I want to go a month without having enough material to put out a post like this. I don’t think I am going to get my wish. Don’t worry, I am used to not getting my desire. I am tilting at the Roman Catholic Windmill. I am Don Quixote, and I am just too stupid or headstrong to give up the dream of getting some justice from the Roman Collar Criminals.
Here is your monthly dose of the Catholic Church misbehaving:
a person who is avoided or rejected by others for moral or social reasons.
Let’s just put this out there. Abuse survivors are the new lepers to the “Catholic faithful.”
Recently, a Facebook Post reply from the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference to a comment left by Carolyn Fortney showed that organization’s disdain for the universe of survivors. Here is the screenshot of the now deleted post:
After removal of the pathetic reply above, the PCC issued the following apology/retraction/backtracking attempt:
If you don’t know about the Fortneys, I strongly encourage you to check out their website and follow them on Facebook at Fortney Family on the Move for Justice. Of nine siblings in the Fortney family, five were abused by a Catholic Priest. These brave women came forward and have lent their voices to advocate for change and justice. They do not deserve the disrespect leveled at them by the PCC.
I will assume that the FB reply came from Al Gnoza, the “Communications Director.” I wonder if he is the one with whom the PCC leadership is “addressing the matter” with?
Before I go any further, I will recommend to Mr. Eric Failing that he fill the Department on Social Concerns Director vacancy soon. You really need someone with some people skills in your organization. Just a thought!
As for Al Gnoza, a former newscaster dismissed for cause from ABC27, an ABC affiliate in Harrisburg in 2014 for making inappropriate comments. After a few years at the CBS affiliate in town, he left in 2018 to take his current job with the PCC. He has a track record of not knowing when to keep his mouth shut. I am hoping the disciplinary action taken includes Mr. Gnoza packing up and going elsewhere.
As the voice of the PCC, Mr. Gnoza has made it clear that he has disdain for survivors and their families. That disdain is clearly the position of the PCC as long as they keep this man in their employ as the Communications Director. This organization, just like the Catholic League, wants survivors to go away, to be silent and to stop calling to task the hierarchy of the church and its minions in the Insurance Lobby, the office of the President Pro Tempore of the Senate.
This feeling is not limited to organizations lobbying for the church. It is strongly felt by the “faithful” who also want us to go away. They often complain that we are just looking to make a few bucks off the church. That money comes from parishioners. They have been told, and they believe that services to seniors, young children, and social programs are being impacted to pay off the survivors. They have made us the villains.
Dioceses have conducted services for forgiveness and atonement, but they do not invite survivors and their families. They bar entry to churches for those who add vocal support for survivors. We are the problem in their eyes. In my own case, I offered suggestions and support to my alma mater, the University of Scranton’s Task Force on Healing, Reconciliation & Hope. It was made clear in a brief letter from the president of the University and a more polite email from the chair of the Task Force that my offer was not welcome. A clear indicator that I am no longer considered to be part of the University of Scranton community.
Forgive me if I have no sympathy for the PCC, the Catholic Church, or for “the Catholic Faithful” who continue to try to isolate and marginalize survivors. Just a reminder, folks. We were the victims of crimes committed by priests and other religious. Those perps had the support and protection of the hierarchy of the church. The church continues to benefit from the comfort of organizations like the Catholic League and the PCC who are all about telling you that we, the survivors of the abuse, are the reason that things are wrong in the church. They say that we are going to bankrupt the church. I have news for you, they are already morally bankrupt.
UPDATE – 20 May 2019
The spineless leadership of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference has removed the apology to Carolyn Fortney and other survivors on their Facebook page. Isn’t it just like a Catholic organization to hide evidence of a problem and act like it never existed?
The Diocese of Eire has removed Monsignor Charles Kaza from St. Tobias Parish in Brockway, PA while an investigation is made into allegations that he sexually abused a minor at St. John The Baptist Parish in Erie in the 1980s. As of the time I was writing this on 19 May 2019, it is five days since the story broke in Erie News Now and Msgr Kaza is still listed as Pastor. There is no announcement available on the church website to indicate that there was a potential predator priest at the church and active with local parochial schools.
I hope that Amy Scarnati is talking about this development with her children to determine if they have been potential victims of the monsignor. The crisis is impacting so close to home, and yet this Senator lacks the spine to allow legislation to go to the floor of the Pennsylvania Senate for an up or down vote., I hope the Church, the Insurance lobby and the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference are paying you handsomely. Perhaps they do so with 30 pieces of silver. Senator, if that reference is lost on you, you might ask your pastor (the one in seclusion) to get you up to speed on the Gospel of Matthew. I believe you both need a little reading and reflecting.
How nice to let the mothers of the Diocese of Scranton know, on this their special weekend, that the Bishop/Diocese are paying pennies on the dollar for sex crimes committed against their children. I hope you are pleased that they see this as a good thing and not for what it is, a horror story.
I have heard from other survivors about the struggle to document the abuse, the stress of having to put the details of the sexual offenses committed against them by priests who used their position to perpetrate these crimes and the cover of the bishop’s office with all the minions in line to avoid scandal. Never mind that they all failed, including the incumbent, Joseph Bambera, to protect children. They failed to do the right thing. They failed to uphold the basic tenants of the religion in which they placed their faith and took vows to live their lives by the teachings of their savior.
I have not submitted a claim as of the date this post will be published. I am finding it challenging to sit and write out the details of the sexual violations committed against me by Robert Gibson. You may recall that Gibson is the infamous “Father Ned” returned to a parish by Joseph Bambera at the order of Bishop Timlin. I don’t see this ISCP as long-awaited justice. I still think this is just a way for the Diocese of Scranton to pay minimal compensation to a large number of survivors to make this go away. As if it will ever go away.
The parishioners of the Diocese of Scranton should be demanding answers to questions on where the money for the program comes from. Why is the Diocese spinning this as a successful program? It seems to be a successful coverup. Why are the parishioners still in pews, still tithing, still believing that the problem is not that big a deal? Why don’t they get it.?
It strikes me as odd that men who preach that all will stand in front of their god in judgment, behave in a manner contrary to their everlasting salvation. I see this as an indicator that this is all smoke and mirrors. They continue to act in a fashion that indicates their own disbelief in a higher power’s justice. Perhaps they believe their collar makes them immune. Think about it.
The fire at Notre Dame de Paris was a cultural tragedy. The cathedral is iconic to Paris, to France, to the world. The loss of over 850 years of work by carpenters, stone masons, painters, sculptors, stain glass makers, metal smiths, and untold numbers of other artisans who lent their talents to create this magnificent Gothic Cathedral is nothing short of catastrophic.
I realize the significance of this cathedral to the national identity of France and to the people of Paris. I have had the opportunity to see it myself while traveling in Europe during my years in the military. I was impressed with the dramatic lines of the Gothic architecture as I approached. I marveled at the art, tapestries, sculptures, and attention to detail inside. It was truly amazing. And to think that this cathedral survived almost 900 years through good times and bad. It survived the French Revolution, World War I and World War II relatively unscathed. It seems that this fire was started by an electrical short during renovations. A small pop, a short circuit and so much was lost.
Within hours of the fire devasting Notre Dame, money was being pledged to restore the cathedral. A core group of wealthy French families had already pledged almost $700 million to restore the building. Within just a few days that number soared over $1 Billion. I tell you, those Catholics can sure come together to tackle a problem like repairing a church. It is just a damn shame that those same Catholics can’t band together to restore THE church. You know, get rid of the dysfunctional hierarchy that is in denial about everything from priests raping children, priests raping vulnerable adults, priests fathering children (the next big crisis is coming!), misuse of funds, and lying to the laity? Anyone?
All through my youth, in catechism class and in countless homilies I heard that the church is not the building. The church is the people worshiping together as one. I am amazed that the worldwide outpouring of support was so immediate and tangible. But, that outpouring is for a building. Granted, it is a cultural heritage asset. But still…
If Catholics would take a moment to step back and look at the overwhelming evidence of wrongdoing by priests and other church officials who enjoyed protection from a flawed Catholic hierarchy willing to do anything to protect itself. They are shameless. Cardinal Dolan of New York took the opportunity when interviewed on the Paris fire to make a plea for funds to help pay off the renovations in St. Patricks Cathedral. I had to laugh at his blatant attempt to raise money. Nothing like a good cathedral fire somewhere else to fill some of the local coffers in New York. A couple of days later, a man walked into St Patricks with gasoline and lighters. A security guard stopped him before he could light the place up. The guard was able to get some backup from members of the anti-terrorism task force that was just outside of St. Patricks. One question, why was the anti-terrorism task force just outside of St. Patricks? I wish I had that kind of protection when I was 13 and Father Gibson was attacking me.
The Catholic church, as I understand it( “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.*” blah blah blah), is still burning. The hierarchy keeps putting fuel on the fire, and they are willing to sacrifice the innocent on the altar to keep the gravy train going. They blame, and they deflect, and they keep fleecing the sheep for all they are worth.
Notre Dame will be rebuilt. I would argue that we should let the Catholic Church, in its current form, continue to burn to the ground.
I have been struggling with this for weeks. I am trying to make sense of this play by the Diocese of Scranton. They have set a window for survivors to apply for the Independent Survivor Compensation Program (ISCP) that terminates in July for those who have not previously reported their abuse or in September for those of us that have informed the diocese of what happened and are known to the people who work at the Chancery on Wyoming Avenue.
This fund is a bet on the part of the Diocese. They are hoping that victims/survivors will take the fund offerings now and forego the chance to depose diocesan officials if window legislation somehow passed in Pennsylvania as it has done in several states over the years. Most notable among the states who recently voted to allow victims to take their perps and the institutions who protected those predators are New York and New Jersey, neighbors of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The bishops are clinging to a failed strategy of minimizing the issue, vilifying the victims/survivors through their proxies and claiming that the only people who will suffer are the old, infirmed and very young who “so desperately need the assistance of a benevolent church”. And just to put a punctuation on that concept, the Diocese of Scranton is selling off properties that include assisted care facilities and coyly saying that funds from these sales will go to pay for the ISCP. The sleight of hand and misdirection are not lost on survivors.
While many have accused me of trying to make a “quick buck” over the years, I am still looking for the truth to come out about the extent of the cover-up and the number of diocesan officials who had a hand in actively marginalizing victims and their families while protecting child rapists. Given that I have been writing this blog for over ten years, I may need to rethink my “quick buck” strategy.
In the meantime, I am looking over the form for the ISCP. There are seven pages of required information and questions that will determine the eligibility of a survivor to participate in the ISCP for the Diocese of Scranton. You are allowed to provide additional pages as necessary to complete answers. The form asks for details on all the instances of sexual assaults, rapes, molestation and other forms of abuse. You will note here that this trauma is being revisited on the survivors, while the officials of the diocese just sit back hoping to get out from under all of this for the absolute minimum investment before window legislation can be enacted into law.
This is the essay test from hell. Can you imagine the dread that survivors are experiencing looking at this task? The Diocese, under the terms of the ISCP, will be able to have copies of all of the applications from survivors. My greatest fear is that they will take pleasure in what they will read. As I try to answer the questions, I can’t help but feel like I am writing inappropriate erotica for the fetishists at the Chancery.