Police Raid Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston

 

After all the anger that has been simmering toward the Catholic hierarchy in America and in Rome for the dismissive and deceptive way in which it has responded to the generations-old sexual abuse crisis, where priests and bishops have preyed on children and seminarians, it may fall to American law enforcement to begin the effort to cleanse the Catholic Church.

News broke today that offices for the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, TX, which is the office of Cardinal DiNardo who currently presides over the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, have been raided by law enforcement officers with warrants to gather information pertaining to the case of a priest accused of molesting children who was reassigned to another parish. From KHOU in Houston:

This is the fourth search warrant executed for documents pertaining to LaRosa-Lopez. A man and a woman claimed they were abused as teenagers by LaRosa-Lopez between 1998 and 2001 at the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Conroe.

Since his arrest, authorities executed search warrants at Sacred Heart, St. John Fisher Catholic Church in Richmond, where LaRosa-Lopez was a priest until his arrest, and the Shalom Center in Splendora. The Shalom Center is a treatment facility where LaRosa-Lopez spent time in 2001 after his first accuser came forward.

Both people accuse Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, who oversees the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, of not doing enough to stop La Rosa-Lopez. One of them said DiNardo promised her that the priest would be removed from any contact with children, only to later discover that LaRosa-Lopez remained in active ministry at St. John Fisher Church.

The Archdiocese previously said that LaRosa-Lopez denied the allegations in the criminal charges. The church claimed it notified Child Protective Services after his first accuser came forward, but in court records, police stated they were never able to locate such a report.

LaRosa-Lopez is currently free on $375,000 bond and is due back in court on Jan. 10, 2019.

Ligon said Wednesday’s search turned up documents about potential criminal activity involving other priests, the Texas Rangers would investigate that information. Additionally, a Pennsylvania federal prosecutor last month put Cardinal DiNardo on notice, in his capacity as President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, to preserve all sexual abuse-related documents at any Catholic diocese across the country.

The raid comes after two federal RICO lawsuits were filed this month against the Church in Washington DC and Minnesota respectively. It may take some time for law enforcement to gather the information necessary to present their case including deposing high-ranking bishops and cardinals with direct knowledge of the activities of clerical predators and those who covered up these crimes.

One rather troublesome quote from the KHOU story that the Vatican may want to take note of is the following:

“We’re treating the Catholic Church the same way we treat a bank that has records, the same way we treat a criminal enterprise,” (Montgomery County District Attorney Brett) Ligon said.

And if the investigation takes him to the Vatican, “I’ll be heading to Rome,” he said.

Given the two RICO cases and this action, numerous clerics in America may be facing jail time especially if they give false statements to investigators. I’m sure that many are well represented by well-paid attorneys but federal authorities may at some point restrict the ability of some priests, bishops, and cardinals to travel out of country in attempts to seek asylum in Italy or Vatican City in particular.

To the degree that happens and happens prior to February of next year, when Pope Francis has called his conference on clerical sex abuse, that would be quite the embarrassment to the current pontificate.

Stay tuned.

There are 55 comments.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  1. Jules PA Member

    There is nothing to be happy about in this, but may the truth prevail. 

    If those entrusted with parishioners (of any faith) will not support the pursuit of Truth and Justice, then so be it for the government to do it. 

    May G-d prevail in this and comfort those abused and broken. 

    • #1
    • November 28, 2018, at 1:23 PM PDT
    • 12 likes
  2. Brian Watt Member
    Brian Watt Post author

    Jules PA (View Comment):

    There is nothing to be happy about in this, but may the truth prevail.

    If those entrusted with parishioners (of any faith) will not support the pursuit of Truth and Justice, then so be it for the government to do it.

    May G-d prevail in this and comfort those abused and broken.

    I would only amend your comment thusly:

    If those entrusted with parishioners (of any faith) will not support the pursuit of Truth and Justice or attempt to obstruct justice and hide the truth, then so be it for law enforcement to bring them to justice.

    Also, given the Church’s continuing abysmal responses (or perhaps more accurately non-responses particularly by the pope vis-a-vis his promotion of Uncle Ted McCarrick) both here in America and in Rome to the decades-long scandal and the numerous cover-ups — this action and the two RICO lawsuits filed are actually welcome developments that finally something is being addressed.

    • #2
    • November 28, 2018, at 1:37 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  3. Addiction Is A Choice Member

    It’s gotten to the point where I can’t look at a Catholic priest without thinking “pervert!” And it’s little wonder: No chicks; no sex; no money; it’s a recipe for trouble!

    • #3
    • November 28, 2018, at 1:43 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  4. Roderic Fabian Reagan

    Addiction Is A Choice (View Comment):

    It’s gotten to the point where I can’t look at a Catholic priest without thinking “pervert!” And it’s little wonder: No chicks; no sex; no money; it’s a recipe for trouble!

    Catholic clerics are no more likely than the general male population to be abusers. Chastity and poverty vows apparently have nothing to do with it.

    • #4
    • November 28, 2018, at 1:52 PM PDT
    • 16 likes
  5. Brian Watt Member
    Brian Watt Post author

    Addiction Is A Choice (View Comment):

    It’s gotten to the point where I can’t look at a Catholic priest without thinking “pervert!” And it’s little wonder: No chicks; no sex; no money; it’s a recipe for trouble!

    Celibacy is not the problem. The infiltration of homosexuals who are sexually active into the clergy who then promoted other active homosexuals and dismissed celibate heterosexual males from seminaries is what is at root in the decades-long scandals. Catholic doctrine on celibacy has not changed. Regarding money, many clerics actually have more than adequate funds…and some of them are quite well off. Money isn’t an issue.

    If you want to be sexually active, you don’t enter a seminary or become a priest. Period. If you’re a priest and sexually active, you need to leave the clergy. If you prey on seminarians or altar boys or other little boys and girls you need to be arrested and sent to prison. If you cover up sexual abuse or re-assign predators to other parishes as some bishops and cardinals have done you need to leave the clergy. If you lie to law enforcement and essentially operate a criminal enterprise, you need to go to prison.

    • #5
    • November 28, 2018, at 1:53 PM PDT
    • 28 likes
  6. Scott Wilmot Member

    These stories break my heart Brian. One would have hoped that the leadership in the Church could have handled this crisis, but as you have pointed out, they are for the most part inept and spineless (heck, 2/3 of them voted in Baltimore against asking the Vatican to release the records they have on McCarrick – that is not leadership, it is cowardice).

    You may recall that this particular crisis has hit way too close to home for me.

    And I am even more furious that nothing – nothing has happened since the McCarrick scandal broke.

    Addiction Is A Choice (View Comment):
    No chicks; no sex; no money; it’s a recipe for trouble!

    This is a despicable comment as many have pointed out. I am furious about the abuse scandal in my Church and I get just as furious when ignorant statements like this are blurted out. This is what the pelvic left wants people to think – if only priest could have sex all would be OK. That’s garbage and ignorance. Celibacy in the priesthood is the fact that priests accept the discipline to not marry. Any sexual relation, abusive or consensual, is a violation of the priests’s vow of chastity. Go ahead and bash the Church if you wish, but let’s make sure we are using the correct terms.

    Brian Watt: Pope Francis has called his conference on clerical sex abuse

    It should be pointed out, that the February conference is about sex abuse of minors (which the Church in the USA has done a credible job of addressing and curbing) – it has nothing to do with the vast homosexual network in the Vatican and among bishops and other predatory homosexual priests (which no one in the Church will touch with a ten-foot pole).

    • #6
    • November 28, 2018, at 2:50 PM PDT
    • 10 likes
  7. Addiction Is A Choice Member

    Scott Wilmot (View Comment):

    … if only priest could have sex all would be OK….

    That’s not at all what I’m saying! Humans, and men in particular, are sexual creatures and the failure to take human-nature into account is a dereliction of duty!

     

    • #7
    • November 28, 2018, at 3:26 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  8. Brian Watt Member
    Brian Watt Post author

    Addiction Is A Choice (View Comment):

    Scott Wilmot (View Comment):

    … if only priest could have sex all would be OK….

    That’s not at all what I’m saying! Humans, and men in particular, are sexual creatures and the failure to take human-nature into account is a dereliction of duty!

    “Dereliction of duty” would be breaking one’s vow of celibacy which is a mortal sin. Men and women who are ordained are commanded to remain chaste just as couples married by the Church are also commanded to be chaste in accordance with Christ’s teaching. It’s a sacrifice and a sign of commitment and devotion to God. Again, the current crisis in the Church has nothing to do with celibacy. Please take a moment to educate yourself on celibacy by visiting any number of Catholic sites that deal with Catholic doctrine or catechism because your comments really come across as based on ignorance of Catholic teaching.

    • #8
    • November 28, 2018, at 4:14 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  9. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    Police and clergy have never had a truly amicable relationship, but there was trust there. 

    There is no longer trust. 

    • #9
    • November 28, 2018, at 4:43 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  10. Brian Watt Member
    Brian Watt Post author

    More on the police action at the Galveston-Houston archdiocese chancery, here:

    “People cooperate,” Ligon explained, because “there are so many lay Catholics out there that are ready for the Church to come clean. And I am a lay Catholic myself, but today I stand here as the district attorney of Montgomery County.”

    He claimed, “This is not a shot at Catholic parishioners, and this is not a shot at the Catholic Church. This is an investigation into a Catholic priest who was employed by the Catholic Church, and this church happens to be holding those records.”

    and

    At another point during the press scrum, Ligon said some archdiocesan personnel are certainly being cooperative, but it is possible others are working behind the scenes to hide evidence. “For example,” he explained, “if Cdl. DiNardo is cooperative, that doesn’t mean the people that work with Cdl. DiNardo are cooperative. It doesn’t mean that they’re going to tell him the truth. And so it very well may be in a position where he wants to give us documents but he doesn’t know that they exist.”

    Ligon went on to say, “And the good thing is I’ve taken the burden off of everybody in the Catholic Church ’cause they don’t have to know anything. I’m going to find it all out.”

    One journalist asked the district attorney if there were plans to seize office computers. He responded, “We’ve been known to in the past. We’ve been known to take computers, cables, hopes, dreams, whatever it takes that has a bearing on a criminal case. Usually it’s when people don’t cooperate that we’ll take everything, including the cable box, if that’s what’s necessary.”

    He noted it depends on the situation, especially the level of cooperation, adding, “I don’t want to tie myself down as to what we’re doing inside today.”

    • #10
    • November 28, 2018, at 5:24 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  11. Tutti Member

    It is disgraceful that the Catholic Church hasn’t learned after the abuse scandals of the ’90s. It would be a further punch in the gut to the Catholic laity if any of the accused priests or bishops flee the country to avoid prosecution. 

    • #11
    • November 28, 2018, at 5:58 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  12. Cato Rand Reagan

    Roderic Fabian (View Comment):

    Addiction Is A Choice (View Comment):

    It’s gotten to the point where I can’t look at a Catholic priest without thinking “pervert!” And it’s little wonder: No chicks; no sex; no money; it’s a recipe for trouble!

    Catholic clerics are no more likely than the general male population to be abusers. Chastity and poverty vows apparently have nothing to do with it.

    Do you have any evidence for this claim? I don’t (nor do I have any evidence to contradict it), but I think most people would be surprised to hear that Catholic clerics abuse children at no greater a rate than men in general.

    • #12
    • November 28, 2018, at 6:36 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. Cato Rand Reagan

    Brian Watt (View Comment):

    Addiction Is A Choice (View Comment):

    Scott Wilmot (View Comment):

    … if only priest could have sex all would be OK….

    That’s not at all what I’m saying! Humans, and men in particular, are sexual creatures and the failure to take human-nature into account is a dereliction of duty!

    “Dereliction of duty” would be breaking one’s vow of celibacy which is a mortal sin. Men and women who are ordained are commanded to remain chaste just as couples married by the Church are also commanded to be chaste in accordance with Christ’s teaching. It’s a sacrifice and a sign of commitment and devotion to God. Again, the current crisis in the Church has nothing to do with celibacy. Please take a moment to educate yourself on celibacy by visiting any number of Catholic sites that deal with Catholic doctrine or catechism because your comments really come across as based on ignorance of Catholic teaching.

    The fact that the church teaches the discipline of celibacy doesn’t change the fact that it’s inconsistent with human nature and therefore always and everywhere going to be an uphill battle. Nor does it repeal the law of unintended consequences – in this case one such consequence apparently being that people with sexual problems are drawn to ordination because they find the requirement of celibacy to be useful cover for their inability to live more conventionally sexual lives.

    • #13
    • November 28, 2018, at 6:45 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. Aaron Miller Member

    Brian Watt:

    (Montgomery County District Attorney Brett) Ligon said.

    And if the investigation takes him to the Vatican, “I’ll be heading to Rome,” he said.

     

    We’ve been known to take computers, cables, hopes, dreams, whatever it takes

    I’ve said from the beginning that accusations of sexual abuse and cover-up of such concern criminal activity and therefore should be investigated by criminal investigators. But this smacks of opportunistic hyperbole. 

    That I see, these are still just accusations. And priests are regularly moved around under normal circumstances, so transfers are not inherently suspicious. I’ll be upset if or when there is evidence.

    • #14
    • November 28, 2018, at 6:49 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  15. Cato Rand Reagan

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Brian Watt:

    (Montgomery County District Attorney Brett) Ligon said.

    And if the investigation takes him to the Vatican, “I’ll be heading to Rome,” he said.

     

    We’ve been known to take computers, cables, hopes, dreams, whatever it takes

    I’ve said from the beginning that accusations of sexual abuse and cover-up of such concern criminal activity and therefore should be investigated by criminal investigators. But this smacks of opportunistic hyperbole.

    That I see, these are still just accusations. And priests are regularly moved around under normal circumstances, so transfers are not inherently suspicious. I’ll be upset if or when there is evidence.

    It appears there is evidence against this priest. There is the testimony of his two known accusers. That is not evidence of a cover up by the diocese or the church, but it is evidence of a crime about which the DA is entitled to seek more evidence, including through the use of search warrants allowing him to confiscate whatever paper or electronic records might reasonably contain such evidence.

    • #15
    • November 28, 2018, at 6:52 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  16. Brian Watt Member
    Brian Watt Post author

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    Roderic Fabian (View Comment):

    Addiction Is A Choice (View Comment):

    It’s gotten to the point where I can’t look at a Catholic priest without thinking “pervert!” And it’s little wonder: No chicks; no sex; no money; it’s a recipe for trouble!

    Catholic clerics are no more likely than the general male population to be abusers. Chastity and poverty vows apparently have nothing to do with it.

    Do you have any evidence for this claim? I don’t (nor do I have any evidence to contradict it), but I think most people would be surprised to hear that Catholic clerics abuse children at no greater a rate than men in general.

    This is bordering on a “whataboutism” side discussion. The Catholic clergy is called to a greater level of control over their sexual desires than the population at large because it is the vow that they made at ordination and because they are role models and looked to as persons of moral authority in conveying Christ’s teaching without hypocrisy.

    Question: Aside from the doctrinal obligations of the clergy and the mortal sins being committed — If a priest or a bishop uses his position of authority to fondle, force himself upon, or otherwise put a post-pubescent 18-22-year-old seminarian in an sexually uncomfortable or compromising situation — is that a form of sexual assault? If a corporate executive behaved this way to a young employee at an off-site seminar or on a business trip, what would be the legal ramifications/consequences?

    • #16
    • November 28, 2018, at 6:56 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  17. Brian Watt Member
    Brian Watt Post author

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Brian Watt:

    (Montgomery County District Attorney Brett) Ligon said.

    And if the investigation takes him to the Vatican, “I’ll be heading to Rome,” he said.

     

    We’ve been known to take computers, cables, hopes, dreams, whatever it takes

    I’ve said from the beginning that accusations of sexual abuse and cover-up of such concern criminal activity and therefore should be investigated by criminal investigators. But this smacks of opportunistic hyperbole.

    That I see, these are still just accusations. And priests are regularly moved around under normal circumstances, so transfers are not inherently suspicious. I’ll be upset if or when there is evidence.

    It appears there is evidence against this priest. There is the testimony of his two known accusers. That is not evidence of a cover up by the diocese or the church, but it is evidence of a crime about which the DA is entitled to seek more evidence, including through the use of search warrants allowing him to confiscate whatever paper or electronic records might reasonably contain such evidence.

    The mention of cover-up was expressed in the context of the greater decades-long sexual abuse scandal by predators like former Cardinal McCarrick and others and not to the particular search for additional evidence in the Texas case.

    • #17
    • November 28, 2018, at 7:00 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  18. Cato Rand Reagan

    Brian Watt (View Comment):

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    Roderic Fabian (View Comment):

    Addiction Is A Choice (View Comment):

    It’s gotten to the point where I can’t look at a Catholic priest without thinking “pervert!” And it’s little wonder: No chicks; no sex; no money; it’s a recipe for trouble!

    Catholic clerics are no more likely than the general male population to be abusers. Chastity and poverty vows apparently have nothing to do with it.

    Do you have any evidence for this claim? I don’t (nor do I have any evidence to contradict it), but I think most people would be surprised to hear that Catholic clerics abuse children at no greater a rate than men in general.

    This is bordering on a “whataboutism” side discussion. The Catholic clergy is called to a greater level of control over their sexual desires than the population at large because it is the vow that they made at ordination and because they are role models and looked to as persons of moral authority in conveying Christ’s teaching without hypocrisy.

    Question: Aside from the doctrinal obligations of the clergy and the mortal sins being committed — If a priest or a bishop uses his position of authority to fondle, force himself upon, or otherwise put a post-pubescent 18-22-year-old seminarian in an sexually uncomfortable or compromising situation — is that a form of sexual assault? If a corporate executive behaved this way to a young employee at an off-site seminar or on a business trip, what would be the legal ramifications/consequences?

    What you describe is pretty clearly a civilly actionable sexual harassment. Whether it’s criminal assault or not isn’t entirely clear from your description. I concur with your analogy between a corporate executive and a young subordinate, and a priest or bishop and a young seminarian. I think the law should, and probably does, treat the two situations pretty similarly, at least in theory. If there’s a difference, I suspect it’s in what’s heretofore been a simple squeamishness about intervening in the affairs of the catholic church (a squeamishness that long ago ceased to apply to commercial enterprises).

    • #18
    • November 28, 2018, at 7:09 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  19. Doug Watt Member

    When an allegation of a sexual assault is made it should be made to a police officer, not to human resources, not to an official in the Chancery office, and not to some Title IX administrator in your local school system. An investigation by a detective that has an understanding of the law, and how to ask the questions can be a benefit to both the accuser, and the accused to try and determine if a crime has been committed.

    Withholding information, or amateurs that try to conduct their own investigation are obstructing justice for the accuser, and in some cases denying the accused a chance to clear their name.

    • #19
    • November 28, 2018, at 7:20 PM PDT
    • 8 likes
  20. Brian Watt Member
    Brian Watt Post author

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    Brian Watt (View Comment):

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    Roderic Fabian (View Comment):

    Addiction Is A Choice (View Comment):

    It’s gotten to the point where I can’t look at a Catholic priest without thinking “pervert!” And it’s little wonder: No chicks; no sex; no money; it’s a recipe for trouble!

    Catholic clerics are no more likely than the general male population to be abusers. Chastity and poverty vows apparently have nothing to do with it.

    Do you have any evidence for this claim? I don’t (nor do I have any evidence to contradict it), but I think most people would be surprised to hear that Catholic clerics abuse children at no greater a rate than men in general.

    This is bordering on a “whataboutism” side discussion. The Catholic clergy is called to a greater level of control over their sexual desires than the population at large because it is the vow that they made at ordination and because they are role models and looked to as persons of moral authority in conveying Christ’s teaching without hypocrisy.

    Question: Aside from the doctrinal obligations of the clergy and the mortal sins being committed — If a priest or a bishop uses his position of authority to fondle, force himself upon, or otherwise put a post-pubescent 18-22-year-old seminarian in an sexually uncomfortable or compromising situation — is that a form of sexual assault? If a corporate executive behaved this way to a young employee at an off-site seminar or on a business trip, what would be the legal ramifications/consequences?

    What you describe is pretty clearly a civilly actionable sexual harassment. Whether it’s criminal assault or not isn’t entirely clear from your description. I concur with your analogy between a corporate executive and a young subordinate, and a priest or bishop and a young seminarian. I think the law should, and probably does, treat the two situations pretty similarly, at least in theory. If there’s a difference, I suspect it’s in what’s heretofore been a simple squeamishness about intervening in the affairs of the catholic church (a squeamishness that long ago ceased to apply to commercial enterprises).

    Yes, there has been a reluctance to delve into Church matters by government authorities. However, when predators are moved around in order to avoid law enforcement, when victims and their families are threatened by attorneys representing members of the clergy or a diocese, when financial settlements are made quietly beyond law enforcement scrutiny when clear violations of the law have occurred – in short, when the stench becomes suffocating, then the Church from the Vatican on down, needs to be called to account.

    And yes, I was speaking more generally than graphically. If you’d like, I could dredge up specific cases where priests and bishops engaged in actual sexual assaults of pre-pubescent young men and post-pubescent men but I’d rather spare the Ricochet readership and would note that much of the information is widely available on the internet. Suffice to say that a great deal of predation was not simply with children but with post-pubescent men in seminaries by actively gay clerics.

    • #20
    • November 28, 2018, at 7:39 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  21. Cato Rand Reagan

    Brian Watt (View Comment):

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    Brian Watt (View Comment):

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    Roderic Fabian (View Comment):

    Addiction Is A Choice (View Comment):

    It’s gotten to the point where I can’t look at a Catholic priest without thinking “pervert!” And it’s little wonder: No chicks; no sex; no money; it’s a recipe for trouble!

    Catholic clerics are no more likely than the general male population to be abusers. Chastity and poverty vows apparently have nothing to do with it.

    Do you have any evidence for this claim? I don’t (nor do I have any evidence to contradict it), but I think most people would be surprised to hear that Catholic clerics abuse children at no greater a rate than men in general.

    This is bordering on a “whataboutism” side discussion. The Catholic clergy is called to a greater level of control over their sexual desires than the population at large because it is the vow that they made at ordination and because they are role models and looked to as persons of moral authority in conveying Christ’s teaching without hypocrisy.

    Question: Aside from the doctrinal obligations of the clergy and the mortal sins being committed — If a priest or a bishop uses his position of authority to fondle, force himself upon, or otherwise put a post-pubescent 18-22-year-old seminarian in an sexually uncomfortable or compromising situation — is that a form of sexual assault? If a corporate executive behaved this way to a young employee at an off-site seminar or on a business trip, what would be the legal ramifications/consequences?

    What you describe is pretty clearly a civilly actionable sexual harassment. Whether it’s criminal assault or not isn’t entirely clear from your description. I concur with your analogy between a corporate executive and a young subordinate, and a priest or bishop and a young seminarian. I think the law should, and probably does, treat the two situations pretty similarly, at least in theory. If there’s a difference, I suspect it’s in what’s heretofore been a simple squeamishness about intervening in the affairs of the catholic church (a squeamishness that long ago ceased to apply to commercial enterprises).

    Yes, there has been a reluctance to delve into Church matters by government authorities. However, when predators are moved around in order to avoid law enforcement, when victims and their families are threatened by attorneys representing members of the clergy or a diocese, when financial settlements are made quietly beyond law enforcement scrutiny when clear violations of the law have occurred – in short, when the stench becomes suffocating, then the Church from the Vatican on down, need to be called to account.

    And yes, I was speaking more generally than graphically. If you’d like, I could dredge up specific cases where priests and bishops engaged in actual sexual assaults of pre-pubescent young men and post-pubescent men but I’d rather spare the Ricochet readership and would note that much of the information is widely available on the internet. Suffice to say that a great deal of predation was not simply with children but with post-pubescent men in seminaries by actively gay clerics.

    I would speculate that relatively little of the sexual activity between priests/bishops and young adult seminarians would qualify for criminal prosecution. You might disapprove. The church might disapprove. I might (or might not) disapprove. But if the “victim” is a legal adult, and there is an indicia of consent to whatever touching occurs, it’s probably going to be a poor case for sexual assault prosecution, even if there’s an imbalance of power within the church hierarchy. I’m sure there are cases that cross that line, but in my experience the universe of people who are willing to use their status or economic power to get what they want is much larger than the universe of people who are willing to risk using force.

    And no, I don’t need detailed examples. I’m sure there’s a wide variety.

    By the way, am I misreading it or are you engaging with me mostly because you enjoy blaming gay men for this problem over and over?

    • #21
    • November 28, 2018, at 8:18 PM PDT
    • Like
  22. Brian Watt Member
    Brian Watt Post author

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    Brian Watt (View Comment):

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    Brian Watt (View Comment):

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    Roderic Fabian (View Comment):

    Addiction Is A Choice (View Comment):

    It’s gotten to the point where I can’t look at a Catholic priest without thinking “pervert!” And it’s little wonder: No chicks; no sex; no money; it’s a recipe for trouble!

    Catholic clerics are no more likely than the general male population to be abusers. Chastity and poverty vows apparently have nothing to do with it.

    Do you have any evidence for this claim? I don’t (nor do I have any evidence to contradict it), but I think most people would be surprised to hear that Catholic clerics abuse children at no greater a rate than men in general.

    This is bordering on a “whataboutism” side discussion. The Catholic clergy is called to a greater level of control over their sexual desires than the population at large because it is the vow that they made at ordination and because they are role models and looked to as persons of moral authority in conveying Christ’s teaching without hypocrisy.

    Question: Aside from the doctrinal obligations of the clergy and the mortal sins being committed — If a priest or a bishop uses his position of authority to fondle, force himself upon, or otherwise put a post-pubescent 18-22-year-old seminarian in an sexually uncomfortable or compromising situation — is that a form of sexual assault? If a corporate executive behaved this way to a young employee at an off-site seminar or on a business trip, what would be the legal ramifications/consequences?

    What you describe is pretty clearly a civilly actionable sexual harassment. Whether it’s criminal assault or not isn’t entirely clear from your description. I concur with your analogy between a corporate executive and a young subordinate, and a priest or bishop and a young seminarian. I think the law should, and probably does, treat the two situations pretty similarly, at least in theory. If there’s a difference, I suspect it’s in what’s heretofore been a simple squeamishness about intervening in the affairs of the catholic church (a squeamishness that long ago ceased to apply to commercial enterprises).

    Yes, there has been a reluctance to delve into Church matters by government authorities. However, when predators are moved around in order to avoid law enforcement, when victims and their families are threatened by attorneys representing members of the clergy or a diocese, when financial settlements are made quietly beyond law enforcement scrutiny when clear violations of the law have occurred – in short, when the stench becomes suffocating, then the Church from the Vatican on down, need to be called to account.

    And yes, I was speaking more generally than graphically. If you’d like, I could dredge up specific cases where priests and bishops engaged in actual sexual assaults of pre-pubescent young men and post-pubescent men but I’d rather spare the Ricochet readership and would note that much of the information is widely available on the internet. Suffice to say that a great deal of predation was not simply with children but with post-pubescent men in seminaries by actively gay clerics.

    I would speculate that relatively little of the sexual activity between priests/bishops and young adult seminarians would qualify for criminal prosecution. You might disapprove. The church might disapprove. I might (or might not) disapprove. But if the “victim” is a legal adult, and there is an indicia of consent to whatever touching occurs, it’s probably going to be a poor case for sexual assault prosecution, even if there’s an imbalance of power within the church hierarchy. I’m sure there are cases that cross that line, but in my experience the universe of people who are willing to use their status or economic power to get what they want is much larger than the universe of people who are willing to risk using force.

    And no, I don’t need detailed examples. I’m sure there’s a wide variety.

    By the way, am I misreading it or are you engaging with me mostly because you enjoy blaming gay men for this problem over and over?

    I believe I’ve engaged with you in this discussion in a respectful manner. 

    To deny that homosexuality in the Catholic clergy is not a critical element in the current crisis would be dishonest.

    I would hope that you keep your comments more civil.

    • #22
    • November 28, 2018, at 8:34 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  23. Cato Rand Reagan

    Brian Watt (View Comment):

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    Brian Watt (View Comment):

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    Brian Watt (View Comment):

    Cato Rand (View Comment):

    Roderic Fabian (View Comment):

    Addiction Is A Choice (View Comment):

    It’s gotten to the point where I can’t look at a Catholic priest without thinking “pervert!” And it’s little wonder: No chicks; no sex; no money; it’s a recipe for trouble!

    Catholic clerics are no more likely than the general male population to be abusers. Chastity and poverty vows apparently have nothing to do with it.

    Do you have any evidence for this claim? I don’t (nor do I have any evidence to contradict it), but I think most people would be surprised to hear that Catholic clerics abuse children at no greater a rate than men in general.

    This is bordering on a “whataboutism” side discussion. The Catholic clergy is called to a greater level of control over their sexual desires than the population at large because it is the vow that they made at ordination and because they are role models and looked to as persons of moral authority in conveying Christ’s teaching without hypocrisy.

    Question: Aside from the doctrinal obligations of the clergy and the mortal sins being committed — If a priest or a bishop uses his position of authority to fondle, force himself upon, or otherwise put a post-pubescent 18-22-year-old seminarian in an sexually uncomfortable or compromising situation — is that a form of sexual assault? If a corporate executive behaved this way to a young employee at an off-site seminar or on a business trip, what would be the legal ramifications/consequences?

    What you describe is pretty clearly a civilly actionable sexual harassment. Whether it’s criminal assault or not isn’t entirely clear from your description. I concur with your analogy between a corporate executive and a young subordinate, and a priest or bishop and a young seminarian. I think the law should, and probably does, treat the two situations pretty similarly, at least in theory. If there’s a difference, I suspect it’s in what’s heretofore been a simple squeamishness about intervening in the affairs of the catholic church (a squeamishness that long ago ceased to apply to commercial enterprises).

    Yes, there has been a reluctance to delve into Church matters by government authorities. However, when predators are moved around in order to avoid law enforcement, when victims and their families are threatened by attorneys representing members of the clergy or a diocese, when financial settlements are made quietly beyond law enforcement scrutiny when clear violations of the law have occurred – in short, when the stench becomes suffocating, then the Church from the Vatican on down, need to be called to account.

    And yes, I was speaking more generally than graphically. If you’d like, I could dredge up specific cases where priests and bishops engaged in actual sexual assaults of pre-pubescent young men and post-pubescent men but I’d rather spare the Ricochet readership and would note that much of the information is widely available on the internet. Suffice to say that a great deal of predation was not simply with children but with post-pubescent men in seminaries by actively gay clerics.

    I would speculate that relatively little of the sexual activity between priests/bishops and young adult seminarians would qualify for criminal prosecution. You might disapprove. The church might disapprove. I might (or might not) disapprove. But if the “victim” is a legal adult, and there is an indicia of consent to whatever touching occurs, it’s probably going to be a poor case for sexual assault prosecution, even if there’s an imbalance of power within the church hierarchy. I’m sure there are cases that cross that line, but in my experience the universe of people who are willing to use their status or economic power to get what they want is much larger than the universe of people who are willing to risk using force.

    And no, I don’t need detailed examples. I’m sure there’s a wide variety.

    By the way, am I misreading it or are you engaging with me mostly because you enjoy blaming gay men for this problem over and over?

    I believe I’ve engaged with you in this discussion in a respectful manner.

    To deny that homosexuality in the Catholic clergy is not a critical element in the current crisis would be dishonest.

    I would hope that you keep your comments more civil.

    I think my comments have been entirely civil and have some concerns about the tone of yours. But in any event, I sense that this conversation is unlikely to get any more civil if we pursue it further, so instead I’ll just bid you good night.

    • #23
    • November 28, 2018, at 8:38 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  24. Brian Watt Member
    Brian Watt Post author

    The OP above was written to highlight that American law enforcement, both in the Texas police action and with the recently filed federal RICO lawsuits, will begin to address the problem of clerical sexual abuse that has been rampant in the Church in America for decades and either inadequately addressed by the Church hierarchy, or dismissed, or characterized as not as significant as other problems like Latin American migration or climate change. One naturally has to wonder why the Church hierarchy has responded or been non-responsive in the way it has. To say that the clergy has evolved (or perhaps devolved) over the last 50 years into a liberal or left-leaning institution is like saying the sky is blue. Others have discussed in detail concerted efforts to infiltrate the Church by Soviet Russia and members of Free Masonry that have been corroborated by former KGB agents and former high-ranking Masons. That information is readily available on the internet and in books.

    I’ve been accused of “enjoying blaming gay men for this problem over and over”. Let me respond first by stating I take no pleasure in stating the factual evidence by those who are much closer to the crisis and the underlying causes for it than I am. The Catholic Church, at present and for the last almost 2,000 years, has been quite clear on the commitment to celibacy of those who are ordained into Holy Orders whether they have an inclination or a desire for those of the same sex or the opposite sex regardless of a potential or actual partner’s (or series of partners’) consent. Sexual relations of any kind while in the clergy is strictly forbidden and is a mortal sin. It should go without saying then that sexual predation of children or adults is also absolutely forbidden by the Church, and against the law in America.

    In the next few comments, permit me to cite others who have studied the incidents and causes of the abuse, for your consideration.

    From the late Bishop Morlino who passed away just two days ago (emphasis mine):

    The bishop was particularly candid in his assessment of the cause of those problems: “In the specific situations at hand, we are talking about deviant sexual — almost exclusively homosexual — acts by clerics. We’re also talking about homosexual propositions and abuses against seminarians and young priests by powerful priests, bishops, and cardinals. We are talking about acts and actions which are not only in violation of the sacred promises made by some, in short, sacrilege, but also are in violation of the natural moral law for all. To call it anything else would be deceitful and would only ignore the problem further.”

    “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,” he added.

    “It is time to be honest that the problems are both and they are more. To fall into the trap of parsing problems according to what society might find acceptable or unacceptable is ignoring the fact that the Church has never held ANY of it to be acceptable — neither the abuse of children, nor any use of one’s sexuality outside of the marital relationship, nor the sin of sodomy, nor the entering of clerics into intimate sexual relationships at all, nor the abuse and coercion by those with authority,” he wrote.

    Morlino said that McCarrick was guilty of abusing power “for the sake of homosexual gratification.”

    “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,” he added.

    more –

    • #24
    • November 28, 2018, at 11:20 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  25. Brian Watt Member
    Brian Watt Post author

    – continued –

    From MercatorNet:

    Paul Sullins is a sociologist and Catholic priest with four books and over 100 journal articles, book chapters and research reports on issues of faith and culture to his credit. He has studied the issue of sexual abuse by Catholic priests and gives his views on the current crisis in this MercatorNet interview. A former Episcopalian priest, Fr Sullins was ordained as a Catholic priest by then-Cardinal Ted McCarrick. 

    MercatorNetThe media’s focus has been on male homosexual predation in Catholic institutions. But if reports like the Pennsylvania Grand Jury’s were made for other churches or large organisations, would the results be significantly different?

    The results would not be significantly different in the scale of abuse; it’s actually somewhat lower among Catholic clergy than for comparable groups like Protestant clergy, schoolteachers, camp counsellors.

    But those groups experience predominantly male-on-female abuse, while for Catholic priests it is predominantly male-on-male abuse. The numbers are very clear on this: in the John Jay Report (2004), female victims were a majority only for the 5 percent of abuse that was with prepubescent children; 95 percent of the abuse reported was with children over the age of 8, and of these incidents 83 percent were male-on-male abuse. The 2011 John Jay Report states: “More than three-quarters of the acts of sexual abuse of youths by Catholic priests, as shown in the nature and scope study, were same-sex acts (priests abusing male victims).” In the recent Pennsyslvania grand jury report, 77 percent of abusers were homosexual predators.

    The Church has a particular, unique problem with male-on-male predation by priests. The highest estimate I know (Richard Sipe’s) of the proportion of Catholic priests with homosexual orientation is about 25 percent. By this estimate, 83 percent of the abuse in the John Jay Report was perpetrated by 25 percent of priests. Statistically this implies that (most conservatively) same-sex attracted priests were 15 times more likely to engage in child sex abuse than opposite-sex attracted priests.

    • #25
    • November 28, 2018, at 11:23 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  26. Brian Watt Member
    Brian Watt Post author

    From Lifesite News:

    The Church’s abuse statistics have concerned only abuse of minors, and they show the overwhelming majority of clerical sex abuse victims have been post-pubescent males. While these numbers indicate the prevalent homosexual component of the abuse crisis, the studies thus far have not looked at sexual predation toward seminarians.

    McCarrick is said to have abused seminarians and young priests for decades – inviting or coercing them to bed, fondling, otherwise abusing, or engaging in sexual acts with them.

    Countless reports say that everybody knew about McCarrick’s penchant for young men – a widely-known secret in the Church and media for years that was ignored, covered for, and enabled.

    McCarrick’s predation did not impede his rise to the level of cardinal, after having served as a priest and auxiliary bishop in the Archdiocese of New York, bishop of Metuchen, N.J., and archbishop of Newark, N.J., before becoming archbishop of Washington, D.C.

    Homosexual networks in the Church

    The McCarrick revelations drew out subsequent similar allegations involving other prelates throughout the summer, indicating more widespread homosexual predation toward seminarians and young priests in the Church, and suggesting systematic enabling of the activity by a long-suspected homosexual network in the Church that reportedly covers for and promotes its own.

    Professor Janet Smith, a moral theologian at Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit, commented on the occurrence of gay networks within the Church’s clergy on social media last month.

    “Yes, there are lots of other immoral behaviors – adultery, greed, luxuriousness, clericalism and substance abuse, for instance, that need to be addressed,” she stated, “but first things first.”

    “Eradicating the homosexual networks from the Church would do a lot to purging the Church of immoral priests,” said Smith, “and doing so should help us get at the other problems.”

    • #26
    • November 28, 2018, at 11:25 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  27. Scott Wilmot Member

    Cato Rand (View Comment):
    But if the “victim” is a legal adult, and there is an indicia of consent to whatever touching occurs, it’s probably going to be a poor case for sexual assault prosecution, even if there’s an imbalance of power within the church hierarchy.

    This is the exact argument Blase Cardinal Cupich, Archbishop of Chicago makes. To the Church, it should not matter if this is an offense that can be prosecuted – it is a violation of the vow of chastity and should be dealt with under canon law (although as I understand, the code of canon law has been relaxed in this area and in my opinion needs to be strengthened).

    Brian Watt (View Comment):
    The Catholic Church, at present and for the last almost 2,000 years, has been quite clear on the commitment to celibacy of those who are ordained into Holy Orders whether they have an inclination or a desire for those of the same sex or the opposite sex regardless of a potential or actual partner’s (or series of partners’) consent. Sexual relations of any kind while in the clergy is strictly forbidden and is a mortal sin.

    And just to reiterate (definitions from the Catechism of the Catholic Church CCC)

    Celibacy: The state or condition of those who have chosen to remain unmarried for the sake of the kingdom of heaven in order to give themselves entirely to God, and to the service of his people. In the Latin Church, celibacy is obligatory for bishops and priests. In some Eastern Churches, celibacy is a prerequisite for the ordination only of bishops; priest may not marry after they have been ordained (CCC 1579, 1580)

    So celibacy deals only with being married or unmarried.

    Chastity: The moral virtue which, under the cardinal virtue of temperance, provides for the successful integration of sexuality within the person leading to the inner unity of the bodily and spiritual being (CCC 2337: Sexuality, in which man’s belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman.). Chastity is called one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (CCC 1832).

    So when a priest sexually abuses himself, a minor, or an adult or when a priest engages in consensual sex, all of these actions constitute a violation of his vow of chastity.

    • #27
    • November 29, 2018, at 5:26 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  28. inkathoots Bethany

    Brian Watt (View Comment):
    If you want to be sexually active, you don’t enter a seminary or become a priest. Period. If you’re a priest and sexually active, you need to leave the clergy. If you prey on seminarians or altar boys or other little boys and girls you need to be arrested and sent to prison. If you cover up sexual abuse or re-assign predators to other parishes as some bishops and cardinals have done you need to leave the clergy. If you lie to law enforcement and essentially operate a criminal enterprise, you need to go to prison.

    This is a great premise. Unfortunately, there is a long history of unaddressed sexual misconduct of Catholic clergy in Europe and elsewhere. This flouting of commonly understood moral law seems to be wedded with the one time power to appoint heads of state along with the power to provide sanctuary from state powers. These ideas (along with the creation of the Vatican as a sovereign state) apparently mitigate against Catholic clerics being submitted to reasonable laws of the states where the Catholic Church has been welcome to operate. 

    • #28
    • November 29, 2018, at 6:35 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  29. Doug Watt Member

    inkathoots (View Comment):

    Brian Watt (View Comment):
    If you want to be sexually active, you don’t enter a seminary or become a priest. Period. If you’re a priest and sexually active, you need to leave the clergy. If you prey on seminarians or altar boys or other little boys and girls you need to be arrested and sent to prison. If you cover up sexual abuse or re-assign predators to other parishes as some bishops and cardinals have done you need to leave the clergy. If you lie to law enforcement and essentially operate a criminal enterprise, you need to go to prison.

    This is a great premise. Unfortunately, there is a long history of unaddressed sexual misconduct of Catholic clergy in Europe and elsewhere. This flouting of commonly understood moral law seems to be wedded with the one time power to appoint heads of state along with the power to provide sanctuary from state powers. These ideas (along with the creation of the Vatican as a sovereign state) apparently mitigate against Catholic clerics being submitted to reasonable laws of the states where the Catholic Church has been welcome to operate.

    Yes, unlike Henry VIII, a notorious womanizer, although he never had to worry about a lawyer drafting non-disclosure agreements. Perhaps it’s no coincidence that he never got the male heir he so desperately wanted.

    I would suggest to you that sexual misconduct is not exclusive to the Catholic Church, nor is looking the other way by authorities when malfeasance is suspected. You have to look no further than Rotherham, England, Penn State, the public school system in the United States, youth ministers, the Boy Scouts, and pastors in Protestant denominations, or any other organization.

     

    • #29
    • November 29, 2018, at 6:55 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  30. Brian Watt Member
    Brian Watt Post author

    inkathoots (View Comment):

    Brian Watt (View Comment):
    If you want to be sexually active, you don’t enter a seminary or become a priest. Period. If you’re a priest and sexually active, you need to leave the clergy. If you prey on seminarians or altar boys or other little boys and girls you need to be arrested and sent to prison. If you cover up sexual abuse or re-assign predators to other parishes as some bishops and cardinals have done you need to leave the clergy. If you lie to law enforcement and essentially operate a criminal enterprise, you need to go to prison.

    This is a great premise. Unfortunately, there is a long history of unaddressed sexual misconduct of Catholic clergy in Europe and elsewhere. This flouting of commonly understood moral law seems to be wedded with the one time power to appoint heads of state along with the power to provide sanctuary from state powers. These ideas (along with the creation of the Vatican as a sovereign state) apparently mitigate against Catholic clerics being submitted to reasonable laws of the states where the Catholic Church has been welcome to operate.

    “…wedded to the one-time power to appoint heads of state” is totally irrelevant to the current sexual abuse crisis. Please do try to connect that dot. In most historical cases, especially prior to the Reformation, the Church did not appoint heads of state but either blessed them or supported them. It’s telling that in the Church’s long history, many of the earlier councils on doctrine were not called by the sitting pope but by an emperor and a few of these councils, the pope did not even attend.

    Clerics of the Church, by-and-large, are citizens in their respective countries or hold visas from other countries. You’re not really saying that Catholic clerics are protected because they are citizens of Vatican City and the Holy See, are you? If not, then I’m not entirely sure what the reference to the Vatican as a sovereign state has anything to do with clerics who are citizens in their own country who break the laws of that country. To be clear, in the United States, religious faiths historically have a measure of separation from government oversight, regulation, and taxation directly related to the protection articulated in the First Amendment; that’s why there has been an historical reluctance to “police” matters that pertain to the Church. However, all faiths are still subject to the laws of the land and violations of law – rape, sexual abuse, racketeering, fraud, aiding and abetting criminals, etc. – that don’t infringe on the free exercise of religion.

    • #30
    • November 29, 2018, at 7:21 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
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