Thursday, May 16

This is corruption. This is proof that this is not, at the core, an liberal/conservative or progressive/orthodox kind of issue. It's something else. I think it's called evil. Don't you?

From Friday's Omaha newspaper:Archbishop Curtiss of Omaha may face witness tampering charges

Omaha Archbishop Elden Curtiss could be charged with witness tampering after a conversation with a Catholic school kindergarten teacher, Madison County Attorney Joe Smith said Thursday.

After meeting teacher Linda Hammond and learning that she was responsible for alerting authorities to a priest who allegedly viewed child pornography on a computer, Curtiss reportedly told her that she should resign.

"I remember ... walking down Madison Avenue and thinking this didn't go the way I thought it would," Hammond said.

....The incident took place nine days ago after Curtiss celebrated a morning Mass at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Norfolk for students at Sacred Heart School.

Hammond said she introduced herself to Curtiss near the sanctuary. He did not recognize her name until she told him, "I was the one who went to the police about Father Allgaier."

The Rev. Robert Allgaier is a former Norfolk priest who faces trial in June on a misdemeanor count of attempted possession of child pornography.

Hammond said Curtiss replied: "I'm sorry you did this. You shouldn't have done this. We had it handled. You ruined a man's life."

She said Curtiss told her that Allgaier probably would never serve as a priest again and added, "I'd appreciate it if you'd resign."

Hammond said she told Curtiss that she didn't appreciate the way he was talking to her. Curtiss told her to resign as least one more time during the few minutes they talked. There were two adult witnesses, Hammond said.

Hammond said she told Curtiss that she alerted police last October because of her concern for the safety of children. Curtiss did not respond to that comment, she said.

Hammond alerted authorities that two former Sacred Heart students had found evidence in January 2001 that indicated Allgaier viewed child pornography on a church computer. Court records said Allgaier admitted to Curtiss in February 2001 that he had viewed child pornography up to four times a week, for several hours each time.

Curtiss removed Allgaier from his teaching duties at Norfolk Catholic High School and ordered him to abstain from contact with children outside worship services. The church had Allgaier evaluated by a psychologist, and the priest entered counseling.

In June, Curtiss transferred Allgaier to St. Gerald's Catholic Church in Ralston, where the priest's duties included teaching religion at St. Joan of Arc-St. Gerald Middle School in Omaha. He remained at the Ralston parish until he was arrested in February and charged.

Read that over and over again, my friends. The archbishop was told of the priest's intense viewing of child pornography on a church computer. He sent him for a bit of counseling. Then he put him back in ministry which included teaching at a middle school.And then he tells the good, brave woman who called the priest on his sins that she's done something wrong.

Time to clean house. Deeply, seriously and thoroughly.

Chastened, but not stirred:

From a faithful reader who takes me to task for speaking too quickly about Boston College below:

As a Boston College PR staffer, I'm biased, but I think you might give BC and its president, Fr. Leahy, some credit for undertaking a forum on The Situation that has seen its epicenter a few hundred yards across Comm. Ave.

Am not sure of the definition of "snarky," but your posting on Fr.Leahy's interview in the NYT was cheekily dismissive. I don't know that
a Jesuit of the Wisconsin Province who runs a university in New England ought to be tarred by the failings of the California Province of the Society of Jesus. But I shouldn't be surprised at all if the sins of the Jesuit order were aired at the planned forum. They certainly should be.

My hope is that a broad range of perspectives will be heard on the questions facing the Church -- and that the Amy Welborns and Mark Sheas and Rod Drehers and Andrew Sullivans will be invited to participate.

Remember, too, that Peter Kreeft
makes his academic home at Boston College, as does Thomas Hibbs,
and Michael Connolly,
and Fr Ron Tacelli, SJ,
and other thoughtful exponents of Catholic orthodoxy. Any ongoing conference with them on board is guaranteed to provide plenty of light.

For his part, Fr. Leahyhas worked, in his quiet way, to bolster the ethos of Catholicism at
Boston College, not without criticism from certain quarters of the student body and faculty. So do give him -- and BC -- the benefit the

Okay. I stand - or sit on the couch, surrounded by Cheese Nip crumbs and baby blocks - corrected.

It's almost dinner time. Have a pastry..

In honor of St. Honorius, who is the patron saint of bakers and even has pastry named after him.

Andrew Sullivan liked this article. Or at least he mentioned it without criticism, as a manifestation of the Fortuyn effect on this side of the Atlantic, and this time from a feminist, rather than gay perspective.

That is, arguing that multiculturalism is a threat to liberal values and social freedom. But it's not just Muslim immigrants that bother Brenda Walker. It's someone else, too:

The majority of current and likely future immigrants come from countries where the rights of women are few or nonexistent, where females are men's disposable property. American women should question how safe their recently won political and reproductive rights will be with millions more conservative Catholics and Moslems as voters.

"Conservative Catholics?" Gee, she couldn't mean Hispanics could she? Why doesn't she just come out and say it then:

"You know, our right to get our unborn babies killed might just be threatened if we let in too many Mexicans."

I hate to bring this up, but one of the dark sides of 19th century women's suffrage movements was a distinct nativist tone to much of the argumentation. The push was for middle class Anglo-Saxon women to be able to vote in order to balance out the waves of African-Americans and mostly Catholic and Jewish immigrants.

But anyway. Brenda Walker continues:

most serious threat to women's rights as a whole is the Vatican. (And it is that political institution being criticized here, not individual American Catholics.) Many centuries of being the government of western Europe have left the Papacy with little regard for the sovereignty of mere nations. It wields influence over even non-Catholics through a combination of putative spiritual authority and hardball power politics. It particularly harms the lives of women worldwide by continually blocking voluntary family planning programs for overpopulated Third World countries where the grinding poverty would be alleviated by stabilized population growth. At the same time, it calls for open borders everywhere (except Vatican City), saying that the rights of the poor to immigrate supercede national sovereignty and law.

The Vatican has arrived at its planetary population coercion by way of enforcing its doctrine of papal infallibility. Far from being a long-held belief, papal infallibility dates from only 1870, when it was designed as a basis for strengthening Vatican power. But in doing so, the Catholic hierarchy painted itself into a rigid theological corner where it remains today. A Church encyclical of 1968 stated that birth control would be forever prohibited by the Vatican. Therefore any change in its birth control position would violate infallibility and would look bad.

What? Is this chick in high school or something?

"Many centuries of being the government of western Europe have left the Papacy with little regard for the sovereignty of mere nations."

When was the last time you remember the Papacy "being the government of western Europe?" 900? 1095? Never?

It wields influence over even non-Catholics through a combination of putative spiritual authority and hardball power politics

Ah, yes. The oppressive power of Vatican policies in Europe, the land of plummeting birth rates, high abortion rates and 5% church attendance. Those crafty Curial Cops. Wielding their influence in Christendom. Problem is, Christendom doesn't exist and what's in its place isn't listening.

This writer brings up an important point: multiculturalism is a romantic fantasy. Not all cultures are created equal. And perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that this writer sees abortion (for that is the issue, not family planning. In UNSpeak, family planning always includes access to abortion) as potentially threatened by immigrants from Muslim and traditional Catholic backgrounds (although an awareness of the abortion rates of Hispanic immigrants to the US might put her fears to rest. Sad, but true.)

Her thoughts should be a warning to pro-lifers - I'm sure this is not the last we'll be hearing of this kind of thing. We've got to be careful to always point out how abortion is not, as Brenda Walker believes, a vital expression of the good American culture and society has to offer the world, but a despicable and bloody violation of it.

So is that it? Chaput, Wuerl, Sullivan and Gregory? Only four out of the lot of them?
More on Wuerl, links thanks to Lane at The View from the Core

here and here.

My husband has posted the cover of Fr. Benedict Groeschel's upcoming book on The Situation, to be published in June by Our Sunday Visitor.
Another reader agrees with the assessment of Bishop Wuerl:

I haven't agreed with "the Donald" (as my buddy refers to him) on
issues such as funding for Catholic schools, but on "the Situation" he is out in front of the rest of the hierarchy. I don't have the details but in the early 90's Bishop Wuerl acted vigorously to get rid of a priest accused of molestation. The Vatican (according to local press reports) tried to over turn the Bishop and he basically told them to stick it (in polite Church Latin I'm sure). When the recent events came out, he responded quickly with good statements in the diocesan paper (Pittsburgh Catholic). He's also struck a public agreement with the DA's in the four or five counties making up the diocese to turn over to them for investigation reports of abuse.

A reader nominates another bishop: asked about Bishops who do NOT protect priests who have molested kids. My hometown Bishop, Wilton Gregory, was installed in 1993 or so, for the Belleville, IL diocese. His first charge was to clean up such a mess created/left by his predecessor. There is a review board established to handle allegations. The accused [and presumably found guilty] priests are no longer active in the diocese. [I do not know all the details.] In the last few weks a new accusation has arisen. I believe it is under investigation by the [civil] authorities and the priest is on leave pending investigation. By the way, he is the current head of the US CCB. From what I have read [I no longer live there, but my family does], he speaks quite clearly for Roman Catholic orthodoxy, inlcuidng a chaste and celibate priesthood, and appears to have a zero tolerance view toward the Situation. [But you have to admit that an accusation about an incident many years prior is difficult to prove either way. I do not think a priest should be "fired" or "de-frocked" until after a full investigation--not just by the Church.] I hope that he can use his "bully pulpit" to chastize his fellow bishops. He has been surprisingly successful in this rural southern (read: white) Illinois setting. He's a black man, who converted to Catholicism as a child in Chicago and knew early on he wanted to be a priest. I found his story to be rather moving and inspiring. I suspect he handled the "Situation" quite well. If he had not, he would have had to leave before now, I am willing to bet.

Great news for all: Peter Kreeft's website.
A reader writes:

I have the distinct honor of knowing Bishop Wuerl as I was in the seminary in the Pittsburgh Diocese the year he was elevated to his office (he had be rector at the seminary until the year before.)

Bishop Wuerl is a personal hero of mine. He is a faithful, intelligent, man of integrity, whose vision has really shone forth on this issue especially.

In the late 80's early 90's, Bishop Wuerl removed a priest against whom there had been an accusation. For whatever reason, the DA did not prosecute and the priest insisited that he be restored to ministry. The priest went though the Church courts, and the Rota (the "Supreme Court" of the Church) ordered Bishop Wuerl to reinstate the priest. Wuerl refused because he believed the allegations were credible. In fact, he appealed the decision of the Church court and won an extremely rare reversal of its previous decision.

For this and many other reasons, Bishop Wuerl, I believe, is an outstanding teacher, an honorable man, and the very model of what a bishop should be.

Nice to know that at least one guy gets it.

An excellent site for a worthy issue of which you might not be aware:

Vaccines (particularly the chicken pox vaccine) derived from the remains of aborted children.

Go visit, get informed and spread the word. And stay away from that chicken pox vaccine.

An answer to my question, from opposite sides of the spectrum. (Anyone disagrees, please let me know.)

Bishop Walter Sullivan of Richmond, VA has been the most outspoken advocate for victims rights, at least among those men who wear pointy hats.I mentioned this on the LINKUP mailing list a few months ago with a
request for rebuttal - i.e. anyone out there aware of covered-up abuse cases in that diocese - and all was silent.

And then, moving out West:

If I remember correctly, Archbisop Chaput has a good track record on the Situation. He only had one case to deal with while in Rapid City. The priest was quickly turned over to the authorities, and Chaput personally explained matters to the affected parishoners.

Can anyone tell me about a diocese and a bishop that hasn't protected clerical child predators over the past twenty years? I'd like to know - really. I've heard that Wuerl in Pittsburgh has been good on this. True? Any feedback?
Imesch of Joliet facing criticism (Chicago Trib. Link know.)

Joliet Bishop Joseph Imesch seemed unfazed as a lawyer questioned him in 1995 about bringing in a priest who had been convicted of molesting an altar boy in Michigan.

"If you had a child," the lawyer recalled asking the bishop during the deposition for a civil suit, "wouldn't you be concerned that the priest they were saying mass with had been convicted of sexually molesting children?"

Replied Imesch, "I don't have any children."

....In the last month, Imesch twice has been accused of failing to alert even his fellow bishops about past child sexual-abuse allegations made against priests who Imesch had transferred out of the Joliet diocese.

Rev. Fred Lenczycki was accused of molesting at least nine altar boys in the early 1980s at St. Isaac Jogues parish in Hinsdale. Imesch removed the priest and sent him to receive therapy at a church-run treatment facility in California.

After serving in a parish in California that knew of his past, Lenczycki in 1992 moved to St. Louis, took up residence in another suburban parish--where the pastor didn't known of his past--and began work as a hospital chaplain.

In a letter to the archbishop of St. Louis, Imesch recommended Lenczycki be granted full privileges as a priest and said there was nothing questionable on his record, St. Louis church officials said.

Lenczycki lived and worked in St. Louis for a decade before church officials there last month learned of his past sex-abuse allegations. They demanded Imesch recall him.

Will he or won't he?

Now a Honduran cardinal is saying that resignation is not out of the question for the Pope.

Churches going hi-tech. ( requires registration)

The Rock, an interdenominational Christian church in Roseville, Calif., led by Francis Anfuso as senior pastor, takes congregational interactivity to a new level. The church has a 330-seat sanctuary with a big-screen television and integrated keypads built into seat armrests. The buttons on the keypads allow members of the congregation to answer multiple-choice questions asked by the pastor during the service.

The answers, which often touch on delicate issues like emotional abuse or spending habits, are quickly compiled into percentages. (A recent question was "How many of you have ever attempted suicide?") The pastor takes the responses and adjusts his sermon on the spot, recounting stories about life experiences that address the congregation's concerns.

The only Catholic church mentioned is the Cathedral Basilica in Covington, KY in which .... a new sound system was installed. Good. Although I'm sure there are no lack of Catholic churches out there with big screens to keep the congregation amused. I've seen a couple myself. One used it for hymn lyrics, of course, and the other used it to show slides of nature (this was back in the 1980's) during Mass.

What a pain. The LA Times now requires registration to see the interesting stuff.

So you might want to go ahead and register and read this devastating piece on Cardinal "McBrien says I get it" Mahony's treatment of one Very Special Abuser

In a series of interviews with The Times, Baker described going to the offices of the archdiocese in 1986 and telling Mahony of his problem with sexual abuse. He said that in one meeting, an archdiocese lawyer suggested calling the police but that Mahony said no.

The cardinal said in an interview that he could not recall the discussion with Baker.

The case is emerging as a pivotal one for Mahony and archdiocese leaders as they continue to grapple with the sexual abuse scandal that has hit the Roman Catholic Church. In an interview last month, Mahony called the Baker case the one "that troubles me the most."

The cardinal has sought to portray himself as a defender of young victims and an advocate of cooperating with criminal investigations. At Pope John Paul II's historic meeting with American cardinals in Rome last month, Mahony backed a "zero tolerance" policy for sexually abusive priests.

But leaked e-mail correspondence between top archdiocese officials reveals that Mahony was reluctant to turn over Baker's name to police as recently as late March.

Boston College president expresses shock at sexual abuse problem:

"We as a Catholic community have just been baffled and bewildered and angry about how could this be going on," the educator, the Rev. William P. Leahy, said in his first interview since the sexual abuse crisis erupted. "How can we have kids molested by priests?" Father Leahy said.

"I think the cover-up, if you will, has generated more anger, more disappointment," he said. "I think people feel betrayed. I do."

Seeking a way to help address the crisis while remaining "respectful" toward the church, the university will organize seminars and lectures, commission issue papers and introduce courses on subjects like sexuality over the next two years, Father Leahy said.

...Father Leahy said he expected that the Boston College programs on the crisis would include issues like clergy celibacy, female priests and whether lay people should have more influence. He declined to express his opinions on those topics.

Fr. Leahy did not, unfortunately, indicate whether the programs would include a session on his order's protection of sex offenders in their midst out in California.

An interesting profile of Cardinal Egan from New York magazine.

Did you know that he's forbidden priests to raise the Situation in their homilies? I didn't.

I think this paragraph sums up the problem with Egan:

First in his class every semester, student-body president, Egan was a star seminarian, and at 21, he was selected for polishing in Rome. Egan fell in love with Vatican politics and the ancient city itself. Though he has served in important American roles -- first as an apprentice to Chicago cardinals Albert Meyer and John Cody ("Ed knew all the people in power in Chicago, how to deal with them; he knew their tactics," Ehrens says), then as bishop of Bridgeport -- Egan has always seemed most at home in Italy. Egan's only brief experience as a common priest was in 1958 -- and not in some scruffy neighborhood parish but at Chicago's Holy Name Cathedral. A short teaching stint, a judgeship on the Vatican's highest court, and a series of weighty executive jobs mean Egan has spent most of his 45 years as a priest behind desks.

Can you imagine? It's probably the case with more bishops than we care to think, but what a difference it makes. To ascend to the episcopacy without having served any meaningful stints in pastoral work in a parish. No sick calls, no hospital work, no preparing couples for marriage or for the baptisms of their children. What a dismal system that makes apostolic succession a reward for business acumen.

The awful story of Dontee Stokes, molested by the priest who baptized him. Read this story about the young man who shot the Baltimore priest and marvel, once again, at the obtuseness sitting at desks in Catholic chanceries, drawing salaries from - yes - bishop's appeals.

Yet church officials -- the people Stokes had been raised to trust completely -- decided that his allegations were not credible and dismissed them. The effect was devastating.

"The issue was, nobody believed him," even some family members, said Charles Stokes.

"When I told my sister, she broke down and cried," he recalled. "I thought she was crying for Dontee. She was crying for the priest."

The priest was welcomed back to the pulpit warmly;
[Ed: Lay Catholics to the rescue. Again.]Dontee Stokes and his mother left the church.

So did other family members, their devotion to Catholicism now shattered. "I've now got more Baptists in my family than Catholics," Charles Stokes said of his 70-member clan.

A brief profile of the priest. Who, by the way, was stripped of his faculties several years ago. Because of accusations against him.

An account of the conflict between Archbishop Keeler and the Lay Review Board in Blackwell's case


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