Roman Catholic Faithful responds

Roman Catholic Faithful responds

Stephen Brady of the watchdog group Roman Catholic Faithful has responded to news that an investigation backs up the claims he’s made over the years about the shenanigans in the diocese of Springfield, Illinois.

While he’s happy that certain admissions have been made, he’s less happy that there is a failure to acknowledge the reality.

What is most noticeable in this report by the diocese is that the bishop never uses the words homosexual or sin. The problem of homosexual clergy is never addressed. ... The sexual misconduct mentioned includes Bishop Daniel Ryan sodomizing teenage boys he picked up off the street. In some cases he would hear the boys’ confession in order to ease their young consciences. This information was made available to Cardinal Francis George of Chicago in 1997 and to Bishop George Lucas in 1999.

Brady has harsh words for all of the bishops named, plus Bishop Joseph Imesch of Joliet, whose sex-abuse lawsuit depositions have become famous. He also disputes other findings of the report as whitewashing certain incidents, including that related to the former chancellor of the diocese, Msgr. Eugene Costa, who was hospitalized after a beating he got in a park by two men he allegedly propositioned. The report says Costa was removed from ministry by Bishop Lucas immediately when the allegations were raised. Brady’s response?

More lies. Costa was removed by Bishop Lucas only after he was beaten in the park. Costa’s homosexual activity was common knowledge years earlier. In 1997, Jimmy Lago (the investigator for Cardinal George and now his chancellor) specifically asked me about allegations against Costa. In interviews with the State Journal-Register after his beating, some of Costa’s parishioners admitted knowing of his homosexuality.

He says that the man who was initially seen as a suspect in Casta’s beating—before the boys were arrested—claimed he was being set up by the diocese because he’d been paid for sexual favors by several Springfield clergy and knew of others who were homosexual.

There’s much, much more. The bottom line is that Brady says the rot in Springfield is rampant and that the report is an attempt to come clean on the least damaging allegations while keeping the worst stuff under wraps, minimizing the PR damage. Is he right? Brady has been right on so much else, stuff from around the country, that I’m hesitant to doubt him on something in his own backyard that he’s been dealing with for decades.

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  • Domenico:

    This is terrible, no question. But I have to say, it concerns me when I read the supporting documentation offered by Roman Catholic Faithful, and it doesn’t support the allegations that were made.

    Here’s what I mean—taken from the article here:

    “The sexual misconduct mentioned includes Bishop Daniel Ryan sodomizing teenage boys he picked up off the street. In some cases he would hear the boys’ confession in order to ease their young consciences. This information was made available to Cardinal Francis George of Chicago in 1997 and to Bishop George Lucas in 1999.”

    I read that, and thought—wow, that’s horrible! Then I went to the report cited, found here (look in the column on the left for a link titled, “REPORT: Clergy Misconduct”), and read the entire thing.

    I found nothing supporting the sensational allegation above. But I did find this statement:

    “Amid a climate of increasing doubt and mistrust, Bishop Lucas requested former U.S. Attorney for the Central District of Illinois and States Attorney for Sangamon County, Bill Roberts of Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP to launch an independent investigation into allegations of misconduct by priests of the diocese. The diocese has a separate process for addressing allegations of misconduct against minors; therefore issues of that nature were not addressed by this inquiry” (Emphasis added).

    Now—this whole thing is horrible, with or without this specific allegation. Is it really so wrong of me to object when a sensational allegation of this sort is made, apparently without support? Don’t facts matter?

  • Let me get this straight.  Priests were abusing boys picked up off the street (and there is evidence of this), people know their priests are perverts, the former chancellor of the diocese gets beat up in the park for propositioning young males, the bishop himself is talking about his sexual activity in court.  And you’re worried that one or more of these crackpots and deviants is being unfairly treated??

    Give me a break.  They all need to be defrocked, taken off the payroll and driven off the property ASAP.  What happens to them?  Who the hell cares.  We don’t owe them a thing.  They don’t care about the rest of us or the Catholic Church.  Or God.  Some of them never really did.  Admit it to yourself.

    Whenever I read about the Msgr Costa account, I always wonder why the young men were put in jail.  I’m serious.  I believe that a victim of a would-be pervert has every right to protect himself by whatever means necessary.  And I don’t care of the pervert is a priest or not.  It really doesn’t matter, IMHO, if the guy is standing there demanding his satisfaction.

    People need to get some common sense about this.  Let those brain cells kick in, people.  Entering the church doesn’t require you leave your brain behind.  On the contrary.

  • Fr. Fox: Brady wasn’t referring to allegations contained in the official report, but about information that they have documented themselves in their own investigations. They’re saying that while using the generic term “sexual misconduct”, the diocese is failing to come clean on misconduct that RCF has uncovered itself.

  • Domenico:

    If you say so. I won’t belabor the point; but either Brady’s original release was worded badly, or Matt Abbott mis-edited. His column sure seems to say the “teenage boys” was “mentioned” in the diocesan report.

    I’m not the only one who can catch something like this. I fail to see how this kind of sloppiness helps the cause.

  • It just sounds to me like the diocese is on a damage control mission.  We’ve seen this sort of thing over and over ad nauseam.

    RCF does its homework and I hate to say it but I’d believe RCF before I’d believe about half the bishops/chanceries we have.

  • Jay:

    I’m sorry I wasn’t clear. I was reacting to the article linked above, which was built around a press release by Steven Brady, in turn built around the report released by the diocese.

    That article says that the diocesan report “mentioned” Bishop Ryan abusing “teenage boys.” My criticism is that the diocesan report does not mention it.

    Why am I out of line to say that Mr. Brady’s press release (or Mr. Abbott’s column—it’s hard to know certainly where the mistake happened) needed to be clear about what allegations came from the diocesan report, and which ones came from investigations done by RCF, as Domenico referred to?

    Until Domenico explained that above, I was unaware that that is where the allegation about Ryan’s abuse of teenage boys came from. The article linked did not say that. It said it was in the diocesan report and that specific claim is false.

    All you have to do is scroll up and see the paragraph Domenico quotes.

    Jay, since you are a journalist, perhaps you can tell me how I’m misreading the linked column. Can you tell me where that column, or the press release it quotes at length, spells out that the Ryan-molesting-boys allegation was not in the diocesan report (as I read it to say), but discovered in another investigation?

    I was trained as a journalist, many years ago, and I learned a good journalist is careful about spelling out the facts, where they come from, etc. Good intentions are good, but not enough. I am sorry I am not as familiar with RCF as you, I was unaware—until Domenico pointed it out—that they did their own investigations. Might have been handy to mention in that press release, don’t you think?

  • There is plenty of information available on RCF’s Web site,  RCF has been investigating the Springfield diocese for years.

    I don’t think Stephen Brady should be faulted for issuing a press release that may not be perfect.  Very few such releases are perfect.  If people are interested in finding out more about RCF’s investigations, all they have to do is go to the Web site.

  • Bubbles:

    That’s it. That statement is clearly false. And until Domenico pointed out facts not in the press release—that there were other investigations that produced that information, there was no reason for me to give that assertion any credibility.

    I fail to see why its so awful of me to insist someone get the facts right. This is not a press release about a picnic. When one accuses someone of a horrible crime, then one has the obligation to get the facts right! “Oh, but he meant well.” C’mon.

  • Carrie:

    I have nothing against Mr. Brady, I don’t know him. I assume he wants all good things.

    But he made a horrendous charge, and in doing so, he accepts the burden of getting it right.
    And in this case, his news release made a claim not found to be accurate.

    Here is another reason this matters: presumably, he sent this news release out to all manner of news outlets. If they relied on what he provided, and ran it as he provided it, and after it ran, they got called on it, they’d be embarrassed; they’d have to correct it. You think they’re going to be eager to run the next news release? I doubt it.

    My question is, why did he say it was in the report, when it clearly wasn’t? It makes me wonder, did he read that report?

  • Fr. Fox, I don’t think you can say the claim was inaccurate. As I said, I think he phrased it badly. He’s not saying the charge was in the diocesan report, but in his own reports. What he should have said was: “The diocesan report mentions sexual misconduct by Bishop Daniel Ryan. Under the bland term “misconduct” would be instances of Ryan sodomizing teenage boys he picked up off the street that RCF has uncovered,” or something to that effect.

    I agree that the press release gives the wrong impression.  I don’t think it’s due to deliberate misinformation, but to ambiguous writing.

  • Carrie:

    I find your post repulsive. Apparently, if someone prints a book, then no matter how scurrilous, no matter how defamatory, it’s fair game to spread the ugliness far and wide.

    Never mind Church teaching about telling the truth (thus being very sure it is true; never mind Church teaching about detraction—even if something is true (and first you have to be very sure! How sure can you be about the outrageous things you have said about the late holy father?), then there must be a true necessity; never mind Church teaching about charity—one is bound to give the most generous interpretation of others’ actions and words that reason will allow. By this measure, is it truly charitable to explain the late pope’s actions that one finds inadequate by recourse to grave sin and cowardice.

    It is a strange notion of “orthodoxy” that the proof of it is the zeal with which one wages total war on the reputation and authority of the pope, bishops and hierarchy.

    Reading what you wrote makes me want to throw up; and I simply cannot fathom how anyone considering him- or herself a faithful Catholic could write that.

  • Carrie:

    How do you know they are true? The more severe the accusation, the higher the standard of proof.

    What efforts have you made to be sure they are true—before you repeated these horrible charges?

    Supposing you are wrong—what will you do to undo the ugly lie you would have been guilty of repeating? Does that not concern you—at all?

    Do you think God would be pleased that you don’t care if you slime someone unjustly?

    I made no “ad hominem” statements. I described my reactions to your statements, and I described the books that you relied on. And I said I cannot fathom how you wrote it. What ad hominem?

    (By the way, accusing me of ad hominem when you just accused the late holy father of monstrous crimes is high irony indeed!)

    Sorry, but the burden does not lie with me to disprove your defamatory, ugly, destructive accusations. The burden lies with the one making the accusation, not those who question them.

    And saying it appeared in two books is pretty weak. How does that make them true? Lots of nonsense appears in books, come on!

  • Carrie:

    Congratulations, you are a relativist: you justify your calumnies—or, at least, not deeply caring if they are true or not—on the basis of the outrage you feel.

    And you airily dismiss the commandment: “Thou shalt not bear false witness” as it has long been explicated by the Church, to apply to detraction and calumny, as “pious talk.”

    Your response to a concern about truth? “I no longer care.” Nice.

  • 2477 Respect for the reputation of persons forbids every attitude and word likely to cause them unjust injury. He becomes guilty:
    – of rash judgment who, even tacitly, assumes as true, without sufficient foundation, the moral fault of a neighbor;
    – of detraction who, without objectively valid reason, discloses another’s faults and failings to persons who did not know them;
    – of calumny who, by remarks contrary to the truth, harms the reputation of others and gives occasion for false judgments concerning them.
    2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way…
    2487 Every offense committed against justice and truth entails the duty of reparation, even if its author has been forgiven. When it is impossible publicly to make reparation for a wrong, it must be made secretly. If someone who has suffered harm cannot be directly compensated, he must be given moral satisfaction in the name of charity. This duty of reparation also concerns offenses against another’s reputation. This reparation, moral and sometimes material, must be evaluated in terms of the extent of the damage inflicted. It obliges in conscience.

    From the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

  • Fact is, neither one of you know what is the truth on this one.  I will not accuse because I don’t know, but I do know we’ve had the Borgias so I know this sort of thing is possible.

    We have had, and we do have, a problem with lavender gangs, gay networking and blackmail in the priesthood.  That is not in dispute, I believe.

  • Michigan:

    I did not meant to assert just what is true; rather, I wanted to protest a very ugly assertion made “without sufficient foundation,” in the words of the catechism, quoted above.

  • Who called anyone a “liar”?

    I didn’t. My whole point, the whole time, was that this repulsive charge against Pope Paul was so outrageous that it needed to be well supported, and that if not, it was wrong to make it.

  • Stephen:

    I appreciate your adding your own comment.

    You don’t say whether Domenico gave the right interpretation to the text of your press release, as it appeared in Matt Abbott’s column.

    As you can see above, my concern was and is that your release sure seemed to get an essential fact wrong. Domenico agreed that your release “gives the wrong impression.” I agree with him you didn’t mean any deliberate misinformation.

    But convincing people requires more than “trust me” and I’m sure you understand that. ! I’d think you, of all people, would be highly sensitive to any lack of clarity in your own materials that would invite reasonable doubt.

    I don’t know what you think of me pointing this out; but really, I’m hardly doing you a disservice, am I?

  • Fr. Martin,

    Perhaps you are not aware of the considerable risk involved in pointing out the evil-doing of the bishops. Stephen Brady and others have put their lives on the line to tell the truth.

    Do yourself a favor.  Don’t be too quick to answer for the bishops out of some misplaced notion of loyalty to secrecy or something like that.  You don’t know the half of it.

  • Michigan:

    I really don’t understand why this is not clear.

    I think people who issue press releases containing outrageous charges should be accurate and clear.

    It’s in their own best interest, among other things.

    Which of the last 24 words do you (a) not understand and (b) disagree with?

    Can you explain to me how a sloppy press release helps Mr. Brady’s cause?

    And your statement that I have “some misplaced notion of loyalty to secrecy” is slimy. Why can’t you simply stick to the issue of the press release, instead of suggesting I’m in cahoots?

  • At this point, I don’t expect my substantive argument to be responded to. I stated it many times, most recently in 24 words, in my last post:

    I think sloppiness in public messages by well-intended folks like Steve Brady hurt the cause.

    If you care to explain to me why I’m wrong in thinking that, feel free to do so on my site; I’m not coming back to this thread, as it’s rather “long in the tooth.”