29 Mar 2011

A Catholic describes the spiritual turmoil and loss of trust in the church caused by the Philadelphia clergy abuse scandal

Daily Times - Delaware County, Pennsylvania March 25, 2011

Guest column: Catholic betrayed by clergy sex abuse

By KATHY KANE  |  Times Guest Columnist

When the first wave of clergy sex abuse in Philadelphia was exposed a few years ago, it changed something in me forever. How could this happen in my religion? How could even one child of God, let alone hundreds, be harmed by those who were proclaiming the gospel message?

It distanced me from my church; however, I remained. I stayed even though I had found that some of the same priests who have abused children have ministered to me throughout my life. I have received the Holy Eucharist from hands that have violated children, and confessed my sins to those whose own sins were simply inexcusable.

A priest who had a profound impact on my life as a child was identified as someone who did not report a fellow priest who was a notorious serial abuser. This charismatic priest, who always encouraged children to try to do the right thing, when put to the test did not do so himself.

Finding out some of these truths has been like a sucker punch, I didn’t see it coming. Why would I have? My Catholic faith taught me that the children of God were one of the most treasured parts of his kingdom. The church was to take these young minds and, by example, show them the way, the truth and the light. Instead, some, who claim to be representing the gospel message, have taken these children and assaulted their mind, body and soul.

We hear so much in recent weeks of these sexual assaults against children that we can almost become numb to the phrase. Children were fondled, raped, sodomized; it is an image we don’t want to picture, a place we don’t want to go to. Instead, we focus on things such as civil law, canon law, statute of limitations, anything other than the real subject at hand. In doing so, we can almost treat the matter in a cold and insensitive manner, just as we would any other legal issue or story of the day. The truth is that what lies underneath all of these legalities and technicalities, is that children were abused, their childhood taken from them.

In the past few weeks, I have had many conversations with friends and fellow Catholics. There is anger, disgust, betrayal. A friend now sits in the pew right by the aisle, ready to leave should she hear any lies from the altar concerning the sex abuse scandal.

Another has had to explain to her children that we put our faith in God, not the men of the archdiocese. A story a friend tells of a family member who has long been a strong financial supporter of the archdiocese and now is feeling embarrassed by his association.

So many feelings, so much confusion, a flock in turmoil. Our leadership has been relatively absent other than a few carefully worded statements and video messages.

When I was a child in Catholic school, an image of Jesus was often portrayed where he was above us with his arms outstretched. It was a comforting image, the message that Jesus is always with us. I told a very devout friend that this is the image I picture when I think of the victims. Jesus is above them and they are safe in his outstretched arms. My friend stated Jesus is also with the archdiocesan officials who have allowed such evil to take place. I protested that Jesus is not with these men, but my friend reminded me that Jesus is always with us, even when we have fallen.

Maybe Jesus is indeed with us all, but in my mental image now, he is weeping. He is heartbroken that the children, the most treasured part of his kingdom, were violated by some who claim to be the teachers of his message, the most devoted of his followers.

It is a true test of faith, to try to remain in the Catholic Church knowing all that has happened, not only in Philadelphia but throughout the world, with clergy sex-abuse scandals. It is like everything I once believed, has been turned upside down, inside out.

The trust that has been broken is almost too great, the betrayal runs so deep. As a child, I was taught to look toward the clergy as an example of what is good and holy, and now I find I have had to tell my children to look away.

I was taught from a young age that as a Catholic, I needed to be careful to not fall prey to the corruption and evil that exists in the secular world around us. But this time the threat comes from within the church. The problems of the outside world have never shaken my beliefs the way the church itself has done in recent years.

I was also taught to speak out against injustice and all that is wrong, and so I do; however it is against all that I have ever known and believed. So for now, I remain, wanting to walk away, but in doing so feeling like I would be abandoning all that the Catholic Church has destroyed.

I recently used the term “Catholic orphan” to describe my status in the church. I feel I have no leadership, no trust, the hierarchy continues to mislead and tries to put a spin on a vile situation.

A friend recently said that in her anger, she refuses to let them take her faith from her. In a way, she clings to it more now than ever, her relationship with God more personal, less dependent on man. Maybe that is the way it was always supposed to be.

Kathy Kane, a former Delaware County resident, now lives in West Chester, Chester County.

This article was found at:


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  1. Pennsylvania Priest Accused of Abuse Was Reported 5 Years Ago, Records Show

    By TRIP GABRIEL, NEW YORK TIMES September 26, 2014

    Details of child sexual abuse that led to charges against a Roman Catholic priest on Thursday were reported to his Pennsylvania diocese nearly five years ago, court records show, but the church authorities did not remove him as a pastor.

    The priest, the Rev. Joseph D. Maurizio Jr., was charged in federal court in Johnstown, Pa., with possessing child pornography and engaging in illicit sexual conduct on trips he made to a boys’ orphanage in Central America. Father Maurizio visited the orphanage over a decade until 2009, when a Virginia-based charity that runs the home uncovered accusations of abuse by “Father Joe,” and passed them on to the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese, according to a criminal complaint and the group.

    Father Maurizio, however, remained as pastor of Our Lady Queen of Angels in Central City, Pa., east of Pittsburgh, until this month, when he was placed on leave after federal agents raided his parish home and his chapel, carting off computers, a hard drive and other electronics. The diocese said in a statement after his arrest that it was “profoundly disturbed by the allegations.”

    An activist who runs a priest-abuse website that learned of the accusations months before the arrest accused Bishop Mark L. Bartchak and his predecessor, Bishop Joseph V. Adamec, of looking the other way for years. “Their total lack of interest is so disturbing,” said Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org.

    The Roman Catholic Church’s long-running abuse scandal led to the arrest this week of a former papal ambassador to the Dominican Republic. Pope Francis has set a new tone of not looking away from sex crimes by clergy members against children.

    The Pennsylvania Supreme Court is reviewing the case of the first senior official of the Roman Catholic Church to be convicted in connection with the sexual abuse of children, Msgr. William J. Lynn of Philadelphia, whose 2012 conviction was overturned last year.

    Father Maurizio, 69, made annual visits to Honduras, Nicaragua and other Central American countries to help homeless children, according to newsletters of a charity he ran. Investigators said he also had another purpose: sexual tourism.

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  2. Young men and boys interviewed in El Progreso, Honduras, by an agent of the Department of Homeland Security this year told of a decade-long pattern of abuse by Father Maurizio, according to the criminal complaint. One male witness said the priest tried to photograph him naked in a bath and later offered him money to masturbate. Another witness said the priest pulled down his pants in a chapel when he was 14, and the two had sex after which the priest gave him chocolates. A third witness described seeing Father Maurizio grope an underage boy in a pickup truck.

    More than four years earlier, these and other accounts had first reached the American charity that sponsored the orphanage, Fundación ProNiño, a residence for homeless boys 6 to 18. Board members from the group, ProNino USA, based in Richmond, Va., went to Pennsylvania to confront Father Maurizio.

    The priest denied the accusations, court records state, and he threatened the group, saying that he would withhold money from their orphanage as he tried to dissuade its chairwoman from reporting him. The complaints were passed to the bishop anyway, in November 2009, as well as to the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Pennsylvania attorney general.

    Father Maurizio stopped making trips to Central America for nearly two years, according to the complaint. But since July 2011, he has gone on 10 trips to countries including Costa Rica, Guatemala, Haiti and Nicaragua.

    In a newsletter about his charity, Humanitarian Interfaith Ministries, Father Maurizio reported that he was expanding to orphanages in South America. The summer 2012 newsletter said Father Maurizio’s charity had received its major support for 15 years from the Pennsylvania Knights of Columbus, the lay Catholic organization, for which he said he was a former chaplain.

    On Thursday, a spokesman for the priest’s diocese told The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that it was unaware of Father Maurizio’s charity, though he boasted in newsletters of taking volunteers on mission trips.

    Out of frustration that the authorities were ignoring Father Maurizio, ProNino USA contacted BishopAccountability.org, which tracks accusations of child sexual abuse against Catholic clergy members. It alerted a lawyer with ties to the Department of Justice and shared documents with the Department of Homeland Security, whose agents in Pittsburgh began investigating, Ms. Barrett Doyle said.

    Father Maurizio, who appeared briefly in court on Thursday, remains in custody pending a detention hearing on Monday.