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The distinction between "credible" and "established" in Philadelphia

The announcement about the suspension of 21 priests in Philadelphia has brought renewed attention to Cardinal Justin Rigali's initial response to the grand jury report released last month. But I think Rigali's words have been under-scrutinized by the media, so I'd like to go over it again. The basic point is that Rigali has not literally contradicted or reversed himself since February 10 by admitting that credibly accused priests were, in fact, serving in the archdiocese. That's not to say he's being unfairly maligned on this point; the sad fact is, he wasn't shooting straight to begin with.

The New York Times reports on Philadelphia:

The archdioceses action followed a damning grand jury report on Feb. 10 that accused the archdiocese of a widespread cover-up of predatory priests, stretching over decades, and said that as many as 37 priests remained active in the ministry despite credible accusations against them.Of those 37 priests, 21 were suspended; three others already had been placed on administrative leave after the grand jury detailed accusations against them. Five others would have been suspended, the church said in a statement, but three are no longer active and two are no longer active in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. The church said that in eight cases, no further investigation was warranted....

The announcement was a major embarrassment for Cardinal Rigali, who, in response to the grand jury report, had initially said there were no priests in active ministry who have an admitted or established allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against them.A few days later, Cardinal Rigali placed three priests on administrative leave. His statement Tuesday did not explain why he had made his initial assurances nor did it say why the priests had not been suspended earlier.

These events certainly are embarrassing for Rigali. But I think it's important to note that these suspensions, and the tacit admission that the archdiocese has been remiss, do not actually contradict Rigali's "initial assurances." That's because Rigali's words in his brief February 10 statement were very carefully chosen so as not to answer the actual claims of the report. Here's what the report alleged:

Most disheartening to the grand jury was what we learned about the current practice toward accused abusers in the Philadelphia Archdiocese. We would have assumed, by the year 2011, after all the revelations both here and around the world, that the church would not risk its youth by leaving them in the presence of priests subject to substantial evidence of abuse. That is not the case.In fact, we discovered that there have been at least 37 such priests who have been kept in assignments that expose them to children. Ten of these priests have been in place since before 2005 over six years ago. We understand that accusations are not proof; but we just cannot understand the Archdioceses apparent absence of any sense of urgency.On the other hand, in cases where the Archdioceses review board has made a determination, the results have often been even worse than no decision at all. The board takes upon itself the task of deciding whether it finds credible the abuse victims who dare come forward. It is the board, though, that strikes us as incredible.

The report goes on to detail a few of these cases, showing that the evidence offered to the archdiocese and judged not credible was, in the opinion of the grand jury, "substantial" enough to warrant follow-up. They conclude that, in these 37 cases, the archdiocese had received accusations and failed to take them seriously enough.Cardinal Rigali's brief February 10 "response" to the grand jury report (.pdf here) did not actually respond to this claim. He repeated it, but then -- while claiming to "address" it -- answered a different question instead:

There is one assertion in the report that must be addressed immediately. The report states that there remain in ministry archdiocesan priests who have credible allegations of abuse against them. I assure all the faithful that there are no archdiocesan priests in ministry today who have an admitted or established allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against them.

I don't think the shift from "credible" to "admitted or established" is an accident. If Rigali had said "credible" in the second case, he would have been lying -- or, at best, speaking with a confidence he could not honestly claim. But he didn't. What he said instead was a variation on "We do not have any priests in service who we know for certain have abused children." Fine. (One would like to think that this could go without saying.) But it says nothing about whether the archdiocese has in fact been negligent in evaluating the credibility of allegations against its priests. No "admitted or established" abusers in ministry is a good start, but -- as the archdiocese's internal investigation evidently concluded -- it's not the same thing as prioritizing children's safety above all else. Rigali knew that; six days later he said this: "The Grand Jury Report makes clear that for as much as the Archdiocese has done to address child sexual abuse, there is still much to do." And they're getting on with it, which is good news. But it doesn't alter the fact that the archdiocese's first response to the report was not an actual denial, but a non-denial denial. A bad move when you're out to win back credibility. If Rigali couldn't say "The allegations of this report are untrue" -- and we know now that he couldn't -- he shouldn't have tried to make it sound like he could. That he did is anything but reassuring.

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I am a lawyer. It was my impression at the time of Rigali's earlier statement that he was engaging in lawyer-speak. (I do not want to start a digressive discussion in the comments, but I disclose when comment on Roman Catholic web sites that I have left for the Episcopal Church. This is not to bloat. We have had our problems in this area.)

Eugene: That was my (non-lawyer) impression, too. But tell me, is there any lawyerly reason why making that statement was better than saying nothing?

I, too, had noticed that choice of words. But the question is: why are you surprised? What else did you expect?

When the bishops said they would not keep priests with credible accusations in ministry, they did not define credible. In ordinary language credible means believable but it does not mean proved or certain or even provable.What to do with priests who have believable accusations against them which can neither be proved nor disproved? Criminally of course one has to prove that someone is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. But the Church does not have to follow that standard. But what standard will it follow? And who will set the standard? I think parents, victims, psychologists, and other experts should come up with a standard that reasonable people would accept, and then the bishops should follow it.

Claire,I wasn't surprised. The Roman Church's response, at least before Dallas, was much more lawyerly rather than pastoral. Rigali's first response to the new grand jury report sounded like a return to that approach.

The lengthy grand jury reort comes out on February 10th, and the archdiocese responds on the same day in a four-sentence press release. I'll bet the archdiocese's legal counsel advised the short press release, and suggested the "admitted" and "established" language in the release, in an attempt counter criticism of the archdiocese in the wake of the report. I think the press release was at least in part a ploy to buy time so that the GJ report could be digested. "Admitted" and "established" allegations are subsets of "credible" allegations, so the press release isn't untruthful, but it was incomplete. If the archdiocese thought it necessary to react swiftly to the release of the GJ report, it should have included language in the press release indicating that all allegations of "credible" misconduct will be thoroughly and expeditiously investigated.

The funny thing, Bill, is that the four-sentence press release was the second statement released that day by the archdiocese -- and the first said basically what you suggest, that they needed more time to respond. (The archdiocesan Web site has a helpful roundup of all the relevant statements here.) "Since the report was just released this morning, the Archdiocese has not yet had the opportunity to review it and, therefore, I am not able to comment specifically on its contents. It is my intention to consider carefully and take very seriously any observations and recommendations of this Grand Jury." I can't figure out why they followed up with that second statement -- although my (inexpert) suspicion is that it was on the advice of legal counsel, as you say.

Did Card. Rigali testify at the grand Jury? If he did, no one will buy his 'lawyerly' language to avoid teeling the truth. Ask Barry Bonds. At least Barry has a trainer that did/will do time rather than 'turn'. Rigali will need 26 'stand up' guys....what are the odds on that!! ..

The lame phrasing of Rigali's statement jumped right off the page and instead of concealing his inability to give a forthright response, announced it. In his Ash Wednesday homily (available on video at Whispers in the Loggia) he opens by saying "Lent is all about facing the reality of sin" --a promising beginning-- but proceeds to tiptoe around the subject as politely as he can manage. To his credit, poor Rocco, who seems to have been hard hit by the local "tsunami," takes care to frame the video by offering the latest news on the naming of the 21 suspended clergy and by providing links to the Grand Jury reports, in all their horror. Good job.http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/

"But tell me, is there any lawyerly reason why making that statement was better than saying nothing?"No, it was a literal truth intended to mislead.It was a lie. It will be treated as such by a jury if Rigaliis named as a defendant, as he should be.

Carolyn Disco called this on February 14 inher comment on an earlier post: "Beware of Rigalis response to the new grand jury report, if it resembles his rebuttal given back in 2005 to the original grand jury."Just compare his language two days apart:Cardinal Rigali, February 14, 2011:there is one assertion in the report that must be addressed immediately. The report states that there remain in ministry archdiocesan priests who have credible allegations of abuse against them. I assure all the faithful that there are no archdiocesan priests in ministry today who have an admitted or established allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against them. Cardinal Rigali, February 16, 2011:The Catholic Church in Philadelphia will investigate as many as 37 priests identified in a grand jury report as remaining in active ministry with credible allegations of child sexual abuse, Cardinal Justin Rigali, archbishop of Philadelphia, said Wednesday.These two statements are not reconcilable.

"...no archdiocesan priests in ministry today who have an admitted or established allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against them.When I read the above, the first thing I noticed was the word "admitted." That's because the 2011 Grand Jury Report described a practice of the archdiocese of NOT ASKING accused priests whether or not they actually did what they were accused of. (The lawyerly reason for this was because of how it would look if they changed their story) So I found it unconvincing to use this term, given the reported practice of discouraging priests from admitting anything. Cardinal Rigali was still finding his situation defensible when he wrote these words a month ago. Not a good sign.

Rigali was using lawyerly language, from the Charter #8: 8. When even a single act of sexual abuse by a priest or deacon is admitted or is established after an appropriate process in accord with canon law, the offending priest or deacon will be removed permanently from ecclesiastical ministry, not excluding dismissal from the clerical state, if the case so warrants (CIC, c. 1395 2; CCEO, c. 1453 1)He managed to bungle it, shifting the 'admitted or established' to the allegation instead of to the abuse, but I hope everyone understood that. The suspensions do not mean that there are now any 'a or e' acts known, just that the diocese is in the investigative process (norm 6) that precedes the discipline(norm 8).The question is why the investigation did not properly investigate the allegations per norm 6, so that norm 8 could be applied. Rigali is probably at fault there, but he was correct that they had not refused to suspend anyone with an admitted or established act of sexual abuse in their past.

Has now-Bishop Cistone commented on any of this? I believe Msgr Lynn reported to him?

Over at NCR Michael Sean Winters has an extremely hard-hitting piece on Rigali's handling of his responsibilities. It is worth a read: http://ncronline.org/blogs/distinctly-catholic/crisis-episcopal-governan...

This is harder for those who still have some trust in the church hierarchy as administrators and governors. For those who have given up and are looking for other ways to understand the church, that is merely a confirmation of our realistic cynicism. I gave up during the painful few months after the Irish Ryan report. The only one in which I have a residual flicker of hope, and who continues to disappoint me, is Pope Benedict. The others cannot hurt me any more. The good thing about that perspective is that at this point, I can only have good surprises!

So, Rigali seems to be engaging in lawyer-speak, perhaps with intent to deceive. (I suppose his phrasing could have been accidental, but it does seem unlikely.) Another violation of the Dallas charter. I imagine that if there had been an investigation internally that established the accused priests' innocence, that'd be another matter, but if that were the case surely Rigali would have said so. So 3 questions:1. When Cardinal George violated the Dallas charter, (and admitted doing so,) he was promptly elected president of the USCCB. Will any--even one--bishop stand up and say "what Rigali did was wrong, and because we are serious about the Dallas charter, he should resign." Is there any other bishop who will say in public that the Dallas charter is more important to the American Church than the continued leadership of a fellow bishop? Sean O'Malley of Boston is quoted in today's GLobe: "whenever the Catholic Church mishandles abuse cases or 'tries to cover up . . . it is just so disappointing to all of us, to the whole church.' So...no dessert for Rigali? What should Rigali do?2. Do we need a new charter that specifies policies for bishops accused of mishandling abuse cases? How about at LEAST a board of bishops to evaluate violations of the Dallas charter? And sure, while the names of the board members would have to be public, they can stay safely anonymous as to who drafted the report and how they decided on, or voted on, sanctions. 3. And most importantly--what will the Catholics of Philly do? If they continue to show up for Rigali's masses, continue to put cash in the collection plate, why wouldn't he take that as a clear indication that the Philadelphia Church takes abuse just as seriously as he seems to? In sum--the Philly rank and file faithful need to step up.

"The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers." Henry VI Part 2...and bishops using lawyer-speak (kill, i.e. remove from office).I thought you hired lawyers so that they're the ones who look like jackasses. That's why you pay them. Why to Catholic bishops insist on using legal hairsplittery when they could have some hired goon do it for them? Practice for the box?From the first sentence on 14 Feb:there is one assertion in the report that must be addressed immediately. The report states that there remain in ministry archdiocesan priests who have credible allegations of abuse against them.From HIS VERY NEXT SENTENCE:I assure all the faithful that there are no archdiocesan priests in ministry today who have an admitted or established allegation of sexual abuse of a minor against them.So he assured them of something they weren't asking about but made it sound like he was to the non-law schooled among us. Go directly to Jail. Do not pass GO. Do not collect $200.

One paragraph of the Whispers in the Loggia report of the action taken against the 21 priests identified in Philadelphia reads as follows."According to reports, the men were given eight hours' notice to vacate their rectories on Monday. Banned from living on archdiocesan property for the duration of their respective leaves, at least initially, some found themselves with nowhere to go."This paragraph, if what it says is true, ought to give all of us pause. The abuse of children is certainly heinous. The handling of this issue by any number of bishops has been deplorable. Nonetheless, we all ought to be careful about what stones we cast at whom. As Christians, our fundamental responsibility is to forgive all sinners. That does not preclude punishing the sinners, but it does preclude calling for vengeance in any form. This paragraph seems to suggest that no care has been taken that these men have the means of support they need to protect their health or physical safety. If that is indeed the case, then Cardinal Rigali's action against them is hard to defend. The broader point is that whether we are talking about the accused abusers or about bishops who failed to deal properly with the problem, we cannot rightly simply denounce. We owe it to these people, however much we condemn their moral failures, to offer them our forgiveness and treat them with the love that Jesus tells us we ought to have for them. They remain, whatever they have done or failed to do, people whom we are commanded to love as Jesus loves them.

It seems that since 2002 a dialect of Vaticanese has started to emerge in the United States of America. It incorporates elements of both the vocabulary and syntax of American lawyers. Let's call it "Dallasese".

Excellent comment, Mr Dauenhauer. But, this pattern is consistent with all of his earlier actions. It is not about victims, perps, families, even the church. It is about his image and perception.As others have said, until a US bishop goes to jail in handcuffs, the behavior of the USCCB will not change.

I think this (below) deserves attention. It appeared on NCRs blog, in the comments section on Michael Sean Winters piece yesterday. The sentence thats cited in the first paragraph, is from Winters piece.

I'm troubled by this assumption: "I do not believe that Cardinal Rigalis mishandling of this situation is the norm."How do we often respond to horror? By minimizing it and convincing ourselves that it can't be widespread. That's what we did for years with clergy sex crimes. Now we're doing the same with cover ups of clergy sex crimes.Is it just an amazing coincidence that the archdiocese that's gotten the most external scrutiny in the last five years (two grand jury investigations) just happens to seem the most corrupt?Does a cop ever believe a motorist who, after being pulled over for driving drunk, claims "Officer, this is the first time I've ever done this?" If the exterminator glances at one corner of your house and sees termites, do you say "How odd. I happen to have termites in the one spot the inspector looked at."Let's err on the side of prudence. Let's assume, until we learn otherwise, that Philly is the norm, not the exception.David Clohessy, Director, SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

I agree to some extent with both Winters and Clohessy. Winters is probably right that Rigali's behavior is not the norm for all of the bishops. But Clohessy has a point, and it seems to me that there is a striking pattern of particularly blatant misbehavior by many of the most powerful of American bishops -- Law, Bevilaqua, Mahoney, Rigali, George. In other words, this apple tree has been rotting from the top. I ask: why?

"amazing coincidence that the archdiocese thats gotten the most external scrutiny in the last five years (two grand jury investigations) just happens to seem the most corrupt?"I don't know the details of this story. Wasn't the suggestion of corruption part of the process that led to establishing a second grand jury?

"According to reports, the men were given eight hours notice to vacate their rectories on Monday."I'm certainly a harsh critic of bishops. The criticsm is for cover up--not for continuing to provide care for elderly men who need it. I have no objections to a bishop providing the basic human needs of food, shelter and healthcare to any former priest who has been removed from ministry as long as the bishop has identified the priest and assigned the priest to "retirement" and the priest is involved in some monastic activity that does not involve interacting with lay members of the church in any priestly or official capcity.Then Rigali's public comments might have been along this line,"The grand jury identified X number of prirest still in minsitry. That's not quite acacurate. Fathers A, B and C, some of those priests, were removed from active ministry. They are now quite elderly and in need fo medical care. Their needs will be met by the archdiocese in the tradition of caring Catholics for the needs of others. They do not say Mass and do not hold themselves out as priests. They have no interactions with any lay Catholics in any priestly capacity. Under the supervision of the archdiocese, they lead prayerful lives. Their prayers may assist us all."But that's not what he said.I am a lawyer. It's not hard to be honest and compassionate. "Lawyerly" language is almost always a bad idea.

The issue is how the Diocese is handling credible allegations of abuse, not how Rigali characterized what the Diocese is doing. Indeed, the meaing of his words is utterly transparent. In my view it isn't even subtle. And if by chance you ever do get called in front of a Grand Jury, I suggest that you would do well to take very lawyerly measure of your words. Joe, even worse than a lawyerly statement is the kind of statement that you suggest, which comes across as self-serving in its own way, and, I would bet money, cannot be easily verified, and is probably not *wholly* true.

MSW hit a home run.

At long, long last, has the laity awakened to the reality of episcopal criminal negligence? And will it make a difference? What are Catholics in Phila going to do, really, in addition to packing the cathedral for Rigali's Ash Wednesday homily? The best action would have been for no one to show up.Rigali is of course in full damage control mode. The fast hiring of a special investigator in the person of former prosecutor Gina Smith is standard. Get a public figure on board, and use his or her reputation to advantage. Law prof Marci Hamilton has some very astute advice for Smith, based on experience:Here is where Smith is going to be hampered. She is being told, apparently, that all of the Archdiocese's files are open to her. For those who have labored in these vineyards before, she comes across as a starry-eyed naf. Here are some questions she might want to ask Cardinal Rigali:1.When you say "files," do you mean ordinary files, or secret archive files, or super-secret archive files?2.When you say "all," do you mean all of the files I need to determine the truth or all of the files you think I need? (We know for a fact that John Jay College was not permitted to see many secret archive files by bishops across the country when it conducted an investigation into abuse for the United States Conference of Bishops.)3.How many files involving accused priests have Cardinal Krol, Bevilacqua, and you sent through diplomatic channels to the Vatican, as has been the practice in many dioceses? How do I get them back?4.Will I have full access to all priests who have ever served in the Archdiocese to corroborate victims' stories, or provide fresh evidence? Will they be required to tell the full truth about theirs and their colleagues' activities, including swimming naked with local school boys on a regular basis at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary? Or does their silence to date prove that they understand they must observe the rule against scandal?5.Am I limited in my investigation to only this twenty-one? What happens if I learn of other perpetrators?6.Do I get to use the dictionary definition of "credible" or yours?7.Will my report be made public or will it only be read by you and your attorneys?8.What role will the statute of limitations play in your decision whether to follow my recommendations?9.While I am investigating nearly two dozen credibly alleged child abusers in ministry on your watch, will your lobbyists continue to spend parishioners' donations on fighting child sex abuse statutes of limitation reform for all child sex abuse victims in the Pennsylvania legislature?If I did not get answers to these questions that fully satisfied me, I'd quit in order to protect my reputation.

"even worse than a lawyerly statement is the kind of statement that you suggest.."No, I understand that the current facts could not permit my suggested statement to be used truthfully. Any statement must be true (in every sense of the word) to be effective.The actual situation is reflected by Carolyn Disco--"damage control mode""At long, long last, has the laity awakened to the reality of episcopal criminal negligence?"No, I don't think it willl make much of a difference. I'm sorry. (I'll quibble with negligence. It isn't "negligent" at all--it's intentional.)

Rigali is not the only one parsing language about accusations. Callahan in LaCrosse (like his predecessors Burke and Listecki) is using a higher standard of evaluation that violates universal law of the church, and all did and do get away with it. Courageous Milwaukee Vice Chancellor Fr. James Connell bravely went public with his concerns about possible abusers being left in ministry because of the use of "moral certitude" (forget credible!) as the basis for further investigation. "Semblance of truth" is the standard specified in canon law and CDF guidelines. http://www.jsonline.com/features/religion/96625384.html Namely:1) Canon 1717 para 1 that specifies the case continues if it at least seems true. http://www.vatican.va/archive/ENG1104/__P6V.HTM 2) CDF guidelines that state: If the allegation has a semblance of truth the case is to be referred to the CDF. http://www.vatican.va/resources/resources_guide-CDF-procedures_en.htmlMoral certitude is tantamount to criminal law that requires proof beyond a reasonable doubt, something any Review Board is not authorized to judge. Its task is to determine if the evidence indicates the allegation at least seems true in the sense of probable cause.BTW, the moral certitude standard in LaCrosse rejects allegations in 64% of cases versus 10-11% of cases nationally. LaCrosse diocesan website: C. Standard of proof: moral certitude which excludes every prudent doubt or every doubt founded on positive reasons.http://www.dioceseoflacrosse.com/safe-environment/Green%20Book.htmWhere are the Wisconsin DA's and grand juries looking into files/secret archives there? For that matter, where is the churchs National Review Board, and the local Review Boards? Their lack of power and silence are instructive. The only authorities that matter are in law enforcement --- IF they act. Thats where Catholics need to focus energy.

I heartily agreewith Carolyn! What's problematic is that the hierarchy often fall back on canon law and civil (criminal) law is trumped of them.One last note: a while back, I made the request that the Church deal with this weith simple honesty.Lawyerly language ain't simple honesty!

The story of the 21 priests being given eight hours to vacate their homes is certainly troubling, especially considering that some of them are likely innocent. One commenter pointed out that one of these priests was 90 years old and had cancer. But if innocent priests are abandoned by the archdiocese, who is to blame for that? Cardinal Rigali, who hid the guilty even after Dallas, apparently thinking he could keep his secrets forever.Had Rigali been a responsible shepherd and conducted real investigations of these accusations, the innocent could have long ago been exonerated. Instead, he chose to hide, lie and deceive in order to protect ALL priests because they were priests, regardless of whether they were innocent or guilty. And when the grand jury came down on the archdiocese, Rigali had no choice. To protect himself, he had to sacrifice all the accused priests, innocent or guilty. When push comes to shove and his own skin is in danger, Rigali has as much compassion for possibly innocent priests as he had for raped children. I wonder if Rigali even cares about that 90-year-old priest with cancer or only considers how to avoid having to follow the ignominious path of his pal Bernie Law.Of course the real tragedy is that nothing will happen to Rigali. He has been a darling of the Vatican since he was ensconced in a desk in the CDF as a young priest with no pastoral experience, and he spent most of his priestly life in that rabbit warren of big hats and big rings and fictional dioceses and closeted, self-loathing homosexuals who want to impose on America the lace and Latin they love that have already decimated church attendance in Italy. And if the American legal system should ever come after him personally, there are three other papal basilicas in Rome he could be given without displacing Cardinal Law's cushy sinecure.

Eric, false claims are minimal (1.5%), according to the research found at http://www.bishopaccountability.org/AtAGlance/data.htm#accused_priests The (2004 JJ) report analyzed surveys completed by the U.S. dioceses and many religious orders. The collated results of one of the surveys show that 5,681 diocesan investigations of abuse allegations in 1950-2002 yielded definitive results:4,570 allegations were substantiated (80%)1,028 allegations were unsubstantiated (18%)83 allegations were deemed false (1.5%)Note that these definitively investigated allegations represent slightly more than half of the 10,667 allegations reported in the John Jay study. The other allegations were investigated without definitive result or were not investigated at allKathleen McChesney, who was the first executive director of the Office for Child and Youth Protection of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has summarized the John Jay findings on false allegations: False reporting of sexual abuse by children is very rare.For its part, theSecretariat (formerly Office) of Child and Youth Protection that runs the USCCB audits, unfortunately lumps unsubstantiated and false claims together. Why? Unsubstantiated claims are made by people who either never follow up, or do so much later; unsubstantiated does not mean false.The latest audit report (2009) is illustrative. See http://www.usccb.org/ocyp/annual_report/9_CH4.pdf 2009 p.40 and 50 for misleading data on dioceses and religious institutes that comingles unsubstantiated and false (7-12% range). Note as well how the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is listed fully compliant under the heading Keeping our promise to protect: http://www.usccb.org/ocyp/index.shtml What nonsense. As is evicting a 90-year old priest with cancer on an eight-hour notice.

"4,570 allegations were substantiated (80%)1,028 allegations were unsubstantiated (18%)83 allegations were deemed false (1.5%)Note that these definitively investigated allegations represent slightly more than half of the 10,667 allegations reported in the John Jay study. The other allegations were investigated without definitive result or were not investigated at all"I'm curious about this. Some percentage of the other half "were investigated without definitive result." So what does it mean to be investigated with definitive result when that result is "unsubstantiated"? And how would "definitively unsubstantiated" be different from "false"?

Sorry -- my basic question above isn't clear. What interests me is how "investigated without definitive result" is different from "unsubstantiated" -- if there just isn't enough evidence to know one way or another, isn't that an unsubstantiated claim? Or, if "unsubstantiated" means "we have enough evidence to know it's really unsubstantiated," then why isn't it "false"? Does "false" mean you have to actually prove a negative? I'm really not suggesting any of this undermines the seriousness of the situation; just trying to understand how this works.

Mark P - my guess is that "substantiated", "unsubstantiated" and "falsely accused" are the three possible outcomes of complete investigation."Falsely accused" would mean that the review board conducted a complete investigation and concluded that the accuser lied."Unsubstantiated" would mean that the review board conducted a complete investigation and whatever evidence was collected failed to meet the standard for determining that an accusation is substantiated. Perhaps the accuser declined to cooperate with the review board, or the evidence was just too sketchy or incomplete (e.g. it might consist of vague memories from many years previously?)"Investigated without definitive result" suggests that the investigation itself was incomplete. Perhaps the review board had not concluded it yet, or perhaps some other arm or agency of the church had investigated it prior to the creation of a review board, and for whatever reason, good or bad, never reached a definitive recommendation.

Rigali lied.That's the way the public will percieve it, and they are right. He told what is now known as "the Catholic truth", which means that if you get enough lawyers in a room to analyze each word, it would be hard to prove to a jury that he told a complete, proveable lie. However, people know the truth from a lie, and they willknow that he lied, and will continue to lie, as all priests have done in matters of child rape, as long as it benefits them.Read the first 6 pages of the grand jury report, and if you still think that Rigali wasn't absolutely reckless with the children of Philadelphia when he made that statement, then I will call you a devout follower of this Catholic church. This church rapes children, they lie about it, and they ignore the victims.This Catholic church doesn't practice Catholicism, and that's no lie.