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Stupid is as stupid does…  Forrest Gump

Just when I thought I could not fit another topic into my “You have to be kidding me” file, the Vatican does something so moronic that it defies comprehension.  

Archbishop Tomasi

Archbishop Tomasi demonstrating what pedophile priests are seeking.

I recently posted the report of a UN group that cited the Vatican as failing to address the problem of child sexual crimes committed by clergy in the Catholic church.  The Vatican responded to the report with what could be the most addled reply I have heard to date.  In essence, the pedophile scandal is not a pedophile thing at all, it is a GAY thing!   Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Holy See’s observer to the UN defended the Vatican by saying that only 1.5 – 5% of catholic clergy were involved in child sex abuse.   Well that is a relief, we only have to worry about several thousand  priests!

In case that was not moronic enough, he went on to explain that 80% of these men are not pedophiles.  They are GAY!  They are homosexuals that are attracted to adolescent males.  The leap here is that the Vatican’s “observer” to the UN is saying that the child sex abuse problem boils down to gay priests being attractive to young men.  They want you to believe that this is not pedophilia, it is ephebophilia.  Problem solved!  Bernie Law can pack up his bags in Rome and come on home to Boston.  I am so glad that the people at the Vatican cleared all of this up for me,  I was really very confused.  (If the sarcasm meter on your computer is not turned all the way up, you might want to make that adjustment at this point.) 

Eye Candy!

Eye Candy!

The next logical leap in this Vatican process of clarifying the problem would be to move on to the other players involved in this scenario. (No, not the bishops that hide these monsters or the priests that know what is going on and do nothing.)  Seeing as it takes two to tango, the young “men” need to held accountable for their part in this “Gay Priest” problem.  As I look back at photos of myself from when I was around 13, I now understand what happened.   I was really hot!  No kidding, I was a real looker!  How could you not be turned on by that pre-pubescent face.  I’m sure the outfits were part of it as well.  You know, the Catholic schoolboy look (navy blue pants, light blue short sleeve shirts and that sexy plaid clip-on tie).   If I wanted to really tease them, I’d wear my altar boy pin.  For the weekends, if I was feeling really frisky and trawling for attention I would don my cassock and surplice and get on my knees and pray on the altar.  Perhaps a little confiteor in English or Latin to seal the deal. You know how Latin gets them all worked up (wink!)…

Confiteor Deo omnipotenti, beatæ Mariæ semper Virgini, beato Michaeli Archangelo, beato Ioanni Baptistæ, sanctis Apostolis Petro et Paulo, omnibus Sanctis, et vobis, fratres: quia peccavi nimis cogitatione, verbo et opere: mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. Ideo precor beatam Mariam semper Virginem, beatum Michaelem Archangelum, beatum Ioannem Baptistam, sanctos Apostolos Petrum et Paulum, omnes Sanctos, et vos, fratres, orare pro me ad Dominum Deum nostrum

I hear confession can be a real turn on! I should consider myself fortunate that I was raped by only one priest.  I was eye candy like you cannot believe.  It must have been me, it seems that it was all my fault (at least the Catholic church would have you believe that), I made him take me.   It is all so clear! 

What kind of jack-ass would…  Never mind, for a moment I forgot we were talking about the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church.  I know the kind of jack-asses with whom we are dealing.

I am not sure of the alternate reality Archbishop Tomasi exists in but  back here in this universe being gay does not equate universally to being a pedophile.   I would love to have some Cardinal come up with some definitive, scientific evidence that would prove this incredibly stupid theory  that Gay priests are the ones seeking sex with children.  You know how much the Vatican supports science, just ask Copernicus!  I would like to see gay men march on the Vatican and every diocese in the world to protest this absolute stupidity oozing from the Roman Catholic Hierarchy.

One other minor, insignificant point… I hate to be a pest and bring this up, but I will. What about the girls?  The “Gay Priests” probably would not go after them. And yet, girls have been targeted just like the boys.  I’m just saying that this could be a little bit of a flaw in Vatican’s brilliant logic. I will have to assume that the “straight” priests are going after the “young women”. “Young women” could be defined by the Vatican as anyone over the age of six. Exactly who does that leave?  The infirmed priests are no threat, you should rest easy!

I do not believe for a moment, that being gay makes you go after boys.  I am hoping that gay priests stand up and let the Vatican know that they are not the ones raping children, especially those boys and girls who have not achieved all of the secondary sex characteristics that come with puberty.

Perhaps it is the deviant priests that are going after the children? I may be on to something here!

What the Vatican fails to comprehend is that sex with a minor, younger than the age of consent is statutory rape.  It is a crime, a felony.  It is a crime that Bishops have quietly condoned by their passive non response to the problem. It isn’t a matter of gay or straight, it is a matter of criminal deviance.  These are children, not sexually promiscuous older teens.  They are vulnerable and they are being targeted.

I was 13. I was just going through puberty, Father Gibson was not a gay man with a crush/attraction for another man.  He was a pedophile looking to get off on raping a child.  To have the Vatican spin this any other way is proof of their criminal complicity in the rapes and sexual batteries committed against boys and girls.

As for the statement that only 1.5-5 percent of priest are involved in the scandal.  The Vatican numbers fail to include those priests who knew about the activities of their brother priests and did nothing as well as those priests, monsignors, bishops and cardinals that protected the pedophiles and shielded them from prosecution. 

The other defense embraced by the brain trust at the Vatican is that other religions have the same problem and that the Catholic Church is getting a disproportionate amount of attention.  POOR BABIES!  I have a news flash for the Vatican.  The old, “but they did it too” defense does not absolve you from the responsibility to protect children from predators and to turn those predators over to civil authority when the knowledge of their actions becomes known. The Vatican and every Diocese that has protected a pedophile has failed in its responsibilities. 

The Vatican wants this to go away.  They want to keep the “faithful” in the pews for the Sunday morning magic show, filling the collection plate.  Their best shot at this is to blame the “GAYS”.  Really, that is the best they have?   Pathetic!  Why do people support this fantasy?

What is the lesson have we learned here?  Don’t believe everything you hear from men who wear dresses.   Don’t believe the desperate rhetoric of those who preach one lesson, but live lives devoted to personal excess, priviledge and tacit support for those who prey on the most vulnerable.  Think about it, the priests in this scandal prey upon the devout.  They do not prey on non-believers or occassional Catholics.  They have to wield their power over those who are fully given to the concepts in Catholic Doctrine.  They pull their targets from the most faithful and violate that trust.  Then, they toss them aside and declare that the only thing that victims are seeking is monetary gain.  They are arrogant enough to bite the hands that feed them.  

As long as parishioners drink the Kool-Aid and blindly follow those who deflect responsibility, pedophiles, and not gay priests, will rule the roost in the Roman Catholic Church.   The enemy is clearly identified.  It is time to take the fight directly to the enemy.  

I’m not making this up,  for more information on this you can go to the following links:

AlterNet
City Of Angels 
guardion.co.uk
 Abuse Tracker  

The UN Human Rights Council has recently released a report on the failure of the Holy See, to adequately take action to protect children.  Add the following report to the list of organizations that see the Catholic church not only as a failure in protecting children but as a willing conspirator to downplay the size of the sex scandal in the church and marginalize the damage caused to victims by pedophiles in the ranks of the clergy.  (A copy of the report is available from the International Humanist and Ethical Union website.)

The text of the report reads as follows:

International Humanist and Ethical Union

 UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL: 12th Session (14 Sept – 2 October 2009)
Speaker: IHEU Representative, Keith Porteous-Wood: Tuesday 22 September 2009
Agenda Item 4: Matters requiring the attention of the Council

Child Abuse and the Holy See

In 1990 the Holy See acceded to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. It submitted its first and only report in 1994 – about which CRC expressed several areas of concern.[1] But since then – nothing.[2]

The extent of child abuse within the Catholic Church is well known. What we are addressing here, however, is the reaction of the Church authorities over which the Holy See exerts control.

  • Victims have been accused of lying, even in the face of strong evidence to the contrary.
  • The Church has covered up allegations, and generally failed to inform the civil authorities, even when obliged to do so. Moreover, dioceses have frequently moved alleged abusers from one location to another, resulting in repetition of the abuse.[3]
  • Clerics implicated in concealment have been permitted to remain in office, such as Bernard Law, Archbishop of Boston[4] who still enjoys papal support as archpriest of a papal basilica in Rome, and is still a cardinal.
  • The Church has argued that the problem was minor, [that it did not know the true extent of the problem, or was ignorant of the nature of child abusers or of their recidivist tendencies] yet the scale of the problem has been known to the Church since at least the 1980s.[5]
  • Every possible step has been taken by the Church to minimise both criminal sanctions and the amount of compensation it paid.
  • [“Gagging” clauses are routinely imposed as part of the settlement of cases.[6]]

[Mr President, the Holy See has been complicit in widespread attempts to cover up cases of alleged child abuse perpetrated by members of its clergy and religious orders,[7] apologies are rare, and a general admission of the Church’s culpability has yet to be seen.]

We urge the Holy See to recognise its responsibilities to children and the CRC, to bring its reporting up to date, and to instruct its dioceses and religious orders to report all cases of alleged child abuse to the civil authorities. We suggest that as an institution that claims to have “the highest moral authority”, it can do no less.

And we urge the international community to hold the Holy See to account.

Thank you sir.

1 http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/pdfid/3ae6aec910.pdf
2 http://www.catholicsforchoice.org/topics/other/documents/2002rightsofthechildshadowreport.pdf
3 example: Diocese of Dallas: http://www.richardsipe.com/reports/sipe_report.htm#DIOCESE%20OF%20DALLAS
4 http://www.bostonphoenix.com/boston/news_features/top/features/documents/01847611.htm
5 example: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2548081.stmalthough it has treatment centres for child-abusing priests (Richard Sipe at http://www.richardsipe.com/reports/sipe_report.htm #FOURTH%20PHASE
6 http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article6354966.ece
7 http://www.childabusecommission.ie/rpt/pdfs/CICA-Executive%20Summary.pdf

I am providing a link to the article ” Why Did the Bishop of Scranton, PA  Resign?”

Resignation Press Conference

L to R, Auxiliary Bishop Dougherty, Cardinal Rigali and Bishop Martino

The article appears on the Nation Catholic Reporter on 14 September 2009.  This article lays out a cogent explanation of why Bishop Martino was allowed to retire/forced out of the curia in Scranton. 

While I have my own reasons for being happy to see him go, I think that a thorough cleaning of the staff of the Chancery needs to be completed.  The next bishop should address problems head on, including the problem of pedophile priests, past and present who continue to enjoy the protection and financial support of this diocese at the expense of the parishioners. 

You have to appreciate the facial reactions in the above photo of Scranton Auxiliary Bishop John M. Dougherty (whose resignation was also announced)  and Philadelphia Cardinal Justin Rigali.  They don’t look like they are buying Bishop Martino’s comments either.   

It is time to open the records and come clean on the damage that was done to children and vulnerable adults at the hands of  sexual predator priests and the cover up that followed.  That cover up continues to this day.

The parishioners of the Diocese of Scranton need to ask from where all the money to protect pedophiles is being drawn.  Ask what programs are suffering to keep the great, terrible secret from seeing the light of day.

News Flash….  The Sex Abuse Scandal is not over!

There is a bond that connects many survivors of sexual abuse by clergy.  I wish I could pin it down and tell you what it is. It is far more than a shared experience or knowing the depth of the anguish that comes from holding a secret as horrible as this for all these years. All I know is that the connection is instant and strong even if you have not physically met the other survivor. 

When I first started looking online for information to help me sort through this mess I have had in my life, I began finding websites.  Groups like SNAP, Bishop Accountability and Voice of the Faithful popped up and I began to explore links from those websites to others that not only gave me information on the vastness of this problem in the Catholic Church worldwide but provided the insight and perspective you can only get from another survivor.  I started finding blogs.  

I have mentioned some of the more influential blogs, at least for me, in my posts over the last 11 months.  Some are everyday reads others are less frequent because they do not publish more than one or two posts per week.   Posts on Off My Knees seem to be on an almost random frequency.

One of the blogs that I read is It’s About Me written by Tim Fischer.  Tim is from the Midwest.  I have never met him in person although we have exchanged a couple of emails.  I had the honor of meeting his wife Kim, a documentary film maker, at the SNAP Conference in Northern Virginia this past August.  When I met her, I asked if Tim had come as well.  I was a little disappointed when she told me he was not attending this year’s conference.  I was disappointed because Tim’s blog helped me move out of the darkness of the secret I was holding onto. I really wanted to meet this man in person and thank him.  His story has many parallels with my own and his struggle to make sense of his life and the damage done to him as a child by a Catholic priest are very similar to my own.  His story is  similar to lots of survivors out there who have come forward or to those who still hold on to the great, terrible secret. 

Tim, through his blog, provided me with a primer on what to expect as I began my own journey.   I was able to get past the first gut wrenching posts on “Off My Knees” because I was able to refer back to “It’s About Me”. Someone else had cleared the path for me.  Someone had been brave enough to put it out there on line, so I could do it as well.   I owe Tim Fischer. 

You are wondering where I am going with this.  It’s time to cut to the chase.  I was checking my email last night and found an email from Tim to his distribution list.  In the email, Tim told us that he has been diagnosed with colon cancer.  He is scheduled for surgery at the end of the month. 

I have a request for anyone who reads this blog.  If you pray, please mention Tim and his family in your prayers.  Ask your higher power to allow the surgeon to focus his/her knowledge, wisdom and skill to take away Tim’s pain and the cancer from his body.  Ask that his wife, children and friends stay strong and focused on helping him get back on his feet, even if he is a pain in the ass while recovering, hogging the remote control and asking for stuff.  

Ask for Tim to have the courage and grace to fight this and to win.   

If you don’t pray, send your best wishes and good karma his way.  He needs all the help we can send. 

During the opening moments of the Frank Capra movie, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, you hear the voices of the people of Bedford Falls reaching heaven, praying for the main character, George Bailey.  Because of those prayers, an angel named Clarence is brought up to speed on the life and good works of this man.  He is told how people’s lives were changed for the better because a good man did the right thing.  Heaven dispatches Clarence to help George Bailey through a serious trial that threatens his life and his family. 

I would like to think that heaven answers prayers in the manner portrayed in the movie.  Clarence, we have another job for you.  Please help my friend Tim Fischer and his family.

Once again I find myself spending my lunch break looking at Kathy Shaw’s “Abuse Tracker” to get up to speed on the latest news.  Today there was a blog piece discussing the recent ordination of a registered sex offender at a church in Kentucky.

The Blogger, who goes by the pseudonym of “De Facto“, describes himself as “a passionate writer with a mission which is a higher calling”.   If  you read his rambling and repetitive user profile  you will find out that his mission is to uplift us with his vast knowledge and experience.  He lists his occupation as a “non-profit actor”. I have no idea what that means, although I think he may be gifted at delivering the line “Would you like fries with that?”.

In his blog post titled “Do You Know Better?”, De Facto has decided to lecture us on our unwillingness to accept the ordination of a registered sex offender as a minister at the City of Refuge Worship Center in Germantown, Kentucky.  His rationale is that there are many significant characters in the Bible who overcame adversity and criminal activity to serve god well later in life.  He argues that we do not have the moral right to question the ordination of Mark Hourigan, a registered sex offender, because god knows better than we mere mortals who is called and why they are called.   (Nope, I am not making this up!)

Had De Facto done any research, gone through any thought process or even prayerfully reflected on what he had written before piously pressing “publish” he may have seen the folly of his own post. 

Had De Facto looked at any empirical information, beside the bible, he may have found the recidivism rate of sexual predators is extremely high.  To ordain this man in Kentucky and put him in a position of trust where he will have access to children is not only stupid and dangerous, it very well could be an act of criminal negligence. 

De Facto’s dependence on the bible as a source document to show other “sinners” who went on to do the work of the lord is specious.  His absolute submissiveness to that book belies any rational thought that puts the welfare of children or vulnerable adults ahead of the vocational desires of a registered sex offender.

De Facto’s  thought process is naive at best and dangerously myopic.  His religious zeal and passion have obviously brought him to an unsupportable conclusion.  That conclusion is that we should not question god’s will and that we should set aside all we know about sexual predators.  What is lost on the wise De Facto is that evil does exist in this world.  Sometimes that evil  wraps itself in the cloak of ministry to prey on the most innocent and vulnerable. 

To blindly follow that the ordination of this predator is the will of god shows me that passion is a poor substitute for intelligence and that De Facto, in fact, lacks the experience to make a compelling argument on why a sex offender should be allowed to hold a position of trust. 

I invite De Facto to read some of the stories by victims of ministers and priests who were, in fact, wolves in sheep’s clothing before he summarily dismisses our well founded concern over this predator’s ordination.

I know “Off My Knees” has its fits and starts. One of the things I have lamented about before in some of my posts was that, occasionally, bloggers go silent.  Sometimes that silence is for a short period of time, sometimes their blogs become what my wife calls “cobweb sites”. This week I was very pleased to see that a blog that I read when I first came to terms with this mess I have been hiding for decades has returned.

“Voice from the Desert” has begun putting up new posts.  The blogger responsible for “Voice from the Desert”, Frank Douglas from Tucson, Arizona , was sidelined for medical issues for many months.  As he makes his recovery, he has returned to his blog and has started putting out the quality posts we read before his illness sidelined him.

Frank, I am glad you are back setting the standard for the rest of us.

Growing Pedophile Clusters are Shelters for Sex Offenders, Danger Zones for Public – Local News | News Articles | National News | US News – FOXNews.com

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There are so many articles about the current antics of the Catholic hierarchy that it is tough to choose what to comment on these days.  I have what I call my “You have to be kidding me file”.  This file, mostly in the memo program of my iTouch, contains some random comments on things that I hear in the media or read in one of the many blogs that I visit on a regular basis.  It is usually something so out there that it defies logic.  Today I am dipping into the file to comment on the behavior of two separate dioceses in different parts of the country and a Catholic order that has cared for and tried to rehabilitate pedophiles before they release them back into the world.

Recently, Dr. Mark McAllister reached a settlement with the Archdiocese of Newark (New Jersey), the Diocese of Jefferson City (Missouri) and the Servants of the Paracletes in a civil action over abuse he suffered at the hands of Father Gerry Howard in Missouri.  The abuse began in 1983 when Dr. McAllister was 13 and continued through 1988. Reports I have read indicate that this priest had a history of sexual battery long before arriving at the parish in Booneville Missouri.  That is where our story really begins.

Father Carmen Sita

Father Carmen Sita

Father Carmen Sita of the Archdiocese of Newark, more specifically of St. Aloysius parish in Jersey City was charged in 1982 with “an act of penetration with a male juvenile on diverse dates” and distribution of a controlled dangerous substance to a minor”.  Sita pleads guilty in January 1983 to sexual assault, is given five years probation and is packed off to Foundation House, a facility run by the Paracletes in New Mexico.

Let’s stop and analyze this mess.  The priest is using illegal drugs to get his victims addicted and make them easier targets for his perverse actions.  When he gets caught he pleads out and serves no jail time.  I would love to know what parish the judge and the district attorney attend.  Then he is off to the Paracletes in New Mexico.  As soon as the flight to New Mexico goes “wheels up’ from Newark International Airport, the Chancery in Newark lets out a collective sigh of relief and washes its hands of this priest.  He is now someone else’s problem.

He arrives at the treatment facility in New Mexico grateful that he is not the boy toy of some hardened (pun intended) criminal at Rahway State Prison back in Jersey.  The Paracletes essentially run the Pedophile Protection/Relocation Program for the Catholic Hierarchy in the United States.  After he completes his “program” he legally changes his name to Gerald (Gerry) Howard.

Stop!  A convicted felon on probation in New Jersey in a cushy “renewal center” in New Mexico legally changes his name?  I am not a lawyer, but something is not right here.  Did the probation officer supervising Carmen Sita sign off on the name change?  Did the Catholic Church sign off on the name change?  It may just be me, but when you change your name, you have to get all kinds of records updated so that you can go on with your life.  Everything from a drivers license to bank accounts to academic records and professional certifications have to be modified to reflect the new identity of the person who initially established them under his original given name.  Did his probation records reflect the name change?  Did the probation officer follow along with this or does he/she lose track of Carmen at this point?

He departs New Mexico and lands, somehow, in Boonville Missouri.  He gets a priestly gig at a parish in the Jefferson City Diocese.  Was this a collaborative assignment cooked up between the Archdiocese of Newark, the Diocese of Jefferson City and the Paracletes?  Or did Carmen, now presenting himself as Father “Gerry” Howard land the job at Saints Peter and Paul Catholic Church all on his own?  My question here is why did the Diocese not do a background check on Father Howard?  If all of his credentials were in the name of Carmen Sita, how could they have not checked into why a Catholic priest would legally change his name?

There can be only two reasons for a priest to change his name.  The first would be that  he is in some sort of witness relocation program after testifying against some crime organization.  With a name like Carmen Sita that seems plausible. Or, he has committed some heinous crime and is hiding from his past.  In the former case, the feds would probably want the priest who testified against the bad guys to find a new line of work.  In the latter case, the receiving Diocese should have had all kinds of bells (church or warning, take your pick) going off on why the “good father” changed his name.  The obvious answer here is that the Archdiocese, the Paracletes in their role as the pedophile relocation specialists, and the Diocese of Jefferson City made a deal to hide the priest in the Midwest. 

Any protest that these parties to the conspiracy thought he was “cured” would be specious.

And what about the supervising probation officer?  All of these events are taking place as Gerry Howard, aka Carmen Sita is still on probation with New Jersey.  Has he fallen off the grid?  Did he violate his probation? 

These organizations put this priest on a collision course with Mark McAllister and others like him.  Although his tenure in the parish in Missouri was short lived, he had access to children and he exploited that access for his own perverse, criminal pleasure.

Father Howard was dismissed for “reasons other than abuse”.  Exactly what were the circumstances of his departure.  Did they catch him stealing? Did they catch him distributing drugs?  Did they catch him abusing children?  Did someone find out about his past and decide he was too much of a risk? We don’t know, the Jefferson City Diocese needs to answer that question.  No really, they need to answer the damn question.

What we do know is that this monster used his position to get vulnerable boys into a compromising situation.  He plied them with drugs and he committed sexual acts on them.  He damaged them physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually.  He addicted his victims to drugs, as if it wasn’t bad enough that he sexually abused them.

Father Howard is still out there.  He is still technically a priest because the Archdiocese of Newark failed to take action to defrock him and decided to trade him away to another diocese.  I wonder if they had to offer up a couple of seminarians to be named later to get him into the Diocese of Jefferson City.  Father Howard is still out there because the Diocese of Jefferson City failed to take action.  Whatever the cause for his dismissal, the diocese failed to take appropriate action against this priest.  This man should be serving a very long term in a very unpleasant penitentiary.  There are probably some members of the dioceses and the Paracletes that should be sharing a cell with him for the deceit and fraud perpetuated on parishioners and specifically on this monster’s victims.

He is still out there.  Perhaps he is still functioning as a priest either in the United States or somewhere in the world where he has easy access children. He is most likely still offending. The Catholic Hierarchy insist that they do not know where he is. I am not sure that they can be believed. After all, they did condone his behavior by reassigning a convicted sex offender who changed his name to avoid detection.

The respective dioceses report that they have had no new reports of abuse by other victims. SNAP has publicly announced more victims have come forward but do not want to do so publicly, at least not at this time. Can you blame them? I suspect that the victims know that going to the dioceses that protected and relocated this monster would be an exercise in futility. It is better that they notify civilian authorities outside of the diocese if they seek any chance of an honest and impartial investigation into their allegations. They will not get one from the Catholic Church.

Mark McAllister showed great strength in coming forward and bringing this monster back into the light.  I want to acknowledge the courage it took for him to come forward and fight the good fight.  By doing so, I have no doubt that others will come forward and tell their stories.  He is a hero in every sense of the word.

If you have any information on where this monster may be located, drop me a line at mbbaumannblog@gmail.com.

News reports on this case can be found at the following locations:
KOMU
New Jersey Real-Time News
Jersey City News
The Columbia Missourian

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This site is copyrighted by my statement.
Michael Baumann


Credit: Michael Baumann at "Off My Knees"

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