Friday, September 14, 2018

A Great Testimony

It is possible to find God in nature.  After all, God is the Creator of the universe.  So, it is not surprising to find that many scientists have come to believe in God.  The following is a story about a man who walks in the Way.  This is his testimony.  The following story is found here.  

Birdman on the Bay: Peter Kindness sees a connection between birdwatching, the mystery of creation and defending life against abortion. Photo: Mark Bowling

Peter Kindness finds beauty and quiet pleasure in birdwatching by Moreton Bay.
It’s a cherished pastime for the 80-year-old former union leader, who has known the rough and tumble of politics, has faced death and found God’s renewal, and stands up for his beliefs.
He’s been a staunch Labor supporter, was arrested for demonstrating during the Joh Bjelke-Petersen era, and is now speaking out against Labor’s proposed abortion laws in Queensland.
But around sunset at Wynnum, with his binoculars ready, Peter is fascinated by God’s simple mysteries, marveling at migrating birds that flock to the foreshore, then travel to Siberia and back each year.
“Seeing this, how can people not believe in the great Creator of the universe?” he said.
“I’m sure we don’t understand why it happens but there has to be a reason. It’s the wonder of creation.
“If it’s got feathers I want to look at it.”
Peter sees a clear a connection between his passion for birdwatching, the mystery of creation and the importance of standing up for the rights of the unborn.
“God created us, every life that comes into being is a gift from God,” he said.
“It has a purpose. It goes through a gestation, and in that moment it brings enormous joy and expectation to the parents, generally.
“It prepares both the man and woman for something beautiful … and when the baby is born it is awesome to see the beautiful creation.”
Peter grew up in an Anglican family, at one time considered the priesthood, undertook theological studies and converted to become Catholic 20 years ago, while a member of the Neocatechumenal Way in Wynnum’s Guardian Angels parish.
In 1980, doctors diagnosed him with a lung tumour and he was given six months to live.
In his grief, he remembers praying to God “Lord, when I die and come to you, I want to be acceptable to You – what do You want me to do? Make peace with the people I have hurt or even destroyed?”
“In the night, a voice came to me and said ‘Peter, you come as you are’,” he said.
“I woke up a different person.”
A day before major lung surgery, Peter had final X-rays “that revealed whatever was in there was shrinking” and surgery was cancelled.
“I had accepted I was going to die, now I prayed to God saying: You have given me back my life, what do you want me to do with it?” he said.
Peter will always cherish the answer that came to him: “I want nothing. The gift of life is free”.
Along his winding spiritual journey he has not wavered in conviction about the precious nature of life, and the importance of opposing abortion.
“The problem with abortion – they (supporters of the Queensland bill) talk about it being a women’s health issue, but many, many times the woman has no choice because of the pressures put on her,” Peter said.
While undertaking a clinical pastoral education course at Lifeline, Peter took a call from a woman who had been advised by her well-meaning friends that her third pregnancy would ruin her future plans for an overseas holiday with her husband.
They both sought counsel at a family planning clinic and the woman was advised to have an abortion, and she did.
Grief-stricken from having had the abortion, the woman rang the Lifeline number five times during the day.
She was hysterical and incoherent pleading for someone to take away the unbearable pain and grief she was suffering because of the horror of what she had done in terminating her baby’s life.
“Every time I recall the incident, I pray for her and her family,” Peter said.
“Apart from taking the life of a child, it has marked this woman to live in grief for the rest of her life.
“I pray the Queensland Government will have a rethink and become better informed before going ahead with its ill-conceived plan that will bring so much pain and suffering to ill-advised women.”
During his working life, Peter rose to become a Telecom senior technical officer (installing automatic telephone exchanges throughout Brisbane) and an assistant secretary of the ATA – the telecommunication workers union.
As a Labor supporter (but never a party member), he was at odds with the policies of the state government, especially during the latter days of uncompromising-conservative Country (later National) Party premier Joh Bjelke-Petersen.
He was one of about 30 members of a group called Concerned Christians arrested and taken to the police watch-house during an anti-government rally in a New Farm park near an electricity depot belonging to the South East Queensland Electrical Generating Board (SEQEB).
In an ugly and prolonged industrial dispute, the Bjelke-Petersen government had sided with SEQEB that wanted to be able to employ cheaper casual staff – and sacked 1000 Electrical Trades Union staff.
Peter remembers discussing with his wife Deidre the possible dire consequences if he was arrested because “Joh had passed legislation that meant our homes could be confiscated if found guilty of ‘harassing’”.
“We were standing under a cross praying,” Peter said.
“We had priests with us, from different denominations, Fr Pascoe was one of them, and a policeman hauling me to a police van said ‘What are you doing this for, mate?’
“I said ‘We are praying for everybody. We’re praying for Joh, we’re praying for the workers and we’re praying for the people’.”
In a full High Court case in which most of the Concerned Christians were represented by Tony Fitzgerald QC, Peter, unrepentant, chose to represent himself.
“I told the judge ‘I’m at the mercy of the court’,” he said.
The judge dismissed all allegations, against the Concerned Christians and Peter, including praying in public and harassing workers.
“I thought I was doing the right thing. Taking a stance against dictatorial behaviour,” Peter said.
At other times, as a union leader, Peter remembers speaking out to protect workers’ rights.
“I saw very clearly that there had to be some organisation to protect the livelihood of the people in the workforce and ensure that their families were able to live in reasonable comfort and enjoy the benefits of our society,” he said.
“I very rarely came across management that had a compassionate heart. They thought differently.
“At the same time there were some hardliners in the (union) movement – if anybody opposed you, they were an enemy. I didn’t see it that way.”
Decades later, Peter said he had “lost faith” with the labour movement.
He remains annoyed at federal Labor’s vote “Yes” stance during the same-sex marriage debate, and for the State Government’s support for abortion.
“Their reason for existing had shifted from caring for people in the industrial sphere into an area that they had no right to be involved in,” he said.
“Marriage is a sacrament of the Church given to us by God.
“And then with abortion – I honestly can’t comprehend how they could do it.
“(Queensland Premier) Annastacia Palaszczuk is introducing legislation to kill babies in the womb right up to full term. And on the whim of whether the baby is a boy or a girl.
“Is it any different to Hitler – any different to eugenics?”
Peter said he would be knocking on the door of his local state MP – in his case, Labor’s Joan Pease representing Lytton – asking that she used her conscience vote to oppose abortion laws.
“And I would be advising every Queenslander to do the same,” he said.  

Remembering RMS Guam

Image result for Redemptor Mater Seminary, Guam
Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Guam

September 12th is the anniversary of the Redemptoris Mater Seminary in Guam.  Nineteen years ago on September 12, 1999 at Porto San Siorgio, Italy Archbishop Apuron opened the first and only Redemptoris Mater Seinary in Guam, and Guam was given 12 seminarians to start the seminary.  

What a miracle that was!  Those of us there remember that the people of Guam did not spend a single penny to obtain this seminary.  Truly that was a miracle.

And from the 18 years of its existance (up to December 15, 2017 when it was officially closed) we saw 17 priests ordained and 42 seminarians remained until they were all distributed to the other RMS: Newark, Philadelphia, Denver, Miami, Texas, 1 to Peru, 1 to Mexico, and 1 to Ireland.

What marvels the Lord has done!  Even though Guam did not receive them, the universal Church received them!  And already some of them have been ordained into the priesthood.  So, remember the good times and what a blessing it was to have the seminary.  But never worry.  God have something better in store.  

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Remembering Frank Palombo

Frank Palombo was the Responsible of the First Community of the Neocatechumenal Way in Manhattan , New York.  He and his wife had 10 children.  Frank was a firefighter who died on September 11th.  Later, his wife passed away from cancer, leaving their 10 children.  Below is a short video clip of their story and a commemoration of their father as they remember him September 11th.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Surprise Call From Pope Francis

An anonymous poster gave me a weblink of Pope Francis making a surprise call to Kiko Arguello. His/Her comment can be found here.  The weblink was in Italian. However, my computer was able to translate it into English.  Below is the English translation from my computer:

Neocatechumenals, a surprise call from the Pope to 800 seminarians

Francesco called Kiko Argüello during a meeting in the center of Porto San Giorgio: "Look to the Lord". The Way reiterated esteem and affection for the Pope

« Shhh , there is the Holy Father». In the center of the Neocatechumenal Way of Porto San Giorgio, in the Marches, a meeting was held with about 1,200 people between rectors and seminarians, when the initiator Kiko Argüello received a surprise call from Pope Francis. "Thank you, Holiness, we love you so much. Let's applause! "Kiko exclaimed, putting the phone in a loud voice and bringing it close to the microphone so as to make everyone hear the voice of Francesco:" Tell us a word ". 

The Pope greeted all those present and recommended: "Always look to the Lord. Come on!". Then, while the assembly remained silent, waiting for the Pope to continue, Francesco did not hear from the other end of the line and said: "Do you understand?" Between the laughter and a new, prolonged, applause the answer was a resounding: "Yes!" 

"Thank you Father ... It gives us great consolation. We are here with 120 rectors and all the seminars, a show! All full of enthusiasm and willing to give their lives for the Church, "Kiko told the Pope, reiterating his affection and esteem for him after the attacks received in recent weeks on behalf of all the members of the Neocatechumenal Way. 

At the meeting of Porto San Giorgio, guided not only by Argüello but also by María Ascension Romero and father Mario Pezzi, responsible for the international team, there were also 11 bishops, itinerant catechists of the nations where the Redemptoris Mater seminaries are located, numerous priests , seminarians with a few years of training behind them and others who will start their journey towards the priesthood in one of these diocesan and missionary institutes. Currently, 122 Redemptoris Mater seminars are held around the world, the last two being erected in recent months in Colombia and the Dominican Republic. 

The meeting in the Marches ended on Sunday 9 September with a Mass celebrated by Father Pezzi who, in his homily, addressed in particular young people encouraging them to "not worry about the future and not be afraid to let themselves be led by Jesus Christ". Kiko also intervened at the end of the celebration by inviting future priests to read and scrutinize the word of God every day and "to announce the Kerygma", because "this is what really heals people".  

After  the great event presided over by the Pope last May 5 in Rome, in the Tor Vergata esplanade , for the fifty years since the birth of the first Neocatechumenal communities in the Capital, the Cammino organized two international vocational meetings in Italy and Spain last August . 

The first took place on August 12 in Rome, at the Circus Maximus, as part of the pilgrimage organized by the CEI for boys and girls from every diocese of Italy in view of the October Synod. The young people of the Neocatechumenal itinerary - about 12,000 - took part in the events on the calendar: the Saturday evening prayer vigil presided over by the Pope and the Sunday morning meeting in St. Peter's Square. In the afternoon, they then found themselves again at the Circus Maximus, where the vicar of Rome, Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, was waiting for them. On that occasion - informs a note from the Neocatechumenal Way - about 200 boys, a hundred girls and families became available, respectively, to enter the seminary, embrace the consecrated life or leave on mission. 

Instead, around 300 boys, 300 girls and 200 families responded to the "vocational call" in the meeting that took place a few weeks later, on 26 August, in San Pedro del Pinatar, in Murcia (Spain). In total, over 25,000 boys and girls from not only Spain, but also from Portugal and other European countries attended the meeting presided over by the bishop of the diocese of Cartagena José Manuel Lorca Planes. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

The Ramsey Letter Similar to Typhoon Toves

John "the typhoon" Toves was the first one who claimed that Archbishop Apuron sexually molested his cousin.  Later, the media learned that John Toves never spoke to his cousin.  John stated that he learned about the alleged sexual molestation of his cousin through someone else.  After that, no one really paid much attention to him.  Even the jungle dismissed him as inconsequential. Regarding John Toves, Tim stated: 
Okay, so he pops up from time to time and trots out the same old unproven, unsubstantiated allegations. But so what. Even the talk show host who first gave him a voice on Guam recently told him not to bother to call back unless he actually had something real. 

Even those who initially supported him had pretty much told him thanks but no thanks. "We appreciate your passion but without substance you're really no help.".........
Even I had reprimanded him several times and told him not to bother unless he had something. And you know what Archbishop, until you sent him that big bad letter from that big bad lawyer that you paid for with our big bad money, little John STILL had NOTHING! 
Exactly, John Toves had nothing.  All he had was third-hand information.  Why did I bring this up?  Because it is very similar to the letter written by Father Boniface Ramsey, who was a faculty member of the Immaculate Conception Seminary in South Orange, New Jersey from 1986 to 1996.  According to Catholic News Agency (the bold is mine):
 In the letter, Father Ramsey, who had been a professor at the diocesan seminary in Newark from the end of the ’80s until 1996, affirms that there was a recurring rumor in the seminary that the Archbishop 'shared his bed with seminarians,' inviting five at a time to spend the weekend with him at his beach house. And he added that he knew a certain number of seminarians, some of whom were later ordained priests for the Archdiocese of Newark, who had been invited to this beach house and had shared a bed with the Archbishop.”

The letter that Father Ramsey sent in 2000 was in regards to recurring RUMORS he heard in the seminary about Archbishop McCarrick. What needed to be determined was whether those rumors were true or not.  Thus, came the letter dated October 11, 2006 by Archbishop Leonardo Sandri, asking for more information regarding McCarrick.  The 2006 letter stated:
"I ask with particular reference to the serious matters involving some of the students of the Immaculate Conception Seminary, which in November 2000 you were good enough to bring confidentially to the attention of the then Apostolic Nuncio in the United States, the late Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo."
Many news report are using this 2006 letter as evidence that the Vatican knew about the sexual misconduct of Cardinal McCarrick since 2000.  This is merely their own assumption.  The 2006 letter was asking for more evidence.  What is needed are evidence, not recurring rumors.  What is needed are seminarians or priests involved in the sexual misconduct with Cardinal McCarrick at the beach house.  What is needed are for those seminarians and priests to come forward in their own testimony.  Father Ramsey only HEARD the rumors, just like John Toves only HEARD the sexual molestation of his cousin. However, no one came forward until after 2002.  Why after 2002?  In 2002, the Boston sex abuse scandal hit the news, and the church was giving out money.  Then suddenly, the accusers of Cardinal McCarrick came forward.

In 2005, Robert Cioleck, a former priest of the Diocese of Metuchen received a secret payment of $80,000 from the Diocese of Metuchen and the Archdiocese of Newark as a settlement for an alleged abuse by Cardinal McCarrick.  Then in 2007, another former priest of the Diocese of Metuchen who claimed to be abused as a seminarian in New York by Cardinal McCarrick also came forward.  He received a settlement of $100,000.  However, Cardinal McCarrick was not removed after these settlements.  Could it be because these former priests claimed abuse by Cardinal McCarrick when they were adults?

Then in April 2018, the Archdiocese of New York received an allegation that McCarrick abused a teenage boy.  Cardinal McCarrick denied the accusation, saying that he was innocent; however, he never denied the sexual misconduct with seminarians and priests (who were adults).  

In June 2018, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan announced that Cardinal McCarrick was removed from ministry at the direction of the Vatican after an investigation found the charge "credible."  Cardinal McCarrick was sanctioned by Pope Francis.  This was the only sanction of Cardinal McCarrick that is known to the entire world.  

Also in June, 2018, Metuchen Bishop James F. Checchio stated that a re-examination of diocesan archives did not uncover "any report or allegation that Cardinal McCarrick ever abused any minor during his time in Metuchen."  Bishop Checchio acknowledged that in the past, there have been allegations that McCarrick engaged in sexual behavior with adults.

So, why now?  Why did these adults come out now especially at a time when the Catholic Church was giving out money by settling out of court?  Why did they not come out at the time of the abuse?  After all, they were all adults.  Father Gordon MacRae can shed some light as to why they did not come out during that time, but instead chose to come forward with lawsuits after 2002. Accordng to Father MacRae:
I do not pretend to psychoanalyze Cardinal McCarrick – and it would be a grave injustice to do so – but I remember being a seminarian in the late 1970s when he was an auxiliary bishop of New York, and in 1981 when he became Bishop of Metuchin, New Jersey. I remember the stories about him told by young men who did not present themselves as victims, but as predators in their own right. They did not present as McCarrick’s conquests, but often rather the other way around.
Some of Bishop McCarrick’s seminarians and their friends openly boasted of what they concluded was his attraction to them. They spoke of how they fostered it, were invited to his beach house, even slept in the same bed at times, but there were no stories of overt sexual predation or force until the lure of money was at the other end of the story.

Friday, September 7, 2018

PA Grand Jury Report: Part II

Part II of the Media Report is found here


***SPECIAL PA. JURY REPORT ANALYSIS*** PART II: Mouths Washed Out With Holy Water? Rapes at Airports? Pennsylvania’s Dishonest Grand Jury Report EXPOSED

This is Part II of a special analysis of the Pennsylvania grand jury report.

We will never deny that many stories of clergy abuse are tragically true. Of this we must always be mindful. However, if there is one thing that this site has demonstrated repeatedly over the years, it is that not all accusations are created equal.
Let us look at some of the more alarming abuse claims from Pennsylvania's "grand jury report,"authored by the office of Attorney General Josh Shapiro, that have received wide media attention:
A victim's mouth washed out with holy water?!
It is a stomach-turning story, indeed:
"Monsignor Thomas Benestad made a 9-year-old give him oral sex, then rinse the boy's mouth out with holy water to purify him."
Did this actually happen? No, it didn't. But don't just take our word for it.
Msgr. Thomas Benestad
Msgr. Thomas Benestad
Josh Shapiro won't tell you this, but two entirely separate investigations – one by a former FBI agent and another by officials at the Vatican – thoroughly examined the wild claims against Benestad. Both independently determined that the accusations were bogus. And when one looks at the details of the accuser's outlandish story, it is apparent why investigators cleared Benestad and why his bishop reinstated him.
In 2011, some chap e-mailed the Diocese of Allentown claiming that he had a "memory" (yes, a "memory") from thirty years earlier. He claimed that, starting at nine years old, he was regularly pulled out of weekly CCD class for oral sex for over two years. The accuser says his abuse began when he was told that wearing shorts to CCD class was "sinful," and after a nun escorted him to Benestad's office, Benestad forced him to perform oral sex on him.
But that's not all. After the boy was finished, Benestad would perform oral sex on him as well. Uh-huh. And then Benestad would somehow magically "produce a clear bottle of holy water and squirt it into the victim’s mouth to purify him." Because what priest doesn't keep a "clear bottle of holy water" handy at all times, right?
The accuser's story is such a crock that even a wild-eyed leader at SNAP would have a hard time believing it. Monsignor Benestad has been a priest for nearly a half century, and Benestad's attorney has forcefully replied:
"Monsignor Benestad has never done anything that would be deemed inappropriate with any individual. Monsignor Benestad has never done anything that would be deemed immoral by the church with any individual. Monsignor Benestad has never done anything illegal with any person as judged by any civil or criminal authority."
Attorney General Shapiro is simply nasty for not informing the public that two entirely separate investigations exonerated Monsignor Benestad.
Let's move on.

A scene from 'Airplane'?
Rev. John P. Fitzgerald
Rev. John P. Fitzgerald
In 2014, the Diocese of Pittsburgh spoke to a crook who claimed that years earlier Rev. John P. Fitzgerald sexually assaulted him in an airplane, in a car, and at the Pittsburgh International Airport chapel. The crook also claimed that he was forced to perform oral sex on Rev. Fitzgerald "maybe a half dozen times."
Naturally, Shapiro did not identify the accuser as a crook, but we will have Fitzgerald's attorney explain:
"The allegations of misconduct against Rev. John P. Fitzgerald are false. The allegations contained in the Summary referring to Rev. Fitzgerald are the product of a fabrication made by a convicted thief, a convicted violator of the Controlled Substances Act, a person who 'punched his father in the head and body, kicked his mother in the midsection and choked his sister when they tried to stop him from driving after snorting heroin,' according to a police report filed based on the statements of his father, mother and sister."
And when the accuser sat down for a 2014 interview, he "dramatically changed his allegations." There were also a couple other major problems: The chapel at Pittsburgh International Airport did not even exist until years after the accuser said his abuse occurred. And aviation experts testified that it was "physically impossible" for Fr. Fitzgerald to have been simultaneously flying an airplane and sexually abusing a boy "without crashing the aircraft."
Naturally, Fr. Fitzgerald has vehemently denied the preposterous accusations against him. And it should also be noted that Fr. Fitzgerald has had no other allegations against him in over four decades in ministry.
A priest did what with a crucifix?!
Then there is the case of Fr. Gregory Flohr. In November 2004, a sole accuser surfaced to claim that for a period of years back in the 1960s, starting when he was 10 or 11 years old, Flohr repeatedly touched his genitals and forced him to perform oral sex on him. (Are you sensing an ongoing theme here, everyone?)
But there's more. The accuser's tale ends with a spectacular "final act":
"Flohr's final act of sexual abuse against the victim occurred in November 1969, when Flohr allegedly took the victim into the confessional of the Immaculate Conception church and began kissing him and tied him up with rope into a 'praying position.' The victim began to scream, so Flohr tried to silence him by forcing his penis into his mouth. 'When the [victim] refused the priest allegedly became angry and sodomized the [victim] with a crucifix approximately 7″x 5″x 1″ in size.' Flohr then stated that the victim was a 'bad boy' and let him go. Following this incident, the victim deliberately set the church carpet on fire."
We are supposed to believe this? That no one else was around when this happened in a confessional in a church? Where was everybody else? The boy screamed out loud, and the priest's idea to quiet him down was to – what? – try and shove his penis in the boy's mouth and then sodomize him with a crucifix? As if that would shut the boy up? Really? And where did the rope and crucifix magically appear from?
One cannot help but wonder what Fr. Flohr had to say when confronted with these alarming accusations against him. Well, he said nothing. He was already dead. And he had no other accusers in over four decades of ministry.
Remember Philadelphia!
In light of Shapiro's crooked attack against the Catholic Church, it is important to be cognizant that we have witnessed an untrustworthy "grand jury report" before.
One of the last times a similar report made huge headlines was back in 2011 with the Philadelphia grand jury report. It was truly an international spectacle. Mugshots were plastered across the media landscape, and the media's drumbeat against the Church banged loudly yet again.
And although it took years for the truth to rise to the surface, we eventually learned that the Philly report was a complete work of fiction. On the testimony of a criminal drug addict and serial liar by the name of Danny Gallagherinnocent men went to prison, and one priest, Rev. Charles Engelhardt, even died there. It is clearly one of the great injustices in modern American history. If you didn’t already know this, you should.
If it were not for the luck of a dogged journalist by the name of Ralph Cipriano – who began covering the Philly cases as pro-prosecution until he realized he was witnessing a con – this outrage never would have seen the light of day.
Some people have characterized the recent Pennsylvania report as "just the tip of the iceberg." It is, but it is just the tip of the iceberg of the massive fraud being perpetrated against the Catholic Church. (Indeed, there are many others in the Pennsylvania report who have been wrongly assailed.)
Wake up, everyone. Especially you all in the Catholic media. Quit fretting over your own optics (the saints surely didn't!), and speak up in defense of wrongly maligned Catholic clerics and against this crooked Pennsylvania report.
Justice demands it.

PA Grand Jury Report: Part I

Part I of the Media Report can be found here.  


***SPECIAL PA. JURY REPORT ANALYSIS*** PART I: Pushing Aside Media Hysteria: We Uncover Pennsylvania’s Dishonest Grand Jury Report

This is Part I of a special analysis of the Pennsylvania grand jury report.

A priest washed out the mouth of a young sex assault victim with holy water? Another priest sodomized a boy with a crucifix? Another priest assaulted another kid multiple times on an airplane? 300 "predator priests"? The Church "did nothing"?
Are these sickening stories all true? No, they're not, and we will show you explicitly in this special, two-part report.
Where does one begin to get at the truth of the recently released Pennsylvania grand jury report that has wrought breathless headlines across the globe? Here are two essential starting points:
1. The most important point to know is that a "grand jury report" is not really written by any jury members. As any lawyer will tell you, the report is actually written by government attorneys with a predetermined outcome. The folks in the "jury" are merely a formality, window dressing to make the matter legal. Jurors sit in a room eating hoagies and reading the newspaper while "listening" to the proceedings. There is no fact-checking, no cross-examinations, and no due process. Those cited in the report have almost no recourse to defend themselves. Accusations are assessed less on evidence and more on the desire for them to be true.
When the time comes, a jury member simply slaps his signature on the finished attorneys' report to make everything official. Press conferences ensue, and hysteria follows. [Highly recommended: "If it's not a runaway, it's not a real grand jury" by Roger Roots.]
In theory, a grand jury is supposed examine evidence to determine whether a crime took place and should be prosecuted. This was clearly not the intention of Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. In an 800+-page screed, Shapiro's report (and yes, it's really Shapiro's report, not a "grand jury report") does not recommend a single criminal charge, because almost all of the accusations are many decades old. The fact that countless tax dollars and unlimited government resources were expended on this escapade – while giving far-more-recent abuse in public schools, the Boy Scouts, and other organizations a complete pass – should raise serious questions about Shapiro's true motives.
2. Countless headlines have trumpeted that the report identified over 300 "predator priests." In truth, that is the number of those merely accused; and the listed men are not just priests but include lay people, deacons, and seminarians. Many, if not the majority, of the priests in the report are long dead and no longer around to defend themselves. This caper examined allegations dating back to the 1930s, some eight decades ago. (One of the priests named in the report was born in 1892, about the same time that light bulbs became popular.) Several men in the report vehemently deny the accusations against them, and some claims in the report are outright false. (Much more on this in Part II.) [HT: Catholic League.]
Unpacking a Shapiro whopper
Countless news stories have faithfully regurgitated one berserk line in particular from the report, a line which Shapiro clearly tailored for the media to seize upon:
"Priests were raping little boys and girls and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing: they hid it all."
There is no other way to put it except to say that this is a flat-out lie by Shapiro. Even a cursory look at the report debunks this absurd claim.
Take the case in the report of Rev. Joseph Mueller: In 1986, a man went to the Diocese of Pittsburgh to claim that Mueller abused him years earlier as a teenager. Then-Bishop Donald Wuerl immediately removed him from ministry and shipped him off to St. Luke's treatment facility. Based on its evaluation of the guy, St. Luke's advised that Mueller "not work with children or adolescents." A diocesan memo also declared Mueller "unassignable." So what did Wuerl do? He stripped Mueller of his faculties, and the dude never worked as a priest again. Sayonara.
That, dear readers, is not "doing nothing," as Shapiro claims, and he knows it.
In fact, if one takes the time to actually read the report, one will see that the first action by a diocese, even many decades ago, was almost always to immediately remove the accused priest from his assignment. In a bunch of cases, priestly faculties were stripped. Therapy was often provided to victims.
Josh Shapiro's claim that the Church showed "complete disdain" for victims is nothing but an ugly smear. "I met with every victim. Anyone that would come forward, I met with them and I'd have to say more than once shared a tear with them as they or their parents told the story," Cardinal Wuerl has told.
Sent off to treatment?
There are those who will want to castigate the Church for sending priests off to treatment, but, as regular readers of this site already know, that was exactly what so-called psychological experts advised bishops to do in a 1985 report. And even the Boston Globe (yes, the Boston Globe!) was trumpeting therapy treatment for child sex offenders as recently as 1992.
"From the 1950's to the 1980's, these treatment-based interventions for sexual criminals were not only enormously prevalent in the United States, but surveys of ordinary citizens showed that they were enormously popular …
"[T]he science of human sexuality and sexual offending is extraordinarily young. Virtually all of the information we utilize today regarding the treatment and supervision of sexual offenders has been discovered since 1985."
– Dr. Monica Applewhite, Ph.D.
Yet in almost every media account, the media has failed to provide this important historical context that the Church was following the then-reigning advice of experts in the field to send accused priests to treatment.
"No one would hold a brain surgeon to today's standard of care for professional decisions he made in 1970. Yet the decisions made in 1970 by Catholic bishops, who routinely consulted with mental health professionals about sick priests, are being judged by today's standards. Today, the confidence of the mental health community about the likelihood of curing sexual disorders is far less than it was in 1970."
– L. Martin Nussbaum, "Changing the Rules" (America magazine, 2006)
Just plain wrong reporting
It would be no surprise to regular readers of this site that the media's reporting on the Pennsylvania report has been atrocious, not only just lacking context and uncritically repeating the claims of the report, but also getting important facts flat-out wrong.
Unfortunately, even reputable Christian writers have been irresponsible in their reporting. Our favorite Methodist-turned-Catholic-turned-Eastern-Orthodox writer claimed in a post about the report:
"[I]n 1991, Bishop Wuerl approved pedophile Pittsburgh priest Father [Ernest C.] Paone's assignment in the Diocese of Reno-Las Vegas. That priest continued to work there — without Pittsburgh telling them that they knew he was a pedophile — until the Boston scandal broke in 2002."
In truth, when then-Bishop Wuerl wrote his 1991 letter, he was completely unaware of any accusations against Paone. It was not until 1994, three years later, that a woman approached the Diocese of Pittsburgh to claim that her brother had been molested by Paone some three decades earlier. Upon receiving this news, Wuerl immediately fired off a letter (pdf) to the Diocese of Reno-Las Vegas in which he wrote:
"Very recently, an allegation was made by a woman who claims that more than 30 years ago her brother was molested by Father Paone …
"Had I been aware of this allegation in Father Paone's past, I would not have supported his request for a priestly assignment in your diocese. Nor would I have written to you indicating that he was a priest in good standing."
In other words, this popular writer completely misinformed his audience. As soon as Wuerl had information on Paone's past, he immediately spread the word. He also urgently recalled Paone back to Pittsburgh to address the claims against him and send him off to St. Luke's.
Moving on
So what do we make of the alarming stories in Shapiro's report that have been blared loudly in the media about a priest washing out the mouth of a child after a sexual assault? What about the other one claiming a priest sodomized a boy with a crucifix?

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Five Facts About the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report

For the next two days, I will publish some things that the Media Report has uncovered and needs to be circulated.  The first article in this series is found here


Reality Check: Five Fast Facts You Need to Know About the Overhyped PA Grand Jury Report

The recently released Pennsylvania grand jury report about abuse there decades ago has predictably created the usual media circus of untethered allegations and hysterical claims by haters of the Church. Amidst all of this hysteria, however, all fair-minded people should consider the following indisputable facts about the report:
1. A "grand jury report" is essentially a press release written by publicity seeking prosecutors.
As any lawyer will tell you, a "grand jury report" is actually written by government attorneys with an agenda. The folks in the "jury" are merely a formality, window dressing to make the matter legal. Jurors sit in a room eating hoagies and reading the newspaper while "listening" to one-sided proceedings orchestrated by prosecutors. There is no fact-checking, no cross-examination of witnesses, and no due process.
When the time comes, a jury member simply slaps his signature on the finished product written by prosecutors to make everything official. Press conferences by politically ambitious prosecutors ensue, and the intended media hysteria follows.
Properly used, a grand jury is merely supposed examine evidence to determine whether there is probable cause that a crime took place and should be prosecuted. This was clearly not the intention of Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. In an 800+-page screed, Shapiro's report does not recommend a single criminal charge, because almost all of the accusations are many decades old.
In truth, the whole grand jury report idea was cooked up by Shapiro's predecessor, the disgraced Kathleen Kane, now criminally convicted of perjury, in order to gain media attention and advance her own political ambitions.
2. Most of the priests named in the report are dead and unable to defend themselves. identified approximately 233 individuals in the report who were named and whose living status was noted. Of the 233 priests whose living status was known, 124, or over 53%, were deceased, and thus no longer around to defend themselves. (The status of about 20 men in the report were listed as "unknown"; 20 entries were blacked out (redacted) completely; and there were about 13 others who were not even listed with a name (e.g., "Pittsburgh priests #2-10," "Harrisburg priest #1," etc.).)
One such dead priest who would probably want to respond to the charges against him in the report if he were alive is Fr. Gregory Flohr, who died in 2007. Flohr died completely unblemished, without a single charge against him in over four decades in ministry. After he died, an anonymous male accuser came forward with a bizarre claim that no reasonable person would believe. Yet Fr. Flohr was included anyway in the bogus report even though he is obviously unable to defend himself.
3. There are numerous priests named in the report who are falsely accused.
For starters, in discussing the case of Msgr. Thomas Benestad, the grand jury report chastised the Church because it "elected to rely on Benestad's word rather than the word of the victims." What the report failed to mention, however, is that Benestad's case was thoroughly examined by a former FBI agent who determined it to be bogus. Sources also tells us that Benestad's male accuser was a criminal with incarcerations in multiple states and has been diagnosed with mental illness. Yet Benestad's name has been plastered across the media landscape as if he had been determined guilty.
And Benestad's case is just the tip of the iceberg. Indeed, we may never know exactly the dozens of priests who were wrongly maligned in Shapiro's press release.
4. Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro outright lied in the report and deceived the public.
Shapiro's claims that the Church "did nothing" when handling abuse cases and that it showed "complete disdain" for victims are nothing but complete fabrications.
Take the case in the report of Rev. Joseph Mueller: In 1986, a man went to the Diocese of Pittsburgh to claim that Mueller abused him years earlier as a teenager. Then-Bishop Donald Wuerl immediately removed him from ministry and shipped him off to St. Luke's treatment facility. St. Luke's advised Wuerl that Mueller "not work with children or adolescents." So what did Wuerl do? He stripped Mueller of his faculties, and the dude never worked as a priest again.
In fact, if one takes the time to actually read the report, one will see that the first action by a diocese, even many decades ago, was almost always to immediately remove the accused priest from his assignment. In a bunch of cases, priestly faculties were stripped. Therapy was often provided to victims.
As for Shapiro's claim that the Church showed "complete disdain" for victims, Cardinal Wuerl has asserted, "I met with every victim. Anyone that would come forward, I met with them and I'd have to say more than once shared a tear with them as they or their parents told the story."
5. The Catholic Church's practice of retaining its personnel files for centuries continues to gratuitously expose itself to scrutiny by secular authorities.
Do you ever wonder why you never see a "grand jury report" about abuse by public school teachers from the 1960s, 70s, or 80s like we do from the Catholic Church?
The reason is simple: Under federal law, organizations only need to retain personnel documents for one year after an employee departs the organization. Then off to the shredder they go.
Meanwhile, the Church preserves documents dating back to the first century, and at the same time it is accused of secreting evidence and obstructing justice.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Reviewing The Facts

If one is going to make accusations against someone, especially if it is the Pope, he/she should at least provide some substantial evidence.  That is the problem with the Vigano letter.  There was no evidence attached to it.  Keep in mind these simple facts.  

Archbishop Vigano claimed that Pope Benedict XVI sanctioned Cardinal McCarrick in 2009; however, he provided no document of that sanction.  Instead, he claimed that the sanctions were "private."  Life Site News reported:
“I could not say, “What are you doing here?” he said. “Can you imagine? Nobody knows (about the sanctions), it was a private meeting (when they were levied by Benedict). So this video didn’t prove anything.”
Because Archbishop Vigano claimed that the sanctions were "private" then naturally, he could not bring forth any written documents on it.  Nevermind the fact, that he also never explained how he came to know about a "private" sanction that was levied by the Pope on McCarrick in a "private" meeting.  

At any rate, Archbishop Vigano also did not produce any documents showing that Pope Francis lifted the sanctions.  So, where is the written document saying that Pope Francis lifted the "private" sanctions?  Or was the lifting of the sanctions by Pope Francis also supposed to be a "private" affair?  

 On the other side, the media was able to compile photographs and video clippings of Cardinal McCarrick celebrating Mass, ordaining priests, and participating in many ceremonies during the time Vigano claimed he was supposed to be under sanctions.  Some of these photographs and video clippings include Archbishop Vigano and Pope Benedict XVI participating in the same ceremony as Cardinal McCarrick.  We also have Archbishop Georg Ganswein, the personal aide of Pope emeritus Benedict XVI coming forward with testimony saying that Vigano's letter was rubbish.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who was also named in the Vigano letter, also came forward.  In a press release, he stated that he and the Archdiocese of Washington never received any information or document regarding Cardinal McCarrick's behavior.

These are the facts.  Pope Francis told journalists to study the Vigano letter because it reveals itself for what it really is. The news media who studied it carefully have found that the letter had very little to do with the sex abuse scandal.  

The good thing that came out of the Vigano letter is that the Church is now questioning the accusation made by Archbishop Vigano.  The Church is now in a position to question all accusations rather than believe all accusations to be true. According to Catholic News Agency:

“The questions raised deserve answers that are conclusive and based on evidence. Without those answers, innocent men may be tainted by false accusation and the guilty may be left to repeat sins of the past,” wrote DiNardo.
There were many falsely accused priests such as Father Joseph Jiang and Father Kevin Reynolds who were ignored by their bishops.  Even Father Gordon MacRae continues to fight for justice without any support from his own bishop. It took an accusation against the Pope by a prominent bishop for the Church to finally question allegations.