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

  • Caroline Ryan
    commented 2014-04-14 21:11:14 -0500
    Thank you for this excellent blog. The problem is actually more systematic and far more deeply engrained than could ever be approached on an individual priest or diocese level. If you read anything of Rev. Kevin Annett’s work, such as his book Hidden No Longer (http://hiddennolonger.com/), you will see the historical pattern of deeply ingrained ritual child abuse, which has existed in the Catholic church for many decades, perhaps centuries. This isn’t just a question of bishops, cardinals and popes covering up the truth of countless known pedophile priests, however heinous that crime may be. This is a matter of institutionalized ritual abuse. Responsibility for this begins at the Vatican, where so many of the worse rituals take place. Attempts on the part of Vatican officials to deflect blame from themselves are utterly useless in the face of a tall pile of very real evidence, including eyewitness accounts. The recent findings of the International Common Law Court of Justice in Brussels, Belgium attests to this fully.
  • Lani Halter
    commented 2014-04-07 14:02:15 -0500
    I agree with you Mr. Hinck. I would change your comment to add just a few words for specificity; to read: The real issue is that the Catholic Church is one of the few religious institutions that covers for and enables pedophiles, globally!

    I also agree with survivor, former nun and SNAP leader, Ms. Mary Dispenza that to date, “common sense” has been puposely evaded by the catholic church leaders on these heinous crimes against humanity.

    What’s more, I believe that exercising common sense would allow the catholic church heirarchy to think beyond the multitude of years of lies and constant dissembling, to finally arrive at a point where they realize that the words of Christ as found in Matthew 18:6, Mark 9:42 and Luke 17:2, were uttered for this specific purpose; and, that PUTTING AN END to catholic church heirarchy enabling and covering up for the abusive, active pedophiles in their ranks, PUTTING AN END to all of this, is the only honestly religious, credible, intelligent, moral and common sense thing to do.

    I believe we should ALL beseige the two, living catholic popes, to:

    NOW! I say.
  • Jonathan Hinck
    commented 2014-04-05 16:57:40 -0500
    The issue was never that there are pedophiles within the clergy. Saying that the Church is being singled out because of that is a straw man argument. Sex offenders can be found in all walks of life, regardless of class, occupation, etc. The real issue is that the Church is one of the few institutions that covers for and enables them! Would you take someone who has a known drinking problem down to the bar or to a wine cellar, and then hand them the car keys?
  • Larry Polte
    commented 2014-04-01 23:27:06 -0500
    The Catholic church has not only known about their pedophile problem for decades, but also covered it up. I know this for a fact because I was molested by an Irish Christian Brother (a Catholic order that taught in schools) who I believe molested more than Geoghan. He was shuffled from one school to another in the sixties and seventies. In fact BEFORE he abused me, the Catholic archdiocese sent him to a shrink and he was diagnosed clinically as a pedophile. He ended up running an orphanage. So Dolan and Francis are liars. The cover up that has gone on for decades was and is orchestrated from the Vatican.
  • S Jackson
    commented 2014-04-01 22:27:54 -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?
  • Lani Halter
    commented 2014-03-26 14:39:15 -0500
    Also, the thought just occcured to me today, that I’d like to suggest to the directors of SNAP, that it might be very beneficial to post PHOTOS of all legitimately accused pedophile priests and other catholic laity, on this site…perhaps rather than posting childhood pictures of the victims? (Or, at least in addition to the victims’ photos; on whatever page of this website you would deem appropriate.) I don’t even think you would need to put their names. Simply post their photos, all together in one spot. It could be there for quick reference for victimns and those who do not want to become victims. (I seem to recall that in the “olden days” it was rather effective to post the pictures of criminals that the legal system wanted arrested and brought to justice, as in the FBI formerly posting “Most Wanted” photo posters in the US Post Offices.)
  • Lani Halter
    commented 2014-03-26 14:26:40 -0500
    As you say, “Why mention all of this?
    Because some Catholic officials still claim that only recently did they begin to ‘understand’ pedophilia.” (I believe that making that “claim” is really, just another example of the abusers attacking their victims and those who are accusing them. I believe that is one of their “foundation cornerstones” of the “defence policy”, i.e. “attack all comers by lying and disembling”.
    I believe that ALL of the catholic church heirarchy, including both living popes (francis and benedict), should be forced to re-read the following portions of the New Testament, every day.
    Matthew 18:6
    Mark 9:42
    and, Luke 17:2
  • Thomas Doyle
    commented 2014-03-21 18:58:39 -0500
    Mr. Stylinski. I am grateful for your response and..you are right of course. Its the nature of the system. Thanks for the reference to ponerology. I intend to check it out. Tom Doyle
  • M.K. Styllinski
    commented 2014-03-21 09:26:38 -0500
    Tom, I agree, but I think it’s actually much worse than “ingrained narcissism” – it is more a symptom of the nature of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church having been hollowed out by endemic corruption and psychopathology over centuries. I know that sounds very harsh since there are still wonderful priests working under its auspices. However, studies of ponerology (www.ponerology.com) indicate that this is indeed the case. The mere fact that victims of these sexual predators have had to fight to be heard while the clergy had to adhere to a papal secrecy ruling for decades means, in my view, that the Church is unlikely to recover in its present form.
  • Thomas Doyle
    commented 2014-03-20 20:32:17 -0500
    The clerical whining, e.g. Dolan, the pope and others, is a blatant symptom of their deeply engrained narcissism. Nothing will change it because it has survived the worst kind of shaming imaginable for normal, decent people. Dolan especially loves in some hermetically sealed cocoon and feeds off his own self-serving arrogance. Picked on!?? They should each walk in the shoes of a victim for ten minutes, if they could handle it that long!
  • A.j. Baselice
    commented 2014-03-19 13:45:28 -0500
    I strenuously disagree that the rcc is being ‘picked on’ I believe they are being exposed !
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