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I recently received a press release concerning on of the Diocese of Scranton’s poster priests for child sexual abuse, Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity of the Society of St John.  I don’t usually get press releases, so I did not really know what to do with it.  Because I had written about Carlos Urrutigoity in the past as part of a run down of the notorious priests of the Diocese of Scranton and his photograph appearing in a child’s missal that is still being marketed by a company named Sacros in the same Pennsylvania County where the Society of St. John was establishing itself before a sex scandal derailed and allegations of fraud racked the new religious order.

It seems that a Paraguayan Bishop has allowed the Society of  St. John, a Catholic cult that seems to specialize in pedophilia, to relocate and set up shop in the South American Country.

The relocation and restoration in South America of the formerly suppressed, U.S.-based scandal-ridden Society of Saint John (SSJ) is one of the most outrageous examples of ecclesiastical malfeasance facing the Catholic Church today! – Randy Engel, Director of the U.S. Coalition for Life

“Disbanded and forbidden from representing itself as ‘a recognized ecclesial entity of the Roman Catholic Church by Bishop Joseph Martino, of the Diocese of Scranton in November 2004, after years of credible accusations of moral turpitude and gross financial fraud, the disgraced Society of St. John has found protection and solace in the arms of Bishop Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano of the Diocese of Ciudad del Este, Paraguay,” says Engel.

“At the heart of the controversy is Bishop Livieres’ incardination of SSJ founder Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity into the Diocese of Ciudad del Este,” says Engel. “The incardination took place despite repeated warnings from Bishop Martino to Livieres that Urrutigoity’s unchastity, disobedience and outright rebellion, and financial extravagance made him “unfit for ministry,” and despite assurances made in March 2006 by Archbishop Orlando Antonini, the Apostolic Nuncio of Paraguay, that Urrutigoity (and his accomplice and rapist Fr. Eric Ensey) were temporarily in the Diocese of Ciudad del Este, but had been sent away by Bishop Livieres. “… It seems that it does not remain any trace of this Society in Paraguay ,” reported Archbishop Antonini. “That turned out not to be the case,” says the Coalition director.

“In his public letter of November 17, 2008, in defense of the SSJ and Urrutigoity,” says Engel, “Bishop Livieres states that Urrutigoity stands innocent of the charges against him; that there have never been any “serious and credible charges” against him; and that the “campaign of defamation” against him “was “orchestrated by one source.” “I believe that the record will show that the bishop’s assertions are incorrect on every count,” says Engel.

“From his earliest days as a seminarian at the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) Seminary of Our Lady of Co-Redemptrix in La Reja, Argentina , Urrutigoity was accused of maintaining particular friendships, and of homosexual tendencies and acts against his fellow seminarians and layman living at the seminary,” says Engel.

“Later, after a brief stay at the priory of Cordoba ( Argentina ), Urrutigoity was shipped out of Argentina to the SSPX’ St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Winona , Minn. where he was ordained in 1989 and given a teaching position,” says Engel.

“In 1997, shortly after Urrutigoity was expelled from St. Thomas for ‘subversive activities,’ that is, secretly plotting a new religious order, he sexually molested a seminarian who had left with him – an action prosecutable under both canon law and civil law,” says Engel. “Unfortunately,” says Engel, by the time the incident was reported to SSPX authorities, two years had passed, and Urrutigoity and his followers had found safe haven in the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania headed by Bishop James Timlin.”

“It was Timlin who gave the newly formed pederast Society of St. John its canonical standing as a ‘clerical association of the faithful’; lent his financial assistance to the building of the Society’s “City of God,” a project which attracted more than $5 million in donations but never materialized; and appointed the SSJ members as chaplains at St. Gregory’s Academy, a Catholic boys’ prep school operated by the Fraternity of St. Peter,” says Engel.

“Among the many warnings concerning Urrutigoity that Timlin received but ignored,” says Engel, “was a confidential letter dated February 10, 1999, from the SSPX Superior General Bernard Fellay confirming the charges of sexual abuse against Urrutigoity stated above, and citing earlier charges made at the La Reja Seminary.”

Referring back to Bishop Livieres’ letter of November 2008, Engel notes that “while in 2001 the Scranton Independent Review Board reported that there were no explicit allegations of sex while Urrutigoity was sleeping with students at St. Gregory’s, the bishop failed to report the Board’s final recommendation made on March 21, 2002 which stated ‘In view of the credible allegation from the seminarian, his admitted practice of sleeping with boys and young men, and the troubling evaluation by The Southdown Institute, Father Carlos Urrutigoity should be removed from active ministry; his faculties should be revoked; and he should be asked to live privately (emphasis added).’”

Engel reports that “Even after the Scranton Diocese in 2002 was named as a co-defendant in a $1million plus sex abuse lawsuit brought by “John Doe,” a former student at St. Gregory’s Academy, who charged Urrutigoity and another SSJ priest, Eric Ensey with sexual assault,” says Engel, “and the case had been settled in the plaintiff’s favor for $454,550, Timlin continued to praise and support the SSJ just as Bishop Livieres is doing today.”

“There is no doubt that there is a ‘cult of personality’ that has developed around the charismatic and charming Urrutigoity,” says Engel, “and it is well-known that he has powerful familial, financial and ecclesiastical connections in Argentina and Rome, which explains the extraordinary degree of protection and immunity he has enjoyed over the span of more than two decades.” “But our concern is, and always has been, for the physical, moral, and spiritual welfare of the vulnerable and innocent children and youth who will fall into Urrutigoity’s path as a result of his appointment to the diocese by Bishop Livieres,” says Engel

“I believe the Catholics of the Diocese of Ciudad del Este have every right to demand that plans for the canonical erection of the Society of St. John by Bishop Livieres be terminated and canonical procedures begun to return Fr. Urrutigoity to the lay state,” says Engel. “If Bishop Livieres refuses to take action in this matter, then the task falls to the Holy See and ultimately the Holy Father,” she says.

“The U.S. Coalition for Life pledges its assistance to the people of Ciudad del Este by freely providing to Catholic organizations and members of the media throughout Paraguay and South America all the documentation necessary to back up the Coalition’s charges against Fr. Urrutigoity and the Society of St. John,” Engel says.

“We also plan to challenge the Society’s IRS tax-deductible tax status which currently enables the Society to raise funds from clueless Catholics in the United States for shipment to Paraguay ,” she says.

“Neither Urrutigoity nor any other member of the Society of St. John is going to bugger his way through any youth or seminarian in Paraguay or anywhere else if we can help it,” says the Director of the USCL, “but we can’t do it without the help of the Catholic laity and clergy of the Diocese of Ciudad del Este.”

This is just another example of how the Catholic Church continues to support rogue priests who, for whatever reason, find the support and protection of misguided, arrogant bishops.  I am amazed that the center of the Roman Catholic Universe, the Holy See, allows bishops to sponsor  cults that prey on the vulnerable and steal from the parishioners and benefactors who blindly provide financial support.  I guess if Rome gets its cut of the take, they have no issue looking the other way!

Organized Roman Collar Crime is alive and well in spite of church protestations to the contrary.  Where are your donation dollars going these days?

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Michael Baumann


Credit: Michael Baumann at "Off My Knees"

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