Skip to comments.Priests declared "fit for duty" by Fr. Benedict Groeschel
Posted on 03/02/2003 9:39:23 AM PST by sinkspur
Officials of the Diocese of Patterson, NJ, blame these three reassignments on Father Benedict Groeschel's advice:
The Rev. John Picardi- transferred from Boston to the Patterson Diocese in the early 1990s after being accused of raping a man. Father Groeschel wrote Paterson bishop Frank Rodimer a letter saying that "there was no indication of any involvement with a minor or a nonconsenting adult," although he apparently knew that the accuser felt violated. Another church document indicates that while supervising the priest's treatment, Father Groeschel had once called a Boston archdiocesan official to ask whether the accuser was "still angry" and "in a litigious stance." Marianna Thompson, spokeswoman for Bishop Rodimer, said he learned of the rape allegation only after Father Picardi was accused in 1995 of touching a girl improperly in the Paterson Diocese. Father Picardi has denied abusing anyone. Neither allegation resulted in criminal charges, although Ms. Thompson said that Bishop Rodimer and New Jersey child welfare authorities concluded that the priest should not work in a parish. Father Picardi later got a job in the Phoenix Diocese, which removed him last month after Boston attorney Roderick MacLeish, who represents many of the victims in that archdiocese's sex abuse scandal, obtained and released his personnel file. Father Picardi could not be located for comment.
Rev. Patrick D. Browne- transferred from the Paterson Diocese to the New York Archdiocese in the mid-1990s because of affairs with two women, said Ms. Thompson. He allegedly repeated the misconduct with a woman who was seeing him for marriage counseling and was cited in a legal action brought in New York by her husband. Father Browne was removed again and is not working as a priest currently. He did not return a message left for him with his diocesan superiors. The spokeswoman said Bishop Rodimer told the New York Archdiocese about Father Browne's past, adn relied on Father Groeschel's feeling that his client could recommit himself to celibacy.
Rev. James Hanley- moved in the mid-1980s from the Paterson Diocese to the Diocese of Albany, NY, after admitting he had sexually abused boys. He then suffered a physical collapse while working as a hospital chaplain and was recalled to New Jersey. Before the transfer to Albany, "Groeschel told us that the basis of Fr. Hanley's problem was alcoholism," Ms. Thompson said, "and that once he was treated he felt he would be fit for ministry." He has not been criminally charged. Father Hanley recently asked to be removed from the priesthood.
He's commented for the last year, blaming much of this "crisis" on the media.
People who make mistakes, especially grievous mistakes, are forgiven for admitting their mistakes.
They don't blame the media for exposing those mistakes.
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.
Sorry your daughter didn't like Father Stan Fortuna. My kids think he is great and very effective in presenting the bare bones message of St. Francis and the Gospel. However, neither your child's opinion or my children's opinion constitutes any grounds by which to evaluate Father Groeschel's performance as Superior of the Franciscan Friars of the Renewal.
If Father has something he needs to "fess up", I have no doubt that he will do it. But we will see it on EWTN and not in a column written by a homosexual pervert in Dallas, Texas.
How lovely. Two stories on Fr. G from you in one day! Both posted and accepted by you as the full truth although there are only snippets of drive-by according to what the writer wanted to include.
How come the writer here didn't lambaste the secular psychologists involved? And I'll bet he won't, either.
Fr. Groeschel doesn't blame the media. In fact, I watched the five part series he just completed on EWTN entitled "where do we go from here" - and he is grateful that the media exposed this filth. He does think that the media blows things way out of proportion - as I do. Reading the Boston Globe, for instance, reinforces the "fact" that most Catholic priests are pedophiles (although never homosexuals).
When will they hit the Johns Hopkins clinic ...BTTT, LadyDoc!