Category Archives: clergy abuse

Dirty Data Sinks The U.S. Bishops John Jay Report

Conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2004, the John Jay Report was commissioned and informed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB ) under the new Archbishop of Washington D.C. Wilton Gregory. The report relied on voluntary information provided by Dioceses — the very Dioceses responsible for the systematic cover-up the study sought to explain away. In the end, they found a total of 4,392 priests sexually assaulted minors across the nation from 1950 to 2002.

During their data collection, John Jay College never visited the Secret Archives of any Diocese. Instead, Cardinals and Bishops voluntarily sent in data to the College, who destroyed it after the report was complete. The bishops did not include themselves in the study (only Deacons and Priests), despite over two dozen bishops being accused. Upon its release, John Jay’s findings garnered legitimate skepticism from academics and survivors alike. New evidence proves us skeptics were right. The investigation surrounding the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report released last summer was one of the first times law enforcement raided the Secret Archives without warning, cornering the church into a “you’ll share them, or we’ll share them for you” situation. This catalyzed the Church to finally let Dioceses share their lists of known perpetrators from the Secret Archives.

Dioceses across the nation have now published names of 4,397 clerics from 122 Dioceses who sexually assaulted minors, with 75 Dioceses left to report. These numbers directly contradict the figures the Dioceses provided in 2004 by John Jay College. According to the new lists, the ratio of perpetrators to Dioceses is about 25 known perpetrators for every Diocese.  Only one U.S. Diocese thus far has the temerity to declare zero clerical offenders in it’s history.

If the remaining 75 Dioceses and hundreds of Religious Orders ever share their information, it would far exceed the numbers reported by John Jay College. We aren’t talking about new perpetrators that sprouted up since 2004 either; most of the recently named offenders were active during the time frame that the John Jay Report evaluated. This new data proves that not only was the John Jay Report problematic — it was plain wrong.

After the Pope’s directive at the end of February’s Vatican summit to stop releasing all Dioceses’ lists of known perpetrators to the public, it’s unclear whether we will ever see the remaining lists. Whether we see them or not, the numbers already provided demonstrate that the bishops underreported their records of known perpetrators in 2004 by 100% to suppress any scandal.

Now, more than ever, John Jay College needs to right this wrong in underreporting. It is time for the John Jay College to recall their 2004 report and recognize the Bishops used John Jay to cover up the chronic criminal conduct of clerics in the United States.

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Church 101 for Child Protection Advocates

Here are some lessons from the masters I have studied: Fr. Thomas Verner Moore OSB MD, Fr Gerald Fitzgerald s.P. and Fr. Aquinas Walter Richard Sipe O.S.B. 1. The sexual assault of minors is about power, not sex. 2. Child porn, child sexual assault and child trafficking are fruit of the same crime. 3. The cases are about criminal conduct, not belief.

The Catholic Church is a monarchical system that promises salvation to followers that adhere to the teachings. The system is fueled by a three tiered taxation engine rooted in powerful myths.   Nota Bene, the first teaching against clerical sexual abuse of minors is from the Didache in 60 A.D.

The Catholic Church is a consortium of churches in union with the Bishop of Rome. Each church is rooted in a specific language/culture called a Rite with the Roman Rite representing 95% of the 1 billion worldwide followers.

The Catholic Church is also a secular State known as Sanctae Sedes or the Holy See. The Holy See has diplomatic missions in hundreds of countries called Nunciatures staffed by representatives appointed by the Pope. The Nunciatures, Dioceses and Parishes are connected to the Holy See through the Vatican Bank or I.O.R. The Holy See rules by soft power and has not maintained a military force since the creation of the Italian State.

The core Governmental principle is that Power flows down and money flows up. At the top of the pyramid is the Bishop of Rome aka the Pope who holds universal jurisdiction where he alone teaches, governs and sanctifies the world. The world is organized by Dioceses which are geographic regions established by the Pope. Only the Pope appoints the Bishop of a Diocese, the Bishop reports to the Pope and pays annual taxes to Rome.  Each Diocese is a geographic region of parishes established by the Bishop. Only the Bishop appoints Priests to the parishes, the Priests report to the Bishop and pay annual taxes to the Diocese.  Laity do not have the capacity to govern. Respondeat Superiori is a common law principle that closely expresses the Roman model of Church polity. One of the key cases to be aware of is Hosanna-Tabor v. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, 565 U.S. 171 (2012).

A general norm of roman structure is to adapt to the local civil laws (canon 22) in so far as they are not contrary to Codex Iuris Canonici. Roman Catholic institutions adapt to State law and incorporate to what most closely represents Church Polity.  Corporation Sole is a common listing in the annual Official Catholic Directory (O.C.D.) delivered to the I.R.S. and a document that is judicially noticeable.

There are three types of Roman Catholics: Clerics, Religious and Laity. Clerics (Patricians) are men ordained as Bishops, Priests or Deacons to teach, govern and sanctify the Religious and Laity.

Religious (Centurions) are vowed men and women following a Rule under a Superior. If male religious are also Clerics they can serve in parishes under the jurisdiction with faculties (permission) of the Diocesan Bishop. Religious men can be either Priests or Brothers. Religious women are referred to as Nuns or Sisters traditionally running schools and hospitals. Religious Institutes also are in the O.C.D.

Laity (Plebs) are all the baptized (99%) whose job is to pray, pay and obey. They achieve salvation through participation in the seven sacraments which are only provided by the Clerics.

Insurance is a requirement of all institutions with each Diocesan Bishop or Religious Superior as the autonomous administrator. Dioceses and Religious Institutes rely upon commercial insurance companies as well as risk sharing pools as Catholic Mutual Group and Catholic Risk Retention Group.

Once rumor or direct knowledge of child sexual assault comes to a Bishop or Religious Superior there are several traditional management options. An initial investigation is conducted by the Vicar for Clergy or a trusted Priest and a confidential report (canon 489) is created for the Holy See and the Secret Archives which only the Bishop and Vicar General (2nd in command) have access.

First and most common option is to quickly change the assignment, a geographic solution. A second is to command the offender to see a sympathetic psychiatrist or psychologist. Upon further offenses the Cleric or religious is ordered to the Servants of the Paraclete, Saint Luke Institute, House of Affirmation, Saint John Vianney Institute or Southdown. Final solutions are being sent to a monastery for prayer and penance or involuntary laicization. All of these management decisions have document trails maintained in the Secret Archives, their retention policy is in to maintain these files in perpetuity.

The Church has a closed loop system of Treatment Centers created in 1947 for Clerics and Religious. The purpose is to evaluate, report back and recycle clerics and religious back to ministry. Initial evaluations as well as monthly and final reports are sent back to the Bishop or Superior with the most common diagnosis being Pedophilia, Ephebophilia or N.O.S. (not otherwise specified).

The Church in the past faced minimal criminal exposure with a few exceptions of Fr. Donald Roemer in 1981 or Fr. John Goeghan in 2002 or Fr. Donald McGuire S.J. in 2006. There currently are 12 Grand Jury reports and charges against Bishops for failure to report and consumer protection violations for knowingly employing sex offenders. A Key case was Stogner v. California 539 U.S. 607 (2003).

Myth is Power: The Pope is the descendant of St. Peter and St. Paul, his teachings ex-cathedra are without the possibility of error. Every Bishop chosen by the Pope is a successor to the Apostles. Every Priest ordained by a Bishop is ontologically changed to be a little less than the angels, set apart to provide the sacraments necessary for salvation. Rome is the one, true, holy, catholic (universal) and apostolic church. Obedience and Secrecy are the highest virtues while creating scandal is a deadly sin.

At least 64 high level documents from the 1st to 21 century demonstrate a Tradition of superior knowledge by Catholic Bishops of child sexual assault by clerics. Here is a short sampling. Didache of 60 A.D. ; Council of Elvira of 309 A.D.; Book of Gomorrah by Cardinal Peter Damian O.S.B. Cam. in 1051 A.D.; Sacramentum Poenitentia by Pope Benedict XIV in 1741 A.D; Instructio de Modo Procendi in Causis Sollicitationis by Pope John XXIII in 1962 A.D.; Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela by Pope John Paul II in 2001 A.D.

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Tim Minchin skewers Cardinal Pell

Singer/songwriter Tim Minchin’s song “Come Home Cardinal Pell” is a must listen.

You can watch the video and listen to the song here.

 

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The Chancellor Shows Courage

Before the recent revelations of child porn sitting in the Secret Archives of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul, most people never stopped to think about the role of a Archdiocesan Chancellor. Some may have an image of Thomas Beckett or a librarian type. But most, honestly, just scratch their head.

So, what is a chancellor supposed to do? And how did St. Paul Chancellor Jennifer Haselberger stumble upon child porn in Archbishop Nienstedt’s secret archives?

The office of Chancellor in the Roman Catholic Church is first and foremost to “take care that the acts of the curia are gathered, arranged and safeguarded in the archive of the curia”. (1983 CIC 482)  This sounds a lot like a librarian, but the job also includes maintaining the entire inventory, or catalogue, of both the historical, secret and criminal archives.

What makes this job different than that of a librarian is that the cover up of clerical sexual abuse of minors in Saint Paul goes back to (at least) Archbishop Leo Binz in the 1960s. The cover-up documents have been stored at the Chancery on Summit Avenue as mandated by the Pope in the code of canon law. For instance, Father Jerome C. Kern’s file contains evidence the Archbishop was aware Kern was sexually abusing minor boys in 1969.

But why is there an explosion now when the Archbishop knew of the child porn in 2003?

The answer is simple: Chancellor Jennifer Haselberger.

Haselberger was the first lay female ever appointed Chancellor in St.Paul. She does not belong to the clerical “caste” and apparently she didn’t absorb the “Tradition of clerical immunity.” When she found the porn in the secret vaults, Haselberger followed her conscience and called law enforcement.

When the Archbishop was about to transfer Father Jon Shelley, Haselberger naturally reviewed the files under her care. She found a Saint Luke Institute report, an investigation by the Vicar General Kevin McDonough, and the porn vault. She found evidence that there were three computers, half a dozen morally disturbing searches and thousands of nefarious images sitting in the archives. There was nothing ambiguous about it.

What Now?

First, the Haselberger experience informs us that all church archives need to be reviewed by independent prosecutors in law enforcement. These prosecutors answer to the people, not the Pope.

Second, this 2013 experience teaches us that the Roman Catholic Church has not learned and in fact may not have the capacity to learn how to protect children in their care.

Third, we must press our leaders. Experience tells us that St. Paul is NOT unique. Are there priests who have been accused of sexual abuse of minors in ministry today?  We must press church leaders to make public what they know, urge prosecutors to demand files, and implore Catholics to withhold contributions until they and we can be assured that there are no criminals in active ministry.

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Correction: The Courage of One

Please note this correction from Jim Fitzpatrick:

“Please note there is one error in the article and it is on Bishop Carlson.  I did not ever say he threatened me, but that the threat was made to two Franciscan sister whom we know.  They were working at St. Williams in Fridley in the Gil deSutter era and when they pleaded with Bishop Carlson, to remove deSutter, Carlson threatened them with what would happen if they went to the press.  He used the terms that are in the article.  So, when Bishop Carlson took me to lunch and said if I had something on him relative to Tom Adamson (which he knew I did from the Guardian Angels parish experience) and if I felt I needed to go to the authorities or the press, I should do so.  I saw this as a veiled threat or a set up so I could face termination and blackballing in the church employment scene.  So, the threat was indirect.”

Former Minnesota priest Jim Fitzpatrick is courageously speaking about the child sexual abuse crimes by Father Thomas Adamson and the cover-up by the Bishops of Winona.

Almost 50 years ago, Fitzpatrick broke the silence about what distraught parents from Caledonia told him about the priest and notified Winona Bishop Edward A. Fitzgerald about Adamson the very next day.

Fr. Jim Fitzpatrick served the Church as a pastor and teacher from 1963-1973. Fitz left active ministry in 1973, married and continued serving the Church as a parish administrator in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. And he would remain in the dark about Adamson.

After Fitz’ report in 1965, Adamson was cycled from parish to parish, treatment center to treatment center and diocese to diocese.

Unknown to Fitz, Bishop Loras Watters, successor to Bishop Fitzgerald, had reports from four experts about Fr. Adamson—the Institute for Living (a well-known Catholic treatment facility), a local priest therapist, the Bishop’s own priest personnel board and the Servants of the Paraclete. All said that Adamson was fixated on boys.

Finally, Bishop Watters, under the Hierarchy’s policy of omertà, applied the “geographic solution” and ordered Adamson to Saint Paul, where the “scandal” could be better controlled.

By this time, Fitz was working as a church administrator. He received a call that Auxiliary Bishop Robert J. Carlson had assigned Fr. Thomas Adamson to his parish. Fitz immediately called Winona and asked Vicar General Father Donald Schmitz if Adamson was still sexually abusing boys. Schmitz—according to Fitz—said yes. Fitz threatened to resign. Carlson instead transferred Adamson to another parish.

This story is informative on several levels. First, many Roman Catholic priests have one first-hand story about a fellow priest who sexually abused a child.

For example: with Adamson, dozens of priests, members of the personnel boards and bishops in Winona and Saint Paul (pastors, chancellors, vicar generals, auxiliary bishops, bishops) had reports on Adamson. But only one broke with the rule of omertà.

In addition, the hierarchy will and does use coercive power in order to silence whistleblowers—right out of Machiavelli’s “The Prince. According to Fitz, Auxiliary Bishop Carlson told Jim Fitzpatrick the price he would have to pay (firing and black balling) if he went to the police or press about Adamson. Nota Bene, Carlson was promoted and now is the Archbishop of Saint Louis.

Lastly, some will criticize Fitz for not breaking the chain of command sooner and calling someone outside the Church. But I commend Fitz for following his conscience, speaking now and demonstrating by example how to put children first.

My hope is that the thousands of priests and lay ministers in Minnesota who know about perpetrator priests will follow the example of Jim Fitzpatrick. I hope they will follow their conscience, break their silence and report what they know.

There is hope, and Jim Fitzpatrick is leading the way.

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Accident or Pattern?

Christian Brother Julian McDonald CFC testified in Australia’s Victoria Inquiry last week that the extraordinary level of child molestation at the Irish Christian Brothers school in Ballarat is CERTAINLY AN  ACCIDENT OF HISTORY.  Brother Julian is the Provincial and former chancellor of Australian Catholic University.

I applaud Brother Julian for naming the culture of secrecy and his accurate reiteration of the hierarchy’s version of the history of child sexual abuse an ACCIDENT.

Let’s pause for a moment and think about what Brother McDonald said. Was it an accident, a chance occurrence, a “coinkydink?” Or is it an ancient pattern and practice of criminal behavior in the Catholic Church?

Let’s start by looking at the history of the Irish Christian Brothers and then at the Catholic Church in various parts of the globe.

The Canadian Christian Brothers at Mount Cashel Orphanage were first criminally investigated in 1975. That investigation was snuffed even though two brothers admitted wrong-doing. A second investigation began in 1982, a third in 1989 … all of which culminated in a Royal Crown investigation, popularly called the Hughes Inquiry.

The American Christian Brothers filed for bankruptcy protection from child abuse survivors’ claims in 2011. Nearly 500 survivors from Damien Memorial High School in Hawaii to Bergen Catholic came forward to expose dozens of brothers who molested children in U.S. based Irish Christian Brothers schools.

Is it an accident of history that Rome has removed over 22 bishops for sexually abusing children?

Is it a chance occurrence that 30 Jesuits from three continents accused of sexually abuse children ended up in the Jesuit run Diocese of Fairbanks, Alaska?

Is it a coinkydink that more than 256 bishops, priests and religious are accused of sexually abusing children just in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles?

We are well beyond the tipping point in history: Child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is part of the criminal fabric of the Bishops’ robes.

 

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Twenty years later, I look upon my ordination

“His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor, and to gather the wheat into his granary, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Luke 3:17

Twenty years ago this week I was ordained a Roman Catholic priest at Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota. My ordination was performed by then-Bishop Jerome Hanus, O.S.B.

At the time, I knew I was being sent to a one-year assignment where I would fill in for monk who had been yanked from Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton, after a victim came forward and accused the monk of child sex abuse. This was not my first emergency assignment. The previous year—before I was ordained—I was ordered to replace a monk who had been working as a faculty resident at Saint John’s University. He had also been accused of sex abuse.

I was assured by Chancellor of the University, Abbot Jerome Theisen, O.S.B. that these were isolated incidents. Unfortunately, they were not.

In 1992, I could not imagine that hundreds of priests and religious currently in ministry were child molesters—or that the moral decay included Priors, Abbots and Bishops. But I would soon learn. After six years of hearing confessions and being a “company man,” I saw first-hand that the rot of clerical sex abuse of minors is centuries old (read the Didache) and that the knowledge of abuse runs all the way to the Pope.

Hearing confessions and performing the Sacrament of Penance is life changing for every priest. A priest is forever separated from lay people the moment he starts to hear the confessions of men and women in his parish. I will never forget—nor can any human—the first time I heard confessions of child molestation or murder. What affected me even more was that the penitents knew that they held the privilege and that the priest may never do anything about it. That was when I truly understood the lesson behind the myth of Sisyphus.

But is there hope now? I believe there is.

In the face of all this crime, I learned that criminals are eventually exposed, or as the Gospel says, the chaff will be burned.

There have been several major paradigm shifts during the past 20 years:

  • It is no longer unconscionable for people to understand that Roman Catholic deacons, priests, religious and bishops have sexually abused minors. A majority of people understand that this is a real problem that must be stopped.
  • The public understands that church officials at all levels have covered up abuse, promoted abusers, and marginalized victims.
  • Prosecutors and detectives know they can get a conviction against a Roman Catholic official without fear of being fired or voted out of office.
  • Grand Jury, Royal Crown and bankruptcy investigations across the globe have exposed the system of abuse, cover-up, and shuffling molesters from post to post, and
  • The internet and global communications have exposed child-molesting clerics to a global audience, allowed victims to network, and shined a bright light of truth into a 2000-year history of abuse.

But this change in child safety has gone beyond the Church. We have learned that any group with leaders revered as gods are incapable of self-policing. Whether it is the Hasidim, Boy Scouts, Penn State Football or Roman Clerics—once leaders are revered as gods, crime and cover-up are soon to follow.

As Augustine of Hippo (highlighted by Thomas Aquinas in his teaching on fraternal correction) said,

You become worse than the sinner if you fail to correct him

God willing, I look forward to the next twenty years.

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