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. JeannieGuzman

    Thank God for godly men like Patrick Wall, who shows by his actions that he is unafraid of the all powerful Holy Roman Catholic Church, who evidently hasn't been "Holy" since before gas was 10 cents a gallon! Thank God that the "Holy" Roman Catholic Church paid for his Masters degree and his education in Canon Law, because today he can intelligently appear in court, with credibility, because he understands the secret and inner workings of the Church. Scripture teaches in Romans 8:28, "All things work together for the good of those who love the Lord and who are called according to His purpose! " The very God that the Catholic Church claims to serve is the one who has exposed this unprecedented evil and empowered men like Patrick Wall to expose the sins of the Church for the protection of God's children!

    June 19, 2011 at 10:56 am |
    • gozer

      That they are viewed as "god's children" rather than "children" is part of why they are so vulnerable. The walls of the Catholic church hide criminals. Take down the walls and take down the church.

      June 19, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • kssss

      Very good post Jeannie.

      June 19, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • Bobby

      Oh so true and nice, refreshing thoughts.

      June 19, 2011 at 11:30 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      But Jeannie, he said himself he followed the 'party line' for long enough before he left. He is accountable for his silence during that time because by following the said 'party line', he left other kids open to abuse. I agree that this subject needs to be tackled full on – but I have huge reservations as to his personal motives.
      He said his ordination was speeded up so he could go into the parishes of offending priests – If he knew that then, why would he have wanted to be a priest in the first place???
      No disrespect to you at all. It just worries me, ok?

      June 21, 2011 at 3:22 pm |
  2. John

    If this was any organization other then the Catholic church. People would be protesting and shutting it down. Because we are blinded by the religion we can't see the forest for the trees. Plain and simple the Catholic church is evil for covering this up.

    June 19, 2011 at 10:53 am |
  3. Jenna

    I remember a comment made by my grandmother when I was younger that I didn't really process or understand at that point. She said, "What better place for the devil to play his evil games than through the church." Years later, I've remember that comment, and I suppose she was saying that the devil wants people to turn away from God, so he hits them where it hurts – through their children and through the heinous acts of some members of clergy, thereby turning people away from God/church/religion. I think she was a wise woman.

    June 19, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • LookAndSEE

      Your grandmother knew her bible. The apostle Paul saw the same thing in the 1st Century. He said "Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. Acts 20:30.
      He knew men would be hungry for worldly power and use the Church to form a Government (the Papacy)
      Go to http://www.amazingfacts.org Search for truth

      June 19, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • BobinToledo

      @henry: cruel comment – no need to attack Jenna's family like that you a$$wipe

      June 19, 2011 at 11:12 am |
    • Wolf

      I'm glad she was there to guide you. Yes, sounds like she was a wise woman, indeed!

      June 19, 2011 at 11:16 am |
    • mabel floyd

      i agree-there is always evil when evil people hide behind God to obtain power or votes or money. the church defines it's idenity by catering to misogynists–anti gays-defending "marriage while forbidding the sacrament to their priests-forbidding the priesthood to women-defending pervert priests–scooping up huge amounts of money given by the people to do God 's work and using it to pay for the continued act of defending child molesting priests.

      June 19, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      Jenna, thanks for your post; your Grandmother was way before her time in wisdom and understanding. Great lady.
      Shame on you Henry. That remark was uncalled for and certainly was not funny] You should be a man and apologise to Jenna. Then you would have our respect.

      June 19, 2011 at 3:46 pm |
  4. Terry

    Wow, he's like a real life werewolf killer gunning down these heinous perverts in a court of law. It's nice to see someone go after these houses of perversion with a vengeance.

    June 19, 2011 at 10:48 am |
  5. gb

    Religion is one of the most horrendous inventions of mankind.

    June 19, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • KaraLyn

      The fact that you don't believe in the devil won't protect you from him. Good luck.

      June 19, 2011 at 1:24 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Great post Karalyn. Good to see some sense here. Thank you.

      June 19, 2011 at 3:37 pm |
  6. Dave

    It's only a matter of time before the United Nations will use their military powers to very violently destroy religion across the globe. Their plan is already in place. You'll turn on your TV and see every religious building in the world on fire and church leaders put before firing squads.

    June 19, 2011 at 10:46 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      What led you to this assumption???

      June 19, 2011 at 10:50 am |
    • Samuel Raines

      Wrong, it was C. Thanks for playing.

      June 19, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • Lilly

      You say that like it's a bad thing.

      June 19, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • gozer

      What Lilly said.

      June 19, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • LookAndSEE

      The very opposite will happen. Looming in the future is a global crisis that the world leaders will call the religious leader for help. He(the pope) will tell them that God is angry with the people for not going to Church on Sunday(the pagan day of worship).
      The government will set up a law for EVERYBODY to go to Church on Sunday or face Economic Boycott (ie so that no one could buy or sell unless he had the mark, which is the name of the beast or the number of his name. ... (Revelation 13:17)
      Go to http://www.amazingfacts.org & search for truth

      June 19, 2011 at 11:22 am |
    • Scott

      I think your prediction is just as paranoid and silly (though not as well substantiated) as Howard Camping’s; but, I really, really hope you are right

      June 21, 2011 at 3:00 pm |
  7. Splovengates

    God bless him. He indeed is a true Protestant.

    June 19, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • Kai

      No, he's just a good man.

      June 19, 2011 at 10:54 am |
  8. Diane

    The conclusion of this article where Patrick Wall makes a suggestion is morally correct.

    June 19, 2011 at 10:37 am |
  9. 4mercy

    I love how these catholic articles show up on Sunday morning. You really know how to milk it, don't you, CNN? Keep holy the Lord's Day!

    June 19, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • Ned

      Actually the 7th day is Saturday, which was yesterday. You Christians...

      June 19, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • Peter E

      Hey, it's the Catholic Church. They have name recognition, and historically an unpopular minority in the US. (even though they are currently the largest single denomination in the US)
      Kick them around! Milk it for all it's worth! Just as you said. (hey, it's what CNN also does to muslims these days, making money fearmongering and spreading that all-around American moneymaking tradition: xenophobia!)
      The fact that protestant churches have the same rate of abuse... meh! That's not headlines! That's a side story. It doesn't grab people's attention (and advertisers' money) as much.

      June 19, 2011 at 10:48 am |
    • WolfMan26

      Peter E, you must have CNN confused with Fox News.

      June 19, 2011 at 11:06 am |
    • gozer

      There is nothing holy about Sunday and there is no lord.

      June 19, 2011 at 11:09 am |
  10. Bob Rock

    This is a great development. Religion is fraud, plain and simple, and needs to be eliminated – as any fraud. All it does is cause tremendous damage to the society. The church is the equivalent of drug dealing organization that sells drugs (illusions) to the masses, and collects a huge amount of tax free money back, without any danger or scrutiny by the governments. What drug cartel wouldn't want that situation? No guns needed, no fear of imprisonment!

    June 19, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • aaron

      You should be eliminated. Your argument makes NP sense. so therefore shut your mouth now, idiot.

      June 19, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • Eric

      You must be awfully intelligent to rule out something scholars have spent centuries debating.

      June 19, 2011 at 10:34 am |
    • Bob Rock

      Aaron, I'm open to the debate. Please explain yourself.

      June 19, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • Bob Rock

      Eric, it's only logical. People like to block out the reality – drugs or religion works the same way!

      June 19, 2011 at 10:36 am |
    • aaron

      And I am sure you think the same of blacks too. Now get. back to your Klan meeting,

      June 19, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • Eric

      Bob, it's actually illogical to conclude it doesn't exist. Any scientist will tell you that it is impossible to prove a negative. The irony is that, for you to be so certain that every religion is a fraud, your view point is in fact more "religious" (leap of faith) in nature than the people who do believe there is a god.

      June 19, 2011 at 10:41 am |
    • JAberg123

      @Aaron. The KKK is an explicitly christian organization. You might've noticed that they burn crosses. Also, religion is indeed a fraud. You have replied a number of times in disgust to this charge. Why not instead bring evidence that any religion is actually true. Reasonable people everywhere await your response with bated breath.

      June 19, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • aaron

      Ok, Bob, and I will also apologize for my hotheaded comments. Regardless of the problems religion presents, it is the basis for societies moral fabric. Whether a believer or not, faith radiates to both believers or non. Tale Christmas for example. Even nonbelievers are a little happier during the holidays in general

      June 19, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • Bob Rock

      Eric – you can make claims for anythig you can imagine, but let face it, if you want to convince anyone that something actually does exist, you need to provide concrete evidence or facts that can be repeated, by anyone anywhere. Basic science. Otherwise, it's a hoax. Your god is a hoax, plain and simple!

      June 19, 2011 at 10:45 am |
    • JAberg123

      @ Aaron. If religion is the basis for our morality, why don't you kill children for being insolent, stone people to death for breaking the sabbath (or being gay, or leading your towards other gods, or coveting......)? I assume that you don't hold slaves and would find it morally reprehensible if others did. This is in direct contradiction to the bible. Yahweh unquestionably supported slavery. We are moral insofar as we ignore these examples of religious barbarism. The only way that ANY precept can be considered moral is if it improves the well-being of conscious creatures. Anything else is either immoral or amoral.

      June 19, 2011 at 10:47 am |
    • aaron

      Jaberg-And its more difficult to discount religion as a fraud. It takes a lot more mental strength to believe something you can't see than needing evidence to believe. Faith is why we have all our modern Co.veniences.

      June 19, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Eric

      Bob, did you know it was the Catholic church that first started significant use of the "Scientific Method"? Did you know they formed the first colleges? Their beliefs are not nearly as whimsical as you may think. If you dig into all the reasons behind their faith, without any preconceived opinions you may already have, you may be very surprised.

      June 19, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Bob Rock

      Aaron – atheists are the most moral people in the world, and they don't need god to dictate to them how they should live. Either way, people are generally quite nasty to each other, god or no god and religious morality. Religion actually makes it possible for people to feel justified in causing harm to other people.

      June 19, 2011 at 10:51 am |
    • JAberg123

      @Aaron "And its more difficult to discount religion as a fraud. It takes a lot more mental strength to believe something you can't see than needing evidence to believe. Faith is why we have all our modern Co.veniences."

      1) It is extremely easy to discount religion as fraud. "Anything that can be asserted without evidence can be dismissed without evidence"- Christopher Hitchens. One must simply review the claims of religion with an open mind, realize that they are preposterous, and act accordingly.
      2) The fact that an action requires "more mental strength" than some other action says absolutely nothing about its veracity. It might require much "mental strength" to believe that your foot is in fact not a foot, but a potato. This would require impressive cerebral acrobatics. This does not make it true. or respectable
      3) "Faith is why we have all our modern Co.veniences." This assertion is positively insane. We have our modern conveniences because of science. If all humans decided to stick to our religious beliefs we would still be in the dark ages, dying of bubonic plague and burning witches at the stake for starting thunderstorms. The problem with a belief in the supernatural is that it puts an end to all curiosity and free inqury. For thousands of years people believed that illnesses were caused by sin or curses. Was it faith or science that allowed us to discover the germ theory of disease? Was it faith or science that helped us invent vaccines and antibiotics? Was it faith or science that helped us realize that we might want to keep excrement out of our food?

      June 19, 2011 at 10:59 am |
    • Bonnie

      Yes, Bob Rock, you are correct. Our Almighty God and His faithful SON, Jesus Christ feel the same way. The church officials of Jesus' day are the very ones that pursued and effected his physical death by means of the Romans. Today's churches (all of them) are teaching in direct opposition to the teachings of Jesus Christ and are in effect, the collective Antichrist. Please read the book of John in the Holy Bible, and you wiill learn the truth directly from God through the teachings of Jesus Christ. You will be amazed, enlightened and forever changed for the better.

      June 19, 2011 at 11:00 am |
    • JAberg123

      @Bonnie. Please provide evidence for the existence of "God" and the divinity of "Jesus Christ". Until that point, you will not be taken seriously.

      June 19, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • Annah


      Your statements are ill conceived and without merit. To say we must get rid of religion because of the evils it produces is nothing more than stererotyping...which racist people or good at doing.

      You are so consume with bitter and disgust that you see only the evils in religion and you do not stop and see the millions upon millions of people who are effected positively. I could give you a 50 volume book list of all the good things religion has done for humanity. I could also give you volumes of text of the opposite, but since you believe there is only an absolute negative connotation to religion the point of showing or referencing these materials to you would be mute.

      Don't be so prejudice, Bob!

      June 19, 2011 at 11:05 am |
    • puck_the-hockey_cat

      Gee Aaron that's some pretty big talk. Yes the authors comments are odd and a little bit offensive, b\ut do you really need to mention that the author needs to be eliminated for his comments? After all he is simply stating his belief that the 'church' should be eliminated, not the individuals. Remember Aaron that anonymous threats are simply that anonymous and hollow. Try and be a bigger man next time and present your arguments with a little more thought next time. Thanks and take care Aaron...

      June 19, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • gozer

      @Bob Rock: great original post you made. In further response to those above claiming any basis for morality in religion, I quote Stephen Weinberg:
      "With or without religion, you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion. "

      June 19, 2011 at 11:15 am |
    • Lilly

      Religion's most fundamental purpose is nothing more than a means for a small group of people to control a larger population. Using the trappings of spiritual fear to control peoples beliefs, thoughts and actions. For when you control fearful peoples beliefs, you control their thoughts, when you control their thoughts you control their actions. And when you control their actions you can make do the most heinous acts. You can make them fly planes into buildings, or blow themselves up. You can make them blow the back of a doctors head off because you disagree with how he practices medicine. You can make them blow up clinic and know you are doing "Gods work". You can enslave people because your god says it's ok. You can subjugate an entire race of people because you think you have a person lease with god. Let's not forget the burning and banning of any idea or thought that contradicts the "teachings". Evolution anyone. I could go on....

      As far as religion being the foundation for our society. Laws are created by civilized society, it's what makes them civilized societies.

      June 19, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • JAberg123

      @Lilly. Thank you for being a rational human.

      June 19, 2011 at 11:31 am |
    • John Richardson

      @Aaron Sit down quietly in a corner and ask yourself why a doofus like you would choose to join an adult conversation.

      June 19, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • fimeilleur

      @ Lilly

      Well said. Thanks

      June 19, 2011 at 11:52 am |
    • Noyb

      Actually, religions have caused more deaths than anything else in history (including drug cartels)... So I see his point clearly.

      June 19, 2011 at 12:05 pm |
    • KaraLyn

      @BobRock: if you choose not to believe in heaven/hell/God/Satan, that's your choice. But it's also my choice to believe and I do believe in a higher power. I don't slam those who don't believe, yet you trash those who do. Your extreme comments against believers reflect a shallow, immoral and disrespectful person. Too bad you don't have God in your life – you might be a little less angry. One final note: I believe that simply because you choose not to believe in the devil won't protect you from him. Good luck with your soul.

      June 19, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • fimeilleur

      @ KaraLyn
      Again the threat of "eternal torture". How much love and compassion you show your fellow man. You state you don't care if I believe or not, but silently chuckle at the prospect of me burning in hell... how evil and cruel is that? The reason Atheists are "angry" towards religion is because religion tries to impose it's unfounded beliefs on everyone... Imagine living in a predominantly muslim community and having Sharia imposed on you. Imagine living amongst the ancient Aztecs and being picked for sacrafice for their sun god... You don't believe the Koran, nor the Aztec's priests... but you are a minority and would be forced to succomb. Unless you are able to prove the existance of your god, and definitely confirm your interpretation of the bible is 100% correct... stop trying to impose your morals on others.

      June 19, 2011 at 2:18 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      Bob, did you once read that Karl Marx said: "Religion is is the opiate of the people" when he was pushing Communism? He said that to convince people that they were being brainwashed by the church.
      You'd have to be a total Muppet to take it seriously. The people under Marx's Communism had no rights, no voice, no respect, no individuality, no freedom !!!!!! The only way he could make Communism work was to negate the power of the conscience and the love of God.
      Shame! I accept your point of view but – what you said is not cotton pickin' true. ok?

      June 19, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
    • Voice of Reason

      @Bob Rock -" Atheists are the most moral people in the world."????????????????????????

      You're having a laugh! Seriously.

      Stalin, Marx, Trotsky, Mao Tse Tung, Pol Pot, Kim Jon IL...... I could go on. Every one of them an Atheist filled with the milk of human kindness??????????????????????? You did say in the world, didn't you? Extend leg > aim at foot > fiiiiirrrrrrre!

      June 20, 2011 at 3:51 pm |
    • Scott

      @ Eric: They also debated how many angels could dance on the head of a pin

      June 21, 2011 at 3:27 pm |
  11. educatedguess

    so this guy is an opportunist, and that makes him a hero?

    June 19, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • aaron

      Agreed. I'm sure he is pulling in six figures a case.

      June 19, 2011 at 10:32 am |
    • Bob Rock

      Yes, he is the new Robin Hood, and he makes money doing it while giving it also to the poor (the victims of child abuse). Bravo!

      June 19, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • JAberg123

      A man demonstrates actual compassion for other human beings and tries to help people achieve justice and the only descriptive term you can muster is "opportunist?" You might want to bring your moral compass in to be recalibrated.

      June 19, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • puck_the-hockey_cat

      JAberg123, I love your line, moral compass needs recalibrating. But I must admit I thought the same thing as this author until I read the article.

      educatedguess, remember this is (was) a young man who grew up withing the catholic church, became priest and therefore was part of the church...and in his own words it took some time before he realized that what he was part of was wrong. Lets not forget he was young and inexperienced but over time he realized that what he was part of was wrong...so kudos for standing up for himself and what is right. If you have never been part of something like this then you should refrain from judging him.

      June 19, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • educatedguess

      what does a heap of dung like the organized religion attract? flies. what else? this particular fly called Wall has simply moved from one drying heap to a new, steamy and bigger heap.

      June 19, 2011 at 2:11 pm |
  12. Jesus

    Wow this is almost the same thing that the Roman empire did. The Roman Empire had the power until the people had enough...
    The Catholic Church had the power but they are slowly loosing it because of their condoned abuses.. What the movie, "Spartacus" and watch and learn...

    June 19, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • 4mercy

      Read the Bible, give yourself over to God, and learn.

      June 19, 2011 at 10:37 am |
    • Ned

      Why can't I read the Quran? I heard they have some cool stuff in it.

      June 19, 2011 at 10:57 am |
    • puck_the-hockey_cat

      Yah sure Jesus, I'm going to watch a hollywood movie to learn history...seriously quote something useful next time please, you made yourself look very silly.

      June 19, 2011 at 11:21 am |
  13. educatedguess

    religion = opium of the masses

    June 19, 2011 at 10:23 am |
    • Bob Rock

      Exasctly! Old idea that's 100% correct. No difference between drugs and religion – both provide an escape from reality, and the "dealers" make a nice living selling it!

      June 19, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • Bob Rock

      I meant "exactly" 🙂

      June 19, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • Voice of Reason

      Educatedguess – So you read Karl Marx or maybe just heard the quote from someone who read it, did you?. He used that quote very effectively in Russia on the basis of religion brainwashing all and sundry. Only trouble is He couldn't put Communism in place without negating God , a huge threat to his plans; and the human conscience. And guess what – He replaced the opiate of the people [Religion] with the opiate of the people [Communism !!!!!] Communism robbed the people of free will, freedom to think, freedom of speech, security {i.e. they were spied on by neighbours, friends & family members}, freedom of movement etc etc. Equality in Russia meant a small power group at the top and the serfs at the bottom. Oh, I nearly forgot – a vile secret police to keep the serfs on the straight and narrow with gratuitous torture to keep THEM happy.
      It's not a good idea to throw out a quote like that – but thank you for giving me the opportunity of pointing out that you just shot yourself in the foot! Good man. Follow these instructions – Stand upright > bend forward > identify foot > aim > fire. Got it ?

      June 19, 2011 at 4:55 pm |
  14. Countryboy

    God bless there souls http://WWW.CDBABY.COM/ALL/NUMONE bye now

    June 19, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  15. beth

    Catholic people, like it or not, are giving money that supports child abusers. It is a sad fact. If I were Catholic this would bother me enough to change religions. Change isn't going to come from within. It's going to come when people leave the church and the church has to bow to pressure and it is going to come from people like Mr. Wall. Thank god for Mr. Wall.

    June 19, 2011 at 10:21 am |
    • Peter E

      Protestant churches have the same rate of abuse as the Catholic Church does. Your comment doesn't make any sense.

      June 19, 2011 at 10:23 am |
    • Jason

      The question is whether or not protestant churches actively work to keep child abusers within the ranks of their ministry, as the Catholic church has done. The abuse is damning of the perpetrators, but the cover up and denial is damning of the church as a whole.

      June 19, 2011 at 10:27 am |
    • aaron

      Actually Protestant religions have more and a higher percentage of child molesters.

      June 19, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • Eric

      Schools have a much higher abuse rate with teachers abusing children... By your reasoning, everyone is supporting abusers through their own taxes. It isn't logical to suggest people are supporting something when it is in fact only a very small percentage of cases.

      June 19, 2011 at 10:31 am |
    • Eric

      @Jason, you should look into what the Catholic church has done to prevent this. Everyone in the church who volunteers to work with children is required to take Veritas training yearly to help ensure this kind of stuff doesn't happen. It is unparalleled and I don't know of any other organization that goes to such lengths to ensure the children have a safe environment.

      June 19, 2011 at 10:33 am |
    • Peter E

      Protestants have had their share of cover-ups/denials. It doesn't get much coverage (except for megachurch scandals, like the most recent one if you recall) because the media only cares if high-priced lawyers and high-cash lawsuits are involved.
      Baptists themselves actually use the scapegoating of the Catholic Church every time they have a scandal of their own 'hey, look over there, not at us. Blame them! Don't look at what we do!'
      I do NOT deny that the Catholic Church has to punish/hand over to authorities a number of authority figures who took part in the cover up. But this does not do ANYTHING to solve the greater underlying problem of the sickening crime of child abuse. Putting all spotlight on one agent WHILE ignoring all the other perpetrators is counter-productive and dangerous. It send a message to abusers 'hey, you can do all the abuse you want if you do it in other places than Catholic Church, since they are the only ones being watched now.'

      June 19, 2011 at 10:35 am |
    • Eric

      @ Peter E... Well said. The Catholic church is often the example for this because they're the largest single religious organization in the US, (maybe the world?) and as such a very small percentage of cases there will be a lot more instances than the larger percentages of smaller Christian counterparts or municipal school systems.

      Any abuse is too much, and the Church works hard to weed out the very few bad apples. People need to put the numbers into perspective.

      June 19, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      Hi beth!

      "Change isn't going to come from within. It's going to come when people leave the church and the church has to bow to pressure" you said.

      I suppose the RCC has such infinite riches that she would not bother, even if some million people would leave her.

      The doctrine of papacy can solely killed by the pure doctrine, which we find in the Holy Scripture. People must learn at any rate that the Roman Church offers no salvation in Christ. The RCC is simply a big business. They try to sell spiritual goods, which God actually wants to give as presents.

      "And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely!" (Revelation 22)

      June 19, 2011 at 10:43 am |
    • LookAndSEE

      There are very few Protestant Churches today. Protestant is Latin for protest! There are very few religions who protest against the Catholic Church and her teachings. If u recognize Sunday as the Lord's day, u're not a Protestant! Sunday is the Churches making. Go to http://www.amazingfacts.org & search for truth.

      June 19, 2011 at 10:49 am |
    • Bonnie

      I agree, Beth. Thank God for Patrick Wall; and he's been correcting the wrongful deceptions of the Catholic Church for some time now. Hitting the "church" in the pocketbook, hitting hard, is what will take it down, physiclally. Read Revelation or Apocalypse, chapters 17 & 18 in the Holy Bilble, and you will see that God intends to destroy the church or "great harlot" by means of truth and by financial wreckage. It's already in motion! Thankgiving and praise indeed be to our Almighty God!

      June 19, 2011 at 11:08 am |
    • Bucky Ball

      There are here a number of as'sertions concerning the rates of child abuse, and/or s'ex abuse in various organizations, yet not one citation of a reliable source of doc'umentation. Anyone know of a reliable source where comparative rates are actually doc'umented, and differentiated, (child vs adult, male vs female, for example) and/or comparative rates of misconduct/abuse in locales which have (vs have not) implemented "safeguards", ((and what they, (the safeguards) are)) ? Would appreciate any clues. Thanks.

      June 19, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • CatholicMom

      Scripture is not a matter of private interpretation.
      2 Peter 1:20
      Understanding this first, that no prophecy of scripture is made by private interpretation.

      June 19, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Bucky Ball

      @catholic mom
      "Scripture is not a matter of private interpretation.
      2 Peter 1:20
      Understanding this first, that no prophecy of scripture is made by private interpretation."
      Care to expound on that a bit more ?
      I submit that there is not now, nor ever has been, even one example where scripture is NOT a matter of private "interpretation". Scriptural texts, (and their perceived contents) seems to be ONLY a matter of "private" interpretation, in that, in no case, ever, has it been spoken of, written, written about, thought about, "taught", or commented on, without the agency of a human brain. It necessarily involves a neuro-cognitive process that results in interpretation, even for those who say they "believe in" or agree with various magisterial authorities, (who necessarily came to their consensus by a cognitive process also).
      A common counter to this I have heard is that certain parts of the PROCESS described above is believed to be "inspired". Seems that in allowing for a state of "inspiration", also implies/requires a change from state "a", (non-inspired), to a state "b", (inspired), and the change from one to the other necessarily involves a temporal process, (and neuro-chemical changes), which necessitate the agency of a human brain, and thus automatically mean "interpretation". Are you proposing there exists an alternative process for getting from "a" to "b" ?

      June 19, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Bucky Ball,

      Yes, humans use their brains and the Apostles and their successors have their brains plus have been promised the Holy Spirit to guide and guard them and to bring them into remembrance of all that He told them.

      John 14:26
      But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you.

      June 19, 2011 at 1:37 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      @Catholic Mom
      So you concede it IS interpretation, (which you originally said it wasn't). Just that some possess the "right" interpretation, (had their brain chemicals altered "correctly") ?

      June 19, 2011 at 2:44 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      Bucky Ball,
      The Holy Spirit is Truth…He is not interpreting….

      June 19, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • Bucky Ball


      The moon is made of green cheese.

      June 19, 2011 at 4:48 pm |
  16. JAberg123

    Patrick Wall's story was reported by the radio show "This American Life"


    June 19, 2011 at 10:20 am |
  17. Manuel Fernandez-W

    I say make all this religious organizations pay taxes.

    June 19, 2011 at 10:16 am |
    • gozer

      and damages too. That would take them down.

      June 19, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • DC from NJ

      I've been arguing that for years. If the religious fanatics want to have their little club, that's fine – just leave the rest of us alone and don't expect my taxes to pay for your club building and its property! And donations to religious clubs that shield child molesters should not be tax-deductible.

      June 19, 2011 at 11:29 am |
  18. Malaka Shakalaka

    Religion is Archaic and Evil. Enough with the brainwashing already! Wake up people! This is the 21st Century!!

    June 19, 2011 at 10:11 am |
    • Nothing New Under The Sun

      It must be Sunday, why else would CNN run a negative story against Christianity? no coincidence here. no not at all...
      Any negative stories about islam on Fridays? During ramadingdong? Of course not. Cowards!!!!

      June 19, 2011 at 10:23 am |
    • Jason

      Why wouldn't they run a negative story about Christianity? It hasn't stopped being an enormous scam since the last time that some one pointed it out.

      June 19, 2011 at 10:28 am |
    • gozer

      @Nothing New Under The Sun, the cowards are the religious sheeple, for hiding from the consequences of the real world behind their sky fairy blanket.

      June 19, 2011 at 11:18 am |
    • Nothing New Under The Sun

      There you see? There IS Nothing New Under The Sun!

      June 19, 2011 at 12:37 pm |
    • Nothing New Under The Sun

      I once tried to bake a cake. I thought I followed the recipe. I even improvised a little. The cake didn't turn out. I blame the recipe!
      Critical thinking anyone?

      June 19, 2011 at 12:43 pm |
  19. Rainer Braendlein

    A remark to ecclesiastical history: The mandatory celebacy was first established around 1000 years after Christ by Pope Gregory VII. That would mean the Church had erred for 1000 years by not bringing in forced celebacy. Impossible!!!

    Of course the Early Church has not erred, but acted according to the Holy Scripture, which does not prescribe any mandatory celebacy. Also papacy is not to reason by the Holy Scripture.

    According to Luther papacy is the rainbow angle of Revelation Chapter 10, calling: "there will be no more time!"
    The rainbow angle establishes a kind of eternity or pseudoheaven. The pope tells you "welcome in heaven", but in fact he deceives you. The RCC has a big glamour (rainbow) and by her glamour she entraps people. However, spiritually seen, the RCC is merely a gleaming husk, but empty inside. The pope invites you to enter his beautiful house, but your soul will find no heavenly bread inside there, but that is, what you need.

    Join the low Church, the primitive house. No big glamour, but Jesus inside, who is the bread of heaven (he wants to feed you!).

    June 19, 2011 at 10:05 am |
    • fimeilleur

      You sound like a recruiting poster: Join us... we have cookies!!

      June 19, 2011 at 11:17 am |
    • gozer

      They have really poor thin cookies baked from their dead guy on a stick, and detailed instructions for murder, burnt offerings, and bloody animal sacr-ifice. See Leviticus, just to get started.

      June 19, 2011 at 11:20 am |
    • CatholicMom

      Rainer Braendlein,
      According to Luther: Martin Luther wrote in his Commentary on St. John, “We are compelled to concede to the Papists that they have the Word of God, that we received it from them, and that without them we should have no knowledge of it at all.”
      Martin Luther must have heard of these verses since he was a fallen priest [which we have from time to time:
      Galatians 1:8-9
      But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach a gospel to you besides that which we have preached to you, let him be anathema. As we said before, so now I say again: If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema.

      Yet, there are those who think THEY can preach a different gossip!

      June 19, 2011 at 11:56 am |
    • fimeilleur

      @ CatholicMom

      You're not seriously stating that people who follow religion ACTUALLY think, are you?

      June 19, 2011 at 12:19 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      You make it so I do not need my tv comedy fix! Thanks!

      June 19, 2011 at 1:40 pm |
    • I_get _it

      CatholicMom: "If any one preach to you a gospel, besides that which you have received, let him be anathema."

      This is from Paul of Tarsus. It is absolutely typical of a claim made by cults - "We have the *real* truth; don't believe anyone else."

      June 19, 2011 at 1:46 pm |
    • fimeilleur

      @ CatholicMom

      Right back at you. You quote a lot from the bible in your posts... so... answer me this... what were the last words of jesus as he died on the cross... please quote your source as well. Thanks. 🙂

      June 19, 2011 at 2:21 pm |
    • CatholicMom

      John 19:30
      Jesus therefore, when he had taken the vinegar, said: It is consummated. And bowing his head, he gave up the ghost.

      June 19, 2011 at 4:31 pm |
    • fimeilleur

      @ CatholicMom,

      I'm pretty sure he is mistaken...
      Matthew 27:46: Eli, Eli, lama sabachtani? that is to say, My God, My God, why hast thou forsaken me?

      For such an important person, whose everyword you cling to as true, why can't the two gospels agree? What other "preachings" did they get wrong?

      Still don't believe me?
      Luke 23:46: Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.

      Crap! Now we're really confused. 3 gospels, 3 accounts of what happened but you STILL think every word of it is true!!!

      Did the Holy Spirit "guide" these three authors to different conclusions? or do you only chose to believe the Gospel of John?

      June 19, 2011 at 4:58 pm |
  20. dk

    This American Life did a nice report on the story some time back: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/play_full.php?play=404&act=1

    June 19, 2011 at 10:05 am |
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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.