Via Media

Via Media

Interesting Reading

Last week, Bishop Accountability had a “Fireside Chat” with Susan Archibald, Jason Berry, David Clohessy, Tom Doyle, and Richard Sipe, all people deeply involved with reporting on, studying and supporting victims of clerical sexual abuse.

Here’s the transcript.

I found this statement by David Clohessy of SNAP particularly on point:

Like the other panelists, I’m obviously not convinced that the problem is over, and let me get real specific as to why. Two simple reasons: because of what we are seeing now in terms of bishops’ behaviors and in terms of what we aren’t seeing now. One of the benefits of going last is that I made a list of seven priests very quickly; this is the evidence of course that the crisis is not over. Father John Calicott in Chicago admitted sexual misconduct with two teenage boys, was removed twice by two different bishops, and has been revealed in the last couple of days to have been teaching religious education and sex education at the very parish from which he was forbidden to serve. Monsignor Ryan in Connecticut admitted to molesting a teenage girl; the diocese admitted that there were two others they paid a six-figure settlement. He is the pastor now of suburban parish. Bishop Lori says it was an incident, it was twenty-five years ago, no offenses since then, he has been in treatment, haven’t we heard this before? Father Alex Anderson in St. Louis, facing two allegations of sexual abuse, two public allegations, two court documents, and yet still serving in a big suburban parish as the pastor of that parish. And the archdiocese and officials find both of these young men, who have never met one another, not credible. Father Powers in Kentucky, a civil lawsuit was settled against him, his victim, Karen [Welby], took her own life. He serves right now in a parish. Father Poole, also in Kentucky, again a six-figure, a six-figure civil settlement, coupled with not one, but two criminal convictions for indecent exposure, and he has just been restored by the Bishop of Lexington. Father Walter Fernando in California, facing not only a civil lawsuit, as Paul said some hundreds of California Priests are, but also a target of a criminal investigation that has been written about in the Los Angeles Times, still the pastor. And finally, here I will leave you on a positive note, Father John Leonard in Richmond Virginia, multiple accusations, multiple civil lawsuits, plead guilty last week. Was accused of molesting, three counts of child sexual abuse, pled down to two counts; pled guilty on two counts of assault on a child. Was still pastor and three days after his plea agreement, voluntarily stepped down. So, I think it’s very clear unfortunately that the crisis is far from over.


….This Calicott situation in Chicago, the reason that he’s been teaching sex education, and religious education, the reason he is at the parish from which he was removed twice, virtually everyday, according to the Chicago Sun Times, the reason he spends three or four nights a week in that rectory, according to the Chicago Tribune, is because the pastor, Father Miller, doesn’t believe in zero tolerance and has invited Father Calicott back and still considers Father Calicott in effect the pastor. Now today’s Chicago papers reports that Cardinal George in his infinite wisdom has determined that Father Calicott has violated the charter. But, there is no mention of Father Miller. And, I think we will know that the crisis has begun to end and that real change is happening when we see Cardinal George on TV tonight saying “I have removed Father Miller, the pastor, the man who should have known better, and I have yanked his health insurance. I have yanked his pension.” [applause] And, I don’t mean to sound mean spirited or vindictive, but, I would love to hear the Cardinal say, “And let Father Miller sue me to the highest civil court in the land and the highest Vatican court, and maybe he’ll win I don’t care. But, I am going to send a very clear signal that in my diocese, you know, there is something that is almost as bad as molesting a child and that is enabling a molester.” [applause] Because, let’s face it there none among us, there’s no one among us who believes that any kind of punitive approach will fundamentally deter a compulsive sex offender from hurting kids. But, presumably, diocesan leadership, and presumably good priests, non-abusive priests, I have to believe in my heart of hearts, will be deterred from remaining silent. If they see one of the brother priests like Father Miller in Chicago, out on the street for such a flagrant violation of what bishops have promised us time and time again.

Comments read comments(9)
post a comment

posted February 1, 2004 at 12:40 pm

Miller is playing the race card,and George is afraid of acting against him;just as Geroge is afraid of the practicing homosexuals in Chicago–see AGLO.

report abuse


posted February 1, 2004 at 5:32 pm

I know your busy, but there are some outrageous opinions and misstatements in the transcript that deserved more than an “interesting reading” comment.
Tom Doyle is at least consistent and predictable, but Sipe is nasty, self-serving, and opportunistic. I felt sick at some of comments that went without challenge by any of the attendees, and I don’t think they served their cause by this laissez faire approach.
It should be interesting to hear the same group discuss “root causes”. Perhaps Richard McBrien will join them to discuss the value of celibacy.

report abuse

Paul Pfaffenberger

posted February 2, 2004 at 1:12 am

What made me sick about the article were statements like “my spiritual life … was taken away many, many years ago”
… and “I don’t want them to take away from me that which, and that who, I am. I don’t want them to rip out of my life the spirituality that I know I cannot find in another church.”
.. and “I suffered a tremendous struggle of faith. I did not want to leave the church, and yet time and again I would go into Mass and I would just look at the altar and I would think, who is this? I began to know the secrets of people long before the media did, and it was not easy.”
These people whose faith has been ripped away, that’s sickening. Richard Sipe’s opinions about celibacy and the root cause of the problem are his opinions, nothing more, nothing less. He has done an amazing amount of good work for victims of sexual abuse, and for that he has my unending respect.

report abuse


posted February 2, 2004 at 8:17 am

Sipe’s opinions about sexual morality go well beyond questioning celibacy. Perhaps if he tried to address spiritual concerns I would have a better opinion of him.

report abuse

Patrick Sweeney

posted February 2, 2004 at 11:02 am

Another sign that the crisis is not over is that bishops never act first, they still only react to a district attorney, or planiffs, or media, etc. — anyone who can provide external pressure to get them to act.

report abuse

John Fusco

posted February 2, 2004 at 12:21 pm

I’m not going to comment on the whole article (having skimmed it), but I will note that, based on stories in the St. Louis Post Dispatch (no links; don’t know if they are online – I get the actual, paper version), the Fr. Alex Anderson has denied both allegations, and is suing one of his accusers for false allegations (he is also being countersued in that case). In the second case, the accusations were found not to be credible, although I’m not sure if this finding was by a Chuch panel or civil investigation. Mr. Clohessy, for all the good work he has done on the issue, seems to believe now that allegations = guilt.

report abuse

Paul Pfaffenberger

posted February 2, 2004 at 7:11 pm

No more so than denying allegations = innocence.

report abuse

John Fu

posted February 3, 2004 at 12:21 am

Just to clarify a point, in response to Mr. Pfaffenberger – I’m not claiming that Fr. Alexander is innocent (I have no idea if he is or not), just that the story is more complicated than was presented in the article. I’m pretty sure that a) civil authorities decided not to pursue a criminal case in the first accusation (though it may have been on statute of limitations grounds as much as lack of evidence); b) Mr. Clohessy criticized Fr. Alexander for defending himself – basically seeming to say even if you’re innocent, you shouldn’t fight an allegation of abuse. Of course, if Fr. Alexander is actually guilty, and suing the accuser anyway, he’s truly reprehensible.

report abuse


posted November 24, 2005 at 7:53 am

Very nice site. Will sure visit again.

report abuse

Post a Comment

By submitting these comments, I agree to the terms of service, rules of conduct and privacy policy (the "agreements"). I understand and agree that any content I post is licensed to and may be used by in accordance with the agreements.

Previous Posts

There is nothing I shall want
A couple of weeks ago, a memorial Mass for Michael was held here in Birmingham at the Cathedral. The bishop presided and offered a very nice, even charming homily in which he first focused on the Scripture readings of the day, and then turned to ...

posted 9:24:16am Mar. 05, 2009 | read full post »

Revolutionary Road - Is it just me?
Why am I the only person I know..or even "know" in the Internet sense of "knowing"  - who didn't hate it? I didn't love it, either. There was a lot wrong with it. Weak characterization. Miscasting. Anvil-wielding mentally ill prophets.But ...

posted 9:45:04pm Mar. 04, 2009 | read full post »

Books for Lent
No, I'm not going to ask you about your Lenten reading lists...although I might.Not today, though. This post is about giving books to others. For Lent, and a long time after that. You know how it goes during Lent: Prayer, Fasting and ...

posted 9:22:07pm Mar. 04, 2009 | read full post »

Why Via Media
How about....because I'm lame and hate thinking up titles to things? No? about...St. Benedict? Yes, yes, I know the association with Anglicanism. That wasn't invovled in my purpose in naming the joint, but if draws some Googling ...

posted 8:54:17pm Mar. 04, 2009 | read full post »

Brave Heart?
I don't know about you, but one of effects of childbirth on me was a compulsion to spill the details. All of them.The whole thing was fascinating to me, so of course I assumed everyone else should be fascinated as well in the recounting of every ...

posted 10:19:45pm Mar. 03, 2009 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.