Archive for December, 2011

Bill Donohue wins 2011 Coughlin Award

Saturday, December 31, 2011


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Brought to our attention by George Bouchey.

Thanks, George.

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And the Winner of this Year’s Coughie Award is…

By Frank Cocozzelli


Fri Dec 30, 2011 at 07:47:36 PM EST



It’s that time of year once again, to announce the recipient of the Coughlin Award — presented annually to the person who best exemplifies an exclusionary, strident interpretation of the Catholic faith. The award is named for Father Charles Coughlin, the notorious radio priest of the 1930s who is the role model for today’s Religious Right radio and television evangelists and other conservative media personalities.

This year the bride’s maid finally takes his walk down the aisle. This Coughie is for you Bill Donohue!


But before we discuss this year’s winner, a few words about the award’s namesake.

The Coughlin Award (aka “the Coughie”) is named after the Catholic priest and anti-Semitic broadcaster  Fr. Charles Coughlin best known for his diatribes against FDR, Judaism and open sympathy with the racist policies of Adolph Hitler.  Such advocacy was clearly antithetical the very definition of the word “catholic,” which, according to Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary means:

Catholic Cath”o*lic\ (k[a^]th”[-o]*[i^]k), a. [L. catholicus, Gr. kaqoliko‘s, universal, general; kata‘ down, wholly + “o‘los whole, probably akin to E. solid: cf. F. catholique.]

1.      Universal or general; as, the catholic faith.

Men of other countries [came] to bear their part in so great and catholic a war.—Southey.

Note: This epithet, which is applicable to the whole Christian church, or its faith, is claimed by Roman Catholics to belong especially to their church, and in popular usage is so limited.

*Not narrow-minded, partial, or bigoted; liberal; as, catholic tastes.

*Of or pertaining to, or affecting the Roman Catholics; as, the Catholic emancipation act.

In order to win a Coughie, a candidate must do something that completes three qualifying tasks:  1) Makes the faith decisively less inclusive 2) engages in incendiary behavior and 3) thereby ultimately embarrasses the Church. This year’s winner—as usual—has risen to the challenge by completing all three tasks with breathtaking simplicity, snatching the victory from a determined field of tough competitors. Deserving winners all.

That’s why deciding upon this year’s Coughie Award winner was an unusually tough call. The judges argued long into the night before the dawning of the Day of Decision.

On the local level, the judges were leaning heavily towards Fr. Michael Gelfant, the Brooklyn pastor who managed to bring the culture war to (coincidentally) my parish of St. Finbar’s. Gelfant disparaged American Catholics and unilaterally took it upon himself to stand in for the Almighty regarding the eternal judgment of atheists (he was reported to have declared that they have no right to Heaven).

Another top contender was Vatican banker Ettore Gotti-Tedeschi for his dissembling of Keynesian economics.

Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City/St. Joseph took a shot at the Coughie by failing to take immediate action against a priest who displayed alarming behavior around children.

But it was Donohue’s willingness to defend Finn’s seemingly indefensible behavior that earned him his first Coughie.

Donohue has come strikingly close in the past to laying claim this richly deserved award, only to have been outdone only at the last minute.

Donohue’s record as an exclusionary Catholic speaks for itself.  As head of the the Catholic League—a vehicle that seems more intent on advancing movement conservatism than protecting the well being of individual Catholics—he has transformed the art of feigned outrage over imaginary acts of anti-Catholicism into a high art form (and at the same time, ignore truer incidents of bigotry). Indeed, many of the acts he deems as offensive are nothing more than the acts of more mainstream Catholics who speak out against the hypocrisy of many of today’s über-traditional hierarchs.

In one rant he attacked as anti-Catholic a PBS documentary on the Inquisition—a program that was produced with the Vatican’s cooperation. Donohue has exhibited a peculiar obsession with homosexuality and anal sex.

Our Coughie honoree has also resorted to some un-subtle anti-Semitic commentary. For example, when defending Mel Gibson’s controversial film Passion of the Christ from Jewish (and Catholic) criticism, Donohue bellowed, “Hollywood is controlled by secular Jews who hate Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular”—an utterance worthy of  Coughlin himself.

And he did all this while scraping by on a compensation package worth about $400 Grand.

But it was Donohue’s defense of Kansas City bishop Robert Finn that put him over the top. As I recently noted:  “That these Catholic Right leaders seem to want to save Finn’s position as bishop at almost any cost, suggests that their goals for the Church as a bastion of religious and political authoritarianism, takes precedence over everything else—including the safety and well being of children.”

Donohue has been consistent over the years, and never added any nuance or balance to his repertoire of bombast and hyperbole while pursuing the agenda of laissez-faire economics, social conservatism, and conservative Catholic orthodoxy—and enabling the cover-up of the acts of serial pedophiles.

I give you Bill Donohue: Winner of the 2011 Coughlin Award.


From America magazine…A Change in Formation: How the sexual abuse crisis has reshaped priestly training

Saturday, December 31, 2011


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Spotted by Lawrence Quilici.

Thanks, Lawrence.


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A Change in Formation

How the sexual abuse crisis has reshaped priestly training



Over the past decade, many thoughtful Catholics have wondered if a connection can be established between seminary formation and sexual abuse by clergy. The answer is complicated, but the significant reshaping of seminary programs in recent decades suggests that many church leaders believe there is a relationship. Unraveling the various dimensions of the question requires knowledge of the background research found in the two studies prepared for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York. The full titles are “The Nature and Scope of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States 1950-2002” (2004) and “The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States 1950-2010” (2011).

These documents paint a picture of how seminary leaders developed instructions on sexuality and celibacy in recent years. In the future, the focus for seminaries needs to be on ways of maintaining practices that very likely contributed to the remarkable decrease in the number of abuse cases. It is timely, as well, to suggest supplemental approaches for formation and to maintain useful programs that promise to ensure even further reductions in abuse.

Facts and Findings

Research on sexual abuse by Catholic priests is far-reaching, but the John Jay studies are among the few to include information pertinent to seminaries. This research sheds light on the following areas:

Seminaries. Priests with allegations of sexual abuse against minors were enrolled in much higher proportions in some seminaries than in others. Contrary to widespread opinion, those who attended high school seminaries were not more likely to abuse than those who did not.

Timeframes of first abuse. Most priest abusers were in seminary before the 1960s but offended after the 1960s. Priests ordained after 1960 who engaged in abusive behavior did so more quickly after ordination.

The rise and fall of abuse. The rise in abuse cases in the 1960s and 1970s was influenced by social factors in American society. Although widely believed to be a significant ongoing problem, most abuse occurred between 1960 and 1985; after that, the numbers dropped substantially and remain low.

The understanding of sexual abuse by church leaders. By 1985 bishops knew that sexual abuse of minors by priests was a problem, but they understood neither the scope of it nor the impact on victims. The vast majority of these cases were reported after 1995, and a third in the year 2002 alone.

Seminary response. Until 1992, church documents generally did not reflect the need to revise seminary formation to deal with reports of sexual abuse by priests, though seminaries began to modify programs by the late 1980s.

Directives on Formation

The church has issued numerous documents pertaining to preparation for priesthood, but two recent ones stand out. After the Second Vatican Council, the most influential message came in Pope John Paul II’s “Pastores Dabo Vobis” (1992) on vocations and seminary formation. In it the pope introduced for the first time a section on human formation, insisting that “the whole work of priestly formation would be deprived of its necessary foundation if it lacked a suitable human formation” (No. 43). Commenting on contemporary misunderstandings about love and sex, he said, “In such a context, an education for sexuality becomes more difficult but also more urgent” for those who are called to celibacy (No. 44). These assertions confirmed the direction some seminaries were already taking; now they could implement more fully, with greater support from bishops, the changes required by the pope’s instruction.

The other key document, The Program of Priestly Formation, guided seminaries on every aspect of preparing future priests; five editions were published by the American bishops between 1971 and 2005. Of particular relevance is a gradual change in the presentation of celibacy and sexuality. Most notably, the first three editions gave little space or weight to the topics.

In the first edition (1971), for example, four brief paragraphs on celibacy were subsumed under the broad category of “pastoral ministry.” The focus was on effective ministry rather than on the person who would be embracing the discipline. The second edition (1976) essentially repeated the content of the first but added one new paragraph underlining the personal value of celibacy as a way of sharing in the life of Christ. Missing from these documents was an appreciation of the limited understanding that some seminarians had about the meaning of celibacy and the seriousness and importance of living a moral life. Perhaps it was taken for granted that this knowledge and these values needed no reinforcement for seminarians.

The third edition (1981) kept most of the earlier material and added an explanation of the value of celibacy in a consumer culture and of the importance of understanding the nature of sexuality, including homosexuality. The shift in tone revolved largely around reinforcing the obligatory nature of celibacy. The content was still inadequate for the times, and not until a decade later did formation documents expand on the goals, expectations and behaviors expected of those to be ordained.

By the time the fourth edition of the program was issued (1992), abusive behavior by priests had become a large issue inside the church and in the wider society. The fourth edition reflected the gravity of the situation. The edition was undoubtedly influenced by two major factors: the publication of “Pastores Dabo Vobis,” with its call for an overhaul of formation, and ongoing revelations of sexual abuse by priests. This edition described the negative influences of the social climate on lifelong commitment to celibacy, and it emphasized spiritual goals, behavioral expectations and admission standards. Psychological assessment was acknowledged as integral to the admissions process.

Overall, the document represented a sea-change in that it was more specific and directive. Even this more thorough rendition, oriented toward spiritual practices and evaluation of appropriate celibate lifestyle, however, lacked discussion of sexual abuse and the extraordinary vigilance seminaries would need to exercise to deal with problems that were evident and growing.

Only in the fifth edition (2005), after the bulk of revelations about sexual abuse, was a new, lengthy section on “Human Formation” included. That changed substantially the document’s structure and content, outlined a multifaceted program of instruction and provided a detailed explanation of basic attitudes and behavioral expectations about celibacy. Seminarians were expected to understand the theological rationale for celibacy and to develop a solid moral character and conscience through ascetical practices.

Some directives were mentioned for the first time: disqualification for admission if any criminal sexual activity with a minor or inclination toward such was known, an expectation that all guidelines of the Holy See would be followed regarding same-sex experience and/or inclinations and the requirement to investigate certain conditions prior to orders, such as whether or not the candidate had been sexually abused and whether any remedies would be needed. By 2005 it was clear that the bishops understood how crucial seminary formation was in upholding the commitment to celibacy and helping to prevent abusive sexual behavior.

Sexuality and Celibacy

Paralleling changes in church directives, but at a somewhat faster pace, seminary formation changed considerably over the same time period. In the mid-1980s and before, programs emphasized spiritual and academic formation, with some attention paid to pastoral formation in parishes. Spiritual direction, the focal point for development, was expected to deal with growth in emotional maturity, vocational commitment and acceptance of celibacy. Seminaries used terms like “complete confidentiality and strict secrecy” to emphasize that the exchange between seminarians and spiritual directors was entirely in what is called the internal forum and not to be revealed except in a few rare circumstances. This confidentiality was one of the main problems with this approach. Seminarians who might have identified their struggles with sexuality and celibacy did so in an environment that was handled with a spiritual director and not with other formation personnel who could have acted on the information.

To overcome this, by the mid-1990s most seminaries provided each student with a formation advisor to balance the strictly confidential nature of spiritual direction. These conversations were to be in the “external forum” so as to alleviate the complaint that important information about a seminarian’s suitability for priesthood seldom saw the light of day.

By the mid-2000s, other striking changes were introduced, including a separate “human formation” program, which incorporated extensive instruction on celibacy and the moral behavior of priests. The fifth edition stated, “As we have recently seen so dramatically in the church, when such foundations are lacking in priests, the consequent suffering and scandals are devastating” (No. 41). Furthermore, admissions processes were to pay careful attention to matters that might affect a lifelong commitment to celibacy. The effects of the revelations about the extent of sexual abuse from 2002 onward and the Vatican-initiated visitation of seminaries in 2005-06 undoubtedly influenced many changes.

Prevention of Abuse

Implied in the concern about formation of seminarians is the belief that a well-designed program can decrease abusive sexual behavior by priests. Yet it is difficult to prove definitively that better programs produce fewer priests who are likely to abuse minors. Complete histories of seminaries are relatively few, so until recently conclusive evidence has been unavailable to demonstrate that a given seminary with low abuse rates among its graduates had an excellent program. Did seminaries fulfill their responsibilities in the way they educated seminarians? Perhaps. But given the complex set of causes and contexts discussed in the John Jay report and understood to be operational when abuse occurs, any one cause or means of prevention should not be expected to carry all the weight.

Nonetheless, several anecdotes are telling. One concerns a seminary with a long history of very low rates of sexual abuse of minors among its graduates. In the late 1950s, the history of the school records the positive attitude the faculty had toward psychological testing of its candidates as well as the provision of psychiatric services for seminarians. Through the years the seminary viewed this testing and evaluation more and more in a positive light; it gave great weight to psychological assessment as an admissions criterion, unlike most other seminaries at the time. Some students were rejected and others were dismissed, in part because of the attention given to the psychological health of the seminarian and to the impact this could have on his ability to serve in ministry.

In another instance, a moderate number of a seminary’s graduates were accused of abusive sexual behavior during the earliest time of recorded numbers. The data show that the incidences dropped off significantly before most other schools experienced the same decline. That school in the late 1960s adopted a comprehensive formation program and paid substantial attention to thorough instruction on celibacy and sexuality by professionals in the field, both priests and others. It could be argued that the policies of both seminaries experienced a different trajectory when compared with others where abuse cases were more numerous or the abuse continued over a longer period of time.

Over the past 25 years, a remarkable intensification of human formation and deeper understanding of the importance of its role are evident in almost every seminary. Over the same period, the number of accusations of abuse of a minor by a priest has fallen from 975 for the period 1985 through 1989 to 253 for 1995 through 1999, and then to 73 for 2004 through 2008. Awareness of the problem surely informed the development of the curriculum, but ongoing benefits provided by adequate formation may be seen in the continuing low levels of abuse.

Looking to the Future

How are these results to be maintained? Those to be ordained must be thoroughly informed not only about the spiritual aspects of celibacy and sexuality, but also in straightforward, clear language about biological and psychological, social and pastoral dimensions. This balanced approach to sexuality and celibacy must be inculcated in future priests by both clerical and lay professionals who are specifically trained in the appropriate disciplines. To focus purely on pious understandings and practices has not been and will not be a sufficient means of prevention, though some church leaders are voicing concern that this very attitude is gaining prominence. Bishops, vocation directors and seminary personnel must recognize and change the pattern before it takes hold.

Seminarians need to cultivate moral virtues like integrity, justice and prudence, to grow in self-knowledge and self-discipline and to forgo a sense of entitlement. These virtues are integral to their spiritual life. Further, many older priests and other observers find dangerous an attitude prevalent among more than a few recently ordained priests: a tendency to see themselves as entirely different from the laity and therefore socially distant. The potential for separation and isolation in certain circumstances is detrimental and can lead to loneliness and psychologically unhealthy conditions. Priests will benefit from ongoing education about the dangers and pitfalls of a lifestyle that increases vulnerability to abusive behavior. Those who understand that their lives are to be modeled after Jesus Christ and oriented toward humble service in ministry are much less likely to engage in sexual abuse of any kind.

Katarina Schuth, O.S.F., holds the Endowed Chair for the Social Scientific Study of Religion at the Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity, University of St. Thomas in Minnesota and served as a consultant for the research studies described here.


Recent Posts from “Call Me Excellency”

Saturday, December 31, 2011

I hope the reader enjoys these posts from the Call Me Excellency blog by Stephen Boehrer.

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Jesus’ Love: A Standard for the Purple Culture

“Infallibility” and All-Too-Human Clerical Leadership

THE REALITIES OF SEXUAL VIOLENCE…from the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape

Saturday, December 31, 2011


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“People Don’t Lie About Being Sexually Assaulted.”

Whenever a person experiences sexual assault, the idea that they will not be believed often acts as a deterrent to seeking help. Additionally, victim or survivors of sexual assault are also often blamed for what has happened to them. Because of this, and other factors, people who have been sexually assaulted report less often and do not get the help they need at a time when they need it most.

Why Do People Think This Way?

There are many thoughts about why people think others lie about being sexually assaulted: the victim or survivor wants revenge, woke up the next morning and regretted having sex, etc. All of these ideas are false. Additionally, the general public does not want to believe that others they know and respect are capable of committing sexual assault.

The Fact Is…..

The FBI collects data on all crimes and has found that people falsely report being sexually assaulted at the same rate as other comparable crimes: 3 percent of the time.

Sexual assault occurs at rates much higher than what is actually reported. So, in other words, instead of thinking that people lie about being sexually assaulted the opposite is true. People are afraid to admit that they HAVE BEEN sexually assaulted because of the fear and pain that is associated with their lived experience.

“People Who Commit Sexual Assault Are People You Know.”

Often we think of people who rape as a specific person who looks, acts and lives a certain way. We think of them as being so different from us that they could not possibly be in our workplaces, neighborhoods and community events.

Why Do People Think This Way?

The media falsely portrays those who commit sexual assault in a stereotypical way which influences how people form ideas around the issue. As a result, the general public is given the wrong impression of who is actually committing sexual assault.

The Fact Is…..

The majority people who commit sexual assault are everyday people who are married with children and regular jobs. They are also college students, family members, co-workers, etc. Their behavior is what makes them sexual predators not their lifestyles. This does not mean that stranger rape does not happen; it does. But most victims/survivors of sexual assault know their perpetrators.

“People Who Are In A Relationship Can Be Sexually Assaulted By Their Partner.”

Just because two people are in a relationship does not mean that their partner cannot hurt them in a sexually violent way.

Why Do People Think This Way?

One reason people think that people who are married or in committed relationships cannot sexually assault each other is because they have had sex with that person before – perhaps even for years – with permission. Therefore, there is a widely held belief that if one has given consent once, twice or over the years, then getting consent in the future is not necessary.

The Fact Is…..

“Research suggests that marital rape accounts for 25 percent of all rapes” (Bachman et al., 1994). Sexual assault between persons in a relationship, or what is called intimate partner rape (IPR), occurs in various ways – not just rape. Some of these ways include manipulation, coercion and pressuring the other person to have sex or do perform sexual activities when that person does not want to. No matter how long two people have been together or how many times they have had consensual sex in the past, does not give one person permission to sexually assault their partner.. Each time people engage in sex with their partners, they should use “checking in” language and use good communication to ensure that each partner is fully present in the decision to have sex.
Bachman, Ronet, and Bruce M. Taylor. “The Measurement of Family Violence and Rape by the Redesigned National Crime Victimization Survey,” Justice Quarterly, Vol. 11, No. 3, September 1994.

“Drunk Or Drug-Facilitated Sex Can Be Sexual Assault.”

When drugs or alcohol are used to lower someone’s cognitive thinking skills or ability give consent to sexual activity that is rape. Often when a victim or survivor reports having been intoxicated or on drugs, their story is deemed “regret sex” or “they just had too much to drink.”

Why Do People Think This Way?

Our society is one that uses sex to sell alcohol (which is a drug) and as a result, we are given images of how people are “supposed to act” when they are under the influence. These ideas come directly from the media and alcohol companies of whom portray women and men in very different roles when they are drinking. Women are portrayed as becoming sexually aroused and highly promiscuous. Men are portrayed as becoming reckless and predatory for sex. In other words, the media sells us ideas of the expectation of alcohol’s effect which leads to justifying the sexual act or dismissing the sex act as “just drunk sex.”

The Fact Is…..

“At least 50 percent of college students’ sexual assaults are associated with alcohol use” (Abbey, 2002). But the problem doesn’t stop at just college campuses. Alcohol and drug-induced sexual assaults occur inside and outside of our homes, workplaces and social functions. When alcohol and drugs are used as ways to lower a person’s inhibition or defenses so that they are not able to give consent, this is sexual assault and punishable under the law.

Abbey, A. (2002). “Alcohol-Related Sexual Assault: A Common Problem among College Students.” Journal of Studies on Alcohol, Supplement 14: 118-128.

“Men And Women Both Can Be Victims Of Sexual Assault.”

Sexual assault and rape are traditionally thought to be a women’s issue; that women are the only ones who are and can be victimized; and that women are the ones who should end sexual assault. Unfortunately, men are victims and survivors of sexual assault and rape too. Their victimization is just as important to take seriously and end as women’s victimization.

Why Do People Think This Way?

Men are told to play very specific stereotypical roles in our society. Those stereotypes include being physically strong, emotionally absent and always in control. When men are put into these types of boxes, there is little room for them to admit that they have been a victim of anything, let alone sexual assault. Many people believe that men should have been strong enough to fight off their attacker; that men are not able to be sexually assaulted by women; and that men are simply incapable of being sexually assaulted.

The Fact Is…..

“About 3 percent of American men – a total of 2.78 million men – have experienced a rape at some point in their lifetime” (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2006). Men and boys’ responses to their victimization are important to take care of in respectful ways.
Tjaden, P., & Thoennes, N. (2006). Extent, Nature, and Consequences of Rape Victimization: Findings From the National Violence Against Women Survey, NIJ, CDC.


A Guide for Friends and Family of Sexual Assault Survivors
Read More information and statistics on sexual violence
Get more information at PCAR’s other web sites
Need help? Contact a Pennsylvania Rape Crisis Center


96 Percent of Children Who Report Sexual Abuse Are Telling the Truth

Saturday, December 31, 2011


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Spotted by George Bouchey.

Thanks, George.

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96 Percent of Children Who Report Sexual Abuse Are Telling the Truth

Sorting myth from fact in a world with pedophiles


http://blogs.phillymag.com/the_philly_post/author/svolk/ 5



First, former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky was accused of sexually abusing a series of children over decades. Now, even closer to home, Daily News sports writer Bill Conlin—a local legend—is accused of molesting kids decades ago. But after all the coverage, are any of us better prepared to protect our own children or recognize suspicious behavior on the part of the adults in our midst?

In Philadelphia, the Joseph J. Peters Institute, a non-profit mental health agency focused on sexual abuse, tries to counsel sex offenders and educate the public to prevent further victims. I spoke to Michael Stinson, director of prevention services at the Peters Institute, to try and figure out what we should take away from these recent, tragic stories.

To what degree do pedophiles focus on any one gender?
Stinson: Let’s back up and talk about that word, “pedophile.” People seem to lump all child sex offenders into the pedophile category. But there are different pathologies involved, and it’s very complicated. For our purposes, in this interview, it’s not even very useful to try and define child sex offenders in these narrower categories. Generally, pedophiles will manipulate people and situations and environments to satisfy a sexual attraction they have toward children. And they will often order their life around gaining that access to a specific type of child. A child molester is more of what we might call an all-purpose offender—a situation arises and they decide to act on the impulse they feel in that moment. I don’t want to talk specifically about Jerry Sandusky or Bill Conlin. Because those stories aren’t fully told yet, and the allegations aren’t resolved.

There are sex offenders, child molesters, who do not necessarily focus on any particular gender or even age. And stranger danger is a smaller percentage of child sex-abuse cases. The majority of cases really are children who are close, in some way, to the person abusing them. When we’re talking about actual pedophiles, then we’re talking about people, often, who go seeking victims. And they can be very difficult to treat because to them their behavior is not strange. It’s part of the way they live, the way they behave, and peer pressure—other people thinking it’s wrong, society declaring it wrong—has less effect on them.

To answer your original question, when you look at adult offenders they usually offend against the opposite sex. But not always. And when it’s a matter of convenience and access, they might offend against either gender.

One of the things I found most striking about the Conlin story is that he cried when he was confronted about his behavior. I understand you can’t comment on Conlin, but in general, are child sex offenders ashamed of their own behavior? Or would tears generally be associated with fear about their own future—being found out, sent to prison, that sort of thing?
Stinson: Well, some offenders do realize their desires and their behaviors, if they are acting on them, are wrong. But without commenting on the Conlin allegation, in particular, tears can be very complicated: real remorse, as well as fear of being found out, fear of punishment, and shame over their desires and what they’ve done. All those things might be in the mix.

Does anyone ever call the institute and say ‘I’m having these desires and I don’t want to act on them. I need help.’
Stinson: Yes. We do get those calls here. And of course we try to help. If offenders are in treatment, they are far less likely to commit the crime again. Particularly in teenagers and young people who have started treatment, the recidivism rate is somewhere around four percent to eight percent. When we over-criminalize these offenses in young people by being overly punitive, with something like Megan’s Law now subjecting teen-age offenders to registration, being labeled in this way causes a whole other host of problems and may be counterproductive. It encourages them not to seek help.

It’s often said that most child abusers were sexually abused themselves, as children. True?
Stinson: No. People who are abused as children, somewhere between 20 percent and 30 percent of them will either become abusive themselves or carry a re-victimization pattern forward—meaning they will always see themselves as a victim in every situation. But certainly much less than half of sex offenders who abuse children were themselves abused as children.

The last thing we want to do is start a witch hunt. But are there any behaviors, in adults, that should make us ask questions? What might we see that should, rightfully, make us suspicious of an adult in our lives?
Stinson: I think there are things we should be a lot more vigilant of and more deliberate in asking questions about, when an adult’s behavior just doesn’t look right. Sometimes, it’s right to go with your gut feeling. I agree, we don’t want to have witch hunts, and there really are people out there who take a sincere interest in the well-being of children. But if someone is showing overt interest in a particular child or teenager, it is not inappropriate to ask why. What you should really look out for are people who insist on alone time with a child—deliberate alone time, behind closed doors, no one can ask about it, that kind of thing. Let’s say someone singles out a specific child and they accompany them everywhere, often without any other adults or children. That seems to be a deliberate act, a deliberate attempt to create this sort of alone time.

Also, we should be cautious of someone who encourages silence from children or enlists them in secret-keeping. Children do keep secrets—with other children. Not with 45-year-old men or women. Another might be an adult referring to a child as their “friend.” Relationships between adults and children aren’t normally “friend” relationships. So if you have an adult expressing these sorts of sentiments in a way that seems inappropriate, that’s something you should pay attention to.

I really felt shook up about the allegations against Conlin because, it’s naïve, but you’d like to think these people reveal themselves in some way, even if it’s only in retrospect. I’d like to think of these people as somehow dysfunctional in some obvious way. But, I read Bill Conlin for many years. I watched him on The Sports Reporterson ESPN, and he seemed such a funny, social, bright guy—and a great writer, the quintessential sports writer. And it’s just stunning …
Stinson: Yeah, well, it’s really not like that. I mean, I agree—we all want to think of a sex offender as scraggly haired and one-toothed. But they really can be anybody. And they can be hugely successful and high-functioning in other areas of their life. And that’s why it’s important we learn about these things, however uncomfortable the topic might make us, and talk about it so that people understand. We have public and private selves. And people don’t talk about their sexual impulses over a beer and they certainly don’t talk about them at work. So that “work self” is a construction. The person you are privately, at home, away from work—that’s who we really are.

What behaviors should people look out for, from their children, to suggest they may be withholding information about being abused?
Stinson: What we like to get across to people is they need to be engaged with their children, all the time, so they can recognize when their behavior is off somehow. Some indicators might be they don’t want to go to sleep. Or they don’t want to stay asleep. Or they start having nightmares. Maybe they shut down at odd times. They are there with you, engaged with you and whatever’s happening, and then suddenly they just go blank and shut down. It could be because something has just happened, in the environment, that has reminded them of the behaviors that take place immediately before the abuse.

As for sleeping problems … the process of getting ready for bed can be a sort of ritual that goes on around the abuse. The adult offender often does the same things. They put them in bed, they turn the lights down, they read them a story, and then maybe they say, ‘Oh, I’m just going to lay here a while until you fall asleep’—and then the abuse occurs. That can spark a lot of changes in the sleep patterns of an abused child. Maybe they have flashbacks when they go to sleep, or nightmares.

Other signs can be regressive behavior. They stopped wetting the bed two years ago, and now they have started again. Or they start defecating again, in their clothes. Also, oversexualized behavior—doing things that are ahead of where they should be, developmentally.

What is the proper first response we give a child if they tell us they’ve been abused? By that I really mean, the first response—what do we say to the child right there in the moment?
Stinson: The first response is to take a deep breath. Then support their decision to disclose. Say “It’s good you’re telling me this,” and stay calm, and stay comforting. Include yourself in the situation and the solution in the language you use. And what I mean is, say things like, ‘We will get through this,’ and ‘You’re not alone.’ ‘We’re in this together.’ Don’t lead them or provide extra words or concepts. Let them tell the story in their own language and don’t re-label anything. This part can be a little hard because sometimes the way children tell a story like this, it can sound fantastical. In young children, their brains aren’t developed yet, and they don’t know how to compartmentalize the story in the way adults would so. The beginning, middle and end may be told out of order or they connect things in odd ways.

Maybe they’d say: ‘I was put in the dark room, no one was around, and they were screaming at me, and then someone was touching me.’ That sounds satanic, and really odd. But the dark room may turn out to be their bedroom, and it was bedtime, and before the lights were turned out the abuser or someone else read them a story, and they screamed when they acted out what they were reading to the child, and then the abuse occurred. So, you have to let them tell the story in their own words and worry about sorting it out later. It needs to be authentic to the child.

Something else to keep in mind is that children do not generally spill out the whole story—it may take several hours or even days for them to share everything. What they do is, they tell you a little bit, and then they stop. The reason is because they’re waiting to see how you react: Are they going to get in trouble for sharing this story? Do you believe them? Once they see you believe them and they won’t get in trouble they feel safe enough to share a little bit more. What people need to know is that, according to the literature on the subject, if a child discloses abuse, about 96 percent of the time some sort of abuse did occur. That’s the figure—around 96 percent.

RELATED: Bill ConlinCrimeJerry Sandusky


2011 was the busiest year in BishopAccountability.org’s history

Saturday, December 31, 2011


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Notice the numerous links to pages on the BishopAccountability.org website.

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Thanks to the courage of survivors and the moral and financial support of friends, BishopAccountability.org has been a force for truth in the ongoing Catholic abuse crisis. This was the busiest year in our history. Our site served more than one million visitors – a 48% increase in just the last two years. Our data, documents, and analysis have been relied upon in over one hundred media stories in the NY Times, the Associated Press, the Boston Globe, and elsewhere.

We now post an astounding 160,000 pages of documents, articles, and reports. Our Abuse Tracker provided its crucial round-up of breaking abuse stories every day during 2011. We added over 150 names to our Database of Accused US Priests. The most visited feature on our web site, the database now has information on 3,600 accused clerics.

Jason Berry, in his new book Render unto Rome: The Secret Life of Money in the Catholic Church, uses our embezzlement research and calls us an “unparalleled resource.”

Particular projects at BishopAccountability.org that improved accountability and transparency in the ongoing Catholic abuse crisis include:

Boston — Our advocacy and the data on our site forced Cardinal O’Malley to release a list of 159 accused priests; our database and the files that support it were fundamental to the Boston Globe’s devastating critique of O’Malley’s list. See also our list of 276 accused priests who worked in Boston, and our linked inventory of the lists of accused priests released by 24 U.S. bishops.

Philadelphia — In February, the District Attorney of Philadelphia indicted three priests and a teacher for child rape and a top-ranking archdiocesan official for child endangerment. BishopAccountability.org provides the best access to the massive 2005 Philadelphia grand jury report, which provided the groundwork for the 2011 grand jury report and indictment. We also provide the little-known 2003 grand jury report; the testimony of Cardinal Bevilacqua, also released in 2011; and the indictment of Rev. Charles Newman OFM.

Europe — In addition to all the Irish reports and coverage of breaking news in Ireland, we have posted useful features such as the definitive text, available nowhere else, of the Irish Prime Minister’s speech on the Cloyne report, and the notorious 1997 Storero and 2001 Castrillon Hoyos letters.

Scope of the Problem — We compiled data showing that the real percentage of priests accused of child sexual abuse is 10%, not 4% as is claimed by the Church, or less 1%, as then-Cardinal Ratzinger claimed as recently as December 2002.

International Criminal Filing — Our archive provided most of the 20,000 pages of evidence filed in the case with the International Criminal Court at The Hague by the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Los Angeles — We posted a detailed examination, with links to documents, of a senior Sacred Hearts priest, Rev. Martin O’Loghlen SSCC, who in 1996 had admitted to his religious order that he had sexually abused a girl, but was still in ministery in early 2011, and after his confession had even worked on the Los Angeles archdiocesan Review Board for sexual abuse cases. Our webpage provided evidence that O’Loghlan had been moved to the Philippines, where he was pastor of a huge parish, during the Los Angeles SOL window and the litigation and settlement there.

Chicago — We posted a history of the case of Rev. Donald McGuire SJ with photographs and links to documents, laying out the very early notice that Jesuit leaders had received of McGuire’s crimes.

Louisville — We posted documents from the Louisville archdiocese that showed how much the late Archbishop Kelly knew about sexual abuse crimes committed by his priests.

Major Reports — Our reports page is the best source of reports on the ongoing Catholic abuse crisis, including these 2011 reports:

Report of the Grand Jury, dated January 21, 2011, released February 10, 2011; see alsocriminal charges [Philadelphia archdiocese]

* USCCB Reports on the Implementation of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, 2010 (dated March 2011, but released April 2011)

* Maeve O’Rourke, Submission to the United Nations Committee Against Torture, 46th Session, prepared by Justice for Magdalenes (May 2011)

* Karen Terry et al., The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010 (May 18, 2011) with Errata

Concluding Observations of the Committee against Torture: Ireland, Consideration of Reports submitted by States parties under article 19 of the Convention, United Nations Committee against Torture, Forty-sixth session (May 9-June 3, 2011)

* Judge Yvonne Murphy, Ms. Ita Mangan, and Mr. Hugh O’Neill, Report into the Diocese of Cloyne, Commission of Investigation, dated December 23, 2010, released July 13, 2011

* Reports of the National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church (NBSCCC), sponsored by the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference, the Conference of Religious of Ireland, and the Irish Missionary Union, released November 30, 2011

– See also the 2008 Elliott report on the Cloyne diocese and the linked map of Irish dioceses on the website of the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference

– Ardagh and Clonmacnois diocese

– Derry diocese

– Dromore diocese

– Kilmore diocese

– Raphoe diocese

– Tuam archdiocese

In 2011, we also added the 1970 Kennedy report on Irish residential institutions, the Canadian Hughes report, Vol. 1 and 2, on the Irish Christian Brothers’ crimes at Mount Cashel in Newfoundland, and the Winter report, Vol. 12, and Conclusions, on St. John’s archdiocese in Newfoundland.



Demand for documents from SNAP draws attention; judge’s order to SNAP group draws opposition from victim advocates and journalists

Saturday, December 31, 2011


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Demand for documents from SNAP draws attention

Judge’s order to SNAP group draws opposition from victim advocates and journalists

Wire and staff reports

Updated: 2011-12-31


A Jackson County lawsuit against a Catholic priest is attracting attention because of a broad demand that an advocacy group supply numerous documents. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) has been ordered to disclose records to the priest’s defense lawyers that could include years of emails with victims, journalists and others. SNAP has so far failed to block the ruling by a judge, which requires the organization to produce the documents and also allows defense attorneys to depose the network’s national director, David Clohessy, next week. SNAP’s attorneys have asked the Missouri Supreme Court to intervene. Jackson County Circuit Court Judge Ann Mesle said Clohessy must comply because he “almost certainly has knowledge concerning issues relevant to this litigation.” Mesle argued that Clohessy is free not to respond to specific questions at the deposition and can request that individual documents remain confidential. But victims’ advocates say that if Clohessy is compelled to appear, it could have a chilling effect on the ability of victims of clergy sex abuse to tell their stories without revealing their names in public.Marci Hamilton, a professor at the Cardozo School of Law at New York’s Yeshiva University, told the National Catholic Reporter that the subpoena is “one of the uglier moves I’ve seen by any organization in these cases so far.”Some commentators, however, said SNAP was hypocritical for demanding public release of diocesan records while being unwilling to be transparent itself. SNAP has played a prominent role in 2011 in Kansas City in demanding justice for alleged victims of sex abuse at the hands of priests — allegations that have embroiled the Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph for much of the year. Mesle issued the current order in one of five abuse lawsuits against the Rev. Michael Tierney since the fall of 2010. Tierney has denied any wrongdoing, but the diocese said it removed Tierney from all pastoral assignments in June. The plaintiff, identified only as John Doe, B.P., said he was 13 when Tierney attacked and molested him in the 1970s. Defense lawyers sought the documents as evidence that the accuser’s attorney, Rebecca Randles, violated the gag order by giving details of the case to SNAP. The defense claims the group then printed the information in a press release. Randles has denied violating any ethical rules.Under the ruling, SNAP must produce all documents or correspondence relating to Tierney, the diocese, any priest currently or formerly associated with the diocese, any SNAP communication with the plaintiff and any documents related to repressed memory. The Missouri Press Association has filed a friend-of-the-court brief arguing that the order is unconstitutional and that it would “irrevocably harm the news-gathering process, chill speech by both the news media and potential sources and significantly affect the quality of investigative reporting in the state.”The court order covers correspondence between SNAP and members of the press, including reporters for The Star. Copyright 2011 . All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. Posted on Fri, Dec. 30, 2011 11:36 PM

Read more here: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/12/30/3345363/demand-for-documents-from-snap.html#storylink=cpy