Monday, September 26, 2005

Philly Update

The aftereffects of The Report continue....

This afternoon, the archdiocese of Philadelphia released a statement announcing that Frs. Robert Brennan and John Mulholland were "relieved of their assignments," effective yesterday. "Until such time as a permanent, long-term plan can be determined," the statement read, "both priests will remain without assignments."

A Friday Inquirer report highlighted the situations of the two men:

[Brennan and Mulholland] are chaplains at retirement homes in the archdiocese, celebrating Masses and ministering to residents.

According to the report, released Wednesday, church officials were first told in 1968 about Mulholland's "sadomasochistic practices with boys" - which involved talk of bondage and eating human waste - and took no action.

Similarly, repeated complaints about Brennan's "inappropriate or suspicious behavior" with more than 20 boys dating to 1988 prompted a round of therapy - but he was then sent back to parish work with no warning to parishioners, the grand jury found.

Although the U.S. Catholic Church has vowed to remove any known abuser from active ministry as part of its 2002 child-protection charter, archdiocese officials maintain that these two priests are not clear-cut abusers under the special set of church laws known as the Essential Norms.

The archdiocese's sex-abuse review board took up Mulholland's case in 2004 and recommended no action. It found that a letter Mulholland wrote to a boy in his parish was "quite disturbing in its language regarding issues of power, descriptions of human excrement and use of restraint," but did not "fall under the definition of sexual abuse as contained in the Essential Norms."

The review board also found that Brennan's actions did not violate the Essential Norms, even though the church's former secretary for clergy, Msgr. William J. Lynn, told him in a June 2004 letter: "There is convincing evidence that over a number of years you have engaged in behavior that is entirely inappropriate and unacceptable for a priest."

Well, they're both out now.

I'm also told that Cardinal Rigali has called a meeting with the priests of the archdiocese for tomorrow. More to come on that....



Blogger Jeff said...

Shouldn't the norms be revised if priests can write letters to boys describing the eating of human excrement or fondly dwelling on fantasies of bondage and not contravene them?

Somehow, that doesn't seem too harsh.

26/9/05 20:41  
Blogger Fr. John said...

I find it hard to believe that a fair reading of the protocols would allow these guys to function. I can scarecly believe what has been revealed in Philadelphia this week, and my heart aches for the victims and for the ordinary Catholics whose faith has to be shaken. One horrible consequence of this renewed scandal is that the Gospel will be ignored, dismissed, and mocked by more people, and their souls are the responsibility of those who have caused this scandal.

26/9/05 22:23  

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