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The Death Of Richard Sipe

This is almost cinematic: A.W. Richard Sipe, one of the foremost figures in the Roman Catholic sex abuse scandal drama, died Wednesday night at his California home. He was 85. In a retrospective of Sipe’s life, Terence McKiernan of the Bishop Accountability site writes [1]:

A. W. Richard Sipe truly invented the rigorous study of the clergy abuse of children: he created a disciplined method for thinking about the unthinkable. His groundbreaking books – A Secret World: Sexuality and the Search for Celibacy (1990) and Sex, Priests, and Power: Anatomy of a Crisis (1995) – made activism and change possible in the Catholic abuse crisis, and ultimately prepared the way for the #MeToo movement.

Sipe’s work anticipated the convergence that we’re witnessing now in the activism for victims’ rights and child safety. He always saw the molestation of children by Catholic clergy as part of a larger reality in Catholicism and beyond. Sipe’s approach to the abuse of children by Catholic clerics was an unusual one. Beginning as a Benedictine therapist-monk, he helped hundreds of priests and religious with their difficulties in religious life, especially the challenges of celibacy.

Because of those conversations, Sipe viewed the abuse of children by clergy through a wider lens than anyone else. Clergy abuse was better understood, he felt, within broader trends of clergy sexual misconduct, and by the same token, the Catholic system was brought into sharper focus if the clerical abuse of children was acknowledged to be a crisis basic to that system.

Richard Sipe was fundamentally a scholar of clerical culture and the clerical system. His work in the early 1990s created a paradigm for understanding that system and the reasons why the abuse of children by clerics has flourished within it. His books emerged from his therapy practice, and were in a sense anecdotal, yet the statistical conclusions he came to have been borne out by events.

His thinking on celibacy and the abuse crisis were informed by his happy marriage to psychiatrist Marianne Benkert, their parallel and mutual careers in therapy, especially with the victims of clergy abuse, and their experience of family life, raising their son Walter.

Recently the Cardinal McCarrick case has confirmed Richard Sipe’s warnings, going back decades, that McCarrick and many other prelates were harassing and abusing seminarians. Sipe had long emphasized the genealogy of clergy abuse. Rectors and staff at seminaries, he insisted, were often guilty of sexual misconduct with their students, who sometimes after ordination offended against young people. The same dynamic plays out in chanceries and the provincial houses of religious orders. Sipe worked to help seminaries teach celibacy as a mindful practice. But too often they remained places where abuse and harassment were countenanced and even encouraged.

The New York Times obituary captures here the most important aspect of Sipe’s work: [2]


“Sooner or later it will become broadly obvious that there is a systemic connection between the sexual activity by, among and between clerics in positions of authority and control, and the abuse of children,” Mr. Sipe wrote in a letter to Bishop Robert W. McElroy of San Diego in 2016.

“When men in authority — cardinals, bishops, rectors, abbots, confessors, professors — are having or have had an unacknowledged-secret-active-sex life under the guise of celibacy, an atmosphere of tolerance of behaviors within the system is made operative.”

Do you understand this? Sipe is talking about the clerical sexual underground — homosexual and heterosexual — and how it is impossible to separate the sexual abuse of children and minors from the general sexual corruption among bishops and priests. One leads to the other. This is a conclusion that the mainstream media, for all the years I have been writing about this issue, has refused to consider — because, I believe, journalists do not want to look clearly at the widespread gay sexual networks.

Richard Sipe didn’t care. He told me back in 2002 that no gay man should enter the seminary at that time, not because he believed gay men could not make good priests, but because he believed that they would be targeted relentlessly by priests, other seminarians, and others trying to get them to submit to sex.

I don’t know how much longer Sipe’s website [3] will be up, but I urge you to go to it and search it out.  Here is a link to his 2016 letter to San Diego’s bishop, a liberal Francis appointee. [4]Excerpt:

Cardinal Theodore McCarrick has been reported by numerous seminarians and priests of sexual advances and activity. A settlement with one priest was effected by Stephen Rubino, Esq.

In that record the operation of McCarrick in sexual activity with three priests
is described. Correspondence from “Uncle Ted” as he asked to be called, is included. One of the principals is now a lawyer who left the priesthood, two men remain in the priesthood, but refuse to speak publicly despite the fact that the settlement document is open. One priest was told by the chancery office, “if you speak with the press we will crush you”.

Priests or seminarians who speak up about a sexually active superior are
threatened with the loss of everything—employment, status, etc. Those who report are greeted with disbelief or even derision if they know but were not personally involved. If they were a partner in the sexual activity and “come out” they become a pariah and labeled a traitor.

I have interviewed twelve seminarians and priests who attest to propositions, harassment, or sex with McCarrick, who has stated, “I do not like to sleep alone”.

One priest incardinated in McCarrick’s Archdiocese of Newark was taken to bed for sex and was told, “this is how priests do it in the U.S.”. None so far has found the ability to speak openly at the risk of reputation and retaliation.

The system protects its impenetrability with intimidation, secrecy and threat. Clergy and laity are complicit.

Sipe adds at the end of his letter:

Enclosed you will find a list of bishops who have been found wanting in their duties to the people of God.

I hope that in his last will and testament, Richard Sipe has directed for this list to be independently vetted and made public.

You know how we now hear cardinals and bishops saying they had no idea that Cardinal McCarrick was a sex abuser? Richard Sipe made it public as recently as 2010 [5], writing about the homosexual derring-do of Uncle Ted. Here Sipe quotes from documents that were part of the settlement with McCarrick’s accusers:

On another occasion McCarrick summoned the young man to drive him from the Newark Cathedral to New York City. He took him to dinner; and after, rather than returning to Newark as anticipated McCarrick went to a one-room apartment that housed one bed and a recliner chair. McCarrick said that he would take the chair, but after showering he turned off the lights and clad in his underwear he climbed into bed with his guest. Here is the account from the documents:

  • He put his arms around me and wrapped his legs around mine. Then He started to tell me what a nice young man I was and what a good priest I would make someday. He also told me about the hard work and stress he was facing in his new role as Archbishop of Newark. He told me how everyone knows him and how powerful he was. The Archbishop kept saying, “Pray for your poor uncle.” All of a sudden, I felt paralyzed. I didn’t have my own car and there was nowhere to go. The Archbishop started to kiss me and move his hands and legs around me. I remained frozen, curled up like a ball. I felt his penis inside his underwear leaning against my buttocks as he was rubbing my legs up and down. His hands were moving up and down my chest and back, while tightening his legs around mine. I tried to scream but could not…I was paralyzed with fear. As he continued touching me, I felt more afraid. He even tried several times to force his hands under my shorts. He tried to roll me over so that he could get on top of me, but I resisted, I felt sick and disgusted and finally was able to jump out of bed. I went into the bathroom where I vomited several times and started to cry. After twenty minutes in the bathroom, the Archbishop told me to come back to bed. Instead I went to the recliner and pretended to fall asleep.”

In a letter dated four days after this incident McCarrick wrote a note signed “Uncle Ted” that said in part: I just wanted to say thanks for coming on Friday evening. I really enjoyed our visit. You’re a great kid and I know the Lord will continue to bless you…Your uncle has great spots to take you to!!!”

It may be the case that Catholic bishops don’t read Richard Sipe’s blog, and so remained legitimately ignorant of this situation. But when you have the foremost social researcher figure in the area of clerical celibacy and priest sexual abuse publishing evidence from a court settlement with McCarrick’s victim, it’s hard to believe that this information wouldn’t be passed through the episcopal grapevine.

Sipe lived long enough to see his work bear fruition, though not in the ways he would have liked. He saw McCarrick face a kind of justice, which had to have been gratifying. I wonder what he would have thought of a blog like @Sacerdos [6], a new one launched by an anonymous Catholic priest (whose name I know) fed up with sexual corruption in the priesthood, and determined to speak out about it. Excerpts:

Notice how the bishops are presenting themselves as the “victims?”  They are “horrified,” “shocked,” “hurt,” “angry” and some admit to have been “naive” or to have “misplaced” their trust in some of their brother bishops. (One bishop even confessed that this crisis has caused him to believe in the devil!)  In formulating their statements it would seem that every bishop consults his thesaurus looking for that one word to use that will make him sound more hurt and more angry than the other bishops.  I think it is safe to say that we do not care about their feelings.  An opportunity to correct what is ailing the Church was given to them back in 2002 when the scandal first broke. An extensive independent study was prepared by the John Jay Institute clearly identifying the problem, but the bishops did not like the findings of the report and so they archived it and forgot about it.

Just like they archived the Doyle-Mouton Report in 1985 [7], which proved prophetic about the scandal and what it would cost the Catholic Church if the bishops didn’t solve the problem. For 33 years, the US Catholic bishops have known what they’re dealing with … and didn’t deal with it.


It has been known, and known for a long time, that the Church has a very clear and persistent problem with predatory homosexuals in the ranks of the hierarchy.  And it is not by accident.  As a seminarian in the 1990s I recall many, many resources that were brought to bear upon young men preparing for the priesthood that were intended to weaken their resolve to live a chaste, celibate life in perfect continence as did Jesus Christ.  Such resources were, in my particular case, “psychology” classes (in quotes because it was a label used to disguise the nature and content of the course) that centered on human sexuality that had nothing to do with psychology and more about how to actually have sex with instructions and graphics (the current edition of the text book we had to buy, yes buy, is HERE [8]), days of recollection offered by the notorious nun/priest team of Sr. Fran Ferderer and Fr. John Heagle, and the openly homosexual “staff” psychologist who counseled seminarians and helped them work through their “issues.”  I could go on and on.

In the two seminaries that I attended, visibly openly homosexual sub-cultures were tolerated and permitted to flourish.  If a homosexual seminarian misbehaved by advancing in an unwelcome manner against another seminarian the victim was the one who was usually punished.  In rare cases certain homosexual men were dismissed from the seminary but I know of at least two who were quickly picked up by religious communities in other states.  I mention that I know of at least two who were “shuffled” because one of them was the upperclassman who assaulted me during my second year of theology just a month or so before I made my candidacy for the priesthood.  I could go on and on with anecdotes and they are endless.

In my first year as a newly ordained priest I had come to find out that my pastor was enlisting the services of a local male hustler when it was presumed that I was absent from the rectory.  On one occasion I was at home and I overheard my pastor tell the hustler that he had another priest client that he might want to contact.  After a couple months of fear and disgust I finally mustered the courage to tell my bishop who very casually responded to the news with “he knew” and that it was his understanding that the men in question were over 18 years of age.  Well, as it turns out my pastor began enlisting the services of this one particular hustler when he was around 16 years of age and when he found out that suing the Church was more profitable than servicing its priests that is exactly what he did.  My pastor was suddenly granted a sabbatical and the bishop told me to keep my mouth shut and that I never saw nor heard anything.  (This is one of the reasons why I left the diocese of my ordination to incardinate in other.  The bishop in question died earlier this year.)

The point that I am trying to make in all of this is that what we have on our hands is a systemic problem that is tearing at the Church at every level and nearly in every place (except it seems in Africa).  And if that were not enough, otherwise good men, bishops and priests, are paralyzed by fear and would rather keep their mouths shut and play along to get along under the rubric of “not doing further harm” to the Church than that which She is already miserably suffering. Every priest out there (and bishops too) have a lot that can be said but they are not saying it.  It is akin to the highly dysfunctional family that would rather die a thousand deaths rather than give up their horrific secret. But why?

Because they fear that if they acknowledge the problem, everything will fall apart. And they’re not entirely wrong. A lot will fall apart — but what’s the alternative? Continuing to live the lie required by la bella figura [9], the art of keeping up appearances? In the age of transparency, it’s going to come down sooner or later. And it must.

There’s another question here that is much harder to answer, and it’s found in the moving conclusion of the Times obit for Sipe. Father Tom Doyle is a legendary figure in this long saga, one as significant as Sipe. It was Father Doyle who warned me on the phone in the summer of 2001, after I interviewed him about the abuse scandal, that I should prepare myself to enter into a world darker than I could imagine. He was right. Here the Times places Doyle at his dying friend’s bedside, both of them still trying to penetrate the mystery of iniquity:

Finally, I wonder if now, in the wake of Sipe’s death and the unraveling of Ted McCarrick’s lies, the media will finally explore Sipe’s fundamental insight: that it it impossible to understand clerical sexual abuse of children apart from a general culture of secretive clerical sex networks? Here is an excerpt from a 2002 speech Sipe gave, in which he talked about the “sexual genealogy” of abusers in the Catholic clergy:

Why is the fight so furious? Why is the struggle to keep FACTS buried so vigorous? Important clues exist in the genealogy of abuse. I have bean able to trace victims of clergy and bishop abuse to the third generation.

Often, the history of clergy abusers reveals that the priest himself was abused – sometimes by a priest. The abuse may have occurred when the priest was a child, but not necessarily.

Sexual activity between an older priest and an adult seminarian or young priest sets up a pattern of institutional secrecy. When one of the parties rises to a position of power, his friends are in line also for recommendations and advancement.

The dynamic is not limited to homosexual liaisons. Priests and bishops who know about each other’s sexual affairs with women, too, are bound together by draconian links of sacred silence. A system of blackmail reaches into the highest corridors of the American hierarchy and the Vatican and thrives because of this network of sexual knowledge and relationships.

Secrecy flourishes, like mushrooms on a dank dung pile, even among good men in possession of the facts of the dynamic, but who cannot speak lest they violate the Scarlet Bond.

I have interviewed at length a man who was a sexual partner of Bishop James Rausch. This was particularly painful for me since Rausch and I were young priests together in Minnesota in the early 60s. He went on to get his social work degree and succeeded Bernardin as Secretary of the Bishops’ National Conference in DC. He became Bishop of Phoenix.

It is patently clear that he had an active sexual life. It did involve at least one minor. He was well acquainted with priests who were sexually active with minors (priests who had at least 30 minor victims each). He referred at least one of his own victims to these priests.

What was his sexual genealogy? What are the facts of his celibate/sexual development and practice? Did those who knew him know nothing of his life? Perhaps so! But he was in a spectacular power grid of bright men. He was Bernardin’s successor at the US Conference. Bishop Thomas Kelly at Louisville was his successor. Msgr. Daniel Hoye and Bishop Robert Lynch, among others, took over his job.

Let me be perfectly clear. I am not saying or implying in any way that these men were partners in “crime” with Jim Rausch. But I am saying that anyone who sets out to solve a mystery has to ask people who knew the principal, “What, if anything, did you know or observe about the alleged perpetrator?”

After all, the Church’s hardened resistance to dealing honestly with the problem of sexual abuse on their own has compelled the civil authorities to move in, ask the questions, investigate allegations. The Church in America has been its own worst enemy – creating mysteries and doubts, rather than clear answers that inspire confidence.

Even bishops innocent of sexual violations themselves, by their silence, concealment of facts and resistance to effective solutions, choose to be part of a genealogy of abuse and reinforce a culture of deceit.

Reporters who want to understand more completely the nature and extent of Theodore McCarrick’s corruption should look at who he promoted within the hierarchy, and with whom in the hierarchy he was most closely associated. Sipe has given us a framework for understanding how this works.

Why, for example, did the then-papal nuncio in Washington try to shut down the independent archdiocesan investigation of Archbishop John Nienstedt — an investigation that had sworn affidavits from people attesting to Nienstedt’s active gay sex life — and order evidence destroyed? See here for more. [10] Why wouldn’t the papal nuncio want to know if the Archbishop of Minneapolis-St. Paul had a secret gay sex life, one that could have compromised the way he handled sexually corrupt priests in his diocese? Wouldn’t it be in the interest of the Church to know this, and to remove such a man from high ecclesial office? You would think so, wouldn’t you.

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97 Comments (Open | Close)

97 Comments To "The Death Of Richard Sipe"

#1 Comment By pbnelson On August 10, 2018 @ 1:40 pm

Autreck, as a Catholic convert, my quick thoughts:

1) Agreed, that the Catholic Church must end in it’s present form.
2) Disagreed, that the Church cannot be reformed.
3) Warning, to attend to Rod’s words about spiritual pride. Sex scandals are found in all the denominations.

#2 Comment By Mark VA On August 10, 2018 @ 1:49 pm

The more I (a Traditionalist catholic) think about this rot, the more the conclusion that only the laity can remove this corruption forces itself above all others;

The bureaucratic approaches (lay investigative panels, reports, etc) may help gather some precise data, but obviously, by themselves, they will fail today as they have failed almost twenty years ago – the rot is too systemic;

I think that the right thinking, fair, and above all the faithful laity in each parish, as a team with a clearly defined purpose, should “adopt” their priest to help him live his vows. Praise him, support him, read him the riot act, make clear he can be shown the door out – as each situation warrants. I think this communitarian, organic approach, though imperfect, may be more effective. To my knowledge however, such a procedure is unprecedented – an uncharted territory;

As far as the Bishops, I hope they realize by now that it is too late to worry about such quaint things as “scandal”, “division”, “healing”, “moving on”, etc. As a group, they have failed. I hope the most grievous cases among them will find that last shred of honor to resign.

#3 Comment By Ted On August 10, 2018 @ 1:52 pm

See this? Donahue admits “knowing”, i.e., hearing.


If he knew, surely his bestie Fat Tim knew too (we now know Uncle Ted’s funhouse was in Sea Girt). And wouldn’t he be in a position to do something about it? Is it possible the allegation that brought Uncle Ted down was was immediate CYA for the pendulous prelate?

Spiritual pride: it’s a very terrible thing, and has a very distinct odor. You want to know one of the only places I’ve smelt it? Among traddy Catholics. Big time.

#4 Comment By Anastasios On August 10, 2018 @ 1:56 pm

[NFR: I hope I’m wrong about it this time, but I will be genuinely surprised if anybody in the mainstream media cares about this story. It’s primarily (but not exclusively) a story about gay sex, and predatory gay sexual networks. These things are not supposed to exist. But they do. — RD]

You may well be right, Rod. I suspect that political and cultural beliefs on the part of reporters do explain a large part of the disinterest. But I suspect there is more going on.

Chiefly, I think we need to remember that this is a story, in part, about religion, and that is a subject that modern reporters have very little if any interest in or knowledge of. As Peter Kreeft (Catholic philosopher) said in a lecture, the real difference between the modern age and past ages isn’t the presence of revisionists and atheists, both of which have long existed among educated elites, but the growing number of educated people who just don’t care about religious questions.

There is probably some level of general anti-Catholicism at work, as well. Reporters from non-Catholic backgrounds likely won’t understand the institutions, customs, and theological issues. Many non-Catholics are very polite in public but privately view the Catholic church as at best a comic opera and at worst weird and icky. And Catholic reporters might well have their own axes to grind.

As JonF says, sexual abuse of adult males is not taken as seriously as it should be. I suspect many reporters think “Well, if an 18 or 20 year old man let a old fart act like that, then it was by definition consensual and none of our business. Else the young guy would have beaten the old troll up and told the seminary to kiss his rear end on the way out the door.” Explanations like have been offered by your priest correspondents may well elicit shakes of the head and thoughts about how weird and icky Catholics are.

If reporters were to try to delve into this, they would likely, as has been said, at least halfway have the idea that celibacy is stupid and what’s the big deal, anyway? As for all the arguments about whether homosexuals should be in the church or not, I can’t imagine many reporters will have the patience to wade through that, even if it didn’t offend their political leanings. Talk about natural law, the objectively disordered state of homosexuality, and the like would make most (even the Catholics, I suspect) say, “Our paper is not the place to go into long disputes over bizarre medieval obsessions, er… Church doctrine.”

Interestingly, I think the press is much more ready to cover similar scandals among Evangelicals. In part, I suspect, it’s because even thought the reporters aren’t interested in religion, they can grasp the basics of the issues clearly enough. That is, “these preachers keep talking about Bible verses that condemn gays but then they were using hustlers themselves,” is pretty clear cut, from their point of view, and the people involved may be dumb rubes, but they aren’t strange weirdos who play act like they stepped out of the 1200s.

#5 Comment By Evangeline On August 10, 2018 @ 2:29 pm

I have read the priests/bishops in Africa are often sexually active, but prefer women and concubines.
I also believe the heterosexual priest problem is minor, very minor, compared with the homosexual priest problem. A fraction. That’s just my own perception, but there is no evidence heterosexual dalliances are rampant, but the contrary is true. No priest/bishop who touches a child or minor should continue as clergy. Not one. They may tolerate in each other, but the laity do not have to. I’ll be damned if I am going to subsidize men putting their filthy hands on children and minors. Do it on your own dime, although I think it’s going to get increasingly dangerous for these men. I’m a woman, and I can tell you, it would be a bad idea for a priest to touch a boy in my vicinity, or God forbid, one I love.
The young men, seminarians, who tolerate the homosexual assaults or advancement of a man are not fit for the priesthood. NOT…FIT. If you are not man enough to punch out a predator who tries to intimidate or coerce you into sex, you do not have the stamina to be a man of God, you do not have the moral integrity. You do not have the strength of manly courage, and you need to get out. Any priest who was so compromised is likely to be a poor priest. I’m sure there are exceptions.
Men, if you put your hands on any more of our children and young men, you are taking a very big chance. No longer is there the cover of your being “a man of God”, with all attendant reverence and honor. Trust is hard won, and easily crushed. Too much has happened. I wouldn’t take that chance, if I were you.

#6 Comment By Evangeline On August 10, 2018 @ 2:32 pm

Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon him. May he rest in peace, Amen.

He earned his reward, he tried to help children. There is no greater endeavor.

#7 Comment By PeterK On August 10, 2018 @ 3:05 pm

” he believed that they would be targeted relentlessly by priests, other seminarians, and others trying to get them to submit to sex.”

and isn’t possible that the homosexual telegraph system let homosexuals know that seminaries were now the new bath houses? so come on down as they say

#8 Comment By Sam M On August 10, 2018 @ 3:08 pm


“Well, when it takes place within all-male residential religious establishments, what other kind of thing could it be?”

But it’s also true that even the abuse of minors follows this pattern. Certainly, young women have been abused, but it’s usually teenage boys, followed by pre-pubescent boys. And certainly, straight priests have a degree of “power” over their female parishoners, female students, etc. But it seems to be mostly males as victims, right?

#9 Comment By KateLE On August 10, 2018 @ 3:17 pm

This is going to be a much smaller, purified church.

Not unless you get the money and unaccountable power out. Keep those, and the current set of predators will simply be replaced by a new set moving in to take over their territory.

#10 Comment By Annie On August 10, 2018 @ 3:31 pm

No, the media is not going to look into it. And the bishops will not address this. Why? Because our understanding of sexuality is, in itself, shattered.

The “genealogy” of sexual trauma is the key to understanding the broader situation. It allows us to walk the razor’s edge between an attack on persons suffering from a disorder and a validation of a person’s disorder into an existential good. However, we cannot allow ourselves to understand that, because it would force each of us to confront our participation with sin, either in terms of committing it or validating it.

The elephant in the room is that victims of trauma go on to re-enact the trauma they experienced. It’s difficult to trace, because it clearly goes back to our earliest self-understanding in relation to our caregivers and families (though I’ve encountered another SSA individuals who, whatever they say about “born this way” then whisper that they were molested as a young child.) Sussing out the threads of “Dad favored girls and I wanted to please him,” or “Mom wouldn’t let me out of her sight and had a very manic personality which kept me from developing healthy relationships with peers” is incredibly difficult stuff.

I come from a family which firmly believed in “born this way.” We were pro-gay marriage decades ago, and I remember my parents telling me firmly I could marry whoever and however many people I wanted: “Marry two women if you want! Just don’t ever bring home a Catholic or a Republican.” It was traumatizing to my understanding of the world when I was required, through my profession, to familiarize myself with the case histories of people who had gone through sexual abuse. What was before my eyes was a vicious cycle, generation upon generation. Without quick, loving, steady intervention to help a victim of abuse process their trauma, the confused victim would seek to re-enact the trauma.

What a minefield for theologians. The sins of the victimizer are visited upon the victim. It’s all so terribly unfair. Howver, sexual sins are not the only ones, and we are all both victims and victimizers in other areas. We are all looking for a scapegoat, be it homophobes or (albeit wildly irresponsible) gender ideologues. The truth is only through accepting forgiveness and offering it to others, in picking up the Cross, will the cycle be broken.

So it’s really awful that now, when this trauma is surfacing to public consciousness, the Church is in the grips of an identity crisis. Pray and fast.

#11 Comment By Mont D. Law On August 10, 2018 @ 3:32 pm

If we are going to use the John Jay Report, a couple of last things.

First about 3/4 of the victims were under 14. The largest group of victims(1300+)were 12.

Substance abuse problems were more indicative of abusers than a history of childhood sexual abuse.

Finally the researchers noted a sharp increase in the number of gay priests from the late 1970s through the 1980s that corresponded with a decrease not an increase incidence of abuse.

#12 Comment By Annie On August 10, 2018 @ 3:38 pm

And on a more bitter note, I have to say the response of the bishops and the laity who applaud such tepid responses has me in a darker, fouler mood than I could have expected. I converted under the sarcastic eyes of many who would bring up the 2002 crisis; I knew it had not been sufficiently addressed; I knew the corruption was on-going. I watch mothers at Catholic schools unable to volunteer in their children’s classrooms because they can’t take a day off to go through the ridiculous hoops the diocese sets for them. As if this was a problem of mothers!

Wuerl’s response to have the bishops investigate bishops is particularly galling. It’s not like it wouldn’t be easy for him to stack a lay commission with his pet donors and pals and be heralded as some kind of brave hero. The fact that he can’t even do that is appalling.

#13 Comment By ginger On August 10, 2018 @ 3:59 pm

“It’s not about sex. Sex is one of many tools. It’s about the preservation of a traditional culture of power and secrecy. Sex is a momentary thing. The fine dining, the luxury accommodations, the celebrity friends, the ability to dismiss disliked people, and behind it, the money.”

People forget to follow the money at their own peril.

#14 Comment By VikingLS On August 10, 2018 @ 4:03 pm


The majority of the most popular stories on this website are Rod’s writings on this topic. Yes people DO want to read about it.

#15 Comment By REJ On August 10, 2018 @ 4:09 pm

I’m having a very hard time understanding how (so many?) priests can live with their moral dissonance. Not only those who partake of the Eucharist at Mass, knowing they are in mortal sin according to Church rules and are forbidden. But also those who have protected others guilty of serious sin, if not outright great evil, just because they fear for their ‘job’ if they speak up. What a mess. I’m becoming less sympathetic day by day to any clergy who are now speaking up but only anonymously and refusing to name names and places.

Have the courage of the moral convictions you profess to believe by virtue of your priesthood. Maybe your actual vocation from God was to be His whistle-blower and that’s why you were led to the clergy to gain the knowledge you have. You don’t have a wife and children to worry about so do the right thing, damn it, and report what you know in a way that won’t get buried!

#16 Comment By David F. Pierre, Jr. On August 10, 2018 @ 4:17 pm

Sipe also made some wildly untrue claims in his life:

1. In his 1995 book, Sex, Priests, And Power: Anatomy Of A Crisis, Sipe actually claims the Church’s so-called “celibate/sexual power system” was a *root cause of the Nazi Holocaust*.

2. In 2010, Sipe told ABC News that that “several hundred [popes] have been murdered” in the Catholic Church’s 2000-year history; a bizarre assertion, indeed, considering the fact that there have only been about 266 popes since the Catholic Church’s foundation.

3. In his appearance in a 2013 HBO documentary, Sipe claimed he has “great respect” for the Catholic Church, but then in the very next breath he actually asserted that the Church knowingly and intentionally “selects, cultivates, protects, defends, and produces sexual abusers.”

One wonders who on earth could possibly “respect” an organization that would target children to be used as sex objects. Yet Sipe appeared to want to give off an air of credibility by claiming “respect” for the Church so he can advance his wild theories and claims about the Catholic Church and its teachings.

4. He also repeatedly misrepresented Church teaching, such as when he claimed, “[A priest] has power over heaven and hell, so when [you come to him] in Confession, and [he says], ‘I won’t absolve you,’ You’ll be damned.”

I view Sipe’s work quite differently.

#17 Comment By Aaron On August 10, 2018 @ 4:35 pm

“… why is there a sexual underground, straight and/or gay? Because the Catholic priesthood demands celibacy….and celibacy IS NOT NORMAL. People are (or were made) sexual beings and if you have a vocation/calling that demands they be celibate for their entire life you are going to get some, though certainly not all, really messed up people and behavior.”

This is straight-up anti-Catholic hate-mongering.

How do you reconcile the claim that priestly celibacy caused the abuse crisis with the news that the Anglican “church” in England is dealing with, at the latest count, 3,000 cases of abuse from its largely married “priests”: [15] … and that figure keeps going up and up. By contrast, the number of Catholic priests in England with credible accusations of abuse since 1950 is 0.4% (compared to 5.6% in the US!)

#18 Comment By scruziel On August 10, 2018 @ 4:45 pm


Did you miss Rod’s post on Bill Hybels?

The sex drive is powerful and we are fallen human beings. As Solzhenitsyn said, the line between good and evil runs through every human heart and who wants to cut out a piece of himself?

#19 Comment By Stephen Golay On August 10, 2018 @ 5:00 pm

Celibacy is a difficult way of life. One must be called to it, not bent towards it as part of the ‘formation+ Into the priestly or monastic life.

There’s nothing heroic, knowing one is of the (Pauline) ‘burning’ sort, yet insist on a life of denial one is not called to. It is tempting something more than fate.

#20 Comment By Anne On August 10, 2018 @ 5:06 pm

Go ahead and denigrate the idea of creating a new form of (most are now saying lay-run) panel to review complaints against bishops, but if it weren’t for the New York diocesan review board the allegation involving a minor that finally brought down MacCarrick might have gone the way of all the ones involving seminarians, i.e, lost forever in the clerical bureaucracy. Reform needs mechanisms to get a foothold. The trick will be designing this one with enough authority and transparency to work without running afoul of canon law.

#21 Comment By Todd Flowerday On August 10, 2018 @ 5:21 pm

“But the John Jay Report found that … most of them minors who were sexually mature.”

Overall 43% of the victims were male teenagers.

So when you write, “The bulk of the scandal was … gay priests who couldn’t keep their hands off of sexually mature teenagers.”

I don’t think human biology recognizes the same star pattern 13 years later and suddenly somebody is mature.

Facts are indeed stubborn things, Rod. But the Jay Study didn’t assess the sexual maturity of victims. All it tracked was age. Enough girls were abused to cause a national scandal. Enough pre-schoolers, too.

Seduction, rape, and other crimes that center around the sexual organs aren’t always about sex. More often it’s about control, power, and domination. Being able to control a person through their sexual response is a powerful tool.

Anti-gay apologists often ignore the matter of access. During at least half the time span of the Jay Study priests only had access to males, and in traditionalist parishes, those are still the only altar servers they get. Most sex abuse happens in families–it’s about children who are close, not their sex. Or perhaps we have to start thinking about masturbation as same-sex activity, by definition.

If you don’t widen your view, Rod, you’ll miss the big story.

#22 Comment By Lucy On August 10, 2018 @ 5:45 pm

Sipe wrote of the reluctance of clergy to speak up about what they’ve experienced and/or what they know, and Rod has confirmed that in recent posts. They stand to lose a lot, which for the clergy is basically everything. This reminds me of the ministry that Abby Johnson (the author of UnPlanned) started that helps abortion clinic workers who want to leave their ugly employment but need help to find the resources to do so. Priests, etc. who want to speak out need this kind of support.

#23 Comment By Ron Chandonia On August 10, 2018 @ 5:51 pm

I think Annie’s comment may be the most telling here: “I watch mothers at Catholic schools unable to volunteer in their children’s classrooms because they can’t take a day off to go through the ridiculous hoops the diocese sets for them.”

In our archdiocese, volunteers who want to wash dishes at meals for the homeless are supposed to undertake hours of indoctrination about predatory behavior–at the chancery. Frankly, a requirement like that is INSANE, though I’m sure it made some lawyers and insurance companies happy.

Still, it may have a positive effect if Catholics serious enough to jump through hoops to do volunteer service realize that the very people who set up those hoops were giggling themselves silly about their own misdeeds. Maybe we’ll even get the Catholic equivalent of a populist uprising against our own elites.

#24 Comment By LFM On August 10, 2018 @ 6:21 pm

That photo of McCarrick et al is truly repugnant.

#25 Comment By Stephen Golay On August 10, 2018 @ 8:07 pm

The mainstream media is not interested in this story for the obvious observation that a Catholic clergy and hierarchy, primed for homosexuality, is an ally to their worldview. A supporting arm around the clerical shoulder just may push the Catholic Church into accepting homosexuality full blown (so to speak).

And, that fifteen year-old boys get latched onto by clerical eyes is neither here nor there with the MSM. To those folks age of consent laws are artificial constructs, as France belatedly admitted to, laat week, when that nation vacated theirs; a personal campaign of – recently papal knighted – President Macron.

The MSM worldview instructs Cardinal McCarrick that he has a pastoral duty to seek out (supposedly) latent homosexual boys, such as little James, and mentor them into “the life”. The earlier the better to secure a healthy acceptance.

The shoulder shrug we now give – for being worn down – over six year-olds calling themselves “trans” is preclude to striking down age of consent laws. We are slow boiling frogs. When done, Nebraskan priests will then have no need to junket down to ruined Venezuela to plow through a week’s worth of starving 13 year-old boys.

These folks think like this, they truly do – as do homosexual clergy.

Ain’t no dif between them!

Or, if there is one, it’s hangin’ onto a leaky lifeboat paragraph in the Catholic Catechism – the pesky one with the words “intrinsically disordered”. Soon to be hanged alongside that executed one about the death penalty.

When our culture makes its move, like France, to vacate age of consent laws the hand-rubbing glee will be difficult to ignore. After the wall falls THey will have no need to erect barriers between the lust of their eyes for 18+ flesh, and the fresher sort below.


Have noted, in the story of poor James, no one has commented on McCarruck’s grooming ploy of telling the boy he is closest to God (think it was put more pungent than that) when he, the Cardinal, was performing a sexual act on him.

Something more than a grooming ploy was being played out, an authority figure power-tripping an inferior. This was a ritualized sex act, with McCarrick calling upon his ontological status of ordination as an enchantment. There is no access to God, the boy was being told, except through the ministrations of McCarrick; when God’s best and greatest arrival was evoked when he, the Cardinal, was going down on the boy.

Yes, what the priest performed on the boy was a ritualized sex act. Sex, the sacramental portal upon the altar.

For, you see, I have seen this all before: when Charles Mason bumped into Aton LaVey on Turk Street in S.F. (or was it Hyde); when the clergy of the Process Church of the Last Judgment heeled their German Sheperds on Market Street; when adepts of sex rituals streamed their Corvettes and Bentleys down from Brentwood and Bel Air to the corner of Hollywood and Vine. When long dead Aleister Crowley thickened the cultural soup with his magic.

The point of Crowley, and them all, was to place sex at the service of the incantation of enchantment. The hidden door to transcendence. A portal the God of wayward Eve refused to offer her, in Eden or in her pains of labor. God held Eve, the Mother of All Living Things, captive to sex as utility. The promise of Crowley’s Dark Lord is “No more”. For sex – if ‘worked’, ritualized properly – is the threshold to true ontological change, to be what God fears most – himself. (Satan is a past-master in blackmarketing theosis!)

Took this detour to force an observation. When McCarrick called upon his priesthood as he did his deed (ritualized sex) upon little James he opened a portal which has yet to be exorcised, shut and barred.

Which has yet to be acknowledged.

#26 Comment By Aaron On August 10, 2018 @ 8:17 pm

Rod, you said (if I recall correctly) that you couldn’t go public about McCarrick back in the day because you couldn’t get anyone to go on record. But since Sipe had already published unsealed court documents including letters from “Uncle Ted” on his website, why could you not just refer to those? What Sipe has looks to me even *better* than getting a random source to go on record.

Genuine question. Not trying to be snarky. Just trying to understand how this works and why journalists missed this for so long.

[NFR: Sipe must have had solid evidence of the kind that I didn’t have. I was trying to write about McCarrick in 2002, and quit writing entirely about the scandal in 2006. When did Sipe post those documents? — RD]

#27 Comment By Richard Malcolm On August 10, 2018 @ 8:42 pm

Todd Flowerday,

Overall 43% of the victims were male teenagers.

I wish I could say I am surprised that you would misrepresent the facts of the Jay Report so badly, but, unfortunately, your record in the Catholic online world precedes you.

I quote from page 70 of the Jay Report: “The majority of victims are males between the ages of 11-17, and just over half (50.7%) of all
individuals who made allegations of abuse were between the ages of 11-14. The average age
of all alleged victims is 12.6. This number has increased over time, however. In the 1950s, the
average age was 11.5; in the 1960s it was 12; in the 1970s it was 12.87; in the 1980s it was 13.2;
and by the 1990s it was 13.87.” And if the Jay Report studiously avoids a specific breakdown by gender and age, “majority,” in this case, was, according to those familiar with the source data, not close.

But your agenda is obvious: Your main concern here is clearly to fight “homophobia,” rather than to address the sexual abuse crisis. Throwaway lines such as “Anti-gay apologists often ignore the matter of access” have, for too long, been used as a diversion from the homosexual nature of the problem.

The problem is not that homosexual men are highly given to sexual attraction and advances to children, but rather, that this particular subset of homosexual men drawn into the priesthood in certain western countries are. And their victims are not, most of the time, pre-pubescent children (in the Jay Report, children 10 and under form only 10.8% of the entire victim pool), but rather pubescent males. Which does not even get to what Richard Sipe is talking about in regards to the culture of rife sexual activity with seminarians (many of whom were and still are in their late teens). It’s a particular body of psychologically immature homosexual men, drawn to the priesthood through some specific psychological issues.

To quote Richard Fitzgibbons, M.D. (a consultant to the Congregation for Clergy), and Dale O’Leary [“Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Clergy,” The Linacre Quarterly 78(3) (August 2011): 252–273], “The data in the John Jay reports strongly
suggests that homosexual abuse of adolescent males is at the heart of the crisis.”

Facts are, indeed, stubborn things.

#28 Comment By Aaron On August 10, 2018 @ 9:05 pm

[NFR: Sipe must have had solid evidence of the kind that I didn’t have. I was trying to write about McCarrick in 2002, and quit writing entirely about the scandal in 2006. When did Sipe post those documents? — RD]

Ah, OK. He didn’t post them until 2008, so after your time.

I’m flabbergasted that *someone* didn’t pick up on it until now, though. Its not like there aren’t conservative Catholic journalists who were no fans of McCarrick, who could have picked the ball up and ran with it.

#29 Comment By Todd Flowerday On August 10, 2018 @ 9:13 pm

Mr Malcolm, thank you for the analysis. More acute with the Jay Report than with me, unfortunately for the commentariat here.

You can surmise I’m less anti-gay than Rod or you. Having a number of female family members who have been abused, not to mention female friends, including a number of age 6-9 girls stalked by a priest at one parish, I’m more in favor or widening the search, not narrowing it down for the sake of one last gasp for the culturewar.

While there’s no doubt that gay predators were and are on the loose in the clergy, the overall problem is that 100% of offenders are unchaste. You can call some subset gay, immature, orthodox with a twist, or whatever. But unless you are willing to get to the deepest root, you’re still talking fractions. I think we laity deserve some whole numbers.

#30 Comment By Brother Jerome On August 10, 2018 @ 9:57 pm

Dr. Sipe has led us through the first part of the Eighth Circle. What devotion. For myself, I could not follow him but for a few paces before I had to stop again and wait to recover.

That never happened. I still am numb. It all runs together. Thank you for putting these things into words Mr. Dreher.

It seems that Heaven, Hell and Purgatory have outcroppings that protrude onto the earth. In these places, we are shown what will come.

#31 Comment By Petey On August 10, 2018 @ 10:45 pm

I suspect he might have found more traction if he had invested in a better website. That thing looks vintage 1998. Seriously. When I saw that my first thought was this guy is a kook.

#32 Comment By Anne On August 10, 2018 @ 11:31 pm

Re Richard Sipe’s “wildly untrue” claims: None of these really reflect on the integrity of his own research, but for the record:

1. Did he claim the Church’s celibate/sexual power structure was the “root cause of the Nazi Holocaust”: No. That’s a misrepresentation. He was trying to make a point about the way women have been historically portrayed in the writings or “schema” of ascetics pushing the celibacy ideal, noting that if you substitute the word “Jew” or “homosexual” for woman in these writings, you may see a parallel to the kind of thinking that led to the Holocaust. That may be an iffy or plain false analogy, but he didn’t claim any direct causation between the celibacy rule for clergy and Nazis killing Jews (!).

2. The remark, “several hundred popes have been murdered” was a throwaway quip in an interview with ABC TV when he was asked if he thought Pope Benedict should resign over the sex abuse scandal. Ironically, he took the position that a papal resignation seemed very unlikely, since even though hundreds of popes have been removed from office via murder, only a handful have ever resigned. The “hundreds” figure was hyperbolic (how about “tons” or “bunches”?), but the gist of what he was saying was accurate. Some 50 or so popes have been martyred or murdered, but only 6 or 8 have resigned. Of course, the funny thing is Benedict did resign, just not because of the sex scandal, at least as far as we know.

3. As for Sipe claiming to have great respect for the Church, I think the dissonance a reader might feel with regard to that claim is a result of his being of two minds on the subject…over time. He could sound downright scornful with regard to Catholic sexual morality in later years, after he’d decided the celibacy rule really was at the root of the whole sex abuse and coverup culture, but he still respected most of his former colleagues in the priesthood and other Catholic clergy and laity he met along the way. In the end, I think he was always a Catholic; that’s why he kept plugging. Anyone who knows differently should correct me.

4. As for misrepresenting doctrine regarding confession, he was right that a priest CAN withhold absolution, so I don’t see the misrepresentation here. He did consider the confessional a potential danger since sexual predators have been known to use it as a means of seduction. But then the Royal Commission looking into sex abuse crimes in Australia ended up suggesting the Catholic Church abandon the secrecy rule protecting confession…as well as mandatory celibacy. Those kinds of conclusions, right or wrong, just seem to come with the territory for people investigating bad guys in the Catholic clergy.

#33 Comment By Bob On August 11, 2018 @ 12:29 am

Keep it up, Rod, make it impossible to ignore. If we still sit and do nothing, continue to fund these imperial court sex parties and near cradle to grave royality care without ever having a REAL job, we deserve what we get.

Cut them off. Protest. Send your money directly to worthy causes. Earmark contributions. NOT ONE THIN DIME to them until this is rooted out.

Do not accept bones thrown your way such Lightning O’Malley suddenly now attacking a seminary even while in charge of a pro-gay Jesuit speaker at the world families meeting, where any true Catholic should be running the opposite direction.

Do not be sidetracked by curiously timed death penalty catechism changes calculated to stir worldwide debate.

Stay focused, stay on target, as this foul corruption is the death of entire churches and the loss of eternal souls.

#34 Comment By Weiss On August 11, 2018 @ 8:00 am

‘One priest incardinated in McCarrick’s Archdiocese of Newark was taken to bed for sex and was told, “this is how priests do it in the U.S.”’

15-20 yrs ago I knew a priest from Newark, who was not originally from the US. He was a very angry, unhappy man, and yet he didn’t seem to be a bad priest. Something was clearly eating at him.

Fast-forward to about 3 yrs ago, when I heard by chance that this priest had left not only Newark, but the priesthood. It was very sad, and also mysterious to me. At the time I assumed he had some deep personal issues that were none of my business.

But now, I’m wondering if the sentence I quoted above was written about him? If so… he was probably a very good priest indeed. Otherwise, he’d still be there!

#35 Comment By JonF On August 11, 2018 @ 8:54 am

You elide one of my main points (which the poster Anastasios got exactly right). People generally assume that men want sex. So harassment or abuse of men is much less a matter for outrage. There’s even a “lucky guy” attitude in some cases– including cases of female teachers coming onto teenage boys. I think we’ve all seen that. There’s a hierarchy of sexual outrages: first and foremost, any abuse of children (and that is as it should be). Women are next. And men last, far down the list. That and not some tinfoil hat conspiracy theory handily explains the failure the general lack of interest in these cases. It’s classic “dog bites man”– so put it on the back page. Remember, the press is in business to make money. Its decisions should always be sought under that rubric.

#36 Comment By Richard Malcolm On August 11, 2018 @ 9:32 am


I think we laity deserve some whole numbers.

On that, at least, I am in full agreement.

#37 Comment By Oakinhouston On August 11, 2018 @ 9:36 am

“The young men, seminarians, who tolerate the homosexual assaults or advancement of a man are not fit for the priesthood. NOT…FIT. If you are not man enough to punch out a predator who tries to intimidate or coerce you into sex, you do not have the stamina to be a man of God, you do not have the moral integrity. You do not have the strength of manly courage, and you need to get out.”

It’s not about stamina, on manly courage. It’s about power.

These predators have real power over the seminarians and young priests. Not only the informal power of being able to make or break their future as priests, but the formal power of being their superiors, to whom they have vowed obedience in all things.

Once you start passing judgement on, and punching, your Bishop or superior, you have rejected an important part of what a priest is supposed not just to believe, but also to live.

I’m not disputing that punching the creeper is probably the correct, or the healthier, response. But it’s a response at odds with the worldview of a vowed life. And that dissonance explains a lot about why seminarians and young priests did not put much of a fight.

And if you think about it, this concept of vowed obedience is also what kept, in decades past, many abused women tethered to their abusing husbands. They, too, had vowed to respect and obey. They were not supposed to fight back.

#38 Comment By David F. Pierre, Jr. On August 11, 2018 @ 9:49 am

1. Richard Sipe did indeed claim a direct causation between the celibacy rule for clergy and Nazis killing Jews! Here is the quote, directly from his 2005 book:

“I am struck with how everything fits with Nazi theory and practice … Numerous parallels with the celibate/sexual power system make it chillingly familiar and and force us to acknowledge that they both, system and power, spring from the same human impulses. I cannot forget that the people and forces that generated Nazism and the Holocaust were all products of one Christian culture and the celibate/sexual power system.”

2. Sipe did indeed claim that a priest “has power over heaven and hell” through the Sacrament of confession.

Yet the Church clearly teaches “Jesus Christ is Lord: he possesses all power in heaven and on earth” (CCC 668).

We also look to CCC 1441 (“Only God forgives sins”) and especially CCC 1466 (“The confessor is not the master of God’s forgiveness, but its servant. The minister of this sacrament should unite himself to the intention and charity of Christ …”)

Sipe’s theology is simply erroneous.

I will also add:

3. In 2015 Sipe told the San Diego Union Tribune, “[T]he real change will not come until the church allows optional celibacy and the ordination of women.”

He also said he no longer attended weekly Mass or was a member of any parish.

[NFR: The fact that Sipe was a Catholic liberal, or even no longer a Catholic in any meaningful sense, does not make his claims about the way priests behave untrue. — RD]

#39 Comment By Siarlys Jenkins On August 11, 2018 @ 10:29 am

While there’s no doubt that gay predators were and are on the loose in the clergy, the overall problem is that 100% of offenders are unchaste.

Solid point. I have nothing against married clergy, priests or otherwise, but if that is the rule, breaking it is breaking it. And in this set of instances, doing so in a predatory fashion.

#40 Comment By pbnelson On August 11, 2018 @ 11:45 am

Fr. de Souza really nails it in this op-ed. He calls on Abp. McCarrick to come clean, spill the beans, confess everything, name names, and generously assist all investigations. For the sake of his soul and the Church.

After all, McCarrick’s not dead yet. He could help unravel the threads of conspiracy by his testimony. God’s giving him a last chance for repentance, letting this come out before his final judgement.


#41 Comment By KevinS On August 11, 2018 @ 2:44 pm

Aaron writes,

“… why is there a sexual underground, straight and/or gay? Because the Catholic priesthood demands celibacy….and celibacy IS NOT NORMAL. People are (or were made) sexual beings and if you have a vocation/calling that demands they be celibate for their entire life you are going to get some, though certainly not all, really messed up people and behavior.”

This is straight-up anti-Catholic hate-mongering.

Oh please. You might disagree but it not “hate-mongering” to suggest that a organization requiring large numbers of people to remain celibate their entire lives is more likely to encounter dysfunctional manifestations of sexually.

Do you really deny that a large number of gay men in the past went into the priesthood because it provided a very convenient response to: why don’t you marry and settle down? when are you going to meet a nice girl and have a family?

#42 Comment By Jeffrey Job On August 11, 2018 @ 6:50 pm

Autreck, I am a revert if over 20 years and I am glad I went through the process then and not now. I completely understand your question and it’s a fair one.

There is a twofold reality to the Church, the Divine and the human. What we see is the ugliness of the human sinful side but what is harder to see is the beautiful Divine side. The worship, the sacraments, the faithful martyrs and saints etcetera. However this filth and the men desecrating the priesthood and sanctuary are going to destroy a lot of people’s faith in and out of the body of Christ. It sickens a lot of us, not just outsiders.

#43 Comment By Lllurker On August 11, 2018 @ 8:44 pm

“Reform needs mechanisms to get a foothold. The trick will be designing this one with enough authority and transparency to work without running afoul of canon law.”

It seems to me that the primary leverage the laity has to force real, legitimate investigations, and genuine transparency, and the firing of those who need to be fired, is the power of the purse. The laity should begin a campaign to starve the beast, withholding all funding to the church until the issues are addressed. In the interim all tithes could be redirected to other, outside charities.

Also a mechanism could be created to direct monies to keep the school systems going, but with funds that are kept sequestered from the church.

This looks to be one of those situations where only the outsiders — in this case the laity — can clean up the ugly mess and set things right.

#44 Comment By Julia Welch On August 12, 2018 @ 6:24 am

Why is there never mention of the huge scandal covered by the local BND of the dismissal of at least 10% of the priests in my Belleville diocese in the early 1990s leading to the importation of Wilton Gregory from Chicago? He was the first to importune the Vatican about all this – and wrote up the first documents about dealing with it. He ended up head of the USCCB to address this problem. It did not start with Boston 10 years later. Does nobody remember any of this this??? Or is the movie about 2002 determining the facts? Or is Belleville too insignificant a place in flyover country? We lost 10% of our priests in the huge scandal with SNAP pickets and massive, great work by local media! No interest if not on either coast?

#45 Comment By Kathy Hall On August 13, 2018 @ 9:21 am

The writer says this problem is world wide (except Africa)… Sorry, but a priest from either Kenya or Nigeria was engaged in “adult” behavior with another priest in Michigan. It was front page news & caused much scandal. Maybe that is why he left Africa? But we have heard that homosexual behavior is NOT acceptable there.
Agree perhaps the Laity needs to roll up their sleeves & clean house if the clergy won’t.

#46 Comment By Patricia Dilgard On August 13, 2018 @ 9:46 pm

If only the laity would utilize their “power of the purse” and withhold money. This will not happen. It hasn’t happened after any of the scandals. The laity will continue to give money to the church because that is a condition of being able to participate in the parish, get your kid in a Catholic school or be accepted in a church ministry. The scandals may cause some people to leave the church but they are replaceable. (In the eyes of the pastors).

#47 Comment By Loyola Alum On August 14, 2018 @ 9:25 am

But a footnote to the Richard Sipe’s work is that he helped in the work to obtain a $1.6 million wrongful death settlement in regard to James Chevedden. The case questioned the risk management judgment of the former Jesuit Provincial, Rev. Thomas Smolich, a Stanford MBA – who ordered the victim Chevedden to live indefinitely in the same building as the perp.

The case involved an alleged cowardly sex abuse act (and subsequent retaliation) by one Jesuit upon another Jesuit and the suspicious death of the victim a few years later. Chevedden was in a wheel chair at the time of the abuse.