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$5 million in Belleville.

From the Belleville News-Democrat:

A jury awarded $5 million to a former altar boy Wednesday, validating arguments by his attorneys that the Rev. Raymond Kownacki sexually abused him and other youths and that top officials of the Belleville Diocese covered it up for decades.(...)The jury found that the diocese had "fraudulently concealed" evidence that Kownacki, 73, of Dupo, was known by church leaders from reports as early as 1973 to be a violent rapist and child sex offender but kept reassigning him to parishes without warning the public. Kownacki has stated he will not comment. He did not attend the trial.(...)Former Belleville Bishop Wilton Gregory testified Tuesday that reports were missing from a personnel file about Kownacki compiled in 1973 and 1982 that stated the priest raped a 16-year-old girl, aborted her fetus, molested twin boys he brought from Guatemala and abused Wisniewski and other unnamed boys at the parish in Salem. Gregory testified he was unaware of the reports when he turned Kownacki's personnel file over to the review board. The reports surfaced during the court-ordered legal discovery process.Gregory testified that if the allegations that parish officials knew about Kownacki's violent past and still reassigned him, as the evidence showed, then the diocese was responsible for what happened to Wisniewski.

He was called as a witness for the defense. Of course, that won't be the end of it.

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Grant Gallicho is an associate editor of Commonweal. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.



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The revelations continue to boggle the mind. Here is another interesting blog that plays on Wilton Gregory's comments post Dallas & th 2004 John Jay Report: Shortcut to: has been a rough year:a) $660 million settlement in LA except for the Salesians who just lost in the Calif. appeals court: Shortcut to: Francis George Deposition and calls for his resignation - can you believe the letters to the Wisconsin governor to intervene & release a lifelong pedophile?c) Pope's visit to Australia proceeded by the cover-up and mis-statements by Cardinal Pell and now even more subsequent information about his cover-ups of other cases;Hopefully, I have not said anything here that will get my wrist slapped, Grant?

Allow me to add one more remark from Rocco Palmo who would rather post about the wonderful achievements of our hierarchy but even he finally posted this under the title - A LONG ROAD AHEAD:"A Long Road Ahead" In a rare civil judgment against a US local church, an Illinois jury yesterday found the diocese of Belleville guilty of "fradulent concealment" of the records of an abusive priest, ordering the diocese to pay $5 million in damages to a survivor who claimed five years of abuse in the 1970s.After a heated trial -- which included an appearance on the stand by the diocese's former ordinary, now Archbishop Wilton Gregory of Atlanta -- plaintiffs' attorneys said they expected the diocese to appeal the judgment.James Wisniewski, 47, of Champaign, was awarded damages in a civil trial resulting from a lawsuit he brought in 2002. It alleged that when Wisniewski was a 13-year-old altar boy at St. Theresa's Parish in Salem in 1973, his pastor, Kownacki, began repeated sexual abuse that spanned five years.The damages to Wisniewski include $2.4 million for compensatory losses including medical costs and emotional duress and $2.6 million for punitive damages.Following the verdict, which came after nearly five hours of deliberations, an emotional Wisniewski, surrounded by family who supported him throughout the trial, said, "This is a great day for me and other victims of sexual abuse."Wisniewski, who took the witness stand Tuesday, added, "There's a long road ahead," a reference to mental counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder that two psychiatrists testified he may be need for the rest of his life.His father, Mel Wisniewski of Salem, said, "I feel that our family can begin to heal now, especially my son Jim, but I think most of all we feel that maybe a whole lot of people out there who were afraid to come out before might have the courage now to come out and look at the problems, and admit the problems and start their healing, too."The jury found that the diocese had "fraudulently concealed" evidence that Kownacki, 73, of Dupo, was known by church leaders from reports as early as 1973 to be a violent rapist and child sex offender but kept reassigning him to parishes without warning the public. Kownacki has stated he will not comment. He did not attend the trial....During closing arguments, Belleville attorney Mike Weilmuenster told jurors that Kownacki was a dangerous pedophile who instead of being sent to jail or confined to a treatment center was "held out by the diocese" as a person who could be trusted around children....Former Belleville Bishop Wilton Gregory testified Tuesday that reports were missing from a personnel file about Kownacki compiled in 1973 and 1982 that stated the priest raped a 16-year-old girl, aborted her fetus, molested twin boys he brought from Guatemala and abused Wisniewski and other unnamed boys at the parish in Salem. Gregory testified he was unaware of the reports when he turned Kownacki's personnel file over to the review board. The reports surfaced during the court-ordered legal discovery process.Gregory testified that if the allegations that parish officials knew about Kownacki's violent past and still reassigned him, as the evidence showed, then the diocese was responsible for what happened to Wisniewski.Wigginton repeatedly pointed to former vicar general James Margason, who testified earlier that he knew about a 1973 report concerning several detailed allegations of sex abuse of a minor by Kownacki, but failed to investigate or warn parishioners."Shame on you, shame on you," Wigginton shouted at Margason, who sat a few feet away at the defense attorney's table.Elsewhere on the abuse docket, earlier this month the archdiocese of Chicago settled 16 cases for $12.7 million. As Cardinal Francis George -- the head of the nation's second-largest diocese and president of the US bishops -- said he "ha[d] to accept the blame," the archdiocese also released a 300-page January deposition given by the prelate extensively detailing the Chicago church's response to allegations received as late as 2006.And just last week, the Missouri diocese of Kansas City-St Joseph paid a $10 million settlement to 47 plaintiffs who claimed abuse by 12 clerics, including Bishop-emeritus Joseph Hart of Cheyenne, a former KC priest.In addition to the financial aspect, the deal included an unprecedented 19 non-monetary concessions, among them a formal diocesan apology to any survivor who seeks one (with the explicit acknowledgment that the victim was not at fault) and signs to be posted in each diocesan school reading "The abuse of the spiritual, emotional and moral development of young men and women shall not be tolerated."Each placard will also carry phone numbers for local police and sex-abuse hotlines.

Here is the great disconnect. Why are not all those who militate for obedience to the Magisterium not calling for resignation of these Catholic bishops? There is a pattern of lying that is blatant and widespread. Why is it ok for bishops to lie in this way and not be held accountable. One could not find a clearer example of hypocrisy. Why would there be such a loud call for refusing communion but no call for removal of bishops. This is an unspeakable scandal which continues and the decibel level is feeble.

Bill and Bill are both right. The recent call by VOTF in Chicago for Cardinal George to resign (and to be prosecuted) just slipped on by.What ever happened, by the way, for the call by priests in Bellville for Braxton to resign?Bishops just roll along with almost no accountability unless they're caught as molesters themselves -thats over the line.As far as I can see, there is a real lack of manliness on the part of our hierarchy to stand up and do what's right - to be man enough to step aside if one has really screwed up.It's just an awful commentary on what leadership should mean!

This bears reposting every time the issue of bishops' accountability and teflon-ness is raised:Well not get leadership from the clergy. They only ordain people who are celibate and pious and cant lead anything. We could really use some bishops who embody the tradition of Catholicism. That could be a beginning. Dutch theologian, Eric Borgman

If the court found them guilty of a crime, would they not go to jail?

Jimmy Mac, why would you post such a statement? There are many good and Holy priests despite the fact that some have brought scandal to the Church. This is a personal attack on all our Priests.

Nancy - have plenty of friends and classmates who are priests. I have known classmates and students who later were found guilty of pedophilia. I remember them as they were growing up; not as criminals. I also see the pain that religious communities, families, and dioceses go through each time another incident occurs. I have visited with priest pedophiles who are isolated and live basically under guard; I have visited priests in jails. There is no easy answer to the pedophile crisis - but understand that the crisis is at two levels - men or women who are pedophiles and then the hierarchy who delay, obsfucate, hide, cover-up for pedophiles. Your first question reveals no understanding about this crime, this scandal, or the state statutes of limitations. Please read the links in the first couple of blogs - it will give you a brief, current history of where things are. I happen to be one of those people who find the bishops' Dallas charter to be a useless piece of language - it makes the bishops their own guardians; it puts priests completely at the will of individual bishops or Rome; it sets up a review board answerable only to the bishops; it has no language addressing the second scandal - bishops who cover-up, delay using legal measures (Chaput & Mahony are good examples of this); and its remedy is to laicize a priest and if not found guilty because of the SOL, turn him out into society (how irresponsible is that).Two examples: in 2002, things got so bad in Boston, that 50+ priests had the courage to force Law's resignation; now, in 2008, things are almost as bad in Chicago, but there are no priests who have the courage to match their colleagues in Boston.That is the problem as stated by Tom Doyle in this statement:Thomas Doyle Reflects on His Regiment (referring to all priests) I became part of the regiment as a Dominican priest in May, 1970. I first became aware of the reality of sexual abuse of minors by priests before I was ordained through rumors and stories about certain priests in the Order who liked altar boys. I never knew that liking altar boys went far beyond touching until after I was ordained. I learned the disgusting extent of liking altar boys in 1984 when I was working at the Vatican embassy and first became involved with the whole issue of clergy sex abuse. That was when I was asked to manage the file of Gilbert Gauthe, the notorious priest from Lafayette LA. My direct involvement increased with each month and each year and continues today. Let me start out by offering my conclusion. The regiment truly is dishonored. It is dishonored in part by the thousands of priests who have raped and abused innocent boys, girls, men and women..and in doing so have ravaged their souls and the souls of those who loved them. But the regiment is dishonored even more by the bishops, archbishops, cardinals and popes, who have enabled, covered up, lied, manipulated, ignored and responded in anything but a Christian manner. They have really dishonored the regiment because they have knowingly turned their backs on that which the regiment is really all about, namely following the example of Christ. They cant fall back on the excuse that they suffer from a sexual disorder or are impaired by substance abuse. Their impairment is a moral impairment and there is no excuse for that. Two recent examples: the first I will cite is the total lack of hierarchical integrity in Chicago! Cardinal George is a criminal and a traitor to the regimentbut will the members of the regiment who are so concerned about its honor step up and call him on it? No! Why not? Fear, timidity, irrelevant respect for the office? Pick one. They are all irrelevant to the facts. The second example is the famed Msgr. Wally Harris is New York. The hero of Harlem was interviewed by the John Jay Study people and complained about the number of false accusations..all the while knowing he was guilty himself. The regiment has also been dishonored by the thousands of priests who knew that others were abusing children and did nothing. It is dishonored by the thousands who looked the other way and failed to speak out in support of the victims. It is dishonored by the many priests who stood by in silence while their bishops ran roughshod over victims, lying to them, lying to the public and lying to the clergy because of their obsession with their image and their power. The regiment is dishonored by those priests who have spoken out but only to voice their self-centered concern about priests rights and the tarnished image of the priesthood brought on by a few. It is dishonored by those who have complained about the bishops lack of concern for priests, manifested in the provisions of the Dallas Charter and their on-going lopsided response but who have never complained about the bishops dishonest, unchristian and criminal response to reports of the denial of the victims rights. The regiment is dishonored by the priests who whine and complain about the shame brought on them by the minority of abusers. The shame is not only from them but from the silence and complacency of the majority. The regiment is dishonored by those priests and bishops who keep trying to shift the blame to anyone but themselves with idiotic claims such as that of Madisons Bishop Morlino who recently announced that the whole problem was caused because people didnt obey the 1968 anti-birth control encyclical Humanae Vitae. Id like to share some of my own experiences which have led to these conclusions. When I first became involved in this issue in 1984 I was shocked to learn that former priest Gil Gauthe had raped dozens of children but I was even more shocked, scandalized and confused as I quickly learned that the US Catholic Conference and the bishops who knew about the abuse were only concerned about covering it up. When cover up was impossible due to the lawsuit filed and the criminal charges against Gauthe that came as a consequence, the response from the leadership of the Bishops Conference was as if this was a nuisance that would go away much more quickly if I stopped pushing it. A couple priests on the embassy staff told me that it would be best if I back off because we dont air our dirty laundry in public. The Gauthe case and the others that came to light back then did not go away. I dont remember anyone at the time showing any concern for the victims with the exception of Fr. Mike Peterson. No one from the Bishops Conference or from the embassy staff ever mentioned the victims. All they worried about was containing the problem and managing the negative publicity. After I left the embassy I was approached by the media several times. I spoke honestly and shared as much as I knew. I was criticized by priests because I opened up the brotherhood to dishonor as one put it. I still recall being at a Canon Law convention in Florida in the late eighties. Just prior to it I had given an interview that was widely quoted. At the convention I was attacked by several priests and was accused of betraying the brotherhood. Not one priest asked about the truth of the matter and no one was concerned about the problem itself or about the victimsthey were only concerned about the bad publicity for the regiment. In spring of 1986 I had organized an all day seminar in the Chicago area. Presenters included psychologists and attorneys who would provide information on responding to the problem and to the victims. We invited bishops and chancery officials from around the U.S. Not long before the event Cardinal Bernardin called me and urged me to cancel the event because he felt it would draw undue attention to the problem and would sensationalize it, to use his words. I refused. We held the seminar to a full house but not one priest from Chicago attended. Why? Because the Cardinal had let the word out that it was to be boycotted. Best to let the problem get worse rather than dishonor the Chicago branch of the regiment. In 1992 I attended the first major gathering of victims in Chicago, the Vocal (later LinkUp) conference. I met three priests who were there because they had been ministering to victims. All three had spoken about the evil of clergy sex abuse from their pulpits and all three had been silenced and disciplined by their bishops for drawing undue attention to what one bishop referred to as a minor problem. I might add that since then there have been annual gatherings of victims sponsored by the two main support groups, LinkUp and SNAP. The clergy have never flocked to these gatherings to show their concern or support for victims. True, a few brave men always show up, but never more than a few. Only one bishop has ever attended and stood in solidarity and support of the victims, Bishop Tom Gumbleton. Where were the others? In 1988 Bishop A.J. Quinn of Cleveland wrote to my former boss, the Vatican ambassador or nuncio as he is called, and complained about me. He was upset that I was magnifying the problem by speaking to the media. He told the nuncio in his letter that the pedophile nuisance would soon go away. To his credit the Vatican ambassador, Cardinal Laghi, sent me a copy of the letter and told me that he did not agree with Quinns statements. Between 1984 and 2002 I do not recall a single instance where a priest or a group of priests spoke out publicly in support of victims other than the outstanding speech Andy Greeley gave at the 1992 conference mentioned above. I do not know of any who have publicly criticized the way bishops were responding. I dont know of any priests senate ever saying anything publicly. The Canon Law Society of America had a couple seminars about the issue but has never done anything worthwhile other than express concern over priests rights. Nothing about victims or victims rights! I recall when I was on active duty with the Air Force being called by a priest who worked at the Archdiocese for the Military Services. He advised me to stop speaking to the press and also told me that the archbishop was considering issuing me an order to stop testifying on behalf of victims. He assured me that they were concerned about the problem but that there was a better way to handle it. My response.dont waste your time and effort because I am not going to stop. Many priests have told me over the years that if the church had only followed Canon Law we would not be in this mess. Nonsense! Canon Law is what the bishops want it to be. It has never been effective in protecting the rights of lay people. It has been totally useless in bringing justice to victims. Its not that the canon law system lacks the provisions for action. But law has to be applied to mean anything and the people in charge of making Canon Law work are the bishops. Need more be said? After 2002 things changed and people were speaking out all over. For the first time the National Federation of Priests Councils, an independent group, started making noises. They were concerned about priests rights in light of the Dallas Charter and the zero tolerance policy of the bishops. They had never said anything before this and expressed concern only about themselves and not about victims. They still have done nothing to help the victims. Since 1988 I have reviewed several hundred priest-personnel files. In my work as a consultant and expert witness in civil cases and grand jury investigations I have also reviewed several hundred depositions taken from cardinals, bishops and priests. Many of these are available for all to see on several websites. In most of these depositions when asked about their knowledge of sexual abuse by accused clerics, the deponents either could not remember or they simply denied the abuse. While there were certainly cases when these clerics did not in fact have any direct or indirect knowledge, in most it was known from other sources that they did know about the abuse in question. How can one explain the denials and the memory lapses? My conclusion was that these clerical deponents either suffered from some form of cognitive disorder, or brain damage in plain English, or they were lying. Either way, these clerical deponents could have assisted in the search for the truth and supported the victims. They did not. They covered for the abusers even under oath. They chose to bring dishonor to the regiment. The Knights of Columbus take great pride in their loyalty to the Church and to the bishops. They regularly show their support for priests and announce their love for the Church. They shell out barrels of money to the Vatican, to bishops, to seminaries and to other causes in support of priests. The Knights of Columbus have totally missed the boat. They have supported priests and bishops in their moral bankruptcy and in their destruction of the bodies and souls of the victims of abuse. They have said and done nothing to support the victims. Remember the words of Jesus: If you do this to the least of my brothers you do it to me. It looks as if the Knights and the bishops they protect have somehow missed that verse. In the early days Andy Greeley spoke out publicly in support of victims. Over the years several priests have reached out to victims and survivors and some have even stuck their necks out, going public with their criticism. They were punished by their bishops and usually hammered or isolated by their brother priests. Since 2002 I have become aware of a small number of heroic priests who have placed their Christian commitment before the brotherhood or the image of the regiment and in so doing this small band of brothers has brought honor to the regiment. Id like to name a few because these are the men who really live what Christian pastorship is all about: Ken Lasch, Bob Hoatson, Bruce Teague, Dave Hitch, John Bambrick, Gary Hayes, Jim Scahill, Tom Gumbleton, Geoff Robinson, Pat Powers, Pat Collins, Ron Coyne, Don Cozzens, Walter Cuenin, Bob Bowersto name some but not all. Some quietly support and others provide direct pastoral care. Ken Lasch and Bob Hoatson, through Road to Recovery, have provided more pastoral care to victims in one day than all the bishops combined in 20 years. There are others whose names I cannot recall right now. There are also the 58 priests from Boston who signed the letter asking Bernard Law to step down. In the clerical world, where priests are often treated like indentured servants, that was an incredibly brave act. There are priests who complain about the many false accusations and the lack of legal representation and due process for accused priests. In the first place there are very few false accusations.10 that I know of out of thousands of cases. Those who make this charge have produced no credible evidence beyond rumor and hearsay. There is however truth to the complaint that there is little effective canonical-legal representation for accused priests.just like there has NEVER been any canonical-legal representation or due process for the victims of clergy abuse. Why is this so? Because the bishops do not believe in objective due process for anyone but themselves. Perhaps the most sickening charges use the words Catholic-bashing, priest-bashing or anticlericalism. If there is shame attached to being a priest today its because the priests and bishops have brought it on themselves. If any group is responsible for anti-Catholic sentiment its the bishops. Their self-serving response to the victims of abuse is about as anti-Catholic as one can get. If being a good and orthodox Catholic means essentially being a good and faithful Christian, then the bishops are the largest single group of dissenters and unorthodox heretics in the Catholic Church. They have sacrificed charity for image and institutional power. They have redefined orthodoxy to mean mindless obedience to their obsession with themselves and their power. There is nothing magical or mystical about the priesthood that justifies any special treatment in the face of committed crimes. If we look at the gospels we find nothing that even remotely justifies setting priests on a pedestal or granting them above-the-law status. On the contrary there is abundant evidence that Jesus showed plenty of anger towards the church men of his time because they had lost their way and abused the people whom they were supposed to serve. There is ample scriptural evidence to justify a priesthood that would devote itself to the care of the marginalized, forgotten, abused and rejected. In our era the marginalized have been made so by the very clergy who have been ordained to protect them. Why then does it seem that the hierarchy and so many of the priests are so adamant in defending a priesthood that looks and acts more like a latter-day aristocracy in an anachronistic monarchy? Perhaps one reason is that priests are formed from the beginning into a clerical culture that teaches them that God wants a regiment that is set apart and special. Perhaps yet another reason is that priests are formed in a culture that rewards docility, unquestioning obedience, intellectual mediocrity and total loyalty to the papacy and hierarchy while it dismisses and even punishes originality, creativity, independence or loyalty to ones conscience. I have heard more than one diocesan priest describe his state as economic servitude while complaining that the bishop held him in total captivity with the power to suspend his salary, health benefits, retirement, residence and ability to work. It is pathetic but true that fear is major component in convincing many priests to stay loyal to the brotherhood. In spite of what appears to be a very bleak picture, I believe it is unfair and inaccurate to write off the entire priesthood as uncaring, weak or dishonest. In my travels I have either met or heard about many men whose essential loyalty is to the mission and ministry of Christ and not to the adulation of the papacy or the hierarchy. They serve unselfishly and often among those whom they serve are the victims and survivors of sexual or spiritual abuse inflicted by priests or bishops. On the other hand it is dishonest and destructive to try to minimize the incredible damage that has been done by dismissing it, saying it is the result of a minuscule number of bad apples. The actual numbers are certainly not minuscule. Far more shameful is the fact that the number of bishops who have lied, covered up and enabled is not a minority but the majority. Priests and bishops have to wake up and face reality. There has been immense dishonor and shame brought to the regiment because the regiment has been subjected to self-delusion. Its members, at least some of them, have actually believed they were part of some sort of elite fraternity and in so doing have lost sight of the fact that its not a regiment at all but a group of men whose calling is not to be special but to be compassionate reminders of the compassionate Christ. One final shot and its at the nuns who have arrogantly and stupidly tried to frame sexual abuse as a male or clergy problem. Sex abuse by nuns has been covered more deeply and has been more difficult for the general public to swallowbut it is a major element of the overall nightmare. The dishonor to their regiment and the ruination of countless boys and girls, men and women brought about because of the physical, emotional and sexual abuse by women religious has been just as horrific as that perpetrated by the clerics. The nuns major organization, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, has responded to the victims with just as much arrogant and imperious disregard as have the bishops. The nuns have shown themselves to be just as clericalized as their male counterparts. They have brought just as much dishonor to their regiment as the clerics have to theirs.Together the priests, bishops, nuns and brothers who have sexually abused minors and adults and those from these ranks who have looked the other way, denied, lied, covered up, revictimized and enabled constitute a disgusting, sorry mess that has brought great dishonor not only to their respective regiments but to the Body of Christ.A Response and Reflection by Thomas Doyle, August 16, 2008

"There are many good and Holy priests despite the fact that some have brought scandal to the Church."Agreed, Nancy. Then why don't you call for the resignation of those bishops who are clearly covering up this scandal?

Nancy, do you know the difference between a civil trial and a criminal trial? A crime and a tort? If a Catholic Cardinal seems to be guilty of a crime, do you think a good Catholic prosecutor ought to indict him--or do you think that a good Catholic prosecutor ought to respect the fact that he is a Prince of the Church, and decline to indict him because of scandal to the faithful?

I have written IL authorities to ask them to seek the criminal prosecution of Francis Cardinal George for violating the states mandatory reporting law for the second time that we know of (his own archdiocese-funded Defenbaugh audit acknowledged the first instance a few years ago).BTW, the second offense is a felony, but of course George was not charged in the first instance.See I quoted ILs law in a previous post that left no doubt in my mind, nor in others, that George violated the law by his own admission. He acknowledged in his deposition this year that he NEVER reported anyone to the authorities. (my own computer is down; my file not available to reproduce link)No more cardinals and bishops should remain above the law in this land. Stop the deference of prosecutors by making clear the publics patience is exhausted.

Thanks, Carolyn. I don't think this can be ignored. It's also, frankly, the context in which discussions of Church authority and the good of obedience are carried out. When I read exhortations to obedience to church leaders, I think of these examples. Who in their right mind would raise a child to "obey" the Church authorities in an undifferentiated way after all this? Who can develop a bright, shiny theory of obedience that doesn't straightforwardly deal with the sin and the darkness?

Belleville parishioners will have to pay $1232 a day interest on the $5 mil award. maybe that will bring focus to the Catholics of Illionois to demand a Grand Jury. O! O! another suit is pending!

Nancy, I guess silence is consent. Please refer to this thread when you presume to lecture anyone again on being a Catholic.

"Who can develop a bright, shiny theory of obedience that doesnt straightforwardly deal with the sin and the darkness?"I certainly wouldn't try. Any theory of obedience should use as its starting point that those to whom obedience is due are sinful, corrupt men. Furthermore, because of the nature of their positions of responsibility, their sins can have greater repercussions on the lives of others than would be the case for the sins of ordinary women and men.Of course, the same can/should be said for parents, teachers, supervisors, politicians - people in authority, in general.Utlimately our obedience to these sinners is rooted in our obedience to Christ, who was like us in all things *except sin*. The responsibility is certainly on them to live upright, holy lives, in obedience to their own ministry (service) under Christ. When they fall short, as necessarily they will - then what? Punishment? Forgiveness? All of the above?Demographically, I'm at the tail end of the baby boom. It may be that I missed out on some of the pious palaver that formerly held sway and which elevated these men to demi-god status. (Apparently some of them still are such in their own estimation).

Jim,Your post is thought provoking. Let me try an answer, non-theologian that I am, and raised in the pre-V II church where indeed the status of clergy as next to God was part of the air we breathed. BTW, until the 1983 canon law reforms, one was subject to excommunication for taking a cleric to court without the ordinary's permission. As I experienced it in 1940's and 1950's boarding schools 24/7, the whole Catholic atmosphere was drenched with an assumption that Father and Sister, and especially Bishop, Cardinal and Pope, were anointed by God as His personal representatives, and woe to the immortal soul of any who dared question or object. That was the emotional space we occupied, even as it comes across as hyperbole now. It was also the bedrock on which perpetrators depended as they told victims, "No one will believe you." Blind obedience, absolutely, immediately, with whole heart, because obedience to them was obedience to Christ.So, it was a very novel experience for my senior ears to hear pastors say since 2002 that priests reflect the society at large, and are not to be placed on a pedestal. And when bishops and cardinals (like George) say we are all sinners, it has a surreal, theoretical quality.Equally important, we need the truth of episcopal culpability in criminally endangering children. I cannot "move on" based on falsehood. Stop the lies, the damnable lies, denials, spin, evasions, dissembling, indirection, willful blindness, conscious course of deliberate ignorance, passive voice constructions, and perjuring of the truth that constitutes the drivel that issues from chancery offices, e.g. those conditional non-apology apologies.You ask, "Then what? Punishment? Forgiveness? All of the above?" What is missing is accountability, the necessity of being responsible for one's actions and accepting the consequences. Justice as well as forgiveness and mercy. Bishops not only got away with everything by distorting the first amendment and running out the statutes of limitation, but were promoted for keeping the secrets. That is offensive in the extreme. Talk to survivors about legal hardball, as in the recent Salesian and Belleville cases.William Lobdell, former religion reporter at the LA Times, has a book coming out on losing his faith as a result of being up close to episcopal lies and corruption in his investigations. The article on which it is based was highly acclaimed. That and Leon Podles Sacrilege, advertised before on this site, fills in many blanks --- as of course does the only real consequence for bishops and their aides be promotion?

Nancy: I might consider not posting that statement in the future if you will consider not Capitalizing every Noun that seems to Support your Beliefs. Eliminating the use of Holy Priests would be good for a start.

Jim - Here is today's letter from home town favorite, Francis Cardinal George to his archdiocese - adding his voice to Egan, Wuerl, Lori, Rigali, etc. And this from a man whose deposition revealed his inability to protect children but, oh my, how he can attack anyone who questions the church's anti-abortion stand: Blog: Whispers in the Loggia Post: Pelosi, By George Link: Allow me to highlight a couple of quotes: "One cannot favor the legal status quo on abortion and also be working for the common good." " This explains why the abortion issue will not disappear and why it is central to the Churchs teaching on a just social order. The Church does not endorse candidates for office, but she does teach the principles according to which Catholics should form their social consciences. The teaching, which covers intrinsic evils such as abortion and many other issues that are matters of prudential judgment, could not be clearer; the practice often falls short because we are all sinners. There is no room for self-righteousness in Catholic moral teaching.The Conference of Bishops in this country and the Bishops of Illinois have issued statements about Catholic social teaching and political life."There is no room for SELF-RIGHTEOUSNESS in Catholic moral teaching - my emphasis. Yet, per his deposition, he broke at least two laws - the second which could be considered a felony. Who is self-righteous? Prudence would dictate that his delayed statement about Pelosi was not needed, unwise, and redundant. The Catholic Alliance for the Common Good has this brochure available that explains to Catholics what the common good is; explains voting for the common good for conscientious Catholics. Shortcut to: first step in voting your conscience is to inform it, bylearning about the Churchs positions on important issues.We recommend starting with the U.S. Conference ofCatholic Bishops Faithful Citizenship document, found Faithful Citizenship ispublished every four years, and lists the major issues Catholicsshould consider when determining their vote. Your pastor canalso help you find other resources on Catholic Social Teaching.While an informed conscience is essential for knowing rightfrom wrong, actually doing the right thing requires the virtueof prudence. Prudence is the moral wisdom required to applyprinciples to an imperfect world and unforeseeable circumstances.It is like a moral common sense, and it requires us toask the practical question, which candidate will actually delivermore tangible progress for the Common Good?As the Catechism of the Catholic Church explains, it is prudencethat immediately guides the judgment of conscienceWith the help of this virtue we apply moral principles to particularcases without error and overcome doubts about the good toachieve and the evil to avoid (CCC 1806). Through prudence,we apply the law written in our hearts to real-world circumstances.Prudence is especially important when deciding how to vote.Seldom does a single candidate or party offer a consistentlyCatholic set of positions. For example, a candidate may not entirelyshare the Churchs principles on an issue, but still do muchfor the Common Good through his or her actions to promote Catholic Social Teaching.Our Churchs social teaching is clear, but many times Catholicsdisagree on the best way to achieve justice and dignity in theworld.Since we seldom, if ever, have the opportunity to vote for a candidatewith the right positions on all the issues important toCatholics, we often must vote for candidates who may holdthe wrong Catholic positions on some issues in order tomaximize the good our vote achieves in other areas. Catholicsmust thoughtfully and prayerfully consider and debate what ismost pressing and possible in our time. It is okay for us to disagreeabout who and what to vote for, as long as our decisionsare made prudently with an informed conscience.Principle III: Vote for the Common GoodAs politically active Catholics, our primary responsibility isto the common good. A culture of the common good providesfor the health, welfare, and dignity of all people, and promotesthe best interests of everyone, not just the few. It also focuses onhelping those who need it most the poor and vulnerable.The Cardinal's comments clearly tilt the USCCB's Faithful Citizenship document to underlining abortion as the first and only issue. Thus, if you vote for a candidate who allows Roe v Wade but has a record supporting abortion limitations and the rest of Catholic Social Issues, you can not vote for them. Not sure the whole USCCB would agree with him.

"You ask, Then what? Punishment? Forgiveness? All of the above? What is missing is accountability, the necessity of being responsible for ones actions and accepting the consequences. Justice as well as forgiveness and mercy. "Hi, Carolyn, thank you as always for contributing thoughts that provoke other thoughts.Acocuntability and transparency make sense, of course. I'm all for it, and it's hard to imagine who wouldn't be. But I have the frustration of everyone else who isn't in a policy-making positon: I can't make the hierarchy be more accountable or transparent. Save, like you, by advocating (although you certainly are more prophetic about it than I am).FWIW, I re-read both letters to Timothy plus Titus this morning, looking for a scriptural nugget or grain that would call irresponsible hierarchs to accountability. There really isn't much there to be had without straining.

"The Cardinals comments clearly tilt the USCCBs Faithful Citizenship document to underlining abortion as the first and only issue. Thus, if you vote for a candidate who allows Roe v Wade but has a record supporting abortion limitations and the rest of Catholic Social Issues, you can not vote for them. Not sure the whole USCCB would agree with him."Hi, Bill, in this instance, Cardinal George is commenting specifically on the Pelosi statement, which was about abortion. He isn't attempting a well-rounded summary of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citiizenship - which does, btw, have a major section on abortion.

The N*W *XF*RD R*V**W has a notice of Mr. Podles SACRILEGE, from which I cite:"Podles uncovers a predatory mentality inherent in most priests who've been accused of sexual misconduct with children. Podles's collected data points unilaterally to a desire for power and control, rather than sexual gratification, as the driving force behind the majority of priestly predators. Such priests desire control over their victims because it makes them feel powerful, like a god. The root of this desire for power, according to Podles, is narcissism. He characterizes the abusing priest as a classic narcissist."Podles argues that the office of the priesthood is especially attractive to narcissists, particularly since the late 1960s, when the reforms of Vatican II gave us a Mass more susceptible to becoming a showcase for charismatic or flashy priests who see themselves as stars in a liturgical melodrama. Being the center of attention for hundreds of people on at least a weekly basis can do terrible harm to one's sense of humility. The allure of this priestly fame attracts many men who can't be said to have a real vocation. While various abuses of the Faith have existed since the inception of the Catholic Church, the Western world saw a great increase of sexual abuse perpetrated by the clergy starting roughly around the time of Vatican II. But Podles does not directly correlate the rise of sex scandals within the Church to the advent of the New Mass. He does, however, find the Novus Ordo much better suited to the personality-type of a sex criminal than the Tridentine Mass".[I note that there are 45,000 priests in the U.S. and 90,000 nuns. For myself, I like Bp. Bruskewitz's take on the matter: "If I find that a priest has been abusing children, I'll call the cops"]. [For balance, one might consider the situation with the 10th Century papacy [from 891 on, beginning with the trial of the corpse of Formosus. The various enthronements and dethronements and strangulations of popes is curious reading. Along with this were the machinations of Theophylact and his rabid wife, Theodora, whose involvements lead to period being called the pornocracy of the Holy See. This was the period when a 5 year old was made an archbishop. I note this only to point out that there have been worse periods in the Church. And that we have been especially blessed and confused because the number of recent saintly popes has led us to expect sanctity of all our clergy].

Jim - agree with your your statement but my point was that the Cardinal interprets and emphasizes beyond what I think the USCCB intended. He is again trying to control the decision making of Catholics in his own authoritarian manner.Mr. Austin - if you read any of the John Jay Abuse reports or study convicted pedophiles + the disease of pedophilia, you will note that the greatest rate of victims and events occurred from the mid-1960's through the mid-1970's. Most pedophile priests have multiple victims and their pattern lasted over years. Also, most priest pedophiles had been ordained a number of years before their activities started. In fact, John Jay (link: reports indicate that the highest number of priest pedophiles were ordained in the late 1950's to 1965 (est. 2 out of 3)......well before or during Vatican II. In addition, the data indicates that only 20% of pedophile priests abused before the age of 30 - 80% after 30. Thus, reinforcing the data that Vatican II had little to no impact on this crisis. Your attempt to connect pedophilia to the reforms of Vatican II especially the Novus Ordo is pathetic but can join the bishops who have also made other disjointed blame and excuses for example; a few blamed the parents; a few like Paprocki in Chicago want limits put on financial settlements; others esp. the Vatican blames the media; others blame lawyers out to get money; and now you want to pass it off because there have been worse periods in Church history (by the way, I don't think any victim would agree with you).

Bill, thanks for reminding us that this clergy sex abuse of children started well before Vatican II. We'll certainly never know in this life the ruination of children by abusive clergy before 1950 --- including preceding centuries.As for Podles, his suggestion that Vatican II with its new liturgy somehow attracted the wrong kinds of guys to the priesthood is pure, unadulterated crap! If ever there was a liturgy that reinforced the notion of the ordained on pedestals, it was the Tridentine --- what with its use of Latin (understood by no one), sotto voce (hey, Rev, speak the hell up!), priest with back to people (what'cha tryin' to hide, Father?), ad nauseum. If "Father" enjoyed this exclusive kind of contact with God, after all, who are we dumb laity to call him on stuff???Nancy, any thoughts on what our fellow bloggers have shared with you since your last post?

You can add another cardinal to the list of folks that need to resign:Story from Voices from the Desert and SNAP:Shortcut to:

Bill beat me to it - the Los Angeles story may be worth a thread of its own.Because Mahony is beloved by many for his progressiveess on some issues and his fight for immigrants, say, there is a strong motive for many not to call him to task on this.So too Cardinal George, who has lots of juice and support as head of USCCB, plus many friends in Rome.Maybe we could tie the thread to Camille D'Areienzo's America peice on forgiveness and mercy - a theme somewhat surfaced here.The new on-line America carries three letters to the editor (all by clergy) supporting the article, but the comments at the website when it originally showed up had much to say about accountability.I think the joinder of issue on that topic and quite relevant to the Cradinals just mentioned are what should happen to clergy who abet or cover up a horrific crime? Is forgiveness and mercy enough???????

Bob - I do not want to question Ms. D'Areienzo's efforts but "cheap forgiveness" will not work nor will "cheap grace!"Even as a grade school kid, remember that forgiveness implies:a) admit doing wrong;b) firm commitment to righting the wrong;c) receiving absolution contigent on; d) doing penance.Allow me to apply this to Francis George or Roger Mahoney:a) per depositions, personnel files, court records - settlements indicate that the cardinals have admitted to doing wrong (e.g. cover-up; moving known pedophile priests; delaying settlements; not meeting with victims, disregarding advice/recommendations from their abuse boards, etc.;b) firm commitment to righting the wrong......evidence would suggest that they fail in this some cases, they established boards and processes and then disregarded them; in some cases, they have refused to release personnel files; in some cases, they made numerous mistakes (George's deposition indicates at least 3 glaring mistakes in the past 4 years; Mahoney's settlement indicates 16 known pedophiles transferred and re-transferred over past 15 years);c) doing penance - no indication of this. Beyond a few token victims, no effort to meet them; Mahoney supposedly spent $32 million on his 7 year legal delay and defense (if you believe his financial reporting); no sign that either will resign, change policies, etc. Neither supports any attempt to change SOLs.So, under my old elementary training by the nunny-bunnies, would be difficult for me as a confessor to give either cardinal absolution....they do not meet the criteria.

What I said about clerical narcissism and the liturgy was this:The taboos surrounding the older mass certainly fed clericalism and narcissism -- no doubt about that. But its impersonality and ritualism made it difficult for the priest to make his personality the center of the mass. It is hard to make jokes in Latin. Perhaps Commonweal readers have been blessed by having only humble priests say mass, but far too often I have seen priests make their personality the center of the mass: bouncing basketballs down the aisle and shooting at a basket on the altar, wearing clown wigs during sermons, engaging in endless banter and jokes, etc. This is pure narcissism, and the structure of the older mass made at least this brand of narcissism difficult or impossible.I have nothing against the Novus Ordo, although the translation sometimes sets my teeth on edge. The ungrammatical alterations of hymns to avoid the hated masculine pronouns are especially offensive. I seek refuge in the Liturgy of St. John Chryostom whenever I can.

Lee: I suspect that the incidence of presiders in clown wigs, basketball bouncing, ad nauseum, is quite small. However, as a child raised on the Tridentine Mass I can aver that the "impersonality and ritualism" were spiritually deadening in the extreme! One of the reasons that Benediction was so popular was because it was one of the few devotions in which the pew potatoes actually had a chance to do something other than suffer through sheer boredom. Very few parishes had the advantages of trained choirs that knew anything about classical Catholic music. In the main the forerunner of the extraordinary form was a travesty of worship, perpetuated by the enforced sinecure of the laity.

I'd be interested to know what Lee meant by too often and what specifics fall within that - it struck mne as the kind of easy generalization that folks use who want to go back to the good old mumbled Latin mass with folks saying their rosaries or hoping to get out in 20 minutes., which while also an eay generalization is what I experienced.In themeantime, a new book by Kerry Kennedy features a section by Justice Anne Burke and is particularly critical of Cardinal George and Cardinal Egan on the abuse matter.The whole issue of how the hierarchy handled and continues to handle this matter will continue on, and, I think will do so until full disclosure maes reconciliation a possibility.

Lee, you mention that you have "too often seen priests make their personality the center of the [new] mass..." In the past 40 years that I've been to mass around the country, I've seen very little of clerics doing what you have seen. And I've seen no instances of priests presiding at mass in clown outfits, bouncing basketballs down the aisles, etc. I've HEARD of such episodes but, like Jimmy Mac, I suspect they've been a fairly rare occurrence.I do, though, take issue with your belief that such behaviors (dressed as clowns, etc.) necessarily manifest narcissism. Maybe they do, maybe they don't. My graduate work was in adult learning and its application to the workplace. I trained supervisors and staff. In the HRD field, it can at times be appropriate to add a bit of "entertainment" to the agenda to stir participants, add relevancy, make a point, etc. Even the Vatican in recent years has suggested that the Tridentine liturgy can serve --- in so many words --- as a teachable moment for folks in the pews (assuming, of course, the folks are alert).Furthermore, where narcissism is to be found, it will be reflected in the behaviors of clergy OUTSIDE the mass: parish meetings, clerical bossism in the parish, and so on. Before Vatican II, the pastor was the acknowledged boss who didn't take well to lay disagreement or "dissent." We have such clergy today, too. They generally are men attracted to ordination by the late pontiff who dealt harshly with dissent. As Hogan and others have pointed out, they see themselves as a group set apart from the rest of us. Now THAT'S narcissism!

...and arrogance!

Not that anyone will notice, as we're all tied up with discussin gthe "cocky wacko," today's Abuse Tracker (9/12):SNAP is still unhappy with Braxton-The Archbishop of Montreal says one of his priests who served six months for abusing a young girl isn't a pedophile-and then there's the voice in the Desert piece on the Portland Orgeon situation.The beat goeson every day:Bishops covering up, obfuscating, promising but not delivering compassion to victims, looking out for the institution and their own gluteuses first! Arggh!

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