By Michael Baumann
I get some fascinating comments and mail at times. Some of my posts have elicited some very insightful comments others have brought out the kind of venom that really makes me wonder about the smallness of the writer. One such writer has been trying to get my ire up over the case of Father Gabriel Tetherow, a priest who pleaded out to charges related to child pornography on church computers at Saint Ann’s Parish in the Diocese of Scranton. That priest, forbidden by the Diocese of Scranton to wear clerical garb or conduct himself in public as a priest, is now affiliated with the Saints Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Mission in York, Pennsylvania. The Diocese of Harrisburg does not recognize that “Mission.” Saints Peter and Paul is a throwback to the pre-Vatican II Roman Catholic Church.
I have had two posts in this blog about Father Tetherow and this “Mission,” and I have had some very volatile responses to my blog as a result. The author of most of the negative comments was a person who goes by the name “D.W. Downey”. He has been particularly vocal in his support for Father Tetherow. So vocal in his support for this priest with a penchant for child porn, that he decided to take the tact of calling victims of sexual abuse responsible for inviting the attacks. This individual claimed to be a former “Flight Officer” in the Navy. I must say up front that in my 23+ years of Naval service I became very familiar with the unique language used by those who served, and this individual was not using the vernacular of someone who served honorably, in any capacity, in the U.S. Navy. Hey D.W., I’ll show you my DD214 if you produce yours!
The email this individual wrote was pretty pathetic. I would imagine that the narrow-minded, inappropriate and uninformed comments are not the norm for Catholics as a rule. But I think the comments he made are not far off from the thought process of those who apologize for and support those priests that have been exposed as dangers to children. These apologists for pedophile priests are so intently focused on blaming everyone else for the crimes of these priests and attacks on the “mother church” that they will say anything to try to bring the critics of the Catholic Church’s handling of the child sex abuse scandal into a pitched battle of personal attacks. The writer naturally blames me for my complicity in being raped by a priest (see the text of his latest email below).
I thought I would pass along “D.W Downey’s” latest email gem as an example of the idiocy of those who will go to any length to try to discredit survivors and critics of the church. You can draw your own conclusion from “D.W.’s” latest epistle to this blog. Here it is:
“You have to examine your own conscience. The fact of the matter is the great majority of those being abused by the homosexuals who have invaded the Catholic Church since the 1960s have a degree of moral guilt for their participation in these perversions. The adult perverts have the greater sin but their “victims” are not altogether free from any moral responsibility. They are old enough to recognize the near occasion of sin and remove themselves from it.
The Catholic Church is a greater victim from these homosexual predators than most of the young men who are publicly airing their stories. Possessing no faith, they have lied themselves into seminaries and religious orders for no other purpose than to use the cover of the Catholic Church for their own immoral ends. They have established networks throughout religious orders and diocesan bureaucratic structures that actively provide cover for their own.
You have, without sufficient evidence, made assumptions and accusations based upon those assumptions against Fr. Tetherow, that you have no right to do. And I think very little of for doing it. Your analysis is superficial, immature and self-serving.
I won’t spend a lot of time responding to this email. For one, the writer has most of his “facts” wrong. Secondly, I suspect that “D.W. Downey” is a pen name for someone who does not want to sign his/her/their real name to their work. Finally, I think this individual has so entirely convinced him/herself that Father Tetherow is innocent, despite his guilty plea, that anyone who says otherwise (no matter what the evidence says) is following a strategy of personal attack. The truth be damned.
I believe “D.W. Downey” is a homophobic Catholic ideologue. He/she also seems to infer that all of the problems in the church were spawned by Vatican II. If you follow this logic, you would think there were no instances of sexual abuse of children before the early 1960’s. Of course, that abuse is well documented. If this is reflective of the opinion of parishioners at the “Mission” that harbors Gabriel Tetherow I fear for the safety of the innocent children who are members of the mission or live the area of York where this group of breakaway Catholics gathers. Perhaps the local authorities should keep a close eye on the leadership of this flock and their “shepherd.”
Something good has become of all this, though. A photograph of Father Gabriel from the internet has been included in Database of Credibly Accused Priests in the United States at the Bishop Accountability website along with information on his assignments and the crimes he was charged with as a result of his activities.