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I have been off the grid for about a week.  I am just catching up with the news and my email and I was startled to find out that Teresa Osborne, the Chancellor of the Diocese of Scranton was injured in a serious automobile accident on 23 July.

I wanted to send out my best wishes for a full recovery.  While the employer of Ms. Osborne and I do not see eye to eye, I do not wish anyone in the Diocese ill and I certainly don’t want to see anyone have to endure serious injury.

For those of you who find comfort in prayer, please keep her in yours.  For those of us that don’t, a little love and light in her direction can’t hurt.

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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 inquire as the health and well-being of my perp, Robert J. Gibson, periodically.   I did so last month to the Victim Assistance Coordinator for the Diocese of Scranton.  Admittedly, the email to Joan Holmes was pretty sarcastic. I asked the question “Is the monster still alive?”.   I did edit out the adjective I used initially.

As is the standard operating procedure of the Diocese, Ms. Holmes wrote me a wonderful little email in reply, passing my questions to the new chancellor.  What I felt most disturbing about Ms. Holmes email dated on 7 April during Holy Week (For victims of sexual crimes committed by priest that week of 2012 is known as the first week in April)  was the passage that read:

As for the trial in Philadelphia, it fills me with sadness and compassion for the victims.  At this time during Holy Week, I look at Jesus crucified and I see both priest and victim, so I pray also for the Church He founded.” 

You see the priest crucified?   Really?!  I can see a church official seeing the victim crucified.  That makes perfect sense.  The church seems to be crucifying us on a regular basis either through their lawyers, PR Firms or through the wonderful (check the sarcasm meter) people of the Catholic League.  I guess it is symptomatic of her being sympathetic to the hierarchy of the church that both pays her salary and protects predators in roman collars.  There is really no doubt as to where the “Victim’s Assistance Office’s” loyalty falls.

I need to reiterate to the people out there who were victims of sexual crimes by religious or laity in the Diocese of Scranton, the Victim’s Assistance Coordinator’s office  is not there to help you.  It exists to collect information for the Diocese so that a defensive strategy can be established and the victim of the crime can be marginalized, sidelined or silenced.  This office is not an advocate for the victim.  If you are looking for assistance in Pennsylvania, I would recommend you contact the local police department or district attorney and the Foundation to Abolish Child Sexual Abuse (FACSA).  The Diocese will not offer anything more than lip service to assist you.  

The second response to my email came from Ms. Teresa Osborne, the current Chancellor for the Diocese of Scranton.  Her email was the official response for several of my questions.  Let the record show, they are mostly non-answers. 

In regard to the question of whether or not “the monster” still draws breath, her answer was ” Robert Gibson is alive and continues to reside in a secure residential facility for priests in the state of Missouri.”  I will have to assume he is in the Catholic Church’s minimum security location for incarcerating predator priest in Dittmer, the St. John Vianney Renewal Center. (and people are worried about Sharia Law? The Catholic Church has been running an underground “jail” network for years!) Funny, last time they were adamant about the fact that he was an old man suffering from dementia in a long-term medical facility in Dittmer, a hospital.  They had previous told me he had been moved out of the Vianney Center.   OOPS!  Someone should have coordinated the response (lies) from the Diocese to make it consistent with earlier reports (lies, half truths) to me.   

I am driving west to an event at the end of the month.  Maybe I should swing by Dittmer and pay a visit on Robert Gibson and get a first hand look at what kind of condition he is in. Will he be in a room or on the golf course?   I will just plug the address (6476 Eime Road, Dittmer, MO 63023) and let my Garmin direct me on the most efficient way to get to the “secure residential facility”.  Anyone up for a road trip?

In response to my question about why I was never interviewed, the Chancellor said “From the time your allegation was brought forward, the Diocese of Scranton accepted what you said as true”.  Still, I think it odd that the Diocese did not interview me for purposes of a canonical  proceeding.  It was not odd, I later found out, because they did not refer the case to the Vatican.  The Chancellor goes on to say “… Robert Gibson’s status was recently re-evaluated by the Diocese and a referral of his case to the Vatican was initiated.”   That is about as non-committal as responses come.  Did the Bishop order a an action?  What was the action requested?  When was the action forwarded to the Vatican?  Why have I still not been interviewed?   If her goal was to appease me with her email, she fell short of the mark.

As expected, the Diocese has done essentially nothing.  They will continue to do nothing.   I think I need to program my Garmin GPS unit and start my trek across I-64 heading west towards Dittmer, Missouri.   “Recalculating…”

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Michael Baumann


Credit: Michael Baumann at "Off My Knees"

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