Catholics in Crisis: Sex and Deception in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

This is a MUST READ!

As the Archdiocese reels from a second grand jury report detailing its cover-up of sexual abuse by priests, the local church faces the biggest crisis in its history. How could a spiritual institution turn a blind eye to evil not just once, but twice? The answer lies in the story of the two men who’ve led the Catholic Church in Philadelphia for the past 25 years

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Suit: Former Catholic priest molested boy

Another lawsuit was filed Friday claiming that former Catholic priest Daniel McCormack sexually abused a boy while at St. Agatha parish in the Lawndale neighborhood.

The plaintiff, who uses the name John Doe 184 in the lawsuit, claims that McCormack begin sexually molesting him when he was 11-or-12 years-old in 2004 while the boy helped with chores at the parish, located at 3151 W. Douglas Blvd., according to the suit filed in Cook County Court.

After the incidents, McCormack would reward the boy for his help at the church and lure him back for more “projects” with money, gift cards, cash or a video game, the suit said.

The abuse continued until just prior to McCormack being arrested and charged in Jan. 2006 with sexually molesting two boys on multiple occasions, the suit said.

The suit claims that the Catholic Bishops of Chicago and Cardinal Francis George knew of McCormack’s sexual abuse of young boys before he was assigned to St. Agatha and began abusing the boy, the suit said.

The two-count suit claims negligence and fraud. The suit, being handled by Jeffrey R. Anderson, seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages.

The Archdiocese is disappointed that Jeffrey Anderson has chosen to file another lawsuit regarding Daniel McCormack which needlessly subjects his client to the ordeal of litigation, according to an emailed statement from the Archdiocese of Chicago spokeswoman.

The Archdiocese has worked hard and successfully to resolve these matters outside of court and will continue to do so, according to the statement.

The Archdiocese has a long-standing practice of reaching out to all victims of misconduct by clergy to resolve their claims in a just, compassionate and respectful way, the statement said.

The Archdiocese continues to work for the healing of all those affected by the tragedy of child and adolescent sexual abuse, according to the statement.

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Clergy devalues language in response to child sex abuse

IT’S THAT “if” word again. Irish Catholic bishops and archbishops have been finding it so very helpful in recent years when expressing personal sorrow for what others have perceived as wrongs on their part.

Such a delightfully useful word. It creates just the right amount of wriggle-room to allow a putatively penitent prelate allow an outside perception of deepest repentance while not really feeling such a thing at all.

You could say the small “if” word, with such a big meaning, comes from the same stable as that thoroughbred “mental reservation”, of which there is none better when conveying a false impression – truthfully.

And so, little “if” popped up when the former bishop of Cloyne John Magee spoke to RTÉ on Monday.

“To the victims I say I am truly horrified by the abuse they suffered – it is very clear to me when I read the complete report – and if through my not fully implementing the 1996 guidelines which we had, I have made any victim suffer more, on my bended knee, I beg forgiveness, I am sorry.”

The extravagance of the language (how Italianate!) should not distract from the place of little “if” in the scheme of things. Or that of the equally useful “fully” term.

The Dublin archdiocese liked the “fully” word too.

In explaining how it could say in a mid-1990s statement it had co-operated with gardaí in dealing with allegations of clerical child sex abuse cases, while at the same time retaining files not handed over to gardaí, the Dublin archdiocese pointed out it had not said it co-operated “fully” with gardaí.

This was also presented to the Murphy commission as an example of mental reservation in all its glory.

Recall that the Cloyne report found Magee “took little or no active interest” in the management of clerical child sexual abuse cases until 2008, 12 years after the framework document on child sexual abuse was agreed by the Irish Bishops’ Conference.

There are no “ifs” about that. It was “little or no” interest.

And Magee was similarly athletic with his use of language in the statement he issued on Monday.

He accepted “full responsibility for the failure of the diocese to effectively manage allegations on child sexual abuse”. He unreservedly apologised “to all those who suffered additional hurt because of the flawed implementation of the church procedures, for which I take full responsibility”.

This would suggest he was taking on board such responsibility because of his role as bishop rather than through any direct personal fault of his own.

And that “fully” word appears again. He let the victims down “by not FULLY [my capitals] implementing the guidelines which were available to me” and he apologised “to the people of the diocese for not managing this important work more effectively”.

It is difficult not to agree with the Cloyne woman, herself abused by a priest, who told my colleague Barry Roche last Monday she was sceptical over Magee’s expression of remorse, saying she had heard so many apologies from the bishop and other clergy in Cloyne that she questioned their value.

“Anyway, whatever he does now can’t undo what was done to us.

We can all be sorry after the fact – he can say sorry as much as he wants, but it isn’t going to change what happened to me or to the other girls who were abused,” she said.

Wise words.

Indeed, it is hard not to concur with Magee himself when he said on Monday, “I feel there is nothing I can say now, which will ease the pain and distress for victims.” There isn’t.

The problem Magee and other senior clergy face is that they have devalued language.

They have rendered words of sorrow and remorse redundant through repeated abuse.

They have done as did Humpty Dumpty in Through the Looking Glass.

“When I use a word,” he said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”

The question was, said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”

He knew better.

“The question is,” he said, “which is to be master – that’s all.”

The bishops and archbishops might also reflect on what became of Humpty Dumpty.

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Catholic church used $400m in Irish bank loans to pay U.S. sexual abuse victims

More than $400m of compensation to American victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests was paid with loans and guarantees from Allied Irish Bank, it has ben revealed.

The funds, in the form of loans, guarantees and lines of credit, were given specifically to pay clerical abuse victims, and led to AIB being dubbed the ‘Vatican’s banking arm’ in U.S. legal circles.

The revelation that a comparatively small Irish bank based on another continent was used to pay off victims will raise questions about AIB’s links to the church.

One of the payments, of $250m to the Los Angeles diocese, emerged in a new book entitled ‘Render Unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church’, by Jason Berry, which outlines extraordinary links between the bank and the church.

But an investigation by the MoS has established that in a few short months in 2007 AIB emerged as the lender behind abuse settlements for four separate dioceses, and the true figure was almost twice as high.

It also emerges that while AIB was used to pay the bulk of the Church’s abuse claims, the dioceses were able to hold on to most of their properties.

Berry also claims that out of 194 Catholic dioceses in America, 45 banked with AIB.

In the book, he asks: ‘Was AIB a pass-through for Vatican funds to help certain dioceses while others had no such advantage?’

Many American dioceses, confronted in recent years with compensation cases, have filed for bankruptcy and negotiated settlements with victims.

But instead of being funded by the Vatican, which is fighting court cases by denying any legal responsibility to pay, almost half a billion of the money paid out in America was borrowed from AIB in Dublin.

Many other agreements may have been made out of court, in secret.

The MOS has confirmed that all of the loans were agreed by the bank’s headquarters in Dublin, and amount to as much as a quarter of AIB’s €2bn exposure in America the following year.

The MoS has also discovered that the loans are now being quietly repaid.

In a revelation that will prompt further questions about whether the Vatican is behind the international deals, the supposedly-indebted dioceses have begun to pay off the AIB debts with money from other, unnamed, institutions.

Just last month a $40m line of credit to the Diocese of Portland in Oregon was taken over by an un-named creditor.

Bob Krebs, a spokesman for the diocese for many years, declined to name the new lender.

Asked why AIB had been used to help fund its abuse compensation cases, he said he did not know who ‘found Allied Irish for us’.

Of the deals, by far the largest line of credit was for Los Angeles, for $256m.

The diocese avoided going into court with abuse victims by reaching a settlement in advance.

It emerged afterwards that AIB loans and guarantees accounted for almost half of total settlement.

The deal included $175m in cash and another $25m to pay the interest, and helped Los Angeles avoid selling the bulk of its properties or reveal the true value of its total assets.

In San Diego AIB gave cash and credit of some $100m, almost half the $198m paid out to 144 victims.

That diocese filed for bankruptcy on the eve of the first civil trial against it, a case involving Monsignor Patrick O’Keeffe, originally from Kilkenny.

The Diocese of Portland, in Oregon, also filed for bankruptcy because of compensation actions.

Of a $129m settlement for victims $40m came from AIB.

The loan effectively allowed the diocese to close the bankruptcy proceedings without selling any assets.

A loan document obtained by this paper details the loans in Portland.

On AIB headed paper, it details how the loans were being specifically made to trusts set up to pay known and future abuse claims for the diocese.

The letter was written one day before a similar letter giving credit to the Diocese of Los Angeles, again signed by its LA-based senior vice president Charles Lydon and London-based vice president John McGrath.

U.S. lawyer Jim Stang, who sat on nine bankruptcy committees charged with looking after victim creditors, said: ‘We joke that AIB is the bank of the Catholic Church.’

The bank is still exposed on some of the loans. It is owed almost $10m by the diocese of Wilmington in Delaware.

An AIB spokesman said: ‘AIB’s business focus in America was in the ‘Not for Profit’ areas and this included churches.

‘Any loans advanced were approved in accordance with AIBGroup policy.’

An AIB source said they were ‘standard commercial loans’.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles said the allegation of Vatican involvement ‘is complete rubbish’.

‘The Archdiocese initiated the loan discussions with AIB and other potential lenders in the summer of 2007. An arrangement was closed with AIB in November 2007,’ he said.

‘Settlement related financing was undertaken as a way to allow an orderly liquidation of surplus assets by the Archdiocese, and provided time for the Archdiocese to formulate a post-settlement recovery plan. Financing arrangements with AIB or any other potential lender had no impact on the settlement timing or terms. The AIB loan was repaid in full during the 2011 fiscal year.’

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Philadelphia priests gather amid abuse crisis

Roman Catholic priests in the conservative Philadelphia archdiocese have formed an independent association amid “a vacuum of information” with the latest clergy-abuse scandal, the Rev. Chris Walsh confirmed Friday.

Father Walsh, one of the organizers of the Association of Philadelphia Priests, said the group was created for priests to learn more about how the archdiocese is handling the problem. The association is still finalizing its bylaws.

A grand jury in February charged three priests and a teacher with rape and a monsignor with endangering children by reassigning priests. Prosecutors found that 37 suspected abusers remained on duty. The archdiocese later suspended about two dozen of them.

The grand jury report stunned priests across the five-county archdiocese, which has about 500 active priests.

“How could this be happening again? The guys, they were at a loss,” Father Walsh told The Associated Press.

In 2002, U.S. bishops ordered reforms in how dioceses handle abuse complaints. And in 2005, priests endured a blistering grand jury report that 63 Philadelphia priests had been credibly accused of sex assaults over several decades.

The Philadelphia Inquirer first reported Friday on the Association of Philadelphia Priests.

Father Walsh, who also is pastor of St. Raymond of Penafort, said that over several meetings this spring, concerned priests decided to form the new group. About 100 priests have attended each of three meetings held at various parishes. Also, two archdiocesan officials have attended a meeting, including the Rev. Daniel Sullivan, the vicar for clergy.

But no one wants to challenge incoming Archbishop Charles Chaput on priest celibacy, the ordination of women or other hot-button issues.

“They are, like most Philadelphia priests are, very orthodox men who love the church,” Father Walsh said. “We’re not looking to be adversarial. We’re part of the church. We respect and look forward to working with Archbishop Chaput.”

Father Walsh said priests in the diocese are struggling, along with the laity and non-Catholics in the region, to understand how the sex-abuse problem was allowed to fester. They also want to protect the rights of the suspended priests whose cases are now under review.

“Speaking for some of the [priests] who have been removed, they don’t know what’s next or how long it will take,” Father Walsh said. “In the criminal process, it’s pretty clear. … With the case of these guys, it’s really nebulous. Many of them feel very uninformed.”

Priests in other dioceses have long formed independent organizations, and many dioceses contribute $30 per priest annually to the National Federation of Priests’ Councils, a Chicago-based group that serves as a liaison between priests and the dioceses they serve.

But priests in the famously insular Philadelphia archdiocese have never joined the 43-year-old group, according to the Rev. Richard Vega, the federation president.

“Their bishops never wanted them to belong. We were seen as too radical,” Father Vega added.

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