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Penn Live is reporting that another Grand Jury is about to release a damning report on the Catholic Church’s dirty little secrets regarding the rape and sexual assaults on children and vulnerable adults.  Will this make the people of Pennsylvania stand up and say it is time to confront this issue and the organization that has been providing cover for the criminal acts of priests?   I don’t think it will matter.

You can read the article at PENN LIVE!

If the boys in black at the Chancery Building in Scranton aren’t sweating, they should be.Scranton Chancery

If something is not done, I won’t be surprised if people start taking matters into their own hands.

I would like to know why many survivors, including myself,  who contacted the office responsible for conducting the investigation were never called in for an interview.  As I wait to read the report, I know that no matter how damning it may be, it is only the tip of the iceberg.   I also know that all the Bishop’s lawyers will do everything in their small minded power to bury all of it.

It may be time for torches and pitchforks!

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Returning from an event in Northern Virgina, I decided to call the Diocese of Scranton and get confirmation that Robert Gibson had died.  I identified myself and asked for the office that could help me confirm that a priest, formerly of the Diocese, had passed away.  I was transferred to another office and, once again, I identified myself and request confirmation that Robert Gibson had died.   After a pause, the woman’s voice changed, and she told me that she would not discuss the matter with me.  I asked for her name, and she hung up on me.

Not too long ago I had been assured by the Chancellor that I would be notified of his death.  Apparently, that was another hollow promise.  Shocking!

This morning, after the call to the diocese that was terminated abruptly by a diocesan employee, I sent a  note to the Victim’s Assistance Coordinator,  I received a terse response from the Diocese:

Mr. Baumann,

 Please be advised that Robert Gibson died on Sunday, May 27, 2012.    

 Teresa Osborne

Chancellor 

                                              DIOCESE OF SCRANTON

Teresa Osborne                             

Chancellor and Chief Operating Officer   

Phone: 570-207-2216             Fax: 570-207-2236

Email: Teresa-Osborne@dioceseofscranton.org

It is amazing to me that this organization could not even grant me a confirmation of his death without misbehaving.  For them, they must be relieved that he is passed and the mistaken impression that this is over.

Can someone,(Bishop Bambera), explain to me why his staff is openly hostile to victims of priests that served in his diocese?  Can someone perhaps teach a little compassion?  For the record, I identified myself and spoke in a courteous manner to the woman on the phone who refused to identify herself.  Perhaps the Bishop should, at a minimum, have his staff trained in proper phone etiquette.

But I do have confirmation.  The Diocese still doesn’t get it.  It really is time for Pennsylvania to change the law and allow all the victims to seek to bring the coverup committed by the Diocese of Scranton into the light.

 

Just for the record,  Robert J. Gibson’s Parish assignment history is located at this hotlink.

I have to admit that sometimes I get really angry over some of the comments that are sent in that, on the surface, seem to want to offer me encouragement but, in fact, are supportive of either the man who raped and beat me or others like him.   They are most likely sent by well-meaning people who are not willing to admit that their church is guilty of harboring predator priests as well as other criminal activity.  Or they are unwilling to allow that their precious “Father Bob” or “Father Gibson” was a predator who indulged his perverse fetish of raping prepubescent boys as his way to  get off.  (Excuse me for being blunt.)  (Robert Gibson’s assignments as a priest in the Diocese of Scranton are listed here.)

A case in point, I received an email from a reader in response  to a reply I left to a comment on a recent post.  The original comment was from a friend who was angry that the man who had officiated at her wedding and baptised her children was also the man who sexual preyed on her junior high school classmates (yes, that is an intentional plural).  The conflict was weighing on her. 

I was also conflicted for years because the same man who had raped and beat me numerous times was responsible for getting my father into an alcohol rehab program during my freshman year of college.    The man was a bit of a hero in my family for a long time.  I heard about it for years and I seethed at the accolades being offered for him.    He used this magnanimous act of pastoral kindness to keep me quiet, keep me in place, keep me from telling my great terrible secret.    It was quite a shock to my parents when I finally told them some of the things that happened all those years ago.  Acts of sexual predation that the Diocese of Scranton deemed credible based on other reports on the same “priest”.  Acts that I know were committed on more children than the Diocese of Scranton cares to admit.

The email I received was a little over the top.  I read it once and it bothered me so I walked away from the computer.  When I read it later I was upset.  The next day I was just angry.  I wrote several responses, deleting one after another until I was able to find a way to temper my  anger.  I am not sure that I was completely successful.

The sender of the email stated that she had gone to Missouri to see Father Gibson.  In her words (Sic):

 He was a vegetable of a man in bed. He is completely unable to speak or respond. I knew it was him because they told me that was the man in the bed; but I didn’t recognize him. He is an emaciated shell of a person. He is enduring an empty, lonely, desolation of a life.He cannot speak or comprehend. He is Completely cut off from human interaction.  It is an empty room with nothing but a bed.

Where the wheels came off for me in this email were statements like (sic):

But I knew Robert Gibson. I believe he would choose to suffer like this. I believe he was so ashamed. I believe he was pained at what he did to you.  

        When he dies. ….. And my sense it will be soon… Robert Gibson will make it a priority to help you heal. He was a monster to you. He knew that, but he was not able to control his urges. They call it pedophilia.

Did you ever have urges that you could not control?

Michael… I hope and pray (and I do still pray) that you are somehow able to find peace. If there is a God, then I know that Robert Gibson deserves to suffer for what he did to you. I knew him. He had goodness along side the horror that he showed you.

You will be free soon. Your pain is something I cannot grasp. But you will wake up one day and realize you can breathe. That means Robert Gibson has died and begged our Lord to protect you and comfort you. I hope then you will be free.

Let me answer each of these examples in turn.  I don’t believe he would choose to suffer.  He enjoyed what he did, he liked the power, he liked being dominant and he got off on it.  It sexually excited him.  Did he have regrets or did he lament his actions?  We have no way to know.   His only regret was probably that he got caught.  But even then there was no consequence of note.  The Diocese was more about preventing scandal and keeping the parishioners in the pew for the Sunday morning magic show and tithing.   They moved him to Dittmer, one step ahead of the authorities that should have prosecuted him.

He is going to make me a priority after he dies?  Interesting concept!  If you buy into the “heaven hypothesis” (thanks Maria, I really like that expression) you would think that this man would not get past St Peter.  He would probably be on the express train to hell, along with Bishop Timlin and his band of cronies who put themselves above the welfare of children in the Diocese of Scranton. 

My favorite…  “Did you ever had urges you could not control?”.   If you are insinuating that I have had urges to molest, rape or harm in any way, a child, the answer is “NO”!   I get this more often than not from the church apologists/zealots, in fact it is one of the church defenses against survivors/victims of sexual predators wearing Roman Collars.  They want us to be identified as predators.  They want us to be seen as subhuman and threatening.    Do not, even for a moment, put me in the same category as Robert Gibson, rapist of children.  

He had goodness along side of the horror that he showed you.”  Really!  At what point did the “goodness” manifest itself?  Or perhaps he did “good” things to keep up the facade of being a caring priest in order to separate his next victim from the herd.   Tell me, how do you reconcile the fact that he had all this evil along side of the goodness he showed you? 

The idea of Robert Gibson ascending to the right hand of the “father” upon his death is absurd.   If there is a “god”,  I would suspect that miscreants like Gibson are not destined for any reward in the after life. 

I am sure when he does die, he will be buried with the full vestments of the church that turned its back on his victims.  I am sure he will have a funeral befitting a man of “god”. I am sure he will be heralded for his goodness and sent to his “maker” for his eternal reward.  That will be the final act in the church’s deceit.  I doubt his victims will be invited to send him off with the “honors” he truly deserves.  I am sure that Diocese will wait for a while to tell his victims that he has died so that there will be not interference with his priestly funeral. 

His death will not set me free.  I am already free, I have the truth.  I have spoken that truth and others have also stood up to say that they were also targeted by Gibson.  Some have done so publicly, others have done so privately.   As soon as our great terrible secrets were shared, we were all free.  He has no power over me.  His death will not result in my rebirth.  To give his life, his basic ability to pump blood and draw breath, power over his many victims is ludicrous. He is just a pathetic life form. 

For those concerned about a possible road trip to Dittmer to see Gibson for myself, I did make the run down I-64 from my home in Virginia to Louisville, Kentucky.   While the overhead signs encouraged me on to St. Louis, I did not venture past my Kentucky destination.   Gibson is not worth the gas.   To all my friends who wrote to me out of concern of what a trip to Missouri would do to me, fear not.  I would not do anything stupid.  I would not lower myself to commit an act of violence like Gibson did repeatedly to me and to many others.  If I was going to burn gas to make a scene, it would be to go to Scranton and engage the leaders of the cult in the Chancellery on Wyoming Avenue. 

Remember, my dear readers, if you are currently tithing or contributing to the Catholic Church, you are perpetuating the hierarchy that has put children and vulnerable adults in danger.  You have been supporting a corrupt organization that has moved far away from the “faith” it purports to espouse.  Your tacit support makes you complicit in their actions. 

The Times-Leader is reporting that the Diocese of Scranton has suspended another priest accused of “sexual misconduct” with a minor.  The priest was identified as Thomas Shoback who was assigned as the Pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus and Mary in Jermyn, Pennsylvania.

Shoback is the brother of Edward Shoback, a priest who was accused of similar crimes in 2004.  He admitted guilt was eventually defrocked.

As more information becomes available, I will provide updates.

I wonder if the diocese is trying to fly under the radar as the Penn State investigation is still ruling the front page?

Not a lot of time to write today.  I am off on a mission for work and the hours are grueling.    I am only on long enough to send you the link for an article on Go Lackawanna, a website based in Northeast Pennsylvania for which I was interviewed.

I have completed my defection request correspondence and mailed it off to the Diocese of Brooklyn on my way into the office this morning.  I suspect it will hit Prospect Park West sometime on Monday or Tuesday.  I was sure to include a copy of my baptismal certificate to help the research process along, you know how these bureaucracies can grind on when all the source documentation is not readily available. 

I also provided a courtesy copy of  my defection request to the Victim Assistance Coordinator at the Diocese of Scranton.  On the outside chance the Diocese of Brooklyn may have some questions I don’t want the folks on Wyoming Avenue in Scranton to be surprised when an inquiry comes in about Father Gibson and his taste for sexually assaulting little boys. 

I am giving it a couple of weeks for an initial response.  If I hear nothing, I will resubmit via registered mail. 

The clock is running.

My next letter writing campaign will be to the US Attorney for Pennsylvania requesting an investigation into the long-term criminal conspiracy to cover up sexual crimes and obstruct justice by the Diocese of Scranton and the Bishops that have guided that curia.

Through an email released by SNAP to its leaders a few days ago, David Clohessy responded to the blog of  “a relatively new leader” (that would be me), specifically the post entitled What’s the SNAP Game Plan for the New Bishop of Scranton?

Some thoughts from David Clohessy

When SNAP issues public statements, like we did with Bambera, we have several goals.

Our first goal is to try to prevent future harm and betrayal. We feel it’s our obligation to point out recklessness, deceit and callousness in decision-makers. (If you know your neighbor’s dog has bitten kids, it’s your job, we believe, to warn the parents who move onto the block.) This is especially true when such a decision-maker is promoted and/or gets fawning public attention (as most incoming bishops do). That’s because there’s a natural, but dangerous temptation to assume that the new guy will automatically be better than the old guy. So when a new bishop is named, some survivors, witnesses and whistleblowers often think “Well, instead of calling the police, or the prosecutor, or a lawyer, or a journalist or SNAP, I’ll go to the new bishop and give him a chance to take action here.” We think that’s unwise and often leads to two unfortunate consequences. The individual ends up feeling hurt and betrayed again and the meeting ends up giving church officials more information and opportunities to better hide clergy sex crimes and better prepare themselves, PR-wise, for the day those crimes are revealed.

A second goal is to deter future recklessness, deceit and callousness by decision-makers. One way to do that is to show decision-makers that if they hurt victims or endanger kids, their wrong-doing will be remembered and exposed.

Put another way, we can’t change or control the actions of decision-makers. We can, and should, make people aware of those actions, so that individuals can be forewarned and protect themselves, and so that other decision-makers realize “Geez, if I am mean or deceptive or insensitive now, it may come back to  haunt me later.”

Now the issue of meeting with church officials. . .

As a moral matter, it seems to me that those who ignore or conceal child sex crimes should be the ones offering to meet with those who’ve been harmed. Many survivors, in fact, feel it’s unhealthy for us to go back time and time again to the same rigid, ancient, secretive, all-male church hierarchy seeking help, much as it’s often unhealthy for a battered spouse to keep reuniting with a violent partner again and again, just because the batterer says he or she will change.

As a practical matter, it seems that non-profits have a duty (especially small ones) to use scarce resources in the most productive ways possible. That’s certainly what we in SNAP try hard to do. We have essentially three choices.

1.We can focus our energies doing the things that we KNOW work: exposing predators, helping police, educating citizens, prodding whistleblowers and witnesses to act, setting up support groups across t he country, consoling the many survivors who contact us, and changing archaic, arbitrary, predator-friendly laws.

2. We can try things that MIGHT work, good new ideas and approaches that are suggested to us.

3. Or we can go back to again trying things that have NOT worked in the past, and hope that somehow they’ll work now.

For us, the first two choices seem wise and safe and productive. The latter, for the most part, doesn’t.

For years, from 1988 through much of the 1990s, we met with a number of bishops, sometimes over and over again. The meetings were at best, a stunning waste of time, and at worst, hurtful and distracting, taking valuable time and energy that could and should have been put to more productive use.

No one really knows what’s in the hearts and minds of others. So we have to make assumptions. There are, I think, two basic assumptions. One is that bishops act the way they do because they lack knowledge. The other is that bishops act the way they do because they lack courage. For years, we believed the former. Experience, history and common sense, however, have convinced us of the latter.

Our view is NOT that we spend too little time meeting with church officials. It’s that we spend too much time doing so. Because we are good people, with good intentions, and want to protect kids, we give church officials more and more and more opportunities to make excuses, shift blame, posture as victims, and mislead us, instead of concentrating on doing the outreach we’ve always done that we know really works. And we talk with bishops, which gives them more and more chances to posture as “pastoral” to the public and parishioners, just because they’re willing to spent a few minutes in the same room with us.

So our advice to our dedicated, caring volunteer SNAP leaders, and others, is this: Use your precious time, energy and resources prudently. If a church official asks you to meet, give it serious consideration. Be open-minded. Don’t immediately reject any new or unusual offer or approach.

But think about it long and hard first. Talk with other experienced SNAP leaders. Keep in mind that you, and others, may end up being or feeling betrayed and used. You will likely end up believing it was a waste of time.

If you still may want to arrange such a meeting, here’s a suggested safe, reasonable first step. Ask, before agreeing to meet, for a tangible, helpful action from the bishop as a sign of “good faith.” Ask the bishop, in advance, to put

  • a link to SNAP in his diocesan newspaper first,
  • a notice (that WE write or approve) urging victims to call police in his parish bulletins first, or
  • a list of predator priests on his diocesan website first.

Don’t like these ideas? Come up with your own. (It’s best to make them quick, inexpensive, practical ‘action steps,’ preferably ones other church officials have done. It’s best to avoid vague, symbolic self-serving public relations stuff like ‘hold a healing service.’) Then tell the church official “Do one of these first. That’ll show us you’re sincere and that sitting down face-to-face might be fruitful. Surely you understand our hesitancy and skepticism. So just do one thing now to heal the wounded or protect the vulnerable. Then we’ll feel more reassured and optimistic and we’ll consider meeting with you.”

But our bottom line recommendation is

  • Persistently educate others about corrupt decision-makers, so people can protect themselves, and
  • Relentlessly focus yourself on the efforts that we KNOW make a difference (rather than gamble on activities that may or may not make a difference and might well end up further harming those already in pain).

In any organization there will be disagreements. I respectfully disagree with Mr. Clohessy on a couple of points and I do have some suggestions, some of which I brought up at the August 2009 SNAP conference in Northern Virginia. I suggested that we make use of social media sites (Twitter, Facebook, etc…) to better communicate with each other. When the conversations all go through one point there is the potential of filtering. Survivors should be able to talk to other survivors, especially those in remote locations where the SNAP organization is either not available or not active. I recommend that we come up with a listing of survivors who are blogging or managing websites that cover this subject. We should link our sites or blogs to each other. We can use those resources as an additional way to get the word out. They could be grouped under the “Speaking Out” page.

One of the core principles that I have stuck to with my blog is to do no harm to another survivor. I have talked to some survivors who wish to remain anonymous. I have had long phone calls and email exchanges with classmates or siblings of victims. I have kept their comments in confidence. I have advised them to seek out help from law enforcement, district attorneys, and referred them to organizations that could assist them, including SNAP. I specifically advised them not to go to the diocese with the initial report.

I take issue with Mr. Clohessy insinuating that I am hurting other victims. 

As for meeting with the Bishop-elect of Scranton, that will be my decision, when and if an agreement to meet is reached. I do have conditions, although not necessarily those mentioned by SNAP’s National Director. I have and will continue to seek the advise of those who I trust. If I do go and meet with him, I will not be doing so as a SNAP representative, I will not be calling for a press conference and I will not represent myself to be anything else than a survivor who would like some answers. I understand that I may be ultimately disappointed, however that is for me to determine.

I am hoping there is room in SNAP for differing opinions.

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Michael Baumann


Credit: Michael Baumann at "Off My Knees"

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