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February 06, 2006



We live in the nether-reaches of the Joliet diocese, so the first we heard of the incident was thru a letter the bishop ordered to be read at Mass this weekend. (Not the first time he's ordered such a letter to be read, either.)

These letters, by the way, can get graphic --- it's stuff I feel uncomfortable letting my kids listen to. But, like the bishop said, he doesn't have children. I guess he's never thought about what it's like trying to cover three little sets of ears during the reading of these letters.

But that aside, the "therapy" defense intrigues me. I'd be interested in the thoughts of any therapists or other professionals on this forum: is it true that, 20-30+ years ago, professionals believed that these kinds of sexual disorders could be successfully treated? When did it become clear that such disorders are fundamentally different from, say, alcohol or drug addiction?


Priests who swim naked with boys need to be prosecuted for lewd behavior.

Greg Popcak

Just to proactively address the "this is why Catholics can't trust therapy" comments that invariably arise in the face of stories like this, I just want to remind people that the "therapists" who cleared these "priests" were, in most cases, themselves clerics.

As I told Bishop Gregory, Cdl McCarrick, and Bishop Lynch at that Washington conference a few years back, St. Luke's Institute should be closed, the campus sold, and the money given to pay for competent counseling for the victims. St Luke's wasn't providing therapy, they were using the veneer of therapy to enable clericalism.

Jennifer N.

Imesch admitted being aware that a priest in Lombard, the Rev. Larry Gibbs, went swimming in the nude with pre-teen boys, and then played "boys' games" with them while naked. Still, after seeing a psychiatrist, Gibbs was transferred to another parish in Lockport. Imesch admitted he didn't alert parishioners to the priest's past, although he claims he told the pastor at the new church. Gibbs was later accused of abusing a child at the new church.

May God have mercy on my soul, because if I was the mother of the most recently abused child... I would be sorely tempted to kill Gibbs and Imesch.

Lee Podles

Bishops can do whatever they want, and at most they suffer a moment of embarrassment. Bishops have tolerated priests having sex with boys because it is an old, corrupt Mediterranean custom which has established itself in the Church. To uproot it would require the removal of a good part of the episcopacy and the priesthood, and no one except a few hotheads wants disruption on that scale. What are the lives and souls of a few boys as opposed to the comfort of doing business as usual.

Patricia Gonzalez

Jennifer, I would be right behind you to finish those creeps off!


"Priests who swim naked with boys need to be prosecuted for lewd behavior."

And how! And prosecuted for more besides . . . .

John Gibson

Joliet is my former diocese... It has been long known that any complaints will get ignored, be it about liturgical abuse to sexual abuse by clerics or other staff.

Many people in Joliet have been praying that the current bishop would be relieved from his duties, but we have had to wait for the mandatory retirement age to take him out.

I know that it is no longer my problem, since I have bailed to the Eastern Rite. But I do have lots of friends and family that are in this situation.



No its not the bad culture which was necessarily the problem with keeping the "bad" priests, it was bishops who didn't have the courage to allow parishes to merge or close rather than to eliminate clergy who were clearly unfit to be priests. Many bishops transfer into a diocese, suddenly discover that their are no real priests, just therapists and motivational speakers with stolls many of whom have severe sexual problems. Instead of just axing 2/3 of their priests many bishops reform their seminaries, hold their noses and hope that 25 years from now all will be well.

Kathy B.

Re: Fr. Gibbs

One of the most wonderful, holy priests I ever knew in my life was pastor of the first or second parish Fr. Gibbs was assigned to and fought against Gibbs' placement there, knowing of his reputation while he (Gibbs) was in still in seminary. In fact, Gibbs was denied ordination for a few years, but the bishop finally relented; I'm not sure if it was the predicted priest shortage at that time or what. Each of Gibbs' assignments ended up being of very short duration.
This sort of thing has been happening in the Joliet diocese for a long time. Perhaps because of the growth in the suburbs of Chicago, the need for priests (quantity) has been too much of a priority. But also, too many of the programs or ministries here center on what psychologists or New Age gurus say more than what Jesus says.


These folks aren't serious about cleaning up their acts.....they just want to hold on to their privileges.

Perhaps the time has come to just ignore all of those who are complicit and just refuse to acknowledge their existence, let alone their authority.

The therapy defense is a smoke screen, just like Cardinal George's "I just was following the guidelines by having the pervert 'monitored'" is a smoke screen.

They will keep on doing this until we convince them that they are not going to get away with it.


Their tired excuses don't work anymore, I don't understand why they can't get it through their heads. I watched Cardinal George's press conference last Thursday. In regard to Fr. Bennett not being removed after a accusation in 2003, he said that the current canon law requires an investigation, in this case it took two years and concluded in Oct.05', then the priest still couldn't be removed because he didn't have a lawyer. He said he should have asked the priest to remove himself, because there wasn't any other way to remove him sooner. The Cardinal admitted being confused.

The local police department can remove a cop and give him a desk job while he under investigation. A school board can make a teacher stay home with pay while there is an investigation, but right now a Cardinal of the Catholic Church can't remove a priest from a parish while investigating child abuse. And yet, he has been removed since Fr. McCormack's arrest.
Here is what Carol Marin said in her article in the Chicago Sun Times yesterday:

"I know that George is deeply sorry but sorry doesn't
cut it any more.

This isn't brain surgery, this is child protection.

What has happened in the Chicago Archdiocese is not a mistake, it is an outrage. Worse than that, it is a continuation of a pattern and practice of Catholic bishops putting priests before children.

That's what Joliet Bishop Joseph Imesch cearly did with no evident regret."

Daniel Mitsui

Imesch is a disgrace. He should be excommunicated and thrown in prison.

Therese Z

Our Mass petitions include one for the Bishop as he retires and for his replacement. We have been praying if for TOO LONG.

He's wearing us out. Our scandal isn't any worse and is even better than some other dioceses, but the way he's handling it, icy and aloof is embarassing and damaging.

I know many good people who like him and say he's being mis-represented, but his letter on Sunday sounded like defensive business as usual.

Glenn Juday

I've said it before, and I'm sorry to have to say that subsequent experience only strengthens the case. Bishops who do cause and facilitate pedophilia and child rape need to be indicted, arrested, convicted, and jailed. It remains to be seen whether some of them will change their behavior until this happens.

The current legal strategy of the civil authority is to cause financial pain or to bankrupt the Church in the hope that the laity will get so mad that we will take action to clean things up. But that approach will not work for the simple reason that we do not administer the clergy, and even more important, the current administrative arrangements for the clergy cannot change no matter how much the physical assets of the Church the civil authority destroys, up to and including 100%.

There is only one remaining approach that fulfills the twin requirements of natural justice and effectiveness. The bishop-offenders must be held personally and criminally liable for their use of the authority that has been invested in the office they hold. It would have been better if they had taken a different approach, but many would not reform for the sake of general principles and now we really have come to this. We need to hunt down, and convict under the law, the bishop-offenders who have actively and positively assisted the stalking and predation of our children. This is clearly in the realm of the vocation of the laity. But, however grave the offense is, private revenge is not acceptable. This is a matter for the law.

A remote case could be made that theoretically, if the enhanced effort at personal prosecution and conviction was implemented and the problem continued, then judicial execution of properly convicted offenders would not necessarily be out of line with Catholic principles, although certainly the prudential issues and an assessment of the cultural effect would weigh heavily. But, yes, in extreme cases the offense is so grave that it is possible to at least not dismiss automatically a judicial sentence of that gravity for egregious cases and in appropriate circumstances.

Patrick Rothwell

"There is only one remaining approach that fulfills the twin requirements of natural justice and effectiveness. The bishop-offenders must be held personally and criminally liable for their use of the authority that has been invested in the office they hold. It would have been better if they had taken a different approach, but many would not reform for the sake of general principles and now we really have come to this. We need to hunt down, and convict under the law, the bishop-offenders who have actively and positively assisted the stalking and predation of our children. This is clearly in the realm of the vocation of the laity. But, however grave the offense is, private revenge is not acceptable. This is a matter for the law."

Thomas Cromwell couldn't have said it any better.



Centuries ago when a bishop/cleric/emperor went afoul of his public ministry, they often resigned and then entered a period of exile. During this exile they lived hermit like lives, often wore hair shirts, offered self-flagelattion penance because of the great harm they had brought about becasue of their neglect. In other words, because of the betrayal of their ministry, they were keenly aware of the need to offer atonement to Jesus Christ. I find this one component so lacking in all the discussions about victims, settlements, etc. The Bishops and clergy can say all they want, but we all know the bottom line is simply this: you can atone for your sins now or do serious time in purgatory, if you're lucky to get there! Because of my own history as a great sinner, I am the last man to cast stones at the elect leaders; still, I know what has been spiritually benefical in my life for my own wayward ways. Confessing my sins and begging God for mercy thru His Beloved Son, and then doing penance is the first step.


How I ever survived growing up in this Diocese, I'll never know. The liturgical abuse is flourishing and boy-chasing priests have run rampid for years.
Thank heavens Imesch is retiring and let us pray that the people get a solid replacement.

RCF has alot more detail about the Joliet scandal on their webpages.
Ironically Fr John Dudek, my old pastor, was convicted in Wisconsin chasing after a 13 year old boy he "met" on the internet- naturally it was a cop.
Just 3 days earlier, he was offering Mass at my mother's funeral. Talk about getting sick to your stomach.

Patrick Rothwell

Re St. Luke's:

I have little knowledge of psychiatry/psychology, so I am not in a position to comment on the therapies used by St. Luke's over the years. I did, however, find that the Catholic visitation team St. Luke's gave it flying colors in terms of faithfulness to the magisterium, etc.


And, at least in 2004, its annual banquet took place at the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington.


For what it's worth.


Thank you, Patrick, for your research and gracious post re: St. Luke's. I have known a few good folks who have found healing and health there. Blanket condemnation of any Catholic institution here at Open Book is not helpful when discussing specific issues. Again, your research and links are most appreciated by me.

Desert Chatter

Gee, the institutional church gives St. Luke's a clean bill of magisterial health. Anyone surprised? St. Luke's has been telling the bishops what they wanted to hear for decades, now the boys in the pointy hats return the favor. Q.E.D.

Sandra Miesel

I lived in the Joliet diocese for seven years, back in the days of Martin G Macnamara, builder of the ugliest pre VII cathedral in the country. Joliet in those days was 75% Catholic and the people were intensely devout. I gather this is no longer the case.

It's worth noting that Bishop Imesch was the prime mover of the accursed Women's Pastoral from the USCCB.

Greg Popcak

Re: St Luke's

Patrick and Brigid,

I appreciate your charitable impulse, but the reality is that, in this instance at least, they did a shoddy job. Speaking as a counselor, the mental health community has known since at least the early 80's that sexual predators don't get better. To have treated and released sexual predators as fit for parish ministry was professionally irresponsible. Period.

The place St. Luke's had its fundraiser or the fact that they have actually helped some people in the past is interesting but irrelevant to my point. With regard to their role in the scandal, they were irresponsible. Assuming the bishops have honestly related the discharge plans and treatment recommendations they received from St Luke's (and a few other institutions like it) then they deserve to be called out and closed down.

Lawrence King

Did I read this right? All the churches in the Diocese of Joliet had a letter read from the pulpit that included the word "skinnydipping"?



That was not mentioned when the letter was read at my church.


John Gibson

Does anyone have the full text of the letter? I have yet to see it... all I have heard is snippets.

One of my friends who is in the Joliet diocese commented that it probably would have been better had he not written it...

So I am still trying to find the text.


Art Deco

....the campus sold, and the money given to pay for competent counseling for the victims.

It ought to be pointed out in this case that the psychiatric profession for many decades promoted ineffectual psychoanalytic chatter sessions and great cost in time and money to their 'patients'. The notion of 'competant' in the world of the helping professions can be somewhat mutable.

Paul Pfaffenberger

.. as can the notion of "spelling" on blogs.

from future counselor Paul


Re: letter



Your use of the phrase "in this instance at least" helps clarify your position. I have know all about the various abuses at St. Luke's in regards to its treatment of pedophelia. Horrendous to think that even in the 80's, some still thought they could be cured. But you must admit, this was going on in all sorts of psych circles and institutions, not just St. Luke's. It really wasn't that uncommon and that is quite horrific.

As egregious as this was, that still does not justify your appeal to a bishop to "close" it in 2006. What do you say to the reports Patrick cites?


And so "Catholic Priest = Pedophile" once again. The Church is now a laughingstock on every drive-time talk channel I can get on my car radio, and all we get from the bishops is "Farble, Farble, Farble" and "Shut Up And Put Your Money In The Plate".


Someone has to do something about this. The innaction is maddening.

Glenn Juday

Dear Patrick Rothwell,

Your observation is at least underdeveloped. It appears to be irrelevant and unfair.

In what way do you mean “Thomas Cromwell couldn't have said it any better.”? I have frequently defended the independence of the Church from any legal disability infringing on its Divine mandate. Is it your contention that that is impossible? Or that upholding that principle simply requires civil legal immunity for all acts by bishops?

Is that so? Under what legal, ethical, or Catholic principle can bishops be exempted from civil liability for an act that would incur such a penalty for anyone else committing the same act under principles of natural justice? If not, how ought justice proceed in your view?

Certainly, civil authorities have a long and disreputable history of manipulating situations to falsely accuse, to harass the true core mission of the Church through unfair or tendentious readings of the letter of the law etc. But does that really mean that our hands are tied here? Must the Church necessarily take the side of injustice in such grave matters?

Known as 332

Trying out different churches (live in St. Issac Jogues parish), and heard the letter at Our Lady of Peace (Darien). Deacon read the letter...and I tried to keep my 5 year-old's mind off the letter (thank goodness the stained glass wasn't just an abstract form... something to talk about with him). The priest's homily made a valient attempt to straddle between how disgusted he was, and not dis-sing the Bishop.

Without going wildly off-topic, can any readers knowing the west Chicago suburbs recommend a traditional-leaning church? We go to St. John Cantius at least monthly (the new rite in English...done right), but it can be a stretch with a young 'un...would love an alternative. Having seen enough about St. Issacs' (especially related to the scandal) to seek a local alternative. Hope this didn't violate the blog protocol.


Brigid, Greg:

Can either of you name reputable sources dating from 1970 onward which asserted that pedophilia was amenable to treatment? Can either of you name any reputable source within the psychological community which asserted that men having sex with teenage boys was something more serious than the Roman Catholic Church in America's judgment of being merely "indiscreet?"

If the "best science of the time" lie is going to be continually repeated, could someone at least try to back it up with something other than experimental protocols?


Known as 332, Visitation in Elmhurst or St. John Vianney in Northlake are slightly closer. Call Vianney for Mass times (708-562-0500)as their website hasn't been updated in years. I know people from LaGrange and Indianhead Park who are members at SJV.


I have me feet in two dioceses....Joliet (lived in Lockport for 20 years also and knew Fr. Gibbs) and another home of late in southern Indiana. I have had my run ins with Bishop Imesch. I hold a very low opinion of him as a spiritual leader. I wrote him a long letter about 8 years ago because the diocese was beginning to run a hand holding program for homosexuals run by a nun. There was a long newspaper article in the Catholic paper that was always at the back of the Cathedral...title ???? but I am sure you bloggers know which rag it was. This article was poo-poing that silly Sodom and Gomorrha (sp?) story and saying how we need to accept and defend the homosexual lifestyle. I complained to Bishop Imesch and he blasted back with a nasty letter, none of my business and the like. I did not want my money going to such a program! Then a deacon from the Cathedral (who was also going to run the program)actually hunted me down at my office and threatened me, scared the dickens out of my office staff.....I would love to direct my money to prosecuting this man. He was always a promoter of this sort of thing. Have they no fear of God? Lord have mercy!


To: Known as 332

Have you looked in to Sacred Heart In lombard? I am not familiar with that church personally, but I am impressed by their upcoming speakers, which might be a reflection of their leadership.....

Sacred Heart Parish in Lombard plans to sponsor programs and workshops.
The schedule is as follows:
Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, is scheduled to speak at 7 p.m. Feb. 12.
Father John Corapi, SOLT, a renowned preacher, is expected to present a seminar March 17-18.

Kathy B.

Known as 332:

I second the suggestion of Sacred Heart in Lombard. As blogger Daniel Matsui posted, "no finer Parish exists in the Diocese of Joliet. Fr. Tom Milota, since being appointed Administrator, has instituted an impressive speaker series,...in almost a year of daily Masses, I've never heard a poor homily, or even a mediocre one".

Fr. Milota was assigned to our parish as a (young) newly ordained priest, and most of us commented at that time that he was destined to do great things (and he's still relatively young!). I wish we lived closer to Lombard.

Kathy B.

Sorry - it's Daniel Mitsui, not Matsui


Appointed Administrator?? Is that a new word for "pastor"???

John Gibson

Known as 332,

My family and I used to attend Holy Trinity in Westmont, the priests are fairly orthodox, however the music director tends to pick out the worst of Catholic Music.

Also you have a choice, In Homer Glenn there is a Byzantine Catholic Church in union with Rome, Father Loya, who has a radio show "Light of the East" on Sundays on Relevant Radio, is a very good man, and is striving to help his congregation get to Heaven.


Hey John,

I moved out of Homer/Lockport just before that church was built. Does/can a Latin Rite just walk on in? I mean what is the protocol if any? I understand it is quite a process to change rites.

John Gibson


Come on in... Since we are in Union you can recieve communion and celebrate with us.

Here is the Protocol... You will be lost the first couple of times, then you will pick up the chants of the congreatation.

When going up for communion, you go up to either father or the Deacon and open your mount wide like a baby bird, the priest or Deacon will drop the Eucharist into your mouth with a gold spoon. The Body and Blood of our Lord is co-mingled in the Chalice, so you get both at the same time.

Divine Liturgy starts at 10:00 and goes till around 11:30 to 12:00 depending on the day, if we have other Holy Mysteries such as Chrismations, and or Baptisms going on. If you get there by 9:00 we have an Adult Bible Study going on.



Regarding the effectiveness of therapy for child molesters (priestly or otherwise) -- I know a non-clerical therapist who counseled priest abusers. Apparently there were bishops who (a)were anxious for therapists to allow priests to return to ministry, and (b) disregarded therapists' admonition that these guys never be around kids.

Therapists were far ahead of the bishops in knowing that abusers are almost certain to abuse again.


WRT what psychiatrists or other health professionals knwew about curability of pedophilia, real law enforcement professionals --cops and lawyers-- have known for decades that the recidivism rate for these people is 100 %. The fact is the Bishops went shopping for a decision and found the one they wanted. These kinds of professionals used to be called prostitutes, but when they get a college degree, they had to change the label. Think about this: modern psychology -- like modern art which is not art by any means but merely "modern art" -- is not study of the psyche of the Greeks or the Church. It is a form of materialism, a philosophy that denies the spiritual, so the mind is merely a collection of molecules. You will never find anything reliabley and permanently true when you start there!

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