Skip to comments.When the Beloved Priest From Your Childhood Turns out to Have Been a Monster
Posted on 08/28/2018 7:03:00 AM PDT by Kaslin
PITTSBURGH -- Last Sunday, a city parish on the top of a steep hill overlooking the neighborhood aptly named Observatory Hill waited for her faithful to arrive for Sunday Mass, as it has every Sunday for over 102 years.
It was 9:00 a.m., just a handful of days after a report was released by the Pennsylvania state grand jury on alleged sexual abuse in 54 of the state's 67 counties, a report that has rocked this tight-knit community.
Some came to Mass. Some did not. Those who did had difficulty holding back tears.
The somber music played by the organist reflected the silent despair in the pews.
The parish had been hit hard in the 884-page report. The report identified over 1,000 children who became victims of more than 300 abusive priests in parishes large and small across the state.
This compounded the losses the parish has suffered as the neighborhood's population has become more secular and transient -- a big change from the working-class Catholic population who walked to Mass there in the 1960s and 1970s.
That's when I attended Nativity of Our Lord, over on Pittsburgh's North Side. I adored father John Maloney, a young priest who came to our church when I was 5 years old, and going to church at 5 meant different things than it does to an adult. For me it was the honor of wearing a lace covering my head the way the grown-up women did. (Before Vatican II, it was mandatory for women.)
But it was also the mysterious rhythms of the Latin Mass that seemed to be telling sacred secrets. Mass meant being with my parents, sometimes my entire extended family of aunts and uncles and grandparents -- all warm, comfortable, safe feelings that helped draw me into what faith would mean for me as an adult.
As I entered first grade, father Maloney was the parochial vicar (vice pastor). He said Mass every Tuesday for the entire student body of a parish that was at its peak, absorbing the blue-collar baby-boom children in the 1960s.
Before school and during recess, we would play on the asphalt playground that was attached to the parish school. It was sloped at an odd angle and littered with loose rocks, but we didn't ever seem to notice.
Sometimes, if we were lucky, father Maloney, who was just 22 years old, would come out and watch us play, as we jumped rope, picked teams for dodgeball or played a vigorous game of tag.
We were taught to respect and revere his station. It wasn't hard; he was young, handsome and charismatic. When he talked about the Scripture or Jesus, he made you feel as though he knew Jesus personally and he was simply sharing the stories that his close friend wanted you to know.
It was he who administered my first two sacraments outside of my baptism: He heard my first confession (I do not remember what sins I committed, but I do remember they did not require me to be sent to the principal's office) and did my first Holy Communion, which is a monumental moment for a young Catholic child.
When father Maloney was transferred to another parish when I was 11, I was sad.
When father Maloney's name appeared on the list of deviant offenders last week, I was devastated.
How could someone who had our complete trust abuse it in such a heinous way? How could he have robbed children of their childhood?
The report named 99 priests in the Diocese of Pittsburgh. Three of them served in my parish when I or one of my siblings attended the school: father Maloney, father Ray Rhoden and father James Somma.
How can we trust the bishops that allowed this to happen?
Simply, we cannot. All of those responsible must be held accountable.
The actions of those priests and those in charge cannot take our faith away, but they have made it impossible for me to trust this church.
I've always held a deep fondness for that asphalt playground that strained to hold my boundless energy, along with that of hundreds of other children. For eight years, it was a place of carefree joy, where the only thing I dreaded when I stepped out of the school and onto the grounds was whether I would be picked last for dodgeball.
Now I cannot erase from my mind the knowledge that some children were deeply hurting on that playground. Some children were holding in a secret so dark and so humiliating that their souls burned with the shame and the fear they felt every day.
And I cannot forgive.
I have stood by my church in past crisis, thinking surely it will get it right somehow. This time, that feels impossible.
I will stand by my faith -- a faith that has guided and shaped me at my core and is difficult to square with the corrupt institution that allowed sick men to steal my classmates' lives and then facilitated them to do the same elsewhere.
The only thing that is uncertain now is how I will find forgiveness.
Every time I search in my mind's eye and scan the faces of my classmates on that playground, looking for signs of who needed help, I find it difficult to imagine that forgiveness coming anytime soon.
He groomed vulnerable boys for years, befriended their families (especially their mothers, who thought being good personal friends with the parish priest was a status symbol for the family) and then would begin sexually abusing the boys when they reached 15 or so.
I saw no signs that he was a pedophile, I just thought he was a surly asshole. He hated me too, and I was OK with that. I remember having Catholic guilt over thinking he was a jerk, but I was just a good judge of people.
In a normal society, you’d go find the guy with the ‘problem’ and castrate him....letting his bosses know that if they send more like him....the same punishment will follow.
Would any of you go back and shoot him? Robbing any child of their innocence is not something that should necessarily be turned over to the state. Their public embarrassment in no way compares to the damage done. Sorry but I’d think about it. I’m sure others would come forward afterwards.
We are constantly reminded that many of our societal ills are routed in removing God from our culture. Yet God was front and center in the church. He hadn't been abolished from being inside the walls. He was prayed to not only daily, but on an ongoing basis. And of course not just the Catholic church. But these types of sins and crimes happen to often under the steeples and in other houses of worship.
I preface my statement by saying that every bishop and priest accused of these horrible crimes or of covering them up must be subjected to criminal trials by both civil and canonical authorities and, if found guilty, punished in the civil and canonical spheres in manners commensurate to their crimes.
That said, Ms. Zito and every Catholic who has drawn this wretched and false distinction, that they can be good Catholics and abandon the Catholic Church, are allowing themselves to fall straight into the pits of Hell.
To have the Catholic Faith is to be part of the visible and institutional Church. To be in Communion with the Catholic Church is to hold the Catholic Faith. The two are inseparable. To suggest otherwise is heresy, to abandon the Church is apostasy, and to organize others to do the same is schism. I do not accuse Ms. Zito of any of the three... but her dangerous distinction, if not abandoned, leads her down that path.
What if they’re guilty but found innocent? What if they are falsely accused? Only a victim would know the truth but even then some are pathological liars.
“The two are inseparable. To suggest otherwise is heresy, to abandon the Church is apostasy, and to organize others to do the same is schism.”
The Church of my youth is utterly and irrevocably corrupt. It is no more “of God” than Charles Manson.
Not long after Confirmation a Priest tried to rub my butt. That’s when I left and that was 50 years ago.
I encourage all those who believe the bible to leave today, in spite of your hollow admonition that I’m going to hell. Sir, you are already IN hell.
5 And whoever welcomes a little child like this in My name welcomes Me.
6 But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to stumble, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
7 Woe to the world for the causes of sin. These stumbling blocks must come, but woe to the man through whom they come!
So if the Church is falling in the pits of hell we are just supposed follow it? That doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense. I doubt that what Jesus would do. As I recall he got a bit violent in synagogue once over crooked clergy. What the Church has been doing institutionally is way worse than selling things in synagogue. I don’t recall being taught to follow those who are being wicked. It seems as though a good percentage of the ruling hierarchy of the Church are sickos. It very frustrating. You want to be paying for pedophiles.
Reminds me of a joke..... “Mom asks Billy; hey son are you going to mass today?.....no mom, my butt is still sore from last week!”
I’ve been told God can create worlds and universes. I’ve been told that He can protect three men from a fiery furnace. I’ve been told He can heal the sick. Raise the dead. I’ve been told that He can move mountains. I’ve been told that He can zot you and leave nothing but a greasy spot. And yet He only says woe to those who do evil to children and not provide a net of protection around them. These children were assaulted in His house.
“It was 9:00 a.m., just a handful of days after a report was released by the Pennsylvania state grand jury on alleged sexual abuse in 54 of the state’s 67 counties,”
So 13 counties must have posted no sexual abuse allowed signs.
The term “pedophile priest” was contrived so as to obscure the true nature of the problem: networks of homosexual Catholic priests and prelates who preyed on those in their care and promoted and protected each other. Most often, their targets were not young children but male teens in parish high schools or young adults in seminary. Normal, straight seminarians and priests who resisted often suffered retaliation and career consequences, especially if they were of traditional views and solid as to doctrine.
Priests that ministered to my Catholic childhood friends were also named on that list, some at a tiny Italian Catholic church that stood next to my elementary school
If he was abusing them at 15 he was not a pedophile he was a homosexual.
He wanted them young, but post pubescent that is not pedophilia.
The lie, to this very day, that church continues to deny is the fact there is a homosexual cabal within the Catholic Church... they trade sex and protect one another and are a big reason so much was covered up.
For to truly look into the sexual improprieties within the church would expose them.
The laity are largely unaware.. some diocese are almost completely run by homosexuals and anyone who stands up to them is driven out.
It is my firm belief that Pope Benedict was pushed from the papalcy because he directly challenged this Cabal, grossly underestimating just how large and entrenched and how far they would go to protect it.
It is clear to me that the current Pope is part of this Cabal or completely compromised by it.. his reinstatement of a known and confessed predator removed from office by Benedict as one of his earliest acts, and refusal to discuss it is evidence of this.
Until the Church is willing to admit that this whole afffair is not simply a solo affair of sexual child predators, but a larger cabal of homosexuals that have entrenched and are killing the church from within, nothing will truly change.
A full 2/3 of all victims were post pubescent boys... the church doesnt have a pedophile problem, I rates of true pedophilia among its ranks are actually lower than the general population... it doesnt. Have a celibacy problem, priest have access to sex, (and not strictly sodomy with each other)and if you think otherwise, you are naive... it has a homosexual problem. The decisions in the 60s to allow admitted but non practicing homosexuals to enter the priesthood, is the root of this... and refusing to admit it means nothing will change.
I think you’re being a bit disingenuous towards the non-Catholics on here.
The Vatican is essentially a DICTATORSHIP. As Lay Catholics you and I have absolutely NO POWER to force the POPE nor ANY Bishop from his job.
Frankly I think few if any will leave. On the contrary they appear to be digging in.
Your “Holy Mother Church, Always and Forever, Come What May” attitude actually empowers these people because you are telegraphing the fact that you are unwilling to leave for ANY reason.
Reminds me of the story about Huey Long who got 51% of the Louisiana State Legislature to sign a letter stating that they would not vote to impeach him for ANY reason. That gave him carte blanche to do whatever the hell he wanted.
IMO if you are unwilling to walk away when others cross your uncrossable lines, then you really have no principles.
The state police came to our house one night to ask Dad if he had any idea who in the town might be involved in such vigilante justice. I was only 8 or 9 at the time but understood well that the state police were only doing their job and Dad wasn't going to tell them anything even if he did know.
Word got around quick in those days and I think it likely that Dad could have found out with a few discrete inquiries. But I think both he and the state police instinctively understood that even if they didn't condone vigilante justice, it was justified under those particular circumstances and we were a better society for it.
Needless to say the perp minus his family jewels left town shortly thereafter and was never heard from again.
What I find most remarkable in this Pedophile Priest story is not only how long it went on but how 99.9% of it involved boys and young men . . . and how the earliest cases date to the late 1960s and 1970s, when vigilante justice first went out of style.
I have always believed, and still do believe, that the far left Communist Party placed a few of their people in the seminaries long ago with the intention of corrupting the Church’s image. JMHO but its MHO!
It's not the Church's place to 'forgive' crimes... or cover for criminals. That's the job of the State - our court systems and laws.
Matthew 22:21 Jesus said "Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar's; and to God the things that are God's."
The Church can offer spiritual assistance... and like I said, that can be offered just as easily to a person in prison as any other place.