Monday, February 6, 2012

Cardinal Egan Demonstrates Cultic Catholic Clericalism In All It's Sickness

In this exalted clerical world of Cardinal Egan victims of clerical abuse just don't hit the radar screen.

Michael Sean Winters went on one of his rants today about an interview given by retired NY Archbishop Cardinal Egan to Connecticut Magazine.  I have my issues at times with MSW, but I have to admit this interview of Egan's is a doozey.  I have extracted some parts of the interview where Egan talks about his record on clerical sexual abuse, which was of course, flawless.  There are reasons for this unique view of his and so rather than rant about it, the latter part of this post deals with some real reasons for Egan's unique view.

EGAN: You know, I never had one of these sex abuse cases, either in Bridgeport or here (New York). Not one. The newspapers pretend as though what happened under Walter Curtis (Bishop of the Bridgeport diocese from 1961 to 1988) happened to me. Walter was a wonderful, wonderful, dear gentleman. He had gotten very old and they were sitting there. And I took care of them one by one. None of them did anything wrong. One of them spent four years in treatment at the Institute of Living in Hartford. I investigated this and at the end I put him in a convent as an assistant chaplain in Danbury.  Only once did I not use the Institute of the Living—I used Johns Hopkins because the man was in Baltimore.

CT Magazine: You mean Laurence Brett (a serial molester who was cycled through eight parishes in the diocese and a family of ten in California before relocating to Maryland, where he was accused of abusing more boys. He was still on the run from the FBI when he died in the Caribbean in 2010).

EGAN: Yep. I sent him to the most expensive place and I did exactly what we were told to do. And as a result, not one of them (the accused priests) did a thing out of line. Those whom I could prove, I got rid of; those whom I couldn’t prove, I didn’t. But I had them under control.
When I left Bridgeport—you can look it up—we had the most priests-to-people of any diocese in the country.  Our seminary was the biggest in the nation. I built new schools there. We had a Catholic Charities thing that we did. So we had a wonderful diocese with this terrible thing that was hovering over the entire nation.
 I’m not the slightest bit surprised that, of course, the scandal was going to be fun in the news—not fun, but the easiest thing to write about....

....CT Magazine:  I believe you are. What about Fr. Pzolka? (A Stamford priest accused of raping, sodomizing and beating dozens of children. He died in 2009).
EGAN: Of course, that was in the newspaper one thousand times. I arrived in Bridgeport and found out there was a guy that was accused of all this. He never did anything while I was there. I sent him to the Institute of Living. I kept him there and kept him there and he broke his way out and escaped. Could you do anything more for a person you’d never heard of?
I sound very defensive and I don’t want to because I’m very proud of how this thing was handled. I never heard of the man. The same thing with Laurence Brett. In the beginning….I hate to go over this—why are we going over all this again?

CT Magazine:  Because clearly this has been a key, a divisive, issue that has challenged the Church.
EGAN: Terrible. But are you surprised that any bishop who lived in that period and had any involvement with that stuff, by even inheriting it, that it wasn’t going to become the focus of the newspapers? I don’t think I should be upset about that, or you should be, or anybody else. The era was such that in every diocese, even someone that had no cases, was going to be beaten up with it.
I tell younger bishops, ‘Don’t let one overriding issue be the focus. Do your job, grow your diocese, strengthen your schools, build your charities, and even it does become an obsession with the media, that’s life.’
So I do think it’s time to get off this subject or at least say that this is a man who in 20 years heading great big dioceses never had a case. We had eight or nine or ten cases that I had to attend to from my predecessor, not from me. That’s never been printed. You couldn’t print that, nobody would ever dare print it, because it ruins the narrative. That is the truth. The narrative is what it’s got to be to sell newspapers.
 It just strikes me that you could go around and find out that there were some pretty good things that took place.

CT Magazine:  There is no doubt that you did many good things in Bridgeport. But one can not talk to a person in your position, from any diocese in the country, and not ask about this because it has so traumatized the faithful.
EGAN:  Well it would be easy to write about without anything else. I’m not the slightest bit surprised that of course the scandal was going to be fun in the news—not fun, but the easiest thing to write about.  If you have another bishop in the United States who has the record I have, I’d be happy to know who he is......

CT Magazine:  Do you mean ‘good’ in that positive changes came about as a result of the crisis? EGAN: Good that…the record, I think, is an excellent record. And the fact that sex abuse becomes overpowering in people’s eyes, that’s a part of life.

CT Magazine:
EGAN: First of all, I couldn’t apologize for something that happened when I wasn’t there. Furthermore, every one of those cases was in litigation before a court, or threatened to be, and every one was handled correctly. I had the first fellow dismissed and the Holy See didn’t allow us to do that anymore, right?, and I handled every case exactly the right, I never hesitated to have the very finest treatment, the very finest of everything. And not any of them did anything out of line. If I was sure, I couldn’t do anything, if I wasn’t sure, I controlled them. No one could have done any better and if there was any mistake in any of that—I’m sorry—but I don’t think there was any mistake at all.

CT Magazine:  In 2002, you wrote a letter to parishioners in which you said, “If in hindsight we discover that mistakes may have been made as regards prompt removal of priests and assistance to victims, I am deeply sorry.”
EGAN: First of all, I should never have said that. I did say if we did anything wrong, I’m sorry, but I don’t think we did anything wrong. But I hate to go back over this. I think there’s more to life than that one issue, especially when I had no cases.


The above quotes are pretty classic clerical narcissism.  There is zero recognition of victims, unless one counts the predators like Fr Pzolka of whom Egan asks "Could you do anything more for a person you had never heard of?"  In the clerical world of Cardinal Egan, priests are persons for whom he did all that he could--even he ones he had never heard of--but the victims of the priests aren't even on his radar.  Hence he can describe his handling of the clerical abuse crisis as 'good' even though he never met with a victim; state "we never did anything wrong", and "I handled every case exactly right".  He can say all those things because the actual victims don't and never did exist for him.  How can this be,  a less exalted lay type person might think?

Here's a link to an article on Catholica Australia written by former priest Richard Boehrer, who is the author of the recently released fictional novel "The Purple Culture"  Boehrer earned a Phd in theology and rose to become a diocesan chancellor.  It was during this period of his life that his bishop made a comment that started Boehrer on a different relationship with the Church:  "You think it's more important to be a Christian, where as I think it's more important to be a Catholic."  That's actually a true statement for any bishop who reaches that rank in the Church.  At that point a man really can't be a Christian first and Catholic second, as Bishop William Morris found out.  In the Catholica article Boehrer explains the signature traits of the Catholic Episcopal culture as aristocratic by history and tradition, cultic in their need for total control of the information flow, addictive, and culturally narcissistic:

......Another component of the purple culture is narcissism. The DSM-IV [LINK], the diagnostic manual for psychotherapeutic professionals, lists nine diagnostic criteria for narcissism, any five of which are said to confirm the diagnosis. Eight of them express behavior flowing from unwarrantable self-exaltation.
Professionals tell us that a large group of people can be narcissistic. For example, an elite military force, indoctrinated as being special, praised for their specialness, wearing the insignia of specialness, considering themselves warriors without peer, and having a sense of invulnerability. When shown to be vulnerable they can react with violence even on innocent non-combatants or prisoners.

It is theorized that we all begin life as narcissists and lose that characteristic as we mature. Professionals point out, however, that narcissism can be re-acquired. People can reach a degree of other-centeredness and then re-cultured into a return to self-absorption. We hear bishops refer to their assembly as "the most exclusive club in the world", and their society containing those cultural behaviors as a "perfect" society. And then, there is their disdain for the laity's wisdom.....

......It is clear that bishops did not experience guilt in their abetment of and cover-up for priest sexual abusers. They did not experience guilt because their addiction to their purple culture blinded them to the devastation. They did not experience guilt because they were able, consciously or not, to give themselves a personal exemption from wrongdoing. They were acting for a higher cause, their divinely decreed culture. They did not experience guilt because it would question the perfection of their culture and themselves as reflections of that culture. They did not experience guilt because their eyes, ears, minds and hearts are turned in one direction, and it is not towards the laity. The laity are totally discounted. (With the possible exception today of attorneys)......

If one adds the fact Egan made it into the even more exclusive global club which wears red, his take on his performance in the abuse crisis should not be shocking at all.  None of which bodes well for what we can expect from the soon to be Cardinal Dolan.  All of this is why I too call myself a Christian first, and Catholic second.  It's why I have no delusions about whether or not the 'reform of the reform' is about anything other than keeping the Purple Culture exclusive, aristocratic, and perfectly in control of all things Catholic.


  1. I'm sorry, but is this guy demented or just senile? How do you say in one sentence that nobody did anything wrong and the next sentence that one spent 4 years in treatment? What was the treatment for? Does he completely miss the logical connection that a reasonable person would make that the treatment in question must have had something to do with being sexual abusive? Is the topic of the paragraph something other than that??

    But I'm sure it's all good since he sent them to the most expensive place for treatment and the rest are such lovely gentlemen. Good to know that 'expensive' = 'effective'. Guess I can just spend enough money and buy my way into Heaven too, as long as I'm a 'lovely' enough lady, I guess.

    I'm sure not finding much authority to respect here.

    1. In Egan's mind it's not about priests he ordained, or priests who were accused of anything while he was on watch. It's always about priests who acted out before him or after him. It's never about victims because there were none on his watch. This is classic narcissism.

    2. As may be on the narcissism; I've passed psych 101 and that's as far as I went so I'll accept your word on it. But it looks to me like the Egan contradicted himself so many times that logic 001 was beyond him. I also noticed some credentials that he holds in canon law, etc. He reflects badly upon those or they are pretty much a waste of space to mention. In neither case does this make the Church hierarchy look trustworthy.

    3. Veronica, a person has to apply a certain kind of logic to the narcissistic individual. It's not the normal kind of logic. It's the all me all the time I'm never wrong kind of logic. If you can accept that someone can truly believe the world revolves arount their 'I' then it does make logical sense. sort of.

    4. I think I've finally figured out what is bothering me here. I've dealt with people who are all about themselves maybe to the point where some degree of narcissism in in play. In all the instances I've had to deal with it, they were smart enough to keep their statements internally consistent. Meaning you just could not show that they were making 2 points that blatantly contradicted each other within the same statement. It floors me that Egan is so oblivious to what he himself is saying in this interview.

      Maybe I've just not been up against Egan's class of narcissism. I have an ex that I would tentatively place in the all-me/never-wrong class, although the ex hasn't gotten to a place of mental decline yet. I'm thinking that's more of the difference. [And I am happier still that I turned my ex into an ex long before he ever got to this stage of his life. I shudder at the passing thought of having to deal with senile narcissist on a daily, in-person living situation.]


  2. Cardinal Egan's interview is one case to add under narcissistic category in the DSM IV manual. The interview is so revealing.

    Cardinal Egan: " I’m not the slightest bit surprised that, of course, the scandal was going to be fun in the news—not fun, but the easiest thing to write about...."

    That he finds the priest pedophilia scandal easy to write about is almost beyond belief. I have never found this subject easy to read about, let alone to write about and I don't think the media are so heartless as to want to hide REAL news stories such as this ONGOING scandal. For if it was not reported, then they would be complicit too and enablers for not reporting the sexual abuse crimes against children! Apparently the media he decries and moans about the existence of, because he cannot control it, are forbidden to speak of this issue that he so easily tires of, because he has no connection at all to the laity, to the victims, to regular people.

    He should retire from having a voice in the Catholic Church. If he had any sense at all left in him he would take off his hat and give it to someone who was not so narcissistic.

    Very revealing.


    1. For Egan it's not a big deal because relative to the numbers in his diocese there were very few victims. He couldn't begin to compute the numbers of perpetrators in his priests because that was too close a reflection on himself, his training, and his position.

      It's really important for laity to read the work of priests like Richard Sipe and Richard Boehrer. These gentleman lived this system and know how utterly corrupting it is for a man's psyche. We don't need to change this system just for ourselves and our kids, we need to change it for the sake of our clergy.

  3. Egan demonstrates his total cluelessness, something he has in common with his fellow bishops, and then they want to tell US how to behave!

    1. Yes, exactly, because the system they are a part of and have risen to, enculturates them to do and think exactly that, while at the same time drains their brains about their own complicity in exactly the same way any other cult works to drain the brains of their followers.

      The Episcopacy is a very different form of Catholicism than those of us in the pews understand or live. I now think it's utterly futile to expect understanding or change from these clerical borgs because they have been totally assimilated.

  4. As a professional, I see the Episcopal culture as narcissistic but there is more wrong than that. Most of these leaders seem to truly match the criteria for personality disorders most Borderline but others Schizoid. These personalities seem to know be the open criteria for papal appointment.

    Remember the idea to do something for "the good of the church." What is really meant is for the good of the Institutional church and particularly for its leadership. So when people do something for "the good of the church,” they really should examine for the good of whom and what part of the church.

    I think Christ attempted to do things for the good of the People of God. This has very little to do with for the good of the Bishops or the Institutional monarchial church. To follow The Way of Christ, a person must follow Him and that is to look out for the good of the People of God. The Bishops seem to rarely do this and often when they do, it is politically motivated and gaged to gain them a little popularity, or as W. Bush put it political capital. (along with monitory capital) Oh, what a group of ethically impoverished men the Institutional church has as their appointed leaders. dennis

    1. Dennis I agree that many of our leaders demonstrate Axis II characteristics. I also think in some real ways they are selected for those characteristics. It's amazing to me how uniform the cover up of priest predators has been. It didn't matter what ideological spectrum a given bishop espoused, they all covered up for abusers.

      Then Benedict comes out with this notion that he doesn't have the authority to remove a bishop or hold them accountable unless your name is William Morris. Morris's real problem seemed to be he demonstrated independence of thought and action. Guess we can't be havin' that. But why is that particular attribute so threatening in a bishop?

      My guess is it's because the Vatican was forced to spread a great deal of it's wealth out over the past two centuries and it did it through it's archdioceses, especially in European and Anglo countries. That is a big risk unless you know you have the bishops of those sees in your back pocket. It also explains the Vatican's sudden need to appoint all bishops everywhere commencing during the reign of Pio No No.

      It's all very fascinating.

  5. Crazy and sick; and people wonder why many just don't want to bother with any church any more.

  6. Colleen,

    Given the evidence of the lack of celibacy amongst most priests and bishops over a life time, it seems that Bishops might be frightened on the leakage of their own failure to be perfect asexual beings. This fear of being discovered the indeed they have been less than asexual, may well lead them to cover up sexual crimes. One thing certain, pretended asexuality leads to very little creativity when it comes to solving problems. This is the very reason that celibacy is the problem that is denied. Yes the sexual system of celibacy does lead to a system of control but it is the unnatural act of mind over emotions and body that is also a very big problem that has shown to lead to perversions in many. Sexual perversions as well as a perverse way of dealing with all sorts of criminal activity inside the Institutional Church. For the "good of the Church," it is time to change the stucture. The leadership will have nothing of it so it is time to structure around breaking bread at home and ignoring what the leadership says personally and describing to other (for instance over the Bishops wish to deprive women of BC pills) all the reasons why we are ignoring these men. Yes definitely they have axis II disorders as a group. Some are truly sociopaths and unfortunately that is true in the very highly placed leaders. We can not give them much credit for anything good that they do for they are only doing it for political and monitory "capital." dennis