Monthly Archives: February 2011

Philadelphia Grand Jury Report-It’s Different This Time

The first Philadelphia Grand Jury Report issued in 2005 concerning the sexual abuse of minors in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia ended with bitter recriminations and laments about the injustice done to children. The 2011 Grand Jury Report was quite different. It had some real teeth that took a huge bite out of the arrogant hind quarters of the Archdiocese. Four priests were indicted upon the recommendations of the Grand Jury. Three of them abused minors. The fourth, Monsignor William Lynn, was in charge of sexual abuse cases in the Archdiocese for nearly two decades. Lynn was indicted on two counts of child endangerment. The Lynn indictment is unprecedented in that no “managerial” level church official has ever been held criminally accountable for child abuse. Surely, such criminal charges have been threatened, one need only remember Cardinal Law of Boston, Bishop McCormack of Manchester, and Cardinal Mahony of Los Angeles. Yet, these top church officials knew that civil authorities would never go through with these threats. In their mind, the Church was too big, they were too big to be challenged by mere civil authorities. If you think this is hyperbole, google Cardinal Law’s reaction to the Boston Globe’s investigation into his fiefdom in Boston. You’ll find a story about Cardinal Law calling down heaven’s justice on any Globe reporter who dared to investigate him or the Church.
Finally, the walls have come tumbling down in Philadelphia. Perhaps, it’s fitting such an event took place in the City of Brotherly Love, where our nation’s Constitution was given birth. This may signal another revolution in which our children are protected from predators and safe to grow up and lead healthy and productive lives.

Philadelphia Grand Jury Indicts Priests in Sex Abuse Probe

A Philadelphia Grand Jury has indicted 5 Archdiocese of Philadelphia Catholic priests in its probe of the ongoing sexual abuse of minors as well as the Archdiocese’s efforts to cover up the abuse. Three priests, Edward Avery, Charles Engelhardt and James Brennan, were criminally charged with with sexual assault and rape of minor boys over a span of years.
Monsignor William Lynn, a priest of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the one in charge of sexual abuse cases for the Archdiocese for many years, was charged with child endangerment and allowing the sexual abuse of minors to continue.
The latter charge is unprecedented and is a major victory for children’s advocates across the country. The latest developments in Philadelphia are particularly satisfying since a previous Philadelphia Grand Jury investigation in 2005 didn’t lead to any criminal charges. However, the scathing 2005 report didn’t the modus operandi of a large archdiocese and their role in the conspiracy and cover-up of the sexual abuse of minors.
The present Archbishop of Philadelphia, Cardinal Rigali hastily issued a video deploring the abuse of minors and pledging that the church would do everything in its power to root out abuse. However, the video has been widely viewed as a lame attempt at damage control.

William Wert, Venice Friar, May Have Abused More Kids

William C. Wert, a 53-year old Catholic priest and a member of the Order of Carmelites, may have abused more children in the Venice area, according to law enforcement officials. Police found evidence on his computer that other children may have been victimized by the priest. Wert already faces eight charges ranging from lewd and lascivious on a child to committing a sex offense against a minor.
Wert was convicted of sexual abuse on a minor in Washington DC in 2007. According to the Carmelites, Wert was living in a Carmelite retirement home in Venice, just blocks away from Venice’s Epiphany Cathedral at the time of his arrest. While Fr. John Welch, the Carmelite supervisor in charge of Wert stated that he was living at the retirement home because it had “no proximity” to children, Ephiphany Cathedral School is a mere four blocks away from Wert’s residence.
The Diocese of Venice has said that Wert was not assigned to ministry in the Diocese of Venice and was therefore not responsible for him. However, the question remains-why wouldn’t the Carmelites and the Diocese of Venice discuss this and alert unsuspecting parents that a convicted sex abuser was living 4 blocks away from a Catholic school?

Venice Catholic Priest Jailed for Molesting Teen Boy

A Carmelite friar is being held without bail on two counts of committing a sex offense on a child between the ages of 12 and 15. Rev. William C. Wert is facing 8 other charges-5 counts of sex offenses against a minor and 3 additional counts of lewd and lascivious behavior with a victim between 12 and 16. Bail has been set at $10,000 per count on the 8 sex abuse charges.
Wert has been living in the Carmelite retirement home in Venice, Florida while he’s on a leave of absence from the Order of Carmelites. In 2007, Wert was convicted in Washington DC simple assault after being accused of inappropriately touching a 14-year-old and put on probation.
Thus far, there has been no comment from Bishop Frank Dewane who oversees the Catholic Diocese of Venice. Fr. Wert is not listed on the Diocese of Venice website.

Sex Abuse Allegation Drives Out Palm Beach Exorcist Priest

Rev. Thomas Euteneuer abruptly resigned as President of Human Life International last August. Up until yesterday, no one knew the exact nature of his resignation. Yesterday, Euteneuer himself broke the silence by admitting to one incident of “violating the boundaries of chastity with an adult female who was under my spiritual care.” These were his own words he used to describe the circumstances of his resignation. In response to Euteneuer’s admission, his bishop, Bishop Barbarito of Palm Beach used similar language to characterize the priest’s downfall. Barbarito wrote in part, “Father Euteneuer has been undergoing intensive evaluation and counseling to address admitted inappropriate crossing of adult heterosexual boundaries on the occasion of carrying out his priestly ministry.”
Those of us who work with survivors of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy recognize the language as the church’s euphemistic way of describing sexual abuse. While the priest stated in his admission letter the “inappropriate behavior” involved only one adult female, there are news reports that more women have come forward with allegations of sexual abuse at the hands of the exorcist priest.
It seems that the sexual abuse took place during the priest’s exorcism rituals. Presently, according to the Bishop, the priest is receiving counseling. It’s not clear what will happen to the priest at this point. What is clear is that sexual abuse among Catholic clergy is not over. It continues to happen in spite of Church officials’ protestations that sexual abuse is a thing of the long ago past. Sadly, it isn’t and the manner in which the Church handles these allegations hasn’t changed either. Church officials continue to speak of sexual abuse in veiled language as if describing abuse as “crossing boundaries” minimizes the devastating effects on those who are abused.