By the looks of the number of search engine inquiries and hits on my collection of posts on this particularly creepy con artist, there is a renewed interest in this collector of child pornography. A man continually changing his name and denying his felony conviction is an indicator of something, isn’t it?
He is still operating as a “Priest” in a “Traditional Rite Catholic Church Cult called the “Saint Michael the Archangel Roman Catholic Church” in Lower Windsor Township where he is going by the name “Father Gabriel.” There a delusional congregation has swallowed his ridiculous story of how he was set up because of his adherence to the Traditional Latin Mass. They have a FaceBook group that is full of pictures of this rogue “priest.” These people are in denial despite the overwhelming evidence of this man’s guilt to include copies of official court records and his own admission of guilt. Bishop James Timlin gave this man his first opportunity to operate in the Diocese of Scranton.
This is a particularly unsettling article. You may want to shower after reading it!
I am looking forward to the next slug of hate mail from his cult supporters in Central Pennsylvania.
There has been a confirmed (and press covered) sighting in Baltimore of Bishop James Timlin, Bishop Emeritus of the Diocese of Scranton. Despite the current Bishop’s “forbidding” (wink, wink) of Timlin from representing the Diocese, James Timlin is at the General Assembly of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops this week at the Inner Harbor in Baltimore Maryland.
According to an article in the Times Leader (sent to me this morning by a reader of this blog), Bishop Timlin was asked not to attend the USCCB event by the current prelate of the Diocese of Scranton, Joseph Bambera. It seems that Bishop Timlin played the “you’re are not the boss of me” card and got on down the road to Baltimore.
I have a question. Who paid for this trip? I am willing to bet lunch (at a restaurant of my choosing) that some staffer made the travel arrangements for both Bishops (perhaps three if Bishop Martino is also along for the party), to include luxury accommodations in the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront. I will also be willing to bet lunch that the Diocese is funding the pilgrimage for both of our intrepid diocesans.
I am amazed at the lack of understanding on the part of the staff at the Diocese on how the optics of this is playing out. To me, this is proof of Bishop Timlin’s hubris and, perhaps, defiance. At best, it shows that Bishop Bambera has little control over the chancery in his own curia. At worst it is proof that he is only playing the part of a prelate who is concerned about his diocese and victims of sexual assault. I would be checking the travel expense accounts to find the answer. If the current Bishop’s people are authorizing and paying for Timlin’s travel, we have the measure of Bambera’s commitment and leadership. Perhaps he is just waiting for all of this to blow over. Bold stand, your Excellency! (sarcasm intended)
I am sure Timlin is only attending the seminar on Rebels, Robbers, and Rogues in the Church or meeting with the secret society of contemporary Holy Roman Emperors. I will assume he does not have to go all the way to Baltimore for a day of exhilarating escalator rides.
To all you members of parishes within the Diocese of Scranton, I hope you approve of your offerings being used in this manner. The Diocese is complaining about a drop in donations but they can put two bishops and, I will assume, some Diocesan staffers, at the hotel in the posh Inner Harbor at an assembly that, by order of the Vatican, cannot vote on any proposals for a way forward. So, what exactly are they doing down there on your nickel?
It is not a long ride from my Virginia home to Baltimore. I have some time off coming to me. It would be fun to go up to the Inner Harbor and check out the Aquarium. Perhaps I can go to the Marriott where the USCCB is meeting and see who is floundering on the escalator for myself. I would love to meet the man and ask him a few questions. I bet security is tight around this gathering of Roman Collar Criminals. I wonder how many pictures of survivors are on file with hotel security. As if we were the real danger posed by this gathering.
I saw a couple of quotes by Elie Wiesel that are relevant to the discussion on the continuing sex abuse crisis and the inability of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church to do the right thing.
We must always take sides. Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.
Elie Wiesel (1928-2016)
I think I could say this until I am blue in the face. Abuse thrives in an atmosphere of secrecy. If you are silently standing on the sidelines waiting for the “Church” to do the right thing, you are complicit in the cover-up of sex crimes committed against children and vulnerable adults. If you continue to tithe to the church, fill the collection plate and fund the diocese, you are lending material support to leadership that is actively campaigning to prevent justice for victims of abuse. If you are not challenging your bishop, your pastor or your parish council about the damage inflicted, for decades, upon the most devout and vulnerable families of the church you are silently in solidarity with the people who have allowed these crimes to be covered up.
What hurts the victim the most is not the cruelty of the oppressor, but the silence of the bystander.
Elie Wiesel (1928-2016)
I have heard all the excuses. People are supporting their own parish, not the bishops. That is really not the case, and if that is your position, you are lying to yourself. Change can come from within. If that is the case, why hasn’t it happened? We don’t have that problem in our church! Are you sure about that? Isn’t the “church” more significant than just your parish backyard?
An editorial by the National Catholic Reporter released on 9 November is worth the read. You can find it here:
It has been a while since I read the Aeneid in which Virgil warned “Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes.” I will paraphrase in the traditional English fashion. “Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.” Today, the Trojan Horse was rolled out of the Chancery on Wyoming Avenue in Scranton.
Just days after the mid-term elections failed to turn the Pennsylvania Legislature from red to blue, the Roman Collar Crime Syndicate in Pennsylvania announced the formation of a “Compensation Program for Survivors of Sexual Abuse.”
A press release from the Bishop made the announcement that was heavy on diocesan empathy (sarcasm intended) and light on details. The text is available on the Diocese Website. I will put the wording of the release at the bottom of this post.
Survivors will need to weigh their options in the coming months on what they want to do. I see this as nothing more than the Dioceses in Pennsylvania trying to settle claims of horrible abuse for pennies on the dollar. I strongly recommend that if you are going to consider going this way that you get competent legal advice.
The Devil is in the details. There are no details here yet. The Devil must still be advising the Bishop on how to proceed. I will wait until this flushes out a little more. This doesn’t look like transparency and justice. It seems like an attempt to buy silence on the cheap.
The press release from Bill Genello reads as follows:
SCRANTON, PA (November 8, 2018) – The Diocese of Scranton announced today the creation of an Independent Survivors Compensation Program for those who have suffered sexual abuse by clergy, religious or lay employees. Participation in the Program by survivors is entirely voluntary.
The Program will be administered by Kenneth Feinberg and Camille Biros, two leading experts in mediation and alternative dispute resolution. They will have absolute autonomy in determining compensation for survivors, and the Diocese of Scranton will abide by their decisions. Mr. Feinberg and Ms. Biros are currently managing a number of high-profile compensation programs nationwide, including similar programs started by five Catholic Dioceses in New York. Those programs collectively have provided over $200 million in compensation to more than 1,000 survivors. They have received positive feedback from those who participated.
An Independent Oversight Committee will oversee the implementation and administration of the Program. The Diocese will have no authority over this committee. Compensation decisions are final and cannot be appealed or overturned by the Diocese or the Independent Oversight Committee.
“Providing compensation to these survivors is the right thing to do,” said the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, D.D., J.C.L., Bishop of Scranton. “Several weeks ago, Pennsylvania’s Bishops announced support of such a program, which was recently discussed but not enacted by the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The Diocese of Scranton is therefore moving forward and is offering this Program for survivors.”
Parish and school assets, as well as contributions and bequests from parishioners and donations to the Diocesan Annual Appeal, will not be used to fund the Program. Rather, the Diocese will use available reserves and will sell assets and borrow money as needed. While the Program will require significant resources, the Diocese will strive to maintain its core mission to serve the local community.
The Diocese continues to refine the Program so that it better serves survivors. Further details concerning the Program will be made available in the near future, including a website for survivors to obtain information and claim forms. The Program is anticipated to launch in January 2019.
In a move that took me by surprise back in August, the incoming President of The University of Scranton, Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., directed that the names of bishops of the Diocese of Scranton involved in the Sexual Abuse Crisis would be removed from campus buildings and honorary degrees awarded to those individuals rescinded. This action was taken after the release of the Pennsylvania Diocese Victims Report detailing sexual crimes by clergy in six of Pennsylvania’s eight Catholic Dioceses.
On October 11, 2018, Father Pilarz released an announcement on the establishment of the Task Force on Healing, Reconciliation, and Hope. In his message, he and the Board of Trustees “commit endowed funds to support efforts to strive together with the people of the Diocese and Catholics everywhere to address the difficult but necessary questions that arise from the grand jury report.” He charged the Task Force to “help us harness the full range of resources that The University of Scranton, as a Catholic and Jesuit university can offer the church in this painful but pivotal moment. Their work will imagine and plan how we can respond, in ways both simple and sophisticated, to the needs of God’s people.”
I applaud any action taken to uncover the truth and to expose the complicity of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in protecting predator priests who have been committing sexual crimes against children and vulnerable adults for decades. But, I am suspicious of any action taken by a Catholic organization to address this issue. The wording of the announcement is benign on its surface. After reading it a few times, I was struck by what it does not address. I do not see a clear identification of who is to be “healed, reconciled and granted hope.” He speaks about the church and University community but nowhere in the announcement is a recognition of survivors. The words “victim” and “survivor” are conspicuously absent from the text. Is it the President’s intent to exclude the victims of this scandal?
Earlier this week I wrote to the Father Pilarz to express my concerns and offered a few recommendations. I have done this in good faith with the hope that my Alma Mater is true to it’s Jesuit Tradition.
I have given the U.S. Postal Service enough time to deliver my letter to the University of Scranton. I now share the text of that missive with you.
Dear Father Pilarz,
I am writing to you as both a survivor of sexual abuse in the Diocese of Scranton and a member of the University of Scranton Community. I graduated from the University in 1982 with a B.A. in History.
In response to the findings of the Attorney General’s Grand Jury Report, you took action to rename University buildings and rescind honorary degrees from the bishops who had a hand in the cover-up of sexual crimes committed against children and vulnerable adults. I applauded your initial steps in addressing this crisis. Now I want you to make an impact beyond the campus of the University.
Your announcement of the establishment of Task Force on Healing, Reconciliation, and Hope in October may be a step in the right direction. However, I have concerns that I hope you will take to heart.
Your task force needs to include survivors. Survivors and the families of victims who are no longer with us need a voice at your table. The Task Force will need to do more than politely listen to the stories and understand the impact on everyone involved. When we speak, it will be emotional perhaps even loud. Sorrow, anger, shame, and embarrassment will break voices and bring tears to eyes. It may be messy and difficult to bear. You will need to listen to these stories to be credible in your labors. Without that input, you cannot possibly understand the depth of the damage to innocence, safety, security, personal relationships, trust, and faith inflicted on children because of these sexual batteries. Simply put, you should not have this discussion without us.
I would like to see the University endow studies that address key issues in this crisis. I have tried to understand why the abuse happened and why the hierarchy of the Catholic Church covered it up. I have struggled, personally, with the effects of the abuse I suffered at the hands of my eighth-grade religion teacher, a diocesan priest. I stayed silent for more than 33 years. In the eleven years since my initial report to the Diocese of Scranton and the ten years since I publicly revealed the abuse, I have spent hundreds of hours reflecting on areas that deserve investigation and scholarly study. Here are some recommendations:
A study of the factors that lead predators to select particular victims. My discussions with other survivors led me to theories on why we became targets. Most victims were from devout families who revered priests as God’s representative on earth. Obedience, without question, of the orders given by priests and other religious was drilled into our heads from a young age. Predators use this to their advantage. They seek out children in dysfunctional families (domestic violence, addiction issues, alcoholism) or tragic circumstances (death of a parent or sibling, catastrophic illness or injury in the family). I have a friend whose grooming began when he was 12 years old at his father’s wake. A study in this area will allow for the identification of at-risk children and inform teachers, adult leaders and family members of potential vulnerability harm.
A study on the psychopathology of pedophilia and why the Catholic Church has such a long, tragic history of this mental disorder within the ranks of its clergy. A review of the screening processing for seminaries, for both staff and students, may reveal how potential predators make it through the process undetected.
A study on the long-term impacts of the sexual batteries on survivors and their families to include the actions of the Church to marginalize and isolate victims and their families. Denials, strong-arm tactics and attacks on survivors to silence or blame them for the abuse further compounds the damaged already experienced.
In the wake of the abuse I suffered in 1974, I found a place to start over when I arrived at the University of Scranton over Labor Day weekend in 1978. I began to work out who I was and push out of my very narrow comfort zone. I enjoyed my classes, I made friends, and I was involved in campus life. I was a student manager for Campus Bowl, and I was selected to be in the Chorus during for Fall Review in 1980 and 1981. I was a student Co-Director for Orientation ’81 working with Professor Cannon and the staff of the Counseling Center out of an office on the third floor of St. Thomas Hall. I have very good memories of my time at the “U.” During my Junior year, the priest who raped me when I was 13 years old came into the restaurant in Scranton where I worked as a waiter. That chance meeting shook me so badly that I stopped going to class and missed some of my campus commitments. I was considering suicide. A Jesuit, Edward Gannon S.J., summoned me to his office in Memorial Library to sort out what was happening to me. I did not go willingly. In what turned into a marathon “confession” I told him the story of my abuse. I spared him no detail. On that cold winter night, he declared me blameless and offered the only sincere apology I have ever received for the abuse I suffered as a child. His intervention saved my life that night. Because the conversation was within the context of a confession, I held him to his vow of silence on the matter. In hindsight, I wish I had let him take action.
I am not a social justice warrior. I do not welcome or seek attention’s center. I know I am a small voice on the coast, screaming at the vastness of the ocean. There is a point where if you don’t stand up for something, you stand for nothing. I came forward out of guilt for those that came after me, shame for keeping my secret, anger for the dismissal of accusations deemed credible by the chancery. I am horrified that Catholics seem willing to sacrifice children and reward a hierarchy that is misguidedly abusing their authority to maintain the illusion that their house of worship, their sacraments, and their faith are in order.
I want to believe that the University of Scranton is still a place where people don’t shrink from controversial or uncomfortable topics. I want to know it is a place where people can stand up and do the right thing even when it is unpopular or challenges the local bishop. I need to know that it is still the place where faculty and staff care about their students and the greater university community. I want to believe in the University that gave me, and generations of students, Father Gannon. I know that the Task Force cannot solve all of the issues in this great crisis. I think that it may be able to take a step in the direction of finding answers and making meaningful recommendations.
As for me, I realize that sometimes justice offered is not always the justice for which we had hoped. I, as a survivor, will seek the wisdom to know when that justice is enough.
Michael B. Baumann
Any hope I may have that the Task Force will do more than to look inward to “heal” the church is very guarded. I still consider myself a member of the University of Scranton Community even though I know I am no longer welcome in the Catholic Church. The findings and recommendations of the Task Force will reveal the true nature and depth of the University’s good faith and resolve.
By Carol Galante Dear Pennsylvania Senators: I am writing to ask that you vote for Senate Bill 261. I want to be clear that I do not hate the church but I hate the behavior of those in charge. I have been an active member of the Catholic Church in Philly (40 years) and worked […]