Resignations, Rome meetings and investigations: A week of major developments in the sexual abuse crisis

Pope Francis meets with officials representing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at the Vatican Sept. 13. At left is Msgr. J. Brian Bransfield, general secretary of the conference, and Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. (CNS photo/Vatican Media) Pope Francis meets with officials representing the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops at the Vatican Sept. 13. At left is Msgr. J. Brian Bransfield, general secretary of the conference, and Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston, president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors. (CNS photo/Vatican Media) 

“It just doesn’t stop.”

That sentiment, shared on Twitter Thursday morning by Associated Press Vatican correspondent Nicole Winfield, captures the feelings of many Catholics trying to keep up with the seemingly endless cycle of new revelations about sexual abuse, harassment and misconduct in the U.S. church.


The crisis erupted anew in June, when Pope Francis removed former Cardinal Theodore McCarrick from ministry after he was credibly accused of sexual abuse against a minor more than four decades ago.

There is a seemingly endless cycle of new revelations about sexual abuse, harassment and misconduct in the U.S. church.

Since then, the retired Washington archbishop has faced more allegations of sexual abuse and harassment against adults; a grand jury report in Pennsylvania laid out details of alleged abuse against 1,000 children in that state; a former papal diplomat accused the Vatican of a cover-up and called on the pope to resign; and new allegations of mismanagement have been leveled against U.S. bishops.

Events in the United States and around the world prompted Pope Francis to announce that he is holding an unprecedented global meeting of church leaders to address sexual abuse in February. In the meantime, here is a roundup of developments in the crisis from the past several days.

Washington’s archbishop, Donald Wuerl, announces he will seek to step down

Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the archbishop of Washington who for weeks has faced calls to step down because of his record in managing abuse allegations as the bishop of Pittsburgh, wrote in a blog post on Thursday that he will meet with Pope Francis in the near future and urge the pope to accept his resignation.

“Those called to serve the church in a leadership capacity must recognize that we are to lead not only by word, but also by personal action. We must be prepared to do whatever is needed, including stepping aside,” he wrote. “This action on my part is an essential aspect of the healing so that this archdiocesan church we all love can move forward.”

The 77-year-old cardinal submitted his resignation nearly three years ago, as is customary when a cardinal turns 75. But he is an adviser to the pope and a member of the Congregation for Bishops who, until recently, enjoyed a reputation as a solid manager—presumably among the reasons the pope has declined to accept his resignation in the past.

Trouble for Cardinal Wuerl began in June when his predecessor, Archbishop McCarrick, was removed from public ministry by Pope Francis after a claim of sexual abuse against a minor from decades ago was substantiated. Later, other people claimed they had been victimized by Archbishop McCarrick as adults.

Cardinal Wuerl maintained he was unaware of any misconduct claims against Archbishop McCarrick.

Cardinal Wuerl maintained he was unaware of any misconduct claims against Archbishop McCarrick.

His challenges were compounded following the release in August of an 800-page grand jury report that detailed decades of sexual abuse against minors committed by Catholic priests in Pennsylvania.

When Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, the former papal ambassador to the United States, released a 11-page letter on Aug. 25 calling on Pope Francis to resign over the Archbishop McCarrick case, Cardinal Wuerl faced even more pressure. Archbishop Viganò accused Cardinal Wuerl of lying when he said he was unaware of accusations against his predecessor.

Cardinal Wuerl initially defended his record as archbishop of Pittsburgh, a post he held from 1988 to 2006. He noted that he removed many accused priests from ministry, even fighting with the Vatican in one case. But critics said he did not do enough, leading to protests from victims’ advocates, Catholic school teachers in Washington and even his own clergy.

On Thursday, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York and a previous president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, defended Cardinal Wuerl during an interview on CNN. Cardinal Dolan called Cardinal Wuerl “a good friend” and said “he’s a tremendous leader.

“I kind of hope he doesn’t resign. We need him. He’s been a great source of reform in the past,” he added. “I trust him enough that if he thinks he needs to resign for the good of the church, he will. And I would respect that decision."

Cardinal Wuerl has not announced when he would meet with Pope Francis, and the Vatican said it is preparing a response to Archbishop Viganò’s claims.

Pope Francis meets with U.S. church leaders in Rome

On Sept. 13, Pope Francis met for more than two hours in the Vatican with four U.S. church leaders: Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S.C.C.B.; Archbishop José H. Gómez, vice president; Cardinal Seán O’Malley, head of the Vatican’s Commission for the Protection of Young People; and Msgr. Michael Bransfield, general secretary of the bishops conference.

Following the meeting, both the Vatican and the bishops’ conference stayed mum about what the five men discussed.

Cardinal DiNardo released an 88-word statement, in which he said the group “shared with Pope Francis our situation in the United States—how the Body of Christ is lacerated by the evil of sexual abuse.” But he offered no details about what steps bishops would take to confront the ongoing crisis.

Following the meeting, both the Vatican and the bishops’ conference stayed mum about what the five men discussed.

The cardinal announced in August that he wanted to meet with the pope to discuss the case of former cardinal McCarrick. Cardinal DiNardo said he planned to ask the Vatican for an apostolic visit, led by laypeople, to investigate who knew what and when about the former cardinal. Many Catholics are wondering how then-Archbishop McCarrick rose to one of the most prominent posts in the U.S. church if Vatican officials knew of complaints against him as early as 2000, as the Rev. Boniface Ramsey alleges.

Cardinal DiNardo, who is also facing accusations of mishandling abuse claims (see below), spoke to Catholic News Service following the Vatican meeting, but he did not confirm if he asked the pope about launching an investigation.

In a statement on Aug. 16, Cardinal DiNardo said the U.S.C.C.B. Executive Committee had established three goals: “an investigation into the questions surrounding Archbishop McCarrick; an opening of new and confidential channels for reporting complaints against bishops; and advocacy for more effective resolution of future complaints.”

When asked about the three priorities after the meeting with the pope, the cardinal told the Catholic News Service, “I think we can make movement on those things. I think we have to do it step by step.”

Vatican announces a global summit of bishops in February to discuss sex abuse

The United States is not alone when it comes to abuse and charges of cover-up by church leaders.

Authorities in Chile continue to investigate allegations of abuse there. A group of Catholic nuns in India accused a bishop there of committing rape. Church leaders in Germany are bracing for the release of a report detailing thousands of past cases of abuse.

To address these and other claims, Pope Francis announced on Sept. 12 that the heads of bishops’ conferences from around the world will gather in Rome next February.

Little is known so far about what will be discussed at the meeting, but a spokeswoman for the Vatican said it would address “the prevention of the abuses of minors and vulnerable adults.” There is no word on whether experts in sexual abuse will be invited to brief bishops or what outcomes may be possible.

New York attorney general launches investigation into mismanagement claims

Following the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood’s office has begun a civil investigation into how church leaders in the state’s eight dioceses have handled allegations of abuse.

The investigation will pay particular attention to the Diocese of Buffalo, where Bishop Richard Malone is accused of mishandling sexual assault claims against priests there and of not being truthful about the number of priests accused of abuse. He is facing calls to resign but has said he will not stand down.

The investigation will pay particular attention to the Diocese of Buffalo, where Bishop Richard Malone is accused of mishandling sexual assault claims.

In March, Bishop Malone released a list of 42 priests he said had been credibly accused of sexual abuse. But a Sept. 12 report by Buffalo TV station WKBW said the real number may be higher than 100.

WKBW said the diocese may have changed the criteria for who to include on the list of priests so that it could claim no credibly accused priests were still in active ministry. According to the report, the initial list had more than 100 priests, including members of religious orders, deceased priests accused by a single victim and an “additional 20 accused priests who were kept off the list because they did not fit the diocese’s narrowly defined ‘categories’ for disclosure.”

That report follows claims that Bishop Malone, a former auxiliary bishop to Cardinal Bernard Law in Boston, mishandled allegations against other priests in Buffalo. The bishop has denied any wrongdoing.

More U.S. cardinals face allegations they have mishandled abuse claims

On Wednesday, the Associated Press reported that Cardinal DiNardo, president of the U.S.C.CB. and one of the four church leaders who met with Pope Francis this week, is being accused of mishandling allegations of abuse by a priest in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, where he is archbishop.

The Rev. Manuel LaRosa-Lopez was arrested on Sept. 11 in Conroe, Tex. He is accused of fondling two people when they were in their teens and he was the pastor of a church. The two alleged victims brought their complaint to Cardinal DiNardo as early as 2001. The archdiocese said it reported the claims to the Texas Child Protective Services.

Despite the allegations of abuse, Father LaRosa-Lopez was kept in ministry. He is currently the pastor of a church in Richmond, Tex., and the archdiocese vicar for Hispanic ministry.

Cardinal DiNardo has not responded to charges that he mishandled the church’s response.

Another church leader criticized for mishandling abuse claims is Cardinal Seán O’Malley, who was appointed archbishop of Boston in 2002 to repair the harm caused by the decisions of that city’s previous church leaders to reassign priests known to be sexual abusers.

As head of the Vatican’s sexual abuse commission, he has won praise for pressing Rome to move more swiftly on allegations of abuse and mismanagement by other bishops. But in recent weeks, critics have said that warnings to the Boston archbishop about then-Archbishop McCarrick went unheeded. The cardinal said he never received information about those claims because the Vatican commission is charged with making recommendations, not investigating claims. But Cardinal O’Malley said this week he now plans to “personally review” each new claim that comes to his office.

Critics have said there is no clear path for those who believe a bishop has mishandled allegations of abuse to report their concerns.

West Virginia bishop retires and faces an investigation into sexual harassment

Just before the meeting between Pope Francis and U.S. bishops, the Vatican announced that it had accepted the resignation of Bishop Michael Bransfield, who leads the diocese of Wheeling-Charleston, W. Va. The bishop turned 75 on Sept. 8 and submitted his resignation, as is customary. Often, bishops are allowed to continue on, but the Vatican quickly removed Bishop Bransfield from his post and announced that Baltimore Archbishop William Lori would lead an investigation into claims that Bishop Bransfield sexually harassed adults.

Bishop Bransfield is the cousin of Monsignor Bransfield, who was part of the Vatican meeting Thursday. Bishop Bransfield had been implicated in 2012 in an infamous Philadelphia clerical sex abuse case, but he denied ever abusing anyone and claimed vindication years ago.

….and the abuse crisis is unlikely to subside anytime soon

Some church leaders have called on dioceses and religious orders to release their files related to sexual abuse on their own before civil authorities step in. But time may be limited: Law enforcement officials in at least eight states have either launched similar investigations to Pennsylvania or are considering them.

Material from the Associated Press and Catholic News Service was used in this report.

J Brookbank
4 days 15 hours ago

Thank s for this thorough article. The structure was very helpful, laying out the news events chronologically, one by one, rather than in a mash up of analysis that makes it hard to.see the full extent.

Vincent Couling
4 days 1 hour ago

Robert Mickens has useful analysis about the way forward that augments Michael's article ...…

"But the pope is absolutely convinced that the deeper issues at the heart of abuse perpetrated by the Catholic clergy — whether that be an abuse of authority, conscience or sex — are clericalism and elitism in the Church. How to effectively eradicate them will be much, much more difficult than punishing abusers and their protectors. It will require, as Francis has often said about all reform/renewal in the Church, a change of mentality. And that is a very painful thing that not only the pope, the bishops and priests will have to suffer through. It will be a purifying path for the entire People of God.

The time is right for de-centralization of Church authority: Pope Francis has called all the presidents of the world's national bishops' conferences to Rome next February for a three-day meeting to discuss "the protection of minors." That's a very broad and vague topic. But the fact that he's having such a gathering is an indication that he understands that the sex abuse crisis is a worldwide problem (even if it has yet to be played out in public in many places). It is also an indication that he believes the entire hierarchy, and not just he and a few people in Rome, must decide together on the steps that need be taken to get to the root of the problem and its prevention. Will Francis use the February meeting to obtain a clear mandate for his desire to grant more juridical (and doctrinal) authority to the local churches and their episcopal conferences? That seems like a real possibility."

Elaine Boyle
4 days 15 hours ago

I hope they simply ban homosexuals from seminaries going forward. Enough is enough. How much proof does the Church need?

Roberta Manley
4 days 11 hours ago

Elaine Boyle:. Homosexual seminarians and priests have nothing to do with the sexual abuse of minors by the clergy. These priests have abused both genders. They are pediophiles or ephibophiles. I suggest you educate yourself on these two diagnosis of child molester before calling for an unwarranted ban on homosexuals in the seminary.

Dcn Cliff Britton
4 days 10 hours ago

Hi Roberta. The facts say otherwise. 80% of reported abuse are priests on teenage boys. Homosexual encounters, not pedophilia (pre-pubescent encounters). And the Vatican changed the selection criteria for seminaries following the 2002 revelations. Men with deep-seated homosexual inclinations are disqualified from seminaries. AND (according to my bishop who summoned his deacons two weeks ago), there is a huge emphasis now on seminarian "human development" to ensue they are "paternal" in their relationships. It is time for people to stop parroting the social PC narrative that homosexual inclinations and, more specifically - homosexual activity - has nothing to do with men abusing teenagers.... it is power AND sexual orientation.

Jim Lein
4 days 9 hours ago

Roberta also mentioned ephebophiles (mid to late adolescent, 15-19).

Roberta Manley
4 days 6 hours ago

Hi Cliff.... I speak as a health care professional. Homosexual orientation has nothing to do with the sexual abuse of children. If you go back you will see that I have included ephibophiles which having sexual attraction to teenagers 15-19 years old. The sexual abuse of minors in the church have included both male and female both under 15 years of age and over 15 years. So we have pedophile and ephibophile priests abusing boys or girls and some both. I would not take the word of any bishop as they are not credible given their own abuse and cover-up. What they are doing is scapgoating their own homosexual brothers rather than han admitted their own wrong doing in transferring these abusers from parish to parish. It is clear in the health care field that pedophilia and ephibophilia is about power and control. It is not about sexual orientation. I would recommend you do further research on this topic.

J Brookbank
4 days 4 hours ago

Thank you, Roberta. Many Catholics --- straight Catholics, gay Catholics, old Catholics, young Catholics, etc --- know this is true. All of us need to start saying it, repeating it, repeating it, repeating it every single time lay Catholics and the hierarchy state their misinfirmation or consciously manipulative disinformation.

Roberta Manley
4 days 6 hours ago

Hi Cliff.... I speak as a health care professional. Homosexual orientation has nothing to do with the sexual abuse of children. If you go back you will see that I have included ephibophiles which having sexual attraction to teenagers 15-19 years old. The sexual abuse of minors in the church have included both male and female both under 15 years of age and over 15 years. So we have pedophile and ephibophile priests abusing boys or girls and some both. I would not take the word of any bishop as they are not credible given their own abuse and cover-up. What they are doing is scapgoating their own homosexual brothers rather than han admitted their own wrong doing in transferring these abusers from parish to parish. It is clear in the health care field that pedophilia and ephibophilia is about power and control. It is not about sexual orientation. I would recommend you do further research on this topic.

Gino Dalpiaz
3 days 19 hours ago


In an August 18, 2018, pastoral letter, the bishop of Madison, Wisconsin, Bishop Robert Morlino wrote: “It is time to admit that there is a homosexual subculture within the hierarchy of the Catholic Church that is wreaking great devastation in the vineyard of the Lord. The Church’s teaching is clear that the homosexual inclination is not in itself sinful, but it is intrinsically disordered in a way that renders any man stably afflicted by it unfit to be a priest.”

In 2005, the Vatican stated that even celibate gays should not be priests, saying church leaders cannot accept seminary applicants who “practice homosexuality, present deep-seated homosexual tendencies or support the so-called ‘gay culture. Regarding the homosexual inclination, Bishop Morlino does not hesitate to say that it “renders any man stably afflicted by it unfit to be a priest.” In his pastoral letter, Bishop Morlino told his people: “There has been a great deal of effort to keep separate acts which fall under the category of now-culturally-acceptable acts of homosexuality from the publically-deplorable acts of pedophilia. That is to say, until recently the problems of the Church have been painted purely as problems of pedophilia — this despite clear evidence to the contrary.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church calls homosexuality “an objectively disordered tendency,” “an intrinsic disorder, a “grave disorder.”

Can a gay priest minister appropriately and comfortably to the 95% of his parishioners who are straight? In a gay world, where up is down and down is up, can a gay priest really understand males? Can he really understand women when he is sexually unattracted to them? Clerical celibacy is not the culprit, nor is allowing a homosexual priest to marry (a woman) the solution. Cardinal Francis George of Chicago used to ask homosexual candidates to the seminary or priesthood: “Can you envision yourself as a husband and a father?”

In an article in the National Catholic Reporter, “Painful Times for Gay Religious Demand Risk” (May 17, 2002), an openly gay Capuchin religious brother, the well-known church music composer, Jack Talbot, candidly writes: “Our (gay) orientation differentiates us from our heterosexual counterparts not only in our sexual attractions but in every aspect of our lives. Human sexuality is the font of all that centers and propels us.”

John Hess
3 days 16 hours ago

Gino, I'm not sure I understand your points about sexual attraction vs. understanding. To mirror your questions. Can a straight priest really understand females? Can he really understand men when he is sexually unattracted to them?

Tim O'Leary
3 days 12 hours ago

Roberta - history shows there is no hard line driven by age when it come to sexual attraction, especially with teenagers. This applies to all type of attraction. Knowing this, in general society, there is considerable suspicion of men having access to teenage girls, and many standards and procedures (older women chaperones, etc.) for reducing the risk to girls. This is lacking when it comes to same-sex encounters. In general society, about 60-80% of teenagers abused are girls by older men and 20-40% boys by men. So, those who say the majority of abusers of teenagers are heterosexual are correct, although the rate of abuse by the 5% homosexual/bisexual men is still proportionately higher. In the Church, the majority of teenagers abused are boys, the reverse of general society. Therefore, we need to understand the unique problem with homosexuality in the Church and fix it. All homosexuals who wish to see an end to sex abuse in the Church should support this focus.

J Brookbank
3 days 7 hours ago

Tim, your analysis focuses on sexual attraction as the determinant in how sexual predators choose their child and adolescent victims.

This is not supported by forensics, by research statistics or by professionals whose expertise is intervention with perpetrators and victims.

The widely accepted reality is that the sexual abuse of children and teens is a crime of opportunity.

Children and teens are sexually abused by adults well known to them who have frequent access to and unsupervised contact and often a relationship of authority over the victim and iften the victim's primary caretaker.

This provides the necessary opportunity for grooming the would-be victim; the necessary opportunity to perform undetected the act of abuse; and sufficient influence, either through threats or rewards, to prevent the child from telling.

Thus a perpetrator of child and adolescent sexual abuse is most often a parent, step-parent, mom's boyfriend, an uncle, grandparent, cousin, older sibling, teacher, coach, pastor, scout leader, friend's parent, etc.

Victims often are also often vulnerable in some way, including everything from the fact that the child is unsupervised, to coming from an overwhelmed family, to already being victimized by someone else or different in some way and thus needing approval, companionship and kindness which includes everything from disabled to bullied to gay to lonely to you-name-it.

Thus unsupervised access by a familiar adult in a position of perceived or real authority -- and a kid vulnerable in some way --- is a much greater determinant (or risk factor) than is the gender or sexual orientation of either perpetrator or victim.

Thus your analysis does not acknowledge this forensic reality, widely accepted by all professionals involved in children protection, law enforcement, corrections and treatment of victims, perpetrators and the communities/institutions in which the abuse occurred.

Prefatory priests - straight and gay and pedophiles and asexual sadists - had daily and weekly unsupervised access to and authority over boys. That is who they could groom, abuse and control. That is why the numbers of male victims of clerical sexual abuse are high.

You refer to cultural norms that have and do sexualize adolescents of both genders and how that has and does create tacit permission for adults to approach and sexually exploit teens of both genders.

I agree with you that gay male culture has included a tolerance for sex with underage males; I agree that this is always wrong and, in many cases, illegal because the teen is a minor, just as adult sexual contact with teenage girls is always wrong and it is often illegal because the girl is a minor.

Adults should not be having sexual relationships with teenagers, period, and, until recently, the gay male culture -- like the straight male culture -- has fetishized teens.

Society has left teens of both genders vulnerable to abuse in a dynamic which sometimes IS sexual predation by predators.......

(With regard to gay teens, if parents and churches and other adults would quit rejecting g and abandoning gay teens BECAUSE they are gay, those kids would be less vulnerable to sexual abuse and exploitation by adults because those adults wouldn't have so much unsupervised access to them.)

....AND sometimes the sexual abuse of teens reflects a society which objectifies ANY subject of ANY adult male's desire, thus making those subjects vulnerable to exploitation and abuse. This is not a gay thing; this is not a straight thing. It is a reflection of the greater value society continues to place on the sexual rights and sexual desires of men and the lesser value society places on the sexual rights of women and children (though very recently this seems to be changing with the #MeToo movement).

NONE of it is okay. ALL of it is criminal. Adults should not be having sex with kids. Period.

But you are conflating the two dynamics either because you are inadequately informed about a very complex topic or because you are focused on your pursuit of the removal of gay priests from the church.

A Fielder
2 days 18 hours ago

Tim, if your statistics are accurate, the most important question to ask is why? Why is it so much harder for gay men to sexually integrate and grow in committed relationships with people their own age? I imagine that discrimination, often religiously supported, is a significant contributor.

Phillip Stone
4 days 8 hours ago

The real research is telling us that a man who is willing to commit any sort of sexual sin is more likely to begin to go on and do it more and do it with other sorts of people. Habitual masturbation, use of pornography and abuse of alcohol and affairs with adult women play a significant part in the overall picture: escalation.

This is sin, recourse to pseudo-medical or pseudo-psychiatric diagnoses is another form of denial.

It does seem to be a real finding that the epidemic of abuse is fundamentally homosexual adding on to the endemic failure of faithfulness to celibacy long known of and documented. Henry Miller: Tropic of Capricorn and Tropic of Cancer vividly includes the priest/housekeeper menage in rural France.

Vincent Couling
4 days 1 hour ago

"Clergy sex abuse not about gay priests, top psychologist says" ...…

"Although many blame the abuse scandals on homosexuality among the clergy, same-sex attraction does not make priests more likely to sexually abuse children, Plante said. “It’s perfectly understandable that people could be confused by this, because we know that 80 percent or more of the clerical sexual abuse victims are boys,” Plante said. “So people conclude that if you get rid of homosexuals in the clergy, then you’ve got the problem solved. And it doesn’t work that way.”

Most of the clerical sexual abuse perpetrators have been “situational generalists,” a term used throughout extensive John Jay College of Criminal Justice summary reports, the most recent in 2011, to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Generalists do not have a specific sexual preference for youth, but instead “turn to children as a sort of substitute” due to psychological and emotional difficulties in bonding with peers, Plante observed. Such individuals - who often exhibit issues with substance abuse and impulse control - “can’t develop successful, negotiated, intimate relationships with adults,” said Plante, who recently served as vice chair of the USCCB’s National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Youth. Since generalist offenders seek readily available victims, boys have historically - though by no means exclusively - been a target for many clerical abusers.

“Priests for the most part had access to boys, and trust with boys, much more so than girls,” said Plante, noting that this proximity has led to the erroneous correlation between homosexuality and clerical abuse.

Only a small number of abusive priests - and of sexual abusers in the general population - can be formally classified as pedophiles, according to the clinical definition used by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in its “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM),” the authoritative guide used by mental health professionals worldwide. “The classic pedophile is attracted to young, prepubescent children,” said Plante. Prepubescence is typically defined as less than age 11.

Misconceptions people may have about sexual abuse, sexual harassment and homosexuality as elements of the ongoing crisis in the Church can hinder efforts to address it, according to a leading psychologist and expert on the crisis. The complex nature of each of the elements can make it “hard for the average Catholic in the pew” to grasp key differences among them, delaying the formulation of “good, smart solutions,” Santa Clara University psychologist Dr. Thomas Plante told, the news outlet of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.

A prolific author who also serves on Stanford University’s faculty, Plante has spent more than 30 years researching and treating psychological issues among Catholic clergy and laypersons."

Paul Mclaughlin
1 day 12 hours ago

Would everyone please take a cold shower and stop with the focus of the problem being sex. The problem is the unitary power of the clerical state and how it is used to abuse people, engage in sex, suppress the laity and relegate us to the roles of to paying and praying. It’s about the teaching of how ordination makes the clergy “ontologically” superior to the rest of humanity. The Church does not defrock priests, it laizses them - aka - sends them back to the lesser ones.

All allegations of abusing priests should be sent to the police. In the cases of consenting sexual conduct - gay or straight - is about a broken vow to live a chaste life and should result in defrocking,. In the case of a Bishop not doing wiith these matters should result in censure by a lay board and removal by Rome.

The clergy have a vocation, but it’s status is co-equal with the laity and this equality is built into the structure. Bishops and pastors are no longer superior and should be held accountable by the laity for temporal misdeeds - finance, sexual misconduct and the like.

J Brookbank
1 day 12 hours ago


Jim Spangler
4 days 14 hours ago

A good positive article. But we need to see concrete action. Visible action! I want my Church back, one that I can trust. One that I know when decisions are made that they are transparent and one can understand why they were made. I want all those Cardinal's, the Pope, Archbishops, Bishops and Priest to resign if they are guilty, and if they are to be prosecuted. I want the whole power structure looked at and revised involving the Laity. I want to be able to attend Mass without thinking about all of the diabolical homosexual influence that is poisoning the Church. I want to know that my monthly Tithe is being spent wisely and not wasted on hiarcial frivolities. I want our Seminaries to be a place where young me can go to study for the Priesthood without being treated as a fresh piece of meat by some old slimy Cardinal or Bishop for pleasure. I want the homosexual gatherings and parties to not exist within the Church. I want a overall apology from the Church to all of the abused, to all of the injured, to everyone (Laity) in its entirety stating that the Church regrets and apologies for millions of lives that they have destroyed throughout history. I want an end to the glorifying of homosexuality. It is a choice, not something that one is born with. It is an inability to control same sex attraction that is promoted by weak moral judgement! There are areas that have no place for homosexuality and that is the Church. How can the Church be a moral compass, and yet involve and defend abnormal action that by its own words says that it is a sin! Perhaps the Church needs to review the Celibacy rules, since it really has no scripture to back it up. I want the Church to look at some of its traditions, like their Clerical dress. Little old men waltzing around in their gowns. They need to bring their clerical dress up to date with the times. That's my ten cents worth today! Dear Jesus, send down Your Spirit to renew the face of the Church. Cast out the demons, the snakes, the vipers, the liars, the abusers, the money mongers, the conivers, the diviates, the back stabbers, to those who hold their self interest over the weak, the frail, the poor, and the innocent. A cry comes forth from the wilderness, make way the path for the Lord!

Tim O'Leary
4 days 14 hours ago

Michael - this is a great summary. Comprehensive yet concise. I think one item should have been added, that of the accusation and exoneration of Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, who was in Harrisburg when the now-discredited allegation rose. What is great is that this went from allegation to exoneration in a week (link below). It is a reminder that many innocents are likely to be caught up in the dragnet of the global investigations and they need our prayers as they will suffer ignominy until cleared and a cloud of suspicion will persist in some quarters for ever. For the sake of justice for all, I would like to see a standing independent panel of lay faithful Catholics and professional investigators at the ready to convict or clear accused clergy as rapidly as possible.…

Michael Barberi
4 days 14 hours ago

A good summary, but it lacks two important accusations and revelations that must be thoroughly investigated:

1. Vigano states, and we know it to be true, that It was JP II that promoted McCarrick to Cardinal in 2001 when his decades-long sexual abuse of seminarians was widely known by U.S. Bishops and Cardinals and by Vatican officials who received a letter from Fr. Ramsey about McCarrick's sexual abuse of seminarians.
> How did Pope JP II justify promoting McCarrick to Cardinal?
> Was the evidence about McCarrick withheld from JP II? If so, this creates a different but highly significant scandal. How did this happen?

2. Vigano also stated that Pope Benedict XVI sanctioned McCarrick in 2009-2010. However, there is evidence that McCarrick did not abide by these sanctions. Vigano also accused Pope Francis of lifting B16's sanctions on McCarrick.
> Did B16 sanction McCarrick?
> If so, why did B16 do nothing when McCarrick ignored the sanctions?
> Did Pope Francis know of sanctions that B16 imposed on McCarrick? If so, why did he lift them or do nothing to McCarrick who continued to ignore these sanctions? Did Pope Francis question if sanctions were in-effect on McCarrick since he never adhered to any of them?

I hope that a national (or international) lay-lead impartial committee with Apostolic participation will thoroughly investigate all accusations and evidence in the Grand Jury Report, the entire McCarrick scandal, and the Vigano's letter. This means having unfettered access to all documents, reports, emails, etc, and the ability to question priests, bishops, cardinals and Pope Francis and Pope Benedict XVI.

So far, we have heard nothing from DiNardo and Pope Francis. We need to bring all priests/bishops/cardinals....and potentially popes....found guilt of sexual abusive crimes, immoral sexual behavior, gross negligence, coverup, or the turning a blind eye to evidence of sexual abusive behavior, to appropriate justice and to institute significant structural, process and juridical reforms.

Jim Spangler
4 days 13 hours ago

AMEN, Michael!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Anthony Noble
4 days 10 hours ago

You should lead a lay investigation into all of points you made. You are spot on. It would be a blessing if the Vatican and the American Bishops follow your advice. As for Vigano, I don't believe he is a credible person though to be thorough, it would be important to review his claims so if nothing else they can be exposed as untrue.

Henry Brown
4 days 11 hours ago

I am still puzzled how McCarrick ever became a Bishop ?

Is the vetting process less thorough than that for becoming a Seminarian ?

Then how was it that McCarrick was then made a Cardinal ?

How was evidence concerning his weaknesses ignored ?

You can pass new Canon Laws and say you will do this and that but until

this mystery is resolved, what good will it do if warning/claim are ignored ?

Jeffrey More
4 days 9 hours ago

This article is thorough, all right. It is also searingly illustrative of how profoundly screwed up the Church is. All hell is breaking loose -the Body of Christ is being lacerated, in Cardinal DiNardo's words- but the best the whited sepulchres who run this "oldest established permanent floating crap game" can manage is to send a four-man delegation to Rome, three of whose members face, or are associated with someone who faces, allegations of misconduct! Is this some sort of joke? All of these men may be wonderful, innocent people; but has management of the U.S. branch of this international REIT sunk so low that fully 75% of the delegation sent to Rome has to consist of people who are (however temporarily) under a cloud themselves? This is like something out of a bad sitcom. Add to that the fact that the delegation has seen fit to keep us all in the dark as to what was discussed (except for DiNardo's 88-word statement), and you've got the makings of a Monty Python routine, particularly considering how full of big plans/ideas DiNardo was when he requested this meeting. Then there's the matter of the global summit that's supposed to deal with the international aspects of the corrosive rot affecting Catholic Church, Inc. This is scheduled to take place five months hence! Again, is this some sort of joke? Meantime, Donny Wuerl is sitting in his penthouse on Embassy Row anticipating someday meeting with the Pope to discuss the matter of the resignation he claims he's so anxious for Francis to accept urgently, while his brother cardinal in New York, from his mansion on Madison Avenue, offers the hope that Donny will not, after all, resign. In light of all this foot-dragging and delay, one has to wonder how long it will take the Vatican to draft its response to Archbishop Vigano's accusations. Will it be before the Second Coming? I wouldn't bet on it.

arthur mccaffrey
4 days 8 hours ago

or to put it another way Jeffrey, from the perspective of victims rather than the perspective of a dysfunctional institution--how many more children will be abused in the coming 5 months? I would rather these red hats did all their speechifying from inside a jail cell. Pope Francis likes to visit the sick and the imprisoned and the outcast, so this would be a good opportunity for him to go meet his own employees.

J Brookbank
4 days 6 hours ago

Excellent summary.

The Church is so corruptly structured that compromised Cardinal Wuerl is "prevented" from even doing the right thing regarding his own personal participation in that structure without permission and without peer pressure (if one goes, do they all have to ask whether they too should go?)

This is not about sex. This is about the corrosive and self-protected power to maintain themselves which is revealed in this chronology and your summary.

Sick structures make healthy people sick and sick people sicker.

And sex has ALWAYS been one of the ways sick humans act out.

The acting out has to stop, of course. But the long-term fix is the end of this pseudoroyalty.

Phillip Stone
4 days 8 hours ago

Please America, call this for what it really is :
1. A SCANDAL and not a crisis
2. Failure of duly constituted governance.
3. Dubious sacramental theology in both ordination and reconciliation.

The peak of the obscene clerical sexual abuse activity is well in the past, the practice of denial and cover-up continues and from where I stand there is no light visible at the end of that tunnel.

Will Niermeyer
4 days 8 hours ago

Dolan and O'Malley also need resign. They too are just as guilty of hiding the sex abuse in their archdioceses. I no longer place my complete faith in the Catholic Church. Clergy and Hierarchy are a bunch of lying pervert money hungry fools. My parish bulletin went from thanks for all the money we made on the Bazaar to a Mass for penance to asking for more money for Hope Appeal. It's a joke

Robert Pique
3 days 23 hours ago

good one ..

Jim Spangler
3 days 14 hours ago

All I can say is that if you work in the Vatican, cover your backside!

Harvey Milk, MD
3 days 14 hours ago

Against the Spirit of Fierceness
September 1, 2018
Diego Fares, SJ

“Whenever we encounter ferocity, we react instinctively. The various languages refer to this phenomenon emphasizing different aspects. In Italian, the term accanimento refers to the subject – the cane (dog) – which stresses the subject of this ferociousness. In Spanish, encarnizamiento refers to “carne” (flesh), considering the object on which fury is exercised. English and French use “fierceness” and “ferocité,” respectively, underlining the violence of the action itself. In German, Hartnäckigkeit means “stubbornness” and underlines a physical trait revealing a ruthless determination or unscrupulous pursuit of a goal.

If we analyze the phenomenon of bullying, for example, we see that it is not easily categorized, although certain recurring characteristics – premeditated aggression, its systematic nature and asymmetry of power – allow us to put individual episodes in this context.[7] However, the description of some traits that are common in the abstract does not penetrate the core of the phenomenon, its apparently unmotivated evil, which at some point intensifies exponentially and becomes contagious. Characteristics such as these lead us to realize that this is not a merely instinctive and animal issue, but something more.”

Tim O'Leary
3 days 12 hours ago

J Brookbank, Vincent, George (under alias) - I note you can get outraged with your intellectual opponents on the gay lobby crisis in the Church, yet you never respond to those like this guy who uses demonic responses in his comments. I have found the gay-is-ok side is completely unwilling to react to these types of comments. It is like the extreme wing of the Pride parades.

J Brookbank
3 days 9 hours ago

Tim, I have never seen this poster nor have I seen vulgarity like this here except when it is directed at the lgbt community and, most often and in particular, it is directed at gay men.

It is vulgar; it is ugly; it is not productive; and it should be condemned.

It is, in fact, a good example -- simply reversed -- of the vulgarity and ugliness routinely directed toward the LGBT community and, again, gay men in particular on this site.

It is ugly and vulgar no matter the target and no matter the speaker.

Comparatively, it is not often that we straight people are targeted or spoken to in this way, accused of bestiality, etc. But my goodness, though we experience it rarely, it does hurt our feelings and outrage us that anyone should be so emotionally violent toward us just because we are straight.

But casual indictments of all gay men as rapists, as so dangerous that a man must be on high alert at all times, shielding his body against a rape on a given day in any given context by any given gay coworker simply because the coworker is gay ---- "watch your backiside" ---- these words of bigotry are common, chuckle-worthy, "just something guys say".

In actuality, those casual comments are constructive of the fear that results in gay men being beaten to within an inch of their lives for holding hands. Because after all, who doesn't want to beat the tar out of someone we have been told will not be able to stop himself from raping a man or child if we let them be near in any and all circumstances?

So this vulgar guy? Vulgar. Ugly. And holding up a mirror to people who engage in bigotry.

The guy who said "watch your backside"? Vulgar. Ugly. And a contributor to the very real threat of violence which all gay men live with every day.

Neither is acceptable.

And only one places lives at risk.

A Fielder
2 days 17 hours ago

Tim, this “Ignatus” fellow embarrasses himslelf with an immature projection, the likes of which are much less common than the anti-gay slurs and attacks which frequent these comment threads from people who spend a disproportionate amount of time simply repeating their bigoted opinions ad nauseum.

Tim O'Leary
2 days 6 hours ago

Perhaps, you have missed the comments from Guillermo, Eddy, George Cassel (and alias), and others who had similar projections on their intellectual opponents in recent comboxes. Most of my comments use the actual teaching of the Church, the Holy Father's actual statements and the medical literature. I will continue to use those sources, and I will try to refrain from fighting fire with fire. Political correctness has become so all-consuming that even the slightest rejection of the PC masquerade is deemed as hateful, bigoted, racist, homophobic, transphobic, all-phobic, etc., when it is actually pure intellectual and spiritual disagreement. This is intellectual laziness at best, and its own bigotry at its worst.

Jim Spangler
3 days 5 hours ago

I Loyola, you seem to have a soiled mind. Homosexuality is a problem and it is the major problem within the Church. It reaches from Parishes on up into the Vatican. You may not like to hear what is being said, but facts are facts as the Catholic Church tumbles down around us. I would question your moral turpitude as being insensitive, and lacking any structure in formation of being a human person. You cannot stand truth that the Church is coming apart at the seams. Where is Loyola, in the garbage dump???????

J Brookbank
3 days 4 hours ago

Jim, are you kidding us? You state "jokingly" that any and all men in the Vatican need to be on constant physical guard against rape by any and every gay priest at the Vatican and, suddenly, you want to talk about "moral turpitude" and garbage dumps?

That is a wild bit of the hateful pot calling the vulgar kettle black.

Your comment was not only vulgar and ugly; it was bigoted and homophobic and full of the overwrought self-regard that leads some heterosexual men to assume that every gay man will be attracted to him.

Quit engaging in bigotry and quit feeding homophobia by making a joke that means "gay men will rape if you are anywhere near them".

Jim Spangler
2 days 23 hours ago

Same sex attraction leads to homosexual activity if the moral character of the individual is not held in check. Like it or not, it is the main problem in the Catholic Church today. Homosexuals have been allowed to infiltrate the hierarchy which only makes sense, since the 2002 diabolical mess centered on Priest only. Who thought that homosexuality would ever infiltrate the Bishops, Archbishops, and Cardinals. As they were promoted from Priests on up into the hierarchy if was a great place to hide the activities, plus feed the source. Homosexuality is a sin according to scripture! We seem to have a dichotomy which has developed in the Church! Whoopee, bring this on into the Seminaires, let the old slimy Cardinals and Bishops enjoy fresh meat, and no one will ever know. Except now the cat is out of the bag. If I sound like a bigot, so be it. Rome was destroyed by Homosexuality if you are smart enough to go back into history. The Roman Catholic Church still located in Rome is repeating the same disaster. There is no room for homosexuality within the Roman Catholic Church, it must be cleansed. Perhaps I am not politically correct, but there seems to be this chic culture in our society that anything goes. It is time that the Laity take back the Church and Country.

J Brookbank
2 days 21 hours ago

Jim, you seem to be missing the point. You told men that if they do not actively shield their bodies in the presence of gay men they are likely to be raped. There no statistics which support that, and statements such as these, made under cover of a joke, contribute to homophobia, the fear of gay men that leads to violence, bullying and suicides in increasingly young teens and children. That is not politically incorrect. That is telling a lie that puts others' lives at risk.

Connor Brennan
2 days 20 hours ago

Thank you Mr. Brookbank for speaking out against the homophobic lies you've read others perpetuating here. It disturbs me to no end that so many people in the Catholic Church are trying to blame gay men and gay priests for this issue of clerical abuse, when gay men aren't responsible for this travesty.

I'm a young gay man who is currently a member of the United Methodist denomination, and has had a growing interest in Catholic spirituality thanks in large part due to numerous spiritual experiences I've had focusing around Mother Mary, Saint Michael the Archangel, and reading the talks Saint Faustina Kowalska had with Jesus Himself about what His Mercy truly means.

My family knew about my real desire to look into conversion into Catholicism, but I've told them that after seeing how so many laity are trying to blame this on gay people, I don't want to set foot in a Catholic church right now. I fear that if I try to join a Catholic congregation at this moment, I will be lumped in with the perpetrators of the sexual abuse that's been uncovered, and that I will be mistreated and misjudged for a crime I didn't commit.

Again, thank you for speaking out, and pointing out the lack of humility and remorse you've seen in some of the comments here. To a young gay man like me wanting to deepen my faith, it means more than you know.

J Brookbank
1 day 15 hours ago

Connor, I am grateful to hear from you, to be on this journey with you. And I am so sorry for this ugliness. I know many Catholics who reject these lies and this bigotry and, yes, please be careful at this moment when so many others in the RCC are seeking scapegoats. Gatherings in Jesus' name are the last places anyone should be scapegoated and, yet, it is happening. I do know RC parishes that are honestly welcoming of everyone who comes to the door and I pray you find one of those in time. In the meantime, please know there are many Catholics like me and some others commenting here who recognize and confront the lies that are told to scapegoat gay men to account for the troubling reality that predators gravitate to positions of authority and privilege which the RCC guarantees to every single one of its clerical members and then protects that authority and privilege for themselves by saying "God said so". Again I am grateful to hear from you and please know there are so very many of us who hear and reject the lies. Perhaps this explosion of scapegoating --- which has allowed commenters like some here to believe that their dangerous, sometimes life-threatening lies and bigotry are so commonplace that they can be expressed as casual assumptions (the gay man here who.was asked if he was a child abuser or a child victim of a gay man because the commenter can only imagine those two possibilities) OR believe that their bigotry and lies can be expressed as a joke the writer thinks no one will object (Jim's above) --- perhaps this brazen expression of ugliness will encourage more of us to stand against the ugliness.

Lots of us do see the perversion of Catholic Christianity these statements represent ---- Jesus ALWAYS saw and spoke to and embraced the people he encountered as INDIVIDUALS, as one unique and specfic and known-by-name beloved child of God and never as a representative of "people like you" , the latter being the characterization that permits these lies and this bigotry expressed here. Lots of us recognize this perversion of Jesus' way of encountering the stranger. Lots of us want to be at Christ's table with you. And we understand the need for you to be safe from this ugliness. And I am hopeful that more and more of us are learning anew that safety starts to build each time we reject and confront these lies, this scapegoating, this unChristian ugliness so you ---- and each of us ---- may safely participate at Christ's table.

Tim O'Leary
1 day 13 hours ago

J - you might find this pattern insightful to your style of evangelization and motivation. When I removed the intervening words in your last comment, I am left with this riff: "Ugliness…lies…bigotry…scapegoats…scapegoated…lies…scapegoat…lies…scapegoating…lies…bigotry…bigotry…ugliness…ugliness…lies…bigotry…ugliness…lies…scapegoating… ugliness."

J Brookbank
1 day 13 hours ago


J Brookbank
1 day 13 hours ago

Tim, how very sad for you

Also I do not believe my first obligation, as a human or as a Catholic or as a Christian or as a child of God, upon encountering a stranger, is to "evangelize and motivate" them to join the Catholic Church.

I believe my first and forever primary obligation is to greet and thus acknowledge and promise to approach with reverence the dignity of the Other as the beloved brother or sister of my brother Jesus.

Tim O'Leary
1 day 10 hours ago

J - Like some rap artist, you hurl accusations of hate and bigotry over 20 times against Catholics and then dare to say you "approach with reverence the dignity of the Other as the beloved brother or sister" of your Savior Jesus Christ. It really is sad.

J Brookbank
1 day 9 hours ago

Tim, it is not bigotry to name and condemn bigotry.

It is not a rejection of or lack of reverence for the dignity of the person engaged in the lies of homophobia to name and reject those lies.

The identification and rejection of bigotry and, in this case, the lies that are constructive of homophobia are supportive of the dignity of all, including the liar whose bigotry debases him.

It is an old strategy of those engaged in
racism and homophobia to demand that their dangerous lies be heard and tolerated and considered without condemnation.

Approaching you with reverence for your dignity as a child of God includes reminding you of the dignity of ALL children of God and, when you are unable to offer that, intervening for the protection of the one whose dignity you assault.

When you asked a gay man here if, as a consequence of his identity as a gay man, he was either a sexual abuser of children or the victim of child sexual abuse by a gay man, you engaged in homophobic verbal violence, Tim.

Reverence for the dignity of all God's children --- yours as well as that of the man you verbally assaulted --- required a response and affirmation of his dignity AND an affirmation of yours by rejecting your dangerous hate-mongering toward a stranger, by hoping that seeing another embrace --- as a fellow child of God ---- the victim of your verbal violence would call you to a remembrance of your own dignity and obligation as a child of God.

Tim O'Leary
1 day 8 hours ago

J - the problem is your duplicity. You speak in nice terms but you give bigotry a pass while you decide Church teaching is de facto bigotry. George Cassel, who has changed his online name to Harvey Milk, MD, the known sex abuser of minors, said the following before my response: "Tim is very much a self-loathing homosexual. You are right: he is obsessed with homophobia which is found in homosexuals who hate themselves. Touche. Good call. Treat Tim with compassion and pity. He probably acts out privately his homosexual behaviors in dark places, gay bars, porn stores and of course online. Count on it. It takes one to know one. Lol" I do not worry about this hateful bigotry, as christophobia is alive and well in the LGBT community. But, I find it laughable that you defend this by silence while you create a rap poem on the evils of bigotry. Wake up!

J Brookbank
1 day 6 hours ago

Tim, I did not happen to read that comment and, to be honest, I would not have called it out as bigotry against you. T

In shorthand, i do not believe the bully can be "bullied" by the the person he bullies.

The bully CAN be the target of righteous anger. Imagine: gay men were ---- and many places still are -arrested and beaten and killed for having consensual adult sex at the same time Church and State around the world upheld the rights of married men to beat and rape their wives.

How could a gay man NOT be angry at heterosexual men and the church when they say "oooooh gay men are so bad!"

The bully CAN be "given a taste of his own medicine" so the bully can see just how vicious his behavior and words have been. (I think that is a good characterization of a lot of the stuff that gay men direct at you here, Tim.)

You get the picture I am sure.

But the victim bully the bully? The target of bigotry cast as bigot because he names and rejects the bigotry of the bigoted and holds up a mirror so the bigoted person can see his own impact firsthand?

That may be unproductive at times but it is not bigotry.

Additionally, religious teachings have been used as weapons against the Other, the less powerful, the poor, the different since forever. "I am just repeating what the church teaches" is not a Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval, Tim. Jesus was pretty darn clear on that.

So no I would not defend you here, Tim, when a mirror is held up to show you how others perceive your words here.

As to your concern about Harvey Milk and your concern that he exploited and abused adolescents:

Harvey Milk has been dead for 40 years. Let that go, Tim.

Instead, focus your energy on absorbing this instead:

The surest way to protect gay teens from being vulnerable to exploitation and abuse is to ensure that gay teens hear from their parents and their churches: "we love you no matter what; we want you living at home no matter what; we want you in youth group no matter what; we want you in school no matter; we want you to be our son or our daughter always and forever because you are ours and God loves our whole family equally and wants us home and in church together no matter what." Gay kids who are not driven away, thrown away, kicked out, abandoned, abused at home and church will do their experimentation the way most straight kids do: with same age peers in their home communities where, if safe adults have earned the trust of the kids, the kids will be safer. Gay kids will be less likely to mistake the attention of a exploitive, abusive adult for the attention and love and wisdom and physical comfort and protection of a safe parent and a role model.


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