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This is from an email that FACSA sent out Yesterday.  It was important enough to come out of my self imposed archive.

1-888-538-8541

Last April, the PA Attorney General’s Office established a toll-free phone number for survivors of child sex abuse (who were PA residents, or were abused by someone in PA) to call if they wanted to file a report of being sexually abused or molested as a child under 18 no matter how long ago the abuse happened or no matter who committed the abuse.

The AG’s office is asking victims from all the places/institutions and all the alleged criminals that have literally gotten away with soul murder. Hopefully, the AG’s office will be able to take further steps to expose the criminals and the criminal institutions that aided and abetted the perps.

1-888-538-8541

While your specific abuse may have happened so long ago that there is no criminal or civil charges you can file, by your identifying perps and complicit institutions now, other victims may gain the courage to come forward once they realize they were not the only one abused by their perp.  Additionally, we anticipate there are many institutions over the years that have hidden cases of child sex abuse when it happened and with the children they were supposed to be protecting. The perps and the institutions need to be held accountable for the damage that happened.

1-888-538-8541

Please call this number. Leave a message. Someone will call you back.

Your story could be of help to other victims.

And then SHARE, SHARE, SHARE this email/post!
PS: If you lived in the Allentown Diocese when you were abused, please also contact Rep. Mark Rozzi.
On Facebook: Private Message Rep. Rozzi at https://www.facebook.com/VoteRozzi
Via Email: MRozzi@pahouse.net

The following is the content of an email I received yesterday from the Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse (FACSA):

Over the many months of the current PA Legislature’s session our team has continued to monitor for legislative efforts that will protect children from sexual predators and provide some measure of justice for CSA victims. Most recently there were several pieces of legislation signed into law by Gov. Corbett including the following changes:

  • Designated state licensing boards will now be required to provide training on child abuse recognition and reporting.
  • New provisions clarify who is mandated to report child abuse and the reporting process they must follow to report suspected abuse to the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare.
  • Employees will now be protected from discrimination in the workplace as a result of reporting suspected abuse.
  • Penalties will increase for those required to report supposed abuse but fail to do so.

Additionally a bill providing for stable funding of Child Advocacy Centers (CACs) in PA was also signed by Gov. Corbett. CACs are multidisciplinary treatment programs for abused children, which brings together doctors, nurses, prosecutors, social workers and law enforcement. This approach gives abused children the best chance to recover and also provides the most effective way to gather evidence to bring perpetrators to justice. There are currently 21 CACs in PA.

However, although more than one dozen “child protection” laws have been enacted to date, none enable the removal of known pedophiles.

One champion for this much needed legislation is Rep. Mark Rozzi. Rep. Rozzi represents part of Berks County. He and some childhood friends were victims of CSA. Rep. Rozzi has introduced several pieces of legislation to help protect children and promote justice for victims.

  • You are Invited!

Please join us in Harrisburg on Wednesday April 30th to support Rep. Mark Rozzi’s HB 2067 and after the press conference join one of our teams who will be meeting with key legislators to ask for their support of this important legislation.

PRESS CONFERENCE INFO:
Rep. Mark Rozzi Press Conference on HB 2067
WHEN: Wed. April 30, 2014 at 10:00 AM
WHERE: Capitol Media Center, Room 1 East Wing of Capitol, Harrisburg, PA

How do you get there? 

MEETING WITH LEGISLATORS:
If you are interested in joining one of our teams who will be meeting with legislators after the press conference, please contact Tammy Lerner at 610-509-9568 or email her at lerner@abolishsexabuse.org to sign on. You will need to arrive at our legislative team’s office across from the Capitol Building in Harrisburg no later than 9:00 AM  to review plans for the day.

MORE INFO RE: HB 2067:
HB 2067 does several things:

  • Going forward, it permanently eliminates the SOL for child sex abuse, both criminally (now to age 50) and civilly (now to age 30)
  • As a compromise, it does allow for previously time-barred victims (up to age 50) to bring suit.
  • If the perpetrator was employed by a public or private entity that owed a duty of care for the victim, damages against the entity may be awarded with a finding of “gross negligence”.
  • Add “child sex abuse” as an exception to immunity laws thereby removing the “sovereign immunity” defense for public officials and institutions.

Why this legislation is important:

  • Victims deserve their day in court.
  • It takes courage (and often decades) for children to acknowledge abuse.
  • Perpetrators and responsible entities have not been held accountable.
  • Perpetrators are still involved with children.
  • Perpetrators have been deliberately shielded from prosecution.
  • The SOL laws are arbitrary and archaic.
  • Only lawmakers have the power to enact laws to protect the public.
  • Although more than one dozen “child protection” laws have been enacted to date, none enable the removal of known pedophiles.
  • HB 2067 is sound public policy.

Below is part of an e-mail Rep. Rozzi recently sent to his colleagues to encourage them to support HB 2067:

“Once again I am appealing to the sense of civic responsibility that leads every one of us to seek public office.  As legislators, we have an obligation to institute laws that safeguard our citizens… especially those who cannot protect themselves.

“We read how venerable institutions, insulated by outdated laws, have not only allowed the victimization of children….but have exposed countless others to the horrors of sexual abuse.   The problem will NEVER GO AWAY as long as perpetrators are shielded.  Witness Sandusky, the Boy Scouts, any religious organization, and any school system…public or private.

“We have learned that victims of child sex abuse often take decades to acknowledge their demons and that they rarely make false claims.  We know that perpetrators can’t stop abusing.  But if we can give survivors of child sex abuse the opportunity to expose predators through accessing records to support their claims, without the constraints of arbitrary statutes of limitations, than this will go a long way to stop the abuse of the next generation of children.

“I implore you to co-sponsor my legislation, House Bill 2067 and call upon the Chairmen of the Judiciary Committee to at least hold a meeting on the merits of the measure.  On behalf of all victims of child sexual abuse, I thank you in advance for your consideration and support.”

FACSA’s mailing address is:

FACSA
740 Cornerstone Lane
Bryn Mawr, Pa 19010

You can make a contribution to FACSA!

 

I have decided to take on a project in an effort to gather together the voices of people blogging on the topic of sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults.  I am not limiting this to survivors of abuse by priests.  This is going to be open to any blogger who wishes to put their blog up in a “blog roll” that showcases their work along with that of others.  I want to use the power of the blogosphere to bring the various voices on this topic out in a place where interested readers can read a broader spectrum of blog offerings in a centralized location.  Currently there is no such Blog Roll for our community.

This is not meant to compete with Abuse Tracker, the blog by Kathy Shaw that brings together the news of the day in addition to selected blog posts that tell the continuing story of the Sex Crime Crisis in the Catholic Church and other religious communities.  What I am envisioning is a collection of blogs offering opinions, sometimes differing, outside of the established and narrowly focused organizational websites that are putting forward particular agendas.  I want to bring the individual survivor who is blogging to a more prominent position that will enable their voice to find a larger audience. 

I have turned to some professionals in the field that are putting together a proposal for me to build this Blog Roll for Survivors.  I will post the link to this as soon as we can get the coding done.  I am shooting for an early November launch.  I am looking at the list of blogs in the left rail navigation of this page as the basis for the initial launch of the new site.  I may, after I get the kinks worked out on this concept, offer a place where guest bloggers, who do not have their own blogs online,  can put up a single or occasional blog posts.  I need to look at some legal issues and my own time constraints before I commit to that.  For now, let’s call that phase II of this concept.  I want Phase I up and running first. 

If you have a blog on this topic or you know someone who does, and you think this is a good idea, please let me know.  Send me a comment or an email and let me know what you think or if you have a suggestion.  I am all ears. Also, if you have a suggestion on what I should call the site send that along.

I put a down payment on this project so I am committed.  Please help me populate the new site by sending me a link to your blog or by passing this to anyone you know who blogs on Survivor topics.

I am willing to put my money where my mouth is to try to get the survivor community united and our collective voices heard.  I think something like this is long overdue and I am taking this on myself because no one else was willing or able to do it.

I have a new hero in Ireland. Her name is Emma Somers. She is a free-lance writer and she has come up with the most elegant and simple way to reply to Pope Benedict XVI’s letter to the Irish people regarding the sex crisis in the Catholic Church. We are all going to drop him a line, compose a letter, fire off an email, send an epistle, you choose the form it takes as long as the message is sent. I know this is starting as an Irish initiative, but I would like to see a more international effort  supporting Emma’s campaign.  This is a show of support for Ireland’s concerned movers and shakers who are done with the abuse committed by clergy and covered up and denied by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.  This is a show of support for survivors worldwide. This is a pontifical “WAKE-UP” call to the Holy See.

Emma’s WordPress Blog is called “Dear Mr. Ratzinger: Letters from Ireland“.  The rules are simple (I hope she forgives me for cutting and pasting):

No 1: Read the pope’s letter

Please do not post a response unless you have read the pastoral letter from the pope — or at least the parts directed at you (eg victims, young people, parents, etc). It is posted here.

No 2: Write your reply

It may be one line, it may match the pope’s 4,000 words — either way, you can get your message across. Feel free to borrow from other letters here if you have trouble articulating your feelings.

No 3: Share your reply

If you are comfortable sharing all or part of your reply, please post it as a comment on “Dear Mr. Ratzinger“. Your letter may inspire others to put pen to paper.

No 4: Post  your reply on Saturday 15th May 2010

 
This is the most important part. DO NOT FORGET TO POST OR EMAIL YOUR LETTER! For the biggest impact, we will send our letters on the same day and show the Vatican Ireland cares about victims of clerical child abuse.

Note: (For you Americans out there, Post=Mail, find a stamp and mail the thing)

Participants are invited to meet at the GPO on O’Connell Street, Dublin, at 2pm on Saturday 15th May to post our letters as a group. (If you would like to be sent a reminder for this, please email dearmrratzinger@gmail.com with ‘Reminder GPO’ in the subject line. Your email will not be passed on or used for any other purposes.)

If you can’t make it to the GPO, all you need to do is post or email your letter before 5pm on Saturday 15th May. (Again, for a reminder, please email dearmrratzinger@gmail.com with the word ‘Reminder’ in the subject line.)

Address for letters: Pope Benedict XVI, Apostolic Palace, 00120 Vatican City
-or-
His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
00120 Via del Pellegrino
Citta del Vaticano

Address for emails: benedictxvi@vatican.va

No 5: Spread the word

Please pass “Dear Mr. Ratzinger: Letters from Ireland” on to anyone you know who might be interested in having their voice heard or help friends and family who are not online to get involved in the campaign.

Consider this “Spreading the Word”!  I need a Canadian and an Australian to get the word out in your neck of the woods. 

For those of us that can’t make it to the GPO in Dublin on the 15th because of lack of funding, expired passports, or Icelandic volcanos,  I recommend similar gatherings at post offices around the world.  Talk amongst yourselves and come up with an appropriate location, preferably near a mail box, post box, container approved by your local postal authority or free WiFi hotspot.   

If you are going to meet, let me know where and when and I will spread the word.

Why are you still reading this?  Go to Emma’s Blog, Dear Mister Ratzinger: Letters from Ireland, you have reading and writing to do.

In case you are one of the people who believe that the worst of the sex scandal in the Catholic Church is over, I have more bad news.  Another priest in the Diocese of Scranton has been reported, this time for child pornography.

Father TimchakAccording to news reports, and this is a story that is just breaking this evening, Father Robert Timchak was in court in Milford to begin answering charges for possession of child pornography and tampering with evidence.  According to news channels in Scranton, the investigation has been ongoing since December 2008 when someone tipped off the Diocese of Scranton that he had child pornography on his computer.

According to Channel 16 in Scranton, Timchak has served as pastor at several Catholic churches in the area, including the Transfigurations Church in West Hazelton, Saints Peter and Paul in Hazelton and most recently Saint John Neumann in Lords Valley

On the St John Neumann website this evening is a note to parishioners that reads:
Due to the recent problems in the Catholic Church,The Church has provided information for any individual that may have questions about the Bishop’s decision in Dallas. Please go to the following web site of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops www.usccb.org.

You will note that the Diocese has not put any information that tells you that your priest has child pornography on his computer nor does it tell you to contact the Pennsylvania State Police if you have information that would benefit law enforcement or the Pike County District Attorney. There is nothing on the website for the combined Transfigurations Church and Saints Peter and Paul in the Hazelton area. No need to let too many people know that a potential predator was in their midst. That is the way the Diocese of Scranton rolls!

I have to ask the obvious question here, why did it take the Pennsylvania State Police 11 months to check this guy’s computer and arrest him? Why did the Diocese of Scranton leave this “priest” in the parish since December 2008? I would love to ask if the Diocese of Scranton went into the community looking for possible victims. I wonder how many families in the parish where close to Father Timchak? Of those families, how many had young boys that were left alone with Father Timchak? Are any of the photos on the computer children of the parishes to which he was assigned?

Once again the Diocese showed the blinding speed with which it deals with potential child molesters wearing Roman Collars.  I imagine it took Bill Genello that long to practice the line “the Diocese has no comment” in front of the mirror in the bathroom. It was, no doubt, Bill Genello that put the brilliant and totally useless line on the church website. In case you are reading this Bill, I did a screen grab to document your referral to an organization that your most recent Bishop, Joseph Martino claimed did not have any authority in his diocese.

I am very familiar with this area. I served mass at Good Shepherd.  I lived in Hemlock Farms from 7th grade through my graduation from high school in 1978. I also lived there during the first two summers when I attended the University of Scranton.St John Neumann draws parishioners from that development. I lived in Hemlock Farms during the time frame where I was abused and raped by Father Gibson.

I am sure that there are a lot of parents in Lords Valley, West Hazelton and Hazelton who are having some very difficult conversations with their children tonight. If I may offer advice, please be supportive and don’t overreact if you child starts to tell you about things that make you uncomfortable. If your child has had a noticable change in personality, attitude, school behavior or has been withdrawn, moody or depressed seek help. I strongly recommend you do not go to the Diocese of Scranton. As kind and gentle as Joan Holmes may seem to you, the Diocese will try to collect information and spin this to their advantage. Do not let them control any aspect of this process, they will turn on you.

The Diocese of Scranton has an adversarial record in dealing with victims and their families over the years. Don’t let them re-victimize you, your family or your community. Believe me when I tell you from first hand experience, they will not make you a priority. They will protect the Diocese, the Diocese’s bank account and the priest before they will do anything for victims.

Just cause you got the monkey off your back doesn’t mean the circus has left town.

George Carlin

It is October and I realized the other day that I have been doing this blog for almost a year.  I posted for the first time on 14 October 2008.  Since then I have published over 90 posts, permitted over 100 comments and, to be honest, disallowed about 2 dozen others (not including the normal spam).

A year has passed and I am trying to figure out if I have accomplished any of the things I have set out to do.  There is a line in the  song  “No Good Deed” from the musical Wicked where Elphaba is questioning whether she was “seeking good or just seeking attention”. I am beginning to understand that question more every time I start working on a post or reading another blog about clergy abuse.

I have been sorting through the things I have discovered since I started this blog.  Many are probably self evident, others were a little surprising.  Where to begin?

  • Faith is not a part of my life.  I do not pray in the traditional sense.  Really, I just don’t buy into the process.
  • I do not believe in God in the traditional Catholic or Christian construct. I do not believe in heaven or hell or in a benevolent god. The truth revealed to me by the actions and crimes of Father Gibson as well as the actions of diocesan officials who have gone to great lengths to hide the crimes of many priests was that the “faith” they promoted was as contrived, calculated and deceptive as their defense of the priests who violated the most devout for their own perverse pleasure. I have to admit, I have not been able to reconcile my personal confusion with survivors who are still devout Catholics, Baptists, Jews…   I don’t understand.
  • People knew.  My contemporaries knew he was odd and that something was not right.  Parents knew something was wrong, he was moved at one parish after only 6 months.  The other priests knew, one walked in on him.  Nothing was done.  He had help keeping his secret, I was alone with mine.
  • People who should have protected me and the others failed us as badly as he abused us.
  • The judicial system and state legislatures are deferential to the church.   They are predisposed to allowing the Catholic church to regulate itself at great peril to children and vulnerable adults.
  • The Catholic Church will do anything, expend funds and resources, deceive, lie and attack anyone in an effort to downplay the fact that they are still hiding the abuse that has been at an epidemic level for decades.  They will do the most unchristian and evil things in order to discredit anyone that comes forward with credible allegations.  You don’t have to go any further than your local news blog or Abuse Tracker to get a taste of the church’s battle against the truth.  From the Diocese of Bridgeport going all the way to the Supreme Court to fight an order to make public the details of abuse to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles (and Cardinal Mahoney) denying responsibility for hundreds of cases of criminal sexual activity by their priests, the evidence is presented on a daily basis  documenting the Catholic Hierarchy’s complicity in perpetuating the abuse of children and vulnerable adults.
  • The Catholic Church is a huge multinational business, run for a purpose.  It has a goal to collect money, to perpetuate itself and to avoid scandal. They want to attract the “faithful” to fill the seats for the Sunday morning magic show in order to keep the collection plate filled.  This will allow the monsignors, bishops, cardinals and even the Pope to continue living in opulent excess.  It has long ago stopped being about god, charity, faith and truth.
  • The Dioceses in the United States will work with each other and through orders like the Servants of the Paraclete to move pedophiles out of a diocese in order to protect the church.  They will send predators to other parishes in other states or countries to hide them from prosecution.  They are willing to put children at risk to avoid scandal.
  • The church has convinced parishioners that all survivors want to do is collect large awards in civil actions.  They have successfully used their influence to paint us as the “bad guys”.  They are actively revisiting the abuse on us to keep the money rolling in. 
  • The church’s representatives are so delusional, they are almost comically incompetent.  And no one in the mainstream media, law enforcement or government will hold them accountable for that incompetence.
  • Parishioners will blindly follow their bishops in spite of overwhelming evidence of wrongdoing.

As far as this blog is concerned, I am amazed that people read any of this.  I have been surprised by some of the people that have read my posts and commented or contacted me. I have spoken to people I have not seen since my high school graduation.  I have corresponded with college and high school friends and I have found that they don’t judge me.  In communication with people I knew in high school, they all have stories that seem to piece together a picture of a priest who was out of control.  Looking back on that puzzle taking shape, this man was a prolific abuser.  Others, both male and female, have stories that involve other priests being physically or sexually abusive. 

Even more surprising is the lack of feedback from people that I thought would respond to  my blog.  I know I fumbled the delivery of the news of what happened to me all those years ago to my family and friends.  I honestly have no idea if my siblings or my parents read this blog. If they do, the conversation, if there is one, takes place without me.

There are days when hundreds of people read what I have written.  Some posts see a lot of traffic, some are barely noticed.  Usually, I am surprised by the posts that get picked up by other bloggers.  Then there are days when 30 visitors come through.  I can tell how people come to find this blog (although I cannot see who is coming in).  Sometimes I will see an increase in traffic even though I have not posted anything new. It is a mystery to me. I do admit to editing, modifying and adding to posts once they are up.  In the case of this post, I accidentally published a few days before I wanted to let it go out into the blogosphere.  I apologize to anyone who read my disjointed efforts at the initial draft that made it online.

I know people “google” Father Gibson and find this blog (I see how people are referred into this blog).  I wonder how many of those people were doing so for the same reason I once googled his name.  My guess is that there are more victims out there who have found my blog and are still grappling with their own great terrible secret.  If you are in this category, you are not alone.  If you want to talk or get information on organizations that can help you, contact me and I will do whatever I can to assist.  I will respect your privacy.

One of the more surprising revelations has been my interactions with other survivors.  I am amazed at the bond I have felt with other survivors.  Before attending the SNAP Conference this past August, my contact with other survivors had been limited to one SNAP meeting in Northern Virginia, several phone calls and a few emails with a few bloggers. There are people out there that I have never met in person that I feel I have known all my life. Entry into this club comes with an absolutely vulgar initiation. But, membership comes with unfailing support from people with similar experiences. Perhaps I now understand the strength my father has gained as a result of the time he has spent with other friends of Bill.

Finally, I continued to be frustrated by people I know are genuinely offering me a lifeline.  But, I have reached my limit of devout Catholics who comment on this and other blogs that survivors need to come back to the mother church to find peace.  The same people that support their local pedophile expect me to see the error of my way and return to be forgiven by God.  I have been told by people, some close to me, that I need to put all this behind me and come back.  I have been told that I need to make sure I do not let what happened to me drive me. Funny, for over 30 years I kept the great terrible secret and it ate me alive. It damaged every relationship I have ever had and drove me to some very destructive behavior.   I cannot put that genie back in the bottle, nor do I want to.   To them I would like to respectfully say “No Thank You”.  Please don’t refer me to your parish priest.  If all you have to offer me is your invitation to come back to the church, resist the urge to offer the invitation.  I am not obsessed with what has happened, I am working through the damage caused by the acts of a monster who is still supported by an organization that has forgotten the basis of the religion they claim is the one true faith.  I simply believe that there is no such thing as one true faith.  Between my experiences as a child and my experiences in the military,  I have seen enough  absolutely evil things done in the name of religion to convince me that devotion and faith are easy excuses for violence and intolerance.  I have no use for religion.

I strongly support the passage of window legislation in every state to allow survivors to force an accounting for the horrible acts that have been committed and covered up.  I think that until the church is forced to pay a price it cannot bear for hiding pedophiles, they will not change the way they do business.  I want to see the end of allowing any religious organization the power to  “handle matters on their own”.  To allow for any religion to impose its own law or “solution” is counter to all I believe in.  I swore an oath to protect and serve the Constitution and I served my country for over 23 years.  I feel that any law enforcement or judicial officer who allows the church to deal with a pedophile hiding behind their clerical robes has failed in their duty to protect the public.

The Church has spent millions on lobbyists and public relations firms to prevent legislation from being passed that will hold them accountable to victims.  If they spent a fraction of that providing services for survivors, vetting seminarians and taking reports of criminal behavior seriously, there would be a much smaller universe of survivors.  The only people who have consistently benefitted from the war the church has started and continues to fight are the trial lawyers.

I do not know what is coming my way in the next year.  The song from Wicked is stuck in my head, reminding me that no good deed goes unpunished, no act of charity goes unresented…

Let me know what you are thinking.


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.

On the Diocese of Scranton website is an announcement regarding a press conference next week, presumably to announce the resignation of Bishop Martino.

The Announcement reads:

Diocese of Scranton To Make Announcement
The Diocese of Scranton will conduct a news conference this Monday, Aug. 31, at 10 a.m. The news conference is not open to the public, and the location cannot be disclosed.

The news conference will be broadcast live on Catholic Television: CTV. Afterward, a video of the news conference can be viewed on the Diocesan website at www.dioceseofscranton.org

There will be no comment from the Diocese prior to the news conference.

The comment boards on the Scranton Times-Tribune website are chock full of posts, mostly in favor of the Patriarch of the Electric City’s impending departure.  There are still apologists and staunch supporters of the bishop that are placing blame on “liberals”  for Martino’s resignation.  Funny, looking back over his tenure one can find all kinds of evidence that he was the architect of his own demise.

One of the biggest discussion points in the comment threads I have read today imply that he is leaving for health reasons.  Flags should be going up on this idea.  When a priest in this diocese disappears for “health” reasons, there is usually something a lot more sinister at work.  Father Robert Gibson, the man who raped me when I was 13, was removed for “health” reasons. I am sure that if you go down the list of the notorious priests of the Diocese of Scranton, at least the list that is public knowledge, you will find all kinds of retirements and early departures for “health” reasons.

The Diocese is keeping the location of the news conference a secret and will not allow the public to attend.  Why be open and forthright when you can be secretive and closed off?  Abuse has always flourished in an environment of secrecy.   Abuse has always thrived in the Diocese of Scranton.

I have some questions for the Chancellor of the Diocese.  Really, you think waiting until Monday to explain what is going on is a good idea?  You don’t think that others will get control of this story? In an information vacuum, other ideas will take hold and will be hard to displace because you have waited so long to tell people. Are you afraid that an angry mob of torch bearing peasants will march on the cathedral? Or is it a simple case of not yet knowing which lie to tell that may seem to placate the masses?

Perhaps the Bully of Wyoming Avenue is busy preparing his farewell encyclical. My advise to the bishop is this, don’t go away mad, just go away!

Bishop Dougherty, Mr. Earley and Mr. Genello should tender their resignations right along with the boss. Bishop Timlin should also borrow a pick-up truck, load up the La-Z-Boy and move on out to the country.  Now is the time to clean house in Scranton!

Bishop Martino, this is your long distance dedication:

A report published on the Scranton Times-Tribune website and discussed on the National Catholic Reporter today has Bishop Joseph Martino, the patriarch of the Diocese of Scranton, moving out of the bishop’s residence near St Peter’s Cathedral in downtown Scranton.  He is alleged to be taking up residence the Fatima Renewal Center near Dalton, Pennsylvania. Just when I get accustomed to calling him the Bully of Wyoming Avenue, he changes his address!

It strikes me that Bishop Martino has alienated so many groups (teachers, parishioners of parishes he has closed, democrats, victims of his pedophile priests, parade organizers, etc…) that there may be no one left in the Electric City who can tolerate his presence.

The reason for the move is yet to be explained. His mouthpiece, Bill Genello has not put the spin out on this one yet. In the absence of an explanation, no matter how contrived by the diocesan spin machine, the mind is left to come up with any number of reasons for the change of residence. I found it entertaining that the Bishop had some guy in a pick-up truck swing by for a desk, an easy chair and some other items to take up to Dalton. I makes him look just like a regular guy calling a buddy for a hand moving his stuff.

The question that remains is why is the shepherd abandoning his flock for the suburbs? Is this the result of a vote of “No Confidence” from the hierarchy of the Catholic Church? Rumors of a need for a change are mentioned in the National Catholic Reporter article. Have they had enough of the bishop’s antics? Is there some medical reason for his departure? While I am no fan of this Bishop, I do hope, sincerely, that this move is not the result of a serious medical condition.

Or is it something more sinister. When Father Gibson, my perp, was pulled from his last parish he was sent to a “renewal center”. You know the kind of place that caters to priests that have committed some crime or have become addicted to alcohol, drugs, alter boys, etc… Since he is not being moved out of state, like they have done with other priests with the intention of keeping them one step ahead of the sheriff, I am assuming it is to recalibrate him.

I have to admit, I would love for this to be the result of a U.S. Attorney probe into the Diocese’s activities to commit fraud, hide felons, and endanger children.  But it could just as easily be that the Direct TV reception is better in Dalton and that the reception for the Phillies games is all the more clearer outside of the city.

I hope he enjoys the quiet and solitude. Perhaps he will come to reflect on the damage he has done not only to his flock but to those who were cast out of the flock by other shepherds in his organization. Maybe he will have a chance to hear the voice of some higher power telling him to do the right and moral thing.  That voice seems to have been unable to sway him within the city limits of  Scranton.  If you get the notion, your excellency, how about coming clean on all your pedophile priests?  Why not go on the road to all the parishes and schools that have had a predator priest and look for other victims?  Why not expend diocesan resources on helping people instead of shielding pedophiles and paying public relation firms and lawyers to intimidate and isolate victims?  Why not try to come across as more of a human and less of a bully.

It is all too much to ask for. Maybe we will eventually find out why he is distancing himself from the people he is supposed to serve. But for now, I think his new neighbors should be vigilant. There is a reason he has moved and given this diocese’s track record, I am confident something wicked this way comes.

Enjoy the tune by Billy Joel, your excellency!

P.S. Can anyone tell me what became of Father Dave Bechtel? He was the priest who would spend his days writing comments and countering other comments on the Scranton Times-Tribune Website. He is a young priest who seems to have been overly protective of the Bishop when negative comments appeared in response to the paper’s articles on the diocese or on the Bishop in particular. Father Bechtel has seemingly gone dark. Perhaps he was told to stop “defending” the Bishop? Perhaps he knows something that we don’t. Come on Father Dave, tell us what is happening, I’ll put up your comments for the world to read.

I spoke recently with someone who contacted me through the kind offices of another blogger.  The person wishing to speak to me was concerned about sending a comment to this blog and having it automatically post on the internet with their personal information available to anyone who may be reading the blog.  It took some effort for him to get me the message that he wished to speak to me privately.  After talking to him on the phone, I understand and will respect his request for confidentiality.

I want to let readers of this blog know that I review all comments that come to this blog before they are posted on line.  I have to approve the comment before it goes up on the blog and I have the ability to edit the comment to remove personally identifying information. If a reader sends me a comment that they do not want posted on the blog, I do not post it.  I have been contacted by several people looking for information on how to report a pedophile.  I have spoken to people who are not ready to come forward.  I try to provide support and put them in contact with someone that can assist them with whatever issue they are dealing with.  I recommend contacting your local SNAP chapter, the District Attorney or police for assistance.  I do not recommend contacting the diocese (any diocese), despite their protestations to the contrary, they have no vested interest in assisting victims.

Please be assured that I will not reveal any information that a reader wishes to keep confidential.  I strongly believe that I should never compound the harm on a victim of a sexual crime or their families.  If you wish to contact me you may leave a comment on any post to this blog or send me an email at mbbaumannblog@gmail.com. I will respond to you directly.

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Michael Baumann


Credit: Michael Baumann at "Off My Knees"

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