It happened in Orange, too

It happened in Orange, too

It’s not exactly news; it’s a reminder. A document dump from the Diocese of Orange, California, shows a pattern of cover-up, shuffling perverts, and a code of silence.

For more than two decades, officials in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange covered up for priests who molested children, shuffling predators from parish to parish and diocese to diocese, protecting them from prosecution and failing to warn parishioners of the danger, according to church documents released Tuesday.

More than 10,000 pages of letters, handwritten notes, memos and other documents detailing church actions were released from the personnel files of 15 priests and teachers as part of a court-approved $100-million settlement reached in December between the Orange Diocese and 90 alleged molestation victims. A judge ruled, however, that he was “powerless” to order the release of files on eight other priests and teachers.

According to the newly released documents, church officials dumped one serial molester in Tijuana. They welcomed a convicted child abuser from another state into their diocese, even though they knew he faced a new allegation. When he was accused once again, they sent him to a New Mexico rehabilitation center with a notation: “No one else will take you.” And they offered a repeat abuser up to $19,000 to leave the priesthood quietly.

I have deja vu from 2002 here in Boston. It’s the same stuff from the same era and I’m left with the same questions. How could they do this? How could a bishop let these predators abuse these kids again and again and then let them escape? It’s incomprehensible.

  • It’s almost as if there was a evil how-to handbook on dealing with predator priests and their victims circulating in the chanceries in this country!

  • This is why I believe that when +Wilton said that the scandal was “history,” my thought was along the lines of William Faulkner’s “The past is never dead; it’s not even past.” This is right here, right now, and until there is memory and justice, we will have this filth with us.

    Diogenes yesterday made a remark about how Catholic bishops are the kind of figures who let other people pay (and pay, and pay) for their mistakes, but who get to keep their jobs. If any readers here haven’t read Jason Berry’s 1992 book “Lead Us Not Into Temptation,” to see the depths of the corruption in one diocese over this stuff, and the incredible damage it did to real little boys, and real families.

    I don’t for one second believe this is over. Not a single sitting bishop, to my knowledge, has been made to pay a personal price for his role in the cover-up. Deep down, I don’t believe most of these men believe they did anything wrong.

  • Rod,

    The sad thing is that there seems to be little outrage evident now from the faithful when these stories crop up.  I think that the bishops are thanking God that VOTF helped distract attention away from *them* into some sterile debate on Catholic Ecclesiology.  No wonder Boston’s O’Malley is so nice to those guys!

  • They allow this to happen over and over again because they rely on the same people who advise judges that sex offenders are “rehabilitated” and that therapy will “cure” them. So then the offenders are released into society.

    Same thing.

  • Didn’t I just see the announcement of a promotion of one of the aux. bishops from Orange?  To Honolulu, was it?

    Cdl. Law got a basilica.  Archbishop Levada got a Congregation.

    Cover-up as stepping stone to promotion?

    I wonder if Bishop Pilla is packing his suitcase yet?

  • Calling, this whole “the therapists are to blame” line is a lousy excuse. Lee Podles, in doing research for his upcoming book on the scandal, uncovered court documents for the 1950s in which a bishop, now dead, told a mother who had come to complain about the priest who was sexually molesting her minor son, that she should realize that it was normal for priests to keep boys. My sense is that the bishops just didn’t believe that this was any big deal, that the clerical culture thought this kind of thing was small potatoes. Blaming it on therapists is just buck-passing—and I believe that when we in the laity buy into it, we’re protecting ourselves from having to make unpleasant judgments about our leaders.

  • I’m not saying that the bishops are not accountable. The very fact that they rely upon these dumb therapists is part of their culpability.

    It is not buck passing. And your excusing the therapy industry is a “lousy excuse”.

  • calling,

    These man are and were bishops of the Catholic Church and had had moral theology ground into them is seminary.  They didn’t need therapists to tell them right from wrong, or how to handle troubled priests.  They knew what to do but didn’t want to do it because it went against their grain to see the situation for what it was, so they turned to these therapists for cover knowing they would be told just what their episcopal ears wanted to hear. 

  • What the heck???

    Didn’t you just read my last post? I DIDN’T SAY THEY WERE NOT CULPABLE!!!!


  • Calling,

    I didn’t say that you said that the bishops weren’t culpable.  I was venting about *them* not something you said.  Sorry for the missunderstanding!

  • Oh, no way do I excuse therapists. It’s just that I hold Catholic bishops to a much higher moral standard.

  • Pray for our bishops.

    “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5)

  • It’s absolutely amazing how all this works, and how the teaching of the church is misconstrued, but it can be explained sadly in terms of human nature.

    There is a tendency—more than a tendency—for people in the Church—many people, even highly placed people—to want everyone to be Catholic, even at the cost of authenticity.  What they don’t want to talk about in CONCRETE TERMS is that most people simply do not attain to the virtues that being a practicing Catholic requires.  We’re all pitiful lousy Catholics except for a few saints, like Mother Teresa or something.  But humility and compunction, of course, are not something most lousy Catholics can manage to get to.  Lying is much easier.  So, here we are.

    We’ve got some sort of a thing where you get born into the faith and baptised more or less automatically.  And THEN you are expected to develop all this saintly virtue, but the fact is, most people simply DON’T.  Not even the compunction part.  So how do they deal with that???

    What happens when a man who thinks he has okay intentions (or at least who others think has ok intentions) gets himself graduated and ordained and then gets disappointed with himself and misses the point totally.  It happens.  How do they deal with that???  This what we see here is one answer to that question.

  • BTW, the fact that most people don’t develop the virtues they should develop doesn’t mean that the virtues are to be discarded.  On the contrary.  It simply means we’re sinners, just like Scripture says.  And it might mean that some people are going to simply refuse to be Catholic regardless of the fact they were raised Catholic or whatever and like candles and all the trappings.  So be it, let’s drop the crap and admit it.

    All this parading around justifying our “gifts” is a sham.  All this creating “ministries” to perpetuate excuses is dishonest.  Bishops here who act like they’ve never read scripture are a scandal.  They make the church look bad indeed.