Nuns seek action against Indian priest who fathered a child with nun
If the priest can continue in ministry after violating celibacy vows, why not the nun?
Saji Thomas, Bhopal UCA Bews Updated: December 18, 2020
A forum of mostly Catholic nuns has demanded equal treatment for priests and nuns, citing the case of a priest continuing in ministry after fathering a child with a nun who has been dismissed from her congregation.
In a letter to the top Catholic hierarchy, Sisters in Solidarity said the Church has been following a “double standard” by dismissing the nun after she became pregnant.
When priests violate the vow of celibacy, “they are merely relocated to another diocese” but when nuns face a similar situation, “they are compelled to leave their congregations,” said the Dec. 16 letter titled “A wake-up call to greater integrity.”
The letter was sent to Cardinal Oswald Gracias, president of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India, Cardinal George Alencherry, major archbishop and head of the Syro-Malabar Church based in the southern state of Kerala, and other top officials.
The letter referred to Syro-Malabar Thamarassery Diocese transferring Father Jomon Kandathinkara to Shamshabad Diocese in Telangana state five years ago after diocesan officials came to know that he had fathered a baby girl with a Franciscan Clarist nun.
The case hit media headlines recently after some Catholic lay leaders demanded the priest’s dismissal rather than a mere transfer.
The nun was dismissed from her congregation and she later married. The case was settled reportedly after the diocese joined the priest to pay some US$36,000 to the woman.
The incident “raises many questions about the Church’s pro-life stance, its advocacy of responsible parenthood, and the value it places on the vocations of men and women,” the letter said.
“Is a woman religious who becomes an unwed mother considered more answerable for her sexual transgression because she bears the physical burden of her action? Why is her courage to resist abortion and bear the baby to a term not respected and affirmed?” Sisters in Solidarity asked.
The letter referred to the Biblical story of Jesus forgiving a woman caught in adultery when a mob wanted to stone her to death.
“There, too, the man who was part of the sexual act was judged by a different standard. Isn’t it time that those with power in the Church moved from the side of the mob to the side of Jesus?” they asked.
Sisters in Solidarity described the reappointment of the priest in another diocese secretly as “unethical.” They also questioned the pro-life stance of the Church after it gave away the child for adoption.
They said the Church, despite its pro-life statements, “does not demonstrate a genuine concern about the rights of the child beyond birth.”
“If it did, it would not use adoption as an easy solution and instead seek ways to provide a supportive circle to women religious who may want to raise their babies despite the difficult circumstances,” they wrote.
Holy Spirit Sister Julie George, a women’s rights lawyer and signatory to the letter, told UCA News on Dec. 17 that their letter seeks action against the priest.
“What we see generally is that women, mostly nuns, in the Church are made to bear the brunt of sexual abuses. Even in cases of mutual consent sex, as believed to be in the case of Father Kandathinkara, double standards are followed,” she said.
“The yardstick should be the same. If a priest is allowed to continue in the ministry, why not the nun?”
Another nun, seeking not to reveal her identity, said this was not the first case of its kind. “We have come across many such instances, but always the priests are allowed to go scot-free and the nuns were forced out.”
“There were also instances when nuns were threatened against even disclosing their pregnancies from the priest,” she said.
The Catholic Church had declared a zero-tolerance policy toward sexual exploitation “but we have seen zero action,” said the nun. She wanted the leadership to change their attitude for the Church’s betterment.
This clearly is a case of double standards.
If the nun is dismissed the priest should be dismissed too.
The Indian church is line the rest of the RCC – protecting the priest – and punishing the victim.
There is of course, misogyny involved in this too.
These nuns should have the protection of civil law against unjust canon law.
STANDING UP TO CAHAL DALY AND ALL BISHOPS.
A pic from the 1980s showing me confronting Cahal Daly.
All these guys, in Ireland, India need to be confronted and brought to book.
More priests, more nuns and more lay folk need to take them on – peacefully and strongly.
Everyday now, ordinary Catholics are sadly telling me about their tyrannical, faithless and prayerless priests.
I am 68 now and I have always seen the priesthood as a vocation, a call from God.
In that sense, it’s not and should not be regarded as a career, profession or job.
When I was ordained at 24 I was clueless about what it was like out there in the clerical world. I thought all priests believed. I thought all priests prayed. And I thought that all priests were 24 hour servants of their parishioners.
That’s what I was taught to believe.
When I was 24 my first parish priest was a tyrant, a hater of the Irish, an alcoholic and a totally disillusioned bully.
The presbytery was a dark, sad, depressing and life destroying place. And I lived there with him and HIS housekeeper and they hated the sight of me.
In my second parish both the parish priest and the housekeeper were alcoholics and sex partners.
I did all the parish work, sobered them up with coffee every morning and did all the cooking and cleaning. Everything was ok until the PP went on holidays and she fell out with me one night in a drunken rage. When he arrived back the PP obviously had to take her side and I took the blame.
My third parish priest was worse than the first and we did not last long.
What I soon discovered was that I was expected to do the wishes of the PP or the bishop – even when it went against God’s will.
One example – one of my PP’s had a rule that all wedding Masses should start on time even if the bride was not present!
The bride was to be ignored when she arrived and be given a quickie wedding when Mass was over!
I refused to process like this. God would not have wanted a young couple treated like that on the most important day of their life.
Would Jesus have done that to the couple at Cana? Of course not!
As a result I was designated disobedient, a trouble maker and a disturbed.
The cancer of cynicism had invaded many of the priests I met in my early days.
Many of them lived for money, gambling, drinking, sex etc.
They prophesised I would become like them.
We have seen recently on the blog the state the monasteried are in – Mount Mellerary, Silverstream, Roscrea and Glenstal.
These places used to hot houses of faith and prayer.
Now they are hot houses if homosexuality and God knows what else.
As I say: “If the Cistercians are AT IT, the show is over” !!!
Today, most priests are gay – the Boilerhouse, promiscuous types of gay.
Many of them have no real faith.
Many of them don’t pray.
They are materialistic.
They like dressing up in lace and brocade.
They see people at “surgery hours”.
They see the cleric as superior and laity as the lowest form of church life.
They lick episcopal arse with a driveness.
The priesthood is currently in one of the greatest crises it’s even been in.
And it seems no one cares and no one is willing to anything.
We need a new reformation and a new spiritual renewal.
It will not be solved by meetings, reports, mission statements and pastoral plans.
It will be solved when people truly believe again and truly pray.
In fact we probably need to tear the whole thing down and start again from scratch – Jesusc and the New Testament church
I was surprised to find such detail regarding Glenstal Abbey, on your blog. I wonder if you might assist or offer guidance on background of a priest who fled his vows & put up a remote cabin in our figurative backyard ~ was it due to concerns in Ireland?
Three years ago we received a former monk named Fr Joseph McGilloway as pastor to an outpost church in rural Alaska. He was a political leader of Fine Gael, then left politics for the monastery – Glenstal Abbey, where he served as a teacher in the boys’ school.
We were contacted early this summer by a retired local detective named Deven Cunningham, who stated he was investigating Fr Joseph. He had yet to meet the priest but referenced sexual exploitation, grooming and predation being his specialty. He implied that he was an expert polygraph administrator and I inferred that he would be testing Father Joseph.
The questioning was fairly explicit and leads me to believe they have concerns over teen boys. We do know his online profiles (now set to ‘private’) were filled with homoerotic vulgarities, and he recommended salacious shows such as Game of Thrones to the parish youth.
I now feel foolish for agreeing to be interviewed over the phone. I should have inquired for clarity over who hired him — it was the archdiocese, and our chancellor has conveniently declined to share even a summary of the report. I’m now complicit in a cleanup job at the request of “safe environment” hacks, is the sense I get. I’d ultimately like to find out if he’s been ” hacks, is the sense I get. I’d ultimately like to find out if he’s been sent away from his home country because of any allegations.
Can you assist, or offer me guidance on how to proceed? Our Bishop is Andrew Bellisario, and Fr Joseph was under Mark Patrick Hederman, OSB – I’m unsure who was in charge of his abbey previously.
I really appreciate the time and detail put into your site. The more I read, the more convicted I am that we don’t want castoff priests (or Bishops) sent our way ever again. I am an Alaskan of 42 years and hope to raise my family in the One True Faith 💔. Please accept my gratitude for any wisdom or networking ideas you might offer.
Xxxxxxx Xxxxxx. Alaska
The attached screenshot of the response I received after repeatedly requesting a summary of the report…. I want to challenge this chancery to exonerate him on paper…. is there nowhere they’re accountable, like little kings”?
Singing Irish monk returns to Alaska seeking to call it home
After spending a sabbatical here in 2009, Benedictine Father Joseph McGilloway of Ireland has returned to Alaska hoping to make the Far North home.
With the permission of his abbot of Glendal Abbey in Limerick and Archbishop Roger Schwietz of Anchorage, the 48-year-old monk and priest arrived back in Alaska on March 5 “to see if I’m going to stay,” he told the Catholic Anchor in an interview. If a 12-month parish assignment and discernment period goes well, Father McGilloway is slated to be incardinated in the Archdiocese of Anchorage. That means he would no longer be a Benedictine monk but a diocesan priest permanently attached to the archdiocese.
During his stay, Father McGilloway is serving as parochial vicar at Holy Cross Church. There he is learning everything from managing church finances and building maintenance to shepherding the myriad lay groups at work in the parish. Through this period, Sister Loretta Luecke will continue to serve as parish administrator.
The energetic Father McGilloway — who has spent most of his monastic life as an administrator and educator in his abbey’s boarding school — observed that “it’s going to be a big learning curve for me.” But he said, “I’ve got off to a really good start, so from my point of view at least, it’s going really, really, really well.”
To be sure, this is a venture Father McGilloway is embracing with vigor because he views it as an important next step in his life’s work.
“The goal of a vocation is to move towards God, and hopefully bring people with you on the journey,” he said. “So in the sense of what I want to do with my life as a priest, that doesn’t change because I’m in a new place.”
But Father McGilloway believes serving in Alaska, in particular, is the best way for him to fulfill his mission.
“There’s only so much time we’re given to do the best we have with,” Father McGilloway said. “I wanted to be in a place that I personally felt was good for me at where I’m at in my life at this time, as well as that I could bring something of value to where I’m going.”
Discovering the Last Frontier and its people during his sabbatical in 2009 was “fundamental” to his decision to return, he said. During his six-month stay, he served at parishes in Talkeetna, Trapper Creek, Dutch Harbor and Eagle River.
“I wouldn’t have gone home if I could have worked out the paperwork and everything from here,” he added.
“I was really so taken by working here,” Father McGilloway continued. “It’s challenging to work in Alaska, and that’s not got to do with the climate or anything like that at all. It’s challenging because the church is an interesting place to be.”
He noted Alaskan Catholics’ “great sense of community.” That’s an “aspect of church here I find very, very appealing, and a very positive way to live out that call to be Christian,” he explained.
In addition, he sees a great, spiritual “positive need” and a “genuine openness” among Catholics here that causes him to believe he “can be a part of solving the puzzle.”
He said he felt “I wasn’t just going to do something, but I was going to be useful somewhere…that I have a sense of purpose in what I’m doing and that the church wants you to be involved. It’s not just that you’re there as a kind of an ornament, but that there’s actually a need for you.”
At his first coming to Alaska, Father McGilloway said he was “awestruck” by the natural beauty of the state, but the kindness of local Catholics — especially at Holy Cross, in the chancery and among his fellow priests — has moved him the most.
“That’s always impressive when people make you feel welcome and make you feel at home and look out for you like family the way Christians are supposed to do,” he said. “That’s always appealing…and always hugely encouraging.”
Father McGilloway is a great music lover.
“Anything to do with music interests me,” he noted with enthusiasm. In fact, while in the monastery, Father McGilloway produced a music CD titled “Sanctuary” featuring a variety of genres from Irish musicians including Grammy award-nominated Moya Brennan, sister to Celtic singer Enya. In 2008, the CD raised $30,000 for charities helping victims of domestic abuse. Previously a cantor for his abbey, Father McGilloway would like to share some monastic musical traditions with parishioners of Holy Cross. In conjunction with the parish’s music department, he said, “We’re looking at, maybe over a period of time, developing some Gregorian chant in part of our liturgy so that the congregation would get used to the parts that would be quite common.” Father McGilloway noted that most people “have it [chant] at the back of their mind even if they’re not familiar with it.”
For the past few years, Father McGilloway’s favorite pastime has been sacred harp singing — of four-part hymns and anthems — which is considered the oldest form of modern American music.
“It’s really a get-together for people who like to sing,” Father McGilloway observed. There are no instruments in sacred harp; the term “sacred harp” refers to the human voice “which is the harp that God gave us,” he explained in his own engaging Irish brogue.
Father McGilloway entered the Benedictine Order on Jan. 17, 1994. He was ordained a priest on Aug. 9, 2003. Before becoming a monk, he worked in a bar, a retail clothing store and a liquor store, and he sat on the governing board of Fine Gael, now the biggest political party in Ireland.
To learn more about Father McGilloway and see a video of sacred harp singing, go to holycrossalaska.net and click on “Father’s Corner.”
QUESTIONS FOR COFFEY, HEDERMAN AND GLENSTAL
1. Why did Father Joseph McGilloway leave Glenstal?
2. Did he leave voluntarily or was he asked to go?
3. Was the matter concerning Fr McGilloway reviewed by the Garda or TUSLA?
4. Did Abbot Hederman give Fr McGilloway a reference or recommendation to the Archbishop of Anchorage?
5. Is it true that the Archbishop of Anchorage had a private detective investigate Fr McGilloway?
6. Why is the report of this investigation being hidden from Anchorage Catholics?
– Catholic Herald, Rome – Pope Francis quietly laicized a priest accused of grave immorality and serious canonical crimes in 2017, rather than have him stay in the priesthood long enough to face trial.
The former cleric, ping Peter Mitchell, was a priest in the Diocese of Green Bay, Wisconsin, when he was accused. Before joining the Green Bay diocese, he had been a priest of the Lincoln, Nebraska diocese.
The case of this former cleric is closed, but the way Church authorities dealt with this man bears significant resemblance to the way in which Churchmen attempted to manage priests accused of abusing minors in the days before the crisis of leadership and governance in the Church became a worldwide scandal.
Mr. Mitchell recounted his struggles with priestly life – including serial violations of chastity with adult women – in an essay that widely circulated in 2018.
Interviews with Green Bay officials and with women involved in various ways with Mr. Mitchell, as well as documentary evidence related to the case obtained by the Catholic Herald have revealed that the narrative Mr. Mitchell offered to the public omits significant details.
The Green Bay investigation
The Green Bay official who conducted the preliminary investigation, Fr. John Girotti, told the Catholic Herald the diocese found the allegations credible and drew up five discrete charges against Mitchell, some of which were crimes reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. These included serious offenses against chastity, spiritual abuse, abuse of the Sacrament of Confession, and other misconduct.
The accusations against then-Fr. Mitchell detailed behavior including manipulative exploitation of traumatic biographical details from his victim’s life, about which he had learned either during confession or spiritual counseling. They also included graphic details of attempted sexual coercion, as well as extremely vulgar and aggressive language and other behavior. In the formal accusations and in separate interviews with the Catholic Herald, the victim-accuser spoke of the way in which Mr. Mitchell would attempt to spiritualize their relationship.
Church law, however, gives accused clerics the right to petition for release from their promises or vows, rather than face trial. In 2017, the man who was then styled Fr. Mitchell availed himself of that right.
“As per the standard praxis of the CDF in canonical penal matters,” Girotti told the Herald, “[Mr. Mitchell] was offered the option of petitioning for laicization, which he did.”
The petition for dispensation from the obligations arising from Holy Orders – “voluntary laicization” in common parlance – was “part of the canonical process,” Fr Girotti explained. CDF handled the paperwork, but Pope Francis granted the petition, which was a “grace” rather than a penalty – meaning his laicization was a favor Pope Francis accorded him, rather than a punishment for wrongdoing.
No time wasted
The Congregation turned the request around very quickly.
Green Bay sent the petition in May of 2017, and received an affirmative answer from the Prefect of the CDF, Cardinal Louis Ladaria SJ, in July of that same year:
“Very fast,” said Fr. Girotti. “These usually take 6-9 months,” he added.
Msgr. John Kennedy, who heads the disciplinary section in CDF that handles these and similar cases, declined the Catholic Herald’s invitation to answer questions. The number of similar petitions received each year, as well as figures regarding how many are granted and how many denied, are not published anywhere by the Vatican.
There was no trial, no administrative proceeding, no conviction in Mr. Mitchell’s case. The prohibitions in the letter granting the petition were “boilerplate” – i.e. Mitchell was not to teach religion / theology / sacred sciences in Catholic schools, colleges, universities; nor was he to receive appointment to pontifical faculties. He was also ordered not to have a showy public wedding, should he ever marry. A “wedding without pomp” is the verbiage used for that last.
Church officials handled the matter swiftly both in Rome and in Green Bay.
“[Then-Fr. Mitchell] asked for a leave in early December of 2016 for exhaustion,” Fr. Girotti told the Herald. “Then, right after Christmas of 2016, possible canonical penal matter came to light,” through an adult victim-accuser who approached the diocese with her allegations.
Fr. Girotti praised the woman’s courage. “I never had any doubt about the credibility [of the victim-witness],” Fr. Girotti told us. “We believe her,” he said.
“We in Green Bay moved quickly,” Fr. Girotti recounted. “We restricted [Mitchell] when he came to us requesting leave of absence,” in early December, before the victim came forward. Those initial restrictions “were consistent with a priest going for medical treatment for exhaustion,” Girotti explained: Mitchell was moved out of his parish, not allowed to say public Masses or hear confessions.
When the victim-accuser did come forward, Green Bay immediately put further restrictions in place: Mr. Mitchell was barred from wearing clerical dress and from presenting himself as a priest; he could not function in any way as a cleric or sacred minister.
“Bishop [David] Ricken [of Green Bay] immediately – that day – began a canonical preliminary investigation,” Fr. Girotti said.
The preliminary investigation took several months to complete.
The results of the investigation went to CDF in May of 2017.
“Rome received and read the entire preliminary investigation,” Fr. Girotti said. “It was a traumatic experience for everyone,” Girotti told the Herald. “We had a guy,” Mitchell, “who was a bad actor, and we wanted him out [of the clerical state].”
“CDF understood,” Fr. Girotti said, adding in an email follow-up, “they were very helpful to the diocese.”
“In my experience,” Fr. Girotti explained, “CDF has become more responsive under Pope Francis.” He went on to say, “None of us wanted any more women to get hurt – we wanted to ensure that Peter Mitchell could never harm anyone else, especially not as a priest.”
“We’re very grateful to CDF for their prompt response,” Fr. Girotti said, “and all their assistance in resolving this case.”
CDF helped Fr. Mitchell of the Diocese of Green Bay become Mr. Mitchell in relatively short order, but the Catholic Herald has seen evidence including correspondence to suggest Mr. Mitchell has fairly recently attempted in various ways to intrude on the lives of people with whom he was involved when he was a cleric in ministry.
(Not) asking hard questions
Mr. Mitchell officially became a priest of Green Bay in 2014. Before that, however, he was a priest of the Lincoln diocese in Nebraska.
Fr. Tom Long was Green Bay’s Vicar for Clergy in those years, and met then-Fr. Mitchell as part of the incardination – or vetting and “on-boarding” – processes. “We went through our normal process,” Fr. Long told the Herald. “There was nothing so alarming as to stop the incardination.”
In his 2018 essay for The American Conservative, however, Mr. Mitchell admitted to violating his priestly promises on “more than one occasion” and to causing unspecified harm. “In 2017,” he wrote, “I accepted laicization from the priesthood as a consequence of having violated my vow of celibacy [sic] as a priest on more than one occasion.” He went on to write, “I lived an unhealthy life as a priest, and I hurt people.
“I deeply regret having hurt people who looked up to me as a spiritual leader,” Mr. Mitchell wrote, “and I take full responsibility for my actions.”
Mr. Mitchell nevertheless blamed his poor formation in Lincoln for some of his inability to outface his struggles.
“I am painfully aware,” Mr. Mitchell wrote, “that the people to whom my seminary formation was entrusted modeled addictive behavior to me and an entire generation of young men who are now priests.”
Questions unasked and unanswered What questions did Green Bay not ask, or not ask persistently enough, when the diocese was vetting Mitchell ahead of his incardination?
In response to a follow-up query via email, Fr. Long reiterated: “Nothing that we knew at the time of considering incardination was disqualifying,” but he did not say what Green Bay knew. The Catholic Herald has heard claims suggesting Mr. Mitchell’s behavior was already problematic – at least – when he was in Lincoln, but has been unable, so far, to corroborate any of them.
Repeated inquiries to Lincoln yielded only the following statement, from Fr. Nicholas Kipper: Peter Mitchell was a priest of the Diocese of Lincoln. He was ordained in 1999. He went to Rome for graduate studies from 2002-2005. Mr. Mitchell is a Wisconsin native and was incardinated into the Diocese of Green Bay in 2014.
When Green Bay received the criminal allegations from the victim-accuser, Fr. Long said he was “surprised” and felt “deceived, distressed, upset.” He said, “The main thing was just feeling awful about the victim.”
Fr. Girotti likewise experienced a sense of betrayal. “Peter Mitchell deceived us,” he said, “and left us hurting and broken-hearted – none more gravely than his victim – but deeply nonetheless.”
The victim was diagnosed with major depression, anxiety, and chronic post-traumatic stress disorder. “All of these diagnoses,” one of her caregivers told the Herald with the patient’s express permission, “are directly related to her past trauma at the hands of [her] former priest,” identified by the initials P.M.
That same mental health professional, who diagnosed and treated Mitchell’s victim-accuser, described the patient’s condition: “As a seasoned mental healthcare provider of twenty-five years, this is the most severe case of trauma and grooming I have encountered.”
“The pain of what Peter Mitchell has done to me is truly unspeakable,” the victim-accuser told the Herald. “He has done much more than simply abuse me. Using God Himself, Peter Mitchell has stolen a part of my soul that he can never give back.”
The victim also acknowledged the assistance she has received from Green Bay.
“While the dioceses of both Lincoln and Green Bay may have failed to protect those entrusted to their pastoral care in regards to the continuous abuse perpetrated by Peter Mitchell,” she said, “the diocese of Green Bay immediately offered and has spared no expense to provide me as a victim-survivor with the very best counseling and post-trauma therapy as well as providing continuous spiritual support, for which I am grateful.”
Hard choices unmade
The decision to deal with abuse cases quickly, by encouraging men under investigation to petition the pope for voluntary laicization, can help avoid complex and protracted canonical trials, the outcome of which is not assured.
It also allows men to leave the priesthood – or more properly, the clerical state – in relative quiet: there is no public notice of conviction, where there is no conviction. The recently published CDF vademecum states:
From the time of the notitia de delicto [i.e. the first notification of a possible crime, occasionally called notitia criminis, a notitia de delicto “consists of any information about a possible delict that in any way comes to the attention of the Ordinary or Hierarch,” according to the CDF handbook. “It need not be a formal complaint,” the handbook’s glossary further explains], the accused has the right to present a petition to be dispensed from all the obligations connected with the clerical state, including celibacy, and, concurrently, from any religious vows.
The Ordinary or Hierarch must clearly inform him of this right. Should the cleric decide to make use of this possibility, he must write a suitable petition, addressed to the Holy Father, introducing himself and briefly indicating the reasons for which he is seeking the dispensation. The petition must be clearly dated and signed by the petitioner. It is to be transmitted to the CDF, together with the votum of the Ordinary or Hierarch. In turn, the CDF will forward it and – if the Holy Father accepts the petition – will transmit the rescript of dispensation to the Ordinary or Hierarch, asking him to provide for legitimate notification to the petitioner.
That’s apparently what happened in Mr. Mitchell’s case, which involved a vulnerable adult accuser. Bishop Ricken told the Catholic Herald: “I was well aware of the facts of the case and what Peter Mitchell was accused of when I wrote his votum and the case was sent to Rome.”
“The votum,” he said, “was written and submitted in support of Peter Mitchell’s request for voluntary laicization.” Bishop Ricken added, “For all those who have been involved in this matter, I pray for the healing love of Jesus to prevail for all.”
Green Bay diocese informed the faithful of the parish where Peter Mitchell had been serving as pastor, that he had taken a leave of absence for exhaustion. After the victim came forward, the diocese told the parish that Mitchell was under investigation for an improper relationship with an adult woman. When Pope Francis granted Mitchell’s petition for laicization, the diocese informed the faithful of that development.
Home to roost
In Peter Mitchell’s case, the decision to deal with him with quiet expedition may have come home in ways Pope Francis could have only dimly foreseen, perhaps and at best, in 2017.
Several sources have told the Catholic Herald that Peter Mitchell works as a translator under a pseudonym, Giuseppe Pellegrino, credited with translating works of several prominent voices not universally well-disposed to Pope Francis.
The Catholic Herald sent queries to Mr. Mitchell, including a direct question regarding his use of the pseudonym:
Several sources have told the Catholic Herald you have done translation work for several public figures, including Antonio Socci and Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, under a pseudonym – Giuseppe Pellegrino – and maintained pseudonymous social media profiles for a time: Is this accurate?
Mr. Mitchell was initially receptive to our queries, telling us, “I am willing to talk to you,” and offering to write “a few comments” in short order. A little more than an hour later, Mitchell wrote again, this time to say: “I have already shared my story in writing in an essay published at The American Conservative on August 1, 2018. I have no further comment.”
Archbishop Viganò did not respond to the Herald’s repeated email invitations to answer questions regarding the nature and extent of his awareness of Mr. Mitchell’s circumstances, as well as whether Pellegrino received compensation for his work. Lessons learned and unlearned
Before the failure of leadership and dereliction of duty exploded in worldwide scandal two decades ago, Churchmen dealt with abuse cases quietly. They developed a vocabulary and a shorthand for discussing problem cases.
They worked to a very specific modus operandi, moving men from parish to parish, and from diocese to diocese. They rarely asked hard questions. Even more rarely did they take hard decisions. They protected the men who were ruining lives and souls, in the name of protecting the institution.
As Church leaders of this generation begin to develop awareness of how vulnerable many adult members of the faithful are to clerical abuse of different kinds, the pattern of behavior emerging through the courageous witness of victim-survivors is disturbing in its similarity to the practices that were the order of the day at the height of the child sex abuse crisis. If the Church is now finally taking the protection of children seriously, the same cannot yet be said for adults.
The Catholic Herald has uncovered three new cases of clerical abuse involving adult victims in the second half of 2020 alone.
In one, the priest’s petition for laicization had not left the archdiocese of his incardination when we reported the story. In another, the priest had just announced his intention to petition the Holy Father, after languishing more than four years under secret canonical process, during which he constructed a narrative to sustain his sizeable cult-like following. In this, the third case the Herald has discovered in the second half of this year, the priest’s petition is a fait accompli.
“Whoever is sentenced for sexual abuse of children can turn to the Pope for pardon [grazia, or “grace” in Italian],” Pope Francis was widely quoted as saying to his Commission for the protection of Minors in September of 2017 – mere months after granting Peter Mitchell’s petition for laicization. Letting Mitchell leave of his own accord avoided him trial, conviction, and canonical penalty for his abuse of a vulnerable adult.
Pope Francis, in fact, went on to say he has “never signed one of these [grazie, i.e. acts of pardon] and never will.” For all we know, that is technically accurate: pardoning a man who has been found guilty and sentenced is one thing; letting a man walk without trial is another.
The insistence of the CDF handbook on the right of a priest to petition the pope for laicization strongly suggests a preference for handling such cases with “economy of process” – as the sanitized language of canon lawyers knows the practice – quickly and quietly.
The apparently regular recourse of accused priests to the right of petition suggests a pattern, and perhaps a policy.
Meanwhile, the Church is woefully underserved by competent criminal legal experts and investigators, while the system of ecclesiastical justice remains shrouded in secrecy.
Neither the guilty nor the innocent, neither victims nor the body of the faithful can have confidence in the ability of the Church to deliver that justice, without which there cannot be any hope of healing.
MITCHELL – TALKING THE TALK
So, when it suits an abusing priest and the Church an offending priest can be gotten rid of quickly.
But the same priests and the Church will keep victims and survivors years and years waiting for an outcome and closure.
Again, one law for the abusers and another law for the abused.
The Roman Catholic Church puts it’s own reputation and finances before the sufferings of victims.
In fact the Roman Church puts itself and it’s clergy and hierarchy before Jesus Christ Himself.
Someone once asked me if the Anti-Christ could be an organisation rather than a person.
Nuns in the city of Speyer “dragged” children to be sexually abused by priests and politicians, a survivor told a German court. His explosive testimony is the latest abuse scandal to rock the German Catholic Church.
Catholic nuns who ran a former children’s home in the German city of Speyer allegedly aided in the sexual abuse of the children who were under their care, according to a newly-surfaced court decision.
The latest scandal came to light after a victim filed a case to claim compensation from the Catholic church, prompting the Darmstadt Social Welfare Court to investigate.
Although the court ruled on the case in May this year, it was not made public until now.
Protestant news agency EPD and Catholic news agency KNA acquired copies of the court’s decision, which detailed claims of horrific abuse that children suffered at the hands of clergy members in the 1960s and 1970s.
Nuns were key in aiding the abuse, regularly bringing boys and girls to predatory priests and even receiving money to do so, the man testified in court.
On Thursday, the Bishop of Speyer, Karl-Heinz Wiesemann, went public with the allegations of abuse for the first time in an interview with Catholic magazine Der Pilger. He said that “several” abuse allegations had been filed.
Years of abuse at children’s home
The court testimony in the court case stems from a 63-year-old man who lived at the nun-run children’s home in Speyer for several years.
Much of the alleged abuse centered on one priest in particular — identified by the Bishop of Speyer as a now-deceased vicar named Rudolf Motzenbäcker.
The victim in the case was an altar boy at the Speyer Cathedral
During the 10 years that he lived in the children’s home, nuns would allegedly take him to the priest’s apartment once or twice a month and that they “downright dragged” him there.
The man estimated he’d been assaulted around 1,000 times.
Motzenbäcker was also alleged to have organized so-called “sex parties” that took place every three or four months that included several male clergy members and politicians.
Nuns would allegedly bring boys and girls — serving drinks and food to the men in one corner of the room while children were assaulted nearby.
“The nuns earned money from it. The men who were present would have donated generously,” the victims testimony reads, according to KNA. The man suffers from severe post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of the ordeal. He said that many of the children who were involved at the time are dead.
The abuse commissioner for the religious order that ran the children’s home, which closed down in 2000, said there were no longer any documents on the children in the Speyer home.
The court and the experts who interviewed the man said they had no doubt about the victim’s credibility. Other victims have separately come forward with their own allegations of abuse, the diocese of Speyer said, providing similar stories of abuse — particularly involving Motzenbäcker.
The diocese paid the man €15,000 ($18,100) in recognition of his suffering.
Speyer Bishop Wiesemann said that the archdiocese agrees with the court that the man suffered sexual abuse during his time in the church-run home. He said the church has been passing information to prosecutors and encouraged other victims to come forward.
The latest scandal to hit Germany’s Catholic Church comes as the Archbishop of Cologne is facing accusations of covering up allegations of child sexual abuse involving a now-deceased priest. rs/aw (epd, KNA)
What a horrible thought – nuns dragging a little boy to a priest’s room so that the priest could abuse him!!!
I once spoke to a Northern Ireland lady who attended a convent school.
One of the nuns used to force the girls into a parlour to go to Confession to a religious order priest.
The priest used to rape the girls by putting a crucifix into their vaginas.
On the way out the nun standing outside the four used to ask: “Did you enjoy your visit to Father”?
How evil to use the symbol of salvation and healing to rape and abuse.
Men like that are either mentally ill or evil – or maybe both.
And as for the nuns – throwing the lambs to the lions 😢
Readers will have seen a few comments on yesterday’s blog saying that I was “despised” in the gay community for “outing” gay clerics and monks.
Behind this is the supposition that gays should always protect and cover for other gays – no matter what wrong those gays are doing.
What is the difference between gays covering up for each other and priests and the church covering up for priests, monks and bishops.
The covering up of wrong doing is wrong no matter which person, group or community is doing the covering up.
I have never publicly criticised individual priests who are in loving, responsible, authentic and caring relationships with another human being. In fact I have helped, and celebrated the marriages and blessing of such people.
God’s 10 commandments apply to gays and the gay community as much as it does to heterosexuals.
Gays, as well as straights have to have some moral boundaries and an ethic.
And gay priests, monks and bishops have taken public vows of celibacy and chastity.
And on the basis of those public vows they get respect, authority and material possessions bestowed upon them.
It is hypocritical of such people to publicly pose as chastitutes and at the same time to be cynically getting their ends away.
And there is a MASSIVE difference between a cleric involved in a committed relationship with another (although forbidden) and a cleric who is on the promiscuous scene, on Grindr etc, and frequenting saunas like the Boilerhouse and having the extreme forms of sex.
If you want to be a Christian ( and no one is forced to be) and especially a cleric or monk, there are still Christian morals, teachings and ideals to hold oneself too.
No holes barred sex and Christianity are not compatible.
And I am not talking in anyway as a sinless one – even on sexual matters.
In 1973 I had the briefest of sexual encounters with a young man my age.
I confessed the encounter as a sin the next morning at 7 am.
In the early 1980s I had another brief sexual encounter with a man my age and I confessed the encounter as a sin the next morning.
In 1984 Cahal Daly put me on sacking notice and I was from the RC priesthood by July 1986.
During some counselling and therapy, that was partially focused on my sexuality, after 1986 I did some exploring of my sexuality – exploring most people do between the age of 15 and 25.
That exploring was with consensual adults and I always approached it carrying my emotions very much with me. I am either blessed or cursed by needing to have intimacy that involves emotions. I find totally emotionless intimacy as being, for me, empty and disheartening.
I am indeed now well freed from my emotional and sexual Catholic guilt and anxiety.
A very important thing for me as a Christian to achieve was to integrate my sexuality with my spirituality. That was a minor part of my exploration too.
This was especially important as I was a
1. Childhood sexual abuse by another male.
2. Had Catholic repression and guilt foisted on me for so many years.
I have written about this in my 2095 book
But I can still sin, I can still do wrong in every way including sexually.
Sin has not been abolished.
In my own case I have been absolutely open about my sexuality for well over 20 years now.
I have had two relationships – one lasting 16 years and my current one lasting 13 years.
I have never been in a gay sauna as I would find the atmosphere there far too impersonal and demoralising.
I imagine very few people find love in a sauna?
OBJECTIVE (NOT SUBJECTIVE) SINS THAT CAN OCCUR IN THE GAY COMMUNITY
Deliberately giving another person HIV or an STI.
Lying about your sexual health.
Cheating on your partner.
Drugging a person’s drink.
Getting sex by pretending to love or care.
Telling lies and making up fake identities and stories.
Of course all these faults are also very common in Straight Street.
Anyway, I think we have enough material to discuss in the above, today.