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Onetime priest crusades for abuse victims suing Catholic Church
Patrick Wall as a seminarian and junior monk at Saint John’s Abbey and University in Minnesota in the late 1980s.
June 19th, 2011
01:00 AM ET

Onetime priest crusades for abuse victims suing Catholic Church

By Richard Allen Greene, CNN

(CNN) - As a young man studying for the priesthood, Patrick Wall imagined life as a professor and football coach at a Catholic university.

It didn't work out that way. Two decades later, Wall has not only left the Catholic Church, he has become one of its most tireless opponents.

He's an ex-priest, driven from ministry by the feeling that his superiors used him to help cover up sex abuse by other clergymen.

And he's using the training he gained as a priest to work with victims of abuse who want to take the church to court.

Since 1991, Wall says he has consulted on more than 1,000 abuse cases, helping lawyers pick apart defenses mounted by dioceses from Alaska to Australia.

Now a senior consultant at the law firm of Manly and Stewart in Southern California, Wall spoke to CNN on the sidelines of a recent conference for legal and religion scholars at Cardiff Law School in Wales.

In Philadelphia, where four priests and a Catholic school teacher were indicted on sex abuse charges earlier this year, Wall says he is helping the district attorney build an unprecedented criminal case not only against the clergy, but against an archdiocesan official who supervised them. The priests – one of whom is the church official – and the teacher have denied the allegations.

The case is potentially historic. Wall doesn't know of another case where a U.S. prosecutor has gone after an official at the top of the church hierarchy as well as the suspected abusers themselves.

Prosecutors are trying to convict a vicar – the man who supervised the priests in the archdiocese – with child endangerment because they say he allowed suspected abusers to have contact with young people.

The case raises the possibility that a high-ranking church official will end up behind bars.

Wall hopes the threat of prison time will change the way American bishops respond to abuse allegations in a way that civil lawsuits have not.

"In the civil cases, we have taken over $3 billion, but you're not getting a lot of change in the system," he says.

Patrick Wall outside a recent conference in Wales.

There has been more than a decade of intense focus on abuse by priests across the United States and Western Europe, plus lawsuits, investigations, and Vatican statements, including instructions to bishops around the world just last month to come up with an abuse policy.

And even so, Wall says, priests are still abusing children.

"I'm working on stuff that happened in the summer of 2010," he says. "It's the same old sodomy."

A life-changing assignment

Wall was studying to be a priest at Saint John's Abbey in Collegeville, Minnesota, when there was a life-changing knock on his door one morning after breakfast.

At his door that day in 1990 was the head of the abbey, Abbot Jerome Theisen, with an assignment, Wall says.

Wall, then 25, was to move into one of the freshman dormitories at the university associated with the abbey. The abbot wanted him to become a faculty resident, a staff position that involved keeping an eye on first-year university students in college housing. He was to make the move immediately, that very morning.

Wall knew why.

"Starting in 1989, we started getting hit with lawsuit after lawsuit" from people alleging that priests had abused them, Wall says. He says the abbot told him that credible abuse accusations had been made against the man Wall was to replace.

Brother Paul Richards, a spokesman for Saint John's Abbey, said that the monastery and university had no record of why Wall was asked to work in the dorm. Abbot Theisen has died, Richards added.

Saint John's Abbey adopted a policy on sexual abuse and exploitation in 1989, it says on its website, saying that made it “among the first institutions to adopt” such a policy.

Wall, for his part, says the abbot's request put him on the road to becoming what the church unofficially calls a "fixer," a person who parachutes in to replace clergy who have to disappear quickly and quietly.

Wall as the temporary administrator at a Maplewood, Minnesota church in 1995.

One of Theisen's successors, Abbot John Klassen, issued an open letter of apology in 2002, saying that "some members" of the monastic community had engaged in "abusive sexual behavior with people in our schools and parishes."

A lawsuit was filed earlier this month against Saint John's by a man who says he was abused in the 1960s by a priest who later served as abbot between Theisen and Klassen. The abbey says it was “shocked” by the charges against the late Abbot Timothy Kelly, who died of cancer last year.

It says it is investigating the claims against Kelly, calling them “the first allegations that Abbot Kelly violated his vows or was an abuser.”

Wall plans to testify in that case, he told CNN.

"In the fall of '92 we had another 13 [abuse] cases come through," Wall says. "They pushed up my ordination" by a few months, Wall says, so he could step into the shoes of another priest who had to vanish.

Understanding the damage

It was after his ordination, Wall says, that he began to understand the trauma that abusive priests were inflicting, not only on their victims but on victims' families and communities.

As a new priest, Wall started hearing confessions of victims' relatives who blamed themselves for the abuse, telling Wall "I should have known, I should have seen the signs."

A heavy-set man who laughs easily, Wall still looks like the linebacker he was in high school and college. He peppers his speech with words like "dude" and casually refers to people who he thinks have done something stupid as "morons."

But relating the confessions of victims' relatives, Wall's cheerful demeanor hardens.

"I'm telling them, 'You haven't committed a sin,'" he says.

Wall, right, with his mom, dad and a diocesan priest in 1989.

Wall says that child abuse isn't like other injury cases, such as car crashes, in which a victim might be 10% at fault. Instead, he says, "100% of the blame is on the perpetrator."

Over the next four years, Wall says that the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis sent him to four more places in Minnesota where priests needed to move out fast.

He learned a lot. Wall says he saw that there was a budget for handling cases of priestly sexual abuse as far back as 1994, eight years before the scandal blew up nationally with revelations about abuse in Boston, Massachusetts. The archdiocese could not immediately confirm that, but spokesman Dennis McGrath said he would not be surprised if it was true, saying the archdiocese had been a leader in helping victims of abuse.

Wall did what the church told him to do for as long as he could, he says, but his doubts continued to grow.

"I followed the party line," he says. "But it's pretty hard to follow the party line when you don't think the party line is moral any more."

The breaking point came in 1997. Wall was in Rome, studying for a master's of divinity degree. His abbot called from Minnesota to tell him he was being posted to the Bahamas.

It was not the dream job it might sound like.

Wall says that the Bahamas was where Saint John's was sending priests it had to keep away from people because of abuse allegations. Richards, the abbey's spokesman, flatly denies the charge.

"I basically was going to be a prison warden," Wall says.

"Without much planning, I said, 'Basta cosi,'" he says, lapsing into Minnesota-accented Italian meaning, "Enough of this." Wall had decided to leave the priesthood.

Patrick Wall at his first mass as a priest in December 1992.

The abbot did not take that well, Wall says, warning that he would never make it in "the real world," that he would not be released from his priestly vows and that the order would bill him for the master's degree it had sponsored for him. The tab for the degree was about $48,000, he says.

Richards denies those allegations. "It has never been the abbey's practice to require payback for education from members of our community who have left," he says, "and it was not the case with Pat Wall."

Wall says the abbot's threats did not change his mind.

"All it did is piss me off even more," he says. "I left without a plan in December 1997."

Insider knowledge

Wall says he went home to Lake City, Minnesota to live with his parents, then bounced from job to job for nearly five years. He got married and had a daughter. He made good money as a salesman in Southern California but says he found the work as intellectually stimulating as "shovelling dirt."

And then, in 2002, the California state legislature did something that would change Wall's life. The state opened a one-year window to allow victims of clergy abuse to sue the church, even if the if the statute of limitations on the case had already expired.

Wall's eyes light up as he discusses the moment.

The law did not specifically target the Catholic Church, Wall says, noting that some rabbis were sued as well. But Catholic organizations were by far the largest group of defendants.

Still, suing a Catholic diocese was no easy task. "The litigation demanded a level of expertise that had never been needed before," Wall says.

Because of his religious training in canon law, as the Catholic Church's rules are known, Wall had that expertise. He knew how and where the church kept records. He knew where money came from and where it went. He spoke Italian and Latin.

In his first case, he testified against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, California, challenging its claim that it did not know the Franciscan friar at the center of abuse allegations.

Wall insisted that the archdiocese and any priest in it would have easy access to church records saying who the Franciscan was and who had jurisdiction over him.

The case settled out of court, Wall says.

The Diocese of Orange declined to comment for this article, as did the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, which is the defendant in several cases currently involving Wall’s firm, Manly and Stewart.

Jeffrey Lena, a lawyer who represents the Vatican in the United States, also declined to comment.

But Jeff Anderson, a Minnesota-based lawyer who specializes in suing the Catholic Church on behalf of abuse victims and filed the suit against Saint John's Abbey, is full of praise for Wall.

Anderson calls Wall “an extraordinary researcher, academic and hands-on voice of experience from the inside.”

He praises the former priest's “courage,” and says he is a “powerful, insightful source of information based on his own personal experience and his study of the phenomenon” of abuse.

An old problem

Wall argues that the problem of abuse by priests is far older than anyone in the church admits publicly.

The earliest church records concerning sexual misconduct by priests come from the Council of Elvira, he says. That synod took place in what is now Spain in the year 309.

There was a treatment center for abusive priests in Hartford, Connecticut, as far back as 1822, Wall says, and the Vatican issued instructions to American bishops on how to judge and punish accusations of criminal acts by priests as far back as 1883.

Wall provided his translation of the 1883 instructions to CNN. They do not refer to any specific crimes, but refer to “abuses” and “evils.” They set out how to investigate, judge and punish crimes by priests, laying out rules such as the examination of witnesses in private, and the opportunity for the accused to know the charges and to respond and appeal.

The Philadelphia district attorney's office declined to comment on assistance it is receiving from Wall, saying it was prevented by court order from discussing the case with the media.

But Wall says that years of seeing how the Catholic Church handles abuse cases have convinced him that the church will not solve the problem itself.

He says he's not impressed by new instructions from Rome last month giving bishops around the world a year to come up with procedures for handling allegations of abuse.

"It's a Circular Letter," he says, using the official church term for the document. "That means it's for the circular file. Bishops are going to throw it away."

Last week, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops revised its 2002 charter around dealing with sex abuse allegations to reflect the Vatican's new standards.

Wall believes the Catholic Church will survive this scandal.

"It's going to fix itself," he says.

"The institution is going to become radically smaller" as people abandon the church, he predicts. "The loss of membership, the problems in the criminal courts, the statements from the pope - these are all good."

Perpetrators need "access, power and money" in order to commit crimes and get away with them, Wall argues. A smaller, weaker Catholic Church won't be able to provide those things, making it less of a haven for abusers, he says, which will lead to a cleansed institution.

In the meantime, Wall says, the church should give up trying to handle abusers internally and let the law step in.

He recommends that the church "completely get out" of child protection, hand over all its files to civil law enforcement, and make bishops sign a legal oath every year that there are no perpetrators in the ministry - which would open them to criminal prosecution if they are found to have lied.

"Otherwise," he says, "I'll be prosecuting priest sex abuse cases for the rest of my life."

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Bishops • Catholic Church • Sex abuse

soundoff (745 Responses)
  1. Ed Peterson

    numerology for Patrick Wall:

    http://edpetersonnumerology.com/2011/06/19/numerology-for-patrick-j-wall/

    June 19, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • John Richardson

      I believe you are genuinely well meaning. But I also have no doubt that your numerology is sheer crackpotism. Best lose it.

      June 19, 2011 at 7:27 pm |
  2. Total non sense

    Religion is the (proved) root of all evil. it need to be BAN and practicing it punishable by instant life in prison (or death).. There is no way a rational heatly human will beleive in god. only the mentaly chalanged do... the rest use religion as a exucse to be above the law.....

    Look at history, reliong has caused (and still today) only pain and suffering..... it is time to outlaw it.

    June 19, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • 4mercy

      Sure, okay. I'd like to see your "proof".

      June 19, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • Corvus1

      You'd have to ban the human race to get rid of suffering and pain.

      June 19, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Faux Paws

      Yes indeed. We must outlaw reliong.

      June 19, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Interesting post here, Total non sense. Give me the PROOF that religion is the root of all evil and I'll give you the correct spelling for mentally and challenged !
      @Faux Paws Why should 'reliong' be banned? Is it a new dvd or a notifiable disease?????? [Sorry - a bit mean but I couldn't resist it]

      June 20, 2011 at 12:36 am |
    • Faux Paws

      @Voice Of Reason
      Sorry, was just being sarcastic also about the original post's misspellings.

      June 20, 2011 at 9:14 am |
  3. FAS

    Apropos:

    "The road to hell is paved with the skulls of erring priests, with bishops as their signposts."

    ~ St. John Chrysostom (A.D. 347-407), Doctor of the Church, generally considered the most prominent doctor of the Greek Church and the greatest preacher ever heard in a Christian pulpit.

    June 19, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  4. Steve

    This guy is not a "crusader" of anything. Indeed, it is both easy and popular in today's secular and politically-correct environment to attack Christ and his Church. Indeed, in the Gospels, Christ predicted that Christians would be persecuted. What this guy is doing is easy and wildly popular in our culture. Perhaps he should focus on living according to the commandments of Christ and the teachings of the Church, is most certainly NOT an easy or popular thing to do in today's world.

    I also wonder how much money this guy is making "consulting" with plaintiffs' lawyers and persecuting the Church. Unfortunately for him, he will not succeed. Christ told St. Peter that not even the gates of hell would prevail against his Church. Catholics should take comfort in this promise. The Church will stand strong until the end of this age.

    Finally, to attack all Catholics, the entire Catholic Church, and all priests based upon the conduct of a very few priests, would be tantamount to holding all U.S. citizens accountable for the heinous acts of Ted Bundy or Richard Speck. It is simply illogical and unfair. What these minority of priests have done is certainly worthy of the harshest condemnation. However, this should not be used as an excuse to persecute the entire Church or Catholics in general. Regardless, this guy won't be able to take any money he is making off of his futile efforts to persecute the Church into the next life; I hope he enjoys it now.

    I will pray for all of our priests, as well as those who persecute Christians and the Holy Catholic Church.

    June 19, 2011 at 1:16 pm |
    • Andy

      Steve's claim that the Catholic Church was founded on Peter (the rock) is false.

      The translation of the word ecclesia to "church" came by order of King James for strictly political purpose. The word ecclesia has no hierarchical implications. It just means "believers" with no suggestion of buildings, leaders or any organizational structure (Acts 7:48; 17:24).

      Next, by studying the translation of the word Peter (Petros) and the word rock (petra), it reveals that the word Peter means Stone – not Rock. Jesus Christ is the Rock.

      During the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt through the wilderness, they were accompanied by the Spirit of God, as it states in 1 Cor. 10:4.

      "And they all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock: and that Rock was Christ."

      But even more than Christ being the Rock – the foundation of His ecclesia (the Body of Christ and His followers), Christ would build His ecclesia on a specific principle – the principle that God would teach His followers directly.

      After Peter declared that Jesus was "the Christ, the Son of the Living God," Jesus said to Peter: Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed this to thee, but my Father which is in heaven (Matthew 16:17).

      Jesus Christ proclaimed that His true followers would be taught directly by God – Not by man

      God is our Teacher.

      As we have testified before, the gospel we preach is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:10-12).

      For a better understanding of the above we invite you to read the article You Need Not That Any Man Teach You listed on this website.

      The translation of the word ecclesia to "church" came by order of King James for strictly political purpose. The word ecclesia has no hierarchical implications. It just means "believers" with no suggestion of buildings, leaders or any organizational structure (Acts 7:48; 17:24).

      Next, by studying the translation of the word Peter (Petros) and the word rock (petra), it reveals that the word Peter means Stone – not Rock. Jesus Christ is the Rock.

      During the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt through the wilderness, they were accompanied by the Spirit of God, as it states in 1 Cor. 10:4.

      "And they all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock: and that Rock was Christ."

      But even more than Christ being the Rock – the foundation of His ecclesia (the Body of Christ and His followers), Christ would build His ecclesia on a specific principle – the principle that God would teach His followers directly.

      After Peter declared that Jesus was "the Christ, the Son of the Living God," Jesus said to Peter: Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed this to thee, but my Father which is in heaven (Matthew 16:17).

      Jesus Christ proclaimed that His true followers would be taught directly by God – Not by man

      God is our Teacher.

      As we have testified before, the gospel we preach is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:10-12).

      For a better understanding of the above we invite you to read the article You Need Not That Any Man Teach You listed on the website http://www.aworlddeceived.ca

      June 19, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
    • Brian

      Thank yo Steve. A lot of dumb Catholic haters out there.

      June 19, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • Me

      well said!

      June 19, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • Steve

      Andy, you are wrong. As a convert from one of over 3000 (and growing) protestant sects to Catholicism, I have studied this in great detail. Christ did not hand the keys to heaven to Martin Luther or Calvin (who broke away from the Church 1500 years after Christ), he gave them to St. Peter, the first Pope. Moreover, during the Agony in the Garden, before Christ suffered his Passion, he prayed: "Father, may my followers be one as you and I are one." Christ is no doubt sorely disappointed by the protestant movement.

      By the way, there were no bibles prior to 1500 A.D., and the reason that the bible exists today is because of the Catholic (Greek for "Universal" – the Church had to call itself something after the protestants broke away in 1500 A.D.) Church and some very diligent monks. The Scriptures, the Traditions of the Church, and the Magisteriam of the Church are all supported by scripture.

      Christ told his Apostles before he Ascended into Heaven: Whatever you sins you forgive will be forgiven, and whatever sins you retain will be retained." He never gave Martin Luther or Calvin this power. With this power, Christ entrusted the management of his Church to St. Peter and Apostles, and apostolistic succession continues to this day with the existing Pope.

      Our profession of faith:

      "We believe (I believe) in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, and born of the Father before all ages. (God of God) light of light, true God of true God. Begotten not made, consubstantial to the Father, by whom all things were made. Who for us men and for our salvation came down from heaven. And was incarnate of the Holy Ghost and of the Virgin Mary and was made man; was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried; and the third day rose again according to the Scriptures. And ascended into heaven, sits at the right hand of the Father, and shall come again with glory to judge the living and the dead, of whose Kingdom there shall be no end. And (I believe) in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father (and the Son), who together with the Father and the Son is to be adored and glorified, who spoke by the Prophets. And one holy, catholic, and apostolic Church. We confess (I confess) one baptism for the remission of sins. And we look for (I look for) the resurrection of the dead and the life of the world to come. Amen."

      I believe every word of this, and I am PROUD to be Catholic.

      Peace be with you.

      June 19, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • 4mercy

      God Bless you, Steve! Welcome "home"!

      June 19, 2011 at 2:09 pm |
    • An observational opinion

      I notice there are no prayers for the children, no denouncing of the pedo[priests who fill the Catholic church, or anything that shows any consideration for truth, love, honesty, or anything by these bored priests sitting at their keyboards today.

      No prayers for the victims? That shows us where your hearts are at. I hope your deaths are as slow and agonizing as possible.

      June 19, 2011 at 7:44 pm |
    • Steve

      In response to "An Observational Opinion" below, I stated in my post the reprehensible nature of the actions of the minority of priests. No Catholic condones such conduct. It goes without saying that our prayers are with the victims.

      As for your statement wishing Catholics "slow and agonizing" deaths, I am sorry for you and your hatred. Christ commanded us to love our enemies. I will also include you in my prayers, that you may find the peace of God and expel hatred from your heart; it serves no purpose.

      June 19, 2011 at 8:02 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Great post Steve. Thank you.

      June 20, 2011 at 12:40 am |
  5. Daly

    Rule #1 – Go to the police if you suspect your child or any other child has been abused. Start off with getting the cops involved. If you go to an organization and tell them first they will most likely attempt damage control before they inform the cops. Sad, but that is the way organizations work. The Baptist churches do not keep records of ministers activities so they have no idea what is going on at each church. The reason this was exposed in the Catholic church was the type of records and book keeping used by the church. If this had been in the Baptist faith there would be no records.

    June 19, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Kornelia Strong

      This is not surprising. The Catholic Church has ruled with iron fists since the beginning of time and it is high time that Priests, etc., are prosecuted like any one else.
      Good for Walls, the man is a God send!!

      June 19, 2011 at 1:22 pm |
  6. jon

    Nothing like someone who made a vow for life, who's a quitter, to solve all the problems of the world.

    June 19, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • Andy G.. van den Berg

      Why is CNN moderating and not posting our reply? Please respond to e-mail address.

      June 19, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • SQLC

      @Jon

      So, your argument is that if you came to realize that whatever you were doing was wrong, even if you did take a vow to keep doing so, you should keep on doing it? Is that considered a valid Christian argument?

      June 19, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • John Richardson

      @Andy You have no doubt run afoul of the word filter, which blocks even innocuous words if they contain supposedly offensive parts. Check your post for words like 'atti-tude' or 'cu-mulative'. Note the break between letters. Just stick in a hyphen wherever there may be a supposedly offensive portion of a word. This filter drive everyone crazy at some point or other.

      June 19, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • dadatruth

      I guess he should have turned a blind eye and lived happily ever after.

      June 19, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • Helpful Hints

      Bad letter combinations / words to avoid if you want to get past the CNN "awaiting moderation" filter:
      Many, if not most, are buried within other words, so use your imagination.
      You can use dashes, spaces, or other characters to modify the "offending" letter combinations.
      --–
      ar-se.....as in ar-senic, etc.
      co-ck.....as in co-ckatiel, co-ckatrice, co-ckleshell, co-ckles, lubco-ck, etc.
      co-on.....as in rac-oon, coc-oon, etc.
      cu-m......as in doc-ument, accu-mulate, circu-mnavigate, circu-mstances, cu-mbersome, cuc-umber, etc.
      ef-fing...as in ef-fing filter
      ft-w......as in soft-ware, delft-ware, swift-water, etc.
      ho-mo.....as in ho-mo sapiens or ho-mose-xual, ho-mogenous, etc.
      ho-rny....as in tho-rny, etc.
      jacka-ss...yet "ass" is allowed by itself.....
      ja-p......as in j-apanese, ja-pan, j-ape, etc.
      nip-ple
      pi-s......as in pi-stol, lapi-s, pi-ssed, therapi-st, etc.
      pr-ick....as in pri-ckling, pri-ckles, etc.
      ra-pe.....as in scra-pe, tra-peze, gr-ape, thera-peutic, sara-pe, etc.
      se-x......as in Ess-ex, s-exual, etc.
      sh-@t.....but shat is okay – don't use the @ symbol there.
      sn-atch
      sp-ic.....as in disp-icable, hosp-ice, consp-icuous, susp-icious, sp-icule, sp-ice, etc.
      ti-t......as in const-itution, att-itude, ent-ities, alt-itude, beat-itude, etc.
      tw-at.....as in wristw-atch, nightw-atchman, etc.
      va-g......as in extrava-gant, va-gina, va-grant, va-gue, sava-ge, etc.
      who-re....as in who're you kidding / don't forget to put in that apostrophe!
      wt-f....also!!!!!!!

      There are more, some of them considered "racist", so do not assume that this list is complete.

      June 19, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
  7. CubanMom

    I am glad to read this article, priests must come forward and hold the hierarcy accountable! Those of us in the Laity have very little power, with the exception of money! Sadly some of my fellow Catholics are so brainwashed, that they refuse to rise up against the Vatican!

    In case anyone wonders how I'm still a member of the church, it is because the people are the church and I'm working to change the church to what Christ had in mind! And believe me Jesus IS disgusted with the Vatican which is just a group of egotistical power hungry men, who are so out of touch with reality it's insane.

    June 19, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • RC4EVA

      I'm with you Cubanmom. Some the men leading the church are terrible leaders and we need to demand change and let bishops know we do not rely on their judgement in these things. I feel bad for the folks who leave the church because I think they are giving up a chance to change what's wrong. Imagine if everyone just walked away every time there was a problem rather than stay and confront it. As an example, the US and our elected officials are some of the most corrupt individuals on the planet, yet I stay because I believe in the principles and what the US is really about – I'm not going ot stop being a citizen because of Weiner and Obama. I think many Catholics use it as a cop out as to rationalize why they don't need to follow all the strict guidelines of being a Christian.

      June 19, 2011 at 1:08 pm |
    • 4mercy

      I can't speak for what kind of people are in the Vatican – except for the LEADERS of the church. Christians need to be obedient to God, and part of that for catholics is being obedient to church doctrines. If a civil crime has been committed, it will be prosecuted. Beyond that, reserve judgement for God. He will the final determination about who may be guilty of which sins.

      June 19, 2011 at 1:31 pm |
    • No mercy for pedo-priests EVER

      If you leave the justice up to your non-existent god, then there will never be any justice done.

      We can make justice here on earth. To give up any effort at bringing criminals to justice just because you believe in a god is criminally stupid and criminally insane.
      You would let them ra-pe anyone anywhere at anytime because you want to "leave it up to god".
      That's just insane. Just f-ucking insane. You should all be shot for being so insane. That's how insane you are.

      June 19, 2011 at 7:51 pm |
  8. newsreel

    One more proof that decent people will see the light and realize what a rotten, corrupt this organization has become. Working from the inside, he must have seen these dirty crimes first hand, and had the courage to leave, unlike so many other sheeps who just want to preserve the status quo to protect thwemselves, and what little dignity they think they have left.

    June 19, 2011 at 12:48 pm |
    • CounterCrusade

      Guess I don't see "the light." I wouldn't want to be blinded by hatred just like you

      June 19, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • newsreel

      Although the ranks and files has decreased steadily, ( a lot of churches have been converted to condos), there are sadly still ppl haninging on, hoping against all hope to preserve their make-believe ticket to heaven....

      June 19, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • jason

      no, @CounterCrusade, you're blinded by something other than hate. It has to do with a refusal to even consider or listen to anything that might possibly, in some little way, challenge any belief you have in the slightest... although you do clearly hate anybody who makes those suggestions so hate IS involved in some way to your blindness.

      June 19, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • Charge Nurse Betty

      @jason
      You sorta nailed it there. The complete inability to even entertain the possibility of being incorrect says more about one's psychological state that it does about the truth, or not, of any discussion at hand.

      June 19, 2011 at 2:13 pm |
  9. Daly

    Most abuse is incest so that brings the question up: "What will marriage solve?"

    Should all school teachers be married as well?

    June 19, 2011 at 12:44 pm |
  10. LawsMustChange

    New York has an opportunity to expose pedophiles. However we need your help. If the 'Child Victims Act' Bill does not make it to the floor for votes by wed, 22nd, this coming week, it will be squashed. The Assembly will pass the Bill, however certain senators will keep it in codes committee. It needs to get out of the codes committee (they place it there so that it will rot away) and onto the floor. Please go to http://www.childrescuebill. org/Yoursupport/YourSupport.htm (omit space)

    All we ask is your phone call and an email. We will keep you posted on what senators are stopping it.

    Thank you for your help..

    June 19, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • 4mercy

      I think it's important right now that people support their NY legislators to vote down legalizing same s e x marriage. The vote is coming soon and those who have pledged their support to vote it down are already giving into the e vil of i m m o rality which plagues our modern society.

      June 19, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
    • fimeilleur

      @ 4mercy

      What makes same s3x marriage "immoral"? Your god? I don't think he exists... so when he presents himself to the law makers and expresses his wishes, only then should we consider his fealings. When I am sleeping with my wife, it is of no concern to you. When 2 concenting adults are together, it is of no concern to you. Canada has legalized same s3x marriages for a few years now... I don't think there has been one "breakdown" of a heteros3xual marriage because the neighbours are gay...

      June 19, 2011 at 6:20 pm |
    • points to ponder

      I think that maybe all those gay and bi ppl in a hetero marriage are scared they won't have any reason to stay in the closet where it's nice and comfortable.
      So many Republicans are found to be secretly gay that at least some of them must surely think this way....

      June 19, 2011 at 8:00 pm |
  11. PW

    Impeach the pope! Complete failure of ethics and leadership at all levels. The hierarchy putters around with rituals and oscure theology, fails to teach ethics from the pulpit, and grossly fails the test of day to day ethical behavior. Like protecting children instead of accused priests.

    June 19, 2011 at 12:36 pm |
    • Petel2

      It's not just this pope, it has been most. Remember, these people are like kids who never grew up. They create their own tree-house rules and try to control others. Celibacy is just a game they pretend, not a rule they live by. They have zero concept of family and responsibility, they act as a mob.

      June 19, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • CounterCrusade

      You both know NOTHING about the Church

      June 19, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • TDJ

      Let me address your points:

      1. The pope cannot be "impeached."

      2. I don't find the theology of the Church "obscure". It isn't, really.

      3. Ethics should not be preached from the pulpit; "morals", well yes, and the right kind.

      4. If you don't like rituals, you can leave the Church. I don't want you to, but if this is an obstacle for you, you should leave.

      5. The problem will be fixed when are seminaries are fixed: when they admit orthodox men, teach orthodoxy and orthopraxis – preach the Truth and live it – and exorcise the demons of the world they've allowed in using Vatican II as an excuse.

      And that would only be the beginning. But the Church, founded by Jesus Christ himself, will survive and persist until the end of time, despite the sins of her members.

      -Theo
      Blogmaster, http://www.vivificat.org

      June 19, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • CubanMom

      @PeteI12: Acutally Benedict has had a lot to do with the pedophilia crisis! When he was a cardinal he refused to defrock a priest in California that was accused of various crimes against children! Look it up, the pope is just as guilty as the pedophiles are!

      June 19, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Final Solutions R Us, Inc.

      Pedophilia has been supported and inst-itutionalized by the Catholic Church since its very beginnings.
      The proof is in the NT.
      Religion is just another bit of fakery and fraud used to get "access" to the vulnerable.
      Taking advantage of the helpless and defenseless is the whole point of religion.
      Those are just some of the reasons why religion must be stopped.
      On the list to be destroyed:
      Catholic and other Christian religions
      Islam
      Judaism
      Hindu
      Etc.

      When these idiotic conclaves of insanity are wiped from human society, we can move forward.
      Otherwise, we are stuck with this insanity and sickness called RELIGION.

      June 19, 2011 at 8:07 pm |
  12. PeterTW

    A clear case of ulterior motive and personal agenda to be a qualified counsel or legal witness.

    June 19, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Dan

      Exactly.

      June 19, 2011 at 1:09 pm |
    • Vance

      This guy needs money to afford his wife and child's expenses!!! That's all!!!

      June 19, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
  13. Mac

    Didn't this "priest" take a Vow, which he sort of ignored and broke. How much am I to believe of someone who cannot keep his word. Especially someone being paid for information involving the breaking of his Vow!

    June 19, 2011 at 12:34 pm |
    • CounterCrusade

      Exactly! This guy is a disgrace

      June 19, 2011 at 12:50 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      Vow ? What vow ? Do you know ANYthing about which you opine ?
      He likely took 3 vows. 1. poverty, 2. chast'ity, 3 obedience. (Some Benedictines may take one or two others, neither of which include the promise to "conceal").
      They impoverished him. There is no evidence he was unchaste. Are you suggesting that Hitler's hechmen had no obligation to disobey ?

      June 19, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • Elbert Aloysius O'Malley Grunderson

      Breaking a vow made in ignorance is never wrong.
      And when it is also "broken" to stop criminal behavior, is is also, "not wrong".
      That's why you can't make criminal contracts. They mean nothing.
      Just as those ridiculous vows meant nothing.
      I applaud this REAL MAN for refusing to support the criminal conspiracy that is known as the Catholic Church.

      June 19, 2011 at 8:12 pm |
  14. Nick

    I am a student at St. John's university and a raised Catholic and I wanted to express my anger and disappointment with the way the abbot and the rest of the Abbey officials are dealing with this situation. I attended a hearing with the Abbot and the way that they are dealing with these issues are so minimal it's embarrassing... Especially to our school community which has minimal communication with the Abbey itself. That being said, I commend Mr. Wall's efforts on bringing these scandals to light and I hope these disgusting crimes will finally come to a end.

    June 19, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • MN-SNAP

      Thank You Nick.

      June 19, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • CounterCrusade

      The Church is already routing out these corrupt priests. CNN just doesn't want that to be put on its homepage

      June 19, 2011 at 12:41 pm |
    • CounterCrusade

      SNAP doesn't care about "victims." Only money

      June 19, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • gerald is a pedo-priest

      I think gerald got tired of being gerald and is now "CounterCrusade".
      Funny how a crusade is commonly known to be a good thing based on real morals.
      That would make "counter-crusading" something closer to being a soldier in "Satan's Army", wouldn't it?

      June 19, 2011 at 8:14 pm |
  15. HOLY

    Popular Catholic Priest John Corapi Calls It Quits, Blasts Church Leaders On His Way Out
    Huffington post.com

    June 19, 2011 at 12:25 pm |
    • dadatruth

      Corapi is on his way to mega bucks. Corapi is a one man band who is the favorite of many fans. These fans should pick a better leader. How about a guy named Jesus??

      June 19, 2011 at 1:33 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      I saw that on the Huffington Post yesterday, and was wondering how Corapi was going to spin it. He is not "on the way" to megabucks, he HAS megabucks, (not sure whether most of it came from his commercial operation, or from the millions of dollars he was paid as the beneficiary of his Federal whistle-blower settlement in the Texas Medicare (unnecessary) cardiac surgery matter. In any case why a cleric with a vow of poverty would keep t'itle to the dough instead of handing it over to his order was a very odd premonition. (I can't find on the web site if they actually DO take vows of poverty, but I think you could assume they do). Also he doesn't explain in his rather long and patronizing video he released last week why exactly he found it was consistent to "just leave" (even if his reasons are valid), with the catechism he "preached', which NEVER talks about that option.

      June 20, 2011 at 9:38 am |
  16. Angel

    I wonder how many people have asked the question, "why are there so many child predators in the church".
    Why are we not seeing this problem running amok in, say day cares. You would think that day cares with such a huge access of children would be a greater problem in this subject. Why the church and not day cares? I think I know why.

    It's no secrete that there is a child predator underground, where these deviants share tactics and such. What if perhaps, the have discovered long ago that the church is the one place where they can molest children and get away with it, because the church would protect them. Instead of turning them over to authorities, they would simply move them to another church where they can start abusing children all over again.

    This problem is not as rampant in child care because there is no protection plan in place. If a co-worker or a supervisor even suspects one of their own as having molested a child, the would call the police right away. They wouldn't say, oh we need to move you to another day care.

    So I strongly believe that child molesters learned long ago, that if they become priest, that they can get away with their crimes and go unpunished. This is why the church has such a huge problem with child predators in their ranks.

    June 19, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • mm

      I agree with you, there is something about their hierarchy and system that has made it a perfect haven for child molesters. And if that isn't bad enough, even as the problem has snowballed into something huge, the Church still has not addressed the issue forcefully enough.

      I also find it disturbing that the Church is doing a "fast track" saint hood of the previous pope, JP II, as if that will erase the scandal that was becoming public during his tenure. Mother Theresa isn't even a saint yet, for heavens sake! It's all about appearances and manipulation.

      I commend Patrick Wall for confronting this issue instead of sticking his head in the sand, as he is in a unique position to help.

      I also agree with Wall that the Church will not change until it has hit rock bottom and has no choice. But in the meantime, as they have dioceses file Chapter 11 and claim bankruptcy to avoid further payouts, they are hanging onto their goodies as long as they can. Disgusting.

      June 19, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • CounterCrusade

      The Church is already running background checks on those who wish to enter the priesthood.

      June 19, 2011 at 12:42 pm |
    • CounterCrusade

      The Church is NOT rich. The money goes towards humanitarian efforts. I just blew the biggest MYTH about the Church apart

      June 19, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • Faux Paws

      @CounterCrusade
      Re: "The Church is not rich". Was in Rome a couple weeks ago, and one of those Raphael's hanging in the Vatican was worth about $50,000,000, the guard told us.

      June 19, 2011 at 12:58 pm |
    • KaraLyn

      I have a different theory. The devil wants people to turn away from God and to hate Him, the church & religion. What's the best way ror the devil to do this? By hurting children through the hands of God's representatives on earth – priests. The church is the best place for the devil to infiltrate and do his disgusting handiwork.

      June 19, 2011 at 1:21 pm |
    • I_get _it

      @Counter Crusade: "The Church is NOT rich. The money goes towards humanitarian efforts."

      Just consider this *one* example to counter your statement:

      The furnishings of the new Our Lady of the Angels cathedral in Los Angeles:
      - $5 million was budgeted for the altar,
      - the main bronze doors cost $3 million,
      - $2 million was budgeted for the wooden ambo (lectern)
      - $1 million for the tabernacle
      - $1 million was budgeted for the cathedra (bishop's chair),
      - $250,000 for the presider's chair,
      - $250,000 for each deacon's chair,
      - $150,000 for each visiting bishops' chair,
      - pews cost an average of $50,000 each.
      - the cantor's stand cost $100,000
      - each bronze chandelier/speaker cost $150,000.

      June 19, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • 4mercy

      @Faux Paws – perhaps that's how much they are "worth"....but that doesn't mean that the church bought or commissioned them for that price. Please. Don't spread lies about things which you don't truly know.

      June 19, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • Faux Paws

      @4mercy
      So the guard at the Vatican was lying ?
      Who cares how much it was co'mmissioned for, or purchased for, 600 or so years ago ? (If you found a long lost Da Vinci in your attic, I bet you would consider yourself "rich", and it was likely purchased for a few dollars). The point IS that it is a current as'set, worth many millions of dollars, and the ti'tle to which, (including millions of other historical artifacts, works of art, real estate, endowment funds, makes the RC church, by most accounting methods, very wealthy. In conclusion, YOU seem to be the one who truly doesn't know much here.

      June 19, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  17. VictimOfAbuse

    I was a victim of soddddoommy at age 8 by a priest who is a bishop today and stands in front of his church claiming only a few did it. He is a liar and deceiver. Again this happened to me at age 9, this time buy other priests. The bishop and these priests are around children today. This is in upstate NY. We can do nothing because our senators need catholic votes and bury Bills that would become law and expose these pedos.

    Two of those who abused me held a camp for disadvantaged boys a few years ago. I went to the DA, who I later found out was friends with this bishop. I then went to the FBI. The FBI stated it is prevalent in the Catholic church, much larger than in Ireland. They said that until New York voted in senators who represented people first, nothing could happen and their hands are tied until laws change.

    June 19, 2011 at 12:22 pm |
    • HOLY

      really sorry to hear your story, join SNAP.

      June 19, 2011 at 12:26 pm |
    • Veronica13

      Why don't you get an attorney?

      June 19, 2011 at 12:33 pm |
    • CounterCrusade

      I don't believe you

      June 19, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Daly

      Victim, you need to sue the DA, the FBI, and the Catholic Church. Of course I find your story hard to believe since you have not named the priest/bishop in your story. Does this abuser have a name ? If you don't tell the world he will continue to do harm.

      June 19, 2011 at 12:40 pm |
    • VictimOfAbuse

      New York state has statutes of limitations. Lawyers will not take cases until laws change. Until then, those who comment with 'you liar' will continue to harm those already harmed.

      Violent trauma to a child will cause life long illness, proven. As a child, you now live in isolation. Fear is around every corner and concentration is simply a thing of the past.

      One of those who abused me in upstate NY abused another. This victim committed suicide. Really sad is that he left a note behind explaining the abuse, it was disgusting as mine. Perverts would puke at what they did. His mother cried every night for him, until her death.

      Yet there are those who deny so many victims by siding with the church and deny victims once again. The truth is the greatest healer, yet the catholic church works hard to hide the truth by lies, deceit and lobbying to stop laws that would expose pedos.

      June 19, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • VictimOfAbuse

      I've named him and 5 others here before. All my posts were banned for a long time after that. I couldn't post for a while.

      June 19, 2011 at 12:52 pm |
    • Daly

      Victim, name your abuser ! Who cares if you get "banned" from additional postings? Do the right thing and name your abuser. Also, name the DA as well and your contact at the FBI. Expose all of them !!

      June 19, 2011 at 12:57 pm |
    • jason

      @CounterCrusade says "I don't believe you"

      ...wow, there's a shock. You seem so impartial and without any sort of agenda.

      June 19, 2011 at 1:06 pm |
    • TL

      Maybe you can join this Wall guy and help other victims and prosecute these perves.

      June 19, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
    • TL

      victim, why don't you join this group as well...

      LawsMustChange
      New York has an opportunity to expose pedophiles. However we need your help. If the 'Child Victims Act' Bill does not make it to the floor for votes by wed, 22nd, this coming week, it will be squashed. The Assembly will pass the Bill, however certain senators will keep it in codes committee. It needs to get out of the codes committee (they place it there so that it will rot away) and onto the floor. Please go to http://www.childrescuebill. org/Yoursupport/YourSupport.htm (omit space)

      All we ask is your phone call and an email. We will keep you posted on what senators are stopping it.

      Thank you for your help..

      June 19, 2011 at 1:18 pm |
    • 4mercy

      Victim, I am sad for you if you truly were victimized in this way. How has your life been impacted in the years since? How old are you now? Are you married? Are you employed? Do you have children? Did you seek therapy – and if so, for how long? I'm concerned about the fate of the victims and would like to know what has happened in your life since?

      June 19, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      I also, sincerely and respectfully, am interested in hearing about how your life has been affected post trauma. I was not physically abused, but became aware a a very early age that "screwy" things were happening in my archdiocese and local parish, (and thus some would say was a "victim" of psychological abuse). I actually am very glad I saw so early the "rotten to the core" nature of things, and it saved me a lot of time and energy, in a sense.
      Do you hold your parents responsible for putting you in an unsafe place ?
      I have a friend who has received a considerable advance for a novel about this subject, and he is trying to honestly understand the dynamics involved. Would you be willing to talk to him ?

      June 19, 2011 at 2:24 pm |
    • Daly

      Still waiting on names of the abuser and DA involved....

      June 19, 2011 at 4:01 pm |
    • VictimOfAbuse

      Bucky Ball,

      I would be most happy to discuss the abuses and effects caused. Most people have little concept. The worst trauma for victims of vioolent abuse is waking from that trauma to realizing a life never lived. It is horrible, suicide is far to easy.

      June 19, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
    • VictimOfAbuse

      Bucky Ball,

      I would be most happy to discuss the abuses and effects caused. Most people have little concept. The worst trauma for victims of vioolent abuse is waking from that trauma to realizing a life never lived. It is horrible, suicide is far to easy.

      email johnstemp101 at hotmail. com

      June 19, 2011 at 7:34 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      Thanks SO much !
      I applaud your courage and honesty.
      We'll be in touch shortly.

      June 19, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
  18. itsjustme

    Just great. He more or less knows where the bodies are buried...gee, that's the last thing the RCC needs!

    June 19, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
  19. HOLY

    Jesus was a hebrew prophet, he never claimed divinity. Christianity has been inspired by paganism. God is only one.
    May be CNN should do a story on this concept next.

    June 19, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
    • CounterCrusade

      You're full of crap

      June 19, 2011 at 12:49 pm |
    • dadatruth

      What fairy tale have you been reading? I suggest you try to read the Bible and see where Jesus claims divinity. (Clue: read any gospel. Have you heard of the Trinity?)

      June 19, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Free

      dadatruth
      Where in he gospels does it use the word "Trinity"? It took almost 400 years for the doctrine to win out precisely because it isn't plainly laid out in the scriptures.

      June 19, 2011 at 6:01 pm |
  20. marie*

    EVERY church faces some shape form or fashion of corruption.

    June 19, 2011 at 12:18 pm |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.