The Bishop of Bridgeport: Voice of the Faithful’s Latest Target

If it is true, as novelist Don DeLillo once wrote, “The future belongs to crowds,” then the future of the Catholic Church might once have belonged to activist groups critical of the Church, like Boston-bred Voice of the Faithful (VOTF), and the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).  With savvy leaders who have been able to manipulate a media that is desperate for sensational stories of priestly misconduct, these organizations continue to stage well-publicized demonstrations and protests throughout the country in order to demand changes in the Church.  But, the question remains, does anyone—beyond the media—take them seriously any more?

In their most recent attempt to humiliate Church leaders, Barbara Blaine, president of SNAP teamed with a few local members of the Bridgeport, CT chapter of VOTF to organize a protest—replete with the same professionally printed signs they have used for more than a decade—outside the offices of Bishop Frank Caggiano, the new Bishop of the Bridgeport Diocese. Receiving front page coverage—replete with photos of a handful of protestors holding the now-faded protest signs—in the Connecticut Post on Thursday, March 20, 2014, the headline blared, “Victims Groups Demand Investigation Into Priests.”  It is difficult to take them seriously.

But, we must take them seriously because these groups continue to enlist the media as partners in persuading others that the Church is a site of secrecy and deviance. Working cooperatively with an eager media ever hungry for scandal—even if the cases occurred several decades ago—these groups are determined to continue to denigrate Church leaders who have done everything they possibly can to ensure that the clergy abuse of the past can never happen again.

The most recent target of the dissident groups is Bridgeport’s Bishop Caggiano, who in a spirit of reconciliation and good will just a month before, offered to begin a conversation with the local chapter of VOTF.  At the time he announced his intention to meet with the group last month, the Bishop was heralded as a courageous visionary of the Church.  The Connecticut Post published a laudatory article on February 12, 2014, praising what the reporter called his “unprecedented” decision to meet with members of VOTF. Decrying Bishop William Lori’s decision to bar VOTF from meeting in diocesan churches, the Connecticut Post quoted Jamie Dance, a member of VOTF, complaining that Bishop Lori “was secretive … [he] never answered a letter or a phone call … so it was a rather dramatic turn when we found a welcoming bishop in Frank Caggiano…. It’s practically historic.”

Bishop w: VOTF

Indeed, it was historic. In fact, the decision by the new bishop to meet with the dissident group was actually shocking for faithful Catholics in the Diocese who were bewildered by the new bishop’s decision to meet with an organization whose individual members had been complicit in the State of Connecticut’s attempted takeover of Church governance just five years before.  VOTF members like Paul Lakeland, Professor of Catholic Studies at Fairfield University, became strong outspoken supporters of legislation introduced by two Connecticut legislators that would have allowed the state of Connecticut to control individual parishes’ governance and financial affairs—relegating Catholic priests and bishops to an advisory role in their own parishes.

In March 2009, state senator Andrew J. McDonald and state representative Michael Lawler, both Democrats, introduced Bill 1089, An Act Modifying Corporate Laws Relating to Certain Religious Corporations.  Had the bill passed, it would have required that a corporation would have to be organized in Connecticut with any Connecticut Roman Catholic Church or congregation in the state by filing in the office of the secretary of state.  The bishop of the diocese would serve as an ex officio board member of the corporation but could not vote on issues.

The real force behind the bill was a small but well organized group of Catholics—unhappy with Church teachings on moral and governance issues—attempting to enlist the state as a partner in radically transforming the Church from within.  And, while it cannot be claimed that VOTF had a hand in writing the actual legislation, many of the demands of the now-withdrawn Connecticut bill mirror those promoted by VOTF’s Bridgeport chapter.  In their Annual Report in 2005, VOTF chairman Tony Wiggins reported that the Bridgeport Chapter’s Structural Change Committee identified “Five proposals for Structural Change for the Church.” These proposals, which were overwhelmingly approved by the membership of the Bridgeport Chapter, and approved at the national level, demanded open election of bishops, parish priests, parish and diocesan pastoral and finance councils, and the ownership of church property by the people of the parish.

As a spokesman for the bill to remove the authority from the Bishops and priests in the State of Connecticut, Lakeland has long lobbied for an end to what he calls the “structural oppression of the laity by the clergy.”  Lakeland, a former Jesuit priest, is a frequent presenter at conferences sponsored by VOTF.  At the spring 2009 VOTF at Fairfield University, Lakeland’s speech, “Who Owns Our Church?” focused on empowering the laity by transferring authority from the ordained to the laity.  Lakeland has advocated for the ordination of women, and the abolition of the College of Cardinals.  According to the National Catholic Register, in a speech to VOTF affiliates in Newton, Massachusetts, Lakeland predicted that future priests would consist of “some married, some not, some straight, some gay, some women, some not.”  Claiming that his goal is to erase the distinction between ordained and the laity, Lakeland often states that the most important task for the Catholic theologian is to help the Catholic laity “name their oppression.”

VOTF continues its commitment to denigrating the leadership of the Church—even Pope Francis.  Claiming that the Pope “does not see that holding bishops accountable for cover-ups and a full release of all secret files are essential for true reform and healing,” the National leadership of VOTF issued a statement posted on their website on March 6,  with the headline that the organization is “Deeply Disappointed in Pope Francis’ Recent Comments on Clergy Sex Abuse.”

It is this continued criticism of the leadership of the Church by VOTF that makes it so difficult for faithful Catholics in the Bridgeport Diocese to understand why their new bishop would tell those gathered at the March 13 VOTF meeting, “We’re family, and that’s how I understand our gathering.”

The leaders of VOTF have made it clear that their goal is to dramatically change the structure of the Church.  And, although they protest that it is just structural change that they seek, they continue to demand that the teaching and administrative authority of the bishops and priests be transferred to the laity.  These goals are best viewed in the context of a book written by sociologist-authors, William D’Antonio and Anthony Pogorelc: Voices of the Faithful, which provides an analysis of national survey data collected from VOTF members on attitudes and perceptions about the Church.  Much of their own data contradicts their “official” statements on their organization’s website.

For example, on their homepage, VOTF claims that the organization’s three primary goals are: to support survivors of clergy abuse; to shape structural change within the Church; and to support priests of integrity.  But, their survey data reveals that only 18 percent of the membership of VOTF indicate that they strongly agreed with the statement that “priests do a good job.”

Even worse, 85 percent of VOTF members polled believe that the “hierarchy is out of touch.”  In contrast, only 19 percent of American Catholics in general, endorse the view that the hierarchy is out of touch.  It is clear that VOTF members are not representative of all Catholics in their highly critical views of the hierarchy and the priests.  Not surprisingly, considering their unhappiness with the Church, VOTF members are much more likely than other American Catholics to indicate that they “might leave” the Church.  The authors indicate that “slightly less than half of VOTF members said they would never leave the Catholic Church,” but 22 percent indicated that they “might leave the Church.”

Yale sociologist, Michele Dillon, provides helpful commentary on the organization’s survey at the end of Voices of the Faithful.  While Dillon shares many of the goals of VOTF, she has written that, “it is sociologically and theologically naïve to assume that doctrine and structure, or culture and structure are separate domains.”  Dillon knows, as all Catholics know, that doctrine and structure in the Church cannot be separated.  Changing the structure of apostolic succession is actually an attempt to change the doctrine of apostolic succession—a doctrine that dates back to Jesus and his commission to Peter.

Bishops can learn the real goals of VOTF by looking closely at the survey data published in their  book, Voices of the Faithful.  It would help them understand why just a week after embracing the group as part of his family, Bishop  Caggiano was confronted with the ugly signage and protesters outside his own office. It would also help them understand why, in yet another attack on the Church on the front page of the Connecticut Post, Barbara Blaine dismissed the bishop’s meeting with VOTF by claiming that “actions speak louder than words.” Since the Church is unable to meet the kind of demands for dramatic structural change VOTF is seeking—including the doctrine of apostolic succession—it makes little sense for its bishops to continue the conversation.

(Photo credit: in-text photo / Connecticut Post.)

Anne Hendershott

By

Anne Hendershott is Professor of Sociology and Director of the Veritas Center at Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio. She is the author of Status Envy: The Politics of Catholic Higher Education; The Politics of Abortion; and The Politics of Deviance (Encounter Books). She is also the co-author of Renewal: How a New Generation of Priests and Bishops are Revitalizing the Catholic Church (2013).

  • ForChristAlone

    There was a protest song of the 60’s entitled “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” One line from that song ought to echo constantly in the minds of every bishop so much so that they are unable to shake it from their thoughts. It goes something like this: “When will they learn, when will they ever learn?” And lest I am misunderstood, let me explain that the bishops will need to come to understand that SNAP and VOTF are comprised of angry men and women who are the spoiled narcissists of the 60’s generation whose time has come and passed and for whom these current tantrums are but their last hurrah since, in short order they will all be dead.

    It is this that the bishops will need to learn. Let’s remember that when Judas betrayed Jesus, Jesus did not ask for an interruption of the Sanhedrin’s proceedings so that he and his apostles could have a meeting with Judas to discuss their differences, saying “We’re all family.” Jesus carried on with his mission undeterred by the acts of what then comprised some 8% of his followers.

    • Vinnie

      I believe BIshop Caggiano is doing what he feels Pope Francis is calling him to do. Meet people where they are. Not to acquiesce but to let them know mercy is available. My reaction is to shun too but that is more a fallen human reaction than a faithful/hopeful/charitable spiritual reaction.

      • ForChristAlone

        Should Christ have left the Passover meal to “meet Judas where he was at” then?

        • Siobhán

          If you’ll hark back to yesterdays Gospel then I think you’ll recall he met the Samaritan woman at the well where she was at.

          • msmischief

            and drew to her attention that that was a problem.

          • ForChristAlone

            I wasn’t talking about the Samaritan Woman at the Well. I was talking about Judas. The woman was open to conversion (as we all heard yesterday) while Judas’ heart was hardened and, if he killed himself, uncontrite. Even the Lord respects our free will. It seems like VOTF and SNAP are NOT open to conversion but have hearts quite hardened indeed. Grace is not beyond them but in their case, too, the Lord will respect their will as well.

            • Michael Paterson-Seymour

              ForChristAlone

              St Augustine says, “Who would dare to affirm that God has no method of calling whereby even Esau might have applied his mind and yoked his will to the faith in which Jacob was justified? But if the obstinacy of the will can be such that the mind’s aversion from all modes of calling becomes hardened, the question is whether that very hardening does not come from some divine penalty, as if God abandons a man by not calling him in the way in which he might be moved to faith. Who would dare to affirm that the Omnipotent lacked a method of persuading even Esau to believe?”

              Thus, scripture says, ““I will have mercy on whom I will, and I will be merciful to whom it shall please Me” (Exod. 33:19) and .“To you,” said He, “it is given to know the mystery of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.” (Matt. 13:11)

          • TheAbaum

            And if your celebrant read the “short form”, you missed the part about where she was confronted for her serial marriage and extramarital relationship.

            • LarryCicero

              Actually, we were told that the five husbands were sybollism for false gods and that Christ was the true God and husband of the church. The father is the life-giver, like water, and therefore if she seeks life, should seek the father. Christ is the husband of the church. No mention was made of adultery. (You never know what you might get on Sunday.) Even the “I thirst” was a foreshadowing of future events, all rich in sybollism: a thirst for conversion.

              • TheAbaum

                Our Homilist made the point that living a disordered life diminishes your capacity to properly apprehend God. It was not presented to my Parish as symbolic.

                • LarryCicero

                  It was the first time I ever heard it presented that way.

                  • John200

                    Nothing personal against you, but you should have heard it presented that way once a year (at least!).

                    Go and hector your priest, he is supposed to make it happen.

                    • LarryCicero

                      The homily was given by a retired priest- one who before the election of 2008 encouraged parishioners not to forget about social justice, one who prefers the apostles creed to the nicene, one who advocates for gun control/elimination, one who praises Cardinal Bernadin for his teaching on the seamless garment. He doesn’t need my hectoring this week, nor will it change his views on other things.

          • RufusChoate

            That is not a good analogy. The Samaritan Woman was ignorant of the truth of the faith and Judas like Heretics/Apostates/etc… in every age knew the truth and rejected it.

        • John200

          No; I do not second guess Christ, not even when sorely tempted. Are you the deacon who used to post here? You almost had me going this time. That was a good teaching question. But no dice.

          I find it ineffably sad to think of Judas. I wish he had been saved, but the record is clear.

          • ForChristAlone

            Judas exercised his free will; God respects that gift which he gave man when he created him. It is certainly sad when anyone chooses against God since their fate is then certain – eternity without God as God will never counter our will. He loves us that much. Just remember that God has and never will stop loving Judas (and neither should you or I).

      • Isaiah OCDS

        Agreed: meet people where they’re at, but only if you have the courage to teach them and take them where God wants them to be.

        • Vinnie

          That’s the idea, I would think.

      • RufusChoate

        You really need to examine the history of the VOTF in Connecticut to understand how foolish this is. The most apt analogy is the Southern Christian Leadership Council joining the Klu-Klux-Klan for a Cross Burning and Barbecue social.

      • Guest

        Yes, Christ meets us where we are but does not leave us there. He call us to conversion. Right?

        • Vinnie

          God’s mercy is always available and is not earned but it only comes with repentence, reconciliation, contrition and firm purpose of amendment.

          • Guest

            We agree.

      • Art Deco

        Great! Here’s an idea for the site of the next meeting-where-they-are:

        http://sspx.org/en/st-ignatius-retreat-house

  • Vinnie

    In the 60’s Communists couldn’t make inroads politically so they took the time to get into law and education and look what’s happened. It’s not as easy to do that to the Church but this is what they’re trying.

  • FrankW

    What’s really galling members of VOTF is the same thing that has galled dissidents for centuries: they don’t like the fact that the Catholic Church is not a democratic institution. Our church doctrine is not based on opinion polls of the flock, and our pope, bishops and priests are not chosen by the flock.

    There are plenty of good and well-meaning Christian people who belong to Churches where the flock does have the power to vote on teachings and choosing pastors. These people are called “Protestants” for a reason.

    Perhaps our bishops should start asking VOTF members (and other groups like them who seek to structurally change the church) a simple question: “Wouldn’t you be happier in another Church?” I know that is politically incorrect, but these groups are NOT going to change their minds or their rhetoric. Their goal is to undermine Church authority and plant seeds of dissent within the Church. I’d have more respect for them if they simply choose to leave the church and find one that suited their beliefs.

    • Salvelinus

      There is only one “church”.
      How can one leave the Catholic church and join “another church”?

      • cestusdei

        One can become a heretic or schismatic.

        • TheAbaum

          I believe the point was that there is one Church, but many ecclesial communities.

          • Objectivetruth

            Exactly.

      • FrankW

        My point is that I have more respect for those who openly admit that they cannot accept Catholic Church teaching and leave it, than I do for those who dissent from Catholic teaching, but remain in the Church for the purpose of undermining the authority of our clerics, and spreading their dissent to others in the Church.

        The former group is at least being honest, and humble enough not to assume that Catholic doctrine should be changed to suit them.

        • John200

          Dear Frank,
          Thank you for the fine sentiments, but there is a matter of truth at stake.
          1. A bishop must not do anything to cause a human being to go to hell. If the bishop mistakenly does such a thing, he must repent and do everything possible to undo the effects of his mistake.
          2. A bishop cannot tell a Catholic to leave the one true Church. This is more important than any dispute over doctrine or dogma. Unrepentant heretics DO excommunicate themselves, but the bishop’s job is to try to bring them back into the fold.
          3. Perhaps the most direct way to put it: The bishop cannot tell anyone, Catholic or not, to follow Satan’s lead.

          Dissenting Catholics are a trial to us. They will never get their way, but while they live there is the possibility that they can come to see the truth and act on it.

          I sympathize with you — I feel impatient with dissenters, but then patience is a virtue and impatience is not.

    • John O’Neill

      The picture says it all; a group of sixties baby boomers who are constantly at war with their parents and mewling and puking on their way to extinction. These people are no longer relevant to anything; the anti war protesters are gone from the scene and so are Sonny and Cher but we must give them credit they soldier on in their increasing shrillness and decrepitude.

  • poetcomic1

    The key to this article is stated in the beginning quote “The future belongs to crowds”. Immediately, I thought of an even more subversive group than VOTF: the crowds of Catholics youths chanting ‘Sainthood Now!’ for John Paul II. I found it a terrifying moment and an ominous vision of the future.

    • cestusdei

      John Paul the Great is a saint and he had a fantastic vision for the future.

      • poetcomic1

        Totally irrelevant. The sheer arrogance of young people ‘demanding’ sainthood of the Church is beyond appalling. It is not just a ‘lack of humility’ it is quintessentially ‘protestant’ and rebellious.

        • james

          Public acclamation has always been a part of the Church’s canonization process. I don’t think history would support your assertion. And i think you are viewing a very beautiful expression of public piety through perhaps the most Jansenistic, miserly lens possible.

        • TheAbaum

          They might be accused of hyper-emotional youthful exuberance, but who issued a “demand”?

        • Phil Steinacker

          Wow! Your position is sheer nonsense.

  • TheAbaum

    “The bishop of the diocese would serve as an ex officio board member of the corporation but could not vote on issues.”

    An attempt to create responsibility without authority.

    • John200

      Yup. Big words, some in Latin, small ideas, no improvement wanted, and none will be tolerated.

  • Art Deco

    In truth, most priests are not doing a good job and the bishops are part of a clerical culture that is alien to the laity. The thing is, it is doubtful that VOTF would respond well if priests were doing a good job, because if they were the alter girls and the parish diva would be sent to the choir loft; the Oregon Catholic Press booklets would be sent to the trash; the sermons would concern the day’s readings, include the views of the Church Fathers, include historical context, and include moral instruction; NFP instructions would be given; no youngster would see first communion or confirmation without passing a written examination; and there would be scheduled confessions at least weekly and the confessional would not be used to store folding chairs.

    Also, if bishops ceased to be shoved to and fro by the internal dynamics of the bureaucracies around them and instead kept uppermost in their minds the task of leading laymen to salvation, VOTF pests would not like the result either. Lobbying and contacts with politicians would be minimal, the heretical religious orders would be sent packing, traditional liturgy would be promoted, the known sexual deviants in the clergy would be suspended, the known sexual deviants and known heretics on the lay staff would be fired, the faux-Catholic schools would be reformed or closed, the Holy See’s directives on the liturgy would be enforced, every parish could expect a scheduled visit from the bishop about every 19 months or so and a surprise visit every 19 months or so, and visits from the vocations promoter would be more frequent than that.

    • John200

      Just a note to commend you on your clear thinking. I do not aim to add a thing. Well done.

  • RufusChoate

    In the early days of VOTF, I read and examined the VOTF mission statements and forums on their website before it became apparent to them that their forums where unintentionally exposing how far from the Orthodox faith their members were and how ensconced in the operation of the parishes around New England they were. Once they realized that danger they shut them down because the VOTF was really not about representation or democratic principles of open and free debate but Political Control. They have consistently supported dissident Thomas Doyle, who openly states he no longer believes in the Faith.

    At the time many were Directors of Religious Ed, Youth Ministers and Extraordinary Minister of the Eucharist (A term they never used) and invariably they were heterodoxy, old and spoke in the terms of Marxist Power dynamics seeing themselves as a purer moral authorities than the Bishops but oddly they held the same latitudinarian moral world view of the Left everywhere: Homosexual normalization in the Clergy and Society, Choice, Birth Control and the general moral rot. One disheartening fact that I discover was that while many openly bragged about their “Minister of the Eucharist” none actually claimed to believe in the Real Presence.
    As mention it was VOTF allied with two rabidly anti-Catholic homosexual activists in the Connecticut Legislature that tried to remove control of the Church from the Bishop and the Faithful and hand it over to the VOTF.
    This Bishop who happens to mine is intemperate and misguiding for having anything to do with them be.

    • Art Deco

      What bothers you is the suspicion that the bishop could never be bothered to ‘open a dialogue’ with the corps attending SSPX masses or with people on the subscriber list of The Latin Mass.

      • RufusChoate

        Of course, I think my suspicions are well founded.

      • TheAbaum

        I’ve seen nothing from Rufus to indicate he’s a PHO. I doubt that VOTF will go away (guidestar shows appendages all over the country), but I’ll withhold judgment on this meeting. Perhaps one lost lamb will hear the real Shepherd’s call.

        • RufusChoate

          Maybe I misunderstood the question but you’re correct I am not a supporter of any of the SSPX or Sede Vacantist splinter groups.

          • TheAbaum

            No, “Art Deco” (I think there’s at least two individuals using that nom de plum) took a giant flying leap in engaging in such speculation.

            • Art Deco

              No, just me, and you’ve not understood me. I was speaking for myself and assuming Rufus Choate felt likewise. You recall when the abuse scandal broke in 2002, who do official winglets within the U.S. Catholic Conference turn to for instruction: Margaret Steinfels and Scott Appelby. The one person who expressed disgust at this was Bp. Bruskewitz of Lincoln. There are people they want to talk to (or whom their staff persuade them to talk to). They do not include anyone outre in a particular way. They include only people who would be understood as outre if one adhered to an orthodox Catholic viewpoint. Which is why he’s talking to VOTF and did not call Michael Matt and ask him if he could not set up a meeting with Matt’s subscribers in Fairfield County, Ct. The advent of Francis has exacerbated these tendencies as the Holy See has been sending the signal that it’s open season on Latin traditionalists.

              In fairness to the bishop, the VOTF viewpoint is likely more common than The Remnant viewpoint among Mass-going Catholics. Also true, however, is that the VOTF types are not committed to clear thinking and likely will not instruct any of their children in the faith (or what’s left of it in their hands).

    • Anne Hendershott

      Thank you for your post. You know the VOTF well. I am not sure Bishop Caggiano realized the CT takeover attempt involved members of VOTF and state legislators working together to weaken the authority of the Church. I see VOTF as a Trojan Horse. Appreciate your thoughts

  • nr

    As long as Bishop Caggiano doesn’t concede important ground on the issue (so far, he hasn’t, and there is no reason to suggest he will), I don’t see why he could possibly be criticized for meeting with them. As he says, they are family, if for no other reason than by the virtue of their baptism. It’s his job as their shepherd to gather the lost sheep back into the fold. Ignoring them won’t do that. Talking to them might. What’s the harm in trying?

  • cestusdei

    VOTF is the same people as in any other group of dissenters with the same goals. They are just using the scandals to attempt to undercut the Church. They could care less about the children.

  • Ruth Rocker

    It’s very interesting that the “separation of church and state” only seems to be needed when the church steps into the state’s arena. From the proposed legislation in Connecticut, it is apparently okay for the state to step into the church’s arena. This would definitely be a dangerous turn of events. The current administration is doing all it can to discredit and hobble the Church already.

    • TheAbaum

      It’s very interesting that the “separation of church and state” only
      seems to be needed when the church steps into the state’s arena.

      Didn’t you hear, Render unto Caeser has a codicil?>

      “For the purposes of the above statement, what is Ceasers is to be determined by Ceaser”.

      At certain point you realize the concentration of temporal power is like the concentration of mass. It deforms its surrounding space so that nothing can escape it’s grasp.

  • Arguing or even opening a dialog with stupid is an insane kind of insanity.

    • TheAbaum

      Have you seen how many people try to drive with a cigarette in one hand and a cell phone in the other? Stupid is, as stupid does and it’s over most of the world.

  • hombre111

    Anne, somehow you underestimate the disaster caused by the sex abuse scandal and the cover-up by the bishops. As happens so many times in the history of the Church, it was a self-inflicted wound. No enemy of the Church could have hoped for a better result. The moral authority of the Church now lies in ruins. The institution keeps hoping it will just go away, but this is a generational scar and the Church is going to apologize and apologize for tens of years to come. You can’t heal the damage by attacking the groups that arose in reaction to the horrific news. Help heal the clericalism and triumphalism that are at the root of this problem.

    • Art Deco

      Anne, somehow you underestimate the disaster caused by the sex abuse scandal and the cover-up by the bishops.

      Private companies do not, as a matter of course, publish the contents of their personnel files. Are they ‘covering up’??

      In the diocese in which I was living in 2003, the median lapse of time between when a supposed incident occurred and when a complaint was filed with the chancery was 25 years. Unless you eliminate statutes of limitations, most of these cases will be nonjusticiable even if the accused is guilty and there is sufficient evidence for a charge to stand up in court. The chancery or the accuser can report the priest to the authorities, but there will generally not be much the authorities can do with the report you give them.

      The best the bishop can usually do is to put the offending priest on ice. You can laicise the priest, but that does not protect the youth of the nation; it merely ensures that any molestations he undertakes will not be done under Church auspices. That was the policy followed in the diocese in which I was living.

      All this caterwauling about the behavior of ecclesiastical brass would be appropriate if your bishop were doing things frankly irresponsible (which was the case with Cdl. Law, Cdl. Egan during his years in Bridgeport, Bp. McCormick during his years in Boston, Abp. Sheehan during his years as a seminary rector, Bps. Tshoepe and Grahman in Dallas). That sort of thing was hardly universal, however. The big problem was that there was a great deal of trash in the priest corps, which is something the many lousy priests we have are loath to admit.

      • TheAbaum
      • hombre111

        There was a lot wrong in the priest corps. But not a single bishop retired or resigned because of his role in the whole sordid deal, including my own bishop, whose picture appeared on a SNAP website. He said, “I have learned a lesson,” and forged on.

        • Art Deco

          Cdl. Law did resign. He remained longer than he preferred at the Pope’s insistence.

          There were few accusations against priests prior to 1980. In the Diocese of Syracuse, about 5% of the accusations on file were received prior to that time; in Cincinnatti it was higher, about 15%. The response when you had an abrupt six-fold increase in accusations ca. 1983 was to send priests out for ‘counseling’, sunshine, and pinochle at St. Luke’s and then put them back in the parish. In Boston, this was done to a bizarre extreme. After the chancery concluded in 1980 that John Geoghan was sexually perverted, he was put back in the parish four additional times before he was finally taken out for good and holed up in a rest home; one of these times was consequent to a class B felony by Geoghan which would have landed him in a New York prison for 8 1/3 to 25 years. All this took place over a period of 12 years and implicated Cdl. Madeiros (whose treatment of one petitioner was stunning in the priority it gave to avoiding irritation for his staff), the interim administration, and Cdl. Law. Cdl. Law’s primary concern with regard to Paul Shanley was again self-centered: if he comes back here, we’ll have to deal with him. Dither dither. Recall Fr. Mankowski’s “Tames in Clerical Culture”? Law and Madeiros were the echt clerical tames. Egan was more of an exemplary organization man. Twelve people accused this man? Well, they all know each other and they’re lying about one of m’ boys!

          The thing is, even in Boston, there came a point where the chancery started getting enough repeat complaints that they began simply yanking accused priests and putting them in sinecures away from youngsters or in retirement homes. In Boston, that point was around 1993. A great many bishops had nothing to do with the treat-and-transfer policy and some of those who did had inherited the policy and terminated it. Dioceses were in 2002 and 2003 inundated with antique accusations that referred to incidents commonly 30 years or more in the past. (The most prominent case in Syracuse concerned a priest accused in 2003 of a series of offenses occuring between 1963 and 1970). So, you want the sitting bishop to resign and leave an innocent successor to wade through the dreck?

          What hombre111 is evading with all this is that during the period from 1983 to 1993, the order of the day was cloying protection of priests. It might be reasonable for most people to complain about that, but for priests to be issuing jeremiads at ecclesiastical brass without taking note of the primary problem – perversion in the priesthood – is exceedingly poor form.

        • suzanne sears

          I agree. The higher-level clergy has not been made accountable, in any measurable, lasting way, by the church.

          • ForChristAlone

            Forgiveness, Suzanne. Be less concerned with accountabilty than with forgiveness. Your peace of mind depends on it.

    • TheAbaum

      And you underestimate the disaster caused by the priests who faltered in other ways, such as soft-peddling sexual immorality and masquerading left-wing politics with charity-and how often they were often the same folks.

      One of those clerics was the infamous “Father Bob Timchak” who had a column in a newspaper in the Scranton Diocese and whose philosophy resembled “Reverend Tim-Tom from “The Middle” TV show. Here he was lauded a writer with a notable anti-Catholic bias after deciding to take time off in 2006.

      http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news13/2006_07_16_Guydish_FrustratedPriest_Robert_Timchak_1.htm

      Until he was busted in 2008

      http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/catholic-priest-gets-prison-time-for-child-porn-possession-1.1065615

      I note the following quotes from the 2006 article (no longer on the Times Leader website)

      “Priests of the last seven or eight years are much more traditional.”

      “I’m wondering where our place is. This is not the church that I
      remember, or the church that I grew up in. There’s a tone of rigidity.”

      Do I even have to mention the scandal that was Rembert Weakland?

      or disgusting rem

      • Art Deco

        Do I even have to mention the scandal that was Rembert Weakland-that filthy moral cesspool

        You big meany. That was Peggy Steinfels’ favorite bishop.

        • TheAbaum

          “You big meany.”

          Why thank you.

    • ForChristAlone

      Can you admit here that you never had even an inkling that you knew of or heard about this molestation by fellow members of the presbyterate while it was going on and yet did nothing?

      • hombre111

        Heard about it third or fourth hand. You can’t report hearsay to the bishop. The bishop heard from parents and priests with first hand knowledge, and did nothing.

        • ForChristAlone

          First of all, I do not believe when you say 3rd or 4th hand. Secondly, you ought to be ashamed of yourself if you even had remote knowledge of this and did nothing. If it were my son whom one of these predators molested and you told me that you heard about it (even 3rd or 4th hand) and did nothing, I cannot say how I might react. God have mercy on your soul.

          • TheAbaum

            “Hombre” is posturing. He is acting as though he’s bound by common rules of evidence in a court room, and he’s not. I realize that priests are not employees (Art Deco had a cool name for the normal relationship of secular employees) but they are subject to direction of the Bishop.

            I can’t tell you how many times employees are caught in far less serious forms of misconduct through the comments of peers. Sometimes its done with enthusiasm bordering on glee, sometimes with reluctance, sometimes it’s a “heads up”, sometimes it’s a slip of the tongue, sometimes it’s just somebody who can’t shut up.

            Once you have a reasonable suspicion (and let’s be honest, that depends a good bit on the credibility of the accuser) you keep an open eye and proceed with an assessment using normal supervisory controls, which can be as simple as planning the timing of your observations.

          • hombre111

            The first responsibility belongs to the parents. Something happens to your child, you go to the bishop after you have gone to the sheriff. Parents who knew and depended on the bishop to do something, and then failed to follow up with a trip to the police, are the most culpable of all.

            • ForChristAlone

              Read what the scriptures say about admonishing the brothers. Read the scriptures about millstones. And if it were my son and I knew that you had heard about it and did nothing – even 3rd or 4th hand – after I headed for that Indian priest’s rectory with my 30.06, I would have next headed over to yours. If I were you, I would march myself over to see my confessor. You much too easily exonerate yourself.

              • hombre111

                Like I said, I heard this story a year after it happened. I knew nothing about the Indian priest when the abuse was going on, because he was in another deanery half way across the state.
                In a previous incarnation, did you work the rack for the Inquisition?

                • ForChristAlone

                  You seem to be going to great lengths to excuse your doing nothing with the information you had. You sound to me like one of the bishops you are so eager to accuse. Guilty as charged.

            • TheAbaum

              “The first responsibility belongs to the parents.”

              Hi, Coach McQueary. Actually that’s wrong. While he didn’t knock Sandusky into the next century as he should have, he did have a conversation with his boss.

        • Art Deco

          The bishop heard from parents and priests with first hand knowledge, and did nothing.

          I’ve reviewed the Bishop Accountability site for the Deep South dioceses. The synopsis of not more than five cases resemble your description.

          • hombre111

            Keep looking for cases in mission parishes. The case ended in a spectacular way. The father of one of the altar boys called the priest and told him: “I am loading my 30.06. You have half an hour.” In half an hour, he was gone. I heard about this about a year after it all happened. The priest was long gone by then. At that point, somebody did call the DA, but he did not follow up. Inaction by legal authorities was also a problem at that time, as one former prosecuting attorney told me.

            • Art Deco

              Bishop Accountability will have all priests who had an assignment in a given diocese regardless of what that assignment was or where they were incardinated, so long as their is public information about a case.

              • hombre111

                Not sure what you are saying. For me, Bishop accountability would be bishops resigning if they screw up this issue.

                • Art Deco

                  It’s an internet side which provides a compendium of publicly rendered complaints against priests. Anything that generated a lawsuit, criminal charges, or press reports will be there.

    • Edward J Baker

      Why do so many Catholics take offense at the sex abuse scandal when they are so cold-bloodedly obsessed with remaining indifferent to priests and nuns who stridently and publicly advocate the crushing of baby skulls and the acidic scalding of babies to their death.

      • TheAbaum

        Abortion is the ne plus ultra of child abuse and a sacrament of the left.

    • suzanne sears

      I agree, hombre111

  • TheAbaum

    Disclosure is a wonderful thing.

    Go to Guidestar and you will find there are tons of VOTF appendages all over the country. There is one located in Bridgeport, Ct, and I’ll assume this is the one the Bishop

    Bridgeport has a “chapter”. For the most recent year that the Bridgeport enterprise had a 990, it reported about $25k in revenue, and I’d bet the reason these folks are haven’t filed since then is that they now fall under the reporting threshhold. I note they did they did have a picnic and a conference.

    Here’s a little something interesting, their statement of exempt purpose.

    Wanna bet 3) is their real goal and the rest is the part that allows then to obtain an exemption letter from the IRS?

  • Edward J Baker

    When the bishops decided to downplay the concept of sin, they wound up with a church of prideful airheads lecturing them, as anyone with a trace of holiness could have expected. Are they even aware of the obscene reality of a majority of professed Catholics favor the crushing of baby skulls?

    • John200

      Got a feeling they are acutely aware of what they have allowed/promoted, and now they need to do something about it.

      We have some good bishops, but as an ensemble, this generation of bishops needs our prayers by the bucketful.

      Every day. Each morning, each noontime, each evening. Night prayer is good, too.

  • PetrusRomanus1

    US bishops have been blaming VOTF and SNAP and the “liberal left” media for many years now. And they have lost their credibility by using this strategy, because they’re trying to exonerate themselves from all blame over the Catholic clergy sex abuse crisis, excessive and unnecessary expenditures of church funds on lavish residences for themselves, and a whole lot more.
    For starters, the bishops need to start complying with discovery orders entered against them, instead of using their shredders or the diplomatic pouch to get rid of evidence. Unless the bishops do that and do it soon, they will be looking at structural change as well as doctrinal change, no doubt about it.

    • Art Deco

      Meanwhile, back in the real world, bishops have sat for countless depositions and settled cases which had very little evidence appended to them,

      • Danno

        You try to defend the indefensible. As a victim of clergy rape, I am sickened by your lack of true understanding.

        • Art Deco

          Victim of clergy rape, you have reading comprehension deficits.

          • suzanne sears

            Art Deco is clearly a Troll.

            • Crisiseditor

              Art Deco has been “Trolling” this site nearly every day for years. Who are you?

            • TheAbaum

              Your history clearly identifies you as a troll.

              We get them all the time, you’ll be here for a thread or two, your cheap shots will be repelled and you’ll run away claiming you were treated badly.

              • suzanne sears

                You think I’, scared of you, you narcissistic screen-name in denial? You are dead wrong.

                • John200

                  Nobody cares whether you are scared. No one is trying to scare you. You will not be here for any appreciable length of time.

                  Do you see?

                • ForChristAlone

                  Just find it in your heart to forgive.

                • TheAbaum

                  No, I think you are too arrogant to be fearful.In any case you have nothing to fear from me.

            • ForChristAlone

              Forgive, Suzanne

        • TheAbaum

          Nobody is defending the indefensible. There are victims of other forms of abuse, in the world, and if you really want to stop the real wellspring of it now, check out your local public school. I live in a routine area, and the local TV station counted something like 20 cases in the last two years.

        • ForChristAlone

          Forgiveness, Danno. It where your hope lies.

          • Danno

            I can’t forgive those who are not sorry

      • suzanne sears

        Should they have done otherwise? Are we supposed to feel sorry for them, for a problem they brought on themselves – a problem that has ruined tens of thousands of children’s future lives – children entrusted to their care – because someone made them accountable for their irresponsible & many times criminal behavior for a few weeks? I don’t want clergy I have to worry about that kind of behavior taking place with. Maybe you do.

        • ForChristAlone

          Yes you are supposed to feel sorry for them, forgive them and find it in your heart to love them all. Otherwise, you will die with no peace of mind.

      • hombre111

        This seems to be true, at least in my diocese, and with the Jesuits. Many of the accused were long since dead. The diocese still paid a cash settlement, and paid for counseling, and so did the Jesuits.

        • John200

          Dear Father hombre,
          It is pleasant to agree with you on this topic. No real evidence: that’s it. Huh? Is that it? Yup.

          I have seen many similar stories. The evidence is never solid; in fact, it is generally garbage. There have been exposes of the prosecutors, but the media do not follow them up. The weight of evidence in favor of the Catholic clergy is overwhelming. At the ultra-worst, 1/10 of 1% of Catholic priests are implicated (more like 1/00 of 1%, but you get the picture). Compare this to the available data for Protestant ministers, or public school teachers, or athletic coaches. They are ALL far worse.

          Conclusion: If you wish to preserve a kid’s purity, you should send them — all of them, all ages and both sexes — to Catholic schools. The media does not like you to see the data.

          Investigating 30-50-year old crimes is idiocy. I struggle to see a parallel: You could prosecute me for driving drunk as a teenager; I am unable to answer definitively (which makes me look guilty). To be strictly honest, I might have done it when I was 18. I don’t think I did, but when I am in for the night I will drink beer or wine, and tell a few stories, and some of them will be true. I might have had one too many. I just don’t remember for sure.

          That said, I think a strong statute of limitations is a good thing.

          Glad to agree with you on something important. Best to you and yours.

          • Michael Paterson-Seymour

            “ I think a strong statute of limitations is a good thing” I’ll bet John Demjanjuk, Maurice Papon and Klaus Barbie thought so too.

            • RufusChoate

              So inappropriate Sexual Contact is political mass murder. That is so odd.

              • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                No, it is simply the principle that those in positions of power should not be able to commit crimes with impunity

                The public interest imperatively demands that they be brought to justice.

                • Art Deco

                  Michael, you’re not making sense. Either statutes of limitations are legitimate for lesser crimes or they are not. Quit quoting 17th century frogs and put your cards on the table.

                  • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                    Statutes of Limitation are essential in civil cases, to prevent the assertion of latent titles, amongst other things. In criminal causes, the maxim of the Common Law was “nullum tempus occurrit regi” – Time does not run against the king.

                    I recall here in Scotland, the trial in 2000 of Sister Alphonso (Marie Docherty), one of the Poor Sisters of Nazareth at Nazareth House, Aberdeen on an indictment containing charges of cruel and unnatural treatment of fifteen different children at the home in the period between 1965 and 1973. Sister Alphonso was convicted of three offences and was acquitted of other charges. It took Grampian Police and the Crown Office six years to trace witnesses to corroborate the initial complaint.

                    • Art Deco

                      MPS, whatever the common law says, the statute of limitations for federal crimes is five years in New York, variable elsewhere. There’s a reason for that.

            • Art Deco

              MPS, you are aware that Demjanjuk was traduced? I am not sure it is well and fully established where he was posted during various stages of the war (he pleaded bad memory), but he was not who the various prosecutors and investigators said he was.

              And can we please have a sense of scale here? It is common practice to not maintain statutes of limitations for Class A felonies like murder. However, it is standard practice for lesser crimes and standard practice for a reason. That aside, in these particular cases, the crimes alleged commonly have next-to-no evidence appended to them, just an accusation rendered decades after the fact. (In New York law, the vast majority of accusations against priests would be offenses deemed class A misdemeanors, class E felonies, or class D felonies. Generic burglaries are class D felonies, though seldom reported 15 years after the fact).

              (John Geoghan is the odd exception of a priest who could have been dealt with by law enforcement in real time; it would have required, however, that the five families who reported to the Boston chancery during the period running from 1980 to 1992 also reported to law enforcement).

          • hombre111

            Thanks. As Bishop Weigand of Sacramento once said, we are being judged by a modern mentality that only came into existence a few years ago, long after the crime was committed. But I still don’t think the reaction would have been so bad if the bishops had acted.

            As I have written several times in Crisis, in 1985, the bishops themselves commissioned a three man team–two priests and a lawyer–to look into rumors of sex abuse. They reported that it was a looming disaster and predicted it would cost the Church billions. The bishops deep-sixed the report and punished the priests. But one of them leaked the report to the National Catholic Reporter, which printed it in full. For those interested in going back, it is there to see. So, there was fair warning. Rome, which was busy correcting a bishop about altar girls at the time, did not notice.

            In the very early nineties, the first visible effect of the scandal emerged with early lawsuits. Some bishops, including my own, acted. In my diocese, the bishop set up very strict guidelines and chased at least two priests out of the diocese. In each case, the law was involved, but the counties did not press charges. But many bishops, such as Cardinal Law, did not act. Then, in 2000, the whole thing exploded, beginning in Boston. If the bishops had thought about the kids and not the institution fifteen years before, the whole scandal would not have been so damaging.

            But what amazes me even more is that Rome did not seem to see. And just as amazing is that the US crisis did not cause European and South American bishops to rush to clean their own houses.
            And so, it was a church-wide tragedy.

            • Art Deco

              The bishops deep-sixed the report and punished the priests.

              One of the priests in question (Thomas Doyle) is a gross heretic who should have been laicised for that reason alone. That aside, the bishops knew perfectly well without any Confrerence study they had a problem on their hands because there was a large and abrupt increase in the number of accusations against priests at that time (in Syracuse, a 15-fold increase; in Chicago, I believe it was a six fold increase). It did not reflect a real-time increase in the frequency of this activity, but in the willingness of people to register complaints about past activity.

        • Michael Paterson-Seymour

          “As one bishop said, ‘a guy says he is innocent, and then come three or four more charges. We just assume the worst.'”

          A more accurate way of putting it would be to say that where an accused person is charged with a series of similar offences closely linked in time, character and circumstances, the evidence of one witness implicating the accused in one offence may be taken to corroborate the evidence of another witness implicating the accused in another offence, each offence being treated as if it were an element in a single course of conduct.

          • hombre111

            Makes sense. The bishop was responding to a question I had asked: Why don’t you fight the case in court?” He also said that lawyers advise the diocese to settle because they will almost certainly lose in court, and will for a generation to come.

        • Art Deco

          As one bishop said, “a guy says he is innocent, and then come three or four more charges. We just assume the worst.”

          The majority of priests had one accusation lodged against them, the overwhelming majority one or two. About a third of the cases on file concerned a list of 149 priests among them John Geoghan and Paul Shanley. The Upstate New York dioceses avoided gross scandal in part because the luck of the draw did not stick them with one of these characters (or because St. Bernard’s Seminary managed to screen them out back in the day).

          • hombre111

            I actually was briefly acquainted with Geoghan. He seemed like a totally institutional kind of guy, very conservative, dignified, and reserved. I asked him why he did what he did and he responded, “If I knew, I would not have done it.”

        • RufusChoate

          There is an unbelievable amount of injustice being in this matter and it has more to do with political power than the spirit of charity.

    • ForChristAlone

      You might consider one of the protestant churches. You’ll sleep better at night.

      • Danno

        You might consider getting informed about the corruption in your organization.
        The human wreckage left behind is horrid.

        • suzanne sears

          I agree, Danno.

          • ForChristAlone

            Suzanne, your peace of mind will come as you forgive those who have offended you. You must find it in your heart to love them. Christ wants to give you this peace if but only you can find it in your heart to forgive.

        • ForChristAlone

          Forgiveness. Love your enemy.

    • Guest

      I agree.

    • RufusChoate

      Now there is the tell… ‘they will be looking at structural change as well as doctrinal change, no doubt about it.”
      That is what it is all about and all it was ever about. Making the Church in you image. The Left in the Church staging their own personal Reformation with them running the show. Doctrinal Change so it was the doctrine of the Church that allow this to happen?

      • PetrusRomanus1

        Both John Paul II and Benedict XVI used this argument and others like it to defend the appointment of ultra-orthodox bishops, whose ministry has been ultra-problematic to the church as it still tries to emerge from the clergy sex abuse crisis. What they have finally succeeded in doing is making the case for structural and doctrinal change in their church. And that is happening already, even as we exchange comments.
        The Roman Catholic church has plenty of room for diverse people with opinions. No one has any greater right to belong to the Body of Christ than any other, if indeed belonging can be considered a right! Christ’s church is in fact big enough to accommodate opposing perspectives on these questions, at least if our First Obligation is that of Love.

        • RufusChoate

          Every Heretic and Apostate down through the ages has deployed the same line of argument. You’re little more that a modern incarnation of the Albigensians.

          • PetrusRomanus1

            Even that appellation would be more than sufficient to checkmate you on the lack of a John Paul II/Benedict XVI bishop’s name. That means a Grand Slam for Tom Doyle.

            • RufusChoate

              That comment didn’t make any sense. Try again.

  • Jim Jones

    Anne Hendershott has obviously been overdosing on the kool-aid.

    • TheAbaum

      My guess is you have, which is why you changed your name midstream, “petrusromanus”.

      • Jim Jones

        you’re lost

        • TheAbaum

          Right. one comment, brand new name.

  • suzanne sears

    Why on Earth would a church with nothing to hide or be ashamed of, care if any victims group., protests its behavior? Shame on you, for writing such an Apologist article. if you think that church has nothing to hide, then try reading http://www.Bishopacccpountability.org website. That church is learning the hard way – that it’s not above the law – they have plenty to be accountable for – and anyone with 2 bran cells to rub together knows that by now.

    Their leadership seems to believe that because they merely say they’ve changed – that their congregations are somehow obligated to believe them – after decades of having flouted the law ( both civil law & Canon law) with impunity. Well – they’re not. And it’s high time they realized it. That church should be completely & totally ashamed THAT AFTER DECADES OF THIS CRISIS – THEY’VE STILL NOT FIRED A SINGLE U.S. BISHOP, FOR COVERING UP C.LERGY CHILD EXUAL ABUSE.AND THAT IT SPENDS MILLIONS OF $$ – TRYING TO AMEND STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS LAWS RE: CHILD SEX ABUSE, IN ITS FAVOR. That church still does not fire every Pedophile priest – and expects it parishioners to financially support them instead. What a totally disgusting Apologist article you’ve written here. Meanwhile – back on Planet Earth – some Catholics are aware of their church’s actual behavior in regard to clergy child sexual abuse – and they want it to STOP.

    • Art Deco

      Not good enough. You’re going to have to define ‘covering up’, for one. People make an accusation that’s believable up to a point but without enough evidence to stand up in court and one denied by the accused, what do you do? You likely do not tell the newspapers.

      You’re going to have to identify which bishop when. Few of these accusations were in real time or even recent enough to be justiciable according to a conventional statute of limitations.

      • suzanne sears

        Yeah? Well your not catching up on your reading on this topic – is not good enough for me, either. Read http://www.bichop accpuntability.org.- there are literally TONS OF PEDOPHILE PREISTS THAT HAVE NOT BEEN FIRED BY THE ROMAN catholic CHURCH. instead THEY ARE SHUFFLED OFF TO MONASTERIES, OR SOMEWHERE ELSE – AND TOLD TO LIVE A “LIFE O FPRAYER AND PEANACE” – ALL BECAUSE THAT CHURCH HASNT GOT THE NERVE TO FIRE THEM. THESE ARE CREDIBLY ACCUSED PORIESTS. WHY SHOULD THE LAITY BE OBLIGATED TO SUPPORT THEM? ESPECIALLY WHEN THAT CHURCH IS CLAIMING IT HJAS “OF ONE ALL IT CAN” TO RID ITSLEF OF PEDOPHILE PIRESTS AND PROTECT CHILDREN.

        IT SALSO CHURCH POLICY TO FIGHT STATUTS OF LIMITAITONS LAWS RE: CHILD SEX ABUSE – AALL OVER THE U.S. – THEY SPEND MILLIONS OF $$ ANNUALLY DOING THAT. BECAUSE THYE ARTE OH-SO CONC ERNED WITH PROTECTING CHILDREN? IF YOU BITHERED TO READ ANYTGHING PERTNEENT ABOUT THIS ISSUE – YOU’ ALREADY KNOW THAT.

        • suzanne sears

          Bishopaccountanbility.org – and if you object to informing yourself – then you are exactly the kind of parishioner the higher-level Roman Catholic clergy appears to want. Keep burying your head in the sand. Don’t bother to read anything that might make you question – whether the church hierarchy are actually “doing all they can” to fight clergy child sexual abuse. I’m sure that will be easier for you.

          • suzanne sears

            Typo – it is Bishopaccountability.org Honestly – you really need a definition of what “covering up” means? Not turning offending priests in, to law enforcement. How deep in denial are you, anyway?

            • Art Deco

              You do not listen, do you sister?

              I have seen the bishop accountability site many times.

              I am asking you for some clear thinking. There’s an obvious problem with turning over most offenders to law enforcement: the accusations are typically very dated. New York’s statute of limitations (enacted in 1986, IIRC) would allow ten years for a typical case (the scale varies according to the age of the accuser at the time of the supposed incident). A conventional statute of limitations would allow five or seven years. The vast majority of accusations refer to events farther in the past than that. John Geoghan was indicted on the basis of one accusation 10 years after the fact by an accuser who could remember no secondary details of the incident. That’s the best case the prosecutors in Boston had. It’s a reasonable guess that Geoghan was convicted due to inverted jury nullification. The evidence given by his accuser (that he remembered nothing of the incident other than it was a ‘bad touch’) should not have sufficed.

              • suzanne sears

                You are not in favor of a church with accountable clergy. Good luck with that. It has not proven to be a reliable way to deal with abusive clergy. I am done with this discussion. Good luck in your quest to have a church with accountable leaders – when they face no consequences for abusive behavior.

                • Art Deco

                  I am done with this discussion.

                  You have not discussed one thing. You’ve made a mess of emotional displays and are now lobbing accusations at me.

                  • TheAbaum

                    Check her history.

                    • ForChristAlone

                      Love it.

                • John200

                  “I am done with this discussion.”

                  No, SS, it is done with you. You have nothing to back up your assertions, and now you must go to other, more urgent activities.

                  Be sure to wipe and flush.

                • ForChristAlone

                  Forgiveness, Suzanne. Forgiveness. This is what will give you peace of mind and only this.

              • Michael Paterson-Seymour

                Remember Simon Wiesenthal’s heroic and partially successful campaign to have the 20-year statues of limitations in Germany and Austria extended or abolished altogether. Where is our Catholic Simon Wiesenthal?

                • Art Deco

                  There is no statute of limitations on murder in any jurisdiction in this country, so your example and complaint make no sense. We are talking about crimes (making use of New York’s scales as a reference point) which range from class A misdemeanors to class D felonies. Of course there are statutes of limitations for such crimes. As is, the available evidence is often thin. You want more inverted jury nullification or do you want more prosecutorial extortion. (The latter very common in this counrty).

            • ForChristAlone

              Forgiveness, Suzanne. Forgiveness.

              • TheAbaum

                I really wish people would investigate trolls before taking them at face value. Suzanne Sears is a left wing hack: She wrote this seven months ago.

                On Laura Ingraham:

                “She is just an example of a person who will do anything for enough money. She’s a prostitute at FOX news. There is no intellectual high ground here. She’s pandering for $$ and that’s it. She’s just a Whore.

                “Encouraging people to have children they cannot afford to raise is immoral. It’s one reason I stopped being a Roman Catholic.”

                And she had the stinking audacity to call Art a troll. Maybe what she wrote about Ingraham applies to her and she’s projecting.

          • ForChristAlone

            Forgiveness, Suzanne. Forgiveness

        • TheAbaum

          ALL CAPS!!!! I’M SCREAMING, HERE ME ROAR!!!

        • ForChristAlone

          But have you forgiven these trespasses? If not, you will not be forgiven yours. So says the Lord.

    • ForChristAlone

      Now that you’ve gotten that off your chest, take a deep breath and relax. After a good night’s sleep, you’ll feel better in the morning.

    • Danno

      Great Comment!

      • suzanne sears

        Thank you.

        • John200

          Dear Suzanne,

          I hate to interrupt the anti-Catholic lovefest, but you lovebirds need to know that yours was an awful comment.

          You missed the truth, and substituted a few exaggerations. Do your research, the statistical evidence is readily available. A child faces greater danger in public school than in Catholic schools or churches. Just so you know, that goes for little boys as well as little girls.

          Do your research. Then rub your “2 bran cells together” and see what comes forth. They might be fertile — I cannot say.

          And beware any commenter who takes his screen name from yogurt.

          • suzanne sears

            I’ll do it the day my priest abuser apologizes to me. But unfortunately that will never happen, because he’s dead.

            • suzanne sears

              I did ten years of research. I’ve read everything I could get my hands on, about how this issue is being handled. How dare you talk down to me. And NO, the church is NOT “doing al it can” to get rid of either Pedophile priests – or to bring justice to their victims.

              • John200

                “I’ve read everything I could get my hands on, about how this issue is being handled.”
                No, you didn’t. You read what was most tendentious, and processed it rather poorly. If you are to be believed, you misspent 10 years. I don’t think you spent more than 10 minutes on the topic, but leave that aside.

                “How dare you talk down to me.”
                I talk in the direction where I find you waiting and, one hopes, listening.

                • suzanne sears

                  How dare you say No you didn’t. Yes, I did. You don’t know me. And FYI: Forgiveness comes with Justice. I have not heard you mention justice once.. Not once. Apparently you are content to have a church rife with abusive Pedophiles. Well people like you, who bury their heads in the sand, are the reason the Roman Catholic church is in the state it’s in. Blame yourselves. Blind faith is nota good thing. it is a stupid thing.

                  • Art Deco
                  • John200

                    I do not feel daring in steering you toward the truth and away from that prison in your head.

                    Now say, “How dare you…” once more, so you can have a total of three little “events” and feel better, while striking out.

                    • suzanne sears

                      You are a real Egotist aren’t you? You flatter yourself. How humble and how Christian of you.

                    • ForChristAlone

                      Forgive, Suzanne. Retribution will not work; only forgiveness.

                    • John200

                      But Suzanne, you don”t know me. Remember? You flung that one at me a few comments back.

                      Nor did I say anything about myself, good bad, or indifferent; I make no claims to virtue. I wish I had them all.

                      You might be making progress. When you can laugh at someone who offers “How dare you…” as an argument, it will be better with you.

                      But I am not laughing at you. I am waiting for you to laugh at your ex-self.

              • TheAbaum

                Newsflash: You don’t want “justice”, you want revenge, well guess what, there’s a lot of people who had episodes of abuse and it wasn’t always at the hands of priests and all abusers aren’t dead or punished.

              • Art Deco
            • ForChristAlone

              If you want real peace of mind, you must forgive. There is no other option. For your own sake, seek God’s grace that will enable you to forgive your offender which means that you must love him.

            • RufusChoate

              You know that is very convenient that the accused is dead and it is so peculiar that it happens so frequently. How about third party corroboration of your claims? Anyone available?

            • 12Maria34

              Dear Suzanne Sears,

              God’s blessings of peace and joy!

              I feel your pain! I was not abused by any priests. As a
              matter of fact, I grew of knowing priests who are good, holy and
              courageous. Some gave their lives up. There are thousands and thousands of these unsung good priests or religious brothers and sisters. We barely hear their good works. Just like one rotten apple can contaminate the entire basket of good apples. I felt
              betrayed when I heard these news of priests sexually abusing children. There are good number of my good friends who talked about this and how we felt. We feel your pain. We are victims
              too.

              Abuse can be in a lot of form: emotionally, psychologically, mentally and physically (sexual). I do not know what is the worst kind or what is the most painful. I often think of Christ Crucified. It shivers me to know how much He love us even with all the abuses we throw at Him, my SINS. I believe that He experienced it all: emotional – how did He felt when all the apostles left Him even Peter denied him; psychological – He knew He is going to
              be crucified but in the garden He said Your will be done; mental – what were His thoughts when He was counting the days to His crucifixion ; physical – tripping of his clothes, the scouring at the pillar, falling 3x carrying the cross, the crucifixion — all of these, He forgave and give us the chance to eternal joy.

              I have personally questioned God why bishops allowed this to happened. One morning, I went to mass and it was the bishop I questioned God. Before receiving Him, I asked for forgiveness and I thank Him for showing me that I need to forgive for He has forgiven us.

              Just like a wound that leaves a scar, isn’t it time for you to forgive the priest who is already dead?

              May your forgiveness to the priest who wounded you brings peace and joy as you just have shared Christ’s sufferings.

              God’s blessing of peace and joy!
              Maria

              • suzanne sears

                Thanks, Maria, I appreciate that a lot

                • suzanne sears

                  Maria – I just wanted to say, that you are the only person here, save Danno, who has behaved in a Christian manner towards me.

                  The rest of the people on this page who I’ve had contact with – and their blindness and lack of plain decency toward other human beings – are a large part of the reason people are leaving the church.

                  A note to those people – Victims have enough trouble trying to keep their faith in the church. Thanks for making it harder. What an absolutely shameful example of Catholicism you set for anyone, let alone Christianity.
                  I

                  • ForChristAlone

                    There’s no getting away from it….you are still called to forgive – especially to love your enemies. There can be no love w/o forgiveness and once again, no peace of mind for you unless you can forgive.

    • RufusChoate

      The really odd thing is the people screeching the loudest about the Church “Sexual Abuse” scandals today are the same one’s who insisted that Homosexuals not be restricted from Priestly Formation back in the 1960’s, 1970’s and that every sin be treated as a opportunity for counseling and therapy even today they are more concerned with getting power for their group than actually addressing the issue.
      Not to dwell on anecdotal evidence but I am familiar with several cases of claimed Priestly abuse where the people involved with 18 and 19 and no sane person looking at the relationship who assume it was anything more than a consensual homosexual relationship but they sued and were paid off. One was so bold as to live with the now laicized priest after receiving a settlement.
      This is a standard modus operandi of the Left in every crisis. They precipitate the crisis then pretend they are only people capable of solving the problem they created.

  • tom

    Our leadership is weak.

    • suzanne sears

      I agree!

  • Tony

    The VOTF people don’t give a rat’s arse about the sex scandal. They are using it to try to wangle the political and doctrinal changes they want. They are, after all, the same people who cheer men marching naked in gay pride parades — and who do they think gives certain travel agencies such a lucrative business, taking sex trips to Burma and Thailand for child sex? Hmm? And why aren’t they picketing at the NEA, seeing that the public schools harbor a hell of a lot more child abusers than the Church did? And why aren’t they picketing Verizon for pandering to pedophiles? Because they don’t care. The issue is a crowbar, and that is all. Their disgusting treatment of Bishop Caggiano, who is a good man, shows their true colors.

    • suzanne sears

      Why? Because the church has given victims so many reason to trust their clergy?

      The church spends millions of $ – fighting to overturn, or not extend – child sexual abuse Statute of Limitations laws – all across the U.S – to avoid victims taking them to court – when they deserve to be taken to court.

      That church declares fake “bankruptcy” and hides $$ in parishes across the U.S. – to avoid paying victims who have won lawsuits against the church, for clergy child sex abuse in a court of law.

      The church has not fired one single Bishop, Archbishop or Cardinal, over their cover-up of clergy sexual abuse. Ever. After decades of this crisis being wsell-known to their hierarchy.

      That church does not fire all pedophile priests – of almost 7,000 credibly accused clergy in the U.S, alone – a few hundred have been Laicized. The rest are supported by donations form parishes – by a church tat a promised it is “doing all it can” to deal with Pedophile clergy.

      There is also nobody formally in charge of overseeing & ensuring that their much touted procedures in Catholic schools, for dealing with suspected abuse – are even enforced.

      No – Anned Hendershott – the church is definitely NOT “doing all it can” to deal with the problem of pedophile clergy. Yours is an Apologist, excuse-making – ill-informed article, if I’ve ever seen one.

      • ForChristAlone

        Obviously, taking a deep breath and trying to relax did not work at all. Time to turn to more drastic measures to get yourself back in control.

        • suzanne sears

          You’re not a Christian. Stop kidding yourself, you Moron. People like you are the reason that people leave the church

          • Art Deco

            It’s not ‘unchristian’ to point out that there is not much there there in your posts other than your own disordered emotional self.

          • ForChristAlone

            Forgive, Suzanne. It’s what Christ asks of you.

      • Art Deco

        The ‘ten years of research’ yields a datum off by 60%. It helps to not be innumerate.

      • Cha5678

        The statute of limitations laws were solely intended to target the church. This was a widespread problem before 1970s when the psychology experts counseled abusers could be reformed and reformed within their existing communities. There are only 2 institutions that maintain records to document abuse, attempted reform and human resource actions. Most other institutions from that time have closed or lost touch with their employees and shred the records. Only the church and state have a documented history dating that far back to make the legal discovery process profitable to lawyers and their clients. The church and the state. The state has immunity from the law. Leaving only the church to be attacked.

  • kmk

    Communists attempted (some succeeded) to infiltrate the Catholic
    Church in the last century by becoming priests. How can we prove that those with a homosexual agenda aren’t attempting the same sort of infiltration in this century? Sexual abuse is more prevalent in public schools, other religious denominations, and families – where is the outrage?

  • Pingback: Why Gonzaga University Is Not Really Catholic - BigPulpit.com()

  • Sam Schmitt

    I was at the meeting talked about in the article (it was open to the public). Please give Bishop Caggiano some credit – and more than just a single quote! The bishop is anything but stupid, naive or somehow giving credibility to this group. He’s no dupe. On the contrary, he has left in place the ban on VOTF meeting on church property – the meeting was held in the common room of a Protestant church. All my conservative Catholic friends there with me were very pleased with the bishop and agreed that the bishop made it clear that VOTF is way out of line with Church teaching and in their attitude toward authority in the Church.
    .
    The bishop answered all their questions very clearly and calmly; he made no promises, no concessions. The group is still not recognized by the bishop – what he’s interested in is reaching the souls of the people involved.
    .
    I was not bewildered or confused that the bishop called the members of VOTF “family.” Estranged, confused, members who have some very wrong and destructive beliefs, yes – but they are still members of this bishop’s flock.
    .
    Just for the record, I have no illusions about VOTF, and absolutely no sympathy for their views or their tactics. Their “theoiogy” is dead wrong – as the bishop made abundantly clear in the meeting. But I give credit to the bishop for being a bishop to these people.
    .
    Also for the record, Bishop Caggiano has been very friendly to traditional Catholics (not that the previous bishop was that unfriendly, just not very interested), attending some traditional masses in the diocese. I was there as well – there was no talking down, no patronizing at all. This is a bishop who is very confident about the Church and all of its teachings, and very comfortable in his own skin.

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