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.
Father Pilarz recommends that anyone who has been victimized by a Jesuit “contact the Victim Advocacy Coordinator at 443-370-6357 or at MARadvocacy@jesuits.org, and appropriate law-enforcement and child-protective agencies.”
I strongly recommend you forego notifying the “Victim Advocacy Coordinator.” They are not there to help victims, they are there to identify threats to the order. “Victim Advocacy Coordinator helped me get the help and support I needed,” said no victim of sexual crimes by Catholic priests ever! The VAC is there to start the initial risk assessment to the church, or religious order, and to begin the process of isolating and intimidating victims, their families and anyone that supports them. You can call me paranoid, but this has been my personal experience, and other survivors have told me the same story over and over again.
If you have been victimized by a Jesuit, call law enforcement, contact the district attorney’s office in the jurisdiction where the crimes took place. <<<<<Contact the PA Attorney General’s Hotline.
I have no reason, at this point, to believe that Father Pilarz is not sincere. After ten years of writing on this blog, I will tell you that the fastest way to come to a dead stop is to trust the church to do the right thing. (The truth is harsh at times.)
Report to civil authorities and find competent legal counsel who will look after you and your interests. The Catholic Church, its orders and its institutions, will undoubtedly be looking out for their own interests.
One final note on today’s blog. In good faith (there is that word again), I composed a letter to the President of the University of Scranton in November concerning his Task Force on Healing Reconciliation and Hope. I sent copies to the two University Professors who co-chair this Task Force. To date, I have not heard a word from either the President of the University or the Task Force acknowledging my correspondence. In his defense, Father Pilarz did have quite a few Alumni Christmas Events to attend all over the mid-Atlantic this holiday season.
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:
With the release of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report in August 2018, I have seen a resurgence of visits to this site, thousands of visits reading multiple posts. In the analytics, I can see the search terms people are using, mostly the names of predator priests or a specific Pennsylvania Diocese. While I am happy that people are reading to become more aware of the scope of the problem, I worry that they are not actively engaging in the discussion and, in Pennsylvania, calling their Senators to move legislation forward that will enable all victims of child sex crimes (rape, molestation, abuse…) to seek justice and to allow the true scope of this crisis to come into the light.
To be perfectly honest with you, I did not expect all of this to come back at me as forcefully as it has. For as much as I have talked on this subject over the last ten years in my blog and to reporters for various publications and media outlets, I was not expecting this amount anger, embarrassment, guilt, and grief to well up in me the way it has in the last two months. It just doesn’t end. My partner (should I really be calling her my “girlfriend” in my middle 50’s?), eloquently refers to all of this as “the scab being ripped off the wound”. I have had a lot of sleepless nights and discussions that have caused me to physically shake since the report was released. When I do sleep, the nightmares come back. It has been easier for me to address the Catholic Child Sex Crime Crisis as a broader subject than to discuss the specifics of my personal experience. Even now, 44 years removed from that horrible nine-month period of my life at age 13, talking about Gibson has a visceral effect on me. All these years later I still have to ask, why did he choose me? What did I do?
I know that I am one of the lucky ones. I am not a complete mess (only partial), I am alive, I have a job, I have a support group, my partner has my back (she always thought Gibson was creepy). My high school classmates are horrified at what happened to me and others they knew. I am not an alcoholic (I probably should be, but I won’t drink out of a bottle I have not opened myself or watched being opened because of Gibson), I am not an addict. I have battled depression for years. And, for the most part, I have been able to function in society. I can count the number of people I truly trust on 2 hands with fingers to spare.
Keeping the secret for as long as I did was the cause of a lot of damage. That secret sabotaged relationships with my parents, siblings, my former wife, children, and friends. It profoundly changed the trajectory of my life and left me doubting every decision and action (personal and professional). Gibson’s voice is the voice of doubt, dissension, and depreciation in my head to this day. I cannot shake him off.
In the wake of the Grand Jury Report, the emails and phone conversations all seem to come down to one question: What do I want out of all of this? To date, this is what I have come up with: (In no particular order, I am spit-balling here)
Bishop Joseph Bambera needs to resign with immediate effect. As Vicar of Priests in the 1990’s under Bishop James Timlin, Joseph Bambera returned “Father Ned” (Robert J. Gibson) to a rectory in the Diocese. Bambera let a known pedophile back into the world where he was caught grooming a child again. It is a quintessentially American concept that those who have the ability to change things, to protect the vulnerable, also have the responsibility to do so. In this, Joseph Bambera fails completely, all the while falling back on the excuse that he was following Bishop Timlin’s orders. As I have said on this blog before, I have no confidence in Joseph Bambera’s ability to credibly lead the Diocese of Scranton because of his complicity in Robert Gibson’s case and others.
I want all Catholic Cardinals and Bishops in the United States to offer their resignation to the Vatican. The Pope should accept the resignations of any of those prelates who have had any involvement in a sexual crime against a child or vulnerable adult or were involved in covering up such activity or campaigning to defame a victim that has come forward to report rape, molestation or abuse.
I want the U.S. Attorneys across the country to investigate and bring charges against the Dioceses that conspired to move predator priests across state lines to “move the problem”. Personally, I was taken across state lines to New York and Florida by Gibson. The Diocese knows this. I think that the Dioceses and the US Council of Catholic Bishops represent a criminal enterprise that could be prosecuted under the RICO Statute (18 U.S. Code, Chapter 96). Let the Federal search warrants flow!
I want the “facilities” that held Predator priests, such as the Vianney Center in Dittmer, Missouri, investigated for their role in hiding these men. They are complicit in moving them across state lines and may have violated Federal Law.
I want the Diocese to turn over all files in the Dioceses’ “Secret Archives” to Civil Authorities for review to determine what the Dioceses actually knew. I want the truth. I would love to see Robert Gibson’s (Father Ned) file. The Diocese only admits to Gibson having six victims. I have spoken to more than six that could tell me his modus operandi.
I want to see the file on me at the Diocese of Scranton. I am sure that there is a file cabinet in the Victims Assistance Office that contains a folder with my name on it. Before the shredders start to overheat, I want to know what is in my file. In the last week, I had someone claiming to be a Diocesan Priest who may have known my family back in the 1970’s asking for information about my parents. If I were paranoid, I would say this could be an effort by the Diocese to profile me in advance of potential civil action if the window legislation before the Pennsylvania Senate passes and is signed by Governor Wolf. I would also like the Diocese of Scranton to admit that they use the Victims Assistance office to collect information on victims to allow the Diocese to develop a risk strategy to protect themselves.
I want to see all four recommendations proffered by the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report to be adopted into law. I will not accept the Church’s offer of a Victims Fund. That is part of a risk strategy to minimize financial liability on the part of the church and does not serve justice. If they wanted to protect their interest, they should have protected the children and not the predators. You reap what you sow! (Galatians 6:7) I do not buy the calls of poverty and threats of bankruptcy. The recommendations in the Grand Jury Report are:
Change the criminal Statute of Limitations for all sexual crimes committed against children
Open a civil window for victims
Enact criminal penalties for those who fail to report child abuse
Restrict the use of Non-Disclosure Agreements
I want the people who write to me to tell me that I should be thinking about the priests who are innocent and doing “God’s work” in the community and the negative impact on them as a result of all the publicity to stop. REALLY?! Thousands of children and vulnerable adults worldwide over decades, centuries, millennia who have been targeted by priests in the church and you want me to worry about Father ______________ (fill in the blank) and how he is coping with all this? Why are the “innocent” priests not standing up en masse and calling for the removal of church leaders who are part of the problem? Why are they not screaming at the top of their lungs calling for reform? Why have they stood by silently when they have had information or suspicions that children were at risk? Innocent Priests? SHOW ME!
I want to know what the University of Scranton and other Catholic colleges and universities are going to do to foster a discussion on this issue, listening to all points of view on the crisis and leading the way on educating the Church on the history of sexual crimes committed. I want them to develop a way forward to protect the most vulnerable among us. If all you are going to do is rename buildings and rescind honorary degrees from the Bishop involved in the cover-up you are only paying lip service to the problem. I am challenging the President of the University of Scranton, my alma mater, to stand up and be an agent of change. I am willing to talk to you and represent the victims and survivors. I am part of the University of Scranton Community (Once a Royal, always a Royal) and I demand that you take a stand more substantial than renaming dorms in the upper quad. If you are not willing to do this, let me know where I can return my diploma.
Actis formalis defectionis ab Ecclesia catholica. This is an action item for the Diocese of Scranton. I want out. I want my name off the rolls. I want the Diocese of Scranton to coordinate with the Diocese of Brooklyn and make the break with me permanent and official. I am no longer a Catholic, and I want official acknowledgment in a document signed by the Bishop himself. You should also do this pro bono. (So much Latin! My Jesuit education is showing again.) I am not going to pay an indulgence for this service. I have a spot on the wall where my diploma from the University of Scranton currently hangs that may be available soon.
I want the parishioners of Catholic Parishes to understand that they are funding the protection of predator priests. Many of these guys are still on the payroll even if they have been laicized. Are you happy that you may be paying for a golf membership for a pedophile? The members of the Catholic Church should stand up and demand both accountability and responsibility from their leadership.
And, more than anything else, I want to be done with this. I want to put this down and go back to a quiet life. I want to be able to turn out the lights on this blog (I am sure the boys in black on Wyoming Avenue want that as well). If you think for a moment, dear reader, that I enjoy this, you are out of your mind. This is physically and emotionally exhausting. I am angry at the lies, I am mad at the way I have been treated both as a 13-year-old and as an adult who reported the crimes committed against me. I am angry that people still rally behind those who protected pedophiles at the expense of their victims. I am tired of the lies and the attacks on the character of survivors to advance a false narrative that the Catholic Church is doing everything they can to address the issue. They are doing everything they can to stick to their risk strategy.
That is my list for now. I am sure I will come up with more items as I think about all of this.