Monthly Archives: January 2008

The Crafty Perpetrators Remain

More than a month ago, Sister Sheila McNiff of the Society of the Holy Child Jesus published a Los Angeles Times Op-Ed piece claiming that the clerical sexual abuse problems in Los Angeles have come to an end.

I do not blame her for attempting to close the door on an ugly decades-old chapter of the Archdiocese’s history – she was just doing her job. Those of us who have worked for the Roman Church were all taught to protect the Bishop. And that is exactly what she is doing.

The op-ed’s chart and accompanying text do the “numerator/denominator shuffle” by portraying the state of the local church as one with new procedures that have miraculously stopped bishops, priests, and deacons in the archdiocese from sexually abusing minors and vulnerable adults.

That is simply not the case. The truth is actually much scarier: only the simple criminals have been caught. The craftier clerical pedophiles and ephebophiles remain. Or better put: how can a couple of rules stop a 2000-year SECRET history of sexual abuse? The church (under the rule of the Pope) has been secretive for its entire history – how can one Cardinal change it? More importantly, why would he want to?

Pope Benedict XVI in his Encyclical Spe Salvi reminds us that the laws of reason, will and love ultimately govern the world. But we also know that reason and the powers of observation tell us that sexually abusive clerics were and are in active ministry.

The first time Catholic bishops met with the goal to implement controls over clerics who sexually abused children was at the Council of Elvira in 309 A.D. It didn’t work.

More than 1600 years later, abuse was still a serious problem ~ in 1922 Pope Benedict XV issued a worldwide procedure, De Modo Procendi in Causis Sollicitationis, instructing Bishops on how to proceed with accusations of clerical sexual abuse. The document was kept secret for more than 90 years.

In Los Angeles, the problem is endemic. We now know that Former Los Angeles Cardinal Timothy Manning sent and visited an Archdiocesan priest, George Pausch, at the Servants of the Paraclete in the 1950s to deal with clercial sexual abuse. These visits were kept secret until recently, when more than 500 civil sexual abuse cases unearthed documentation of the meetings.

Also, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops met at Saint John’s Abbey in 1985 in closed session to discuss the national scandal. Why was the meeting closed and its purpose kept secret? And what will Mahony do to change this tradition? Nothing.

Since 2001, the L.A. District Attorney’s office has prosecuted several L.A. clerics for conduct after 2001 – with little to no help from the Archdiocese. What will Mahony do to help law enforcement? Nothing.

Thus, reason and history dictate that we will see new criminal and civil cases in 2008 and beyond.

Why? Because of the secrecy.

One of the classic defense arguments is that the “will” of Cardinal Roger Mahony has produced policies and procedures that have rooted out abusers. In short, defenders claim, things are getting better and better everyday. But facts are facts: It is sheer folly to even consider that the “will” of the Cardinal or any cleric can change the 2000-year-old culture of the Latin rite church.

Let’s look at what Mahony’s “will” could not do:

Cardinal Mahony did not have the will to stop clerical abusers as vicar general and auxillary bishop in Fresno. As bishop of Stockton, he did not have the will to stop abusers like Oliver O’Grady. Finally, Cardinal Mahony did not have the will to stop Fathers Baker, Wempe, and Lopez in Los Angeles. It was only due to the secular criminal and civil legal systems that these predators were finally stopped.

But these are the sloppy perpetrators. As more and more clerics are exposed as abusers, I believe that the more clever men – men like Donald McGuire – will slowly be ferreted out. And considering the size and history of the Los Angeles Archdiocese, I think that there are many clever men who are still actively serving and actively perpetrating. The sloppy perpetrators were able to abuse countless kids in spite of “reforms” and “studies” within the church. Smarter men will have no problem circumventing any new regulations that come their way.

Until Roger Mahony cooperates fully with law enforcement, tells the truth about abuse, and comes clean about what he knows and what he has done, all of the “reforms” in the world will not make the Archdiocese a safer place.

As we approach the Lenten season, I contend that God’s love will conquer the darkness of the clerical sexual abuses the Cardinals of Los Angeles attempted and still attempt to hide from the public. I have hope – not in internal Archdiocesan or Papal procedures – but in the police and prosecutors who now have the history and experience to help us stop the craftier clerical criminals yet to be discovered.

Advertisements

8 Comments

Filed under Background Information, canon law, Clergy Sex Abuse

Your Tax Dollars May Be Supporting Abusers: The Problem of Government Support of Catholic Charities

The sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults by Roman Catholic Clerics is the most damaging financial event in over two centuries. Not since Pope Pius IX (1846-1878) turned over the Papal States (central Italy) and disbanded the Papal army in the 1860s has the Church lost so many assets. Just recently, the bishops of California settled for in excess of 1.8 billion U.S. Dollars with national totals closing in on $4 billion.

But they shouldn’t be surprised … The 1985 Doyle/Peterson/Mouton Report warned the bishops of $1 billion worth of exposure.

What should concern the average American are the billions of Federal and State government dollars given to Catholic Charities for social services.

Yes, your tax dollars.

We can only hope that taxpayers and the government will take notice.

Just think: what will happen when society FINALLY makes the connection that the same bishops covering-up the rape of thousands of children are taking millions of tax dollars for Roman Catholic orphanages, day care centers, and social service centers?

Even when many of these places were the backdrop for decades of sexual abuse.

The 2007 Official Catholic Directory, the official communication between the United States Bishops and the I.R.S. for tax exception purposes, claims the following number of facilities and children under their care:

Residential Care facilities of Children (Orphanages): 986
Total assisted annually: 60,861
Day Care and Extended Day Care Centers: 1,231
Total assisted annually: 115,190
Special Centers for Social Services: 3,007

Total assisted annually: 27,887,358

I can only imagine what a federal inquiry would uncover.

If there were one policy change I suggest for the new president, congress, attorney general, and all state governors it is this:

Get out of the business of supporting the Roman Catholic Church through grants to Catholic Charities and related services.

There are other groups who can perform the same task with equal professionalism. No quantity or quality of good done by Catholic Charities personnel can cancel or forgive the criminal conduct condoned by the U.S. Bishops.

And I wonder: what is the legal liability for the government when children are abused in Catholic programs funded by tax dollars?

Many civil lawyers and government attorneys will rightly claim that the government tort claims act will stop or hinder such claims. Legally, I am sure that is correct.

But I believe that good does conquer evil. I also believe that the sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable adults is an age-old reality in the life of the Catholic Church that will likely continue.

And the government should and must get out of the business of supporting the Catholic Church.

Finally: It is hard to believe that the Archdiocese of Chicago paid for the Defenbaugh report but it is a nice summary of how the post Dallas 2002 system still doesn’t protect children.

3 Comments

Filed under Clergy Sex Abuse

Ten Common Myths about the Sexual Abuse of Minors and Vulnerable Adults by Clerics

Myth #1 – Catholic priests are no more likely to be pedophiles than other groups of men.

Roman Catholic bishops, priests, and deacons are vowed to a life of perfect and perpetual continence. (canon 276 CIC83) This is the lens with which we should view the following facts from the John Jay Center for Criminal Justice Study commissioned by the Bishops.

Since 1950, 4,392 priests and ten bishops have resigned or been removed for credible accusations of sexual abuse against minors and vulnerable adults. Twenty-two percent of the allegations self-reported by the bishops were for children under the age of ten and 6% of the victims were under the age of seven (John Jay pg.9). I know of no other religious denomination, organization, or group in the world who is reporting these percentages or gross numbers of crimes as agents of their organization.

Myth #2 – The celibate state of priests does not lead to pedophilia.

Three different theologians and scholars employed by the Church in the twentieth century – as well as the Churchs own psychiatrists and psychologists who were ignored by the Hierarchy – disagree. I would go further and say that celibacy itself violates the natural law, betrays revealed faith and reason, and leads to numerous sexual paraphilia, including pedophilia, ephebophilia and bestiality. Beginning with Reverend Thomas Verner Moore in 1936, the Church has been attempting to understand the crime of stuprum (sex between an adult and a child) and other psychological infirmities of the clergy in the discipline of psychology.

Moore first studied the insanity rates among Catholic clergy and found them higher than the general population. Further, Moore also studied and published on detection measures of pre-psychotics who apply for admission to the priesthood or religious communities. In November 1971, Conrad W. Baars, M.D. of the Mayo Clinic presented a paper to the Synod of Bishops meeting in Rome titled,The Role of the Church in the Causation, Treatment, and Prevention of the Crisis in the Priesthood.

The results were that only 10%-15% of priests attain adult maturation and 20%-25% have serious psychiatric difficulties.

Also during 1971, the Holy See made the Servants of the Paraclete an order of Pontifical rite. The third church therapist who was ignored is Reverend Michael Petersen of the Saint Luke Institute. Petersen along with Thomas Doyle, O.P. and Raymond Mouton, Esq. submitted a report to the Bishop for the 1985 Collegeville, MN. meeting that the scandal was going to explode if the Hierarchy did not attend to the victims.

Myth #3 – Married clergy would make pedophilia and other forms of sexual misconduct go away.

The track record of the hierarchy enforcing the discipline of clergy in sexual matters is riddled with holes. The bishops first met at Elvira in 309 AD and published in Power and Sexuality, to discuss and legislate against the sexual perversions of the clergy.

The pope was also given a detailed report by Saint Peter Damian in 1051 AD, The Book of Gomorrah, detailing the graphic evidence of the sexual activities of the clergy.

In the end, marriage will not change the current situation because the Hierarchy has not been able to enforce the legislation and delicts already on the books.

Myth #4 – Clerical celibacy started in the early church.

Celibacy was idealized in the early church but never officially enforced. Beginning in 1123 AD at the Council of Worms, Pope Calixtus II promulgated a canon that impeded married persons from being ordained but more importantly, the marriages contracted by clerics were declared invalid and had no effect.

Pope Calixtus then ordered all married priests to abandon their wives. The record indicates the medieval period did institutionalize celibacy. The First Lateran Council proclaimed that a male in Holy Orders attained an indelible mark and celibacy was an essential element of that priestly character.

Myth #5 – Female clergy would help solve the problem.

The fact is that we will never really know because the current teaching of the Church is that any layman and all women are not capable of holding the priestly or episcopal office.

Myth #6 – Homosexuality is connected to pedophilia.

Sexual abuse is a civil and canonical crime. The sexual orientation of the perpetrator is not relevant to prosecuting the crime.

We are all sinners but we are not all criminals.

Myth #7 – The Catholic hierarchy has made significant strides to address pedophilia.

No. The bishops have done nothing out of fear it will hurt their image and the image of the. The Hierarchy has never enforced penalties on the crimes of stuprum, sexual abuse of minors, sodomy, solicitation in the confessional, bestiality, and all the other crimes by clerics noted in canon 2359.2 of the 1917 Code of Canon Law. The Hierarchy has had the evidence of the sexual abuse of minors, the knowledge of recidivism, and the complete power over the clergy … and they have done nothing.

The cover-up of the sexual abuse of minors is necessary in the Hierarchy’s worldview to maintain the image of the church as the perfect society.

Myth #8 – The Church’s teaching on family sexual morality is not the real problem.

The sexual morality of the clergy as evidenced in the thousands of sexual abuse cases across the world (look at Ireland) leads one to question the moral maturity of the clergy. If the clergy are emotionally immature it follows that they too are morally immature in regards to the sexual abuse of a child or vulnerable adult.

There has been a long-standing cry by the laity for the Hierarchy to concentrate less on the morality of the bedroom and more on the boardroom.

The evidence of the stuprum cases is cause for the Hierarchy to concentrate first on the morality in the rectory and less on the family home.

Myth #9 – Catholic journalists have ignored the pedophile problem.

Roman Catholic journalists, like priests, are in a difficult spot. They are paid and owe obedience to the Hierarchy who are deathly afraid of negative press and scandal. I believe if a Roman Catholic journalist was to fully plumb the depths of the scandal, they would be warned and then relieved of duty. The Roman Catholic journalist who studies and searches below the surface is like the nail that sticks out: they are hammered down.

Myth #10 – Requiring celibacy limits the number of men as candidates for the priesthood, resulting in a high number of sexually unbalanced priests.

This is the age old question, nature or nurture? The question we should be asking (noting that the Hierarchy has never successfully enforced the rule of celibacy) is: Does the Hierarchy – by omitting their duty to enforce the laws of the Church – attract a group of sexually unbalanced priests and religious thereby endangering all children at Roman Catholic Institutions?

4 Comments

Filed under Background Information, Clergy Sex Abuse