|ChrisOLeary.com > Sacrificed > Stika, Predation & Change|
It's the predation, stupid.
That's what's left me agitated.
Bothered — freaked out, to be honest — by what's been blowing up over the past two months.
And came to a head just a few days ago.
Something I've been thinking about EVERY SINGLE day, in part for reasons that will become obvious.
And for others I can't discuss.
But, generally, because things are both tragic and terrifying.
And so freaking FAMILIAR.
Such that they, again, make me wonder WHAT EXACTLY HAS CHANGED since I and we were abused in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
The events of the past few weeks have left me sufficiently bothered that, because I can't think about anything else, I'm going to go out of sequence in terms of the episodes I had planned for Sacrificed.
I'm going to drop a somewhat unrelated episode in the middle of another thread.
Because I simply can't manage to write about what I had planned.
Not at the moment.
Though, of course, the question of Bishop Stika, Knoxville, and what's changed IS all TOO relevant to the topic of what the big deal is.
What's the big deal?
How LITTLE things have changed.
So I'm just gonna go with it.
Trust that where I feel I'm being led is where I'm meant to go.
I'm sorry if I've overwhelmed you with the Fr. Mark White stuff.
That wasn't my intention.
But it's a result, in part, of what's going on.
Welcome to the life of a survivor, and all that...
In sum, it's literally maddening to see Fr. Mark RESISTING what I'm seeing and being run out of the Catholic Church for it.
And, sadly, all too familiar.
And it sure doesn't feel like a coincidence.
It seems a potent comment on how things have changed in the Catholic Church.
And how they have NOT.
And, when I say preoccupies, I really mean "obsess."
An obsession that, too often, provokes feelings of intense shame.
Why can't and won't I just move on?
But, not lately.
Not in the past few weeks.
Given what I KNOW.
What I've read.
And what I've been TOLD.
The fact is, my preoccupation — my obsession — seems COMPLETELY appropriate.
Given how LITTLE has changed in terms of how the Catholic Church thinks about sexual abuse.
And how the church, and its enablers, think about the importance of laypeople compared to priests and bishops.
In sum, the Catholic Church sees sexual abuse as no big deal and views the laity as inferior.
And thus disposable.
First and foremost, and as you may know — and, if you don't, you should, if you care about survivors and the safety of children, and all Catholics — things are blowing up in Knoxville, Tennessee. Accusations are flying that Bishop Rick Stika, the bishop of Knoxville, Tennessee, mishandled allegations of sexual assault.
No, not of children, but adults.
Not that it matters.
Abuse is Abuse is Abuse.
That includes allegations against ONE seminarian who's been kicked out of THREE other seminaries, for sexual assault — predatory behavior — and who Bishop Stika keeps giving YET ANOTHER chance.
And then there's ANOTHER predatory seminarian. And maybe a third.
Sure, mercy and forgiveness are great but, past a point, you have to understand that a person's behavior establishes WHO they are.
Which is a predator.
Among other things, Bishop Stika hired and fired an investigator for — of ALL things — asking questions about, and trying to get to the bottom of, what happened.
A story, and accusations, that are encapsulated, in large part, by a series of Pillar Catholic articles...
Those articles then led to a Catholic Herald article entitled...
Those articles then led to even more articles and investigations in the lay press, including one for which I was interviewed.
I can't tell you the ENTIRE story — it's not entirely my story to tell and, if I did, I'd likely get sued — but I can tell you a LOT of it.
In large part because, on my way to Virginia, to give the talks I gave in support of Fr. Mark White, in late June 2021, I stopped and spent the night in Knoxville.
The scene of the crime.
Where the seminarian is merely on hiatus, first living with a parishioner, and now, I've been told, stashed somewhere else, until this all, you know, blows over.
And he can get BACK on the path to the priesthood.
Come hell or high water.
But wait, there's more.
What's put this over the top, and has preoccupied me for the past few weeks, is the fact that what happened, and what I've been TOLD, about what happened in Knoxville, especially in terms of the RESPONSE — the actions of the HIERARCHY of the Catholic Church — is so STUNNINGLY similar to the story Chico Harlan and Stefano Pitrelli recently told in a piece in the Washington Post on July 12, 2021 entitled...
Which REALLY should be sub-titled...
Or maybe even...
Regardless of HOW you title it, it's the RESPONSE of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, up to and including Pope Francis, in the case of the VATICAN seminarian, that's the REAL story.
That's so STUNNING.
And is the real SCANDAL.
Because it's so DAMN familiar.
And has left me triggered.
It's the predation stupid.
All of which is topped off by — and brings me back to — the involvement of Bishop Rick Stika, of Knoxville, in my OWN case.
Among other things, Stika, in the absolute disaster of a year that was 2018, led me on, leading me to believe he would and could help me.
Creating yet another, devastating, False Hope.
Stika, Predation & Change
This is Sacrificed, a survivor's eye view of the Catholic sex abuse crisis that picks up, as my story does, where the movie SPOTLIGHT left off, providing a no punches pulled, no holds barred, and, above all else, no enabling look at aftermath of the Catholic sex abuse crisis.
WHAT happened, at a high level. WITHOUT getting into the gross stuff.
But, more importantly, HOW.
My name is Chris O'Leary and I'm a survivor of the Catholic sex abuse crisis.
In the late 1970s and early 1980s, I was sexually exploited, abused, and assaulted — raped — by a Catholic priest.
Then, when I went to my archdiocese for help in March 2002, and my friend the cardinal — and not the baseball kind — called me back, that's when things got REALLY bad.
When the Abuse of the Abused began.
Epitomized by my treatment at the Mass of Reparation for the sex abuse crisis, in September 2018, held mere weeks after the release of the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report, where I was ignored — SHUNNED — by all the priests in attendance.
As was captured by the picture that serves as the cover art for this podcast.
Why would my archdiocese and the Catholic Church do that?
HOW could they do that?
Despite the events of 2002, with SPOTLIGHT and the Dallas Charter, and 2018 and the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report? Treating a survivor in a way that might be CATHOLIC, but is anything but CHRISTIAN? And gives the lie to the promises of the Pope and the rest of the church?
In order to protect certain powerful, connected men.
Abuse Profiteers who benefited from the crisis and their willingness to turn a blind eye to our abuse as children and to then "fix" things when we come forward as adults.
In order to conceal a larger truth.
That some survivors — me and countless others — were simply thrown to the wolves.
As for VOS ESTIS LUX MUNDI, Pope Francis' bill of rights for survivors, which was supposed to — finally — end the torment and ensure we're helped?
It's a sham.
A false hope.
A cruel taunt, directed at survivors.
All of which raises what for me is the big question.
If the Catholic Church can do what it allowed to be done to me, and to us, as children, what else can it justify?
When it comes to children, above all else.
I REFUSE to allow what happened to me to happen to anyone else.
I'll be DAMNED if I allow what happened to me to happen to anyone else.
So I can't and won't stop until I figure out what happened and how.
And ensure it CAN'T happen again.
If Jesus Christ can do what he did, entering Jerusalem on Palm Sunday to a certain and KNOWN fate, then I can do this.
THAT'S the big question.
One that keeps coming to me, in large part, because of how obvious it is that so many — TOO many — Catholics WANT things to be different.
And ACT like they are.
All evidence to the contrary.
Evidence that starts with recent events — "recent" as in just the past few WEEKS — in Knoxville and the Vatican that raise a whole host of issues and questions, starting with...
What I see is behavior that REMINDS me of the 70s. Because the church refuses to learn the LESSONS of the 1970s.
When my abuser, Father LeRoy Valentine, and so many other, so obviously deeply flawed men were...
Incidents which were KNOWN to the Catholic Church, as is made clear by the fact that Valentine was immediately put into The Program, which was designed to manage and protect HIM.
And the CHURCH.
And not CHILDREN.
Just as, to this very DAY, known abusers, and not an unsuspecting public, are being protected by the Catholic Church.
From a multi-accused seminarian.
And known predator.
Who REMAINS on the path to ordination.
A seminarian who, with the help of Bishop Rick Stika of Knoxville — who seems to have pulled some strings — is merely laying low, for the time being.
Perhaps in my back yard.
And, to be clear, I see the treatment of the abusers in Knoxville and the Vatican as the SAME EXACT thing. A sign of a FUNDAMENTAL, LINGERING problem in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church.
Despite 2002 and SPOTLIGHT and 2018 and the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report.
And despite VOS ESTIS.
A problem that has NOT been fixed since I and we were sexually abused in the 1970s and 80s.
It's the predation, stupid.
What's going on?
I don't know, for sure, what the — lingering — problem is but, as I've said, it could be any one, or more, of a number of things.
I can't help but believe the Priest Shortage is PART of what's driving things. What's going on now that ONE priest is having to cover two, three, or more PARISHES?
What kind of pressure is that putting on the system?
To produce priests. Of ANY caliber.
And take some of the pressure off other, too often over-worked priests.
Driven, in part, by what I sense is a reluctance on the part of the church, in St. Louis at least, to contract, and God forbid sell off parishes, because of what I can only guess is the belief that, at some point, everybody will come back and again fill up those churches and schools.
A belief that is UTTERLY delusional.
The people are GONE.
The VAST majority of them, forever.
Because of the sex abuse crisis and the handling of it.
The treatment of survivors.
Which, to a large degree, has YET to be revealed.
However, my abuse happened when the seminaries and rectories were FULL, so the priest shortage can't be the WHOLE answer.
Part of the problem could be the belief that these men are being called BY GOD, and who is to question that call. An idea that, by now, seems incredibly naive. Because, just maybe, the person doing the calling is SATAN? And not God?
Maybe SATAN is calling these men to a place where their crimes will be disregarded?
As they have been in Knoxville.
And in the Vatican.
By the Pope.
The issue could also be the prestige that, at least in some cases, still, is attached to dioceses that produce vocations. I know that was a point of pride in the Archdiocese of St. Louis; how many priests were consistently ordained. It wouldn't surprise me if Bishop Stika of Knoxville, who comes from St. Louis, picked up the idea that the more ordinations, the better.
Regardless of the QUALITY of those who are ordained.
Because the Ontological Change will take care of any issues?
WHATEVER it is that's driving things, these old, problematic ideas seem to still be in force, especially in the minds of people like Bishop Rick Stika, a product of the arrogant, and coldly callous, disaster that is the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
2018 well and truly SUCKED.
You know about my treatment at the Mass of Reparation in September...
...where I was ignored — SHUNNED — by all the priests in attendance.
Which was just PART of what I describe as the Abuse of the Abused.
What you don't know about is the involvement of Bishop Rick Stika, the bishop of Knoxville, Tennessee, in my story, a story I'll introduce with a few of the more relevant tweets.
In sum, and most recently...
It's no fun to be called a liar — and Gaslighted — by a bishop of the Catholic Church but, at least, it wasn't the first time Stika had accused me of lying.
So, at least, I was ready for it.
Bishop Stika had previously called me a liar on August 20, 2018, when he tweeted (at me)...
That was prompted, I believe, by my writing, and pointing Stika to, a piece I had written entitled...
...that told the story of my treatment — just PART of the Abuse of the Abused — at the hands of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
The sham that is the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops — the USCCB's — promise of (Victims) Assistance Coordinators for survivors.
When I went to the Archdiocese of St. Louis for help, first in 2002 and again in 2011, and was never put in touch with, contacted by, or even told of the existence of an Assistance Coordinator.
It's a story of unkept promises and open lies.
Of a False Hope.
At least my interactions with Bishop Stika, while coming at a huge cost, did confirm one critical, and damning for the Archdiocese of St. Louis and the Catholic Church, aspect of my story; the involvement, and misdeeds of, my friend the cardinal.
By admitting that...
...your report preceded me and resurfaced after I left...
...Stika established that documents relevant to my case, and my abuser, disappeared — WERE disappeared — from my abuser's file.
Thus his use of the term "resurfaced."
What's the big deal?
Who would — COULD — have done the disappearing, and resurfacing, of documents from the secret archive of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, BUT my friend the cardinal?
To hide his involvement in a plot to turn a blind eye to, and help to cover up, the abuse committed by Fr. LeRoy Valentine at the Church of the Immacolata in the late 1970s, at least.
A secret the Archdiocese of St. Louis will do pretty much ANYTHING to keep.
Including lying to the court.
And thus committing PERJURY.
In December 2017, Cardinal Bernard law, one of the key figures from the movie SPOTLIGHT died. That led the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops — the USCCB — to issue a statement which, among other things, discussed the (Victims) Assistance Coordinator that each Catholic diocese or archdiocese had in place to help survivors.
The problem is, that was a lie.
In the Archdiocese of St. Louis, at least.
I had spent YEARS trying to get help from the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and their (Victims) Assistance Coordinator, to no avail. As a result, in late December 2017 and January 2018, I wrote, published, and then expanded upon a piece that documented my experiences. That piece, ultimately, came to be entitled...
By early February 2018, I had fleshed out that piece sufficiently that I started pointing people to it, including in one e-mail I sent to a contact at the USCCB. Given the USCCB's promise of (Victims) Assistance Coordinators for survivors, I thought they would be interested to know that the Archdiocese of St. Louis wasn't keeping the USCCB's promise.
To my immense surprise, within days I received a reply from the new head of the Office of Child and Youth Protection at the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
That e-mail, dated February 5, 2018, read...
I wanted to respond to you on behalf of the Archdiocese of Saint Louis.
Sure, the phrase...
Your claims were acknowledged
...is meaningless legalese, but the sign-off...
...you and all victims of abuse...
...is an acknowledgement.
I guess the February 5, 2018 e-mail I received from the Archdiocese of St. Louis was intended to be a definitive brush-off, but it only emboldened me, especially since it wasn't explicit.
As a result, I replied, several times, looking for a definitive acknowledgement.
A statement that CLEARLY admitted one thing.
The Archdiocese of St. Louis wasn't willing to give me that so, when I wouldn't shut up about their refusal to honor the promises of the USCCB, by providing survivors with the help of a (Victims) Assistance Coordinator, they began an Intimidation Campaign.
The Archdiocese of St. Louis called the police and — falsely, of course — alleged that I had made Terroristic Threats against them.
Such that, on March 29, 2018, I had to entertain two Shrewsbury detectives for an hour and a half while they questioned me about a number of tweets I had sent, out of fear for my life and the lives of my family. An incident that was repeated on May 2, 2018, when I was visited by two Webster Groves cops.
The Archdiocese of St. Louis then DOUBLED DOWN with a Smear Campaign.
In the piece by Aisha Sultan of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, in which I went public, a piece entitled...
...in which the Archdiocese of St. Louis told the people of St. Louis that I was a liar. A spokesman for the Archdiocese of St. Louis said...
…when asked to comment on O’Leary’s account, “The archdiocese’s record of Mr. O’Leary’s allegations are significantly different; however, due to a court order as well as our own ethical obligation, we are not at liberty to discuss Mr. O’Leary’s case.” Jones also said the information O’Leary shared initially changed multiple times by the time he broke off communication with the Office of Child and Youth Protection.
Which of course, was a lie.
And what was particularly galling — and literally maddening — was the phrase...
...the information O’Leary shared initially changed multiple times...
When I met with a Review Team from the Archdiocese of St. Louis in early May 2011, they told me they had no KNOWLEDGE of my 2002 conversations with my friend the cardinal and the psychologist he referred me to, who I suspect was Nancy Brown, the Assistance Coordinator for the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
So, if the Archdiocese of St. Louis only interviewed me ONCE, in May 2011, how could they say my story CHANGED?
To quote Ron Burgundy, "That doesn't make sense."
By July 2018, I was trying to get the word out about — the reality — of what life was like for survivors and I was looking for people, especially Catholic priests and bishops, who might care.
Because of, you know, the whole Jesus thing.
To do that, I was trying to challenge people — Catholics and others — when it came to what they understood, or THOUGHT they understood, about the sex abuse crisis.
And the reality of life for survivors.
One day, in late July 28, 2018, I saw a tweet directed at Bishop Rick Stika, who I knew of, and followed on Twitter. That tweet felt a little enable-y to me, so I replied to the person who had replied to Bishop Stika, and included Stika in the response.
I thought the willingness of that person to forgive Bishop Stika, the hierarchy, and the Catholic Church, for what had been done, not to THEM, but to ME, wasn't appropriate.
I'm sorry, but that's not how it works.
It was also enabling.
To my reply, which asked them to consider the plight of survivors, they replied...
I've had LOTS of people — generally lay women — tell me I need to forgive the church. Preemptively. Without first ensuring that the problem is fixed.
Which seems crazy to me.
To forgive, without first ensuring the problem is fixed, is to enable.
And to put another generation of innocent children at risk.
There's also the practical matters of being a survivor. The fact that, as I tweeted...
To which the person replied...
Which was so completely out of touch with the reality of being a survivor, which led me to tweet...
I'm not sure what people think it's like to be a survivor, but it means dealing with one or more mental illnesses, too often on your own. And treatment costs money. Money that, in many cases, is hard to come by. Because of your mental illnesses.
Theoretically, that problem is solved by the Catholic Church helping survivors, but what are survivors supposed to do when our (arch)dioceses refuse to help us?
Despite all the talk.
At the same time the conversation about the 30 pieces of silver was taking place, I broke off a parallel conversation about how much of what was being done to me was deliberate. The initial tweet said...
To which I made a point about my sense that what I was enduring — the Intimidation Campaign and the Smear Campaign — were deliberate acts.
I then commented, again, on the financial aspects — the reality — of being a survivor...
Which the person disregarded...
That statement ignored the pressing financial realities that I was facing — and still face — which I laid out in my reply tweet...
At which point, and to my COMPLETE surprise, Bishop Stika, who had been cc'd on the conversation, but who I didn't know was listening, weighed in.
I've mentioned before that, whenever I upload a new episode of Sacrificed, I also post an annotated transcript at...
There, you can follow along with what I say in each episode of Sacrificed, and view the photographs, documents, and other things I reference.
In the case of this episode, the transcript for this episode includes the tweets I'm referring to, which are still up on Twitter.
That includes a number of important tweets from Bishop Rick Stika, the Bishop of Knoxville, Tennessee.
In late July 2018, I was discussing the financial realities of being a survivor, and my treatment by the Archdiocese of St. Louis, with a lay Catholic, when Bishop Stika weighed in...
I didn't know much about Bishop Stika at the time, but I did know that he was a bishop and was from St. Louis, so his expressing an interest in my case, and my plight, immediately raised my hopes.
Maybe it would soon be over?
You have NO IDEA what the prospect of getting help felt like; what it did to me.
To have a Catholic bishop volunteer to help you with your plight and make your case to a fellow bishop.
As a bishop, and one with ties to St. Louis, there were three things I hoped Bishop Stika might be able to do to help me.
First, I hoped Stika could convince the Archdiocese of St. Louis to call off the dogs. To end the Intimidation Campaign. And the Smear Campaign.
This was before Vos Estis, so there was no LAW against what the Archdiocese of St. Louis was doing but, I hoped, maybe one bishop could convince a brother bishop that waging an Intimidation and Smear Campaign against a survivor wasn't the right thing to do.
You know, Jesus and that whole thing...
Second, and though it was a bit of a long shot, I thought Stika might be able to confirm the existence of the memo corresponding to the call I made to the Archdiocese of St. Louis in early March 2002, the existence of which the Review Team denied knowing about when I met with them in May 2011.
A denial that REALLY messed me up.
Confused and disoriented me.
Which is the point of Gaslighting.
On the one hand, I KNEW I had talked to my friend the cardinal and then to the older, female psychologist he had referred me to. On the other hand, the 11 year-old liked to torture me with the Review Team's denial of their knowledge of the existence of that memo and the underlying call.
From a mental health standpoint, the Review Team in 2011 denying any knowledge about my March 2002 conversations was taking a HUGE toll on me.
It made me feel like I was crazy.
That I didn't know what was real and what wasn't.
Third, I thought, with Bishop Stika's help, I might be able to get help from the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
Help paying for therapy, medications, and insurance, if not life.
I replied to Bishop Stika's tweet, letting him know that I couldn't DM him unless he followed me.
I also linked to my Medium piece...
...and my collection of writings about the Catholic sex abuse crisis.
Fifteen minutes later, and out of both eagerness and a sense of desperation — I didn't want to waste the chance to END IT, for it to be OVER — I tweeted at Bishop Stika a second time, giving him my contact information and linking to another piece that discussed my story.
Then, 40 minutes after my second tweet, I tweeted at Bishop Stika a third time.
In retrospect, I probably should have been more deferential towards the Archdiocese of St. Louis and the church — less relentless — but I was DESPERATE.
And everything I said WAS the truth.
I don't remember exactly what happened next, or when, but Bishop Stika did end up giving me a call, I think shortly after my third tweet.
We then had a thirty or so minute conversation in which I shared an overview of my story with Stika and he told me some of his own story.
Including the fact that Bishop Rick Stika, too, had been sexually abused by a priest, when he was a child.
The reality of the Catholic Church, which I only vaguely GOT at the time of my first conversation with Bishop Stika, is that each bishop, and especially each ARCH-bishop and cardinal, is on his own.
Accountable to only one person.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops?
Their power is only advisory.
The hard power is held by, and ONLY by, the Pope.
Only the POPE himself can tell a bishop what to do.
I kind of understood this when Bishop Stika told me he'd see what he could do, and would call the Archdiocese of St. Louis. But there was something about Stika's manner that made it seem like he had more than the average amount of influence.
That there was a REASON for hope.
That he was a big deal.
A big shot.
Who was willing to stand up for me, and make my case, to another bishop.
This was buoyed by the fact that Stika came out of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Stika was ordained in St. Louis and his first assignment was at Mary Queen of Peace, the parish that is just a couple hundred yards behind me, as I write this. Stika had also served as chancellor of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and was very well connected.
Knowing that, I entrusted him with my story and asked him to please make my case for me.
However, and EXACTLY as happened with Monsignor Richard Hanneke in 2013, the Bishop Stika who called me back a few days later was VERY different than the man I had talked to.
Where before Bishop Stika was warm and sympathetic, this new Bishop Stika was ice cold.
Why, I had no idea.
In case you question whether I'm telling the truth — whether these conversations ever took place — Bishop Stika still has up a number of tweets up that he sent to me when, a few weeks later, I expressed frustration for the False Hope he had given me. Tweets that, at a minimum, prove the broad outlines of what I'm saying.
So the tweet above proves — Stika admits — that we talked twice; once when he called me to offer help, and I told him what was going on, and a second time when he called me to tell me what the people at the Archdiocese of St. Louis had told him.
Something that was confirmed by a tweet in which Stika doubled down...
Stika then went on to call me a liar...
I'm not exactly sure, and don't remember clearly, what this — the "lacks honesty" part — is referring to, but I think it refers to what I say in my piece...
...in which I expose the sham that is the (Victims) Assistance Coordinator program, in the Archdiocese of St. Louis, at least. And discuss the involvement of the cardinals of St. Louis — and not the baseball kind — in my case.
But, needless to say, to have a bishop tell me that what I wrote — what I EXPERIENCED — "lacks honesty" is more than I can handle.
What was the problem. I couldn't help but suspect that the issue was the involvement of Deacon "Runaround" Phil Hengen, the former head of the Office of Child & Youth Protection, as I said in a tweet...
What a disaster.
As soon as Bishop Stika mentioned "Runaround Phil," and said that they were good friends, I knew no good would come from Stika's efforts.
But, at least, there's some substance in these tweets, starting with this absolutely crucial one.
First, and at a minimum, that tweet confirms that Bishop Stika and I talked.
Second, and more importantly, it confirms the existence of the memo corresponding to my conversations with my friend the cardinal.
A memo that "resurfaced" after disappearing.
But who disappeared it?
Given that, per canon law, it would have been stored in the secret archive of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and it hadn't been removed by Stika, it could ONLY have been my friend the cardinal, or one of the other cardinals of St. Louis, who removed it.
The way the Archdiocese of St. Louis handled things, in early March 2002, was they asked people with any information about Fr. LeRoy Valentine to call a hotline phone number that was linked to a voicemail box.
Apparently, what would happen is that a secretary, Genevieve, would listen to the messages in the voicemail box. She would then type up a memo, giving the details of the voicemail message all in one place.
The person in charge of handling complaints of abuse, who in early March 2002 was my friend the cardinal, would then work off of that memo when calling and talking to the person who left the message, usually a survivor or a family member.
An example of such a memo, with annotations made by someone, likely my friend the cardinal, is below.
And here's where things get squirrelly.
I called in to the Archdiocese of St. Louis, and talked to my friend the cardinal, a number of times in early March 2002. That means there should be a memo corresponding to my call in the file of my abuser Fr. LeRoy Valentine. However, when I met with a Review Team from the Archdiocese of St. Louis in May 2011, they told me they had no RECORD of my conversations with my friend the cardinal.
Meaning the memo corresponding to my call WASN'T IN VALENTINE's FILE.
That memo also wasn't in the file of my abuser when Bishop Stika too over as Vicar for Clergy, in the Summer of 2002, as this tweet from Stika confirms.
Note Stika's use of the word "resurfaced."
During my conversations with Bishop Stika in late July 2018, I told him that the Archdiocese of St. Louis told me in May 2011 that they had no record of my conversations. So I asked Stika if, when he took over as Vicar for Clergy of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, if he had seen my memo and name in the file of my abuser Fr. LeRoy Valentine.
Stika told me that, when he looked at Valentine's file, there was nothing that pertained to me.
What could have happened?
One I didn't tell you about the memo that I mentioned above, and have a copy of, is where I found it.
In the file of a completely unrelated abuser.
An abuser whose sister happened to write a book about the Catholic sex abuse crisis and included that memo, that she was given accidentally, in her book.
What a CRAZY coincidence.
But, also, what a FORTUNATE coincidence.
One of the things we learned about how the Catholic Church operates, from the complete and utter disaster that was Bishop Malone and the diocese of Buffalo, was that bishops don't just maintain a secret archive but, in certain cases, they keep that secret archive separate from the main personnel files.
In a completely random place.
In the case of Bishop Malone and Buffalo, the secret archive was a binder that was kept in the broom closet.
Not the file room.
Presumably, that was done to ensure that, should someone come to the church with a subpoena for all the files in the file room, they wouldn't get ALL the files.
Not the worst ones.
Because the worst files weren't KEPT in the file room.
Instead, they were kept in a binder in the back of the broom closet.
The Archdiocese of St. Louis, it would appear, plays a similar game. Certain files or documents — perhaps for certain abusers? — aren't kept in the files of those abusers.
Instead, they are scattered into the files of OTHER abusers.
They're not discarded or destroyed, it seems.
Which is how a memo that pertains to a call regarding Fr. LeRoy Valentine ended up in the file of a completely unrelated abuser.
And which is how that abuser's sister came to see it and put it in her book.
And how I came across it.
Thanks to The Google.
What a CRAZY coincidence.
But, also, a very welcome one.
So back to the tweet by Bishop Stika.
First, he confirms that we talked, over the phone, in late July 2018.
Then, he confirms my timeline, noting that the report I filed was handled by his predecessor and not himself.
...your report preceded me...
His predecessor being my friend the cardinal.
And then Bishop Stika says something REALLY interesting.
...and resurfaced after I left and I was no longer in StLouis.
What does THAT mean?
Resurfaced from where?
Where was the memo during that time?
And, most importantly, given that the memo HAD resurfaced, why hadn't the Archdiocese of St. Louis called me back to let me know that they knew that I WASN'T lying? That they had found the memo that corresponded to my call in early March 2002.
And were ready to help me.
But that's not what happened.
The crushing result of my conversations with Bishop Rick Stika, the bishop of Knoxville, Tennessee, was that NOTHING changed.
As I tweeted, in September 2018...
The Archdiocese of St. Louis never did call off the dogs.
At the September 2018 Mass of Reparation for the sex abuse crisis, I was ignored — SHUNNED — by all the priests in attendance.
Exactly as the cover art for this podcast shows.
As long as I'm talking about the memo corresponding to my call to the Archdiocese of St. Louis in early March 2002, and how it's so INCREDIBLY important to me — because it would prove I'm not lying or crazy — let me give you a preview of another aspect of my story.
The involvement of multiple attorneys general of the state of Missouri.
One who whom is now a U.S. Senator.
I never did find out from Bishop Stika, or anyone else, what happened to the memo corresponding to my call to the Archdiocese of St. Louis in early March 2002. That was, and still IS, an issue because the 11 year-old — the part of me that is STUCK back them and there — can't help but torture me by repeating, over and over again, what the Review Team told me in May 2011.
We have no knowledge of any calls or conversations between, or meetings with, you and any member of the Archdiocese of St. Louis in March 2002.
A comment that sent me racing to the office of the woman I met with.
Or, at least, trying to.
Because, for whatever reason, I was LITERALLY unable to SEE the building, despite driving past it 100 times, for something like five years.
And then, a few years later, at the same time that I was expressing my frustration with Bishop Stika, the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report dropped, leading to a flood of actions that I thought might help me.
Might give me another bite at the apple.
Another chance to see if the memo pertaining to my early March 2002 call existed, somewhere in the bowels of the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
It's a long story, one I'll tell in its own episode, but the gist is that I contacted the teams of both Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley and his replacement, Eric Schmitt, and told them that they could use the existence of the memo pertaining to my early March 2002 call as a kind of litmus test. They could use it to determine whether the Archdiocese of St. Louis was being straight with them or not.
That was a concern, for me at least, because Attorney General Josh Hawley didn't seek subpoena power for the State of Missouri's investigation of the Archdiocese of St. Louis. Instead, he had to rely on the voluntary cooperation of the Archdiocese.
Which, knowing how the Catholic Church operates, felt like a mistake.
But wasn't too surprising, that it was made, given that Hawley was at least Catholic educated.
Leveraging a connection from my mom's church, in September 2018, I got the phone number for and called the lead investigator for Hawley's team, a woman named Christine. We talked and I told her of the existence of the memo. Well, at least, the call and conversations with my friend the cardinal, and the woman who I assume was Nancy Brown, the Assistance Coordinator for the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
However, Josh Hawley's investigation of the Archdiocese of St. Louis never went anywhere.
If it even got started.
They never called me to interview me, despite my calling and BEGGING them to talk to me.
And then Hawley went on to the U.S. Senate and was replaced by current Missouri Attorney General, Eric Schmitt.
I went through the same rigmarole with Schmitt's team, and had to force them to interview me by threatening to get the press involved. I did a token interview with them in February 2019, but I didn't feel they were taking me seriously.
Then, in July 2019, again using the press as a cudgel, I went back to MO AG Eric Schmitt's team and essentially forced them to talk to me, this time letting them know I suspected crimes had been committed by the Archdiocese of St. Louis, starting with perjury.
That second conversation with the MO AG's office went VERY differently.
The same investigator I talked to the first time was there, and he seemed to have changed his tune. He was interested and supportive. He was also accompanied by a lawyer who had driven over from Kansas City.
"Now we're getting somewhere," I thought.
Which is why I was stunned when, just a few weeks later, it was announced that Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt was wrapping up his investigation and would deliver a report in early September.
My conversation had indeed spurred MO AG Eric Schmitt to action.
He killed the investigation.
I can only assume because I told him things he didn't want to hear or know.
He didn't WANT to know about the perjury committed by the Archdiocese of St. Louis or the games they would presumably play with the memo corresponding to my early March 2002 conversations with my friend the cardinal.
Back to Bishop Stika for one more quick story about my interactions with him.
And another tale of frustration, indifference, and Gaslighting.
Of False Hope.
Let me sum up the story with a tweet I sent...
As I first did at the Mass of Reparation, in September 2018, whenever the Archdiocese of St. Louis hold a mass to celebrate a big event, I try to go down to the Cathedral Basilica of the Archdiocese of St. Louis — the New Cathedral — and stand vigil out front, holding a photograph or two or a sign with a short message on it.
Which is what I did for the installation of Bishop Mitchell Rozanski, the new Archbishop of St. Louis.
Of course, as Bishop Rozanski walked into the New Cathedral for the mass he ignored me.
That wasn't fun, but it's just how things go.
What WAS different was what happened AFTER mass.
I was standing there, silently, holding a sign — I think one that said that survivors need TREATMENT and not TORMENT — when I noticed that someone, who was dressed a bit differently, was walking down my steps, in my direction.
It was Bishop Stika.
There were three of us lined up, out in front of the New Cathedral, two Church Militant guys and me.
The Church Militant guys had crude, hand-drawn signs that said something to the effect of...
And, I couldn't help but notice, they were given waves by several priests in attendance.
The same priests who ignored me and my survivor-centric sign.
Which wasn't fun.
But it is symptomatic of the general homophobic, Get The Gays attitude of the modern Catholic Church.
The largely performative, church sanctioned persecution.
And, if you're confused by this statement, and the fact that I would make it, remember that I was 10 and maybe 9 when it started. And others were younger. 8 or even 7.
That's NOT The Gays.
Stika worked the line of protestors, from my left to right, starting with the two Church Militant guys to my left, from whom I had separated myself by ten feet or so, just to make it clear than I wasn't with them and they weren't with me.
Stika talked to them briefly, and expressed his support for their efforts and then slid to his left to stand in front of me.
"Hi Bishop Stika," I said, as he looked at my face and then down at my sign which, again, I think said something to the effect of...
As his face rose back up, to meet mine, I could see that he was a bit confused.
Stika asked me, "What does your sign mean?"
And I explained how, despite the passage of Vos Estis Lux Mundi — the Pope's (supposed) bill of rights for survivors — a little more than a year prior, the Archdiocese of St. Louis did NOTHING to help survivors.
DESPITE VOS ESTIS.
To which Bishop Stika replied...
No. That's not right. There's no way that can be true.
If my conversations with Bishop Stika in the Summer of 2018 were bad, this comment was immeasurably worse.
Because it was Gaslighting.
It led me to question everything I knew an experienced, I suspect deliberately.
Of course it's true that the Archdiocese of St. Louis does NOTHING to help survivors.
Despite VOS ESTIS.
I said it.
Because I LIVED it.
And am STILL living it.
Despite VOS ESTIS and the Pennsylvania Grand Jury Report and everything.
And because I wrote it down, as I'm doing now because, in too many cases, it's simply too hard to be believed.
So what's changed?
What happened with Bishop Stika?
Why did he go hot and then ice cold on me?
I don't know for sure, but I suspect it's related to the involvement of my friend the cardinal in my case, and how that's impacted my treatment by the Archdiocese of St. Louis and the Catholic Church, something Dave Glover, to his credit, picked up on in June of 2019.
So here's what I don't understand. If it's pretty common knowledge that this guy did it, why are you singled out as, "But I bet this kid's lying?"
By September, the Pennsylvania Grand Jury report had been released, emboldening survivors all around the country.
And our supporters.
Leading Bishop Rick Stika of the Diocese of Knoxville to repeat the sin of Peter; the sin revealing by the cock's crow.
Though I can't prove it directly, because the original tweet has been deleted, in early September 2018, one of my followers and supporters, who was shocked by my revelations about the actions of my friend the cardinal, ended up tweeting at Bishop Stika that his efforts to protect him would be his downfall. And I quote...
Tim Dolan will be your downfall.
To which Stika replied...
When he told the tweet was referring to my friend the cardinal, Stika replied...
I mention this for a couple of reasons.
First, because it's so DUMB.
How does a Catholic bishop, who's from St. Louis, no less, not know the name of one of the most important and powerful members of the Catholic Church?
Or how does he believe that people will BELIEVE he doesn't know who the tweet is referring to.
Then there's the STRANGENESS of it.
And, underneath it, the arrogance.
The belief — the certainty — the people will buy it.
That playing dumb is a viable strategy.
Where did Bishop Stika learn to do that?
Where did he learn that that is a viable strategy?
And that's what bothered me so much about the exchange, and why I bring it up, now.
Why I can't just blow it off.
And why, I suspect, it's relevant.
It's the arrogant ignorance.
The refusal to answer a basic question, and with such a STUPID response.
Which is so incredibly arrogant.
And, at the core, I guess, it's that arrogance that is what concerns me.
What kind of PERSON employs such a strategy?
And what (else) are they capable of?
And then there's a underlying pattern, which is the need to defend my friend the cardinal.
At what COST?
Besides what's been done to me?
On the one hand, that makes sense; he's a very powerful person and the image — the embodiment — of the Catholic Church for many.
But, underneath it, is the STRIVING.
The willingness to do ANYTHING, no matter how absurd, to protect, and curry favor with, a powerful member of the Catholic Church.
Whether it looks absurd to a layperson?
Because it is?
What matters is the display of unquestioning loyalty to one's superiors.
Which raises the question of what, then, has changed?
That's the question that's raised by the actions of Bishop Rick Stika, the Bishop of Knoxville, Tennessee, in the present.
There's so much in the Pillar Catholic and Catholic Herald articles, that describe what Bishop Stika has done and still is doing, that you should read them yourself, but let me point out a couple of things that may not be clear to you, because they weren't clear to me.
One thing that's not clear in the coverage of Bishop Stika is that he THREE TIMES tried to ordain questionable candidates.
Three DIFFERENT candidates.
Not just once, in the case of the seminarian who raped the employee of the Knoxville Cathedral.
There's also a separate, DIFFERENT abuser, the person discussed in the Pillar Catholic article entitled Stika accepted deacon accused of misconduct...
The Bishop of Knoxville accepted a transitional deacon for parish ministry, even after the deacon was dismissed from seminary because of sexual misconduct allegations. Bishop Richard Stika reportedly intended to ordain the deacon a priest, despite objections from both Knoxville’s diocesan priests and psychological experts... The transitional deacon, incardinated in another U.S. diocese, was dismissed from seminary after “making sexual advances toward a younger seminarian” in late 2016... A 2017 psychologists’ report said the deacon’s “manipulative style, sexual predatory nature and lack of empathy continue to be a grave concern for us given his impending ordination.”
We know this is a different person based on the timeline.
When they were in the seminary.
And their position.
This person, who came to Knoxville as a transitional deacon, meaning he was halfway toward being ordained a priest, committed his offenses in 2016.
In contrast, the seminarian didn't come to Knoxville until 2018.
And, if Bishop Stika keeps doing this, over and over again — trying to ordain problematic candidates — then what's changed?
A question that only grows in intensity and importance as a result of the case of Gabriele Martinelli, which was told in the Washington Post on July 12th, 2021, in an article entitled...
Whose example is Bishop Stika following?
The hierarchy, up to and including the Pope?
The problem with the story told in the Washington Post — what's so DISTURBING about it — is that it so closely and STRONGLY parallels the case of the seminarians of Knoxville.
To begin with...
Kamil Jarzembowski, a former altar boy... said in an interview that he witnessed his onetime roommate being abused by Martinelli “dozens and dozens” of times.
Forget that the behavior is homosexual. Involving two men.
What MATTERS — really — is that the behavior is nonconsensual.
...being abused by Martinelli...
And, worst of all, according to the story...
...the Vatican’s third-ranking official wrote a letter that referred to the accusations and asserted that the pope “knows the case well.”
For all the talk of a newfound sense of responsibility and proactivity by the Catholic Church...
Only after Martinelli’s ordination — in the wake of Italian media coverage — has the Vatican revisited the case.
Thank God for the Italian media, who refuse to enable the Catholic Church.
Because it's all too obvious that you — still — can't trust the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, at least...
...powerful figures within the church hierarchy discounted warnings as they facilitated Martinelli’s rise. Centrally responsible for Martinelli’s fate were Cardinal Angelo Comastri and Bishop Diego Coletti... quickly dismissed the claims against Martinelli as
Why the refusal to believe?
...the Vatican had believed Martinelli “could not be accused of sex abuse” because he was just 221 days older than the fellow altar boy.
Which ignores the role that power differentials often play in abuse. As the Washington Post writers wisely and thankfully pointed out...
Martinelli had a role unlike that of any other teen at St. Pius X youth seminary, as the facility is known. He doled out assignments for papal Masses, selecting which teens would stand directly in front of the pope or to his side — with the chance to join the pontiff afterward in the sacristy. Among the middle-schoolers and high-schoolers who had left their homes and families with an aspiration to serve the pope, Martinelli was seen as the papal gatekeeper.
What I find so disturbing, and what has me so agitated, is the parallels with my own case, especially when it comes to how the physical contact was just rationalized away...
Several witnesses told Roman and Vatican authorities that they saw Martinelli touch the genitals of another teen at the youth seminary. Martinelli told Vatican prosecutors this “may have happened” involuntarily during a game.
This, of course, parallels what I was told in mid March 2002, when the woman, who I suspect was Nancy Brown, the Assistance Coordinator for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, told me I was just "misinterpreting" Fr. Valentine's actions and intentions.
But then the Washington Post article gets worse.
...the investigation had been ended “for the sake of the church.”
What about the survivor?
What has CHANGED?
Then there's a concept, that I've mentioned before...
...concluded that Martinelli’s behavior, though inappropriate, was understandable for adolescents, for whom there is often “no perfect match of wills.” “The behaviors were just the expression of a transitory homosexual tendency, of a not-yet completed adolescence,” Cantoni wrote at the end of the review.
Transitory homosexual tendency.
Which of course completely MISSES THE POINT.
The big deal about what happened wasn't the HOMOSEXUALITY but the PREDATORY nature of it.
The lack of CONSENT.
Then there's the attitude of the Pope...
...a man referred to as “the Rev. Angelo” — identified by the police as likely being Opera leader Angelo Magistrelli — told Martinelli that the pope had encouraged his advancement to the French Pontifical Seminary and had believed the accusations to be “calumny.”
Think what you will — what you WANT to be true — about Pope Francis, but it seems more than obvious that the Pope has a huge blind spot when it comes to sex abuse.
Which, I can only assume, is why he enacted, but refuses to enforce, Vos Estis Lux Mundi, his (supposed) survivors' bill of rights.
Because this is so important, let me take a minute to recap what I've learned, and what I've said, and make clear how it all ties it all together.
Which, I hope, will explain why this bothers me so much; why it has my stomach tied up in knots, such that I'm drinking a glass of wine at 10:06 in the morning, in the hope that I can freaking finish this freaking piece.
First, in Knoxville Tennessee — STILL — a man who sexually assaulted and raped someone REMAINS on the path to ordination. Yes, the seminarian is taking a BREAK on his path to ordination.
But only a break.
Per a Pillar Catholic article entitled Knoxville bishop replaced investigator in seminarian probe...
The seminarian is eligible to reapply to the diocese in two years, Stika said.
Because Bishop Rick Stika, the bishop of Knoxville, thinks he's able to discern things for himself?
Which sure seems to be the case.
Quoting a Pillar Catholic article entitled Bishop Stika wants "the whole story" ahead of Vatican investigation, Stika...
...had removed an investigator looking into the case, because, he said, he’d asked too many questions and caused confusion. The bishop replaced the investigator with a retired police officer whose investigation consisted only of interviewing the accused seminarian.
Because Bishop Stika, again according to Pillar Catholic...
...is convinced of the seminarian’s innocence...
Stika told Pillar Catholic...
“I think he’s innocent. And he has suffered greatly.”
...and then doubled down, saying he...
...“knew” in his heart, he said, “that [seminarian] was absolutely innocent.”
Which is an at best incredibly foolish — if not delusional — thing to say.
And so reminiscent of the bad old days.
The fact is you simply CAN NOT know who or what someone is, just by looking at them.
You have to look at what the FACTS say.
And the FACT that Bishop Stika is IGNORING the facts says all we need to know.
All of which, for me, can't help but bring to mind the Archdiocese of St. Louis' "investigation" of my abuser, Fr. LeRoy Valentine, which involved interviewing him and, when he told them nothing happened, taking him at his word.
And refusing to help me.
Bishop Stika's faith in the righteousness and innocence of the seminarian is despite the fact that, according to that same Pillar Catholic article, the seminarian, after sexually assaulting someone he worked with at the Knoxville cathedral, when sent to a seminary outside of Knoxville, then sexually harassed or assaulted other seminarians.
Yet Stika STILL defends the seminarian.
And this isn't the first time that Bishop Stika has taken in a seminarian who was rejected by — thrown out of — another seminary for sexual misconduct.
It's happened at least twice.
And maybe three times.
The circumstances of the second time this happened are discussed in a Pillar Catholic article entitled Stika accepted deacon accused of misconduct. And the story is so similar to the story of the seminarian that I initially confused and conflated that two.
But, it seems, these are two different people and stories.
FIRST, there's the seminarian.
THEN, there's the deacon.
In this case, a TRANSITIONAL deacon, meaning, basically, a more senior seminarian who's already half way towards being ordained a priest, having already been ordained a transitional deacon. The word "transitional" meaning they are on their way to being ordained a priest, rather than being a PERMANENT deacon.
According to the Pillar Catholic article entitled Stika accepted deacon accused of misconduct...
The Bishop of Knoxville accepted a transitional deacon for parish ministry, even after the deacon was dismissed from seminary because of sexual misconduct allegations. Bishop Richard Stika reportedly intended to ordain the deacon a priest, despite objections from both Knoxville’s diocesan priests and psychological experts.
And it's the phrase...
Bishop Richard Stika reportedly intended to ordain the deacon a priest, despite objections from both Knoxville’s diocesan priests and psychological experts.
...that sets me off, because of the familiarity with what happened in my case.
And it gets worse.
Again, quoting that same Pillar Catholic article...
The transitional deacon, incardinated in another U.S. diocese, was dismissed from seminary after “making sexual advances toward a younger seminarian” in late 2016...
The deacon was reportedly accused of other incidents of sexual misconduct while in seminary. A 2017 psychologists’ report said the deacon’s “manipulative style, sexual predatory nature and lack of empathy continue to be a grave concern for us given his impending ordination.”
And the phrase...
...manipulative style, sexual predatory nature and lack of empathy...
Sounds like sociopathy.
The same sociopathy — and predatory nature — described in the Washington Post article.
And which brings to mind something I've discussed in a previous episode.
Does the Catholic Church — STILL — view sociopathy as a FEATURE and not a BUG?
For WHATEVER reason.
Perhaps because it's seen as allowing a priest to stand above and against the pressures of the popular culture?
And, if some seminarians or kids get raped, oh well...
As for the THIRD possible predator?
He's mentioned in the same Pillar Catholic article...
Some Knoxville priests mentioned another seminarian, who studied in the diocese from 2015 until 2017.
Diocesan officials had concerns about that seminarian... and were confused that Stika was insistent about keeping him in the diocese after objections were raised, even while the bishop was willing to dismiss other seminarians about whom similar concerns had been raised.
This is such a CLEAR pattern, and so reminiscent of what I observed in my interactions with the Archdiocese of St. Louis, that it can't help but lead me to believe that this is an attitude that Bishop Stika learned while he was a seminarian for the Archdiocese of St. Louis.
And which leads to the callous, arrogant indifference that I see every time I stand vigil in front of the Cathedral Basilica of the Archdiocese of St. Louis where, today as in September 2018, I'm COMPLETELY ignored by the assembled priests and seminarians.
Sucks to be you.
That's the message that is ALL too clearly sent.
And, of course, this sense of troubling familiarity is reinforced by the story of Gabriele Martinelli that is told in the Washington Post.
The same predation.
And the same basis-less faith in seminarians on the part of the hierarchy.
Third, this is the same Bishop Stika who I have personal knowledge of and experience with. Who led me on, giving me a False Hope about his ability and willingness to help me. And who then called me a liar.
Well, I can't tell you the fourth thing, at the moment, because of an impending lawsuit.
Same for the fifth, but because I don't want to get sued.
But, rest assured, there's more to the story which, hopefully, I'll be able to tell in a year.
And everything I'm seeing, in Knoxville and the Vatican, and the problems with and within the hierarchy, are only driven home by the case of Bishop DiMarzio of Brooklyn, who is facing two allegations of abuse and whose behavior seems to be completely unaffected by those allegations. As my friend @IndieTheology documents, DiMarzio is gallivanting around, most recently at a Boy Scout function.
And the Pope and the Vatican couldn't seem to care less.
Have he — and they — no SHAME?
Much less contrition.
All of which is incredibly disturbing because my study of what happened in the late 1970s and the early 1980s — what happened and how and WHY — makes it obvious that, while it SEEMS like abusers were the root cause of the sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, the indifference of, and other problems within, the hierarchy was the bigger problem.
It's the HIERARCHY, stupid.
It was the refusal of the HIERARCHY of the Catholic Church to act in the face of abuse and abusers that turned a set of isolated, low level problems into a systemic one.
And what has CHANGED?
What the events of the past two months, in Knoxville with Bishop Stika and in the Vatican with the Pope, have revealed is that, while Child Protection may be better on the PERIPHERY of the system — when it's the responsibility of and implemented by laypeople — the HIERARCHY of the Catholic Church remains unwilling or unable to do what's necessary.
And, as an aside, given all the ENABLING I see being done by lay Catholics and the Catholic press, I'm not at ALL certain that things are THAT much better when they are managed by laypeople.
The impulse still seems to be to help — and PROTECT — the church.
In fact, one could argue, based on the response of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church to problems in Knoxville and the Vatican that not only has NOTHING changed, things are quite obviously WORSE.
Some would say that it's better that, this time, it's seminarians who are being abused.
But I reject that.
Abuse is abuse is abuse.
It's ALL bad.
Whether it's children, seminarians, nuns, or whomever.
It's the PREDATION, stupid.
And who's to say that today's predator, who offends against seminarians, isn't, when they are alone, overworked, and isolated, going to go after children or teens or young adults, tomorrow?
I mean, they ARE a predator.
That much is KNOWN.
For a FACT.
Is that a risk worth taking?
And WHY is that seen as a risk that is worth taking?
As it so obviously is, by Bishop Stika and the Pope, at least.
Why take the risk that, even though they abused their fellow seminarians, they won't abuse WHOEVER they can get their hands on after they are ordained and sent out into the field.
It seems obvious that it's simply UNACCEPTABLE to sacrifice people, whoever they are and for whatever reason.
But the willingness of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church to sacrifice people — STILL — by ordaining known predators, can't help but raise the big question.
WHAT. HAS. CHANGED?
Because it's so incredibly important, and scary, and it's hitting me so hard this morning, as it first hit me late last night, let me RE-reiterate what concerns me about the events of the past two months.
What's happening in Knoxville and the Vatican.
What Bishop Stika and the Pope are DOING.
What the point of this episode is.
And why I'm so GLAD it took me so long to put this piece together.
Because it let me GET this.
IT'S THE PREDATION, STUPID.
The fact that people aren't sufficiently concerned about the lingering predation in the Catholic Church.
And the tolerance of it.
And the attitude that, sure, they abused in the seminary, but that won't continue once they're ordained.
Because, this time, it's being done against SEMINARIANS and not CHILDREN, perhaps?
Because only ADULTS are at risk, now.
Well, I think that adults matter, too.
And I know that it's FOLLY to believe that, because you've only ever seen a lion in the wild attack wild animals, that means there's NO WAY it could or would attack a person, if brought into ones home.
Or is it that?
Or the idea that, if people — seminarians or kids — are gonna get raped, they're gonna get raped?
That it's God's will?
Or that it's no big deal, because life is short?
Regardless of WHAT lies at the root of it, it's an attitude that is evidenced by people like Bishop Rick Stika of the Diocese of Knoxville.
And by Pope Francis.
For whatever reason, Bishop Stika seems to be DEAD SET on blowing off the crimes of, and ordaining, multi-accused predators. I can — no, not really, but kind of — understand the reluctance to act against someone who has ONE allegation.
What about the rule of thumb of, "Three strikes and you're out?"
And why do it over and over and over again, for MULTIPLE seminarians?
What the HELL is going on?
As for Pope Francis, he — STILL — seems ready to brand as "calumny" any allegation of abuse that is made against a seminarian or priest. Which, I can only assume is why, though the Pope ENACTED his bill of rights for survivors, Vos Estis Lux Mundi, he refuses to ENFORCE Vos Estis.
Why in the WORLD is the Catholic Church — STILL — so seemingly dead-set on ordaining KNOWN predators?
And, once again.
WHAT. HAS. CHANGED?
Next time on Sacrificed...
What's the Big Deal, Part II.
Or part three?
More on what the big deal is.
About being a survivor.
And having been abused.
What it does to you.
And the cost.
Finally, if you'd like to — or would rather — read what I have to say, go to chrisoleary dot com slash sacrificed. Those pieces also include photographs and videos that document what happened to me, including at the Easter Vigil and, I hope, help to prove my words and story; that demonstrate the indifference I have and continue to face at the hands of the Archdiocese of St. Louis, DESPITE all the promises and the empty talk.
If you'd like to help support my efforts to create this podcast, and expose the Abuse of the Abused by the Catholic Church, as well as The Program — or to just help me to eat and pay my bills while I'm spending my time on this project — I've set up a GoFundMe...