Showing posts with label Sexual Abuse. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sexual Abuse. Show all posts

Monday, September 17, 2012

Catholic Bishop Conlon Reinstates Priest Who Abused a 14-Year-Old, Because According to the Vatican That Was OK in the 70s

Bishop R. Daniel Conlon, chair of the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops' Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, has once again shown that he and the bishops are failing to correct past mistakes and crimes surrounding the handling of sexually abusive priests.  The Vatican backs them up on this.


Bishop Conlon's spokesperson told the Chicago Tribune that the decision to reinstate Rev. F. Lee Ryan "had been difficult."  I wonder how difficult it's been for Ryan's victim to hear this news:
"He will not return to (full) ministry, but he is being permitted (a) very narrow ministry," the statement said. "This was a very difficult decision. I believe it respects the law of the Church and protects children."  (Chicago Tribune)
Father Ryan's (partial?) ministry that "protects children" will be visiting the homebound parishioners of two parishes in Watseka and Crescent City, IL.  Apparently in Bishop Conlon's universe, children don't live in the homes of sick people.  

Church officials said the man's complaint was assessed by a local review board, then sent to the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Catholic officials in Rome decided that because of church law in the 1970s, which stated that 14 was the age of consent, Ryan did not commit a serious crime by the church's standards and could not be permanently removed from ministry, a spokesman for Bishop R. Daniel Conlon said.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests criticized the diocese for allowing Ryan to return to some of his duties as a priest.  "This is a shocking and dangerous move by Bishop Conlon," SNAP said, noting that the bishop leads the U.S. Catholic bishops' committee on sexual abuse. "What part of 'one strike and you're out' do Catholic officials not understand?"
Apparently, every part.

The age of sexual consent in the Vatican is 12.  Yes, 12, but there are some exceptions that bump it up to 15.  Here's a link to The Daily Dish that expounds upon this absurdity.

How convenient for the Catholic hierarchy that a U.S. District Court recently ruled that the Vatican is not the employer of Catholic priests.  The Vatican can't be held accountable in U.S. courts for its priests' perpetration of sexual abuse against minors.  But when it comes to reinstating sexually abusive priests, the U.S. bishops determine whether a crime really took place using the Vatican's outdated age of consent.  How sweet it is for the Catholic hierarchy to eat its cake.

Next up, reinstating those priests found guilty of child-porn charges before May 3, 2011.  That was the date the Vatican allowed the USCCB to apply the federal legal age defining child pornography (under 18) to local church law, as opposed to Vatican child-porn, which is under 14.  You can read about this in the bishops' inappropriately named Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.  



Boston Archdiocese Continues to Pay Salary to Priest Accused of Sexual Abuse; Vatican Unwilling to Defrock

This is an interview on Radio Boston concerning Rev. James Foley, who was accused of sexual abuse in 1999.

Over the past thirteen years, Foley has received his priestly salary, even after the Archdiocese of Boston settled the abuse suit and another victim came forward.

Meanwhile, those of us priests, who were whistle-blowers over the past decade, were turned out without pay.

Foley remains a priest.  This interview discusses how the Vatican and the U.S. bishops have not yet removed Foley from priesthood.  I wonder how many priests, who left to get married since 1999, have been successfully laicized by the Vatican?

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Catholic Bishop, Robert F. Finn, Found Guilty of Shielding a Pedophile Priest, But the True Winner in the Case Is the Catholic Church

Last week, a Catholic bishop was finally found guilty for covering-up sexual abuse. Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City was found guilty of: 
failing to report a priest who had taken hundreds of pornographic pictures of young girls. The counts each carried a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine, but Bishop Finn was sentenced to two years of court-supervised probation. (New York Times)
It's about time that a criminal Catholic bishop was held accountable.  But in the long run, the Catholic Church won this case.

Win Number One.  The church's defense team avoided a long and drawn out, public trial by jury and its unrelenting media scrutiny.  NBCNews.com reports:
Lawyers for Finn and the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph released the following statement after the verdict:  "Bishop Finn is grateful that the court and prosecutor have allowed this matter to be resolved. This could have been a lengthy and emotionally difficult trial for all persons affected. The bench trial, with a stipulation of testimony, has avoided the need for live testimony from diocesan employees, parishioners and others. This process has also resulted in the charges against the Diocese being dismissed by the state. The diocesan process and procedures as previously existed failed to adequately identify the necessity to inform the Children's Division of Shawn Ratigan's behavior in a more timely manner. For this, the bishop is truly sorry."
Who wants to hear witnesses rehashing the dirty deeds of the bishop and diocese?  Who wants the media  printing testimony that details the process of how abuse allegations are covered-up, ignored, and kept from civil authorities?  The church can thank its god that the details of this case will now quickly sink into the Google Sea.

Win Number Two.  As indicated in the previous statement, the charges against the Diocese of Kansas City were dismissed.  How wonderful for the church.

Win Number Three.  The judge let Finn off easily; he should have given Finn the maximum penalty of one year in jail.  Finn protected a Father Shawn Ratigan for five months after learning Ratigan had taken pornographic pictures of hundreds of girls.  Finn didn't report the crime, even though he knew of previous accusations made against Ratigan.  Would not one month of jail time for each month that Finn kept information from civil authorities be justified?  The pedophile priest's crimes went unreported until church officials contacted civil authorities without Finn's permission.  How the judge didn't see this as grounds for a maximum sentence will remain on the judge's conscience.

Win Number Four.  The Catholic theology of forgiveness, confession, and a fresh start is strengthened.  Finn can now retreat to the confessional and release the guilt he carries for his actions, if he harbors any.  His courtroom apology indicates that he might not:  
Before being sentenced, Bishop Finn, 59, his jaw quivering, rose in court and said: “I am pleased and grateful that the prosecution and the courts have allowed this matter to be completed. The protection of children is paramount.” 
He added, “I truly regret and am sorry for the hurt that these events have caused.” (NYT)
According to Catholic theology, contrition is necessary for forgiveness to be granted during the Sacrament of Reconciliation.  Finn's "apology" is not sufficient for the sacrament, because Finn displayed no contrition for his part in the crime and resulting scandal.  Finn said he was sorry for the hurt caused by "these events," not, I'm sorry that I protected this pedophile from civil authorities and in doing so betrayed the children this priest abused, their families, the people I've sworn to shepherd, and the society in which I present myself as a law-abiding citizen.  No.  Bishop Finn took the easy way out.  

He admitted being "pleased and grateful" -- pleased that he's not going to jail and can get back to his phony, "paramount" "protection" of children.  For that is his immediate future, as The Washington Post reports:
But even as he became the first U.S. bishop ever convicted in criminal court for shielding an abusive priest, Finn’s standing inside the church appears uncertain, and the subject of intense debate.  Should he stay or should he go? Finn has indicated that he wants to tough it out.
“The Bishop looks forward to continuing to perform his duties, including carrying out the important obligations placed on him by the Court,” Finn’s spokesman, Jack Smith, said in a statement to Religion News Service on Friday.
Pope Benedict XVI is the only one with the authority to force a bishop from office, and the Vatican said nothing on Friday about Finn.
While waiting for the pope to act or commit yet another sin of omission, Catholics throughout the Diocese of Kansas City will continue to pray before the "Real Presence" of their savior Jesus Christ at every Mass in the Diocese of Kansas City, "for our bishop, Robert."  

In spite of the church's wins in the Finn case, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has once again shown that it's incapable of responsible leadership when confronting the institutionalized culture of covering-up sexual abuse.
The point man on the abuse crisis for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Bishop R. Daniel Conlon of Joliet, Ill., was circumspect about Finn’s conviction.  Conlon, who recently acknowledged that the hierarchy’s credibility on abuse was “shredded” in part because of cases like Finn’s, said that he did not know the details of the trial. (The Washington Post)
Bishop Conlon is the chair of the USCCB's Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People.  One would think he has a responsibility to be familiar with the details of the first case involving one of his brother bishops being tried for covering up sexual abuse.  For the Catholic bishops ignorance continues to be bliss, and ecclesiastical justice for the victims of sexual abuse is again cast into the sea.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

A Response to Father Benedict Groeschel's Apology

     I have another piece on The Huffington Post:
The condemnations and apologies have been forthcoming since Father Benedict Groeschel, a founder of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, told the National Catholic Register that some teenage victims of sexual abuse seduce their priest perpetrators. He also referred to convicted sex felon Jerry Sandusky as "this poor guy" before implying that Sandusky's victims should have spoken out sooner.
The National Catholic Register removed the interview from its website and posted an apology explaining the publication of Groeschel's "comment was an editorial mistake." In addition, the Register "sought clarification from Father Benedict," as if Groeschel's 468 word "comment" wasn't clear enough.

     Read the rest on The Huffington Post by clicking here.


Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Oregon Priest Arrested for Sexual Abuse After Pursuing His Victim Dressed Only in His Underwear

In recent years, I've heard Catholics say, "I believe in the Catholic Church.  I mean, we're all sinners."  "The bishops have taken care of the sexual abuse crisis."  "The pedophiles have been weeded out.  They were just old priests, who went to seminary decades ago."  "Why won't the media leave us alone?  Can't we just move on?"  

No, we can't just move on.  Sexual abuse by Catholic clerics continues.  

Perez was arraigned in Marion County Circuit Court on Tuesday, appearing via video from Marion County Jail, wearing a black V-neck top with his hands secured in front of his waist. He faced allegations of first-degree sexual abuse, abuse of a child in the display of sexually explicit conduct, furnishing alcohol to a minor and driving under the influence of intoxicants.
Father Perez was arrested after he chased a twelve-year-old boy down the street at midnight wearing only his underwear.  The priest had told the boy's parents that he was taking him on a trip to the mountains.  Instead, the priest took the boy to his rectory, got the boy drunk, waited for the boy to fall asleep and then assaulted him.  Thankfully, the boy was able to run away and find help.

Father Perez is not the product of some seminary past.  Like me, he was ordained in 2002, which as you might recall, was when sexual abuse and cover-up in the Catholic Church was on the front page of nearly every U.S. publication.  We baby priests were under a great deal of pressure.  We needed to be the new life, the new hope that the church needed.  We needed to provide people with the assurance that our generation would change the abusive culture that had been exposed.  We would make things right.  

In 2002, Father Perez was interviewed by The Oregonian.  He was praised for being the only priest ordained by the Diocese of Portland that year.  The following excerpts from that article show how Mount Angel Seminary formed Father Perez well.  He knew the right things to say in order to distract Catholics from smelling the predator in their midst: 

The sex scandals trouble him, but Perez says he is confident bishops are dealing with the problems. His new duties come first... "There are rules. There are so many rules," he said, walking back to the parish. "They taught us at the seminary -- we are not supposed to touch. I don't have any problems with that. I know my boundaries."
Rev. Angel Perez, in 2002 (via  The Oregonian

The 2002 article provides an accounting of Father Perez's Mass of Thanksgiving -- the grand Mass newly ordained priests celebrate in their parish.  Again, Father Perez said all the right things:


The new priest's hands were shaking. In the cavernous sanctuary of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Corvallis, hundreds of college-town Catholics waited to hear what the Rev. Angel Perez would say. In heavily accented but fluent English, he assured them he would be a priest for all, not just for the Latino parishioners. I will need your help, he said. "I said to them, my faith is very strong," he recalls. "That even though we have these problems in the church right now, these sex scandals, I really believe the Holy Spirit sustains us.  God is with us," he said, and stopped to look at his notes. Silence. In the pews, he heard one parishioner applaud. Then another, and another, until they all were clapping. For a moment, the anxiety that accompanies a new Catholic priest in 2002 went away.
Ten years later, that anxiety lives on in the communities of Woodburn and the victim's hometown, Salem.  

After losing the boy to a couple of good Samaritans, who took the boy to the police, Father Perez went to the boy's home at two in the morning and told his victim's parents, "I am just one who serves in the church, and I have sinned; don't stop believing in the church."

I won't stop believing in the Catholic Church.  I still believe that it is incapable of protecting its children from its priests.

The police report goes on to state that Father Angel Perez refused to leave his victim's home until "the mother forgave him and 'gave him her blessing.'"  

How Catholic of him: Go to confession.  Be forgiven. Go out and sin again.  I can only hope that no other parents have granted this same "blessing" to Father Angel in the past.

Rev. Angel Perez, Today.


Sunday, July 29, 2012

Catholic Seminary's Website Contains Picture of Priest Removed for Alleged Sexual Abuse of Minors

     When recently visiting my alma mater's website, I discovered that St. Mary's Seminary and University of Baltimore is still using pictures taken during my first semester in 1998.  One photo includes a classmate of mine, who was removed from ministry in 2002 after he was accused of sexually abusing children.


     Very classy, St. Mary's.


     Perhaps the Catholic Church should divert some of the funds that it's using to fight LGBT rights into procuring pedophile-less pictures for its seminaries' websites.


St. Mary's Seminary and University
(Photo taken by me.)

Friday, June 22, 2012

On My Ten-Year Anniversary of Ordination to the Catholic Priesthood


On June 22, 2002, I was ordained a priest. 

Minutes before the ceremony, a squirrel met its demise at the intersection of a power line, junction box, and the cathedral’s roof.  The ensuing explosion left those in attendance in the dark.

Everything in the Catholic Church seemed dark in 2002.  Accounts of bishops concealing sexual abuse perpetrated by priests inundated the news.  Daily, revered clerics fell in shame.  Victims came forward, their long-suppressed pain and anger finally being given voice.  Those on the left blamed the pre-Vatican II, conservative and sex-suppressing seminary system that had formed the elder generations of priest-perpetrators; they blamed mandatory celibacy.  Those on the right made the post-Vatican-II progressives and their sex-embracing psychology their scapegoats; they blamed gay clergy.  Being both a victim and gay, I was angry, hurt, heartbroken, shamed, and frightened.  I'd wanted to run. 

But trusted others dissuaded me: "Don't make decisions in desolation." "The church and god have affirmed your vocation for eight years; you can't run from that now."  “Doubt is the vehicle to deeper faith and commitment.” "You don't need to come out of the closet; that's just pride tempting you." "It's not lying if those asking don't have a right to the information." "Your sexuality is a gift from god, in god's image, but if you act upon it’s 'disordered,' sinful." 

I dissuaded myself: "Jesus will work through my wounds, if I sacrifice everything."

During the ordination rite, an endless succession of priests passed on the priesthood by laying their hands upon my bowed head.  I knelt before them.  My kneecaps pressed through the thin cotton of my alb and ground against the hard floor.  After a few dozen hands had pressed upon my scalp, spasms began to shoot down my back.  I focused on the residual scent of incense in the air.  I breathed into the pain, the depression, for I deserved it.

Ruled by shame, I begged god for the strength to resist my "depraved" homosexual "urges."  Ruled by fear, I did nothing as the priest, who had assaulted me during confession and then sexuallyexploited me in college, placed his hands upon my head.   Ruled by redemptive suffering, I nailed my anger at him and all the corrupt priests and bishops to the cross.  There were no other options.  I accepted the only path prescribed to gay Catholic men: silent celibacy.


Thankfully, I no longer owe obedience to these clerics.  Ten years later, I am no longer a priest, no longer a Catholic.  The collective clerical closet in which I once lived is eight years abandoned. 

Others continue under that yoke.  I understand their plight, their fear.  It’s difficult to turn your back on the institution that “formed” you.  It’s terrifying to speak out against your superiors’ abuses.  It’s mindboggling to imagine a future beyond your career and community. It’s painful to witness cherished relationships end, as those, who cannot accept your truth, shun you. 

To those of you remaining, it is possible.  There is a life of health, peace, balance, joy, purpose, communion, love, and truth that exists beyond the Catholic church. 

Ten years after being ordained a priest, eight years after leaving the priesthood, and seven years after evicting the guilt imposed by my old religion, I can tell you that it does get better.  You can speak out about the abuse you endured.  You can build a new career.  You can make gather new friends and communities.  You can regain your mental health.  You can protest on the steps of your cathedrals.  You can find a creed or philosophy that brings you peace.  You can marry the man or woman that you love.  You can give of yourself to the world.

Not a day goes by that I regret leaving the priesthood and the church.  Ten years makes a difference indeed.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia Suspends 21 Priests for Sexual Abuse, Is It 2002 Again?

     Here's the NPR report from Philadelphia  (My comments are interspersed.):
     The archbishop of Philadelphia has suspended 21 priests connected to allegations of child sex abuse, the latest in a series of actions by the archdiocese to deal with findings in a disturbing grand jury report released last month. The grand jury report accused a monsignor, three priests and a parochial schoolteacher of abusing kids or failing to prevent abuse by others. It also said that as many as 37 priests remained in active ministry with allegations or reports of inappropriate behavior or sexual abuse of minors...    
     I'm  relieved that these 21 abusive priests in Philadelphia have been removed from ministry and will not have access to children.  But it's been over nine years since this iteration of the sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church broke into national headlines from Boston.  What took Philadelphia so long to act?
Cardinal Rigali, Serious about Pedophiles 
     Cardinal Justin Rigali said in a statement that he's sorry for the harm done to the victims of sexual abuse and is determined to work for a solution that deals effectively with the issue in the church.  Rigali added that he knows many people's trust in the church has been shaken, and that he prays that the efforts of the archdiocese to address these cases and re-evaluate how it handles such allegations will help rebuild that trust in truth and justice.
     It's been nine years since Boston and nearly 30 years since the media started widespread reporting of Catholic priests sexually abusing children in the early 1980s.  The church has had thirty years to, as Cardinal Rigali stated, "work for a solution that deals effectively with the issue in the church."  They have failed miserably.

     The Dallas Charter, which the US Catholic Conference of Bishops promulgated in June 2002, was touted as to be the church's greatest response to prevent sexual abuse, remove abusive clerics from ministry, and prove to the nation that they were trustworthy.  Since its implementation, this charter has been consistently ignored and violated by bishops throughout the nation.

     So today, when a story breaks that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has suspended 21 more priests due to allegations of child sexual abuse while leaving "as many as 37 priests with allegations" in active ministry, why anyone, Catholics included, would believe that the church is effectively protecting its children is beyond me.  

   Here's a bit more more the NPR article:
     The archdiocese's move is a "long overdue and welcomed step," says David Clohessy, the executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP. But "it's only a very partial first step. It would be incredibly naive for anybody to think that a mere suspension of these men somehow signifies a new day in the archdiocese," Clohessy says. "Anytime a credibly accused child molester is publicly identified or suspended, kids are safer. However, it's crucial to remember that the grand jury found widespread fault and deceit and recklessness by church officials."
      But Patrick Wall, a former Roman Catholic priest who is now a canon lawyer in California, says the grand jury report and the moves by the archdiocese mark a historic moment. "This report takes it to another level because they go after the vicar for clergy — that person who has the authority of the Archbishop Justin Rigali to handle priest affairs and priest assignments, and that person now is being called to justice," says Wall, who has worked on priest sex abuse cases across the country.  He says the situation in Philadelphia could have ripple effects on litigation nationwide. "It really does change the face of things, because not only can we look to the bishop or the religious superior, but now we can specifically look at how different lower, midlevel managers could be charged with child endangerment," Wall says.
     We can only hope that some of the "princes of the Church" will finally face the criminal charges they deserve.

Monday, February 28, 2011

Anti-Gay Christian Fundamentalist Rev. Grant Storms Arrested for Masturbating in Public Park while Watching Children

     Hypocrisy alert: Rev. Grant Storms, another outspoken, hate-spewing, anti-gay Christian cleric, goes down in a sex scandal involving children.  

     The Rev. Grant Storms, a Christian fundamentalist best known for his bullhorn protests of the Southern Decadence festival in the French Quarter, was arrested for allegedly masturbating at a Metairie park Friday afternoon...Storms told deputies that he was merely having lunch at Lafreniere Park, 3000 Downs Blvd., in his van when he decided to relieve himself using a bottle instead of using the restroom, an incident report said.
     But two witnesses said they saw Storms through the open windows of his van masturbating himself while watching children on the playground, the report said.
     Armed with bullhorns, Bibles and picket signs, Storms and a group of followers in 2003 protested against Southern Decadence, the gay three-day festival held over Labor Day weekend in the French Quarter. Storms' efforts prompted the New Orleans City Council to ban megaphones and other amplification devices.
     And we gays are the ones they're calling pedophiles.

Rev. Storms, Masturbator,
and Possible Pedophile

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Adults Are Also Victims of Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church

     A recent Religion Dispatches' article, "Sex Abuse in the Catholic Church: When Adults Are Victims," tells a story that I know all too well from my own experience of being sexually assaulted, exploited, and abused by my priest while I was in college.  The article tells the story of Katia Birge, who at 25 was raped by a charismatic lay minister in her Denver parish only to be bullied by church officials when she came forward and sued.  (Click here to read the full account, which because of it's length I will not repost.)

     This particular quote from the article sums up what I learned in therapy after seeing my case covered-up:
     To Jeb Barrett, Denver Director of the Survivors’ Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a peer counseling group that Birge turned to after the attack, her story follows classic lines of abuse of authority. “There are many cases where very charismatic men develop very close and controlling relationships with the people given to them for pastoral care. There’s a kind of intimacy that’s of a different level than the grooming of a child. You groom a child with favors and candy and strokes and get their trust. With an adult, it’s different.”
     Adult victims could comprise up to 25% of all clergy abuse cases, estimates David Clohessy, National Director of SNAP, but often face considerable skepticism about their stories. “In the eyes of the law, victims like Birge are adults. But that doesn’t mean that emotionally, psychologically, in the presence of a trusted, powerful, charismatic clergy person, that in fact they can function like adults.” Considering the abundant ethical and legal prohibitions against doctors or therapists having even consensual sex with patients, in recognition of coercive power imbalances in play, Clohessy notes, “none of us have been raised from birth to think that a therapist is God’s representative or that a doctor can get me into heaven.”  [Another estimate is that over 95% of the victims of sexual exploitation by clergy are adult women.]
     In my case, I was completely groomed by my perpetrator.  Like Ms. Birge, who's perpetrator (Hernadez) called her a "whore" and told her that no man would want to be with her, after he'd just raped her, I was told by my confessor/priest/perpetrator that I was "seductive," "manipulative," and "sinful."   Because he was "God's representative," I believed him.  I believed that I was was the depraved sinner who had corrupted a holy priest.  This dynamic gave him more power over me by increasing my dependency upon him for his spiritual insights and sacramental graces, including forgiveness.  After I escaped his grasp, it took years of therapy and the recognition that my perpetrator was continuing to groom other barely-legal students--who my friends at the time referred to as "the new Tom"--for me to find the strength to come forward.

     Here are a few more paragraphs from Ms. Birge's case that ring true to my experience of coming forward:
     To victims’ advocates, this level of intimidation, and the attempt to recast Hernandez as an insignificant volunteer, is par for the course across the country, and especially in Denver, where Church lawyers have used increasingly aggressive, victim-blaming tactics as part of a brutal Church defense industry, composed of attorneys, insurers and the bishops who hire them. 
      “That’s been our experience here,” says Jeb Barrett, “that people who have gone to the Archdiocese have found their families scrutinized and questioned. It’s revictimizing, and it discourages other victims from coming forward.”
     I was told by the powers-that-be to be extremely careful with whom I spoke about my accusations and that reputations were at stake.  They asked "Why would you want to hurt your parishioners by scandalizing them with this?"  Those in power refused to speak to my parents and to respond to my sister's emails, even though my family was reeling in the face of the abuse and in need of pastoral care.  My counselor's advice and prescriptions were summarily dismissed, for she was a woman, and a lay woman, at that.  (This wasn't 1950.  It was 2004.)
     If anything, adds David Clohessy, “I think Church officials are even more reckless and callous when a predator exploits adults.”
      This is very true.  A priest exploiting an adult is almost a relief to some bishops: "Well, it's not like he raped an altar boy."  But the psychological/spiritual damage to the victimized adult is horrendous.  Like Ms. Birge, I also suffered depression and panic attacks.  After church officials covered things up, I became suicidal.  While I left the priesthood, my job, my community, and the church, losing everything I knew, my perpetrator was given a promotion to be in charge of "Catholic Identity" for the diocesan schools and remained in his campus ministry position, where he continued to have an ongoing supply of handsome, naive, and malleable young men fresh out of high school; gay boys like me, who were closeted, feeling rejected by the church's anti-gay teachings, in need of acceptance and love by God and his ministers, and ripe for exploitation by a known predator allowed to remain in power.

     Thank you Ms. Birge for coming forward.  May your witness inspire other adult victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests to speak out.  The scandal doesn't end at the age of consent.


If you or anyone you know has been abused by clergy, here are some resources:

Another (Conservative) Priest from My Alma Mater Goes Down

     Another priest, with whom I was in seminary, has been removed from ministry because of scandal.  And, I'm not surprised.  After seeing a classmate removed for having sexually abused minors decades ago, hearing about one of the most conservative fellows going down in an assault/adultery case, and seeing another one die after drinking himself to death, nothing surprises me anymore.  I'm just thankful that I got out when I did.

     Delaware Online reports:
     A Roman Catholic pastor of two city parishes -- including one that counted Vice President Joe Biden as a past congregant -- is being accused of embezzling more than $350,000 from the parishes.  
     The Rev. Cornelius J. Breslin, 59, who had been pastor of the parishes of St. Patrick and St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception until Wednesday, turned himself in at the New Castle County Courthouse and entered pleas of not guilty to the charges.  Breslin faces two felony charges of theft over $100,000 -- one for each parish -- and two misdemeanor charges of falsifying business records.  If convicted on all charges, he faces up to 32 years in prison, but likely would face far less -- including a sentence of probation -- given his lack of a criminal record and state sentencing guidelines.
     Adding insult to injury:
     St. Mary's, meanwhile, is one of the 28 parishes in the diocese facing a priest sex-abuse lawsuit. The plaintiff in the case is an anonymous "Jane Coe" who charges she was molested as a 13-year-old by the Rev. Edward Carley, who has since died.
     But the "good" news is:
     Krebs said Wednesday that he did not believe the alleged thefts by Breslin would have any effect on the diocese's bankruptcy proceedings -- because they involved parishes, not the diocese -- or the ongoing efforts by diocesan officials to reach a "global settlement" to resolve all outstanding priest-abuse lawsuits against both the diocese and its parishes. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Pope Benedict XVI Blasts Italian Premier for Having Sex with 17-Year-Old Prostitute

     You've got to read this hypocrisy to believe it.  Or you could just have faith in the Pharisaism of the Unholy Father.

     Premier Silvio Berlusconi came under mounting criticism Friday from the Catholic Church over his dalliances with young women, with the pope saying public officials must set good moral examples and Italian bishops planning to discuss the sex scandal.  Pope Benedict XVI didn't mention the scandal or Berlusconi by name. But during an audience with Rome's police chief and police officers, he said public officials must "rediscover their spiritual and moral roots."  "The singular vocation that the city of Rome requires today of you, who are public officials, is to offer a good example of the positive and useful interaction between a healthy lay status and the Christian faith," Benedict said, echoing more direct comments about the scandal a day earlier by his No. 2.
     Prosecutors have placed Berlusconi and three associates under investigation, alleging he paid for sex with a 17-year-old girl nicknamed Ruby and used his office to cover it up. Prosecutors have said Berlusconi had sex with several prostitutes during parties at his Milan estate.
     Why a premier would need to pay for sex and with a seventeen-year-old girl is scandalous.  That said, the age of consent in Italy is fourteen (frighteningly low, by U.S. standards).  The age of consent rises to sixteen if the elder party is in a position of power over the minor (parent, teacher, priest--I'm not sure if premier is included, but it would make sense.).  However, the fact that Berlusconi used his office's power to cover it up is reprehensible and deserving of investigation and punishment if laws were broken.  But...

     When it comes to morally shaming the premier is Pope Benedict, who covered-up for priest-pedophiles and dragged his ruby slippers for years rather than remove the child molesters from positions of power, thus enabling them to rape and abuse uncounted children under their nations' various ages of consent, really the best moral judge?   Benedict's own Vatican was exposed for a prostitution sex scandal less than a year ago.   Of course, since they were renting out little boys, it was okay.

     Perhaps the true scandal is that that the media and Catholics throughout the world continue to give Pope Ben's words moral credence. 

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

1997 Letter Exposes Vatican's Refusal to Report Pedophile-Priests to Irish Civil Authorities (and a Trip Down Memory Lane: Benedict XVI, the Slapping Pope)

     As Pope Benedict moves towards beatifying John Paul II, the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church continues to balloon.

     The latest news out of Ireland is that a 1997 letter from the Vatican reveals how the John Paul II/Ratzinger-led Vatican resisted the Irish bishops' adoption of mandatory reporting to civil authorities of pedophile-priests.


     A newly disclosed document reveals that Vatican officials told the bishops of Ireland in 1997 that they had serious reservations about the bishops’ policy of mandatory reporting of priests suspected of child abuse to the police or civil authorities.  The document appears to contradict Vatican claims that church leaders in Rome never sought to control the actions of local bishops in abuse cases, and that the Roman Catholic Church did not impede criminal investigations of child abuse suspects.
     A documentary to be aired tonight reveals the contents of the letter and also claims that, on at least two occasions, the Vatican stepped in and stopped attempts by Irish bishops to defrock abuser priests.
     Last month, details of one of those occasions was made public when a High Court order finally allowed the full publication of a previously censored chapter in the Murphy Report on the Dublin Archdiocese.  That revealed that when bishops made moves to dismiss paedophile priest Tony Walsh, the Vatican instead sought to send Walsh to serve 10 years in a monastery.
     Tonight’s RTÉ programme, Unspeakable Crimes, shows Walsh went on to abuse another child after a Church court recommended that he was laicised because Rome insisted on a long, drawn- out appeal of his case.
     Watch the documentary by clicking here and then clicking on RTÉ's January 17, 2011 episode of Would You Believe?  The revelation of the letter's content comes at 0:12:00.  The connection to Benedict XVI/Ratzinger comes around 0:23:00, when he refuses to defrock pedophile-priests in both Ireland and the U.S.A.  The documentary's lack of sensationalism is damning.

     "The letter is of huge international significance, because it shows that the Vatican's intention is to prevent reporting of abuse to criminal authorities. And if that instruction applied here, it applied everywhere," said Colm O'Gorman, director of the Irish chapter of the human rights watchdog Amnesty International.
     The January 1997 letter is from papal nuncio Archbishop Luciano Storero to the Irish hierarchy. It states that the Vatican's Congregation for Clergy, which oversees policies for the more than 400,000 priests around the world, said the bishops' new policy of mandatory reporting of suspected sex crimes by priests to police "gives rise to serious reservations of both a moral and canonical nature."
     Storero (who died in 2000) wrote that canon law, which governs abuses and legal matters within the church, "must be meticulously followed" and any bishop who took actions that did not follow canon law would face the "highly embarrassing" position of being overturned on appeal in Rome. Such a result would be "detrimental" to the bishop in question, the Vatican warned.
     The letter closes with a stern admonition to the bishops that Vatican policies must be "meticulously" adhered to.
     How the folks in the pew can continue to disassociate themselves from the overwhelming evidence of their "Holy Father's" collusion in such heinous crimes against children and humanity is beyond me.

Postscript:

     And, in case you forgot, here's a news report from last spring on Benedict XVI's and John Paul II's protection of Legionaries of  Christ founder and serial pedophile, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado.  (At 4:00, watch Ratzinger/Benedict slap the hand of the ABC reporter that questioned him about Maciel.  How's that for humbly turning the other cheek?)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Hypocrisy Alert: Pope Benedict to Beatify John Paul II, Patron of World Youth Day

     Hypocrisy news from the Vatican: Pope John Paul II, who protected pedophile-priests at the expense of Catholic children, will one day be the Patron Saint of World Youth Day.

     The Boston Pilot reports:
     The future Blessed Pope John Paul II will be the official spiritual patron of World Youth Day 2011, which will be Aug. 16-21 in Madrid.  The Vatican announced Jan. 14 that Pope Benedict XVI would beatify his predecessor, the pope who founded World Youth Day and presided over many of its largest gatherings around the world.
     Big surprise: Pope Ben, protector of pedophiles, will beatify, John Paul II, the pope who taught him how to protect pedophiles.  Dog bless the Catholic hierarchy!  And suffer the little children.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Dutch Catholic Sexual Abuse Scandal Report: Nearly 2,000 Victims

     An investigative panel in the Netherlands released a report this week showing that almost 2,000 of the country's four million Catholics have made complains of sexual or physical abuse against priests and bishops.

     The New York Times reports:
     “The Roman Catholic Church has not faced a crisis like this since the French Revolution,” Peter Nissen, a professor of the history of religion at Radboud University in the Netherlands, said of the growing abuse scandal...
      Asked in March on television about the hundreds of complaints already surfacing, one of the church’s most senior figures, Cardinal Adrianus Simonis, shocked the nation by replying not in Dutch but in German. “Wir haben es nicht gewusst” — We knew nothing — he said, using a phrase associated with Nazi excuses after World War II.
     “A lot of people perceived it as an affirmation of the culture of covering up cases,” said Professor Nissen, adding that it meant to many, “ ‘We should have known’ or ‘We knew but we didn't want to know.’ ”
     The Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, said that he had no comment and that the matter was in the hands of Dutch bishops.
     "In the hands of bishops," because that has worked so well in the past.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Donatism Alert: Pope Benedict's Back on the Banning-Gay-Priests Bandwagon

     The big  news last week was that, in his new book, Pope Benedict said condom use to prevent HIV-infection is okay for male prostitutes.  The scientific world responded with a resounding, "It's about time.  But it's not enough."

     But there's much more to the book, in which Pope Ratzinger's bigotry shines through, like a sunbeam splitting the clouds and illuminating a dove flying over a pair of hands locked in prayer.   

     Once again, Ben's promoting his "theology" of celibacy and priesthood, which claims celibate gay men are so intrinsically disordered that they can't properly image Jesus and should therefore not be ordained.  

     What he is saying is that the priesthood must consist of men who have renounced the love of women, not those for whom it has never been a major temptation:
     "Sexuality has an intrinsic meaning and direction, which is not homosexual...The meaning and direction of sexuality is to bring about the union of man and woman.  And, in this way, to give humanity posterity, children, a future. This is the determination internal to the essence of sexuality. Everything else is against sexuality's intrinsic meaning and direction ... Homosexuality is incompatible with the priestly vocation.  Otherwise, celibacy itself would lose its meaning as a renunciation. It would be extremely dangerous if celibacy became a sort of pretext for bringing people into the priesthood who don't want to get married anyway."
     This is ironic in view of the widely held view that he himself is not a man for the ladies (as a gay catholic once said to me). It's also obviously unworkable. But his reasoning is interesting, for it shows that he understands one of the problems that compulsory celibacy has brought to the church in the West. As it became less and less common for men not to marry – and perhaps this was a result of increasing prosperity as much as anything else – the church was one of the few professions in which a gay man could remain "respectable", even to himself.
     Furthermore, Ben's viewpoint, if promulgated, will create a dilemma of Donatist proportions: Are gay priests who have already been ordained validly ordained?  If not, what does that mean about all the sacraments that they performed?  Does that mean my child wasn't really baptized?  Have I only been eating bread and wine all these years and not Jesus' body and blood?  Are my confessed sins really forgiven?  Is my marriage invalid?  Are my children bastards?  Am I going to hell?

     No need to worry, conservative Catholics.  That line of thinking is Donatism; a heresy. (Had you lived in the fourth century and believed that sinful priests' sacraments were invalid and did not confer your god's grace, you would have been excommunicated or put to death.)  

     A priest, who lives in a state of mortal sin, will someday leave the priesthood, or is later found to have an invalid or illicit ordination, still performs valid sacraments.  Why?  Because the Catholic god provides, where sinful gay priests (like me) failed.

     Confused?  I'll try to clarify Ben's anti-gay and anti-Donatist logic with a few "hypothetical" situations. 

     1.  A heterosexual priest hears the confessions of his nine-year-old students.  Unbeknownst to the children's parents and (maybe) teachers, the priest has been feeding the children more than Christ's body for the past two years.  Even though the priest is raping these children, the sacraments of Confession and Eucharist that he performs for the children still shower them with god's grace and love, because the priest, in spite of his moral failure to stop using the children for his sexual gratification, is still a vessel of god by virtue of his ordination.  To believe that that abusive priest's sacraments fail to confer grace upon the children he's raping is Donatism.

     2.  A gay priest, who has never had sex (this includes with children), retires at age 73 after forty-eight years of faithful ministry.  If Pope Benedict's anti-gay-ordination theology is promulgated, this closeted and celibate gay priest's ordination could be invalidated.  All of the sacraments performed by this gay priest would remain valid.  But, after a lifetime of sacrifice and service, this priest is thrown out, because being gay is just so evil.

     That's the logic of Pope Benedict.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pope Benedict Concedes Condom Use (for Male Prostitutes)

      There's big news coming from the Vatican.  


     The BBC reports  (My comments are interspersed.):
     The book - Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times - is based on a series of interview [sic] the Pope gave the German Catholic journalist, Peter Seewald, earlier this year.
     Note: what Pope Ben said in the interviews with Seewald are not official Catholic teachings.  If the pope's following comments are to be "official," an encyclical is in order.
     When asked whether the Catholic Church was not opposed in principle to the use of condoms, the Pope replied: "She of course does not regard it as a real or moral solution, but, in this or that case, there can be nonetheless, in the intention of reducing the risk of infection, a first step in a movement toward a different way, a more human way, of living sexuality."
     Click on the links on "different," "more human," and "living sexuality" to see how Pope Ben's celibate own have done such a fantastic job of living hypocritically.
     The Pope gives the example of the use of condoms by male prostitutes as "a first step towards moralisation", even though condoms are "not really the way to deal with the evil of HIV infection."
     This is a very good thing.  Now the Vatican's male prostitutes will no longer be infecting Catholic clerics, who are in town for "business" and/or "pilgrimage."  Perhaps the pope's decision was economic.  Has the global recession been that rough on Vatican tourism?
     He says that the "sheer fixation on the condom implies a banalisation of sexuality" where sexuality is no longer an expression of love, "but only a sort of drug that people administer to themselves."
     As I've observed in my experience of priesthood, the drugs of choice for conservative Catholic clerics are ignorance and fear.  Now, Ben has one less fear: getting HIV from one of his choir boys.

     Ten years after the Kansas City Star exposed the death rate for Catholic priests dying from AIDS as four times higher than the U.S. population, nearly three decades after medical professionals began advocating condom usage to curb the spread of HIV, and after decades of the Vatican's stubborn ignorance and fear pushing against WHO's anti-HIV efforts around the world, maybe Pope Ben and the Catholic Church are finally going to enter the 1980s .

     But how many thousands have been unnecessarily infected in the meanwhile?

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Spanish Gay Couples Stage Kiss-In in Protest of Pope Benedict's "Intrinsically Disordered" Anti-Gay Politics


     Pope Benedict XVI strongly defended traditional families and the rights of the unborn on Sunday, directly attacking Spanish laws that allow gay marriage, fast-track divorce and easier abortions as he dedicated Barcelona's iconic church, the Sagrada Familia.
     It was the second time in as many days that Benedict had criticized the policies of Spain's Socialist government and called for Europe as a whole to rediscover Christian teachings and apply them to everyday life.
     As he headed to the church named for the sacred family, about 200 gays and lesbians staged a “kiss-in” to protest his visit and church policies on homosexuals, condom use and a host of other issues. Church teaching holds that gays should be treated with dignity and respect but that homosexual acts are “intrinsically disordered”.
     So, according to the Catholic Church and Pope Ben, this is "intrinsically disordered":

     But this is okay:

And this is sweet:

And this is properly ordered:

And this is just politics:

And this is way normal (and good for digestion):
(He's kissing dirt.)

And this is so 100% normal:

And this is in every conceivable way 
intrinsically ordered.

     P.S.  Here's iol News' short description of part of Pope Ben's blessing ceremony at Sagrada Familia.  Notice the proper order of things:
     During the ritual-filled dedication ceremony, Benedict poured holy oil over the marble altar and spread it across all four corners with his hands, an apron protecting his vestments. He then lit a brass incense burner on the altar as Spain's King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia looked on.  Afterward, four nuns dressed in black mopped up the remaining oil from the altar and placed fresh linens on it.
Image Credits: