Church Crisis Intervention Teams – And The Men Who Help Them

In preparation for a time of severe crisis, it is ancient and natural for an institution to create a crisis response team.

With this concept in mind, I began a search for possible clerics that a Bishop or Religious Superior would assign to a crisis response team in order to deflect an impending priest child sex abuse scandal.

I had an easy place to start: The civil window in Delaware (which closes in early July) and the cases spawning from it inspired me to look for important clerics in the Wilmington/Philadelphia area. As I went through some dusty books, the works of Father Benedict Groeschel O.F.M. Cap. and Father John F. Harvey O.S.F.S. jumped off the shelf.


Father Groeschel, like Fathers Thomas Verner Moore O.S.B. and Father Gerald Fitzgerald S.P. before him, has – for decades – been a spiritual director and psychologist to priests who sexually abused children. As the director for spiritual development in the Archdiocese of New York and professor at the Institute for Psychological Sciences in Arlington, VA, Father Groeschel’s actions and deeds make him a natural choice for an integral role protecting the Church, Religious Order, and Priest who offended against minors and vulnerable adults.

Most crisis response team members are chosen because they are skilled, loyal, and above all, discreet. Father John Harvey is a little bit different. As director of the Courage Center, Harvey pioneers a uniquely Roman Catholic approach to homosexuality, which many contend violates the natural law and human reason. But in spite of this, Father Harvey was deployed by his Order for a role that required a discretion that seemed beyond him: the crisis intervention team for clerics who raped and sodomized children.

And still, he couldn’t be discrete.

Father Harvey wrote in 1986, “for several years I have been engaged in what is best described as crisis intervention, working with clinical psychologist John F. Kinnane, of Catholic University, Dr. Richard Fitzgibbons of Philadelphia, and with treatment centers in the rehabilitation of clerics and religious who had become emotionally and sexually involved with boys or adolescent males… we have been able to share our perception with them and to help fourteen clerics get some measure of control over their lives.” (The Homosexual Person, page 226, Ignatius Press)

The amount of knowlege that these two men have is vast and untouched. I can’t even imagine what we would learn if either of these men shared what they know with the people who need it most – victims.

The time has come for prosecutors, law enforcement, civil authorities and mental health professionals to find out what these two men – and the other crisis intervention teams of the Roman Church – know in order to assist survivors. As Pope Leo IX wrote to Peter Damian in his response to receiving the Book of Gomorrah, “he who does not attack vice encourages it.”

Or as I like to say: if you are not a part of the solution, you are a part of the problem

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Filed under catholic, clergy abuse, Clergy Sex Abuse, Uncategorized

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