Scandal continues to spread

State To Go After Pedophile Priests

The Diocese of Rockville Center, like so many around the country, had hoped to turn the corner and put the devastating pedophile priest scandal that has rocked the very foundation of the church behind.

Instead, it is burgeoning, not only in this Long Island diocese, but also all over the world, leading some religious scholars to wonder if the Catholic religion can survive the crisis.

Last week the New York State Attorney General’s Office subpoenaed every diocese in the state. The DA is seeking documents pertaining to charges made against priests accused of pedophile behavior and the results of internal church investigations and payments to victims.

Clearly the DA is casting doubt on the stated zero tolerance policy in Rockville Centre and other dioceses where guilty priests were protected from prosecution. The DA also has reason to believe an independent fund established by the diocese to be distributed to victims is not the end all of the scandal — that more victims are still out there or have been paid to settle their claims, and their attackers have escaped punishment.

In New Jersey, state Attorney General Gurbir Grewal is taking similar action. The investigations come three weeks after a Pennsylvania grand jury report found rampant sexual abuse of more than 1000 children, mostly boys, by some 300 priests in Pennsylvania since the 1940s. The report accused senior church officials of orchestrating a systematic cover up to protect the church from scandal. Attorneys general in Nebraska, Illinois, and Missouri have since announced investigations into allegations of clergy abuse or cover ups in local dioceses.

Subpoenas Issued

New York Attorney General Barbara Underwood’s subpoenas were issued to the Archdiocese of New York in New York City as well as the dioceses of Albany, Brooklyn, Rochester, Syracuse, Buffalo, Ogdensburg, and Rockville Centre.

“We have received a subpoena and we are in the process of reviewing it with counsel. The Diocese of Rockville Centre has long cooperated with local law enforcement authorities in reporting and investigating child sexual abuse and we anticipate that such cooperation will continue,” said Sean Dolan, director of communications for Rockville Centre on September 6.

The diocese hoped to further distance itself from the pedophile priest scandal when Bishop John Barres was hired to replace Bishop William Murphy on February 2. Bishop Murphy was a central figure in the Boston church pedophile scandal — the story was told in The Spotlight, which won the Oscar for Best Picture in 2016.

In 2017, The Roman Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre formally established a voluntary compensation program, the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, for those persons who were sexually abused by its priests when they
were underage.

The church had nothing to do with the subsequent filings and had no say into who was awarded a settlement or the settlement amount. Camille Biros, the program’s co-administrator, said on September 13 that 221 victims have been offered financial settlements and that more will receive offers within a few months. A total of 293 filed. Published reports state the awards vary from $25,000 to $500,000 each and the filers were mostly men who have agreed not to sue the diocese as part of the deal.

The program did little to assuage critics that the settlements did not reveal the names of the priests accused of
the crimes.

Instead, fresh wounds have opened and the church is under the gun again with revelations that Barres, like
Murphy, covered up pedophile
crimes committed by priests and protected the accused.

Though Barres said August 15 that a grand jury report issued in Allentown, PA contained “factual errors,” Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro countered that the report is true.

Pedophile Priests Were
Commonplace

Newsday reported Murphy, as Cardinal Bernard Law’s top deputy in Boston for almost eight years, was involved in almost one-third of the priest sexual abuse cases at the heart of the scandal there. “Not only did Murphy supervise the assignment of priests, he was privy to all confidential records on accusers’ complaints, treatment, and settlements. He also took care of accused priests’ legal bills and helped arrange housing and jobs for them,” Newsday continued.

Pedophile priests were commonplace decades earlier on the East End, a story that has, for the most part, gone untold by the local media.

According to www.BishopAccountability.org, published reports, minutes from a Suffolk County Grand Jury investigation, and court documents, the Diocese of Rockville Center routinely reassigned accused or suspected pedophiles to churches on the East End dating back to the 1960s and shielded their proclivities from the public and law enforcement agencies.

Accused, suspected, or admitted pedophile priests served in East Hampton, Amagansett, Cutchogue, Mattituck, Sag Harbor, Water Mill, Riverhead, Southold, and Manorville. Once again, the church opted to protect the priests in question, often at the expense of the victims.

In 2003, The Independent uncovered two shocking discoveries which, up to that point, had gone unreported in local news outlets. The diocese assigned two accused pedophiles to run St. Andrew’s Parish in Sag Harbor — Rev. Alfred Soave and Rev. William Burke. Burke, according to an alleged victim who spoke to this newspaper, brutally raped the young man after plying him with alcohol. The alleged incident happened in Hampton Bays.

Rather than turn the pedophile priest over to authorities, the diocese engaged in a practice of discouraging the victims and their parents from filing charges, a practice the church followed all over the world for decades.

According to the Grand Jury report filed in 2003, “Bishop William Murphy aided and abetted the concealment of criminal conduct of defendant individual priests by failing and refusing to report to civil authorities allegations of sexual abuse by said priests, which caused, allowed, and permitted additional children to be molested by predatory priests.”

Sexual abuse of minors by priests is not just commonplace in the United States. It has and is happening all over the world, and has been going on for centuries. See the accompanying article for more on the matter.

Barres issued an invitation to Catholics in the Diocese of Rockville Centre on September 10 to pray for survivors of clergy sexual abuse and to pray for the reform, purification, and sanctification of the church.

“On Friday, September 14, 2018, the Feast of the Exaltation of the Holy Cross and on Saturday, September 15, 2018, the Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, we have a unique opportunity to pray for survivors of clergy sexual abuse and to pray for the reform, purification and sanctification of the church in all areas and in all of her members,” said Bishop Barres in a letter posted on the district’s website.

In the wake of yet another pedophile scandal uncovered in Germany, Pope Francis has called for a historic summit at the Vatican this February to contend with what he called a “global crisis.” That story is reported elsewhere in this issue.

rmurphy@indyeastend.com