Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Fr. Tom Doyle Comments On Fellow Clergy

Fr. Tom issues a long needed wake up call to fellow priests and clergy:

Response to Letter to Maine Priests By Rev. Thomas P. Doyle, O.P., J.C.D.

This is an essential message (see copy of letter below)….it’s tragic that it has to be said but it’s all too true. I’m not able to send this response out to all on your list but you can share it if you wish.

I was ordained 38 years ago. I have been deeply involved in the sex abuse nightmare since 1984. The nearly universal response from other priests to me personally over the years has ranged from disbelief to anger to warnings that I was being a traitor to the brotherhood. I recall no priest asking what he could do to help victims. The general response of priests and priests groups has been silence.

Priests groups such as the NFPC or other small or large gatherings only began to speak out in 2002 and then it was a response to the Bishops’ “one strike and you’re out” rule. They were concerned about themselves and complained that there was no justice in the bishops’ rule. They complained that all were being tarnished because of the crimes of a few. Still….no one expressed any concern about the victims.

Over the years I have met a small number of priests who have both spoken out and who have reached out and supported victims. These men are the real thing….men who are committed to the authentic concept of a priest as a pastoral minister and not just a cultic leader. Many if not all have been punished, challenged, threatened and/or isolated by the bishops. Only two bishops out of 4500 on the planet have stood up and they have both been punished by the Vatican…..Benedict XVI’s Vatican…..the bureaucratic arm of the same pope who is now apologizing in the US and in Australia. His words are empty and hypocritical as long as men like Tom Gumbleton and Geoff Robinson remain isolated. His words are empty as long as the vast majority of priests remain too brainwashed by clericalism or too fearful because of their state of economic servitude to the monarchy to speak publicly about the outrage of sexual abuse (among other outrages) or to reach out and try to help a victim.

When I hear the whining of priests, the lies of the bishops and the hypocrisy of the pope and his Vatican, I cannot help but wonder if all the lofty theological sayings about the priesthood are nothing more than hollow prose the real purpose of which is to support the clergy’s self-created but clearly waning superiority in church and society.

All of this makes me profoundly ashamed to have been a priest and a Catholic and deeply disappointed that the clergy have deserted the calling to minister as Christ did, if indeed we ever had it.

Tom Doyle

Original Letter:

Letter to Maine Priests
Ignatius Group_______
In a recent homily, Rev. Michael Gendreau, pastor of St. John the Evangelist Church in South Portland, led parishioners to believe that the child sex abuse charge against Rev. James Robichaud is unfounded and based on little or no evidence.

Gendreau doesn’t know what he’s talking about. His remarks were irresponsible.

The woman who informed church officials that she was sexually abused by Robichaud, beginning at age 13, is not lying. Has anyone given a moment’s thought to her pain and suffering? Does anyone realize the amount of anguish and agony endured by a child abuse victim as they relive their abuse by putting aside their own desire for privacy to help protect other children and hold their abuser accountable? Child abuse victims often blame themselves for being abused, they think it was their fault. Has anyone considered that this brave woman might be blaming herself for Robichaud’s death? Well, Gendreau didn’t think about these things. Gendreau’s homily included a subtle message intended for people to believe that the child abuse victim in this case did, indeed, cause Robichaud to die of suicide. Disgraceful, but not unexpected from “Pastor Mike.”

Which brings me to another matter. During the past six years, Gendreau and you, his brother priests, have done nothing but whine about “unfair treatment to priests,” and “how difficult it is to be a priest because everyone thinks we are all child molesters.”

Stop feeling sorry for yourselves. Want to feel better? Get off your butts and help an abuse survivor. Listen to their story. Engage yourself in their innocent suffering. It would seem that everything about your ministry should have prepared you for this moment.

Which begs the question, why haven’t you reached out and helped those who were abused? Why haven’t you spoken out in the public square demanding truth and accountability from your bishop? Why haven’t you joined with abuse survivors and child protection advocates in their attempts to strengthen and change statute of limitation restraints? Why haven’t you demanded justice and restitution for the harms inflicted upon innocent children as a result of their abuse? And, if you do have evidence that accused priests are not being granted due process, or are being “railroaded,” then it is your obligation to speak clearly and forcefully to this issue. We agree that there is no defense for a process that is not fair and unbiased to both the accuser and the accused.

But, let’s not kid ourselves. Almost every priest in this diocese has done little to nothing to support those who were abused. Oh, sure, you all know how to say the right things such as offering your thoughts and prayers for those who were abused. Yet, it remains difficult for me to understand how any of you can preach the gospel with any measure of integrity while remaining silent and afraid to speak out for the vulnerable, ostracized, and sometimes despised victims of clergy sexual abuse. It’s all upside down in the church thanks to you. By your words and actions, you’ve helped make the abuse victims the enemy.

Finally, more and more ”lay persons” are discovering for the first time in their lives that they, too, are called to priestly ministry. No one ever told (or taught) Catholic school children that the most exciting news of all is that our Baptism calls all of us (not just the ordained) to be priest, prophet and king. Church is all of us, not just a group of celibate (and chaste?) males. It can now be said that if the “ordained” priesthood chooses to continue to remain silent, fearful and unwilling to carry the cross for those in need, then, please, get out of our way. There’s too much to do.

Paul Kendrick
Co-founder, VOTF-Maine, Ignatius Group
207 838 1319


For those of you who are unfamiliar with Fr. Robichaud, he committed suicide this June, a couple of days after learning he was being suspended from his priestly duties pending the outcome of an investigation into a credible allegation of sexual abuse. The alleged abuse had occurred 29 years previously and was the only known allegation ever brought against Fr. Robichaud. Fr. Robichaud was made aware of the allegation in January of this year. The allegation was brought by a woman who claims that in 1979 she was abused at 13 years of age. The Diocese of Portland Maine states that since there was a 'semblance of truth and the diocese could not immediately disprove the allegation', the suspension was warranted, and that they had also contacted criminal authorities upon receiving the allegation. More can be read here:

For me the critical piece of this story is the call for priests to take a stand and quit hiding behind self interest and the codes of silence and brotherhood. In Fr. Doyle's letter he makes no bones about how much these codes fuel the hypocrisy of this crisis, and in the letter from Paul Kendrick, Mr. Kendrick makes it evident that the laity are beginning to understand that if the ordained leaders can't or won't lead, then they have self chosen to be useless impediments and 'need to get out of the way'. In my book, these men are speaking truth.

I occasionally check out the website Voice From The Desert, and today they are running an analysis of the abuse crisis written by Vinnie Nauheimer and I encourage you to read it. Vinnie makes a compelling case for both Interpol and the UN to treat the Vatican as a criminal organization over their handling of this issue, especially because of the Vatican's historical track record: It's Enlightening reading, and makes a very valid point about the almost universal hesitancy to treat the Vatican City States as one would treat any other country. This hesitancy by secular authorities to enforce their own laws when it comes to the Roman Catholic Church, is a tendency the Vatican and dioceses around the world have taken advantage of to export and import pedophile priests across international lines.

The one thing I really liked about Vinnie Nauheimer's analysis is that it forces one to look at the abuse issue as a criminal issue and not a religious issue. Criminal sexual abuse is not about sin, it's about crime and it's about criminal cover up. The Church's current fascination with meaningless apologies mostly serves to keep abuse a religious and sinful issue in the minds of the public. It's one reason I now see all of Benedict's posturing as hypocritical and pointless. I've reread most of his statements on the issue in the last six months and not once does he call for accountability on the level of the Bishop. Instead he universally calls on all Catholics to support the bishops in their painful task of dealing with victims and perpetrators. That's just the problem, we've given the bishops way too much support, way too much leniency, way too much deference, and as Tom Doyle points out, so have the lesser clergy, and most of that in self interest.

One other incident of note happened this weekend, which also needs to be pointed out. Three women were ordained in Boston by and all three were essentially excommunicated by Sean Cardinal O'Malley before they were ordained. In the Church's code of Canon Law there is not greater punishment. It's the Church's form of spiritual execution. On the other hand, not one single abusive priest or bishop has been excommunicated. Some priests have been laicized but retain their sacramental rights, while no meaningful punishment of any sort has been handed down to abusive bishops. They all retain their rank, privilege, priestly functions, and financial perks.

The excommunication of women priests and the unbelievable cushy treatment of abusive bishops and most priests, truly point to the real underlying issue. The Church will not accept an attack on the status of it's celibate male clerical system, no matter how illogical it's uneven treatment of these two issues appears. It blows me away that well meaning people of faith can not see that the real evil in the Church is the cultic, privileged, all male clerical system, (almost totally white); and for the last 1000 years it has always been the real evil. In my book the single mindedness of maintaining this exclusiveness and power is why Benedict is hell bent on restoring Atonement theology and propagating the blatantly misogynist sexual moral theology of natural law. It's not about the Good News which seeks our union with Jesus and our spiritual liberation, it's about the Vatican News which demands our submission and maintains in us a spiritual infantilization. Fortunately, a lot of us are growing up.


  1. Fortunately a lot of us are grown up already! Colleen, I agree totally with everything you've written and Fr. Tom Doyle and Paul Kendrick has said. It has become very clear that Benedict is promoting VI, which includes a declaration against the right of freedom of conscience and against democracies which is right in line with conservative politics in the secular world that are chipping away at the Constitution of a government by the People and for the People. The authority that Benedict expresses is a worldly power and authority and I can discern very little of the presence of Christ in any of his actions since he has been elected Pope.

    In his most recent statement about the causes of pedophilia in the Church reported on NCR, his excuse is that it could have been from a thinking during the time in seminaries of "proportionalism." Benedict, the worldly intellectual, points to something that never resolves the problem, but has people debating the problem, while he sits back and determines "the truth" for us anyway. He keeps us busy thinking about these things, but never gets to the root cause. Proportionalism and relativism are phrases he has coined as relevant to the times, but they are phrases in which he doesn't agree with what others see on the other side of the coin. He is an intellectual without the wisdom of God, but with the theology of a despot. Jesus saw both sides of the coin and was not a ruler, but an authority. Benedict does not see the other side of the coin and he is a ruler, not an authority in the same rank with God or Jesus. He is a Pope like Pope Pius before him and the other Popes who want all to believe the Pope is "infallible." I don't believe he is infallible and no matter how many times the "defenders of the faith" say that the Pope was given authority by Jesus I consider what they say to be from the father of lies.

    I am so thoroughly disgusted with Benedict right now and what he represents for the future of the Church. His apologies and sorriness towards the sexual abuse victims is not believable, especially since he politicizes and intellectualizes why pedophiles were in the clergy, while ignoring the fact that they were harbored by the Bishops, harbored by him in his prior seat in the Vatican as Cardinal Ratzinger looking at these sexual abuse cases for years, and the judicial means in which they essentially crucified the victims all over again in their abusive tactics of attacking and alienating the victims and stalling their cases for years.

    The priests are acting like a brotherhood of doctors protecting a surgeon who killed and/or maimed many people and are allowing the surgeon to continue his practice by not disbarring him. Even wise doctors know that the bad surgeon only makes them look bad and less credible, but those that sincerely care about people will get rid of the bad surgeon and not allow him to practice. The priest are closer to the secular than they imagine in that during this recent wave of right wing corporatist conservatism the Law was changed to put a cap on what victims could receive in malpractice suits. The "cap" for the Church might be in the statute of limitations rules for the ability of victims to collect anything at all.

    Priests need to "get off their butts" as Paul Kendrick says, and "help abuse victims."

  2. Butterfly, it's interesting you brought up the medical profession an they're covering of each other. That coverage only extends to those who follow the accepted medical paradigm.

    There are at least three doctors who intersected with our core group of spiritual practitioners who have had their world view shaken to it's fundamental core, or who have been ostracised and prosecuted by the medical establishment for using their God given talent. The stories are too long to relate here, but the two who found themselves ostracized served for a time on reservations as locum tenum practioners.

    Hospitals really don't like it when you circumvent the cover your ass tests. Not only do they lose money, but it's an open door to litigation.

    Unfortunately these two doctors were right on the money and saved the patients a ton of money. They also saved lives. They both learned that money is the only issue. Not life. Such is what war is all about as well.

    Great comment.

  3. Your understanding of proportianism and relativism is right on target. I wonder when Benedict will shine those particular light on his own clerical system. The Catholic world waits.

  4. Colleen "That coverage only extends to those who follow the accepted medical paradigm." As also, the coverage to remain a priest or a nun and unexcommunicated if one is in total allegiance with Rome and just acts like a complete numb-nut and hides pedophiles around to other countries so they don't have to face REALITY, which would be the state pen for SEX CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN. The unexcommunicated are the real rebels. The "Moralist" are the MOST Immoral.

    The Vatican needs to be held accountable for its sex crimes against children. It makes me think that the Vatican has a lot of dirty big secrets. Maybe that is why they are so nosey with Tribunals for annulments and want to know all the details. Their focus should swing back on themselves and worrying about their own salvation. They are the biggest sinners around, because they should have KNOWN BETTER than a pagan to end the cycle of abuse of children.

    Priests who are sitting on their rears instead of forming ministries for the abused should be ashamed of themselves. Priests who don't speak out against the excommunication of people who support women priests like Sr. Lears have no business then trying to be shepherds of Christ and priests themselves. Their inaction is appallingly unchristian. Their inaction on many issues is just dreadful and signifies a real lack of Holy Spirit in their actions. Their words about love mean nothing. They are empty words from hollow hearts who dare to preach about love, but let the Vatican and the bishops transport sex offenders of children across state and national lines. Cronyism. A band of brothers on their butts offending justice but delivering excommunication papers to living saints like Sr. Lears. The Roman Catholic Church under Benedict and Bishops like Burke are making it an abomination.

  5. Butterfly:

    No doubt Benedict is attempting a bid for V1 domination of the church. He has money, some influence, some support, the appearance of absolute power ... so what? He may control some aspects of the church, but that is an illusion that is slowly slipping away from him.

    He may to some degree control what the catoganons say and how they are enforced, but he cannot control or dominate is the collective consciousness. That is his achilles heel. That is the message that Leon and others are passing on to us: collective consciousness determines the outcome.

    In that area, the Pope and his posse are impotent. They believe their power is in the catoganons and the vatican bank. They believe in the illusion of their absolute authority.

    One of the reasons I am so vocal on NCR is not to win an argument. I could really care less about a bunch of FO's suffering from a case of THUTA (terminal heads up their asses). What I am doing is progressively chipping away at the collective V1 consciousness. One thought at a time, the V1 consciousness is being methodically and very effectively undermined.

    So when I hear these papal pontifications "PP" (pronounced "pee pee"), I smile, because I KNOW each one is the reflection of another hole in the V1 consciousness, each one is another nail in the V1 coffin.

  6. Carl, I am very glad that you have been very vocal on NCR. Your voice is very much needed and very appreciated. Sometimes my jaw drops when I read what the FOs say and it is just mind-boggling sometimes to try to interject sanity, health, some perspective to their immature stances. You're comments are a wonderful and insightful breath of fresh air.

    I love your sense of humor in all this as well. Serious subjects like child molestation by priests are very emotionally charged issues and the fact that there was such secrecy and immorality and CRIME involved in hiding the pedophiles, which makes bishops and others complicit in more sex crimes perpetrated etc. just gets me so darn mad I could scream. I have to be careful to not hate them.

    What is a catoganon? Is this one of your abbreviations? I can't remember them all!

    Please, Carl, please continue chipping away at their VI consciousness. How anyone could have such a consciousness in the first place is beyond my understanding. Do they not read history, or is the history they are reading a perversion? What they are reading must be perverted, because it is evil to want to excommunicate people for having their own consciousness. It is evil to want to do away with VII, which was about getting rid of VI in the first place. Don't the FO's realize yet how WWII got started in the first place and why so many Jews were killed had to do with years and years of Church indoctrination of hatred towards Jews? One and One = Two, but since they are suffering from THUTA (their heads up their asses) and the hierarchy is busy making sure their heads stay up there own asses, they want our heads up our own asses too. That would mean we were real Catholics, if we all were in unity with our heads up our asses.

  7. THUTA, there's another good one. :)

    Carl, raising the collective conciousness is exactly why I stay on the NCR. There are at least 100 lurkers for everyone who posts. I think some of those lurkers have gotten the opportunity to rethink some issues.

    The one thing you do that I really like is to force THUTA's to answer your rebuttals. Even if their answers are Def it allows lurkers to see the lack of real thought behind the Def answers.

    Leon was such a gentle teacher, I wish you all could have met him. He wasn't just about raising our concsiousness though, he was also about exposing us to the fact there is far more to our reality and our ability to work with in this reality. In Leon's mind Jesus got it, and we don't.

    Interestingly enough, he was insistent we take what he taught us back to our own spiritual systems. He wasn't in Helena to convert us, just to open up our minds to how much more lay behind the tenants of our spiritualities.

    Much of the THUTA mentality is specifically designed to maintain the all male celibate clerical system. That's the real cancer in the Church and exactly the direction that GAFCON wants to take Anglicanism.

    My question is who really benefits from this system, a system which has no checks and balances and operates in total secrecy? Intelligence services of all stripes certainly would and have in the past. How many skeletons really are in the pedophile closet?

    --- CATachism
    --- dOGma
    --- cANON

    Butterfly, the FO's CANT accept the Vatican complicity in the european atrocities in the mid 20th century and other "misdeeds". If they did, then they would have to acknowledge "fallibility", magisterial disobedience to vows and doctrines, and a host of other "errors" that would cause the foundation they have built their lives on to disappear. They would have to admit that those who committed the atrocities, are in effect just like them. I doubt that most of them would survive the event spiritually.

    How many skeletons do they still have hidden? Fewer and fewer each day. One of my "otherside" has indicated that we reached and passed critical mass last month. Our "light" is shining now, and will never go out. The darkness is retreatring, squealing as it goes, but retreating, and dying.

    Any idea what is up on NCR? They havent posted anything in nearly a week?

  9. Colleen, your commentary on clericalism is brilliantly incisive, seems to me. Like you, I'm struck by Tom Doyle's observation that, even when his fellow priests know better, they remain silent.

    This silence speaks volumes to me. From a biblical standpoint, God is always speaking--becoming word, efficacious word. Can you imagine God confronting situations of gross injustice and evil and being silent?!

    The silence of elite clubs, when their secrets are exposed, and their power and privilege threatened, is unholy silence. The horrific job the clergy have nowadays is to convince us, after the revelations of the abuse crisis, that their silence is a parental father-knows-best silence that we shouldn't question, and not the silence of unholy complicity.

    Good luck, is all I can say: good luck convincing people with minds, hearts, and souls to deny the evidence of their minds, hearts, and souls, and to call that denial religious obedience!

  10. Carl, I have no idea what's up at NCR. They are extremely slow at posting this week. I've noticed that recently all of my comments never show up as a recent comment. It is also very difficult to find where I had commented too. I've also noticed a few of my comments were never posted when I responded to HT. I guess they didn't like what I had to say to him. My sense is that they are understaffed at NCR and that they are more careful about how they line up the recent comments.

    I noticed that Sr. Louise Lears sister posted a comment the other day. Her comment was really important. I hope others like her will join in the conversation at the cafe and come here to Colleen's and Bill's blogs too.

    At this juncture I have to thank Colleen for this blog. It truly is a Godsend and a work of art. I know that I would have great difficulty going forward without this CATHOLIC COMMUNITY that she is creating. There is a real sense of care and love put into all that she posts and tremendous thoughtful responses and commentary to what is hitting the Catholic pike. I am always inspired to persevere with love and not get STUCK in the FOs MUCK.

    I think I would remember the CATOGANON if it were instead CATDOGCAN.

  11. Butterfly I truly did laugh out loud at CATDOGCAN. Although my cats want you to know that cats can and dogs can't. I think your analysis of what's going on at the NCR is probably right.

    I also wonder if the current delay won't have the added effect of defusing the Def's. Most of them seem to lose interest when the emotionalism can't be maintained, which is why I stand in stupefied awe of Bill Lyndsey. He never gives into the emotion, where as I often have difficulty not resorting to cross checking them into the boards---so to speak.

  12. Butterfly, I noticed a couple of censored posts last week, from FO's, so I'm guessing some of the rhetoric got pretty heated. I responded to one, indicating I thought the comment (which was directed AT me) was insulting. A day later both the original and mine were gone. You may be right, they may be taking a more active role in censoring the posts.

  13. Colleen - Dogs can too, especially golden retrievers. Speaking of dogs, I miss my pet. He passed on last Sept. at almost 12 and was a very special guy. He was as big as a lion and as gentle as a lamb. He seemed to have the qualities of many animals built right into him such as part Bear (big paws); part Billy-Goat (loved to chew on anything & eat it, especially paper napkins); part Donkey (would often sit down in the middle of the road if he didn't want to go where you wanted to go during a walk); part Lion (he was so regal in appearance); part Horse (when he ran across the yard he sounded like a horse galloping); part Wolf (would howl under the full moon). He was even part Person and could pick up on our moods and was often sitting on the sofa in front of the tv.

    Dogs can too! I miss my poochy bear.

  14. Carl and Colleen - NCR looks dead everytime I check to see if there are any new comments. It is already after noon and still no posts. Colleen, I think you are right that NCR wants to diffuse things a little by prolonging the time in between comments. Bill is a Saint and I wish I had his merciful patience with the FOs when it is raining cats & dogs from the cans.

  15. It's interesting that anned and ht commented on no longer having the zero function on their ratings scale. I still do and made a smart ass crack about them using up their zero quota, but that was never published.

    I've also noticed that there's a whole lot more commenting going on in the actual NCR sections and not the cafe. I mean a whole lot more, and I wonder if that's not where they have assigned their priorities. If that's the direction they want to go in I would strongly suggest they get rid of the annonymous function. Too many of the Def's are hiding behind it.

  16. Colleen, FYI, I did see your comment about using up the 0 button. I still have my 0 button function as well.

    Do you think maybe they took it away from the FO's cuz they dont know how to play nice??

  17. Well if Dennis Coday posted my response I guess I may have been more correct that I thought.

    I still can't get over the responses on the Humanae Vitae editorial in the actual NCR. No wonder they aren't updating the cafe. Trying to do both would take three people all day.

  18. Rereading the responses on Humanae Vitae, I noticed some similarities in the writing styles. I wonder if what is going on is a couple of people posting under different names? One thing I've noticed about FO's is that many of them have no problems being inauthentic or dishonest if they are DeF.

  19. Butterfly

    --- Cats-n-Dogs-in-Cans ---

    I LOVE it! Hard to type, but I cant wait to use it on one of the pompous self righteous FO's (PoSeFO's) the next time they quote me a catechism.

    Do they really think that I care what a catechism says?

    FO-menting PoSeFO's - would love to leave home without them

    (I reread the Humanae Vitae postings before I came here ... grrr!)

  20. There was one comment on NCR HV editorial that really struck me as beyond absurd into the hateful range. First said was that all those people who don't obey HV are also the same people who don't adhere to other Church mandates and a list of those things went on and on. Then the comment raged on about how the New Generation of Faithful were going to do what succeeding generations had failed to do because of a lack of love and other lacks. This was obviously written by a young person who hates the older generation. Nothing like just wiping out all of the old people from any kind consideration in the least to the status of just being written off into being just a bunch of selfish minded sinners who only think of themselves.... This young person obviously has a leader that is teaching this stuff and the teaching is about hating older people, entire generations of people. It is truly a pathetic spectacle to witness. They young are being led to be militant for the institution. This is a form of abuse too, to use them for political abuse towards others.

    Bill, Benedict's conclusions about student protesters in Tubingin in the 1960s are the same conclusions that right wingers who were pro-Vietnam War had about protesters of the War.

    I find it incomprehensible in a democracy to not allow dissent. Dissent is helpful to democracy. Why Benedict abhors dissent is perhaps the same reason that as a youth he obeyed authorities and became a Nazi.

    In a real sense the Defs are undermining our democracy to prop up the VI Church's authority. In my diocese a few months ago the bishop led a small parade of marchers after a Mass to planned parenthood offices.

    Another comment that got me thinking was about respect for the womb. I recall from reading years ago, perhaps from Erich Fromm or from Karl Jung in analyzing the psychology of the nation in Nazi Germany after it was over, written in the early 1950s, a pathological psychotic regression of some sort back to the womb. Colleen, I can't remember, but you might. I think it is important. I'll try to locate the book and reread it. This fixation on the womb issues seems reflective of a return to the womb psychologically perhaps. It really is a dark place in the confines of the womb. One is in suspended animation, reliant upon its mother (church) with eyes shut in the womb. When they get older, hopefully they will be "reborn."