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Blast from Archbishop Myers's past. (UPDATED)

The Diocese of Peoria, Illinois, has agreed to pay $1.35 million to settle a lawsuit claiming that Archbishop John J. Myers--who served there as bishop from 1990 to 2001--failed to remove a priest from ministry despite having evidence that he had abused a minor. (Myers, you'll recall, has come in for some criticism regarding his handling of accused priests in his current diocese, Newark.)

The plaintiff, Andrew Ward, now twenty-five, accused the late Rev. Thomas Maloney of molesting him in 1995 and '96, when Ward was eight. About a year earlier, a woman informed the diocese that Maloney had abused her sister when she was ten years old. Myers denies knowing anything about it. Indeed, if anything comes through in the 2010 deposition of Myers, just unsealed as part of the settlement, it's that the archbishop's memory is less than ideal.

For example, Myers doesn't remember much about the generous gifts Maloney gave him over the years (starting in the late 1980s, apparently). Does he recall receiving Maloney's own "precious" camera? No. What about gold coins? Sort of. The silver object so large "it could be tied around one's neck like the proverbial millstone," as Myers desrcibed it to Maloney in a thank-you note? Hard to say. 

Now, it's not unusual for priests to give gifts to their bishop following confirmations. Such offerings usually amount to $1 per child, rarely totaling more than $500. But many bishops set up trusts to receive such funds for later disbursemet to charity. Myers apparently used them to cover personal expenses--including his mother's health care, his vacations, and his trips to the track. (SEE UPDATE BELOW.)

So were Myers and Maloney friends? The archbishop has trouble with that question too: "I don't know if 'friends' would — I had many other priests that I was closer to. I can say that." How many of those other priests were invited to vacation with Myers, as Maloney was in 2000? How many used their homilies to relate personal stories of their friendship with the bishop, sometimes referring to him as "Johnny"? How many were nominated by Myers to be made monsignor, as Maloney was in 2000? (Settle in, this is going to be a long post.)

You might wonder whether dioceses vet such nominees, and Myers explains that the Diocese of Peoria does. Yet, even though the diocese had received complaints about Maloney well before he was made a monsignor, Maloney's vetting failed to turn up any of them. Why not? Myers doesn't know. Perhaps his vicars general filed the records in hard-to-reach places.

For example, in 1999, a husband and wife wrote to the vicar general with grave concerns about Maloney's conduct during confession. In March of that year, they explained, their son--then in the eighth grade--returned from school in "an uneasy manner." When they inquired about his mood, he reported that during confession, Maloney had described the sexual acts of "a fellow priest." (He also took a mobile-phone call in the middle of the sacrament, conducted penance as an interrogator--Did you do X, Y, Z?--and forced students to confess face to face.) The parents conveyed their concerns in the gentlest way. They acknowledged the pressures Maloney was under, said they'd never walked in his shoes, and did not even request that he be removed from the parish. They just wanted the diocese to intervene. 

The parents received a prompt reply in which the vicar general--then Msgr. Steven Rohlfs--apologized for Maloney's scandalous behavior, and assured them that they had done the right thing by contacting him. But, Rohlfs cautioned, there was little he could do formally, because these incidents were protected by the seal of confession and the family wanted to remain anonymous. (A dubious claim, because a penitent can break the seal in order to defend himself against the grave canonical crime of solicitation during confession.) Still, Rohlfs promised that he would speak with Maloney without mentioning the name of the boy. The vicar general copied Myers on the reply, and apparently Rohlfs believed it was worthy of the attention of the diocese's law firm, which he also copied, but Myers claims he doesn't recall seeing it.

Yet at least one compaint about Maloney received Myers's personal attention. In 2000, a married couple wrote to Myers to express their concerns about Maloney's behavior both in and out of the parish. On Superbowl Sunday, they explained, Maloney could be heard distributing Communion in the following way: "Body of Christ. Is the beer cold yet?" Maloney's short homilies were often seasoned with "inappropriate jokes." The wife explained that as she was confessing to Maloney, he informed her that "women are just too emotional," adding: "maybe you should just get a life."  Later that night, around 9 p.m., she saw him in a Walgreens parking lot with a grade-school girl, who eventually left his car to buy about $20 in candy. And, finally, she wrote, Maloney "typically" took eighth-grade girls out to lunch at a place called the Pub. 

Before contacting Myers, the couple explained, they conveyed their concerns to Maloney in a "polite, yet direct" letter. The priest responded by calling their house eight times, and when he finally got through--at 11 p.m. on a school night--he informed them that he was well loved and did not drink at all. 

Myers doesn't remember that letter either. When asked whether he would dispute that he received the letter, he replied, "I don't really know how to answer that." Which is strange, because he personally responded just two weeks later, after hosting a meeting with Maloney that was scheduled to last all of ten minutes. In his reply, Myers told the parents that their "experience does not seem to correspond with that of many other people." He continued, "I do know that Father loves people, especially young people, and that he cares for them generously. We have never had allegations of impropriety." When asked how he could make such a claim, Myers offered his now familiar response: "To the best of my knowledge," it was true. (The phrase appears ten times in the deposition transcript.)

Myers can't even say why he was copied on a 2002 letter to Maloney from Rohlfs, who had been named administrator of the diocese after Myers was moved to Newark. In that letter Rohfls conveyed the concerns of the diocesan school superintendent, who did not approve of Maloney's decision to lock a classroom door so he could deliver a two-and-a-half-hour talk on "morality" to a captive audience of boys, threatening to expel them if they told their parents what he had said--to say nothing of reports that he had given one student money as a reward for good grades, or his reputation for favoring blond girls. After all, as Myers explains in the deposition, when this letter went out "it was right after 9/11 and my time was very greatly occupied by memorial masses and visiting families and helping families of victims of 9/11." In case you missed it, the archbishop was busy with 9/11. But that still doesn't explain why the administrator of the Diocese of Peoria would copy the former bishop on this case--a case Myers says he can't even remember, to the best of his knowledge. 

Even if the best of Myer's knowledge of sexual-abuse cases in his dioceses isn't all that good, he does seem to have a rather high opinion of his own investigative prowess. In the case of the priest John Anderson, Myers says he "spent the morning" speaking with the alleged victim, and found his story "inconsistent with the facts." He claims to have spoken with a therapist about the case. But that was the extent of his investigation. He decided on his own that the accuser lacked credibility.

Did Myers forward the allegation to the police? No. "I encouraged the...seminarian, now a priest, to go to the police and asked him to. [Here it seems that the seminarian is the accuser.] And he's the one I asked to sign the statement that I had urged him to and he had — he declined to." So Myers didn't find the allegation credible, yet he urged the accuser to go to the police. And he tried to get the accuser to sign a statement acknowledging that he had asked him to go to the police. Why would someone who did not believe an abuse allegation feel the need to protect himself with a statement affirming that he had tried to convince the accuser to contact civil authorities? Could it be that Myers was worried there might be something to the allegations after all?

In May 2002, after Myers had been promoted to Newark, Bishop Daniel Jenky found that Anderson had been credibly accused, and removed him from ministry (along with several others). Through his spokesman Jim Goodness, Myers expressed his sadness "in particular for the victims but also for the priests." And he made sure to emphasize what he knew and when he knew it: "These allegations and the actions of the diocese are based on information that was received since he left the diocese to come to Newark. So he really has no knowledge of the individual allegations against these priests." Apparently the allegation Myers said he personally investigated doesn't count.

But if one thing can be said about Archbishop Myers's handling of sexual-abuse allegations, it's that he knows what counts. At one point during the deposition, plaintiff's attorney Jeff Anderson asks, "Under canon law you're aware that if there is an allegation of sexual abuse by a priest, the bishop is required to conduct investigation, correct?" Myers's response will not reassure Newark's Catholic parents: "If he knows about it."

UPDATE: Over the weekend, Archbishop Myers released a letter addressed to his "dear brother priests" in which he claims that "to the best of my knowledge"--there it is again--"the particular case cited was brought to the attention of the officials in the Peoria Diocese in or about 2007, more than five years after I left that diocese and arrived in New Jersey." If he is talking about Maloney, and it sounds like he is--for some reason, Myers can't bring himself to use the man's name (Google can be a real pain sometimes)--he is not telling the truth.

Several documents show that the Diocese of Peoria received complaints about Maloney as early as the mid-1990s. The paper trail is not short. This 1995 memo from the vicar general to the "File of Rev. Thomas Maloney" indicates that the diocese had received a complaint from a woman who said that Maloney had molested her sister when she was ten years old. This 1996 letter, redacted so that all we can make out is that it's addressed to "Monsignor," warns about Maloney's "unprofessional" behavior with "a rather young teenage girl." This is the vicar general's memo to Maloney regarding that letter. Here is a 1999 letter from parents to the next vicar general, informing him that Maloney had discussed the sexual acts of another priest with their eighth-grade son during confession (note the stamp announcing that the document is "protected by attorney/client privilege"). And here is the vicar general's reply, which was copied to Myers. And this is the vicar general's letter to the parents confirming that he met with Maloney and conveyed their concerns anonymously--Myers and the diocese's law firm are copied. A year later, in September 2000, another couple wrote directly to Myers to voice their concerns about Maloney, who, they claimed, had been seen with a young girl in a parking lot and was known to take eighth-grade girls to lunch at a place called the Pub--and who, after they confronted him phoned their house eight times late at night, finally going off on the father about how well loved he was and how he was a teetotaler he swore. One week later the vicar general wrote to Maloney to remind him that he had a meeting with Myers that would last "about ten minutes." A week after that, Myers responded personally to the parents, denying that their claims were credible (he copied the vicar general). 

Archbishop Myers was reminded of all those documents during his 2010 deposition. He was also reminded of documents pertaining to the gifts he received from Maloney. But he now says, "I never vacationed with him, and I received no gifts other than those often given to a bishop by Pastors or Parishes." If he never vacationed with Maloney, then why did he in 1995 invite Maloney to join him in Florida, an invitation he repeated two years later. And why in 2000 did he invite the priest to "join us on Crete,"  providing Maloney with the name of his hotel and the dates of his stay? Did this priest who referred to Myers as "Johnny" in homilies really refuse the repeated invitations of his bishop to join him on vacation?

And what about those gifts? Myers says they were not unusual at all. Maybe so, but while he had trouble recalling their value in 2010, now he remembers that one such gift was "of minimal value." That's not the whole truth, because, as the record shows, on several occasions Myers thanked Maloney  for his "generous" and "wonderful" gifts, which were valuable enough to help him cover the costs of his mother's care, his vacations, and his trips to the track. Keep in mind, many bishops establish charitable trusts to receive such gifts, which are then disbursed to the needy. This is an unseemly practice, and it would be better if priests donated to charity directly.

Also unseemly is the tone of Myers's letter to his priests. He blames the media, naturally, for "provid[ing] deceitful and misleading information about situations in the Diocese of Peoria and in this archdiocese. I am dutybound to denounce the impressions presented as false and harmful to many people." Mainly, though, those impressions are harmful to himself. It's possible that some have twisted the facts to serve purposes other than getting at the truth of how Myers has handled sexual-abuse claims throughout his episcopal career. Myers complains about his words being "selectively quoted by an interested attorney, some upset parents, and a former Priest of this Archdiocese." But he too has selectively presented the record. The deposition is publicly available. I recommend reading it. Perhaps the archbishop should refresh his memory too.

"Some upset parents." Myers is referring to the parents of the plaintiff in the Maloney case. Watch this video and try not to be moved by the mother's realization of the reason she received her son's disdain. She blames herself. Myers blames the media. 

He closes with quite a flourish:

For any who set out to claim that I or the Church have had no effective part in the love and protection of children, is simply evil, wrong, immoral, and seemingly focused on their own self-aggrandizement. God only knows their personal reasons and agenda. We are still called to love them. And God will surely address them in due time.

Sound familiar? Myers has delivered a letter from an alternate universe, one in which the church was never seized by this scandal for over a decade, one in which the church's moral authority was not tarnished by sexual abusers and the bishops who enabled them. Perhaps he will reconsider his response to these matters in a subsequent letter to his brothers and sisters in the laity. But I wouldn't hold my breath.

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Abp Myers' letter answering the married couple's complaints is a model of polite rebuff. Why did he not meet with them? If he thought that there was nothing serious behind their complaints, why did he not arrange a meeting between them and the priest in his presence, so that he could mediate a reconciliation? Instead, he was eager to let the matter drop. His reassuring words corresponded to no reality. Although the details of this thread are new, the broad outline is familiar. We've read reports similar to this one many times before.

The style of Grant's writing is compelling. He takes pains to stick to facts but one can still read in his words a cold, barely contained fury. I don't know where he gets the energy to still get worked up. We've come to expect this kind of behavior on the part of bishops: evasive, irresponsible, sweeping problems under the carpet. I have difficulty feeling indignant any more: I simply assume such behavior is the default.

Another John 9:41 moment for an American bishop. The immorality of the JPII generation of conservative bishops exposed. Yet again.

(Sir John) Myers is a Knight Commander with Star of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre, Knight Commander-Grand Cross of the Sovereign Constantinian Order of the Martyr St. George, and Conventual Chaplain of the Order of Malta.

As a Member of the Ad Hoc Committee on Sexual Abuse of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, Archbishop Myers helped draft the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the linchpin document that guides the Church in dealing compassionately with victims of abuse and openly with civil authorities.

 

http://www.rcan.org/archbish/jjm/jjm-bio.htm

Same old, same old.   I wonder when the awakening of Catholic bishops will be.

The words "smarmy" and "sleazy" came to mind as I read this shameful story.  Grant really did himself proud here.

Grant, again, thank you for careful research and the questions you ask. Excellent.

The astounding memory loss suffered by (arch)bishops in deposition or on the stand is just not believable. My favorite example is the bishop who admitted to about 40 new Jesuit superiors that as he walked into court, "he would recite to himself"I'm sorry, Your Honor, but I do not remember."  http://ncronline.org/blogs/examining-crisis/surely-rome-can-do-better

NCR has a lengthy thread on Myers, and readers may be interested to follow additional discussion there about his record.

http://ncronline.org/news/accountability/sex-abuse-lawsuit-illinois-focuses-actions-newark-archbishop#comment-1005290154

I can't help but suspect that Myers discouraged the seminarian from going to the police but encouraged him to sign a document saying that he had urged him to go. When it comes to bishops dealing with sexual abuse, the worst one can imagine tends to be an optimistic guess.

Myers is Opus Dei.  Finn is Opus Dei.  Will Opus Dei prevent Francis from removing Finn from office?  And Myers?  Grant, at least your meticulous research is for the archival record, if nothing else.  Thank you.

The  mayor of San Diego who lies will be gone in a week, Ca. Dems have asked him to step down...  Newark will have Myers for at least 3 years till 75 retire . His flock of sheep laity and priests  have no voice. . Phew.

 

Speaking of Bp Finn (who, one remembers, was convicted for mismanaging the child pornography case of Fr Ratigan), here is what he preached on a few weeks ago:

"Go ahead. Make a mess. Bishop Robert W. Finn says it’s OK. So does Pope Francis. Echoing the words of the pope spoken three days earlier to thousands of Argentinean pilgrims at World Youth Day in Rio de Janiero, Bishop Finn told a few hundred Catholics at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph that U.S. culture needs Catholics to “make a mess.” [...]

That kind of “mess” caused by faithful Catholics standing up for principles they will not compromise is also needed in a U.S. culture that is becoming hostile to religion, Bishop Finn said. [...]

He cited abortion, the acceptance of same-sex marriage, “widespread use of contraception,” and the “use of pornography,” as signs of a culture that needs faithful Catholics to stand firm.

The nerve!

 

 

In a letter he sent out, Myers is denying receiving gifts (except for an inexpensive coin) or vacationing with Maloney. What is the truth? Or is Myers spltting hairs?

 I never vacationed with him, and I received no gifts other than those often given to a bishop by Pastors or Parishes.  Since we were both coin collectors, I recall that he oncegave me a coin of minimal value.. of which he had several examples.  At no time was I ever aware thatsome people thought him to be a threat to children or young people.  Officials at the Diocese of Peoriawho investigated an earlier case during my years there found that no allegation was sufficiently supported by evidence.  In 2007, when Law Enforcement officials investigated the case cited in thelawsuit, the Diocese of Peoria provided all information concerning the earlier case.  That investigationby the authorities determined that neither allegation had any basis for any criminal action. 

 

 

 

 

Grant. 

Lots of verbiage and innuendo, no damning facts or smoking gun.  Give it up.

The letter quoted by Lee Podles above: http://blog.nj.com/njv_guest_blog/2013/08/newark_archbishop_john_myers_r.html

Several letters acknowledging receipt of gifts are linked to by Grant in the post. Here is one more, from 1997, addressed to Fr Maloney in Epiphany: http://www.bishop-accountability.org/depo/2010_05_12_Myers_Deposition/Exhibits/Myers_Ex_33A.pdf 

"Dear Tom, well, you certainly are consistent. You take me by surprise. I am very grateful for your most generous gift. In fact, it does enable me to do a number of things, including vacation and helping my father with mom's nursing home. We look forward to seeing you in Florida if you decide to come down."

Fr Maloney was evidently a good friend of his, as seen also by the tone of his other letters. Yet, from the deposition, he seems to imply that Maloney was a mere acquaintance:

Q. And at some point in time did you become friends with Father, later to be, Monsignor Maloney?
A. I — I don't know if friends would — I had many other priests that I was closer to. I can say that. But for that first year from August 1st of '67 until, I think, probably June of '68, we were two of the more recently ordained priests in the city of Peoria. So two or three times we would either take a day off or go out to dinner. So we were friendly in that sense but — In fact, our paths really I didn't cross a lot after that. I was in doctoral work and working Washington, DC and in different parts of the diocese. He was moved, I believe, to Ottawa, Illinois. I'm not certain. And then back to east Peoria, Illinois. Then I think he was assistant, even, at Epiphany for a while. So I — when I got back from doctoral work, I was in the chancery and pretty much supervising — helping the Bishop supervise the diocese.

The way in which he turn his back on the man is despicable. Does he have no integrity? Contrast with the deposition of Abp Hunthausen, about his friend the bishop of Spokane having sent him a priest without telling him anything about the priest's troubled past. It may be bad for Hunthausen to acknowledge his friendship with the Spokane bishop, yet he makes no attempt to downplay it.  This is how a man of integrity speaks:

"(I had) feelings that were so sad that I knew nothing about it…" [Abp Hunthausen] said. "I still can't comprehend, I still don't know why…" he began to say, before an objection interrupted him.

Reading through the links provided by Grant to flesh out the portrait of Abp Myers leaves the reader slightly nauseated.

I've updated this post with links that demonstrate that when Myers says the Diocese of Peoria didn't learn about this case until 2007, he is not telling the truth.

Bruce, read the deposition and the exhibits. You're confused. 

Bruce:

I am always skeptical of posts that come from people who have an agenda and then find the facts to fit that agenda.  I am convinced that this is NOT the case with Grant Gallicho's post. He had found the facts mostly from the transcript of Archbishop Myers depostion, and has let the facts speak for themselves.

A great job of meticulous reporting, Grant. Do we have a Catholic Pulitzer Prize?

I am always skeptical of posts that come from people who have an agenda and then find the facts to fit that agenda.  I am convinced that this is NOT the case with Grant Gallicho's post.

I agree.

 

 

 

I am not sure that what is critical in all this is the degree of friendship between Myers and Maloney.  In my observation (and experience) there can be quite a bit of ambiguity in relationships among clergy, particularly when they are of unequal rank.  Certainly, the possibility is there for favoritism, as there is in the business world between an employer and a favored employee, or in family life between a parent or grandparent and a favored child.  Likewise, the language of a thank-you note may be evidence of lying, or it may just be the ritual extravagance of politeness ("I can't tell you how excited I was to receive the book you sent me").

What is damning beyond equivocation is the paper trail of allegations.

 

Critical? No. Pertinent? Certainly, especially because Myers repeatedly tries to downplay their friendship. Myers invited Maloney to vacation with him at least three times. I don't know about you, but I don't invite mere acquaintences to travel with me. 

The negative inference is that Myers failed to discipline Maloney because they were friends.  So Myers denies the extent of their friendship.  The only other logical inference I can think that Myers might be trying to make is the extent to which his testimony that he does not "remember" these incidents is credible in light of his friendship.  Thus, he denies the friendship for that reason as well.

But neither bad memory nor lack of friendship with Maloney is explanatory or exclupatory for why he did not react more forcefully to complaints.  This seems like a serious flaw in reasoning: the notion that having a reason for an omission or failure makes that omission or failure more blameworthy.  I suppose it might from a moral perspective, but it almost never matters from a legal perspective. 

And bad memory is morally neutral, at best.  Not being able to remember something that seems remarkable in retrospect might also suggest either that he did not see it as remarkable at the time or he was beset by so many similar allegations he cannot remember any of them in particular.

Not a good day for Myers.

What must it be like to be a priest in the Archdiocese of Newark, having a bishop who can so easlity throw one of his priest-friends under the bus?

 

During discussions of the sexual abuse crisis fingers have been pointed to clericalism, yet in many cases, I don't think that quite captures the problem. The attitude of Bp Finn (once he started receiving lawyers' advice) or of Abp Myers is not "us clergy versus the rest of the world". Instead, they let their brothers down as soon as supporting them would make them incur some personal cost. There is no tribal loyalty.

 

From Letter of Bishop Myers to his priests:

"In the deposition given by me and selectively quoted by an interested attorney, some upset parents, and a former Priest of this Archdiocese..."

"Some upset parents"??? 

 

“...in 1999, a husband and wife wrote to the vicar general with grave concerns about Maloney's conduct during confession. In March of that year, they explained, their son--then in the eighth grade--returned from school in ‘an uneasy manner.’" When they inquired about his mood, he reported that during confession, Maloney had described the sexual acts of 'a fellow priest.' The parents conveyed their concerns in the gentlest way."

I applaud those parents for the rapport they have with their son. (He was not ashamed or afraid to tell them about his encounter in confession. They believed him and acted on his behalf telling Bishop Myers.)  I am impressed by the prayerful and respectful way that they approached this matter (as shown in the link to the letter in Grant Gallicho's post).

 

Claire - might add...there is tribal loyalty but it is in the ranks of bishop to bishop; priest to priest.  Clericalism is also about the privileges of rank, position, etc.   Clericalism is about ambition - thus, priests want to be monsignors on their way to being bishops.  Why theologically, we say that the fullness of priesthood is only to be found as a bishop.

there is tribal loyalty but it is in the ranks of bishop to bishop; priest to priest.  

In addition, I expect that, in any diocese, there are priests who are "insiders" and priests who aren't, and even priests who are in a bishop's doghouse at any given time.  Insiders are the ones who are made monsignors and who might be invited to vacation with the bishop.  All the signs point to Maloney being in the inner circle.  Perhaps that also is a type of clericalism.

(Grant, this insider/doghouse dynamic is what I meant to point to in my previous comment.  I didn't do it very clearly - had not thought about it very clearly until I saw Bill's comment here.  Whether Maloney was in the inner circle, as perhaps also Lynn was in Philly, strikes me as more pertinent than whether the two men were actual, genuine friends.)

Goodness and Myers have made a point more than once that Myers has a good track record with abusers.  Presumably, he has handled some cases more or less by the book, yes?  Is Maloney's apparent favorite-son status the reason he was given a pass?  What about Fugee in Newark - same dynamic at play?

 

In Matthew 5:33-37, we read Jesus' clear  commond NOT to take oaths.  Is Myers swearing an oath in that picture?  

 

I just got done reading the deposition, and I must say that in that atmosphere, with the amount of stuttering, interruptions, occasional objections, and hostile exchanges, it is just conceivable that Abp Myers lost a bit of his mind and had trouble recalling facts to memory. If your lawyer asked you to always watch every word you said, and never say "yes" unless you were absolutely certain that something was true, you might be thrown off too. I'm not saying he didn't lie, but I'm not quite as certain of it as before... but in the larger picture, it doesn't matter: one way or another, he didn't do his job and it would be better if he resigned.

 

Twice I took information to Bishop O'Rourke in Peoria about a priest's sexual abuse issues and each time he thanked me, saying the second time "Bishop Myers and I are taking care of it."   The next week that priest was promoted to a prominent diocesa position.  My thoughts:  either you don't care or you don't believe me.  In any case I was out of here as cathedral rector."  I left the diocese in 1990.  After serving in several other assignments, that priest was supposedly sent for studies but I discovered some years later from Bishop Jenky, Myer's successor in Peoria, that he had actually left the diocese without faculties and was dismissed from the priesthood - although the diocesan paper had indicated that he was on assignment.  Sad Story!

Claire: The only real hostility I detected was between the lawyers. Several times Myers apologizes for not answering appropriately, and every time Anderson says it's OK. But even discounting for the tension of such a situation, how to explain Myers's claim that the Diocese of Peoria was not informed about Maloney until 2007? He was deposed in 2010, when he was shown all the documents that demonstrate how false that claim is. It's only been three years. Did he get anmesia again?

If your lawyer asked you to always watch every word you said, and never say "yes" unless you were absolutely certain that something was true, you might be thrown off too.  

Disagree.  A person telling the truth will not be "thrown off" by lawyers' questions.  And why would a bishop need to be coached by lawyers about what to say?  Jesus said, Let your speech be yea, yea; no, no.

 

Grant: you're right. Gerelyn: maybe for you.

Now, if only pope Francis was reading dotC during the quiet hours of summer, to get himself acquainted with the US style of the Catholic church, maybe he's be inspired to ask Bp Finn and Abp Myers to resign. Or if in his hotel he came across visitors to Rome from the US who would suggest he consider it. How about if every US visitor asked him to look into the case of Bp Finn - how many would it take before he got himself informed?

"Now, it's not unusual for priests to give gifts to their bishop following confirmations. Such offerings usually amount to $1 per child, ...."

Would these children be acknowledged or otherwise?  And if $500 is the maxiumum, all I could say is:  You're a better man than I, Gunga Din!

 

"His flock of sheep laity and priests have no voice."   No question about it:  they are definitely being flocked.

Gerelyn:  This is from the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

 

Jesus' Teaching (2153-2154)

Jesus said, "Do not swear at all. Let what you say be simply ‘Yes' or ‘No'" (Mt 5:34). He wants an awareness that God's presence and truth be honored in all speech. Great discretion must be shown in calling upon his name. Jesus' words do not exclude oaths made for grave and right reasons (as in court) (2 Cor 1:23, Gal 1:20). An oath can be taken only "in truth, in judgment and in justice" (Canon 1199).

 

Gerelyn: maybe for you.

Truthful people are not easily befuddled or "thrown off" by lawyers' questions.  (See, e.g., the testimony of Rachel Jenteal at the trial of Trayvon Marin's killer.)

What I find confusing is how enablers of the enablers reach soooo far to excuse them and explain away their lies.

------

Thanks, Angela.  Glad to know the new Catechism and Canon 1199 supersede the gospel and tell us what Jesus really meant.  

 

 

 

If not culpability, Grant's excellent paper trail shows extreme stupidity in the part of high ranking clergy. So where are the consequences for Bishops Myers and Finn?  Has the avalanche of letters gone to the Vatican about these two like it does whenever some bishop speaks up or acts up for social justice issues like immigration or minimum wage?  I doubt it.

 

Gerelyn, you're not saying that I am an "enabler of the enablers", are you? 

Claire, you do seem to stretch for excuses, as in "it is just conceivable that Abp Myers lost a bit of his mind and had trouble recalling facts to memory."

A bit of his mind?  If an  archbishop cannot hold onto all the bits of his mind during a deposition, what is he doing in office?  If it had been canon lawyers questioning him about transubstantiation, would he have gotten flustered and had trouble remembering what it meant?

(In the last thread on Myers, you minimized bishops' behavior by calling it "episcopal cluelessness," and you criticized the Newark "neighbors" for "spying on the late evenings comings and goings from the rectory."  You called that "small-town hysterics".)

http://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/where-does-buck-stop-archdiocese-...

Claire - you are not an enabler.  Your comments always strike me as judicious, evidence-based and empathetic.  I am grateful that you hang out here..  You are one of our most valuable commenters.

 

Gerelyn, the world is not all black and white. It is possible for Abp Myers to be incompetent for critical aspects of  his office, to have a nefarious influence on the church, and to take decisions which  indirecttly have criminal consequences, yet at the same time not be entirely evil. Trying to not demonize him is no t the same as being "enabler of enablers". You are jumping to conclusions in a dizzying manner. It is not reasonable and it makes it hard to have a conversation.

I have no problem with your judging that I am stretching for excuses, but that is not the same. I ask again: are you suggesting that I am an enabler of enablers? Let me try to follow the good example of other commenters who try to reason instead of cutting off communication. Remember that I have myself been a target of sexual misconduct by clergy, which I reported right away and led to an immediate removal from office; I no longer give any money to the church institution as long as there is no accountability - instead, I freely dispense my unsollicited advice via letters to chancery dust bins; and I have been known to make donations to SNAP and to VoTF. Given that record,  are you still suggesting that I am an enabler of enablers?

Jim, thanks for the support!  Grant, sorry for derailing this thread. I will close this parenthesis asap.

 

Myers invited Maloney to vacation with him at least three times. I don't know about you, but I don't invite mere acquaintences to travel with me.

 

Grant, this is projecting your behavior onto someone else.  And Myers doesnt deny his friendship with with  Maloney.   This answer actually provides more information than a simple yes.

 

"I don't know if 'friends' would — I had many other priests that I was closer to. I can say that."

Remember that I have myself been a target of sexual misconduct by clergy, 

I don't remember that.  (I don't read all threads or all comments in the threads I read.)  

What I do remember is that you said to me in an e-mail:   "you have to be willing to believe that what I write is what I think."  

I do believe that what you write is what you think, including your excuses for Myers et al.

I am glad you believe that. It is frustrating that I cannot get a straight answer to a straight question, but I guess that it doesn't really matter.

Meanwhile Abp Martin of Dublin has this to say about the sexual abuse crisis and clericalism in Ireland: http://www.associationofcatholicpriests.ie/2013/08/we-face-a-post-catholic-ireland/

 

Certainly the overwhelming majority of priests in Ireland led and lead an exemplary moral life[...]. What is extraordinarily high is the number of children who were abused. We are talking about thousands.[...]. One of the great challenges the Irish Catholic Church still has to face is that of strong remnants of inherited clericalism. [...]. We often overlook the fact that the very term “institutional church” has meaning only in a context of clericalism.

Clericalism will be eliminated only by fostering a deeper sense of the meaning of the church; that understanding of the nature of the church will come not from media strategies or simply by structural reforms, but by genuine renewal in what faith in Jesus Christ is about. If we focus only on structures and power, there is a risk that clericalism might be replaced by neo-clericalism. The Christian presence in society is not achieved by the imposition of a manifesto or simply by high-profile social criticism. It is more about the witness people give to Christian principles, mediated within the particular responsibilities they carry.

One might ask Myers what his motivations are, for writing this very cruel letter and calling his critics evil? At least there are some decent people out here, who happen to care about protecting innocent children.

Sadly, Myers letter certainly puts more hurt and pain on the victims and their families, plus his letter appears threatening to anyone who dares to speak up about child sex abuse or the cover up within his Archdiocese.
When the church officials are backed into to the corner of truth, they tend to come out saying and doing some irrational things, like bashing the messengers in a very hurtful way.
The documents say it all, and Myers' lame excuse for refusing to take responsibility for his reckless actions/inactions is just another example as to why he needs to be held accountable. We urge everyone to read Archbishop Myers testimony posted below...
http://www.bishop-accountability.org/depo/2010_05_12_Myers_Deposition/

Sex abuse thrives in secrecy and secret systems that allow it to continue to this day.
Keep in mind your silence only hurts, and by speaking up there is a chance for healing, exposing the truth, and therefore protecting others.

Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director, USA, 636-433-2511. snapjudy@gmail.com,
"SNAP (The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

Claire,

I know next to nothing about Abp. Martin of Dublin, so I assume that he is a decent and sincere man, and that the second paragraph of his that you quote above is an honest effort to deal with the recent disaster in the Irish Church and worldwide. Nevertheless, I find this a little disheartening:

...understanding of the nature of the church will come not from media strategies or simply by structural reforms, but by genuine renewal in what faith in Jesus Christ is about.

Intentionally or not, such formulations almost always mean, "Hey! Don't bother about A! Look here at B!" They are a form of misdirection.

Sure, no Catholic is likely to quarrel with genuine renewal in what faith in Jesus Christ is about. But be it ever so deep and wide, it won't prevent men intent on abusing children from gaining positions of trust in the Church. That does require structural reforms: true openness, lay boards of inquiry not under episcopal control but truly independent, a willingness and a requirement to involve civil authorities early, an effective way of limiting the damage done by negligent or stonewalling bishops that does not require approval from overseas, and more.

When bishops speak of change and renewal in a changed world and yet never consider yielding an inch of their own authority, I just don't buy it.

I agree. Genuine renewal in faith, sure, that's always good, but the way to such renewal goes through structural reforms, I believe. I like his suggestion that "clericalism will be eliminated only by fostering a deeper sense of the nature of the church", but how does one go about it? He's vague, he's not being pragmatic. It's not very clear. ... how do you fill the dots? 

The lofty theoretical plan might be  1. understand the nature of the church; 2. infer some structural reforms; 3. those reforms will eliminate clericalism; 4. that will largely prevent sexual abuse. Would it be possible to spell this out in detail?

 

John, here's my personal narrative about Abp Martin, from memory of newspaper articles during the height of the Irish sexual abuse scandal. He arrived in Ireland only a few years ago. He opened files and willingly gave them to the Irish justice, and that is what spurred the discovery of the sexual abuse scandal. He had strong words against abusers and about those who enabled them, namely,  his brother bishops. Under pressure, about four Irish bishops sent in their resignation; but then some of them quietly wrote to Rome saying that they had changed their mind and wanted to un-resign; a few months later we learned that the resignations had just as quietly been refused by Rome (except for one, if memory serves). That, in spite of the letter from pope Benedict to Ireland around that time, a letter which, instead of a first step towards sweeping changes, turned out to be pope Benedict's last effort for action. The Vatican had effectively sided with scandal-stained Irish bishops and against Abp Martin, who found himself isolated, popular among the people (he was the only bishop they trusted, it is said) but powerless to implement deep reforms at the episcopal level. In summary, Abp Martin has been able to expose the scandal but not to deal with it, a worst-case scenario for him, diplomatically speaking. Some say that his wings have been clipped. Since then, he has certainly been awfully quiet on that front. He appears to be dealing with his ineffectiveness by taking refuge in lofty ideas and refocusing on new evangelization - good luck with that! ...

 

Claire - the history you recount points to the urgent need to reform the Holy See.  Surely it is the Vatican bureaucracy that clipped Martin's wings and dissipated whatever momentum for reform Martin managed to start rolling.  

It is said that Pope Francis wishes reform - hopefully reform that would allow a revisiting of Martin's recommendations.  Whether Francis, who is an old man and presumably not trusted by Vatican bureaucrats, will succeed, we don't know.  But I think it is something for which we should fervently pray.

 

I sincerely respect the Archbishop of Dublin.  However, this made me stop and wonder what he thinks people have been paying attention to:

The effects of the child abuse scandals have had a demoralizing effect on the entire church in Ireland and continue to do so. In one sense the scandal crisis could not have come at a worse time, in that confidence in the church was well on the wane; and when the scandals broke, their effects were devastating.

Where does Archbishop Martin think the lack of confidence in the church came from?  Knowledge about the child abuse scandal was present in many personal networks before the Boston Globe did their expose in 02.    What the expose illustrated is just how wide spread the damage was.  And the expose continues!   Given that, I find the above statement naive in the extreme and indicative of the blind spots of our episcopal managers.  Some of the blind spots are more comprehensive than others to be sure.  However, until our bishops recognize that the sexual abuse of children has a long history and has made a major contribution to the waning confidence of the laity in the church, they are going to continue to look with confusion on the situation in our church today/

 

Archbishop Diarmaid Martin seems to have jumped the gun on the bishops who refused to resign. They were right to refuse, because to resign would be an admission of guilt, and it appears that they were in fact guiltless.

Molly, it was 2002 when the movie "The Magdalene Sisters" was released, informing the entire world of the existence of the horrific Magdalene laundries.  It was not sexual abuse, but it was still child abuse.  The publicity that resulted from filming the movie and then releasing it may have been the real beginning of the end of Irish Catholics' trust in their church.

As the "former priest" of the Archdiocese of Newark upon whom John Myers has called down the wrath of God, I can't help but reminisce on the actions of one of Myers' mentors, Bernard Law, who called on God to punish the Boston Globe for printing stories about clergy sexual abuse and its cover-up.  Bernie Law was forced to resign his position.  Let's hope John Myers is forced to resign his position as well.  It will allow the Newark Archdiocese to being to heal.

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