Skip to comments.Pennsylvania bishop suppresses local traditionalist priestly society
Posted on 12/02/2004 8:30:46 AM PST by NYer
SCRANTON, Pa. (CNS) -- Bishop Joseph F. Martino of Scranton has decreed the suppression of the Society of St. John, citing its financial instability, its failure to follow church law and the scandal caused by allegations of sexual molestation of minors by two of its founders.
The society has caused "grievous financial burdens for the diocese" that could amount to several million dollars, he said.
Priests who had left a schismatic traditionalist organization, the Society of St. Pius X, to return to the Catholic Church, established the Society of St. John in 1998. They received canonical authorization for the society as a public clerical association from now-retired Bishop James C. Timlin, Bishop Martino's predecessor in Scranton.
Like the schismatic group, the Society of St. John is devoted to celebrating the Mass in Latin according to the Tridentine rite, as it was celebrated throughout the Latin Church before the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council.
In 2002 Bishop Timlin suspended Fathers Carlos Urrutigoity and Eric Ensey from priestly ministry following an allegation that both sexually molested a student at St. Gregory's Academy in Moscow, Pa., where the priests lived before they obtained a property in Shohola. Father Urrutigoity was founding superior general of the society and Father Ensey was the chancellor.
The student and his parents filed a lawsuit in 2002 over the alleged abuse. They named as defendants the two priests, their society, Bishop Timlin, the diocese, the academy and the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, which runs the academy.
Additional court documents filed in that lawsuit this year included depositions by three other former students testifying that Father Urrutigoity sexually fondled them or slept with them when they were minors.
In his decree, dated Nov. 19 and published Nov. 25 in the diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Light, Bishop Martino said the society was being suppressed for several reasons.
"Six years after its erection the society has shown no progress in attaining its stated purposes. It is principally a debt-servicing operation and can be seen continuing as such for many years to come," he said.
He said the allegations of sexual misconduct "have caused a public scandal." Even if those claims are not true, there were actions by members of the society that "have given rise to the allegations and the resultant scandal," he said.
Explaining diocesan financial burdens created by "past financial decisions and conduct on the part of the society," Bishop Martino said, "The burdens include the diocese being named in a civil suit for over $1 million and the need for the diocese to secure a $2.6 million loan in August 2003 because of the society's indebtedness."
On failure to follow church law, he said, "The Society of St. John has repeatedly refused to cooperate with the bishop of Scranton in the fulfillment of Canon 319, Para. 1 and Para. 2." Those provisions of church law say that any public association canonically erected by a diocesan bishop must administer its goods under the direction of the bishop, give him an annual accounting of its administration, and give him "a faithful account of the expenditure of the offerings and alms which it has collected."
"As a result (of the society's failure to provide such accounting) the bishop of Scranton is at risk of being charged with failure to supervise if donors to the society judge that they have been deceived," Bishop Martino said.
A separate lawsuit filed against the society in 2002 alleges that it has raised more than $5 million from donors. The suit was filed by the corporation formed in 2000 to establish a Catholic liberal arts college under society auspices, a project the society subsequently abandoned.
The suit claims that although the society represented to donors that part of their contributions would go to building the college, little money was directed to that project. It seeks to collect for the college at least one-third of all funds raised by the society.
The lawsuit holds the diocese liable for the society's actions, saying the society acted as an agent of the diocese.
The Times Leader, Scranton's daily newspaper, reported last month that Father Ensey filed a Chapter 13 personal bankruptcy petition Aug. 8 at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilkes-Barre.
Citing the lawsuit against the diocese, diocesan spokeswoman Maria Orzel declined to answer any questions from Catholic News Service about the suppression decree, including questions about how the diocese will deal with the priests and seminarians of the suppressed society.
Since the society was not a religious order but only a public clerical association under the diocese, the priests are all Scranton diocesan priests.
In addition to Fathers Urrutigoity and Ensey, the society's Web site lists four other priests and eight seminarians or novices as members.
Three of the other priests were formerly with the Society of St. Pius X, which was founded by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre after he broke with Rome over liturgical reforms and the teachings of Vatican II. Two were seminarians under Father Urrutigoity when he taught at St. Pius X Seminary in Winona, Minn., and a third was a fellow professor at that seminary.
A large portion of the society's Web site is devoted to plans to establish a "city of the Society of St. John" in Pennsylvania -- a planned Catholic community of about 2,000 people with religious, educational, commercial, office and residential sectors. The plan calls for the entire town to be built within a 1,000-foot radius of the central church and plaza.
If "financial instability, failure to follow church law and the scandal caused by allegations of sexual molestation of minors" is the standard, when are they going to suppress the entite Novus Ordo gang?
Rev. Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity
Rev. Fr. Eric Ensey
It only has to do with the allegations of sexual misconduct, the financial instability is due to the civil liability as I read this article.
Has nothing to do with Latin Mass.
|1987-88||SSPX Argentina||Accusations of sexual misconduct by Fr. Urrutigoity in the wake of his departure from the seminary of the SSPX in La Reja, Argentina. Despite these accusations, Fr. Urrutigoity is accepted into the seminary of the SSPX in the USA.|
|May 1997||SSPX USA||Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity, along with another priest and 2 seminarians are expelled from the seminary of the SSPX in the USA. Six other seminarians soon leave as well. We are told that the reason for the expulsion is that they were planning to found a new religious order.|
|1997||Diocese of Scranton||The former priests and seminarians of the SSPX find refuge in the Diocese of Scranton PA, where the Fraternity of St. Peter has its North American HQ. Bishop Timlin of the Diocese of Scranton accepts them without doing background checks.|
|1998||Diocese of Scranton||Accusations of sexual misconduct by Fr. Urrutigoity in the wake of his departure from the seminary of the SSPX in Winona, MN. After a diocesan inquiry is held, Bishop Timlin of the Diocese of Scranton decides that there is insufficient evidence, despite a letter of condemnation from Bishop Fellay of the SSPX.|
|1998||Institute of Christ the King||Fr. Marshall Roberts is expelled from the seminary of the Institute of Christ the King because of accusations of sexual misconduct. He finds refuge in the SSJ.|
|March 1998||St. Gregory's Academy, FSSP||The police are called in by Fr. Paul Carr of the FSSP (Fraternity of St. Peter) after it is discoverd that the priests of the SSJ have served alcohol to minors (boys).|
|Aug-Oct 2001||Dr. Bond of St. Justin Martyr College||Dr. Bond, HeadMaster of St. Justin Martyr College, which is affiliated with the SSJ, learns of the sexual misconduct of Fr. Urrutigoity. Dr. Bond then begins a series of discussions with Bishop Timlin, and with the SSJ. Bishop Timlin refuses to suspend any of the SSJ priests, despite evidence of wrongdoing. The SSJ refuses to admit there is a problem.|
|Oct 14, 2001||Dr. Bond of St. Justin Martyr College||Dr. Bond decides that St. Justin Martyr College must separate from the SSJ.|
|Nov 19, 2001||Dr. Bond of St. Justin Martyr College||Dr. Bond sends letters to Apostolic Nuncio for USA and to Cardinal Hoyos, Prefect for the Clergy, telling them about the sexual misconduct of Fr. Urrutigoity.|
|Nov 21, 2001||Fr. Urrutigoity||Fr. Urrutigoity threatens Dr. Bond with libel.|
|Dec 8, 2001||Dr. Bond of St. Justin Martyr College||Sexual misconduct by Fr. Eric Ensey becomes known. Dr. Bond issues a public notice to concerned Catholics.|
|Jan 12, 2002||Diocese of Scranton||The Diocese of Scranton receives a letter of complaint from one of those molested by Fr. Urrutigoity.|
|Jan 15, 2002||Roman Catholic Faithful (organization)||Press Release, asking for suspension of Fr. Urrutigoity and any other priests involved in sexual misconduct, for resignation of Bishop Timlin, for criminal investigation.|
|Jan 25, 2002||Diocese of Scranton||Bishop Timlin transfers Frs. Urrutigoity and Ensey elsewhere in the Diocese of Scranton, but does not suspend them.|
|Jan 26, 2002||Times Leader (paper)||News of the scandal hits the secular press.|
|Feb 6, 2002||Dr. Bond of St. Justin Martyr College||Fr. Marshall Roberts becomes a third suspected sexual offender.|
|Feb 27, 2002||Scranton Times-Tribune (paper)||The DA's office of Lackawanna County, PA, launches an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by members of the SSJ.|
|Mar 20, 2002||National Review Online (paper)||A former student of St. Gregory's Academy launches a $1 million lawsuit against the SSJ, FSSP and Diocese of Scranton.|
|Mar 28, 2002||St. Justin Martyr College||Fr. Richard Munkelt, formerly with the SSJ, comes forward with further insights into the scandal.|
The SSJ priests were kicked out of SSPX for homosexual behavior as well as other reasons. The diocesan bishop took them in. Bishop Fellay wrote to the bishop warning him. The bishop did not pay attention.
Bishop Fellay is a wise man who sees with great clarity. More people should listen to him.
See the chronology I posted above, specifically the area in bold, for a slight correction of your otherwise correct claims.
Your chronology is faulty.
The priests were transferred from Argentina for several reasons. The sexual allegations were unable to be proven so they were removed from the environment. Once in the US the charges became verifiable and they were expelled.
Any idea how that investigation was concluded?
That sounds like the usual USCCB spin.
It is really sad how much your hate blinds you to the truth.
I'm simply pointing out that NO Catholic institution, be it the USCCB or the SSPX, is immune to imprudent decisions, if not outright malfeasance, in its corporate pride.
I saw someone say here recently that traditional Catholicism only exists within the Levefevre movement. What collossal arrogance.
Traditional Catholicism does NOT "subsist" in the Lefevre movement.
Yes, Lefevre's acts of disobedience, ironically, helped preserve the Tridentine Liturgy.
But Luther's disobedience precipiated the Counter Reformation.
And neither will ever be a canonized Catholic saint, for the same reason: disobedience.
Here is a report from the time. There doesn't appear to be anything about abuse.
Q: What happened in the Seminary last Spring?
A: A talented but proud young Argentinian priest [Carlos Urrutigoity] who had been a Seminary professor at Winona for three and a half years, decided that the moment had come to break with the Society of St. Pius X and form his own society, starting with one fellow professor and two seminarians who walked out with him.
Q: But did this priest walk out, or was he told to leave?
A: As soon as it became clear that he had for some time, from within the Seminary, been secretly planning his own society, he was told to report in short order to the Superior General in Switzerland. When he refused, he was told within 24 hours to leave the Seminary which he had been subverting from within by his intention ingenuously disavowed to take with him as many Society priests and seminarians as possible.
There is more to the story than the letter indicates on the website.
YES INDEED, HE MOST CERTAINLY WAS!!!
Bishop Williamson then told me that he never saw any evidence of Urrutigoity's homosexuality while Urrutigoity was a seminarian, priest, or professor at Winona. Bishop Williamson said that Fr. Urrutigoity was eventually expelled from the seminary in Winona not for homosexuality, but for subversive activities, namely, the secret planning of the Society of St. John in concert with others ... Bishop Williamson also told me that he had accompanied this young seminarian when he gave testimony against Fr. Urrutigoity at a Diocese of Scranton inquiry in July 1999. The inquiry was held at the request of Bishop James Timlin of Scranton who sent his auxiliary bishop, John Dougherty, along with another diocesan priest and an attorney, to hear this young seminarian's testimony. Bishop Bernard Fellay of the SSPX had set this whole process in motion when he formally accused Fr. Urrutigoity in a letter to Bishop Timlin dated February 11, 1999. (Jeffrey Bond, Letter)
That isn't the point. Of course no one is immune. But we're talking about one particular case here. And in this particular case, there is a clear and dramatic contrast. The accused priest was kicked out of 2 SSPX seminaries. And most importantly, there was no cover up. The SSPX was forthright about having kicked him out and took the trouble to warn Bishop Timlin against him. If only Cardinal Law had taken similar actions. But this same priest who was kicked out of the SSPX seminary was taken in by the Diocese of Scranton.
So while no one is immune, we need to look at the facts of this particular situation. And the facts tell a clear story, despite your attempt to create a false impression through selective highlighting. Anyone who reads that timeline that you posted gets a clear message about who can be trusted to do the right thing and who can not.
And while you try to make a big deal about the fact that he was kicked out of 2 different SSPX seminaries, you seem to overlook what happened in Scranton. Have you seen any of the emails from Prof. Bond? He makes it very very clear just what he thinks about the administration of the Diocese of Scranton. I can't even repeat what he has to say.
To attack the SSPX who did the right thing, while ignoring the culpability of those who did the wrong thing is a clear case of "taking the speck out of your brother's eye when you have a beam in your own."
Whatever the post scandal spin is, Bishop Fellay has been proven correct. The group was homosexual as he stated with predictable results. My understanding is that he himself sent a letter to the bishop which was disregarded.
These are points that should be considered in making a prudential decision. But ultimately when all is said and done, the SSPX did the right thing and the diocese of Scranton did the wrong thing, whatever their reasons were.
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