off by Joe D'Hippolito and the Philly DA than the evil conduct of the Catholic hierarchy of Philadelphia.'

It would be interesting if it were true. How on earth do you know what people are or not cheesed off about? Some gasbag declares that all bishops should be put to the sword, people respond to it and all of a sudden they're indifferent to the pedophilia crisis? You might want to check your cheese detector--some Byzantine incense might be jamming its gears.

Rod Dreher

I didn't say "indifferent," my excitable friend. I don't think anybody here is indifferent to the scandal. I just find it interesting that the D'Hippolito comment and the grand jury itself are the kinds of thing that draws the most comment on this thread, and not the rather appalling revelations in this report.

Please pour yourself a stiff drink, my brave anonymous critic, and calm the freak down.

Joseph D'Hippolito

Joe, you're not the insane bloodthirsty Jacobin ("revolution") certain people like to paint you as. Please don't give them more ammo.

Victor, I truly appreciate your wise advice. I'm just so damn sick and tired of these false shepherds and their enablers in the laity acting more like the captain and passengers of the Titanic than the actual captain and passengers. Only this time, the "iceberg" is their collective arrogance and isolation from reality.

I've tried to suggest ways in which the hierarchy can be more accountable to those whom it claims to serve. Most of the time, they get shot down by people who are more infatuated with their own definitions of "apostolic succession" than with what God really wants: integrity, honesty and fidelity. These same people refuse to understand that any bureaucratic hierarchy that discourages accountability, demands blind deference and isolates its members will react in the same way (cf, USSR).

Nobody can claim that "apostolic succession" means the kind of corruption embodied by Law, Bevilacqua, Mahony, Grahmann, etc.

Victor, as a student of history, you well know that revolutions take place when legitimate grievances have been ignored or suppressed. If current trends do not reverse themselves, the Catholic Church in the U.S. either will be the subject of such a revolution or it will die of starvation due to apathy and the leadership's infatuations with intelletual fashion and temporal power.

One might even say the same thing about Catholicism in the developed world as a whole -- and a million Pope Benedict XVIs would not be able to reverse the trend; too much water will have passed through a dam that burst, metaphorically speaking.

Victor Morton

You "find it interesting" in what way? I would "find it interesting" in no sense unless I thought it implied that people care more about Joe's manners than buggering little boys.

Keep in mind rodbud that you "wish I were surprised, or shocked, or even scandalized by any of this. To be scandalized, you have to still care."

Donald R. McClarey

"and the grand jury itself are the kinds of thing that draws the most comment on this thread"

Actually Rod it is possible to be appalled by priest's abusing kids and also to think the prosecutor was simply seeking headlines and that this Grand Jury charade had virtually nothing to do with finding out the truth. Perhaps we can now hope for the Pennsylvania Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the prosecutor's office to see if members of that office over the decades cooperated with Church officials to quash criminal investigations of priest abusers? I think you and I will grow very old indeed before any such investigation ever occurs. This investigation was a fraud from the start since the prosecutor knew that statutes of limitation would forbid indictments and was done wholly for political purposes.

dave

Personally I believe every word of the grand jury report. I have no reason not to believe it after what has been going on in the American Church for decades with the cover up, lies, and deceit of the sex abuse scandal.
I am not suprised anymore. The U.S. hierarchy hides behind their Catholicism, all their secrets, "oaths of loyalty" and whatever. They are nothing more than arrogant and wicked men who are also congenital liars. I think the sexual abuse scandal is nothing close to be being over. Who knows what is going to come out of Los Angeles?

Victor Morton

And in case it isn't obvious, my attitude is similar to Rod's ... I wish I could be appalled or scandalized by this, but I cannot. It's too much the routine, too what-we-have-come-to-expect. And there's not a damn thing we laity can do about it.

Richard

Mr. d'Hippolito:

Bevilacqua, Mahony and "what's-his-name in New Hampshire" should not resign. They should be put to the sword. In fact, the entire American hierarchy (save, perhaps, Bruskewitz) should be put to the sword.

Right after you get finished nuking Mecca, no doubt.

regards,
Richard

Zhou

An article from 2003 on various Grand Jury activities in progress at the time.

---
Bishops Have Eluded Sex Abuse Indictments
Experts Cite Hurdles for Prosecuting Those Who Did Not Stop Others' Crimes

By Alan Cooperman
Washington Post
June 4, 2003; Page A02

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A10011-2003Jun3.html

A year ago, as more than a dozen prosecutors across the country convened grand juries to investigate sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church, some lawyers and victims' advocates predicted that it was only a matter of time until a bishop would be indicted.

Most of those prosecutors have now finished their investigations or are bringing them to a close. They have brought criminal charges of rape and molestation against relatively small numbers of priests, subpoenaed church files, heard victims' testimony and questioned some bishops. In a few places, such as Long Island, N.Y., and Manchester, N.H., prosecutors have produced scathing reports on the local diocese's history of covering up sexual abuse of children.

But no bishops have been indicted.

The closest was in Phoenix, where prosecutors said Monday they had gathered what they believed was sufficient evidence to charge Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien with obstruction of justice. In the end, however, they declined to prosecute O'Brien in return for his promise to appoint two independent administrators and a lawyer to handle allegations of child sexual abuse, and to put $600,000 of diocesan money into special accounts for victims.

The two largest and most complex grand jury probes, in Boston and Los Angeles, are continuing. According to public officials familiar with those proceedings, however, the Boston prosecutors have all but ruled out an indictment of the city's former archbishop, Cardinal Bernard M. Law, who resigned in December over the sexual abuse scandal.

In Los Angeles, prosecutors are still considering whether there is sufficient evidence to indict Cardinal Roger M. Mahony on charges of conspiracy to commit felony child endangerment or conspiracy to obstruct justice. They expect a judge to decide soon whether to give them thousands of pages of church documents that the bishop has said are privileged because they include psychological evaluations of priests.

"We will go wherever the evidence leads us," William Hodgman, the deputy Los Angeles district attorney in charge of prosecuting sex crimes, said yesterday. "We are eagerly anticipating rulings by the court which will clear the way to get at the evidence we believe is there."

Mahony has denied any wrongdoing and is cooperating fully with the investigation, said his spokesman, Tod M. Tamberg.

Victims' groups expressed disappointment this week at the decision by prosecutors in Phoenix not to proceed with an indictment, and some victims' advocates said they believe such decisions are largely political.

"Should some bishops be indicted? Probably. But I don't think they're going to get one," said Monsignor Kenneth E. Lasch, of the Church of St. Joseph in Mendham, N.J., a leading voice within the clergy for assisting victims. "There's still something about indicting a Roman Catholic bishop in this country that's distasteful and politically not the proper thing to do in many places."

Prosecutors and legal experts said, however, that there are huge legal hurdles to prosecuting a bishop who has not committed sexual abuse himself, but has not prevented abuse by others.

"The first problem is proving criminal intent," said Robert M. Bloom, a professor at Boston College Law School. Even when prosecutors can show "all kinds of inaction" by bishops in the face of sexual misconduct by priests, it is not easy to prove that "they conspired with these bad priests to allow this to continue," he said.

Since the scandal broke, many states have made it a crime not to report child abuse, but such laws cannot be imposed retroactively.

In New Hampshire, prosecutors were able to turn to a state law on child endangerment that imposed a broad obligation on churches and other organizations to safeguard children in their care. In California, the child endangerment law is not as far-reaching, but prosecutors say that if they can show a single violation of the law within the current statute of limitations, they can reach back further in time to try to prove a conspiracy by church leaders to protect sexual abusers.

Prosecutors in numerous other jurisdictions have expressed frustration with their state laws and statutes of limitations. Grand juries have indicted a small number of priests, including one in Cleveland, two in St. Louis, six in Phoenix and nine in Los Angeles. But on Long Island and in Westchester, N.Y., grand juries were stymied by time limits on prosecuting sexual abuse cases and issued stinging reports calling for changes in state laws.

In Kentucky, more than 200 lawsuits have been filed against the Archdiocese of Louisville, many alleging not just abuse by priests but also a pattern of concealment by their superiors. Yet Commonwealth's Attorney David Stengel decided there was no point in calling a grand jury to investigate the diocese's leaders, said his spokesman, Jeff Derouen.

"The problem in Kentucky is that not reporting [sexual abuse] is a misdemeanor, and misdemeanors have a one-year statute of limitations," Derouen said.

One of the most extraordinary acts of frustration by a prosecutor took place in Fall River, Mass. There, a grand jury was able to indict one priest last year, but Bristol County District Attorney Paul F. Walsh Jr. publicly named 20 others he suspected of committing abuse. Defense lawyers accused him of abusing his office, and Walsh acknowledged in an interview that "we normally do not name suspects we cannot prosecute."

But, he noted, prosecutors are human, too.

"When you have someone telling you about how they were repeatedly raped, and the church knew about it and went on its merry way, when you see it up close and personal, it's awful," Walsh said. "You can't take the human side out of it. It was nasty stuff, and somebody should be brought to task for it."
----

Pas

I suspect many of the people outraged at this report (what's in it) are the same people outraged at the seminary visits and the emphasis (or media empahsis) on uncovering evidence of homosexuality and dissent.

Richard

Hello Rod,

It is interesting and instructive that more commentators here are cheesed off by Joe D'Hippolito and the Philly DA than the evil conduct of the Catholic hierarchy of Philadelphia.

With all due respect - and you know I mean that - some of us can walk and chew gum at the same time.

My dander doesn't need much to get up with this Hapless Bench Of Bishops. Allowing for the viccisitudes of grand juries and the curious decision of the DA not to prosecute, one can allow that the archdiocese is correct to think much of this amounts to unsubstantiatable slander. But good heavens - what if even just 10% of it is true? Some shpeherds are clearly revealed as wolves.

Most of us need no convincing to think it's high time we cleaned out the Augean chancery stables (I like the idea of a remote monastery in, say, Chad for the lot of 'em). The bloodthirsty hyperbole from the Usual Suspect is hardly necessary or appropriate.

It's a measure of Amy's extraordinary grace and tolerance that he hasn't been banned here as well.

reluctant penitent

This is for the excitable Rod Dreher's benefit:

Sexual abuse by priest is bad! Down with priests who abuse children! Booooo! Hiss!

Malfeasant bishops are bad! Down with malfeasant bishops! Boooo! Hissss!

I'm not sure what other comments he expects.

There are some who might make the following leap of illogic:

1. There have been bad priests and Bishops.

2. Therefore, the Magisterium is false and schism is permissible.

But that would be too foolish even for me.

Kenjiro Shoda

Interesting that this crisis in Philadelphia began shortly after Vatican II, when the standards and disipline of the priesthood began to crumble, just as the Liturgy began to crumble.
Also, around the same period for some strange reason the Catholic Church at least in the USA began de-valuing the use of Confession, and less and less spoke of Sin.
When one looses a sense of personal sin (mortal or venial), and looses a balanced and rational fear of God , then anything peverse and evil is possible and even becomes acceptable (such as homosexuality)....even among priests as seen by the hundreds of sexual abuse scandals.
The Catholic Church has nothing to blame but itself for this crisis....and for the loss of holiness of life and a just and proper sense of sin. For a sane person who tries to live a holy life and has proper sense of sin, such abuses as we have all heard and read about would be all but impossible.
Recapturing disipline and holiness in the priesthood would be a first step in recovery from these abuse scandals.
Unfortunatly in the post-Vatican II Novus Ordo Church, this is nearly impossible.

Pas

Does this huge report which lists accused priests and their crimes, also list their sexual orientation, or is detail irrelevant, as the media, gay priests and their cheer squad who have us believe ?

reluctant penitent

'my brave anonymous critic'

I certainly do not have the courage of the average newspaper man but I have sufficient intenstinal fortutude not to contemplate schism because I'm frightened by the likes of Marty Haugen and Father Bozo.

Zhou

Dear Kenjiro, and others who would blame this on Vatican II,

Please read some church history.
One of the most scathing condemnations of clerical sexual misconduct is from the 11th century, by St. Peter Damian.

This is not a new problem.

What is new is not any change from Vatican II in the 1960's, but rather, in my opinion, the growing (and right) zeal in the US to actually prosecute sexual abuse against children, which dates back only to the mid 1980's, when American society started to realize that the sexual revolution of the 1960's and 1970's needed some limits. But in the 1970's child p*rn was easily available in many places, and in many "hip" environments and communes and places of "exploration", s*x with children was not uncommon. I know. I was there as a teenager.

I believe that in earlier decades in the US, Canada and Australia in the 20th century, there were just as many corrupt clergy, it is just that people did not talk about it; and if the victims were poor and/or immigrants, or indigenous, they were not worth the trouble to protect from the good Church doing good things who might also be bringing the lads to bed.

Vatican II is not relevant, IMHO.

reluctant penitent

'One of the most scathing condemnations of clerical sexual misconduct is from the 11th century, by St. Peter Damian'

Yes Zhou, but you should also note the penalties for sexual misconduct recommended by St. Peter Damian. Acts of sodomy by clergy had quite brutal consequences. And though I'm not recommending that the Bishops implement St. Peter Damian's recommendations some modicum of virility in punishing malfeasant clergy would be appropriate.

john

Actually, Kenjiro, Philadelphia barely tolerated Vatican II, and its seminary system and clerical culture took decades to change. Even now, among the large archdioceses of the east, it is the most conservative and hidebound.

The prosecutor is using the grand jury report to lobby for legislative chages in statutes of limitations and other things.

In an archdiocese in which thousands of priests have served during the timeframe described in the report, it does not seem that there was a hugh number of offending individuals - although there should have been none. The real scandal seems to be the way the offenders were treated by the diocesan leadership.

On the other hand, what would the prosecutor's report be like if she were to investigate the Philadelphia School District in the same way. I suspect that the church might look good in comparison.

reluctant penitent

john,

Do you have any evidence at all that the priests guilty of misconduct were resistant to Vatican II or are you just improvising?

Zhou

Well, RP, I agree with you, in theory, about penalties.

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia now has on the web Full Disclosure about the status of all known offending clergy.

Many are "Ministry is permanently restricted and he has accepted a supervised life of Prayer and Penance." Personally, I think they should have joined the OEP, Order of Eunuch Priests.

Mike L

Kenjiro,
I think that most of the men who allowed the sexual abuse to take place were probably trained products of our seminaries before the VCII took place, so I think it is difficult to lay all this at the VCII's feet.

Nor do I think the man in the pew is totally innocent. As I understand it, when the abuse scandal broke in Louisiana in the 1980's, the family of the abused had their business destroyed and were run out of town by the "good" Catholics that thought it was horrible that anyone should accuse a priest, even though that priest was convicted.

Tom Kelty

How can power ever be taken from a closed hierarchical system which totally rejects democratic procedures and norms? The Pope as "The servant of the servants of God" is really a heavy handed ruler, surrounded by clerical sychophants who often tell him what they believe he needs to know and wants to hear. The church's divine foundation is proven by the many times it has survived various crises engendered by human cupidity and stupidity during its 2,000 year history. We are living thru an ugly and vile crisis compounded by failures of leadership and pathetic dissembling. The only way out is truth and it will be painful as it is painful for all of us to witness the civil courts publicly spanking what was once regarded as a church of unquestionable moral standing. Natural disasters have a relatively short life. This disaster may drag on for many years as we watch civil law clash with an outdated spiritual monarchy. Wake me up when it is over. Christ gave us one law,"that we love one another as He has loved us". This is still the Truth we must live by.

reluctant penitent

Zhou, I think you draw our attention to something crucial: the offending clergy are in restricted ministry and have accepted supervised penance and prayer. I'm not sure what other penalties the Church can impose. It seems to me that this-worldly penalties like imprisonment are up to the civil authorities. But to respond in advance to the predictable objections: Sexual abuse by priest is bad! Down with priests who abuse children! Malfeasant bishops are bad! Down with malfeasant bishops!

James Kabala

Sheesh, Rod, calling for murder is the sort of thing that can justifiably get people ticked off. And it can't be said it was just hyperbole, since Joe was explictly contrasting his plan not with defenses of the bishops (since there are none on this site), but with calls to punish the bishops in a reasonable and realistic manner.

reluctant penitent

Yes James but Rod merely said that it's 'interesting.' Get it. It's sort of like an accusation but not really. I guess you could call it hypobole. Ang, once again: abuse by priest is bad! Down with priests who abuse children! Malfeasant bishops are bad! Down with malfeasant bishops!

john

Reluctant penitent,

You attack too quick. If you notice, my comment was addressed to Kenjero, who tried to link the scandal with the post-conciliar reforms. I simply noted that it would be hard to make such a case, given the clerical culture of Philadelphia in the post-conciliar era. In no way was I attributing the scandal to Vatican II, as you glibly assume.

john

I've read a good chunk of the Grand Jury Report, and it is not a legal brief, it is a polemical document. It is written in such a way as to maximize outrage, and to ensure publicity for the district attorney, Lynn Abraham. Crying about that the statute of limitations prevents prosecution of any offense committed before 1982, it does not even raise the question of why there are no recent cases. Why did it uncover no cases committed within the statute of limitations (currently, the 30th birthday of the victim)? And it paints with the same broad brush crimes committed against 8 year olds and those committed against those in their late teens. At one point, it describes a man in his last year at seminary - presumably 23 or 24 - as "Timmy," conjuring images of Lassie and an 8 year old towhead.

There is much to lament and be angry about. But the whole tone and style of this document is sensationalistic and anti-Catholic.

Lee Penn

Various items ....

1. Zhou, is the Damian document available on-line anywhere?

2. Jason Berry did a feature article on +Levada and his coverup record, for San Francisco Magazine. The story is on-line at this link:

http://www.sanfranmag.com/home/view_story/998/

3. I did another such story for a Web site overseas. I arrived at the same conclusion as Berry, although our stories covered some different aspects of the Scandal:

http://www.mdep.org/LevadaTrajectory-Details.html

(sorry, I do not know how to put a live, clickable link into the comments here.)

4. There are some ways that we will be able to tell whether the Hierarchy has undergone metanoia:

-- Dioceses stop lobbying against efforts to extend statute of limitations laws in abuse cases.
-- Dioceses accept "mandatory reporting" laws, with the exception of secrets disclosed in the confessional.
-- Dioceses forego some of the disgusting defenses that their attorneys have made in the past, such as "contributory negligence" on the part of the victim or his parents.

None of these involve any doctrinal change; they do involve the institution acting like Christ, rather than like Enron.

5. Somehow, we need to both advocate for justice in this mess, standing with the victims (and against false accusations), but ALSO praying for God to have mercy on the guilty. The Fatima Prayer is still useful, and so is the Mercy Chaplet.

Lee

reluctant penitent

john I was not suggesting that you attributed the scandal to VII. But you did say that the Philadelphia archdiocese is conservative and that for that reason the scandals were not caused by VII. But that response to Kenjiro's link of VII and the scandals does not work since the offending priests might have been VII enthusiasts in a conservative archdiocese. I don't agree with Kenjiro and I don't think that VII is the cause of the scandals--though I do think that the post-VII inundation of the priesthood with gays made the abuse numbers much higher than they would otherwise have been and have resulted in many incidents which, while they do not invove abuse of minors are scandalous (e.g. pervert priests getting caught trolling in parks etc.) However, even though I disagree with Kenjiro, I don't think that the purported conservativeness of the Phil-archdiocese proves him wrong. You would have to show that the priests themselves were resistant to Vatican-II in order to show that there is no relationship of the sort that he alleges.

Jonathan Carpenter

Let me state my agreement with those who roundly condemn the Bishops handling of this Philadelphia SNAFU wrapped in a FUBAR. The Bishops should be condemned and stand before God to account for their failure. They will. That being said, Dr. Donohue of the Catholic League made some comments regarding Ms. Abraham that should be heard.

"Abraham is a phony. From the beginning, she had absolutely no evidence that would lead her to conduct a massive taxpayer-funded investigation of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia while not similarly investigating ministers, rabbis, public school teachers, abortion counselors, et al. But all of them got a pass nonetheless. Worse, Abraham has the gall to say she wants to tighten the Pennsylvania Child Protective Services Law yet never states that abortion counselors should be added to the ‘Mandated Reporters’ list. And that’s because her friends at Planned Parenthood would then have to report cases of statutory rape."

"Some will say she is heroic simply because she successfully named some priests who apparently were molesters. But it is not an act of heroism to select one institution out of many for an investigation that was destined to fail. It’s an act of exploitation.”

If you are concerned about abuse, you must also condemn DAs who act in this matter.


Rosemarie

+J.M.J+

>>>One of the most scathing condemnations of clerical sexual misconduct is from the 11th century, by St. Peter Damian.

St. Alphonsus de Liguori, who wrote during the 18th century, also brutally condemned impurity in priests in terms that would make your hair stand on end. It's Chapter 6 in his book, The Dignity and Duties of the Priest.

In Jesu et Maria,

Rosemarie

+J.M.J+

The Internet never ceases to amaze me; I just found that section of the book online!

The Sin of Incontinence, By St. Alphonsus
http://www.catholictradition.org/priesthood1-7.htm

Be forewarned: this is heavy, heavy reading. I'm not kidding. Like the song says, they just don't write 'em like that anymore!

You can also read more of The Dignity and Duties of the Priest at:

http://www.catholictradition.org/priests.htm

In Jesu et Maria,

Rod Dreher

RP: Yes James but Rod merely said that it's 'interesting.' Get it. It's sort of like an accusation but not really. I guess you could call it hypobole. Ang, once again: abuse by priest is bad! Down with priests who abuse children! Malfeasant bishops are bad! Down with malfeasant bishops!

Man, you are not only a coward who hides behind the veil of anonymity, you are also a pluperfect ass. I've been off this blog for a month or longer because it was no good for my spiritual life to engage in pointless polemics, especially with little men like RP. I was an idiot to come back. RP, you have the last word, but I won't be around here to read it. Thanks for being the inspiring advertisement for Catholicism that you are.

Rod Dreher

OK, not my finest moment just now. I regret having posted that. I asked for it, though, by coming back where I have no business being.

reluctant penitent

'A pluperfect ass' I guess that means that I had been an ass. Well high-ho and off to work I go with my fellow dwarves.

cs

Well, you cannot say you were not warned! Having seen DA Abraham on TV, and His Eminience AND the Archdiocesan attorney, I can tell you the DA came off as the most sincere.

I ask those of you who think the DA is off the mark to sit down and read the report.

Anyone who lived in Philly the last 40 years knows full well that Cardinal Krol did all he could to keep the Vatican II reforms in line with the documents, the result being a culture clash. His goal was to keep the "Church" unified. He, just like his best friend the late Holy Father, thought that scandal was greater than child rape.

Long time readers will remember that I complained over 3 1/2 years ago about the Kiddy Porn priest, and how his presence wrecked a parish. I hope Father DePaoli's story is in this report.

I haven't seen the outrage about the priest who raped the 11 year old girl and then took her to get an abortion. Do you think these reports should be kept quiet?

What about the culpability of the chancery rats who assisted in this cover-up?

What about the priest who was so terrible, the report says they ran out of places to hide him?

Read the report, then tell us in Philly that our DA is wrong.

The Catholic League is wrong. Cardinal Bevilaqua is a liar, and I proved it with a front page photo of DePaoli saying Mass. They backpedaled fast.

May God have mercy on those evil priests.

cs

There's another aspect of this Philly story that has been left unsaid (maybe it's in the report- but I doubt it).

The complicity of the Philly PD under America's law & order Mayor Frank Rizzo. There is NO WAY IN HELL any of his men would have ever arrested a priest, and no way the media would have reported it. Cardinal Krol had them that close. The suburban DA's would have towed the line also.

And of course, two of the Philly DA's during this time were Senator Arlen (Single Bullet/Not Proven) Specter, and Pennsylvania Govorner Ed Rendell.

As Mark says: "Discuss, class".

Lynn Gazis-Sax

I suspect many of the people outraged at this report (what's in it) are the same people outraged at the seminary visits and the emphasis (or media empahsis) on uncovering evidence of homosexuality and dissent.

I would certainly hope so. I mean, really, which would you prefer, PAS, people who believe that some homosexuals can be chaste and who are shocked at the abuse of children, or people who think seminaries shouldn't bar homosexuals and have no problem with the abuse of children?

The Sin of Incontinence, By St. Alphonsus
http://www.catholictradition.org/priesthood1-7.htm

Wow. That makes me feel positively lax by comparison. That guy really took incontinence in priests seriously.

reluctant penitent

'or people who think seminaries shouldn't bar homosexuals and have no problem with the abuse of children'

Did you mean to write 'people who think seminaries should bar homosexuals'?

Zhou De-Ming

cs brought up a point that I was also considering this evening.
In the big cities of the East where a lot of the worst cases of abuse have come to light, there were traditions of lots of Catholic immigrants in law enforcement who would never cite a priest, let alone arrest one.
It may be that a factor in places like Boston and Philadelphia is the "Catholic law enforcement" culture that, until the last couple of decades, felt that Catholic priests were "off limits." That could have something to do with things not being reported, investigated, etc.

Whitcomb

cs:

Even in jest, let us not encourage the grassy knoll/babushka lady/umbrella man/three bums/mafia/Texas oil men/anti-Castro Cubans/pro-Castro Cubans/Russians/FBI/CIA/three-nests-of-snipers conspiracy theorists out there.

I believe in the Catholic Church, that the rich always get richer and that Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. That's one thing Arlen (single-bullet)Specter got right.

Don't believe me? Read "Case Closed," by Gerald Posner.

Lynn Gazis-Sax

Did you mean to write 'people who think seminaries should bar homosexuals'?

No, I meant to write "people who think seminaries shouldn't bar homosexuals"; I meant that, assuming you have a category X of people who think seminaries shouldn't bar homosexuals, absolutely anyone should prefer that the group of people in category X who are shocked at the abuse of children to be larger than the group of people in category X who don't care about the abuse of children. So that even someone who thinks every single solitary homosexual, however chaste, should be barred from seminaries, shouldn't regret it if a lot of the people who are upset at the course the seminary visitation is taking are shocked at what's going on in Philadelphia.

On the other hand, it's also true the way you wrote it. Given a choice between booting child molesters and booting chaste homosexuals, absolutely go for the child molesters.

fide

"with little men like RP[as opposed to big big men like "you people" Dreher]. I was an idiot to come back. RP, you have the last word, but I won't be around here to read it. [Thank heavens for that].
Channel 6, the ABC affiliate and top station in Philadelphia, led with it at 6 but made it story 3 or 4 at 11. They also give stentorian attention to adament and detailed denials and corrections by the Diocese. Some of the allegations in Abraham's (longtime DA, who has been in several close races recently) statement were wrong and outright false, acco. to the Diocese.
The papers are saying the Grand Jury report is a necessary groundwork for bringing suits against the Archdiocese. Some of those making allegations thanked her, on camera on one station, for this. So here come the lawsuits.
I'll bet no one who has posted on this tonight has read the entire Grand Jury report and the entire Archdiocese rebuttal.

Jeremy Rich

I entered the Church on Easter 2003 at St. Monica's, where one of the preps served in the 1960s. This makes me ill. Lord help us all.

Jeremy Rich

Uh, I meant perps...But reading this report is making me queasy, so forgive the bad typing!

Kevin Miller

Also from the report: "The victims' parents were asked repeatedly when they testified before the Grand Jury why they and other friends/loved ones never reported these crimes to law enforcement."

Oh, wait. Sorry. My mistake. That question hasn't been asked.

I've been saying this a while, and I'll say it again. Plenty of bishops have done plenty of wrong (enabling, covering up, etc.). And their failures to bring in the law are probably less excusable than parents' failures to do so. But that doesn't mean that the latter aren't also failures.

Especially since, ultimately, what the law would need most is the cooperation of the victims (i.e., more so than the cooperation of the bishops).

If you are (or, say, your child is) the victim of a serious crime, you have some duty to go to the cops, press the case, etc.

Suppose - by way of imperfect analogy - your neighbor's youngish-adult son sexually assaults your early-adolescent son. You might well go to your neighbor with word. You might reasonably expect him to bring the police in. But you would, I think, also be reasonably expected to make sure that the police were brought in - e.g., by calling them yourself if it wasn't clear that your neighbor had done so after a day or so (i.e., if they hadn't contacted you for a formal statement).

Kevin Miller

... Oh, and yes, I understand that in some (maybe many) cases, bishops pressured police and prosecutors to leave priests alone. So much the worse for those bishops (and the law-enforcement folks who bowed to the pressure).

But (a) that's not the case in every place that has been directly affected by The Situation, and (b) that doesn't mean parents shouldn't have tried to do what they ought, and (c) it's not necessarily impossible to impose counterpressure (it's not like every media outlet everwhere - e.g., every national one - was ignoring these allegations, or would have ignored further allegations of police/DA complicity in coverups).

Gerard E.

I write this post in a state of seething, eye-bulging anger. The list of perps listed by the Phila. Inquirer, in alphabetical order, reads like a Spiritual Who's Who of my life. Beginning with a recent parochial vicar, shipped out to a residence for retired nuns last June. Was in charge of the altar servers. Then a pastor of my former parish- left the diocese for an order. Down to the middle of the list- my high school biology teacher, the school's former Athletic Director, with the longest paper trail. At least 18 cases of abuse over 20 years. Assaulted a family of four sisters. Including one documented case where the poor girl was hospitalized and in traction- the assault only ended when she repeated buzzed for a nurse. Then there's the former archbishops and the chancery enablers- the report notes that the former vicar for priests was slicker at coverups than his predecessors. Then the current archbishop who, in a Wednesday press conference, expressed sympathy for victims, then went off on the report. Said it was anti-Catholic- the equivalent of playing the race card. Let an archdiocesan attorney continue the rant. God bless the grand jury for following the paper trail. God bless District Attorney Lynne Abraham for holding fast to the investigation. God bless the biological father of one victim, who gave a serious beatdown to the monster who assaulted his child. The report was far, far worse than I suspected. But that's okay. Just as Peter warned: The season of judgment has come. And it starts at the House of God.

cs

Hey Gerard,

My sympathies are with you....I know too many named in the report also, and a few who are still below the radar...All you who insist, still, in posting abstract thoughts about the Situation et al, pick up the report and read it! You will vomit!

Colleen

"It may be that a factor in places like Boston and Philadelphia is the "Catholic law enforcement" culture that, until the last couple of decades, felt that Catholic priests were "off limits." That could have something to do with things not being reported, investigated, etc."

I believe you are partially correct here although in Fr. Shanley out of Boston's case the cops in his area literally begged parents to report the abuse so they could arrest Shanley - and parents wouldn't do it. The neighborhood cops would hear the rumors, visit the families, families would admit it but they wouldn't report it. I think that says something about all of us as well because the 'shame' factor was too daunting for them to deal with in respect to their communities and neighbors. Anyhow, I suspect that scenerio was played out elsewhere.

Jen P

Joseph, actually revolutions tend to take place most frequently when institutions that have caused legitimate grievances begin to let up on their control. Perhaps this is the fear...

KH

From St. Alphonsus:

"In the revelations of St. Bridget we read that an unchaste priest was killed by a thunderbolt; and it was found that the lightning had reduced to ashes only the indelicate members, and left the remainder of the body untouched, as if to show that it was principally for incontinence that God had inflicted this chastisement upon him."

Kevin Miller

... in Fr. Shanley out of Boston's case the cops in his area literally begged parents to report the abuse so they could arrest Shanley - and parents wouldn't do it. The neighborhood cops would hear the rumors, visit the families, families would admit it but they wouldn't report it.

Well, there it is.

Patrick Rothwell

"Suppose - by way of imperfect analogy - your neighbor's youngish-adult son sexually assaults your early-adolescent son. You might well go to your neighbor with word. You might reasonably expect him to bring the police in. But you would, I think, also be reasonably expected to make sure that the police were brought in - e.g., by calling them yourself if it wasn't clear that your neighbor had done so after a day or so (i.e., if they hadn't contacted you for a formal statement)."

And, in another time and in another place, the two neighbors would likely have agreed that the best course of action would be not to go to the police at all, but to handle the situation quietly and delicately - whatever that means, especially if the entire incident appeared to be consensual and not a case of genuine rape. In fact, I'll bet you dollars to donuts that this is how it would be handled by most families/neighbors today. Whether that is a good approach or not, your mileage may vary.


Mike L

Kevin, try reading what happened to the people that reported the sexual abuse in Louisiana in the 1980's and maybe you can understand why many did not want to report it to the police.

I also remember reading a newspaper interview with a Boston Irishman about the time the abuse crisis broke in Boston. He claimed any priest that was abusive would have been run out of town, and those claiming abuse should be punished for telling lies. Sounds a lot like what I have heard from many of the abused.

And again, it seems like this is another effort to point the finger of guilt back at the abused. "If you hadn't been so seductive, Father would never have raped you!"

I don't think that many Catholics really want to hear what happened.

David

Kevin,

concerning the parents, I think now (2005) parents are much more wary and careful about the relationship between their children and priests and other religious. And I do think we parents have a duty to go to the proper authorities when we have reason to believe a crime has been committed against our children.

However, part of the report describes a culture in which it was simply unthinkable among Catholic laity that priests would do such horrible things and a extremely strong sense of the stigma/shame/guilt of reporting such things (when they did occur) to the authorities. This affected the reactions of both the abused children and their parents.

I hope that culture is quite dead now. But I think it might help us see the actions of those parents and their children in a quite forgiving light.

Often, the children would not tell their parents or anyone else for years. And often the priest abuser would tell the child that his or her parents knew about such activity and approved of it.

So I do think the report does consider reasons why parents didn't immediately report abuse.

Desert Chatter

I'm sorry none of the perpetrators will go to prison. I'm not sorry that the truth about these creeps and their enablers/defenders has been spread out for the whole world to see.

I'm sad that none of this surprises me anymore. The depth of the problem is such that nothing would surprise me now.

We need a re-formation of the clergy: a cleansing of those we have and a new plan of formation for those in the future. It starts in seminaries, but it ends in chanceries. Something must be done...and we cannot rely on the clergy to lead the way.

SparcVark

From the report:

For most of Cardianl Krol's tenure, concealment mainly entailed persuading victims' parents not to report the priests' crimes to police, and transferring priests to other parishes if parents demanded it or "general scandal" seemed imminent.

The report goes on to list specific allegations that the archdiocese actively persuaded parents not to report abuse to the police, and used its influence to hinder investigations in progress.

kathleen reilly

One blogger linked above points out that a Philadelphia seminary with an extant policy of "no homosexuals, even chaste ones" graduated a few of the priests named as offenders in the grand jury report. Naturally this leads to the question, how is such a policy at all enforceable? If someone is capable of molesting children, they are also capable of keeping their more problematic sexual desires to themselves. Now there is talk that this policy will be instituted church-wide. As a parent, I have to assume the church is never going to be out of the woods on this one, new policies notwithstanding.

patrick in ny

Patrick Rothwell....i can see your point in your example.....but i think the situation is different when the situation is not between families, but with an institution. if the offender was a school teacher? a coach or scout leasder? a counselor? a clergyman? then it is not just a pesonal dynamic but the institution the person represents needs to be challenged?

i think there is big difference between two families dealing with this and dealing with an institution that is betraying its trust?

David

One example from page 39 of the report:

Not only did Church officials not report the crimes; they went even further, by
persuading parents not to involve law enforcement — promising that the Archdiocese
would take appropriate action itself. When the father of a 14-year-old boy reported to
Cardinal Krol’s Chancellor in 1982 that Fr. Trauger had molested his son and that he had
told someone in the Morals Division of the Police Department (the father was himself a
detective), the Chancellor succeeded in fending off prosecution. Chancellor Statkus
informed the Cardinal: “Convinced of our sincere resolve to take the necessary action
regarding Fr. T., [the victim’s father] does not plan to press any charges, police or
otherwise.” (What Cardinal Krol did upon receiving this information was what he had
done a year before, when Fr. Trauger had attempted to anally rape a 12-year-old boy
from his previous parish: the Cardinal merely transferred the priest to another parish,
where his crimes would not be known.)

Patrick Rothwell

Oh, I agree that there is a big difference between two families and an institution, even though there are some similarities: both families and institutions are quite capable of the kind of double-crossing as David's post at 10:17 above indicates that Krol might have done.

Gene Humphreys

Rod,

It was good to read your insightful comments here. I hope you will be back.

Ian

Amy,

Thanks for the link.

I am upset to learn of the extent of this problem in Philly, but I can't say this was completely unknown. The probe has been going for some time. Aspects of this, such as the pit-bull actions of archdiocesan lawyers against victims, have been well-documented by the press in Philly over the past couple of years.

There is a new archbishop of Philadelphia: Cardinal Rigali. Let's hope he continues the good things that Cardinals Krol and Bevilacqua did (such as forbidding the entry of known homosexuals into the seminary) while being more open and forthcoming (and disciplinary) about existing abusers.

Philadelphia has the best shot of cleaning up among all of the dioceses. Let's hope the chance is not missed, for the sake of Our Lord and Our Mission!

Pam

John posted on 9/21 at 8:12:25PM;

"And it paints with the same broad brush crimes committed against 8 year olds and those committed against those in their late teens. At one point, it describes a man in his last year at seminary - presumably 23 or 24 - as "Timmy," conjuring images of Lassie and an 8 year old towhead.

There is much to lament and be angry about. But the whole tone and style of this document is sensationalistic and anti-Catholic."

Actually John,on page 21 of the DA's report it states that Timmy was 13 years old when the abuse started, and it lasted almost 6 years.

Rosemarie

+J.M.J+

I can sympathize somewhat, Gerard. I don't think I've ever mentioned this on the blogs before but the priest who married us later went on to molest a 14 year old boy. That was very traumatic for us to find out; we feel so terrible about it that we can't even watch the video of our wedding.

I also found out recently that the chaplain of my high school, whom I used to talk to often, had molested a teenage boy about ten years before I met him. Now I think I understand why they assigned him to an all-girls high school - no boys there! At least that's my surmise. The priest has been dead for about a decade now, but it's still a devistating thing to learn about someone you knew and thought well of.

In Jesu et Maria,

Paul Pfaffenberger

Kevin Miller,

Parents were pressured by the church (pastors, VG & bishops) to not report child abuse to the civil authorities.

More specifically, Dick & Kit Pfaffenberger (my parents) were told by Fr. Tom Cloherty and Msgr Robert Rehkemper and Bishop Thomas Tschoepe in 1982 that in the best interests of (pick one) my sister, Fr Bill Hughes (the perp), the Catholic church or their own soul, it was better to keep this "within the church".

Please stop blaming parents for not turning in molesters to the police. They were being told by their spiritual leaders not to. After an extremely stressful, painful experience they turned to those in the best position to know how to repsond - the leaders of their faith - and were told (ordered, by VG Rehkemper) not to report. I know you can appreciate the spirit of obedience at work, even though in retrospect it was a bad decision to obey the VG and bishop in these cases.

marie

Regarding the suggestion that parents who did not go to the police are seriously blameworthy:

Who can blame a parent for wanting to avoid public scandal for his already victimized child when the bishop - a successor to the apostles - tells you it would be in everyone's best interests to keep the matter private, that this is an isolated incidence, and assures you that the priest will never be in a position to abuse another child? Parents of a boy in my eighth grade class accepted the bishop's story - and brought no public action. But when they found out that the bishop had reassigned Father X to another parish years later, they blew the top off it. It's now hard to imagine that so many could have trusted the Church to protect children, but there was a time when we did. I'm sure there were some Church officials that were just as naive, and honestly believed Father could not have done what was alleged or had been rehabilitated. Those were tragically foolish mistakes, but surely they are not as blameworthy as the calculated decisions to endanger children in order to avoid the unravelling of a web of corruption. Some episcopal decisions were so outrageous - and not merely foolish - that it is hard to believe they were not the result of a form of blackmail. That children were made victims to cover up the sins of priests and bishops makes we want to weep.

Joseph D'Hippolito

And now, something else to think about for you "the gates of Hell shall not prevail" types:

God fashioned a covenant with the Israelites to be His oracle to the world. After Solomon's death and the division of his kingdom into northern and southern branches, idolatry became widespread. While God did not renounce the covenant He made, He allowed the Assyrians and Babylonians to destroy the political independence of both kingdoms and take their residents into captivity.

I propose that the contemporary Catholic Church is engaged in the same kind of idolatry: an idolatry that worships temporal power, prestige, financial wealth, political influence, intellectual fashion and clerical institutionalism. This isn't just a feature of the American Church; this is worldwide, as the clerical abuse crisis is worldwide.

God may not revoke His promises but that won't mean that God won't punish episcopal traitors by destroying every vestige of vanity to which they cling. A few bishops wearing "liturgical orange," as Lee Penn once so aptly put it, might just do the trick. So would diocesan bankrupcies that force church and school closures and impoverish dioceses..

To those of you who misuse "apostolic succession" to justify your complacency, be careful what you wish for. You just might get it.

jtbf

Phil. Inq.:
The report called on the legislature to enact a broad array of legislation, including a recall of the statute of limitations related to sexual abuse of minors.

The archdiocese angrily denounced the grand jury report as "incredibly biased and anti-Catholic." In a blistering 70-page response, the church officials and lawyers called it "a vile, mean-spirited diatribe."

While condemning the "abhorrent behavior" of abusive priests, the church vigorously defended Krol and Bevilacqua and said the report was "rife with mistakes, unsupported inferences and misguided conclusions."

Cardinal Justin Rigali, who succeeded Bevilacqua as archbishop in 2003, defended his predecessors, telling a news conference that the archdiocese under Krol and Bevilacqua had sought "to do what was thought to be the most effective thing at the time." But, he added, "we wouldn't do the same things today."

http://www.philly.com/mld/inquirer/news/nation/12707654.htm

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