Posts Tagged “catholic clerical abuse scandal”

Roma, sant'Anselmo all'Aventino, via Wikimedia CommonsI’ve blogged about the release of documents by the Catholic Church in Los Angeles. This was the result of a lawsuit settlement back in 2007. That’s right … 6 years ago, the Church agreed, presumably in good faith, to release these documents, but resisted doing so until this year. I admit I don’t really understand the logic of agreeing to release some documents, yet staunchly refusing to release them — but hey, I’m just a cynical, godless agnostic heathen, so what could I possibly know about such things?

At any rate, over 6 months after the archdiocese coughed up its records, some of the religious orders of L.A. released their own, and as the Los Angeles Times reports, they reveal how evasive and dodgy the Church hierarchy was (WebCite cached article):

Confidential personnel records from five Catholic religious orders were turned over to victims of sexual abuse Wednesday in the first wave of a court-ordered public disclosure expected to shed light on the role the groups, operating independently of the L.A. Archdiocese, played in the region’s clergy molestation scandal.

The documents pertain to a dozen priests, brothers and nuns accused of sexual misconduct in the landmark 2007 settlement with hundreds of people who filed abuse claims against the Roman Catholic Church in Los Angeles. An additional 45 religious orders will release the personnel files of their accused clergy by this fall, completing what is believed to be the fullest accounting yet of the abuse crisis anywhere in the Catholic Church.

The orders’ officials used some rather novel strategies in order to avoid revealing anything or creating any sort of audit trail:

For the most part, the files have little or no reference to abuse allegations that surfaced in lawsuits a decade ago, suggesting the orders were either unaware of molestation claims or opted not to document them.

When matters of abuse were referenced, officials sometimes seemed reluctant to commit the ugly details to paper. In the case of Benedictine priest Mathias Faue, one supervisor wrote vaguely [cached] of “his problem” or “difficulty.” In the file of Oblate Father Ruben Martinez, an order official repeatedly switched to Japanese characters [cached] to note sensitive subjects, including his admissions of “homosexuality” and “relations with boys.”

This official must have thought he was really clever. As though no one could possibly have thought he was covering something up, or that no one who ever saw one of these documents might recognize Japanese characters.

Setting this revelation apart from many others, is that this one includes the records of abusive nuns:

Wednesday’s release also covers the Marianists, the Benedictines, the Oblates and two orders of nuns. The disclosures by the Cabrini Sisters and the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet mark the first time in the L.A. litigation the files of women have been made public. The two nuns, who are deceased, were accused in lawsuits of sexually abusing students decades ago. Their files contained no information on misconduct allegations.

All by itself, strategies like writing comments in Japanese characters reveal, conclusively, that Catholic officials knew they were dealing, at best, with unsavory characters doing things that weren’t allowed; or at worst, with criminals committing crimes; and that they didn’t want anyone else to know about them. Even so, I’m sure the Catholic Church’s defenders will continue blaming others and making ridiculous excuses for this behavior, just as they’ve been doing all along. The cold fact, though, is that there is no reasonable excuse for this. Not one.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Archdiocese of Hartford / Parishes / St. Philip ChurchNote: See below for an update on this story.

A couple years ago, America’s Catholic bishops commissioned a report on child sexual abuse among its clergy, which concluded that it was a “historical problem” (in other words, something that had happened “historically,” but had stopped occurring). Unfortunately for the bishops and their sycophants who wrote this report, the reality is that child abuse by R.C. clergy is anything but “historical.” Here in Connecticut, just within the archdiocese of Hartford, it’s been an issue a few times within those past two years.

As one would expect — given that this is the archdiocese that dared use the “but the victims enjoyed it” defense in court during a lawsuit — the Hartford Courant reports on yet another example of this “historical problem” that won’t seem to go away (WebCite cached article):

An East Windsor priest has been placed on leave by the Catholic Church after being accused of sexually abusing a minor, the Hartford Archdiocese said Monday.

The Rev. Paul Gotta had earlier come to public attention in June when he told police about an 18-year-old who had told him he was planning a memorable prank for his graduation ceremonies. Police later charged the teenager with attempting to make a bomb, possession of explosives and other charges.

The state Department of Children and Families has received a complaint of sexual abuse of a minor involving Gotta, who is administrator of St. Philip and St. Catherine churches in East Windsor, said Maria Zone, spokeswoman for the archdiocese. Police are investigating the allegation, she said in a written statement.

Note, this revelation didn’t reach police attention because of anything the archdiocese did. It appears — somehow — to have been a side-effect of Gotta having reported a teen’s threat of violence against his school. The Courant article itself is strange reading, since it doesn’t connect the child-abuse allegation with the bomb threat. The article, as written, is basically a single report of two different incidents. A pretty substantial amount of information is completely missing from the story. Given the decline of journalism, this isn’t really surprising … sorry to say.

At any rate, the bishops’ contention that child abuse by its clergy is merely “historical,” is a lie. And they know it.

Update: Things just got a whole helluva lot worse for the Rev. Gotta. The Courant reports he was just arrested on federal charges (cached). The ATF and East Windsor police accuse him of helping a juvenile get firearms. It also seems the Reverend may have helped him make a gun:

The warrant also states that Bass said he and Gotta had discussed making a shotgun, which he tested in the backyard in the presence of the priest.

This is one seriously bad situation for a priest — of all people! — to have gotten himself into.

Photo credit: Archdiocese of Hartford.

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Cardinal Timothy F. Dolan in 2012. He reiterated in a statement Monday that these were 'old and discredited attacks.' Credit: Seth Wenig/Associated Press, via the New York TimesI’ve blogged about Cardinal Timothy Dolan, current Archbishop of New York, having paid abusive priests to leave the priesthood while he was archbishop of Milwaukee and refused to report them to authorities. As though that weren’t bad enough, as the New York Times reports, documents released today show he hid over $50 million in assets from accusers (WebCite cached article):

Files released by the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee on Monday reveal that in 2007, Cardinal Timothy F. Dolan, then the archbishop there, requested permission from the Vatican to move nearly $57 million into a cemetery trust fund to protect the assets from victims of clergy sexual abuse who were demanding compensation.

Cardinal Dolan, now the archbishop of New York, has emphatically denied seeking to shield church funds as the archbishop of Milwaukee from 2002 to 2009. He reiterated in a statement Monday that these were “old and discredited attacks.”

However, the files contain a 2007 letter to the Vatican in which he explains that by transferring the assets, “I foresee an improved protection of these funds from any legal claim and liability.” The Vatican approved the request in five weeks, the files show.

Only a Roman Catholic hierarch could possibly consider a document that he, himself, composed, to be an “old and discredited attack.” The reason, you see, is because the hierarchs view the priestly-pedophilia scandal itself as an attack by the Forces of Darkness … and various other bogeymen, such as Jews, the “Sexual Revolution,” and homosexuality … upon God’s Holy Church. It’s all fabricated, you see, and if there was any abuse, it was at the hands of the Devil himself acting through the children, who weren’t innocent victims.

Yes, the list of excuses to which the R.C. Church assigns blame for this scandal is legion. They refuse to acknowledge any wrongdoing, aside from a little naïvité and an aversion to “gossip.”

At any rate, Dolan’s nasty, off-hand dismissal of his own documents demonstrates how irrational the man is and the extent to which hierarchs will go, in order to avoid accepting any responsibility for their behavior.

Photo credit: Seth Wenig/Associated Press, via the New York Times.

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St Patrick's Cathedral-Gothic Revival Style (East Side)The Australian state of Victoria has been investigating child abuse within the Roman Catholic Church there. As part of this investigation, Cardinal George Pell, current Archbishop of Sydney and former Archbishop of Melbourne, was questioned by the committee. As The Australian reports, he admitted at least some of what many of us had long suspected, but which most hierarchs had avoided saying (WebCite cached article):

Australia’s most senior Catholic cleric has taken the stage today as the final witness for the Victorian inquiry into how religious and non-government organisations have responded to sexual abuse claims.

Cardinal Pell said while he had personally never covered up offending, it had largely escaped the view of church officials who didn’t know what a “mess” they were presiding over.…

Cardinal Pell agreed under questioning that the fear of scandal led to a cover-up.

“The primary motivation would have been to respect the reputation of the church.

“There was a fear of scandal.”

About the victims, Pell made this excuse we’ve heard already from other hierarchs:

“Many in the church did not understand just what damage was being done to the victims. We understand that better now.”

The hierarchs who’ve said similar, if not identical, things are Rembert Weakland, former Arcbishop of Milwaukee, and Cardinal Roger Mahony, former Archbishop of Los Angeles.

The Age of Melbourne offers this video of Cardinal Pell being questioned (cached):

Interestingly, Pell further conceded that the practice of priest shuffling led to additional pedophilic crimes having been committed. But, I must also note that Pell engaged in a little excuse-making, as described in the Australian article:

“If we’d been gossips, which we weren’t … we would have realised earlier just how widespread this business was,” Cardinal Pell said.

This is, of course, nowhere near a valid excuse. If an allegation had been made against a priest that appears to have some weight, it wouldn’t be “gossip” to warn other bishops about him; rather, it’d be “prudent” to do so. I guess I’ll have to add “We’re not gossips!” to the long list of the Church’s sniveling excuses for why it chose not to deal with child abuse by its clergy.

At any rate, what Pell said to the Victoria inquiry is remarkable in its candor, even if he did punctuate it with an excuse or two. Would that more R.C. hierarchs had been as candid.

Hat tip: Red Prince at Pulling to the Left forum on Delphi Forums.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons.

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Church of the Gesù in Rome / By Maus-TraudenOnce again, the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church must be dragged kicking and screaming (metaphorically, anyway) into admitting their complicity in the abuse of children by clergy working under them. The Chicago Tribune reports the Jesuits in that city finally owned up to having protected and aided an abusive priest, for several decades (WebCite cached article):

Internal church records released Tuesday show that Chicago Jesuits consciously concealed the crimes of convicted sex offender Donald McGuire for more than 40 years as the prominent Roman Catholic priest continued to sexually abuse dozens of children around the globe.…

The documents contributed to a $19.6 million settlement between the Jesuits and six men from four states announced Tuesday. With an average payout of $3 million per person, the amount per individual is the largest in the history of the U.S. Catholic sexual abuse crisis, the victims’ lawyers said. The settlement and the documents add one more chapter to the still unfolding story of sexual abuse in the church.

Although the Jesuits insisted they’d found out about McGuire only recently, this turns out to have been a lie. They’d been warned long ago, and had even corresponded between themselves about it:

A memo in February 1991 expressed concern about a boy from Anchorage, Alaska, who traveled with McGuire and slept in the same room during a retreat in California. “This travel business is at least very imprudent, perhaps much more serious,” wrote the Rev. Robert Wild. He could not be reached for comment.

Another memo, dated April 1993, documented a call from the Rev. Joe Fessio, reporting that McGuire had been accompanied by several young men in Russia, “one of whom he was taking showers with and reading hard pornography.” Fessio reportedly contacted the boy’s father and “asked him to keep this quiet until he could represent this to McGuire’s provincial.”

Fessio could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

In 1995, the Rev. Francis Daly, then acting provincial, wrote to McGuire after a mother copied his superiors on a memo telling him to stay away from her son. Daly could not be reached for comment Tuesday.

“Let us hope that no more alleged incidents come to light,” Daly wrote. “You must understand the complaints raised in these situations are serious. There must be no more. I am calling you to a prudence greater than that which you have shown in recent years.”

Now, I’m pretty sure Catholic apologists out there who agree with the hierarchs that the Church has done nothing wrong, and that the whole scandal was caused by outside forces trying to destroy their precious holy Church, will continue to deny these documents show any awareness of McGuire’s wrongdoing. But Daly’s letter to him does indicate McGuire had crossed the line before. “I am calling you to a prudence greater than that which you have shown” makes no sense except in light of such knowledge.

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DownView CathedralBasilicaSH / Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart (Interior), Newark, NJThis is a story which is a couple weeks old, but sadly, it might as well have been decades old. Why? Because it’s merely the latest example of a long-standing pattern of behavior which the Roman Catholic Church has engaged in around the world. Several years ago a priest in the Newark archdiocese admitted to having been a pedophile, and agreed to stay away from children thereafter. But as the (Newark, NJ) Star-Ledger reports, he failed to abide by that agreement, and did so — as a priest still in good standing! — under the noses of his bosses in the archdiocese (WebCite cached article):

Six years ago, to avoid retrial on charges that he groped a teenage boy, the Rev. Michael Fugee entered a rehabilitation program, underwent counseling for sex offenders and signed a binding agreement that would dictate the remainder of his life as a Roman Catholic priest.

Fugee would not work in any position involving children, the agreement with the Bergen County Prosecutor’s Office states. He would have no affiliation with youth groups. He would not attend youth retreats. He would not hear the confessions of minors.

But Fugee has openly done all of those things for the past several years through an unofficial association with a Monmouth County church, St. Mary’s Parish in Colts Neck, The Star-Ledger found.

The archdiocese can’t plead ignorance of Fugee’s agreement with prosecutors, because it was made with their knowledge and even their blessing:

In addition to Fugee and Prosecutor John Molinelli, the archdiocese’s vicar general signed the agreement on behalf of Myers, pledging to abide by the restrictions on Fugee’s ministry.

The document — which can be found on, the online home of The Star-Ledger — states explicitly that Fugee may not have unsupervised contact with children, minister to children or work in any position in which children are involved.

“This includes, but is not limited to, presiding over a parish, involvement with a youth group, religious education/parochial school, CCD (or Sunday school), confessions of children, youth choir, youth retreats and day care,” the agreement says.

Amazingly, the archdiocese contends Fugee’s activities didn’t actually violate the agreement:

But [Archbishop Myers’s spokesman Jim] Goodness denied the agreement had been breached, saying the archdiocese has interpreted the document to mean Fugee could work with minors as long as he is under the supervision of priests or lay ministers who have knowledge of his past and of the conditions in the agreement.

“We believe that the archdiocese and Father Fugee have adhered to the stipulations in all of his activities, and will continue to do so,” Goodness said.

Even if Fugee heard private confessions from minors, those supervising Fugee were always nearby, Goodness said.

“The fact is, he has done nothing wrong,” the spokesman said. “Nobody has reported any activity that is inappropriate, and I think that’s important to know, especially given that he’s a figure whose name is public and whose past is public.”

It’s clear that Mr Goodness and the rest of the Newark archdiocese have parted ways with reality, if they think anyone is going to buy into this idiotic claim. I’m certainly not stupid enough to accept it.

In any event, a few days after this revelation, the Rev Fugee contradicted Mr Goodness by admitting his behavior was, in fact, a breach of his agreement, and attempted to deflect any blame for it from the archdiocese (cached):

Asserting his actions were “my fault alone,” the Roman Catholic priest who violated a court-sanctioned agreement to stay away from children wrote in his resignation letter that he attended youth retreats and heard confessions from minors without the knowledge of his superiors in the Archdiocese of Newark. …

“In conscience, I feel it necessary to make clear to all that my actions described in recent news stories were outside of my assigned ministry within the archdiocese,” Fugee wrote. “… My failure to request the required permissions to engage in those ministry activities is my fault, my fault alone.”

This latter Star-Ledger article includes a revealing tidbit that bolsters what I’ve said, since this blog’s inception, about the worldwide Catholic child-abuse scandal:

For years, Myers has faced criticism for his handling of Fugee, whom he has characterized as a victim in the criminal case. In correspondence with priests of the archdiocese, he referred to the criminal case as an “acquittal” despite the fact Fugee entered a rehabilitation program and underwent counseling for sex offenders.

You see, the hierarchs who rule over the R.C. Church are largely convinced that abusive priestsnot the children they abusedare the real victims in this scandal. It sounds crazy, but it’s absolutely true. The abusive clergy and the Church sincerely and truly do not consider themselves responsible for any of the bad behavior uncovered by numerous investigations around the world; according to the Church, the scandal is anyone and everyone else’s fault.

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Picard Facepalm: Because expressing how dumb that was in words just doesnt workOne would think Roman Catholic hierarchs would, by now, have learned to shut their faces when it comes to pedophilia. After all, it’s not as though they aren’t aware of the Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal that’s torn through the Church globally for over 10 years now, and which continues to make sporadic headlines.

Yet, it seems they just can’t resist commenting on it, especially in ways that minimize the severity of the abuse and thus rationalize their unwillingness to deal with it in any way other than shuffling reported abusive clergy around. In an interview on BBC Radio, a South African cardinal has done precisely that (WebCite cached article):

The Catholic Archbishop of Durban, Wilfrid Fox Napier, has described paedophilia as a psychological “illness, not a criminal condition”.

The South African cardinal told the BBC that people who were themselves abused as children and then abused others needed to be examined by doctors.

He further explained why he thinks pedophilia is not criminal:

In an interview with the Stephen Nolan programme on BBC Radio 5 live, Cardinal Napier referred to paedophilia as “a psychological condition, a disorder”.

“What do you do with disorders? You’ve got to try and put them right.…

He said he knew at least two priests, who became paedophiles after themselves being abused as children.

“Now don’t tell me that those people are criminally responsible like somebody who chooses to do something like that. I don’t think you can really take the position and say that person deserves to be punished. He was himself damaged.”

There are a few problems with this position:

  1. Even if pedophilia is truly an “illness,” that doesn’t mean pedophilia can’t simultaneously also be criminal too, meaning pedophiles may still be criminally liable for their actions. It’s possible for someone both to have an illness, and yet still be aware of the fact that they have it and that indulging it is a crime.
  2. Napier assumes pedophilia has only one cause, that being psychological damage as children. That’s an assumption that may well not be borne out by the facts. Sure, Napier might personally know two pedophiles who fit that bill, but he’s leaping to conclusions about all pedophiles, based only on these two.
  3. The point of Napier’s remarks is that he has more sympathy for pedophiliac priests than he has for their victims. This is misplaced. If, as he assumes, pedophilia is truly a cyclical illness, transmitted from pedophile to victim through successive generations, the best thing for him to do when it happens, is to nip it in the bud: To take all such allegations seriously; see that victims are helped as soon as possible; and wall off the pedophiles from doing it again and thus spreading their “illness” any further.

Once again, we have here a Catholic hierarch whose priorities are completely out of whack, and whose thinking has no basis in reason or fact. The cold truth is that pedophiliac acts are criminal, in virtually every jurisdiction on the planet. Trying to justify or rationalize it, can never change that. But it seems they quite simply will not stop doing so. They can’t, because they view the Catholic clerical child-abuse scandal as a vicious attack that comes from outside their own Church. In the hierarchs’ minds, no one within the Church — not the abusers, nor the bishops who protected them — have done anything wrong. They’re all totally innocent. And they absolutely, totally refuse to accept responsibility for it — ever.

Photo credit: Science After Sunclipse.

Hat tip: Peter at Skeptics & Heretics Forum on Delphi Forums.

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