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Priest (Fr. Benedict Groeschel) plays down abuse crisis; helps clergy keep jobs
Dallas Morning News | 3/2/2003 | Brooks Egerton

Posted on 03/02/2003 8:54:18 AM PST by sinkspur

Prominent friar's counseling criticized by NJ diocese, victims

In the world according to Father Benedict Groeschel, the Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandal is largely the stuff of fiction. Reporters "doing the work of Satan" are driven to lie, the New York priest says, because they hate the church's moral teachings.

These are not the opinions of a marginal figure. Indeed, Father Groeschel is one of the most prominent priests in America, reaching millions with his books, tapes, parish lectures and regular appearances on the Eternal Word Television Network.

His stature is high among many church leaders, too – he has heard the confessions of a cardinal, consulted with the Vatican on a case for sainthood, been a friend to Mother Teresa.

The preface to his media-blaming 2002 book From Scandal to Hope was written by Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who praised Father Groeschel for putting the abuse scandal in context.

For all his commentary on the crisis, Father Groeschel has revealed few details about his role as a player in it: He has been a key figure for 30 years in the loose-knit nationwide network of therapists who have helped troubled priests keep working.

The Franciscan friar's base is a mansion on Long Island Sound, where he runs the Archdiocese of New York's spiritual development office and Trinity Retreat Center for clergy. There, according to his own written account, he has counseled hundreds of his brethren and "happily, 85 priests have returned to the active ministry."

Father Groeschel, who declined interview requests, has not said publicly how many of his clients were accused of abuse. Archdiocesan spokesman Joseph Zwilling would not comment on Father Groeschel.

Dallas Bishop Charles Grahmann has allowed one of his priests, removed from parish work after the diocese concluded he had abused a girl, to help manage the retreat center in recent years. That priest, the Rev. Richard T. Brown, moved to a hermitage a few months ago and "is not contactable," said Father Groeschel's secretary, June Pulitano. Neither she nor Bishop Grahmann's spokesman, Bronson Havard, would identify the hermitage.

Mr. Zwilling said Father Brown "never did any pastoral work" in the archdiocese and did not have its permission to serve as a priest there.

Leaders of the neighboring Diocese of Paterson, N.J., one of several that sent business to Father Groeschel, blamed three "unfortunate" reassignments on his advice. Two of those priests were subsequently accused of misconduct in their new jobs.

"We relied on his recommendations," said Marianna Thompson, spokeswoman for Paterson Bishop Frank Rodimer. Father Groeschel used words such as "transformation," she said, and helped arrange transfers between dioceses.

Ms. Thompson said Father Groeschel had much to recommend him – he had taught pastoral psychology at Catholic institutions and had a doctorate in psychology from Columbia University's Teachers College. He had close ties to the late New York Cardinal John O'Connor, who endorsed the friar's secession from a Franciscan order in the 1980s and formation of a new group that has won renown for service to the poor. The cardinal earlier had Father Groeschel prepare the sainthood case for the previous leader of New York Catholics, Cardinal Terence Cooke, for whom the priest had served as confessor.

In From Scandal to Hope, completed shortly before the nation's bishops met in Dallas last summer, Father Groeschel acknowledged that some priests had abused boys. He described the problem as "active homosexuality with minors," stressing that most victims were teenagers and never mentioning girls.

"Many of the cases now in the papers are about clergy who, perhaps under the influence of alcohol two or three decades ago, engaged in improper actions, but not sexual acts," he wrote. "They went into treatment and have behaved well over the years."

Father Groeschel also said that church leaders sometimes had relied, to their detriment, on the advice of behavioral experts.

"I've been involved in psychology for four decades, and we in the profession were naïve enough to think that these offenders could almost always be cured," he wrote. Therapists "often were correct in their assessments," but "were sometimes tragically wrong about a particular case."

Father Groeschel said nothing in his book about his own success rate in treating priests.

He saved his harshest words for the news media's coverage of the abuse issue, which he called a "blitz of lies." Like Adolf Hitler, he wrote, news organizations are "spreading lies in order to destroy" the Catholic Church.

"When a scandal occurs," the priest wrote, "about two percent of what is said in the media is true." Last month, he made similar statements to a standing-room-only crowd at a suburban Boston church.

Such statements have infuriated victims. "It just burns me to no end," said Buddy Cotton, who has accused the Rev. James Hanley of abusing him in the Paterson Diocese and recently called Bishop Rodimer to complain about Father Groeschel.

The bishop, Mr. Cotton said, agreed that Father Groeschel "had failed a lot of victims."

Ms. Thompson, the bishop's spokeswoman, said Father Groeschel's critique of the media was misguided. "Bishop Rodimer has told the media, 'Thank you for opening the window on this,' " she said. "The media have been fair. We created this story, not the press."

The victims

Father Groeschel has said he is sensitive to victims. "As a psychologist for priests, I have occasionally spoken to the victims of priests and to their families," he wrote in From Scandal to Hope. "I can only say that I am deeply, deeply grieved. I often had to accept their anger, not directed personally at me, but at Church authorities. ...

"I am willing," he added, "to suffer with the victims."

Mark Serrano, who also has said that Father Hanley abused him as a boy, questioned Father Groeschel's sincerity. His skepticism, he said, is based on an experience he had after his family's complaints led Bishop Rodimer to suspend Father Hanley.

In 1986, the year after the abuse complaints, Mr. Serrano agreed to talk to Father Groeschel, who was counseling Father Hanley. Mr. Serrano, who was then a college student, said he thought the counselor "wanted more information" for therapeutic purposes. Instead, Mr. Serrano said, Father Groeschel lashed out at him.

"He said, 'Why don't you stop harassing this poor priest? He's a sick man. You are wrong for what you're doing to him.' "

Monsignor Kenneth Lasch, a Paterson diocesan priest, said he had urged Mr. Serrano to talk with Father Groeschel because the friar had expressed pastoral concern for Mr. Serrano – "something like, 'Mark seems to be a troubled person.' "

Hearing Mr. Serrano's account of what ensued "left me very, very uncomfortable," Monsignor Lasch said, "and made me wonder what was going on" at Father Groeschel's retreat center.

Father Groeschel's 2002 book warned that Catholics would still face a crisis after "the media monster ... slither[s] away to attack other victims." He prescribed a return to conservative moral teachings, saying that nothing would restore confidence in church leadership "better than a firm stance against pornography, extramarital sex, abortion, euthanasia and the general moral decline of the United States. ... Tough topics like contraception and autoeroticism need to be consistently and publicly addressed."

He said that the news media fail to mention that most priests aren't pedophiles, that cover-ups occur in other denominations, and that abusers "are among the most penitent people I've ever met in my whole life."

He cited the example of the late Atlanta Archbishop Eugene Marino, who resigned in 1990 after an affair with a young woman in lay ministry and went to Father Groeschel's retreat center, in the New York City suburb of Larchmont. He "lived a life of extreme humiliation, humility and penitence," Father Groeschel wrote.

In the mid-1990s, Archbishop Marino became spiritual director of the outpatient Clergy Consultation and Treatment Service at St. Vincent's Hospital, near Trinity Retreat. It was formed at the request of the late Cardinal O'Connor and works closely with the retreat center.

One priest who was counseled by Archbishop Marino and Father Groeschel was the Rev. Morgan Kuhl.

He was sent to them in 1999, after he solicited sex online from undercover officers posing as adolescent boys and was arrested. The subsequent FBI investigation showed that he had met teens this way and abused them.

Clergy treatment

The prosecution of Father Kuhl, who has been removed from ministry, opened a rare window into the Catholic clergy treatment system.

A psychologist who evaluated Father Kuhl for federal prosecutors recommended that he "be enrolled in a program specific to sex offenders," not just in the general psychotherapy and spiritual counseling he was getting. Dr. Barry Katz wrote that the priest "expressed regret over the effects that his actions have had upon himself, but no remorse for the effect that his actions have had upon the minors with whom he was involved."

After pleading guilty, Father Kuhl apologized to a judge for "the hurt and the embarrassment that I have caused so many other people." He also said he had devoted his life to helping others, and had learned in church-sponsored therapy "that there was one person I never did seem to try to help, and that was myself."

U.S. District Judge Anne Thompson initially sentenced Father Kuhl to a short prison term followed by house arrest. But she later reduced the penalty, over the objections of prosecutor Donna Krappa, to five years of probation and ordered the priest to "adhere to the program requirements at Trinity Retreat."

In advocating probation, Father Groeschel represented himself to the court as a counseling psychologist, Ms. Krappa said in an interview. New York state officials said he has never had the license generally required for use of that title. Using the title without a license is a misdemeanor, state officials said.

"I think that the judge would have been interested in this fact," Ms. Krappa said, "when she considered the quality of treatment Father Kuhl was receiving through the archdiocese."

TOPICS: General Discusssion
KEYWORDS: catholicchurch; catholiclist
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To: Siobhan
BTW, Cardinal Law was driven from office for relying on men like Groeschel. I'm not surprised at all that he would lash out at the media.
21 posted on 03/02/2003 12:05:42 PM PST by sinkspur
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To: sinkspur
Again you are accepting a newspaper story as fact without any other confirmation or corraboration.

Saints are not sugar-coated perfections. They have flaws and other problems. You know being canonized does not depend on perfection in disposition. Were that true none of the Irish and Celtic saints would be saints.

22 posted on 03/02/2003 12:07:29 PM PST by Siobhan (+Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet+)
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To: sinkspur
Now it is your job to defame by association? What is your problem, sinkspur. What is it about popular Catholic priests and religious that makes you want to destroy their reputation and rubbish their character?
23 posted on 03/02/2003 12:09:02 PM PST by Siobhan (+Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet+)
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To: sinkspur
A holy man who recommended that child abusers be put back into the active ministry.

Enough of you, sinkspur. You treat these little newspaper articles the way Baptists treat the Bible and Muslims regard the Quran. There has to be a whole lot more documentation before your statement can be proven. And you haven't stopped to consider who is trying to cover their behind by accusing Father Groeschel. "No, no, it wasn't our fault, it was him, the old gray haired Franciscan!"

24 posted on 03/02/2003 12:12:55 PM PST by Siobhan (+Pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet+)
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To: sinkspur
If Father Groeschel is a psychologist then he knows better. The prevailing belief is that sexual abusers cannot be rehabilitated easily, if at all.

I don't know what to believe here.
25 posted on 03/02/2003 12:18:53 PM PST by Canticle_of_Deborah
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To: Siobhan
What is it about popular Catholic priests and religious that makes you want to destroy their reputation and rubbish their character?

Cardinal Law was "popular" among Catholics. So were many of the priests who abused countless young men.

Either the accusations outlined in the two articles are true, or they're not. If they're not, then Groeschel should come out and deny them. If he didn't tell a young sexual abuse victim who came to him for help to "stop persecuting a good man," he should deny it.

If they are true, Groeschel should say he's sorry for participating in one of the most shameful episodes in the history of the Catholic Church.

That's all he needs to do.

26 posted on 03/02/2003 12:34:16 PM PST by sinkspur
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To: sinkspur
Since some of the priests who have done these horrible things support a married clergy, should we impugn all people who support the married clergy?
27 posted on 03/02/2003 12:36:28 PM PST by nickcarraway
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To: Siobhan
There has to be a whole lot more documentation before your statement can be proven.

Groeschel can add to that documentation immensely by denying everything in these articles. People are likely to believe him over a bishop's spokesman anyway.

You should encourage him to defend himself.

And you haven't stopped to consider who is trying to cover their behind by accusing Father Groeschel. "No, no, it wasn't our fault, it was him, the old gray haired Franciscan!"

Bishop Rodimer has admitted his role in covering for these priests.

That "old gray haired Franciscan" passes himself off as a counseling psychologist, and has taken a public stance accusing the media of doing "the work of Satan" by exposing the clerical abuse scandal. He admits to working with abusive priests.

Did Groeschel, or did he not, recommend that priests be returned to ministry who later began abusing young people again? That's a "yes" or "no" question.

28 posted on 03/02/2003 12:40:48 PM PST by sinkspur
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To: nickcarraway
Since some of the priests who have done these horrible things support a married clergy, should we impugn all people who support the married clergy?

ALL of the priests who did these horrible things took vows of celibacy.

I would never impugn every priest for the actions of a few. But those few did a lot of damage.

29 posted on 03/02/2003 12:43:12 PM PST by sinkspur
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To: sinkspur; Siobhan; Canticle_of_Deborah
But those few did a lot of damage.

Does anyone disgree with that? The damage done is not a question, but there are questions about the conclusions drawn by many to the actions of the guilty. It is especially atrocious when a priest, who is charged with a special duty, does this, and they are held to a higher standard by the Almighty. For them, it would have been better if a millstone was hung around their neck, and you know the rest. But it is blindness to say that there aren't those who are using these problems for their own agenda.

30 posted on 03/02/2003 1:05:30 PM PST by nickcarraway
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To: sinkspur; Polycarp; Siobhan
I was very suspicious about this article. I the author a pro-homosexuality zealot, eager to go after moral absolutists? He really seems to have an axe to grind.

Well, I did a little googling, and voila: the author of the article is, in fact, chairman of the Texas chapter of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists.

Whatever mistakes Fr. Groeschel made in the specific cases cited, he is absolutely right when he says that the chief problem is "active homosexuality with minors."

And it is true that the media have blown the problem out of proportion, in relation to the level abuse in Protestant denominations and other institutions.

If he has credible evidence that Fr. Groeschel intentionally placed priests that he knew would reoffend, then out with it.

The media have studiously avoided using the term "homosexuality" and have dishonestly instead used "pedophilia" to describe the context of this crisis.

I know your purpose in posting this is to promote your cause of a married priesthood, but posting this kind of biased, agenda-driven crap is below you.

31 posted on 03/02/2003 1:47:18 PM PST by B Knotts
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To: sinkspur
Groeschel was complicit.

Groeschel is delusional, like many prelates in the church. Either that, or he has intentionally ignored the depositions made by hundreds of victims. Then again, he is a professionally trained psychologist. As such, he can justify just about any act away, by ascribing some psychobabble term to the condition..

No, folks, we are witnessing a cleansing of the church. It may take years before all of these miscreants are purged from Holy Mother Church. More important will be the fate of the Holy Father. How the cardinals vote after he dies, may well determine the future course taken by the church. Until then, let heads roll.

32 posted on 03/02/2003 2:13:58 PM PST by NYer (Kyrie Eleison)
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To: B Knotts; Siobhan
Thanks for revealing the truth of this writer's background. The gay lobby is KNOWN for actively trying to subvert the Catholic Church and its moral teachings on homosexual acts. They are obviously trying to smear this great spiritual leader. The bishops definitely stabbed themselves in the foot with their handling of this scandal, but it's now being used as an "excuse" to bring down the Church (like they needed another). But as Scripture and Sean Hannity likes to say, let your heart not be troubled, for as the Gospel of Matthew says (16:18), "the gates of hell will not prevail against it (the Church." It's time to fight back against these sodomite insurgents and their active accomplists "the Lavender Mafia."
33 posted on 03/02/2003 2:26:35 PM PST by Pyro7480 (+ Vive Jesus! (Live Jesus!) +)
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To: NYer
See post #31.
34 posted on 03/02/2003 2:27:19 PM PST by Pyro7480 (+ Vive Jesus! (Live Jesus!) +)
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To: B Knotts
If he has credible evidence that Fr. Groeschel intentionally placed priests that he knew would reoffend, then out with it.

Nobody "intentionally" placed priests that would reoffend. But many psychologists and bishops turned on the victims of these predators, lambasting them and trying to shut them up. Whatever was known about abusers ten or twenty years ago, one thing has always been known: they and not the victims, were responsible and should have been blamed. Not the victims, or the media, or the "liberal environment."

I know your purpose in posting this is to promote your cause of a married priesthood, but posting this kind of biased, agenda-driven crap is below you.

Nonsense. My purpose in posting this is to show how deep into the Church this cover-up extended. Even a good man like Groeschel got ground up in the Church machinery, covering for scoundrels.

This is not "biased, agenda-driven crap." It's either true, or it's not.

What ought to be beneath you is the sexual orientation of the author. He has written countless articles about this scandal, especially on priests in the Dallas Diocese.

If he had an agenda in keeping with his homosexuality, he wouldn't write a word about it.

35 posted on 03/02/2003 2:40:30 PM PST by sinkspur
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To: B Knotts
Excellent work, B Knotts. I was doing some research myself on this same thing. After reading the article posted here several times, it is extremely apparent to me that the writer cites quotes and partial stories in a very biased manner.

For instance. Groeschel says that the media is doing the devil's work NOT in reporting the scandals (for that he is grateful) but in that they do it to disgrace and shame the Church into shutting up about what She stands for -- like celibacy (for all in whatever calling they have) and fidelity and stands against --- like abortion and birth control and names -- like sin. I see the subtle hate for the Church in my own city's newspaper, The Boston Globe. It's rather thought provoking that ALL archived stories (over two days old) are only viewable by paying $2.95 per article. That is, EXCEPT for each and every story on the scandal in the Church --- they are FREE! And located on the front page for easy viewing.

All the libs, Catholic and non, can't stand Fr. Groeschel, Fr. Neuhaus, Bishop Bruskewitz, EWTN and Mother Angelica. Why? Because they adhere and teach and preach FIDELITY. I do (a very) loose poll on the above people all the time. I've never been disappointed, like I said, the libs turn their noses up at the above list. Interestingly, the SSPXers do as well. But that is another thread.

From a talk given by Father Benedict Groeschel, C.F.R. about a year ago in Yonkers concerning the present crisis:

Does this shake your faith in the Church? I hope so, because ultimately your faith should not be in the Church, ultimately. Ultimately our faith is in Jesus Christ, and we accept the Church. We support the Church. We belong to the Church because Christ established the Church.

Somebody who belongs to the Church as a big organization, as a great philanthropic thing or the great social catalyst or whatever else you want to think, they’re going to be badly shaken. They may get out.

But we belong to the Church as the crucified body of Jesus Christ. If the Church is the body of Christ, don’t be surprised that it’s crucified. Don’t be surprised that it’s dragged through the streets and spat upon and wounded and crowned with thorns. That’s what’s going on right now.

The Church is the body of Christ, and when you love the Church, you should love it as the body of Christ.

Our dear Holy Father on Good Friday wrote this: “In the acute pain of the suffering servant, we hear already the triumphant cry of the risen Lord.” Christ on the cross is the King of the new people, ransom from the burden of sin and death, however twisted and confused the course of history may appear. We know that by walking in the footsteps of the crucified we shall attain to that goal. Amid the conflicts of a world dominated by selfishness and hatred, we as believers are called to proclaim the victory of love. Today, Good Friday, we testify to the victory of Christ crucified.

Not so long ago, the Catholic Church seemed to be very triumphant. I lived through those days at the end of the council. The Church seemed to be very powerful, and I’ve lived to see the mystical body of Christ crucified, betrayed, attacked, abandoned by the frightened apostles. And we’re all part of it. We’re all part of it. Don’t ever exempt yourself. I reproach myself every day that unwittingly I went along and stupidly I got involved in things that ultimately did not serve the Church or Christ so well.

Turn to Christ.

Funny how some lambasted Michael Rose for not interviewing the rectors of the seminaries he was writing about and the author of the article posted here has done the same thing.

I'd like to comment here on the statement that the author makes concerning Fr. Groeschel's "only 2% of what is in the media is true" -- what he said is (I read transcript of that talk here in Boston in February) "98% of what is in the media is overblown" -- which is true. For God's sake, if you live here in Boston and you depend on what you read in the paper or hear on the news, you'd think that there were about 80% of the clergy who have abused both boys and girls -- know why? Because it is NEVER cited that 85 to 90% of the abuse is of boys - and mostly adolescent boys at that - because "homosexuality" is a non-topic that the media will not touch. Interestingly, none of the "progressive" Catholic groups like CTA, CORPUS, We Are Church or Voice of the Faithful will mention homosexuality, either. And all of the above mentioned groups and the media seek to marginalize the Church and maximize themselves.

OK, I am ranting, I know it. But this article is trash.

36 posted on 03/02/2003 2:41:52 PM PST by american colleen (Christe Eleison!)
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To: nickcarraway
But it is blindness to say that there aren't those who are using these problems for their own agenda.

Give a maniac a gun, and he can do a lot of damage.

If the media is the maniac, who gave him the gun?

37 posted on 03/02/2003 2:42:28 PM PST by sinkspur
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To: NYer
Then again, he is a professionally trained psychologist. As such, he can justify just about any act away, by ascribing some psychobabble term to the condition.

That is an incredibly unfair statement. No ethical counselor or psychologist sweeps away criminal or perverse acts. Unethical ones who are sick themselves may do this, however there are plenty of good ones out there who do not. It is unfair to include them in such a broad generalization.

38 posted on 03/02/2003 2:45:33 PM PST by Canticle_of_Deborah
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To: Pyro7480
They are obviously trying to smear this great spiritual leader.

So you get the media coming and going.

If the media reports about a priest who blames the media for the scope of the abuse crisis, then the media is trying to smear him?

There's lots of smoke here that Groeschel was at the heart of returning some of these abusers back to the active ministry. There's also at least one victim who said he tried to intimidate him into keeping quiet.

Those are the very things that brought down Cardinal Law. Law, in fact, relied on psychologists like Groeschel to tell them what to do with these abusers.

There is a huge lawsuit in Boston against the so-called "experts" who advised Law about abusive priests. I suspect Groeschel will get dragged into some of these lawsuits when they work their way around to the Paterson, NJ, diocese.

Stop blaming the media. Protestant churches have these same kinds of problems, but they are much quicker on the trigger to fire abusive ministers than the Catholic Church has been.

39 posted on 03/02/2003 2:50:44 PM PST by sinkspur
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To: sinkspur
I believe the Opus-Deish "it's the media's fault" excuse to be cravenly with a subtle hinting of Anti-Semitism.

One of the best refutations of the "it's the media's fault" excuse is Brooklyn priest Fr. Joseph Wilson's response to this statement from Priests For Life which parroted that accusation in May 2002.

Here is an excerpt from Fr. Wilson's response:

Now, Mr. DeStefano crosses over the line into the offensive and the harmful when he speaks in this essay of the media. I read with disbelief lines such as, "But, come on; we know what this is really about, don't we? The current feeding frenzy in the press has little to do with any real concern for the victims of sexual abuse. ...Throughout this country the haters of the Catholic Church are grinding their axes, ecstatic the chance..." Or this chestnut: "All the indignant cries for justice emanating from the Church-bashers in the media are a sham." Or this; "...their true aim is to hurt the Church, to damage its credibility..."

What could one possibly say that is bad enough about such a superficial, shallow analysis?

First off, one distinguishes between factual reporting and opinion/editorial. Factual reporting one judges on the basis of the comprehensiveness, fairness and clarity of the reporting of facts. Op/ed, being opinion, rises or falls on the strength of the facts on which it is based, the case that is built upon them, and the mode of expression. In my own judgment, for example, the opinion pieces of Jimmy Breslin are skewed, biased and worthless, although he has the right to express those opinions. But I had better be able to distinguish between the opinion pieces and the reporting.

Friday morning I watched Massachusetts D. A. Margaret Coakley preside at the press conference on the arrest of Fr. Paul Shanley. She went out of her way to observe that her office lacked the resources to conduct manhunts, and to commend the media for using its resources not just to locate Fr. Shanley, but to research and profile the activities of predator priests like him so that the authorities and the public understood better the seriousness of the problem. And she observed that there were many victims who were experiencing some relief at this arrest who have the media to thank for it.

NOT the Church. The media.

With a file full, a thousand and a half pages on the disgusting activities of Shanley, two Cardinals of the Archdiocese of Boston thought he'd make a good Pastor. Because of that, a six year old boy was raped repeatedly for years by his pastor. It was the complaint of that boy, now 24 and scarred for life, which landed Shanley in jail. As far as the Church was concerned, he was fit to be a Pastor, fit to travel all over the country lecturing, fit to give a lecture as part of my seminary training. Worthy of a warm, glowing letter of commendation from Cardinal Law as late as 1997.

I honestly find Mr. DeStefano's comments about the media offensive. He begins his essay by noting that there are many good Priests. Obviously, he is concerned that they not all be tarred with the same brush. How ironic that he then turns and does precisely that to the media. In the media, and in public life, there are people who have performed a signal service to the victims, which their Church was not willing or able to perform, and they performed a service for the Church itself, which quite evidently is in more trouble than it realizes.

Take the Dallas case. NONE of the victims of Frs. Rudy Kos, Robert Peebles, or Billy Hughes went first to the media. Nor did they go first to their attorneys. They went to the Church first; there, they were stonewalled, lied to, misled as delay tactics were used to push the matter past the statute of limitations.

Fr. Peebles was arrested for attempted rape of a boy on the Air Force base where he served as chaplain. The boy, from his former parish in Dallas, was visiting him for the weekend. The Diocese of Dallas prevented his prosecution by arranging for a discharge on condition that he get treatment, as their pastor assured the boy's parents that the priest would get help. Well, he did not -- the diocese broke its promise to the parents of the boy and to the armed forces. He was reassigned, to St. Augustine Church in Dallas. From there he was arrested for abusing kids -- and the people of St. Augustine and the family of the first boy found out that in both instances, Peebles had been assigned to their parishes with prior histories of abusing kids -- and NO WARNING to the parishioners at all.

Fr. Bill Hughes carried on an affair nightly with a fifteen year old girl until her mom got suspicious and found love letters. She brought them to a trusted priest who took them and promised to pass them on --it would be dealt with. The letters were never seen again, of course, and nothing was done with Fr Hughes.

The Fr. Kos case makes no sense from soup to nuts. Married in the Church and divorced, someone wanted him in the seminary so badly that a fraudulent annulment was obtained for him DESPITE the fact that his wife contacted the diocese to say, "He can't be a PRIEST! I threw him out because he likes BOYS!" Someone wanted to keep him so badly that the administration and vicar general ignored the complaints of seminarians -- including persons known to me and friends of mine -- that Kos, in the seminary, was preying upon the college seminarians.

When the Kos case was done, the Judge did an unusual thing. He read, at the request of the jury, a statement from them publicly rebuking the Bishop of Dallas and the Vicar General for testimony which was not forthcoming and obfuscatory. Again, please remember, the victims did not first go to the press, or to the law office. But the press and the law office were their refuge, when their Church betrayed them.

And let us not palaver that nonsensical, "If we had known then what we know now..." The terrible effects of clergy sexual abuse on victims and families, and the cretinous harm done by Church stonewalling, was quite clear to us in Dallas from the 1984 Gilbert Gauthe case in Lafayette -- we had Lafayette guys studying with us. We ALL knew of the damage done by the Vicar General and Bishop there. Just as the Boston folk knew of Dallas.

I am sorry to burden you with what is already a lengthy letter, but precisely one of my problems with Mr. DeStefano's essay is that he has produced a brief cheerleading essay on an immensely complicated subject requiring nuanced care. Let me give you an example from my experience which made me cringe when I read Mr. DeStefano's strident, "For goodness sakes, enough with the Mea Culpas!"

There is a lady named Janet Patterson. She and her husband live in the Diocese of Wichita, Kansas; they have raised their family to be devout Catholics. Her son Eric, a remarkably gifted young man who had a lot of accomplishments to his credit, killed himself perhaps two years ago at the age of 29. Shortly before that, the family had discovered that the reason for the deep depression which had plagued Eric was the sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of his parish priest as an altar boy, from the age of thirteen.

Janet, who is a teacher, went to the diocese to tell them about the abuse her son had suffered at the hands of Fr. Larson. The priest she spoke with in the chancery office was well known to her -- he had grown up in her town. He listened to her and grew very still and sad. He told her, "We had no idea this went back to then. Father Larson is no longer serving as a priest. We thought the abuse started in the parish after yours."

Janet left somewhat comforted. At least she had the consolation of knowing that her diocese had not knowingly put this predator, who was responsible for her son's death, in their parish.

Then, of course, she finds out that it wasn't true. Fr. Larson had indeed abused kids in the parishes before hers, and had been transferred like a chess piece. It would be nice to think that it were at least theoretically possible for chancery officials to tell the truth once in a while, but, evidently, this is not a consolation we are granted in this life. Six altar boys who had served under this priest are suicides. Fr. Larson is in jail today -- but not thanks to the Church. As for Janet and her family -- no priest has reached out to them since the allegations became public.

I was put in touch with them through the editor of The Wanderer, and we have spoken often. I asked Fr Tom Doyle, O.P., who was at the time stationed in the Midwest, to give her a call, and he said, "But she's just three states away" --and he DROVE there. But her local diocese has been of no support.

Do you know of Father Doyle? He was once the secretary to the papal pro nuncio in Washington. He helped develop the 1985 secret report on the potential ramifications of the pedophilia crisis. He produced a report predicting a staggering array of scandals, billions of dollars in legal fees etc. The report was shelved by the bishops. So was Fr. Doyle, who pressed for the report's acceptance, and was canned. He has been in an ecclesial limbo since, but has made himself helpful to the victims and their attorneys as they come up in litigation against bishops like Cardinal Law, who perpetually bleat, "But we did not know" about things that were in Fr Doyle's report to them seventeen years ago.

Mr. Horn, I wish I could say, "So, that's the story," but it isn't even the beginning of the story. It is a tiny sliver, a tiny sliver of a huge, sordid, perverted epic.

Mr. DeStefano's essay was not an encouragement to me in my "wonderful work." It was utterly demoralizing. One cannot look at this pedophilia scandal in isolation. There are at least twelve MAJOR AREAS of the life of our Church which are in serious crisis, and have been for two generations. I think of Liturgy, of Catechesis, of Scripture, of Moral Theology, of Religious Life, of Seminaries, of Priesthood, of Marriage and Family Life, for starters. I think of the faithful lay Catholics who have striven insistently to bring to the attention of the Bishops and the Holy See the crises of our Church. I think of how often it could have been the case that our Bishops might have helped and healed, if only they were capable of responding as human beings to people in pain. The whole country has been appalled at how they have at not "gotten it," at how utterly divorced from the ordinary concerns of people the bishops have been (please think of Paul Shanley roaming the country, and of the number of bishops who made that possible, in Boston and elsewhere, before you react to that).

I think of all of these things, and then I think of Mr. DeStefano's essay.

No. We have not had ENOUGH of the Mea Culpas. I do not think Janet Patterson has heard all that she needs to from the Bishop who has never been in touch with her, let alone from the Cardinal of Boston who thinks Shanley was an example of "poor record keeping," as though if the Boston chancery improves its secretarial skills there will be no pedophiles left in the archdiocese. As though two cardinals needed help figuring out what Margaret Gallant, a lay woman, knew and told them about John Geoghan: that he did not need to be a Priest.

No. We do not need to blame MTV and sexually explicit media for things we have fostered in our own institutions.

No. We should be embarrassed and ashamed to blame the media for "Church-bashing" when they are just pointing out the sordid facts about how our Bishops go about their business. If society were indifferent to the fact that there are pedophile priests, and Bishops who cover up for them, THEN we would have reason to be outraged. We have NO REASON to be outraged that they take our teachings in this area more seriously than we do. We have NO REASON to be outraged at them because they are outraged that we do not live up to our own teachings.

40 posted on 03/02/2003 2:54:39 PM PST by Dajjal
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