Why Catholic officials are "picked on" about abuse

Fr. John Geoghan may be America's most prolific predator priest, with at least 150 victims over a 36 year clerical career. (He's not, however, the most efficient. That distinction goes to Mexico's Fr. Nicholas Aguilar Rivera who, in just 10 months in Los Angeles, reportedly assaulted 26 kids.)

This year is the 60 year anniversary of perhaps the first "red flag" Catholic officials had about Geoghan. In 1954, the rector of Geoghan's seminary expressed doubts about his suitability for the priesthood, in part because the seminarian was "decidedly immature."

It's also the 25 year anniversary of Cardinal Bernard Law sending Geoghan to St. Luke's Institute (one of at least three treatment centers where Geoghan spent time), where he was diagnosed as "high risk." Of course, he was still put back on the job in an unsuspecting parish.

And it's the 15 year anniversary of a 1994 Boston archdiocesan memo, labeled "confidential," that said that Geoghan would stay in a parishioner’s home who had eight kids “even when he was on a three day retreat because he missed the kids so much.” He “would touch them while they were sleeping and waken them by playing with their penises."

(Incidentally, last year was the 50th anniversary of Paraclete founder Fr. Gerald's Fitzgerald's letter to the pope advocating “Laicization for any priest, upon objective evidence, for tampering with the virtue of the young” noting that “real conversions will be found to be extremely rare" and "leaving them on duty or wandering from diocese to diocese is contributing to scandal." His advice was obviously ignored.) 


Why mention all of this?

Because some Catholic officials still claim that only recently did they begin to “understand” pedophilia. 

And because in the last two weeks, two of the very highest ranking Catholic officials claimed that the church hierarchy is unfairly “picked on” in abuse cases. (One was New York Cardinal Tim Dolan. The other was Pope Francis himself.) 

The relentlessly reckless and selfish handling of the Fr. John Geoghan case is one of thousands of reasons Catholic officials are "picked on" about child sex crimes.

Showing 42 comments

  • Larry Polte
    commented 2014-05-05 23:04:25 -0500
    S Jackson- Seriously? You can’t figure out that when a “man of God” abuses you it’s possible you might just be terrified? Perhaps you worry if anyone will believe you, I mean after all it’s a “holy man”. In some cases the clergy member tells you “if you tell anyone, I will kill you”. Stop looking at it through an adult mind and imagine it through a child’s mind. It really isn’t all that hard to figure it out.
  • S Jackson
    commented 2014-05-05 21:47:51 -0500
    I am here to ask a question…I am not saying that what happen to these men and women was not real..I am just saying when I was little, I was told in school,at home and by the police that if you are touch in a “bad” place you are to tell your parents….What happen here?
  • Jonathan Hinck
    commented 2014-04-26 13:14:43 -0500
    Thanks, Lani. It would be easy to be paranoid if you’re a leader of SNAP. You’d have cranks trying to convince you to endorse illegitimates, and if you did so, the Church would seize the opportunity to attack!
  • Pamela Stefaniotis
    commented 2014-04-25 02:08:38 -0500
  • Lani Halter
    commented 2014-04-24 21:22:18 -0500
    International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State –
    SimilarThe International Tribunal into Crimes of Church and State (or ITCCS) is a one-
    man blog that pretends to be a tribunal established to enforce common law.
  • Pamela Stefaniotis
    commented 2014-04-24 16:53:02 -0500
  • Pamela Stefaniotis
    commented 2014-04-24 16:52:05 -0500
    i absolutely do not understand why it is i am not finding a single word here in regards to the trials in Brussels as we speak The people v Bergoglio ,Pachon,.Childtrafficking murder pedophilia .crimes against humanity ..WHAT KIND OF ORGANIZATION ARE YOU ..I WORK AT THE LOCAL FARMERS MARKET EVERYONE KNOWS DONT SAY YOU DIDNT KNOW
  • Jonathan Hinck
    commented 2014-04-24 13:08:56 -0500
    He doth protest too much, methinks.
  • Lani Halter
    commented 2014-04-24 11:47:56 -0500
    Dear Mr. Hinck,
    Thank you for stopping the exchange with “John Denver”.
    I am also grateful that you reminded me (and all of us who are reading this), that sexual predators do often try to “normalize” their behavior. I don’t know about others, but personally, I need to keep that in mind, always.
  • Jonathan Hinck
    commented 2014-04-24 10:59:14 -0500
    Dear members of SNAP, my apologies for the heated exchange and the name-calling, below. I think it’s best not to engage this individual any further. We all need to wonder, though, why “John Denver” is so interested in trying to convince everyone that there’s no difference between a security pat-down and sexual molestation. One thing we know about sexual predators is that they often attempt to “normalize” their behavior. Who is this guy, exactly? He probably isn’t going to put his cards on the table.
  • John Denver
    commented 2014-04-24 03:55:33 -0500
    “I would hate to think that ANY individual would not understand the trust and authority issues when a clergy member abuses a child and it’s ensuing ramifications.” Larry, this sentence most clearly implies that I’m siding with the clergymen (sorry maybe my comprehension is too in depth). Larry, you’ve taken offense to my comments from the beginning. Please give a detailed explanation as to why you feel my comments are so offensive and/or dangerous, when you’re the one encouraging negativity. Also, explain the health benefits which reside in allowing one scenario to ruin your life (because religion’s involved), when the other scenario rolls off your back (because religion isn’t). You are a sad man Larry, you’ve allowed people to mold your mind so absolutely and you’re not satisfied until you impress those same view-points (detrimental/or not) on the minds of others. P.S. I would hope you don’t pray to TSA agents OR Priests. God is not a person, Larry. So with maturity comes the recognition that we cannot hold God accountable for what other people do. Here’s something for you to ponder: “Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or self-confidence” -Robert Frost
  • Larry Polte
    commented 2014-04-23 22:41:25 -0500
    Wow, your reading comprehension skills are sad! Where did I accuse you of defending the clergy? YOU made an asinine comparison between a TSA pat down and being abused by a clergy member. That was plain stupid. Only a total and complete moron would compare the 2. A priest/brother are not just an authority figure. When you are a child growing up as a Catholic, we are taught priests/brothers are servants of God. You have taken the whole religious aspect out of the abuse which is mind boggling. Do you have any concept of what it feels like as a child to have your faith and belief in God ripped away from you? If you cannot understand that simple concept, than you are not qualified to voice an opinion. I don’t pray to TSA agents DUH! Look, just stop the nonsense ok? Go find some other forum where you can type ignorant comments and piss someone else off.
  • John Denver
    commented 2014-04-23 22:12:42 -0500
    The only argument that anyone seems to be able to come up with, is that one is protected by the law and the other isn’t. Do you see how that argument begins to seem unsound? A duck is not a goose just because i call it a goose. Larry vaguely stated something about authority and trust, but he wasn’t able to articulate his argument any further. His point about trust has some validity, but a priest is an authority figure just as an agent of the federal government is. Both Larry and Jonathan have inadvertently conceded; that the reason, and not the action is what’s actually offensive. Ask yourself, what does the reasoning matter when the action is the same? (I do not support priests who sexually abuse people. Apparently, some people are ignorant enough to draw that conclusion.)
  • John Denver
    commented 2014-04-23 21:47:17 -0500
    Larry Polte, please re-quote my statement which defends those members of clergy. I’m more concerned with establishing a sense normality for the victim. Encouraging the victim to feel ashamed and scarred for life is your gig, not mine.
  • Larry Polte
    commented 2014-04-23 17:50:10 -0500
    Mr Denver- your premise is sheer insanity and I hope to God your just trying to get a rise out of anyone by posting dumb stuff. I would hate to think that ANY individual would not understand the trust and authority issues when a clergy member abuses a child and it’s ensuing ramifications.
  • John Denver
    commented 2014-04-23 17:28:37 -0500
    So, then your answer to my original question is no? Hypothetically, if the uniform of a TSA agent resembled clerical clothing then you would have a problem with the pat down?
  • Jonathan Hinck
    commented 2014-04-23 17:10:21 -0500
    Like I said, I don’t try to reason with nasty trolls who can’t comprehend the difference between a security patdown and sexual assault. Think about what sexual assault entails…real, real hard. Even when it is touching, it matters who is doing it. We have a different reaction to the doctor than to someone else because roles make an impression.
  • John Denver
    commented 2014-04-23 17:07:12 -0500
    Once you’ve thought of something meaningful to say, come back to the grown-up table and we’ll talk.
  • John Denver
    commented 2014-04-23 17:05:30 -0500
    Until you can formulate a sentence which illustrates your thoughts and reasoning on the issue(THINK REAL REAL HARD) , I will not justify your responses with an answer.
  • Jonathan Hinck
    commented 2014-04-23 16:44:11 -0500
    I doubt you are in a position to lecture anyone on either.
  • John Denver
    commented 2014-04-23 16:42:02 -0500
    Jonathan Hinck, you are too intelligent. If I were you, I’d practice my articulation. Also, I suggest a course in philosophy and critical thinking.
  • Jonathan Hinck
    commented 2014-04-23 16:34:36 -0500
    John Denver, I realized that you were too far gone to be reasoned with, asshole.
  • John Denver
    commented 2014-04-23 16:24:35 -0500
    Dear Jonathan Hinck, good answer. I was trying to have a rational discussion about this which might actually work as-a-sort of therapy for some people. Unless you can provide me with comprehensive reasoning/logical processes, of how over the clothes fondling differs from the TSA’s fondling, then i’m afraid a response to your comments isn’t even worth my time.
  • Jonathan Hinck
    commented 2014-04-23 16:16:05 -0500
    Dear John Denver, no, the actions are NOT the same between the two!
  • John Denver
    commented 2014-04-23 16:10:43 -0500
    Dear Jonathan Hinck, whats the difference? I guess, im trying to understand why people have two totally different perceptions of an action which is the same. The only argument you have is that the difference lies in intention. If someone fondles me, I could careless what his reason is, im going to be mad either way. So explain to me again, the difference?
  • Jonathan Hinck
    commented 2014-04-23 16:01:44 -0500
    Dear John Denver, what’s your point?
  • John Denver
    commented 2014-04-23 15:57:06 -0500
    Question: If a TSA Agent goes to work dressed as a priest, should he still be allowed to frisk people?
  • Lani Halter
    commented 2014-04-20 16:11:31 -0500
    We must make Christ’s words and advice in the Bible, found in MATTHEW 18:6, MARK 9:42 AND LUKE 17:2 KNOWN TO THE WORLD, now. Christ, and his words, is the gift from God, to us, today and always. MATTHEW 18:6, MARK 9:42 AND LUKE 17:2
  • Elizabeth Kerin
    commented 2014-04-20 14:26:45 -0500
    It’s really funny how such educated people could have only a recent understanding of pedophilia. The answers always change to suit their purpose, deflect blame, whatever. If it were say, a police department that was institutionally covering up for pedophile officers for decades, sending them to different districts so that the community didn’t know, I get the feeling that these same people would know a lot about the subject.
  • Lani Halter
    commented 2014-04-20 11:32:34 -0500
    It’s Easter Sunday, morning here. I am not going to church. Unless the pope and curia do change the status of the catholic church with regards THE SCANDAL, I doubt I’ll ever go to the catholic church again, unless it is for the funeral of a family member or good friend.
    I just saw segments of the pope, giving his Easter Sunday mass “to the city and the world” on both the CBS Sunday Morning show, and on Face the Nation. The second show also had archbishop, cardinal timothy dolan of New York, being interviewed by Nora O’Donnell, I think it was.
    I don’t like timothy dolan, now. It’s ironic, when I first became aware of him years ago now, when john paul II was pope, I thought I liked him. That was before I knew what I now know, about the crimes against humanity being committed by catholic predator priests and other catholic laity and employees on a DAILLY BASIS and by huge numbers globally around this Earth.
    Today, the only thing cardinal dolan said about this scandal really, was that he doesn’t want to act upon Christ’s teachings of forgiveness, because there are certain crimes and criminals even HE (dolan), does not want to “forgive”.
    This comment was so disengenious of this catholic cardinal dolan, because I feel certain that he, of all people, DOES KNOW, that Christ DOES NOT TEACH that we (any of us) should forgive these particular sinners, these catholic priests and other catholic predator pedophiles within the church preying on children and vulnerable adults.
    I believe that BOTH this new pope AND timothy dolan, archbishop cardinal of New York city, know what Christ has said in MATTHEW 18:6, MARK 9:42 AND LUKE 17:2, and that because they are in fact afraid of death themselves, don’t want to make known to the rest of the world that Christ said THESE PARTICULAR CRIMINALS in HIS church, should be made to experience death (by drowning, no less). CHRIST HAS SAID THIS.
    There is NO EXCUSE, for the catholic pope, to or any catholics to allow these crimes to continue in the catholic church, in Roma and all around the world. NO EXCUSE!
    We must make Christ’s words and advice in the Bible, found in MATTHEW 18:6, MARK 9:42 AND LUKE 17:2 KNOWN TO THE WORLD, now. Christ, and his words, is the gift from God, to us, today and always. MATTHEW 18:6, MARK 9:42 AND LUKE 17:2

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