Wednesday, March 31, 2010

More Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church! (Part 1)


Pedophilia in the Catholic Church: Coverup Operation at the Vatican?
Pope Ratzinger's Swan Song
By Mike Whitney
Global Research, March 31, 2010
Pope Benedict should do everyone a favor and resign. By hanging on, he's just making matters worse. Who does he think he's fooling anyway? Everyone knows that he was involved in the sex-scandal cover up. Does he really think that a few papal apologies will make a difference? He was in charge and knew everything that was going on. That makes him responsible. His best option now is to "man up" and face the consequences. He needs to arrange a press conference, tell the truth, and resign. End of story.
It's clear that the problem isn't going to go away. In the last week, three more incidents have surfaced adding more fuel to the fire. In Wisconsin, Father Lawrence Murphy abused as many as 200 boys at a Milwaukee school for the deaf. One of the victims, Arthur Budzinski, has been all over TV telling his story and blaming the pope. It's pretty heart-wrenching stuff, too. According to Budzinski's daughter Gigi:
"The pope knew about this. He was the one who handled the sex abuse cases. So, I think he should be accountable, because he did nothing."
This is bad. Anyone can see that the Vatican was shuffling predators from one spot to another trying to keep the details out of the news. Maybe Benedict thought he was doing the right thing? Maybe he thought he was just being loyal or protecting the church from litigation? Who knows what he thought; it's beside the point. The bottom line is that people's lives have been ruined and someone has to pay.
Here's another bombshell which appeared in the Associated Press last week:
"In a signed statement last year, the 67 former pupils at a school for the deaf in Verona described sexual abuse, pedophilia and corporal punishment from the 1950s to the 1980s. They named 24 priests, brothers and lay religious men at the Antonio Provolo Institute for the Deaf.
One victim, Alessandro Vantini, told the AP last year that priests sodomized him so relentlessly he came to feel "as if I were dead."
"How could I tell my papa that a priest had sex with me?" Vantini, 59, said through a sign-language interpreter. "You couldn't tell your parents because the priests would beat you." ("Sex abuse scandal in US, Italy taints papacy", Nicole Winfield, AP)
67 victims here, 200 victims there; this is industrial-scale sex abuse, a veritable pedophile conveyor belt!
Naturally, the Vatican has circled the wagons and is lashing out at the media. But it's a hopeless cause. As the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ratzinger (as Benedict was known at the time) took steps to silence priests who wanted to reveal what they knew. In a 2001 letter to the bishops,
Benedict "ordered them to keep sexual abuse allegations secret under threat of excommunication
- updating a noxious church policy... that both priests accused of sex crimes and their victims "observe the strictest secret" and be "restrained by a perpetual silence." (Washington Post)
This is obstruction of justice, and Benedict should be prosecuted. No man is above the law; not even the pope. Religious freedom isn't license to rape children.
Benedict's letter helps to illustrate a larger point, too. It shows that the sex abuse scandal isn't really about sex abuse at all. It's about the people in positions of authority who violated the public's trust. That's the real story. It's about people who pretend to be "spiritual advisers", but don't even do the right thing when a child is sexually molested. And, these are the people who are giving advice on issues like homosexuality and birth control?
Benedict has also been implicated in a German case involving Father Peter Hullermann who was suspended from his duties but then, allowed to return to work "without restrictions" as a priest in Munich, even though a psychiatrist described him as a potential danger.
According to the New York Times: "In September 1979, the chaplain (Hullermann) was removed from his congregation after three sets of parents told his superior, the Rev. Norbert Essink, that he had molested their sons, charges he did not deny, according to notes taken by the superior and still in Father Hullermann’s personnel file... “Reports from the congregation in which he was last active made us aware that Chaplain Hullermann presented a danger that caused us to immediately withdraw him from pastoral duties."
Hullermann was allowed to return to his parish work on Feb. 1, 1980. He was finally convicted in 1986 of molesting boys in Bavaria.
Can you see a pattern here? These are more than isolated incidents. It's like some gruesome papal crime-ring; Ratzinger's Sopranos.
A few weeks ago, Benedict issued an apology to Catholics in Ireland for decades of cruelty and abuse. In the papal communique Benedict opined, "I can only share in the dismay and the sense of betrayal that so many of you have experienced on learning of these sinful and criminal acts and the way Church authorities in Ireland dealt with them."
Benedict's comments are predictably insincere. He knew exactly what was going on. As Catholic theologian, Hans Kueng points out:
"There was not a single man in the whole Catholic Church who knew more about the sex-abuse cases than him, because it was ex officio (part of his official role)... "He can’t wag his finger at the bishops and say, you didn’t do enough. He gave the instruction himself, as head of the Congregation of Doctrine of the Faith, and repeated it as Pope."
Sinead O'Connor, Irish musician and abuse-victim, was so incensed by Benedict's fake empathy, she wrote a fiery article for the Washington Post where she said:
"Irish Catholics are in a dysfunctional relationship with an abusive organization. The pope must take responsibility for the actions of his subordinates. If Catholic priests are abusing children, it is Rome, not Dublin, that must answer for it with a full confession and a criminal investigation. Until it does, all good Catholics... should avoid Mass. In Ireland, it is time we separated our God from our religion, and our faith from its alleged leaders."
This case goes way beyond the sleazy details of one man's repeated attempts to conceal the criminal activities of serial molesters and child rapists. The real issue is whether people in positions of power are to be held accountable for their actions and whether the law really applies to everyone equally and without exception. That's what's at stake here. Ratzinger needs to be indicted, prosecuted and - if found guilty - sentenced to prison.
Schönborn, Ratzinger, and Groër
Leon J. Podles
March 28th, 2010
Now that he has made a public statement, I feel I can now reveal what Cardinal Schönborn told me two years ago.
I know him a little, and I sent him my book Sacrilege: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church. We met in San Diego, and I asked him what he thought of the book, especially the section on his predecessor, Cardinal Groër. I wondered whether I had understood all the German sources correctly.
Schönborn said the situation was worse than I knew. Groër had molested almost every student he had come into contact with for decades. After Groër was accused of this abuse, John Paul II continued to receive Groër socially in the Vatican, and tens of thousands of Austrians were resigning from the Church in protest.
Schönborn in person pleaded with John Paul to make a statement about Groër. John Paul replied that he would like to, but “they won’t let me.”
“They”? I asked Schönborn. Who are “they” who can tell the pope what to do or not to do? Schönborn said that John Paul would not explain. I gathered from the context it must be part of the curia.
Schönborn has now explained:
Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, in defense of the pope, told ORF Austrian television on Sunday that Benedict wanted a full probe when former Vienna Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer was removed in 1995 for alleged sexual abuse of a boy.
But other Curia officials persuaded then Pope John Paul that the media had exaggerated the case and an inquiry would only create more bad publicity.
“He told me, ‘the other side won’,” Schoenborn said.
This other side, from all indications, was Cardinal Sodano, the Secretary of State, or at least some influential members of that Secretariat.. Ratzinger did not report directly to the pope, but to the Secretary of State.
Kathweb reports:
Der heutige Papst habe sich in der Causa Groer (1995) energisch für eine vatikanische Untersuchungskommission eingesetzt. Diese sei aber von der “anderen Partei” im Vatikan verhindert worden, berichtete Schönborn: “Ratzinger hat mir damals traurig gesagt: Die andere Partei hat sich durchgesetzt.”
Bei den Kommissions-Gegner habe es sich 1995 um die - im Staatssekretariat angesiedelte - “diplomatische Schiene” gehandelt.
Ratzinger sei auch der Verantwortliche für die Errichtung des “Gerichtshofs” in der Glaubenskongregation zur Behandlung der “delicta graviora” gewesen: “Ihm vorzuwerfen, er sei ein Vertuscher, ist deshalb nicht wahr.”
Ratzinger made a mistake in his handling of the Hullermann case; from all indications, he wanted to act against other abusers but was limited by John Paul and Sodano. No doubt he feels it a terrible injustice to be criticized for others’ failures. It would be awkward for Benedict to blame others, even if they are to blame. He should set up an independent commission to investigate what really happened and to bring out the truth about who was blocking the investigations of abusers.
But of course if John Paul II failed, the next question would be. “Why on earth are you trying to canonize him as a saint?” And if Sodano is the one responsible, why is he still a cardinal?
With Scrutiny, Vatican Faces Test of ‘Moral Credibility’
By Rachel Donadio
March 27, 2010
ROME — As Pope Benedict XVI faces growing pressure to address his role in the handling of sexual abuse cases over the years, the Vatican acknowledged on Saturday that its ability to handle the crisis was a crucial test of its “moral credibility.”
In a note read on Vatican radio on Saturday, the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, spoke about the recent news media coverage of a widening abuse scandal in Europe, including recent revelations in The New York Times.
“The nature of the question is such as to attract the attention of the media, and the way in which the church deals with it is crucial for her moral credibility,” Father Lombardi said.
The note, which was not an official statement, comes as Benedict faces increased scrutiny about his role in handling abuse cases, especially as archbishop of Munich and Freising in 1980, when a known pedophile priest was transferred to his diocese.
In a harsh editorial on Friday, The National Catholic Reporter, an American Catholic publication, called on Benedict to “directly answer questions, in a credible forum” about his role “in the mismanagement of the clergy sex abuse crisis.” It called for clarity about his time as archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982 and then as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the office that oversaw many abuse cases, from 1982 until becoming pope in 2005.
“No longer can the Vatican simply issue papal messages — subject to nearly infinite interpretations and highly nuanced constructions — that are passively ‘received’ by the faithful,” the editorial said. “No longer can secondary Vatican officials, those who serve the pope, issue statements and expect them to be accepted at face value.”
It concluded by saying: “We now face the largest institutional crisis in centuries, possibly in church history. How this crisis is handled by Benedict, what he says and does, how he responds and what remedies he seeks, will likely determine the future health of our church for decades, if not centuries, to come.
“It is time, past time really, for direct answers to difficult questions,” the editorial added. “It is time to tell the truth.”
In his note on Saturday, a day before the start of Holy Week leading up to Easter, one of the most sacred weeks in the Catholic calendar, Father Lombardi pointed to the “extraordinary preventative efforts being undertaken” with training courses for youth and clergy after the application of the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People” issued by the Catholic Church in the United States. He added that accusations of abuse fell 30 percent over the last year and said most reported cases were more than 30 years old.
“The authority of the pope and the intense and coherent commitment of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith have not been weakened,” Father Lombardi said. “Rather, they have been confirmed in their support and guidance to bishops to combat and root out the blight of abuse wherever it happens.”
In Ireland and elsewhere, local bishops have asked the Vatican for clarity on norms that at once urge secrecy in handling abuse cases and cooperation with civilian authorities in the case of a suspected crime.
Memo to Pope Described Transfer of Pedophile Priest
By Nicholas Kulish and Katrin Bennhold
March 25, 2010
MUNICH — The future Pope Benedict XVI was kept more closely apprised of a sexual abuse case in Germany than previous church statements have suggested, raising fresh questions about his handling of a scandal unfolding under his direct supervision before he rose to the top of the church’s hierarchy.
Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope and archbishop in Munich at the time, was copied on a memo that informed him that a priest, whom he had approved sending to therapy in 1980 to overcome pedophilia, would be returned to pastoral work within days of beginning psychiatric treatment. The priest was later convicted of molesting boys in another parish.
An initial statement on the matter issued earlier this month by the Archdiocese of Munich and Freising placed full responsibility for the decision to allow the priest to resume his duties on Cardinal Ratzinger’s deputy, the Rev. Gerhard Gruber. But the memo, whose existence was confirmed by two church officials, shows that the future pope not only led a meeting on Jan. 15, 1980, approving the transfer of the priest, but was also kept informed about the priest’s reassignment.
What part he played in the decision making, and how much interest he showed in the case of the troubled priest, who had molested multiple boys in his previous job, remains unclear. But the personnel chief who handled the matter from the beginning, the Rev. Friedrich Fahr, “always remained personally, exceptionally connected” to Cardinal Ratzinger, the church said.
The case of the German priest, the Rev. Peter Hullermann, has acquired fresh relevance because it unfolded at a time when Cardinal Ratzinger, who was later put in charge of handling thousands of abuse cases on behalf of the Vatican, was in a position to refer the priest for prosecution, or at least to stop him from coming into contact with children. The German Archdiocese has acknowledged that “bad mistakes” were made in the handling of Father Hullermann, though it attributed those mistakes to people reporting to Cardinal Ratzinger rather than to the cardinal himself.
Church officials defend Benedict by saying the memo was routine and was “unlikely to have landed on the archbishop’s desk,” according to the Rev. Lorenz Wolf, judicial vicar at the Munich Archdiocese. But Father Wolf said he could not rule out that Cardinal Ratzinger had read it.
According to Father Wolf, who spoke with Father Gruber this week at the request of The New York Times, Father Gruber, the former vicar general, said that he could not remember a detailed conversation with Cardinal Ratzinger about (left) Father Hullermann, but that Father Gruber refused to rule out that “the name had come up.”
Benedict is well known for handling priestly abuse cases in the Vatican before he became pope. While some have criticized his role in adjudicating such cases over the past two decades, he has also won praise from victims’ advocates for taking the issue more seriously, apologizing to American victims in 2008.
The future pope’s time in Munich, in the broader sweep of his life story, has until now been viewed mostly as a steppingstone on the road to the Vatican. But this period in his career has recently come under scrutiny — particularly six decisive weeks from December 1979 to February 1980.
In that short span, a review of letters, meeting minutes and documents from personnel files shows, Father Hullermann went from disgrace and suspension from his duties in Essen to working without restrictions as a priest in Munich, despite the fact that he was described in the letter requesting his transfer as a potential “danger.”
In September 1979, the chaplain was removed from his congregation after three sets of parents told his superior, the Rev. Norbert Essink, that he had molested their sons, charges he did not deny, according to notes taken by the superior and still in Father Hullermann’s personnel file in Essen.
On Dec. 20, 1979, Munich’s personnel chief, Father Fahr, received a phone call from his counterpart in the Essen Diocese, Klaus Malangré.
There is no official record of their conversation, but in a letter to Father Fahr dated that Jan. 3, Father Malangré referred to it as part of a formal request for Father Hullermann’s transfer to Munich to see a psychiatrist there.
Sexual abuse of boys is not explicitly mentioned in the letter, but the subtext is clear. “Reports from the congregation in which he was last active made us aware that Chaplain Hullermann presented a danger that caused us to immediately withdraw him from pastoral duties,” the letter said. By pointing out that “no proceedings against Chaplain Hullermann are pending,” Father Malangré also communicated that the danger in question was serious enough that it could have merited legal consequences.
He dropped another clear hint by suggesting that Father Hullermann could teach religion “at a girls’ school.”
On Jan. 9, Father Fahr prepared a summary of the situation for top officials at the diocese, before their weekly meeting, saying that a young chaplain needed “medical-psychotherapeutic treatment in Munich” and a place to live with “an understanding colleague.” Beyond that, it presented the priest from Essen in almost glowing terms, as a “very talented man, who could be used in a variety of ways.”
Father Fahr’s role in the case has thus far received little attention, in contrast to Father Gruber’s mea culpa.
Father Wolf, who is acting as the internal legal adviser on the Hullermann case, said in an interview this week that Father Fahr was “the filter” of all information concerning Father Hullermann. He was also, according to his obituary on the archdiocese Web site, a close friend of Cardinal Ratzinger.
A key moment came on Tuesday, Jan. 15, 1980. Cardinal Ratzinger presided that morning over the meeting of the diocesan council. His auxiliary bishops and department heads gathered in a conference room on the top floor of the bishop’s administrative offices, housed in a former monastery on a narrow lane in downtown Munich.
It was a busy day, with the deaths of five priests, the acquisition of a piece of art and pastoral care in Vietnamese for recent immigrants among the issues sharing the agenda with item 5d, the delicate matter of Father Hullermann’s future.
The minutes of the meeting include no references to the actual discussion that day, simply stating that a priest from Essen in need of psychiatric treatment required room and board in a Munich congregation. “The request is granted,” read the minutes, stipulating that Father Hullermann would live at St. John the Baptist Church in the northern part of the city.
Church officials have their own special name for the language in meeting minutes, which are internal but circulate among secretaries and other diocese staff members, said Father Wolf, who has a digitized archive of meeting minutes, including those for the Jan. 15 meeting. “It’s protocol-speak,” he said. “Those who know what it’s about understand, and those who don’t, don’t.”
Five days later, on Jan. 20, Cardinal Ratzinger’s office received a copy of the memo from his vicar general, Father Gruber, returning Father Hullermann to full duties, a spokesman for the archdiocese confirmed.
Father Hullermann resumed parish work practically on arrival in Munich, on Feb. 1, 1980. He was convicted in 1986 of molesting boys at another Bavarian parish.
This week, new accusations of sexual abuse emerged, both from his first assignment in a parish near Essen, in northern Germany, and from 1998 in the southern German town of Garching an der Alz.
Father Fahr died two years ago. A spokesman for the diocese in Essen said that Father Malangré was not available for an interview. Father Malangré, now 88, recently had an accident and was confused and unreliable as a witness when questioned in an internal inquiry into the handling of Father Hullermann’s case, said the spokesman, Ulrich Lota.
Father Gruber, who took responsibility for the decision to put Father Hullermann back into a parish, was not present at the Jan. 15 meeting, according to Father Wolf, and has not answered repeated interview requests. *******
Vatican Declined to Defrock U.S. Priest Who Abused Boys
By Laurie Goodstein
Published: March 24, 2010
Top Vatican officials — including the future Pope Benedict XVI — did not defrock a priest who molested as many as 200 deaf boys, even though several American bishops repeatedly warned them that failure to act on the matter could embarrass the church, according to church files newly unearthed as part of a lawsuit.
The internal correspondence from bishops in Wisconsin directly to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, shows that while church officials tussled over whether the priest should be dismissed, their highest priority was protecting the church from scandal.
The documents emerge as Pope Benedict is facing other accusations that he and direct subordinates often did not alert civilian authorities or discipline priests involved in sexual abuse when he served as an archbishop in Germany and as the Vatican’s chief doctrinal enforcer.
The Wisconsin case involved an American priest, the Rev. Lawrence C. Murphy, who worked at a renowned school for deaf children from 1950 to 1974. But it is only one of thousands of cases forwarded over decades by bishops to the Vatican office called the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, led from 1981 to 2005 by Cardinal Ratzinger. It is still the office that decides whether accused priests should be given full canonical trials and defrocked.
In 1996, Cardinal Ratzinger failed to respond to two letters about the case from Rembert G. Weakland, Milwaukee’s archbishop at the time. After eight months, the second in command at the doctrinal office, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, now the Vatican’s secretary of state, instructed the Wisconsin bishops to begin a secret canonical trial that could lead to Father Murphy’s dismissal.
But Cardinal Bertone halted the process after Father Murphy personally wrote to Cardinal Ratzinger protesting that he should not be put on trial because he had already repented and was in poor health and that the case was beyond the church’s own statute of limitations.
“I simply want to live out the time that I have left in the dignity of my priesthood,” Father Murphy wrote near the end of his life to Cardinal Ratzinger. “I ask your kind assistance in this matter.” The files contain no response from Cardinal Ratzinger.
The New York Times obtained the documents, which the church fought to keep secret, from Jeff Anderson and Mike Finnegan, the lawyers for five men who have brought four lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Milwaukee. The documents include letters between bishops and the Vatican, victims’ affidavits, the handwritten notes of an expert on sexual disorders who interviewed Father Murphy and minutes of a final meeting on the case at the Vatican.
Father Murphy not only was never tried or disciplined by the church’s own justice system, but also got a pass from the police and prosecutors who ignored reports from his victims, according to the documents and interviews with victims. Three successive archbishops in Wisconsin were told that Father Murphy was sexually abusing children, the documents show, but never reported it to criminal or civil authorities.
Instead of being disciplined, Father Murphy was quietly moved by Archbishop William E. Cousins of Milwaukee to the Diocese of Superior in northern Wisconsin in 1974, where he spent his last 24 years working freely with children in parishes, schools and, as one lawsuit charges, a juvenile detention center. He died in 1998, still a priest.
Even as the pope himself in a recent letter to Irish Catholics has emphasized the need to cooperate with civil justice in abuse cases, the correspondence seems to indicate that the Vatican’s insistence on secrecy has often impeded such cooperation. At the same time, the officials’ reluctance to defrock a sex abuser shows that on a doctrinal level, the Vatican has tended to view the matter in terms of sin and repentance more than crime and punishment.
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, was shown the documents and was asked to respond to questions about the case. He provided a statement saying that Father Murphy had certainly violated “particularly vulnerable” children and the law, and that it was a “tragic case.” But he pointed out that the Vatican was not forwarded the case until 1996, years after civil authorities had investigated the case and dropped it.
Father Lombardi emphasized that neither the Code of Canon Law nor the Vatican norms issued in 1962, which instruct bishops to conduct canonical investigations and trials in secret, prohibited church officials from reporting child abuse to civil authorities. He did not address why that had never happened in this case.
As to why Father Murphy was never defrocked, he said that “the Code of Canon Law does not envision automatic penalties.” He said that Father Murphy’s poor health and the lack of more recent accusations against him were factors in the decision.
The Vatican’s inaction is not unusual. Only 20 percent of the 3,000 accused priests whose cases went to the church’s doctrinal office between 2001 and 2010 were given full church trials, and only some of those were defrocked, according to a recent interview in an Italian newspaper with Msgr. Charles J. Scicluna, the chief internal prosecutor at that office. An additional 10 percent were defrocked immediately. Ten percent left voluntarily. But a majority — 60 percent — faced other “administrative and disciplinary provisions,” Monsignor Scicluna said, like being prohibited from celebrating Mass.
To many, Father Murphy appeared to be a saint: a hearing man gifted at communicating in American Sign Language and an effective fund-raiser for deaf causes. A priest of the Milwaukee Archdiocese, he started as a teacher at St. John’s School for the Deaf, in St. Francis, in 1950. He was promoted to run the school in 1963 even though students had disclosed to church officials in the 1950s that he was a predator.
Victims give similar accounts of Father Murphy’s pulling down their pants and touching them in his office, his car, his mother’s country house, on class excursions and fund-raising trips and in their dormitory beds at night. Arthur Budzinski said he was first molested when he went to Father Murphy for confession when he was about 12, in 1960.
“If he was a real mean guy, I would have stayed away,” said Mr. Budzinski, now 61, who worked for years as a journeyman printer. “But he was so friendly, and so nice and understanding. I knew he was wrong, but I couldn’t really believe it.”
Mr. Budzinski and a group of other deaf former students spent more than 30 years trying to raise the alarm, including passing out leaflets outside the Milwaukee cathedral. Mr. Budzinski’s friend Gary Smith said in an interview that Father Murphy molested him 50 or 60 times, starting at age 12. By the time he graduated from high school at St. John’s, Mr. Smith said, “I was a very, very angry man.”
In 1993, with complaints about Father Murphy landing on his desk, Archbishop Weakland hired a social worker specializing in treating sexual offenders to evaluate him. After four days of interviews, the social worker said that Father Murphy had admitted his acts, had probably molested about 200 boys and felt no remorse.
However, it was not until 1996 that Archbishop Weakland tried to have Father Murphy defrocked. The reason, he wrote to Cardinal Ratzinger, was to defuse the anger among the deaf and restore their trust in the church. He wrote that since he had become aware that “solicitation in the confessional might be part of the situation,” the case belonged at the doctrinal office.
With no response from Cardinal Ratzinger, Archbishop Weakland wrote a different Vatican office in March 1997 saying the matter was urgent because a lawyer was preparing to sue, the case could become public and “true scandal in the future seems very possible.”
Recently some bishops have argued that the 1962 norms dictating secret disciplinary procedures have long fallen out of use. But it is clear from these documents that in 1997, they were still in force.
But the effort to dismiss Father Murphy came to a sudden halt after the priest appealed to Cardinal Ratzinger for leniency.
In an interview, Archbishop Weakland said that he recalled a final meeting at the Vatican in May 1998 in which he failed to persuade Cardinal Bertone and other doctrinal officials to grant a canonical trial to defrock Father Murphy. (In 2002, Archbishop Weakland resigned after it became public that he had an affair with a man and used church money to pay him a settlement.)
Archbishop Weakland said this week in an interview, “The evidence was so complete, and so extensive that I thought he should be reduced to the lay state, and also that that would bring a certain amount of peace in the deaf community.”
Father Murphy died four months later at age 72 and was buried in his priestly vestments. Archbishop Weakland wrote a last letter to Cardinal Bertone explaining his regret that Father Murphy’s family had disobeyed the archbishop’s instructions that the funeral be small and private, and the coffin kept closed.
“In spite of these difficulties,” Archbishop Weakland wrote, “we are still hoping we can avoid undue publicity that would be negative toward the church.”
Abuse Scandal’s Ripples Spread Across Europe
Katrin Bennhold, Nicholas Kulish and Rachel Donadio
March 24, 2010
MUNICH — The fallout from the sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church settled across Europe on Wednesday, as prosecutors said they were weighing criminal charges against a priest suspected of molesting children in Germany, and Pope Benedict XVI accepted the resignation of a bishop accused of mishandling allegations of abuse in Ireland.
The possibility of criminal charges emerged from new accusations against a priest at the center of the child-molesting scandal rocking the church in Germany. On Wednesday, church officials in Munich said the priest, the Rev. Peter Hullermann — whose transfer in 1980 to an archdiocese led at the time by Benedict, then Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger, has drawn the pope himself into the nation’s child abuse controversy — had been accused of molesting a minor as recently as 1998.
The latest revelation comes as church officials in northern Germany say they have “credible evidence” of at least two other cases of sexual abuse committed by Father Hullermann in the 1970s, adding to a trail of accusations that suggest a pattern of abuse over two decades. During that time, church officials repeatedly transferred Father Hullermann to new parishes and allowed him to work with children, even after a 1986 conviction for sexually abusing boys.
Father Hullermann has not returned repeated calls and hung up without comment when reached briefly on Wednesday.
At the Vatican on Thursday, a small group of abuse victims gathered to demonstrate against the church’s refusal to defrock a priest in Wisconsin implicated in the abuse of as many as 200 deaf boys, and the role the pope had played in the case when oversaw the Vatican’s doctrinal arm.
“The goal of Cardinal Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict, was to keep this secret,” Peter Isely, Midwest director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, told the Associated Press. “This is the most incontrovertible case of pedophilia you could get.”
The A.P. reported that some of the demonstrators were detained by police. In Ireland, Bishop John Magee, whose resignation was accepted by the pope on Wednesday, issued a statement of apology. In 2008, an investigation by a church panel into allegations in Cloyne found that Bishop Magee had failed to respond to accusations of abuse and that policies to protect children were severely lacking, setting off calls for his resignation.
“As I depart, I want to offer once again my sincere apologies,” said Bishop Magee, who had served as private secretary to three popes. He added, “To those whom I have failed in any way, or through any omission of mine have made suffer, I beg forgiveness and pardon.”
Bishop Magee’s was the first resignation the pope accepted since issuing a long-awaited letter to Irish Catholics last weekend apologizing to victims of sexual abuse and expressing “shame and remorse.”
Yet Benedict’s letter did not call for any church leaders to be disciplined, feeding a growing sense of anger in Ireland. Many Catholics there are demanding that the leader of the Irish church, Cardinal Sean Brady, resign over his role as a young priest in the 1970s in urging two children to sign secrecy agreements and not to report abuse.
Benedict’s letter followed two scathing Irish government reports last year revealing decades of sexual abuse of tens of thousands of children and a widespread cover-up. The findings have shaken the Irish church to its core; some fear it has lost a generation to the crisis.
Bishop Magee’s resignation accompanied a steady drumbeat for more church leaders to step down. Beyond Bishop Magee, four other Irish bishops implicated in the government reports for failing to protect children have offered to resign, but Benedict has accepted only one’s offer.
Nor has Benedict addressed the German scandal directly. So far, no cases have emerged from the two-year period when Father Hullermann worked at St. John the Baptist Church in Munich and Benedict was archbishop. But accusations have now surfaced at every other stop between Father Hullermann’s ordination in 1973 and his criminal conviction in 1986, and during a later assignment in 1998.
In a statement on Wednesday, the Munich archdiocese said the most recent potential victim had contacted the church. “The likely victim was a minor at the time,” the statement said, noting that the case had been referred to the prosecutor’s office.
“We are currently investigating the circumstances of the case,” said Eduard Mayer, the head of the prosecutor’s office handling the matter.
Church authorities have also been alerted to two previously unknown potential victims in the northern town of Bottrop. “We have two tip-offs that are so conclusive that we must proceed under the assumption that these incidents took place,” said Ulrich Lota, spokesman for the diocese in Essen, where Father Hullermann was ordained, confirming that in both cases the victims were boys.
Father Hullermann was abruptly transferred from Bottrop to Essen in 1977, but, according to Mr. Lota, there are no references in his file to abuse from that time.
Two years later, three sets of parents told the priest in charge of Father Hullermann’s new church that he had abused their children, prompting his transfer to Munich for therapy, where he was returned to parish duties.
After just over two years in Munich he was transferred once again, this time to the nearby town of Grafing. There, he abused several boys, leading to his conviction in 1986, which resulted in a suspended sentence of five years’ probation and a fine.
He then spent one year working in a nursing home before he was sent to a parish in Garching.
On Tuesday, Cardinal Friedrich Wetter, the archbishop at the time of Father Hullermann’s transfer to Garching, asked victims and their families to forgive him for allowing the priest to transfer to there during his tenure. “I am now painfully aware that I should have made a different decision at the time,” said Cardinal Wetter, who stepped down as archbishop in 2007.
Wolfgang Reichenwallner, the mayor of Garching, where Father Hullermann worked for 21 years after his 1986 conviction, said that the apology had come “awfully late” and that town officials had not been informed about the priest’s repeated transgressions.
Cardinal Wetter said he had “overestimated a person’s ability to change and underestimated the difficulties of therapeutic treatment for people with pedophile tendencies.”
The Munich archdiocese, in its initial statement on Father Hullermann’s case this month, said “the statements of the treating psychologist” were decisive in his return to parish duties.
But Dr. Werner Huth, the psychiatrist who treated Father Hullermann from 1980 to 1992, said last week that from the very outset he had repeatedly warned church officials not to allow the priest to work with children ever again.
Correction: March 25, 2010
An earlier version of this article misstated the scale of the abuse scandal within the Irish church as described in Irish government reports last year. The reports revealed the abuse of tens of thousands of children, not hundreds of thousands of children.
Pope's Irish letter faces critical Catholic world
By Shawn Pogatchnik
The Associated Press
Saturday, March 20, 2010
DUBLIN -- Pope Benedict XVI addresses Ireland on Saturday in a letter apologizing for the sex abuse scandal here - a message being watched closely by Catholics from Boston to Berlin to see if it also acknowledges decades of Vatican-approved cover-ups.
The church is only beginning to come to terms with decades of child abuse in its parishes and schools. The scandals first emerged in Canada and Australia in the 1980s, followed by Ireland in the 1990s, the United States this decade and, in recent months, Benedict's German homeland.
Victims' rights activists say that to begin mending the church's battered image, Benedict's message - his first pastoral letter on child abuse in the church - must break his silence on the role of the Catholic hierarchy in shielding pedophile clergy from prosecution.
That includes abuses committed decades ago under the pope's watch, when he was Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger of Munich, as well as the pontiff's role in hushing up the scandals.
As leader of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Ratzinger was responsible for a 2001 Vatican edict that instructed bishops to report all cases of child abuse to Vatican authorities under strict secrecy; it made no mention of reporting crimes to police.
"Is it not time for Pope Benedict XVI himself to acknowledge his share of responsibility?" said the Rev. Hans Kung, a Swiss priest and dissident Catholic theologian.
"Honesty demands that Joseph Ratzinger himself, the man who for decades has been principally responsible for the worldwide cover-up, at last pronounce his own mea culpa," Kung said.
Benedict, who served as archbishop of Munich from 1977 to 1982, has yet to speak about the hundreds of abuse cases emerging since January in Germany.
These include the Rev. Peter Hullermann, who was already suspected of abusing boys in the western German city of Essen when Ratzinger approved his transfer to Munich for treatment in 1980.
There, Hullermann was allowed contact with children almost immediately after his therapy began. He was again accused of molesting boys and was convicted in 1986 of sexual abuse. He was suspended this week for ignoring a 2008 church order not to work with youths.
Dirk Taenzler, director of the Federation for German Catholic Youth, said his members were appalled by the revelations of abuse in church-run schools and choirs - and wondered why the pope had yet to address his fellow Germans.
"Everyone is suffering from the church's bad image," Taenzler said. "It is an issue in every congregation and everyone is trying to cope."
Benedict's successor in Munich, Archbishop Reinhard Marx, said the pope's letter to Ireland "will of course affect us. The pope always speaks for everyone. It is not ... for specific groups or countries. That word will also be important for us."
Marx said the pope should not be expected to take responsibility for abuses committed by individual priests. "We expect the pope to take a stand on everything every time, but we are responsible for what happens here," he said.
In the United States, where several dioceses have been driven to bankruptcy amid abuse lawsuits, activists called on the pope to be candid about his own failings - and for bishops to be held accountable.
"So far the church hierarchy has been very short on accountability. They've had to be pushed to come clean about their responsibility for anything," said Dan Bartley, president of Voice of the Faithful, a Catholic lay group that lobbies for reform within the church. "He needs to call for any bishops involved in the Irish crisis to resign. But unfortunately we're not expecting that."
Ray Flynn, former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, said the pope has been slow to speak publicly about the church's abuse crisis because he lacks media savvy, not because he wants to stonewall critics or doesn't care about victims. "He is a very quiet, unassuming, non-pretentious man," Flynn said.
"He's got to be transparent, forthcoming, right out front and point the finger where the blame is," he added. "I think the truth will set you free, and that's what people want."
No country has been harder hit by the child-abuse scandals than Ireland, a nation of 4 million that has paid out more than $1 billion to some 13,000 victims. Victims' advocates say they are tired of hearing church apologies that contain no acknowledgment of how bishops under Vatican direction let child molesters operate with impunity.
"What we probably will get - I hope I'm wrong - are a lot of expressions of regret and sorrow and apology about the horrors of child abuse in the past. I've heard that so often now," said Marie Collins, one of Ireland's most prominent campaigners for victims' rights.
"I want to hear apologies for the actions of the church hierarchy."
Collins, 63, was repeatedly raped by a Dublin priest, Paul McGennis, while in a children's hospital in 1960. Irish bishops knew at the time about McGennis' pedophilia - even confiscating his collection of nude photos of children - but didn't bar him from the priesthood until 1997, shortly before his conviction for abusing Collins and another girl.
Such cover-ups have undermined much of the Irish hierarchy including its leader, Cardinal Sean Brady.
On St. Patrick's Day, Brady apologized for his failure to tell police about evidence he gathered in 1975 from two altar boys molested by the Rev. Brendan Smyth. Smyth kept abusing children until he was finally convicted in 1994. The scandal triggered the collapse of the Irish government.
Three Irish government-ordered investigations from 2005 to 2009 documented the abuse of thousands of Irish children by priests in their parishes and by nuns and brothers in boarding schools and orphanages. Irish bishops did not report a single case to police until 1996 after victims began to sue the church.
Some church scholars say Benedict has sought to encourage a church crackdown on abusers and are hopeful that Saturday's message might offer a fresh start for the church worldwide.
"If we do take serious and proper steps, the house can be cleaned and the church will improve for it," said the Rev. John Wauck, a commentator on Vatican affairs.
"I think that's something to look forward to with hope. I imagine the letter will be quite hopeful and forward-looking," Wauck said.
Associated Press Writers Nicole Winfield in Rome and Melissa Eddy in Berlin contributed to this report.
Grand Jury Investigates Los Angeles Priest Cases
Laurie Goodstein
January 30, 2009
Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, the Roman Catholic archbishop of Los Angeles, confirmed Thursday that a federal grand jury is investigating whether the archdiocese mishandled priests who had sexually abused children.
Cardinal Mahony told KNX radio news in Los Angeles that he was “mystified and puzzled by the whole thing” because the grand jury had subpoenaed files on 22 priests, of whom two are dead and the rest have been removed from the priesthood.
He said prosecutors seemed to be looking for documents related to transfers of the priests between parishes, and whether parishioners were informed of their history of abuse.
The news of a federal investigation into the archdiocese, the nation’s largest, electrified abuse victims and their lawyers, who have insisted for years that senior church officials should be held accountable for reassigning known molesters to continue working in parishes and schools.
“Even if they hand up indictments and they lose, no victim would fault a prosecutor for going after a bishop and losing because frankly that’s what we’ve been doing for decades,” said David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “The real pain for victims is seeing people with subpoena power and a bully pulpit not even try.”
Cardinal Mahony said in the radio interview that he did not know whether he was a target of the investigation but that he would be willing to testify before a grand jury.
He seemed puzzled at the timing of the investigation. He said that after the archdiocese issued a report in 2004 on its role in the priest scandals he thought that “somebody might raise some questions, but it never happened.”
Then, in 2007, the archdiocese paid $660 million to settle lawsuits with 508 people who said they had been abused by priests or church employees — the largest settlement made in the scandals. Cardinal Mahony said Thursday that only the United States attorney in Los Angeles, Thomas P. O’Brien, could say why the investigation was occurring now. Mr. O’Brien’s office would not comment.
Cardinal Mahony has been subpoenaed to testify in March at a trial in Fresno, said Anthony M. De Marco, a lawyer in Los Angeles who is handling the case. It involves two brothers who say they were molested by a monsignor in the 1970’s, when the cardinal was auxiliary bishop in Fresno.
The archdiocese released a statement calling for the government to investigate who leaked grand jury information. It also said it could find no reason for “a responsible federal investigation” of the archdiocese or the cardinal, but that it would cooperate fully.
A government official who requested anonymity because grand jury proceedings are secret said that among several statutes being applied in the federal inquiry is the “honest services mail fraud statute” — a law used in corruption cases against government officials. The theory, the official said, is that archdiocesan officials may have deprived parishioners of “honest services.”
Nicholas P. Cafardi, dean emeritus at Duquesne University School of Law, who served on the American bishops’ first review board on sexual abuse, said, “This appears to be a real stretch,” and called it an intrusion into the church’s First Amendment rights.
He added: “It’s time for this to be over. L.A. has settled with all of their claimants.”
But John C. Manly, a plaintiffs lawyer in Newport Beach who has been bringing cases against the archdiocese and Cardinal Mahony for more than 10 years, disagreed, saying: “My experience is, if they get this to trial and any jury sees the documents and finds out what he did, he’s finished. The documents tell the tale.”
Catholic Church found liable for abuse of Newfoundland altar boys
By Rosie Gillingham, St. John's Telegram
February 10, 2009
ST. JOHN’S, Newfoundland — Eight former altar boys may have won their day in court against the Roman Catholic Church, but their fight for compensation for abuse they endured at the hands of a priest is far from over.
In fact, their lawyer says it could take years of further court battles before the matter is settled.
“The church has been anything but conciliatory with this,” Greg Stack said Tuesday. “They’ve fought it all the way. There’s still no readiness on their part to settle.”
On Monday in Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court in St. John’s, Justice David Osborn ruled the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corp. of St. John’s is liable for the sexual abuse of the eight boys by the late Rev. Jim Hickey.
Hickey was parish priest in Parker’s Cove and Rushoon, on the Burin Peninsula, during the late 1970s when the abuse occurred.
In 1989, he was convicted of sexual abuse and was sentenced to five years in jail. Hickey died in 1992.
(on the left) The Hickey case sparked a massive scandal, which led to allegations against other clergy, as well as members of the Congregation of Christian Brothers, a community of religious brothers within the Roman Catholic Church who operated the infamous Mount Cashel orphanage in St. John’s.
Several priests and brothers were convicted and sentenced to jail terms.
Stack said the eight former altar boys in this case are relieved that after 10 years in court, the church has finally been found liable for their abuse.
However, he’s upset the church has continued to challenge the cases, “even in the face of overwhelming evidence.”
He said the abuse has had a devastating impact on the victims.
“They’re grown men now and many of them are still undergoing counselling,” he said. “This cannot be trivialized as just sexual abuse. It was an ongoing systematic abuse.
“These boys come from the most devout religious families and the fact that this was a priest, who was looked upon as a God figure, was especially difficult for them to deal with. It was a total loss of faith.”
Stack said he has already presented the Church’s lawyers with claim letters, reporting the impact the abuse had on the victims.
He expects there will eventually be a court assessment, meaning the victims may have to testify about their abuse and how it’s affected them before a judge. He said psychiatrists and counsellors would likely also take the stand.
“Just when things will get moving on this? I don’t know,” he said. “Hopefully sooner than later.”
The "Pedophile's Paradise"
Alaska Natives are accusing the Catholic Church of using their remote villages as a “dumping ground” for child-molesting priests—and blaming the president of Seattle University for letting it happen.
by Brendan Kiley
February 3, 2009
Rachel Mike, who won a settlement in a case involving Father Poole, at her confirmation in the summer of 1975. Behind her is Father George Endal, accused of raping or molesting several boys and allegedly walking in on another priest performing oral sex on a 6-year-old boy and doing nothing to stop it.

One spring afternoon in 1977, 15-year-old Rachel Mike tried to kill herself for the third time. An Alaska Native, Rachel was living in a tiny town called Stebbins on a remote island called St. Michael. She lived in a house with three bedrooms and nine siblings. Rachel was a drinker, depressed, and starving. "When my parents were drinking, we didn't eat right," she says. "I just wanted to get away from the drinking."
Rachel walked to the bathroom to fetch the family rifle, propped in the bathtub with the dirty laundry (the house didn't have running water). To make sure the gun worked, Rachel loaded a shell and blew a hole in her bedroom wall. Her father, passed out on his bed, didn't hear the shot. Rachel walked behind their small house. Her arms were too short to put the rifle to her head, so she shot herself in her right leg instead.
Rachel was found screaming in a pool of blood by her Auntie Emily and flown 229 miles to a hospital in Nome. The doctor asked if she wanted to see a priest. She said yes. In walked Father James Poole—a popular priest, radio personality on KNOM, and, according to allegations in at least five lawsuits, serial child rapist. Father Poole has never been convicted of a crime, but the Jesuits have settled numerous sex-abuse claims against him since 2005, in excess of $5 million, according to an attorney involved in four of those five lawsuits. Exact figures aren't available because some of the settlements involve confidentiality agreements. The Jesuits have never let a single case against Father Poole go to trial.
In a 2005 deposition, Rachel testified that she had been molested by Father Poole in 1975, while in Nome for her second suicide attempt, an attempted overdose of alcohol and pills. He'd come sit by her bed, put his hand under the hospital blanket, and fondle her, she said.
She traveled between Stebbins and Nome several times in the late 1970s, spending time in hospitals and receiving homes. By 1977, Rachel testified, Poole had given her gonorrhea, and by 1978 she was pregnant with his child. In an interview with The Stranger, she said Poole encouraged her to get an abortion and tell the doctors she had been raped by her father. She followed his advice. "He brainwashed me," she said. "He messed up my head, man."
Left: Father James Poole in Nome, Alaska, with parish kids, in a photo taken sometime in the 1970s.
Rachel Mike's father died in 2004. A year later, she heard Elsie Boudreau, another survivor of Poole's abuse, being interviewed on the radio. Listening to Boudreau, Rachel was moved to finally tell the truth.
"He's gone, and I'll never have a chance to tell him in person," she said, talking about her father between heaving sobs. "I was scared. In a way he knew, but—he never even touched me."
"This man," says Anchorage-based attorney Ken Roosa, referring to Poole, "has left a trail of carnage behind him."
The only reason Poole is not in jail, Roosa says, is the statute of limitations. And the reason he's still a priest, being cared for by the church?
"Jim Poole is elderly," answered Very Reverend Patrick J. Lee, head of the Northwest Jesuits, by e-mail. "He lives in a Jesuit community under an approved safety plan that includes 24-hour supervision."
Roosa has another theory—that Poole knows too much. "They can't put him on the street and take away his reason for keeping quiet," Roosa says. "He knows all the secrets."
Father James Poole's story is not an isolated case in Alaska. On the morning of January 14 in Seattle, Ken Roosa and a small group Alaska Natives stood on the sidewalk outside Seattle University to announce a new lawsuit against the Jesuits, claiming a widespread conspiracy to dump pedophile priests in isolated Native villages where they could abuse children off the radar.
The remote region in Alaska the lawsuit alleges was a molester priest “dumping ground.”
"They did it because there was no money there, no power, no police," Roosa said to the assembled cameras and microphones. "It was a pedophile's paradise." He described a chain of poor Native villages where priests—many of them serial sex offenders—reigned supreme. "We are going to shine some light on a dark and dirty corner of the Jesuit order."
The suit, filed in the superior court of Bethel, Alaska, the day before, accuses several priests of being offenders and conspirators. Among the alleged conspirators is Father Stephen Sundborg, who is the current president of Seattle University and was Provincial of the Oregon Province of Jesuits from 1990 through 1996. (The Oregon Province includes Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, and Alaska; as Provincial, Sundborg was head of the entire province.) The suit alleges that while Sundborg was head of the Northwest Jesuits, he had access to the personnel files of several pedophile priests, including one named Father Henry Hargreaves, whom he allowed to remain in the ministry. "As a direct result of Father Sundborg's decision," the suit alleges, "Father Hargreaves was able to continue molesting children, including but not limited to James Doe 94, who was raped by Father Hargreaves in 1992, when James Doe was approximately 6 years old."
Roosa and his associate Patrick Wall (a former Benedictine monk who once worked as a sex-abuse fixer for the Catholic Church) said they knew of 345 cases of molestation in Alaska by 28 perpetrators who came from at least four different countries.
This concentration of abuses is orders of magnitude greater than Catholic sex-abuse cases in other parts of the United States. Today, Roosa said, there are 17,000 Catholics in the diocese of Fairbanks, though there was a much smaller number during the peak of the abuse. Roosa compared this lawsuit to the famous Los Angeles suits of 2001, which claimed 550 victims of abuse in a Catholic population of 3.4 million.
These abusers in Alaska, Wall said, were specifically sent to Alaska "to get them off the grid, where they could do the least amount of damage" to the church's public image.
One by one, the Alaska Natives—including Elsie Boudreau, the woman whom Rachel Mike had heard on the radio—took their turns before the cameras and microphones, talking softly and nervously and choking back tears. "I am Flo Kenny," a woman with a gray ponytail and sunglasses said carefully. "I am 74 years old. And I've kept silent for 60 years. I am here for all the ones who cannot speak—who are dead, who committed suicide, who are homeless, who are drug addicts. There's always been a time, an end of secrets. This is the time."
Alphonsus Abouchuk, wearing a black leather jacket and sunglasses, talked about how poor his family was and how the priests used to give him quarters after abusing him.
Rena Abouchuk, his sister, cried while she read a letter to a Franciscan monk named Anton Smario (currently living in Concord, California) who taught her catechism classes. "You did so many evil things to young children," she read, gripping her letter in one hand and an eagle feather tied to a small red sachet in the other. "God will never forgive you... You took a lot of lives." Six of her cousins, she later said, committed suicide because of Brother Smario.
The lawsuit states that Brother Smario offered children food and juice to coax them to stay after class: "He then would unzip his pants, and completely expose his genitals to these children, and masturbate to ejaculation as he walked around the classroom. He would ask the girls to touch his penis and would rub his erect penis on their backs, necks, and arms. Sometimes he would wipe or rub his semen on the girls after he ejaculated."
According to the allegations, Father Joseph Lundowski molested or raped James Does 29, 59–71, and 73–94, plus Janet Does 4–7—a total of 40 children—giving them "hard candy, money he stole from the collection plate, cooked food, baked goods, beer, sacramental wine, brandy, and/or better grades (silver, blue, or gold stars) on their catechism assignments in exchange for sexual favors."
The lawsuit also alleges Father George Endal raped and molested several boys—and, as Smario and Lundowski's boss, was the person who put Lundowski in charge of the boys dormitory in the Holy Rosary Mission School in Dillingham, Alaska, where catechism classes were split between Smario (in charge of the girls) and Lundowski (in charge of the boys). On separate occasions, Father Endal and another priest named Norman E. Donohue—who allegedly raped James Doe 69—walked in on Lundowski while he was molesting children and either quietly left the room or did nothing to stop it.
Father Francis Fallert, principal of the Copper Valley School and head of the all the Alaska Jesuits from 1976 to 1982, is accused of molesting Janet Doe 6.
The sheer concentration of known sex offenders in these isolated communities begins to look less like an accident than a plan. Their institutional protection looks less like an embarrassed cover-up than aiding and abetting. And the way the church has settled case after case across the country, refusing to let most of them go to trial for a public airing, is starting to look like an admission of guilt.
When Patrick Wall wore monk's robes, he must've looked like Friar Tuck. A former all-state football lineman, Wall has broad shoulders, a brawny neck, short reddish hair, and a habit of calling people "bro."
We met last week in Sea-Tac Airport's Alaska Airlines Board Room—a two-story business lounge, just past the security check, with conference tables, ergonomic chairs next to computer stations, and free espresso. He and Ken Roosa were there to meet with a client. Wall lives in California, Roosa lives in Anchorage, and many of their clients are on the West Coast, so they've done a lot of business in the Board Room. "I like to spend the night at home," Wall says, setting his airplane reading—The Name of the Rose—on the conference-room table.
Wall's first call as a sex-abuse fixer knocked on his door one morning in 1991, while he was brushing his teeth. Wall was not yet a priest, just a monk studying at St. John's University in Minnesota. The abbot came to his room before class with an urgent matter regarding another monk and said Wall would be moving into the boy's prep-school dormitory—immediately. The other monk "had an incident with a 14-year-old in the shower." Wall was to take his place.
Taken aback, Wall threw up every objection he could think of. He didn't own a computer and used the communal ones in the monastery. "We'll buy you a laptop." He helped with mass at a local parish. "We'll reassign you to campus ministry." He was on call for the volunteer fire department. "Not anymore." The abbot wouldn't take no for an answer.
So Wall packed up, moved into the boys dormitory, quickly intuited who else on the floor had been abused (5 out of the 90 residents), and coaxed them into talking about what had happened. Those cases never became public and were settled out of court. "If you're good," Wall says, "the assignments build." Wall was so good, he was ordained a year early and kept busy, working as many as 13 cases per month.
The job was harrowing and frustrating. "If you're the cleaner, you rarely find out the resolution to these things," Wall says. "Because survivors had to sign confidentiality agreements." The ultimate objective, for a cleaner, was to keep things quiet so the details never became public or went to trial. Wall slowly came to believe that his superiors were more concerned with protecting their public image than caring for survivors. It was, he says, a dark time, not least because he was struggling with his own vows of celibacy. In 1998, he asked to be laicized. By 2001, he was married to a ballet dancer and had a newborn daughter. By 2002, he was hired as a full-time researcher for the law firm Manly and Stewart investigating clerical sex-abuse cases.
Since then, he and Roosa—who often collaborate on cases with attorney John Manly—have worked over 250 cases together, all of them settled without going to trial. "I would like to see any of these cases go to trial to expose the corruption of the system," Wall says. But the church would rather pay the money than subject itself to public scrutiny, and survivors generally prefer to avoid the increased emotional turmoil of a trial. "There was one survivor who went through 11 days of questioning, of deposition," Roosa says. "The defense lawyers can make it so painful."
"If you bend a young plant, it grows at an angle," Roosa says. "Child sex abuse bends the character and maturation of a person—the abuse isn't the injury as much as the effect it has on people."
Father Poole's alleged abuses are particularly egregious, earning him a special place in Roosa's and Wall's hearts. He is their archetypal bad guy, their Dr. Mengele of the clerical sex-abuse world: Their clients have described, in sworn testimony, Poole pressing his erections against girls during junior-high dances, being caught by his own mother while masturbating in front of young girls, and much worse. "The defense lawyers have been so disgusted with Poole," Roosa says, "that they've told me off the record, 'anything you tell me about Poole, I'd believe.'"
According to a victim identified as Jane Doe 5 in a 2006 complaint, Poole first raped her during a private catechism class when she was 6 years old. From a direct transcript of her testimony:
He started fidget—finger—started to touch me digitally with his fingers. And at that time, when he started getting closer to me, I—there's a picture—I'm on the desk, a picture to the left of me is a picture of Jesus who's at the rock praying, and to my left I look at the picture to my left, and I look into James Poole's eyes. I turned away from the picture, looked into his eyes, and asked 'Not in front of Jesus, please.'... He kept telling me that in order to be a good little girl for God, I had to do this. That God wanted me to do this. And I remember a burning...
Then, she says, he raped her.
Roosa tells a story about Poole molesting a 9-year-old girl in Portland, Oregon, while simultaneously having an affair with the girl's mother. Poole supposedly told the girl's mother he would quit the priesthood and marry her, but abruptly returned to Alaska. The girl's mother committed suicide. According to Wall and Roosa, that same girl says she was molested by another priest, one who has been listed in at least three settlements in cases that reach back to the 1960s. They say that, in one incident, this priest was called to a house in Yakima to administer last rites to a dying woman in 1989. "He raped the woman on her deathbed," Roosa says. "He told the family to go into the other room, the husband heard a weird noise, went into the bedroom, and caught him raping his unconscious wife."
The woman didn't die, and by the time Roosa and Wall caught up with her family last May, the church had offered the family half a million dollars. The family said they'd file a legal complaint if Roosa and Wall could guarantee more than half a million dollars in compensation.
"No," Wall said. "Take it, bro."
Within hours of the press conference on the sidewalk in front of Seattle University on January 14—which essentially alleges that Father Stephen Sundborg allowed molester priests to minister freely as members of the Northwest Jesuits when it was his responsibility, as Provincial, to keep them away from children—Sundborg denied having any information about the Jesuit "dumping ground" in Northwest Alaska:
The allegations brought against me are false. I firmly deny them. I want the victims and the entire community to know that. The complaint filed by the plaintiffs' lawyers represents an unprincipled and irresponsible attack on my reputation. Let me be clear—my commitment to justice and reconciliation for all victims remains steadfast.
On January 31, Father Sundborg, through his spokesperson, responded to questions from The Stranger with this statement:
I want to be very clear: As Provincial of the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus, I would never have put a child at risk. I was never aware of any claim of child abuse concerning either Fr. James Poole or Fr. Henry Hargreaves.
As I have said repeatedly in the past, as a member of the Society of Jesus, I personally and sincerely apologize for the pain that has been suffered through the actions of some members of our order.
I am disappointed that the plaintiffs' attorneys are attempting to use falsehoods and innuendo to fuel a media campaign. Their attack on my reputation is unprincipled and irresponsible.
Nonetheless, I remain firm in my resolve to seek justice and reconciliation for all victims.
With the exception of Father Hargreaves allegedly raping James Doe 94 in 1992, no abuses—at least none that have been reported—occurred while Sundborg was Provincial.
Still, Wall says, "Stevie has a little problem."
Hargreaves, Poole, and other problem priests continued to work in the ministry during Sundborg's tenure between 1990 and 1996 and, in Elsie Boudreau's words, "We know that he knew."
Father Poole came under scrutiny as early as 1961, when complaints about his behavior reached Rome and the Father-General of the Jesuits initiated an investigation.
In 1994, Poole was sent to the Servants of the Paraclete—a Jesuit-run psychiatric facility for troubled priests in Jemez Springs, New Mexico—where, he later testified in a 2004 deposition, he learned that he had boundary issues, that he "wasn't this great king and lover," and that "French-kissing" a 12-year-old girl is "wrong."
Poole denies raping anyone but admits to "French-kissing" Boudreau—and emphatically denies that French-kissing her was in any way sexual. "With Elsie, I have never had any sexual impulse," he said in the 2004 deposition, "never had any sexual temptation." Later in this same testimony, John Manly asked Poole whether he had ever French-kissed his own niece.
"No," Poole replied.
"Why?" Manly asked.
Poole hesitated.
"Why not?" Manly insisted. "I think I know the answer, but I want you to say it."
"We were not that close, for one thing," Poole replied. "My brother had always lived away from us."
"Any other reason?" Manly asked.
"No," Poole said.
Monthly progress reports were sent to Sundborg during Poole's treatment in Jemez Springs. After his release, Poole continued to work as a hospital chaplain in Alaska until November of 2003, when Roosa threatened to sue the Bishop of Fairbanks over the childhood abuse of Elsie Boudreau. Poole retired shortly thereafter and was sent to Spokane, to live in an apartment near Gonzaga University. (Attempts to contact Father Poole for comment were unsuccessful.)
Father Sundborg testified in 2005 that he sent at least eight priests—including Father Poole, Father James Laudwein, and Father Craig Boly—for psychiatric evaluation by Dr. Stuart Greenberg, a leading consultant on clerical sex abuse for the Northwest Jesuits. After their visits with Dr. Greenberg, Poole, Laudwein, and Boly were returned to active ministry.
At the time of Sundborg's 2005 testimony, Father Laudwein was a defendant in a sex-abuse suit that ended in 2007 with a $50 million settlement, according to the Anchorage Daily News. And, in 1992, Father Boly wrote an essay for a book called Jesuits in Profile: Alive and Well in the U.S. about his attraction to high-school girls:
I remember being reprimanded more than once for spending too much time with visiting coeds from other local high schools. My rationalization was that if attractive young women brought their problems to me, it must be an opportunity for apostolic service. What I neglected to consider was what needs of my own the interactions with the women students were meeting.
Sundborg also contributed an essay to Jesuits in Profile, but testified in 2005 that he had no recollection of reading the book.
Dr. Greenberg—the counselor to whom Sundborg had sent Poole, Laudwein, Boly, and others for evaluation—was arrested in the summer of 2007 for surreptitiously filming staff members and patients using the bathroom at his office and, according to Roosa, filming himself masturbating while watching the films. A few weeks later, he rented a room at a motel in Renton, where he committed suicide. Police found him with a bunch of bottles of prescription pills and two slashed wrists.
"I wish I could offer you some adequate explanation," his suicide note read. "I just don't know. I deeply and profoundly apologize."
This isn't Sundborg's first go-around with fending off a sex-abuse case. In 2006, the Jesuits settled a $350,000 suit against Father Michael Toulouse, a philosophy professor at Seattle University accused of abusing a 12-year-old boy in his residence in 1968. At the time of the settlement, Father Sundborg argued that Seattle University wasn't liable, even though the abuse happened on campus, because the abuse occurred outside of his official duties as a teacher—a rare Catholic argument for the separation of church and sex.
Complaints against Toulouse (who died in 1976) date from 1950, when a Spokane father threatened to shoot Toulouse, who was then teaching at Gonzaga High School. Toulouse was transferred to Seattle, where he allegedly molested several boys, including the son of a widow in 1967. The widow and another Jesuit wrote to the province in 1968 requesting action. (Father Toulouse continued teaching at Seattle University until 1976.) When the widow's son sought compensation in 1993, Sundborg wrote back, according to the Seattle Times: "There is nothing about this matter in the provincial files, in the personnel files of Fr. Toulouse, or in the files of Seattle University."
That may be. But Father Thomas Royce, Provincial of the Northwest Jesuits from 1980 to 1986, just four years before Sundborg became Provincial, has testified that similar information about Jesuits does exist in the personnel files—that they contain information that is "special," "not public," and "not good."
He called them "the hell files."
Elsie Bourdreau is a Yu'pik Eskimo with short brown hair, plump cheeks, and, when she is not testifying at grim press conferences, a radiant smile. As Janet Doe 1, Boudreau was the first person to speak publicly about being abused by Father Poole. She kept silent about her abuse until 2005, when her daughter turned 10. "I was 10 when the abuse started," she says. "And I just couldn't shield it from my consciousness anymore." She's now employed as a consultant to law firms pursuing clerical sex-abuse cases, including the firms where Wall and Roosa work.
When Boudreau was a child, the villages of Northwest Alaska were only accessible by plane, boat, or dog sled. Many still are. For the most part, they didn't have public schools, cops, or telephones. Many of the houses were one room and lacked food and consistent heat in the below-zero weather. "The perps would soften up their victims with food and warmth," Wall says, "because that's what the kids didn't have. 'It was always warmer in the rectory,' they say. 'There was always food in the rectory. There was always candy.'"
In those villages, the priests had unusual authority. "In the village, our elders loved the church and the priests so much," Boudreau says. "They were like honored guests in our land. The priest had the utmost power, power that historically the village shaman would have had." If children complained about the priests, it was tantamount to complaining about the village shaman. "I've talked to hundreds of victims in Alaska," Boudreau says, "and many were physically hurt by parents for speaking about this."
The priests came to occupy the role of shamans by a weird confluence of history and microbiology. In the early 1900s, a Spanish-influenza epidemic ripped through Northwest Alaska, sometimes killing entire villages. They called it "the Big Sickness" or "the Big Death."
Winton Weyapuk was a child in Wales, Alaska, and was orphaned by the epidemic. In an interview from 1997, he recalled that the flu came on a dog sled. The mailman, on his monthly delivery, brought the corpse of a man who'd died on the way to Wales. Curious villagers crowded around the corpse. "The men, women, and children who came to see this body went home, and many got sick and most of them died before the next morning."
Weyapuk's father died that first night, so the family moved into an uncle's house. Most everyone in the uncle's house died, and Weyapuk and his brother Dwight lived in a one-room sod house with four corpses until someone found them. He recalls seeing white men building tripods over the sod houses, using block and tackle to pull frozen bodies up through the skylights, then blasting holes in the frozen ground with dynamite for mass graves. Family sled dogs, neglected and starving, roamed the streets and fought over human remains.
The shamans, normally counted on as healers, were helpless. The population was decimated, and the social structure had to be created from nothing: Another Wales resident remembers that, in the aftermath, so many families had been destroyed that an official from Nome came to the village with a stack of notarized wedding licenses. He lined up all the surviving men, all the surviving women, and all the surviving children, and built families at random.
Catholic missionaries made major inroads into these communities in the aftermath of the Big Sickness. (Along with the Baptists and Orthodox churches. The major churches had a summit in Sitka years prior and divided up their geographical spheres of influence.) The missionaries brought flour and coffee, built orphanages and schools. "They looked at the shamans as evil and of the devil," Boudreau says. A new social order was created. In the villages of Northwest Alaska, the Jesuits stepped into a tailor-made power vacuum.
The history of child molestation in the Catholic Church goes back centuries. The first official decree on the subject was written at the Council of Elvira, held around A.D. 305 near Granada, Spain. The precise history is complicated, but the council is traditionally believed to have set down 81 rules for behavior, the 71st of which is: "Those who sexually abuse boys may not commune even when death approaches." It was the harshest one-strike policy: If you're caught abusing a child, you are not only laicized, but permanently excommunicated—damned for all time.
The other major condemnation of clerical sex abuse was The Book of Gomorrah, completed by radical church reformer Father Peter Damian (a Benedictine monk, as it happens, who became a cardinal) in 1051. He appealed directly to the pope about the abuse of children, as well as consensual sex among clergy—in howling language: "O unheard of crime! O outrage to be mourned with a whole fountain of tears!... What fruitfulness can still be found in the flocks when the shepherd is so deeply sunk in the belly of the devil!"
In the 1930s, a priest-psychiatrist—and also a Benedictine—named Reverend Thomas Verner Moore researched the higher-than-usual rates of insanity and alcoholism among Catholic clergy. He suggested the church build an asylum for priests. The U.S. Catholic Bishops turned down his request in 1936. Father Moore became a Carthusian hermit.
In 1947, Father Gerald Fitzgerald founded the Servants of the Paraclete in Jemez, New Mexico—the same institution Father Poole was to visit almost 50 years later.
In a 1957 letter to the Bishop of Manchester, Father Fitzgerald wrote that predatory priests (who he euphemistically refers to as "schizophrenic") cannot be effectively treated and should not be allowed to continue in the ministry:
Their repentance and amendment is superficial and, if not formally at least subconsciously, is motivated by a desire to be again in a position where they can continue their wonted activity. A new diocese means only green pastures... We are amazed to find how often a man who would be behind bars if he were not a priest is entrusted with the cura animarum [the cure, or care, of souls].
By the early 1960s, Father Fitzgerald had seen enough chronic pedophiles that he did not want to treat them and have them rereleased into the ministry, but, as he proposed in a letter to Archbishop Davis, to build an "island retreat... but even an island is too good for these vipers."
In 16 centuries, church policy had evolved from one strike you're out to 30 strikes and you're sent to an island in the Caribbean.
In 1965, according to an affidavit from Fitzgerald successor Father Joseph McNamara: "Father Gerald purchased an island in [the Caribbean], near Carriacou, which had an abandoned hotel, damaged by fire, on it. This hotel was entirely removed from any civilization... This was to be Father Gerald's long sought after 'island refuge,' but it did not come to be. As is described below, Archbishop Davis ordered Father Gerald to sell the island."
Shortly thereafter, Father Fitzgerald was asked to step down. "It all became too public," Wall says. "The Holy See would never be able to explain Father Fitzgerald's leper island for pedophile priests."
In 1985, two priests and a lawyer—Father Michael Peterson, Dominican Father Thomas Doyle, and Ray Mouton—presented a report to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. The report, which reads more like concerned advice than a condemnation, warns that high rates of abuse and high rates of recidivism for "treated" priests could cost the church over $1 billion and a major loss of credibility in the coming decade.
Later that year, in the first highly publicized case of a pedophile priest in the United States, Father Gilbert Gauthe admitted to abusing 37 boys in Louisiana. He accepted a plea bargain, was sentenced to 20 years, and served 10. By 1997, according to the New York Times, he had moved to Texas, where he was "arrested for fondling a 3-year-old boy" and put on supervised probation. (According to the Times, "Texas authorities did not know of his criminal record in Louisiana.") In April 2008, he was arrested again for failing to register as a sex offender.
In 1993, Canice Connors, the director of St. Luke's, a psychiatric institute for troubled clergy, told the Los Angeles Times: "The Catholic Church in North America possesses the greatest data bank of evaluation and treatment of nonincarcerated pedophiles on the continent. That data should be analyzed scientifically and shared with others studying the problem." He was in Milwaukee to present his findings to the U.S. Conference of Bishops.
In 2003, the Archdiocese of Boston agreed to pay out $85 million to 552 victims of clerical sex abuse.
Also in 2003, in the midst of negotiations to settle four claims of clerical sex abuse with the Diocese of Fairbanks, one of the church's mediators told Ken Roosa that the dioceses didn't want to offer more than $10,000. "They said they couldn't offer more money to an Alaska Native because they'd just get drunk and hurt each other," Roosa said. "And it would just encourage more victims to come forward. Unbelievable."
In September 2005, former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger—who'd just become the pope—asked the justice department of the Bush administration to grant him immunity from prosecution in sex-abuse cases in the United States. Ratzinger, the onetime head of the Vatican's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, was accused of "conspiring to cover up the sexual molestation of three boys by a seminarian" in Texas, according to the Associated Press. Ratzinger had "written in Latin to bishops around the world, explaining that 'grave' crimes such as the sexual abuse of minors would be handled by his congregation. The proceedings of special church tribunals handling the cases were subject to 'pontifical secret,'" Ratzinger's letter said. The Bush administration granted Ratzinger the immunity.
In 2007, the Archdiocese of Los Angeles agreed to pay $660 million to more than 500 victims of clerical sex abuse.
Why does the church keep sending these priests, who have come to be such a major liability, back into ministry? "It's all about keeping the stores open, keeping the revenue rolling," Wall says. The Alaskan provinces in particular, Wall says, were a source of revenue—not from the Native population living there, but from parishioners in the lower 48 who were encouraged to donate for the Native ministry up north. "You could raise thousands to fund a mission that cost very little to run," Wall says. "The profit margin is huge."
The lawsuits against the Northwest Jesuits regarding abuses of Alaska Natives are not over. Within the coming weeks, Roosa and Wall say, more claims will be filed, more press conferences will be held, and more stories will come out.
"We talk about how we feel like we're doing God's work," says Boudreau. "It's something bigger than all of us. We're working to reveal the truth of what happened."
Payout Is Bittersweet for Victims of Abuse
Laurie Goodstein
Published: July 17, 2007
As abuse victims sobbed in the courtroom, a judge approved a $660 million settlement yesterday between the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles and 508 people who had filed suit over sexual abuse by clergy members.
Left: Esther Miller, one of 508 people who sued the Los Angeles archdiocese over sexual abuse, spoke on Monday after a judge approved a record $660 million settlement. Ms. Miller, with photos of herself and the priest accused of abusing her, said she had been suicidal and lost her job.
“Settling the cases was the right thing to do,” said Judge Haley J. Fromholz of Los Angeles County Superior Court.
The settlement in the nation’s largest Roman Catholic diocese is considered a landmark because the legal battle endured for more than four years, and because the sum is more than six times larger than any previous deal struck by a diocese.
At a news conference outside the courthouse yesterday, sexual abuse victims stepped to the microphone one by one, many carrying photographs of themselves as children, and shared their feelings of betrayal by the church and in particular, the archbishop of Los Angeles, Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, a fixture in Los Angeles since 1985.
“I don’t want Mahony going around saying everything is all right, because it’s not,” said Rita Milla, 45, a medical assistant who lives in Carson. “My church acted like it didn’t know what was happening.”
Carlos Perez-Carillo, 41, a supervisor in the Los Angeles County Department of Social Services, said, “We walked around spiritless.”
Mr. Perez-Carillo added, “We were told we lied,” and said, “We walked in darkness for many, many years.”
Some plaintiffs say they were raped, some molested, others shown pornography. Each plaintiff will receive a sum to be set based on the duration and nature of the violations, minus their legal fees, of 30 percent to 40 percent.
“It’s important to know,” Mr. Perez-Carillo said, “that survivors here will be able to go out and get the therapy they need.”
The negotiations ended late Saturday, two days before the first of 20 cases against the archdiocese, involving 172 accusers, was scheduled to go to trial, said Raymond P. Boucher, the lead plaintiffs’ lawyer.
Right: Rita Milla, a plaintiff against the Los Angeles Archdiocese, with another abuse victim after a record $660 million settlement was accepted.
If not for the lawsuits and the civil proceedings, he said, the names of about 150 of those accused of abuse would never have become public.
In the courtroom, Mr. Boucher, his voice choking, asked for a moment of silence for victims who had died during the years of negotiations. He said in an interview later that he knew of nine who had committed suicide in the last five years, and several others who had died of drug overdoses.
In comments that are proving controversial, Mr. Boucher has praised Cardinal Mahony for bringing the settlement to fruition after meeting personally with 60 abuse victims.
“He gave them a chance to yell and scream and vent and question,” Mr. Boucher explained in an interview. “There were intensely emotional, personal meetings, and I believe it changed the perspective of some of the clients that met with him, and I’m certain that it changed him.”
In the last six months, he said, the cardinal himself pressed for a conclusion. “When I stopped by the defense counsel’s office,” Mr. Boucher said, “the cardinal would be down the hallway on the phone with the religious orders trying to get them to participate” in the settlement.
But in interviews, other plaintiffs’ lawyers blamed Cardinal Mahony for dragging out negotiations by trying to foist responsibility on the insurance companies. They said that the insurers, meanwhile, blamed the archdiocese for its negligence and many of them refused for years to accept liability.
“This settlement could have taken place four years ago, and did not,” said Venus Soltan, a lawyer who handled 50 of the cases. “This case has always been about the victims and the church. It is not about insurance coverage.”
Ms. Soltan said of the cardinal, “If he wanted to settle these cases he had it within his ability to do that.”
Cardinal Mahony said Sunday that the archdiocese would pay $250 million toward the settlement, insurers would pay $227 million, religious orders would pay $60 million and the remainder, $123 million, would come from other sources, like religious orders not yet included in the settlement. The plaintiffs are to receive their payments by Dec. 1.
The archdiocese, its insurers and several religious orders, including the Carmelites, the Franciscans and the Jesuits, have already paid a total of $114 million in several separate agreements to settle 86 claims.
The cardinal, who sat silently through the hearing, apologized Sunday to the victims, saying of the abuse, “It should not have happened and should not ever happen again.”
After the hearing, many victims said the apology came far too late. Esther Miller, 48, who said she had been suicidal and was not working because of post-traumatic stress, said: “I was a committed Catholic. I lost my church.”
Michael Parrish contributed reporting from Los Angeles.
Shared Secrets Reveal Much Suffering in Silence
As Boys, They Felt Trapped by a Beloved Priest's Abuse at St. John's School for the Deaf. As Men, They Learn They Weren't Alone
By Mary Zahn
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
March 26, 2006
First of two parts
Thirteen-year-old Arthur Budzinski hid under his bed crying. Born to hearing parents who did not speak sign language, he could not tell them of the terror he faced back at St. John's School for the Deaf in St. Francis.
It was 1962. When the truth was told decades later, they all would weep.
Giving voice to his anguish, Arthur Budzinski, 57, uses American Sign Language to tell of his abuse decades ago by Father Lawrence Murphy at St. John's School for the Deaf in St. Francis. Although Murphy died in 1998, his abuse continues to haunt Budzinski and other men who have come forward with similar stories. Photo/Kristyna Wentz-Graff
Arthur's story and those of dozens of other adolescent deaf boys who attended the Roman Catholic boarding school hides in the shadows of a snapshot of the school's basketball team:
Eleven boys are dressed in their uniforms, half kneel and half stand. Next to them in a long, black clerical gown holding a basketball is Father Lawrence Murphy, the long-revered, charismatic director of the school.
Of the 11, five of them would be molested by Murphy.
Sometimes it was during confession, and often it was in the dead of night.

Of the 11 boys on St. John's basketball team (in this 1960s photo), at least five say they were victims of sexual abuse by Father Murphy (left). Photo/Contributed
"Being deaf I felt stuck," Gary Smith, 55, said. "I was alone, and I felt stuck."
Murphy's victims are now middle-aged and are coming forward to ask the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to compensate them for their suffering. The Journal Sentinel recently interviewed eight of them. It took them weeks to decide whether to tell their stories. Their continuing fear, shame and anger are testament to the power Murphy still wields over some of them, eight years after his death.
"Many say 'Oh, forget it, it's in the past,' some are upset, some don't care and some are still very angry but are afraid to come forward," said Budzinski, 57, who lives in West Allis. "The whole situation has torn the deaf community apart and continues to divide them.
"We want to hold the church accountable and force the church to acknowledge that this was not just a handful of children who were abused."
Arthur Budzinski watches translator Mala Boyce sign into a TV camera during a video conference at his West Allis home with his friend Robert Bolger, who lives in California. Bolger and Budzinski say they were abused by Father Lawrence Murphy at St. John's School for the Deaf in St. Francis. Photo above, Rick Wood. Photo below, contributed.
How many deaf children Murphy molested remains unknown. He was at St. John's for 24 years. The victims who have come forward, who said they saw many of their classmates being abused, think he molested more than 100 boys. Murphy admitted to molesting at least 30, according to Alisa Cohen-Stein, a clinical social worker in the Chicago area who has worked with several of Murphy's victims. She said she was told of Murphy's admission by an employee of the archdiocese.
He never apologized.
The stories of the survivors also give a rare glimpse into the isolation of Milwaukee's deaf community from 1950 into the 1970s. Devices that enable deaf people to use the telephone were not widely available; closed captioning of television programs had not begun; and many people who hear considered deaf people to be mentally retarded.
Murphy, who was fluent in sign language, became a key link to the hearing world for the many deaf children who, like Budzinski, were unable to talk with their hearing parents.
"Back then there was no way to communicate," said his mother, Irene Budzinski, 89. "I never learned sign language. When you had a deaf child, the public health nurse would say, 'Send them to some school.' We were looking for a good place.
"Who would think any harm would come to a young child?"
At their first Communion, students at St. John's School for the Deaf received a rosary and catechism as gifts from Murphy. Steve Geier, 55, of Madison, who holds the gifts, came to St. John's at age 8. Photo/Contributed
Steve Geier, 55, of Madison, who became deaf after a high fever, remembered being left at St. John's at age 8 as his mother and father walked back to the car. His mother, he said, had tears running down her face.
"Here is my mom and dad, talk, talk, talk, talk, and I am looking at them," he said. "My suitcase gets put down, and my mom and dad said we have to go home. So I go running after them. They said 'No, you stay here.' It was confusing and I cried."
Murphy would console him.
The Milwaukee Archdiocese has acknowledged that Murphy abused boys at the school, which was at 3680 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. in St. Francis, but has provided few details. The residential school closed in 1983 for financial reasons.
The archdiocese denied requests for church records regarding Murphy's offenses, citing victim confidentiality.
"We firmly believe that these individuals have suffered so desperately in their lives that it is far more appropriate to listen to them - hear their stories of pain, grief and suffering - than it is to dig through our records for arcane facts and data, which we believe must be held in confidence," Kathleen Hohl, communications director for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, wrote in her response to the newspaper.
Two of Murphy's victims recently received $100,000 and $200,000 in compensation through an archdiocese-sponsored mediation program for sexual abuse victims. As part of that agreement, they had to agree not to sue the church.
Pending state legislation would allow victims of clergy sexual abuse to bring civil suits against religious organizations within a one-year window, regardless of when the abuse occurred and past statutes of limitation. In a civil court, a plaintiff could compel the religious organization to produce any documents it might have relating to the case, regardless of whether the accused clergy member is able to participate in the organization's defense.
"I still have nightmares," said Gary Smith, who lives near San Antonio.
A pillar of deaf culture
Few reminders are left that St. John's School for the Deaf was once the lifeblood and pride of Milwaukee's close-knit deaf community.
A worn concrete pillar with a faded angel holding a scroll remains at the beginning of the circular drive to the brick and concrete buildings, now a St. Francis elementary school and recreational facility. In the gymnasium where the St. John's boys basketball team won many victories as cheerleaders roused the crowd, a round green marker in the middle of the floor still boasts "St. John's."
St. John's School (the dormitory is shown) opened in the 1800s and closed in 1983 because of financial reasons. Photo/Contributed
Students, parents and friends of the deaf community toiled over picnics, candy sales and athletic events for years to scrape together enough money for these buildings. They were erected in the mid-1960s to replace the crumbling originals that were built in the late 1800s, when the school was known as St. John's Institute for Deaf Mutes. Enrollment ranged from 82 students in 1949 to a high of 161 in 1968.
At the center of the building frenzy was Murphy, a gregarious Irishman, short in stature with a smile that could melt ice. Yearbook photos and newspaper clippings show him as a whirlwind of activity, accepting thousands of dollars for the school from civic groups, coaching basketball and giving speeches all over town about deafness and why people should contribute to St. John's.
But it was Murphy's ability to speak American Sign Language so gracefully and beautifully that sealed his closeness to the deaf community. Parents and students loved to see him sign the Sunday Mass, which was described by some as truly spiritual.
When Murphy arrived at the school in 1950, newly ordained, Sister Mary Claude Telderer had worked there for seven years.
"He was very beloved," Telderer, 83, said. "The children just loved him. For his birthday every kid got a bag of treats, and we had a movie, and that was big stuff. He would come around to the classrooms. He would come in, and he would make you feel like a million dollars.
"Never in my wildest imagination did I think the children were in danger."
Murphy's well-connected friends contributed basketballs and baseballs and supported his push to replace the old, castle-like buildings. He established an athletic program and an alumni association.
"He has taught us about faith, love, service and loyalty," the seniors wrote in the 1971 yearbook, which was dedicated to Murphy.
By all accounts, Murphy was enthusiastic and patient with the children.
"He was a wonderful teacher," said Gary Smith, echoing what the other victims said. "We loved him."
'God, what's right?'
The men's stories are similar. Murphy would call them to his bedroom in the school, or visit them in their dorm beds late at night, masturbate them and leave. Sometimes he would go on to other boys. Often he would say nothing. Sometimes when the boys saw him molesting other boys in the dorm room, they would cover their heads with their blankets, hug themselves tightly and weep. At times, he would take their confession in a second floor walk-in closet in the boy's dorm and molest them.
"Murphy was so powerful and it was so hard," said Geier who was molested when he was in seventh grade and said he saw more than a dozen other boys molested. "You couldn't get out. It was like a prison. I felt so confused. Here I had Father Murphy touching me. I would be like, 'God, what's right?' "
Geier said the boys received no sex education and had no idea what was happening to them. Some, he said, believed it must be all right because it was being done by a priest. After he resisted one of Murphy's advances, Geier said, Murphy refused to allow him to go with a group of boys to get ice cream across the street.
During one interview, Budzinski began to get tears in his eyes as he recounted seeing Pat Cave being molested in his dorm room bed. Cave, 57, who lives in Seattle, said he thought he was the only one molested until 2004, when he shared his experience with Budzinski.
Cave added that his older brother, who also attended St. John's, often would be called to Murphy's office at night and be gone for long periods. They never discussed why. His brother died in a motorcycle accident at age 21.
'I never told anyone'
For James Smith, 62, of Orange City, Fla., the memories are intense. He began to shake and cry as he recalled one incident after another.
"I would be playing baseball, and the boys would come and say, 'Father Murphy wants you to come and see him,' " Smith said. "I would refuse to go, and pretty soon I was dragged into his office and molested again.
"I never told anyone. I thought I was alone."
Like other victims, Joe Daniels, 58, of Union Grove was not believed when he tried to quietly tell family members and other adults about the molestations when he was in his 20s.
"It was an awful thing," Daniels said. "I felt anger and shame."
"Some of them are still really, really afraid," said Cohen-Stein, the therapist who has worked with victims of Murphy. "They feel their entire life revolves around this lie - their identity, their feelings toward hearing people and about themselves.
"One person actually said: 'I would have to rebuild myself if I started talking about this. I would fall apart because all of the threads are so tangled.'"
Staring Abuse Straight in the Face
After Years of Suffering, Former Students of St. John's School for the Deaf Confront the Priest Who Assaulted Them As Boys, Demanding He Accept Blame
By Mary Zahn
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
March 27, 2006
Second of Two Parts
On a warm day in June 1997, two middle-aged deaf men drove to the lake cottage of a Catholic priest who molested them decades before, when they were in grade school.
Flooded with memories and anger, they drove around for more than an hour looking for the place Father Lawrence Murphy had been allowed to retire more than 20 years earlier.
Finally they saw the lake, and the house came into view.
At his West Allis home, Arthur Budzinski holds a flier warning about Father Lawrence Murphy, who died in 1998. Robert Bolger, on the TV screen during a videoconference, took steps in the 1970s to file complaints of sexual abuse against Murphy. The priest denied the allegations and was never charged.
Photo/Rick Wood
Steve Geier, at his Madison home with his wife, Ann, says he reported the sexual abuse by Father Murphy to three priests on three occasions through the years. Two indicated they did not believe him, and one told him to forget about it.
Photo/Rick Wood
Gary Smith signs as he shares his story of abuse by Father Lawrence Murphy at St. Johns School for the Deaf. Smith began having flashbacks about the abuse in his 20s and shared his experience with former classmates.
Photo/Kristyna Wentz-Graff
Gary Smith (shown in the 1971 St. Johns yearbook) says he felt alone during the abuse.
Father Murphy (center) accepts a check for $16,000 on behalf of St. Johns School for the Deaf from the Knights of Columbus in 1966. Murphy, who was fluent in American Sign Language, was a tireless fund-raiser for St. Johns, where he worked from 1950 to 1974. By all accounts, Murphy was much revered in the deaf community.
Both men jumped out of the car. Arthur Budzinski held a video camera, and Robert Bolger ran up to the door of the cottage, knocked and rang the doorbell. They saw Murphy by the side of the house, wearing a white T-shirt and pants, hurrying to get inside.
"I told Father Murphy, 'You turn yourself in to the police,' " said Bolger, now 62. "We went to the cottage with the goal to confront him and force him to go to the police department and apologize for what he did to our lives."
Instead, Murphy waved them away as if he were swatting at gnats and quickly went back into the cottage.
"That was a long time ago," Murphy said, both speaking and gesturing in American Sign Language. "Don't bother me."
Murphy, who died in 1998, is believed to have molested dozens of boys at St. John's School for the Deaf in St. Francis, where he worked for 24 years. Some of his victims are coming forward to ask the Archdiocese of Milwaukee to compensate them for their suffering. The Journal Sentinel interviewed eight of them.
Murphy's dark side might never have surfaced if not for Bolger, Budzinski and Gary Smith, who began having flashbacks in their 20s about the sexual abuse and started sharing their experiences with each other. In 1974, they decided it was time to tell their secret. They wanted to save other deaf boys from being molested by Murphy.
One year earlier, a deaf boy went to the St. Francis Police Department to report that Murphy molested him, records show. The case was dropped after Murphy told police the boy was mentally retarded, according to a deaf teacher who was at the school at the time.
When the men decided to work together to get Murphy removed from the school, he was well known in both the hearing and deaf community and had influential friends.
Murphy was Midwest adviser to the International Catholic Deaf Association and chaplain of the Cardinal Stritch Council 4614 of the Knights of Columbus, as well as the director of St. John's. A few years before the men began their protests, he had received the American Legion Award for Distinguished Service for Child Welfare.
By all accounts Murphy, who was fluent in American Sign Language, a tireless fund-raiser for St. John's and a wonderful teacher, was much beloved by the deaf community.
Bolger, a graduate of Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., knew it would be an uphill battle.
"I knew he was still molesting boys," said Bolger, who lives in Compton, Calif. "We got the cold shoulder from some members of the deaf community. There were factions. We were not together on this."
As the oldest member of the group, Bolger arranged for several adult victims to go to the Milwaukee County district attorney's office and the St. Francis Police Department to file complaints against Murphy. The men communicated by printing their statements on paper and then pushing them over the desk to the detectives, who wrote back with more questions.
Murphy denied the allegations, and the police investigation was dropped. No criminal charges were issued because the men were adults and the crimes were beyond the statute of limitations.
"It is just hard to communicate with hearing people," said Gary Smith, who lives near San Antonio. "It's like, 'Where do you go?' "
Steve Geier, 55, another of Murphy's victims, was living with his wife and two young children in Madison during the protests against Murphy. He said he reported the abuse to three priests on three separate occasions through the years. Two indicated they did not believe him, and the other told him to forget about it.
Allies in the hearing world
Meanwhile, several hearing people joined in the effort to expose Murphy. At the time John Conway, 58, was working for the state in a vocational rehabilitation program and knew Bolger, who was a printing instructor. Conway is now deputy administrator of the Wisconsin workers compensation program.
Arlene Quant also became involved. Quant owned a Milwaukee printing company and employed deaf men who told her about Murphy. Unable to communicate with their hearing parents, Budzinski, Smith and Bolger asked whether she would call and tell them of the abuse. Their parents, they said, wept at the news.
Quant called the Milwaukee Archdiocese, convinced that Archbishop William Cousins would take action.
"At one point we had 15 to 20 affidavits from adult men who said they had been abused by Murphy," Conway said. "To our glee, the archbishop was willing to meet with us."
Quant delivered the packet of affidavits to the archdiocese, and a meeting with Cousins was scheduled for May 9, 1974.
"We sat down in five or six chairs next to the archbishop," Conway recalled. "Father Murphy was sitting next to me. There were at least a dozen people in the room. Some were other staff from St. John's.
"Father Murphy was very sheepish during the meeting. He didn't say a word. He just looked down."
Conway said he was stunned when the archbishop began to explain that they had been aware of the problem for years.
"Then they proceeded to tell us that they understood our desire to have Father Murphy removed from the school, but they felt that Murphy was so important to the school, its livelihood and history that they did not want to remove him," he said. "Instead they said they would remove him from having any contact with the children. I was frankly shocked."
After faculty members and others described the good things Murphy had done for the deaf community, Conway, who served as an interpreter, said he, Quant and the victims who attended walked out of the meeting in disgust.
"I am driving home, and I cried and cried and Arlene cried," said Budzinski, who attended the meeting. "I felt so grieved."
On May 18, 1974, an article in the Catholic Herald Citizen announced that Murphy had given up his directorship of St. John's, was "relieved of all teaching and pastoral duties as they relate to the students" and was being reassigned to other duties at the school.
In late summer of that year, Quant contacted this reporter, who was covering the Milwaukee County district attorney's office for the Milwaukee Sentinel. Murphy said in an interview about the allegations that he decided to resign because of health problems. The story was published on Sept. 14, 1974. Murphy left the next week.
People would have had to read between the lines to understand why Murphy retired. The Sentinel's attorneys refused to allow any mention of the molestations or what the victims had said because Murphy was not charged criminally.
One line in the story described protest fliers passed out by the victims at Cousins' 25th anniversary celebration at St. John Cathedral in March 1974. The fliers read: "Act Now. To get Lawrence C. Murphy out of St. John's School is a victory of God and other deaf boys at St. John's today."
One year later, Cousins testified he found nothing in his investigation to substantiate any of the complaints about Murphy. That testimony came in a 1975 sworn deposition in a civil lawsuit filed by a victim. Murphy "sacrificed himself for the school" after "harassments and threats," Cousins said under oath. The lawsuit was dropped.
The next year, a reporter for The Milwaukee Journal interviewed St. John's school administrators and church officials for a story about the school's history. Murphy was praised for his "years of teaching, hard work, vast improvements and heavy responsibilities."
It was as if the complaints never happened.
Still acting as a priest
Murphy was allowed to quietly retire to his Boulder Junction cottage where Gary Smith and another victim, who asked not to be identified, said the priest took them and other boys during the summers and molested them. Generally the boys who were the top fund-raisers for St. John's would be chosen for the trip.
Murphy assisted at two parishes in the Boulder Junction area until 1994, when the Archdiocese of Milwaukee discovered he was violating restrictions that prohibited him from performing as a priest and warned him to stop. In the winter of 1994, the archdiocese's deaf ministry newsletter had a short notice that Murphy was "no longer allowed to celebrate the sacraments publicly or privately and will no longer do public interpreting for the deaf." However, Murphy continued to violate some of those restrictions, according to church authorities.
On June 21, 1996, Budzinski, Bolger and Gary Smith drove to Boulder Junction, stayed overnight at a motel and the next morning quietly entered St. Anne Catholic Church, about three miles from Murphy's cottage. They quickly tucked leaflets with a black-and-white photo of Murphy surrounded by the words "Most Wanted" into the hymnals. The men said they were concerned and frustrated that Murphy still had free access to unsuspecting children and their families, and they wanted him arrested.
In that same year, Archbishop Rembert Weakland learned that Murphy still was violating the restrictions and began disciplinary proceedings that could have brought his dismissal from the priesthood, authorities said. The final disciplinary process against Murphy, 72, was pending when he died Aug. 21, 1998.
It took years for many of the religious who worked at the school, former students and even family members of deaf victims to believe that Murphy - a man who gave his entire career to the deaf community - could have committed such abuse. Some went to their graves denying it ever occurred.
Range of Settlements for Victims Questioned
By Mary Zahn
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
March 26, 2006
How the Archdiocese of Milwaukee determines monetary settlements for deaf victims of a Catholic priest who molested them as boys is being questioned by some victims and others. The amounts have varied from $5,000 to $200,000.
Examples include:
• Pat Cave, 57, of Seattle received a $200,000 settlement last year through a mediation program for victims of clergy sexual abuse started by the archdiocese in 2004. Cave said he was molested once by Father Lawrence Murphy in his dormitory bed at St. John's School for the Deaf when he was 14.
• Steve Geier, 55, of Madison accepted a $100,000 settlement through the same program in January. Geier said he was molested four times by Murphy beginning at about age 13. He questioned why his settlement was less than Cave's.
• Gary Smith, 55, of Texas said he was told last year that because of a $5,000 settlement agreement he signed with the archdiocese in 1994, he could not participate in mediation. Smith said he was molested by Murphy 50 to 70 times beginning at age 13.
Smith said he went to the archdiocese with a friend in 1994 to ask church officials for compensation for his suffering.
"They said if you sign this, you can have $5,000," Smith said. "That was basically it. I signed it."
The agreement prohibited Smith from telling the media about his allegations against Murphy or suing the archdiocese. It was signed by church officials and Murphy.
"It is unequal and it pits the survivors against each other," said Alisa Cohen-Stein, a Chicago-area licensed clinical social worker who has treated several of Murphy's victims. "What a really cruel way to divide and conquer. I don't think they are deliberately doing this, but it has this effect."
Kathleen Hohl, communications director for the Archdiocese of Milwaukee, said the archdiocese supports victims who share their stories. However, she said, the information regarding how payments are determined is confidential.
The agreements are "accomplished through mediation and negotiation," Hohl said.
Through June, the archdiocese has spent about $10 million on settlements, therapy and other types of assistance for survivors of clergy sexual abuse, she said.
Jim Smith, a Milwaukee attorney who represented Geier and Cave in mediation, said the archdiocese places victims' experiences in one of three monetary categories: $30,000, $40,000 or $50,000. Any extra money, in general, is being offered as cash in a separate category for counseling, he said.
"It comes to a point where the archdiocese will make a take-it-or-leave-it offer," Smith said. "What they pay the victims is arbitrary because we lack legal leverage."
Under state law, Murphy's victims cannot sue the archdiocese. Pending state legislation would allow victims of clergy sexual abuse to sue a religious organization within a one-year window, regardless of when the abuse occurred. A similar bill failed to pass in 2004.
Some victims said they favored a change in the state law and have not filed for mediation in anticipation of its passage. The bipartisan bill is in the Senate judiciary committee.
"It has hurt me and it has been something I have never been able to get out of my mind," said Robert Bolger, 62, who teaches American Sign Language to high school students in Compton, Calif. "If people don't understand, then they can come to court and find out."
Priest remembered as an early whistleblower
By Matt C. Abbott
December 14, 2006
Former Dominican Father John O'Connor died on Dec. 7, 2006 of complications from a cardiac arrest. I thought it would be fitting to print the following excerpt from chapter 16 ("Homosexuality in Religious Orders") of Randy Engel's The Rite of Sodomy — Homosexuality and the Roman Catholic Church. Father John O'Connor — A Life of Faith, Devotion and Courage
John F. O'Connor was born and raised in Chicago. He entered the Dominican Order in 1949. After completing a one-year novitiate in Winona, Minn., he went to the River Forest House of Studies for three years and later to St. Rose Priory in Dubuque. He was ordained in Oakland, Calif., in 1955.
Immediately afterwards, Father O'Connor began his long career as a Dominican preacher, first as a parish priest, then as a college professor of theology and philosophy. From 1969 to 1989, he was part of the Dominican Mission Band and preached throughout the United States, England and Canada. The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Rosary were prominent themes in his Mission work. In the late 1980s, he found himself once again at home at the magnificent St. Dominic and St. Thomas Priory in River Forest in the Central Province of Chicago. His Provincial Superior was none other than Father Donald Goergen.
As a faithful son of St. Dominic, O'Connor never had any difficulties with his superiors until Goergen arrived on the scene. Goergen wanted O'Connor out.
In a conversation with O'Connor in April 1986, Father Lex Goedert, the Prior at River Forest, let it slip that Goergen was going to suspend O'Connor on some pretext or another. By this time, O'Connor, due in part to his long association with Dominican Father Charles Corcoran, had become a nationally recognized opponent of the Homosexual Collective in AmChurch and in his own Dominican Order.
The fireworks began in March 1987 when Father Charles Fanelli, the pastor of St. John Baptist Vianney Church in Northlake, Ill., asked O'Connor to give a weeklong Mission at his church.
A woman who attended all of O'Connor's talks said that his powerful preaching at the mission had parishioners lining up the isles for confession and that the crowds grew larger every night. Fanelli considered the event to be a great success.
Not everyone, however, was favorably impressed with O'Connor's preaching.
At the next parish council meeting in April at St. John Vianney, the members were informed that complaints against O'Connor's preaching had been lodged with Joseph Cardinal Bernardin, Archbishop of Chicago. When O'Connor attempted to get copies of the complaints, Bernardin refused to send them to him.
On May 4, 1987, Goergen, in the company of another Dominican, Father Jim Marchionda, visited O'Connor at River Forest to discuss the complaints. During a heated confrontation, O'Connor told Goergen that Cochran had witnessed Goergen sodomizing a fellow Dominican. O'Connor reported that Goergen told him, "Homosexuality is becoming more acceptable now," and let the subject drop.
O'Connor decided to go on the offensive. On May 13, 1987, he sent Goergen a letter questioning the financial irregularities of the Province, especially in connection with the St. Jude Thaddeus Shrine operated by the Dominicans on the South side of Chicago. O'Connor made specific reference to Father "Chuck" Dahm, a member of Goergen's coterie, who had allegedly been draining the treasury of thousands of dollars to finance various left-wing political causes. O'Connor asked for an independent audit of the Province's and St. Jude's financial records.
On July 22, 1987, Goergen sent O'Connor a return salvo. Goergen told O'Connor, in response to the latter's request for a transfer, that he had no intention of reassigning him to another Province. Goergen repeated his demand that O'Connor moderate his preaching, stop mentioning people by name in his talks (especially Bernardin) and stop frightening people with verbal excesses.
Goergen stated that he wanted O'Connor to sign a letter of apology to the disgruntled parishioners at St. John Vianney who had complained to Bernardin. O'Connor, who had been physically attacked by the husband of one of the complainants, responded they were lucky he was not suing them for assault and battery. On November 3, 1987, Goergen ordered all communications between O'Connor and parties involved in the parish incident to cease.
Goergen needed a new line of attack.
On December 2, 1987, one month after O'Connor had returned from a successful speaking engagement in South Dakota, Goergen informed O'Connor that he wanted him to visit a psychological counselor. O'Connor said no dice. Goergen backed off. It was back to the drawing board.
In early 1988, Goergen made another visitation to O'Connor at River Forest. This time the Provincial stated he wanted O'Connor to stop "isolating" himself from his community of brothers. He also stated that the head of the Province of St. Joseph in New York had requested O'Connor not to enter his domain. O'Connor agreed with the latter, but said that his special dietary and health problems mitigated against his taking meals in common with his fellow Dominicans.
In April 1988, O'Connor, who had maintained contact with the Holy See on his problems with Goergen, was advised by the Congregation for Religious and Secular Institutes in Rome to obey his superior (Goergen) and, if all else fails, to consult with and follow the advice of the Dominican Master General in Rome.
O'Connor decided not to seek exclaustration. He would stay and fight.
The rest of the year remained relatively uneventful. O'Connor, as directed, limited his preaching to the confines of his own Central Province. However, much to Goergen's consternation, O'Connor's anti-Modernist tapes, which included a section against the Homosexual Collective in the Church, continued to gain greater nationwide circulation.
On March 31, 1989, O'Connor was advised that the Provincial Council of St. Albert the Great had issued an order forbidding O'Connor to preach — anywhere. The Council also recommended that he undergo a psycho-medical evaluation.
In a letter of June 13, 1989, O'Connor responded by asking Goergen if he (Goergen) was willing to repent of his homosexual life. The letter was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. Two days later, Goergen notified O'Connor that his suspension was fully in effect.
On February 22, 1990, after more than 40 years in the Dominican Order, O'Connor was informed by Goergen that the process of his formal dismissal from the order had begun under Canon 696. Fifteen days later, a second warning was sent to O'Connor and formal charges against him were transmitted to the Master General in Rome.
Goergen accused O'Connor of giving "grave scandal" by his written allegations against a member of the hierarchy (Bernardin) and against his Dominican brothers (Benedict Ashley, William Bernacki, Peter Witchousky and Donald Goergen).
In February 1990, O'Connor received a letter from Master General Rev. Damian Byrne in Rome (Prot. 35/90/10) stating that O'Connor had harmed the reputation of the Central Province, the whole Dominican Order and the Church with his accusations against Bernardin and his brother Dominicans.
Byrne ordered O'Connor to engage in a period of prayer and reflection beginning February 20, 1990. He also ordered O'Connor to check himself into the psycho-ward at the Guadeloupe Center in Cherry Valley, Calif. O'Connor refused.
In the meantime, O'Connor had hired a canon lawyer to plead his dismissal from the Dominican Order in Rome, but to no avail [columnist's note: O'Connor's canon lawyer was the late Father Alfred Kunz, whose 1998 murder remains unsolved]. Additional appeals to the Pope went nowhere.
In the summer of 1991, Rome informed O'Connor that he was dismissed from the Dominicans. O'Connor packed his bags and left the River Forest Priory forever.
On Ash Wednesday, February 28, 1990, O'Connor wrote: "When I made my vow of obedience 40 years ago, it was first and foremost to Jesus Christ, His Mother and St. Dominic and in obedience to them only death will silence my witnessing to the Truth."
To which one can only respond, "Amen."
Also See:
Murdered Catholic Priest Knew Too Much?
by Matt Abbott
The Rev. Alfred J. Kunz was a priest known and consulted by many in the Catholic Church. He was a canon lawyer, meaning he had thorough expertise in the laws of the Church -the Code of Canon Law, as it is known. He also was a staunch defender of orthodoxy, not much liked by Catholic liberals (at least, those who actually knew of him), and a thorn in the side to those who desire to see authentic Christianity wiped off the face of the earth.
In March of 1998, Fr. Kunz was found murdered. Brutally murdered. And his murder remains unsolved. For a little background of the case, I give you the following text, provided by Detective Kevin Hughes of the Dane County Sheriff's Office:
"On March 4, 1998, at 7:00 a.m., the body of Fr. Alfred J. Kunz, DOB 4/15/30, was found in the hallway of St. Michael School. The school is in the Village of Dane, population approximately 600, located in rural Dane County 5 miles northwest of Madison, Wis., the state capital.
"Fr. Kunz was the victim of a homicide. His throat was cut with an edged weapon severing the carotid artery. He died as a result of blood loss. The body was discovered by a teacher arriving at the school and was found lying in the hallway near the door to the father's living quarters in the school. All the doors to the school were locked and there was no sign of forced entry.
"Fr. Kunz was a traditional Roman Catholic priest, who had served at St. Michael Church for 32 years. He had strong traditional orthodox Roman Catholic views that were evidenced by the fact that he conducted Latin Masses as well as English Masses. He was an expert in canon law, the law of the Church, and as such many people nationwide consulted with him.
"On the night prior to the homicide, Fr. Kunz participated in the taping of a religious radio talk program, which was to be aired at a later date. After the taping, at 10:00 p.m., he was dropped off at St. Michael Church/school by another priest. Subsequent to that, at about 10:30 p.m., he had a phone conversation with another priest.
"Investigators believe the killer is someone that Fr. Kunz knew and is familiar with the village and St. Michael's. Fr. Kunz was probably not fearful of the killer. The attack was cowardly, unprovoked, and unexpected. The particular motive is unknown but may be related to jealousy, revenge, betrayal, or any other issue which was personal to the killer...."
There are, of course, at least a few theories about who, or what, might have been behind Kunz's murder. The prominent theory is that Kunz was killed because he "knew too much." About what? About the sexual misconduct of some men of the cloth. Men who were able to cover up their misdeeds for years, even decades. Men who formed the underbelly of the American church.
A significant aspect of that underbelly is the homosexual network, a network that has existed for a long time but is seldom if ever discussed in politically correct circles. Actively homosexual priests who seek to destroy the Church from within. This is the homosexual network. "Never underestimate the power of this network," Kunz reportedly once told a close associate.
Kunz was an advisor to the Illinois-based Roman Catholic Faithful (RCF), headed by lay Catholic activist Stephen Brady. RCF investigated the misdeeds of the now-former bishop of Springfield, Ill., Daniel Ryan. (For more information about RCF's work, visit
The police are, understandably, very tight-lipped about the status of their investigation into the Kunz homicide. But, to my knowledge, the investigation continues. In fact, press reports have stated that the police have interviewed over 2,000 people during the course of their ongoing investigation.
So if and when the case is finally solved, we'll know for sure. We'll know the full story. But, until then, all we have is speculation. Educated speculation, that is. And, I would submit, a little educated speculation - coupled with a lot of prayer - can go a long way.
Scandals in the Church: The Impact; Cardinal's Resignation Won't Stop Lawsuits, But Alters Atmosphere
By Adam Liptak
December 14, 2002
The resignation of Cardinal Bernard F. Law as Boston's archbishop does not significantly alter the legal landscape in the civil actions brought by people who say they were abused by priests or in the criminal investigation into the role of church officials in covering up abuse. Yet its practical importance may be enormous.
''It has zero official legal impact,'' said Patrick J. Schiltz, a professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in St. Paul. ''But it will have a pretty substantial impact on the lawsuits, not because of anything legal but because of what it does to the dynamics of the settlement negotiations and the dynamics of the trials if there are any trials.''
The resignation, legal experts said, is in one sense an admission of failure and culpability. But the more important point, they continued, is that the exit of the public face of the scandal will lower the emotional intensity in efforts to resolve cases.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs say that the cases against the Boston Archdiocese and Cardinal Law will continue and that the resignation will not have any particular impact on them.
''This does not free Cardinal Law from the litigation,'' Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston lawyer who represents people who say they were the victims of sexual abuse, said. ''I'm not going away. The victims are not going away.''
Cardinal Law is scheduled to testify at a deposition starting Tuesday in a lawsuit brought by people who say they were victims of the Rev. Paul R. Shanley.
The resignation should also have little immediate effect in the criminal investigation of the archdiocese.
''It's going to continue to march along,'' said Martin F. Murphy, a former state prosecutor in Massachusetts. ''The urgency may fade a little bit.''
Grand jury subpoenas were issued about a week ago to Cardinal Law and seven bishops who worked for him. The grand jury has been gathering evidence since February.
The Massachusetts attorney general, Thomas F. Reilly, whose office is conducting the criminal investigation, has been harshly criticized by victims' groups as moving too slowly. A news conference by Mr. Reilly on Thursday, in which he accused church officials of a cover-up, may have been a response to that criticism, but Cardinal Law's resignation complicates matters.
Wendy Murphy, a former state prosecutor in Massachusetts who now represents people who say they were victims of sexual abuse, said the attorney general was in an unenviable spot, ''faced with the choice of going after the church as an entity without the face of the bad guy.''
Mr. Reilly does not have many legal tools available to him under Massachusetts law.
''It is very difficult under the criminal laws of this state to hold a superior accountable for the acts of another,'' Mr. Reilly said on Thursday.
In September, the state's legislature enacted a child endangerment law making it a crime to create a risk of serious physical injury or sexual abuse, but it is not retroactive, Mr. Reilly said.
Legal experts said few other legal theories plausibly fit the cover-up accusations made against the cardinal and the archdiocese. Most of the theories, including obstruction of justice, civil rights violations and acting as accessories after the fact, require a level of criminal intent apparently not present, based on the information that has come to light to date.
It may be possible, Ms. Murphy said, to prosecute the archdiocese, which in legal form is a corporation, under the theory of vicarious liability, which holds corporations strictly accountable for the actions of their employees in some situations. The theory does not apply to corporate officials, and it can give rise to fines but not incarceration.
In 1971, the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts sustained the convictions of two corporations whose employees had bribed public officials on a vicarious-liability theory.
''To permit corporations to conceal the nefarious acts of their underlings by using the shield of corporate armor to deflect corporate responsibility,'' the court ruled, would permit them ''to inflict widespread public harm without hope of redress.''
Ms. Murphy said vicarious liability was the leading available criminal theory.
''This is the only real viable one, because it doesn't require knowledge on the part of the leaders,'' she said.
Mr. Murphy, who is not related to Ms. Murphy, agreed that the theory was ''legally possible.'' But he said the cardinal's resignation altered the analysis Mr. Reilly would have to undertake in deciding whether to prosecute the archdiocese as such.
''In any kind of a prosecution of a corporation,'' he said, ''if there is a real change in leadership it makes it a lot less likely that the corporation would be prosecuted.''
The criminal fines such a prosecution would seek would be paid by ''people in the pews,'' he said, which would be neither politically popular nor effective.
A similar analysis may figure in settlement discussions.
''It's going to get harder and harder for plaintiffs to say this is not only about the money,'' Professor Schiltz said. ''Cardinal Law is gone now. The abusive priests themselves are either dead or out of the ministry now. The secrets are all out now. If the plaintiffs persist, it becomes clearer and clearer that this is only about money.''
Should some of the civil cases go to trial, the archdiocese will be much better off given the change of leadership, legal experts said.
''Clergy misconduct cases are, as much as any other category of cases, morality plays,'' said Professor Schiltz, who represented churches of many denominations in hundreds of clergy sexual abuse cases while in private practice. ''The most effective weapon in the plaintiffs' lawyers' arsenal is to ask the jury for $100 million to send the archdiocese a message. That's a lot harder to do if Cardinal Law has lost his job.''
Given that trials are morality plays, he said, the dramatis personae are crucial.
''The Snidely Whiplash of the drama has just exited stage right,'' he said.