Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Jurors Hear About Perverted Passion Play

Jurors in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia sex abuse trial Tuesday were told about a perverted passion play where teenage boys who played Jesus were stripped naked, dressed in a loincloth, and then whipped with leather straps until they had cuts, bruises and welts on their bodies.

It was a new low of depravity as the sex abuse trial continued into its fourth week of testimony.

Detective James Dougherty of the District Attorney's Special Victims Unit dispassionately read confidential records from the archdiocese's secret archive files into the court record.

The files told the story of how Father Thomas J. Smith would personally dress one 12-year-old boy who played Jesus. The priest would bring the boy into the sacristy, lock the door behind him, and have the boy strip naked. Then the priest would kneel down in front of the naked boy, and pin a loincloth on him. Sometimes, Father Smith was clumsy and would "poke him with pins."

"This was done before every performance," the records said. The priest took at least 20 minutes to dress the boy in a loincloth and a cloak. The boy "felt uncomfortable" and "wanted to quit, but his parents wouldn't allow it." Father Smith had two other boys who played Jesus strip for the passion play. He also encouraged other boys in the play to whip "Jesus" with leather straps, to the point where the boy was bruised and felt pain.

The three boys weren't the only victims. The archdiocese review board found that the perverted passion play "occurred in multiple parish assignments with a number of different boys over a number of years."

The story came out in 2002, when one of the boys who had played Jesus contacted the Delaware County District Attorney and the archdiocese. The victim was identified as 29-year-old man. He wrote the archdiocese to say that back in 1986 when he was 12 years old, he thought it would be an honor to play Jesus in the parish passion play. Instead, he was abused by Father Smith.

The victim wrote that he was a recovering alcoholic. He didn't want money, and he didn't want to file a lawsuit. "I just want to tell my story and put it in God's hands," the victim told archdiocese officials. He also notified the archdiocese that Father Smith had taken boys into a hot tub at an athletic club, and told the boys falsely that the club's rules were that they had to strip naked to be in the hot tub. He said he knew of as many as 16 other boys who had been allegedly abused by Father Smith.

In response, the secret archive files showed that the archdiocese launched an investigation, but when they got through investigating, they didn't think they had a pedophile priest on their hands. Msgr. William J. Lynn, however, did meet with Father Smith and confront him with the victim's claims.

Father Smith admitted to Lynn that what he had done was "stupid." He said he did have the boys strip, but said they would only "be naked for a split second." The priest said he required the boys in the passion play to strip "for authenticity." The priest also copped to being naked in the hot tub with naked boys. Father Smith admitted both the passion play strippings and hot tub caper were "inappropriate" behavior for a priest.

"Maybe his thing was to look and not touch," Msgr. William J. Lynn ruminated in the secret archive files. It may be inappropriate behavior, the monsignor concluded, but "it does not appear to be sexual abuse," because what Father Smith did was "not for sexual gratification."

The archdiocese learned of other victims who had played Jesus in the passion play. One victim was the teenage son of former state Rep. Stephen F. Freind. "His son had the same experience" in 1983, the secret archive files said.

In an interview yesterday, Freind acknowledged that his son had been one of the victims. As a self-described "old-fashioned Catholic," Freind said he was "completely disgusted and disillusioned" by what is going on in his church. He said that some Catholic priests involved in the current scandals forgot to do the right thing. "The right thing is never lying and never covering up," Freind said, "and never putting those children at risk again."

Msgr. Lynn recommended that Father Smith's ministry be limited, and that he not be allowed to work around children or teenagers. "It's obvious that Father Smith likes to look," Lynn was quoted as saying in the secret files. Lynn encouraged Father Smith to resign his job at the time of regional vicar of Delaware County.

Father Smith agreed, saying he need a leave of absence to look after his ailing parents. But he also wanted to take some courses, so he wrote to Cardinal Bevilacqua, asking for an "educational sabbatical," rather than divulging the real reasons for his departure. Father Smith closed his letter to the cardinal by writing, "Sincerely yours in Christ." The cardinal granted the request in 2003

During his sabbatical, the priest kept his archdiocese residence, salary and benefits. The archdiocese also paid for his courses, and the priest's ongoing counseling. 

But in 2004, after receiving new reports from more alleged victims, the archdiocese review board reversed itself, and declared that the victims' accounts from the passion play were now credible, and did constitute sex abuse. The priest was granted a leave of absence, and was retired from active ministry.

 On cross examination, Jeff Lindy, a defense lawyer representing Msgr. Lynn, stressed that the archdiocese didn't formally know about the perverted passion play until 2002. Within two weeks, Lindy said, Lynn had Father Smith in his office.

"Within two weeks, Msgr. Lynn got, what your term would be a confession from Father Smith," Lindy asked Detective Dougherty, his voice rising.

"It would appear to be a partial confession," Dougherty replied.

On redirect, Ast. District Attorney Patrick Blessington brought up that the victim of the passion play had informed Msgr. Lynn about as many as 16 other alleged victims of Father Smith. Is there any evidence in the secret archive files, Blessington wanted to know, that Msgr. Lynn did anything to investigate those other alleged victims?

"Not that I've seen to this date," the detective said.

Should the alleged other victims have been investigated?

"One would hope so, sir," the detective said.

Lindy erupted. He asked the detective "a simple yes or no question," whether Lynn had been trained like Dougherty as a former homicide detective to investigate crime, but Blessington objected, and the judge sustained it.

Lindy protested that Dougherty should be allowed to answer the question because, "He's a tough guy." But when Lindy tried again, the district attorney objected again, and the judge sustained it again.

So Lindy sat down in frustration, but not before making his point.


  1. Let's be honest - this is the practice of a bizarre child sex cult. Its actually blasphemous to Christianity.

    I'm an ex-Catholic, and so thankful I got out. Anyone who contributes to the cult will have a long judgment day trying to explain their support to the Catholic church before God.

  2. What was described in the testimony, presuming its veracity, is a repellant subversion of valid Catholic worship and should be dealt with as such by ecclesiastical and - if applicable - civil authority.

    However, it is not a demonstration of genuine or actual official Catholic worship practice. To assert that it is ... well, let me just say that it describes a Catholic Church that exists - as Mr. Spock might say - 'in some other timeline'.

    And again, since it hasn't been established to anybody's satisfaction except the commenter's that God hates the Church, then I can't see how one can get to the point of threatening people with the judgement of God.

    I won't be making a habit out of trying to untangle every theological illumination that comes down the pike on this site, but I think it's important to establish that groundless if not also incoherent assertions about the Church are no more useful than groundless and incoherent accusations under oath in court.

    And I would add, lastly, that the activity described in today's testimony is not only blasphemous to "Christianity" conceptually but is a actually a profoundly sinful act in Church law.

    If the commenter has left the Catholic Church - as has been stated above - then it appears the commenter did so before gaining an accurate comprehension of Catholic theology and law. Which is neither here nor there except that the commenter then insists on delivering sweeping and often universal assertions about both.

    1. Pertinax, Thou doth protest too much. In the mid 80s, then Cardinal Ratzinger, head of the Vatican's office to supervise priests, forced the removal of well respected theologian Fr. Curran of Catholic University because of statements that the hierarchy felt were inconsistent with church doctrine. Basically, Curran questioned the church's position on birth control. And the church's response was very public rebuke and discipline. Since that time, there have been numerous instances of the church sharply disciplining priests who they believed deviated from church doctrine. So, Msg. Lynne learns of behavior by a priest that is blasphemous, inconsistent with church doctrine, and criminal and does. . . . nothing. Oh, I'm sorry, he gets to take some classes he wants to take and is told to stay away from altar boys.

      So apparently, an accurate understanding of Catholic Church "theology" is that if you express the view that catholics need to be guided by their conscience on certain moral matters like Birth Control--you are drummed out of your position on your ass. If you repeatedly stage sadomasochistic passion plays with teenaged boys and fondle them; then you are told to tone it down a bit. And this happened over and over again all over the US and the World. Ratzinger, JPII, Bevelaqua, Ringali--did nothing. Terri Schaivo--the catholic clergy are pulling their hair out and demonizing a husband in the middle of one of life's most difficult moral dilemma. Having their employees pay for insurance premiums that they might use for birth control. . . the church reacts forcefully and publicly.

      You can't defend the indefensible and the church's inaction in the wave of the abuse by priests is indefensible. The catholic church and its minions have zero credibility on any moral issue. If birth control use by married adult women gets your panties in a bunch; but dressing naked boys up as Jesus for your sexual gratification gets a free pass, than the institution is seriously morally bankrupt. They are entitled to no more respect than the crazy muslims that think cartoons of the prophet are outrageous but suicide bombers are swell. And the harshest critics of the church are not the people ignorant of church doctrine; in fact the church is currently getting along swimmingly with the ignorant evangelicals who think the church is the whore of babylon; it is people who have been educated and nurtured by church theology--people who watched the hypocrisy for years--who are the most disgusted.

    2. Yeah, well, that other timeline stretches into just about every diocese in the nation. And every member of the Catholic Church is part of this nasty cult so long as they sit by like you and wave it off. Being articulate isn't the same as being right.

    3. Apparently not agreeing with the groupthink line is the equivalent of 'sitting by'.

      Cutesy one-liners aren't the same as being right either.

      This sort of myah-myah stuff kids exchange over the breakfast table seems, as I have said, to pass for both thought and 'doing something' in certain circles.

      And precisely what I am supposed to have 'waved off' is anybody's guess.

      It's not so much about being articulate. It's about having gone to the trouble to think about things and have something to articulate.

      But I again suspect that in certain circles this sort of antiphon and response of one-liners that all agree with each other is just another form of the tuning-forks setting one another off and deciding mutually that they are all very right and everybody else is just part of the problem.

      Sort of like a '60s bong session in the middle watches of a college night.

  3. Mr. Cipriano, you are an inspiration:

    As one of a hundred thousand victims of pedophile priests, I've started City of Angels Blog up again with this post:


    Also at CofA15 ( http://cityofangels15.blogspot.com ) is an online book I hope to finish by 2015. It's titled “Faster Than the Speed of Life” and today I'm publishing the first of several entries on this writing project, titled "Starry Eyes for Krishna, in Pursuit of the Priest" Who knows what will appear on the blog between now and the end of 2014.

    It's journalist-heroes like Ralph Cipriano who are keeping this story alive, thank you for your work, you've helped get me started again doing mine.

    -Kay Ebeling

  4. First, I note the strategy of avoiding the actual gravamen of a comment that was made: I mentioned the fact that a) a statement claimed to be made by Jesus doesn’t actually exist and b) that a theological assertion made was incoherent and betrayed a lack of familiarity with Catholic theology.

    Those points are not addressed in the succeeding comment, but instead we get a rambling (but perhaps conveniently so) recitation of other ‘stuff’.

    In regard to that other stuff: 1) Fr. Charles Curran is only “well-respected” in certain circles and has been for half a century widely considered one of the more radically-inclined theological thinkers in matters flowing from Vatican 2.

    2) What organization on the planet can be named that does not deal sternly with persons who disagree so publicly and consistently with overall policy and – this being a church – belief? And further, of what conceivable relevance is this entire topic to the matters at hand and the matters which we are dealing with on this site here?

    This, I would say, exemplifies a thought-process even more than a strategy – and I would not spend the time on it except that it is such a clear instructive example of the type of dynamics that fuel so much of the self-sure and self-satisfied thinking deployed by many who think that everything is i) simple and ii) known perfectly by themselves.

    3) The ‘passion play’ game was a perversion indeed, but not in any way a world-class, public, profoundly theological challenge to the Church’s orthodoxy, which is what some of Fr. Curran’s positions – in the eyes of many – have been construed to be and which he himself claims them to be.

    I note the thought-process of stringing-together bits and pieces of factoids on the basis of vaguely conceived similarities, like a bird building its nest. If this is the type of thinking that governs such ‘theological’ discussion as goes on in support groups or support-group supporter circles, then I can only advise folks to take far more care: this thought-process is leading them into box canyons and dead-ends and distracting meanders just like Bush-Cheney’s narrow and selective and stitched-together thought processes led them (and the rest of us) into Iraq.

    Lynne was not dealing with a dissenting and well-known theologian about matters of profound import to the faith; he was dealing with an individual (or several individuals) engaged in a variously perverse scenario not for the purpose of dissenting against the doctrine of the Church but for their own gratification.

  5. 4) Curran’s attempt to take a ‘personal conscience’ view of birth-control has roots in the Catholic tradition because there is in that tradition the dynamic conceptual tension between the inherent relationship of the individual soul to God on the one hand, and the role of the Church (initiated by Christ with the selection of Peter and the Apostles) to spread and also mediate the message of Christ and maintain its presence in the world.

    The Protestant Reformation came down heavily on the individual side of things, and Curran has been proposing for fifty years that the Church also ‘go Protestant’ – which is a direction in which the Church, not unreasonably, doesn’t consider it wise or prudent to go.

    5) It is therefore incoherent to assert – as if in a logical conclusion – “So you can’t defend the indefensible”. Precisely zero and zilch of what I had mentioned in my comment or the material raised in the replying comment is in any way ‘indefensible’ and further, I note again and again that this mind-set presumes that if you don’t agree with it then you must be supporting and defending Evil. This is a cartoon-world and I won’t enter it. And I urge that nobody enter it; there are swamp gases in there that will derange the mind.

    6) As to the assertion that the Church has “zero credibility on any moral issue”, I will suggest that the assertion is best made in the first-person active indicative, singular or plural – and not be couched as a universally valid assertion of actual fact. The assertion may be true among certain roomfuls of tuning-forks all setting each other off (and that’s a pathetic definition of ‘support’), but in the clear light of day doesn’t stand. If the Church had even less credibility than the Bhagwan, we wouldn’t be having this conversation and this court trial would probably not be taking place.

    Lastly, I can’t see how such thought-process – conceptually and procedurally and substantially deficient and ‘bankrupt’ and yet certain of its sublime adequacy – is going to be of much help in addressing any hypothesized ‘moral bankruptcy’ of the Church.

    1. Wow, some people will explain away anything to defend this church. No wonder the priests got away with these crimes for so long.

    2. Yeah, you've got a way with words. But ultimately you're saying nothing. The Vatican acknowledged that at least 100,000 American children were sexually abused by priests. What do you say about that?

    3. Pertinax, the moral bankruptcy was and is a universal catholic trait, regardless of what case or tense used. Nobody catholic called the police to report criminal abuse of children. The catholic parents told the church. . . Not the police. Why? Because they were brainwashed at birth that Priests are special. Then, the church didn't call the cops and request that criminal abuse be investigated. And while I applaud the nuns who at least spoke up, there is the question as to why they didn't call the cops. Again, priests are special so the same rules do not apply to them. You don't call the cops on priests even if it means that more kids may be abused, or need help because they were abused. Even after priests admitted abuse, the cops weren't called and the victims were not contacted. Why, because priests are special. The same rules do not apply to them.

      The inability to hold priests accountable and the childish belief that the church hierarchy is the final arbiter of morality, is the root of the church's moral bankruptcy. Priests who even suggested that an individual's conscience was equal to the church's opinion on moral matters were publicly drummed out. Parishioners were told that it was their job to accept the church's moral judgment, regardless of their own conscience. And that is why these "good Catholics " sat around diddling while the priests pondered what they should do with criminal abusers in their midst. And why people like you spend 100000 words trying to defend what can't be defended, which is what kind of sickness in this church caused not a single cleric to ever call the cops on one of his brother priests? Show me a single example where anybody in the AOP picked up the phone and told the police: "I'm calling to report a sexual assault against a child." And that is the only ethical moral response to learning of an allegation of sexual assault against a child.

      So yes, an organization that is morally certain that Masturbation is sinful, but morally uncertain of what to do with a report of sexual abuse is morally bankrupt at its core. Irredeemably, morally bankrupt. An organization that promptly disciplines priests who dissent from non infallible moral teachings but does nothing to priests who abuse children is morally bankrupt. There is something sick and unhealthy about parents who called the church to report criminal sexual assault against their children. In any other situation, a coach, teacher, or family friend, the first call placed would be to the cops.

    4. The assertion that “the moral bankruptcy was and is a universal catholic trait” simply has to be left up there to hang where it was put.

      I get the impression that a large number of people who aren’t Catholics have taken a remarkable interest in Catholic affairs and theology in this whole matter. If they are so concerned, then perhaps less concern over the past tense (historical) events and more concern for the current abuses currently happening in non-Catholic venues would be a more effective use of their time and energies.

      By the same token, why persons who advertise themselves as being part of an AbolishSexAbuse organization aren’t concerned for current instances in non-Catholic venues is equally curious. If these folks were part of a Fire Department, you’d want them racing to the current fires, not sitting around re-hashing ones that happened quite a while ago.

      Since the Catholic situation has been improving to the point where that current allegations constitute only 4 percent of all allegations claimed in 2011 (and almost none of them for rape), why are these folks not focusing their energies on abuse (however defined) that is going on in other venues right now?

      Catholics are “brainwashed”. Again, I get the impression a lot of this stuff is from people looking at the Church from the outside (to put it most charitably).

      “The childish belief” to the effect “that the church hierarchy is the final arbiter of morality is the root of the church’s moral bankruptcy”: clearly this comment does not reflect an accurate grasp of Catholic teaching on the subject. And what of other religions’ abuse problems – the ones that don’t consider their clergy to be such “final arbiters”? Are they also morally bankrupt? How, exactly, does that work? Are they sinful and criminal but not morally bankrupt? Or – for whatever reasons might present themselves to the commenter’s mind – do they get a free pass and can continue unmolested, as it were?

      And again – getting beyond the exaggeration as to the number of words – what is it that my writing here has been ‘defending’? I get the impression some folks are not actually reading what I write. Or else they don’t really care to take the time but consider themselves more than competent to call all Catholics “brainwashed” and figure they’ve done a good day’s work.

      I have made it very clear that the actions and non-actions of certain priests and episcopal authorities, in my opinion, fell far short of the mark. But there is a difference between ethical and moral and legal and I am not sure that distinction is realized. Which is not to say that things were done right back when this case was fresh, but that’s the trouble with historical rather than current cases.

    5. There has never been moral uncertainty about what is sinful; but there can be questions as to how best to deal with a sin. And as even Mr. Clohessy from SNAP admitted from his own experiences, it’s not always easy to know when to bring the law into these matters.

      Let alone try to figure what the reporting standards and statutes were in an earlier era. Child-rape is certainly a no-brainer, but then there have been so few cases of rape even in the welter of allegations lodged formally in the past decade. ‘Abuse’ is elastic enough a definition that it’s going to require more careful assessment of the case than I’ve seen in some of the comments.

      Yes, masturbation is sinful – but then you have to understand the Roman rather than the Anglo-Saxon approach to law and Aristotle’s concepts of nature and causality and purpose and Aquinas’s synthesis of that … but this isn’t a Catholicism class and clearly somebody around here needs one if s/he wants to go around (for whatever motives) making critical appraisals of Catholic thought and drawing rather large conclusions from his/her assessment.

      For that matter, I’ve always thought Catholics needed access to more education in their religious tradition, not less. But that’s me.

      And back in those days, very few people – Catholic or otherwise – called the police about such matters. Where did this commenter get the impression that the police in those earlier eras were busily working sex-abuse cases everywhere except among Catholics?

      As always, so many of these comments raise far more questions than they answer – although their originators seem so very sure they know it all.

    6. It's not just catholics that thinking rational people are "picking on." Most thinking rational people believe that people should be judged by what they do; rather than what they claim to believe. The belief that there is an all-mighty creator of the universe who has shared special knowledge with a select group of people is a childish ignorant idea, but is almost universal in mainstream religion. The belief that "god" is a jealous yenta who needs people to flatter and thank him through elaborate rituals and by praising and compensating his clerics, is a childish ignorant idea. You can't have a rational argument with a religious believer if the final answer is "god says so." If god did in fact say so; then who are mere mortals to argue--regardless of how irrational or unethical what god apparently said. And believers are supposed to have faith that the clerics are receiving and interpreting "god's will" correctly even in the face of overwhelming evidence that they act immorally and improperly in the most basic ethical situations like child abuse. And you mock the Bagwan as though the rest of the world looks any differently at Bishops and priests than you look at the Bagwan or the Ayatolla. 95% of all catholics practice birth control. 100% of all catholics masturbate. Even catholics think that the church's position on these issues are ridiculous; particularly applied in places like Africa and India. You denigrate protestants and could probably can explain in elaborate detail why mormons are misguided--but refuse to critically examine the absurdity of the whole concept behind the catholic church, which is that some all powerful being sent his "son" to the earth to found a church that for most of its history enabled the very worst of Europe's despots, sanctioned land servitude and slavery, oppressed women and other religious minorities; and generally behaved no less or more despicable than any other politically powerful entity.

      And you are simply wrong about "back in those days." Back in those days was 2002, not 1950. The AOP wasn't calling the cops in 2002 and has never called the cops even up until today. The LA sex abuse crisis occurred in the 80s. Child rapists were investigated and convicted back in those dark days.

      So, no. This is not directed towards catholics. I have the same criticism for people who think infidels should be murdered, that chosen people can oppress the unchosen; and that priests or clerics are above the law. In other words, people who claim that their authority to do what they want to do derives from a special message from god delivered to god's special messengers through his special book.

    7. Well, it’s established now that there are indeed some commenters not-versed in Catholic thought and who are looking at the Church – and in some cases all religion – from the outside.

      In that regard, the self-serving set-up (“rational thinking people” are the non-believers, and believers in any religion are something else) is exactly that: a self-serving set-up that is supposed to start the narrative spinning in a particular direction here.

      I won’t speak for all religions, but the picture of the Catholic tradition as presented here is a cartoon caricature. You don’t have to read too far into, say, Aquinas, before you realize he is acutely aware of the limitations of human knowledge: we don’t often and probably never can form complete and accurate pictures of reality (or the Real).

      It is precisely for that reason that the Catholic tradition developed so complex a set of beliefs and dogmas, and also emphasized the vital importance of careful procedures for thinking-through matters, since there are so many ways human reasoning can go astray into irrationality, phantasms, illusions, delusions, and the like – they can happen so easily and folks can slip and slide into them without even realizing it.

      The purpose of worship and praise is not to flatter God – at least in the Judeo-Christian tradition. God is on record, as it were, in the Bible as saying He has no need for the stuff.

      I’m a religious believer and as is greatly evident from the comments on this site, I’m finding it rather hard to conduct rational discussions with folks who either claim there isn’t a God (or god) or else claim that they are in possession of universally valid knowledge that (fill in the blank: priests, bishops, all Catholics, all believers) willfully ignore. That type of cocksure but ungrounded certainty is not a special hallmark of the religious mindset, but of what I would call the ‘fundamentalist’ mindset – which has a secular as well as a religious variant.

      Considering the current size and intensity of the Bhagwan’s following and the Church’s following – or the following of any of the major religions – it can’t credibly be asserted that “the rest of the world” (as distinct from yourself, I presume) doesn’t look at “Bishops and priests any differently”.

      The US now acknowledges that it tortures, assassinates, and imprisons without trial; some of its troops commit unspeakable atrocities. Should we abolish the Republic because some of its official agents don’t conform to its ideals? Should we follow Voltaire’s advice and “sweep away the infamous thing”?

      Any human organization has ideals and – being comprised of humans – fails those ideals. Do – in the logic presented in the preceding comment – abolish them all?

    8. This is also relevant to the (again occurring) masturbation subject: in the Catholic tradition, the ideal is not to do it. That it’s categorized as a ‘sin’ is the Church’s way of putting a warning sign around an activity that the activity causes more complex problems for a person than it solves. There is also Confession since the Church realizes that – humans being humans – that ideal is not always going to be lived-up-to.

      The Catholic concept of sin in some ways reflects not Anglo-Saxon law and its legal definition of ‘crime’, but rather the older idea of ‘kanon’ or ideal: the rules and the law say what you should always aim for (and there are comprehensive explanations as to why that are attached to all the rules – perhaps some reading might be in order).

      And even Catholics don’t fully understand the purposes for their own Church’s regulations (a sad condition ascribable in no small part, I would say, to the bishops’ not doing a sufficient job of explaining the tradition).

      And even Catholics fail to live up to their own ideals. But the fact that an ideal’s adherents don’t always live up to the ideal is hardly a justification for abandoning the ideal. (See my point above about the US government.)

      I do not “denigrate Protestants” (and why would you as an atheist even care if I did?). There are differences between the Catholic and Protestant approaches and in one or two places I’ve mentioned that, but on what grounds this denigration assertion is made are impossible to rationally determine. Perhaps you have a ‘special knowledge’ of your own?

      There are enough difficulties with your presentation of the thoughts I have actually expressed, without fantasizing about what I might think about – as you say – Mormons.

      Your special knowledge (you certainly haven’t given any rational grounds for the assertion) that leads you to assert “the absurdity of the entire concept behind the catholic church” simply needs to be left hanging out there where it was put.

      For that matter, you might also want to read the Lincoln-Douglas debates to see where Lincoln got the moral grounds to oppose slavery. And also read up on de las Casas who wrote and worked so powerfully against the Spanish government’s treatment of the natives of the New World, and ask yourself, for that matter, where the Framers got the general ideas of the universal equality of all human beings.

      The sex abuse ‘crisis’ as a public phenomenon began in 2002, but as the recorded allegations indicate, such actions as were committed (a question all in itself) took place decades before. And I have already stated in comments on this site that I am not at all impressed with how many bishops handled matters – but I am also aware that before 2002 the general societal approach to these matters was not what it has become since 2002. Nor am I taking a position for the defense in the case at bar in Philadelphia.

      Lastly, the characterization of the Catholic tradition as being about special people claiming special knowledge from a special book and by virtue of being special thus being above the law … is very very wide of the mark and is cartoonish in its vision. If certain individual agents of the Church used such excuses to justify reprehensible actions (though, as the actual tally of allegations go, rarely rape) then those individual agents deranged and deformed Catholic principles for their own purposes … and that is both a grave sin and a crime.

      Thus I am not ‘against’ this trial and actually am very interested in seeing how it continues to develop

    9. There is nothing particularly complex about catholic philosophy. Most of it was borrowed whole cloth from earlier thinkers. The Greeks and Romans developed complex ethical and philosophical ideas about morality long before any "christian" thinker came on the scene. The Talmud also contains a long history of Jewish morality. The Chinese, completely independently of christian thought, formulated complex theories of morality. What christian philosophers, including Augustine, who borrowed most heavily from Greek and Roman thinkers because he was immersed in that culture, did was link longstanding Greek and Roman ethical thought with a belief in a divinity. Aquinas followed Augustine with the same nonsensical drivel based upon a belief in a magical being, rather than pre-christian Platonic or Aristolean ethics.

      There is nothing particularly enlightening about christian versus pre-christian morality and ethics; and my teachers on these subjects were Augustinians and Jesuits. There is very little original thought in christian moral philosophy, mostly because reliance upon god or a sacred book is always a bit of a cop out when ethical issues become tricky or more complicated. Your view of history and what founded the framers and abolitionists concepts of personal liberty is also very self-serving and convenient.

      My view of catholicism is cartoonish because I grew up watching the cartoon. Grown men in dresses pretending to turn water into wine; men with red vestments wanting other people to kiss their ring. To the vast majority of the non-catholic world, those images are as ridiculous as the Mararishi or the Ayatolla. If you lived in Saudi Arabia or Iran, it would look every bit as ridiculous. Catholicism is alone in believing that its priests have special magical powers to turn wine into blood and bread into Jesus flesh. want rationality? Take the host before and after consecration and conduct a chemical and microscopic analysis. See if you there was any real scientific change. It is as irrational as mormon magic underwear; and the only reason you believe in such nonsense rather than magic underwear is because you weren't born in Utah to mormon parents. To any rational thinking person, catholic priests are no more or less irrational than Hasidic jews, burkah wearing women, or amish farmers. Its the accident of birth, gullibility, the desire to believe that you are really better or more special than other people based upon what you believe rather than what you actually do in our limited time on this earth.

    10. Sorry I meant turning wine into Jesus blood. Any good magician can pretend to turn water into wine, it takes a priest to turn wine into the blood of a long dead Jewish rabbi, a catholic priest only. And I love how catholic thinkers love to cite Aquinas as a great thinker. They disregard his writings and views that the best thing for a heretic is a state execution, his persecution of clerics who dared teach Aristotle, and his interpretation of "turn the other cheek" into the just war theory. Aquinas would be in favor of executing clerics who spoke against the church doctrine on birth control, but letting child molestors stay in the priest hood, as long as they were not heretics.

    11. Wow.

      OK, well now you're clearly way too brilliant for this obscure site and the folks who had to spend years and decades studying and learning about stuff.

      I'm going to leave you with your degree from the university of Wiki at Google and good luck with that. At certain bars, and even support-groups perhaps, you may well be acclaimed and even get a free round (of beer or applause) out of such amazing ability to simplify so much. It's shocking how many people with advanced degrees haven't achieved so much as you have compressed into a couple of paragraphs. Your name, most surely, should be written down somewhere. And soon.

      As for the adolescent characterizations of Catholicism, they speak of what was apparently a youth spent confusing cartoons and reality - which appears, as best I can make out, to have become a habit of mind retained long past its sell-by date.

      But reality calls now, so best of luck in your future endeavors.

    12. Pertinax, my education/degree are from Jesuit and Augustinian institutions; and a secular professional degree. 16 plus years of nonsense (i.e. catholic education) and the only thing I can say, is that it would have been just as useful to study alchemy or astrology as religion. But those nuns, priests and friars took the stuff very seriously. In grade school, lots of time memorizing the catechism and being in church. In college and grad school, hours reading the Confessions of St. Augustine and other writings; less so Aquinas but enough of his commentaries on Aristotle and excerpts of Summa Theologia that I got the gist. I actually enjoyed the Jesuits but understood the Augustians who complained that I didn't get a "catholic" education from them. The Augies are not as a big a fan of independent thinking or thought. Also 8 years of Latin, another incredibly useful skill if I run into a Roman In addition to "catholic philosophers," an oxymoron if one ever existed, I had more than my fair share of classical and modern philosophy. Fortunately, in that mix of old fashioned liberal arts education; I studied enough math and science that I learned something useful and practical. But if it is important to you, I can pull out my papers from college, including the A papers I got in a class that essentially was nothing but the Confessions of St. Augustine and contemporary interpretations and critiques. Ironically, I had my fair share of comparative religions and some good courses on Judiasm and the Talmud.

      Your suggestion that I simply don't understand such complicated and esoteric matters is the last refuge of the faith based thinker. It's not that all religions basically come down to faith, "trust us, even if we can't prove anything;" and tradition, "this is what wise folks have been doing for a long time so it has to be worthwhile." Instead, it is, you just need to spend more time studying this nonsense until you understand the "truth." But no, I don't have to spend as much time reading the Talmud as a Yeshiva student to know that what Hasidic and Orthodox Jews believe in nonsense; and that god didn't really make a special deal with a particular semetic tribe in the middle east. I don't have to go through Thetan training to know Scientology is a scam; and simple US history and archeology can establish that the book of mormon was a con by a convicted scam artist. I am also fairly sure about the lack of the virgins for the muslim martyrs without fully immersing myself in the Koran. And I am pretty sure that the Hindus and Sikhs are no closer to having been given a secret line to what god or the gods want from people. I am willing to give the Zoroastrians a break simply because most other major religions ripped them off so bad.

      Your faith is no more or less nutty than anybody else's. It is no more or less logical than any other faith. All faith based people are equally as delusional.

    13. So in terms of reality. The host is flour water and probably a bit of salt and preservatives. The wine is cheap california white. Nothing happens to it because a priest says a few prayers over it. The closeted gay guy wearing a black dress hiding in a dark closet listening to people confess can't absolve anybody of anything, but fortunately, there is no imaginary man in the sky who sits in judgment over everyone when you die so it doesn't really matter. Masturbation helps prevent prostate cancer; and a entity capable of creating the vast universe doesn't care if someone uses birth control. No benevolent creator could have possibly cared that Terri Schaivo was finally allowed to go to her final rest.

      My guess is that you are a priest. It's an educated guess based upon many years of dealing with priests in many capacities. I am ruling out a Jesuit because a Jesuit would have thought this exchange was fun; and America is one of the few thoughtful catholic publications in existence. There are very few Augustinians or Dominicans even left; and if you were one, you would have needed to show me that you know Aquinas and Augustine better than I do or test me in some way, so I am guessing a run of the mill diocesan priest; or maybe a seminarian. And because the standards are so low for priest nowadays, the theological education isn't even very good.

  6. And again and again.

    Thoughts are mere “words”. Can we really run a country or any adult enterprise on a mindset like this? What happens to the rule of law or the Law itself?

    I’m not familiar with any such Vatican admission – and if the Vatican merely referenced such a number, then that is not an admission. And, really, how does the Vatican know any better than anybody else at this point how many claims were or are genuine?

    And as I have said in other comments on other articles on this site, one can’t simply tote up the number of plaintiffs in the ‘bundled lawsuits’ that were settled out of court for sizable sums and then claim that somehow thereby each claim was ‘proved’. That was, to my way of thinking, the great mistake the bishops made in settling the lawsuits rather than letting them go to trial. Because as we are seeing in so many of these trials, and certainly the case at bar, there is a great deal of doubt.

    Lastly, there is no question that some priests did grossly unacceptable things (as some soldiers have done so in the recent wars, now in the news). But to presume the utter incredibility of the Church and of priests on that basis is a leap not only of logic but – marvelously – of ‘faith’, although a cartoonish faith, that one knows for sure and totally just what is and is not the truth of the matter.

    1. The Vatican held a symposium several weeks ago in which it called in experts from around the world regarding child sexual abuse in the church. It was chagrined to be told the 100,000 figure for America. And further chagrined to be told that only a small fraction of cases are reported. One of the startling things about the priest scandal is how few accusations prove false. Only fools would settle bundles of cases where the accused were innocent. No one knows the full truth about any matter, but we still prosecute criminals anyway.

    2. First, the Vatican didn’t admit it but rather that was the number that was given to it by two experts.

      Second, the two experts were from the ‘National Catholic Risk Retention Group’ and the ‘Virtus Group’, which upon further investigation turn out to be parts of the same organization. They underwrite insurance for Catholic dioceses and parishes. The thought that they might want to give the highest possible numbers in order to justify higher premiums is not irrelevant here. In case it isn’t clear, they’re an insurance company and you can buy shares if you like. Ask for a prospectus.

      Third, the experts said there “may have been as many as” 100,000.

      Fourth, they said that there may have been as many as 100,000 “child victims” of any sort of abuse whatsoever.

      Fifth, where did the experts get the number? The number of 100,000 was reached by these two gentlefolk by merely multiplying the formal recorded allegations (for any and all abuse however defined, not merely for rape) by 10. They simply took the facts and multiplied by 10.

      And at the same symposium, the now-discredited SNAP organization “estimated” the number of “pedophile priests” worldwide at 20,000: no definition of that term and no explanation for the number. Perhaps they multiplied by 10? But then, why limit yourself to a factor of 10? Who can tell? Once you have cut loose from facts and evidence you are Through the Looking Glass and anything goes.

      As far as the “only a small number of cases are reported”, this has been a standard trope in the sex-offense business for two decades. There is, obviously, no way you can actually know how many unreported cases of anything there really how. It’s like asking What color was the invisible man’s hair? You can only guesstimate and pick your favorite exponent (a factor of 2, 10, 100, 1000 – take your pick).

      This strategy, whatever its good intentions might be, neatly a) sidesteps the messy bit about proof and evidence while b) ‘keeping up the numbers’ to near-astronomical levels for PR and funding purposes. They do it in the Pentagon all the time and have been for decades. The Bomber Gap? The Missile Gap? WMD? It’s called ‘exaggerating the threat’ and it’s straight out of Selling To The Government 101. Or, nowadays, Selling To The Public 101.

      And the assertion about “only fools would settle bundles of cases where the accused was innocent” – clearly the commenter here is not familiar with the practice of law or the complexities of making management-level choices: it was going to cost a fortune to defend each case; worse, in the conveniently hyper-agitated condition that the American public was in – helped by media parroting of those ‘numbers’ I just mentioned – there was every chance that the jury pool would be tainted by media ‘reports’ of those numbers even before individuals were called for jury duty.

      Under those circumstances, would it be better to risk all that or simply – as no doubt the lawyers who bundled the suits knew very well – the Diocese (and its Insurer) would calculate the odds: both the defense attorneys and the insurance folks would go for settlement over trial almost universally.

      I would also point out that the presumption of the guilt of the accused is a particularly vivid mark of so many advocates in not only the priest-abuse but the general sex-offense arena. It is precisely antithetical to the spirit and principles of American law; although it is quite amenable to the old Soviet legal principle that if you are an enemy of the revolution, the job of the justice-system is not to try you to find out if you are guilty, but simply to officially oversee your condemnation and conviction. Such nice company these folks keep.

      And so – as so often – the unwarranted tossing of the ‘fool’ word proves more accurate in the recoil than in the projectile.

    3. No, the insurance industry is very competitive. If other carriers think that the risk is being priced too high for the premium, they will enter the market and price it cheaper. Actuaries attempt to use relevant data to properly apprise the risk. If they rate the risk too high and charge too high a premium, other carriers will take advantage of their mistake and undercut their price. And remember that insurers lay off much of the risk on other excess carriers so they don't overstate the risk or no other insurer will enter the pool with them and help offset the potential risk. If the insurance industry is providing an estimate, it is probably very accurate and based upon a careful study of existing data.

      And you say, in a cavalier fashion, "now-discredited SNAP." Is it equally fair to characterize the AOP as "now discredited" on the issue of child sexual abuse based upon the evidence that has come out at trial. And if they are discredited on this subject, is it fair to say that anything the AOP says on any subject is suspect. Is it fair to characterize Cardinal Bevelaqua as "now discredited" Cardinal Bevelaqua based upon the evidence at trial. Because to most people who are observing what is going on at this trial, SNAP has a lot more credibility than either the AOP or the former Cardinals with regard to accurately recording and reporting incidents of child abuse. Did SNAP order the shredding of a memo listing 30 or more known child abusers in the AOP?

    4. The insurance industry is a business. And in the matter of insuring the Catholic Church in the post-2002 atmosphere, I don’t imagine that there would be a lot of competition for the Church’s business compared to other entities requesting coverage. In this regard, the insurers would have a significant chunk of leverage that they might well not have over other entities requesting coverage. For all we know, the selection of this Insurer might have been the best deal the Church could find.

      And how they derived their figures is not known. If they simply extrapolated the 100,000 number by taking the recorded number of allegations and then multiplied by 10, then that’s not exactly scientific in any dictionary sense of the word. And as I said, there was both motive and opportunity to maximize profits in the Church’s post-2002 situation. I presume that the insurance industry is not run by angels.

      The characterization of “cavalier” is rather odd. The CEO of that organization publicly stated, under oath, that he has given false information to the press and – to a media interviewer – that he most clearly believes that there should be two standards of truthfulness in the abuse matter, with his organization to be judged by the more lax standard.

      Actually, that CEO is the only institutional representative in the clerical sex abuse matter who has formally and publicly so declared and admitted his policy and justification for untruthfulness – nor does he in any recorded statement make any apology for it.

      Curiously, while many comments ascribe precisely this position to (take your pick: priests, bishops, the Pope, the Church, all Catholics, all believers), yet it is the ostensibly ‘good guy’ who has admitted – almost in an in-your-face sort of way – exactly that position. It has been his and his organization’s deliberate operational philosophy from the get-go.

      What the AOP says on this subject, perhaps under oath, is yet to be seen (and I am interested in seeing it if it comes out in the trial). On the matter of the AOP’s credibility in how it handled clerical sex-abuse I am waiting to see what comes out in testimony; meanwhile I won’t make sweeping assertions.

      But do I mistrust the AOP in matters of faith and morals or in explicating the Catholic approach to the ideals necessary for human beings to lead a good life? No.

      I don’t fully and automatically credit the US government’s press releases on torture and atrocities either, but I have not concluded from that that the Framing Vision and the American political tradition should be abandoned forthwith as being utterly non-credible on the basis of those reprehensible doings.

      The failure to live up to ideals does not instantly and logically justify the abandonment of those ideals. That goes for religion and for governments.

      And if the same principle that some are trying to apply to the Church in this matter is going to be applied to all organizations in which some of its agents have committed sexual-abuse (however defined) then we are soon going to be without any organizations at all.

      Though, whether the concern for sexual-abuse actually will at any time be extended to other organizations is a question all on its own.

  7. Seems that some posts here have gotten sidetracked. What is at issue is the enumeration of a long history of well documented prior bad acts that a large organization, a religious denomination, has participated in quite recklessly over a long period of time.

    The particular religious denomination in the Roman Catholic Church in the person of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and its episcopal leadership; Rigali, Bevilaequa, Krol. There is no reason to think that an organized though quiet conspiracy to cover-up the behavior of rogue priests has not been going on during many previous decades as well. (Both Canon Law and Civil Law were tossed to the gutter in ecclesiastical leadership's attempts to protect known or credibly accused sexual predators)

    What has been witnessed in this courtroom, what I have witnessed in this courtroom, is that the episcopal leadership of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has been shown at its absolute worst, its lowest possible moral level by its contemptable failure to protect the Lord's little ones from the sexual, spiritual, psychological and physical degradation by rogue priests, most of whom were known to church authorities for many years; priests nevertheless who continued to be protected by the hierarchy in a misguided and ill chosen attempt to save the church from scandal.

    Such a statement is as unbelievable as it is outrageous but it is true. Only the hierarchs are in denial. They are in denial unable or unwilling to accept the evils they and/or their predecessors have done.

    The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is not on trial in the criminal case of Lynn and Brennan BUT BELIEVE IT the Archdiocese of Philadelphia has been very much on trial these four weeks.

    It has always been understood that sins against the Holy Spirit are the only unforgivable sins. If true then it is reasonable to conclude that the hierarchy has a lot to worry about which goes way beyond saving the Church from scandal.

    Rather than saving the Church from scandal the bishops have created a scandal beyond comprehension - a sort of pandemic of scandal - with no national borders.

    I hope the former Archbishop of Philadelphia, Cardinal Justin Rigali is invited to testify by the prosecution in coming weeks.

    Seth Williams will have to act fast, however, lest Rigali decides to take a trip to Rome as it appears the former Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles Roger Mahony is giving for his refusal to appear in a California courtroom.

    See you in court on Thursday.

    Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
    Advocate for Victims & Legislative Reform


  8. I seem to recall that the Sin Against the Holy Spirit is specifically defined as an outright denial of the existence of the Holy Spirit directly and consciously by one who has been given the gift of faith and knows in his/her heart that the Spirit truly exists.

    There is a Canon that also defines it as “a deliberate refusal” to accept the mercy and forgiveness of God. So the unforgivable aspect is triggered by the deliberate refusal to acknowledge the existence and presence of God when you have been given the gift to perceive that existence and presence. John Paul 2 refers to it in one of his Encyclical Letters as the refusal to “accept salvation”.

    I don’t see where any of that applies to the case at bar or to the behavior of the priests or the episcopal authority. They may well have committed other sins (and even crimes, although that is yet to be formally determined) but to go and drag in the Sin Against the Holy Spirit as a whomping-tool is clearly not justified by the very theological authority and teaching to which commenter SMPTURISH appeals for such justification.

    There arises the unappetizing possibility that this Sin was hauled in merely because it had that “unforgivable” aspect to it, which would help fuel the stampede by deluding folks into thinking that a) whatever the archdiocese or the priests did is “unforgivable” by God or at least in the eyes of the Church; and that b) the Church itself – if implicated – is somehow now “unforgivable”; and that c) that “unforgivable” can easily translate in an unobservant mind to both “guilty” and “utterly bereft of moral standing”. A neat stitching-together, surely, but not accurately derived or reasoned-through.

    Naturally, I don’t like to be told what to believe – especially in capital letters – and I will conduct my own analysis and come to my own conclusions, thank you.

    Lastly, if as I surmise, there are some profoundly dubious dynamics at work in the development of this ‘scandal’, then I am also going to wonder to what extent the scandal is driven by the Church’s misdeed and to what extent the scandal is driven by the ungrounded and sweeping assertions (‘conclusions’ is not a term I would use here, implying as it does some level of serious and open thought and inquiry).

    And I am also now beginning to wonder to what extent persons-claimant have been induced to make statements and allegations that are not actually true, on the basis of assurance that they will be doing a Good thing in a Good cause against an Evil thing against which anything is OK because any evil done in a Good cause is OK. The more I study some of the comments on this site, the more I begin to wonder if the genuinely abused have not themselves been further victimized by the very persons claiming to serve them as angels of succor and light.

    In all of this, there may be more candidates for the scriptural millstone-around-the-neck than we have been led to believe. And if that is so, then it too was entirely preventable, and parties to such a scheme would surely fall under moral, if not legal, guilt.

  9. It occurs to me that I inferred toward the end of my prior comment that I had been coming to some tentative conclusions about some aspects of this case.

    As a contribution to the discourse, I will share them.

    A number of the comments to which I have alluded on this site seem to stem from a certain mindset that, as I have said in several places, demonstrate a certain lack of breadth and anchoring-in-fact coupled with both a sense of certainty and a propensity to engage in Either-Or thinking; and of course, there’s that bit about demonizing or slurring anybody who questions (or perhaps even confuses) their assertions and claims.

    Yes, this goes with the territory in the webverse and such comments need not detain a rational mind.

    But I am beginning to become convinced that the uniformity and frequency of this type of comment indicates something more: that such a mindset is greatly influential in what transpires as ‘support’ in support-group conversation.

    I wonder: are we seeing here a glimpse of the overall mindset of those who run and participate in these groups?

    If that were to be the case, then all manner of consequences would flow from that.

    First, such a self-reinforcing mindset – operating in a context of groupthink which viscerally intuits and rejects any complications to its ‘simplicities’ – would operate fatefully on any persons who came into the group, especially if they were genuinely in need of much more than a dunking in the groupthink pool to achieve a greater level of self-mastery and wholeness.

    Second, such a mindset – transferred into mainstream legal and jurisprudential thinking and even education – would work lethally against the basic operational principles necessary to conduct detached, impartial, and objective justicial process.

    And since this mindset – back in the 1990s – was indeed embraced by politicians and legislators to the exclusion of those operational principles, then the public discourse itself has been tainted.

    And to taint not only the legislators but also the public with this type of mindset cannot but weaken the civic competence of The People who are, in the American Framing Vision, the ultimate governors of the government.

  10. I say this not as a direct commentary on the case at bar (which itself seems to confound and irritate those of that mindset) but rather as a deeper-focused consideration of the context and dynamics of this case and of others like it.

    I get the distinct impression that any discourse that moves beyond the very narrow range of their particular interests upsets and perhaps even enrages persons of that mindset.

    Whether this is so because of their unfamiliarity with larger and deeper forms of analysis, or – more ominously – because they sense a threat to their manipulative control of the discourse … that now becomes for me a cogent concern.

    I also wonder if there have been some in those groups or who have come to those groups who have developed – and even voiced – the same concerns I’m beginning to develop. Judging from how that mindset has responded on this site, I cannot imagine that any such persons holding such ‘heretic’ views could long have sustained their position among a group operating on such a mindset.

    I don’t know how this trial is going to turn out. I certainly have not been pleased with the goings-on related in testimony and evidence perpetrated by certain priests, and frankly the performance at the Archdiocesan level prompts clear thoughts as to the need for reform. But then, the Church has been working toward that under pressure for at least a decade and I am not sure what relationship these ‘historical’ doings bear to present performance. (One can only hope that other institutions will benefit from the example.)

    But I am certainly finding the trial valuable - especially through the existence of this site – for prompting analysis and inquiry. Although, as I have been saying, analysis and inquiry do not seem to be a desideratum of that noted mindset that has often revealed itself here.

    1. Huh? Priests raped kids and the bishops let them do it. What are you talking about?

    2. Pertinax is getting paid by the word. They don't have to make sense.

    3. Seriously, imPertinax?

      Four long winded posts in a row? All defending pedophile priests? Is it possible you ar Fr Gordon Macrae, convicted pedophile priest and friend of Dave Pierre of the mediareport, who used to comment here but no longer does?

  11. Charges of rape constitue the smallest percentage by far of all allegations formally made.

    I can't figure out what "What are talking about?" refers to - but with some commenters, what else is new?

    The person who 'knows' I am "getting paid by the word" knows as much about me as s/he does about any other aspect of this case.

    Lastly, while I appreciate the peanut gallery chiming in to remind folks my concerns about the seriousness of some commenters and their mindset have not been misplaced, it's not going to be my practice to turn around every time a few barflies croak a one-liner from out in the dark.

  12. But there is one other interesting point, and I’ve run across more than once today. Apparently, unable to make answer to any of my thoughts, there are those who have decided to find consolation in the sure and certain belief (and knowledge, but of course) that I am somehow being paid to write my comments.

    I have just put up a short thought on it, but upon reflection there’s a something more to be said.

    First, although anybody can be anybody and say anything in the webverse, I will say to all the readers here that I am not being paid by anybody and have no connection to this case or anybody involved with it in any way.

    My thought is that these commenters going on about the paid-for bit cannot imagine that anybody would simply be concerned enough to take the time to look at this case. If you don’t have an axe to grind and you aren’t being paid, and if you simply care enough to want to think and contribute your thoughts … all of that is apparently alien to these people.

    Let alone that somebody might care about the Church.

    Let alone look at matters in a way they don’t like. Their palpable anger is remarkable: to me: I don’t think they’re used to being doubted (not surprising, if I’m right about the groupthink bit I mentioned in earlier comments) or being made to look at things carefully and they don’t quite like it at all. But they’ve had their way with the media and the spin for so long, and nobody has ever called them on the ‘facts’ and assertions and accusations and ‘numbers’ that we have seen tossed around here like confetti on this site.

    They are, as far as I can see, used to turning in dreck work and getting an ‘A’ and a gold star on the forehead. I would be doing nobody any good by also taking that bankrupt approach.

    Nor am I going to be bullied nor am I going to be stifled by any catcalls-in-lieu-of-thoughts. That may be the universe they live in, but it’s not mine and it shouldn’t govern the discourse on matters as important as this case deals with.

    So, as LBJ used to put it: Let us continyuh.

  13. Pertinax, you haven't really offered any relevant thoughts to the trial, which so far has been very graphic testimony about actual abuse committed by priests against individuals and a cover up at the very highest level, i.e. the Cardinal. Instead, you are attempting to assume the role of detached impartial sage looking at the sociological and theological issues surrounding the accusations the church is facing; and attempting to educate the unwashed masses (like us) who cannot possibly understand the theoretical and philosophical issues facing the RCC. And in that instance, you are repeating the mistakes of your much beloved Mother Church.

    See nobody really cares about the theological or philosophical conundrum. Father Feely Hands touched little Johnny and nobody called the cops. The Cardinal covered it up and lied to the victims and the parishioners. That is what is at issue. Instead of dealing with the predators and assisting the victims, the RCC expended every institutional effort to protect Father Feely Hands and the institution. To folks with your mindset, the suffering and trauma inflicted upon the individuals is secondary to your lofty cloud inducing thoughts and the challenges faced by an institution you regard as a bulwark against the heathen secular horde.

    And what is amazing is your pretentiousness. Nobody expects a gold star from you for grammar or dispassionate logic. In this context, you are just another commenter on an obscure blog. But every post you make where it doesn't start off with "Holy Crap, what kind of perverts was my church hiding; and what the f--- was Cardinal B and this idiot Monsignor thinking" makes the point that the great unwashed are making, here and in the courtroom. Which is that the RCC, and catholic true believers, are completely out of touch with reality and the suffering of individuals. So blinded by their own sense of virtue and morality that they could not see the evil in their own midst; and still cannot see it or acknowledge it even when it is brought out in reams of secret archives and sworn testimony. Everything else is simply empty noise--even if the grammar and spelling are impeccable.

    1. He's trying to impress people with how smart he thinks he is, and distract from the point.

  14. I'll give these ruminations and characterizations precisely the attention they rationally and logically deserve.

    And if trying to expand the frame of the narrative and offer some contextual information, especially in light of comments made on this "obscure blog" - upon which at least one other commenter is obscurely expending a great deal of time - if nothing else - then that is a Looking-Glass swamp-universe in which I am not going to tread, nor thereby consume readers' time.

  15. Pertinax, your not trying to expand the frame of the narrative; your arguments are merely an attempt to distract from the truth. Your arguments are in pertinent part: 1) The catholic clergy abuse problem is a historical one that has been resolved by the church; 2) most of the abuse claims are false or inflated by media hype; 3) the catholic clergy abuse problem was no worse than the general incident of abuse in the population; 4) the abuse crisis is being unfairly used by heretics or dissenters to criticize unrelated moral teachings of the church which remain sound and justifiable; 5) the victims rights organizations like SNAP are essentially non-credible and tools of the money grubbing Plaintiff's bar; 6) the church's response to sexual abuse allegations was consistent with contemporary learned opinion that abusers could be reformed; 7) the feigned moral outrage over the church abuse scandal is really just part of a long history of animosity and misunderstanding of the catholic church and evidence of anti-catholic bias; 8) the prosecutors and judges have been unfair to the church and are unfairly putting the institution on trial; and 9) you are much smarter than church critics and therefore deserve more respect and love on this comment board.

    1. But the evidence so far, as revealed by the AOP's long hidden secret archives, destroyed memos, and sworn testimony, was that the AOP: 1) was well aware of the problem priests in its jurisdiction for decades, 2) failed to notify law enforcement even in the face of credible abuse allegations, 3)lied to parishioners and victims about problem priests; 4) failed to assist or investigate the existence of victims, 5) destroyed relevant evidence of criminal abuse and otherwise obstructed civil and criminal justice in refusing to turn over files and materials; 6) failed to adequately discipline and supervise problem priests; 7) failed to remove problem priests completely from having access to children and further victims; 8) treated the problem priests with far more charity and consideration than the victims of their abuse; 9) encouraged victims to not report the abuse to the police or seek a civil attorney, 10) disciplined nuns and others who reported or complained about clergy abuse, and 11) the Cardinal lied under oath at the GJ and his deposition about his knowledge of the scale and response to the abuse problem. Indeed, before the Cardinal's death, the AOP's story was that the Cardinal did not know. Now, it is the dead Cardinal told Lynne what to do and he had no choice but to obey.

      The truth is that none of your contextual arguments are particularly relevant to the evidence at trial. The School District of Philadelphia has always been much larger than the AOP school district. The Inquirer just won a Pulitzer for reporting on the violence in Philly public schools. They have no special love for the Philly Public Schools. Show me one situation where the Philly School District, recent or historical, was given credible evidence of serial abuse by a teacher against multiple students that it failed to report to the police. Show me one case where the top official of the Public School system destroyed evidence of teachers abusing multiple students, historical or otherwise. Show me one instance where teachers were shuffled around the Philly public schools after credible accusations of child sexual abuse. Show me similar evidence from Phila area suburban public schools. And I am not even sure that there is a great deal of evidence that the AOP hid evidence of lay teacher sexual assaults against students. This was a priest-issue of the AOP protecting its own clergy and reputation at the expense of the children.

      The institutional cover up is completely unprecedented and unforgivable. Your "contextual" arguments are not relevant to the issue at the trial which is did the AOP, through Lynne, endanger children by enabling child predators, destroying evidence, and failing to report abuse to the police. So far the answer has been an overwhelming "yes." All the rest of your "context" is simply noise. Its simply an excuse by a church apologist of unforgivable conduct by its very highest members. the church archives speak for themselves

  16. The priests raped kids in an epidemic of pedophilia, it has nothing to do with God or religion. It's CRIME

  17. Dealing with purely factual matters in regard to the immediately preceding comments:

    Several of the 9-points bit don't stem from anything I've written about, so there is some confusion in that piece.

    I can't imagine how one derives evidence from destroyed documents.

    If someday the Philadelphia school system is put under the type and intensity of scrutiny that the AOP has been put under, then it will be sound praxis to compare the school system and the AOP; until then there is a substantial apples-and-oranges problem here. Either the commenter didn't notice it or the commenter didn't want to mention it.

    In this day and age, the idea of institutional cover-up is surely not "unprecedented" and "unforgivable" is the commenter's pesonal opinion and not an accurate assertion of fact (unless the commenter happens to be God - whom, if I recall previous comments, the commenter does not believe in; or unless the commenter believes that the commenter him/herself is god - which is his/her right and with which fixed belief I would never presume to interfere).

    The commenter's opinions as to the relevance of my thoughts are his/her own and s/he is welcome to them.

    Concerning the yet-again repeated mantra about 'rape' and the medical image of an "epidemic of pedophilia", I can only repeat again: 1) "rape" constitutes only a very very small proportion of allegations made; 2) the instant case itself has - by the prosecution - been downgraded from Rape to Attempted Rape; although 3) that requires one to accept that this putatively accomplished rapist attempted to rape somebody while his clothing covered the relevant anatomical region; 4) the numbers and nature of the allegations also do not support the characterization of an "epidemic"; nor, if one does the math, does the proportion of allegations to the number of priests over the number of years over the number of possible interactions between priests and minor-age parishoners factor out to anything less than several zeros to the right (as you look at the page) of the decimal point - so while the "epidemic" image is a catchy one, it isn't factually accurate.

    The trial proceeds and I continue to believe that it is a valuable demonstration indeed.

    Let us continyuh.

    1. Pertinax,

      You are a liar. Let's just call you out as a complete liar.

      Let's just pick on of the lies in your pedophile protection rant above, and its a standard Catholic lie.

      "4) the numbers and nature of the allegations also do not support the characterization of an "epidemic"; nor, if one does the math, several zeros to the right (as you look at the page) of the decimal point - so while the "epidemic" image is a catchy one, it isn't factually accurate."

      The Catholic Church's own John Jay report of 2004 admitted that 4% of US priests were "Jerry Sanduskys", but they cheated the statistics. They included priests that were only there for a year or two. The percentage in the 70s and 80s was 9.9%, as you can see at http://bit.ly/yKiTt8 in the article entitled "Catholic Priests are 100 times more likely to be a child sex offender",

      Its an epidemic, and the world's largest pedophile protection program and organized child sex ring, BY FAR.

    2. "I can't imagine how one derives evidence from destroyed documents."

      Lynne defied the Cardinal's order to shred all copies of the memo and it was found in a locked safe right before the trial. It listed 34 known abusers; and the Cardinal ordered it shredded. It also established that the Cardinal lied in his sworn grand jury testimony about his knowledge of abuse.

      "In this day and age, the idea of institutional cover-up is surely not "unprecedented" and "unforgivable" is the commenter's pesonal opinion and not an accurate assertion of fact"

      Really, name one other organization involved in a widespread cover up to protect its own at the expense of abused children.

      "Concerning the yet-again repeated mantra about 'rape' and the medical image of an "epidemic of pedophilia", I can only repeat again: 1) "rape" constitutes only a very very small proportion of allegations made; 2) the instant case itself has - by the prosecution - been downgraded from Rape to Attempted Rape"

      I actually don't use the term "rape" or "pedophiles" much in the context of clergy abuse. Most of the abuse by clergy has been in the context of sexual assault against teen post pubescent boys. Technically, it's not pedophila. Most other teacher-student abuse cases involve sexual conduct with post pubescent teens, heterosexual and homosexual. Given that the church itself does not require penetration as a test for whether an act is immoral or mortally sinful, particularly same sex conduct, it appears to be a very weak distinction in these cases. But you are right, not all the boys abused by priests were anally penetrated; a lot of them were just fondled or forced to participate in oral sex. I am sure that is a great consolation to the victims who just had to blow Father Feely.

    3. Most of it IS pedophilia.

      The Catholic church hates hearing the phrase "pedophile priest", but that's what they were in most cases, so when John Jay college was paid by the Catholic church to analyze the report, THEY CHANGED THE MEANING OF THE WORD PEDOPHILIA.

      THe American Psychiatric Association says that the cut off age for pedophilia is 13, which makes sense, since that is average time for someone to start puberty and learn what sex is.

      John Jay college changed the cut off age to 10, since 50% of the cases were in the 10-13 age range, a prime age for altar boys.

      Therefore, the John Jay said that only 22% of the cases were pedophilia, and that's the word that the Catholic League and Tim Dolan spread through the Catholic community.

      Actually, 72% were 13 and under, qualifying it as pedophilia, but Catholics do not seek the truth, and "Dishonest Dolan" and the Catholic League change the truth (into a lie) to be passed to the old ladies.

      This is not just a church of pedophile priests, it a church of lying leaders.

    4. And as a clarification of confusion Catholics try to use, there is an overlap in hebephilia (ages 11-14) and pedophilia (under 13), so Catholics try to push the word nobody knows (hebephilia ) because it makes the old ladies turn their head sideways all confused, and go away feeling better that its not pedophilia.

      Regardless, under the age of 16, its statutory rape, and its rape even if the priests didn't ejaculate into the anus of a 12 year old boy. If he only ejaculated in his mouth, its still statutory rape, as much as Catholics will try to say, "ha, ha, that isn't rape".

  18. "If someday the Philadelphia school system is put under the type and intensity of scrutiny that the AOP has been put under, then it will be sound praxis to compare the school system and the AOP; until then there is a substantial apples-and-oranges problem here. Either the commenter didn't notice it or the commenter didn't want to mention it. "

    Your delusional. The Philadelphia School District is the subject of more negative press and investigation than the AOP has ever been. The press and public officials have investigated violence in the school, corrupt officials and cronyism. The ouster of the Superintendt played out in glorious detail. Testing scandals have been reported. Abuse by students against teachers have been reported. And teachers have been arrested for student abuse, usually based upon a report by the school district itself. Google Philadelphia School District and Investigation. There are lots of hits. Stop pretending that the AOP is being singled out. The AOP was handled with kid gloves by the press, police, and politicians for decades; and left to police its own. There is very little public accountability or scrutiny of the AOP school finances, practices, or investigations. Penn State had one Jerry Sandusky and it brought down the most powerful public employee in the state. No heads have rolled in the AOP. Nobody has been held accountable until this trial. Stop it with the victim and selective prosecution act.

    1. and sorry about the typo, its "you're delusional" not "your delusional." I type fast and make lots of typos for web based writing. I know this would offend a good catholic. They are much more concerned with form over substance

  19. I have been away for a couple of days and I notice that there are some additional comments.

    I will share this thought with the general readership on this site: my personal opinion, arrived at after having read and interacted with the comments of assorted commenters, is that there are some types of mindset that aren’t interested in the serious following-out of ideas and the exhilaration that stems from that discipline. That’s the webverse and there’s nothing for it.

    I won’t waste my own or readers’ time with a sustained back-and-forth with such mindsets unless it seems to me that there is some larger instructive possibility that might be actualized.

    That said the comments made after my last comment prompt the following thoughts.

    First, it’s a truly odd accusation that I am looking for “love” and “respect” on this site (leaving aside the assertion that my comments clearly don’t deserve any such thing). To what sort of mindset would it even occur to make such an accusation? What sort of mindset would even approach a site like this looking for “love” and “respect”? This is what you go to support-groups for no doubt, but not why I make my comments.

    Following from that, there is indeed a “fun” in exchanging and even debating ideas and propositions; it’s more like a fine wine than it is a jolt from a tumbler of Old Rot-gut or a blast from a bottle of Redbull but it is indeed an subtle exhilaration.

    But what sort of "fun" is there in simply making assertions, defended by whatever factoids come to mind and stitched together like a bird’s nest, and perhaps larded with bald (and always unsupported) assertions and dark ad-hominem characterizations and speculations. To what sort of mentality would such activity even appear to be "fun"?

    And there is no “fun” in trying to deal with mindsets thus afflicted, who on top of that give every indication that they are perfectly satisfied that their presentations are jewels of perfect and incisive comprehension.

    In fact, it would be failing myself to take the low-road and have some “fun” toying with such mindsets. But that would violate the unwritten agreement to the readers to invite their attention only with carefully considered comments, sufficiently grounded and demonstrated so as to offer them some possibility that reading the comments is not a waste of their time.

    I read all comments, and if there are threads that extend across comments and even commenters then I identify them in my mind and keep track of them on a sheet of paper so that my comments can, it it’s called for, address the point(s) later on. I get the impression that some don’t take that approach and seem to be under the impression that only what they say is worth reading.

    As always, the catchy one-liner passes for some mindsets as more than sufficient to express a thought. That’s common in the webverse but I can’t see how it can work when dealing with serious matters, as on this site and about this case in all its aspects.

    As for my identity (which is about as overt a demonstration of the ad-hominem level of thinking as can be wished), let me share it here: I am the illegitimate great-great-great-great grandson of the last of the Romanovs, widely educated and highly-degreed by several major European and American universities and consider myself thoroughly well-versed in all of the arts and sciences as well as enjoying a remarkable level of attained maturity and possessed of a profound and acute insight into everything as well as being able to instantly comprehend the utter truth and equally instantly express it without any hesitation or thought as to complexity or the possibility that I might be deficient – and I insist on respect being shown for all of that as well as for the fact that I have suffered so much, as has my entire extended clan, by the evil doings of the successor regime in my homeland.


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