A letter from the VAC at the Diocese of Scranton: Independent Survivor Compensation Program

Author’s note: This is my second attempt at this post. I have tempered my approach, but my outrage has not abated.

A half-truth is even more dangerous than a lie. A lie, you can detect at some stage, but half a truth is sure to mislead you for long.”
Anurag Shourie

I have had two restless nights since the letter arrived in my mailbox. My blood runs a little cold when I see the Diocese of Scranton address in the top left corner of an envelope. This missive was from the Victim Assistance Coordinator (VAC) for the Diocese announcing the Independent Survivor Compensation Program (ISCP). I will let you read my letter. I have redacted my contact information. I have enough virulent church apologists blowing up my email, I will not enable them to contact me at my home.

diocese of scranton004 croppeddiocese of scranton005 cropped

I have had some responses from others I have shared this letter with, other members of Robert Gibson’s “Lost Boys.” It seems, without my prompting, they are equally outraged by the message and tone.

I am sure Mary Beth Pacuska, the VAC, was very proud of her work. But then again, she is charged with taking information on victims and aiding the bishop in turning that information into a plan of action to silence, discredit and demean survivors who have dared to stand up to the prelate on Wyoming Avenue. I would recommend a title change that allows you to keep your “VAC” acronym. From this side of the conversation, “Victims Adversary Coordinator” sounds more apropos. Let me know Mary Beth, I am dying to get your opinion (sarcasm intended).

Shall we go through the letter? She starts to auger into the earth with her first paragraph of introduction. “I am privileged to work with victims of sexual abuse suffered as a minor.” You have got to be kidding me!? “Privileged?” From my point of view, it would have been my great privilege to never have had a cause to contact that office in the first place. Work with us? That is laughable. Although I initially spoke with Joan Holmes when she occupied that chair in 2007, it is my experience that the office of the VAC is there to protect the bishop and his minions. Interest in the well being of the victim/survivor has proven to be nothing more than a diocesan sham.

The next two paragraphs of the communication are propaganda. Propaganda wasted on an audience that sees through the fiction of Diocesan action touted because they have suffered not only the original crimes committed against them but through the mishandling, bungling and straight up attacks by the diocese. Spare us the bullshit Ms. Pacuska, we are not buying it, and you look all the more of a diocesan pawn for it.

Finally, in the fourth paragraph, she gets to the point of the epistle. Finally! She announces the ISCP, provides no details at all about the program and punts the problem to the administrators of the Diocesan fund intended to placate survivors like me. The best part of all of this is the nugget in the second to last paragraph of this pathetic piece of prose. “Please be assured that this program is independent of the Diocese, completely voluntary and confidential, and will be handled with respect and in a pastoral manner.” The program is not independent of the Diocese because the diocese is funding it. (Maybe I should say that the parishioners of the Diocese of Scranton are financing it. That is much more accurate.) The Diocese, knowing the true scope of the problem and the estimated number of survivors/victims they have covered up for decades, is trying to get off on the cheap.

The program is “completely voluntary and confidential.” Sure it is! What I read here is a requirement for a confidentiality agreement. Or, more simply put, no transparency or accountability for the actions of bishops or priests who actively covered the sex crimes committed against children. She says the program will be handled with “respect and in a pastoral manner?” Personally, I don’t think the Chancery for the Diocese of Scranton knows the meaning of the word “respect.” Pastoral manner, that thought is ridiculous! If the lies and deceit offered to me by this diocese since I reported what Robert Gibson to me when I was 13 years old at Notre Dame Jr/Sr High School in East Stroudsburg reveals the measure of their “pastoral manner” I am better off without it.  If you wish to know what I want, click this link, I have spelled it out for you.

I have a recommendation for the VAC. Mary Beth, are you listening? Just tell us the facts devoid of all the propaganda and flowery support. Save the half-truths and platitudes for your parishioners. They are still swallowing what you and your bishop are offering.

A Professor Shows the Bishop His Back

US_Seal_3D

A friend emailed me a link to an article reporting that Professor Barry Kuhle stood up and turned his back on Bishop Joseph Bambera of Scranton during the Bishop’s remarks at the inauguration of the Father Scott R. Pilarz S.J. as the new President of the University of Scranton.  2018-09-27-Scranton_Professor_Protest

The article reported that Professor Kuhle’s sister was sexually assaulted by a temple leader in her pre-teens. She committed suicide in 2007 and the day of the inauguration would have been her 42nd birthday.

Professor Kuhle has called for Bishop Bambera to resign in the wake of the release of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report.  I would like to add my voice to that call.

Bishop Bambera has admitted to returning Robert Gibson to a parish by order of Bishop James Timlin.  He should have known better.  His defense is that he was following Timlin’s directions.  If he had a moral backbone, he would have turned Gibson over to the police.   Gibson was subsequently caught grooming another boy after Bambera released him back into the Diocese.

Well done, Professor!

Michael Baumann

The University of Scranton, Class of ’82

 

 

Looking for all other bloggers on the Church Sex Scandal

I am approaching my 50th post in the blogging experiment I began back in October, 2008. My focus has been on the continuing rape/sexual molestation/sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. Over the last 6 months I have linked to several blogs and websites that support victims to my blog.

Let me be clear at the onset of this post that the problem has not gone away. The flood waters have not receded, the crisis has not passed. Don’t believe what the Catholic Press is saying for one moment. Don’t think that the token masses for victims are the bandage that will heal the wound. One only has to look at Abuse Tracker by Kathy Shaw everyday to see that there is fresh information daily on the abuse of children, both male and female, and vulnerable adults. I secretly wish some day to go to Kathy’s site and see a week or so of posts that simply read, “Nothing significant to report”. Perhaps this is the only thing I may have in common with the people who run the Catholic Church in the United States and at the Vatican. Alas, everyday, I take a look at Kathy’s blog and there are reports from across the country and the world of the latest vile acts committed against victims by predator priests, clergy from other religions and employees or volunteers for religious organizations. You also get the rundown on the apologists and protectors of these monsters, their lobbyists, lawyers, public relations people who claim that all is well and that the church cannot be held responsible for the actions of a few. You see the tactics used against victims and survivors to shut them down and prevent the truth from coming to light. It should be don’t miss reading for anyone following this pedophile epedimic.

I am not the only survivor blogging. There are other voices. Please take a minute to check out some of the links I have to other blogs and websites. Many of us unofficially subscribe to a “do no harm” philosophy that tries to balance information, opinion and the sharing of resources that can aid others who have been the victims of crime and abuse, their families and their friends. I do not use the names of victims or family members that contact me without their permission. I will edit out full names of people that comment on my blog to protect their privacy. Some comments never make it to the web because they are deeply personal and not meant for general consumption. I also reserve the right to delete posts that are malicious. Hey, it is my blog, deal with it. I do not feel the need to “fair and balanced”. If that is what you want, check out Fox News.

Those of us in the “blogosphere” are seeking the truth from the people that have it and are either reluctant or unwilling to share it. Unfortunately, those people tend to wear Roman Collars or work directly for someone who does. We seek the support of public safety officials who are wary of investigating religious organizations for religious, political or cultural reasons. We implore prosecutors at the municipal, county, state and federal levels to actively investigate and prosecute not only the crimes of the individuals committing these acts but the organizations that protect them. For the life of me, I cannot understand why police or district attorneys would allow religious organizations to investigate and regulate themselves.

We would like to see more legislatures take a proactive stand and pass window legislation that will accomplish 2 specific goals. First, extend the statute of limitations on reports of rape, sodomy, sexual molestation, sexual abuse or other inappropriate acts committed against minors. Second, open a window for victims to bring cases against offenders and those individuals and organizations that gave them protection, aid and comfort. States like California and Delaware have passed laws to allow victims to seek justice and redress for wrongs committed against them. New York is currently considering such measures. Other state legislatures have buried similar bills in committee because key chairman have not allowed the bills to go for a vote. I am sure that the Catholic Church and their paid lobbyists are working hard to deny justice in state capitals across the country.

I know it is difficult to come up with new posts that do not loop over material already presented. There are times I feel like I am beating my head against a wall. I see the numbers of visitors to my site. Some days I am amazed that I am reaching so many, other days I wonder if anyone is listening at all. I have also noticed that some of the blogs I read when I first began to search for my perp priest have gone silent on the net. Voice from the Desert comes to mind. I find it exhausting at times to deal with all this. I imagine that some of the blogs that are no longer active had writers that felt the same way and chose to just go silent for a while.  I hope some of them will come back up and let us know that they are well and update us on their own situations.

I have recommended to SNAP that a session during the annual conference this summer be dedicated to bloggers. I think that there is merit in linking our blogs together and linking the organizations that are operating around the country together on the world wide web. If there is to be an effective grass roots effort to seek justice for victims of predator priests and the dioceses that protect them, we have to be focused and united. If not the Catholic Church will win and dioceses around the country will remain safe havens for pedophiles.

If you write a blog on this topic or know someone who does send me the link to your blog. If you are a member of an organization that is actively seeking justice for victims, send me your organization information and web address. I will be happy to put the link on my blog. Recently I came across a new blog by called Anti-Catholic League by David Fortwengler that is worth the read. (don’t be put off by the title).

For SNAP, let me and the rest of the attendees know what you are planning to do for bloggers during the conference in August. If you decide to pass on this as a breakout session, I will meet with anyone who wants to talk about this as a sidebar.

If you are a victim, seek help! If you don’t know where to go, email me at mbbaumannblog@gmail.com. There are resources out there that can help. If you have been frustrated by the church stonewalling you, speak out. You will find, as I did, that you are not alone and your experience, while unique, is not an isolated occurrence.