Ne nous trompons pas sur l’importance de la crise en cours.
Les faits sont énormes (nature, nombre et durée des méfaits perpétrés par des religieux couverts par la hiérarchie catholique) et ceux qu’on tient aujourd’hui pour établis sont manifestement peu de choses par rapport à ceux qui restent à exhumer.
Voir ci-après... 1. Statement of Catholic Theologians, Educators, Parishioners, and Lay Leaders On Clergy Sexual Abuse in the United States 2. Lettre du Pape François au Peuple de Dieu 3. The Grand Jury Report 4. This Church is a Criminal Enterprise Les deux premiers textes sont superbes.Ils n'effacent rien des affligeants témoignages qui suivent et qui, en vérité, les ont déclenchés.
Les dégâts, pour les victimes, sont irréparables quelle que soient la reconnaissance et les compensations qu’ils pourraient obtenir.
Quand à l’institution ecclésiale enfin, sa ruine est en vue : désaffection des croyants, chute des vocations, abandons de poste, charge écrasante des réparations.
Pour l’Église elle-même, pourtant, il y a plus grave encore : la mise en cause du principe d’autorité qui la fonde en tant qu’institution.
Vous en doutez ?
Voyez que le pape lui-même constate (voir ci-après) que « notre style de vie a démenti et dément ce que notre voix proclame », il en conclut que « dire non aux abus, c’est dire non, de façon catégorique, à toute forme de cléricalisme ».
Il ne reste plus dès lors qu’à « revenir à la source pour récupérer la fraîcheur originale de l’Évangile ».
Ce message peut certes inspirer les croyants, mais il ne saurait suffire à fonder ou restaurer une institution internationale du type de celle que l’on connaît depuis plus d’un millier d’années.
Dès lors cette crise devrait être l’occasion d’un ou de plusieurs schismes qui, par leur importance, ne le céderont en rien aux schismes précédents : le Grand schisme d’Orient (1054), le Grand schisme d’Occident (XIV° siècle) et le double mouvement, au XVI° siècle, de la Réforme protestante et de la Contre-Réforme.
Les circonstances politiques, culturelles, économiques et techniques, sont différentes ; les effets, donc, différeront.
On peut cependant identifier d’ores et déjà deux tendances.
– Les réactionnaires, d’un côté, entreprendront de sauver l’Église contre les Évangiles ; ils seront ainsi amenés à condamner le pape François s’il ne leur fait pas la grâce de mourir avant.
– Et les « chrétiens de terrain », de l’autre, feront de leur mieux dans le chaos ambiant, mais en ordre dispersé si bien qu’à terme, ils fusionneront avec le reste de la population laïque de culture chrétienne.
S’ils se libèrent ainsi de « la corruption spirituelle », de « l’aveuglement » et de « l’autosuffisance » pharisienne à laquelle prête le parrainage d’une puissante institution « auto référentielle », ce sera pour un bien.
N.B. Chacun de ces qualificatifs est tiré de la lettre ci-après « du pape François au peuple de Dieu ».
Ceci constaté pour l’Église catholique, ne crions pas haro sur le baudet : chaque institution a ses vices. Certaines se trahissent plus tôt que d’autres. Leur tour aussi viendra. Nous l’observons d’ores et déjà.
Sera-ce mieux pour autant ? Rien ne l’assure : d’autres pouvoirs, nécessairement, prendront la place.
1. Statement of Catholic Theologians, Educators, Parishioners, and Lay Leaders On Clergy Sexual Abuse in the United States
On Tuesday, August 14, 2018, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro released a comprehensive grand jury report documenting the sexual abuse of over 1,000 children by 301 priests across six Pennsylvania dioceses. The document chronicles, with nauseating clarity, seven decades of clergy sexual abuse and systematic cover-ups by bishops and others in positions of power. The report comes in the wake of last months’ revelations of decades of sexual predation by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick and in the long shadow of the sexual abuse crisis in Boston and beyond.
The crimes detailed in the grand jury report evince a horror beyond expression. The report summarizes the situation thus: “Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades.” We are brought to our knees in revulsion and shame by the abominations that these priests committed against innocent children. We are sickened in equal measure by the conspiracy of silence among bishops who exploited victims’ wounds as collateral in self-protection and the preservation of power. It is clear that it was the complicity of the powerful that allowed this radical evil to flourish with impunity.
Today, we call on the Catholic Bishops of the United States to prayerfully and genuinely consider submitting to Pope Francis their collective resignation as a public act of repentance and lamentation before God and God’s People.
We urge them to follow the example of Chile’s thirty-four bishops, who resigned collectively in May of this year after revelations of widespread sexual abuse and corruption were brought to light. Through prudent discernment, Pope Francis ultimately accepted three of these thirty-four resignations. It should be noted that the active bishop-to-Catholic ratio is almost the same in Chile and the United States, and that the geographical scope of the crisis in this country appears to surpass that of Chile. After years of suppressed truth, the unreserved decisiveness of the Chilean bishops’ resignations communicated to the faithful a message that Catholics in the United States have yet to hear, with an urgency we have yet to witness: We have caused this devastation. We have allowed it to persist. We submit ourselves to judgment in recompense for what we have done and failed to do.
Some will feel that the resignation of all bishops is unjustified and even detrimental to the work of healing. After all, many bishops are indeed humble servants and well-intentioned pastors. This is an urge we recognize, but it is not one that we can accept. The catastrophic scale and historical magnitude of the abuse makes clear that this is not a case of “a few bad apples” but rather a radical systemic injustice manifested at every level of the Church. Systemic sin cannot be ended through individual goodwill. Its wounds are not healed through statements, internal investigations, or public relations campaigns but rather through collective accountability, transparency, and truth-telling. We are responsible for the house we live in, even if we did not build it ourselves. This is why we call on the U.S. Bishops to offer their resignations collectively, in recognition of the systemic nature of this evil.
If we are to say “never again” to this catastrophic epidemic of sexual violence within the Church, then structural change on a scale previously unimaginable is required. Many have offered sound proposals for specific reforms that would begin to convert this ecclesial culture of violence into one of transparency, accountability, humility, safety, and earned trust. These are proposals we wholeheartedly support, beginning with external investigations of every ecclesiastical province in the United States akin to the one just completed in Pennsylvania. At the same time, we recognize that truth-telling and repentance are prerequisites to conversion. This is as true of institutional conversion as it is of individual conversion. As a collective body, the bishops have given the faithful little indication that they recognize and take accountability for the breathtaking magnitude of the violence and deceit that has continued unabated under their leadership. Thus, we call on them to follow Christ’s example in offering to the people a willing abdication of earthly status. This is a public act of penance and sorrow, absent of which no genuine process of healing and reform can begin.
We, the undersigned, teach in Catholic schools, colleges, universities, and graduate programs. We work in parishes, retreat centers, and diocesan offices. We are parishioners, lay ecclesial ministers, liturgical musicians, catechists, pastoral care workers, youth and young adult ministers, chaplains, parish workers, community advocates, students, teachers, professors, librarians, and researchers. We are mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles, sons and daughters, vowed religious.
We are the baptized.
We stand in solidarity with the thousands of victims, named and unnamed, whom predatory priests, protected by the willing silence of many bishops, have raped, abused, brainwashed, traumatized, and dehumanized. We stand with those driven to alcoholism and drug addiction, to mental illness and suicide. We grieve with their families and communities.
We grieve in a different but no less profound way for our students, children, families, parents, grandparents, friends, neighbors, and all of those we love who have left or will leave the Church because they have found its leaders unworthy of trust. We grieve for our parishes, communities, schools, and dioceses. We grieve for our Church.
The call we issue today is neither liberal nor conservative. It does not emerge from a particular faction or ideology but rather from the heart of a wounded Church. It is an expression of fidelity to the victims, to Jesus Christ, to the Church in whose service we have devoted our lives.
Thus, we call on you, Bishops of the United States, to consider this humble and public act of penance on behalf of us all. Let it be the first of many steps toward justice, transparency, and conversion. Only then might the wrenching work of healing begin.
2. Lettre du Pape François au Peuple de Dieu
« Si un membre souffre, tous les membres souffrent avec lui » (1 Cor 12,26). Ces paroles de saint Paul résonnent avec force en mon cœur alors que je constate, une fois encore, la souffrance vécue par de nombreux mineurs à cause d’abus sexuels, d’abus de pouvoir et de conscience, commis par un nombre important de clercs et de personnes consacrées. Un crime qui génère de profondes blessures faites de douleur et d’impuissance, en premier lieu chez les victimes, mais aussi chez leurs proches et dans toute la communauté, qu’elle soit composée de croyants ou d’incroyants. Considérant le passé, ce que l’on peut faire pour demander pardon et réparation du dommage causé ne sera jamais suffisant. Considérant l’avenir, rien ne doit être négligé pour promouvoir une culture capable non seulement de faire en sorte que de telles situations ne se reproduisent pas mais encore que celles-ci ne puissent trouver de terrains propices pour être dissimulées et perpétuées. La douleur des victimes et de leurs familles est aussi notre douleur ; pour cette raison, il est urgent de réaffirmer une fois encore notre engagement pour garantir la protection des mineurs et des adultes vulnérables.
- Si un membre souffre
Ces derniers jours est paru un rapport détaillant le vécu d’au moins mille personnes qui ont été victimes d’abus sexuel, d’abus de pouvoir et de conscience, perpétrés par des prêtres pendant à peu près soixante-dix ans. Bien qu’on puisse dire que la majorité des cas appartient au passé, la douleur de nombre de ces victimes nous est parvenue au cours du temps et nous pouvons constater que les blessures infligées ne disparaissent jamais, ce qui nous oblige à condamner avec force ces atrocités et à redoubler d’efforts pour éradiquer cette culture de mort, les blessures ne connaissent jamais de « prescription ». La douleur de ces victimes est une plainte qui monte vers le ciel, qui pénètre jusqu’à l’âme et qui, durant trop longtemps, a été ignorée, silencieuse ou passé sous silence. Mais leur cri a été plus fort que toutes les mesures qui ont entendu le réprimer ou bien qui, en même temps, prétendaient le faire cesser en prenant des décisions qui en augmentaient la gravité jusqu’à tomber dans la complicité. Un cri qui fut entendu par le Seigneur en nous montrant une fois encore de quel côté il veut se tenir. Le Cantique de Marie ne dit pas autre chose et comme un arrière-fond, continue à parcourir l’histoire parce que le Seigneur se souvient de la promesse faite à nos pères : « Il disperse les superbes. Il renverse les puissants de leurs trônes, il élève les humbles. Il comble de biens les affamés, renvoie les riches les mains vides » (Lc 1, 51-53) ; et nous ressentons de la honte lorsque nous constatons que notre style de vie a démenti et dément ce que notre voix proclame.
Avec honte et repentir, en tant que communauté ecclésiale, nous reconnaissons que nous n’avons pas su être là où nous le devions, que nous n’avons pas agi en temps voulu en reconnaissant l’ampleur et la gravité du dommage qui était infligé à tant de vies. Nous avons négligé et abandonné les petits. Je fais miennes les paroles de l’alors cardinal Ratzinger lorsque, durant le Chemin de Croix écrit pour le Vendredi Saint de 2005, il s’unit au cri de douleur de tant de victimes en disant avec force : « Que de souillures dans l’Église, et particulièrement parmi ceux qui, dans le sacerdoce, devraient lui appartenir totalement ! Combien d’orgueil et d’autosuffisance ! […] La trahison des disciples, la réception indigne de son Corps et de son Sang sont certainement les plus grandes souffrances du Rédempteur, celles qui lui transpercent le cœur. Il ne nous reste plus qu’à lui adresser, du plus profond de notre âme, ce cri : Kyrie, eleison – Seigneur, sauve-nous (cf. Mt 8, 25) » (Neuvième Station).
- Tous les membres souffrent avec lui
L’ampleur et la gravité des faits exigent que nous réagissions de manière globale et communautaire. S’il est important et nécessaire pour tout chemin de conversion de prendre connaissance de ce qui s’est passé, cela n’est pourtant pas suffisant. Aujourd’hui nous avons à relever le défi en tant que peuple de Dieu d’assumer la douleur de nos frères blessés dans leur chair et dans leur esprit. Si par le passé l’omission a pu être tenue pour une forme de réponse, nous voulons aujourd’hui que la solidarité, entendue dans son acception plus profonde et exigeante, caractérise notre façon de bâtir le présent et l’avenir, en un espace où les conflits, les tensions et surtout les victimes de tout type d’abus puissent trouver une main tendue qui les protège et les sauve de leur douleur (Cf. Exhort. ap. Evangelii Gaudium, n.228). Cette solidarité à son tour exige de nous que nous dénoncions tout ce qui met en péril l’intégrité de toute personne. Solidarité qui demande de lutter contre tout type de corruption, spécialement la corruption spirituelle, « car il s’agit d’un aveuglement confortable et autosuffisant où tout finit par sembler licite : la tromperie, la calomnie, l’égoïsme et d’autres formes subtiles d’autoréférentialité, puisque “Satan lui-même se déguise en ange de lumière” (2Co 11,14) » (Exhort. ap. Gaudete et Exsultate, n.165). L’appel de saint Paul à souffrir avec celui qui souffre est le meilleur remède contre toute volonté de continuer à reproduire entre nous les paroles de Caïn : « Est-ce que je suis, moi, le gardien de mon frère ? » (Gn 4,9).
Je suis conscient de l’effort et du travail réalisés en différentes parties du monde pour garantir et créer les médiations nécessaires pour apporter sécurité et protéger l’intégrité des mineurs et des adultes vulnérables, ainsi que de la mise en œuvre de la tolérance zéro et des façons de rendre compte de la part de tous ceux qui commettent ou dissimulent ces délits. Nous avons tardé dans l’application de ces mesures et sanctions si nécessaires, mais j’ai la conviction qu’elles aideront à garantir une plus grande culture de la protection pour le présent et l’avenir.
Conjointement à ces efforts, il est nécessaire que chaque baptisé se sente engagé dans la transformation ecclésiale et sociale dont nous avons tant besoin. Une telle transformation nécessite la conversion personnelle et communautaire et nous pousse à regarder dans la même direction que celle indiquée par le Seigneur. Ainsi saint Jean-Paul II se plaisait à dire : « Si nous sommes vraiment repartis de la contemplation du Christ, nous devrons savoir le découvrir surtout dans le visage de ceux auxquels il a voulu lui-même s’identifier » (Lett. ap. Novo Millenio Ineunte, n.49). Apprendre à regarder dans la même direction que le Seigneur, à être là où le Seigneur désire que nous soyons, à convertir notre cœur en sa présence. Pour cela, la prière et la pénitence nous aideront. J’invite tout le saint peuple fidèle de Dieu à l’exercice pénitentiel de la prière et du jeûne, conformément au commandement du Seigneur, pour réveiller notre conscience, notre solidarité et notre engagement en faveur d’une culture de la protection et du « jamais plus » à tout type et forme d’abus.
Il est impossible d’imaginer une conversion de l’agir ecclésial sans la participation active de toutes les composantes du peuple de Dieu. Plus encore, chaque fois que nous avons tenté de supplanter, de faire taire, d’ignorer, de réduire le peuple de Dieu à de petites élites, nous avons construit des communautés, des projets, des choix théologiques, des spiritualités et des structures sans racine, sans mémoire, sans visage, sans corps et, en définitive, sans vie . Cela se manifeste clairement dans une manière déviante de concevoir l’autorité dans l’Eglise – si commune dans nombre de communautés dans lesquelles se sont vérifiés des abus sexuels, des abus de pouvoir et de conscience – comme l’est le cléricalisme, cette attitude qui « annule non seulement la personnalité des chrétiens, mais tend également à diminuer et à sous-évaluer la grâce baptismale que l’Esprit Saint a placée dans le cœur de notre peuple ». Le cléricalisme, favorisé par les prêtres eux-mêmes ou par les laïcs, engendre une scission dans le corps ecclésial qui encourage et aide à perpétuer beaucoup des maux que nous dénonçons aujourd’hui. Dire non aux abus, c’est dire non, de façon catégorique, à toute forme de cléricalisme.
Il est toujours bon de rappeler que le Seigneur, « dans l’histoire du salut, a sauvé un peuple. Il n’y a pas d’identité pleine sans l’appartenance à un peuple. C’est pourquoi personne n’est sauvé seul, en tant qu’individu isolé, mais Dieu nous attire en prenant en compte la trame complexe des relations interpersonnelles qui s’établissent dans la communauté humaine : Dieu a voulu entrer dans une dynamique populaire, dans la dynamique d’un peuple » (Exhort. ap. Gaudete et Exsultate, n.6). Ainsi, le seul chemin que nous ayons pour répondre à ce mal qui a gâché tant de vies est celui d’un devoir qui mobilise chacun et appartient à tous comme peuple de Dieu. Cette conscience de nous sentir membre d’un peuple et d’une histoire commune nous permettra de reconnaitre nos péchés et nos erreurs du passé avec une ouverture pénitentielle susceptible de nous laisser renouveler de l’intérieur. Tout ce qui se fait pour éradiquer la culture de l’abus dans nos communautés sans la participation active de tous les membres de l’Eglise ne réussira pas à créer les dynamiques nécessaires pour obtenir une saine et effective transformation. La dimension pénitentielle du jeûne et de la prière nous aidera en tant que peuple de Dieu à nous mettre face au Seigneur et face à nos frères blessés, comme des pécheurs implorant le pardon et la grâce de la honte et de la conversion, et ainsi à élaborer des actions qui produisent des dynamismes en syntonie avec l’Evangile. Car « chaque fois que nous cherchons à revenir à la source pour récupérer la fraîcheur originale de l’Évangile, surgissent de nouvelles voies, des méthodes créatives, d’autres formes d’expression, des signes plus éloquents, des paroles chargées de sens renouvelé pour le monde d’aujourd’hui » (Exhort. ap. Evangelii Gaudium, n.11).
Il est essentiel que, comme Eglise, nous puissions reconnaitre et condamner avec douleur et honte les atrocités commises par des personnes consacrées, par des membres du clergé, mais aussi par tous ceux qui ont la mission de veiller sur les plus vulnérables et de les protéger. Demandons pardon pour nos propres péchés et pour ceux des autres. La conscience du péché nous aide à reconnaitre les erreurs, les méfaits et les blessures générés dans le passé et nous donne de nous ouvrir et de nous engager davantage pour le présent sur le chemin d’une conversion renouvelée.
En même temps, la pénitence et la prière nous aideront à sensibiliser nos yeux et notre cœur à la souffrance de l’autre et à vaincre l’appétit de domination et de possession, très souvent à l’origine de ces maux. Que le jeûne et la prière ouvrent nos oreilles à la douleur silencieuse des enfants, des jeunes et des personnes handicapées. Que le jeûne nous donne faim et soif de justice et nous pousse à marcher dans la vérité en soutenant toutes les médiations judiciaires qui sont nécessaires. Un jeûne qui nous secoue et nous fasse nous engager dans la vérité et dans la charité envers tous les hommes de bonne volonté et envers la société en général, afin de lutter contre tout type d’abus sexuel, d’abus de pouvoir et de conscience.
De cette façon, nous pourrons rendre transparente la vocation à laquelle nous avons été appelés d’être « le signe et le moyen de l’union intime avec Dieu et de l’unité de tout le genre humain » (Conc. Oecum. Vat.II, Lumen Gentium, n.1).
« Si un membre souffre, tous les membres souffrent avec lui », nous disait saint Paul. Au moyen de la prière et de la pénitence, nous pourrons entrer en syntonie personnelle et communautaire avec cette exhortation afin que grandisse parmi nous le don de la compassion, de la justice, de la prévention et de la réparation. Marie a su se tenir au pied de la croix de son fils. Elle ne l’a pas fait de n’importe quelle manière mais bien en se tenant fermement debout et à son coté. Par cette attitude, elle exprime sa façon de se tenir dans la vie. Lorsque nous faisons l’expérience de la désolation que nous causent ces plaies ecclésiales, avec Marie il est nous bon «de donner plus de temps à la prière » (S. Ignace de Loyola, Exercices Spirituels, 319), cherchant à grandir davantage dans l’amour et la fidélité à l’Eglise. Elle, la première disciple, montre à nous tous qui sommes disciples comment nous devons nous comporter face à la souffrance de l’innocent, sans fuir et sans pusillanimité. Contempler Marie c’est apprendre à découvrir où et comment le disciple du Christ doit se tenir.
Que l’Esprit Saint nous donne la grâce de la conversion et l’onction intérieure pour pouvoir exprimer, devant ces crimes d’abus, notre compassion et notre décision de lutter avec courage.
Du Vatican, le 20 août 2018.
 « Mais cette sorte de démons ne se chasse que par la prière et par le jeûne » (Mt 17,21).
 Cf. Lettre au peuple de Dieu en marche au Chili, 31 mai 2018.
 Lettre au Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Président de la Commission Pontificale pour l’Amérique Latine, 19 mars 2016.
3. The Grand Jury Report
August 16, 2018
In Pennsylvania, a grand jury report has revealed that more than 300 Catholic priests sexually abused 1,000 children, and possibly thousands more, over seven decades, and that church leadership covered up the abuse. On Tuesday, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro described harrowing accounts of priests raping young girls and boys, including one priest who raped a young girl in the hospital after she had her tonsils out. Another priest impregnated a young girl and then arranged for her to have an abortion. The report reveals that the church orchestrated a massive, systematic cover-up to conceal the abuse, including lying to the community about why a priest was removed from a parish, transferring predator priests rather than firing them, and locking abuse complaints away in what the church called a “secret archive.”
NERMEEN SHAIKH: In Pennsylvania, a new grand jury report has revealed how more than 300 Catholic priests sexually abused a thousand children, and possibly thousands more, over seven decades, and that the church leadership covered up the abuse. On Tuesday, Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro described some of the report’s findings.
ATTORNEY GENERAL JOSH SHAPIRO: In the diocese of Pittsburgh, the grand jury named 99 priests who sexually abused children. A group of at least four predator priests in Pittsburgh groomed and violently sexually assaulted young boys. One boy was forced to stand on a bed in a rectory stripped naked and posed as Christ on the cross for the priests. They took photos of their victim, adding them to a collection of child pornography, which they produced and shared on church grounds. To make it easier to target their victims, the priests gave their favored boys gifts, gold crosses to wear as necklaces. The crosses were markings of which boys had been groomed for abuse.
AMY GOODMAN: The Pennsylvania report details how priests raped young girls and boys, including one priest who raped a young girl in the hospital after she had her tonsils out. Another priest impregnated a young girl, then arranged for her to have an abortion.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: The report also reveals how the church orchestrated a massive, systematic cover-up to conceal the abuse, including lying to the community about why a priest was removed from a parish, transferring pedophile priests rather than firing them, and locking abuse complaints away in what the church called a, quote, “secret archive.” This is Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro.
ATTORNEY GENERAL JOSH SHAPIRO: All of the victims were brushed aside, in every part of the state, by church leaders who preferred to protect the abusers and their institutions above all. Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing, they hid it all, for decades. Monsignors, auxiliary bishops, bishops, archbishops, cardinals have mostly been protected. Many, including some named in this report, have been promoted. Father Schlert, identified in the report, is now Bishop Schlert. Bishop Wuerl is now Cardinal Wuerl. Father Zubik is now Bishop Zubik. Predator priests were allowed to remain in ministry for 10, 20, even 40 years after church leaders learned of their crimes. In those years, their lists of victims got longer and longer.
AMY GOODMAN: While charges have been filed against two priests in Pennsylvania, the report states the statute of limitations has expired on almost all of the offenses. On Wednesday, the Center for Constitutional Rights and the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, sent a letter to the Justice Department demanding a federal investigation into church abuse. Pressure is also growing on Pope Francis to respond as church sex abuse scandals continue to grow across the globe.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: In a moment, we’ll be joined by two guests: a survivor of sexual abuse by a Pennsylvania priest, and a former Catholic priest who now helps survivors. But first I’d like to turn to a video produced by the Office of the Pennsylvania Attorney General featuring the voices of several survivors of church abuse.
ROBERT CORBY: My name is Robert Corby, and I’m 83 years old.
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: Shaun Dougherty, 48 years old.
CAROLYN FORTNEY: Carolyn Fortney, 37.
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: I grew up in a small Western Pennsylvania town, Johnstown, Pennsylvania.
ROBERT CORBY: I grew up in Bethlehem.
CAROLYN FORTNEY: Enhaut, which is like right behind Steel-High High School, Steelton area.
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: I was groomed, starting young.
CAROLYN FORTNEY: The day I met him, I was—I was around 18 months old.
ROBERT CORBY: They targeted me because I was fatherless.
CAROLYN FORTNEY: I was in my diaper, and I ran out and ran right to him.
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: We were taught, I mean, the priests and the nuns are God.
CAROLYN FORTNEY: I just think like the word “god” makes me think of him. And I just…
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: You’re being groomed to get used to a grown man’s hands, you know, on you regularly.
CAROLYN FORTNEY: So he would always have his hands on me.
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: When you have the priest touching you every day, you know, that’s a hard memory to have. The first thought of an erection that you have in your life is by the hands of the priest.
ROBERT CORBY: All of a sudden he was gone.
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: Father Koharchick, my eighth-grade year, was just up and moved, with no notice, no anything. The town was devastated. Everybody loved him.
CAROLYN FORTNEY: They haven’t found out yet.
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: He abused it, and the church covered it up.
ROBERT CORBY: Who would have believed me? A priest, in 1948 or ’47, would abuse you or do that? They would never heard of such a thing, because they covered it up.
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: It doesn’t ever go away. It has an effect on you for the rest of your life.
ROBERT CORBY: And I’m a survivor.
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: This is not a vendetta against the church. We’re called survivors for a reason.
ROBERT CORBY: These are people that these priests ruined their lives. And they still—at 83 years old, still affects them.
CAROLYN FORTNEY: I just feel like I’ve—like my whole life has been a lie.
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: Has absolutely destroyed me.
ROBERT CORBY: My children suffered. My wife suffered.
CAROLYN FORTNEY: My dad found out. But he went crazy.
ROBERT CORBY: I was very unaffectionate. I couldn’t show any affection with my wife.
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: I had no desire to have children—none—because of this.
ROBERT CORBY: My children, I couldn’t hold or hug.
CAROLYN FORTNEY: I didn’t feel comfortable at all. I still don’t feel comfortable now in relationships.
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: No kids for me.
ROBERT CORBY: That affection, I couldn’t give to her. And thanks to Father Royer, he took that away from me.
CAROLYN FORTNEY: I mean, it’s affected my life so much.
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: This is a lifelong issue with survivors.
ROBERT CORBY: They have to be accountable, the church, for what they did.
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: I’ve waited for a long time for this.
CAROLYN FORTNEY: I think this report is going to help people who don’t have a family, because they’re going to know that there’s a lot of people out there now that believe them and are behind them.
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: This is one of the proudest things I’ve ever done in my life.
ROBERT CORBY: I’m so happy.
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: Speaking about your abuse is a very important step in the healing process.
ROBERT CORBY: I just was always saying, “They’re not going to beat me.”
CAROLYN FORTNEY: It’ll just be refreshing to not have to just pretend like I’m someone else all the time. It’s very lonely, especially when it’s your word against God’s.
AMY GOODMAN: Voices of victims of sexual abuse in Pennsylvania. When we come back, we’ll be joined by one of those victims, Shaun Dougherty, as well as a whistleblowing priest, Bob Hoatson. Stay with us.
4. This Church Is a Criminal Enterprise
Former Priest & Survivor Speak Out on PA Catholic Sex Abuse
August 16, 2018
A shocking new Pennsylvania grand jury report has revealed that more than 300 Catholic priests sexually abused 1,000 children, and possibly thousands more, over a span of seven decades. The church leadership covered up the abuse, lying to communities, transferring predator priests rather than firing them, and locking abuse complaints away in what the church called a “secret archive.” For more, we speak with Shaun Dougherty, a survivor of sexual abuse by a Pennsylvania priest. His story was included in Tuesday’s grand jury report. He was molested by a priest from the Altoona-Johnstown diocese in Pennsylvania for three years, starting when he was 10 years old. George Koharchick, the priest responsible, has been defrocked. Even though the FBI determined he was a child predator, Koharchick cannot be tried as such because of an expired statute of limitations. We also speak with Bob Hoatson, a former Catholic priest and the co-founder and president of Road to Recovery, which assists victims of sexual abuse.
AMY GOODMAN: This is Democracy Now!, democracynow.org, The War and Peace Report. I’m Amy Goodman, with Nermeen Shaikh.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: We’re continuing to look at the shocking new Pennsylvania grand jury report that has revealed how more than 300 Catholic priests sexually abused a thousand children, and possibly thousands more, over seven decades, and that the church leadership covered up the abuse. We’re joined now by two guests.
AMY GOODMAN: Shaun Dougherty is with us. He was molested by a priest from Altoona-Johnstown diocese in Pennsylvania for three years, starting when he was 10 years old. The priest responsible, George Koharchick, has been defrocked. Even though the FBI determined he was a child predator, the priest cannot be tried as such because of expired statute of limitations. Shaun Dougherty’s story was one of many included in the grand jury report released on Tuesday.
Bob Hoatson is also with us, a former Catholic priest, co-founder and president of Road to Recovery, which assists victims of sexual abuse.
We welcome you both to Democracy Now! Shaun, we saw you in the clip released by the Pennsylvania attorney general. Talk about what happened to you, how old you were and when you blew the whistle or told anyone.
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: Beginning in fifth grade, my priest, my religion teacher, my pee-wee basketball coach, was Father George Koharchick, a well-loved young priest in our community who had been grooming me for years, of getting used to him handling me physically, touching me, having him close to me. And in the fifth grade, that touching progressed to sexual assault.
George Koharchick, to this day, I believe, he must have—my belief is that he has a personal infatuation with male genitalia. I believe—from the patterns in the things that he did throughout the three years, I believe he was testing us to see—he wanted to know the exact day that we were going to be sexually mature, in my opinion. And that progressed to a one-time digital penetration in a shower when I was 13. I did not like that experience at all. And I gave him a look in the shower. And surprisingly, it ended for me that day in the shower. Unfortunately, for some of my friends, it continued for them.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Do you know how many people were involved, how many children?
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: He admitted to the Altoona-Johnstown grand jury to being close to 12 boys. I imagine it’s a much bigger number than that.
AMY GOODMAN: And when did he admit this?
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: The report was released in March of 2016 by then-Attorney General Kathleen Kane of Pennsylvania. And on pages 66 and 67 of that, my name is a redacted name. And at some point over the course of that grand jury investigation lead-up to that rollout, he admitted to that. And it’s on the—it’s in the report.
AMY GOODMAN: What did the church know of what he was doing? He not only groomed you.
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: Here’s the fun part.
AMY GOODMAN: He groomed your parents, as well, playing—going bowling with them?
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: Not just mine. Not just my parents, he groomed the entire community. Since becoming public, after the report came out, I—reading that, I decided I can’t stay silent. Well, what drew me out was a newspaper article with him on the front page. Two people had gone to the bishop of Altoona-Johnstown—
AMY GOODMAN: When?
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: —diocese, in 2012, to call him out.
AMY GOODMAN: Six years ago.
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: Those two same brothers went to the then-monsignor in 1983 about Father Koharchick, in my eighth grade year, reported it—
AMY GOODMAN: Decades ago.
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: —confirmed it. Monsignor went then to Bishop Hogan, covered it up. And this is firsthand experience by one of the brothers. I’m very—I grew up with these guys. And now I know—
AMY GOODMAN: Bishop Hogan, the bishop of?
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: Bishop Hogan, Altoona-Johnstown, years ago, made an arrangement, a financial: We need to protect the church, we need to protect the reputation, we need to protect your kids, we need to keep it quiet. And they agreed to transfer him. It took them six months. They didn’t tell anybody. They permitted—I grew up a block from the school. It was in my eighth-grade year. They didn’t tell anybody. They allowed me and three of my friends in the rectory, in his private space, to pack his belongings. The entire top shelf of his book was all medical journals on male genitalia. Right? We got in the car, drove to Portage, Pennsylvania, to the new school and to the new rectory that he was assigned to, and we spent the night in the rectory. And he had just been transferred for sexually abusing two boys.
AMY GOODMAN: What happens when a priest is caught, what, embezzling?
SHAUN DOUGHERTY:They’re in jail, immediately. You can’t steal from the church. The church steals from you. It’s not a two-way street. That is not a two-way street with the church. Money flows one direction. And if you take it from them—
AMY GOODMAN: Yet when a priest steals the life of a child, the dignity of a child, the church protects?
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: Part of me feels that there is a—I mean, I can’t say. Bob could probably speak more to this when he comes on, is that I have to say that there has to be a part of the church that feels that that is their benevolent right of some kind. I really—I really just—it’s starting to seem like there is a percentage of the church that feels like it is their divine right to do this. It is so systemically huge.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: You mentioned earlier—and forgive me for asking—what exactly digital penetration is?
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: He stuck his finger in my anus in the shower when I was 13 years old. I believe he was testing to see if I would go further.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Could you talk about also the issue of the statute of limitations and what that means for survivors like yourself?
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: When I was a child and I was faced with this, my statutes of limitation only permitted me to talk and press charges until I was 15 years old. I had two years past the end of the last assault. So I was not legally old enough to drive a car in the commonwealth of Pennsylvania, yet I had to come forward and tell my parents and the community that the guy that they bowl with every Thursday night is raping the kids.
AMY GOODMAN: Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro emphasized how the Catholic Church delayed taking action on reports of priests engaged in child sexual abuse in order to prevent criminal charges from being filed.
ATTORNEY GENERAL JOSH SHAPIRO: The pattern was abuse, deny and cover up. The effect not only victimized children, it served a legal purpose that church officials manipulated for their advantage. The longer they covered it up, the less chance law enforcement could prosecute these predators, because the statute of limitations would run. As a direct consequence of the systematic cover-up by senior church officials, almost every instance of child sexual abuse we found is too old to be prosecuted.
AMY GOODMAN: That’s Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro. I want to bring a former priest into this conversation. That’s right. Bob Hoatson, former Catholic priest, president of Road to Recovery, talk about being in the church, when you were a priest, and blowing the whistle.
ROBERT HOATSON: Well, I was 40 years an insider in this church. I was 23 years in the religious life and 14 as a priest. So I saw it from the inside. I was sexually abused by three different men in the religious life. And I knew what was going on on the inside. And it was just abject corruption from the get-go. This church is a criminal enterprise, that actually covers up the massive sexual abuse of children for centuries.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Well, Bob, could you explain—respond to what Shaun said earlier? I mean, you were sexually abused by three different men. They were all priests, is that correct?
ROBERT HOATSON: They were religious brothers, actually.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And what does that mean?
ROBERT HOATSON: A religious brother is someone who lives in community but does not have the ability to say mass, etc. They do more social kinds of works, like education, hospital work, etc.
AMY GOODMAN: And what happened to you?
ROBERT HOATSON: Well, the day I stepped into the religious life at the age of 18, after having graduated from high school as the top senior of my class, this person said to me, this superior said to me, “Bob, you’re a cold person. I’m going to have to warm you up.” He continued that mantra on for the entire year, until the second superior I had, in the novitiate, which is the most important year of formation because that’s where you learn the spiritual life, well, that superior sexually abused me. And then when I reported it to another superior, he told me that, yes, I was preyed upon, but that night he crept into bed and sexually assaulted me in the same way that I had described to him several hours previously.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: So do you agree with what Shaun suggested, that part of the church is their belief that they have some kind of benevolent right?
ROBERT HOATSON: Oh, absolutely. What this is is a massive abuse of power. And then it’s exhibited in the sexual abuse of not just children, but teenagers and vulnerable adults, as well. And it’s also part of the reason why financial crimes are committed within the church. So, every aspect of dysfunction is exhibited because of the abuse of power.
AMY GOODMAN: So, talk about when you came forward in a big way. It wasn’t actually when you were being sexually abused, though you were repeatedly.
ROBERT HOATSON: Yes. In 2003, I testified before the New York state Legislature, and I was a priest at the time. I was directing two schools in the inner city of Newark. And I called for the resignation of any bishop in the United States who has covered up child sexual abuse. Three days later, I was called into the chancery of the Newark archdiocese and fired by my bishop for speaking out.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And they said explicitly to you that you’re being fired because you spoke out?
ROBERT HOATSON: Oh, yes, I was told that my language was too volatile at the hearing in Albany, and the bishop asked me to tone down my language. And then I was—they slid a letter across the table at me, and it said that “You’re fired, effective immediately.” Now, they didn’t take away my priestly faculties then, but in 2005, when I turned around and sued him for doing all of these retaliatory things, then they put me on complete suspension, and I wasn’t able to function as a priest at all.
AMY GOODMAN: Now, you blew the whistle at a Catholic high school. Explain.
ROBERT HOATSON: Yes.
AMY GOODMAN: This wasn’t when you were being abused.
ROBERT HOATSON: Right.
AMY GOODMAN: But you felt that the—what? Principal?
ROBERT HOATSON: Well, having been abused as a child and also as a teenager, my antenna, you know, has been up for a very long time. So, in 1981, when I was stationed at a high school in Boston, Catholic Memorial High School, the chaplain of the school used to go into the athletic locker room with a camera. He would go into the shower room. So, I saw this. I went immediately to the headmaster, and I said, “This has to stop. He has to be out of here.”
Well, he happened to be the third-highest-ranking member of the archdiocese of Boston at the time. He was the vice chancellor. His name was Fred Ryan. And Monsignor Fred Ryan was sexually abusing, I thought, two kids in particular. I went to the headmaster. I told him. The headmaster said, “Oh, no, he’s a wonderful priest. We’re not going to do anything about this.” Twenty years later, those two young men went public with their abuse. And that’s really what started Road to Recovery, because I went back to Boston every week from then on to help them in their recovery. And I apologized profusely to them for not screaming more loudly in 1981.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: Shaun, could you elaborate on the point that Bob made? I mean, on the one hand, the scale of this grand jury report—I mean, a thousand survivors of sexual abuse, over 300 priests implicated—and yet, obviously, there has been a massive cover-up. Could you say who you think—how many people have been responsible for that cover-up, how many people are complicit, and what you think should happen?
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: There’s really no current way to tell how many people are involved in the cover-up. I mean, the Roman Catholic Church is a massive organization that has many hands and fingers that are willing to help. It’s not hard—it hasn’t been hard for them to find an enabling ear to bend. So, they are having a lot of help.
What should happen as a result of this? These are crimes. Massive amounts of crimes have been committed. And crime deserves a punishment. You know, use a little of the Catholic tough love with the Catholic Church. You know, the legislative end of this, in Pennsylvania, I have been to the Capitol regularly for the last two-and-a-half years, since becoming public, to pass very commonsense legislation that Representative Mark Rozzi of Berks County, also a rape victim of the church—he was raped in a shower at 13, which is why he’s a representative, and he’s pushing for this legislation. The Republican-controlled Senate in Pennsylvania, that is dominated by lobbyists from the Insurance Federation, from the Catholic Conference, will not let it go.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: What is the Insurance Federation?
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: The insurance agents don’t want this law to go through, either, because they’re the ones that are going to be set footing the bill. The church only does it; they don’t pay for it.
AMY GOODMAN: And explain what the Catholic Conference is.
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: You know, the Catholic Conference is a conference of bishops in the country that get together. Even though each individual diocese is run individually by each individual bishop—they only have that control of their diocese—they do meet. And on certain aspects of the religion and activities, I believe they come to a common consensus. They argue with—I think it’s just like our political arena. And when they come to a consensus, that’s it.
AMY GOODMAN: Is there something particular about Pennsylvania? Are we going to see this—this is a grand jury report just out of Pennsylvania. It’s 300 priests, they’re saying. They say a thousand young people, children, girls and boys, but probably thousands and thousands more, the attorney general found.
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: I’ve been told, and it’s being reported, that they have over a hundred calls in 12 hours to the hotline since it’s been released. This is an open investigation. It is continuing. I believe those numbers are very conservative.
AMY GOODMAN: And yet, where is Pope Francis on all of this? Pressure is growing. He hasn’t responded. The church sex scandals continue to grow across the globe. I’m talking about sex abuse scandals. Earlier this week, former Australian Archbishop Philip Edward Wilson was sentenced to 12 months of house arrest. He’s the most senior Catholic official in the world to be found guilty of concealing the sexual abuse of children. That was Australia. In late July, the former archbishop of Washington, D.C., Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, became the highest-ranking Catholic leader in the United States to resign, after he was accused of abusing a number of boys as young as 11 years old. Meanwhile, Tuesday, authorities in Chile raided the headquarters of the Catholic Church’s Episcopal Conference as part of a widespread investigation into sex abuse. Well, former Father Bob Hoaton [sic], what is your response? Hoatson.
ROBERT HOATSON: Well, just anecdotally, in 1994, when I was considering leaving the Irish Christian Brothers and going to be a priest, I asked the vocation director in the Newark archdiocese, “Has Cardinal—has Archbishop McCarrick stopped sleeping with the seminarians?” It was known by everyone. And he assured me that he had and that the papal nuncio and that another bishop had intervened and stopped it.
But what we’re talking about here is—it’s worldwide. It’s not going to stop, unless the outside agencies, like the federal governments—two years ago, 32 organizations, led by Road to Recovery and Catholic Whistleblowers, approached the Obama administration and pleaded for a national commission to investigate the Catholic Church’s clergy sexual abuse problem. We didn’t get anywhere, but we’re still doing, you know, these kind of things. Australia, the Royal Commission was an absolute gem. It’s going to be a seminal work in the history of child protection. We need to do the same thing in the United States.
NERMEEN SHAIKH: And what do you expect? Do you think that the Vatican will respond, Shaun?
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: I think eventually they’re going to have to respond in that, and I think the politicians are going to have to respond. Let’s keep in mind, this is a very damning report that was exposed. They were successful at redacting 30 names. Every diocese in Pennsylvania—
AMY GOODMAN: Of the priests.
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: Of the priests. Every diocese in Pennsylvania is exposed, right? So, if you’re a Pennsylvanian, listen to this, and you have young daughters or young boys: I can’t tell you where in Pennsylvania those 30 people are right now. The only way we can do that is if we pass Mark Rozzi’s legislation, because those 30 are going to argue before the Supreme Court. The Catholic Church and those 30 are going to be hidden, unless the Supreme Court releases those names. So there’s no telling where these 30 guys are operating in Pennsylvania.
AMY GOODMAN: You compare the treatment of these rapists and the cover-up of them to—oh, let’s—the National Catholic Reporter 2010: “A Catholic nun, who was a member of a Phoenix Catholic hospital’s ethics committee, was excommunicated and reassigned last week for her role in allowing an abortion to take place [in a] hospital,” the surgery considered necessary to save the life of a critically ill patient. You compare to that, and you think about the other stories that were told. For example—this was in the Pennsylvania attorney general’s report—ex-priest Edward Ganster left the priesthood in 1990, moved to Orlando, Florida, area and went on to work at Disney World before he died in 2014. And how is that connected to the Catholic Church? He got a letter of recommendation from the Catholic Church. Father Hoatson?
ROBERT HOATSON: Right, yeah, this is systemic. When Governor Frank Keating resigned as the chair of the first National Review Board, that was set up after the Dallas Charter was passed in 2002, he resigned and said, “This is exactly what the Mafia is like. It’s dealing with the Mafia.” And that’s what we’re dealing with. And we have to make sure that Catholics now take back their church and insist that these people are eliminated, fired. And that’s what the pope has to do. He has to have mass firings of bishops, and the leadership has to change. And that, of course, leads then to the structural changes that need to be made, things like mandatory celibacy, which is absurd. And in 2018, the fact that we still have some of these traditions in place—
AMY GOODMAN: And what about nuns as priests?
ROBERT HOATSON: Of course. Women have to have full participation in the church. If women were in leadership positions, this never would have happened.
AMY GOODMAN: For parents—
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: I’d like to go one step further: not only leadership positions, power, position of power. If a woman that is celibate, on level heading as a priest—a nun is not on level heading as a priest in the eyes of the church. But in the eyes of the church, if a nun feels—I’m not saying on the outside—within herself, feels that she is on equal footing with this priest, there’s nothing to prevent her from saying “Hey, what’s going on here? This is no more”—like they did to us. The nuns are excellent at it, let me tell you. I grew up with nuns, and they’re good at policing. But they only have so much power. You know, you can’t police the priests if you have less power.
AMY GOODMAN: Well, we want to thank you both for being with us, for sharing your stories, for responding to this report. And, of course, we’ll continue to cover this story. This is one state, Pennsylvania. Do you know of other states that are doing this kind of investigation?
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: Right here. We’re sitting in one of the worst.
AMY GOODMAN: New York.
SHAUN DOUGHERTY: Absolutely. And we have the most archaic laws here. We’re equal to Mississippi and Alabama, as far as our statutes of limitation in New York go. Plus, I will tell you, we have Times Square, St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Niagara Falls. These guys work just like single guys. They bring them across state lines. “Let’s go to New York. I’ll take you to St. Patrick’s. I’ll take you to a Broadway show. We’ll go to Niagara Falls. And you’ll be sexually abused, but it’ll be OK. You’ll have a great time. We’ll get you a ‘I love New York’ hat, and we’ll take you home to your family.”
ROBERT HOATSON: We need 49 more grand jury investigations, is what we need.
AMY GOODMAN: In all of the states. Shaun Dougherty, survivor of sexual abuse by a Pennsylvania priest, and former Catholic priest Bob Hoatson, president of Road to Recovery.