You are currently browsing the monthly archive for December 2008.

This film is a finalist in YouTube’s Project:Report, a journalism contest that asks amateur reporters to submit stories that may not otherwise be told.

I think this is a brilliant effort by Kim from Crystal City, MO under the YouTube name of “Do Good Work”. She has done very good work. I highly recommend that you take the time to watch this and vote for her on YouTube.

Men never do evil so completely and cheerfully as when they do it from religious conviction.
Blaise Pascal


I read your blog posts for December. I want more people to read it. I want people to read all the blogs of all the people that are still struggling with the damage caused by these men and realize that settlement of high profile cases in Boston and in Los Angeles did not solve the problem of the Catholic Church in the United States or the rest of the world for that matter. Dioceses all over the country are protecting criminals who still wear roman collars.

Who are these people inside the Chancery Buildings in Scranton, Marquette, Louisville, and Des Moines? Who are the review board members who choose turn away from what their faith dictates and take a course of action to try to silence and isolate those that have a legitimate grievance against a Church that protects pedophiles and rapists? I want names, I want addresses.

Who are the Legislators who block legislation crafted to protect victims and hold conspirators accountable for there actions? Where are groups like Voice of the Faithful? Where is the outrage from other priests, deacons, religous orders, and the laity that serve this Church? Why is the majority of the Catholic Church silent?

In those desperate moments, the ones we all have, don’t forgot there are others out there to support you. Others who understand not only the pain of the betrayal, but the injustice and the immoral behavior of those who could make changes but choose not to take action.

More will stand up, more will be heard. Kelly, you are not alone. Let the rest of us be the pillar you lean on.

missal_top_01A company called Sacros, formerly known as Patmos, based in Shohola, Pennsylvania is selling a Child’s Missal. The publishers of this missal use of a photo of a priest accused of being a pedophile and allegedly banned from ministry by the Diocese of Scranton in the book.

Throughout the book, a guardian angel appears who guides a boy (called “Adam”) and teaches him about the Mass.  The text that accompanies the angel is filled with explanations and good advice addressed to the boy “Adam” and to each child reading or being read to.

Father Carlos Urrutigoity - Accused Pedophile!

Father Carlos Urrutigoity - Accused Pedophile!

Leafing through the Missal one encounters a priest in full clerical garb. Look familiar? It is Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity. He is one of the Priests who helped found the Society of St. John, a traditionalist religious community in Shohola Township, Pike County, in 1998. He was accused, along with another priest, of fondling a boy. A civil case filed by the alleged victim against the diocese, the society, another priest and Urrutigoity was settled for $454,550 in 2005. The publishers of this book know full well that the priest depicted in the book is a pedophile and yet they present him as benevolent cleric celebrating the mass. He is presented as a model of a Catholic priest, someone who could be trusted to guide young minds in the development of their faith. This can be no farther from the truth.

I hope the guardian angel in the book will keep poor young Adam safe from the predator on the altar. “Hey Adam (and Adam’s parents) here is a piece of advice, stay away from the man near the altar, he is bad and he will hurt you like he has hurt others”.

The publishers, Anthony and Anne Marie Mioni of Shohola, PA, should be ashamed of themselves for continuing to sell this book with this monster prominently displayed within. I wonder if they changed the name of their company from Patmos to Sacros because of the bad press from promoting a pedophile in their children’s book? I guess it is more important to make a dollar than it is to make sure that children are safe from pedophile priests.

This book should be pulled off the market. Are there no other priests that can pose for a book such as this?

Please feel free to contact them and urge them to stop selling this book with Carlos Urrutigoity photo inside.

According to published reports Urrutigoity has fled to Paraguay. But his image as a pious, holy and benevolent priest remains thanks to this book. I guess everything is an illusion.

I have not posted in a little while. There are many reasons for this. Obviously, a glance towards a calendar would indicate that it was the holiday season. This time of year comes with some real challenges. The message of the holiday season and the focus on religious services sometimes can be an overwhelming reminder of events that transpired long ago. The “reason for the season” is lost in the static caused by memories of betrayal at the hands of a religious figure. As my wife has pointed out, something always crashes me around the holidays.

The other reasons for the long delay are mostly work related. I am lucky enough to have a pretty good job and one of the projects I am working on has placed a demand on me to travel almost weekly to meet other team members. I am hoping that one of these trips will enable me to attend a SNAP meeting in Northern Virginia or Maryland in the near future. Timing is everything.

Finally, I have been lucky enough to make contact with some other victims in recent weeks. The conversations I been involved with have been invaluable in helping me understand not only that I am not alone in my experiences, but that I need to adjust my focus on how I look at the church and their representatives. I have to stop looking at that organization as a church devoted to goodness, truth and honesty and see them for what they really are. They are a business enterprise. They are selling a product, hoping to establish brand loyalty and trying to mitigate risk. The bishop and his subordinates all occupy positions in the business from CEO to delivery personnel who focus on the company line and collect the weekly subscription fees via collections during services or the encouragement of tithing. It is a pay to play organization. You have to be a member to get all the services. If you are not a member in good standing (you are not up to date on your subscription) or you are a potential threat to the organization, you are kept out of the loop. In some cases you have lawyers remind you that you have no standing or that you need to keep your comments to yourself.

After my Florida post I received an email from a Diocesan representative inviting me to come to Scranton to meet with the Bishop. I found the timing interesting. It seems that if I start describing what happened to me in 1974 they seem to want to speak to me.

I am contemplating if the 400 mile trip to Scranton is worth the time and effort (and the expenditure of family treasure required to get there, spend the night and get back). I would love to hear from anyone who has had a meeting with a bishop to discuss what happened to them and if anything came of the meeting. Given the fact that Bishop Martino has never made any attempt to contact me since I reported the abuse by Father Gibson to his Victim’s Advocate, I have grave reservations that a meeting with him would be worth the time. But, I am not completely closed off to the idea.

I need some help here. Can anyone reading this offer me advice or the benefit of their experience?

There is more to come… I promise.

If you would indulge me one last thing. Having served in the military for almost 24 years I am very aware that this time of year is tough on those who are standing guard all over the world to preserve our freedom and safety. As people enjoy the holiday season, even in these economically challenging times, I hope they paused to think about the Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, Coast Guardsmen, and National Guardsmen who stand the watch so that we can enjoy this time of year with our families. Many of these men and women are in harm’s way on a daily basis, but they do the hard work of paying the price for our liberty.

No matter how you make your peace with your own personal deity, put a good word in for the men and women who protect you.

Michael will now step off his soap box for the night…

This documentary is a must see for anyone who does not believe that the Catholic Church has completely failed at dealing with the Priest Sex Abuse Scandal.  I highly recommend renting this movie.

If you are fed up with the poor stewardship of financial resources in the Catholic Church or you have had enough of an organization that does not confront the issue of sexual abuse of children and adults head on, but you still support your home parish financially, please consider participating in the withholding of financial support for the church for one Sunday as a form of personal protest. Please go to Send the Bishops a Message for more information. The date for this event is December 21,2008.

Personally, I can not understand why anyone tithes to a Catholic Church at this point, but that is my baggage.

During the 2007 session of the General Assembly of Pennsylvania, 3 lawmakers sponsored and many others added their names as co-sponsors to legislation to modify or eliminate statutes of limitation for criminal and civil actions in Pennsylvania. These pieces of legislation, if approved, would have opened a window for victims of sexual abuse by serial pedophiles to seek justice and get to the truth about the full extent of the criminal activities of these predators and the people and organizations that protect them.

The first bill was Senate Bill 326 sponsored by Senator John C. Rafferty, Jr. of Senate District 44 (parts of Berks, Chester and Montgomery Counties). That bill sought to allow anyone who was victim of a crime before they reached the age of 14 may commence a civil action at any time during their life.

Senate Bill 553, sponsored by Senator Lisa Boscola of Senate District 18 (Parts of Monroe, Lehigh and Northampton Counties), expanded criminal statutes of limitations on certain crimes. Of note is the provision for prosecution of “Any sexual offense committee against a minor less than 18 years of age any time up to the later of the period of limitation provided by law after the minor has reached 18 years of age or the date the minor 50 years of age.”

The final bill was House Bill 1574 sponsored by Representative Douglas G. Reichley of House District 134 (parts of Berks and Lehigh Counties). This legislation can be called “Window” Legislation. Similar to laws passed in California and Delaware, this bill would have allowed a victim of childhood sexual abuse to commence a civil action, even if the statute of limitations had expired. This legislation allows a period of one year for those actions to be brought to a Pennsylvania Court from a date delineated in the legislation.

The three bills were sent to their respective Judiciary Committees where they were put on hold by the chairmen of those committees. The legislation never made it to the floor of either the Senate or the House in Harrisburg because special interests decided that victims of sexual abuse did not deserve to have the protection of the laws of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and that serial pedophiles and organizations that have a history of protecting them should be protected.

The Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, Representative Thomas R. Caltagirone of House District 127 (part of Berks County) is reported to have said that victims are just looking to get a quick buck in a settlement. He effectively killed the bill before him because he thinks that victims are greedy. I wonder if he has met with or answered correspondence from victims seeking the truth and some justice. I know he did not respond to an email I sent to his office asking for an explanation on why the bill before his committee did not get an up or down vote. I guess I could speculate that lobbyists for the Catholic Church and Insurance companies got to him. Perhaps he doesn’t mind that the intended or unintended consequence of his decision puts him in a position to support pedophiles and their protectors. One could speculate on his personal motives and interests just as he has speculated on those of victims. Get creative and let me know what you think motivates him.

As for the Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Senator Stewart J. Greenleaf of Senate District 12, I would like to know why legislation died in his committee. I will be looking into that. If you are his constituent, why don’t you ask him. I would be fascinated to hear the logic involved.

I would be able to deal with a vote by the entire Assembly that defeats such legislation. I have great respect for the process when the process allows for a vote. But for one man to be able to kill the legislation, perhaps with a wink and a nod to the Bishops of Pennsylvania, is unacceptable and may be an act of cowardice. Constituents of the 127th House District and the 12th Senate must be so proud!

These bills died with the end of the 2007-2008 legislative session but they could be re-introduced for the 2009-2010 session. I spoke to the offices for the primary sponsors for these three bills and there was hope that these 3 courageous lawmakers would reintroduce the bills for consideration in the 2009-2010 legislative sessions.

If you live in Pennsylvania or you have an interest in justice, contact your Senator and Representative and tell them you support legislation that allow victims of serial pedophiles to seek redress for grievances in the criminal and civil courts in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

If you don’t know who your representative or senator may be in Pennsylvania, you can find out by going to the website for the Pennsylvania General Assembly.

Near the end of my 8th grade year, Father Gibson made an offer to take me to Florida for a vacation. While most 13 year old kids in 1974 would have jumped at the chance to go to Disney World I knew what I was in for. He made the suggestion to my parents, who were unaware of what was happening when I was alone with him. I was still too terrified to tell anyone what was happening and I was reminded frequently that whatever was happening was not wrong, it was a gesture of love. If that line didn’t work, and it never did work, then the threats would come. No one would believe me, I would shame my family and be an outcast. Those did work.

I did not want to go to Florida with him. I am certain that my mother thought the time away would be good for me. She probably saw that a trip to Disney would be fun and give me a break from all the drama that was playing out nightly in my house. She had no idea what was happening, I certainly had not told her. Resigned, I packed for my trip knowing that I was going to be the “E”  Ticket attraction.

We flew out of the Allentown regional airport. My parents saw us off, all smiles and waves. I boarded the plane sick to my stomach, dreading what would happen to me in Florida.  We rode rides and saw shows and parades. At night I would try to stay awake and aware of every move in the dark. It was more frightening than anything I had ever experienced. Days of anticipating what he had in mind and 6 nights of trying to be invisible. I failed at the invisible part, I was becoming resigned to his abuse. The more I struggled the meaner he became. I can safely say that nothing in my life has been as frightening as those nights.

While in Florida, as if to reinforce how normal it was for him to be traveling with a child, he would give people we encountered the impression that he was my father or an uncle. He told a few stories to hotel staff at the front desk or in restaurants stories that made it seem plausible for a middle age man to be in company with a 13 year old. He would drink in the evening, as if it was bolstering his courage to act out his fantasies.

I returned to my family after the trip, moody and on a hair trigger. The slightest sound, touch, comment would set me off. I grew very resentful of everyone around me. How could they not see what was happening? Of course a 13 year old would think like that, but the truth remained that I was terrified. I became very quiet and withdrawn. I spent most of that summer riding my bike and exploring the woods near my home, alone. I began isolating myself from friends and my siblings. I was careful to conceal  the  bruises (my Disney souvenirs) and avoid conversations. I found that I could become invisible at home.

When school resumed in September I decided to hide in plain sight by getting involved in activities and sports. I felt like I was two people.  On the one hand I was trying to be outgoing and involved, on the other I was wanting to be left alone, by everyone.   My public act was confident and flip, inside I was scared.  I was scared for years.

Freshman year at Notre Dame, I decided that I would never allow myself to be alone with Father Gibson again. That summer was the last time he touched me. I avoided him at all costs. I was lectured several times by the nuns teaching at the high school for my surly attitude towards priests, Father Gibson in particular. In one particular incident, Father Gibson had forcefully pulled me into the school chapel to remind me that I was to keep quiet. Sister Beatrice  walked in on me telling Gibson to get away from me in a very loud, obscene manner. The noise from the chapel had brought her in loaded for bear. She was horrified that I was speaking to a priest in that manner, especially in the school chapel. Gibson reassured her that all was under control and that he was doing pastoral counseling.  She eyed me with suspicion for my remaining years at Notre Dame. I wonder if she eyed him with suspicion as well? I do wonder why I was never disciplined for that rather profrane screaming session. Why was I not referred to the Dean of Students for my blatantly disrespectful outburst in the school’s chapel? I am sure Sister Beatrice would never keep silent about such an outburst. If you knew Sister Beatrice Brown, IHM, you would know that she never kept her opinion of anything to herself. I had to be a topic of conversation at dinner in the convent at St. Matthews that night. Nothing was ever said to me by the principal or the Dean of Students. Why?

As a freshman I must have reached the magical point where I was too old for his tastes, thankfully he left me alone from then on. His presence at the school was infrequent after that. I was quick to exit the room when he was around, but he would glare at me in a silent warning on those occasions where I could not avoid contact.

I suspect he moved on to some other target at that point. I was no longer submitting to authority and fear. I assume 7th and 8th graders are easier to intimidate than 9th graders.


This site is copyrighted by my statement.
Michael Baumann

Credit: Michael Baumann at "Off My Knees"

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 80 other followers

December 2008
« Nov   Jan »