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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. christina

    wow it took me almost all day just to get to the bottom of page lol i also wanted to say i think its beyond wrong how the priests are suppose to guide these kids and yet they end up just taken advantage of them instead.

    June 19, 2011 at 4:21 pm |
  2. Jim

    [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9eqKb5ViN_Q&w=640&h=390]

    June 19, 2011 at 4:10 pm |
  3. fimeilleur

    @ CatholicMom

    I offer a challenge to you on page 2... so that you have a chance to see it, I'm reposting here: What were the last words of Jesus as he died on the cross? Please quote your source. Thanks. :-)

    June 19, 2011 at 3:05 pm |
    • fimeilleur

      Anyone interested, this question was answered on page 2... Am waiting for the next response...if there is one. :twisted:

      June 19, 2011 at 5:59 pm |
    • The Last Word of Jesus™

      "fucksocks!"

      June 19, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
    • As the spear got shoved into his lying heart he said

      Eeeeyyyaaarrrgghhhhh!

      June 19, 2011 at 7:14 pm |
    • quoted from memory

      "Okay, I lied! So go ahead and kill me you stupid Roman f-ucks! AawwwwYeeaaahhhaaarrrrrggghhhh!"

      June 19, 2011 at 7:17 pm |
  4. Reality

    And yet again more support for the following:

    Recognizing the flaws, follies and frauds in the foundations of Islam, Judaism and Christianity by the "bowers", kneelers" and "pew peasants" will converge these religions into some simple rules of life. No koran, bible, clerics, nuns, monks, imams, evangelicals, ayatollahs, rabbis, professors of religion, abbots or priests needed or desired.

    Ditto for houses of "worthless worship" aka mosques, churches, basilicas, cathedrals, temples and synagogues.

    June 19, 2011 at 2:53 pm |
    • MisterGrundy

      They are depraved, disgusting, and demented. Three D's to go with your B's.

      June 20, 2011 at 12:15 am |
  5. yanko

    wpray4u.com

    June 19, 2011 at 2:42 pm |
    • fimeilleur

      wwthink4u.com

      June 19, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
    • Colin

      fimeilleur, that's got to be the record for the fewest words ever to make a good point.

      June 19, 2011 at 5:43 pm |
    • fimeilleur

      @ Colin,

      Thank you, I'm a fan of yours :-)

      June 19, 2011 at 5:46 pm |
    • Colin

      in that case, thank you.

      June 19, 2011 at 5:49 pm |
  6. Colin

    Which of the following groups believes that an invisible being in the sky is watching their every move and will punish them if they are bad:

    (a) Small children, too young to know that is silly
    (b) Delusional schizophrenics
    (c) The Catholic Church
    (d) All of the above?

    June 19, 2011 at 2:29 pm |
  7. lifelongcatholic

    Let's preface this with I am Catholic, and always will be. No true Catholic can say that allegations of abuse of children by the clergy should be overlooked...and it's apparent that strictly handling it internally didn't solve the problem. This man has not said that the entire Church is corrupt...but that corrupt individuals exist within the Church and their victims deserve justice.

    AND, the comments and comparisons to Islam and terrorism is just ridiculous. The two have NOTHING to do with one another...except that both are proof that all religions have corrupt and flawed segments within them.

    June 19, 2011 at 2:20 pm |
    • Someone remove these stunted slimes from my presence

      You will no longer be a mind-sick idiot once you are dead. There is no "always" about it. Die soon, please.

      June 19, 2011 at 7:21 pm |
  8. Colin

    If anybody wants to witness human beings acting silly, I invite you to attend a Catholic mass. The Catholics actually believe that simple bread and wine is turned into the flesh and blood of Jesus because some priest uses his magic powers (or "sacred powers" to the extent you see a difference) to convert it. The fact that it is still bread and wine after the priest does his hocus-pocus is conveniently ignored by the gullible flock.

    And, by the way, they don't think it is symbolic. Despite still being bread and wine after the priest does his magic, it is, in their minds flesh and blood. It is the adults who believe this, too! It's not just a story for the little children.

    June 19, 2011 at 2:16 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Colin

      Several times the bread and wine have been "obtained", after they had been consecrated by the priest. Upon analysis, they were determined to be bread and wine, not the body and blood of Christ.

      The Catholic answer to this is that the bread and wine are changed, but instantly change back to the bread and wine they originally were.

      I think it is a lot like "the fastest gun in the west" routine.

      Cheers!

      June 19, 2011 at 2:51 pm |
    • Colin

      David, how are you?

      Keeping up the good fight, I see. Sooner or later, repeated doses of logic and reason will drive the dark forces of superst.ition from the minds of the believers.

      In a way, we are exorcists who don't believe in the demons we purge!!

      June 19, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      @David J.
      Hi ! I never heard THAT one. The reason why in Catholic churches have a sink in their sacristies called a sacrarium is as follows :
      "In the sacristy you will find the sacrarium - a special sink with a pipe that bypasses the sewer, unlike an ordinary sink, but instead goes straight into the earth. This sink is made thus to preserve the dignity of sacred things which can no longer be used. For ex., the sacred vessels are rinsed there so that no particle of the consecrated Host or no drop of the Precious Blood will end up in the sewer. The first rinse used to clean Altar linens, old baptismal water, sacred oils, blessed ashes, etc., all these are disposed of in the sacrarium, returning those substances to the earth."

      I wasn't an altar boy fer nuthin. :twisted:

      June 19, 2011 at 4:59 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Bucky Ball

      I didn't know about the special treatment. Thanks for the info.

      I do recall a story (don't remember source) of a flower garden that was watered with holy water. The patrons believed it worked better than Miracle Grow. ?

      I am really grateful to you and Colin and so many others, who point out reality to the deluded.

      Cheers!

      June 19, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  9. Muhfetus

    The petty squabble between believers and non goes to show that the larger issue at hand can be pushed aside due to personal bias. Look at the victims and the perps not where the perps are coming from. The church should step aside on child welfare cases and allow the legal system to do it's work. If a suspected priest, actually any one accused of the crime can be proven innocent. If they're not guilty the truth will come out. As far as all of you judging each other because religious preferance, you're all disgusting ignorant individuals. Pushing your views on others and saying that they are wrong when there's no solid evidence on either side providing a black and white answer makes you all morons.

    June 19, 2011 at 2:02 pm |
  10. Satan

    Actually im pleased that they listen to me, I tell them all the time.......look at those scrumptous boys!!!!

    June 19, 2011 at 2:01 pm |
    • I. Jacoff

      According to LEVITICUS 20:13 they should both be put to death. Most priest and young boys are liberals anyhow.

      June 19, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  11. Phil

    To paraphrase Cardinal Strauss, "My Church is flawed because man is flawed."

    June 19, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • AvdBerg

      CNN should be ashamed of not willing to report our comments and keep hiding behind the truth.

      June 19, 2011 at 1:51 pm |
    • Colin

      If anybody wants to witness human beings acting silly, I invite you to attend a Catholic mass. The Catholics actually believe that simple bread and wine is turned into the flesh and blood of Jesus because some priest uses his magic powers (or "sacred powers" to the extent you see a difference) to convert it. The fact that it is still bread and wine after the priest does his hocus-pocus is conveniently ignored by the gullible flock.

      And, by the way, they don't think it is symbolic. Despite still being bread and wine after the priest does his magic, it is, in their minds flesh and blood. It is the adults who believe this, too! It's not just a story for the little children.

      June 19, 2011 at 2:15 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      @Colin

      And then they EAT it ! I think there's a word for that.

      They say that the words of consecration turn the "substance", "under" the "accident" from one to the other. So I always wondered if the atomic structure of flesh and blood, couldn't be put in the mass spectrometer and seen to be different, or not, from a wafer and wine. Bet they could. Anyhow, the ancient Medieval language of "substance" and "accident" are no longer meaningful in 2011. Maybe they will get that some day. Well, maybe not. :twisted:

      June 19, 2011 at 4:23 pm |
    • Colin

      Hey Bucky. I guess, once one unhinges oneself from reality and starts to believe in the supernatural, nothing seems silly. I have often wondered how far religion would get if kids could not be exposed to the supernatural until they were about 18 years old and had a grounding in science and natural history. I suspect that these supersti.tions only get a toehold in peoples’ minds because it is downloaded while they are still too young to have a filter in place to filter out the sensible from silliness.

      Imagine, for example, an a bright college kid reading the Bible for the first time, especially one with a firm grounding in science and natural history. I doubt he would get through Genesis without discarding it as comical Bronze Age mythology.

      June 19, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Colin

      You said: " I guess, once one unhinges oneself from reality and starts to believe in the supernatural, nothing seems silly."

      That is why skeptics are good for the blog. In their absence, the believers tend to reinforce each other's delusions. Skeptics point them back to reality. Skeptics also perform a service, by showing readers that have not yet drank the Kool Aid

      You said: "I have often wondered how far religion would get if kids could not be exposed to the supernatural until they were about 18 years old and had a grounding in science and natural history. I suspect that these supersti.tions only get a toehold in peoples’ minds because it is downloaded while they are still too young to have a filter in place to filter out the sensible from silliness."

      Yep! Every child is born an atheist. Parents begin, almost at birth, to program the silliness into them.

      The religion of the parents and the society the child grows up in, have the most influence on the child's religion.

      That is another reason I find god to be very unlikely. We could teach a child to worship a teacup, if we desired.

      Cheers!

      June 19, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
  12. Adam

    It's interesting that many people's arguments against God or religion are rooted in a disdain for the hypocrisy exemplified from faith-based organizations and individuals. They are absolutely right to be appalled at such objectively wrong behavior. But it is nonetheless a completely empty argument against the truth of God's existence or whether or not religion is a good thing. It actually affirms the existence of objective right and wrong and thereby, in nearly all philosophers' viewpoints, affirms God's existence. Which brings along with it the affirmation that religion is a good thing and can and should be rooted in elicitation of righteous moral duties and values according to what God desires.

    June 19, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Well said Sir. Thank you.

      June 19, 2011 at 1:59 pm |
    • Colin

      Wow does the abuse scandal "affirm the existence of objective right and wrong" and how does that "affirm god's existence"?

      I know a few Buddhists and Hindus who would be amazed to learn that a few kiddie-fiddling Catholic priests touching up little boys is enough to render their faiths irrelevant. I have to hand it to you theists, you will find god's face in a bowl of soup.

      June 19, 2011 at 2:04 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Adam

      You said: "But it is nonetheless a completely empty argument against the truth of God's existence"

      Really? Why didn't god protect these children from the predators? Where was the children's free will?

      It is sad, when the only difference between there being a god, an there not being a god, is faith.

      You said: "It actually affirms the existence of objective right and wrong and thereby, in nearly all philosophers' viewpoints, affirms God's existence."

      How does it affirm the existence of objective right and wrong? Modern society has come to the conclusion (and rightly so), that it is wrong to consider children $exual objects. But, killing isn't always wrong. Or stealing. Morals are relative.

      You said: " Which brings along with it the affirmation that religion is a good thing and can and should be rooted in elicitation of righteous moral duties and values according to what God desires."

      Does god desire these moral duties because they are righteous, or are these moral duties righteous because god desires them?

      Cheers!

      June 19, 2011 at 2:26 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Colin

      Good man, Colin! I'm glad I'm not the only one that finds the believer's "fuzzy logic" idiotic.

      Cheers!

      June 19, 2011 at 2:35 pm |
    • Adam

      You said: "Modern society has come to the conclusion (and rightly so), that it is wrong to consider children $exual objects. But, killing isn't always wrong. Or stealing. Morals are relative."

      Now who's got fuzzy logic? First you say some things are objectively wrong, then you say morals are subjective. You need to grapple with the difference between objective and subjective. Objective means independant of people's opinions on a matter. Better luck next time.

      June 19, 2011 at 3:24 pm |
    • Colin

      Adam, once again, how does the abuse scandal "affirm the existence of objective right and wrong" and how does that "affirm god's existence"?

      June 19, 2011 at 3:30 pm |
    • John Richardson

      Right and wrong are not universally agreed upon, but to the extent that there is substantial overlap from culture to culture, it should be noted that right and wrong are recognized in cultures fat outside the sphere of influence of the Abrahamic religions, hence by no means support any Abrahamic conception of god.

      June 19, 2011 at 5:31 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @Adam

      Now who's got fuzzy logic? First you say some things are objectively wrong, then you say morals are subjective. You need to grapple with the difference between objective and subjective. Objective means independant of people's opinions on a matter. Better luck next time.

      No. I said society has decided. The rules of society change relative to the situation and the time. Society has decided killing is wrong...unless that society is at war. Understand?

      The Bronze Age morals expressed in the bible, are a good example. The morals expressed, were based on their knowledge and beliefs of the time. Times change.

      You did not answer my question. I repeat and rephrase my question:

      Does god give objective morals because they are good, or are the objective morals good because god gives them?

      Curious in Arizona

      June 19, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
    • Adam is a dumb-ass

      There are NO objective morals anywhere. To say that there are is to say something that is demonstrably untrue.

      All we have is moral relativism.
      Even the Bible is nothing but a lesson in moral relativism and sophistry for the ignorant. There is not a single jot or tlttle of moral absolutes to be found anywhere in the known universe. We have proof of moral relativism in the Bible. It is a collection of made-up rules. If there were moral absolutes, we wouldn't need anything written down in the first place. Duh.

      June 19, 2011 at 7:33 pm |
    • frank

      Sure some Byzantine logic in this place.

      June 19, 2011 at 7:41 pm |
  13. MJSouth

    Remember it is not the church who pays but all of those who give and try to be part of something greater than themselves. Sad for the church, sad for the victims that the "leadership" has failed so completely and has lost the meaning of its mission. It is all about the money for some and others pretending to defend the church while just protectiing their own self interest.
    Shame on all.

    June 19, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  14. Annexian

    My opinion, they should just recognize it's a wide world and let priests go on yearly "Gentelman's Tours" overseas... Everyone has moral failings, that's a part, forgive the other's sins for you'll ask forgiveness of yours someday. Hope you know who forgives someone you see as worst of worst, hope for all of us.

    Besides, there'd be perks. Say you were on a Gentleman's Tour yourself fighting off that late mid-life crisis and you were with (hopefully Adult) two or three cute Oriental women... And yer ticker had a short. I'm sure even if he's in the middle of absolute indulgence once he heard the alarm the "On vacation" priest would run like lightning from the "Boys" section of the pleasure boat/bro–thel and still wearing his leather leggings and mask be by your side to eagerly, EAGERLY hear your sins! I'm sure even the worst of these priests are still men who'd not let their worldly lusts interfere in how much they care about you and your soul!

    June 19, 2011 at 1:47 pm |
  15. Brian

    “[As a] lover of freedom, when the (Nazi) revolution came, I looked to the universities to defend it, knowing that they had always boasted of their devotion to the cause of truth; but no, the universities were immediately silenced.

    "Then I looked to the great editors of the newspapers, whose flaming editorials in days gone by had proclaimed their love of freedom; but they, like the universities, were silenced in a few short weeks...

    "Only the Church stood squarely across the path of Hitler’s campaign for suppressing truth. I never had any special interest in the Church before, but now I feel a great affection and admiration for it because the Church alone has had the courage and persistence to stand for intellectual and moral freedom. I am forced to confess that what I once despised I now praise unreservedly”

    - Albert Einstein, cited by Wilhelm Niemoller in Kampi und Zeugnis der bekennenden Kirche — Struggle and Testimony of the Confessing Church, p. 526. and Cochrane.

    June 19, 2011 at 1:39 pm |
    • Colin

      "My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter. It points me to the man who once in loneliness, surrounded by a few followers, recognized these Jews for what they were and summoned men to fight against them and who, in God's truth was greatest not as a sufferer but as a fighter.

      In boundless love as a Christian and as a man I read through the passage which tells us how the Lord at last rose in His might and seized the scourge to drive out of the Temple the brood of vipers and adders. How terrific was His fight for the world against the Jewish poison. Today, after two thousand years, with deepest emotion I recognize more profoundly than ever before the fact that it was for this that He had to shed His blood upon the Cross.....

      As a Christian I have no duty to allow myself to be cheated, but I have the duty to be a fighter for truth and justice... And if there is anything which could demonstrate that we are acting rightly it is the distress that daily grows. For as a Christian I have also a duty to my own people."

      Adolf Hitler, in a speech on 12 April 1922 (Norman H. Baynes, ed. The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, April 1922-August 1939, Vol. 1 of 2, pp. 19-20, Oxford University Press, 1942).

      "The word god is for me nothing more than the expression and product of human weaknesses, the Bible a collection of honourable, but still primitive legends which are nevertheless pretty childish. No interpretation no matter how subtle can (for me) change this."

      Albert Einstein in a 1954 letter to the Physicist Eric Gutkind

      June 19, 2011 at 3:43 pm |
  16. Colin

    I hope this whole abuse scandal has a lasteing effect of driving people away from Catholicism and lifting them out of their silly Bronze Age superst.itions. While the abuse is obviously irrelevant to the question of whether or not there is a god, and whether the Catholics guessed correctly on it, I will take anything to help people walk away from this nonsense.

    June 19, 2011 at 1:36 pm |
  17. jerreece

    Shame on this man for rejecting the church. God have mercy on him.

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

      Amen

      June 19, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • Madrussian

      He rejected the church because as a whole they went against their own belief system and created rules to protect themselves. God have mercy on him? I'm sure the sky bully is on his side on this one since he's exposed an organization that has literally betrayed the trust and beliefs of its members.

      June 19, 2011 at 1:43 pm |
    • David Johnson

      @jerreece

      You said: "Shame on this man for rejecting the church."

      No, shame on this man for not rejecting the the notion that a god actually exists.

      Cheers!

      June 19, 2011 at 2:39 pm |
    • John Richardson

      It's bad enough that the church hierarchy has behaved as it has. The rank and file should be outraged, and of course many are. But then you read things like these written by jerreece and brian, and you have to conclude that culpability for helping to sustain an evil system does indeed reach certain members.

      June 19, 2011 at 5:37 pm |
    • Free

      jerreece
      "Shame on this man for rejecting the church."

      Should read "Shame on the Church for rejecting it's humanity."

      June 19, 2011 at 5:45 pm |
  18. Steve

    Perhaps he should go after Islam for acts of terrorism. Oh, I forgot, that would not be as easy and certainly not as politically correct as attacking the Church.

    June 19, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
  19. Sandra

    This is not journalism. This article is a press release for a plaintiffs' law firm and nothing more. There are 4,392 priests accused of crimes over the last four decades. Yet there are 100,000 r@pes per year in the USA. The story here is money. And cnn's love of trashing the Catholic church.

    June 19, 2011 at 1:29 pm |
    • Madrussian

      Islam isn't about terrorism. It's the fanatics that use their religion to justify their actions. All religions are peaceful in their overall theme and are supposed to provide a simple guide to living a good daily life. It's when we rely on waiting on a response from the old sky bully that causes the biggest problem. Either way, organized religion today is a complete sham.

      June 19, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Madrussian – Muslim fanatics USE their religion to murder and maim the same way as some Catholic priests USE their religion to abuse children. Neither are not supported by the population. The Catholic religion is NOT about abuse any more than Islam is about terrorism. Like all religions the Catholic church is made up of humans. As a Catholic I would say that if the Catholic [ or any religion] depended on some of the people in it – it would have died out 1,500 years ago!

      June 19, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • Scott

      The number 4,392 comes from the 2004 John Jay Report commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Which was based on surveys completed by the Roman Catholic dioceses in the United States between 1950 and 2002. The number is only for the united states and leaves out the rest of the world including Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and countries in Europe, Latin America and Asia, all of which have a significant population of priestly child m0le$ters. The number leaves out everything after 2002 when a very significant number of abuses came to light. And it is BASED ON NUMBERS PROVIDED BY THE CATHOLIC CHURCH which is not noted for its honest and forth right approach to the subject. Considering all the above, the number 4,392 MUST BE SUBSTANTIALLY LESS THAN THE MINIMUM POSSIBLE NUMBER EXCLUSIVELY FOR THE UNITED STATES FOR A PERIOD OF TIME BEFORE THE MAJOR SCANDAL STARTED.

      June 21, 2011 at 11:13 am |
  20. nelson

    a godly man has no secrets and can be trusted. The fact they have lawyers at all is a sign to us all.

    June 19, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • frank

      It should then be a sign to us that Moses and Paul were basically lawyers...

      June 19, 2011 at 7:31 pm |
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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.