Posts Tagged “bishop egan”

The Roman Catholic diocese of Bridgeport has long resisted explaining its complicity in clerical abuse that took place within it, for the last several decades. This resistance, however, has more or less been futile (if I may paraphrase Star Trek: the Next Generation). At every step, their attempts to hide what they were doing and cover their tracks, have failed. Their most recent defeat came a few weeks ago at the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused to prevent state courts from releasing a number of legal documents dealing with a list of abuse reports which the diocese had settled with their accusers (WebCite cached article). This cache of documents was finally released today, and the picture they paint of the diocese, and specifically of (then-Bishop, and later, Cardinal) Edward Egan when he was deposed, is not flattering, as the Hartford Courant reports:

Cardinal Edward Egan Protected Abusive Priests At Victims’ Expense

“Claims are claims. Allegations are allegations.”

Those six words uttered by retired Cardinal Edward M. Egan during two depositions neatly sum up his approach to handling the burgeoning priest sexual abuse scandal that he inherited when he took over the Roman Catholic Diocese of Bridgeport, Connecticut in the late 1980s. …

During his deposition with attorney’s from Tremont and Sheldon, the Bridgeport firm that filed the lawsuits, Egan comes off as dismissive, argumentative and at times condescending.

The documents show that Egan failed to investigate aggressively some abuse allegations, reassigned priests that he knew had allegations made against them and in general downplayed allegations made against many of the priests. At one point Egan said he wasn’t interested in allegations — only “realities.” He added that “very few have even come close to having anyone prove anything” against a priest.

For example, regarding a dozen people who made complaints of sexual abuse and violence against [accused abuser Fr Raymond] Pcolka, of Greenwich, Egan said, “the 12 have never been proved to be telling the truth.”

Egan also acknowledges that he never attempted to seriously investigate the truth of such allegations — accusers were not interviewed, witnesses were not sought, and no attempt was made to learn of other possible victims.

Egan allowed Pcolka to continue working as a priest until 1993, when he suspended him after Pcolka refused an order from Egan to go to the Institute of Living in Hartford for psychiatric treatment. Egan referred to the Institute as his “preferred” place to send priests who needed counseling.

His handling of complaints made against Carr was no different, the records show.

Despite a May 1990 memo by a diocese official worrying about “a developing pattern of accusations” that Rev. Charles Carr of Norwalk had fondled young boys, Egan kept Carr working as a priest until 1995, when he suspended him only after a lawsuit was filed.

Of course, Egan — who after these depositions was elevated to Archbishop of New York and became a Cardinal because of that, before retiring a short time ago — had merely carried on what his predecessor (the late Bishop Walter Curtis) had done, as the Courant goes on to explain:

The documents also show that Egan inherited the priest abuse scandal from Curtis, who admitted he deliberately shuffled pedophile priests among parishes to give them a “fresh start.” Records show that seven priests accused of sexual misconduct were at one time assigned to St. Teresa’s Church in Trumbull between 1965-1990. Curtis, who is now deceased, was deposed three times. He also admitted he did not think that pedophilia was a permanent condition.

Curtis viewed pedophilia as “an occasional thing” and not a serious psychological problem and was more concerned with weeding out potential gays among clergy applicants.

“We had a policy in this sense, that before a candidate was accepted for study for the priesthood, [they] would have psychological testing, and if there appeared signs of homosexuality, he wouldn’t be accepted,” Curtis testified.

Curtis also testified that records of complaints against priests would usually be put into the diocese’s “secret archive,” a canonically required cache of historical documents accessed only with keys kept by the bishop and the vicar.

He said he would occasionally go into the archive and remove what he called “antiquated” abuse complaints, and destroy them.

Curtis’s deposed testimony more or less amounts to an indictment against the Roman Catholic Church, showing that — as custom and as policy — it consciously chose not to take abuse reports seriously, and even when they suspected an allegation might be true, they nevertheless made efforts to shuffle the accused priests around and to “rehabilitate” them.

What a nice, Christian organization the Roman Catholic Church is … no?

Update: The Courant today ran a follow-up story, focusing on the example of Fr Raymond Pcolka. It shows that the Church knew, prior to his ordination, that he had psychological problems … yet they ordained him anyway, assigned him to a parish, and within months were hearing complaints about him. Pcolka had a nearly 3 decade career of abuse before the diocese finally decided they could not tolerate him any more and retired him. What a wonderful crew.

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