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An article in the Scranton Times-Tribune online follows up on the story of Carlos Urrutigoiry and his elevation to a position of authority over priests accused of misconduct in a Catholic Diocese in Paraguay.
The National Director of SNAP, David Chlohessy, is demanding the Diocese release the files on the Urrutigoiry and the events that occurred at St. Gregory’s Academy in Elmhurst, a residential school sponsored by the Society of St. John, a religious order. Urrutigoiry was credibly accused of sleeping with teenage boys as part of his “ministry”.
It will come as no surprise that the Diocese of Scranton will take no action and that the National Director of SNAP will move on to another press release/photo opportunity. The dance continues and yet no progress is made.
According to an article in the Pocono Record on 14 March 2014, a priest who was credibly accused of molesting boys in Shohola (Pike County) and Moscow (Lackawanna County), Pennsylvania has been elevated to the post of Vicar General of Ciudad del Este Diocese in Paraguay. Now a Monsignor, Carlos Urrutigoity will be in charge of investigations into claims of abuse or misconduct by priests in the diocese. (Anyone else see this as the church taking a stand against the sexual misconduct by priests?)
Back in 2002 a lawsuit claimed that Urrutigoity and one of his henchmen, Father Eric Ensey had been “sleeping” with boys as part of their ministry. Protected by the Diocese of Scranton Bishop James Timlin, the priests escaped prosecution by sending them for “psychological evaluation” in Canada. The Diocese has a long-standing process where they send predator priests outside of the jurisdiction that could prosecute them. Timlin and his diocesan risk managers settled the lawsuit but did nothing else.
Now Monsignor Urrutigoity is operating in Paraguay and is in charge of protecting the people of his diocese from predator priests. Despite Bishop Martino’s letter to the diocese in Paraguay, there really has not been anything done. Had Bishops Timlin and Martino had the ability to discern right from wrong or even if one of them had a spine, they would have taken action in accordance with canon law and sought to have these and other predator priests that operated in the Diocese of Scranton defrocked and exposed. But we all know that is not part of the risk calculus for the Catholic Hierarchy.
This crisis continues for three reasons. First, bishops are still protecting the predators at the expense of the vulnerable. Second, coward politicians who are under the cassocks of the bishops refuse to pass any meaningful legislation to hold the institutions that protect child rapists. Third, Catholic parishioners are not holding their hierarchy accountable. I put the most blame on the last group. For all the lip service from lay Catholics about the ongoing crisis, there is no real action to fix the problem and hold people accountable.
Catholics are not doing what they need to do to protect the innocent. I am sure if their Saviour came back today, he would not want anything to do with these frauds.
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?
A company called Sacros, formerly known as Patmos, based in Shohola, Pennsylvania is selling a Child’s Missal. The publishers of this missal use of a photo of a priest accused of being a pedophile and allegedly banned from ministry by the Diocese of Scranton in the book.
Throughout the book, a guardian angel appears who guides a boy (called “Adam”) and teaches him about the Mass. The text that accompanies the angel is filled with explanations and good advice addressed to the boy “Adam” and to each child reading or being read to.
Leafing through the Missal one encounters a priest in full clerical garb. Look familiar? It is Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity. He is one of the Priests who helped found the Society of St. John, a traditionalist religious community in Shohola Township, Pike County, in 1998. He was accused, along with another priest, of fondling a boy. A civil case filed by the alleged victim against the diocese, the society, another priest and Urrutigoity was settled for $454,550 in 2005. The publishers of this book know full well that the priest depicted in the book is a pedophile and yet they present him as benevolent cleric celebrating the mass. He is presented as a model of a Catholic priest, someone who could be trusted to guide young minds in the development of their faith. This can be no farther from the truth.
I hope the guardian angel in the book will keep poor young Adam safe from the predator on the altar. “Hey Adam (and Adam’s parents) here is a piece of advice, stay away from the man near the altar, he is bad and he will hurt you like he has hurt others”.
The publishers, Anthony and Anne Marie Mioni of Shohola, PA, should be ashamed of themselves for continuing to sell this book with this monster prominently displayed within. I wonder if they changed the name of their company from Patmos to Sacros because of the bad press from promoting a pedophile in their children’s book? I guess it is more important to make a dollar than it is to make sure that children are safe from pedophile priests.
This book should be pulled off the market. Are there no other priests that can pose for a book such as this?
Please feel free to contact them and urge them to stop selling this book with Carlos Urrutigoity photo inside.
According to published reports Urrutigoity has fled to Paraguay. But his image as a pious, holy and benevolent priest remains thanks to this book. I guess everything is an illusion.
The current Bishop of Scranton and his predecessor have a dismal record of dealing with the issue of priest sexual abuse. While these men should have been working hard to tend to their flocks and drive the wolves from the church, they seem to be proud of the fact that they have kept the financial damage from the sex abuse scandal to a minimum. it seems that they were simply moving the problem from parish to parish, creating increasingly greater opportunities for these priest to find new victims.
The Catholic Church decided to handle the problem on its own, placing itself above the law and often failing to follow its own laws and teachings in their effort to cover up the crimes of its priests. The Bishops may have been willing conspirators by helping to hide their predator priests and downplay the victims of sexual abuse in order to minimize the diocese’ exposure, protect church assets and avoid unfavorable publicity and scrutiny. I’m sure the Bishop did not want a state investigator going through the personnel records or a motivated District Attorney exposing the involvement of the Bishop and his subordinates. One would think this would be the strategy employed by organized crime in dealing with people who came forward with information detrimental to the organization. Their “imposition” of Canon Law sanctions (or a lack thereof) on predator priests is as offensive an application of theological law to me as the imposition of Sharia law by Muslims. The Catholic Church has gone rogue.
What evidence do I have to support this? The sheer number of incidents and multiple repeat offenses by priests in the diocese indicate that a climate exists for these people to have behaved in a criminal manner under the protection of the Bishop.
The Diocese of Scranton has had a number of priests accused, sued and/or convicted. A newspaper article indicated that there are at least 25 Diocesan priests that have been implicated in the Church’s sexual abuse scandal. 16 of those priests have been identified publicly while at least 9 are still being shielded by the current Bishop. Given the dismal records of Bishop Timlin and Bishop Martino, it seems that the Diocese of Scranton may still be a safe harbor for offending priests.
I think it is time to rehash the list of the known offenders that have been documented in the Diocese of Scranton. I compiled this information from a variety of sources including newspapers, websites and organizations that are trying to force a change in attitude of church leadership in dealing with the scandal. It is not over, people! As long as the Diocese of Scranton and the Catholic hierarchy in the United States and in Rome continue to pay lip service to the scandal and hope that victims simply melt away while protecting those who have acted criminally, this problem will not abate. Abuse will continue to thrive in an atmosphere of secrecy.
The known rogues gallery for the Diocese of Scranton: (Assignment Histories are linked where they are available)
- Robert J. Brague: He denied an inappropriate relationship with a 17 year old girl until he had to admit his activities when the girl became pregnant. A civil settlement was reached in 1995. He moved to Venice Florida where he continued as a priest until his death in 1997. Assignment History
- Francis Brennan: Sued twice for his inappropriate and criminal activities. Unfortunately, the statute of limitations had run out and the civil suits were dismissed. The Bishop of Scranton had been informed of his activities and he was reassigned, unfortunately the Bishop failed to remove this man from ministry. He died in 1974. Assignment History
- Robert Caparelli: One of the more prolific pedophiles in the Diocese. Despite reports to the Diocese, he was continually reassigned to various parishes until his arrest in 1991. He was convicted and sentenced to prison. He died, while in prison, of AIDS. Several law suits have been settled by the Diocese with his victims. In the interest of full disclosure, Father Caparelli was assigned to St Vincents at a time when my parents were members of that church. Assignment History
- Christopher Clay: Implicated in the Society of St John scandal. Accused of molesting a seminarian. He has never been sued or charged. However, he was suspended from ministry. He left Northeastern Pennsylvania and was acting as a priest in a church in Arlington Texas in 2004. Assignment History
- Peter Crynes: Accused of sexual misconduct with 2 women. A newspaper report indicates that he admitted to inappropriate behavior with 2 high school girls. His case was allegedly forward to the Vatican for review. Assignment History
- Eric Ensey: Part of the Society of St John Scandal. Suspended in 2002, sued in 2003. Settled with the victim. He is allegedly living in Paraguay. Assignment History
- Robert Gibson: If you have read my blog before you are acquainted with this priest. He has been accused by at least 4 people of molesting adolescent boys. I am one of the accusers. According to the Diocese he is currently in a treatment facility in Missouri, suffering from dementia. Assignment History
- Alex Hazzouri: Accused of sexually assaulting a 14 year old girl. The suit was dismissed
- Albert Liberatore, Jr.: Accused of molesting an altar boy. Arrested and convicted in 2004. The Bishop was informed of his activities in 1997 but seemingly took no action. Reached a $3M settlement with the victim. Assignment History
- Edward Shoback: Admitted to sexual misconduct with boys over a period of several decades. He is still collecting a pension which is garnished for the purpose of paying restitution to one of his victims. Never convicted. Assignment History
- Thomas Skotek: Admitted to improper conduct and removed from ministry in 2002. Bishop Timlin returned him to duty after and evaluation. Assignment History
- Michael Stevens: Pleaded guilty to sexual activity with a minor. While not in ministry, he does work on a diocesan computer team.
- Virgil Tetherow: Arrested for downloading child porn on a church computer.
- “Father Ned”: Accused of assaulting two boys. After completing counseling he was cleared for reassignment and molested a third boy.
- Carlos Urrutigoity: Involved in the Society of St. John scandal. Accused of abusing at least 2 seminary students. At least 2 suits filed, one settled. He is now alleged to be living in Paraguay. Assignment history
- Lawrence Weniger: Accused of fondling several boys in the 1960’s. Several allegations have been reported to the diocese according to then Bishop Timlin. Weniger died in 1972. Assignment History
According to press reports, there are at least nine additional diocesan priest who have been accused of sexual misconduct. Why are those names not provided to the public for the safety of parishioners? Is the Diocese of Scranton silently complicit in crimes against children by allowing these people to continue in ministry?
If you know of more abusive priests in Scranton, come forward. The list above may just be the tip of the iceberg. It is by no means a complete list.