Abuse Survivors, the New Lepers

  • 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:

PCC FB stupidity
Carolyn Fortney’s screen grab

After removal of the pathetic reply above, the PCC issued the following apology/retraction/backtracking attempt:

Screenshot_2019-05-19 Pennsylvania Catholic Conference - Home
PCC failed attempt at damage control

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.

Screenshot_2019-05-19 Pennsylvania Catholic Conference » Contact
Screen grab from the PCC website

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.

You can read more about the Facebook exchange in an article in The Inquirer by Angela Couloumbis and Liz Navratil, updated: May15, 2019. Pa. Catholic Conference to clergy sex abuse survivor: ‘Why do you have to troll here?’

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?   

William Donohue, Catholic Hater in Chief!

The bar must be open!
The always coy Bill Donohue, President of the Catholic League.

I am just amazed at the antics of the President of the Catholic League, Mr. William Donohue.  The more I read and watch the more I am convinced that the Catholic Court Jester has hijacked the press podium for the Catholic Church in the United States.  In addition to his latest rants on Survivor’s Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) and the all-out assault on Nuns who made the mistake of thinking and seeing the world through a lens not necessarily endorsed by a bunch of old men at the Vatican,  this guy seems to be declaring war on the survivor community at large (Remember, we are not all card-carrying members of SNAP).

I am sure he is going to say that I am a godless, liberal, money seeking, “alleged” victim.  He is a bully, and that is what bullies do.  But for the record, I generally a  conservative who was brought up in an Irish Catholic family in New York and Pennsylvania. The difference, well one of many, between Billy and me is that I don’t blindly support the Catholic Hierarchy.  I also don’t make a living kissing the ass of the Archbishop of New York, amongst others.

Bill has a habit of running his mouth without verifying content beforehand. His rant on the front page of the Catholic League (which, surprisingly, not the governing body for Diocesan secondary school athletic teams) about SNAP is an excellent point in case. The YouTube Video and the accompanying “paper” on his undercover expose of the SNAP convention last year struck me.

If you read his epistle, you will notice this article lacks any definitive substance to back up his assertions.  He relies on character assassination and belittling individuals instead of engaging in thoughtful discourse. All his attacks are meant to divert attention from silly little annoyances like nuns with brains, trials in Philadelphia, Bishops who lie and protect predators, vast numbers of Catholics leaving the church.

Why don’t we take a stroll through the epistle of St. Billy to the world concerning the SNAP Convention.  It is about 9 pages of ranting and raving, but I recommend you take a look to get a glimpse into this guy’s mind.  In a nutshell, everyone is at war with the Catholic Church.  EVERYONE!   My contention, based on my 16 years of Catholic confinement education, is that the war is not being waged on the Catholic Church, it is being waged on the Hierarchy of the Catholic Church.  You know, the people who have been covering up and deflecting attention away from the sexual abuse crisis that has been going on for decades, centuries even!

Bill sent undercover Catholic League operatives to the convention to infiltrate the organization.  He did so because there is “nothing so salient than the precarious state of the due process for priests.” He calls these undercover operatives who have impeccable credentials who were there.  Who were they?  He can’t reveal his sources, just wink and go along with their “impeccable credentials.”

Bill then delves into the meat of his “treatise,” character assassination.   Since Bill’s arguments tend to be emotional and unsubstantiated, he resorts to the tactic in the debate that is a clear indication of a weak position argument, attack the individual.  (I was Jesuit trained, that is what I was taught).

His targets were William Spade, a former District attorney from Philadelphia.  He dismisses Mr. Spade because he has an “eclectic” relationship with the Catholic Church.  Let’s not discuss the ongoing criminal case, and Grand Jury reports about organized Roman Collar Crime and the cover-up of criminal activity in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia.  Let’s not confuse evidence of criminal activity and conspiracy because the person speaking has an “eclectic” relationship with the Catholic church.  Despite the veracity of the message, the person delivering it is just not to Bill’s tastes.

His next target is Jeff Anderson, a Minnesota attorney who has been involved in litigation on behalf of victims. (In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you that I am not a client of Mr. Anderson.)  He was raised a Lutheran!   MY GOD!  He became a Catholic!  SAY IT AIN’T SO! Then he became an atheist! (Seems like a natural progression to me.)  Bill then goes on to call Mr. Anderson a “Hippie” (page 3) and makes a comment about his “diminutive 5’4″ ” stature.  BILL DONOHUE HATES SHORT PEOPLE!  Bill also makes mention that Mr. Anderson is a recovering alcoholic.  BILL DONOHUE HATES RECOVERING ALCOHOLICS!   So what we have learned here is that short recovering alcoholics are not to be believed. Of course, Mr. Anderson is only in this racket for the money.  I understand completely.  Just like the law firms and public relations firms on retainer with American Dioceses who have made billions defending the indefensible on behalf of the Catholic Hierarchy.  Ask your Diocese about the amount of your donations that goes to lawyers, public relations firms and mouthpieces to attack, humiliate and demean victims of predator priests.  (I will wait while you email your Bishop, Chancellor, Diocesian Comptroller…)

You can also take a moment here and understand his underlying theme that all victims of sexual assault at the hands of Catholic religious are out for only one thing… a big fat payday! (time to reach for the sarcasm meter key, it is right next to the “any” key on your keyboard) Yes, I plan on getting rich off of the fact that a Catholic Priest took a shine to my hot 13-year-old ass.  As he was slapping me around, threatening me, telling me the lie that my mother approved of my “visits” and that God thought this activity was alright, I was thinking that 40 years down the line I would be getting a big ass payday!  Keep drinking Bill, you may actually see this post as proof of concept.

Bill Donohue is the face of the Catholic laity.  If you are a Catholic and you are not screaming for this moron’s head, you are allowing the rest of the world to believe that zealots and clowns are protecting the faith.  Good men and women must be in short supply in the pews (oh, I forgot, Catholics are fleeing the church in droves) or they have stupidly clung to the lies of the Bishops that “all is well.”  Bill Donohue is the personification of the Catholic faithful, whether they like it or not.  This guy is proof to the world that Catholics are asleep at the switch.

If you want to have a conversation Bill, give me a call.  I doubt your style of personal attack would survive very long against a Jesuit trained survivor.   Bring it on Billy!  Bring your buddy Dolan along.  Leave the nuns alone, they are way out of your league (Catholic or otherwise).   It will be a battle of the wits, and I will be fighting a half armed man.

You know what they say about grumpy Irish men who rant on and on about how horribly they or their causes are being treated!   Oops, there I go rereading the Catholic League playbook.