Sunday, August 19, 2018

Church scandal: Laity, it is time for you to act (Sunday homily)

People have seen the news this week 
about the grand jury report from Pennsylvania,
and we know about terrible, unspeakable crimes 
committed by many priests, and in most, nearly all cases, 
the bishops were negligent; they shifted the criminal priests around 
and they covered it up and they failed the victims, all children.
This comes on the heels of the revelations about Cardinal McCarrick and his crimes – 
which were known by many – as he climbed to power.

I hate talking about this, but how can I remain silent?

And yet I feel so inadequate in anything I say. 
I will start by apologizing, on behalf of those who ought to apologize.
On the behalf of the Church, I apologize and beg forgiveness.

Cardinal DiNardo, president of the U.S. bishops conference, 
called this a “moral catastrophe,” and that is true.
And he said – and I quote: 

“I apologize and humbly ask your forgiveness 
for what my brother bishops and I have done and failed to do. 
Whatever the details may turn out to be regarding Archbishop McCarrick 
or the many abuses in Pennsylvania (or anywhere else), 
we already know that one root cause is the failure of episcopal leadership.”

Here is part of what our Archbishop Schnurr said:

From the depths of my heart,
I am sorry for the terrible pain and suffering experienced by the victims of abuse
 throughout their lives.
I am sorry for the deep shame that Catholic lay people rightfully feel
at the inexcusable behavior of certain cardinals, bishops and priests,
the emotional exhaustion of having to defend their faith
to friends and co-workers, and the discouragement
of having to relive a deep tragedy that we all hoped was behind us.

I am sorry for the stigma that good and holy priests
who are committed to their vocation and vows have to endure wherever they go.
I am sorry for the trust that has collectively been violated.

Now: those are heartening words, however – 
with no disrespect to Archbishop Schnurr, 
who I believe is a good man – they are only words.

You and I – all Catholics, everyone – has the right to demand more.
Indeed, we must demand more. I think the bishops are realizing this. 
Nevertheless, I believe it is absolutely necessary 
for the laypeople to act. I mean you.

Now, this is all pretty raw, and if I were smarter, 
maybe I could give better answers than what follows, 
but here’s what I suggest.

First, let’s be honest about anger. You are angry, I am angry, 
and we are right to be angry. Anger is not always sinful; 
there is such a thing as righteous anger and this calls for it.

That said, if you and I are not extremely careful, 
anger will soon stop being righteous and become destructive. 
And that is the key: Our anger must lead us to justice and healing.

Second, remember those who suffered. Children.
Children who are now adults. Many lost their faith.
Many whose lives were wrecked, and many who died untimely deaths. 

Nearly all that we learned this week happened 40 to 60 years ago, 
but it is only coming out now.
The wound is ripped open again, but for those who were violated, 
I can’t even imagine what they have suffered.

Probably we know people who were harmed; perhaps some here.
There are no words, but if I can do something, I will. Please tell me.
This is why I am speaking out, so that as a family we help each other.

Third, you and I must demand full accounting. The truth must be told.
Even the bishops are recognizing that their credibility is pretty poor; 
perhaps mine is too, because I am a priest.
My brother asked me this week: did I know about abuser priests, 
and did I fail to say anything?
I will tell you what I told him. No!

By law I and all priests – and all church employees and volunteers – 
are required to report whenever we hear about abuse of children. 
Over the years, I have had such information come to me, 
and I have always reported it to law enforcement. 
None of those instances involved a priest, but I would have reported it, 
and I will report it, if ever learn such a thing.
And if you know anything, you need to say something too.

One of the questions people have 
is about who gets admitted to the seminary.
Things have changed greatly, 
and I believe our seminary is an upright place.
Still, if you have questions, ask me; ask our seminarians yourself.

Fourth point: I think our bishops must hear from the faithful.
Let me be clear: I am not trying to turn the dogs loose.
I am not trying to put the Archbishop in a bad light.
But you have a right to speak up, and a duty, too, 
because I think he needs to know what is in your heart.
I believe he wants to do what is right; and that will help him do it.
If you write him, please do so with charity.

Finally, faced with evil, we must respond with holiness. 
When one part of the body is sick, 
the rest of the body must take up the slack.
It’s very tempting to say it’s all on someone else, 
but the evil of lust and selfishness and callous indifference 
is more common than we dare admit.

For example: you’ve heard me talk about filthy material 
on the Internet, which is a HUGE problem. 
Here’s the connection: those people in those images?
They are victims of abuse as well. 
Their stories are equally as horrific.

But I ask you, what does it mean when you or I click on those images?
Aren’t we accessories to their abuse?
If you want to make a difference, take this form of abuse seriously, 
and resolve to separate yourself from it.
It’s a powerful addiction; I am not an expert, but I will help.

There is one more thing, which I am taking on myself; 
and that is to offer reparation to God for these crimes.
Starting this Friday, and every Friday, 
I will be here in church at 6:30 am, making a Holy Hour of reparation. 
I will do it on my knees, if they can take it. 
I will offer prayers for those who were violated and for us all.

So how does all this connect to the Scriptures?

In the Gospel, Jesus said over and over, “eat my flesh; drink my blood.” 
In the Greek, the language is actually more shocking: “chew, gnaw on my flesh.” 
People were shocked, and rightly so. Why would he say that? 

There are times when Jesus didn’t pussy-foot around; 
this is one of them. He was confronting them with a shocking reality: 
he was going to suffer a horrible death on the Cross, 
and this cruelty was placed at the center of his plan of salvation, 
because humanity needs to face the horror of sin and evil.
Not look away; not paper it over. Face it.
Your God came to earth to go to the Cross; 
the same cross that we humans nail each other to.

Until we squarely face – chew on and swallow – 
the truth of human darkness, 
we cannot really know what God is saving us from.
Without facing what hell really is, heaven is just a word.


Anonymous said...

WOW, AWESOME HOMILY, Father! Thank you and thanks be to God FOR you!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for addressing this, Father. It's surely a sad & confusing time and your talking about it and sharing your views is most helpful.

Anonymous said...

Not exactly sure what we should be asking AB Schnurr to do. What I do know is that our Seminary is a far, far different place than it was under Bernardine and Pilarzik - as you well know. AB Schnurr has done a tremendous job in turning our Seminary around. I think we should thank him for that. But what specifically should we ask him to do now?

Fr Martin Fox said...


1. Tell the Archbishop what you think and feel. Be open with him.

2. Do you want the full truth about enabling bishops to come out? Tell him.

3. Do you want to know who enabled and looked the other way with McCarrick? Tell him.

4. Do you want bishops to be accountable? Tell him.

Anonymous said...

Father, I appreciate you addressing this issue, as it is a difficult issue to address. I am hopeful you continue to address this issue, with possible responses to include addressing the Pope's letter issued today, and what changes have been made to ensure this culture of cover up and complicit leadership is no more. Also, am curious what implications this may have to the sainthood of St. John Paul II, as Cardinal McCarrick was appointed such under St. John Paul II's tenure.

Unfortunately as we hear more and more of these horrific crimes, it appears that the response from the Church is more and more what we have come to expect form politicians, that of condemn and wash their hands in hopes that a connection is not made from the criminals to those at the top.

I appreciate you asking us lay Catholic to act, but I ask in some guidance in doing so. Where do I go to find wholesome unbiased reporting of the facts? How do I respond when peers speak negatively of the Church? How can I be confident that this is being dealt with in an expedient and appropriate manner? Is it not true, that the higher I go on the human chain of leadership in our Church, the more incentive they have to quiet my concerns?

I appreciate your consideration in responding, as I heard your homily, but have little confidence that acting in the way you outlined will provide true answers to my questions. As a parent of young children, their faith has been of the utmost importance to me. Now however, their safety and innocence seems more important. How can I lead them into a faith that isn't protecting those for them?

Fr Martin Fox said...

Anonymous @ 8/20, 11:53 am:

I am not in a position to recommend "wholesome unbiased reporting." All I can suggest is to seek out multiple news sources and compare and contrast. I suggest you respond to your peers with truth and love, measured out prudently. The only confidence any of us can have is in God and his plans for our salvation.

This may seem an obvious question, but it actually isn't: why are you so fearful for your children's safety and innocence? What specific threat do you perceive?

Anonymous said...

Bishop Morlino letter laid out the minimum and that is rooting out the entire homosexual subculture in the Church. We allowed this to flourish for decades and sin has a way of festering and growing. Now we have Bishops and Cardinals who are known perverts extending all the way to Rome. They have a weakness for teenage boys they call twinks and t shows up in every abuse and coverup scandal. Some said if they do not act on their perversion, it is OK to let them remain, but they are sympathetic to others failings and may help cover them up. They also may eventually fail leading to more scandal. Purge now or we will be talking about this again.

Anonymous said...

And remember our Pope saying, “who am I to judge?” When asked about homosexual lifestyle. Comes with the job as Pope. If he is serious about abuse, he damn well needs to set tone and judge in a very serious way. Zero tolerance for all who do perverted acts and also to those who cover it up for any reason. But we will not see serious action to clean up mess because too many will not agree on the problem.

Anonymous said...

The fear of leading them into a position where a higher than normal percentage of leadership is abusing them or at the very least misusing their trust. Without a solid plan laid out of how these atrocities will be stopped, how do I consciously lead them into a place where they are not as safe as they are in an average daily situation, made worse by the fact that the Church is one place where they should be able to let their guard down.

I don't encourage them to walk down a dark alley at night alone, how can I as a parent encourage them to be actively involved in the church community where they will be in contact with more and more leaders? Leaders, that I as a conscious adult, have not been given any reason to believe were any better vetted 10 or 15 years ago than they were 40 or 50 years ago. Changes, if we are willing to accept, that have been made recently in the seminary and through the church will impact the next generation. You question why I am concerned for my children's safety. My question is more, why shouldn't I be. What evidence is there anything has changed that will affect my kids today?

MayYouKnowtheTruth said...

Part 1
I again tell of my tragic experience in dealing with our bishops and some clergy who absolutely failed, time and time again to act with moral certitude. I do so NOT to scandalize nor to drive anyone from his/her faith but to ensure the whole truth be told. Our church leaders cannot, will not stop the festering wound of child abuse THEY have inflicted upon our church (WE are the church, not buildings not solely our clergy). I pray that we are finally about to have a "SEA" change, but that will be up to you...THE PEOPLE IN THEW PEWS, the faithful MUST speak out and demand better from our bishops.
As one who has also advocated for victims of clergy abuse the recent weeks have bought about more disclosure by more victims some of these abuses, still very recent. Many from the distant past, but in all these cases, the effort to keep the facts from the faithful is going on TODAY, the greater scandal inflicting even greater damage. There is certainly more painful news ahead, prepare yourselves, it is coming and I am not referring to what I am about to write here.

As a young teenage I was abused by my parish priest, this priest went on to abuse my younger brother when I left to attend a college seminary program, I had hoped to become a priest myself one day in a religious order.

I eventually knew I had to tell and get help for a man who abused my sexually, physically and emotionally for a number of years. I suspected at that time he had moved on to my younger brother but was very much afraid to speak out. My sexual abuse began when I was 15 but the grooming process started much earlier.

My parish priest ingratiated himself into our family life beginning when I was in eighth grade. He spent many, many hours at my house several days a week. At first, he was like a father figure to me, directing my studies, giving me responsibilities and duties in the parish as well. He took me on trips throughout the country but in 1978 on a trip to Colorado, a train trip he arranged almost a year in advance, we had bunk beds in a sleeper car. Overnight he climbed into my bed and I awoke as he was fondling me, that’s when the sexual abuse began. I was confused as he explained I should relax as this is normal when two people love each other. He molested me almost daily during this trip and several times a week thereafter for the next few years. I began to withdraw and avoid spending time with him whenever possible. Staying after school getting involved in after school activities, he would not have it. That just made things worse. His physical violence at times was a means to control me as I tried to avoid his presence but this made him more angry, controlling and insecure.

He gave me many gifts, very expensive designer brand clothing, jewelry, he took me on many trips, including a trip to Europe, where in our Rome hotel he beat me because I took a bed in another room and didn't plan to sleep with him, he got his way. On another occasion, angry at something I had said (not sure of who said it, my younger brother or I) I was too afraid to admit it was I, he took me and my younger brother to the basement where he stripped us of our clothing and beat our bare backsides with a belt buckle. He insisted I confess my sins to him, he always made me apologize for my actions, sitting in silence like a prisoner, he waited sometimes hours for my anger to subside until I would finally give in, and I would apologize so he would let me leave. He constantly told me he could not go on living without me and I feared he would at some point take his own life and mine if I ever disclosed the abuse. On several occasions I absolutely feared for my life.

MayYouKnowtheTruth said...

Part 2
On just one such occasion, when I was 16, during the summer, my family traveled to, Ohio to spend time with aunts, uncles and cousins on Lake Erie. I was thrilled at the thought of getting away from Father Martin, even if it was for just a few weeks. Well he decided he was coming along with us, I was very upset at even the thought. Once we arrived I immediately went off with cousins my age, we were gone for hours, running, fishing, swimming and having a great time.

When I returned to the house, my family was down on the beach below but not Father Martin, he was waiting for me, and in a fit of rage, dragged me into a van and drove off. Again, I was gone for hours. He was very upset that I was not spending time with him. He said he wanted to leave and drive home, we came upon a set of railroad tracks where trains often came through town, he stopped the van on those tracks, long enough to scare the hell out of me, but eventually he drove off and later stopped at a church, and insisted we go inside where we sat for quite some time, he waited and insisted I apologized to him. He pointed out a banner that hung above the altar which read “Things now hidden in darkness will be revealed in great light” I remember thinking how I only wished that were true. He insisted that was meant for me, and how I had to admit to him how badly I treat him at times, or my selfish lack of love. That, according to him is what I was hiding.

At 17 I left and moved away to attend a college seminary program with the Franciscan Capuchins. What I experienced and witnessed in the seminary was more of the same, living with young men who for some were quite immature, petty and what I later came to understand as having a stunted psychosexual development, certainly not all but way too many of my peers in the seminary particularly those who came to college from a high school or minor seminary program. Several of them who went on to become priests have since been removed, themselves having abused children.

After I had left for college and gone for only a few weeks Fr Martin, a diocesan priest, decided he was going to join the Franciscan Capuchin order, I was scared to death by this news and found out he had already begun the process. I told the priest in charge of our Fraternity in hopes they would not allow him to join the order, I also wrote Fr. Martin a letter stating I wanted nothing to do with him anymore and that he needed to leave me alone.

I knew I had to speak out and decided to tell another priest who I knew to be Father Martins good friend from the seminary, Fr Bill Cramer. I was teaching CCD at his parish at that time and asked if we could talk one day. When I told him what Father Martin had done to me years earlier, Fr Bill turned white as a ghost and never spoke to me again. He avoided me at every turn. I later learned he himself had admitted to abusing 2 young brothers, had plead guilty, the Paterson Diocese said he voluntarily took a leave from ministry but Bishop Rodimer of Paterson allowed him to return to ministry as a hospital chaplain after he was “cleared” by a therapist.

My dad had been suffering from cancer. Father Martin was still close to my family at this time and spent many hours with my mom and dad as he was undergoing treatment for his cancer. When my dad passed away, it was my dad’s request that Father Martin be the main celebrant at his funeral. It was during my father’s funeral mass that he decided to openly chastise me (calling me out by name) during the homily for not” loving” enough while dad was alive. I knew what that was about, just taking another shot at me for avoiding HIS presence.

MayYouKnowtheTruth said...

Part 3
In early 1983 after finishing my second year in the seminary (to which I never returned), I got up the nerve to tell the auxiliary bishop Jerome Pechillo of Newark about my past abuse and hoped he would get help for Father Ken Martin so he couldn’t harm other children. He did not treat me kindly. The bishop chastised me for referring to him as "Father", instead of His Excellency, reminding me he was a bishop. He then said I was speaking out because I read an account in the local newspaper about another priest accused of abusing young boys from St Aloysius’s parish, his residence. ( years later learned that was Father Carmine Sita who, after pleading guilty to child abuse, changed his name to Fr. Gerald Howard and was returned to ministry where he went right back to abusing young boys in another state) I knew nothing of what he was talking about at that time. He then said I was angry because my dad had recently died.

He sent me to the Newark Vicar of priests (Father Frank McNulty) to tell him everything, he explained he was a psychotherapist, he was not, he was Newark’s Vicar of Priests. The priest who had abused me by now had moved on to my younger brother. For several years he was not removed from my parish, that is, not until Archbishop McCarrick became the Archbishop of Newark and promoted him to serve as his personal secretary, that's right he was promoted.

By this time, I had informed 1 permanent deacon, 5 parish priests, 2 vicar of priest, 1 priest who was treating Fr Martin at a treatment center in Larchmont NY called Trinity House and 3 bishops. Not one reported him to police authorities as they were required to do under state law. To be fair, 2 were told under the seal of confession so I certainly would not expect them to do so.

After trying to go on with my life and forget about all that had happened, some years later my younger brother began to disclose his abuse (1996), my family, wanted answers, they didn't know that I too was abused. I was married by this time with the first of my 3 children. Having been in the seminary and acquainted with many clergy, my family pressed me to reach out. They still had no idea (at least none I was aware of, but they may have had their own suspicions) that I too was abused.

I met with several priests including the new Vicar of Newark Paul Bootkoski, he was compassionate at the time and promised to arrange a meeting with Archbishop McCarrick, needless to say almost a year later and no meeting. I had made repeated requests which fell on deaf ears. Archdiocesan lawyers intervened to express they had immunity by virtue of the Charitable Immunity laws and the Statute of Limitations in NJ. They repeatedly requested a confidentiality agreement which made me very angry.

I then sent a certified letter to our Archbishop explaining how I am sickened by the total lack of a pastoral response and demanded a meeting indicating that if he failed to meet with me I would have no choice but to take my case to the press. He called me shortly after receiving my letter to arrange a meeting.

MayYouKnowtheTruth said...

Part 4
I met with then Archbishop McCarrick and the new Bishop elect of the Metuchen Diocese Paul Bootkoski (he was McCarrick’s Vicar of Priests in Newark). The Archbishop told me he had never met with a clergy abuse victim before and that I helped him understand the suffering such abuse causes. I asked to be allowed to speak with other priests and seminarians to tell my story and the harm which is done when children are sexually abused. He said that would be arranged and the Bishop (Bootkoski) would reach out to me. I also explained my anger at repeatedly being asked for confidentiality, I would be no different than Judas excepting pieces of silver had I chosen to be silent. This I promised would never happen. Finally, he promised this man would not have access to children.

It wasn't long at all before I realized none of this was true, not a single promise kept. A week after our meeting I was again asked for confidentiality. Not long after I saw the Archbishop along with Father Martin surrounded by children at a local hospital pictured in the Diocesan paper. The Archbishop and the Archdiocese never reported him to police until after McCarrick left for Washington a few years later, the criminal statute of limitations having now since expired.

In my frustration and knowing I had AGAIN been ignored and misled I wrote every US Cardinal and the Vatican Secretary of State (in 1998) about these incidents and the fact that Archbishop McCarrick had promoted a known offender well after I had already informed the Archdiocese. Several Cardinals responded including Cardinals Law, Mahoney, O’Conner, Stafford and the Vatican Secretary of State so, THEY KNEW he returned a known predator back to ministry. In each of their responses they simply redirected me back to Archbishop McCarrick.

My abuser, Father Kenneth Martin after a review of Diocesan files mandated by the NJ Attorney General in 2002, was simply allowed to retire and is still a priest today. His ministry has been restricted to some degree. I was never informed of any of this, I learned that from a news report about 2 years ago. After he was allowed to "retire" from the priesthood in 2002, He was hired by the State of New Jersey and works for NJ transit and lives in a NJ shore town as a priest and a free man.

Lastly I learned that what they told law enforcement very much understated the extent, length and details of our was very much minimized.

Yes I am hurt, I am angry and I no longer trust our bishops promises of change, or that they will tell us the whole truth. For I have hoped for too long and have been hurt so many times...I now hope and pray that you, the people in the pews will demand our law makers instill accountability and consequences for EVERY institution that places the value of it's reputation and assets above the need for our children to be safe from known sexual predators. I dare say this as it may sound self serving...but todays clergy abuse victims are the true martyrs of our church, I hope their pain and suffering is not in vain and one day leads to a healthier institution, such institutions create a healthy environment for our children, not one that protects the institution over the need to keep our children safe from known predators.

Mark Crawford

Fr Martin Fox said...


Perhaps I wasn't clear: I have no issue with you or any parent being concerned for your children's safety; but what I wanted to hear you say, for yourself, is the specific threat you are guarding against. There are lots and lots of dangers in the world, as you say, walking down a dark alley for example, and more we can cite if we want.

Let's talk about the safety of children in the setting of a Catholic church or a Catholic school.

If you bring your children to Mass, are they safe? I think so. Why wouldn't they be? Are they safe if they attend a Religious Education class, or if they attend a Catholic school? Again, I think so; why wouldn't they be?

Let's talk about employees and volunteers in a Catholic setting. I can only speak confidently about what is in place in my own diocese; but as far as I know, what we do is pretty standard. ALL clergy, lay employees and volunteers must undergo background checks, with fingerprinting, and must comply with very specific requirements about conduct, and being alone with children. We must take part in continuing education about these matters. If we don't do these things, we lose our "clearance" and cannot continue our employment or volunteer activity.

So, for example, I can't be alone with children apart from the confessional. And if desired, we could have children go to confession in the middle of the church, with adults sitting 10-15 pews away, watching everything. I suppose we could put soundproof, clear-glass doors on the confessionals, but I am pretty sure people wouldn't like that. Very honestly, because this all took effect while I was in the seminary (2002), my entire priesthood has been shaped by it. I worry about even small things, like whether I should pat a young person on the back. I am extremely careful about hugs; I never offer them, and accept them carefully. I never let children visit the rectory, not even with their parents, for reasons I will explain if you like. When I travel, I never stay with friends if they have minor children in the home.

Let's talk specifically about priests, deacons and seminarians. There are two key elements of accountability in place.

First, we all live according to a "one strike" policy; and all it takes is an allegation to have us removed and perhaps never be restored. Note, I said, an allegation; not a proven charge. Now this applies unevenly to bishops, and this is one of my complaints; that bishops were quick to put all this on others, but haven't taken on this same accountability for themselves.

Second, seminarians undergo very tight scrutiny when they are admitted, and ongoing scrutiny. Is this the practice everywhere in the U.S.? I don't know, but I think so. Is it universal? Almost certainly not. It's a tricky business applying measures that work in western countries to non-western ones. But this needs to happen.

The result of all this is that since 2002, there have been very, very few allegations of misconduct, and those have been surfaced immediately, and acted on.

The report that came out of Pennsylvania concerned old cases, pre-2002, going back to the 40s. A lot has changed since then.

I am not trying to make light of your concern. Obviously anything can happen, anywhere. But I do believe that if you bring children to Mass, to religious education, and to other activities in a Catholic parish in the U.S., your children are safe. (To be continued...)

Fr Martin Fox said...


Let me continue...

Your children will be safe, provided that you, as a parent, do some common-sense things you probably would already do -- but which people haven't done:

- Ask your children about the activities they are part of. Ask for details. Where will they go, with whom, who is in charge, etc.

- Ask the adults who are organizing events about the plans. How much supervision? Are all the usual rules and requirements being followed? (In my parish, we are scrupulous about these things; so much so that we have cancelled events for lack of sufficient adults to serve as chaperones; and we've had dicey issues with transportation that require great care. I can explain more if you like.)

- If your child is planning to be alone with an adult, RED ALERT! This should not happen!

- If your child is invited to a sleepover at the priest's house, RED ALERT! This must never happen!

- If your child is being invited on a trip, or to go for a drive, etc., with any adult, priest or not, RED ALERT! This must not happen!

- If any adult -- including a priest or seminarian or other cleric -- is coming over to your house to hang out with your kids, giving your child special attention, RED ALERT! This is not appropriate, and you should blow the whistle on it.

As I've read the reports of abuse, while the blame falls squarely on the abusers, nevertheless, I was struck by how often parents knew about things I just described, and nobody blew the whistle. I grew up in the '60s and '70s, and while my parents treated priests with respect, they would never have sat still for any of this. In 2018, there should be no problem with parents asking lots of questions and drawing clear lines themselves.

I note you are concerned about bishops and priests that are sexually attracted to the same sex. There has been a norm in place for some time not to admit to the seminary those with "deep seated" homosexual attraction, but clearly this has not been followed. I agree this needs to be tightened up.

That said, however, I think it would be unfair to suggest that simply having that attraction makes someone a predator. And I think it is unrealistic to expect that the Church will never have priests or bishops with homosexual attractions. Certainly you can screen seminarians better, but until mind-reading becomes possible, you can only do so much.

Also, if a seminarian or a priest is living a secret life, that isn't going to stay secret. This is especially true for seminarians.

Finally, of course, even if you could screen out all gays or lesbians from the ranks of clergy and employees and volunteers, what are you going to do about their presence in the general population?

Fr Martin Fox said...

Mark Crawford:

Thank you again for sharing your story. Again, I am so deeply sorry for what happened to you. I don't know what I can do, but please ask.

MayYouKnowtheTruth said...

Simply allowing me to tell my story is more helpful than you will know, for far too long I remained silent, I can do that no more. Thank you for your candor and you guidance to the faithful, that they can in fact drive change in this regard, for they are not powerless. I agree they should contact their bishops and tell them our bishops must tell the whole truth of such matters, Those so egregiously harmed want reform and a long overdue acknowledgement from those who betrayed their trust. I would like to point out as is noted on the late Cardinal O'Connors heraldry - it reads "There can be no love without Justice".

Father, the cautions you raise above for all parents are exactly on point. Yes many parents in the past gave too much deference and or trust to our clergy, but that too is how they were raised, it wasn't a "one off" many parents trusted our priests without question, certainly they too were groomed and these men who sought to abuse were and are extremely skilled manipulators. The John Jay Report suggested they could create a whole new class of predator after having completed their investigations. I cannot begin to judge them.

I do not hate my abuser, I forgive him for he certainly was not well, but I am not ready to give a pass to well educated leaders of our church who knew better, who should have taken appropriate action, who had to deal with many such cases well before mine. Who had countless opportunities to "do the right thing" since 2002 and perhaps much earlier. Child abuse was a crime then as it is now. There is simply no good excuse for their choices. It was and is systemic and I know all too well how the few good priests suffer this cross. By the way, my best friend is a priest and a good one, I know how he suffers too, but he would NEVER expect me to be silent. What I long for is a better church, a healthier church, one that will create an healthy environment that shows us they will never again hide the truth, bishops and other officials in some misguided belief thought they were protecting the church, when in fact they did far greater harm. The whole truth must be the disinfectant to cleanse this festering wound in the church, which cannot heal until things hidden in darkness are revealed in great light. I welcome your prayers as I long for real change and reform.

Anonymous said...

Father Fox, thank you for addressing this topic. I think that you bit off way more than you can chew, but bravo for the effort.

As I am sure you are aware, this Catholic priest abuse issue goes back to inception of the church, itself. Popes, cardinals, bishops, archbishops and local priests, have always been involved in sexual perversion, with regard to Catholic dogma. Popes, cardinals, bishops, etc...., on down the line, have had illegitimate children, concubines and all sorts of other perverted relationships for almost 2,000 years. All is well-documented, for those who simple care enough to research a little.
Pennsylvania is only one state, and very recent. The 1,000 count of victims, as I am sure you realize, is WAY LOW. And there are 49 other states where any thinking individual can easily conclude the same sick perversion has destroyed all kinds of lives. There are about 225 countries where the Catholic church resides. Obviously, the same sick disgusting behaviors amongst predatory Catholic priests exists. So, over 2,000 years, literally millions and millions of victims have suffered at the "hand" of venomous animal priests. The simple, but undeniable, math is mind-boggling. When only one life is destroyed, the multiples of those eternally hurt is incalculable.
Question: There is obviously something fundamentally wrong with the Catholic church. What is it about the church that has created and carefully and meticulously maintained such a demonic Satan-driven culture? In our diocese alone, would you be willing to lead an investigation that makes transparently real the facts as they actually transpired? And if you won't, who are you?

Anonymous said...

Father Fox, in the spirit of truth and healing, and Desmond Tutu, time for a Truth Commission in Russia. A vein has been burst. Time to be real, if indeed, you are. And some folks do believe you are sincere. Honor them, and all those here in Russia seeking resolution in their faith.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Anonymous @ 8:29 pm:

I'm sorry, I don't understand what you are asking for. A "Truth Commission in Russia"? "Some" folks believe I am sincere? What have I done to call my sincerity into question? Who have I failed to honor? How have I failed to "be real"?

Please fill in what you mean; I don't understand what you're getting at.

Anonymous at 6:59 pm:

You seem to assume that the Catholic Church has a monopoly on sin. Why do you believe this? What evidence can you adduce to support this theory? Are you under the impression that molestation, and cover-ups, are especially notable for Catholics? Again, what evidence do you have for this belief?

To all "Anonymouses" -- I don't expect you to give your real name, but I would appreciate if you could give greater identification. Call yourself Mickey or Minnie Mouse for all I care. But I would like to know if I am talking to the same person throughout, or two different people, or nine different Anonymouses. Otherwise you are putting me at a disadvantage, and that's not fair.

Anonymous said...

So so proud of the way you are handling this issue, Father. And so. so sorry for how the current mess affects you personally. You don’t deserve any of the spin-off coming your way. Praying, praying, praying ...

Fr Martin Fox said...

Anonymous @ 8/22, 8:40 pm:

Thank you. That really means a lot.

rcg said...

This is the best thread I have seen yet of this topic. As far as the Truth Commission Guy: this event is very emotional and will incite all sorts of people to speak and act in some way. It will be difficult for many to express themselves well. In many ways that sort of person is exactly where the bishops have been for a long time, not able to figure out what to do that fits with what they think they know. In the specific case of the bishops, those who were not part of the conspiricy were apparently blackmailed and/or coopted through disinformation and distortions of Christian thought. The lot of them were ineffective agaist the abuse and may have even supported it unwittingly. Cardinal Burke, for example, had some good ideas but one is now forced to ask, where were those suggestions twenty years ago? There is no purpose seeking to blame Cardinal Burke or Archbishop Schnurr when to a significant degree they were also victims. Unfortunately they must bear responsibilty incumben with their positions so we have to encourage them to set an example in tbe way they do that. For some it may mean the strength to fire a friend, disclose information about a collegue or even resign. We should support them doing the right thing.

Fr Martin Fox said...


I just don't know what that whole thing about a "truth commission" -- for Russia, Ohio! -- even means! Why does Russia, Ohio, need a "truth commission"?

rcg said...

The best I can see is that this person wants some organization or group that he can trust to review and reveal what really happened. I do not think, personally, that we can ever know everything that happened as discrete events, but I believe we can, and perhaps already know what happened and what didn't happen: Some people with goals and gods other than the One True God managed to get themselves into the religious life as priests and nuns. Some got elevated to bishop. Being basically sociopaths they had no moral restraints on seducing vulnerable young men and leading them astray. Thereafter they could maintain the inertia of confusion and, if that failed, resorted to blackmail. As influential persons in the administration of the Church they could open more doors and gain posts for more people with the same goals. Sociopaths are often very intelligent as well as committed to their personal goals. They do not hesitate to take action. By comparison, honest priests and bishops are often vulnerable to delay while they contemplate the best action. This allows reason to supplant Revealed Truth. Ironically, this circles back to the Truth Commission because it holds in it the hope that some certainty will arise and we can find the key to our problems.

We try to reason with someone suffering from emotional or even severe psychological disorders but usually end up either wasting our time, or worse, even participating in the insanity. This is where we are, attempting to get severely disordered people, lots of them, to suddenly as a group become sane and admit they have been doing terrible things.. Perhaps the Truth is the situation itself and we are only forestalling our own action hoping for approval from the very people who we know in our hearts will never give it.

rcg said...

And I think you were juxtapositioning "Truth Commission" with "Russia" to show a frightening irony. ;-)

Fr Martin Fox said...

No, go back and read the comment. The person wanted a "truth commission IN Russia, Ohio. I do not think I misread it. That is what baffles me. Then and now.

Oh well, that Anonymous is long gone.

rcg said...

You are right. I suppose I don’t pay much attention to that specifict part mainly because there is no crisis restricted to Russia, OH that warrants a commission of any sort, except about water works likewise the rest of the world would probably benefit from good practical Midwestern ommon sense, but they have passed on that opportunity numerous times.

Prayer and preparation, fasting for sure, is the way to go. I Pray that our Lord sees fit to mark me as one of his own. Then let the stones fall where they may. His will be done.