Tag Archives: Roman Catholic Church

‘Church is no longer a safe place:’ State prison for local priest in indecent assault of girl

‘Church is no longer a safe place:’ State prison for local priest in indecent assault of girl
By Sarah Cassi
https://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/2020/02/church-is-no-longer-a-safe-place-state-prison-for-priest-in-indecent-assault-of-girl.html

Kevin Lonergan, center, seen here on June 8, 2014, as he celebrated his first mass at St. Patrick’s Church in Pottsville, Pa.Andy Matsko/The Republican-Herald via AP | For lehighvalleylive.com

A former Allentown priest was sentenced Monday to state prison for the indecent assault of a girl he met through his city parish.

Lehigh County Judge Maria Dantos noted it was a maximum sentence of one to two years in state prison for 31-year-old Kevin Lonergan, who has been free on bail in the case since he was charged.

Lonergan pleaded guilty in November to indecent assault of the girl, who was 17 at the time.

In addition to commending the bravery of the teen girl who came forward, Dantos took note of a prior accusation against Lonergan in another county.

In that incident, Lonergan was accused of molesting a 15-year-old girl, Chief Deputy District Attorney Matt Falk said. But the girl and her family did not cooperate with an investigation and the case stalled, Falk said during Monday’s hearing.

Lonergan was transferred to Allentown, a practice Dantos railed against as she hit her bench in the courtroom.

The Catholic church’s practice of transferring priests accused of misconduct came to light in the 1980s and continues more than three decades later, the judge said.

“There’s plenty of blame to go around, most of it on your shoulders,” the judge said to Lonergan.

The diocese in a prepared statement disputed Dantos’ characterization of what happened with the previous allegation.

“Regarding statements made in court, it is not accurate to say that the Diocese improperly transferred a priest who had committed an offense. Father Lonergan received a new assignment in 2016 only after Northampton County Children and Youth determined that the accusation was unfounded,” the statement said. “The Diocese took immediate action upon receiving the information on this previous allegation. Father Lonergan was forbidden from ministry, and the Diocese reported the allegation to law enforcement under its zero tolerance policy.”

The victim and her parents described a life of service to the Catholic church, and how the community built around their faith made the church a constant in their lives.

The victim described the rage she felt and the sleepless nights after the incidents with Lonergan, and the repercussions she and her family have dealt with since she reported the crime to authorities.

In one instance, a relative of Lonergan’s contacted the victim through social media, and offered her money to drop the case.

“I can feel your strength. Sometimes that’s not always an easy burden to bear, to be strong,” the judge said.

The victim’s mother and father described their devout faith, of raising their daughter in a church and community they trusted, and how church became a place of good memories and comfort.

“Church is no longer a safe place,” the victim’s mother said, adding that Mass is torturous for her and she cannot walk into a church without crying. “Kevin Lonergan’s actions have taken away my sense of security, my belief system.”

Since the charges were filed, the family has been isolated, and did not hear from their fellow parishioners or any priests.

“The church that we so believed in abandoned us,” the mother said.

Lonergan was assigned to St. Francis of Assisi Church on 11th Street in Allentown, when he met the accuser in August 2017.

He got her cellphone number from another member of the church and communicated with her, mostly via Snapchat, through January 2018, the district attorney previously said. The messages included nude photos of Lonergan and one video, Dantos said.

In February 2018, Lonergan hugged the victim at church — she attempted to pull away, but he pulled her closer and grabbed her rear over her clothes, prosecutors said.

After the victim told another priest of the assault in June 2018, the diocese reported it to the DA’s office and Lonergan was immediately suspended from public ministry.

A family friend of Lonergan’s spoke of Lonergan “humbling” himself to work at his Pottsville auto dealership. When the man said the accusations against Lonergan didn’t seem to fit, the judge stopped him.

Dantos said Lonergan pleaded guilty, and that the presumption of innocence was gone. She then told the man to take a seat, and none of the other supporters in the audience spoke.

Lonergan, in his statement to the court, did say he was guilty, of the crime, of stealing the victim’s dignity, and of the pain suffered by his family.

Lonergan asked for forgiveness, and said he would “never forgive myself for what I have done.”

Lonergan was a priest for five years, and was previously assigned to St. Jane Frances de Chantal in Palmer Township from June 2014 to May 2016. Monsignor Stephen Radocha previously said there were no credible allegations made against Lonergan while he was assigned to St. Jane’s.

A concern was raised about him in 2016 by a third party, but Northampton County Children and Youth investigated and determined that concern to be unfounded, the monsignor said.

“The Diocese offers its heartfelt prayers to the victim, to her family, and to everyone who was hurt as the result of Father Lonergan’s actions,” the Diocese of Allentown said in a released statement. “From the beginning of this case, the Diocese followed its protocols to the letter, and will continue to do so. Bishop Alfred Schlert removed Father Lonergan from ministry and immediately notified law enforcement on the day the allegations were made.”

Lonergan will not return to ministry. Now that the criminal case is finished, the diocese will submit the case to the Vatican.

After the hearing, and asked about a possible appeal, defense attorney Eric Prock said he still needs to discuss possible next steps with his client, but that all options are on the table.

FBI ramping up its Buffalo Diocese investigation

FBI ramping up its Buffalo Diocese investigation
Interviews sex abuse victim in another state
By Charlie Specht
https://www.wkbw.com/news/i-team/fbi-ramping-up-its-buffalo-diocese-investigation

The FBI is pursuing a “wide-ranging” investigation of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and its role in covering up clergy sexual abuse over decades, according to news reports and three sources who have spoken to federal agents.

The Buffalo News first reported Friday that agents have spoken with multiple victims of clergy sexual abuse in Buffalo, even though many of the alleged sex crimes happened decades ago. The victims said agents are interested in proving historical and ongoing cover-ups perpetuated by Buffalo Diocese leaders, according to The News.

“They’re really looking for proof of a cover-up,” Nicole Delisio Wright, an advocate for victims of clergy abuse, told The News. “Any type of proof that there’s a widespread cover-up.”

Wright previously confirmed to 7 Eyewitness News that she was interviewed by federal agents. Two other sources also confirmed that they were interviewed by agents from the bureau, who asked about specific cases of sexual abuse and the way the diocese handled them.

Stephanie McIntyre, a victim of alleged sexual abuse by Fr. Fabian Maryanski, recently spoke with federal agents from her home in another state, she also confirmed Friday. McIntyre has been offered a $400,000 settlement from the diocese for the alleged abuse.

“With the encouragement of others who are helping to fight for justice, along with lots of prayer, I realized that I had both a moral and civil obligation to do this,” McIntyre told 7 Eyewitness News of her interview with the FBI. “I believe I was able to offer them information that will be very instrumental. I continue to pray that my suffering, my story, will help others to be able to obtain the transformational justice that they need and deserve in order to pick up the pieces of their lives and move forward.”

FBI spokeswoman Maureen P. Dempsey said, “The FBI cannot confirm or deny any matter that may fall under its investigative purview unless and until it is made public through a court filing or press announcement.”

Buffalo Diocese spokeswoman Kathy Spangler did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

7 Eyewitness News featured McIntyre’s story in September in Part 3 of its investigation into Bishop Malone. Maryanski first met McIntyre in 1984 when he was the pastor at St. Patrick’s Church in Barker. The Buffalo News reported her story in May, when Maryanski was still in active ministry at Nativity church in Clarence despite the allegations.

McIntyre, in a letter she sent to Bishop Malone in April, said the priest abused her for seven years, beginning when she was 15 years old. Maryanski maintains she was in her 20s at the time.

“My abuser not only robbed me of my youthful innocence,” she wrote, “but he destroyed my family.”

McIntyre hired a lawyer and reported the abuse to the diocese in 1995 but said she “was not offered one iota of help to deal with the fallout from Fr. Maryanski’s actions.”

Church documents show the diocese considered placing Maryanski on the list of 42 accused priests in March but officials concluded, “We did not remove him from ministry despite full knowledge of the case, and so including him on list might require explanation.”

The diocese withheld Maryanski’s name from the list and has still not included him on a list of credibly accused priests.

KEY LINKS IN THE BUFFALO DIOCESE SEX ABUSE SCANDAL:

Part 1 of the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team investigation revealed that Malone returned Fr. Art Smith to ministry despite allegations of inappropriate contact with a child. Malone returned the accused priests to ministry after a previous bishop suspended him, documents obtained by the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team show.

Part 2 revealed that Malone allowed Fr. Robert Yetter to remain pastor of St. Mary’s in Swormville despite multiple sexual harassment allegations by young men. 

Part 3 cited church records that showed more than 100 priests in the diocese were accused of sexual abuse or misconduct. Malone in March released a list of only 42 priests “who were removed from ministry, were retired, or left ministry after allegations of sexual abuse of a minor.”

The investigative series sparked Buffalo civic leaders to call for Malone’s resignation and Catholics have mounted weekly protests in front of the Diocese of Buffalo Chancery. Malone in August held a news conference and refused to resign as Buffalo bishop.

In September, the State Attorney General launched a statewide investigation into sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and last week, it was revealed the FBI has launched its own criminal investigation into the diocese.

In October, “60 Minutes” aired a national investigative story on Bishop Malone and the Diocese of Buffalo. 

In November, I-Team Chief Investigator Charlie Specht traveled to Portland, Maine. Malone served as bishop there before coming to Buffalo. There, Charlie spoke with advocates for victims of sexual abuse about how Malone had been accused of mishandling sex abuse cases. The I-Team also obtained new documents surrounding the cases which paint a much different picture of the bishop’s past.

Facing 250 sex abuse lawsuits, Diocese of Buffalo declares bankruptcy

Facing 250 sex abuse lawsuits, Diocese of Buffalo declares bankruptcy
Second diocese in New York to file
By Charlie Specht and Eileen Buckley
https://www.wkbw.com/news/i-team/facing-250-sex-abuse-lawsuits-diocese-of-buffalo-declares-bankruptcy

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, which is facing nearly 250 lawsuits involving clergy sexual abuse, has declared bankruptcy.

Aside from the obvious financial implications, the diocese’s formal Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing means that many of the victims of clergy sexual abuse may not anytime soon get the answers that have long been hidden in secret diocesan archives regarding pedophile priests.

But there is still a chance that those hidden files could be forced as part of a bankruptcy settlement, as has happened in other dioceses.

Because the cases will soon be shifted from state civil court to U.S. Bankruptcy Court, survivors of clergy sexual abuse are likely to receive compensation, though it is unclear how much per case the diocese would be required to pay out.

According to bankruptcy documents, filed in federal court, the Buffalo Diocese is facing between $50 million and $100 million in estimated liability.

Apostolic Administrator Bishop Edward Scharfenberger appeared in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Buffalo Friday morning just hours after filing for Chapter 11 protection for the Diocese of Buffalo.

Scharfenberger later appeared at a news conference at the diocese with attorneys.

“I’m careful not to use the word bankruptcy, even though we are in a bankruptcy court, because a lot of people are under the impression that the diocese is running out of money – we can’t meet our obligations to our employees – which is not true,” Scharfenberger told reporters.

According to the court filing the diocese owes $3.5 million to a list of 20 top creditors. M&T Bank tops the list at $1.6 million, but the other 19 are victims who filed child sexual abuse lawsuits against the diocese. But there are actually more tahn 250 cases filed against the diocese.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Carl Bucki held what he called an “emergency hearing” hours after the filing.

Bucki called the bankruptcy an “extraordinary process”.

The judge asked if priests with substantiated allegations against them are being paid by the diocese.

7 Eyewitness Nee asked that question at the news conference with attorney Steve Donato responding.

“To the extent that there is a claim owned to a clergy on substantiated abuse list, which is on the website, to the extend that there were any funds owed to them as of today due prior to the filing — those will not be paid,” replied Donato.

Bishop Scharfenberger says Catholic schools and parishes are not part of bankruptcy filing.

“The health of the diocese is in the health of it’s parishes and the same with catholic charities and other affiliated agencies – they are not involved in this,” responded Scharfenberger.

The bishop says no parish donations will be touched and remain separate from bankruptcy.

“But not for the purposes of doing settlements — in other words – no money comes out of collections in order to resolve claims,” Scharfenberger remarked.

The bishop says the filing is “not a stunt” to deflect from the lawsuits filed against the church.

The next bankrupcty court hearing is schedueld for March 26th at 10 a.m.

The bankruptcy means the church could be forced to sell properties and to make appeals for more money from parishioners, but it also paves the way for the Catholic Church in Western New York to — after its debts are paid off — emerge from the crisis with its mission and services still intact.

The dramatic move comes after the Diocese of Rochester became the first Roman Catholic diocese in New York State to file for bankruptcy on Sept. 12.

It is no doubt one result of the Child Victims Act, which was passed in January 2019 and allows victims of child sexual abuse in all institutions — not only the Catholic Church — a one-year “window” period in which they can sue the institutions to prove they were responsible for the abuse.

To date, more than 300 Child Victims Act lawsuits have been filed in Western New York.

At least 250 lawsuits allege abuse by clergy or employees in the Diocese of Buffalo, making the diocese the most-sued entity in all of New York State under the new law.

In December, Bishop Richard J. Malone resigned after an investigation of his leadership by the Vatican. Revelations about his behind-the-scenes efforts to conceal sexual misconduct came to light after his two secretaries, Siobhan O’Connor and Fr. Ryszard Biernat, became whistleblowers and provided documents and audio recordings to 7 Eyewitness News.

On Feb. 4, interim bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger announced the closure of Christ the King Seminary, citing financial pressures.

There was growing pressure for Malone to resign since August 2018, when the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team revealed that Malone:

The pressure on Malone intensified in September of last year, when the I-Team published secret audio recordings where Malone attempted to conceal sexual misconduct allegations involving Rev. Jeffrey Nowak. Malone called the priest “dangerous” but allowed him to remain pastor of Our Lady Help of Christians for more than six months with no notification to parishioners.

The diocese is also under investigation by the FBI and the State Attorney General.

Legion of Christ vows better abuse response amid new sex abuse scandal, cover-up

Legion of Christ vows better abuse response amid new sex abuse scandal, cover-up
By Nicole Winfield
https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2020/02/28/legion-christ-vows-better/

Vatican City • The Legion of Christ religious order is promising accountability and transparency after damaging new revelations of sex abuse and cover-up that have undermined its credibility, a decade after revelations of its pedophile founder disgraced the order.

The Legion vowed to investigate the confirmed cases of past abuse by 33 priests and 71 seminarians. The Mexico-based order said it would reach out to the victims, publish the names of those found guilty of abuse in either a church or a state court, and punish superiors responsible for “gross negligence” in the handling of abuse accusations.

The measures described in a statement late Wednesday were responding to a burgeoning new scandal involving the order. The Vatican took over the Legion 10 years ago following revelations that its late founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel, raped his seminarians, fathered at least three children and built a secretive, cultlike order to hide his double life.

Recent revelations have shown the Legion’s abuse problem went far beyond Maciel. Newly public cases exposed generational chains of abuse and high-level cover-up by superiors who are still in power. The cases indicated that the Vatican envoy who was tasked with reforming and purifying the order was part of the cover-up.

In its statement, the Legion officially retracted the yearslong campaign it mounted to defame and discredit the original group of men who went public in the 1990s to accuse Maciel. The Legion begged their forgiveness and admitted it hadn’t made reparations to them all.

But the Legion’s statement included no specific promises to compensate the original victims or any other abuse survivors, saying only that it was prepared to pay for “necessary therapy” and other assistance.

As a result, former Legionaries and victims dismissed the measures as mere damage control. The Legion made reparation pledges in the past but did not follow through on them. The order also vowed before to change course, but Maciel’s old guard remains in power.

The Rev. Christian Borgogno, a former Legion priest who co-founded a Facebook group about the order, noted that most of the new measures merely conform to what the rest of the church does. In addition, he noted that the Legion is only promising to publish names of convicted abusers, not those who have been credibly accused, as dioceses and religious orders in the U.S. and Chile do.

“Essentially, they’re presenting as a tremendous step forward standards that are obsolete compared to the current practice in the church,“ he wrote.

The measures were contained in two new documents approved by the Legion’s leadership, which has been meeting in Rome for several weeks to elect new leaders and set policy decisions. They were presented by the Rev. John Connor, an American who was elected superior general in a shift from the Mexican control of the order that dated from its 1941 founding in Mexico.

Catholics still don’t get it: sexual abuse is not about sex

Catholics still don’t get it: sexual abuse is not about sex
Jean Vanier violated the Second Commandment, not the Sixth
By Robert Mickens Feb 27,2020
https://international.la-croix.com/news/catholics-still-dont-get-it-sexual-abuse-is-not-about-sex/11899#

We continue to hear of incidents that more than suggest that Catholics – and, in particular, their bishops – have learned very little from the clergy sex abuse crisis.

This is quite alarming and depressing, because the Church in North America has been dealing with issues regarding priests who abuse children and teenagers for at least thirty, if not forty years.

Catholics in Great Britain, Ireland and Australia have been facing this “plague” for almost as long. And those in the countries of northern Europe began reckoning more openly with abuse among the clerical ranks shortly after the turn of the millennium.

In the last several years, Catholics in the rest of the world have also been forced to admit that there are recurrences of priest sex abuse in their countries, too.

This includes places in the former Catholic bastions of Latin America and southern Europe, the largely homophobic continent of Africa and the mostly non-Christian expanse of Asia.

It seems like wherever 2 or 3 (hundred thousand) people are gathered in the name of Catholicism, there is clergy sexual abuse in their midst.

Sex makes Catholics go blind

As Catholics, we don’t like to hear that. And we don’t want to admit it, either. But what is worse is that many of us do not want to see – or maybe we’re too blinded by culture and history to see – what sexual abuse is really all about.

It is not about sex.

I repeat, and ask you to pause and think about it for a moment. It is not about sex.

For most Catholics, this is probably even harder to hear, because we don’t deal with sexual things very well. Our confused Church teachings on the subject tend to either make human sexuality an idol or (and, thankfully, this is less common today) something that’s dirty.

Reactions to recent revelations that Jean Vanier sexually abused several women prove the point.

The French-Canadian layman, who was seen as something of a living saint for his extraordinary work with mentally disabled people, was not guilty of committing sins against the Sixth Commandment.

At least not principally, so it seems clear to me.

‘Encroaching intimacy’ and the false spiritualization of sex

The women say Vanier abused them sexually. But they also say he did this under the pretext of some sort of mystical spirituality.

As much as this was sexual abuse in the physical sense, it was even more a spiritual abuse of these women, in the way he used the things of God to manipulate or control them.

Jean Vanier used spirituality – what I have learned to call from my own painful experience “encroaching intimacy” – as a way to obtain what the other person would not or could not offer freely.

I’ve never heard any theologian or preacher speak of it this way, but I am convinced that this is what it means to violate the Second Commandment, “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.”

There are people in the Church, especially among the ordained ministers (deacons, priests and bishops) or even lay leaders with a certain charism (like Vanier), who do this in a variety of ways.

Using one’s religious status

They use their position in the Church or their spiritual authority to satisfy their own self-centered needs or desires.

They do so – and often with little self awareness, it seems to me – by convincing people in the name of God to give them money, sex, honors, private information about others and all sorts of things.

Tele-evangelists who get rich peddling the so-called “prosperity Gospel” are the most obnoxious and blatant example of this. Certain scandal-stained Catholic religious orders that bilk widows and other wealthy people are no better.

We tend to look disapprovingly on them and rightly so.

Yet we fail to see how our own good priests and bishops – and other charismatic spiritual leaders – can fall prey to the same temptation to use their religious status (and, often unconsciously!) to feed their own personal needs.

And when I say “we”, I mean all of us Catholics. We tend to be blinded to this reality. We don’t want to see it.

In the name of the father

It is probably no coincidence that in a Church (and a society) that is male-dominated, the vast majority of those who sexually or spiritually take advantage of others are men.

The desire of men to manipulate or even abuse those who are weaker or under their authority – women, other men, teens or children – is probably also reinforced, even unwittingly, by the simple fact that men have always been able to do so in a patriarchal system like that of the Church.

Patriarchy and its first-born son, clericalism, have allowed men of God to violate the true meaning of the Second Commandment, probably from the days when the giants of our faith walked the earth.

They will continue to do so until women truly become equal members of the Church, equal to men at every level of decision-making authority and at every level of ministerial service.

We will not get to the root of the Church’s crisis of abuse until that happens.

Ratzinger and the Pedophile Priest

Ratzinger and the Pedophile Priest
https://correctiv.org/en/top-stories/2020/02/26/ratzinger-and-the-pedophile-priest/

A priest convicted of sexually abusing children says that, on a winter day, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger is standing on his doorstep. Now, an investigation conducted by CORRECTIV and Frontal21 reveals the ties of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI with the priest. The stories shared by alleged victims who came forward during the investigation show how the Catholic Church’s prosecution of sexual abuse within its own ranks is insufficient.

In the outskirts of the Bavarian town of Garching, the chapel in Simetsbichl is a whitewashed building with a gabled roof. Benches are lined up inside, where an aureoled Virgin Mary gazes from the apse to an altar with candles, flowers and guest books brimming with personal pleas: for healing, for a new job, to get pregnant. And then, on a yellow notepad in a child’s scrawly handwriting:

Book of petitions in the chapel in Simetsbichl © Ivo Mayr/CORRECTIV
Book of petitions in the chapel in Simetsbichl © Ivo Mayr/CORRECTIV

There is no date above the entry, so it is impossible to determine when the boy wrote his appeal to the Blessed Mother. Some requests in the books go as far back as the 1990s, but it is also possible to write at the back of an empty book. Maybe the boy wanted to hide his petition behind blank pages until newer prayers could catch up over time.

Today, Stefan’s note points to a time when Priest Peter H., one of the most widely known perpetrators of sexual abuse in the German Catholic Church, led the parish in Garching. Until 2008, the priest also lived and worked just 30 minutes away by foot at the Church of St. Nicholas in Garching. For decades, he abused minor boys at both congregations. In response, the Church simply moved him from parish to parish, allowing his behavior to continue.

In Garching and in Engelsberg, in Essen and in Bottrop, a new investigation by CORRECTIV and Frontal21 reveals how Priest Peter H. abused young boys at congregations throughout Germany.

Cool boys

The case of Peter H. symbolizes the attempts of the church to cover up. To protect the abusers. To maintain silence up to the highest rankings of the Catholic Church. Including Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

In earlier investigations, the New York Times had already made a connection between the then-incumbent Pope and Priest Peter H. But this was already known to the Church. In a 2012 letter to the influential Cardinal Reinhard Marx, a copy of which was obtained by CORRECTIV, bishops stated their concern about Benedict XVI’s ties to the pedophilic priest.

CORRECTIV and Frontal21 revisited the case in recent months. Through interviewing witnesses and evaluating documents, we found that that the number of children who were abused could be significantly higher than previously acknowledged by the Church. We found that the connections between the Peter H. and Cardinal Ratzinger, who would later be appointed Pope, were greater than the Church and its representatives have admitted to date. For years, a close confidant of Ratzinger was in charge of a parish alongside the priest, never preventing him from surrounding himself with altar boys, fully aware of the risk. Church leadership was also complicit. In 2000, Peter H. bragged that Ratzinger had been standing at his door. Something that Ratzinger now denies. 

Today, Peter H. lives in a multi-story building in Munich alongside families with young children. A playground can be seen from his window. CORRECTIV and Frontal21 tried to speak with H. several times to ask about what happened and offer the opportunity to explain his position as new information emerged. But all letters placed inside H.’s mailbox since November 2019 have remained unanswered. To date, H. has declined to comment on new accusations.

However, documents available to CORRECTIV and Frontal21 show glimpses of what H. himself thought about his actions. The priest has been accused of sexual abuse in multiple places over several years. When asked about the allegations during internal questioning by the Church, he admitted that he is a “pedophile priest”, adding that the “entire world” knew. But then he curtailed the fact by saying that he was never violent, never penetrated the boys and never engaged in oral sex. There was only one exception. He downplayed situations that can no longer be denied and alleged that, in many cases, he was framed. He also blamed the spirit of the times: Dealing with sexuality was more relaxed. The kids talked so openly about sex, and they were “gorgeous boys”. This is how he justified himself, according to documents from the Essen diocese. In short: He claimed he was seduced.

Priest H. said the young boys’ open approach to sexuality gave him the idea in the first place and that the time he spent as a clergyman should not be downgraded only because of acts of abuse. He said he did a lot of good. And the Church let him work even though his tendencies were known. It protected him and showed him understanding and did not punish him, because such acts were assessed differently back then. He also said it is not possible for the Church to punish him now, so suddenly, because people think about things differently today – even if his acts were barred by the statute of limitations. CORRECTIV wrote several letters to H. and asked him for an interview. But H. has not responded to date.

The Pied Piper

Priest H. became popular with the congregation soon after he started serving the parish of Garching in 1987. Beside Garching, he was also responsible for leading the onion-dome church situated in Engelsberg, a picturesque Bavarian village nearby. He was considered energetic and was popular among the youth. People even said that women had fallen for him.

“I can only say good things about H., such a friendly man,” said a secretary who worked at a school where the priest had taught religious education. Others in the village said he was a good preacher, more of an actor than a priest. A “pied piper”. He always ensured that the church was full of people. The congregation adored him.

People who attended the church said that there was a contest among altar boys to determine who was the clergyman’s favorite. He gave the altar boys alcohol and cigarettes. He was committed to the part, going on stage as a carnival comedian and organizing processions. “He approached people, was easy going, so you simply had to like him,” said 71-year-old Rosemarie Anwander, who has deep roots in Garching. She was involved in the parish and contributed to the local village newspaper.

But then something shattered the peace.

July 24, 1994. A parish festival is in the works. But early in the morning, parish councilor Klaus Mittermeier, a committed Christian who is “enthusiastic about priest H.”, received an alert. On the fairground in front of the community center and on the wall of the rectory, someone scrawled accusations against Priest H. alleging sexual abuse. The exact wording can no longer be reconstructed today. Memories vary too much: from a ribald sentence to declaring that Priest H. loved one of the parish youth. Mr. Mittermeier only remembers that one boy approached him and said he couldn’t be implicated because he had a girlfriend. “But I had other worries at the time, the parish festival,” said Mr. Mittermeier. That is the reason he for addressing the allegations. The writing on the wall was quickly painted over, the writing on the floor covered with cement and a carpet. But suspicion arose and rumors spread.

Summer vacation began shortly afterwards. Priest H. called on parish councilor Mittermeier. He said that he saw himself as a victim and complained about his suffering. He said he would leave the parish if the rumors did not stop. Mr. Mittermeier wanted to help him but demanded clarity: He asked H. whether any aspect of the rumors was true. If so, they would find a way to solve the problem. If not, he and the congregation would defend the clergyman and “fight things through”.

“We were friends,” said Mr. Mittermeier, adding that at the time he was “enthusiastic about his way of preaching”. Priest H. denied everything and said that the rumors had no grounding.

The parish councilor and the priest agreed to fight the rumors. A handwritten speech from the time shows their strategy: “Refute the truth contained in the rumors”. Priest H. gave sermons in Garching and Engelsberg. He furiously rejected the allegations. If conversation between priest and believer are suspicious, then pastoral care is not possible; this is what members of the congregation recall about the angry sermon. He read it to every church in the parish and was met by applause, recalls Mr. Mittermeier. In support of the priest’s campaign, the councilor also printed posters with a warning: “Bad words kill souls”.

Despite their efforts, Mrs. Anwander, a former community worker, says that people knew something had happened in Essen, a previous station in H.’s career. She says that her daughters were also altar girls for Priest H. and although many were aware that he was going to therapy in Munich, “most believed because of issues with alcohol.”

She added: “The main thing: he was nice”.

At the time, the congregation did not know that Priest H. was being watched by the Church – or that he was a convicted sex offender. After being transferred from Essen to Bavaria in the early 1980s, the Church ordered him to undergo psychological treatment. “H. was not capable of individual therapy due to his personality structure, only group therapy was possible”, describes Dr. Huth, adding that H. “considered himself a victim, above all”.

Today, Werner Huth is 90 years old. He spoke with the New York Times and the Süddeutschen Zeitung about H. in 2010. His intention was to give no more interviews on the matter, but he said that new investigations motivated him to speak up. Dr. Huth, with whom H. attended therapy sessions, alerted Church leadership at the time and, according his statement, informed Auxiliary Bishop Heinrich von Soden-Fraunhofen that the priest was dangerous.

A few years later, in 1984, an official court case was brought against H. for the first time. It was filed by parents in the Bavarian town of Grafing. Accordingly, the prosecutor’s office investigated H.’s sexual abuse of 12 boys in just one year, which the spokesman of the diocese confirms today. According to his own statement, H. explained the situation to Auxiliary Bishop von Soden-Fraunhofen. The Church reacted: during the investigation, the priest was briefly transferred to administrative tasks and then to Caritas, a Catholic organisation for relief and social work.

Dr. Huth established three rules for H. during therapy: First, he was not allowed to work with boys. Second, he was not allowed to drink alcohol. Third, he must be under supervision. “It didn’t require any medical expertise to do this,” said Dr. Huth. They are the usual precautionary measures, something that goes without saying. Dr. Huth still practices in Munich. But H. obviously did not follow those rules, and a court in Ebersberg sentenced him to 18 months’ probation and a fine. With that, the state considered matters closed.

Then, despite the psychiatrist’s warning, the Church reassigned H. to parish work and transferred him to Garching. The congregation knew nothing about the clergyman’s criminal past. And again, H. was surrounded by children.

After the move, the diocese in Munich got word of new accusations against H. in Garching. In response to a request from CORRECTIV and Frontal21, a spokesman for the Munich-Freising diocese wrote that in 1993, it was recorded that “H. kissed children on the forehead when celebrating their first communion and that an older teenager is a regular visitor at the rectory.” H. denied the kissing. He said it was “a symbolic act without direct physical contact”. As for the visitor, he said that he “looked after the boy because his mother had erred in her ways.”

The Dazzling Friend

Although Auxiliary Bishop von Soden-Fraunhofen knew about H.’s pedophilia, he played a dubious role in the following years. After becoming seriously sick in 1993, he moved to Engelsberg — the village that, together with Garching, fell under the pastoral responsibility of H.

It was the same year that the Munich diocese was informed of H.’s behavior. In response to CORRECTIV, a representative of the diocese wrote that von Soden-Fraunhofen moved to Engelsberg for private reasons. He supposedly relocated at the suggestion of his housekeeper, who had good connections to the town. At least, this is what was told to the congregations in Garching and Engelsberg and reported out by the media.

But there’s more to the story. Dr. Huth told CORRECTIV that von Soden-Fraunhofen had said he would take care of H. after moving and was in “contact with Ratzinger”. The psychiatrist assumed that the auxiliary bishop would follow through on supervising the priest. When he later learned that H. was still in contact with children, he said that he was “appalled”. He could only explain this as “self-delusion”. 

Until his death seven years later, von Soden-Fraunhofen would continue to jointly manage the two congregations with H. A gilded marble plate still hangs outside Engelsberg church as a testament to their time together. 

At the beginning, H. was afraid, remembers Klaus Mittermeier, then- chairman of the parish council. If the auxiliary bishop came, “everything would change, he would control us,” Mr. Mittermeier recalls of H.’s statements at the time. But von Soden-Fraunhofen came and nothing changed. He kept silent and did not keep H. away from the children.

Parish newspapers from December 1993 even document how von Soden-Fraunhofen and H. intended to celebrate a children’s blessing: “Bishop von Soden and Father H. will lay their hands on all the children and bless them following the Liturgy of the Word.”

H. recruited the altar children himself. Boys and girls started taking classes with him soon after communion. Over time, he filled the chancel in Garching and Engelsberg with over 100 altar servers. There was no keeping H. away from kids in either town. He created opportunities for himself — and von Soden-Fraunhofen did not intervene. Even when accusations were written on the wall at the parish festival, the auxiliary bishop did not utter a single word.

One week after the festival, H. published a new issue of Pfarrnachrichten, the parish newsletter, and expressed his thanks: “To all those who have helped in any way, a warm «God bless you!»“. The church had raised 12,000 German marks. But in the margins, the priest had also published an image of a man rising out of the sea — holding two naked boys in his arms. It was not the first time this kind of photo made it into the newsletter. Sometimes, H. published a photo of a dreamy looking boy in front of a candle, others a boy in shorts and a T-shirt carrying amphorae or a boy’s face in a fragmented picture frame. While they may appear to be harmless to the unsuspecting viewer, von Soden-Fraunhofen knew about H.’s criminal past.

The auxiliary bishop was active in town affairs, according to the people of Engelsberg and Garching, who were interviewed by CORRECTIV and Frontal21. He attended mass, taught lectures and took care of the “youngsters”, always saying that he was “the chaplain”. But if at any point a dispute arose with H., the priest would simply tell him: “You are the bishop and I am the chaplain”. Following repeated requests from CORRECTIV and Frontal21, the diocese responded that “there is concrete evidence in the files that Auxiliary Bishop von Soden-Fraunhofen regularly provided positive information about H.’s activity in Garching without any complaints.” Regarding the “success” of supervising H., the diocese said laconically the result can be judged “given the known events”.

What Did Joseph Ratzinger Know?

The auxiliary bishop kept silent. Von Soden-Fraunhofen was born in 1920 in Friedrichshafen and later ordained a priest in 1953 — the same time as his friend Joseph Ratzinger, who later became the Pope.

A commemorative publication for the ordination still bears witness to the consecration today. When Ratzinger went the archdiocese in Munich, von Soden-Fraunhofen was appointed his auxiliary bishop. Their contact continued when Ratzinger moved to Rome in 1982 and was appointed as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The two churchmen exchange letters, sometimes with coarse expressions. In a letter concerning a dispute about a Christian sect which Ratzinger, who has just arrived in Rome, redeemed, von Soden-Fraunhofen chummily called the cardinal “Rindviech”: A stupid fool.

Ratzinger had known about H. for a long time. Years before the events in Garching, the Church learned of two boys whom H. had abused in Essen. At the time, he was working as a chaplain in the Essen diocese. Instead of informing the police, the parents turned to the local priest. The Church reacted by transferring H. to Munich. He was to receive treatment with fear of punishment.

On January 3, 1980, the canon in Essen asked his colleague in Munich whether H. could be transferred to a diocese in Bavaria. He said there was “a risk” with the chaplain and he must “undergo psychiatric-therapeutic treatment in Munich” and “live with a priest”. He wrote that there was no trial pending against H. and that he could “be used for prayer services and liturgical services in the congregation” as well as religious instruction in a girls’ school. The Munich canon noted in their records for the vicar general that the matter would be decided during their ordinary meeting on January 15, 1980,  and suggested that H. be posted as the priest in the congregation which he later served following his transfer to Munich.”

From the start, both the Essen and Munich dioceses assumed that H. was able to work in a congregation again. A possible withdrawal from congregation work was never open to debate. The decision was made on January 15 at the meeting headed by then-Archbishop of Munich, Cardinal Ratzinger. The New York Times reported in 2010 that as archbishop, Ratzinger was aware of decision to reinstate H. in congregation work despite the risk he posed. The Church denied this at that time. Although “the archbishop of the time (and later Pope Benedict XVI) participated in the decision about the priest’s treatment”, Ratzinger was not responsible for assigning him pastoral work, according to a statement from the Vatican. A vicar general named Gerhard Gruber who also assumed responsibility for this. Today, the diocese somewhat dilutes the strong denial of 10 years ago: “The files do not show how intensely Archbishop Joseph Ratzinger involved himself in the case of H.”

Despite its denial, the Church admits one thing: Cardinal Ratzinger knew about the case of H. during his time as archbishop. And later, as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Ratzinger did nothing to protect the children of the congregation in Bavaria from the priest.

Ratzinger on H.’s Doorstep

This brings us to a notable encounter in the year 2000. According to information obtained by CORRECTIV, Ratzinger, who would later become Pope, met H. at least once when he wanted to visit his friend von Soden-Fraunhofen in Engelsberg. At the time, Ratzinger was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome, the second-in-command after the Pope. Today he denies having met H.

The auxiliary bishop was already very sick when H. excitedly told him about his encounter with Ratzinger, said former parish councilor Mittermeier. He still remembers the conversation vividly: Ratzinger stood on the doorstep of the rectory in Garching and rang the doorbell. Mr. Mittermeier said that H. asked, “Can you imagine who was at my door last night?” Mr. Mittelmeier said that of course, he had no idea. H. told him it was Ratzinger himself. The to-be Pope had told him that “he wanted to see his fellow student von Soden-Fraunhofen.” However, since he was already very sick, he had not opened the door. Then Ratzinger asked H. to phone his friend. Subsequently, the cardinal visited von Soden-Fraunhofen. “But I didn’t know whether H. went along,” said Mr. Mittermeier. H. had also mentioned meeting with Ratzinger while speaking to representatives of the Church about child abuse in 2010. The conversation is filed in Church records.

At the request of CORRECTIV, the Archdiocese of Munich confirmed that personnel files note that Joseph Ratzinger visited von Soden-Fraunhofen in January 2000. “The ordinariate has no knowledge of a meeting between Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger and H.,” wrote the spokesman of the diocese. After the publication of this investigation, the diocese of Munich corrected their previous statement: they confirmed that church files contained testimonies of H. about the meeting with Ratzinger.

The Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI did not answer direct requests for comment from CORRECTIV and Frontal21 at first. One day after the publication of this investigation, his personal private secretary, Georg Gänswein, called ZDF and explained on behalf of Ratzinger: “It is correct that he visited the auxiliary bishop in 2000, because he was very ill”. But Benedict XVI never met H. in person, according to Gänswein. During the visit to the auxiliary bishop, they “did not talk about H.”, remembers Ratzinger today. “It was known that H. lived in the same parish where von Soden was”, said Gänswein. “Benedict does not know anything else”. 

Thus, the two friends, Ratzinger and von Soden-Fraunhofen, were in contact while H. served the congregations in Garching and Engelsberg alongside the auxiliary bishop. Ratzinger was head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome. But the auxiliary bishop died six months later, in July.

Following the visit to von Soden-Fraunhofen, Ratzinger did not do anything to remove H. from office. There was no question or concern, no investigation, no consequences. On the contrary: H. continued to work in Garching for eight years. He continued to train altar boys and teach schoolchildren. Parents entrusted their children to the clergyman. Thanks to his appointed position and the cardinal’s silence, he was given countless opportunities to surround himself with minors. It is not certain whether he molested more children. H. declined multiple requests for comment from CORRECTIV.

Barred by the Statute of Limitations, Forgotten, Dead

The Church only first intervened in 2008. H. was transferred to Bad Tölz, also in Bayern, where he would be a chaplain for tourists. He would no longer work with children. But the congregation was outraged, and many members wrote letters to Munich petitioning to keep their priest.

But the new Archbishop Marx insisted. At the time, the Church had just been shaken by the abuse scandals in Bonn, Aachen and Trier – and Marx had the files about the abuse cases sent to him. Unlike former Archbishop Ratzinger, he feels compelled to intervene now. Still, he did not make anything public.

But with time, word about Peter H. and his abuses got out. In 2010, the public prosecutor’s office in Munich investigated the priest’s sexual abuse of children in Garching up until 1993. Although the investigation was discontinued due to the statute of limitations, the connection between Ratzinger and H. made it into public view and the media put pressure on the Church, which finally withdrew H.’s permission to practice pastoral care. A Church court would investigate the alleged instances. Unlike German criminal law, the Church suspends the statute of limitations for sexual abuse. New victims came forward to both the public prosecutor and the Church.

Franz Josef Overbeck, Bishop of Essen, and Cardinal Reinhard Marx conducted the Church’s investigations. The case of H. became a matter for those in the top of the ranks. But it also not about the victims in this case. In 2012, the Bishop of Essen sent a letter – a copy of which was obtained by CORRECTIV – to Cardinal Marx, stating his actual end goal: “You, the same as I, know that the case of Peter H. is unfortunately linked to our Holy Father Pope Benedict XVI by many media representatives”, wrote the Bishop of Essen. “(…) in this context, I would like to discuss and agree with you how we can ensure that Peter H. is accompanied and watched.”

In response to CORRECTIV and Frontal21, Bishop Overbeck wrote that he wanted to advance and accelerate the canonical procedure: “My expectations were that, given its dimension, the case of H. had to be brought to a conclusion as quickly as possible.” When asked about the letter, Cardinal Marx’s spokesman said that the investigation concerned “the entire previous activity of H.”, thus including the “years of Archbishop Ratzinger’s term in office”.

Simultaneously, reports by those who said they were abused by H. piled up. According to the Süddeutsche Zeitung, in March 2010 the Ordinariate of the Dioceses of Essen and Freising investigated two cases. Internal documents show that the Church questioned H. that same year. But he remained silent on the advice of his attorney. He did not want to deny the allegations.

In September 2018, an article was published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung which referenced an instance of abuse in Garching. No location and nor names are indicated in the article. However, it describes a case in which the priest in question allegedly abused a 14-year-old boy during confession. At the time, the child’s father noticed how his son began repeatedly destroying the genital areas of plush toys. But the Church didn’t believe the father or his son. According to the FAZ article, the child received psychological treatment. The FAZ writes that the priest and the Church denied the allegation.

But one Garching resident backed the family’s claims. He was acquainted with the father. Another resident told CORRECTIV that he attended group therapy for people who had been abused with the boy. He said that in one session, the boy, today an adult man, collapsed. Several attempts by CORRECTIV to contact the boy were left unanswered. A spokesperson for diocese of Munich confirmed the instance to CORRECTIV and Frontal21: “The Archiepiscopal Ordinariate of Munich took the traumatization of those affected very seriously and provided financial aid.” The diocese did not comment on the fact that  the Church court did not believe the man abused. 

Altogether, information from diocese contacted throughout this investigation show that there were “three victims who had concrete accusations” in Garching: One instance that lasted from 1987 to 1993, one in 1994 and another in 1996. Two of the confirmed cases happened concurrent with Auxiliary Bishop von Soden-Fraunhofen’s time as H.’s supervisor, when he repeatedly reported that everything was fine. The diocese wrote that all three cases were closed by the public prosecutor’s office due to the statute of limitations, but that it made payments to the families in two.

Priest Peter H.’s child abuse has not been legally proven in Garching. But the Public Prosecutor’s Office of Munich II is looking into the allegations again and checking “whether there are further acts and whether investigations are to be started,” according to a statement submitted to CORRECTIV.

Insinuations or complaints remain barred by the statute of limitations, and people are still suffering because nobody believes them. However, reports from Essen, Garching, Munich and Grafing show clearly how Priest Peter H. took advantage of young boys: how he created opportunities for himself and abused his power. H. could contribute to the clarification. But he keeps silent.

In 2018, following emerging scandals, the Catholic Church released an internal study of instances of pastoral abuse. The case of H. is not the only one that shook the German Church. They had documented instances of sexual abuse in Berlin at Canisius College; in Bonn at the Aloisius College; in Aachen at a Benedictine abbey. They also recognized sexual abuse in Ettal and in the choir at the Cathedral of Regensburg. The news of systematic abuse in institutions of the Church came in fast. Cardinal Marx and the German Bishops’ Conference knew they had to act and agreed to have all cases of sexual abuse in Germany after WWII investigated by an independent commission. The study was then presented in Fulda, in Hessen. The names of the victims and of the perpetrators were kept anonymous, but the sheer dimension was devastating. Over 70 years, 1,670 priests and members of the clergy were alleged of sexual abuse. There were 3,677 people who had been abused. Cynically, the study notes that, on average, there were only 2.5 victims for every accused priest. But that’s only the number of cases that had been reported – the true figure may be much higher. A pedophile who is protected by the Church is unlikely to stop after just two or three abuses. The case of Peter H. shows that number of children abused by a single priest can be greater than 10 times that estimate. 

Indeed, the findings of this investigation show that it is likely that H. began abusing children earlier than is known and that more boys than assumed are his victims.

The Naked Chaplain

The coal city of Bottrop is located in the northern Ruhr area. This is where it all began, in the neo-Gothic St. Cyriac church. It was here that Peter H. began working as a chaplain for the first time after his ordination in 1973. It was also here, at a café near the church, that three men met one evening last October. CORRECTIV reached out people who were abused by H. and asked if they were willing to share their experiences. Now, they are in their mid-50s. They all know H. from when they were altar boys. They all claim to be victims.

Markus Elstner is one of them. For years, suppressed the effects of abuse, turning to alcohol to relieve the pain. When H.’s story first appeared in the media in 2010, and he saw the face of his former abuser flickering on the screens, it was like a “flashback”, he said.

Mr. Elstner comes from a difficult family background. His father wanted to the kill the whole family, he shot his wife before killing himself. From time to time the children had to stay in a shelter. Then his mother turned to the Catholic Church for support, where she met H., then a young chaplain.

He offered to take care of little Markus, saying that he wanted to help the mother. She accepted gratefully. So H. followed through: He invited young Elstner to his home and gave him cigarettes and wine. Then, porn movies began to follow. Finally, he would start touching the boy. Visits ended with fellatio, said Mr. Elstner. And while cigarettes and heavy drinking often signaled the start of an abusive episode, H. raged against drinking and smoking while playing his role in the Bottrop parish.

Elstner says he was abused on more than 20 occasions. Even after H. was transferred to Essen, he called the mother and tried to persuade her to send her son for a visit. He would even pay for the ticket. But Elstner, now 14, found the strength to fight back. He refused to go and convinced the mother against the trip. He did not have to get on the bus.

Dirk Bongartz also opened up about his experiences with H. It happened before communion. The chaplain invited him to spend the night, and his mother obliged, sending his older brother and one of his friends along, too. While the older boys slept in their own room, H. wanted to spend the night alone with young Bongartz. The chaplain put on a bathrobe. Finally, he stripped naked and lied down naked with the child.

“I didn’t like it, I didn’t want to,” said Mr. Bongartz, stating that he also said so at the time. It was only because of his brother and his friend in the other room that H. finally stopped and he was able to get out of the situation. “It was an awful night,” Mr. Bongartz said, adding that he  has not spoken to anyone about the event – but that at the time, his brother’s expression said: “Now you know what he is.”

The Guardian of Morality

For years, the pattern continued: Peter H. abused young boys with impunity and under the protection of the Church. Through wine and small gifts, he subdued children who, in his role as a priest, he should have protected. When the scandal threatened to blow up, the Church moved H. to a new location.

He had no need to fear punishment. Bishops and cardinals covered for him, always allowing the opportunity to look for new victims.

Even when the abuse scandals surfaced and shook the foundations of the Church, its members did not search for victims on its own initiative. In fact, H. has only been convicted by the Church’s internal court in seven instances – even though they have evidence from 23 people who alleged sexual abuse. In 2020, even the Diocese of Essen and Munich estimate there are 28 victims.

To this day, H. lives as a free man.

As the three men in Bottrop talk about Priest Peter H. at the coffee table, other names come up. Two brothers, also abused. One drank himself to death, the other is in bad shape. So-and-so and what’s his name were also abused by H. 

After years of the Church supressing the truth, Elstner wants justice. He has retained an attorney and is fighting for damages. So far, he has received 9,000 euros. But Mr. Elstner wants more. His attorney, Andreas Schulz, considers that the Church, with its constant denial and cover-ups, is to blame for the life-long mental devastation of his client. The attorney believes this also applies to others who have suffered because of the Church’s inaction. He is demanding 500,000 euros from the Church, and that statute of limitations for child abuse be suspended. He said that the fate of his client shows that “children repress this and only become aware of what was done to them much later, by means of painful therapy sessions.” It is not admissible that this should act as protection for perpetrators.

“For responsible individuals in the dioceses, it has been clear for years that H. was abusing boys indiscriminately,” said attorney Schulz. The case shows the whole “entanglement of the Church” up to Pope Emeritus Benedict. Firstly, Ratzinger was archbishop when an abuser came from Essen to Munich and was allowed to continue to work in parishes. Secondly, a confidant of Ratzinger leads a parish together with H., after the conviction of the latter, even though he knew of the risk. And in 2000 Ratzinger even stood on H.’s doorstep in Garching.

“The Church has done nothing for decades to protect the children. It has hidden these things and hushed them up and, from my client’s perspective, acted like a pedocriminal association,” Schulz said. 

Mr. Elstner puts it even more clearly: “For me, the Church is an institution in which pedophiles have been protected.”

This text was updated on February, 19, 2020 to add new statements from the diocese of Munich and Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI.

If this story has moved you because of your own experiences with the Church, know that our investigation into the abuses of Priest H. continues. If you know H., be it from Bottrop, Essen, Munich, Grafing, Garching, Engelsberg or Bad Tölz, please contact us. Every lead is valuable. We treat all communication as confidentially. You can contact Marcus Bensmann at marcus.bensmann@correctiv.org or use our anonymous mailbox.

Victims of sexual abuse or their relatives in need of help or advice in Germany can call the free number +49 (0)800-2255530 to get information about therapies and legal tools.

A Lesson to Christians on why? YOU DO NOT TELL SOMEONE THEY ARE GOING TO HELL!!!

Yes, I am an atheist. Yes, I do not believe in your god, nor your Jesus, nor your bible, nor your religion. Your god and your religion is just one of many of humanity. Your god is as real as the Muslims’ god, the Jewish god, or the old Pagan Greek, Egyptian, Roman, Welch, Anglo, Saxxon, etc gods and religions. NO ONE can prove to me their god is real. That would be like proving to me? That the sound of thunder is the sound of the voice of your god, which? If you actually read your buybulls and studied your history of this god? That is what he actually was to the Jews, their version of Thor, the Thunder god.

Be that as it may? I am doing this posting on the topic of why NO CHRISTIAN SHOULD EVER TELL ANYONE THEY ARE GOING TO HELL!!! And? This posting is a result of a set of comments on the posting Is the Bible Creating Atheists?

https://atheistmilitantsrising.home.blog/2020/02/23/is-the-bible-creating-atheists/

Satan, because without a scapegoat you might have to take personal responsibility for your own actions.

This is an edited response to Becky, one of the commentors.

ONE of the worst things ANY Christian can tell someone like myself or ANY victim or survivor of a rape by a Christian priest or pastors is that they would be going to hell if they do not accept your Jesus!!!

Why do I say this?

Because that is one of the tools that these Christian pedophile perverts used with great effect to silence us. Now here is my personal example, but it applies to most of the victims and survivors. If you were to read any of their stories? You would see how much this is typical for all of us. When we speak of these nightmares? Think of vivid lucid dreaming, where this shit is real to you. You feel everything, you experience everything, and it is constant, night after night after night. I am sure some of you have had dreams that felt so real it was as if you were not dreaming but you were actually there. This is what these nightmares are like.

Brain-washing in the horrors of hell

It's YOUR God.
They're YOUR rules.
YOU go to hell.

Now, when you grow up in the RCC like I did? Hell is drilled into your head big time. They tell you with great detail the horrors of hell. They brainwash you into this by putting great fear into your head, your heart and soul about the horrors of hell and they also drill into you the commandments of god from the OT that you were to stone to death mouthy kids, and all the other shit that happened to kids, like the 42 kids in the Prophet Elisha’s story. The second part of the brainwashing is? A priest tells you to do something? That is like God and Jesus himself telling you to do something. YOU NEVER QUESTION a priest, or a leader of the church. You do? YOU are going to hell. So can you understand this so far? I am sure you can.

Hell used to silence the victims
Hell is probably full of Christians, just like American prisons

Then? When you get raped by these scumbags? They use the brain-washing horrors of hell to keep you silent and it works perfectly.

My rape started out with one pedo priest, Father Leon Gaulin, right after the cops dropped me off at the church. He was real disgusting. He had me saying Our Fathers and Hail Mary’s as he raped me anally in the places bedroom. Hell, I can still to this day see it in my mind. The wool blankets, the dark headboard, the wastebasket I eventually tried to puke in after he forced me to perform oral sex on him. But? It was while he was raping me anally that he started using the horrors of hell to control me. Saying over and over to me if I told anyone about his “special healing” of me I would burn in hell for all eternity. I do not know if you can understand what that is like for a Roman Catholic brain-washed kid, but hey…it is not something you would want done to you.

And? There you are, having this done to you, in a fucking church no less, well the church buildings bedroom, and you, deep inside yourself, are begging, screaming and praying to god and Jesus to make this shit stop and it does not? Well another brain-washing tool used is that if god or Jesus did not answer your prayers? Then it was their will for what was happening to keep happening. So again, you are being raped by a Christian Roman Catholic priest, you have the horrors of hell drilled into you being used against you, your prayers have failed so you feel this is what god and Jesus want to have done to you and you? Go literally insane.

Then? When they gang-raped me? Even though Gaulin drugged me with a glass of water after he raped me? My sub-conscious recorded everything. When I first came out about this as an adult? I only remembered what Gaulin did to me, until he gave me that glass of water to drink. But now?After years of great therapy and lots of work? Well as one of my favorite Five Finger Death Punch song goes? I Remember Everything now. I remember every damn thing Gaulin, Desmond and McQue did to me at St Thomas More parish in Durham NH that night and why I tried to kill myself not soon afterwards for the first of many times.

They took their turns with me on that damn altar and they used the horrors of hell over and over again, same type of shit that Gaulin used. Imagine being a kid, stretched, bent over an altar of a church, three damn Christian pedophile priests taking turns, raping your ass, and telling you again, over and over, you tell anyone you are going to hell and this is what God and Jesus is giving you as a punishment for backtalking your father and breaking the commandments.

And this is why when some Christian? Tells me or someone who went through this that if they do not accept their god and Lord and Savior they will be going to hell? That is why we go off so freaking psycho at times.

Welcome to my Nightmares
It's your hell, YOU burn in it!!!

Not soon afterwards? The nightmares began. First? I would be in the family car, the old station wagon we used to have, the one where my little brother Ricky suffered an accident with a huge scythe. We would be going over the bridge over Great Bay, a trip we took a lot really. At first? It would be horrible storms, a huge tidal wave, almost hurricane weather and we would be blown off the bridge. Then it became sheets of literal fire coming down the bay to engulf us all in the car. After my second serious suicide attempt? They got really, really bad. And because of them? I became a pyro.

I started burning things. I would burn down old abandoned houses, set fire to woods, and then one day I got arrested for blowing up an abandoned truck almost in the center of town. I was literally acting out what was going on in my nightmares. Because they changed to my now being in hell, being gang raped by the demons of hell, just like I was gang raped by those priests in that church.

The demons? Were the priests with demon faces. And I would wake up from this shit screaming, drenched in sweat. Why? Because one of the demon priests would say to me, see, I told you what would happen if you told anyone about your special healing and he would bite off my dick. See why I would wake up screaming. Again realize, these are very lucid nightmares, YOU feel the heat of hell, you see the flames, it is just like you were brain-washed into believing. The demons are real in these nightmares, you feel it all, the pain, it is like living that night of horror all over again, each and every time you have these nightmares. But now? You are in hell having this done to you.

So the billions of people who existed before "Your Jesus" are burning in hell for being born too early in history?

You say you are a Christian? Then practice love, patience and understanding instead of telling someone they are going to hell. YOU may never know what they went through and why they might literally snap on you and throw all kinds of nasty disgusting words at you. It is not personal, it is you telling us that we are going to hell that causes our PTSD to react to you and what you said to us. Understand that the word HELL is a huge trigger for people like us. YOU have no idea what this is like for us. Yes, I am an atheist, but the horrors of hell brain-washing technique is one of the hardest of all brain-washing techniques to overcome, especially? When it is used in this fashion against you.

So when someone tells me, or many other victims and survivors that if we do not accept their god and Jesus we would spend an eternity in hell? Christians should try to understand why victims and survivors have such as myself have a mental blow out reaction when we are told this. Again!!!

It is nothing really personal against the Christian saying this to us, it is just the fact that those who raped our bodies? Those who raped our minds? Those who raped our souls? Our hearts? Used the horrors of hell to torment and torture many of us into silence. Most ask why do we wait so long before we speak of what happened to us? Well this is one of the main reasons.

So Christians?

THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK TO SOMEONE, ESPECIALLY US ATHEISTS, BECAUSE THERE MAY BE? A DAMN GOOD REASON WHY? WE ARE ATHEISTS AND SOME OF THE WORDS YOU DO USE TO US? ARE TRIGGERS, WORDS THAT WERE USED BY CHRISTIAN PRIESTS AND PASTORS, WELL VERSED IN BRAIN-WASHING YOU INTO THE HORRORS OF THEIR HELL, AND THEN USING IT TO DESTROY YOUR LIVES, DESTROY EVERYTHING ABOUT YOU FOR THEIR SICK AND TWISTED, PERVERTED, PEDOPHILE PLEASURE.

Pope Francis asked us for forgiveness..my response to him

Not so long ago, Pope Francis asked priest abuse victims for forgiveness.

God loves you so much that he allows me and my men to rape you unpunished.

Yet how do those of us, whom were raped and had our souls stolen from us, whom committed suicide because of it, can give him forgiveness, or any of us so harmed, when he refuses to clean house of all the Cardinals, Bishops and Archbishops whom covered up these evil crimes and are still sitting in the positions that they are in?

How can Paul Anthony Carson, whom upon seeing the priest whom raped him walking down the street and then going home and hanging himself, being found by his parents, forgive him?

How can Emma Foster, whom was raped by Father Kevin O’Donnell, while at a primary school whom committed suicide because of it, forgive him?

How can Daniel Neill, whom committed suicide because of his rapist priest, Joseph Gallagher, forgive him?

How can the 30 boys raped at the St Alipius primary school, whom committed suicide forgive him for their rapes?

How can David M. Jarboe Jr. whom stepped into the parking lot of downtown Owensboro’s Blessed Mother Catholic Church and because of his horror from his priest rape, blew his brains out, forgive him?

How can the 40 suicide victims of another parish in Victoria Australia forgive him?

Or the thirteen victims of priest rape whom committed suicide in Belgium forgive him?

Or the thousands of others, whom committed suicide, because of their rapes and soul tortures by their pedophile priests forgive him?

How can the parents and relatives of these children, ever forgive him? Whom lost their child, due to the brutal rapes and soul destruction of them.

How can the parents of Paul Anthony Carson, whom cut him down, and were devastated forgive him? Or any of the other parents?

None of them can. Matter of fact, they are supposedly in hell, burning for all eternity, because the pain and suffering brought on by their rapes by Roman Catholic priests, committed suicide, which the RC teaches that if you do commit suicide, then you will burn in hell for eternity. I don’t believe they are. I believe they are in Paradise, free from all of their suffering, at peace and filled with light and love. They are the true Angels, the Guardians, the Protectors of us still here.

The horror, the suffering, the pain, of those of us, whom were raped, whom had our souls stolen from us, whom then were continually brutalized by the leaders of the church, whom told us we were to blame for our rapes, that we seduced their priests, that because we did not punch our rapist priests in the face, that meant we not only wanted to be raped, we enjoyed our rapes and we are homosexuals because of it, with all the connotations that goes along with that evil declaration against us, have driven many of us to kill ourselves. Or that we should consider our rapes as gifts from God, or many other equally disgusting insults thrown at us by those leaders whom are supposed to help us heal.

In my opinion, the Roman Catholic Church, from Pope Francis, to the Cardinals such as Timothy Dolan, Donald Wuerl, Roger Mahony, Bernard Law, John Niedstedt,  and many others, Bishops and Archbishops, are just as responsible, not only for the rapes of these men and women, but also for the suicides of these victims. They drove many to commit suicide over what they said about us, and that makes them as responsible for these suicide deaths as if they pulled the triggers themselves. You do not insult, nor you do not blame the victims of rape for their rapes.

No Pope Francis, until you do what you have promised us you would do. Clean house, stop fighting us victims when we seek justice for the crimes committed against us, with the church lawyers getting our cases dismissed using the statues of limitations.

When Parishioners start caring more about us, their very children of the church, whom were raped and brutalized, and many of you turned your backs on your own children, because you would rather support the leaders of your churches, over your very own children.

When people stand up and demand that the disgusting attacks against us, like Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, whom claims we seduced our priests, whom claims because we did not punch our rapist priests in the face when they were raping us, thereby, we not only wanted to be raped, we enjoyed our rapes and we are homosexuals because of it.

Then maybe, we will find it to forgive you all. We cannot do so, until all of you, truly repent, and start standing up for us, instead of those whom so harmed us.

No, Pope Francis, you and all the rest of your fellow Pedophile Pimp Cardinals, Bishops and Archbishops along with all of your pedophiles? Should be put to death using the Roman Catholics own Inquisitional Tools, starting with the Rat Torture.
No, Pope Francis, you and all the rest of your fellow Pedophile Pimp Cardinals, Bishops and Archbishops along with all of your pedophiles? Do not deserve forgiveness, or any mercy. You all should be put to death using the Roman Catholics own Inquisitional Tools, starting with the Rat Torture.


The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks about rape.

PART THREE
LIFE IN CHRIST

SECTION TWO
THE TEN COMMANDMENTS

CHAPTER TWO
“YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF”

ARTICLE 6
THE SIXTH COMMANDMENT

II The Vocation to Chastity:

Offenses Against Chastity

2356: Rape is the forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person. It does injury to justice and charity. Rape deeply wounds the respect, freedom, and physical and moral integrity to which every person has a right. It causes grave damage that can mark the victim for life. It is always an intrinsically evil act. Graver still is the rape of children committed by parents (incest) or those responsible for the education of the children entrusted to them. 

Start living up to your Catechism teachings. Start standing up for your sons and daughters whom had their lives devastated by a pedophile priest of this church. How many more of your children must die? How many more of your children will commit suicide before you finally wake up and realize that YOU MUST stand up for your own children over the Pope, Cardinals, Bishops and Archbishops of the Roman Catholic Church?

How many more parents are going to come home and find their child dead because of this evil?

BROTHERS FROM HELL; 10 former Artane Boys Tell of Broken Legs, Torture and Sex Abuse.

BROTHERS FROM HELL; 10 former Artane Boys Tell of Broken Legs, Torture and Sex Abuse.

If kids got raped at Denny's as often as they get raped at church, every Denny's in the U.S. would be burned to the ground. Dan Savage

The Mirror (UK) September 23, 1999

TODAY 10 former Artane boys tell JILLY BEATTIE their stories of life at the notorious Industrial School.

Six of them have made allegations to the Gardai as part of Ireland’s biggest child abuse investigation in which 40 Christian Brothers Christian Brothers: see John Baptist de la Salle, Saint. have been named and accused. The other four intend to do the same.

They all say their lives have been destroyed by their experiences under the guardianship of the Brothers at Artane, citing relationship breakdowns, unemployment and clinical depression as some of the problems they have had.

Two of the survivors never married, the marriages of seven broke down and one is still married.

Of the eight who did marry, only two told their wives about the abuse they suffered, and none of their children knows about their past life in Artane.

All the fathers say they have difficult relationships with their children.

Four have tried to commit suicide, four are long-term unemployed and all 10 are currently receiving counselling.

These survivors are among 250 men seeking justice for the sexual, physical and emotional abuse they claim they suffered at Artane at the hands of Christian Brothers.

I'm developing an app that locates sex offenders. Ok....it's really just a directory of catholic churches, but it works.

GERRY 1966-69
In care from eight months after being conceived outside marriage

I WAS beaten and raped by nine different Brothers.

Joseph O’Connor dragged me to his room and he threw sweets on the floor. When I bent to pick them up he pulled my trousers down and thrashed me with the leather cosh.

I squealed and screamed and he kept on hitting me, all over my body and head. I suppose he stopped hitting me when I passed out.

My mother came to see me during that time and she was told I was being treated for TB and couldn’t be seen.

I still wake up screaming in the night, convinced a Brother is trying to get me, trying to drag me away.

The Christian Brothers have to pay for what they did to us as boys.

They have apologised to anyone who was hurt while at Artane but that’s not enough to let me get on with my life.

MALACHY 1965-69
Sent to Atane with his brother for mitching school

THE day Artane burned down I thanked God. I prayed that all the Brothers who hurt me had died but most of those b*****ds are still alive.

I suffered all sorts of abuse. Most of it I still cannot talk about.

They raped me, they beat me, they humiliated me.

Sometimes when you turned up they would be abusing some other boy and you would have to watch or join in.

We were made to crawl on our hands and knees while the other boys were forced to hit you. If they didn’t hit you, they had to get down and start crawling too.

Artane was a concentration camp. Anything we arrived with was taken away from us – clothes, shoes, love, good memories, happiness and trust.

JOHN 1958-61
Sent to Atane for the theft of an overcoat

I WAS a tearaway as a child and eventually the Guards got sick of hauling me up and I was put into Artane.

I ran away three times after being beaten but the Guards brought me back.

After the first time I was beaten around the dormitory. I had my two front teeth knocked out and my wrist was broken.

Then I had to sit in agony as the barber – one of the boys – shaved my head for running away.

Anyone found talking to me was beaten.

I know there were boys raped and interfered with in Artane, but I never was.

The Brothers picked their victims well and chose the most vulnerable.

When I was older they used me to abuse the younger boys. They made me a monitor and I used to beat the boys too.

The Brothers were evil. They enjoyed the violence they meted out. Their favourite weapons were fear and the leather strap.

AIDAN 1966-69
Sent to Artane for mitching school

I WAS always a quiet child and was labelled stupid because I had dyslexia

I used to mitch school because I was teased. Then I was sent to Artane.

It was the worst thing anyone could have done to me. I was the perfect victim of the abuse the Brothers favoured. I spoke to no-one.

I was raped three months after I was moved to Artane and used by three particular Brothers, one of whom, Brother O’Connor, is dead.

I was like a rag doll. They threw me about the place. I was b*****ed, forced to touch the Brothers, masturbate them and have oral sex.

When I was sick I was beaten and kicked. The sexual abuse was indescribable, but it was worse when it was coupled with physical abuse. I ended up in the infirmary seven times during my three years there.

My wife knows – but I still find it hard to hug and love her. No-one deserved what we got.

DECLAN 1965-69
In care from three years after mother deemed unfit unfit to look after him

I HAD no-one to turn to when I needed to get away from Artane. I was put in there because the authorities said my mother couldn’t look after me and my brothers.

I was b*****ed 18 times in Artane and beaten probably every day I was there.

In the summer when some of the other boys had gone to foster families, I was left with the others and that’s when I suffered most abuse.

One night I was made to strip before I was hit and a Brother stood on my hands so I couldn’t move. The beating was started by one Brother and finished by another.

O’Connor was a depraved de·praved b*****d. He was at Artane from 1930 and he did everything he could to inflict as much pain as he could on the boys.

He ran the band and even appeared on an RTE programme dedicated to his so-called good work. That bastard sat and smiled his way through it. I dread to think how many boys’ lives he ruined. He destroyed me.

If you still give to the Catholic Church? You are sponsoring and are complicit in child sex abuse.

ADRIAN 1965-69
Sent to Atane with his brother for mitching school

I HAD both my arms broken by a Brother.

I still don’t know Don’t know what I did wrong but I was told not to be bold or I would suffer for it.

Then he lashed into me, I was 11. He hit me with the leather strap, then he started punching and kicking me.

I fell to the floor and he kicked me with his boots. I stopped screaming and he kept hitting me for a bit. Then he told me to pray for forgiveness.

He told me I was bad and would have to ask Jesus to stop me being bad. Two boys took me to the infirmary.

On the way another Brother said I should never be bold because God can see everything. I was terrified

If the Brothers did this to me, what would God do?

JOE 1951-56
Put in care after the death of his mother and suicide of his father

I WAS separated from my brothers and sisters and sent to Artane.

Joseph O’Connor met me at Connolly Station and pushed me into a car. He ran the band and when I said I’d never been interested in music he stopped the car, dragged me out and thrashed me.

When I arrived at the school it was four days before Christmas. One of the boys in my dormitory told me we would be safe for the day. I later realised this meant that we were less likely to be sexually abused on December 25.

Joe Boy O’Connor was an evil bastard. He never raped me but he beat me until I fainted one day. When I woke up I was in the infirmary.

One day I was flogged by another Brother and made to wear a singlet which had been soaked in salt water. I believe it was to literally add salt to my wounds and make it more painful for me.

DESMOND 1964-66
Sent to Artane for mitching school

MY earliest sex education was being forced to watch two younger boys masturbating a Christian Brother.

Then I was forced to beat them before I was fondled by the same Brother.

This happened for five nights with 10 different boys and me looking on every time.

I was never b*****ed but I know two boys who were. I was made to give a number of the Brothers oral sex.

Today I am a gay man but I’ve had problems forming relationships. I still wonder, if my first sexual experiences had been with a woman, would my life have been different.

I think the Brothers at Artane were gay and used the boys for their sexual desires.

We were abused. There’s no excuse for what they did. They violated us – continually.

The beatings were incredible. And the shaming was awful.

EAMONN 1965-68
In care from 10 after mother died

I ended up at Artane after my mother died. I was heartbroken but sure the Brothers would understand and look after me.

I had a terrible shock. The first time I was caught crying on my second night I was beaten by the Brother in charge.

I wet myself and was beaten more. I cried and had my head pushed into a drawer and was thrashed from behind. He only stopped beating me when I couldn’t cry any more.

We were constantly told we were worthless.

I grew up quickly and realised that the beatings and the sexual abuse would not stop until the day I walked out of the doors forever.

I ran away twice and was brought back by the Guards. The first time I was beaten and had my head shaved. The second time it was worse.

I was told I was an ungrateful, worthless little b*****d. I was told I had no-one who loved me and that I would learn to appreciate the care the Brothers showed me. Then I was beaten again.

DONACHA 1966-69
In care from six years after mother deemed a violent alcoholic

I HAD suffered violence from my mother and father at home and was glad to get out of the house to be looked after by the Brothers in Artane.

I’d heard they were tough but I thought it had to be better than at home. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

I was first raped when I was 12 and I lost count of the times it happened again. Every day was spent trying to avoid being hit, but it was useless.

There was the odd decent enough Brother who tried to keep me from trouble but I’ve since been told the ones I thought were OK were b*****ds to some of the other boys. Maybe they just liked me.

Boys were dragged from their beds at night, we were beaten in full view of other staff and boys and we were sexually abused in front of other boys too.

http://www.thefreelibrary.com/BROTHERS+FROM+HELL%3B+10+former+Artane+boys+tell+of+broken+legs,…-a060413360

NOTE: After a three year Garda investigation and a further 7 year legal process, ONE Christian Brother was convicted of indecent assault in Artane.

Boy Scouts of America files for bankruptcy. Hundreds of sexual abuse lawsuits are now on hold

These scumbags are taking their cues from the Unholy Roman Catholic Cult of Pedophiles, hiding behind bankruptcy and statute of limitations to avoid their disgusting pedophiles for paying for their crimes.

There is a cure for pedophiles.
The last thing a child molester should see.
Breaking News: There is now a child molestation vaccine. One shot and it's cured.
Never trust a person who can clear their conscience of any immoral act by asking forgiveness from their imaginary friend.
If your god cannot/will not stop his own priests from raping children, what makes you think he gives a shit about you?
If the sincere prayers of a child to god cannot stop the sexual abuse at the hands of a "man of God"? What does that say about God?
If dogs are put to sleep for attacking children, why aren't we doing the same to pedophiles?
In prison, pedophiles are beaten, and forced out of general population. In Churches pedophiles are protected and hidden from the general population.
Catholism: The Longest Running Pedophile Protection Program in History.
God is the name given to the cold, dead silence that answers the prayer of a child being molested by a priest.