Category Archives: Background Information

ICB History 101: The Irish Christian Brothers and the permanent stain of child sex abuse

Here is my crash course in the Irish Christian Brothers sex abuse and cover-up scandal and bankruptcy:

In order to understand the current Irish Christian Brothers debacle, we need only look north.

As I have repeated (and as my Church history professors seared into my cortex in countless seminary courses): The Past is Prologue to the Future.

In light of that, let’s take a short trip back in time:

In 1975, detectives Robert Hillier and Paul Pitcher of the Newfoundland Constabulary were investigating complaints from the Irish Christian Brothers orphanage at Mount Cashel.  Hillier and Pitcher were not naive detectives, but even they could not imagine the extent of the beatings and sexual abuse, the Brothers collusion, and the blatant obstruction of justice and corruption surrounding the child sexual abuse by the Irish Christian Brothers who worked at Mount Cashel.  It would take an additional two decades for the moral bankruptcy to explode. You can read the results of their work here, in the 1991 Hughes Report, Part I and Part II.

But the abuse and cover-up didn’t stop there. It spread south, as the Irish Christian Brothers shuffled criminal child predators across international borders and state lines to avoid prosecution, find new innocent child victims, and ensure that justice would never be served.

Here is a great reading/viewing list (after you’re done with the Hughes Report) that will give you a good historical narrative of the pattern, behavior and human cost of the ICB sex abuse crisis:

Unholy Orders: Tragedy at Mount Cashel by Michael Harris

The Boys of St. Vincent – “two-part docudrama based on real events that took place at the Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John’s, Newfoundland, one of a number of child sexual abuse scandals in the Roman Catholic Church.” – Wikipedia

Catholic Clergy Sexual Abuse Meets the Civil Law, by Thomas Doyle and Steven Rubino, Fordham Urban Law Journal

The Christian Brothers Educational Record, a yearly diary and chronicle of the activities of the Christian Brothers Schools in the US and Canada

The Shipping News by E. Annie Proulx, an excellent novel about life in Newfoundland


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So much for “it was a thing of the past”: Active Clergy Criminal Cases

With the beginning of the clergy sex abuse and cover-up criminal trial in Philadelphia, as well as the recent guilty plea from Orange County (CA) priest Denis Lyons, I wanted to post a list of all of the currently active clergy criminal cases in the United States. If I have missed any, let me know. All of these are for sexual abuse or conspiracy to commit abuse, except for Fr. McCloskey in Albany. He was charged with fleeing from the police, reckless driving and auto theft.


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The Bishop’s Man

“Blessed is the flow of the River of Truth, which helps us wash away the filth.”       Old Jewish prayer

The February 2011 Philadelphia Grand Jury report sent shock waves through the Roman Catholic clerical culture.  It was not because the sexual abuse of children was (again) being uncovered and publicly exposed, but instead because Vicars for Clergy and Vicar Generals could now be (and were) indicted for child endangerment as “The Bishop’s Man.”

The Bishop’s Man is the priest who confidentially carries out the will of his Bishop or Religious Superior.  His duties can involve investigating complaints, replacing a perpetrator, sending the perpetrator to a Catholic-run predator treatment facility, or even functioning as the priest perpetrator’s aftercare supervisor.  In the past, if the Bishop’s Man protected the Bishop by containing the scandal, he would someday be promoted. In return, the Bishop offered complete protection.

But this time-tested system was turned on its ear with Monsignor Lynn’s criminal indictment for his actions as Cardinal Bevilacqua’s Vicar.

In seminary spiritual training, many of us had to endure the lecture on the “Rule of Benedict”:  “the first step of humility, then, is that a man keeps the fear of God (timor Dei) always before his eyes and never forgets it” (RB 7. 10)

For Vicars for Clergy the rule now reads: keep the fear of the prosecutor always before your eyes and never forget it.

The Philadelphia Grand Jury report found priests in ministry with credible accusations of childhood sexual abuse.  Last week the Los Angeles Vicar for Clergy Michael Myers was forced to resign because the press discovered yet another L.A. priest perpetrator still in ministry.  This is not an isolated incident.  Just a few days later, a Monterey priest was “discovered” in active ministry although there was a credible abuse complaint against him going back 19 years.

How did these dioceses miss the facts in the implementation of the Dallas 2002 Norms?  How were they missed for the John Jay audit?

The Church has been around two millennia and is not known for change.  For the roughly 700 Bishop’s men past or present who functioned as Vicars for Clergy and Vicar Generals, everything has changed.

Blessed is the flow of the River of Truth, which helps us to wash away the filth.

The book The Bishop’s Man by Canadian Journalist Linden MacIntyre is available here.

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The Real Horrendous and Nefarious Crime? Not Calling the Police

It’s papal trivia time!

In light of the recent explosion of media coverage about the clergy sex abuse scandal, revelations about the inaction of bishops to stop offenders, and the full-scale global cover-up of the rape of hundreds of thousands of children, let’s take a little quiz.

Name the Pope who insisted that all clerics who molest children be turned over to civil authorities and forced to live a life of penance at a monastery far away from children?

A)   Pope John Paul II (1978-2005)

B)   Pope Benedict XVI (2005-present)

C)   Pope Pius V (1566-1572)

The winner?  C.  Apparently, someone got it right 438 years ago.  And that was the last time anyone thought about calling the cops.

Church documents show that the crime of bishops, priests, deacons, and religious raping and sodomizing children has been known and understood by the Roman Papacy for at least a millennium.  Pope Saint Pius V (1566 -1572) referred to the crime against children in his Constitutions of August 30, 1568 as horrendum illud scelus: that horrendous crime.

And then he did something revolutionary:  He demanded action to keep kids safe.

Pius V sought to reform the criminal depravity and moral laxity of the clergy by instituting penalties that bishops, abbots, and superiors of religious orders could invoke on the cleric.  Pius V states:

§1. “Clearly it is known to the Lateran Council that clerics who have been caught sinning against nature with children must be cast out from the clergy or forced to lead a life of penance in the Monasteries.

Funny, he doesn’t say anything transferring a priest to a new location where people won’t know about his past …

In light of the recent developments of Gilbert Gauthe and Oliver O’Grady being loose in society, it probably would be prudent to follow Pope Pius V second point and place the 4,392 clerics mentioned in the John Jay Study in Monasteries without schools.

§2. “But lest the contagion of such a disease grow stronger, we have concluded in Council that the Clerical defendants of this nefarious crime must be punished severely, that for those who do not shudder at the damnation of their souls the avenging secular sword of civil laws may surely deter them.”

Pope Pius V concluded in the sixteenth century that punishment must be severe and the offending clerics turned over to civil authorities.

The Church, according to Professor Henry Charles Lea’s History of the Inquisition, did call the police.  Clerics were handed various punishments including a life of rowing in the gallows and even death.

With the punishments available today, if the bishops followed the leadership of Pope Saint Pius V, many clerics would have only scarred one child instead of the dozens each priest perpetrators has.  Somewhere between the 16th and 20th centuries, the bishops stopped turning clerics over to civil authorities.

§3. “Therefore, we intend to pursue more fully now and with more vigor what has already been decreed in this pestilence, and we deprive any Presbyter and any other Clerics, either diocesan or religious, of whatever grade, rank, office or privilege who commit so dire and unspeakable an act.  Those demoted by Ecclesiastical judge or Bishop should be immediately delivered to the secular power to receive punishment.”

Pope Saint Pius V is clear: Call the police and turn the cleric over to civil authorities.  For the United States bishops or William Cardinal Levada of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith to claim they did not understand the gravity of the problem or what to do until 1984 is lavender lunacy.  And a downright lie.

The penalties and procedures to stop bishops, priests, deacons, and religious that permanently sexually scare children have been available for centuries.

So, what is the horrendous crime today? The bishops and priests and not calling the police.


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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.


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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?


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