Sexual predators are more prevalent among rabbis, pastors and yogis than among Catholic priests


AUGUST 8, 2015


Sexual predators are more prevalent among rabbis, pastors and yogis than among Catholic priests


But they are not as widely reported by the secular — especially the international — media.

As one reader wrote when he sent me the story on the Jehovah’s Witnesses’ abuses, “If it were the Catholic Church, it would be on the cover of the main newspapers in the World! 1000 cases in one country!!

With a detailed collation of information on the Catholic perspective of the pedophilia issue.




Godman or fraud man?

Rampal has been charged with murder and forgery while his followers are facing cases of assault and criminal intimidation. The Rashtriya Samaj Sewa Samiti (RSSS) is the name of the army made by Rampal, in which men are armed with pistols and rifles. The 4,000 RSSS members guard Satlok Ashram 24×7 and are monitoring the situation from the ‘war room’ inside the Ashram. The RSSS men also have walkie-talkies. The RSSS intelligence wing also monitors police movement in Hisar.

It’s not just that he formed an army of his own, but his men also attacked the local cops when they came to arrest Rampal following the High Court order.

Rampal is surrounded by women and children and his army has kept them hostage. He is using the innocent ones as a human shield and doesn’t allow them to leave the ashram.


Sant Rampal arrested: The story behind the ‘Godman’ and his followers

November 20, 2014

Self-proclaimed Godman Rampal was finally arrested by the Haryana police on November 19 after a two-day long operation in Hisar. Before the arrest, Rampal’s supporters and his ‘army’ had attacked cops when they were trying to enter into his Satlok Ashram to nab him. The police had to face massive defence from Rampal’s army. The question is: What gave Rampal a godman’s status that people stood up in support and even fought with the police?

Rampal, who has an engineering diploma, was thrown out of his position of junior engineer in the Haryana irrigation department because of his careless attitude towards work. Just before he was fired, he established the Satlok Ashram. He first came into the limelight when he made derogatory comments against Swami Dayanand Saraswati.

According to Rampal’s official website, his followers have always indulged in clashes with the Arya Samaj believers, with the first fight that happened in 2006. This violence became the major reason of Rampal’s rise to fame. Taking the benefit of this, he formed an army called the Rashtriya Samaj Sewa Samiti (RSSS).

After the 2006 violence, Rampal and some of his followers were arrested and sent to jail. His arrest helped him to gain more sympathy from his supporters.

Rampal met Kabir Panthi Saint Swami Ramdevanand Ji Maharaj and became a disciple of Sant Kabir. He openly opposed the teaching of Arya Samaj founder Swami Dayanand Swaraswati and even asked not to believe in God. In this way the 2006 clash with Arya Samajis and his arrest made him a ‘Godman’ for his followers.

Logically, Rampal’s arrest and his stand against Arya Samaj made him popular. But it is more because of the state of mind of the people who believe in such kind of a man. According to reports, during search operations, the police found condoms, drugs, adult content, and even a secret camera in the ladies’ toilet at Rampal’s Satlok Ashram.

It clearly indicates what kind of business was going on at his ashram! The need of the hour is that the police must investigate the case in depth. Apart from it, we the people must be careful about this kind of blind following. In the name of God, people like Rampal are playing with our sentiments and misusing us.






Radhe Maa: All you wanted to know about the controversial self-proclaimed ‘Godwoman’

August 6, 2015



The self-proclaimed Godwoman, popularly known as Radhe Maa, has courted a fresh controversy by posing in a red mini-skirt, which quite evidently, hasn’t gone down well with a lot of her devotees.

Sukhvinder Kaur aka Radhe Maa is known for her lavish lifestyle and her high profile list of devotees that include TV actress Dolly Bindra, Manoj Tiwari and Ravi Kishan.

She became a self-styled ‘Godwoman’ at the age of 23 and now delivers sermons at various places across India. Her followers believe that she is blessed with supernatural powers and can help them get through any trouble.

The 50-year-old, who has three children, has often been in news for all the wrong reasons. In July 2015, a woman from Mumbai issued a complaint against her for dowry harassment. She even stated that Radhe Maa physically abused her for various reasons.

Her shenanigans are quite often noticed on the social media and many pictures have surfaced where she’s been found kissing and hugging her followers.

Around 2003-04, a Hindu organization in Phagwara objected to her portrayal as an incarnation of goddess Durga. Subsequently, she was forced to tender an apology.

In July 2015, Nikki Gupta of the Gupta family named Radhe Maa, her husband Nakul Gupta and five others in a dowry-related complaint. Nikki accused Radhe Maa of instigating her in-laws to demand more dowry, and of forcing her to work at the ashram, where she was physically assaulted. The Guptas dismissed the allegations as a result of a matrimonial dispute. On 6 August 2015, the Mumbai Police declared her absconding in this alleged dowry harassment case, and issued a lookout notice against her.

In August 2015, videos of Radhe Ma’s devotees carrying her around during satsangs went viral online. Activist-lawyer Falguni Brahmbhatt lodged a police complaint against her for obscenity, running a business disguised as religion, fraud and cheating.

A Mumbai-based lawyer Falguni Brahmbhatt also accused the so called spiritual lady for spreading obscenity in the name of religion. “Radhe Maa was found kissing, and hugging several of her followers. They were touching her private parts also,” she told ABP News.

By Vikram Johri

August 8, 2015

This week, images of Radhe Ma sauntering “obscenely” to Bollywood music and having the time of her life were beamed. A retinue of her bhakts were incensed with the realisation that Radhe Maa was after all only human and not this asexual doll that she comes across when devotees shower her with tons of flowers while she sits fresh-faced, her hand raised in blessing. That scene is weird with its sexual undertones but no one can say that since she is in her godwoman avatar then and all sexuality can be explained away as divine beatification. But the moment she puts on a mini-skirt and grooves lustily, she becomes a whore.

It says something about us that her pictures generated more media buzz than the very real crimes of an Asaram Bapu who too is a godman, only one charged with serial murders. 





10 Curious Scandals of Indian Swamis EXTRACT:

He’s our current favourite in India. This controversial godman hit the nerve of every rational Indian when making a remark on the 2012 Delhi gang rape saying that the girl raped was also to be blamed. He further added that the girl “should have called the culprits brothers and begged before them to stop… This could have saved her dignity and life.” To exemplify his hideous theory he said “Can one hand clap? I don’t think so.”

We don’t think so either swami, especially since he has been arrested for paedophilic behaviour recently. This is what is generally called tit-for-tat.

This January, 7 more girls have poured out their tales of horror (which includes forced oral) to the police who have collected the statement of around 100 people, enough to build up a case against this self-styled godman.


India’s 10 most controversial gurus

November 20, 2014

Born in Sind in undivided India, today Asaram Bapu has over 425 ashrams and more than 50 gurukuls all over, and a tremendous following both in India and aboard.

Spirituality aside, he has also been courting controversy.


1. Last week Asaram Bapu was accused of sexually abusing a 16-year-old girl at his Jodhpur ashram even as her mother was waiting outside. He was served a summons in the case by the Jodhpur police at his ashram in Indore. The police had earlier served a summons to his officials at his Ahmedabad ashram. The godman claimed he was innocent and regards the minor as his “daughter”. 

2. Commenting on the December 16 Delhi gang rape incident, Asaram suggested that the victim was equally responsible for the crime. He said the girl could have called her assailants brothers and begged them to stop. His comments invited sharp criticism from across the political spectrum and from women’s activists.

3. The ministry of corporate affairs said it had received complaints against him and his son in an alleged 700-acre land-grabbing case and the serious frauds investigation office is looking into the matter.

4. Asaram and his son were also investigated in the mysterious deaths of two boys whose decomposed bodies were found from the banks of Sabarmati River near his ashram in 2008.



10 Curious Scandals of Indian Swamis EXTRACT:

Asaram Bapu’s case has proven that the pull of blood relations is quite thick. Two sisters had lodged complaints against Sai and his father Asaram of rape, sexual assault and illegal confinement. Grilled in police interrogation and under the hawk-eyed presence of his estranged wife, Sai had revealed physical relationships with eight of his female disciples, and in an OMG moment confessed of even fathering a child with one of his sevikas (disciples).



10 Curious Scandals of Indian Swamis EXTRACT:

On the day of March 10, 2010 this godman was tainted and painted red by Sun TV (news channel). For even a godman needs a hot full body massage with occasional dips of kisses followed by other such acts (though the video here has deleted most of the racy stuff). Swami was rather lucky getting it done by a popular actresses. I can hear the sighs.

Nithyananda later said in an interview that he was in a state of ‘samadhi’ i.e. trance while being unrobed & massaged (anyone would be, right?). With the pressure mounting swami made a startling revelation that he was actually impotent. The man has some nerve, we got to give him that!

And this ain’t all, condom, drugs and more secrets told the story of why this ‘playboy’ was in real trouble. When Arathi Rao, a former devotee alleged rape, swami went into hiding digging and further extending the ditch he was in. Because when the police went to nab the man in his ashram they were goggle-eyed to find a heap of condom and ganja (drugs) inside the premise. And then came the answer to the cryptic question, it was Arathi Rao who had secretly recorded the swami’s exceptionally hot moments. 


India’s 10 most controversial gurus

November 20, 2014

Popular for his spiritual discourses and meditation programmes, Swami Nithyananda was named as one of the 100 most spiritually influential living people in the world by Watkins’ Mind Body Spirit magazine.   

He claims to be the most-watched spiritual teacher on with more than 14 million views, and the author of more than 300 books published in 27 languages.




1. Nithyananda landed in a controversy after a purported video footage showing him in a compromising position with an actress was telecast by local TV channels. Nithyananda said the video was morphed and manipulated to misrepresent his personal life but did not deny his images with actress Ranjita in the film.

The video aired on Tamil TV channels caused a furore, with some Hindu groups and others protesting against Nithyananda. The Karnataka government too promised “very strict” action against him.

Lenin Karuppan, who had exposed the alleged sex scandal, was arrested after a complaint by the manager of Nithyananda’s ashram that Lenin had demanded money to keep the video secret.

2: Swami Nithyananda was also accused of rape by Indian-born American citizen, Arthi Rao, in June 2012. Rao went on Indian television accusing Nithyananda of raping her for several years. Nithyananda again denied the allegations.



India’s 10 most controversial gurus

November 20, 2014

Baba Ramdev is best known for popularising yoga and has been very vocal about political issues in the country.

Who can forget the Delhi government’s crackdown on his agitation at the Ramlila maidan in June 2011, where the baba tried to hoodwink the police by wearing salwar kameez and dupatta after they cracked down on the fast against corruption?


1. Tehelka magazine had reported financial irregularities and tax evasion by Ramdev’s trusts. Irregularities included sales tax evasion, forceful land grab from farmers and stealing of electricity by using agricultural connection for commercial use.

2. Senior leader of the Communist Party of India-Marxist Brinda Karat accused the Divya Pharmacy, owned by Ramdev’s Divya Yog Mandir Trust, of using human and animal bones in their medicines. 

3. The yoga guru has claimed that regular practice pranayama popularised by him has successfully ‘cured’ cancer within six to nine months. Cancer of the breast, liver, prostate, uterus, pituitary gland, brain tumour and even leukaemia, can be cured by practising the breathing exercises, he claimed.

4. Ramdev has suggested that yoga was the way to prevent and cure AIDS. “We will prove through clinical tests that yoga can cure AIDS. We will offer the cure shortly, in the next couple of years,” Ramdev had said.

“Sex education in schools need to be replaced by yoga education,” Ramdev also told reporters. “The government should stop polluting the minds of innocent young children with sex education. Society’s morality cannot improve with teaching sex education in schools. And AIDS cannot be prevented by talking free sex and by using condoms.”

5. Ramdev has contended that homosexuality is a disease that is curable through yogic practices. “It can be treated like any other congenital defect. Such tendencies can be treated by yoga, pranayama and other meditation techniques,” he said in a petition to the court.



India’s 10 most controversial gurus

November 20, 2014

An Arya Samaj scholar and social activist, Swami Agnivesh is a former member of legislative assembly from Haryana. In 2011, Agnivesh spent three days inside the Bigg Boss house as a guest, to “use this opportunity to promote and create awareness on social issues including corruption”.

Agnivesh joined ‘Team Anna Hazare’ in the anti-corruption protests in August 2011. However, he broke away from the main group claiming that other protesters humiliated and conspired against him. 


1. Swami Agnivesh came under attack during the August 2011 anti-corruption protests over a controversial video posted on YouTube where he is purportedly telling a person alleged to be a Union minister that the government act tough with the fasting Gandhian (Anna Hazare). Agnivesh on his part claimed the video footage was “doctored and concocted” and part of a smear campaign against him. He denied talking to Union Minister Kapil Sibal who was involved in negotiations during the initial stages of the stand-off between Team Anna and the government.

2. Swami Agnivesh’s unexceptionable statement that he supported the entry of non-Hindus into the Jagannath Temple at Puri, however raised the hackles of Hindu priests. Priests of the temple condemned his remarks as ‘purely anti-Hindu in nature’ and burned his effigy.

3. Agnivesh, during a trip to Jammu, had allegedly said that he “does not understand why people go” for Amarnath yatra and such pilgrimages and had termed the “Shivlingam” that forms inside the Amarnath cave shrine a geographical phenomenon. The Supreme Court condemned Agnivesh for hurting the sentiments of Hindus. “You cannot take sentiments of the people for granted,” the bench said, noting that a large number of people go on Amarnath yatra every year.

Swami Agnivesh is the darling of Indian theologians and takes classes for students at the Jnana Deepa-Vidyapeeth/Papal Seminary in Pune. He is often one of the distinguished guests at Catholic functions. See NEW COMMUNITY BIBLE 02-THE PAPAL SEMINARY, PUNE, INDIAN THEOLOGIANS, AND THE CATHOLIC ASHRAMS





10 Curious Scandals of Indian Swamis EXTRACT

This one was a mash up (yes, he is dead too) and had quiet an international reputation. Popularly known as Osho since 1989, he was a break from the mainstream conventional hoodoo swamis. They even have a cool international website of an Osho Meditation Resort [].

Coming to the point, this singular swami was actually known as the ‘sex guru and was quiet a news maker owing to his provocative lectures in his ashrams. And you thought swamis are conservative huh?

Initially, in his Pune Ashram (which is flourishing like never before) some groups were allowed intimated relationship between the participants’. Osho argued, unlike other religious advocators that psychological repression leads to suppression of significant feeling that later raises their ugly heads in some other guise (like rape); he added that sexual repression results in societies becoming obsessed with sex. Osho’s ideas on sex, marriage, family and relationships contradicted traditional views, arousing anger and opposition around the world.

Though being a candid supporter of homosexuality at the beginning, he later retracted this views and said “homosexuals…. were perverted, created the disease AIDS.” And just when you thought you were beginning to like this sex-swami. Alas!


India’s 10 most controversial gurus

November 20, 2014

Considered one of the most controversial spiritual leaders to have emerged from India during the 20th century, Rajneesh or Osho was outspoken in his criticism of socialism, Mahatma Gandhi and institutionalised religion.

He advocated a more open attitude towards sexuality, which earned him the sobriquet of “sex guru”. 

Rajneesh discouraged marriage and having children. He saw families as prone to dysfunction. His communes in Oregon and England accepted contraception, sterilisation, and abortion.

A former personal secretary, Ma Anand Sheela, of the controversial spiritual guru in a bare-all memoir said that “Osho Rajneesh disregarded all laws, ethics and legalities as he wanted to create a society of his own vision with its own laws and rules.” Rajneesh had once, out of the blue, demanded to get him 30 new Rolls-Royces within one month in spite of already possessing 96 brand new Rolls-Royces.

The 1984 Rajneeshee bioterror attack was the first bioterrorist attack in United States history. Around 751 individuals were poisoned through the deliberate contamination of salad bars at ten local restaurants in Oregon with salmonella.

The attack was orchestrated by followers of Rajneesh to rig the election so that their own candidates would win the 1984 Waco County elections.

In 1985 high-ranking followers of Rajneesh hatched a conspiracy to assassinate then United States Attorney for the District of Oregon Charles Turner.  However, the plot was never carried out and was only discovered later during investigations into the bioterror attack and other illegal acts by the Rajneeshpuram leadership.  

Popular Bollywood personalities who were part of the Rajneesh movement include Parveen Babi, who joined the movement in mid-1970s along with her boyfriend, producer Mahesh Bhatt.   

Film star Vinod Khanna became a sannyasin on December 31, 1975, and received the name Swami Vinod Bharti. He was Osho’s gardener at Rajneeshpuram. 


1. Increased criticism of his activities at the Pune ashram in 1981 and threats of punitive action by authorities led Rajneesh to move to the United States. However, his Oregon commune collapsed in 1985 when Rajneesh revealed that the commune leadership had committed serious crimes. He was charged with immigration violations and deported.

2. At the Second World Hindu Conference in 1969 he came under criticism when he claimed “any religion which considers life meaningless and full of misery, and teaches the hatred of life, is not a true religion. Religion is an art that shows how to enjoy life.”  

3. Not only was his therapies questioned, there were allegations of drug use among sannyasins.



Yoga Fans Sexual Flames and, Predictably, Plenty of Scandal

By William J. Broad, February 27, 2012

The wholesome image of yoga took a hit in the past few weeks as a rising star of the discipline came tumbling back to earth. After accusations of sexual impropriety with female students, John Friend, the founder of
, one of the world’s fastest-growing styles, told followers that he was stepping down for an indefinite period of “self-reflection, therapy and personal retreat.”

Another case involved Swami Rama (1925-96), a tall man with a strikingly handsome face. In 1994, one of his victims filed a lawsuit charging that he had initiated abuse at his Pennsylvania ashram when she was 19. In 1997, shortly after his death, a jury awarded the woman nearly $2 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

So, too, former devotees at Kripalu, a Berkshires ashram, won more than $2.5 million after its longtime guru — a man who gave impassioned talks on the spiritual value of chastity — confessed to multiple affairs.





William J. Broad is the author of “The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards,” published this month by Simon & Schuster.

A version of this article appeared in print on February 28, 2012, on page D1 of the New York edition with the headline: Yoga and Sex Scandals: No Surprise Here.


10 Curious Scandals of Indian Swamis EXTRACT

He died in November 2013 at the age of 91 not before being exposed by an American follower Karen Johnson in her book “Sex, Lies, and Two Hindu Gurus: How I was conned by a Dangerous Cult and Why I Will Not Keep Their Secrets.”

The book is concentrated on the swami’s bed room rituals. In an interview Karen said “Because he is considered to be an avatar of Krishna, his intimated touch and so on are supposed to be a gift of divine love, or prema dan. He gives private audiences to women he can manipulate and blesses them by intimated touch. He invites women to give him ‘charan seva’, a kind of massaging ritual which usually incorporates sexual touching.”

Karen had a very bad experience in past 15 years in his ashram. She told that she was a member of ‘Jagadguru Kripalu Council’ and had spent 15 years of her life in his JKP ashram situated in Austin city. Wonder what took her so long to come out?

Back in 2002 Kripalu was alleged to have raped and molested a 22-year-old Guyanese woman in a prayer-room, at a house in which he was staying in San Fernando, when she visited him in May of that year.



10 Curious Scandals of Indian Swamis EXTRACT

This self-styled swami apparently while teaching spirituality ran a prostitution racket, or so it was alleged back in 2010. It was said to be a business worth Rs 500 crore (5 billion USD). He used to supply women, including air hostesses, students and house wives, to high end clients all across Delhi and earned approximately Rs 2.5 lakh (4000 USD) everyday. Ichadhari Baba collected a mind-boggling amount of Rs. 25000 crores (25 billion USD) by his sex racket.

The 39-year-old Swami Bhimanand, whose real name is Shreemurath Dwivedi, started working in Delhi as a security guard in 1988 until in 1997 when he was arrested for managing a prostitution ring. When he got out of jail, he took up religion simply as a front to his sleazy dealings. Police had claimed to have recovered five diaries from him which have the names, phone numbers and even rates of certain prostitutes. Bulls-eye, another swami down.

If you have a tremendous wish to see this swami going intimate in a dance, watch above video.



India’s 10 most controversial gurus

November 20, 2014

His association with former Prime Minister PV Narasimha Rao brought Chandraswami — the controversial tantrik — into prominence. 

Interestingly, the godman’s finances have fluctuated with his political fortunes.


1. Chandraswami has been accused of several financial irregularities and was ordered by the Supreme Court to pay a penalty in several Foreign Exchange Management Act violation cases registered by the enforcement directorate. The ED has imposed a total penalty of Rs 9 crore (approximately) on Chandraswami in 13 cases of Foreign Exchange Regulation Act violations for acquiring foreign exchange in contravention of the Act.

2. In 1996, he was arrested on charges of defrauding a London-based businessman of $100,000. 

3. The CBI has been investigating the suspected role of the self-styled godman in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. The Jain Commission dedicated a volume to his alleged involvement in the assassination. The Enforcement Directorate is still investigating his alleged role as financier in the killing.



India’s 10 most controversial gurus

November 20, 2014

Jayendra Saraswati is the sixty-ninth Shankaracharya of the Kanchi Kamakoti Peetham. Keeping with the Shankaracharya’s oft-expressed concerns the Jayalalithaa government in Tamil Nadu enacted a law to ban religious conversions and enforced a ban on animal sacrifice in temples.

The Shankaracharya attracted controversy when he left his mutt in 1987 during the Chaturmasya vrata and was not traceable for a few weeks.


1. Kanchi seer Jayendra Saraswati and his junior Vijayendra are the prime accused in the murder of Sankararaman, the manager of the Varadarajaperumal temple at Kanchipuram, in September 3, 2004.




The two seers have been charged under IPC sections for criminal conspiracy and murder. The trial in the case was shifted to Puducherry from Chengalpattu by an order of the Supreme Court on a petition Jayendra had filed on October 25, 2005.

2. Another ‘attempt-to-murder’ case was filed by an auditor, Radhakrishnan, in Chennai. He alleged that Jayendra Saraswathi sent goons to his house to kill him because he had questioned the missing 83 kg of gold meant for the Kamakshi temple at Kanchipuram.



10 Curious Scandals of Indian Swamis EXTRACT

Alleged malpractices at the Dera first came to light in 2002 when an anonymous letter reached to then Prime Minister of India, accusing this swami of rape and mass-scale sexual exploitation.

“There are 35 to 40 girls here who have compromised themselves at the Dera. We appear to be devis, but are treated like prostitutes,” the woman wrote in her letter, adding: “My life is in danger, so I will not reveal my name.”
Since then, Ram Rahim’s name has figured in many criminal cases, including the murder of a journalist in July 2002. This guy seems grave!

The police had caught hold of his former driver who said that sexual exploitation was rampant, and that several male followers had been forcibly castrated on Rahim’s orders. This guy is gross as well.


India’s 10 most controversial gurus

November 20, 2014

Leader of the Dera Sacha Sauda, a socio-spiritual organisation, Gurmeet Ram Rahim has led his organisation to several Guinness World Records.

The Dera Sacha Sauda head was in the news recently for announcing that that nearly 1,500 followers of the sect were ready to marry the Uttarakhand women who lost their husbands in the flash floods and landslides that struck the hill state. 

The spiritual leader and preacher has, in association with the American Society of Echocardiography, created a world record for most cardiac echo tests. 


1. Public prosecutor Ujjwal Nikam submitted that during the visit of Dera Sacha Sauda chief Baba Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh on June 25, 2008, his personal bodyguards had allegedly fired at a crowd at Nirmal Lifestyle mall in suburban Mulund, Mumbai, in which Balkar Singh, a Sikh, was killed. Citing lack of evidence, a fast track court acquitted 14 volunteers of Dera Sacha Sauda, in the case.

2. The Dera Sacha Sauda chief set off a controversy when he appeared in attire similar to the one worn by the tenth Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh, and distributed amrit (nectar) to his followers at his Dera in Sirsa.

3. The Punjab and Haryana high court issued a notice of motion to the Dera Sacha Sauda head Gurmit Ram Rahim Singh of Sirsa seeking explanation for the allegations made against him by his follower for sexually exploiting his wife.

4. A Tehelka investigation alleged that the Dera Sacha Sauda is a den of vice and accused Baba Gurmeet Singh of rape and murder.



10 Curious Scandals of Indian Swamis EXTRACT

John Lennon of The Beatles had, during his visit to India written a song ‘Sexy Sadie’ which he had wanted to actually name ‘Maharishi’ as it was based on the swami himself. Yogi made to the limelight by becoming ‘spiritual advisors to The Beatles’ in 1968. During their stay, the Beatles heard that the Maharishi had made sexual advances towards Mia Farrow; though Harrison, Paul McCartney, and Cynthia Lennon later said that they felt the story was fabricated. The original title was changed on George Harrison’s request.

Lennon once said of the song: “That was inspired by Maharishi. I wrote it when we had our bags packed and were leaving. It was the last piece I wrote before I left India. I just called him, ‘Sexy Sadie,’ instead of (sings) ‘Maharishi what have you done, you made a fool…’ I was leaving the Maharishi with a bad taste.” He told Rolling Stone that when the Maharishi asked why he was leaving, he replied, “Well, if you’re so cosmic, you’ll know why.”

Later the band dumped the swami.
John had subsequently said after many years, “There is no guru. You have to believe in yourself. You’ve got to get down to your own God in your own temple. It’s all down to you, mate.” I say, good advice mate.



Introduction to ‘Robert Taliaferro Brooke’ – Tal Brooke

Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba & SCP Tal Brooke

June 28, 2008




Tal Brooke is the President and Chairman of SCP (the Spiritual Counterfeits Project); a Christian Evangelical organization located in Berkeley, California (read their Statement of Faith).

Robert Taliaferro Brooke (an extreme fundamentalist and evangelical Christian) was the first person to make accusations of sexual impropriety against Sathya Sai Baba (a revered Guru living in India). Tal Brooke published his first Anti-Sai book in 1976 under the title “Lord Of The Air”. It was republished in 1979 as “Sai Baba, Lord Of The Air”, renamed “Avatar of Night” in 1982 with a reprint in 1984, was renamed “Lord Of The Air: Tales of a Modern Antichrist” in 1990 and reprinted again as “Avatar of Night” in 1999…

In an interview with John Ankerberg, Tal Brooke acknowledged as true that he had “spirit guides” come to him and that he had “out of body experiences”. Tal Brooke claimed that after he played with an ouija board when he was 11 years old, he felt “spirit presences” in his room and then began to have “out of body experiences”. Tal Brooke also stated that he became involved with “psychic stuff” (i.e., psychic gateways, reincarnation and routes to higher consciousness) during his teen years. These alleged experiences were what drew him to India in 1969. In January 1970, he encountered Sathya Sai Baba.

Born as Sathya Narayana Raju in a poor and remote Indian village, he claimed to be a reincarnation of Shirdi Sai Baba in 1940 and subsequently used Sai Baba’s name. He used his cleverness to fool the people and became guru and fraudster. In spite of that, he may have been sincere about certain aspects of his many teachings. Apart from the fraud allegations, Baba has also been also accused of sexual abuse and pedophilia.


Major exposure of alleged sexual abuses by Sathya Sai Baba

A documented overview of the history and extent of the alleged sexual abuses by Sathya Sai Baba and the questions they raise… […]

The first-hand directly-presented accounts of being sexually abused by Sai Baba by highly articulate young men in interview with highly-respected national broadcasters (Danish TV) were neither denied nor challenged by Sai Baba (or his chief minions). This fact itself speaks a loud and clear ‘message’. Further, these brave persons who spoke out cannot bring Sai Baba to court because he stays well out of harm’s way in India, where he has demonstrated that he exercises decisive influence over the judiciary and government…


Accounts of Sai Baba being a homosexual and paedophile have circulated in diverse circles in India during the 1970s (to be summarised here later). His predilection for homosexual relations was reportedly widely known in Puttaparthi when he shared his rooms with a young man called Krishna (they were called ‘Radha-Krishna’ where they went together everywhere hand in hand, according to the long-term worshipper Vijayamma). Mrs. Bitten Nelson of Denmark firmly indicated what has been known all along to many villagers, none of whom dare say a word about it due to the huge power wielded threateningly by the Sai Baba camp…


The scandals about sexual abuse of male students among Malaysian devotees around 1980 which caused resignations from the Organisation in Malaysia, apparently was very little known in the West. The following information was sent to me by a person who wishes to remain anonymous, having distanced himself socially from all connection with Sai Baba. “When I became aware of Sai Baba’s activities on some male Malaysian students studying at the Sai institutions in Whitefield and Puttaparthi, I carried out my own inquiries and dropped out from that movement. So did many devotees in Malaysia f these male students, I am unable to reveal their identities. It is not fair to them. I remember having advised them in 1980 to keep their identities confidential and not be overzealous since they have lives to lead and they should forget about what had happened to them. An American boy, Terry Scott, who was a contemporary of these Malaysian students, left the Sai College together with the rest of the Malaysians. There were many devotees who left the cult. Those holding office in Sai organisations in Malaysia did not do so but quite a number of them may have quietly slipped out of the cult.”


Barry Pittard also writes of another former Australian devotee, Connie R. of Cooma, in the State of New South Wales, who visited a Malaysian devotee family during a stopover to India. She said that she heard a disturbingly authentic cassette tape of an Indian Malaysian boy’s account of sexual molestation by Sathya Sai Baba. The boy had attended the Sathya Sai College at Whitefield, where Pittard had taught for two years. Horrified, his parents had withdrawn him from that institution. Convinced of the truthfulness of the account by the boy and by the family, and deeply disgusted, Connie R. cancelled her trip.


Likewise, a scandal about sexual abuse of a Greek boy in the Sai College in Greece and similar accounts in Yugoslavia in the 1980s did not reach or affect other countries in Europe. Meanwhile, a major scandal arose independently in the USA in the early 1980s about which the leader of the US Sai organisation, Dr. John Hislop, wrote letters to leaders in the Sai Org. there advising them to suppress the facts as unconfirmed. Again, in France and Belgium around 1990, there was apparently much talk about Sai Baba being a homosexual, which only seeped through to some followers in a few other countries. Only when the Internet provided the means for communication between alleging victims spread and isolated here and there, did the world-wide exposé of Sathya Sai Baba’s various activities begin to come together from 1999 onwards.




As long ago as the 1970s, Sathya Sai Baba told two ‘old-timer’ American devotees (one was ‘Vidya’, a lady known to many followers and the other a long-term US resident of Prashanthi Nilayam, known to all as Michelle) that the day would come when the number of devotees would dwindle to very few. He also told other interviewees similar things now and again, such as that “a great scandal is coming”. By the 1980s, when Tal Brooke published his first whistle-blowing book on the sexual abuses of students and foreign young men (Avatar of the Night), Sathya Sai Baba would most likely have read the increasing signs – or been advised by some of those relatively few Indians who do not turn a blind eye to such practices – that it would eventually lead to his exposure. His warnings of coming scandal went on until the late 1990s in interviews, such as when, for example, David Jevons was present (as he has posted on his website). (However, some time after the above was posted, David Jevons deleted this from his website! This is typical, damage limitation by trying to bury all acknowledgment of any whiff of scandal they previously mentioned around Sai Baba).


A most lucid comment on these “predictions” came from Mr. John Bright, whose account of being sexually molested by Sathya Sai Baba is found on various websites, referring to what the British ‘psychic’ Craig Hamilton-Parker (a believer in Sai Baba) had replied to him on his website as follows:-

“…you mentioned that Sai Baba told a woman in an interview that she would be able to get an interview whenever she wanted in the future because devotees would be leaving him in droves. (When I was in India I heard something along similar lines). You seem to use this as evidence of Sai Baba’s omniscience as well as a way to discredit these stories of sexual molestation. I will simply say this; if you were a molester in Sai Baba’s position and you knew that the word was getting out or was likely to get out and that people were talking, what better way to cover your tracks and conduct damage control than to say such things?

He is killing two birds with one stone – he creates the illusion that his knowledge is born of omniscience when it comes to pass and at the same time he discredits these stories of sexual molestation. His prediction comes not from omniscience but from the knowledge of what he is doing to young men in his private interview room and the knowledge that it is leaking out.” Craig Hamilton-Parker has since removed the above letter from his money-grabbing and highly misleading ‘U.K. psychics’ website. Typical damage-limitation & cover-up. Click here for John Bright’s testimony ‘Sai Baba molested me’.


The cover-up of allegations about Sathya Sai Baba’s sexual behaviour: The ‘fully paid-up’ believer clings to ideas like ‘if he had wanted it otherwise, Sathya Sai Baba would have taken steps to avoid it’, or ‘it must have been part of some predestined plan to sort the grain from the chaff’ (read, “good from bad persons”) – a favourite quote from an Sathya Sai Baba sixtieth birthday discourse which was as long ago as 1985. But separating ‘chaff from grain’ in fact equally signifies removing ‘the sensible people from fully gullible believers’. It is believed in Sai circles that “the grain” are those who plug their ears, willingly stick their heads in the sand and believe firmly in Sathya Sai Baba, despite any evidence of his wrong-doings that may come forth! For my part, I wish to be counted among those who act on their conscience for the sake of the good of society (i.e. dharma) by facing up to the mass of information, investigating it thoroughly and so promulgating the truth of the matter as far as it is known… at least until yet more thoroughgoing and fair investigations should be conducted in the public sphere by an independent court.


During Christmas 2000, however, Sathya Sai Baba did rail in public at his accusers as ‘thousands of Judases’, meanwhile beating his rostrum angrily and also calling them demonic and saying they spread scandal about him for money. He gave no details or any evidence of payments or who had made them, and none has ever been made public anywhere. On past experience, he could be confident that his word would never be questioned or doubted by his devotees. In a later discourse he spoke of his critics as “demons without the spark of divinity”. This is a major turnaround, since he has previously repeatedly held in many discourses that the spark of divinity is in all living beings and in a higher potency in all human beings. Now some of us are apparently not human beings, but demons! He has thus changed his former attractive teachings about his universal compassion and love for everyone! His new tack is transparently an angry threat (even though he claims to be totally pure and hence free of any anger, and that he merely pretends to be angry when he deems it suitable). Apparently, spiteful anger had already (in his Christmas 2000 discourse) got the better of him at his being fully found out and challenged.


Months later Sathya Sai Baba repeated his warning to devotees: “If you listen to bad speeches, don’t repeat them to anybody. Absolutely never tell it to anybody. You have to pay the greatest attention to this argument. You may have heard some things by chance. Forget to have heard them. Don’t tell to your friends, don’t disturb their mind.” (From a speech of 15 May 2000, personal translation by Achary, who also asks,” is this “Divine Transparency?”


‘The Findings’ by David Bailey – once the top favourite foreign devotee – released the floodgates for testimonies: The latest and most decisive phase of the exposé so far took off with the publication in 1999 of ‘The Findings’ by David Bailey, one of Sathya Sai Baba’s closest ever devotees (over 100 interviews within a few years only). As he lectured about Sathya Sai Baba around the globe, David Bailey was eventually so inundated with reports from parents of abused sons and of sexual molestations from students who he taught music at Sathya Sai Baba’s colleges that he began to investigate with an open mind. He began to discover various kinds of fraud by Sai Baba (valueless synthetic stones given as ‘diamonds’ in rings etc.) and in various of his projects (especially the much-trumpeted Rayalaseema Water Project).




He has since withdrawn from actively exposing further, for not only had he made his decisive contribution, but he understandably must have wanted to rest from the abusive and defamatory reactions and threats that poured in on him from Sai devotees. Yet his discoveries set off a chain-reaction among those who describe how they have been abused, defrauded and otherwise seriously maltreated by Sathya Sai Baba. Therefore, for all his claimed ‘divine prescience’, Sathya Sai Baba had evidently not reckoned with David Bailey and his wife Faye, whose report on his wide-ranging investigations called his bluff in grand fashion. His findings were reported widely in the media. Comdot Free Information Exchange summed it up: Well-regarded former disciple, musician David Bailey and his wife went public with accounts of their experiences from spending three years as two of the guru’s closest disciples. This prompted the release of yet more material from former devotees around the world. Response to these claims from Sai Baba’s ashram appears so feeble that to many it would seem an admission of his guilt. It is said that sources close to the guru claimed that as “a living incarnation of God”, Sai Baba could do what he pleases and it is not appropriate for mortals to question his activities.

“Faye’s own son had been kissed repeatedly on his cheeks and the corners of his mouth when alone in the inner room with Sai Baba, and also sexually touched. And when it was obvious to Sai Baba that this behaviour was unwelcome, he began berating the young man in subsequent interviews with Faye, calling him ‘Mad dog! Hard hearted!’ and so on. At the time this seemed incongruous; it was only after we began travelling the world that the inconceivable and incomprehensible began to make itself clear.


When I asked various coordinators about these many disturbing incidents reported to me in our travels, I was told that Swami was ‘raising kundalini’. I questioned this in my mind. If he was capable of doing anything, why did he have to physically touch the boys, especially when they were unwilling? And what about when he had them actively engage in sex to him?


It seems that an ongoing, serious and untenable infringement of basic human rights is being scurrilously perpetrated, in the name of ‘divinity’. Also see this quote: “On my last visit to Puttaparthi, a male student came and asked me for help, on behalf of some of his fellow students, because they were desperately in need of someone to stop Swami sexually abusing them. I was told how Sai Baba had for years been demanding that these particular boys have oral sex, and group sex for his pleasure. Their details matched what I had already been told so many times round the world. I asked him if this was an acceptable practice in India, and his look of horror as he denied it, spoke volumes. Then he asked me a question I couldn’t answer. ‘Sir, why do you think ex-students tried to kill him in ’93 …?'” (!!!)


So-called “Sai devotees” have tried to drag Bailey’s name through the mud as a condemned paedophile in prison and even spread the story that he hanged himself in his cell. These are the depths to which many have sunk to preserve their false faith. Of course, these allegations are totally incorrect and David Bailey is alive and well, living in France. In an e-mail of 2006 he informed me that he no longer wishes to be active in the exposure of Sathya Sai Baba. Incidentally, he is not the owner of the David Bailey music website, as I once mistakenly assumed. His reluctance to continue in the crucial role he once held in revealing the truth about Sathya Sai Baba is most understandable considering the massive consequences his involvement had (losing teaching position at a private school where a British royal prince was taught). His subsequent defection from Sai Baba also made him the victim of massive libel and lies spread against him throughout the Sai movement and on the Internet. One particularly mad and vituperative mail by a rich Australian female devotee, Millie Phillips was circulated widely.


Hear David Bailey’s account of his discoveries in a phone conversation – or read the transcript.

Neither had Sathya Sai Baba reckoned with the outspokenness of another of his (former) favourites, Dr. Bhatia, who he had made Head of Blood Transfusion at his Super-speciality Hospital and who was a chosen lecturer at the ashram for years. Dr. Bhatia really spilt the beans, telling of his having been the beloved sexual partner of Sathya Sai Baba for years, and was in the position to know and tell of massive sexual exploitation by Sathya Sai Baba of students, including a report on the physically-injurious anal rape of a minor, a boy student, with which he personally confronted Sathya Sai Baba. This led to his immediate sacking from his position as head of the Blood Bank at Sathya Sai Baba’s hospital in Puttaparthi and total banishment from the ashrams and all Sai Baba institutions (as published in Sanathana Sarathi).

Source found at Sai Baba’s Dark Side? and on and posted on forum and then in ‘The Findings’ by Faye and David Bailey.

Source: Name withheld at request. (Available for investigation by authority)

Subject: Dr. Bhatia. Why did he leave?

Regarding the notice of expulsion of Dr. Bhatia in the Sanathana Sarathi magazine, please note: Three young students from Sai Baba’s junior male college were called for interview. One of them, a seven year old boy student, came out of the private interview room crying. He continued to cry for two days, and was unable to eat or study. That evening Dr Bhatia, on duty in the children’s canteen, was asked to find the cause of the child’s distress. He questioned and then examined the child, and found that he had been sexually penetrated, via his anus. The child was taken to Bangalore and re-examined. A second medical opinion confirmed sexual abuse. Dr. Bhatia had been involved in sexual activity with Sai Baba for six years, believing that he was serving divinity.




He went to Sai Baba: Why do you do this to such a young child when you have all of us adults and the older students to play with?

Sai Baba’s reply: Don’t bargain with God!

Soon after, five men went to Dr. Bhatia’s home, threatening his life with knives. He made his escape by car, fleeing to Delhi. Once there Dr. Bhatia was unable to practice medicine because he had left all his personal papers behind in Puttaparthi. He wrote asking for them. They have not yet been released. However, the doctor now practices at a Delhi hospital.


A promissory agreement has been offered from Puttaparthi, that Dr. Bhatia’s personal belongings will be released to him on the proviso that : he remain mute about the happenings concerning the little boy student he does not make any legal claims against the Super Speciality Hospital he keeps his sexual relationship with Sai Baba a secret. A rumour given out for his ‘dismissal’ was that he was caught selling blood, another that he was having an affair within the ashram, and yet another claiming jealousy between departmental heads at the hospital. I offer this for the sake of truth.

[Note – Subsequently it was confirmed that this boy was NOT 7 years old but was a 7th Grade student – in other words, up to 14 years old, but still a minor. This came to light through Stephen Carthew’s discussions with Dr. Bhatia after he had been sacked from his position as head of Sai Baba’s Blood Bank and banned from the ashram totally.]

These reports brought the allegations to massive prominence because of the former closeness of Bailey and Bhatia to Sai Baba. However, for years before this the well-known Indian rationalist Basava Premanand had tried with very limited public success to warn the nation of the sexual abuse issue, among other criminal counts. He wrote an article ‘The True Story of Life in the Sri Sathya Sai Hostel for Boys’, summing up the situation and posted it on the internet to assist in the exposé there. Premanand has also detailed further information he had at the time in an article in the ‘Indian Sceptic’ magazine and on the Internet.


These reports were but three of many more who have very bravely published their highly credible accounts on the internet and have signed sworn affidavits to that effect. A certain young man from Sweden known to many of us in Scandinavia as ‘the golden boy’, and the then-underage ‘Sam Young’ (Alaya Rahm) – the son of Al Rahm, regional leader in the Sai Organisation in USA, were both shattered by their predicaments when, as favourite boys, Sathya Sai Baba abused both their trust and their bodies very much against their will. But they very bravely dared to speak out. The long-term devotee who was close to Sathya Sai Baba for decades (too close, he came to understand), Conny Larsson, stood forth with exceptional courage and told of how Sathya Sai Baba misused him sexually in very base ways, which Larsson believed to be some kind of divine healing from his terrible childhood sex abuse by his father’s male friend.


Since he recovered from the terrible disillusionment, Conny Larsson has courageously and tirelessly campaigned on TV around the world with regard only for bringing out the truth about Sai Baba and he is soon to publish a new and exceptional book in which he tells of his experiences with Sai Baba most credibly. One of the most shocking revelations in his book is how Conny Larsson came to realise why two of his patients committed suicide. At different times, Conny took along in his groups to India two young men, hoping they may be healed of problems relating to their drug dependency and inspired by Sai Baba to follow his values etc.

However, he describes how he realised too late that they had been sexually abused by Sai Baba (the description he gives of events he witnessed is very convincing) and how he became convinced that that this led to their suicides. This is also why Conny makes such efforts to bring his transformed understanding of Sai Baba and the cult to the widest possible public.


Sathya Sai Baba’s prediction that “a great scandal is coming” only got devotees asking why he would not have taken steps to avoid it, and to conclude that the scandal must have been designed by him somehow as part of his wonderful plan for the world and humanity. For example, Millie Phillips, a rich donor and long-term follower from Australia, told David Bailey in a widely circulated and often vituperative e-mail that he was just an instrument of Sathya Sai Baba’s will. (These so-called ‘Sai devotees’ soon turn nasty if their faith is put in question, it seems). If it was Sathya Sai Baba’s will, then – on this assumption – he would have exposed himself beyond reasonable doubt as an active homosexual, a fraud and a liar who has not cleared himself of the suspicion that he condoned four executions in his own bedroom (in 1993).

This took place without any court examination of the incident – or even the slightest police questioning of Sathya Sai Baba who was present when the intruders killed his attendants and who remained close by throughout the whole episode – just shows how totally defenceless any Sathya Sai Baba victim in India is. How then could he at the same time possibly be the truthful, all-good, non-violent example upon which he claims a teaching depends for its credibility? The insurmountable fact is, Sathya Sai Baba has been exposed as not being what he claims to be in many different respects, and not least in world media. It seems most likely that Sathya Sai Baba’s repeated vague predictions were an on-going attempt to limit this damage and not lose all his followers (plus their financial and other support).

Deceptions and failed prophesies revealed… take your pick! Finally, since Sathya Sai Baba is widely known and seen now to use sleight of hand trickery as part of his repertoire, and to lie about the objects he gives away. I have proved fully that he did with an alleged ‘green diamond’ he gave me in expectation of a large financial donation I had offered, see my detailed account with photographs of the assay done by Queen Margarethe of Denmark’s official jeweller. Sai Baba must have known the day of accounting for such repeated fraudulence on such a scale would be coming sometime. Hence the occasional warnings through the years about the ‘great scandal’. It was quite a sure bet.



In the 1980s, when the flow of foreign visitors to Prashanthi Nilayam had increased considerably, Sathya Sai Baba himself, (and, following him, his staff and Sathya Sai Organisation leaders) frequently warned foreigners not to have close contact with residents or other locals, but instead to concentrate on their own spiritual practice and keep to themselves. Likewise he regularly instructed ashram residents only to have necessary contacts with foreigners. He sometimes warned that personal friendships between Westerners and Indians, especially men and women, could lead to serious problems for those involved.

The heads of the ashram at that time (Kutumba Rao and Chiranjiva Rao) carried out regular surveillance of persons who mixed too freely with certain talkative residents, and were especially vigilant in suppressing such contacts after the brutal gate-keeper Kumar was murdered inside the ashram in February 1987. In hindsight, quite other reasons for the cult of secrecy that this actually implied are evident. Sathya Sai Baba would have presumably wanted to ensure that such matters – known to many residents and locals, not least his sexual activities with boys and young men – should not become known to visitors and thus stem their flow.


Strong circumstantial and corroborative evidence: The first question is ‘what is hearsay’? There is a crucial difference between someone who gives a first-hand report of being sexually abused and reports which are at a second or third remove. The former is not ‘hearsay’ but evidence. Neither are second-hand reports hearsay, if based accurately on first-hand reports – and especially when they are investigated soundly as to the credibility of the original report and the person reporting. So hearsay evidence is usually vague, sloppy reports based on something of uncertain origin which the person telling it has not investigated, and such reports give rise to ‘rumour’.


It is of importance too to realise that there can be both ‘negative’ and ‘positive’ hearsay or rumours. Some people believe in all hearsay which is positive and build up an unfounded view of a matter, while others do the same on the basis of negative hearsay. Where Sai devotees are concerned, a very great amount of what they believe is based on ‘positive hearsay’, as anyone who has circulated in the movement for a few years will doubtless know. The secrecy about Sathya Sai Baba, what he says and does in private, and the care taken about who one tells what, all contribute to the multiplication of hearsay. Since negative thoughts or words are strongly discouraged by Sathya Sai Baba and his followers, ‘positive hearsay’ rules the roost in the movement and organisation.


The allegations form what is known to various legal systems as ‘circumstantial evidence’, or ‘indications of presumptive guilt’. These indications must corroborate the main allegation(s); that is… confirming them formally by evidence. Courts in Scandinavia, for example, can convict without concrete evidence but on the balance of probabilities, if the ‘indications of guilt’ are strong enough. This means that the allegations need not be judged as proved ‘beyond all reasonable doubt’.

This ensures that crimes of such a nature that they can be extremely difficult or impossible to prove definitively – not least sexual abuse – can be prosecuted, and indeed have been prosecuted successfully. (Conviction without conclusive or decisive physical forensic evidence is accepted in varying degrees in other European legal systems which reflect Napoleonic rather than British law). Such indications of guilt include testimony which is subjected to thorough investigation, involving diverse documentation and cross-questioning. In cases such as sexual abuse, circumstantial and corroborative evidence, including personal testimony, is most often all that can be required for a judgement.

Most of the allegations that have been levied at Sathya Sai Baba by alleging victims of sexual abuse are written statements open to a considerable degree of factual checking of details given by persons who have been contacted by writing, phoning and personal meetings. Some have also given filmed interviews. Accounts of sexual abuse are obviously second-hand (unless one was personally involved). This, of course, does not mean that such accounts are ‘rumours’, as they are called by those who want excuses for not considering them. There can be no ‘smoking gun’, no ‘corpse’ in such cases. The facts can very seldom be proven by physical evidence such as forensic data, audio, visual recordings etc. – and then mostly only in quite exceptional circumstances.


Therefore, no one can fairly assume that reports from people – whether first-hand victims or at second-hand via a friend etc. – are baseless. Unconfirmed assertions are the unavoidable first step in uncovering nearly all sexual abuse. The huge obstacles faced by its victims individually – whether personal, social, financial or a combination of these – are by now well-known and in addition to all that comes the emotional upheaval and threats to stop the victims from telling. Increasing worldwide experience shows that the road to conviction and imprisonment of abusers is exceptionally long and relatively very few paedophiles are brought that far anyhow. It almost always must begin with allegations coming into the public sphere (often indirectly or anonymously so as to protect the victims).


Many remain in danger of being discriminated, harassed, persecuted, attacked or worse by the original perpetrators of the abuse (or by others who are complicit in such abuse, such as in a ‘paedophile circle’). This applies to a high degree in India where Sathya Sai Baba has demonstrated to the full that he exercises virtual control of the judiciary and government on all matters concerning his own reputation. Various anonymous Indian ex-students have mailed exposé workers and our websites, or have posted on bulletin boards, that their careers, their families and sometimes even the lives of any who were to stand forth with full name in public would be in jeopardy. Quite apart from this, it can take many years – up to decades – for victims to come to terms with their experiences, while it is highly likely that many never do so enough to speak out.



For it requires a robust personality to take the criticism, suspicions and threats which are so often met, including the ever-present likelihood of lurid and inaccurate ‘tabloid media’ coverage.


As an example of how some critics have been met by Sai officials, the European Central Coordinator of the Sathya Sai Organization, Thorbjørn Meyer, and at least two of his Danish collaborators followed Sai Baba’s cue and maligned as a paedophile one of the victims of some of Sathya Sai Baba’s worst sexual and psychic abuse, including oral sex etc., namely Conny Larsson of Sweden. This was an untrue and tendentious defamation, quite evidently to divert attention from their Lord and Master by accusing his critics of the very thing for which they accuse him.

No less than the Swedish Government, which still finances Conny Larsson’s therapeutic institution for criminals and drug addicts, has investigated these allegations and found them to be baseless. Further, these allegations were investigated and firmly refuted in public by the thorough investigations of the Danish journalist, Øjvind Kyrø (also maker of the hour-long Danish National TV film documentary ‘Seduced by Sai Baba’). However, the Danish defamers have so far failed to withdraw their baseless, serious charges. The arch-instigator, Thorbjørn Meyer, has for about 25 years been the top man responsible for Sathya Sai Baba’s Education in Human Values in Europe, but one wonders what values he lives by himself.


This episode should suffice to demonstrate to any independent observer the level of integrity of these VIPs in the Sai organisation who preach “human values” and “love in action”. On National Danish TV, the Sai devotee Mr. Peter Pruzan – an economist now involved in ‘leadership and values’ at the Copenhagen Business School – accused without giving a shred of evidence those victims who described Sathya Sai Baba’s sexual abuse of them, of being deluded as to their own experiences. He is no psychologist, of course, but a businessman. One can only put all this denial of directly reported facts down to minds having been so thoroughly manipulated through their half-understood experiences with Sathya Sai Baba and all that follows from having resigned both their freedom and responsibility to such a deceitful guru.


The case against Sai Baba is no one-off affair, for it involves dozens of open allegations – many backed up by signed affidavits – plus a time span involving decades and a spread across the continents. Members of the JuST group like myself have been very cautious about forwarding allegations until we made extensive investigations. We have eventually had to conclude from the evidence that this cannot be other than a case of ‘no smoke without fire’.

Sai Baba knew he would someday be caught out, saying, “A great scandal is coming”: There are many cogent reasons to question Sathya Sai Baba’s prediction that “a great scandal is coming” as a sign of his alleged divine knowledge of the future, which devotees repeat to one another almost like a self-protective mantra. It is as worthless as many other unfulfilled predictions and promises he has made through the years. Many of these I followed up assiduously and found them very largely wanting when compared with what actually occurred.

Most of his ‘wild guesses’ have been exposed fairly widely by his critics, and even by somewhat outspoken devotees, such as Ra. Ganapati in the up-dated second volume of his otherwise excessively fanciful ‘Baba: Satya Sai’ biography! Anyone who realised some of the extent of Sathya Sai Baba’s deception, plus his alleged sexual and other unprosecuted crimes, might easily have predicted the same.


I have heard any number of Sathya Sai Baba’s predictions (often straight after interviews) and they are quite simply proven wrong by events, though sometimes can seem roughly right if one struggles hard to make something or other fit them! So far to my knowledge nearly all have been unfulfilled. Sometimes his vague and general ‘predictions for the year’ made annually at the Yugadi festival are roughly right, if one struggles hard to make them fit something or other! One small example is his saying that there would be much volcanic activity, floods and theft in the coming year. Some seem to come about through the luck of the draw. To predict, as Sathya Sai Baba did in his youth, his own coming fame and riches has been done by very many, though only few may have achieved it. So nothing very extraordinary that he did so.

However, he told various persons known to me that the ashram was to be almost empty in 2000 (i.e. 10 years after he told people we knew, and as long ago as the 1970s (incl. the long-term US resident of PN, known to all as Michelle) and as recently as 1992 to friends of mine. I’m sorry to say that this also did not come true. He predicted a major worldwide airline failure over several days in 1998 due to changing earth magnetism spoiling the compasses (but they no longer use magnetic compasses). He also told students in 1990 that the PN ashram would stretch as far as Dharmavaram (the nearest town with a railway station) before the millennium!

That is about 40 miles or so! Yet the ashram has not expanded beyond its area since then until 2004. He told people I met at Whitefield that he would be using PN mostly “only as an office” by 1998, and would live mainly there in ‘Brindavan’, Whitefield, but this of course has not happened. (They offered me to come in on an exclusive bungalow scheme they started there). The list goes on and on…

By 2002, some further major media exposures based on global investigations with abused ex-followers were made. ‘The Sunday Telegraph’ of Britain published “Divine Downfall” in October 2002, a well-researched article by the UK author and journalist, Mick Brown, reporting interviews with a sexually-abused minor and one of Sathya Sai Baba’s closest associates and sexual partners, Dr. N. Bhatia, formerly employed in the Sathya Sai Baba Super-Speciality hospital. An important critical front page article also appeared in the nationwide India ‘Today’ magazine called “A God accused” on 4 December, 2000.

On-screen interview testimonies by sexually abused young men (one a minor at the time of abuse) were seen in Denmark when Danish National broadcasting showed the documentary film “Seduced by Sai Baba”. This was later shown in a few other countries, causing a major fall-off of Sai Baba followers there.



Scandal engulfs guru’s empire

Divine Downfall

By Padraic Murphy, The Age (Australia), November 12, 2000

For Hans de Kraker, a trip to India to see Sathya Sai Baba, a self-proclaimed god with a following of up to 25 million devotees, was a spiritual quest. But he said the pilgrimage ended when the 73-year-old guru tried to force him to perform oral sex. Mr. de Kraker, who now lives in Sydney, has gone public to alert devotees to a sex scandal that is threatening to undo Sai Baba, by far the most popular of India’s new-age gurus. “It is devastating to realise the man you see as a spiritual master is simply conning people for his own sexual gratification,” Mr. de Kraker, 32, said. “After a while you notice that the people chosen for private interviews tend to be good-looking young males.” Mr. de Kraker, who first visited Sai Baba’s ashram in 1992, said the guru would regularly rub oil on his genitals, claiming it was a religious cleansing, and eventually tried to force him to perform oral sex.


He was kicked out of the ashram after alerting senior officials in 1996. Mr. de Kraker’s story is not an isolated one, and a growing list of alleged victims is threatening to engulf the Sai Baba organisation, which has an estimated worth of $6billion. Droves have left after allegations of paedophilia and the rape of male followers. Sai Baba’s main ashram in Puttaparthi, India, is the largest in the world and can sleep up to 10,000 people. That number of people regularly turn out to “darshan”, a twice-daily ritual in which Sai Baba walks among devotees choosing people for private interviews.


It is in these private interviews that many of the alleged assaults against males between the ages of seven and 30 take place. Former devotees said the interviews usually involved family groups, but when young males were involved they were ushered into a second room, behind what has come to be known as the “curtain of shame”. The organisation has been shut down in Sweden after revelations that Conny Larson, now a film star in that country, was molested by Sai Baba. The FBI is looking into similar allegations made by American children and there are investigations into the sect in France and Germany.


Both UNESCO and Flinders University in South Australia and Flinders University in South Australia pulled out of a conference organised by Sai Baba in September because of concerns about the guru’s sexual conduct. In Australia, the sect is estimated to have up to 5000 followers. It runs schools in northern NSW and Western Australia, and has meditation centres across the country. Now Australian victims are preparing documents to present to federal authorities about the guru’s activities. Terry Gallagher, a property developer from Kiama, in New South Wales, regularly visited Sai Baba in the early 1990s and spent three years as the coordinator of the group in Australia. He left the group in the mid ’90s after boys in Indian schools run by Sai Baba complained to him of sexual abuse.


“Spiritually it is devastating. I’m concerned because of both the sexual abuse of young boys, and the spiritual fraud Sai Baba perpetrates,” Mr. Gallagher said. Sri Ramanathan, a former Sri Lankan judge and head of the Sai Baba Organisation in Australia and Papua New Guinea, refuses to warn families taking children to Puttaparthi about the allegations. “All god men have these kind of allegations levelled at them, why should I warn people of these allegations, they are just allegations?” he said. “He is a holy man. I know that (these allegations) cannot be proved.” Raphael Aron, the director of Cult Counselling, said: “These organisations are run by one individual and there are never any complaint mechanisms. When these sorts of allegations come up, the usual response is that it is some kind of test of faith and the whole thing is denied.”

Several former devotees who spoke to The Sunday Age said they had been thrown out of Sai Baba’s ashrams when they questioned leaders about the charges. The sexual exploits of the guru were exposed 30 years ago by Tal Brooke, a former high-ranked devotee who now runs a cult-watch group in the US. “It appears that now he is out of control. The problem is that people have such faith that these allegations would kill them spiritually,” he said from his home in California.


Sex Scandal swirls around Sai Baba

Cult News Summary/December 2004

Sai Baba, a controversial Indian “holy man” presides over a spiritual kingdom that includes one of the world’s largest ashrams. He claims to have millions of followers. But the guru, who is approaching 80, has a history of sexual abuse allegations that in recent years has made media headlines around the world. Former followers of the aging swami reportedly call him “a sexual harasser, a fraud and even a pedophile.” One man says Sai Baba ordered him to drop his pants and allow the guru to massage his penis. He later said, “Sai Baba was my God — who dares to refuse God? He was free to do whatever he wanted to do with me; he had my trust, my faith, my love and my friendship; he had me in totality.”


Despite such revelations and the growing scandal that surrounds Sai Baba he continues to be worshipped at his ashram. Twice a day he parades about and makes appearances to the faithful, entertaining them with what seems like little more than magic tricks. Sai Baba’s so-called “materializations” include making watches and jewelry appear out of “thin air.” At functions his followers rock back and forth with “shining eyes” seemingly in trance-like or hypnotic states. Perhaps in this condition they are prepared to believe almost anything. The guru holds court within lavishly appointed rooms decorated with gold leaf and hanging chandeliers. “Sometimes I think the ashram is a madhouse and Swami is the director,” said one recently devoted disciple. Does Sai Baba prey upon the psychologically and emotionally vulnerable? “When you don’t have problems, you don’t go to the ashram,” says a disciple. But there may be casualties amongst the true believers.




A Malaysian woman reportedly had a psychotic breakdown, attacked ashram workers and was taken into police custody. She sat in a holding area almost catatonic, mumbling “darshan, darshan, darshan” repeatedly. Sai Baba has accumulated substantial influence and prestige within India. That influence includes some prominent leaders such as former Prime Minister P.V. Narasimha Rao. The Times of India reported in 1993 that the guru’s followers include “governors, chief ministers, assorted politicians, business tycoons, newspaper magnates, jurists, sportsmen, academics and, yes, even scientists.” His popularity is easy to understand. Sai Baba has built a hospital that offers free services, partly financed by a $20 million donation from Isaac Tigrett, co-founder of the Hard Rock Café. Its pink façade makes it look more like a palace than a hospital. And in the entrance area there are images of Sai Baba.

Sai Baba’s charities have reportedly been plagued though by “rumors of chicanery and worse.” Nevertheless Illustrated Weekly of India stated, “God or a fraud, no one doubts the good work done by the Sai organization.” But does the guru use his accumulated good will and “God-man” status to get into people’s pants? The sex abuse claims are strikingly similar and seem to fit the same pattern.


“During my ‘private audiences’ with Sai Baba, Sai Baba used to touch my private parts and regularly massage my private parts, indicating that this was for spiritual purposes,” wrote one former devotee. “He grabbed my head and pushed it into his groin area. He made moaning sounds. As soon as he took the pressure off my head and I lifted my head, Sai Baba lifted his dress and presented me a semi-erect member, telling me that this was my good luck chance, and jousted his hips towards my face,” the man said. When the devotee later talked about his sexual encounter he was thrown out of the ashram.


“Each time I saw Baba, his hand would gradually make more prominent connections to my groin,” said another former follower. All of the allegations reportedly involved mostly teenage boys and young men in their 20s. This story is hardly new. In 1970 a book by Tal Brooke titled “Lord of the Air” later renamed “Avatar of Night,” told the story of a devoted disciple’s disillusionment upon learning of Sai Baba’s sexual appetite. More recently a document called “Findings” accumulated accounts of alleged sexual exploitation and abuse from the guru’s former followers. An excerpt from the document reads, “Whilst still at the ashram, the worst thing for me — as a mother of sons — occurred when a young man, a college student, came to our room, to plead with David, ‘Please Sir, do something to stop him sexually abusing us&These sons of devotees, unable to bear their untenable position of being unwilling participants in a pedophile situation any longer, yet unable to share this with their parents because they would be disbelieved, placed their trust in David; a trust which had built over his five years as a visiting professor of music to the Sai college.” Since the release of “Findings” the Sai Baba sex scandal has grown and gained momentum.

A California man named Glen Meloy, who spent 26 years as a devotee wanted to launch a class-action lawsuit against the Sai Organization in America. “You’ve got all these kids who are scared to death to do anything that will do disrespect to their parents, in a room with someone they believe to be the creator of the whole universe. This isn’t just any child abuse; this is God himself claiming to do this,” Meloy said.


One former Indian ashram volunteer petitioned India’s Supreme Court to investigate Sai Baba. “I’ve spoken to 20 or 30 boys who have been abused, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are 14-year-old kids made to live in his room and made to think it’s a blessing. In most cases, their parents have been followers for 20 years and are not going to believe them. American citizens have been knowing about this abuse and taking American boys to Puttaparthi and feeding them to him,” he said.


UNESCO yanked its co-sponsorship of an education conference in India linked to Sai Baba and stated it was “deeply concerned about widely reported allegations of sexual abuse involving youths and children that have been leveled at the leader of the movement in question, Sathya Sai Baba.” After Conny Larsson, a Swedish actor went public about his coerced sexual relations with the guru; the Sai Organization in Sweden was shut down. India Today ran a cover story about the scandal, as has England’s Daily Telegraph. Labor MP Tony Colman raised the issue in Parliament. Former British government minister, Tom Sackville said, “The authorities have done little so far and that is regrettable.” But it seems that the guru’s ardent followers can rationalize almost anything. One such disciple concluded in an essay published on the Internet, “First of all, I believe that Sathya Sai Baba is an Avatar, a full incarnation of God … any sexual contact Baba has had with devotees — of whatever kind — has actually been only a potent blessing, given to awaken the spiritual power within those souls. Who can call that ‘wrong’? Surely to call such contact ‘molestation’ is perversity itself.”


A “potent blessing”?

“When he does it, he has a purpose,” concludes another still devoted follower. Other devotees have rejected reports about their guru’s sexual abuse completely regardless of how many of his alleged victims come forward to tell their stories. One said, “I think this is a projection of his devotees’ problems. You hear a lot of rumors & but for me it’s not important. When you’re happy, why doubt it?” Note: This news summary is based upon an article titled “Untouchable” (note: dead link) by Michelle Goldberg, which appeared in Salon Magazine, July 25, 2001




Suicide, sex and the guru

The reputation of Sai Baba, a holy man to the rich and famous, has been tarnished by mysterious deaths and allegations of sexual abuse.

By Dominic Kennedy, August 27, 2001

In a world of pain and sorrow, a smiling little man in a saffron robe who can cure misery by magic is a bewitching prospect. To millions of followers around the world, Sai Baba is a benevolent spiritual leader whose hospitals and schools work tirelessly for the advancement of the poor. But an investigation by The Times today discloses that three British men have apparently taken their own lives after becoming followers of the miracle worker. Two of them were encouraged to believe that he could cure their medical problems. One of those also said that he had been touched intimately by the Sai Baba.

This is the same Sai Baba who is adored and indulged by the international jet set. The Duchess of York had the treat of watching him produce a gold watch and cross from thin air when she visited his ashram in India. The Prince of Wales’s architectural adviser, Keith Critchlow, designed a vast, stunning hospital for Sai Baba, which has been compared to St Peter’s in Rome and a maharaja’s palace. “The most influential holy man in India today,” is how the respected architect describes the guru. The hospital, mostly financed by Isaac Tigrett, the wealthy American founder of the Hard Rock Café chain of restaurants, treats the humble people of the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh. So it was with righteous indignation that Sai Baba, in a rare fit of public anger, has turned on the band of disillusioned disciples who are now tarnishing his name.

Jesus Christ, said Sai Baba to a large crowd of devotees, underwent many hardships and was put on the cross because of jealousy. In those days there was only one Judas to betray him, but now there are thousands.


The holy man alleged that his detractors were being bribed to lie about him because of fear of his growing popularity. “People are trying to stop me but can do nothing,” he said. “People love and follow Sai because of the truth I stand for and the love that is my basis.” Detractors are casting doubt on Sai Baba’s miracles, suggesting that he is little more than a conjuror with a limited repertoire of jaded tricks. A financial row over the £13 million fortune of the British film actor James Mason, whose widow became a Sai Baba devotee, is smouldering.


Most devastating is the suggestion that Sai Baba might have been abusing his power over young male followers by indulging in sexual activity with them. Sai Baba was born Sathyanarayana Raju on November 23, 1926 in the tiny village of Puttaparthi in Andhra Pradesh. When he was only 14, Sai Baba – already magically producing candles and pencils for school friends – surprised his family by announcing that he was the reincarnation of Sai Baba of Shirdi, a miraculous old Indian sage who died in 1918. Today Sai Baba’s birthplace is home to an ashram that can accommodate 10,000 pilgrims. The obscure village has grown to cater for Sai Baba’s followers, of which there are more than 20 million worldwide. They include some of India’s most influential people.


The legendary batsman Sachin Tendulkar, who helps to organise cricket matches at Sai Baba’s stadium, says that he “worships” the guru. The director-general of police in Andhra Pradesh, H. J. Dora, acts as Sai Baba’s chauffeur when the spiritual leader visits the state capital, Hyderabad. Judges and top civil servants flock for audiences with him. The Indian Prime Minister A. B. Vajpayee, another follower, has opened a new Sai Baba hospital in Bangalore. In a lofty tribute, the premier said that Sai Baba has shown humanity the path of liberation which goes beyond freedom from worldly attachments.


However, the first cracks in faith in Sai Baba’s magical powers came about because of a visit by a previous prime minister, Narasimha Rao, also a devotee. For this special occasion, Sai Baba appeared to materialise a gold watch from nowhere. But when Indian state television workers played back film of the incident in slow motion, they saw that the miracle was a sleight-of-hand hoax. The clip was never broadcast in India but has been widely circulated on videotape there. Sai Baba’s most common miracle is to produce “sacred ash” from between his fingers. Sometimes he pulls shiny, solid religious artefacts from his mouth. But magicians who have analysed these wonders say they are nothing more than old and simple tricks. Sai Baba is being challenged on another more prosaic front. Questions are being asked about the fundraising techniques employed by his followers. Some are accused of targeting vulnerable rich people and claiming that the miracle worker might be able to cure the afflictions of old age.


One of Sai Baba’s most devout followers was Clarissa Mason, the second wife of the film star James Mason. When Clarissa died of cancer in 1994, she willed a large part of her late husband’s £13 million estate to the cult, although, due to a dispute with Mason’s children, Portland and Morgan, who contend that the estate was not hers to will in the first place, it will be some time before the cult can hope to see any of the Mason millions. Clarissa Mason believed utterly in the powers of Sai Baba, filling her house near Lake Geneva with pictures of the “godman”.


Her legacy has gone to a trust whose beneficiaries are believed by Mason’s children to include a follower of Sai Baba. But more potentially damaging than claims about money are the sexual allegations against Sai Baba. These were first publicised as long ago as 1976, when Tal Brooke, a disenchanted American devotee, wrote Avatar of Night. Over the years, the description by disillusioned followers of intimate acts involving Sai Baba has persisted. The suggestion is that Sai Baba grants one-to-one audiences to young men, who believe they are in the presence of a living god. This may entail a high level of intimacy and the men allowing their private parts to be touched or fondled by the guru.




There have been no prosecutions. A complaint was lodged with India’s Central Bureau of Investigation on March 12, 2001 but there has been no result. In the United States, though, anti-Sai Baba campaigners are trying to persuade the authorities to open investigations into the alleged molestation of American citizens who are minors. The coordinator of this American campaign says that he has been interviewed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation but no formal inquiry is under way. So has Sai Baba, the most worshipped sage of the Orient, really been groping youthful followers. One innocent explanation is provided by Stuart Jones, a member of Sai Baba’s Bristol and Bath group.


He points out that there is a possible cultural misunderstanding at play. In yoga, Jones explains, one of the energy points on the body is below the testicles, an area sometimes stimulated by a teacher such as Sai Baba. “When I was out there, it happened to a couple of friends of mine, but it was more like, how can I say, doctor’s surgery. There was no sexuality involved. One chap said that a tremendous amount of energy was suddenly released in him and he felt wonderful afterwards. I don’t mean ejaculation. It was like suddenly feeling wonderful.


Sometimes he rubs the chest or the forehead where these other points are.” Talk of “energy points” does not endear Sai Baba to the Indian Rationalists Association, an organisation of atheists and doubters which seeks to debunk organised religion and disprove all miracles. They denounce him as the biggest fraud of the “god industry”. Joseph Edamaruku, the association’s president, says: “He has consistently refused to subject himself to an independent examination. He raises enormous amounts of money from India and around the world. We do not believe claims that it is spent on hospitals and charitable works.”


One charitable field where Sai Baba’s followers do seem to be most active is education. Sai Baba’s teachings, however, are a collection of banal truisms and platitudes. The most famous utterances he has made in a six decade-long career as a living god are “Help ever, hurt never” and “Love all, serve all”. Few are likely to argue with such a simplistic and universal moral code. He broadens his appeal further by allowing devotees to continue practising their own religion while paying homage to him. Sai Baba’s children’s course, Education in Human Values, is taught in schools in 100 countries.


It promotes five qualities: truth (satya), righteousness (dharma), peace (shanti), love (prema) and nonviolence (ahimsa). Education in Human Values rejects rote learning, emphasising Indian techniques such as “silent sitting”, quotation, story-telling, song and group activities. Sai Baba’s message reaches British schoolchildren through two charities. The first is named in his honour, the Sathya Sai Education in Human Values Trust UK, which claims to have had contact with 80 schools. Typical of its activities is a summer camp held at Christchurch Primary School in Ilford, East London, several weeks ago where 100 children painted, played games and sang.


Courses have been cleverly designed to fit into Key Stages 1 to 4 of the National Curriculum, targeting children aged seven to 16. The charity states that it does not promote any particular religion. Carole Alderman, the founder, a former ChildLine volunteer, has no teaching qualifications. She admits to using some of Sai Baba’s quotations but says: “We don’t teach about Sai Baba at all.” She adds: “I have witnessed a lot of his miracles. I have seen people going in with crutches or wheelchairs and come out walking. I have seen him materialise things many times a day. He just knows everything.” Asked about the sexual allegations, she says: “It’s totally unfounded. Anybody who actually knows him, knows it is.”


Another British charity, the Human Values Foundation, says it has reached more than 500 schools. Its chairman, Dennis Eagan, said “The foundation has nothing to do with Sai Baba.” But the Human Values Foundation’s programme is also called “Education for Human Values”. It promotes Sai Baba’s same five virtues, using “silent sitting”, activities, songs, quotations and stories. Its president, June Auton, has been a regular visitor to Sai Baba’s ashram. She has been described by Barry Pittard, a former English lecturer at Sai Baba’s college in India, as “synonymous with Swami’s Human Values Programme.”


Auton told The Times: “I’m not going to discuss anything about my religion at all on the phone. My religion is my business.” Pressed, she would only say: “I do attend my local church.” It is the recent suicides, however, that may hurt Sai Baba the most in Britain. Suicides and suspicious deaths have long marred his reputation. A German man was found hanging from a rafter in Puttaparthi in the early 1980s. A father and daughter took fatal overdoses in Bangalore in 1999 after failing to get an audience with the guru. In a puzzling incident in June 1993, Sai Baba was attacked by four young male devotees armed with knives. Two of the guru’s bodyguards were stabbed to death. After the four youths, long-time followers of Sai Baba, locked themselves in a room, they were all shot dead by police. Challenging faith in a man of miracles can be painful. At Sai Baba’s Central London base in Clerkenwell, there is reluctance to confront the allegations of sexual harassment, suicides and financial maneuvering.


Dee Puri, at the London headquarters, denounces the suggestion that Sai Baba takes money from the rich, pointing out that at his 28-year-old London premises: “Entrance is free. There is no money going to Baba at all. As for the suggestions of sexual harassment, she told The Times:




“I don’t want to talk about it because there is no such thing. I think such conversations disturb me and my beliefs. The organisation is most unhappy that you have tried to hurt us. Nobody will speak to you unless you want to write something which is truth, which is not controversial. “As far as I am concerned, Baba is a great, great guru. Thirty years I have been a devotee of Baba and millions and millions of people are, so I would very respectfully ask you please not to put that sort of question to me.”


The man, believers think is God

Sai Baba, an Indian holy man, worshipped by many prominent Canadians, is accused of being a sexual predator.

By Bob Harvey, The Ottawa Citizen/December 19, 2000

Millions of devotees in Ottawa and in more than 100 countries around the world recently celebrated the 75th birthday of Sai Baba, an Indian spiritual leader they believe is God. But a growing number of leaders of the movement in Canada, Sweden, the U.S. and other countries have quit: they say Sai Baba is a sexual predator. UNESCO also recently cancelled its co-sponsorship of a conference in Sai Baba’s home town of Puttaparthi, India, saying it was “deeply concerned about widely-reported allegations of sexual abuse involving youth and children that have been levelled at the leader of the movement.


“Raj Midha, the president of Ottawa’s brand new $2-million Sri Sathya Sai Spiritual Centre on Hunt Club, is a believer. Like many devotees, he wears a large ring given to him by the guru. “He materialized it from thin air,” Mr. Midha says. Television documentaries produced in Australia, India and other countries have used slow-motion to show that such “miracles” are really just clever sleight-of-hand by Sai Baba. But Mr. Midha shrugs off this and other allegations about Sai Baba. “With all big leaders, there have always been people who didn’t like them. Even Jesus was crucified.”


What Mr. Midha wants to do is tell how Sai Baba has changed his life and others. He shows off the 156,000-square-foot centre with pride, and points to Sai Baba teachings posted on the walls of the building. He says those teachings can be summarized in eight words: “Love All, Serve All”, and “Help Ever, Hurt Never.” Mr. Midha, a telecommunications engineer, believes Sai Baba cured his wife’s cancer, and he credits his own work with the Shepherds of Good Hope and other charities to Sai Baba’s teachings. On the centre’s second floor, he is reverent as he enters Sai Baba’s bedroom, which comes complete with bathroom, and a balcony overlooking the worship area on the ground floor.


Sai Baba has taken only one trip out of India, and that was to Uganda. But Mr. Midha and other devotees firmly believe their leader can transport himself around the world at will. Mr. Midha says they know Sai Baba uses his Ottawa bedroom, because they leave a glass of water on his bedside table, and often the glass has been half-drained. About 200 devotees regularly worship at the centre, and some report having seen the holy man while they were praying. Conny Larsson, a psychotherapist, and once a well-known actor and film star in his native Sweden, has a very different view of Sai Baba. He first met Sai Baba in 1978, built his own apartment near the guru’s headquarters in Puttaparthi, and remained a devotee until last year. Mr. Larsson was the spiritual coordinator of the Sai Baba movement in Sweden, and says he brought tens of thousands of people to India to see Sai Baba by speaking at conferences, writing a book about Sai Baba, and speaking on radio.


“Now I feel very guilty,” he says. For the first five years he knew Sai Baba, Mr. Larsson says the guru regularly practised oral sex on him, and asked that Mr. Larsson do the same for him. The guru’s explanation, as it has been for many young men, is that he was correcting Mr. Larsson’s kundalini, or cosmic force. “I was brainwashed,” said Mr. Larsson in a telephone interview from Sweden. “As a child I was severely molested, and when he did this to me, he told me he was going to correct something. And in my mind, I thought God was healing me of this tragedy. This is the reason he could do what he liked. “Everyone told me I was very special. They puffed me up. For a person so molested and hurt as a child, it was a relief to be someone.”


By 1986, Mr. Larsson had talked to many young male devotees, most of them attractive blond westerners, who told him they too had had sex with Sai Baba. He believes Sai Baba has had sex with many more reluctant male followers. Why do they do it? He says it’s because “everyone believes he is divine. They want to believe because they have nothing else,” he said.


For more than 50 years, Sai Baba has been India’s most famous holy man. The number of his followers is estimated at somewhere between 10 million and 50 million, and they include India’s Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee; Isaac Tigrett, the co-founder of the Hard Rock Restaurant chain; Simon de Jong, a former New Democrat MP from Saskatchewan; and Kris Singhal, founder of Ottawa’s Richcraft Homes. Birendra, the king of Nepal, Sarah Ferguson, Prince Andrew’s former wife; and many other celebrities have also made pilgrimages to see the guru.


Every year, hundreds of thousands of people visit Sai Baba’s ashram, and what was once a small village now has an airstrip, a university, a hospital and enough hotels and apartment blocks to accommodate tens of thousands of people. “When you see all these important people moving around there, kings and queens moving around as if they were common people, you start to believe he (Sai Baba) has a divine plan for all mankind,” said Mr. Larsson.




Twice a day, Sai Baba strolls among the thousands of devotees seated in the main temple and chooses people from the crowd for private interviews. Often those chosen for private interviews are young men like Mr. Larsson once was. What prompted him to quit the organization and start speaking out was the abuse suffered by a young Swedish man who asked for his help as a psychotherapist, after six interviews with Sai Baba. “He told me about the same things that happened to me. The swami opened his trousers and started to masturbate him. He withdrew, but the swami insisted.” Mr. Larsson then brought the man to a meeting of Swedish leaders of the Sai Baba movement, and told his own story as well. The majority of the leaders resigned, and Mr. Larsson, like many other ex-devotees, put his story on the Internet.


Mr. Larsson’s story is one of many that appear in another Internet posting, The Findings, a 42-page document amassed by David and Faye Bailey, former devotees who once lived in Puttaparthi, and edited a magazine to propagate Sai Baba’s teachings. Mr. Bailey is a British concert pianist and taught students at the Sathya Sai Baba College. When some of his students complained to him about being sexually molested by Sai Baba, he quit the organization and began documenting the stories of abuse.


Glen Meloy, a retired management consultant in California, is another former devotee who is using the Internet to warn others to keep their sons away from Sai Baba. After 26 years of following Sai Baba, he quit when he heard the story of a 15-year-old California boy who said he had been abused on multiple occasions. Mr. Meloy said this boy and others in families of devotees “were born with the idea that Baba is God. So they submit because they’re afraid to displease their parents, let alone God himself, who’s asking them to participate in these acts.”


Mr. Meloy is now bombarding politicians, the White House, Indian newspapers, and the FBI with allegations of abuse by the Indian spiritual leader. He says he gets 50 to 100 e-mails and phone calls a day from former devotees, many of them looking for advice on what to do about the tales of abuse they have heard. To date, only one former Canadian devotee is willing to go public with his story of being sexually touched. Marc-Andre St. Jean of Montreal said that when he visited Puttaparthi in 1992, Sai Baba took him into a private interview room, and asked him to drop his pants. Then he touched Mr. St. Jean’s genitals. He said he had a kidney problem and at the time he thought Sai Baba was just trying to help him.


But Mr. St. Jean’s story, and that of the son of a Quebec family of devotees, helped persuade seven coordinators of the Sai Baba movement in Quebec to hand in their resignations. Alain Groven of Montreal’s South Shore was the province’s representative on the national Sai Baba council. He said he and other coordinators resigned after comparing the stories of Quebecers to those of Mr. Larsson and others who suffered more severe abuse. Mr. Groven said that last year, the Canadian organization gave Sai Baba $90,000 as a birthday present, and the 70 centres across Canada probably donated even more this year, for the 75th birthday.


[One woman said that] she and the other Montreal-area coordinators who resigned wonder why so many others have remained devotees. “But when you believe he is God, and you have invested yourself in a spiritual community, it involves too much to suddenly decide he is not God. Your whole spiritual world falls apart. It’s too hard to bear,” she said.


V.P. Singh of Windsor has been president of the Canadian Sai Baba organization for the past 30 years. He said he does not care to read the allegations against Sai Baba, and like most other devotees, he obeys his guru’s command not to use the Internet. “I have known him for 30 years, and I have had a nice experience,” he said. Mr. Singh said the Canadian and other leaders who have resigned from the organization around the world “can do whatever they want to do; it’s their business.” [There’s PLENTY more at]


10 Curious Scandals of Indian Swamis EXTRACT:

Sai Baba was no novice to controversy (yes, he is dead). Death couldn’t stop him from featuring in this list though. Plunge into Wikipedia, you’ll find a full 1000 words collection of accused misdeeds under the ‘criticism and controversy’ section.

In 2002 a documentary produced by Denmark’s national television and radio broadcast company, Danmarks Radio (DR), named “Seduced by Sai Baba”, presented interviews with Alaya Rahm who alleged sexual abuse by this swami. Again in a BBC documentary titled The Secret Swami, one of Swami’s critics had claimed that an ex-devotee had confined to him about the repellent swami’s sexual behaviour when once he had “put the oil on his hands, told me to drop my pants and rubbed my genitals with the oil”. Even Sai Baba’s multi-millionaire devotee clearly believes in these rumours; see here.


India’s 10 most controversial gurus

November 20, 2014

The list will remain incomplete without a mention of Sathya Sai Baba of Puttaparthi, probably the most famous guru with millions of followers across 126 countries.

Often regarded as ‘Bhagwan’, Sathya Sai Baba, who passed away in 2011, ruled the hearts of his devotees through many social service endeavours like building multi-specialty hospitals providing free treatment, schools and colleges among others.



However, his life and times were also marked by several serious controversies involving allegations of faking ‘miracles’, sexual abuse and even pedophilia — all of them vociferously refuted by his followers.

Sai Baba has often been charged, both nationally and internationally, over the veracity of his ‘miracles’ — be it producing holy ash or vibhuti, gold ornaments and rings from thin air — by his critics. Skeptics and rationalists have alleged from time to time that his miracles ‘were simple magic tricks to woo his devotees’. Nevertheless, such allegations, although never taken on directly by the Baba, have not dented the faith of his followers.

There have also been allegations, sometimes by former followers, that Sai Baba used to indulge in sexual abuses and pedophilia. However, the allegations have never been proven.

The biggest ever controversy to have haunted Sathya Sai Baba’s Puttaparthi ashram Prashanti Nilayam was on June 6 1993, when four persons were shot dead by the police after they had allegedly stabbed four devotees in Baba’s bedroom, killing two and serious injuring the other two.

There also have been allegations of misappropriation of funds in the name of donations in running the Rs 40,000 crore Sathya Sai Baba trust. Moreover, even after the Baba’s demise, trustees found cash of Rs 11.5 crore, 98 kg of gold and silver articles weighing 307 kilograms from his private room, which again raised eyebrows. The money and valuables took 36 hours to be counted.



10 Curious Scandals of Indian Swamis EXTRACT

The man which topped the list of 10 curious scandals of Indian swamis is none other than Ravi Shankar. Last December, when the Supreme Court of India overturned the 2009 landmark adjudication of decriminalizing homosexuality, spiritual swami Ravi Shankar wrote on Twitter – “Homosexuality has never been considered a crime in Hindu culture. In fact, Lord Ayyappa was born of Hari-Hara (Vishnu and Shiva).”

He later tweeted – “Homosexuality, not a crime in any Smriti. Everyone has male and female elements. According to their dominance, tendencies show up and may change.” In another post Sri Sri wrote – “Nobody should face discrimination because of their sexual preferences. To be branded a criminal for this is absurd.”

During the 2012 Delhi gang rape, instead of giving a preposterous gut-revolting comment like the other swamis Sri Sri Ravi Shankar through his social initiative VFABI protested against such barbarism.

For the record, this swami has been honoured by several countries for his humanitarian work and had even been the honorary citizen and Goodwill Ambassador of the city of Houston, USA back in 2008.

This is another godman and New Age guru who is highly felicitated by the Catholic Church in India.





Redemption Comes Through The Jews… Jewish Businessman, Sam Miller, Whaps Anti-Catholic Bias in News Media

By Jimmy Evans, June 24, 2008

Sam Miller, prominent Cleveland businessman – Jewish, not Catholic – is fighting mad about & concentrated effort by the media to denigrate the Catholic Church in this country… [As in the article reproduced by Fr. Zehnle below] 


A defense of the Church

Larger source:

By Fr. Daren J. Zehnle
Sam Miller, a prominent Jew in the Cleveland area, spoke these words in March 6, 2008 speech that was subsequently first published in the May/June 2002 issue of the Buckeye Bulletin. A priest-friend sent it to me via e-mail yesterday and I thought I’d share it here in case you haven’t seen it yet (with my emphases):

I’m going to say things here today that many Catholics should have said 18 months ago. Maybe it’s easier for me to say because I am not Catholic, but I have had enough, more than enough, disgustingly enough.
During my entire life I’ve never seen a greater vindictive, more scurrilous, biased campaign against the Catholic Church as I have seen in the last 18 months, and the strangest thing is that it is in a country like the United States where there is supposed to be mutual respect and freedom for all religions.
This has bothered me because I too am a minority in this country. You see, unfortunately and I say this very advisedly the Catholics have forgotten that in the early 1850’s when the Italians, the Poles, the Latvians, the Lithuanians, all of Catholic persuasion, came to this country looking for opportunity because of famine, (particularly the Irish) they were already looked upon with derision, suspicion and hatred. Consequently the jobs they were forced to take were the jobs that nobody else wanted bricklayers, ditch diggers, Jewish junkmen, street cleaners, etc.


This prejudice against your religion and mine has never left this country and don’t ever forget it, and (sic) never will. Your people were called Papists, Wops, Guineas, frogs, fish eaters, ad infinitum.
And then after the Civil War, around 1864, the fundamentalists, conservatives, Protestants and a few WASP’s began planting burning crosses throughout the country, particularly in the South. And today; as far as I’m concerned, very little has changed. These gentlemen now have a new style of clothing they’ve gone from bed sheets to gentlemen’s suits.
There is a concentrated effort by the media today to totally denigrate in every way the Catholic Church in this country. You don’t find it this bad overseas at all. They have now blamed the disease of pedophilia on the Catholic Church, which is as irresponsible as blaming adultery on the institution of marriage. You and I have been living in a false paradise. Wake up and recognize that many people don’t like Catholics. What are these people trying to accomplish?
From the Sojourner’s Magazine dated August, 2002, listen carefully to a quote, “While much of the recent media hype has focused on the Catholic Church’s pedophilia scandal, relatively little attention has been given to the high rate of sexual misconduct in the rest of American Christendom. This is truly a crisis that crosses the borders of all religions.”
Now let me give you some figures that you as Catholics should know and remember. For example, research by Richard Blackman at Fuller Theological Seminary shows that 12% of the 300 Protestant clergy surveyed admitted to sexual intercourse with a parishioner; 38% acknowledged other inappropriate sexual contact. In a 1990 study by the United Methodist Church, 41.8% of clergywomen reported unwanted sexual behavior by a colleague; 17% of laywomen said that their own pastors had sexually harassed them. Phillip Jenkins concludes in his book “Pedophiles and Priests” that while 1.7% of the Catholic clergy has been found guilty of pedophilia, 10% of Protestant ministers have been found guilty of pedophilia.
This is not a Catholic problem. This is a problem of pure prejudice. Why the papers, day after day, week after week, month after month, see fit to do nothing but come out with these scurrilous stories? When I spoke recently to one of the higher ups in the newspaper I said, “This is wrong”. He said, “Why, do you want us to shoot the messenger?” I said, “No, just change the message”. He said, “How?” I said, “I’ll tell you how”.
Obviously, this is not just a Catholic problem. And solutions must be broader and deeper than those carried out by Catholic cardinals. The whole church has a responsibility to offer decisive leadership in the area of sexual misconduct whether it is child abuse, sexual exploitation, or sexual harassment.
Recently, churches have shown unprecedented unity on issues of poverty and welfare reform. Now it is necessary to call for a broad based ecumenical council addressing the issue of sexual misconduct in the church not only the Catholic Church, all churches, including synagogues. Its goal would be transparency and openness in developing stringent, forward-looking guidelines, consistent with denominational distinctions, for preventing and addressing sexual misconduct within Christian churches and church-related institutions.
Such a council could include not only denominational representatives but also a majority presence from external organizations such as child protection agencies, law enforcement, psychiatric services, victims’ agencies, and legal and legislative representatives.
Crisis. “Crisis” in Chinese is one word. “Crisis” in Chinese means, on the one side, a real crisis problems etc., but the other side means great opportunity.
We have a great opportunity facing us. Crisis is often accompanied by an opportunity for extraordinary growth and leadership. We have that today. Even though you are the lowest “by far the lowest of any organized religion today when it comes to sexual harassment” American churches have a unique opening to develop and adopt a single set of policies, principles, practices, and common language on sexual misconduct in Christian institutions that is binding across denominations.
A system of cross denomination review boards could be established to help compliance and accountability. A centralized resource bank could be formed that provides church wide updates on new legal, financial, psychological and spiritual developments in the field. Guidelines, both moral and legal, could be established on how clergy, churches, and victims should best use civil and criminal actions in pursuit of justice and financial restitution for injury. A national database could be established with information on all applicants for ordination in any member Christian religion. Every diocese, conference, presbytery, and district could have a designated child protection representative whose job is to ensure that the policies and procedures are understood and implemented and that training is provided.
Any religious institution, or system, that leaves power unexamined or smothers sexuality with silence rather than promoting open conversation that can lead to moral and spiritual maturity becomes implicated in creating an unhealthy and potentially abusive environment. An ecumenical Christian council authentically dedicated to strong moral leadership in the area of clergy sexual misconduct might move the church beyond the extremes of policing our own or abandoning our own.
For Christians, the true scandal is not about priests. It’s about a manipulation of power to abuse the weak. When Jesus said, “Whoever receives the child, receives me”, he was rebuking his followers for putting stumbling blocks in front of the defenseless. Church is supposed to be a place where one can lay one’s defenses down; where one is welcomed, embraced, and blessed. This can only be authentically expressed in a culture that requires absolute respect for each individual’s freedom and self-hood. Until all churches bow humbly under the requirement, the indictments by wounded women and children will stand.
Just what are these Kangaroo journalists trying to accomplish? Think about it. If you get the New York Times day’ after day; the Los Angeles Times day after day, our own paper day after day, looking at the record, some of these writers are apostates, Catholics or ex-Catholics who have been denied something they wanted from the Church and are on a mission of vengeance.
Why would newspapers carry on this vendetta on one of the most important institutions that we have today in the United States, namely the Catholic Church?
Do you know and maybe some of you don’t the Catholic Church educates 2.6 million students every day, at cost to your Church of 10 billion dollars, and a savings on the other hand to the American taxpayer of 18 billion dollars.




Needless to say, that Catholic education at this time stands head and shoulders above every other form of education that we have in this country. And the cost is approximately 30% less.
If you look at our own Cleveland school system, they can boast of an average graduation rate of 36%. Do you know what it costs you and me as far as the other 64% who didn’t make it?
Look at your own records. You (Catholic schools) graduate 89% of your students. Your graduates in turn go on to graduate studies at the rate of 92%, and all at a cost to you. To the rest of the Americans it’s free, but it costs you Catholics at least 30% less to educate students compared to the costs that the public education system pays out for education that cannot compare.
Why? Why would these enemies of the Church try to destroy an institution that has 230 colleges and universities in the United States with an enrollment of 700,000 students?
Why would anyone want to destroy an institution like the Catholic Church which has a nonprofit hospital system of 637 hospitals which account for hospital treatment of 1 out of every 5 people not just Catholics in the . United States today?
Why would anyone want to destroy an institution like that? Why would anyone want to destroy an institution that clothes and feeds and houses the indigent 1 of 5 indigents in the United States, I’ve been to many of your shelters and no one asks them if you are a Catholic, a Protestant or a Jew; just “come, be fed, here’s a sweater for you and a place to sleep at night” at a cost to the Church of 2.3 billion dollars a year?
The Catholic Church today has 64 million members in the United States and is the largest non-governmental agency in the country. It has 20,000 churches in this country alone. Every year they raise approximately $10 billion to help support these agencies.
Why, after the “respected” publication, the New York Times, running their daily expose’ on the Church, finally came to the conclusion of their particular investigation, which was ongoing for a long time. And guess what: buried in the last paragraph, they came up with a mouse. In their article “Decades of Damage” the Times reported that 1.8% of American priests were found guilty of this crime whereas your own Cardinal Ratzinger in Rome reported 1.7% the figure I gave you earlier.
Then again they launched an attack on the Church and its celibate priests. However, the New York Times did not mention in their study of American priests that most are happy in the priesthood and find it even better than they had expected, and that most, if given the choice, would choose to be priests again in the face of all this obnoxious PR the church has been receiving.
Why wouldn’t the New York Times, the paper of record they call themselves, mention this? You had to read it in the Los Angeles Times. The New York Times refused to print it.
If you read only the New York Times, you would begin to believe that priests are cowards; craven; sexually frustrated; unhealthy criminals; that prey on the innocent. What a shame.
Sometimes freedom of the press should have some type of responsibility, too. So I say this to you: instead of walking around with a hangdog look – I talk to a lot of Catholics all the time, “how’s everything going?” ………… “Well, in the face of things I guess okay”. That’s the wrong answer! The wrong answer!
Also, I ran into a fellow who said they started a discussion at some social function on pedophilia and he said, “I excused myself and left the room.” I said, “Why did you do that?” “Well, you know how it is”.
I believe that if Catholics had the figures that I enumerated here, you don’t have to be ashamed of anything. Not only are you as good as the rest, but you’re better, in every respect.
The Catholic Church helps millions of people every day of the week, every week of the month, and every month of the year. People who are not Catholics, and I sit on your Catholic Foundation and I can tell you, and what I am telling you is so. Priests have their problems, they have their failings just as you and I in this room do, but they do not deserve to be calumniated as they have been.
In small measure let’s give the media its due. If it had not come out with this story of abusive priests, (but they just as well could have mentioned reverends, pastors and rabbis and whatever), probably little or nothing would have been done. But what bothers me the most is this has given an excuse to every Catholic hater and Catholic basher to come out loudly for the denigration of your Church.
If some CEO’s are crooks it does not follow that every CEO is crooked; and if some priests are sexually ill it does not follow that all are sick. And your Church teaches that you’ve got to take in the sick and a priest who is this way has to be taken in and cannot be thrown out the 21st story of a building. He’s got to be looked upon and given the same type of health that you would give anybody who has a broken leg or cancer or whatever.
The Church today, and when I say the Church keep in mind I am talking about the Catholic Church, is bleeding from self-inflicted wounds. The agony that Catholics have felt and suffered is not necessarily the fault of the Church. You have been hurt by an infinitesimally small number of wayward priests that, I feel, have probably been totally weeded out by now.
You see, the Catholic Church is much too viable to be put down by the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Cleveland Plain Dealer take your choice, they can’t do it, they’re not going to do it and sooner or later they are going to give up. But you’ve got to make sure that you don’t give up first.
In 1799 a notice was placed in a French newspaper that a citizen Brachi had died in prison. Little did the people realize that this was Pope Pius VI who had occupied the Chair of Saint Peter for 25 years. He had been taken prisoner by Napoleon’s forces and died in prison as an indigent. At that time the thought was that this was the end of the Catholic Church, this was 200 and some odd years ago. And the reason was that there was no Pope to succeed him at that time.
But you fooled them then, and we’re going to fool them again.
I’ve been talking more or less about the United States of America as far as the importance of the Church. Let’s bring it home to Cuyahoga County and the seven surrounding counties.
In education, you save the county 420 million dollars per year. Wherever there’s a Church and most other churches have fled the inner city there’s a Catholic Church; and wherever there’s a Catholic Church there’s an absence of drug dealers.




You talk to any bank that has real estate mortgages in the inner city, and they will tell you that the one thing that keeps up the value in that particular area is your Church. I’ve seen, for example, on Lorain near the Metro Catholic Schools there at the Church the nuns used to go out in the morning with brooms and sweep away the drug dealers from around the particular area.
On Health and Human Services, the homeless, adoption, drugs, adult care and so on, you saved the county 170 million dollars a year.
At the end of the day the difference that your local Catholic institutions make in the eight counties that comprise this diocese are several billion dollars per year.
Why don’t we hear about this? Why, because it’s good news. If some priest was caught with his hand in the collection plate it would be front page news. But the fact that you have thousands of students being education (sic) free, as far as the rest of the country is concerned, doesn’t make news. Why? Because it is not newsworthy, it’s not dirty.
I’m not here to deny freedom of the press, but I believe that with freedom comes responsibility, and with rights you have an obligation. You cannot have rights that are irresponsible.
Unfortunately, our society today is protected by all rights and ruled by some of their wickedness. Anybody who expects to reap the benefits of freedom must understand the total fatigue of supporting it. The most important element of political speech, as Aristotle taught, is the character of the speaker. In this respect, no matter what message a man brings in, it shouldn’t collide with his character.
The other day was shocked when I opened up America, a Catholic magazine, and my good friend Cardinal Keeler, who is a very dear friend of mine, was being fingerprinted by the Baltimore police not for a crime, but as part of the new law put in place that all members of the Church hierarchy must be fingerprinted.
Amos, of the Old Testament, accused the people of Samaria in words that seared and phrases that smote. They “cram their palaces,” he said, “with violence and extortion.” They had “sold the upright for silver and the poor for a pair of sandals” from Gucci, no doubt. But he also said that all this could be reversed, if only the people of Samaria would turn away from their own self-absorption and toward those who, however silently, cry out for help. “Then,” promised Amos, “shall your justice flow like water and your compassion like a never failing stream” (Amos 5:24)
The worst feature of contemporary society is its tendency to leave each of us Locked up in himself or herself, connection less. To lessen this isolation we have developed all kinds of therapies spiritual, psychological, and physical front groups that meet and talk endlessly all day long in spas week spas, month spas, life spas. But none of these things, from primal screams to herbal wrap, seem to be doing the trick, any more than the huge houses and wine parties the Samaritan did.
What we need to do is open our heart to the plight of others, even some of your priests who have been condemned. They’re human beings and they should be shown the same type of compassion we have shown anybody who is critically ill. We need to open our hearts to the plights of others, like our hearts were a dam, so that indeed our justice and compassion may flow to all.
What is essential is that each of us steps forward to hold out our hand to someone. There is no other way to walk with God.
One of the biggest Catholic bashers in the United States wrote “Only a minority, a tiny minority of priests, have abused the bodies of children.” He continues, “I am not advocating this course of action, but as much as I would like to see the Roman Catholic Church ruined. I hate opportunistically retrospective litigation even more.”
Now he’s talking about our tort monsters. “Lawyers who grow fat by digging up dirt on long-forgotten wrongs and hounding their aged perpetrators are no friends of mine.”
I’m still quoting this man, “All I’m doing” he said, “is calling attention to an anomaly. By all means, let’s kick a nasty institution when it is down, but there are better ways than litigation.” These words are from a Catholic hater.
I never thought in my life I would ever see these things.
Walk with your shoulders high and your head higher. Be a proud member of the most important non-governmental agency today in the United States. Then remember what Jeremiah said: “Stand by the roads, and look, and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is and walk in it, and find rest for your souls.” And be proud, speak up for your faith with pride and reverence and learn what your Church does for all other religions. Be proud that you’re a Catholic.
Yes, indeed; be proud of your Catholic faith, but not arrogant about it. Bring your Catholic faith to all those you meet and invite them to join you in the Church established by Jesus on the rock of Peter.


“Proud to be Catholic”

By Sam Miller, March 8, 2010

Excerpts of an article written by Sam Miller, prominent Cleveland Jewish businessman

Why would newspapers carry on a vendetta on one of the most important institutions that we have today in the United States, namely the Catholic Church?
Do you know – the Catholic Church educates 2.6 million students everyday at the cost to that Church of 10 billion dollars, and a savings on the other hand to the American taxpayer of 18 billion dollars. The graduates go on to graduate studies at the rate of 92%.
The Church has 230 colleges and universities in the U.S. with an enrollment of 700,000 students.

The Catholic Church has a non-profit hospital system of 637 hospitals, which account for hospital treatment of 1 out of every 5 people – not just Catholics – in the United States today.
But the press is vindictive and trying to totally denigrate in every way the Catholic Church in this country. They have blamed the disease of pedophilia on the Catholic Church, which is as irresponsible as blaming adultery on the institution of marriage.



Let me give you some figures that Catholics should know and remember.

For example, 12% of the 300 Protestant clergy surveyed admitted to sexual intercourse with a parishioner; 38% acknowledged other inappropriate sexual contact in a study by the United Methodist Church, 41.8% of clergy women reported unwanted sexual behavior; 17% of laywomen have been sexually harassed.
Meanwhile, 1.7% of the Catholic clergy has been found guilty of pedophilia. 10% of the Protestant ministers have been found guilty of pedophilia

This is not a Catholic Problem.
A study of American priests showed that most are happy in the priesthood and find it even better than they had expected, and that most, if given the choice, would choose to be priests again in face of all this obnoxious PR the church has been receiving.
The Catholic Church is bleeding from self-inflicted wounds. The agony that Catholics have felt and suffered is not necessarily the fault of the Church. You have been hurt by a small number of wayward priests that have probably been totally weeded out by now.
Walk with your shoulders high and you head higher. Be a proud member of the most important non-governmental agency in the United States. Then remember what Jeremiah said: ‘Stand by the roads, and look and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is and walk in it, and find rest for your souls’. Be proud to speak up for your faith with pride and reverence and learn what your Church does for all other religions. Be proud that you’re a Catholic.

*This statement was later (April 30) said to be erroneous:

(Catholics) responded enthusiastically to the idea that pedophilia is not a “Catholic problem” but something more universal than that, and that press coverage of the Catholic abuse cases is motivated by prejudice against the Church.

Mr. Miller’s speech, along with the incorrect 10% statistic, was largely spread through Catholic circles—on blogs, Facebook, in homilies, and even in parish bulletins. Catholics loved it because it said something we had been starving to hear—that Catholics do good things and that the Church benefits society in many ways that are too often ignored and taken for granted. –Danielle Bean

Orthodox Jews Rely More on Sex Abuse Prosecution

By Paul Vitello, October 14, 2009

For decades, prosecutors in Brooklyn routinely pursued child molesters from every major ethnic and religious segment of the borough’s diverse population. Except one.

Of some 700 child sexual abuse cases brought in an average year, few involved members of the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community — about 180,000 followers of Hasidic and other sects who make up the largest such cluster outside Israel. Some years, there were one or two arrests, or none.

But in the past year, there have been 26. District Attorney Charles J. Hynes has brought charges against a variety of men — yeshiva teachers, rabbis, camp counselors, merchants and relatives of children. Eight have been convicted; 18 await trial.

If the sudden spike in prosecutions is startling, even more surprising is the apparent reason: ultra-Orthodox Jews, long forbidden to inform on one another without permission from the rabbis who lead them, are going to the police and prosecutors on their own.

Members of this close-knit community, who refer to themselves as the “haredim,” meaning those who fear God, reject modern secular culture and keep strict control over what they consider internal affairs. For centuries, disputes involving children, marriage and business have been decided by rabbinical courts called beth dins, which do not report their findings to the secular authorities, even when they judge someone guilty. Taboos codified long ago during times of persecution discourage community members from informing on other Jews; violations can result in ostracism.

Now, a growing number of haredi Jews in Brooklyn say they do not think they can get justice from the rabbinical courts, which in several high-profile cases have exonerated people who were later criminally convicted of child abuse. And although some advocates for victims contend that the district attorney has been too accommodating of the rabbinical hierarchy — a charge that Mr. Hynes denies — more families are turning to his office for help.

Prosecutors say that since last year 40 minors have agreed to testify about abuse in court, if necessary. And Mr. Hynes’s office has been asked for advice by prosecutors with jurisdictions that include other large haredi enclaves in the Northeast.

“What we have witnessed in the past year is completely unprecedented,” said Rhonnie Jaus, chief of the Brooklyn district attorney’s sex crimes bureau. “This would be inconceivable just a few years ago.”

Children in haredi families are no more or less likely to suffer sexual abuse than others, according to several recent studies. But Ben Hirsch, founder of Survivors for Justice, a New York group whose members include haredi Jews molested as children in communities nationwide, said the clandestine handling of molestation cases had kept leaders from dealing with the problem and made it easier for predators.

Mr. Hirsch credits the Jewish press, therapists and rabbis in the haredi population itself, and organizations like his, with bringing the issue to light. Jewish blogs like and, he said, have also been “a major catalyst,” giving abuse victims their first opportunity to vent and connect without fear of being identified.

“People are rising up,” he said.




The father of a Brooklyn 10-year-old said in an interview that the mishandling, as he viewed it, of sexual abuse cases by rabbinical courts had persuaded him to contact the police immediately when his son told him last year that a neighbor had abused him.

“I’m not one who believes rabbis are capable to handle this,” the father said.

The rabbis themselves voice a wide spectrum of reactions. Many say change is needed. Many more defend their internal courts. But almost all concur with what one Orthodox rabbi, Yosef Blau of Yeshiva University, recently called a dawning revelation about child molestation, which was once dismissed by the hierarchy as inconceivable among a people who embrace an all-consuming religious devotion:

“Now,” he said, “it is seen as possible.”

In April, after bringing most of the recent criminal cases, Mr. Hynes began an initiative called Project Kol Tzedek, or Voice of Justice, which has enlisted Orthodox social workers to encourage more victims to step forward, and has dispatched trained staff members to schools and community centers to talk about abuse.

Hailed by many as an innovative approach, the program has been criticized by some victims’ advocates for its links to a haredi social service agency, Ohel Children’s Home and Family Services, to which beth dins have referred men accused of sexual abuse. Critics say that the treatment provided by Ohel has been inadequate and poorly supervised, a charge that the agency has vigorously denied.

Mr. Hynes walks a fine line. He has cultivated ties with Orthodox leaders since he was first elected in 1989. In an interview, he said he did so partly because they represent a major constituency, and partly to address jurisdictional tensions between his authority and theirs. In an editorial last year, The Jewish Week said those relationships had hampered abuse prosecutions, describing the district attorney’s approach until recently as “ranging from passive to weak-willed.”

Yet no prosecutor in the country has as many sexual abuse investigations and pending cases against haredi suspects. “We were able to break through because we have worked to establish credibility in the community,” Mr. Hynes said. Some haredi leaders said they had no quarrel with Mr. Hynes’s project. Yet one rabbi mentioned frequently on blogs cites ancient doctrine that justifies killing someone who informs on a fellow Jew.

David Zwiebel, executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America, a group representing many haredi factions, offered the moderate view. “A broad consensus has emerged in the last few years,” he said, “that many of these issues are beyond the ability of the community to handle internally.”

But he added that prosecutors should recognize “religious sensitivities” by seeking alternatives to prison, to avoid depriving a family of its breadwinner, or by finding appropriate Orthodox homes for children removed from abusive families.

“The district attorney should be careful not to be seen as making a power grab from rabbinic authority,” Mr. Zwiebel said.

Rabbi Meir Fund, who leads a synagogue known as the Flatbush Minyan, said that child molesters should be prosecuted, but that victims should consult with a rabbi before going to the police. Connections among the haredim are too entangled to discount the damaging ripple effects of accusations on the accused person’s family, Rabbi Fund said.

Advocates for victims say similar views have informed some of the Brooklyn rabbinical leadership’s worst judgments, allowing prominent rabbis who were repeatedly accused of abuse to keep their jobs and reputations.

In 2000, Rabbi Baruch Lanner, a charismatic youth leader and yeshiva principal who was the focus of students’ abuse claims for more than 20 years — and was exonerated by a beth din — became the subject of an exposé in The Jewish Week, which found more than 60 accusers. The article led to a criminal investigation and a seven-year prison term for Rabbi Lanner.

Another rabbi, Yehuda Kolko, a grade school teacher at a Flatbush yeshiva, was accused of sexually abusive behavior by parents and former students numerous times over 30 years. The complaints were dismissed by rabbinical authorities, however, until New York magazine wrote about them in 2006.

Shortly afterward, the district attorney’s office filed sexual abuse charges against Rabbi Kolko. But Mr. Hynes’s decision last year to recommend probation in exchange for the rabbi’s guilty plea to lesser charges of child endangerment incensed many haredim.

Partly because of that disappointment, some Orthodox leaders began taking steps they admit they would not have earlier.

Assemblyman Dov Hikind, who represents a predominantly Orthodox section of Brooklyn, began devoting his Saturday night radio shows on WMCA (570) to what he called “the epidemic” of unreported sex abuse. For six months, starting in July 2008, he invited victims to call him. Hundreds did, he said, adding that 10 of the criminal cases originated with those calls.

That same summer, Asher Lipner, an Orthodox therapist and vice president of the Jewish Board of Advocates for Children, persuaded a Brooklyn yeshiva to open its doors for what he said was the first forum of its kind for haredi Jews in the borough — where not just rabbis, but also victims, therapists and laymen examined the problem of abuse.

“The good news is that 100 people showed up,” Mr. Lipner said. “The bad news is that we had to keep the meeting secret. We could not advertise it, and we had to agree that no one would discuss the fact that the meeting ever took place.”

As sensibilities evolve, one father seems to have found a middle ground between traditional and secular systems of justice.

When his 6-year-old son told him one day that Rabbi Kolko had sexually abused him, the father said he resolved to go to the police because he knew that the Brooklyn hierarchy had protected the rabbi in the past.

But first he made a detour. “I booked a flight to Jerusalem,” he said. “I made an appointment to speak with a very prominent rabbi” who had written sympathetically about abuse victims. “He told me it would be O.K. to report this teacher to the police,” the father said. “He told me that if I reported him I would not be committing a sin.”



The politics of child rape

Sexual Abuse by Rabbis – Where Is the Public Outcry?

October 14, 2009   

Catholic League president Bill Donohue comments on a front-page news story in today’s New York Times on the problem of child sexual abuse:

Reporter Paul Vitello shows the shocking extent of child sexual abuse in Brooklyn’s Orthodox Jewish community. He also details the cover-ups that have long been aided and abetted by law enforcement.

Where have all the church-and-state advocates been all these years when Orthodox rabbis were allowed by the D.A.’s office to settle these cases “internally”? Where have all the professional victims’ groups been in staging protests outside synagogues? Where have all the sue-happy lawyers been seeking to plunder the Orthodox? Where have all the comedians and late-night entertainers been in cracking jokes about rabbis raping kids?

It’s not just Orthodox Jews who have been given a pass: no group has gotten away easier than public school employees. Consider this. Because public school students have only 90 days to file suit, it is already too late to prosecute a teacher—in virtually every state—who molested a minor as recently as last spring. But if the offense took place in a Catholic school, the student has years to file suit. Not only that, molesting teachers are still shuffled from one school district to another; it’s called “passing the trash.”

Orthodox Jews try cases of child rape in rabbinical courts. Imagine if the Catholic Church failed to report abuse cases to the authorities and decided instead to institute its own ecclesial courts? Today’s article quotes a Jewish attorney urging law enforcement to recognize “religious sensitivities” for the guilty by seeking alternatives to prison. Allow a Catholic attorney to advise the same and it’s called corruption.

Last year, 40 minors in this small Jewish community said they were abused. Last year, there were 10 such allegations in the entire Catholic Church in all 50 states. Catholics are fed up with the duplicity. It’s not just Roman Polanski who can rape and run with impunity these days. The politics of child rape is sickening.



Ultra-Orthodox Shun Their Own for Reporting Child Sexual Abuse

By Sharon Otterman and Ray Rivera, May 9, 2012

The first shock came when Mordechai Jungreis learned that his mentally disabled teenage son was being molested in a Jewish ritual bathhouse in Brooklyn. The second came after Mr. Jungreis complained, and the man accused of the abuse was arrested.

Old friends started walking stonily past him and his family on the streets of Williamsburg. Their landlord kicked them out of their apartment. Anonymous messages filled their answering machine, cursing Mr. Jungreis for turning in a fellow Jew. And, he said, the mother of a child in a wheelchair confronted Mr. Jungreis’ mother-in-law, saying the same man had molested her son, and she “did not report this crime, so why did your son-in-law have to?”

By cooperating with the police, and speaking out about his son’s abuse, Mr. Jungreis, 38, found himself at the painful forefront of an issue roiling his insular Hasidic community. There have been glimmers of change as a small number of ultra-Orthodox Jews, taking on longstanding religious and cultural norms, have begun to report child sexual abuse accusations against members of their own communities. But those who come forward often encounter intense intimidation from their neighbors and from rabbinical authorities, aimed at pressuring them to drop their cases.

Abuse victims and their families have been expelled from religious schools and synagogues, shunned by fellow ultra-Orthodox Jews and targeted for harassment intended to destroy their businesses. Some victims’ families have been offered money, ostensibly to help pay for therapy for the victims, but also to stop pursuing charges, victims and victims’ advocates said.

“Try living for one day with all the pain I am living with,” Mr. Jungreis, spent and distraught, said recently outside his new apartment on Williamsburg’s outskirts. “Did anybody in the Hasidic community in these two years, in Borough Park, in Flatbush, ever come up and look my son in the eye and tell him a good word? Did anybody take the courage to show him mercy in the street?”

A few blocks away, Pearl Engelman, a 64-year-old great-grandmother, said her community had failed her too. In 2008, her son, Joel, told rabbinical authorities that he had been repeatedly groped as a child by a school official at the United Talmudical Academy in Williamsburg. The school briefly removed the official but denied the accusation. And when Joel turned 23, too old to file charges under the state’s statute of limitations, they returned the man to teaching.

“There is no nice way of saying it,” Mrs. Engelman said. “Our community protects molesters. Other than that, we are wonderful.”


Keeping to Themselves

The New York City area is home to an estimated 250,000 ultra-Orthodox Jews — the largest such community outside of Israel, and one that is growing rapidly because of its high birthrate. The community is concentrated in Brooklyn, where many of the ultra-Orthodox are Hasidim, followers of a fervent spiritual movement that began in 18th-century Europe and applies Jewish law to every aspect of life.


Their communities, headed by dynastic leaders called rebbes, strive to preserve their centuries-old customs by resisting the contaminating influences of the outside world. While some ultra-Orthodox rabbis now argue that a child molester should be reported to the police, others strictly adhere to an ancient prohibition against mesirah, the turning in of a Jew to non-Jewish authorities, and consider publicly airing allegations against fellow Jews to be chillul Hashem, a desecration of God’s name.

There are more mundane factors, too. Some ultra-Orthodox Jews want to keep abuse allegations quiet to protect the reputation of the community, and the family of the accused. And rabbinical authorities, eager to maintain control, worry that inviting outside scrutiny could erode their power, said Samuel Heilman, a professor of Jewish studies at Queens College.

“They are more afraid of the outside world than the deviants within their own community,” Dr. Heilman said. “The deviants threaten individuals here or there, but the outside world threatens everyone and the entire structure of their world.”

Scholars believe that abuse rates in the ultra-Orthodox world are roughly the same as those in the general population, but for generations, most ultra-Orthodox abuse victims kept silent, fearful of being stigmatized in a culture where the genders are strictly separated and discussion of sex is taboo. When a victim did come forward, it was generally to rabbis and rabbinical courts, which would sometimes investigate the allegations, pledge to monitor the accused, or order payment to a victim, but not refer the matter to the police.

“You can destroy a person’s life with a false report,” said Rabbi Chaim Dovid Zwiebel, the executive vice president of Agudath Israel of America, a powerful ultra-Orthodox organization, which last year said that observant Jews should not report allegations to the police unless permitted to do so by a rabbi.

Rabbinic authorities “recommend you speak it over with a rabbi before coming to any definitive conclusion in your own mind,” Rabbi Zwiebel said.

When ultra-Orthodox Jews do bring abuse accusations to the police, the same cultural forces that have long kept victims silent often become an obstacle to prosecutions.

In Brooklyn, of the 51 molesting cases involving the ultra-Orthodox community that the district attorney’s office says it has closed since 2009, nine were dismissed because the victims backed out. Others ended with plea deals because the victims’ families were fearful.

“People aren’t recanting, but they don’t want to go forward,” said Rhonnie Jaus, a sex crimes prosecutor in Brooklyn. “We’ve heard some of our victims have been thrown out of schools, that the person is shunned from the synagogue. There’s a lot of pressure.”

The degree of intimidation can vary by neighborhood, by sect and by the prominence of the person accused.

In August 2009, the rows in a courtroom at State Supreme Court in Brooklyn were packed with rabbis, religious school principals and community leaders. Almost all were there in solidarity with Yona Weinberg, a bar mitzvah tutor and licensed social worker from Flatbush who had been convicted of molesting two boys under age 14.

Justice Guston L. Reichbach looked out with disapproval. He recalled testimony about how the boys had been kicked out of their schools or summer camps after bringing their cases, suggesting a “communal attitude that seeks to blame, indeed punish, victims.” And he noted that, of the 90 letters he had received praising Mr. Weinberg, not one displayed “any concern or any sympathy or even any acknowledgment for these young victims, which, frankly, I find shameful.”

“While the crimes the defendant stands convicted of are bad enough,” the judge said before sentencing Mr. Weinberg to 13 months in prison, “what is even more troubling to the court is a communal attitude that seems to impose greater opprobrium on the victims than the perpetrator.”


Silenced by Fear

Intimidation is rarely documented, but just two weeks ago, a Hasidic woman from Kiryas Joel, N.Y., in Orange County, filed a startling statement in a criminal court, detailing the pressure she faced after telling the police that a Hasidic man had molested her son.

“I feel 100 percent threatened and very scared,” she said in her statement. “I feel intimidated and worried about what the consequences are going to be. But I have to protect my son and do what is right.”

Last year, her son, then 14, told the police that he had been offered $20 by a stranger to help move some boxes, but instead, the man brought him to a motel in Woodbury, removed the boy’s pants and masturbated him.

The police, aided by the motel’s security camera, identified the man as Joseph Gelbman, then 52, of Kiamesha Lake, a cook who worked at a boys’ school run by the Vizhnitz Hasidic sect. He was arrested, and the intimidation ensued. Rabbi Israel Hager, a powerful Vizhnitz rabbi in Monsey, N.Y., began calling the mother, asking her to cease her cooperation with the criminal case and, instead, to bring the matter to a rabbinical court under his jurisdiction, according to the mother’s statement to the court. Rabbi Hager did not return repeated calls seeking comment.

“I said: ‘Why? He might do this again to other children,’ ” the mother said in the statement. The mother, who asked that The New York Times not use her name to avoid identifying her son, told the police that the rabbi asked, “What will you gain from this if he goes to jail?” and said that, in a later call, he offered her $20,000 to pay for therapy for her son if the charges were dropped.

On April 24, three days before the case was set for trial, the boy was expelled from his school. When the mother protested, she said, the principal threatened to report her for child abuse.

Prosecutors, against the wishes of the boy’s parents, settled the case on April 27. Mr. Gelbman was given three years’ probation after pleading guilty to endangering the welfare of a child.



Mr. Jungreis, the Williamsburg father, had a similar experience. He first suspected that his son was being molested after he came home with blood in his underwear at age 12, and later was caught touching another child on the bus. But, Mr. Jungreis said, the school principal warned him to stay silent. Two years later, the boy revealed that he had been molested for years by a man he saw at a mikvah, a ritual bath that observant Jews visit for purification.

Mr. Jungreis, knowing the prohibition on calling secular authorities, asked several rabbis to help him report the abuse, but, he said, they told him they did not want to get involved. Ultimately, he found a rabbi who told him to take his son to a psychologist, who would be obligated to notify law enforcement. “That way you are not the moser,” he said the rabbi told him, using the Hebrew word for informer. The police arrested Meir Dascalowitz, then 27, who is now awaiting trial.

Prosecution of intimidation is rare. Victims and their supporters say that is because rabbinical authorities are politically powerful; prosecutors say it is because there is rarely enough evidence to build a criminal case. “The intimidation often works, at least in the short run,” said Laura Pierro, the head of the special victims unit at the Ocean County prosecutor’s office in New Jersey.

In 2010, Ms. Pierro’s agency indicted Shaul Luban for witness tampering: he had sent a threatening text message to multiple recipients, urging the Orthodox Jewish community of Lakewood, N.J., to pressure the family of an 11-year-old abuse victim not to cooperate with prosecutors. In exchange for having his record cleared, Mr. Luban agreed to spend about a year in a program for first-time offenders.

Mr. Luban and others “wanted the phone to ring off the hook to withdraw the complaint from our office,” the Ocean County prosecutor, Marlene Lynch Ford, said.


Threats to Advocates

The small cadre of ultra-Orthodox Jews who have tried to call attention to the community’s lack of support for sexual abuse victims have often been targeted with the same forms of intimidation as the victims themselves.

Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg of Williamsburg, for example, has been shunned by communal authorities because he maintains a telephone number that features his impassioned lectures in Yiddish, Hebrew and English imploring victims to call 911 and accusing rabbis of silencing cases. He also shows up at court hearings and provides victims’ families with advice. His call-in line gets nearly 3,000 listeners a day.

In 2008, fliers were posted around Williamsburg denouncing him. One depicted a coiled snake, with Mr. Rosenberg’s face superimposed on its head. “Nuchem Snake Rosenberg: Leave Tainted One!” it said in Hebrew. The local Satmar Hasidic authorities banned him from their synagogues, and a wider group of 32 prominent ultra-Orthodox rabbis and religious judges signed an order, published in a community newspaper, formally ostracizing him.

“The public must beware, and stay away from him, and push him out of our camp, not speak to him, and even more, not to honor him or support him, and not allow him to set foot in any synagogue until he returns from his evil ways,” the order said in Hebrew.

“They had small children coming to my house and spitting on me and on my children and wife,” Rabbi Rosenberg, 61, said in an interview.

Rabbi Tzvi Gluck, 31, of Queens, the son of a prominent rabbi and an informal liaison to secular law enforcement, began helping victims after he met troubled teenagers at Our Place, a help center in Brooklyn, and realized that sexual abuse was often the root of their problems. It was when he began helping the teenagers report cases to the police that he also received threats.

In February, for example, he received a call asking him to urge an abuse victim to abandon a case. “A guy called me up and said: ‘Listen, I want you to know that people on the street are talking about what they can do to hurt you financially. And maybe speak to your children’s schools, to get your kids thrown out of school.’ ”

Rabbi Gluck said he had helped at least a dozen ultra-Orthodox abuse victims bring cases to the Brooklyn district attorney in recent years, and each time, he said, the victim came under heavy pressure to back down. In a case late last year that did not get to the police, a 30-year-old molested a 14-year-old boy in a Jewish ritual bath in Brooklyn, and a rabbi “made the boy apologize to the molester for seducing him,” he said.

“If a guy in our community gets diagnosed with cancer, the whole community will come running to help them,” he said. “But if someone comes out and says they were a victim of abuse, as a whole, the community looks at them and says, ‘Go jump in a lake.’ ”


Traces of Change

Awareness of child sexual abuse is increasing in the ultra-Orthodox community. Since 2008, hundreds of adult abuse survivors have told their stories, mostly anonymously, on blogs and radio call-in shows, and to victims’ advocates. Rabbi-vetted books like “Let’s Stay Safe,” aimed at teaching children what to do if they are inappropriately touched, are selling well.

The response by communal authorities, however, has been uneven.

In March, for example, Satmar Hasidic authorities in Williamsburg took what advocates said was an unprecedented step: They posted a Yiddish sign in synagogues warning adults and children to stay away from a community member who they said was molesting young men. But the sign did not urge victims to call the police: “With great pain we must, according to the request of the brilliant rabbis (may they live long and good lives), inform you that the young man,” who was named, “is, unfortunately, an injurious person and he is a great danger to our community.”




In Crown Heights, where the Chabad-Lubavitch Hasidic movement has its headquarters, there has been more significant change. In July 2011, a religious court declared that the traditional prohibition against mesirah did not apply in cases with evidence of abuse. “One is forbidden to remain silent in such situations,” said the ruling, signed by two of the court’s three judges.

Since then, five molesting cases have been brought from the neighborhood — “as many sexual abuse-related arrests and reports as there had been in the past 20 years,” said Eliyahu Federman, a lawyer who helps victims in Crown Heights, citing public information.

Mordechai Feinstein, 19, helped prompt the ruling by telling the Crown Heights religious court that he had been touched inappropriately at age 15 by Rabbi Moshe F. Keller, a Lubavitcher who ran a foundation for at-risk youth and whom Mr. Feinstein had considered his spiritual mentor.

Last week, Rabbi Keller was sentenced in Criminal Court to three years’ probation for endangering the welfare of a child. And Mr. Feinstein, who is no longer religious, is starting a campaign to encourage more abuse victims to come forward. He is working with two prominent civil rights attorneys, Norman Siegel and Herbert Teitelbaum, who are asking lawyers to provide free assistance to abuse victims frustrated by their dealings with prosecutors.

“The community is a garden; there are a lot of beautiful things about it,” Mr. Feinstein said. “We just have to help them weed out the garden and take out the things that don’t belong there.”



Ultra-Orthodox Shun Their Own for Reporting Child Sexual Abuse

By Philip Weiss, May 10, 2012

The Catholic Church’s sex abuse scandal turns out to be epochal: it is having salutary effects across society in institutions that have covered up abuse– at university athletic programs, for instance. Now the New York Times is exposing patterns of covering up sexual abuse inside the community of a quarter million ultra-Orthodox Jews in New York. This is great reporting by Sharon Otterman and Ray Rivera:

Abuse victims and their families have been expelled from religious schools and synagogues, shunned by fellow ultra-Orthodox Jews and targeted for harassment intended to destroy their businesses….

“There is no nice way of saying it,” Mrs. [Pearl] Engelman [mother of sexual abuse victim] said. “Our community protects molesters. Other than that, we are wonderful.”

Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg of Williamsburg, for example, has been shunned by communal authorities because he maintains a telephone number that features his impassioned lectures in Yiddish, Hebrew and English imploring victims to call 911 and accusing rabbis of silencing cases. He also shows up at court hearings and provides victims’ families with advice. His call-in line gets nearly 3,000 listeners a day.

In 2008, fliers were posted around Williamsburg denouncing him. One depicted a coiled snake, with Mr. Rosenberg’s face superimposed on its head. “Nuchem Snake Rosenberg: Leave Tainted One!” it said in Hebrew. The local Satmar Hasidic authorities banned him from their synagogues, and a wider group of 32 prominent ultra-Orthodox rabbis and religious judges signed an order, published in a community newspaper, formally ostracizing him. “The public must beware, and stay away from him, and push him out of our camp, not speak to him, and even more, not to honor him or support him, and not allow him to set foot in any synagogue until he returns from his evil ways,” the order said in Hebrew.

“They had small children coming to my house and spitting on me and on my children and wife,” Rabbi Rosenberg, 61, said in an interview….

“If a guy in our community gets diagnosed with cancer, the whole community will come running to help them,” [Rabbi Tzvi Gluck] said. “But if someone comes out and says they were a victim of abuse, as a whole, the community looks at them and says, ‘Go jump in a lake.’ ”



Jehovah’s Witnesses hid child sex abuse cases: Australian inquiry told

By Matt Siegel, July 27, 2015

The Jehovah’s Witnesses Church in Australia failed to report to police more than 1,000 cases of child sexual abuse going back more than 60 years, a government investigation into abuse and its aftermath heard on Monday.

Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which was launched in 2013 amid allegations of serial child abuse inside the Catholic Church in Australia, has a broad mandate to examine religious and secular organizations.

At the opening hearing into the Jehovah’s Witnesses on Monday, Angus Stewart, senior council assisting the commission, described the church as an insular sect with rules designed to stem the reporting of sexual abuse.

“Evidence will be put before the Royal Commission that of the 1,006 alleged perpetrators of child sexual abuse identified by the Jehovah’s Witness Church since 1950, not one was reported by the church to secular authorities,” he said.

“This suggests that it is the practice of the Jehovah’s Witness church to retain information regarding child sexual abuse offences but not to report allegations of child sexual abuse to the police or other relevant authorities.”





The U.S.-based Jehovah’s Witnesses number about 8 million worldwide and are known for their foreign ministries as well as their door-to-door campaigns. There are about 68,000 members in Australia, Stewart said.

Two church members, identified as BCB and BCG, are expected to give testimony containing allegations that they were discouraged by church elders from reporting their abuse.

Stewart outlined multiple institutional failures to protect children or censure alleged abusers, including doctrine releasing church elders from their responsibility to report abuse where there was no mandatory legal obligation to do so.

Although the church expelled 401 members after internal abuse hearings, it allowed 230 of them to return to the fold. Thirty-five were welcomed back on multiple occasions.

The church also erected high barriers to its internal process, requiring that two or more witnesses be produced before proceeding to a church “judicial committee”. This blocked 125 allegations from being heard, Stewart said.

The royal commission has kept Australians riveted with airings of abuse allegations and cover-ups in the highest ranks of its Orthodox Jewish and Roman Catholic communities going back decades.

They have reached even into the Vatican, where Australian Cardinal George Pell, now in charge of reforming the Vatican’s economic departments, has come under scrutiny over allegations he failed to take action to protect children years ago.

Pell dismissed as “false”, and “outrageous” allegations heard before the commission that he had little regard for victims.



China looks into allegations against controversial Shaolin abbot Shi Yongxin

July 30, 2015

Authorities are conducting checks into accusations that the monk holds double identities, had sexual relations with women and was expelled from the temple decades ago.

China’s religious affairs authorities are looking into allegations about the integrity of a controversial Shaolin abbot.

The State Administration for Religious Affairs on Thursday said recent online reports about Shaolin abbot Shi Yongxin had prompted the agency to order its bureau in central Henan province, where the temple is located, to conduct checks into the matter, Xinhua reported.

The Buddhist Association of China also said on its website the matter “had affected the image and reputation of Chinese Buddhism” and that it had reported the case to the relevant authorities.

The allegations, posted online last week by a man who claimed to be a former disciple at the temple, drew much attention from China’s internet users and state media.

Under the pseudonym of “Shi Zhengyi”, the accuser alleged that Shi Yongxin had been kicked out of the Shaolin Temple in the late 1980s, held double identities, had sexual relations with several women and even fathered their children.

The accuser backed up his claims with documents that he gave to the press, including copies of papers allegedly issued by the temple dating back to the ’80s. The papers purportedly showed the temple’s decision to expel the abbot after he was caught “applying for reimbursement with fake receipts” and “having serious financial problems”.

The accuser also produced copies of documents allegedly showing that the abbot had two national identity numbers with different birthdates. The name on one of the identity papers accorded with the abbot’s birth name, and the photos on both papers’ looked highly similar.

The Shaolin Temple, which is more than 1,500 years old and is known as the birthplace of Zen Buddhism and Chinese martial arts, denied all the accusations in a statement on its website, describing them as “groundless, vicious and libellous”. It had reported the matter to police, it added.

Some thirty Shaolin disciples also issued an online statement on Thursday to defend their abbot. They claimed the accuser was an ousted Shaolin disciple who had resorted to “vicious libel” for revenge.

Shi Yongxin, who holds a Master of Business Administration degree and is often spotted using an iPhone, is no stranger to controversy.

Shi, who became the abbot of the Shaolin Temple in 1999, has frequently appeared in the Chinese press, sometimes for the wrong reasons.

The delegate to the National People’s Congress and vice-chairman of the Buddhist Association of China, has previously been accused of turning the temple into a cash cow at the expense of the integrity of religious instruction, such as renting the venue to filmmakers.

In 2006, Shi came under public scrutiny after accepting a 1 million yuan (HK$1.27 million) luxury car from the local government for his contribution to tourism.

In March this year, he and the temple came under fire again for a plan to build a US$297 million hotel complex that includes a temple, a live-in kung fu academy and a golf course in Australia.


‘CEO monk’ who turned the temple where kung fu was founded into a multimillion-dollar empire is accused of fathering children out of wedlock and embezzlement






—Shi Yongxin, known as the ‘CEO monk’, is said to be under investigation

—Accused of embezzlement and fathering several children out of wedlock

—Abbot Shi is known for commercialising China’s famed Shaolin Temple

—A statement posted on the temple website dismissed the claims as ‘untrue’ 

Chinese authorities are investigating allegations of misbehaviour against the controversial ‘CEO monk’ who turned the temple where kung fu was invented into a sprawling commercial empire.

Master Shi Yongxin, who heads the famed Shaolin Temple, has been accused by a former disciple of fathering several children out of wedlock and embezzling funds.

The religious affairs bureau under the Denfeng city government says it was asked by the national body to look into the claims, which were made online, against the Chinese abbot.

‘Our bureau takes this extremely seriously and will swiftly clarify … and ensure a correct understanding of the matter,’ the bureau said in a one-sentence notice on the city government website.

The notice didn’t specify any of the claims, although media reports in China say the accusations include that Abbot Shi fathered children with at least two women and embezzled temple money. 

Abbot Shi could not be reached for comment and calls to the temple in Henan province south of Beijing rang unanswered.

However, a statement posted on the temple’s website dismissed the claims as ‘untrue rumours’ fabricated by people seeking to harm Zen Buddhism

In February the globe-trotting monk announced plans for Shaolin to build a $297million complex in Australia that would include a temple, hotel, kung fu academy and a golf course.

Abbot Shi has been criticised by some for seeking to turn the temple and its famed kung fu fighting monks into a commercial enterprise, a move which helped make him China’s most famous Buddhist.

The temple, built in the late fifth century, has defended aggressive commercialisation as the best way to defend its heritage and spread its Buddhist message. It is found in a forested mountainside in central Henan province and is home to warrior monks whose kung fu moves have become known the world over.

CEO monk’s womanising ways brings famed Shaolin under scanner

August 7, 2015

The New York Times goes on to say that Yongxin has sent his embezzled money to maintain his mistresses in Australia. Two of his lovers whom he fathered children with have reportedly come clean, with one claiming that she had a sample of his semen from one of their sexual encounters.




The Real Story Behind Clerical “Pedophilia”… EXTRACT

By Leon J. Podles Ph. D, Touchstone Magazine, March/April 2002

True pedophilia is rare
Philip Jenkins in his book Pedophiles and Priests: Anatomy of a Contemporary Crisis (Oxford University Press, 1996) tries to look at the problem objectively and dispassionately. According to Jenkins (who is not a Catholic), true pedophilia is extremely rare, is perhaps more common among Protestant clergy than among Catholic priests, and is even more common among married laymen. There is certainly a problem in the Catholic Church (and other churches), but it is not exactly what the media make it out to be.
First, as to the nature of clerical misbehavior: Pedophilia refers to sexual desire for pre-pubescent children. This is extremely rare, and only a handful of cases in several decades have involved priests who are true pedophiles.
Almost all the cases reported in the media as pedophilia actually involve an attraction (which a priest has acted on) to adolescent boys who are sexually mature but under the age of consent, which is 18 in civil law and 16 in canon law. This behavior is a variety of homosexuality. Homosexuals are often attracted to very young men because they combine the charm of boyishness with sexual maturity. Such sexual attraction is called ephebophilia, which the ancient Greeks cultivated to some extent but which rapidly fell out of favor as Christianity transformed classical culture.
In the 1960s and 1970s the Catholic Church followed secular psychological advice that sexual involvement with minors should be dealt with quietly and privately, that the youth involved were more likely to be hurt by a public fuss than by the sexual involvement, and that sexual interest in minors could be disciplined and cured.
This opinion changed in the mid-1980s, when many of the cases that had occurred from the mid-1960s onward came to light. In this period of about 20 years, about 150,000 men had served as Catholic priests and religious in the United States. There were about 500 reported (not all proved) cases of sexual involvement with minors, thus involving 0.3 percent of the clergy and religious, and most of the cases involved fifteen- to seventeen-year-old boys. Since not all allegations were substantiated, Jenkins says the evidence “suggests an offence rate of 0.2 percent.” The archdiocese of Chicago did a survey of all its clergy files from the years 1951–1991, and found allegations against 2.6 percent of priests, allegations that may have been justified against 1.7 percent of them. Moreover, it found only one true case of pedophilia, which involved a priest and his small niece.




True pedophilia occurs most often within families; celibacy removes most Catholic priests from temptations of that sort. When it comes to pedophilia (not ephebophilia), clergy in churches that do not require celibacy have the same (if not worse) problems. The Catholic Church has been a target because it keeps good records, but the Episcopal Church has a comparable problem, and some of the worst cases have been in fundamentalist and Pentecostal churches—but these cases rarely receive public attention.
Jenkins also shows how the “pedophilia” cases in the Catholic Church (and the bungling way church authorities sometimes handled them) have been used by would-be church reformers as a tool to further their agenda: the end of clerical celibacy (and much else) in the Catholic Church.
Ultimately, the chief beneficiaries of this misinformation and the disorder in the Catholic Church are the secularizers who want to undermine the moral authority of religion in society. The Nazis also were great exposers of clerical scandals, and it was not because of the greater National Socialist purity of heart (both Philip Jenkins in his book and Victor Klemperer in I Will Bear Witness refer to this anti-clerical campaign).


Sex abuse rife in other religions, says Vatican

By Riazat Butt, religious affairs correspondent, and Anushka Asthana

September 28, 2009

The Vatican has lashed out at criticism over its handling of its paedophilia crisis by saying the Catholic church was “busy cleaning its own house” and that the problems with clerical sex abuse in other churches were as big, if not bigger.

In a defiant and provocative statement, issued following a meeting of the UN human rights council in Geneva, the Holy See said the majority of Catholic clergy who committed such acts were not paedophiles but homosexuals attracted to sex with adolescent males.

The statement, read out by Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s permanent observer to the UN, defended its record by claiming that “available research” showed that only 1.5%-5% of Catholic clergy were involved in child sex abuse.

He also quoted statistics from the Christian Scientist Monitor newspaper to show that most US churches being hit by child sex abuse allegations were Protestant and that sexual abuse within Jewish communities was common.

He added that sexual abuse was far more likely to be committed by family members, babysitters, friends, relatives or neighbours, and male children were quite often guilty of sexual molestation of other children.

The statement said that rather than paedophilia, it would “be more correct” to speak of ephebophilia, a homosexual attraction to adolescent males.

“Of all priests involved in the abuses, 80 to 90% belong to this sexual orientation minority which is sexually engaged with adolescent boys between the ages of 11 and 17.”

The statement concluded: “As the Catholic church has been busy cleaning its own house, it would be good if other institutions and authorities, where the major part of abuses are reported, could do the same and inform the media about it.”

The Holy See launched its counter–attack after an international representative of the International Humanist and Ethical Union, Keith Porteous Wood, accused it of covering up child abuse and being in breach of several articles under the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Porteous Wood said the Holy See had not contradicted any of his accusations. “The many thousands of victims of abuse deserve the international community to hold the Vatican to account, something it has been unwilling to do, so far. Both states and children’s organisations must unite to pressurise the Vatican to open its files, change its procedures worldwide, and report suspected abusers to civil authorities.”

Representatives from other religions were dismayed by the Holy See’s attempts to distance itself from controversy by pointing the finger at other faiths.

Rabbi Joseph Potasnik, head of the New York Board of Rabbis, said: “Comparative tragedy is a dangerous path on which to travel. All of us need to look within our own communities. Child abuse is sinful and shameful and we must expel them immediately from our midst.”

A spokesman for the US Episcopal Church said measures for the prevention of sexual misconduct and the safeguarding of children had been in place for years.

Of all the world religions, Roman Catholicism has been hardest hit by sex abuse scandals. In the US, churches have paid more than $2bn (£1.25bn) in compensation to victims. In Ireland, reports into clerical sexual abuse have rocked both the Catholic hierarchy and the state.

The Ryan Report, published last May, revealed that beatings and humiliation by nuns and priests were common at institutions that held up to 30,000 children. A nine-year investigation found that Catholic priests and nuns for decades terrorised thousands of boys and girls, while government inspectors failed to stop the abuse.


Sex Abuse in Catholic Church was Homosexual Problem, not Pedophilia: Vatican

By Hilary White, Geneva, September 29, 2009 ( [All emphases are mine]




The sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church in the US and abroad was a matter of homosexuals preying on adolescent boys, not one of pedophilia, said the Vatican’s representative at the UN in Geneva, Switzerland. It is “more correct,” said Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, to speak of ephebophilia, a homosexual attraction to adolescent males, than pedophilia, in relation to the scandals.

“Of all priests involved in the abuses, 80 to 90 per cent belong to this sexual orientation minority which is sexually engaged with adolescent boys between the ages of 11 and 17,” said Tomasi. His statement is backed up by a report commissioned by the US bishops that found that in the overwhelming majority of cases the clergy involved were homosexuals, with 81 percent of victims being adolescent males.

Tomasi also responded to criticisms, saying that while the Catholic Church has been “busy cleaning its own house, it would be good if other institutions and authorities, where the major part of abuses are reported, could do the same and inform the media about it.” According to information from various sources, the problem of sexual abuse of minors in religious organizations is widespread among Protestant churches and Jewish communities.
The statement comes in the wake of accusations at the UN Human Rights Council, which published a written statement by a secularist group, the International Humanist and Ethical Union (IHEU), alleging that the Vatican was responsible for the proliferation of sexual abuse cases involving Catholic priests. The IHEU accused the Church of a failure to honor obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“The Holy See has been heavily implicated for decades in covering up cases of child abuse carried our by its clergy and religious orders, in obstructing justice, and in failing to deal appropriately with abusers,” said Roy Brown, IHEU Main Representative at the UN Geneva.

“Yet for too long it has been given a free ride by the international community because of its presumed moral leadership. Our report is the first to bring the issue to the attention of the Council. We shall be referring to our report in the plenary of the Human Rights Council next week.”

Tomasi, however, defended the Church’s record, saying that “available research” showed that only 1.5 to 5 per cent of Catholic clergy had been implicated in abuse allegations, and suggesting that some of the focus ought to be shifted to other organizations that are plagued by accusations of sex abuse.

The vast plurality of Protestant churches in the US, numbering more than 224,000, including thousands of independent non-denominational groups, make the kind of organized tracking and recording of individual abuse cases as was done in the Catholic Church all but impossible. Nevertheless, some of the sex abuse cases in other religious communities have been documented piecemeal.

In June 2007, the Associated Press revealed that three companies that insure the majority of Protestant churches in the US said they receive upward of 260 reports each year of young people under 18 being sexually abused by clergy, church staff, volunteers or congregation members.

Church Mutual Insurance Co., GuideOne Insurance Co. and Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Co., which insure 165,495 churches for liability against child sex abuse, emphasized that their figures did not always specify which cases were against minors and added that not all allegations were followed by convictions or even investigations.

National surveys by Christian Ministry Resources (CMR), a tax and legal-advice publisher serving more than 75,000 congregations and 1,000 denominational agencies, has also issued a report that found that child-abuse allegations against American Protestant churches averaged 70 per week since 1993, with a slight downward trend starting in 1997. The same report also found that among Protestant churches, volunteers are more likely than clergy or paid staff to be abusers.

In 2002, Rt. Rev. William Persell, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Chicago, said in a sermon on Good Friday, “We would be naïve and dishonest were we to say this is a Roman Catholic problem and has nothing to do with us because we have married and female priests in our church. Sin and abusive behaviour know no ecclesial or other boundaries.”

The John Jay Report, commissioned by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and based on surveys completed by the Roman Catholic dioceses in the United States, found that between 1950 and 2002, a total of 10,667 individuals had made allegations of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Of these, the dioceses had been able to substantiate 6,700 accusations against 4,392 priests.

In 2002, at the height of the media frenzy over Catholic sex abuse cases, James Cobble, executive director of CMR, said that although the Catholic Church had received the most media attention, “this problem is even greater with the Protestant churches simply because of their far larger numbers.”

Of the approximately 350,000 churches in the US, only 5 per cent are Catholic.

Moreover, the evidence showed that abuse cases in the Catholic Church had been linked to the surge of sexual license in society in general coinciding with the “sexual revolution” of the 1960s. Alleged abuses increased dramatically in the 1960s, peaked in the 1970s, declined in the 1980s and by the 1990s had returned to the levels of the 1950s.

Abuse in the Church: Homosexuality, Dissent and Modernism:

Clergy Abuse in Context – Teachers Sexually Abuse Students Far More Often:


Priests Commit No More Abuse than Other Males

By Pat Wingert, Newsweek Web Exclusive, April 7, 2010 [All emphases are mine]



The priesthood is being cast as the refuge of pederasts. In fact, priests seem to abuse children at the same rate as everyone else.
The Catholic sex-abuse stories emerging every day suggest that Catholics have a much bigger problem with child molestation than other denominations and the general population. Many point to peculiarities of the Catholic Church (its celibacy rules for priestsits insular hierarchyits exclusion of women) to infer that there’s something particularly pernicious about Catholic clerics that predisposes them to these horrific acts. It’s no wonder that, back in 2002 when the last Catholic sex-abuse scandal was making headlines, a
 Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll found that 64 percent of those queried thought Catholic priests “frequently” abused children.
Yet experts say there’s simply no data to support the claim at all. No formal comparative study has ever broken down child sexual abuse by denomination, and only the Catholic Church has released detailed data about its own. But based on the
surveys and studies  conducted by different denominations over the past 30 years, experts who study child abuse say they see little reason to conclude that sexual abuse is mostly a Catholic issue. “We don’t see the Catholic Church as a hotbed of this or a place that has a bigger problem than anyone else,” said Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. “I can tell you without hesitation that we have seen cases in many religious settings, from traveling evangelists to mainstream ministers to rabbis and others.”
Since the mid-1980s, insurance companies have offered sexual misconduct coverage as a rider on liability insurance, and their own studies indicate that Catholic churches are not higher risk than other congregations. Insurance companies that cover all denominations, such as Guide One Center for Risk Management, which has more than 40,000 church clients, does not charge Catholic churches higher premiums. “We don’t see vast difference in the incidence rate between one denomination and another,” says Sarah Buckley, assistant vice president of corporate communications. “It’s pretty even across the denominations.” It’s been that way for decades. While the company saw an uptick in these claims by all types of churches around the time of the 2002 U.S. Catholic sex-abuse scandal, Eric Spacick, Guide One’s senior church-risk manager, says “it’s been pretty steady since.” On average, the company says 80 percent of the sexual misconduct claims they get from all denominations involve sexual abuse of children. As a result, the more children’s programs a church has, the more expensive its insurance, officials at Guide One said.
The only hard data that has been made public by any denomination comes from John Jay College’s study of Catholic priests, which was authorized and is being paid for by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops following the public outcry over the 2002 scandals. Limiting their study to plausible accusations made between 1950 and 1992, John Jay researchers reported that about 4 percent of the 110,000 priests active during those years had been accused of sexual misconduct involving children. Specifically, 4,392 complaints (ranging from “sexual talk” to rape) were made against priests by 10,667 victims. (Reports made after 2002, including those of incidents that occurred years earlier, are released as part of the church’s annual audits.)
Experts disagree on the rate of sexual abuse among the general American male population, but Allen says a conservative estimate is one in 10. Margaret Leland Smith, a researcher at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, says her review of the numbers indicates it’s closer to one in 5. But in either case, the rate of abuse by Catholic priests is not higher than these national estimates. The public also doesn’t realize how “profoundly prevalent” child sexual abuse is, adds Smith. Even those numbers may be low; research suggests that only a third of abuse cases are ever reported (making it the most underreported crime). “However you slice it, it’s a very common experience,” Smith says.
Most child abusers have one thing in common, and it’s not piety, it’s preexisting relationships with their victims. That includes priests and ministers and rabbis, of course, but also family members, friends, neighbors, teachers, coaches, scout leaders, youth-group volunteers, and doctors. According to federal studies, three quarters of abuse occurs at the hands of family members or others in the victim’s “circle of trust.” “The fundamental premise here is that those who abuse children overwhelmingly seek out situations where they have easy and legitimate access to children,” he said. “These kinds of positions offer a kind of cover for these offenders.”
Priests may also appear more likely to molest children because cases of abuse come to light in huge waves. One reason is delayed reporting: less than 13 percent of victims abused between 1960 and 1980, for example, lodged a complaint in the same year as the assault. Two thirds filed their complaints after 1992, and half of those were made between 2002 and 2003 alone. “Offenders tend to be manipulative, often persuading children to believe that this is their fault,” said Allen. “As a result, the children tend to keep it to themselves. There are countless victims who thought they were the only one.” So what looks like high concentrations of abuse may simply reflect long and diffuse patterns of abuse that mirror those among all males. Another reason is that the church has historically been bad at punishing (or preventing) molesters, so that many cases might come to light when just one priest is finally exposed. A single predator priest with ongoing access to children might be responsible for an immense raft of abuse cases. (Marie Fortune of the
Faith Trust Institute, which focuses on clerical-abuse issues, says Roman Catholics tend “to have many more schools and other programs that involve children.” “Plenty of other congregations have these problems, for instance, if they have a youth ministry.”) That helps explain the 200 children who were abused at a school for the deaf. It didn’t happen because the school was full of rapists; it happened because one man was never stopped. Overall, the John Jay study found that 149 priests were responsible for more than 25,000 cases of abuse over the 52-year period studied. Allen suggests a final reason we hear so much more about Catholic abuse than transgressions in other religions: its sheer size. It’s the second largest single denomination in the world (behind Islam) and the biggest in the United States. (Fifty-one percent of all American adults are Protestant, but they belong to hundreds of different denominations.) “When you consider the per capita data,” says Allen, “I don’t think they have a larger incidence than other faiths.”


Anti-Catholicism, Again. The permanent scandal of the Vatican

By Joseph Bottum, May 3, 2010 Volume 15, No. 31

The day the Antichrist is ripped from his papal throne, true religion will guide the world. Or perhaps it’s the day the last priest is gutted, and his entrails used to strangle the last king, as Voltaire demanded. Yes, that’s when we will see at last the reign of bright, clean, enlightened reason—the release of mankind from the shadows of medieval superstition. War will end. The proletariat will awaken from its opiate dream. The oppression of women will stop. And science at last will be free from the shackles of Rome.
For almost 500 years now, Catholicism has been an available answer, a mystical key, to that deep, childish, and existentially compelling question: Why aren’t we there yet? Why is progress still unfinished? Why is the promise still unfulfilled? Why aren’t we perfect? Why aren’t we changed?
Despite our rejection of the past, the future still hasn’t arrived. Despite our advances, corruption continues. It needs an explanation. It requires a response. And in every modernizing movement—from Protestant Reformers to French Revolutionaries, Communists to Freudians, Temperance Leaguers and suffragettes to biotechnologists and science-fiction futurists—someone in despair eventually stumbles on the answer: We have been thwarted by the Catholic Church.
Or by the Jews, of course. Perhaps it’s no accident that anti-Semitism should also be making a reappearance these days. The poet Peter Viereck’s famous line—”Catholic- baiting is the anti-Semitism of the liberals”—gets quoted in too many contexts to express the connection anymore, and, God knows, the history of Catholicism has plenty of anti-Semitic sins to expiate. Still, Jews and Catholics do have this much in common: In moments of uncertainty and doubt, the people of the West go haring back again to their old gods and traditional answers—blaming the Jews and the Catholic Church.
As it happens, the question Why aren’t we there yet? is, in its way, a biblical question. Christianity spread across the world the Bible’s new idea of history—born from the vision that God is a God who entered time, and time is moving toward a goal. Even modern nonbelievers still somehow believe this part; in important metaphysical ways, their progressive view of the world remains Christian, albeit with Christ stripped out.
Innumerable books have been written about the good effects of this forward-aiming view of history, from Christopher Dawson’s old Progress and Religion to Rodney Stark’s recent The Victory of Reason: How Christianity Led to Freedom, Capitalism, and Western Success. Perhaps not enough has been said, however, about one of its bad effects. As we wait for the Second Coming—or its many secular stand-ins—an odd, hysterical impatience can take hold. We worked so hard, and still the change in human nature didn’t come. Still heaven didn’t get built on earth. Evil must have intervened, and since the past is the evil against which progress fights, what more obvious villain than the Catholic Church, that last-surviving remnant of the ancient darkness?

The best sign of such hysterical moments may be the difficulty of anything sane or sensible being heard in them. As Newsweek noted on April 8, the surveys and studies over the past 30 years show “little reason to conclude that sexual abuse is mostly a Catholic issue.” Nonetheless, in 2002, after the last set of revelations, “a Wall Street Journal-NBC News poll found that 64 percent” of Americans “thought Catholic priests `frequently’ abused children.”
A poll released on April 13 this year found that between 8 and 11 percent of Canadians say they know personally a victim of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest—which works out to well over 2 million people, out of a national population over 33 million. Given the number of Canadian claims over the last 50 years, that would require every abuse victim to know thousands and thousands of people—but the poll respondents aren’t lying, exactly. They’re responding, quite accurately, to an atmosphere, reinterpreting the past and reinventing the present to conform to the ambient understanding of the world.”
Even in such an atmosphere, however, it’s worth setting down the sane, sensible thing to be said about the new round of Catholic child-abuse cases that has obsessed first Europe and now America in recent weeks.
The scandal has two parts, which need to be distinguished. The first part—the more evil, disgusting part—is over, thank God. Every sufficiently large group has a small percentage of members with sick sexual desires. By their very calling, Christian ministers ought to have a lower percentage. For a variety of reasons, however, Catholics suffered through a corruption of their priests, centered around 1975, with the clergy’s percentage of sexual predators reaching new and vile levels.
The Church now has in place stringent child-protection procedures, and even with obsession over the scandals raging in Europe, almost all the cover-ups now being discussed, real and imagined, are more than a decade old. Besides, the younger priests, formed in the light of John Paul II’s papacy, seem vastly more faithful to Catholic spiritual practice and moral teaching.
Still, the second part of the scandal remains, for it involves not the mostly dead criminals but the living institution. The bishops who ruled over those corrupt priests in the 1970s and 1980s catastrophically failed to act when they needed to.
Some of this came from the short-sighted and anti-theological advice that dominated Catholic institutional thinking in that era. The lawyers told the bishops, as lawyers do, never to admit anything, and the psychologists told them not to be so medieval. There’s an irony when the 2009 Murphy Report, the official Irish investigation, noted, “The Church authorities failed to implement most of their own canon-law rules” on defrocking and trying priests. From the 1950s through the 1970s, those same Church authorities were blamed for having the old canon-law rules, which lacked compassion and didn’t recognize the psychiatric profession’s supposed advances in curing pedophilia. And so, instead of being defrocked, guilty priests were often sent off to treatment facilities and, once pronounced cured, were reassigned.


The bishops of the time don’t get off that easy, however. Lawyers and psychologists contributed to the mess, but the much larger portion of the failures came simply from the bishops’ desire to avoid bad publicity and, like military officers, to protect the men in their unit when those men get themselves into trouble. For these episcopal failures, every Catholic is now paying—in nearly $3 billion of American donations lost in court judgments, in suspicion of their pastors, and in deep shame.
The general figures of child abuse in the world today are shocking. One widely reported study in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence suggested the United States has 39 million victims of childhood sexual abuse. It’s a little hard to believe. More than 12 percent of the population were abused at least once as children? But Charol Shakeshaft’s respected study insists that 6 to 10 percent of recent public-school students have been molested. Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, claims 10 percent is a conservative estimate. John Jay College’s Margaret Leland Smith says her numbers come closer to 20 percent.
All this, while (as the papal biographer George Weigel points out) the most recent audit found six credible cases of sexual abuse by Catholic clerics in 2009, in an American church of 68 million members, with all the perpetrators reported to the police and stripped of priestly faculties by their bishops. “The only hard data that has been made public by any denomination comes from John Jay College’s study of Catholic priests,” an April 8 Newsweek story noted.
“Limiting their study to plausible accusations made between 1950 and 1992, John Jay researchers reported that about 4 percent of the 110,000 priests active during those years had been accused of sexual misconduct involving children. Specifically, 4,392 complaints (ranging from “sexual talk” to rape) were made against priests by 10,667 victims.
“I don’t like it when Catholic leaders fall back on the `child abuse happens everywhere’ defense,” Ross Douthat observed on the New York Times website. “I do like it, however, when mainstream media outlets do their job and report that there’s no evidence that the rate of sex abuse is higher among the Catholic clergy than among any other group.” In fact, it’s lower. If the John Jay study is right, the rate of clerical abuse over the past 50 years, including the peak of the crimes around 1975, was considerably lower by Allen’s figures, and much lower by Smith’s figures, than the abuse rate of the general male population.
Then there’s Ireland—ground zero for the European scandals raging now, just as Boston was for the American scandals back in 2002. Brendan O’Neill, editor of the Spiked-Online website and no particular friend of the Church, points out that the Irish government’s official commission spent 10 years, from 1999 to 2009, intensively inviting, from Irish-born people around the world, reports of abuse at Irish religious institutions. Out of the hundreds of thousands of students who passed through Catholic schools in the 85 years from 1914 to 1999, the commission managed to gather 381 claims—with 35 percent of those charges made against lay staff and fellow pupils rather than priests.
“It might be unfashionable to say the following but it is true nonetheless, ” O’Neill concludes. “Very, very small numbers of children in the care or teaching of the Catholic Church in Europe in recent decades were sexually abused, but very, very many of them actually received a decent standard of education.”
And yet, precisely because priests are supposed to behave better than other people do, fulfilling their vows of celibacy, it’s not an answer to point out that higher percentages of children are abused by other segments of the population. There were never a lot of these Catholic cases, but there were enough—with every single one a horror, both in the act itself and in the failure of the bishops to react forcefully and quickly. The Catholic Church didn’t start the worldwide epidemic of child sexual abuse, and it didn’t materially advance it. But the bureaucracy of the Church sure as hell didn’t do enough to fight that epidemic when it broke out among its own clergy.
All of which is pretty much what Pope Benedict preached at a Mass in Rome on April 15 and repeated when he met with abuse victims in Malta on April 18. “I have to say that we Christians, even in recent times, have often avoided the word repentance, which seems too harsh,” he explained. “Now under the attacks of the world, which speaks to us of our sins, we see that the ability to repent is a grace, and we see how it is necessary to repent, that is, to recognize what is wrong in our life.”
What more does anyone want from the Catholic Church?
Everything, is the answer. This, they think, will finally bring about whatever desire for the Church they’ve been nursing for decades. An end to what they call the sickness of clerical celibacy, for example. Or to the unfair authority they say the bishops hold, or to the lavender-tinged homosexual gang they imagine is running the seminaries, or to the leftist Jesuits they believe dominate Catholic higher education.
Liberal Catholics see the scandals as a chance to discredit conservatives, and conservatives as a chance to discredit liberals. Maureen Dowd, who regularly devotes her New York Times column to bite-sized rehashes of Mary McCarthy’s old Memories of a Catholic Girlhood, opines on “the Church’s Judas moment.” The liberal theologian Hans Küng accuses the pope of directly engineering the cover-up. The left-leaning National Catholic Reporter declares it “the largest institutional crisis in centuries, possibly in church history,” and another liberal Catholic magazine demands theological reform, to be achieved by arraigning “Benedict in the Dock.” All this, while the hard traditionalist Gerald Warner takes to the pages of the Telegraph in England to blame the crimes on the liberalizing changes of Vatican II.
Everyone is working, whether deliberately or not, to keep the hysteria alive. Abortion supporters have seized on the news as a way to damage the pro-life movement, and proponents of the recent American health care bill are using it to punish their opponents for giving them trouble during the congressional vote. The tattered figures of old anti-Catholic Protestantism— in isolated Bible churches of the fever-swamp right and isolated Episcopal chanceries of the fever-swamp left—feel newly empowered. Feminists, homosexual activists, therapists, talk-show hosts, plaintiff’s attorneys: The scandals are a hobbyhorse all the world hopes to ride to victory.




Several Catholic commentators have charged that the European and American press is out to destroy the Church. “The New York Times is conducting a vendetta against this traditionalist pope in news stories, editorials and columns,” Pat Buchanan announced in a column on April 6. But this, too, only adds to the hysteria. For all the journalistic sins that have been committed in recent weeks, what the media primarily want is a story to sell—and since the narrative of hypocrisy remains nearly the only moral shape a modern newspaper story can have, a tale of immoral clergy is ready-made for reporters.
And then the news begins to feed on itself. Each story about Catholicism makes the next story bigger, more worth pursuing. The reported cases are mostly decades old, but that doesn’t matter, once the frenzy catches hold. Anti-Catholic motives in the media are beside the point. The utter conventionality of reporters, together with the cycles of the news business, explains more than enough. Catholicism in general, and the pope in particular, are news right now, and news sells.
The self-denominated New Atheists—Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and the rest—have latched on, as well. The pope “should be in a police station being quizzed about his role in covering up and thereby enabling the rape of children,” opined one British writer. He should be in chains “before the International Criminal Court,” said another. Religion is the cause of evil, they know, and so this evil must have been caused by religion—which is why their lawyers have tried to arrange for Benedict XVI’s arrest during his trip to England this fall.
Add it all up, and you get a time in which the European papers are howling about “systematic rape and torture,” “a clinging and systematic evil that is beyond the power of exorcism to dispel,” and the Catholics’ “international criminal conspiracy to protect child-rapists.” A particularly bizarre moment came on March 29, when Mehmet Ali Agca’s views were published. “The Turkish man who shot Pope John Paul II says Pope Benedict XVI should resign over the Catholic Church’s handling of clerical sex-abuse cases,” the AP wire item explained.
He’s hardly alone in demanding the pope’s resignation, but the more likely scenario is that the whole thing will kill Benedict. The man turned 83 last week; he’s old, and he looks ill and miserable in his recent appearances. Bad as his loss would be—yet one more penance Catholics would pay for those corrupt priests and the bishops who failed to confront them—the conclave to choose his successor would be even worse.
As things now stand, the papal election would be headed by Angelo Cardinal Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals and a figure already accused of benefiting from the financial misdeeds of Fr. Marcial Maciel, the sexually corrupt founder of the Legion of Christ. Rome would become an unimaginable media circus—hours of airtime to fill every day, while waiting for the white smoke from the Vatican, with nothing to talk about but the scandals.
For almost 10 years now, the Catholic Church has been putting in place policies on child abuse stricter than those of any other large institution in the world. “We were the model of what not to do,” as New York’s Archbishop Timothy Dolan put it, “and now we are the model of what to do.” But the newspaper accounts of a newly elected pope would be, nonetheless, a mad race to find something, anything, to link him to the bishops’ failures to act against pedophiles in the previous generation. And if they found what they sought—as they would, given how slight the perceived connection has to be—the sex-abuse scandal would become for that pope what it is now for Pope Benedict: the chief identifier, the narrative hook, for his entire pontificate.
Make no mistake: The narrative demands that Benedict be pulled in, with Der Spiegel in Germany and the New York Times in America running stories in March that tried to mire the pope in it all, from his time as the archbishop of Munich and, later, as an official in Rome under John Paul II. None of it implicates him directly; the newspapers have yet to find an instance of the man organizing a cover-up. A professor of theology for two and a half decades, he has always been less than a stellar administrator, however, and it’s imaginable that something genuine will surface to show that he didn’t pay sufficient attention at the time.
Nonetheless, the stories so far haven’t held up. On April 19, Der Spiegel reported that Fr. Gerhard Gruber, the diocesan assistant from Ratzinger’s time in Munich, might have admitted he was pressured to say falsely that he, and not the future pope, was responsible for the covered-up transfer of a German pedophile in 1980. Two days later, the Wall Street Journal demolished the story by actually interviewing Fr. Gruber, who denied it.
The Vatican correspondent John Allen, the Canadian priest Raymond de Souza, the American writer Phil Lawler, and others have similarly published point-by-point refutations of other charges of cover-up against Benedict—all their accounts based on the fact that this man was the one who, unlike John Paul II, actually saw there was a problem. In 2005, he openly denounced the “filth in the Church and in the priesthood,” which, if the received narrative about cover-ups were true, ought to have made it impossible for him to be elected to the papacy less than a month later.
The current frenzy does share at least a few characteristics with previous outbreaks of anti-Catholicism. You could lift great chunks of today’s commentary and drop them unchanged into newspaper accounts of that 1836 anti-Catholic classic The Awful Disclosures of Maria Monk, as Exhibited in a Narrative of Her Sufferings During her Residence of Five Years as a Novice and Two Years as a Black Nun, in the Hotel Dieu Nunnery at Montreal. For that matter, the New Atheists’ recent ravings about Catholicism could slip unnoticed into the yellowing anti-Catholic pages of Robert G. Ingersoll’s 1896 “How to Reform Mankind” and Paul Blanshard’s 1949 American Freedom and Catholic Power.
“Anti-Catholic Bias Irrelevant to Scandal,” insisted the headline over an April 6 op-ed in the Philadelphia Inquirer by a historian from New York University named Jonathan Zimmerman. “America has a long, hideous history of anti-Catholic bigotry,” Zimmerman agrees. “But whereas earlier attacks on Catholics were based on fantasy, the abuse scandal is altogether real.”



The trouble with this line is that the abuse scandal is not “altogether real.” It’s plenty real, God knows, but some small handful of the original accusations were untrue—child abuse is not the unique crime in which no false charges are ever made—and the current media frenzy is not about finding new cases but about discovering ways to connect the Vatican to the old cases.
It’s true that critics need to be able to challenge the Church without being accused of anti-Catholicism. Catholics themselves do it all the time, as Zimmerman observes, and nearly every reform movement within the Church—from the Benedictines, through the Franciscans and the Jesuits, and down to Opus Dei in our own time—began with denunciations of the immoral or unspiritual clergy of the day.
And yet, something else, something that Catholicism’s detractors refuse to acknowledge, is in the air these days. The child-abuse scandal is a hole smashed through the defenses of the Church, a breach made by the genuine crimes of the clerical predators and the bishops who coddled them. But more is now being forced through that breach than it will bear.
Take the pressure from the media to find new stories within an established, hot-selling narrative. Add to it the culture’s frightened uncertainty about its children in the new sexual dispensation. Mix in, as well, a distaste for the Church, which stands as the last major Western institution still holding out against such social changes as the new respectability of abortion, euthanasia, promiscuity, and same-sex marriage. And the result is a rage and a frenzy dissociated from the actual crimes that caused it—a hysteria that is bringing back to life the old tropes of historical anti-Catholicism.
There is one difference between the old anti-Catholicism and the new, however, and it involves the reaction of Catholics themselves. Against the Know-Nothings of the 19th century, America’s Catholic immigrants rallied to the Church (and to the Democratic party). And here in the 21st century, they have—well, what are Catholics doing?
An irony of the outraged European reaction to the scandals is that the continent is already one of the least Christian places on earth. Only 4 percent of Germans, for example, are reported to be in church on a Sunday morning, and Western Europe these days simply doesn’t contain enough practicing Catholics for the news of the scandals to cause a significant number to lose their faith. Old and mostly outdated legal entanglements of church and state (especially church taxes and state-supported Catholic schools) remain the only European reservoir of Catholic power. All these arrangements were doomed anyway, and the hysteria about abuse of children will provide only the occasion for their loss.
Some such thing seemed to be in the mind of the Irish pop singer Sinead O’Connor, whose rambling thoughts on the scandals were published on March 28 in the Washington Post. O’Connor long ago left the Church, but she still devotes a considerable amount of her time to criticizing it: “Christ is not with these people who so frequently invoke Him,” she pronounced, ex cathedra, and “the idea that we needed the church to get closer to Jesus” is “blasphemy.” America has its own share of this ex-Catholic irony. “Though I am no longer a practicing Catholic, I am, undeniably, culturally Catholic,” a columnist for the Huffington Post explained. “And I, like many others who have left the flock, should have a say in pressuring the Church to reform itself.”
What’s interesting about all this is that it seems to come, as a sort of post hoc explanation, entirely from people who left Catholicism for other reasons. After the American revelations of abuse in 2002, dozens of news articles appeared, each trying to find out why the scandals didn’t actually seem to have made Catholics lose their faith.
This year, the media reports over Easter were similarly a chronicle of attempts to find serious churchgoers who have left the Church because of the scandals. “As the faithful fill churches this Holy Week, many Roman Catholics around the world are finding their relationship to the church painfully tested,” one news story began—although the only example the reporter could find was a woman who explained, “I don’t believe in confession to the priest because I don’t know if that priest is more of a sinner than I am,” which suggests a certain unfamiliarity with either Christian doctrine or Catholic practice.
“Scandal Tests Catholics’ Trust in Leadership,” a headline in the New York Times declared on March 29, but the story mostly proved that even European Catholics are not losing their faith. “The controversy appeared at the forefront of many worshipers’ minds,” the reporter insisted—and yet, “turnout was often strong on Sunday, even in some of the cities directly affected by the crisis. At St. Ludwig Church in Berlin, the city where recent disclosure of molestation at an elite Jesuit high school in the 1970s and ’80s opened up the scandal in Germany, the noon Mass was filled to capacity.” Indeed, “with pews packed, churchgoers stood in the rear. One woman spoke of the victims she knew personally but said the scandal had not led her, nor anyone else she knew, to consider leaving the church.”
Packed pews, strong turnout, filled to capacity—that’s not supposed to be the storyline. The April 16 CNN poll showed approval of the pope at 59 percent among American Catholics, and the March 31 Gallup poll had Catholic approval at 61 percent. These are massive drops from the 81 percent Catholic approval rate the pope had after his 2008 visit to the United States, and the rate will likely decline further in coming months. But none of it suggests that Catholics are actually losing their faith because of the revelations of these old priestly crimes and the bishops’ shameful cover-up.
`What else did you expect from that generation?” one young seminarian sneered when I asked him about the priest scandals. “Those old 1960s and 1970s types thought they were God’s gift to the ages. That they were smarter, better, more spiritual than anyone else had ever been. They said they didn’t need the old supervision and rules—the old wisdom about human behavior—that Catholicism had built up over centuries of experience. And, yeah, so, of course, when they finally got some power of their own, they ruined the liturgy, they wrecked the churches, and they buggered little boys. None of it should have been a surprise.”
What else did you expect from that generation? It’s not a satisfying explanation for why some priests 30 years ago were so corrupt. For that matter, the student was as arrogant, in his own way, as the generation he condemns.




But the line does suggest one easy rationalization available to young Catholics. Large numbers of them have drifted away from the Church, but those who remain, formed during John Paul II’s pontificate, already see themselves as agents of change: the remnant, repairing with greater fidelity and stronger belief the damage done by the old priests and bishops. News of these scandals doesn’t change their self-image; it confirms their picture of themselves.
Even they, however, are not out defending Catholicism in the world. George Weigel, Raymond de Souza, and a few other commentators are publicly standing up for the Church, but the general response of ordinary Catholics in America has been a sigh and a mumble. The Vatican bureaucracy—poorly governed, it must be said, during Benedict’s pontificate—has swung ceaselessly and cluelessly between oblivious silence and tone-deaf whining.
For that matter, Catholicism no longer has as defenders the once-great ethnic blocs of European Catholics. The Irish, for example, ceased to see themselves as Catholics more than a generation ago. And Ireland has now, in Brendan O’Neill’s useful phrase, redefined itself as a nation of the victims of Catholicism. Thanks to 10 years of the government-run inquiry into Catholicism, “many of Ireland’s social problems—including unemployment, poverty, drug abuse and heavy drinking—are now discussed as the products of Ireland’s earlier era of abuse rather than as failings of the contemporary social system.”
Who does that leave to speak against the hysteria? A handful of non-Catholics can get away with it. Rabbi Jack Bemporad, director of the Center for Interreligious Understanding, defended the Good Friday sermon at the Vatican in which the Franciscan priest Raniero Cantalamessa quoted a letter from a “Jewish friend” who said the attacks on the pope reminded him of the “more shameful aspects of anti-Semitism. ” The Lutheran theologian John Stephenson darkly warned that the frenzy was part of a turn against all of Christianity.
“Enough already,” wrote Ed Koch in the Jerusalem Post. “Should Richard Dawkins be Arrested for Covering up Atheist Crimes?” asked an irritated Irish journalist. “This tragedy should not be used as an excuse to attack a large and revered institution that does much good throughout the world,” Harvard law school’s Alan Dershowitz noted on April 9, and eventually a few more contrarians, professional opposers of conventional wisdom, will cry foul.
But for the rest of us, the charge of tolerating child-molesters— the accusation that we cannot feel the pain of the victims—remains too poisonous.
At the peak of the day-care abuse panic of the 1980s and early 1990s, any suggestion that the public reaction was disproportionate to the provable facts was met with excoriation. Yet it now seems plain that the narrative of children being raped at day care centers and preschools was being made to carry more than it would bear—that it was expressing our cultural anxiety and outrage about modern neglect and abuse of children. Even today, no one doubts that some children were molested in American day care centers; given the general figures for pedophilia, it must have been so. But the cultural emotion—the drive to find an explanation for our fear and shame—somehow resulted in wild visions of Satanists in charge of our toddlers.
One cannot compare the charges of those days to the Church’s current situation. Day care workers who are now recognized as innocent served years in jail as a result of that panic, while few today claim the railroading of innocent priests.
And yet, this much seems true: The current hysteria over the Catholic sex-abuse scandal derives at least in part from the same source that fed the panic over rape at preschools and day care centers 20 years ago. These are, in this one respect, two chapters of a single story—the story of a culture whose views of sexuality put its children at risk.
That risk is real. Our contemporary understandings of sex are a jumble of contradictions and insanities, and the young are among those paying the price. The news reports about the Catholic scandals have purchase on us precisely because they echo down the canyons of our cultural anxiety. And to account for that anxiety—to localize and personalize its causes—Catholicism is far more useful than outlandish charges of Satanism ever were.
For some of the commentators on the current scandals, any stick is a good one if you can poke it at religion. Most people, however, are just looking for an explanation. They worked so hard to build the life the contemporary world demands, and still they are anxious. They rejected the sexual strictures of the past, just as they were taught to do, and still their children are in danger.
There must be a reason for the unfulfilled promise of modern sex and modern life. There must be a mystical, magical key that will unlock the door to paradise. Why have we been thwarted? Why aren’t we there yet?
The Catholic Church, of course. That’s the answer.
Joseph Bottum is a contributing editor to The Weekly Standard and editor of First Things since the death of its founder, Fr. Richard John Newhaus-Dez.


Pedophilia’s Roots and the Catholic ChurchInterview with Author Lorenzo Bertocchi

By Antonio Gaspari, Rome, May 23, 2010

If pedophilia is so widespread in society, what has caused its growth? And how did it infiltrate the Church?
These and other questions have been tackled in a book by Francesco Agnoli, Massimo Introvigne, Giuliano Guzzo, Luca Volonté and Lorenzo Bertocchi. The Italian-language work, titled “Indagine sulla pedofilia nella Chiesa” (Investigation on Pedophilia in the Church), considers the roots of the phenomenon of pedophilia.
ZENIT spoke with one of the authors, Lorenzo Bertocchi, about their conclusions and what wavering Catholics can do to restore faith in the Church.




ZENIT: How many cases of pedophilia are there in the Church?
Bertocchi: Even if there was only one case, obviously it would already be too many. In this regard, within the Church the one who has shown himself to have very clear ideas is precisely Benedict XVI. 
Having said that, I think it is useful to understand the dimensions of the phenomenon and, in the first part of the book, Massimo Introvigne helps us to frame the problem. In the United States, for example, according to authoritative academic research, from 1950 to 2002, there were 958 priests accused of actual pedophilia out of more than 109,000 priests, but the
convictions are drastically less — a figure just under 100.
In a statement last March 10, Father [Federico] Lombardi [the Vatican spokesman] mentioned the case of Austria where, in the same time span, verified accusations attributed to the Church totaled 17, whereas in other environments they rose to 510. These numbers can say much or nothing; nevertheless they undoubtedly show a tendency that enables one to deflate the hypothesis in regard to the Church that would like to make “a bundle of the grass” [an Italian expression that means to generalize].
The subject of false accusations would merit a separate discourse, as for example the cases of Father Giorgio Covoni, of two women religious of Bergamo, of Father Kinsella and Sister Nora Wall in Ireland, each accused of abuses and then acquitted. These facts are important because they give credit to the not-always-clear dynamics in which the accusations take shape.
ZENIT: And in society?
Bertocchi: Reading the data it seems that the plague of pedophilia is really extensive and impressive. A World Health Organization report –“Global Estimates of Health Consequences Due to Violence Against Children” (Geneva, 2006) — indicates, for example, that in 2002, it can be estimated that close to 150 million girls and 73 million boys worldwide were subjected to different forms of sexual abuse.
A U.N. report, presented to the General Assembly on July 21, 2009, focused attention instead on the situation of the Web: On a worldwide scale, the number of on-line sites of a pedo-pornographic nature has increased at a dizzying rate; for example, if in 2001 there were 261,653, in 2004 they numbered 480,000, a tendency that is also confirmed by consulting annual reports from Father Di Noto’s Meter Association.
This fact about the Internet seems to me paradigmatic, given the role already assumed by the Web in our social life. Thus it gives weight to the idea that there is a good dose of prejudice in the type of media campaign carried out to make the Church seem as the place par excellence of pedophilia.
ZENIT: What kind of culture promotes pedophilia?
Bertocchi: At the heart of the problem is the “sex culture” that, especially since ’68, promoted a real revolution geared to “abolish the taboos.” The spread of pornography — which in some way represents the flag of this revolution — can be seen by everyone. The dominant mentality today is one that justifies sexual unions of every sort, and is a fruit of the thought rooted in De Sade, Freud, Fromm, Reich, Marcuse, etc. — those whom we could describe as prophets of the exaltation of the orgasm.
In our book, Francesco Agnoli gives examples of how this culture is still alive today. Representative is the case of the Dutch Pro-Pedophiles political party, recently dissolved for lack of signatures, but not because of a legal prohibition. At its root, the sexual revolution of those years had the objective of attacking all types of authority, beginning with God’s, and this, sadly, has left its mark also within the Church.
ZENIT: How, when and why did the culture that fosters pedophilia penetrate seminaries and the Church?
Bertocchi: We find an indication in the letter Benedict XVI wrote to Catholics of Ireland, in which, in addition to addressing the problem of the cases of pedophilia in the Irish clergy, the Holy Father also looks for the roots of the phenomenon. In his argumentation, he makes reference to the fact that the “program of renewal proposed by the Second Vatican Council was sometimes misinterpreted.” Undoubtedly this is an allusion to that period of the 60s and 70s of the last century in which the so-called opening to the world led the Church to a weakening of the faith and to progressive secularization.
The social attack on the principle of authority, the famous slogan “it is prohibited to prohibit,” insinuated itself in the Church, and thus in the seminaries a certain interpretation ended up confusing discipline with dialogue. The result was a wider approach in the selection of candidates to the priesthood.
In this connection, Cardinal [Carlo] Caffarra specified that the fact that “the Church gives itself criteria to discern whom to admit and whom not to admit to the priesthood is a right that no one can reasonably deny it” (La Verita chiede di essere rivelata — Rizzoli 2009). 
Today more than ever this right must be exercised. Whoever thinks that the problem is priests’ celibacy should at least explain why in the Protestant clergy, where marriage is allowed, there are cases of abuses not inferior to those of the Catholic clergy.
ZENIT: Why does organized pedophilia practiced with sexual tourism not cause a stir, and why can it not be stopped?
Bertocchi: Research by ECPAT [End Child Prostitution, Child Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes] reveals that in the world, close to 80 million tourists each year travel in search of a sex offer. According to Intervita — an Italian organization — there are 10 million minors involved in this global market, with a revenue estimated at U.S. $12
The research of the University of Parma carried out by ECPAT establishes the robot portrait of the “tourist type,” who is certainly not a monster: In 90% of the cases, he is between 20 and 40 years old, of mid- to higher-level education, a good income level, often married. On the other hand, the victims are between the ages of 11 and 15, in the case of girls, and between 13 and 18 for boys.


This type of “tourism” is regarded as a crime in many countries, but despite this it is a flourishing industry and precisely because it is “an industry” it is difficult to stop. But there is also a more radical motive to investigate within the “sex culture” of which I spoke earlier; there are political expressions that are the banners of ideas born from that “culture,” and that mobilize as a real lobby.
ZENIT: What is the boundary between reality and false moralism?
Bertocchi: A great part of our post-modern societies already accepts or justifies the destruction of embryos inasmuch as it does not consider them human beings, trades in ovules and spermatozoids as if they were crackers, theorizes on masculinity and femininity as simple cultural labels, spreads pornography as a form of amusement and would like to make assisted suicide a noble choice.
By a kind of perversion of truth, today we are faced with an ethical confusion of such proportions that reality is lost in subjectivism. Thus we see that condemnation of the immoral behavior of the religious comes from the same cultural environment that is willing to accept all the arbitrariness of the individual. The reasons are of an ideological type, but also of an economic type, as demonstrated by those U.S. lawyers’ practices that have earned billions of dollars, thanks to the free and easy use of pedophilia accusations.
ZENIT: How should one evaluate the line of zero tolerance adopted by Benedict XVI?
Bertocchi: The Holy Father’s determination in wanting to bring this to light seems exemplary to me; he points out a path of transparency that is not only valid for the Church, but should be valid for all sectors of society that have had or have to do with this sad phenomenon.
In the 2005 meditations of the Via Crucis, the then Cardinal Ratzinger showed clearly the need to clean up within the Church, a desire that is not avenging, but rather for a real justice to make the Bride of Christ shine even more as “one, holy, catholic and apostolic.” This “style” can be seen in all Benedict XVI’s teaching, his recipe of purification goes in all directions: the hermeneutics of continuity, the extension of rationality, the example of the Curé d’Ars for the Year for Priests, the attention to the liturgy, zero tolerance against the scandal of pedophilia, etc. The problem might be to read his teachings by taking only what falls closest to one’s own ideas, and not considering them in their totality.
ZENIT: How can the Catholic Church overcome the consternation and mistrust so widespread among the people?
Bertocchi: All of us Catholics are called to return to the foundations of the faith to be authentic witnesses of the Risen Lord or, as Luca Volonte says, “the awareness of the company of Christ must be clear,” he who accompanies us daily. In his recent apostolic trip to Fatima, the Holy Father said that the Church suffers because of “internal” causes. He certainly was referring to the wounds caused by the cases of sexual abuse but I also believe in the need of an essential doctrinal clarity for a return to the foundations. Today, sadly, this clarity cannot be taken for granted and this also confuses people.
Hence, I am in agreement with the conclusions pointed out by Agnoli in the essay: prayer, recovery of the sense of the supernatural, effective service from the governance of the Church and, I add, a profound recovery of the sense of sin. “The real enemy to fear and to combat is sin, the spiritual evil that, at times, sadly also infects the members of the Church,” said
Benedict XVI after the Regina Caeli on May 16.
Unfortunately, in many catecheses, the subject “sin” is increasingly out of fashion, displaced by much psychology and much sociology. However, to acknowledge ourselves as sinners is the way to receive God’s mercy. Charity in truth — there is no other way to give hope to the men of our time.


Pedophilia a Worldwide Issue, Not a Priest ProblemFounder of Protection Agency Laments Media Lobbies

Rome, July 29, 2010

The founder of a children’s protection organization laments that pedophilia only makes the news when it is linked to priests, which misses the point that it is a worldwide problem.
Father Fortunato Di Noto of the Meter association noted this deficiency in an interview with H2Onews.
Pedophilia is not just a crime but also a money machine, he explained, with an annual yield of €13 billion ($17 billion) and a victim toll of 200,000 abused children, increasingly even babies and toddlers.
And yet, Father Di Noto lamented, much of the press is scandalized only by pedophile priests and not by this phenomenon of enormous proportions. 
“The most striking thing is that while we have talked about pedophilia in the clergy, the global phenomenon of pedophilia has not been discussed,” he noted. “And the global phenomenon of sexual abuse is before the eyes of all. What impresses me, and what in essence makes the difference, is that the newspapers, probably influenced much by communication, lobbyists, have spoken more of this than of the gravity of pedophilia itself, more than the seriousness of sexual exploitation of children, the seriousness of the sex tourism of children, the gravity of selling children and of the rape of children. “This is a blatant and visible demonstration of how certain press, moved by certain types of lobbying mentalities, sometimes communicate false, unverifiable, or exploitive information.” 
The founder of Meter added that the growth of pedophilia on social networks is another element that calls for greater parent responsibility and attention. 
“The question is,” he said, “why are there 180,000 children in Italy under the age of 13 who are enrolled on Facebook without authorization? And this means that there are 180,000 families who do not monitor the actions of these children.”
On the Net: Video of interview:




Forgotten Study: Abuse in School 100 Times Worse than by Priests

By James Tillman and John Jalsevac, Washington, DC, April 1, 2010

In the last several weeks such a quantity of ink has been spilled in newspapers across the globe about the priestly sex abuse scandals, that a casual reader might be forgiven for thinking that Catholic priests are the worst and most common perpetrators of child sex abuse.

But according to Charol Shakeshaft, the researcher of a little-remembered 2004 study prepared for the U.S. Department of Education, “the physical sexual abuse of students in schools is likely more than 100 times the abuse by priests.”

After effectively disappearing from the radar, Shakeshaft’s study is now being revisited by commentators seeking to restore a sense of proportion to the mainstream coverage of the Church scandal.

According to the 2004 study “the most accurate data available at this time” indicates that “nearly 9.6 percent of students are targets of educator sexual misconduct sometime during their school career.”

“Educator sexual misconduct is woefully under-studied,” writes the researcher. “We have scant data on incidence and even less on descriptions of predators and targets.  There are many questions that call for answers.”

In an article published on Monday, renowned Catholic commentator George Weigel referred to the Shakeshaft study, and observed that “The sexual and physical abuse of children and young people is a global plague” in which Catholic priests constitute only a small minority of perpetrators.

While Weigel observes that the findings of Shakeshaft’s study do nothing to mitigate the harm caused by priestly abuse, or excuse the “clericalism” and “fideism” that led bishops to ignore the problem, they do point to a gross imbalance in the level of scrutiny given to it, throwing suspicion on the motives of the news outlets that are pouring their resources into digging up decades-old dirt on the Church.

“The narrative that has been constructed is often less about the protection of the young (for whom the Catholic Church is, by empirical measure, the safest environment for young people in America today) than it is about taking the Church down,” he writes. 

Weigel observes that priestly sex abuse is “a phenomenon that spiked between the mid-1960s and the mid-1980s but seems to have virtually disappeared,” and that in recent years the Church has gone to great lengths to punish and remove priestly predators and to protect children. The result of these measures is that “six credible cases of clerical sexual abuse in 2009 were reported in the U.S. bishops’ annual audit, in a Church of some 65,000,000 members.”

Despite these facts, however, “the sexual abuse story in the global media is almost entirely a Catholic story, in which the Catholic Church is portrayed as the epicenter of the sexual abuse of the young.”

Outside of the Church, Shakeshaft is not alone in highlighting the largely unaddressed, and unpublicized problem of child sex abuse in schools. Sherryll Kraizer, executive director of the Denver-based Safe Child Program, told the Colorado Gazette in 2008 that school employees commonly ignore laws meant to prevent the sexual abuse of children.

“I see it regularly,” Kraizer said. “There are laws against failing to report, but the law is almost never enforced. Almost never.” “What typically happens is you’ll have a teacher who’s spending a little too much time in a room with one child with the door shut,” Kraizer explained. “Another teacher sees it and reports it to the principal. The principal calls the suspected teacher in and says ‘Don’t do that,’ instead of contacting child protective services.”

“Before you know it, the teacher is driving the student home. A whole series of events will unfold, known to other teachers and the principal, and nobody contacts child services before it’s out of control. You see this documented in records after it eventually ends up in court.”

In an editorial last week, The Gazette revisited the testimony of Kraizer in the context of the Church abuse scandal coverage, concluding that “the much larger crisis remains in our public schools today, where children are raped and groped every day in the United States.” “The media and others must maintain their watchful eye on the Catholic Church and other religious institutions,” wrote The Gazette, “But it’s no less tragic when a child gets abused at school.”

In 2004, shortly after the Shakeshaft study was released, Catholic League President William Donohue, who was unavailable for an interview for this story, asked, “Where is the media in all this?”

“Isn’t it news that the number of public school students who have been abused by a school employee is more than 100 times greater than the number of minors who have been abused by priests?” he asked.

“All those reporters, columnists, talking heads, attorneys general, D.A.’s, psychologists and victims groups who were so quick on the draw to get priests have a moral obligation to pursue this issue to the max.  If they don’t, they’re a fraud.”


Is the Catholic Church in that Time of Purification that Ratzinger Predicted?

Editorial by John-Henry Westen

April 7, 2010 (

The near-constant battering of the Catholic Church during the past month over the sexual abuse scandal has most Catholics reeling and much of the media in a feeding frenzy, seeing the scandals as an opportunity to bring down the archenemy of the sexual revolution.  This latest cycle of the sexual abuse scandal is different from that which took place in Canada and Boston years ago.  It involves new and disastrous revelations daily and from all over Europe and North America, with sustained coverage in the media.




For over 35 years Pope Benedict XVI has predicted a smaller, more faithful church. The 1970 book Glaube und Zukunft, based on five lectures by then-Fr. Joseph Ratzinger given in 1969 at radio stations in Baviera and Hessen, is the first recorded mentioning of this prediction. 

In those lectures the future pope said, “From today’s crisis, a Church will emerge tomorrow that will have lost a great deal. She will be small and, to a large extent, will have to start from the beginning. She will no longer be able to fill many of the buildings created in her period of great splendour. Because of the smaller number of her followers, she will lose many of her privileges in society.”

In discussing the matter with my colleagues the consensus is that this crisis is definitely part of that long-predicted purification. Unfortunately, however, it comes in a very confusing package.  It would be easier to see truth in an obvious conflict between good and evil: where, for instance, some in the church were advocating for abortion or at least ‘choice,’ versus those who maintained the defense of the sanctity of human life. 

But the murkiness of this crisis has the influence of evil written all over it. 

The abuse is not exclusively tied to liberalism in the Church, such as was the case with former Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland.  Weakland was a notorious liberal who, in addition to admitting to transferring priests with a history of sexual misconduct back into churches without alerting parishioners, admitted to homosexual encounters while serving as archbishop.  Weakland retired in 2002 after it was revealed he paid hundreds of thousands of church dollars to a former homosexual lover who threatened to publicly accuse Weakland of sexually assaulting him. 

But the ongoing and mindboggling revelations of abuse by Legion of Christ founder Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado show that this crisis touches even what seemed like an oasis of orthodoxy.

This crisis reminds me of Christ’s prophecy in Matthew 24:24 where he warns that times will come when ‘even the elect’ will be deceived.

It shakes the faith of many as even bishops are found to be guilty not only of horrendous cover-ups and unthinkable enabling by shuffling around abusive clergy, but also of sexual abuse and perverse activity themselves.

Today’s revelations about Norwegian Bishop Georg Muller are devastating.  Muller, 58, who resigned last year saying only he was unsuited to the work, now has admitted that the reason for his resignation was his sexual abuse of a 10-year-old choir boy 20 years ago.

In another devastating revelation this week, retired French Bishop Jacques Gaillot of Evreux in France said of his taking in a convicted Canadian pedophile priest in 1987, who later went on to abuse children in France: “back then, that’s how the Church operated.” 

But at the same time the media’s coverage on the scandal must be viewed with a very critical eye, as was seen in the recent attempts by the New York Times to unjustly smear Pope Benedict.

As Colleen Raezler of the Culture and Media Institute points out, the broadcast media relentlessly pursued their objective of smearing the Catholic Church during the holiest week of the year for Catholics.

“ABC, CBS and NBC featured 26 stories during Holy Week about Pope Benedict’s perceived role in the sex abuse scandal the Catholic Church is now facing,” she reported. “Only one story focused on the measures the church has adopted in recent years to prevent abuse. In 69 percent of the stories (18 out of 26) reporters used language that presumed the pope’s guilt. Only one made specific mention of the recent drop in the incidence of abuse allegations against the Catholic Church.”

While the media is now focused on the Catholic Church, this is an attack on all Christianity and Christian morality.  That is why Lutheran pastor John Stephenson has come out so strongly in defense of the pope.

Will the church survive the crisis? Believing Catholics say that it will, since Christ promised (Matthew 16:18) that the gates of Hell would not overcome it. But, as the pope predicted, it will likely be a smaller and purer church.

Many Catholics are ramping up their prayers for the church, and the pope.  The Knights of Columbus are encouraging all their members around the world to join in a special novena for Pope Benedict XVI, beginning Divine Mercy Sunday, April 11, and concluding Monday, April 19, the fifth anniversary of the Pope Benedict’s election in 2005.

Canadian Catholic author Michael O’Brien, a good friend of mine, spoke with me today about the crisis. Michael warns of where he sees things going from a spiritual vantage point. And while his is a stark vision, it remains hopeful.

The famed author of the prophetic novel Father Elijah said: “It has been ever thus with the Church. Satan sifts us like wheat.”

“In a generation (if we should be granted that much more time in history), the aging self-deceived liberalism of the Churches in the West will be gone, as dead wood that has dropped from the tree. At the same time, the internal rot that has disguised itself as orthodoxy will have been burned away by trial and tribulation, indeed by persecution.”


Why Attack the Pope?

By Richard Bastien, April 5, 2010

Sexual abuse is deplorable, no matter where it occurs. But one wonders: Why the near hysteria regarding sexual abuse in the Catholic Church, most of which occurred decades ago, from a society that celebrates the lack of constraints against almost every form of sexual activity, no matter how degraded? Is there any other instance of sexual abuse that generates similar outrage in the media? One answer might be that the Church is held to a higher standard because it professes a higher standard. But there is a deeper reason for the media attack that has nothing to do with moral outrage.




One of the stark features of modernity is the conflict between two very different views of morality: moral relativism versus the natural law. The difference between these views resides in the way they draw a line between right and wrong.

Moral relativism says the line is set uniquely according to one’s estimation of the good and bad intentions or consequences of an actNatural law says the line is set according to three criteria: the nature of the act itself, the intentions of the person, and the context of the act. In other words, the follower of natural law holds that a bad act — for instance, fornication — cannot be made good by good intentions (affection) or by its consequences (physical relief or fulfilment).

At the most basic level, what separates the two sides is the ultimate meaning of life. One believes that that meaning is immanent: It is essentially about having fun. You might say it has its own trinitarian god: Food, Fantasy, and Fornication. The other side believes that the purpose of life is transcendent: to know, love, and serve God. The morality of natural law seeks to maintain our humanity as traditionally understood through the Judeo-Christian heritage. Moral relativism seeks its complete re-engineering. For the former, freedom means freedom to do what is objectively right. For the latter, it means freedom to define what is right.

While this may seem abstract and of interest mainly to academics and intellectuals, it has implications that spill out into the public square, principally in the form of a debate about the proper attitude toward sex.

The traditional concept of sex, rooted in the sexual revolution initiated 3,000 years ago by Judaism and later reinforced by Christianity, asserts that sex is meant to bond man and woman and to be open to new life. To be truly human, sex must be part and parcel of a person-to-person relationship based on a lifelong commitment open to life.

Moral relativists uphold the recreational view of sex — perhaps best characterized as the Playboy view — emanating from the sexual revolution of the 1960s. It postulates that sex is essentially a pleasure game, with orgasm as the goal and the partner as the means to achieve it. It admits of no God and no personal conscience and assumes we are driven by instincts we can’t control. Attempts at self-control may even be viewed as unhealthy.

The recreational view of sex, propagated often by the media and academia, is now dominant, which explains a good deal of the sea change that has taken place over the past half century in Western society: the prevalence of common-law partnerships over marriage, the high rate of divorce, the widespread practice of contraception and abortion, the legitimization of gay lifestyles, and, coming soon, the acceptance of polygamy and bestiality.

As for the traditional view of sex, it has been forced into beating a retreat. Mainstream Protestant churches have long abandoned it and are now competing among themselves to determine which is most liberal. The Roman Catholic Church stands virtually alone in defending traditional sexual morality and is constantly mocked for doing so — even by some of its own laity and clergy.

The one institution within the Church that has been unflinching in its resistance to this onslaught is the papacy. It stands as a rock against the winds of sexual liberalism. This is precisely what makes it the favorite target of moral relativists: It won’t yield to the pressures to usher in a new age liberated from the old Judeo-Christian morality, thus preventing them from claiming total victory in the culture wars of the 21st century.

This helps explain why the mainstream media are constantly attacking Pope Benedict XVI. The first attack took place in September 2006 when, in Regensburg, his appeal for a reasoned debate on freedom of conscience was depicted as a rant against Muslims. The second came a little over a year ago, when he was raked over the coals for saying that recourse to condoms was worsening the AIDS crisis in Africa. In the latest attack, the denunciations of sexual abuse are meant to tarnish his moral integrity.

The media are going for the jugular because they now understand that the Catholic Church will never water down its sexual morality, and that the only way to neutralize its moral influence is to discredit its highest authority. Where mockery will not do the trick, try defamation and distortion.


Should I stay or should I go? Clerical-abuse scandal

Timothy Radcliffe O.P., April 11, 2010

As the scandal of child sexual abuse and its cover-up swirls around the Church, some Catholics are considering their options as regards their very membership of the institution. Here a former Master of the Dominicans explains why the Church is stuck with him, whatever happens

Fresh revelations of sexual abuse by priests in Germany and Italy have provoked a tide of anger and disgust. I have received emails from people all around Europe asking how can they possibly remain in the Church. I was even sent a form with which to renounce my membership of the Church. Why stay?
First of all, why go? Some people feel that they can no longer remain associated with an institution that is so corrupt and dangerous for children. The suffering of so many children is indeed horrific. They must be our first concern. Nothing that I will write is intended in any way to lessen our horror at the evil of sexual abuse. But the statistics for the US, from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 2004, suggest that Catholic clergy do not offend more than the married clergy of other Churches.
Some surveys even give a lower level of offence for Catholic priests. They are less likely to offend than lay school teachers, and perhaps half as likely as the general population. Celibacy does not push people to abuse children. It is simply untrue to imagine that leaving the Church for another denomination would make one’s children safer.  We must face the terrible fact that the abuse of children is widespread in every part of society. To make the Church the scapegoat would be a cover-up.



But what about the cover-up within the Church? Have not our bishops been shockingly irresponsible in moving offenders around, not reporting them to the police and so perpetuating the abuse? Yes, sometimes. But the great majority of these cases go back to the 1960s and 1970s, when bishops often regarded sexual abuse as a sin rather than also a pathological condition, and when lawyers and psychologists often reassured them that it was safe to reassign priests after treatment. It is unjust to project backwards an awareness of the nature and seriousness of sexual abuse which simply did not exist then. It was only the rise of feminism in the late 1970s which, by shedding light on the violence of some men against women, alerted us to the terrible damage done to vulnerable children.
But what about the Vatican? Pope Benedict has taken a strong line in tackling this issue as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) and since becoming Pope. Now the finger is pointed at him. It appears that some cases reported to the CDF under his watch were not dealt with. Isn’t the Pope’s credibility undermined? There are demonstrators in front of St Peter’s calling for his resignation. I am morally certain that he bears no blame here.
It is generally imagined that the Vatican is a vast and efficient organisation. In fact it is tiny. The CDF only employs 45 people, dealing with doctrinal and disciplinary issues for a Church which has 1.3 billion members, 17 per cent of the world’s population, and some 400,000 priests. When I dealt with the CDF as Master of the Dominican Order, it was obvious that they were struggling to cope. Documents slipped through the cracks. Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger lamented to me that the staff was simply too small for the job.
People are furious with the Vatican’s failure to open up its files and offer a clear explanation of what happened. Why is it so secretive? Angry and hurt Catholics feel a right to transparent government. I agree. But we must, in justice, understand why the Vatican is so self-protective. There were more martyrs in the twentieth century than in all the previous centuries combined. Bishops and priests, Religious and laity were assassinated in Western Europe, in Soviet countries, in Africa, Latin America and Asia.
Many Catholics still suffer imprisonment and death for their faith. Of course, the Vatican tends to stress confidentiality; this has been necessary to protect the Church from people who wish to destroy her. So it is understandable that the Vatican reacts aggressively to demands for transparency and will read legitimate requests for openness as a form of persecution. And some people in the media do, without any doubt, wish to damage the credibility of the Church.
But we owe a debt of gratitude to the press for its insistence that the Church face its failures. If it had not been for the media, then this shameful abuse might have remained unaddressed.
Confidentiality is also a consequence of the Church’s insistence on the right of everyone accused to keep their good name until they are proved to be guilty. This is very hard for our society to understand, whose media destroy people’s reputations without a thought.
Why go? If it is to find a safer haven, a less corrupt Church, then I think that you will be disappointed. I too long for more transparent government, more open debate, but the Church’s secrecy is understandable, and sometimes necessary. To understand is not always to condone, but necessary if we are to act justly.
Why stay? I must lay my cards on the table; even if the Church were obviously worse than other Churches, I still would not go. I am not a Catholic because our Church is the best, or even because I like Catholicism. I do love much about my Church but there are aspects of it which I dislike. I am not a Catholic because of a consumer option for an ecclesiastical Waitrose rather than Tesco, but because I believe that it embodies something which is essential to the Christian witness to the Resurrection, visible unity.
When Jesus died, his community fell apart. He had been betrayed, denied, and most of his disciples fled. It was chiefly the women who accompanied him to the end. On Easter Day, he appeared to the disciples. This was more than the physical resuscitation of a dead corpse.
In him God triumphed over all that destroys community: sin, cowardice, lies, misunderstanding, suffering and death. The Resurrection was made visible to the world in the astonishing sight of a community reborn. These cowards and deniers were gathered together again. They were not a reputable bunch, and shamefaced at what they had done, but once again they were one. The unity of the Church is a sign that all the forces that fragment and scatter are defeated in Christ.
All Christians are one in the Body of Christ. I have deepest respect and affection for Christians from other Churches who nurture and inspire me. But this unity in Christ needs some visible embodiment. Christianity is not a vague spirituality but a religion of incarnation, in which the deepest truths take the physical and sometimes institutional form. Historically this unity has found its focus in Peter, the Rock in Matthew, Mark and Luke, and the shepherd of the flock in John’s gospel.
From the beginning and throughout history, Peter has often been a wobbly rock, a source of scandal, corrupt, and yet this is the one – and his successors – whose task is to hold us together so that we may witness to Christ’s defeat on Easter Day of sin’s power to divide. And so the Church is stuck with me whatever happens. We may be embarrassed to admit that we are Catholics, but Jesus kept shameful company from the beginning.


The Definitive Paper Showing Homosexuality at Root of the Sex Abuse Crisis

By John-Henry Westen, April 19, 2010

A must-read paper produced by Human Life International Research Director Brian Clowes has closed the book on the question of whether homosexuality in the priesthood is a root cause of the clerical sexual abuse crisis.  Citing numerous research studies, Clowes demonstrates that homosexuality is strongly linked to sexual abuse of minors, and that celibacy is definitely not a cause of pedophilia.




Clowes cites studies, including:

– Homosexual Alfred Kinsey, the USA’s preeminent sexual researcher, found in 1948 that 37 percent of all male homosexuals admitted to having sex with children under 17 years old.

– A recent study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that “The best epidemiological evidence indicates that only 2.4% of men attracted to adults prefer men.  In contrast, around 25-40% of men attracted to children prefer boys.  Thus, the rate of homosexual attraction is 6-20 times higher among pedophiles.”

– A study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that, “Pedophilia appears to have a greater than chance association with two other statistically infrequent phenomena.  The first of these is homosexuality … Recent surveys estimate the prevalence of homosexuality, among men attracted to adults, in the neighborhood of 2%.  In contrast, the prevalence of homosexuality among pedophiles may be as high as 30-40%.”

– A study in the Journal of Sex Research noted that “… the proportion of sex offenders against male children among homosexual men is substantially larger than the proportion of sex offenders against female children among heterosexual men … the development of pedophilia is more closely linked with homosexuality than with heterosexuality.”

– A study of 229 convicted child molesters published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that “eighty-six percent of [sexual] offenders against males described themselves as homosexual or bisexual.”

For the references for these findings please see Clowes full paper here.


Five Myths about the Catholic Sexual Abuse Scandal

By David Gibson, April 18, 2010

VATICAN CITY — As Benedict XVI prepares to mark the fifth anniversary of his election as pope here on Monday, he is beset by devastating reports about the sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests — and about his own role in the crisis. The reports have prompted sharp condemnations of the pontiff as well as a backlash of media criticism from papal defenders in the Vatican and around the world. Amid the firestorm, myths have emerged that only complicate the search for truth, healing and accountability.


1. Pope Benedict is the primary culprit in the cover-up of the abuse scandal.

Between 1981 and 2005, Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, the future pope, headed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Vatican’s office for doctrinal orthodoxy. A few abuse cases (some from the United States) came before him, and the evidence shows that he did not move with any urgency to defrock priests. In 2001, as the number of cases coming to light worldwide increased, Ratzinger convinced Pope John Paul II to let his office have jurisdiction over all of them. Though the Vatican says church confidentiality did not preclude bishops from reporting crimes to civil authorities, some see Ratzinger’s move as an attempt to keep the cases secret.

Nonetheless, there is just one case so far that can be traced directly to Ratzinger’s tenure as a bishop, when he was head of the archdiocese of Munich in his native Germany. In that 1980 case, Ratzinger allowed a child abuser into his diocese for psychiatric treatment, and the priest was reassigned to a parish where he went on to abuse more children. It’s unclear whether Ratzinger personally signed off on the assignment, but he seems to have acted more or less like most bishops at the time — giving little oversight to the abuser and doing nothing to remove him from the priesthood. Alas, there is plenty of blame to go around for the church’s passivity.

As pope, Benedict has blamed the media for exaggerating the scandals, yet he has moved more aggressively against abusers than John Paul II, his predecessor, who tried to stop defrocking priests altogether and who ignored evidence of the terrible abuses by the late Marcial Maciel Degollado, a well-known Mexican priest who founded the Legionaries of Christ, a secretive order that is under Vatican investigation.

During the 2000s, as Ratzinger came to realize the scope of the abuse, he expedited the defrocking of abusive priests and reopened the Maciel case, which had been closed under John Paul. “We realize that it’s necessary to repent,” Benedict said in a homily on Thursday. He has still has not punished bishops, however, with the same rigor with which he has targeted abusers.

2. Gay priests are to blame.

Some defenders of the Catholic Church’s response to the abuse crisis say that homosexual priests are responsible for the majority of abuses, in part because more than 80 percent of the victims are male. They argue that true pedophiles — adults who are pathologically attracted to pre-pubescent children — constitute a small minority of offenders. Vatican Secretary of State Tarcisio Bertone repeated this gay-pedophile link on Wednesday, and such reasoning was partially behind a 2005 Vatican policy barring gays from seminaries.

Such assertions have numerous flaws. For one thing, research shows that gay men are no more likely to molest children than straight men. (And celibacy doesn’t seem to be a determining factor, either.) Yes, 80 percent of the victims were male, but many offenders assaulted children of both sexes. Maciel abused boys and fathered children with several women. Moreover, the abusers had access to boys; an adult male couldn’t go on overnight trips with girls or take them away unchaperoned.

Finally, while critics of gay clerics fret that homosexuals dominate the priesthood and endanger children, in fact the ostensible increase in gay priests in recent years has coincided with a sharp decrease in reports of child abuse by clergy.


3. Sexual abuse is more pervasive in the Catholic Church than in other institutions.

Sexual abuse of minors is not the province of the Catholic Church alone. About 4 percent of priests committed an act of sexual abuse on a minor between 1950 and 2002, according to a study being conducted by John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. That is roughly consistent with data on many similar professions.

An extensive 2007 investigation by the Associated Press showed that sexual abuse of children in U.S. schools was “widespread,” and most of it was never reported or punished. And in Portland, Ore., last week, a jury reached a $1.4 million verdict against the Boy Scouts of America in a trial that showed that since the 1920s, Scouts officials kept “perversion files” on suspected abusers but kept them secret.

“We don’t see the Catholic Church as a hotbed of this or a place that has a bigger problem than anyone else,” Ernie Allen, president of the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, told Newsweek. “I can tell you without hesitation that we have seen cases in many religious settings, from traveling evangelists to mainstream ministers to rabbis and others.”

Part of the issue is that the Catholic Church is so tightly organized and keeps such meticulous records — many of which have come to light voluntarily or through court orders — that it can yield a fairly reliable portrait of its personnel and abuse over the decades. Other institutions, and most other religions, are more decentralized and harder to analyze or prosecute.

Still, it is hardly good news that the church appears to be no different from most other institutions in its incidence of abuse. Shouldn’t the Catholic Church and other religious institutions hold to a higher standard?


4. Media outlets are biased against the Catholic Church.

While the Vatican and the pope’s champions argue — often in conspiratorial tones — that the media is biased against the church, the truth is quite the opposite.

The church and the pope do receive major media attention, and with reason. The pope is a world leader as well as the temporal head of one of the world’s most storied religious traditions. There are more than 1.1 billion Catholics on the planet, and the Catholic Church is the largest denomination in the United States, with more than 65 million baptized members. In the media, holidays such as Christmas and Easter tend to be dominated by Catholic images.

The pope also makes news with his pronouncements on a range of topics, and his travels are media events. Pope John Paul II’s death and funeral in April 2005 produced wall-to-wall coverage for weeks, generating some of the most favorable press the church has ever had.

The annual survey of religion in the news conducted by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life showed that in 2008 — the year Benedict traveled to Washington and New York — coverage of the pope and of the Catholic Church accounted for more than half of all news stories about religion, and the majority were positive or explanatory. You don’t hear the church complaining about this kind of attention.


5. The crisis will compel U.S. Catholics to leave the church.

When the initial revelations of widespread sexual abuse by clergy emerged in 2002, many believed that Catholics would abandon the church en masse, or at least send the institution toward insolvency by withholding donations. But then, as now, American Catholics turned out to be an unpredictable lot. Though critical of the bishops and the Vatican, Catholics tend to love their local parishes and priests. And even if they don’t heed all church mandates, they don’t easily shed all the cultural and sacramental markers of their faith.

A 2007 Pew survey of the religious landscape in America found that among Catholics who had left the church, the abuse crisis ranked low on the list of reasons — well behind church teachings on homosexuality, the role of women, abortion and contraception. And a 2008 poll by Georgetown University’s Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate showed that even the bishops had enjoyed a rebound in approval, with satisfaction with the hierarchy growing from 58 percent in 2004 to 72 percent in 2008.

Still, Catholic leaders can’t be complacent. Some 10 percent of all Americans are former Catholics, and without immigrants, the number of American Catholics would be falling, not growing slightly. In a competitive marketplace, it’s not smart to put your customers’ loyalty to such a test.

David Gibson is the author of “The Rule of Benedict: Pope Benedict XVI and his Battle with the Modern World.” He covers religion for


Rampant Fraud in Abuse Charges?

Sent: Friday, January 07, 2011 2:05 AM

Even if only one case of abuse had happened, it would have been one case too many.

However it is also obvious that making world-wide accusations against priests AS A CATEGORY was liable to prompt cynics, out of greed or need, to take advantage of the Catholic Church’s discomfiture to try and turn a profit.

A priest in Florence told me recently that a Rumanian immigrant, whom he had once lent a hand, had come back one day to demand he hand over 20thousand euros, or else. The threat was that he would tell the world that this priest had molested him. The claim was totally unfounded but from that moment on the priest has constantly made sure he is never alone with anyone, if he can help it. Because when it comes down to “it’s your word against mine”, the odds – in today’s climate of priest-bashing – are stacked against priests.

So it’s a good thing that someone is investigating these charges with an open mind and view to establishing the truth. Alexandra Nucci, Bologna, Italy;;




*Special Report*
Los Angeles Attorney Declares Rampant Fraud, Many Abuse Claims against Catholic Priests are ‘Entirely False’

January 2, 2011

In a stunning ten-page declaration recently submitted to the Los Angeles County Superior Court, veteran attorney Donald H. Steier stated that his investigations into claims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests have uncovered vast fraud and that his probes have revealed that many accusations are completely false.
Counselor Steier has played a role in over one hundred investigations involving Catholic clergy in Los Angeles. In his missive Mr. Steier relayed, “One retired F.B.I. agent who worked with me to investigate many claims in the Clergy Cases told me, in his opinion, about ONE-HALF of the claims made in the Clergy Cases were either entirely false or so greatly exaggerated that the truth would not have supported a prosecutable claim for childhood sexual abuse” (capital letters are his).
Mr. Steier also added, “In several cases my investigation has provided objective information that could not be reconciled with the truthfulness of the subjective allegations. In other words, in many cases objective facts showed that accusations were false.”
Mr. Steier’s declaration is a stunner. He is as experienced as anyone in studying the claims of abuse against Catholic clergy in the Los Angeles area. Also among Steier’s eye-opening statements:
“I have had accused priest clients take polygraph examinations performed by very experienced former law enforcement experts, including from L.A.P.D., the Sheriff Department, and F.B.I. In many cases the examinations showed my clients’ denial of wrongdoing was ‘truthful,’ and in those cases I offered in writing to the accuser to undergo a similar polygraph examination at my expense. In every case the accuser refused to have his veracity tested by that investigative tool, which is routinely used by intelligence agencies.” “I am aware of several plaintiffs who testified that they realized that they had been abused only after learning that some other person – sometimes a relative – had received a financial settlement from the Archdiocese or another Catholic institution.” “In my investigation of many cases, I have seen the stories of some accusers change significantly over time, sometimes altering years, locations, and what activity was alleged – in every case, the changes seemed to have enabled or enhanced claims against my clients, or drastically increased alleged damages.”
“I am aware that false memories can also be planted or created by various psychological processes, including by therapists who might be characterized as ‘sexual victim advocates,’ if not outright charlatans.”
“Most of the approximately seven hundred psychiatric ‘Certificates of Merit’ filed in these Clergy Cases, as required by [California] Code of Civil Procedure § 340.1, were signed by the same therapist.” (!) (Note: A “Certificate of Merit” from “a licensed mental health practitioner” is required in California before filing an abuse lawsuit.)
Steier signed and submitted the declaration “under penalty of perjury” November 30, 2010. Los Angeles County Superior Court officially filed it at 11 a.m. on December 15, 2010. (Images of Steier’s declaration: pages 1, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10.)
Steier also took aim at the outspoken advocacy group SNAP (Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests):
They maintain an interactive Internet website with a user ‘Forum’ and ‘Message Board,’ among other features, where people can share detailed information between alleged victims pertaining to identity of specific alleged perpetrators, their alleged ‘modus operandi,’ and other details of alleged molestation. In effect, a person who wanted to make a false claim of sexual abuse by a priest could go to that website and find a ‘blueprint’ of factual allegations to make that would coincide with allegations made by other people. Law enforcement also uses the S.N.A.P. website to attempt to locate new victims and allegations against Catholic priests.
Needless to say, SNAP had a fit at the sight of Steier’s declaration. In a frantic press statement dated December 13, 2010, SNAP derided Steier’s declaration as a “legal maneuver” that was “among the most outrageous and hurtful ever made by a church defense lawyer.” In addition to claiming it will file a complaint with the California Bar Association, it demanded that Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony “denounce Steier’s claims and to disclose how much archdiocesan money has been paid to Steier.” (Gee, the last time I checked, SNAP steadfastly refused to divulge how much of its income is derived from the number of lawyers with whom it closely collaborates!)
Yet there is a glaring absence from SNAP’s statement. The organization does not refute nor deny any of the specific claims made by Steier. It simply labels them as “outrageous” and “hurtful.” That is hardly a blow to the explosive declaration aired by the veteran attorney.
Yes, Catholic priests terribly abused minors, and bishops failed to stop the harm. That’s an undeniable truth. There are few crimes that revolt more than sexual abuse. The abuse of minors is a dark episode that the Church will forever have to live with. Yet major media outlets have largely ignored a major element to the entire Catholic abuse scandal narrative.
Here is Wall Street Journal writer Dorothy Rabinowitz:
“People have to come to understand that there is a large scam going on with personal injury attorneys, and what began as a serious effort has now expanded to become a huge money-making proposition.”
Surprise: Ms. Rabinowitz made her remark in 2005. Since then, the Church has doled out an additional $1 billion in settlements.
Will 2011 be the year that the media finally begins to take a closer look at many of the claims being made? What about the suspicious relationships between SNAP, lawyers, and many in the media? (Vincent Carroll at the Denver Post is a rare voice of acknowledgement: “[F]raudulent or highly dubious accusations are more common than is acknowledged in coverage of the church scandals — although they should not be surprising, given the monumental settlements various dioceses have paid out over the years” (Oct. 10, 2010).)



Stay tuned.
Dave Pierre is the author of the heralded book, Double Standard: Abuse Scandals and the Attack on the Catholic Church. Dave is also the creator of and is a contributing writer to, the popular media-bias blog of the Media Research Center.


Study: No Single Cause of Clergy Abuse in US – Says Crisis Is Historical Issue; Notes Sharp Decline After 1985

Washington, D.C., May 18, 2011

A study on sexual abuse by clergy in the United States concludes that neither celibacy nor homosexuality can be pinpointed as the cause for the crisis, and that the problem is largely a historical one.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops released the study today by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice of the City University of New York, which is the second of two reports completed by the college.

The first — “The Nature and Scope of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests and Deacons in the United States 1950-2002” — was published in 2004 and focused on the description and extent of the problem.

The second is titled “The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010,” and it sought to understand why sexual abuse of minors by clergy took place.

The study, which integrated research from “sociocultural, psychological, situational, and organizational” perspectives, concluded that “no single ’cause’ of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests is identified as a result of our research.”

“Social and cultural changes in the 1960s and 1970s manifested in increased levels of deviant behavior in the general society and also among priests of the Catholic Church in the United States,” it explained. “Organizational, psychological, and situational factors contributed to the vulnerability of individual priests in this period of normative change.”

The study also noted “the historical time period of the problem: the increase in incidence until the late 1970s and the sharp decline by 1985.” The report added that while it could find no “specific institutional cause for the increase in incidence,” there were factors specific to the Catholic Church that “contributed to the decline in the mid-1980s.”

“Analyses of the development and influence of seminary education throughout the historical period is consistent with the continued suppression of abuse behavior in the 21st century,” it said.


Protecting children

Karen Terry, John Jay’s principal investigator for the report, underlined in a statement released by the U.S. bishops that “the bulk of cases occurred decades ago.”

“The increased frequency of abuse in the 1960s and 1970s was consistent with the patterns of increased deviance of society during that time,” she said, adding that “social influences intersected with vulnerabilities of individual priests whose preparation for a life of celibacy was inadequate at that time.”

Noting the specific factors that led to a decrease in incidences of abuse in the Church, Terry noted that the development of human formation elements in seminary training could be linked to fewer current cases in the United States.

She also added that the number of incidences decreased more rapidly within the Church than within society in general.

Bishop Blase Cupich of Spokane, Washington, who chairs the USCCB Committee on the Protection of Children and Young People, found hope in the report, as it shows that “what we are doing works” in addressing child sexual abuse.

He said that the inability to predict individual sexual deviance “makes the safe environments programs valuable and necessary.”

“The Catholic Church has taken a position of zero tolerance of any cleric who would sexually abuse a child,” the bishop added. “Such a position protects children. But it also protects the tens of thousands of priests who have suffered greatly in this crisis, all the while quietly serving with honor and self-sacrifice every day of their lives.”

“The shame of failing our people will remain with us for a long time,” said Bishop Blase Cupich. “It should. Its sting can keep us resolute in our commitments and humble so as to never forget the insight we came to nearly a decade ago in Dallas. We cannot do any of this on our own.”

In 2002 in Dallas, in response to the sexual abuse crisis, the U.S. bishop adopted The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, which has since guided the response in dealing with sexual abuse of minors by clergy.


A model

Archbishop Timothy Dolan of New York, the president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said in a statement released earlier today that the report “adds valuable insight and understanding to how and why the crime and sin of sexual abuse occurred in the Catholic Church.” He reiterated that the report is not a result of the research of the USCCB, but rather of the John Jay College, and that the bishops in the United States have “been noted as the first group anywhere to contract a professional agency … to examine the ’causes and contexts’ of this scourge.”

“The report makes clear that the vast majority of sexual abuse occurred during the 1960’s through 1980’s, even as it examines the various conditions that led to this abuse,” he said. “It also concludes that the incidence of sexual abuse of minors has declined sharply in the Catholic Church since 1985.” He said that the results of the report coincides with the experience of the Archdiocese of New York, as the reports it receives of abuse “are almost exclusively from decades ago.”

“This does not minimize the damage done to the victims of abuse, as I once again offer an apology to anyone who may have been harmed by a priest or any other person acting in the name of the Church, however long ago,” he added.



“The study also points out that there was no single cause that led to the sexual abuse crisis. Neither celibacy, as some have suggested, nor homosexuality, as others have claimed, have been found to be a reason why a person would engage in sexual abuse of a minor,” he continued.

“Providing safe environments for our young people is perhaps the most important way to prevent sexual abuse,” Archbishop Dolan said.

“Earlier this week, the Holy See released a circular letter to bishops’ conferences around the world, urging them to develop polices for dealing with sexual abuse within their own countries,” he concluded. “The letter outlines such steps as listening to and caring for the victims of abuse, creating safe environment for minors, proper formation of priests, cooperating with civil authorities, and taking proper care of priests who have been accused of abuse.

“It is my hope that the experience of the Church in the United States, as illustrated in this study, might help serve as a model, not only for the Church in other countries, but for all of society which is still learning how to deal with the awful problem of abuse.”

The complete report of John Jay College:


Archbishop Dolan’s statement:

The study is titled “The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010.”

Today’s release of The Causes and Context of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Catholic Priests in the United States, 1950-2010, a report conducted by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice, adds valuable insight and understanding to how and why the crime and sin of sexual abuse occurred in the Catholic Church.

Keep in mind that the study released today is a report to the bishops of the United States, not from them. The sexual abuse of minors is a tragedy that affects every family, religion, school, organization, institution, and profession in our society. The Catholic Church in the United States has been noted as the first group anywhere to contract a professional agency — in this case, the John Jay College here in New York City — to examine the “causes and contexts” of this scourge.

I start with this fact because some of the early reaction has already — no surprise here — criticized the bishops for the conclusions of the study! Once again, they are not our conclusions at all, but those of an acclaimed academic institution specializing in this sensitive area.

The information provided in the Causes and Context study closely mirrors our own experience here in the Archdiocese of New York. The report makes clear that the vast majority of sexual abuse occurred during the 1960’s through 1980’s, even as it examines the various conditions that led to this abuse. It also concludes that the incidence of sexual abuse of minors has declined sharply in the Catholic Church since 1985. The reports of abuse that the Victims Assistance Coordinators for the Archdiocese receive today are almost exclusively from decades ago. This does not minimize the damage done to the victims of abuse, as I once again offer an apology to anyone who may have been harmed by a priest or any other person acting in the name of the Church, however long ago.

The study also points out that there was no single cause that led to the sexual abuse crisis. Neither celibacy, as some have suggested, nor homosexuality, as others have claimed, have been found to be a reason why a person would engage in sexual abuse of a minor.

Instead, the Causes and Context report indicates that various vulnerabilities in an individual priest, in combination with situational stresses and opportunities, raise the risk that a priest might abuse.

Here in the Archdiocese, as elsewhere in the Church, many steps have been taken to combat this evil. As the study points out, providing safe environments for our young people is perhaps the most important way to prevent sexual abuse. In the Archdiocese, 74,000 adults have undergone safe environment training, and 82,000 have had background checks, with 170,000 children trained each year. In addition, our seminary formation program provides rigorous screening, and more intensive and comprehensive human and emotional development, which better prepares our future priests to live out their commitment to serving God and His Church. Codes of Conduct, both for clergy and for laity, have been established to clarify what is and is not appropriate behavior for those who work with or are associated with minors.

When an allegation of abuse is made, our policy and procedures are well-established, widely published, and effective. First and foremost, we continue to encourage anyone who has an allegation of abuse against a cleric, an employee, or volunteer of the Archdiocese to report it immediately and directly to the appropriate civil authorities. If the Archdiocese of New York has reason to believe that an act of abuse of a minor has occurred, it immediately contacts the appropriate civil authorities, cooperating with the district attorneys and other civil authority in their investigations of suspected cases of abuse.

Our Independent Lay Board, comprised of judges, lawyers, psychiatrists, social workers, parents, teachers, and those experienced in working with sex abuse victims, reviews these allegations after the civil process has completed. Using all the information that the Archdiocese has been able to gather, they determine if an act of abuse occurred, and advise the Archbishop of New York if the priest can be returned to ministry. Should a cleric be found to have committed even a single act of sexual abuse of a minor, he will never be permitted to serve in ministry again.

Earlier this week, the Holy See released a circular letter to bishops’ conferences around the world, urging them to develop polices for dealing with sexual abuse within their own countries. The letter outlines such steps as listening to and caring for the victims of abuse, creating safe environment for minors, proper formation of priests, cooperating with civil authorities, and taking proper care of priests who have been accused of abuse. It is my hope that the experience of the Church in the United States, as illustrated in this study, might help serve as a model, not only for the Church in other countries, but for all of society which is still learning how to deal with the awful problem of abuse.



Vatican hits back strongly at scathing UN report – Spokesman says UN was not entitled to attack Church teachings Source:

February 10, 2014

Vatican City: In a sharply worded and detailed response to UN committee’s critical report on the Vatican’s response to sexual abuse, the Vatican’s chief spokesman has said that the committee’s recommendations “seem to go beyond its competencies and to interfere in the very doctrinal and moral positions of the Catholic Church.”

Father Federico Lombardi, the director of the Vatican press office, released a lengthy response to the report by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child on February 7. In his 3-page statement charged that committee had neglected to pay attention to information submitted by the Vatican, relying instead on reports from groups critical of the Church. The Vatican spokesman strongly suggested that the report had been drafted in advance, without waiting for the Vatican’s own report.

Most important, Father Lombardi charged, the UN committee had overstepped its jurisdiction to attack the Church’s moral teaching. He said that “the Committee’s comments in several directions seem to go beyond its powers and to interfere in the very moral and doctrinal positions of the Catholic Church, giving indications involving moral evaluations of contraception, or abortion, or education in families, or the vision of human sexuality, in light of own ideological vision of sexuality itself.” Father Lombardi made an extra effort to reaffirm the Vatican’s support for the UN, and for the Convention on the Rights of the Child. He said that the Holy See recognized the value of “serious and well founded” criticism regarding the Church’s response to the sex-abuse scandal. However, he said that the UN committee’s report was a biased presentation. The Church has suffered from “unjustly harmful” media scrutiny in the sex-abuse crisis, Father Lombardi said, and the enormous attention accorded to the UN committee’s report was an example of that unequal treatment. He pointed out that the same committee’s reports on other nations have rarely been given media attention, even when the reports point to grave violations of children’s rights.

Father Lombardi also complained that the UN committee’s report shows a “lack of understanding of the specific nature of the Holy See.” The Vatican, he explained, does not control the behavior of priests in every country, and cannot be responsible for law-enforcement efforts outside its own limited jurisdiction. He observed that this point had been made repeatedly to members of the UN committee, and “one is entitled to amazement” that the point had not been absorbed.


A Crisis of Saints

By Fr. Roger Landry, April 2002
[All emphases are mine]
Headlines were captured in February by the tragic reports that as many as seventy priests in the Archdiocese of Boston, Massachusetts, allegedly have abused young people whom they were consecrated to serve. In the wake this news, allegations of sexual abuse by Catholic priests have sprung up nationwide. It is a huge scandal, one that many people who dislike the Catholic Church because of its moral teachings are using to claim that the Church is hypocritical and that they were right all along. Many people have come up to priests like myself to talk about it. I imagine many others have wanted to but have refrained out of respect or from not wanting to bring up bad news.
We need to tackle the issue head-on. Catholics have a right to it from their clergy. We cannot pretend it doesn’t exist, and I would like to discuss what our response as faithful Catholics should be to this terrible situation.

The first thing we need to do is to understand this scandal from the perspective of our faith in the Lord. Before he chose his first disciples, Jesus went up the mountain to pray all night (Luke 6:12). He had many followers at the time. He talked to his Father in prayer about whom he should choose to be his twelve apostles-the twelve whom he would form intimately, the twelve whom he would send out to preach the good news in his name. He gave them power to cast out demons. He gave them power to cure the sick. They watched him work countless miracles. They themselves worked countless others in his name.
Yet one of them turned out to be a traitor. One who had followed the Lord-who had seen him walk on water and raise people from the dead and forgive sinners, one whose feet the Lord had washed-betrayed him. The gospels tells us that Judas allowed Satan to enter into him and then sold the Lord for thirty pieces of silver, handing him over by faking a gesture of love. “Judas,” Jesus said to him in the garden of Gethsemane, “would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Luke 24:48).
Jesus didn’t choose Judas to betray him. But Judas was always free, and he used his freedom to allow Satan to enter into him, and by his betrayal Jesus was crucified and executed. But God foresaw this evil and used it to accomplish the ultimate good: the redemption of the world.
The point is, sometimes God’s chosen ones betray him. That is a fact that we have to confront. If the early Christians had focused only on the scandal caused by Judas, the Church would have been finished before it even started to grow. Instead they recognized that you don’t judge a movement by those who don’t live it but by those who do. Rather than focusing on the betrayer, they focused on the other eleven on account of whose work, preaching, miracles, and love for Christ we are here today. It is on account of the other eleven-all of whom except John were martyred for Christ and for the gospel they proclaimed-that we ever heard the saving word of God, that we ever received the sacraments of eternal life. We are confronted by the same scandalous reality today. We can focus on those who have betrayed the Lord, those who abused rather than loved the people whom they were called to serve. Or we can focus, as did the early Church, on those who have remained faithful, those priests who are still offering their lives to serve Christ and you out of love. The secular media almost never focuses on the good “eleven,” the ones whom Jesus has chosen who remain faithful, who live lives of quiet holiness. But we the Church must keep the terrible scandal that we are witnessing in its true and full perspective.


Unfortunately, scandal is nothing new for the Church. There have been many times through the ages when things were much worse off than they are now. The history of the Church is like a cosine curve with many ups and downs. At the times when the Church hits its low points God raises up tremendous saints to bring the Church back to its real mission. It’s almost as if in those times of darkness the light of Christ shines ever more brightly. I would like to focus on a couple of saints whom God raised up in such difficult times, because their wisdom can guide us during our own difficult time.
Francis de Sales came along after the Protestant Reformation. The Reformation was not principally about theology-although theological differences came later-but about morals. Martin Luther, an Augustinian priest, lived during the reign of perhaps the most notorious pope in history, Alexander VI. This pope never taught anything against the faith-the Holy Spirit prevented that-but he was a wicked man. He had nine children from six different concubines. He put out contracts on the lives of those he considered his enemies.
Luther, like everyone, must have wondered how God could allow a wicked man to be the visible head of his Church. All types of moral problems confronted Luther even in his own country of Germany. Priests were living in open relationships with women. Some made exaggerated claims about indulgences. There was terrible immorality among lay Catholics. Luther was scandalized, as anyone who loved God should have been. He allowed the scandal to drive him from the Church.
Eventually God raised up many saints to combat this erroneous solution and to bring people back to the Church Christ founded. Francis de Sales was one of them. At the risk of his life he went through Switzerland, where the Calvinists were popular, preaching the gospel with truth and love. Several times on his travels he was beaten and left for dead.
Someone once asked him to address the situation of the scandal caused by so many of his brother priests. What Francis de Sales said is as important for us today as it was then. He did not pull any punches. He said, While those who give scandal are guilty of the spiritual equivalent of murder [i.e., destroying other people’s faith in God by their terrible example], those who take scandal-who allow scandals to destroy their faith-are guilty of spiritual suicide.” They are guilty, he said, of cutting off their life with Christ by abandoning the source of life in the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. He went among the people in Switzerland trying to prevent their committing spiritual suicide on account of the scandals. As a priest today I would say the same thing to you.
What should our reaction be then? Another saint who lived in a difficult time also can help us. Francis of Assisi lived in the thirteenth century, which was a time of terrible immorality in central Italy. Priests were setting horrible examples. Lay immorality was terrible, too. Francis himself while a young man gave scandal to others by his carefree ways. But eventually he was converted back to the Lord, founded the Franciscans, helped God rebuild his Church, and became one of the great saints of all time.
There is a story told of Francis of Assisi that sticks in my mind from one of the biographies I read as a seminarian. Once one of the brothers in the order of Friars Minor who was sensitive to scandal asked him, “Brother Francis, what would you do if you knew that a priest celebrating Mass had three concubines on the side?” Francis replied, “When it came time for Holy Communion, I would go to receive the sacred body of my Lord from the priest’s anointed hands.”
Francis was getting at a tremendous truth of the faith and a tremendous gift of the Lord: God has made the sacraments “priest-proof.” No matter how holy or wicked a priest is, provided he has the intention to do what the Church does, then Christ himself acts through the priest, just as he acted through Judas when Judas ministered as an apostle. So whether Pope John Paul II or a priest on death row for a felony consecrates the bread and wine, it is Christ himself who acts to gives us his own body and blood. Francis was saying he was not going to let the wickedness or immorality of the priest lead him (Francis) to commit spiritual suicide.
Christ can work still and does work still even through the most sinful priest. And thank God! If we were dependent on the priest’s personal holiness, we would be in trouble. Though they are chosen by God from among men, priests are tempted and fall into sin just like anyone else. But of course God knew that from the beginning. Eleven of the first twelve apostles scattered when Christ was arrested, but they came back.

There has been a lot of talk in the media about what the response of the Church ought to be to these scandalous deeds. Does the Church have to do a better job in making sure no one with a predisposition toward pedophilia gets ordained? Absolutely. But that is not enough.
Does the Church have to do a better job in handling cases when they are reported? Absolutely. Though the Church’s procedures for handling these cases are much better today than they were twenty years ago, they can always be improved. But even that is not enough.
Do we have to do more to support the victims of such abuse? Yes we do, both out of justice and out of love. But not even that is adequate. Cardinal Bernard Law has persuaded many of the medical school deans in Boston to work on establishing a center for the prevention of child abuse, which is something we should all support. But that by itself is not sufficient.
The only adequate response to this terrible scandal, the only fully Catholic response-as Francis of Assisi recognized in the 1200s, as Francis de Sales recognized in the 1600s, and as countless other saints have recognized in every century-is holiness. Every crisis that the Church faces, every crisis that the world faces, is a crisis of saints. Holiness is crucial because it is the real face of the Church.
There are always people-a priest meets them regularly, and you probably know several of them-who use excuses for why they don’t practice the faith, why they commit spiritual suicide. It may be that a nun was mean to them when they were nine or that they find the teaching of the Church on a particular issue too burdensome. There are many people these days who say, “Why should I practice the faith, why should I go to church? The Church can’t be true if God’s so-called chosen ones can do the types of things we’ve been reading about!”



This scandal is a scaffold on which some will try to hang their justification for not practicing the faith. That is why personal holiness is so important. Such people need to find in all of us a reason for faith, a reason for hope, a reason for responding with love to the love of the Lord. The beatitudes in Christ’s Sermon on the Mount are a recipe for holiness. We all need to live them more.
Do priests have to become holier? They sure do. Do religious brothers and sisters have to become holier and give ever-greater witness to God and heaven? Absolutely. All people in the Church have the vocation to be holy, and this crisis is a wake-up call.
It’s a tough time to be a priest today. It’s a tough time to be a Catholic today. But it’s also a great time to be a priest and a great time to be a Catholic. Jesus says, “Blessed are you when men revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven” (Matt. 5:11-12).
I have been experiencing that beatitude firsthand, as have other priests I know. Earlier this week I had finished my exercise at a local gym and was coming out of the locker room dressed in my black clerical garb. Upon seeing me, a mother hurriedly moved her children out of the way and shielded them from me as I was passing. She glared at me as I passed, and when I was far enough away she finally relaxed and let her children go-as if I would have attacked them in the middle of the afternoon at a health club!
But while we all might have to suffer such insults and even slander on account of Christ, we should indeed rejoice. It’s a great time to be a Christian, because this is a time in which God really needs us to show his true face. In bygone days in America, the Church was respected. Priests were respected. The Church had a reputation for holiness and goodness. Not so at the moment.

For almost three years of my life in the early 1990s, while in my car I listened to nothing but tapes by Bishop Fulton J. Sheen, one of the greatest Catholic preachers in American history. On a couple of his tapes for priests’ retreats, Bishop Sheen said that he preferred to live in times when the Church has suffered rather than thrived, when the Church had to struggle, when the Church had to go against the culture. It was a time for real men and real women to stand up and be counted. “Even dead bodies can float downstream,” he said, pointing that many people can coast when the Church is respected, “but it takes a real man, a real woman, to swim against the current.”
How true that is. It takes a real man or a real woman to stand up against the current that is flowing against the Church. It takes a real man or a real woman to recognize that when you are resisting the flood of criticism, you are safest when you stay attached to the Rock on whom Christ built his Church.
This is one of those times. It’s a great time to be a Christian.
Some people are predicting that the Church is in for a rough time, and maybe it is. But the Church will survive because the Lord will make sure it survives. One of the greatest comeback lines in history was uttered two hundred years ago. As his armies were swallowing up the countries of Europe, French emperor Napoleon is reported to have said to Church officials, “Je détruirai votre église” (“I will destroy your Church”).” When informed of the emperor’s words, Ercole Cardinal Consalvi, one of the great statesmen of the papal court, replied, “He will never succeed. We have not managed to do it ourselves!” If bad popes, immoral priests, and countless sinners in the Church hadn’t succeeded in destroying the Church from within, Cardinal Consalvi was saying, how did Napoleon think he was going to do it from without?
The Cardinal was pointing to a crucial truth: Christ will never allow his Church to fail. He promised that the gates of hell would not prevail against his Church (Matt. 16:18); that the barque of Peter, the Church sailing through time to its eternal port in heaven, will never capsize-not because those in the boat won’t do everything sinfully possible to overturn it but because Christ, who is captain of the boat, will never allow it to happen.
The magnitude of the current scandal might be such that some will find it difficult to trust priests in the same way as in the past. That is regrettable, though it might not be a completely bad thing. Yet you must never lose trust in Christ! It is his Church. After Judas’s death the eleven apostles convened; the Holy Spirit chose Matthias to take Judas’s place, and he proclaimed the gospel faithfully until he was martyred for it. In the same way today, even if some of those the Lord chose have betrayed him, he will call others who will be faithful, who will serve you with the love with which you deserve to be served.
This is a time in which all of us need to focus ever more on holiness. We are called to be saints, and how much our society needs to see this beautiful, radiant face of the Church! You are part of the solution-a crucial part. And as you go forward in Mass to receive from the priest’s anointed hands the sacred body of your Lord, ask Christ to fill you with a real desire for sanctity, a real desire to show his true face.
One of the reasons I am a priest today is because when I younger I was under-impressed with some of the priests I knew. I watched them celebrate Mass and with little reverence drop the body of the Lord onto the paten, as if they were handling something of small value rather than the Creator and Savior of all, rather than my Creator and Savior. I remember praying, “Lord, please let me become a priest, so I can treat you like you deserve!” It kindled in me a great fire to serve the Lord.
Maybe this scandal can kindle in you the same thing. If you choose, this scandal can lead you down to the path of spiritual suicide. But it should inspire you to say finally to God, “I want to become a saint so that I and the Church can give your name the glory it deserves, so that others might find in you the love and the salvation that I have found.”
Jesus is with us, as he promised, until the end of time. He is still in the boat. Just as out of Judas’s betrayal he achieved the greatest victory in the universe-our salvation through his passion, death and resurrection-so out of this new scandal he may bring, wants to bring, a new rebirth of holiness, a new Acts of the Apostles for the twenty-first century, with each of us-and that includes you-playing a starring role. Now is the time for real men and women of the Church to stand up. Now is the time for saints. How will you respond?
Fr. Roger Landry serves in the diocese of Fall River, Massachusetts.



Pedophiles and Ordination

Rome, September 17, 2008

Answered by Legionary of Christ Father Edward McNamara, professor of liturgy at the Regina Apostolorum university.
Q: Is it true that three things necessary to validate any of the seven sacraments are: 1) proper substance, 2) proper form, and 3) proper intentions? If true, could a man who is secretly a “hopeless” pedophile enter and complete the course of study, never having revealed his lifestyle (through deliberate omission), and become ordained? If your answer is “Yes, this is a valid sacrament,” then how do we explain the proper intentions requirement? Finally, do you think this scenario has ever come to pass, is the Church legally responsible for his later misconduct, and what is your solution? — E.N., California

A: Our reader is correct regarding the general criteria for invalidating the sacraments. Some other sacraments have added criteria, but these three are common to all.
When the Church speaks of correct intention with respect to sacramental validity, the requirement is fairly minimal. It basically means that the person administrating the sacrament and the one receiving the sacrament want to administer and receive the sacrament as the Church understands it.
It does not require a full theological knowledge of the sacrament, nor is it necessary to desire all of its specific effects. Thus it is theoretically possible for a non-Christian to validly baptize a person by simply intending to give what Christians give when they perform this rite.
This fairly simple concept makes it hard to invalidate a sacrament from the standpoint of intention. To do so requires that at the moment of the celebration the person administrating the sacrament or the person receiving it mentally oppose and deny what externally they appear to accept.
There might be cases, however, when other outside factors make it impossible for the persons involved to intend what the Church intends. For example, the Catholic Church does not accept the validity of Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness baptisms for, although the rites are apparently the same, the difference in understanding who the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are make it impossible to intend to act as the Church understands.
This rather long premise is necessary in order to understand the answer to the specific question at hand.
Could a man who, during formation, deliberately hid pedophile tendencies, or indeed any other condition that would have prevented his ordination, be validly ordained? The answer, sad to say, is probably yes, for the intention required at the moment of ordination is the intention to receive the priesthood. Has this ever happened? Almost certainly yes.
In some concrete cases a hidden tendency might produce a spiritual or psychological condition so that the person becomes incapable of really intending what the Church desires when it gives priesthood. This would invalidate the sacrament but is extremely hard to prove. The Church has a special canonical process for judging the question of invalidity of sacred orders, but it is relatively rarely used.
Is the Church responsible? There is moral responsibility if any means of revealing this tendency was culpably neglected before ordination, or if it failed to act immediately once the problem became manifest. The Church would not be morally responsible if an astute man was able to overcome these preventive controls which by their very nature are fallible and subject to manipulation.
Legal responsibility depends on each country’s legal system. Most countries have a concept of civil responsibility in which the Church, just as any juridical person, might be required to pay civil compensation even if not morally responsible for an action of one of its agents.
What can be done? I believe that in the last few years the U.S. bishops have put in place a series of vetting measures in seminaries and other institutions in order to assure that those who should never be ordained, effectively don’t reach ordination.
This, alongside an increase in the quality of the disciplinary and spiritual life in seminaries, makes for a very uncomfortable environment for anyone attempting to get through six years of formation without a sincere motivation.
No system is ever perfect, but the situation has improved greatly and should continue to improve in the years to come.


Follow-up: Pedophiles and Ordination 

September 30, 2008
After our September 17 column on the validity of the sacrament of holy orders with respect to correct intention, a reader suggested a broader approach. He wrote:
“One of your last question-answer e-mails dealt with the intention of a sacrament as it affects the efficacy of the sacrament. I have a sidebar to that question as it relates to giving Communion to infants and children who might not be at a ‘mature’ understanding of the sacrament of the Eucharist. You stated: ‘When the Church speaks of correct intention with respect to sacramental validity, the requirement is fairly minimal. It basically means that the person administrating the sacrament and the one receiving the sacrament want to administer and receive the sacrament as the Church understands it. It does not require a full theological knowledge of the sacrament, nor is it necessary to desire all of its specific effects. Thus it is theoretically possible for a non-Christian to validly baptize a person by simply intending to give what Christians give when they perform this rite. This fairly simple concept makes it hard to invalidate a sacrament from the standpoint of intention. To do so requires that at the moment of the celebration the person administrating the sacrament or the person receiving it mentally oppose and deny what externally they appear to accept.’



“My question is: Why doesn’t this relate to infants and children concerning Communion? There seems to be an inconsistency in the practice of paedo-baptism and in the non-practice of paedo-Communion. I know that it was practiced in the West until the Council of Trent at which time it was formally changed. I also realize that the East (including Eastern Catholics as well as Eastern Orthodox) still practice paedo-Communion. Please explain. Also, in your opinion, will this practice in the West change?”

A complete answer to this question would require a full-blown treatise, but I believe that rather than inconsistency we could speak of different theological emphases that have their origin in diverse pastoral practices.
First of all, I would say that the reason for the Western practice of delaying Communion until the age of reason is basically a pastoral decision.
I do not believe that it is possible to make any sound theological objections to the Eastern practice of administering all three sacraments of initiation to infants, and it is perfectly coherent from the perspective of Eastern sacramental theology. Indeed it would be inconsistent for an Eastern Church to attempt to adopt the Western practice as initiation is intimately tied to the Eastern concept of Church and what it means to be a Christian.
The present Latin practice developed over many centuries and is therefore deeply embedded in the mindset of pastors and faithful alike as well as being encoded in law. Thus, while I believe that there is no theoretical reason why the Latin Church could not adopt the Eastern practice, the probability of this occurring is slight.
Such a change would require deep adjustments in some basic pastoral, spiritual and social presumptions, many of which have proved to be of great value in bringing souls closer to God over the centuries.
Among the reasons why the practice of infant Communion disappeared from the Western Church was the different approach to the sacrament of confirmation. In the West, the desire to maintain the bishop as ordinary minister of this sacrament led to its separation from baptism.
For many centuries first Communion was still generally administered after confirmation, resulting in a further delay in this sacrament. Until the time of Pope Pius X most children received first Communion around age 12. After the saintly Pope lowered the age of reception to around 7, more children began to receive Communion before confirmation.
Another reason was the overall drop in the practice of receiving Communion itself. The number of regular communicants started to drop around the fourth century and did not start to pick up again until the 17th. It is hard to think of administering Communion to infants when their parents received only once a year.
A practical reason was the disappearance in the West of Communion under both species, making it well-nigh impossible to administer the Eucharist to infants incapable of taking solid food. Communion under both species was never dropped from Eastern Christianity and it is administered to newborns under the species of wine.
These are just some of a complex web of causes that have led to the present practice. Reasons such as the need to ensure sufficient knowledge of the mystery one is to receive are sound, reasonable and valid in the context of the lived experience of the Latin Church. But they are practical and pastoral rather than doctrinal arguments.


Pedophilia and the Priesthood – “A Crime Against the Most Weak”

Rome, July 20, 2007

Here is the text of a pamphlet on “Pedophilia and the Priesthood” written by Monsignor Raffaello Martinelli, an official of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, and member of the editorial commission of the Compendium of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
Q: How does the Church evaluate cases of pedophilia committed by priests?
These crimes of pedophilia have been labeled as “a crime against the most weak,” “a horrendous sin in the eyes of God,” a crime “that damages the Church’s credibility,” characterized as “filth” by Cardinal Ratzinger in the memorable Via Crucis on Good Friday 2005, just a few days before being elected Pope. That filth is created by “many cases of sexual abuse of minors that break one’s heart, and are particularly tragic when the one committing the abuse is a priest.” To the bishops of Ireland, Benedict XVI in October 2006 stated once more that these are crimes that “break one’s heart.”
The most severe condemnation, a source of clear and unequivocal blame, is found in the words of Jesus when, identifying himself with the little ones, affirms in the synoptic Gospels: “And whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me. Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea” (Matthew 18:5-6, Mark 9:42, Luke 17:1-2).
Acts of pedophilia are the responsibility of the individual who carries them out.
It has to do with individual cases: It should not be generalized. There are some 500,000 priests in the world, and the priests who have cases brought against them are a small percentage. Those that have been proven and ended with punishment are even less: Trustworthy, nonpartisan sources say the percentage is 0.3%, that is, three priests out of 1,000. It is necessary to distinguish between “delinquent” priests who have done and continue to do bad things, from the multitude of other priests who have dedicated and continue to dedicate their lives to the good of children and adolescents.
We must not forget that in some cases the victims themselves have subsequently retracted their baseless accusations.
It must also be said that even one pedophile priest is too many. He is a priest that never should have been a priest and he should be punished severely with no ifs, ands or buts.




The Church has been working for some time with its personnel (even priests, for example, in Italy Father Fortunato Di Noto, working with his association on Internet sites) and institutions to single out, unmask, condemn and overcome the phenomenon of pedophilia, from within and from without.
Unfortunately it must also be said that some bishops were mistaken when they undervalued the facts and limited themselves to moving, from one parish to another, a priest who was found guilty of pedophilia. For this reason, the Holy See decided in 2001 to claim for itself the judgment on those crimes.

Q: Which documents of the Holy See deal with the crimes of pedophilia?
The Holy See has put out two documents that deal with the crimes of pedophilia:
1. The instruction of March 16, 1962, “Crimen Sollicitationis,” approved by Blessed Pope John XXIII and published by the Holy Office which later became the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. It was an important document to “instruct” canonical cases and laicize the presbyters involved in the vileness of pedophilia. In particular, it dealt with violations of the sacrament of confession.
2. The “Epistula de Delictis Gravioribus” (on most grave crimes), signed May 18, 2001, by then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger as prefect of the congregation. That letter’s objective is to give practical execution of the norms (“Normae de Gravioribus Delictis”) promulgated with the apostolic letter “Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela,” published on April 30, 2001, and signed by Pope John Paul II.

These documents deal with the Church’s internal judicial acts, at the canonical level. Therefore they do not deal with the accusations and the provisions of the civil courts of states, which must be carried out according to their own laws. Whoever has addressed or addresses the ecclesiastical court can also address the civil court, to denounce similar crimes. Therefore the action of the Church is not aimed at retracting these crimes from the jurisdiction of the state and keeping them hidden.
There exist two paths to ascertain and condemn priests responsible for acts of pedophilia: that of the Church, with canon law, and that of the state with penal law. Each of these two paths is autonomous and independent of the other: the civil forum and the canonical forum must not be confused. This means that, whether or not a civil trial has taken place, the Church must necessarily carry out the canonical process. At the moment of the application of canonical punishment, if it is deemed that the guilty priest has been sufficiently punished in the civil forum, in that case the canonical punishment can be withheld.
In Italian law, a private citizen (this includes the bishop and anyone invested with ecclesial authority) is required to accuse [before the state] only crimes for which the penalty is life in prison. Yet, in Church law established in 1962, it was obligatory, under penalty of excommunication, to accuse [before the state] crimes of pedophilia if they happened in conjunction with the sacrament of confession. Therefore, from this point of view, the Church’s legislation was more severe than that of the Italian state in punishing the crimes of pedophilia.

Q: What is the procedure followed by the Church to prosecute crimes of pedophilia committed by priests?
This is the prescribed procedure: Faced with the accusation of an act of pedophilia by a priest, the bishop (or ordinary) must first of all carry out an investigation to ascertain the certainty of the accusation. Having obtained proof, the bishop (or ordinary) must give the documentation of the case to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to follow the procedural path already contained in the Code of Canon Law. In the meantime, in some cases, the canonical judicial procedure to apply punishment can be followed — as, for example, demission from the clerical state — or, in other cases where, for example, the evidence is very clear, the administrative procedure can be carried out.
The seriousness with which the Church evaluates and judges acts of pedophilia is shown by the fact that with a new law passed in 2001, the Holy See (and not the local bishops) decided to reserve the right to judge those crimes. The new law says that judgments concerning “the crime against the sixth commandment committed by a cleric against a minor, under the age of 18, art. 4, are reserved to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which acts in these cases as the ‘apostolic tribunal’ — as is prescribed in ‘Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela.'”

Q: Why does the Church reserve judgment to the Holy See?
The fact that the Pope wanted to reserve to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith — a dicastery of the Holy See — with the apostolic letter “Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela” judgment of the acts of pedophilia committed by priests, shows that the Church considers those acts to be very serious, serious crimes on the same level of the other two serious crimes — reserved to the Holy See — that can be committed against two sacraments: the Eucharist and the holiness of confession. Therefore the Holy See’s decision has nothing to do with wanting to hide potential scandals or to diminish the seriousness of these wicked deeds, but serves to help us understand that they are very serious crimes, to which they give the maximum attention, and for this reason they reserve judgment to one of the most important offices of the Holy See, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith and not “local” entities which could possibly be influenced.

Q: Why secrecy under penalty of excommunication?
In the first place, the two documents cited by the Holy See were not secret, given the fact that they were sent to all bishops — some 5,000 — to indicate what to do in cases of pedophilia.



The 1962 instruction calls for the excommunication of whoever reveals details about the canonical penal procedure. For this reason the Instruction dealt with the way in which to proceed in cases. Therefore we speak of the need for secrecy about the legal proceedings, equal to that called for, in civil proceedings, by the judge while an investigation is in progress. Nothing more, nothing less. As is the case with every legal procedure, even the canonical ones have steps that must be secret to allow the ascertainment of the truth and to protect the innocent.
The main reason why the instruction calls for secrecy in canonical procedures was to permit any future witnesses to come forth freely, with the guarantee that their statements would be confidential and not exposed to publicity. And as a consequence, the name of the accused was kept hidden before a sentence was given in the case.
Another reason the Holy See did not want to cover up these crimes is described in a paragraph of the 1962 document, that obligated anyone, victim or witness, that was aware of any sexual abuses occurring in the confessional to come forth with that information; if not, they would incur the penalty of excommunication.
In the new legislation of 2001, the secrecy of the legal proceedings was not only applicable to cases of sexual abuse, but also for crimes against the Eucharist and those against the sacrament of penance. The letter establishes the pontifical secrecy without establishing any punishment for the violation of that secrecy, even though it is a secret that binds the conscience in a stronger way than that of a normal secret. In this case, the reason for the secret is to protect and safeguard:
— the good name of the accused, who is considered innocent until proven otherwise
— the right to privacy of the victims and witnesses
— the freedom of the superior who must freely made judgments, without being under pressure
Despite “the right to the freedom of information, it must not allow moral evil to become an occasion for sensationalism” (John Paul II, Discourse to American Bishops).
We must not forget that secrecy is needed to safeguard the dignity of the people involved: Many times those who are accused are shown to be innocent in the preliminary investigation.

Q: How are the testimonies of the victims of acts of pedophilia evaluated?
We need to underline here that:
— the testimonies of victims need to be verified, for love of the truth and of the people involved, as is the case with other crimes;
— in order to safeguard the right of the accused to a fair trial, both sides must be heard
— in many cases the question arises: Why did the victim not report the crime after it happened but instead waited many years?
We must not forget that in the Anglo-Saxon world, the diocese to which the guilty priest belongs also shares the responsibility for the crimes committed and must offer economic recompense to the victim: Besides suffering from the scandal itself, the Church also suffers economically (which can be pleasing to some …)

Q: What does the Church do for the victims of these crimes?
The Church is deeply saddened for the innocent victims, as well as for those men who never should have become priests and who, in some cases, received very little condemnation for the crimes they committed.
The Church invites everyone:
— to console the victims
— to support them in their quest for justice
— to immediately declare these crimes
We must not forget that the Church is also a victim, because those crimes are a serious offense to the dignity of the person, created in the image and likeness of God; and they damage Christian witness.
To the victims and to their families the Church offers:
— assistance through its institutions and persons;
— necessary collaboration with public institutions, when civil or penal laws call for it, with attention, delicacy and discretion for the people involved.
The Church community must, in becoming aware of these diabolical acts, know how to more severely condemn them, without confusing reservedness with a conspiracy of silence.
“The Catholic Church had to learn at her own expense the consequences of the grave errors of some of her members and has become more able to react and to prevent pedophilia. Society as a whole must realize that the protection of minors and the fight against pedophilia has a long way to go” (Father Federico Lombardi, Director of the Holy See’s Press Office).
In fact, the problem of pedophilia does not only involve the Catholic Church, but is a worldwide problem, especially in the West; it afflicts various categories of persons and professions; it has many faces — like sexual tourism, child pornography, sexual exploitation of minors: these phenomenon, according to data from the U.N., afflict more than 150 million young girls and boys. This is another alarming sign of the loss of fundamental values, like love, human dignity –especially that of minors — and the positive sense of sexuality.
Therefore it is urgent for everyone to pay full attention to the words Benedict XVI addressed to the Irish bishops in October 2006: “Establish the truth of what happened in the past, take all measures to avoid it happening in the future, ensure that the principles of justice are respected and, above all, heal the victims and all those who have been affected by these abnormal crimes.”



The Catholic response to scandal

By Archbishop Raymond L. Burke, D.D., J.C.D., Diocese of La Crosse December 12, 2003

What has happened in the last eleven months in the life of the Church in our nation is something that I could never have imagined. Having grown up in the Catholic faith, in a family which has always loved the Church and had the deepest respect and affection for her pastors, it has been most difficult for me to comprehend the seemingly unending stories of the sexual abuse of children and young people by Catholic priests and bishops, recounted in the newspapers and through the other communications media. It has been equally difficult to comprehend the reports of the callous manner of handling such abuse on the part of certain Church authorities. What has been a scandal for so many in the Church has also been a scandal for me as a bishop of the Church. I have to confess to times of profound anger with individuals who have perpetrated such crimes and with bishops who have not taken appropriate action to discipline the perpetrators and to protect children and young people from such profound harm.
Having met and spoken with a number of victims of sexual abuse by members of the clergy, I have painfully come to understand more and more the long-term and devastating effects of the breach of the most sacred trust between a child and his or her spiritual father. It has been understandingly difficult, at times, to respond with the attitude of Christ, with the attitude which our Catholic faith teaches us and in which our Catholic faith forms us, to the scandal which you and I have suffered.
For me as bishop, the scandal personally suffered is profoundly deepened by the accusations, frequently expressed, that I, too, have been only interested in covering up the sins of priests, without concern for the victims who have suffered at their hands, and that I, too, have squandered the patrimony of the Church in doing so.
From a purely human point of view, it is a fact that today is not a good time to be a bishop. When you have given your entire life to the service of the Church and have tried always to teach Catholic faith and morals, and to live accordingly, it is painful to recognize that you now have been placed in a category of persons, subject to the strongest distrust on the part of the very persons whom you have been called to serve and for whom you have given your life in response to God’s call.
But, from the perspective of God’s will for us, whatever time a priest is called to serve the Church as a bishop is a good time. Our faith teaches us that we are called to live in these times and to bear the cross of Christ in carrying out His mission, no matter how difficult the challenges may be. Our faith leads us to seek a deeper understanding of the Catholic response to scandal, so that the suffering of the scandal will not be useless but rather will become the means of growth in holiness of life for us personally and for the whole Church.


The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us: “Scandal is an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil… Scandal is a grave offense if by deed or omission another is deliberately led into a grave offense.” (CCC, No. 2284) Scandal becomes more grave if it is caused by a person in authority or if those affected are weak or suffer very much already.
Our Lord used some of his harshest words to indicate the gravity of the sin of the man who would lead one of the “little ones” into sin. (Mt 18:6) Our Lord observes that it is inevitable that scandals will occur. (Mt 18:7) We are sinful human beings and sadly at times we commit sinful acts which are the cause of scandal to another. But our Lord further observes:
“Nonetheless, woe to that man through whom scandal comes!” (Mt 18:7)
So serious is the moral obligation to avoid scandal that we are admonished not only not to do wrong but also not to appear to do wrong. When a person acts, he or she must always consider the appearance of the act to be done. If a reasonable person could take the act to be gravely immoral, then a person is not to commit the act, even if there is no immorality involved at all.
Here there is a delicate balance, for the viewer of the act can engage in what we call pharisaical scandal. Saint Paul teaches the Corinthians: “Take care, however, lest in exercising your right you become an occasion to the weak.” (1 Cor 8:9) We must consider the true weight of our action before another and, if it would legitimately cause scandal, then we must forego the action, even some otherwise good action. On the other hand, we are not obliged to conform our actions to the mind of someone who looks to be scandalized and does not consider reasonably the nature of an action.
As I mentioned before, the gravity of scandal is significantly increased, if the person who causes it enjoys authority, especially authority in the Church. The Catechism of the Catholic Church tells us: “Scandal is grave when given by those who by nature or office are obliged to teach and educate others.” (CCC, No. 2285) It is difficult for us to comprehend the severity of the wound inflicted upon someone who is led into a sinful act by the very person he or she has been taught to trust as a teacher of faith and morals. Our Lord refers to the perpetrators of such scandals as “wolves on the prowl” who come to us in “sheep’s clothing.” (Mt 7:15)
There is another way by which we become guilty of scandal, that is by permitting or contributing to the erosion of the teaching and living of Catholic morals. (cf. CCC, No. 2286) Those who have responsibility for handling on Catholic moral teaching bear a heavy responsibility for the erosion of knowledge and conviction regarding what the Church teaches to be right and good. The cause of scandal “by laws or institutions, by fashion or opinion” lies at the root of the scandal of clergy sexual abuse which we have been suffering now for many months.





There is no question that individual disordered and immoral acts committed by priests and bishops are the principal and direct cause of the grave scandal which the whole Church is suffering in our nation at this time. But how is it that priests or bishops commit such acts which betray completely their priestly character and office?
Surely, it is a question of human weakness, of a failure to fortify oneself morally and spiritually, of placing oneself in the occasion of sin, of engaging in vices which easily lead to such sin. But it is also a question of failing to accept and hand on the Church’s moral teaching in its integrity. I have frequently recalled the words of an elderly professor of canon law, who was my professor some twenty years ago, regarding the Church’s discipline of clerical celibacy. He frequently told us: “Where there are problems of chastity, there are problems of obedience.” We must recognize that the immoral acts which are the cause of scandal are fundamentally acts of rebellion against God’s commandments. Such disordered acts are committed by persons who refuse to bend their heads in obedience to the teaching authority of the Church and become, instead, a law unto themselves.
Specifically, many of the acts which are the source of the present scandal are homosexual acts committed with young people. Granted that there are some cases of true pedophilia, that is disordered acts committed with pre-adolescent children, which have the most devastating, long-lasting effect on the victims, the majority of the acts of sexual abuse are, in fact, committed with adolescent children and are homosexual in character.
Although such acts have been committed throughout the history of mankind, the frequency of such acts is greatly increased in a society which no longer upholds the sanctity of the marriage act which, by its nature, expresses the perpetual, faithful and procreative love of man and woman in marriage. Once sexual union is separated from its inherently marital and procreative nature, once contraception is taught as moral, then the way is open for sexual activity, contrary to God’s law, according to the world’s way of thinking. It is not by accident that the attack on the Church’s perennial teaching regarding contraception was accompanied by the erosion of the Church’s teaching regarding solitary sexual activity and same-sex sexual activity, both of which can never be truly unitive and procreative.
The dissent from the Church’s moral teaching regarding artificial contraception, sterilization, homosexual acts, and self-abuse, which permeates culture, in general, and has also entered into the Church, has its profoundly harmful effect on the thinking and acting of the faithful, in general, and also of the shepherds of the flock. It is not uncommon today to witness a kind of pick-and-choose approach to the Church’s moral teaching on the part of many Catholics. If the shepherds do not teach clearly and consistently the truth about human sexuality, then the flock will be likely led astray by the thinking of the world.
For Satan, the victory is even more complete, if he can corrupt the thinking of the shepherds themselves. According to an old canonical adage, “Corruptio opitimi pessima est,” “The corruption of the best is the worst.” Recall the words of the Prophet Zechariah: “Strike the shepherd that the sheep may be dispersed, and I will turn my hand against the little ones.” (Zechariah 13:7)
Dissent is fundamentally rebellion against the teaching authority of the Church, a refusal to practice the virtue of obedience. At first, it may express itself in rebellion against some doctrine of the faith. But, once it becomes a habit, it will express itself in immoral practices, a rebellion against the moral order which God has written in our nature and teaches us through the word of Christ.
Seminary education must be especially attentive to the danger of dissent, lest in teaching morality immorality be taught. Rightly, the Holy See has announced an Apostolic Visitation of seminaries as a key part of the response to the scandal of clergy sexual abuse. The Apostolic Visitation will “focus on the question of human formation for celibate chastity based on the criteria found in Pastores Dabo Vobis.” (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People [June 2002], Article 17) The United States Bishops have publicly pledged their complete cooperation with the Apostolic Visitation. (cf. Ibid)
In his address to the Cardinals of the United States on April 23, 2002, our Holy Father underlined the essential connection between sound doctrine and moral integrity. He reminded the Cardinals: “It must be absolutely clear to the Catholic faithful, and to the wider community, that Bishops and superiors are concerned, above all else, with the spiritual good of souls. People need to know that there is no place in the priesthood and religious life for those who would harm the young. They must know that Bishops and priests are totally committed to the fullness of Catholic truth on matters of sexual morality, a truth as essential to the renewal of the priesthood and the episcopate as it is to the renewal of marriage and family life.” (No. 3b; quoted in Benedict J. Groeschel, C.F.R., From Scandal to Hope, p. 202)


The dissent which is at the foundation of the sexual abuse scandal has had its most devastating effect in catechesis, especially in the teaching of the faith to children and young people but also to adults, for example, those who are preparing to come into the full communion of the Roman Catholic Church. Saint Paul reminds us: “Faith then comes through hearing, and what is heard is the word of Christ.” (Rom 10:17) When catechesis has not presented the Catholic faith in its integrity, then the faith of the catechized will be weak and their moral life lacking. We are reaping today the fruits of more than thirty years of catechesis which has not been attentive to presenting the Catholic faith in its completeness. Especially regarding morals, fundamental principles like the principle of cooperation have not been taught and are not understood. Even more serious is the loss of a sense of the first laws of nature which safeguard and promote human life, the family and the practice of religion. (cf. Saint Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologiae, I-IIæ, q. 94)




What we do not teach as catechists, whether we be priests or members of the laity or consecrated persons, we do not believe as we ought. In our case, there may be yet some vestige of the teaching within us, which, with the help of God’s grace, will be fanned again into flame. For those we catechize, however, the truth of faith or morals may never have been taught and, therefore, the catechized is done a grave injustice, touching upon his own salvation.
There is a radical need to teach again, in its integrity, the natural moral law, especially in a post-Christian culture still influenced so heavily by rationalist philosophy, and the law divinely revealed in the Holy Scriptures and faithfully handed on through the Magisterium. The natural moral law regarding human life and human sexuality must be taught as the foundation upon which to understand the divinely revealed law.


In considering the Catholic response to the scandal, it will help us to consider the teaching of Saint Francis of Assisi, who wrote the following in his Admonitions to the friars: “Nothing should upset a religious except sin. And even then, no matter what kind of sin has been committed, if he is upset or angry for any other reason except charity, he is only drawing blame upon himself.” (No. XI)
The first response to the great scandal which we are now suffering must be an act of the greatest possible charity both toward the victims and the perpetrators of the crime. Prayer and reparation must be primary and will be the most efficacious in healing all who have been so deeply wounded. Any other response fails in the charity which is most required in the situation.
In this regard, I wish to say a word about the healing of victims. For the victim, there is the great temptation to make the grave injustice, the deep wound, which he has suffered the whole point of reference of his life. Then, there is no place for Christ to enter into the soul and to pour forth the healing ointment of his love upon the wound which aches so painfully. The victim also is not able to go forward with his life, placing his wounded heart into the Sacred Heart of Jesus and receiving the grace of healing immediately. No matter how grave the act of sexual abuse, our response in Christ must be to hate the sin, but to filled with hope in the healing grace of Christ and filled with love for the sinner.
Secondly, for priests and bishops, there must be a renewed attention to practice prayer and the acts for reparation for the “grave offense to God and the deep wound inflicted upon his holy people.” (cf. United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, Conclusion) The Bishops observed in the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People: “Closely connected to prayer and acts of reparation is the call to holiness of life and the care of the diocesan/eparchial bishop to ensure that he and his priests avail themselves of the proven ways of avoiding sin and growing in holiness of life.” (Conclusion) There must be a new energy and enthusiasm among priests and Bishops for prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, the offering of the Holy Mass which is the heart and source of the entire priestly ministry, for the regular confession of sins in the Sacrament of Penance and the practice of acts of mortification by which the soul is purified and prepared for acts of holiness.
In his Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, our Holy Father calls us “to rediscover the full practical significance of chapter 5 of the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church Lumen Gentium, dedicated to the “universal call to holiness.” (No. 30c) As he rightly points out, “the gift in turn becomes a task.” (No. 30d) In urging that holiness be the foundation of all pastoral planning, he states strikingly: “It implies the conviction that, since Baptism is a true entry into the holiness of God through incorporation into Christ and the indwelling of his Spirit, it would be a contradiction to settle for a life of mediocrity, marked by a minimalist ethic and a shallow religiosity.” (No. 31b) The temptation to follow a minimalist ethic and to live a shallow religiosity besets us all in our time, including priests and Bishops. Now, as our Holy Father reminds us, “[t]he time has come to re-propose wholeheartedly to everyone this high standard of ordinary Christian living: the whole life of the Christian community and of Christian families must lead in this direction.” (No. 3c)
If the high standard of ordinary Christian living is to be effectively proposed anew, it will come through a renewal of catechesis at all levels and the dedication of faithful theologians and teachers of the faith in providing the practical tools for teaching the Catholic faith and its practice, with integrity, to our children and young people especially. Above all, it will come from a sound teaching of moral theology in our seminaries and Catholic universities.
The Catholic response to scandal is charity. Yes, the scandal must be acknowledged, the gravity of the sin must be recognized and deplored, but, not out of any self-righteousness or other motive, but out of love of God and neighbor. True abhorrence of the sin will lead to the ever greater love of the sinner, to prayer for his reconciliation and acts of reparation for the grave offense given to God and the grave harm caused to the Body of Christ. The temptation is to remain in our horror at the sin and to leave unexamined and uncultivated the deepest motive of the horror at the sin, which is divine charity.


The immensity of the present scandal, which has been so heavily cultivated by the communications media, has led to a response by the Church called “zero tolerance.” Clearly, there has to be “zero tolerance” for the sin of sexual abuse of children and young people. In other words, everything must be done to prevent any future acts of such abuse. At the same time, it is fundamentally contrary to the Gospel to speak of “zero tolerance” of any sinner, including a priest who has so gravely betrayed his priestly character and mission. Rather, care must be taken to come to know the true nature and extent of his sinful acts, and to assist him in living a life of repentance. The sinner must be helped by our acts of reparation, and he must be helped to make reparation for the sin committed.



On the part of all, the love of the truth, which expresses itself always in charity, must guide the response to the sin of child sexual abuse by the clergy and to the sinner. The response to the sinner cannot be guided by any agenda, but, rather, must be guided by the good of the individual and the good of the whole Church. When the truth is sought above all else, both the good of the individual and the good of the Church will be served without any contradiction. It is never permitted to serve only the good of the individual or only the good of the Church. Both must be served always.


I offer these reflections out of deepest love of the Church and of you who love the Church deeply and desire to serve the Church, the Bride of Christ, and to make her beauty shine forth in the world for the salvation of all. I offer these reflections out of deepest sorrow for the wounds inflicted upon the Church by us, her sinful members, and out of the deepest desire for the repentance and reparation which will heal those wounds, so that the beauty of the Bride of Christ may be seen by all and all may be attracted to Christ alive for us in the Church.
Before the profound harm to the Church in America and her members, caused by the scandal of child sexual abuse by the clergy, we turn to Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mother of God and Mother of America. She came to our continent in 1531 to announce the message of God’s merciful love, incarnate in the Child conceived in her immaculate womb. Only the holiness of her Child, our Redeemer, will overcome the gravity of the present scandal and heal the deep wound which it has inflicted upon the Church. Let us pray, through the intercession of Our Lady, for holiness of life for bishops and priests, and all members of the Church.
In conclude with words of our Holy Father, which express what must be our deepest conviction and our greatest desire: “We must be confident that this time of trial will bring a purification of the entire Catholic community, a purification that is urgently needed if the Church is to preach more effectively the Gospel of Jesus Christ in all its liberating force. Now you must ensure that where sin increased, grace will all the more abound (cf. Rom 5:20). So much pain, so much sorrow must lead to a holier priesthood, a holier episcopate, and a holier Church.” (Pope John Paul II, A Papal Address to the Cardinals of the United States, April 23, 2002, No. 4a)

The Pope and Pedophilia – the Plain Truth

March 22, 2010 [All emphases are mine]
What’s the motive behind the attack on the pope?
Currently there’s a great hue and cry emanating from the world press in relation to Pope Benedict XVI’s reaction or rather perceived lack of reaction to the publicity being given to pedophilia charges brought against certain priests in Europe. The loudest clamor surrounds cases in Germany, particularly in Benedict’s old diocese of Freiburg, Bavaria.
Nothing justifies anything but absolute condemnation of the abuse of priestly office. But what is really behind this latest outcry against the Catholic Church and its spiritual leader?
Dig behind the headlines and you see an agenda. It’s an agenda driven by fear of the rising power of the papacy a power that, in tandem with the elites in Berlin, has succeeded in imposing on Europe an imperialist constitution against the will of much of its electorate. Given its history, this power combine of Rome and Berlin is greatly feared by two movements in Europe: pan-Islamism and the secularists.

To see the current attack on the pope in true context, we need to go back in time to Benedict’s visit in September 2006 to the seat of his main academic experience, the University of Regensburg. In a now infamous speech delivered on that occasion, Benedict conducted a powerfully articulate verbal crusade against both secularists and Muslims. He virtually told the secularists that their only way of survival was to succumb to the superior reasoning capacity of the church. It is their agenda that we shall examine here.
The question that few if any are asking is, why has this rash of alleged pedophile cases, many of them seeming to date from the 1960s and ’70s, suddenly been given prominent publicity? What has caused this sudden coincidence of front-page attention in a host of newspapers highlighting cases of abuse from Germany to Austria, the Netherlands to Poland, from Ireland to Switzerland?
What appears to have happened is that, after being wounded at Regensburg by Benedict’s verbal barbs, the secularists slinked away and started on a scheme to discredit the most powerful right-wing pope to have ascended the papal throne this side of World War II. The goal of the embattled liberal rationalists of the anti-church secular movement in Europe is to denigrate their chief enemy the Vatican and its papal leader, who are so well advanced in the fulfillment of their grand imperial dream to revive, yet one more time, the Holy Roman Empire.
The secularists realize that unless they can denigrate Pope Benedict in the eyes of the public to the point that the powerful influence of the Vatican in all affairs European is significantly damaged if not broken, then they are cooked geese. To this end, the secularists have cultivated the ear of a sympathetic liberal press and mass media.
Simply put, the secularists have found a sympathetic press and mass media at a time when sales of newspapers and magazines are tanking and ratings for television news channels sliding amid grave economic crisis. Sex sells, and perverted sex sells even more so. Add religion to this equation and suddenly the press and mass media have a tale of salacious proportions to appeal to the ignorant masses. Sales soar!
In the meantime, the real story goes begging.
Here it is.



Up to the time of the pope’s Regensburg speech, most high-profile publicity given to cases of pedophilia in the church was concentrated in the United States. This was simply the legacy of liberalism. Following Vatican II in 1962, powerful liberal elements had arisen in the church opening the way for the homosexual movement to infect the priesthood in the following two decades. The rash of pedophilia cases publicized over the past 10 years is the result of that phenomenon.
Joseph Ratzinger, previously known as the pope’s enforcer in his role as prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (the Vatican’s old department of the Inquisition), was largely charged with the job of routing the arch-liberals from the church. Having succeeded significantly in that effort with the total support of Pope John Paul II, Ratzinger, very early in his own papacy, publicized his determination to clean up the dregs of liberalism, which he referred to as “the filth” remaining in the church. This gave fair warning to the homosexual priests and those bishops who had protected them that this pope had them in his sights.

In quite a balanced report on the current furor stirred up by the liberal press against Pope Benedict, the National Catholic Reporter wrote recently, “Benedict’s handling of the sexual abuse crisis has often been touted as a bright spot, one case, at least, of a firmer hand on the rudder. That background makes the scandals now engulfing the church in Europe especially explosive; they threaten to once again make Benedict seem more like part of the problem than the solution.” The author points out that “Benedict XVI became a Catholic Elliot Ness disciplining Roman favorites long regarded as untouchable, meeting sex abuse victims in both the United States and Australia, embracing ‘zero tolerance’ policies once viewed with disdain in Rome, and openly apologizing for the carnage caused by the crisis” (March 17).
Pope Benedict has long regarded the high publicity given to the priestly abuse of minors as part of a deliberate agenda to discredit the church. While still operating in his role as prefect of the Doctrine of the Faith, he maintained, “[T]he constant presence of these news items does not correspond to the objectivity of the information or to the statistical objectivity of the facts. Therefore, one comes to the conclusion that it is intentional, manipulated, that there is a desire to discredit the church.”
The National Catholic Reporter notes that John Paul II had given the green light to Ratzinger to rout the pedophiles with a legal document titled “Sacramentum Sanctitatis Tutela.” “Technically known as a motu proprio, the document assigned juridical responsibility for certain grave crimes under canon law, including sexual abuse of a minor, to Ratzinger’s congregation” (op. cit.). From that time on, Ratzinger appeared driven to clean up that which he later referred to, upon becoming pope, as the “filth in the church.” The Reporter notes that under Ratzinger’s aggressive leadership, “In the complex world of court politics at the Vatican, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith became the beachhead for an aggressive response to the sexual abuse crisis.” Intent on cleaning up the priesthood, Ratzinger adopted a “one strike and you’re out” approach.
The highest-profile cases of priestly abuse of recent date have been in Ireland and Germany. The Reporter notes, “By the time the crisis in Ireland erupted last year, a new Vatican script seemed to be in place. Papal statements of concern were quickly issued, and a summit of Irish bishops and senior Vatican officials was swiftly convened for mid-February. Similarly in Germany, Zollitsch [archbishop of Freiburg] was in the pope’s office briefing him on the crisis less than a month after it first blew up. For anyone who recalled the slow and defensive response to the American situation eight years earlier, the change in Rome seemed almost Copernican” (ibid.).
The pope issued a letter to the Catholic Church in Ireland on March 19 and will now have to turn his attention quickly to the matter in his own home state of Bavaria. In the meantime, the media machine will milk as much from this story as it can, to the delight of the embattled secularists.
However, the secularists, pushed onto the back foot by this right-wing Bavarian pope, appear ignorant of at least one significant fact of history. The Vatican has been repeatedly attacked since Martin Luther nailed his famous thesis to the cathedral door in 1517. The reality is that, following each attack, the Vatican has emerged, eventually, stronger than ever. That will be the case with this current scenario. In fact, following this current, and perhaps final, attack on the pope and the Catholic Church, the Vatican and the pope will emerge stronger than ever in its entire history!
How do we know?
The Bible says so!
Stephanie Farrington is a writer living in Ottawa


Why am I still Catholic?

By Jerome Christenson, March 31, 2010

Just when I thought it was safe to go to communion, my church is making me uncomfortable again.
Just in time for Easter the sorry legacy of pedophile priests has resurfaced. This time international attention is focused on Milwaukee and Munich, on what did the pope know and when did he know it?
Most people I know aren’t so rude as to ask how I can be part of an organization that has harbored and protected predatory pedophiles. I don’t have to be so polite with myself, especially after I learned, some years ago, that as I entered adolescence one such notorious priest was assigned to a parish and parish school just blocks from my home. My friends and schoolmates served him as altar boys. More than that, I can’t know for sure, but there but for the grace of God
So I read the headlines and ask myself, “Why am I still Catholic?”
I didn’t have to be. I chose to join the church for what I considered to be very good reasons … a person ought to have very good reasons in making a decision that involves eternity. In 25 years, those reasons have been strengthened by events and experience.





It certainly wasn’t a decision I made unaware. I was weaned on Martin Luther and brought up to assume the pope was up to no good. I ate meat on Friday, said my prayers in English and was greatly relieved I didn’t have to spend Saturday afternoon ‘fessing up to the preacher everything I’d been up to all week long. By the time I was an adult I’d read all about the Borgias, the Inquisition and Pope Joan.
It takes more than 50 pages of small type for the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church to explain what the “church” is. I prefer a somewhat abbreviated definition – the church is the people of God in this world – and at their best, the people of God are going about God’s business.
I’m not one to dwell too long or seriously on the niceties of doctrine, but the Good Lord’s marching orders to us on earth seem to be laid out plain enough – heal the sick; feed the hungry; clothe the naked; comfort the sorrowing. I knew well that the church wasn’t perfect. Still, I’d been born in St. Mary’s Hospital and grown up well aware of the Church’s work in the world – though at a good Lutheran arm’s length.
Then I married a good Catholic girl who promised to let me sleep on Sunday morning – but who didn’t bind her children to the same pledge. So, in time and with hopes of a short nap during the homily, Dad found himself a regular pew. Then the economy went sour and times got tough.
So now, again, the headlines and news photos remind us of a small number of predatory criminals who’ve hidden behind a Roman collar and of the bishops and cardinals and maybe even popes whose concern for institutional appearances and reputation was greater than concern for children and justice.
Those are not faces that belong to the church I know. Instead, I see Father Schaefer finding odd jobs to help a family struggling with their heating bill and promising better times to come. I see Father Connolly and Father Nelson making us welcome in a new community and seeing to it that two scared little kids were secure in a new school and even had new bikes under the Christmas tree. I remember Sister Margaret, Sister Mary Beth, Sister Mary Donald – teachers to my children, co-workers with my wife, friends to us all. I’ve known Father Sauer’s wit; Father Breza’s hearty friendship; marvelled at Father Niehaus’ contagious exuberance of faith.
And with Father Colletti, I’m taking the longest, hardest journey of my life.
My church isn’t found in the headlines. At its heart, it has little enough to do with politics and popes. Fallible men make bad decisions, a reminder that each of us has fallen short in “what I have done and what I have failed to do.”
Perfect, the church hasn’t been. Yet, within it I find the best that is within us.
So I stay, and join with all the struggling faithful, calling on God as befits his errant children, “Bless us Father, for we have sinned.”


Priest defends pope, papal preacher

By Matt C. Abbott April 3, 2010

Father James Farfaglia, a priest of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, Texas — and author of Man to Man: A Real Priest Speaks to Real Men about Marriage, Sexuality and Family Life — isn’t afraid to speak his mind.
When asked by yours truly to comment on papal preacher Father Raniero Cantalamessa’s controversial Good Friday sermon (, Father Farfaglia said in an e-mail:
“He said nothing wrong. As soon as we mention the ‘h’-word (homosexual) or the ‘j’-word (Jews) everyone goes crazy. Problems will never get resolved if we can’t be objective.”
As for the Vicar of Christ himself, Father Farfaglia says the pope “is cleaning up the mess. He’s part of the solution, not the problem. This is why he’s hated.”
And the causes of the clergy abuse crisis?
“I’ve been confronting the corruption in the Catholic Church head-on for the past 14 years,” says Father. “Everything that’s going on now does not surprise me at all. After the 2002 debacle in the U.S., I told everyone that this is only the beginning.
“International communism and masonry infiltrated the Catholic priesthood back in the late 1940s and a relentless battle has taken place to try and destroy the Catholic priesthood.
“The present crisis has nothing to do with women not being priests or priestly celibacy. The Catholic priesthood has been purposely infiltrated by a homosexual sub-culture, commonly known among faithful Catholic priests as the lavender mafia.
“This is not to say that every homosexual man is a child molester. However, studies have shown that the vast majority of abuse cases in the Catholic Church deal with boys over the age of 15. This affirms a problem with homosexuality. Homosexuals need healing and therapy, not positions of authority.
“Bishops, Vatican and/or chancery officials covered up abuse cases because they were blind or because they were part of the problem.”
And, yes, there is research to back up Father Farfaglia’s assertions.
In a 2005 essay titled “Child Molestation by Homosexuals and Heterosexuals,” Brian Clowes, Ph.D., and David Sonnier wrote (excerpt; click here to read the full essay):

‘Dignity USA and other homosexual groups strenuously deny any connection whatever between a homosexual orientation and child sexual molestation. They repeatedly claim, as Dignity USA does, that ‘All credible evidence discounts any link between the molestation of children and homosexuality.’
‘Yet these groups never cite any of this ‘credible evidence,’ nor do they quote any studies to buttress their claims that there is no such connection.



‘In fact, a number of studies performed over a period spanning more than half a century — many of which were performed by homosexuals or their sympathizers — have shown that an extremely large percentage of sexually active homosexuals also participate in child sexual molestation.
‘This is not ‘homophobia’ or ‘hatred,’ this is simple scientific fact.
‘For example;

Homosexual Alfred Kinsey, the preeminent sexual researcher in the history of sexual research, found in 1948 that 37 percent of all male homosexuals admitted to having sex with children under 17 years old.

A very recent (2000) study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that ‘The best epidemiological evidence indicates that only 2-4% of men attracted to adults prefer men. In contrast, around 25-40% of men attracted to children prefer boys. Thus, the rate of homosexual attraction is 620 times higher among pedophiles.’

Another 2000 study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that ‘. . . all but 9 of the 48 homosexual men preferred the youngest two male age categories’ for sexual activity; These age categories were fifteen and twenty years old.

Yet another recent study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that ‘Pedophilia appears to have a greater than chance association with two other statistically infrequent phenomena. The first of these is homosexuality . . . Recent surveys estimate the prevalence of homosexuality, among men attracted to adults, in the neighborhood of 2%. In contrast, the prevalence of homosexuality among pedophiles may be as high as 30-40%.’

A 1989 study in the Journal of Sex Research noted that ‘. . . the proportion of sex offenders against male children among homosexual men is substantially larger than the proportion of sex offenders against female children among heterosexual men . . . the development of pedophilia is more closely linked with homosexuality than with heterosexuality.’

A 1988 study of 229 convicted child molesters published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that 86% of pedophiles described themselves as homosexual or bisexual.

In a 1984 Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy article, sex researchers found that ‘The proportional prevalence of [male] offenders against male children in this group of 457 offenders against children was 36 percent.’

Homosexual activists Karla Jay and I Allen Young revealed in their 1979 Gay Report that 73% of all homosexuals I have acted as ‘chicken hawks’ — that is, they have preyed on adolescent or younger boys.

In a 1992 study published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy, sex researchers K. Freud and R. I. Watson found that homosexual males are three times more likely than straight men to engage in pedophilia, and that the average pedophile victimizes between 20 and 150 boys before being arrested.

A study by sex researchers Alan Bell and Martin Weinberg found that 25% of white homosexual men have had sex with boys sixteen years and younger.’

In a cogent April 1 editorial on, Steve Jalsevac writes (excerpt; click here for the full editorial):

‘There has been an international media saturation of news stories focusing on the pope since the New York Times published its error-riddled hit piece against Pope Benedict’s supposed personal negligence regarding two clergy abuse cases. Some of the articles that followed have been among the most biased, reckless and hateful of the Church that we have ever seen since LSN began.
‘Deal Hudson of asked Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, ‘Why do media like the New York Times and the Washington Post hate the Catholic Church and the pope? What’s the source of the animus?’
‘Donohue replied, ‘it stems from three issues: abortion, gay marriage, and women’s ordination. So, when they can nail the Church on promiscuity, they love it. The goal is to weaken the moral authority of the Church so it won’t be as persuasive on issues like health care.’
‘Our several news reports have made it clear that Pope Benedict has been the victim of unjust accusations and that almost all the new revelations are about incidents that occurred decades ago, during the same time period that was the focus of the 2002 U.S. clergy sex abuse blow-up — the 1960s to early 1980s. The rate of clergy abuse incidents has continuously and dramatically decreased since John Paul II became pope in October 1978.
‘However, we must also report that evidence reveals the Church leadership has in many ways brought this current catastrophe upon itself. Unless it rapidly makes crucial changes still called for, there is certain to be a devastating reckoning — if not this time around, then in the years not far ahead.
‘Although there have been many positive changes in the Church in the U.S. and Canada and in Vatican policies since the horrific 2002 revelations, LSN has continuously warned that the fundamental problems that led to the abuses and subsequent crippling of the Catholic Church have still been far from fully resolved.

‘Three issues are still of great concern:

The overwhelming unwillingness of most bishops to exercise their authority in response to serious rejection or indifference towards issues of critical Catholic beliefs and norms — especially regarding moral issues. That is, the bishops have not been actively upholding the faith with consequent serious harm resulting to the faith and lives of many people.

The public scandal of criminally negligent or otherwise seriously negligent or corrupt bishops still not having been appropriately held personally accountable. It has instead been the people in the pews and past large benefactors, who had nothing to do with the scandals, whose contributions have unjustly been taken to pay billions of dollars for settlements and obscene lawyers’ fees. The victims of abuse have been denied justice.




The still on-going unwillingness to face or even mention the corruption caused by the tolerance of homosexuality within the clergy at all levels, including bishops and cardinals, within the religious orders and within Catholic Church institutions and colleges and schools. There has been much improvement on this item, especially thanks to Pope Benedict’s strong re-affirmation of the rule that homosexuals must not be admitted into seminaries; but there is still far, far more that must be done to rid the Church of this widespread, cancerous influence within the Church body.’


Father Farfaglia’s blog
Clergy Sexual Abuse Study: It’s Time for Common Sense” (

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic columnist with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication, Media and Theatre from Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago, and an Associate in Applied Science degree in Business Management from Triton College in River Grove, Ill. He has worked in the right-to-life movement and is a published writer focused on Catholic and social issues. He can be reached at


Clergy Sexual Abuse Study: It’s Time for Common Sense

By Louie Verrecchio, April 1, 2010

Here we go again. The skeletons of clergy sexual abuse are once again being resuscitated by ambitious lawyers and finding sensational new life in a secular media that is increasingly uninterested in reporting the facts.

Now don’t get me wrong; the instances of abuse themselves are absolutely reprehensible; that much is indisputable. As Cardinal Ratzinger said of these terrible transgressions shortly before becoming pope, “How much filth there is in the church, even among those who, in the priesthood, should belong entirely to God.”

Whenever the root cause of this “filth” is discussed, faithful Catholics need to pay close attention as those who are less interested in cleansing the Church than attacking her moral foundation make themselves known through their actions. 
Sometimes it’s entirely predictable, as when increasingly irrelevant liberal dissenters like Richard McBrien and Hans Kung perform logical gymnastics in to avoid the 300 pound homosexual elephant in the room, but when we see indications that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops might be inclined to join them on the balance beam of political correctness, that’s another story.

At the USCCB Fall General Assembly in Baltimore in November of 2009, the bishops received a preliminary briefing from researchers of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice on a report they commissioned in 2006 for insight into the clergy sex abuse scandal.

According to the original research proposal, one of the study’s stated objectives is to “understand, on an individual level, how priests with allegations of sexual abuse differ from other priests.”

According to Catholic News Service, Margaret Smith, one of two John Jay researchers to address the Fall Assembly, gave the bishops a sense for where the study is heading, saying, “At this point, we do not find a correlation between homosexual identity and the increased likelihood of subsequent abuse,” she said.

This raises some obvious questions, but before we examine the implications of Ms. Smith’s statement, let’s considers what we know about the victims of the clergy sex abuse as reported by third party sources.

In a 2002 study conducted by USA Today, it was determined that of the 234 priests that have been accused of sexual abuse of a minor while serving in the nation’s ten largest dioceses, 91 percent of the allegations involved male victims. [1]

The Boston Globe reported similar findings in 2003 saying, “Of the clergy sex abuse cases referred to prosecutors in Eastern Massachusetts, more than 90 percent involve male victims, and the most prominent Boston lawyers for alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse have said that about 95 percent of their clients are male.” [2]

Also noteworthy is research conducted by Dr. Thomas Plante of the Department of Psychology at Santa Clara University who found that 80 – 90 percent of the alleged victims of abuse were post-pubescent adolescent boys – not prepubescent children – meaning that the abusers in these cases “are not pedophiles at all but are ephebophiles” (i.e. they demonstrate a sexual attraction to mid-to-late adolescents). [3]

Now let’s consider Ms. Smith’s assertion that heterosexual priests are just as likely to commit abuse as homosexual priests. If she is correct, we should expect the ratio of priests accused of abusing post-pubescent females to those accused of abusing post-pubescent males to mirror the demographics of the priesthood as a ratio of heterosexuals to homosexuals.    
So, do the researchers at John Jay College really mean to imply that some 90% of the priesthood in the U.S. is homosexual?

The question alone is so preposterous as to border on the offensive, but 9:1 is the ratio of priests accused of abusing adolescent males to those accused of abusing adolescent females. Applying this same ratio to the sexual orientation of the priest population as a whole is simply the logical extension of Ms. Smith’s assertion that both groups present an equal risk of abuse.

If, as I assume, Ms. Smith and her colleagues do not mean to imply that homosexual priests outnumber their heterosexual counterparts 9 to 1, it’s only common sense to expect the USCCB to demand a plausible explanation for the overwhelming preponderance of male victims.  

Karen Terry, a colleague of Ms. Smith who also addressed the USCCB assembly, may have preempted questions concerning the small percentage of female victims when she cautioned the bishops, “Even though there was sexual abuse of many boys, that doesn’t necessarily mean that the person had a homosexual identity.”




“It’s important to separate the sexual identity and the behavior,” she continued. “Someone can commit sexual acts that might be of a homosexual nature but not have a homosexual identity.” 

Excuse me? If researchers don’t consider an adult male’s sexual attraction to a teenaged boy a flashing neon sign for homosexuality, then I’m not entirely sure I want to know what they do consider proof.

Undaunted in their effort to explain the homosexual connection away, however, Ms. Terry said that greater access to boys is one of the reasons for the skewed ratio of male victims, and Ms. Smith even went so far as to raise the analogy of homosexual activity among prison populations as supporting evidence.

One cannot help but be outraged by this transparent attempt to gloss over the obvious link between homosexuality and the incidence of clergy sexual abuse, but far more troubling than this is the fact that the USCCB should have known that this is exactly what it was going to get even before it earmarked $1 Million for the John Jay back study in 2005. 

Writing in First Things Magazine in 2004, Fr. Richard John Neuhaus made the following observation:

“In its report and its February 27 presentation, the John Jay team was manifestly nervous about the homosexuality factor. The woman making the slide presentation at the National Press Club skipped over the data on adolescent males in a nanosecond. A perhaps jaundiced network reporter remarked afterwards about the downplaying of the homosexuality factor, ‘Remember that the John Jay people have to go back and get along in New York City.'” [4]

In that same article, Fr. Neuhaus said that the USCCB’s very own Nation Review Board had also made note of the problem:

“The John Jay report notes that the proportion of victims who were male increased in the 1960s and reached 86 percent in the ’70s, remaining there through the 1980s. In a footnote, the NRB report responds to the frequent obscuring of the homosexual factor by reference to ‘ephebophilia.’ The authors write, ‘The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (IV) does not recognize ephebophilia as a distinct disorder. Ephebophilia is thus not a disorder in the technical sense, but rather a newly coined descriptive term for homosexual attraction to adolescent males.'” [ibid]

While it is prudent to withhold ultimate judgment on the value of the John Jay study until the final report is published in December 2010, it’s not too soon for the faithful Catholics who are footing the bill for that $1 Million research grant to let their bishops know that we will not accept unsubstantiated claims in return for our hard earned money.

It’s time to let our bishops know that we expect well-documented correct information, not political correctness. We want the “filth” cleaned out of the Church; and we will not tolerate any attempt to sweep it under the carpet.

Let me be clear – I am utterly convinced that the overwhelming majority of our bishops, just like us, are determined to identify the true underlying cause of clergy sexual abuse no matter how politically incorrect that discovery may be. But I am equally as convinced that only the naïve simply assume that the same can necessarily be said of the bureaucratic entity known as the USCCB.  

Time and again the USCCB has demonstrated that it has a personality all its own; a group-think tendency toward political correctness and watered down rhetoric that is all-too-often at odds with the bishops individually. The remedy is for us to encourage our faithful shepherds to wrest control of the bureaucracy and to demand, along with us, that the light of truth be shined on this problem – political correctness be damned.  

For instance, we need our bishops to demand that the John Jay researchers substantiate their claims by providing convincing evidence – not just rhetoric – which unequivocally demonstrates that a very large percentage of the abuse cases actually involved instances of heterosexual priests molesting adolescent boys. 

This means that the bishops must insist that the final report provide rock solid demographic data concerning “sexual identity” in the priesthood; since anything less means that claims of “no correlation existing between homosexual identity and the increased likelihood of subsequent abuse” are built on mere assumption and are therefore utterly worthless. Think about it; if the John Jay researchers don’t know with a high degree of certainty how many priests are actually homosexual, there is absolutely no way they can speak with any authority whatsoever about the relationship between homosexual identity and the incidence of clergy sex abuse.   

The simple truth is this; the information offered thus far by Ms. Smith and Ms. Terry is so entirely inconsistent with the cases of reported abuse as we know them on the one hand, and common sense on the other, that it can’t help but raise substantial red flags. The time to insist on real answers is now, not after the John Jay report is delivered and endlessly spun to the advantage of homosexual activists and ecclesial dissidents the world over*.

You may make your concerns known by contacting your local bishop, or you may write to Cardinal Francis George – President of the USCCB at 3211 4th Street, N.E., Washington DC 20017-1194.

Above all, we must pray for our shepherds, that that they will be unimpeded in their desire to seek the truth and intrepid in making it known for the good of the Church.  

1. “The Accusers and the Accused,” USA Today, November 11, 2002, p. 7D.
2. Thomas Farragher and Matt Carroll, “Church Board Dismissed Accusations by Females,”, February 2, 2003.


Louie Verrecchio is a Catholic speaker and the author of Harvesting the Fruit of Vatican II; an internationally acclaimed faith formation tool endorsed by George Cardinal Pell that explores the documents of the Second Vatican Council.



Child sexual abuse is not just a Catholic issue

By Chris Colin, Highlander Newspaper, 4/6/2010, {contributed by Maurice D’Mello, Canada}




“It often starts as a voice in the wilderness, but can swell into an entire nation’s demand for truth. From Ireland to Germany, Europe’s many victims of child abuse in the Roman Catholic Church are finally breaking social taboos and confronting the clergy to face its demons.” This was the Associated Press’ take on the recent revelations over child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.
In the past several weeks, new light has been shone on startling allegations involving key figures of the Catholic Church and their direct and indirect involvement in acts of sexual abuse of children. Report of these accusations spread around the world as quickly as their first publication in the popular media like wildfire. Different accounts have surfaced in which those affected range from a select few to a large number of former church attendees. Similarly, after the publication of the first accounts this year, cases from throughout Europe as well as in parts of the United States surfaced afterwards.
Amidst the most damming of these reports involves not a small local church in some remote region of the world, but rather the symbolic figurehead of the Roman Catholic Church – Pope Benedict XVI.
In a March publication on the CNN News International website, figures within the Vatican and German diocese are facing accusations of strong ties to Rev. Peter Hullermann, a man who was allowed to return to pastoral work shortly after undergoing psychiatric treatment for pedophilia.
In response to these claims, a spokesman for the archdiocese, Bernhard Kellner claimed that the publication was both incorrect and relied on old information. Kellner further clarified and described the Pope’s – then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – job at the time involved such tasks like having to read up to 700 to 1000 memos each year. In closing, Kellner suggested that the Pope therefore never read the selected memo and knew nothing of what was going on. One figure who came forward with regards to reading the memo and authorizing Hullermann’s return was the pope’s deputy at the time, the Rev. Gerhard Gruber.
Both as a Catholic and someone interested in the pursuit of truth, I can only hope that people around the world will understand that the critique falls not upon the Catholic religion, but rather the individuals who carried out these criminal acts (or maintained their silence in spite of ongoing acts).
No social, political or other position of leadership must go unquestioned if such allegations are found to be true. Similarly, one cannot judge the actions of a few and apply them to those associated in the same sphere. This is to say that the actions of one misguided priest directly correlate to other priests or religious figures who lead a pure and strict lifestyle to reach salvation.
Also, these situations are not only faced within the Roman Catholic Church, but they are also ongoing problems in other sectors of society too; both in the non-religious sphere as well as other religious institutions.
In the words of the President of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, Bill Donahue: “Quite frankly, if sexual abuse is wrong, it should not matter what the identity of the abuser is. Selective justice is the highest form of injustice.”


Pope Benedict’s critics don’t care about kids. Tearing down Catholic orthodoxy is the real agenda

By George Neumayr, The Washington Times, April 5, 2010

Since when have secularists and dissenting Catholics been experts on the protection of children? These self-appointed reformers of the Catholic Church preside over a debased culture that abuses, aborts and corrupts children. That a reckless and depraved liberal elite would set itself up as moral tutor to Pope Benedict XVI is beyond satire.

Here we had on display during Holy Week the spectacle of the Vicar of Christ receiving moral instruction from Barabbas. Who turns orphans over to homosexual couples at adoption agencies? Who sends Planned Parenthood propagandists into schools? Who clears the streets of major cities for “gay-pride” parades with the North American Man/Boy Love Association in tow? It is the liberal elite who champion these child-corrupting practices. And wasn’t it just last year that these enlightened protectors of children assembled at the golden coffin of Michael Jackson to pay their last respects? Where was the outrage about child corruption then?

The National Catholic Reporter, the flagship publication of dissenting Catholicism, which has joined the secularist posse hunting down Benedict, calls for a stern and unsparing investigation of him. This is the same publication that publishes the homilies of Bishop Thomas Gumbleton, one of which stated in 2002, at the height of the abuse scandal in America, that the “zero-tolerance” policy shouldn’t apply to priests attracted to children above the age of puberty. “I do not support the ‘zero tolerance’ approach in every instance,” he sniffed.

Another NCR article from 2002 stated: “Zero tolerance is a blunt object of punishment. All abuse is an offense against human dignity, but just as the severity of sins differs in traditional Catholic teaching, and the severity of punishment in civil law varies according to many factors, not all abuses are the same. In our overheated atmosphere, this is difficult for many to admit. A priest who briefly exposed himself to a teenager has not committed the same act as a priest who raped a minor.”

Let’s cut through the nonsense: The assault on Benedict last week had nothing to do with the protection of children and everything to do with the liberal elite’s hatred for his orthodoxy. The three stooges – Maureen Dowd, Christopher Hitchens and Andrew Sullivan – are casting lots for his robe, not because they toss and turn at night worrying about a permissive priesthood, but because they hate the conservative teachings of the Catholic Church that Benedict embodies. They are still upset that the church elected a Catholic to the papacy rather than a modern liberal. Miss Dowd is using the abuse scandal to push her feminism, Mr. Hitchens his atheism and Mr. Sullivan his homosexual activism.




The truth is that Pope Benedict has done more to address the abuse scandal in the church than his predecessor, whose tenure never excited anywhere near this level of calls for resignation. The Associated Press even acknowledged as much: “Benedict took a much harder stance on sex abuse than John Paul II when he assumed the papacy five years ago, disciplining a senior cleric [the Rev. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legionaries of Christ] championed by the Polish pontiff and defrocking others under a new policy of zero tolerance.”

According to Reuters news agency on March 28, “Vienna’s Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, in defense of the pope, told ORF Austrian television on Sunday that Benedict wanted a full probe when former Vienna Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer was removed in 1995 for claimed sexual abuse of a boy. But other Curia officials persuaded then Pope John Paul that the media had exaggerated the case and an inquiry would only create more bad publicity. ‘He told me, “the other side won,” ‘ Schoenborn said.”

So why is Benedict held to a higher standard than John Paul II? Is it because he’s seen as more conservative by the liberal elite? Perhaps. Their unstated and perversely ironic objection to Benedict in the wake of the abuse scandal is not that he has pursued too few reforms but too many. Recall that the New York Times and other liberal newspapers roundly denounced him for one of his first major reforms as pope: a directive issued to bishops that banned the ordination of homosexuals. That is not the liberal elite’s idea of reform, even though most of the abuse cases involve homosexual pederasty. Hence, they blame Benedict for a lax and dysfunctional priesthood while at the same time hectoring him for not letting homosexuals into it. They blame “celibacy” for the scandal (which rests on, among other inane assumptions, the idea the abusers were celibate in the first place) rather than acknowledge the role in it of the very low and aberrant seminary admission standards that they clamored for the church to embrace in the relativistic 1960s.

For all the opportunistic laments about “leniency” in recent days, their real hope for the church is not that it returns to her morally rigorous traditions but that it abolishes them. And it is precisely because Benedict stands in the way of this goal that they now go in for the kill.

George Neumayr is editor of Catholic World Report.


Catholic Psychology and Sexual Abuse by Clergy (Part 1) – Interview with Gerard van den Aardweg

By Genevieve Pollock, Haarlem, Netherlands, April 28, 2010

Pedophiliac behavior — as in cases of child sexual abuse by clergy — cannot be equated with homosexuality, but research reveals that the two are not disconnected either, says a Catholic psychotherapist.

Gerard van den Aardweg has worked as a therapist for almost 50 years in his homeland of Holland, specializing in cases of homosexuality and marital problems. He has taught worldwide and written extensively on homosexuality and pedophilia, as well as the relation of these issues to other topics: same-sex attraction in the priesthood, “Humane Vitae,” and the effects of gay parenting.

The psychologist’s published books include: “Battle for Normality: Self-Therapy of Homosexuality” and “On the Origins and Treatment of Homosexuality.”

Van den Aardweg has been a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee of National Association for Research and Therapy of Homosexuality since the organization was founded in 1992. He is also the European editor of the “Empirical Journal of Same-Sex Sexual Behavior.” 

In this interview with ZENIT, he speaks about the ways the media may be distorting the facts about the sexual abuse of minors and the empirical data about pedophilia and homosexuality.

ZENIT: Recent news stories in Europe have focused on cases of sexual abuse of minors by priests. In your opinion as a psychologist, why has there been such an outbreak in the priesthood?

Van den Aardweg: The idea of a more or less recent outbreak of sexual abuse of minors by priests may be suggested by the media, but we should not buy it. 

The real outbreak we witness is one in media attention for the subject. We must not trust the media in this matter, especially not the left-leaning and liberal newspapers and television channels, because they exploit these scandals for their own agenda.

No doubt, scandalous sexual abuse of minors by priests and religious has occurred in the past, much too often, and more than many people have thought or believed; and it still happens. But the situation is clearly improving, and the peak of the abuses lies roughly between 1965 and 1990, so 20 years back.

That is not amazing; the sexual revolution in the secular world did not stop at the Church door. However, that does not mean that such behavior was typical of priests and friars, or that it occurred more frequently in Catholic parishes and institutes of education than elsewhere.

Without any attempt to check on their validity, accusations, ripe and unripe, are indiscriminately broadcast as proven truth, in an aggressive tone of righteous indignation, often commented upon in a Church-hostile way. Day after day the same message is hammered home.

It looks like a Pavlovian conditioning of public opinion: The association between “Catholic priest” and “child abuser” is reinforced in the mind of the reader or listener, and implicitly, too, the association between “Catholic moral doctrine on sexuality” and “hypocrisy.”

ZENIT: How reliable do you think is the information the media divulge at present on abuse of minors in the Church?

Van den Aardweg: The truth lies in the middle. 




It is true that too many serious cases have been played down or covered up in the past. 

On the other hand, the present black picture of the media is quite exaggerated, a portion of the accusations has more the character of rumors than of concrete facts; in Holland accusations are being made of events that would have happened more than half a century ago — will the majority of people wait all that time if they suffered serious injustice?

And no distinction is made between grave abuse, such as priests or religious who physically or psychologically coerced a vulnerable boy into a sexual relationship for a longer period of time and which often has deep effects on the victim, and an occasional contact or attempt that left no such traces.

As an example of the latter category, a rather popular priest who taught at a secondary school repeatedly tried to impose himself sexually on a series of adolescents, but these simply did not take him seriously; some even slapped him in the face when he became too obtrusive, and he was the object of jokes. 

In one British study with adolescent boys, 35% of them said they had been approached homosexually by an adult (family member, teacher, youth leader, etc.); only 2% of them had given in.

This is also an aspect of the problem. The behavior of the teacher-priest I just mentioned was of course very reproachable, but it may not be equalized with that of a priest or religious in a boarding school who plays the affectionate father role to a lonely young boy from a disrupted home and then abuses his position of power to make his affection dependent on the boy’s complying to his filthy desires. 

In Holland, one or two boarding schools had a bad name in this respect, it was evident that some influential staff members were no good (and they tend to attract others of their ilk), but in many — probably most — of the others, sexual molestations were the exception.

ZENIT: You mention the relationship between people with homosexual tendencies and people who abuse children. Some Church leaders have been criticized for making a connection between the two groups and others have come out with public statements about how the two are completely separated and unrelated. As a psychologist, what would you say about this?

Van den Aardweg: The data on complaints of sexual abuse by priests in the United States, where this type of scandal has best been researched, indicate that 14% of the complaints were about children up to 11 years old, 51% involving preadolescents, and 35% about adolescents 15-17 years old. We could say that roughly 20% of the complaints in general concern children, or if we want to be more liberal in our definition, we may estimate that a third of the cases technically involve pedophile behavior. In any case, they are not the majority. 

For European countries, these statistics are not yet available, but whatever partial information we have points to a similar pattern. Besides, this pattern is confirmed for other groups of molesters of same-sex children and adolescents, in other words, for teachers, youth leaders, or personnel of educational institutes.

Now seduction and abuse of adolescent boys is normally not the trade of “pedophiles.” 

Pedophiles are on average no more interested in boys after these enter the phase of puberty and develop their first masculine traits; it is the childlike body and psyche that attracts them. 

Suppose also in Europe about 20% or more — which is not very likely — of the victims of molestation by priests were clearly under the age of adolescence and that all of these molesting priests were real pedophiles. Even then the bulk of the crimes must be accounted for by priests and religious who were not “pedophiles,” but indeed persons with an ordinary homosexual “orientation.”

That is not surprising. For it is a universal fact that many self-identified homosexuals are focused on adolescents — the term is ephebophiles — and if they act out their feelings, many of them are tempted to seduce an adolescent if the occasion presents itself.

ZENIT: You said your impression is that only few priests are homosexual pedophiles, that is, directed to young boys, 8-11 years old. How do these few men account for the estimated 20% of the cases of sexual abuse of male children?

Van den Aardweg: One active pedophile may make many victims, so cause many complaints. 

But then, coming back to the relationship between “normal” homosexuality and homosexual pedophilia, many men who identify themselves as practicing homosexuals may occasionally also be interested in a boy who is still a child, or a pre-adolescent. 

About a quarter of practicing homosexual men have reported sex with boys of 16 years and younger, including with boys before puberty. About half of homosexually active men in one study reported some interest in youngsters as young as age 12. This percentage may also be assumed for practicing homosexual priests.

This is a gray zone, also because for understandable reasons men who are mainly focused on adolescents — technically ephebophile homosexuals — do not like to admit they may occasionally have feelings for younger boys. 

If the taboo on such contacts would become less strict, I would expect much more “borderline pedophile” and pedophile behavior on the part of adolescent-directed men.

This is also suggested in the declarations by an official gay organization known as the Dutch COC (Club for Culture and Leisure). In 1980 it proclaimed that “by acknowledging the affinity between homosexuality and pedophilia, the COC has quite possibly made it easier for homosexual adults to become more sensitive to erotic desires of younger members of their sex, thereby broadening the gay identity.” 

Therefore, it stated, “liberation of pedophilia must be viewed a gay issue,” and “the age of consent must be abolished.”


Catholic Psychology and Sexual Abuse by Clergy (Part 2) – Interview with Gerard van den Aardweg

By Genevieve Pollock, Haarlem, Netherlands, April 28, 2010


If we want to address the problem of sexual abuse by clergy, we need to go back to the teachings of “Humanae Vitae,” says a Dutch Catholic psychotherapist.

Gerard van den Aardweg has worked as a therapist for almost 50 years, specializing in cases of homosexuality and marital problems. He has taught worldwide and written extensively on homosexuality and pedophilia, as well as the relation of these issues to other topics: same-sex attraction in the priesthood, “Humane Vitae,” and the effects of gay parenting.

The psychologist’s published books include: “Battle for Normality: Self-Therapy of Homosexuality” and “On the Origins and Treatment of Homosexuality.”

In this interview with ZENIT, Van den Aardweg speaks about the role of psychology in cases of sexual abuse by clergy, and the origin and resolution of these problems.

ZENIT: Going back to the problems in the clergy, would you say that the abuse arose more because men with pre-existing tendencies were admitted to the priesthood, or were there factors that contributed to this type of behavior over time?

Van den Aardweg: A young man who is psychologically and emotionally mature when he is admitted to the seminary will never become homosexually or pedo-sexually interested. If he feels sexually aroused and gives way to his feelings, he will seek a woman.

The “orientation” toward boys or adolescents in priests who have molested youngsters has never originated during their seminary or priesthood years. 

In some cases it may initially have been more or less latent, weak; but then, there was always this obvious gap in his feelings, the absence of normal heterosexual feelings. 

In certain circumstances, confronted with some youth, or during a period of disillusionment or loneliness, the slumbering homosexual longing may be inflamed.

Another priest may always have been aware of his attraction to males, but managed to live with it without acting out. However, when he increasingly feels unable to cope with the demands or disillusionments of his profession, in a bad moment he may start either looking into pornographic magazines — in our day, into a porn site on the Internet — or start drinking, to comfort himself; and indulging in sexual fantasies, he goes from bad to worse.

Homosexuality is more than a sexual problem. 

It is part of a rather specific variant of personality immaturity, and among its most frequent symptoms are a lack of character strength, inner loneliness, difficulties in forming mature bonds of friendship, anxiety and depression. Thus stress, in all its forms, can weaken the man’s resistance to surrendering to his desires.

Other important factors that lower the threshold of resistance are the absence of much needed personal support and regular spiritual guidance; laxity in interior, spiritual life; neglect of regular confession; the bad example of other priests in the environment who lead a double life; and being exposed to permissive moral theories on sexuality in general and on the normality of homosexuality.

In this regard, the critical attitude of many theologians and prominent priests toward celibacy and above all toward “Humanae Vitae” has been an efficient factor in undermining the resistance of many priests to sexual acting out, assuredly in the case of many with homosexual desires.

As Pope Paul VI himself expected in this encyclical, dissociating sexuality from propagation in the relationship between man and woman would entail the approval of other sterile forms of sex such as homosexuality. 

Many sex scandals that finally ignited the publicity wave in the United States, which is presently being continued in Europe, and which provides such abundant material for anti-Catholic propaganda, are a logical consequence of decades of openly rejecting and tacitly ignoring “Humanae Vitae” and the Christian view of sexuality behind it by prominent priests, moral theologians and bishops.

You cannot expect that many priests and religious with weaknesses such as homosexual — and occasional pedophile — desires will persevere in their inner battle for chastity when they constantly hear and notice that almost everything is OK in heterosexual life, married or not: “Why should I be the only one who is not allowed to only occasionally give in to an innocent sexual pleasure if I don’t hurt anyone?”

ZENIT: The media seldom focus on the role of psychology in these sexual abuse cases, but haven’t therapists generally been involved in either the treatment of offending priests or in the advising of Church authorities on how to deal with these problems? What would you say about the role of psychology in these cases?

Van den Aardweg: In spite of all present criticism, there is no evidence that the majority of the cases of sexual misbehavior by priests in the more remote past, and even many during 1960-1980 were handled badly and irresponsibly. 

Often a prudent compromise was sought between the need to protect minors, the “resocialization” of the offender, and damage control for the parish, diocese, institute and order or congregation.

Therapy — or, at any rate, a series of conversations with professionals — was one of the standard measures. This approach was not different from the one used in similar cases in secular institutes, save that punishment was ecclesiastical, and more sporadic.

Looking back, this handling may have been adequate in many cases, but often it was not. One of the reasons of the inadequacy of such procedures was the naïveté of Church authorities with respect to sexual deviations. 

The tendency was to underestimate the seriousness of offenses, and to believe that a well-intentioned offender who, moreover, had gone to confession and promised to correct himself, deserved charity and confidence more than anything else, and had to be given a second chance.

On top of that, Church authorities — no less than secular judicial authorities — shared an over-optimistic trust in the upcoming psychological and psychiatric sciences. Relegating a case of sexual abuse to a psychiatrist or psychologist was seen as a rather solid guarantee against recidivism.



Which it decidedly was not, and still is not. The long-term effect of psychotherapy or medication in many cases of sexual offenders is minimal, also because the motivation of a person to fight the hard battle with himself can be rather artificial and dependent on the pressure of the circumstances.

On the other hand it seems that, roughly since the end of the ’60s, the response to these offenses became in many sections of the Church — not in all — ever more inadequate, weak, negligent. 

The secular psychological trend was to emphasize the mental sickness aspect of delinquents in general — their being patients, victims of upbringing etc. — rather than their responsibility for immoral behavior. 

The element of discipline and punishment — in the case of priests and religious: penance — was not popular, and this went along with an often glaring lack of consideration of the sufferings and needs of the victims of crimes.

Psychology bears much responsibility for this distorted, in fact, ideological view, and it has no doubt deeply affected the way Church authorities reacted to sexual abuses or accusations that came to their attention, their conduct in regard to sex offenders in the clergy, and the attitude of many prominent Church people and theologians toward homosexuals in general and homosexual priests in particular.

A powerful factor in this was also fear of the media, of public opinion; not demonstrating “liberal” views on this issue and being “intolerant” could prompt hostile reactions within the media and within sections of the Church itself. 

Anyhow, not seldomly, authorities looked away when “pedophile” or other homosexual behaviors of priests were brought to their attention, and if measures were taken, it was often too much with “the cloak of charity:” no punishment, perhaps placement in a center for therapy, and then without checking the effect.

ZENIT: Some criticize the Church because in the past sexually abusing priests were allowed to return to ministry while undergoing psychotherapy. Do you think the therapists believed that this priest could effectively be cured, therefore once again be trusted with children or youngsters?

Van den Aardweg: This criticism is justified. The responsible authorities in such cases are to blame that they did not have the prudence to wait a couple of years, check the results of treatment, and that they did not personally and critically follow up the case. Their too weak reaction was sometimes the easiest way out.

It is also true that in general, psychotherapists had — still have — too much confidence in their insights and methods. 

Indeed, psychotherapy can help a minority of people with aberrant sexual penchants such as homosexuality to change radically and a higher percentage to improve, in so far that their feelings lose most of their intensity and obsessive nature, and their overall emotional stability has sizably increased. But that often takes years, and the best results are with those who enter therapy out of their own initiative and not forced by the external situation.

Also, a therapy client may fare better during therapy for a period of time, and that may occasion a therapist to prematurely consider him fit for returning into his former situation; however, under renewed inner and outer stress the chances are not slim that he will slide back in his old pattern. 

We see this not only with persons with sexual problems, but with a variety of other neurotics and delinquents as well. Therefore, prudence prescribes never to place someone with these former behaviors back in the old situation for many years at least, as he remains vulnerable.

ZENIT: What is the current relationship between Church authorities and psychologists in working with pedophile/homosexual priests? Has this changed over time?

Van den Aardweg: It depends on the individual authority, but also on the availability of qualified Catholic psychologists. The European reality is that only few psychologists work therapeutically with same-sex attractions, for this branch of therapy is almost outlawed in the European Union that has officially embraced the gay ideology. 

Therapy of sexual deviations is short of being treated as a violation of human rights; universities do not transmit knowledge on homosexuality other than the politically correct ideological slogans, let alone would or could they give therapy courses for professionals. Only a few Christian therapists specialize in this subject.

As for the Church, the interest in cooperating with these Christian/Catholic psychologists and psychiatrists is growing on the part of especially those bishops, prominent staff members of seminaries, individual priests and theologians who endorse the sexual morality of the Church. 

Others, who are insecure in their opinion on this issue, or afraid of confrontations with the media, liberal priests and faithful, or with their own theologians, prefer to keep psychiatrists and psychologists who treat homosexuality as a disorder at arm’s length. But I think something is changing for the better in this area, however slowly.

On the one hand, more younger psychologists and psychiatrists are interested in what we may call “Christian, or Catholic psychotherapy,” that is, methods based on the Christian view of man, marriage and sexuality, and sexual disorientations, and which recognize the therapeutic value of “the religious factor,” conversion, the importance of an interior spiritual life, and of the exercise of the virtues and fight of the vices, for mental health and character stability.

On the other hand, as more bishops, theologians, and priests turn to the wholehearted propagation, explanation, implementation, and defense of the full Catholic doctrine on sexuality and marriage — or to put it simply, making “Humanae Vitae” a substantial part of their re-evangelization activities — they naturally seek more of the advice and assistance of Christian/Catholic psychologists, and this is already here and there leading to a lively and mutually fruitful cooperation.


Journalists abandon standards to attack the Pope

By Phil Lawler, April 10, 2010



We’re off and running once again, with another completely phony story that purports to implicate Pope Benedict XVI in the protection of abusive priests.
The “exclusive” story released by AP yesterday, which has been dutifully passed along now by scores of major media outlets, would never have seen the light of day if normal journalistic standards had been in place. Careful editors should have asked a series of probing questions, and in every case the answer to those questions would have shown that the story had no “legs.”
First to repeat the bare-bones version of the story: in November 1985, then-Cardinal Ratzinger signed a letter deferring a decision on the laicization of Father Stephen Kiesle, a California priest who had been accused of molesting boys.
Now the key questions:
– Was Cardinal Ratzinger responding to the complaints of priestly pedophilia? No. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which the future Pontiff headed, did not have jurisdiction for pedophile priests until 2001. The cardinal was weighing a request for laicization of Kiesle.
– Had Oakland’s Bishop John Cummins sought to laicize Kiesle as punishment for his misconduct? No. Kiesle himself asked to be released from the priesthood. The bishop supported the wayward priest’s application.
– Was the request for laicization denied? No. Eventually, in 1987, the Vatican approved Kiesle’s dismissal from the priesthood.
– Did Kiesle abuse children again before he was laicized? To the best of our knowledge, No. The next complaints against him arose in 2002: 15 years after he was dismissed from the priesthood.
– Did Cardinal Ratzinger’s reluctance to make a quick decision mean that Kiesle remained in active ministry? No. Bishop Cummins had the authority to suspend the predator-priest, and in fact he had placed him on an extended leave of absence long before the application for laicization was entered.
– Would quicker laicization have protected children in California? No. Cardinal Ratzinger did not have the power to put Kiesle behind bars. If Kiesle had been defrocked in 1985 instead of 1987, he would have remained at large, thanks to a light sentence from the California courts. As things stood, he remained at large. He was not engaged in parish ministry and had no special access to children.
– Did the Vatican cover up evidence of Kiesle’s predatory behavior? No. The civil courts of California destroyed that evidence after the priest completed a sentence of probation– before the case ever reached Rome.
So to review: This was not a case in which a bishop wanted to discipline his priest and the Vatican official demurred. This was not a case in which a priest remained active in ministry, and the Vatican did nothing to protect the children under his pastoral care. This was not a case in which the Vatican covered up evidence of a priest’s misconduct. This was a case in which a priest asked to be released from his vows, and the Vatican– which had been flooded by such requests throughout the 1970s — wanted to consider all such cases carefully. In short, if you’re looking for evidence of a sex-abuse crisis in the Catholic Church, this case is irrelevant.
We Americans know what a sex-abuse crisis looks like. The scandal erupts when evidence emerges that bishops have protected abusive priests, kept them active in parish assignments, covered up evidence of the charges against them, and lied to their people. There is no such evidence in this or any other case involving Pope Benedict XVI.
Competent reporters, when dealing with a story that involves special expertise, seek information from experts in that field. Capable journalists following this story should have sought out canon lawyers to explain the 1985 document– not merely relied on the highly biased testimony of civil lawyers who have lodged multiple suits against the Church. If they had understood the case, objective reporters would have recognized that they had no story. But in this case, reporters for the major media outlets are far from objective.
The New York Times– which touched off this feeding frenzy with two error-riddled front-page reports– seized on the latest “scoop” by AP to say that the 1985 document exemplified:
…the sort of delay that is fueling a renewed sexual abuse scandal in the church that has focused on whether the future pope moved quickly enough to remove known pedophiles from the priesthood, despite pleas from American bishops.
Here we have a complete rewriting of history. Earlier in this decade, American newspapers exposed the sad truth that many American bishops had kept pedophile priests in active ministry. Now the Times, which played an active role in exposing that scandal, would have us believe that the American bishops were striving to rid the priesthood of the predators, and the Vatican resisted!
No, what is “fueling a renewed sexual abuse scandal” is a media frenzy. There is a scandal here, indeed, but it’s not the scandal you’re reading about in the mass media. The scandal is the complete collapse of journalistic standards in the handling of this story.

Sexual abuse is society’s problem, too, Phil Lawler, March 25, 2010


Practicing Catholics unfazed by abuse scandals; Pope’s popularity increasing!

May 05, 2010
A new poll conducted by CBS NEWS AND THE NEW YORK TIMES has found that 77% of Catholics who attend Mass weekly say that “the Vatican’s handling of recent child sex abuse reports” has had no effect on how they “feel about the Catholic Church.” An additional 12% of practicing Catholics say that they have a more positive feeling about the Church as a result of the Vatican’s handling of the scandals.



The survey of 1,079 adults was conducted between April 28 and May 2. Results were released on May 4.
—88% of Catholics – practicing and non-practicing — report that the scandal has had no effect on their dealings with priests. 82% say it will not affect their Mass attendance, 79% say it will have no effect on donations, and 87% say that it will have no effect on their children’s involvement in Church activities.
—52% of the general population says that the Vatican’s handling of the scandal has had no effect on their feelings towards the Church, while 36% have more negative feelings.
—The survey also found that Pope Benedict’s popularity among Catholics has increased since March. 43% of Catholics have a favorable view of him (vs. 27% in March), while 17% have an unfavorable view (vs. 11% in March). 38% are unsure or “haven’t heard enough” to make a judgment. Among the general population, 16% have a favorable view of the Pope, 24% have an unfavorable view, and 59% are unsure or “haven’t heard enough.”
—62% of practicing Catholics– vs. 13% of the general population– have a favorable view of the Church’s leadership, while 13% of practicing Catholics (and 38% of Americans overall) have an unfavorable view.
Among the survey’s other findings:
—45% of practicing Catholics, but only 13% of Americans overall, believe that the Vatican has done a good job handling the scandal
—75% of practicing Catholics, and 50% of the overall population, believe that the Vatican is trying to prevent child sexual abuse

—only 17% of practicing Catholics, and 33% of Americans overall, believe that the Vatican is currently engaging in a cover-up
—91% of practicing Catholics, and 54% of Americans overall, have “some” or “a lot of” confidence in the Vatican’s ability to prevent future abuse by priests
—28% of practicing Catholics, and 40% of all Catholics, say that the abuse scandals have caused them to “doubt [the] Vatican’s authority”
—the majority of [practicing and non-practicing] Catholics (54%) believe that the Vatican is “out of touch” with Catholics, while 60% believe that local priests are “in touch”

—58% of practicing Catholics, and 30% of Americans overall, believe the scandal has been blown out of proportion by the news media
—44% of practicing Catholics, and 73% of the total population, believe that child sexual abuse by priests is still a problem today
—only 30% of Catholics believe that homosexuality contributes to child sexual abuse by priests; 31% believe the celibacy discipline is a contributing factor, while 17% believe the Church’s teaching on women’s ordination is a factor”


Proof that the Catholic Church is perfect

By John L. Barger, Publisher Sophia Institute Press 1-800-888-9344 Box 5284, Manchester, NH 03108 USA, undated

Not long ago, one of my adult children spent hours pummeling me and the Church. The waves of her anger struck repeatedly, tossing me like a small boat in a storm.

With the bitterness of a woman betrayed, she recited the sins of bad priests we knew, and catalogued the failings of Catholic laymen and bishops we trusted.

“I believed,” she cried.

“I believed, while those bastards lied and sneaked about, doing the very things they preached against!”

What could I say?

I won’t defend the indefensible. So, like Peter in that boat tossed by an earlier storm, I kept myself focused on Jesus.

“They betrayed us,” I agreed. “But they betrayed Jesus more.

“He condemned these sins centuries ago. If you thought He was wrong to do so, you wouldn’t be upset today. Your anger shows that even when priests violate them, you think Christ’s teachings — the Church’s teachings — are right.”

That just made her angrier, and since then I’ve had simply to avoid the topic.

* * *

You know, when I entered the Church as an adult, I had a profound admiration for priests, and naively believed that Catholics — and particularly priests — would always be found more virtuous than others.

My faith was so great that I founded Sophia Institute Press to bring back into print the fine Catholic books that had won me to the Faith, and that — I was sure — would convert others, too.

Now, at last count, six of the priests I’ve admired for their orthodoxy have been implicated in the sex scandals, and one is deep in a Midwest jail.

That fact didn’t make it easy for me to answer my daughter’s charges.

Like Peter, I was left only with Jesus.

Jesus gave sinful Peter the power to walk on water. Jesus keeps us from drowning when the world attacks us and assails our wounded Church.

And Jesus guarantees that, despite the sins of Her members, the Church Herself is perfect.




Yes, perfect!

But not at all in the way that I imagined when I converted to Catholicism.

Fr. Ronald Knox explains it well in a remarkable little book, The Church on Earth, which I published a couple of years ago.

There he notes that, unlike the Protestant churches, the Catholic Church is not a system that men, after prayer and deliberation, devised as the best scheme they could think of for perpetuating the work of their Master, Jesus.

On the contrary, the Catholic Church is directly God’s handiwork: in the New Testament Jesus Himself instituted the Sacraments and established the Church, placing Peter at its head.

Since God Himself established our Church, we must believe that it is perfectly designed to lead souls to perfection; and that it does so when they abide by Her teachings and partake of the graces She affords them.

Had I remembered just this one point from Msgr. Knox’s slim book, the conversation with my daughter — and with others who assail the Church for the sins of her members — would have gone much better.

You know, this past quarter-century I’ve published hundreds of books like The Church on Earth, which, in just a paragraph, can make the difference between faith lost and faith regained.

Indeed, I’ve brought forth into the world almost three million copies of books by the very best Catholic authors, living and dead — authors whose holiness and wisdom continually draw souls to the Church (the perfect Church) that Christ founded 2,000 years ago. […]


Reformation after the Abuse Crisis
(Part 1) –

Interview with Authors Gregory Erlandson and Matthew Bunson
By Karna Swanson, Huntington, Indiana, July 6, 2010

It’s 2002 all over again, and the Church is once more passing through the painful process of coming to grips with a new wave of sexual abuse cases. But what’s different this time is that the Church has more knowledge of the illness of pedophilia, and 10 years of experience of the U.S. bishops to build on.
These are the conclusions of Matthew Bunson and Gregory Erlandson in their recently published book “
Pope Benedict XVI and the Sexual Abuse Crisis: Working for Reform and Renewal” (Our Sunday Visitor, 2010). Erlandson is the president and publisher of Our Sunday Visitor Publishing, and Bunson is the editor of The Catholic Almanac and The Catholic Answer magazine (both published by Our Sunday Visitor), as well as a media consultant on Catholic issues.
In the first part of their interview with ZENIT, the authors discuss the current wave of sexual abuse cases and explain why it’s important to be precise when using clinical terms such as pedophilia, ephebophilia or hebephilia, and why the response of the U.S. bishops to the crisis in 2002 is an important model for other episcopal conferences.
ZENIT: In media reports, we hear the term pedophilia a lot. In your book you explain that some 6% of all reported cases are actually cases of pedophilia, which is clinically defined as sexually abusing pre-pubescent children. Why the confusion regarding terminology, and how important is it to use the correct terminology? Is the Church downplaying the sexual abuse crisis by pointing out that the abused boys were older youth and teenagers?
Bunson and Erlandson: First, we must make it absolutely clear that abuse is abuse and is abhorrent, whatever the age of the minor. It is both a crime and a sin. That an adult with power and authority — and in the case of the clergy with the trappings of divine authority — sexually abuses a minor is intolerable. Period.
When the discussion turns to clinical categories, however, one must recognize that one of the most difficult aspects of confronting the problem of sexual abuse has been the need to deepen our knowledge of pedophilia. While the psychiatric profession was aware of clinical pedophilia for more than a century, only in 1950s was it formally identified and only in 1980 was it given diagnostic parameters by mental health professionals. The distinctions clinicians are using identify whether the victim is pre-pubescent, pubescent or classified as a young adult.
It is essential for those in authority in the Church to understand every aspect of this problem in order to deal with it effectively and comprehensively and to craft proper mechanisms for preventing it in the future. This entails clinical precision in approaching the matter. For example, we note the different age groups of the victims and the precise terms that are used for the various forms of illness involved, e.g. pedophilia (under the age of 10), ephebophilia (10-14) or hebephilia (14-17).
These distinctions are not made in some effort to minimize or downplay the issue; quite the opposite in fact. If we are able to determine that certain age groups of children are more likely to be victims of sexual abuse, we can focus even more heavily on the reasons for that and foster regulations and barriers for their protection and well-being. The U.S. studies have shown that the majority of the abuse cases involve the 10 to 14 age group, which is, for example, the primary age group of altar servers.
Anyone who tries to use the statistics to suggest that this is not a severe problem or that there might be mitigating circumstances is both misreading the severity of this crime and sin and doing a disservice to the victims, their families and the Church.
ZENIT: The United States passed through the height of its sexual abuse crisis in 2002 — almost 10 years ago! Late last year, the publication of the Ryan and Murphy reports in Ireland sparked another crisis, which has affected Europe more than the United States this time. What was in those reports that managed to bring this topic to the forefront again?




Bunson and Erlandson: From the start, our book was intended to help inform people about the true history of the crisis, both in the United States and around the world. One of the things that we saw immediately in the face of this new wave of abuse cases globally is what you pointed to in your question. When the U.S. Church was forced to confront the media revelations in 2002, the bishops responded with a comprehensive package of reforms – the Dallas Charter, the Essential Norms for the conduct of cases, annual audits and the implementation of zero tolerance and safe environment in parishes, schools and Catholic institutions.
In the wake of the new round of media revelations around the world, Catholics in this country might get the impression that nothing has been accomplished in the last eight years. Our book seeks to remind people about what they might have forgotten. We have made immense progress in the United States in this area. While we have more to do and must remain ever-vigilant, the United States is now a model for the rest of the world in dealing with this crisis.
That is an important background in looking at the tragedy of the Church in Ireland and elsewhere. The Ryan and Murphy reports — detailing the shocking and horrifying extent of abuse and institutional failure in Ireland and in particular the Archdiocese of Dublin — have shaken the Church in Ireland and have done considerable damage to the credibility and moral authority of the Church in that country; they likewise have impacted the credibility of the government which was complicit in past decades in the terrible sexual and physical abuse of children because of its inactivity and unwillingness to confront the problem.
The Irish bishops and leaders in the Irish Church knew that the reports would reveal terrible findings regarding the abuse of minors, but the sheer weight and horror of the facts surprised everyone. Archbishop Diarmuid Martin of Dublin has spoken extensively on this, and he has been a true leader in pointing to the long and difficult road to reform and renewal for the Irish Church. Even more important, the Holy Father received the reports and wrote his unprecedented letter to the Catholics of Ireland in March. This is an extraordinary document in its frankness and expressions of sadness, apology and pledge to all of Ireland that the Church is truly committed to bringing healing to the victims, justice to the abusers, accountability to the bishops who failed in their duties and spiritual renewal in the years to come.
Sadly, we are seeing similar problems emerge across the world. There are cases in Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland. Australia is now emerging out of its own terrible crisis, and there are cases in Brazil and the Philippines.
But here we see the importance of the U.S. experience. The norms and programs established by the bishops of the United States are now being used as a blueprint for the countries facing the same scandals.
ZENIT: Most of the abuse cases deal with cases that took place 20-30 years ago. Why is the Church dealing with this problem now? What took it so long?
Bunson and Erlandson: You bring up an important component to a proper understanding of this crisis. The majority of cases took place 30, 40 and even 50 years ago. In the United States, there were several high profile cases in the 1980s and 1990s, but the storm of cases struck around 2001-2002 as a result in part of the explosive reporting of The Boston Globe newspaper about documents obtained from the Archdiocese of Boston. The media coverage in turn encouraged many other victims to come forward. We are seeing a similar situation in Europe, where the recent news coverage has prompted more victims to speak up, even in countries such as The Netherlands that already had made extensive efforts to encourage victims to speak out. The Church in these countries is making it clear that it really wants to deal with the problem now that it has been brought fully into the open.
As we just said, the Church in the United States has been dealing with this problem actively for nearly a decade now. Australia has been facing it for many years as well. Austria has struggled with it for some years, including the resignation of Cardinal Hermann Gröer, the archbishop of Vienna, in 1995, and a scandal involving the seminary of Sankt Pölten in 2004.
There is an understandable impression that the crisis is getting worse, that new cases are piling up and that we have done nothing to improve the situation. The truth is that a painful process had to take place during which Catholic leaders came to a better understanding of the scope and severity of the problem confronting the Church. Terrible mistakes were made in the past, and many cases and situations were ignored. These finally came to light decades after they happened, and the steps took time to be crafted and implemented. Now, Europe and elsewhere have to deal with the same situation American bishops dealt with in 2002.


Reformation after the Abuse Crisis
(Part 2) –

Interview with Authors Gregory Erlandson and Matthew Bunson
By Karna Swanson, Huntington, Indiana, July 7, 2010

As the Church continues to address the sexual abuse crisis, Catholics must be confident that there is a way forward for the Church, and that Benedict XVI is the one to lead it, say the authors of a book on the Pope’s response to the current wave of sex abuse cases.
In part 2 of their interview with ZENIT, the authors reflect on the consequences of the sexual abuse crisis, and what Benedict XVI has done to lead the Church forward.
ZENIT: In the book you mention that the Church gets all the blame for not responding to the sexual abuse crisis earlier, but that in many instances civil authorities were also slow to respond. Has there been a change in the last 20-30 years in how law enforcement looks on these types of crimes?
Bunson and Erlandson: While there were laws about sexual abuse, there was a tendency in past decades for civil authorities to have the same lack of full understanding of the sexual abuse of minors as everyone else.




They lacked both a proper awareness of the deviance and a comprehension of its impact on the children who were abused. As we discuss in the book, many bishops relied on mental health experts to provide guidance in how to deal with abusive priests and accepted the recommendations that a priest in therapy could be given a new assignment. We know now that was a catastrophic mistake.
Similarly, there was reluctance at times on the part of civil authorities to press charges over what they saw as a problem similar to alcoholism or drug abuse. Some civil authorities, in places like Ireland and the United States, did not prosecute sexual abuse of minors out of an excessive deference to priests or a desire to avoid scandal for a religious institution. Pope Benedict XVI pointed to this in his Letter to the Catholic of Ireland.
ZENIT: The Church has been around for more than 2,000 years, and has shown its resiliency by surviving the many crises that have threatened it. Having said that, what have been the consequences for the Church of the sexual abuse crisis? Even more importantly, what have been the consequences for the faith of individual believers, be they victims, the abusers themselves, or the faithful in the pews?
Bunson and Erlandson: The Church has suffered a grievous wound in this sexual abuse crisis. Not only is it a humiliation and a blow to its reputation, but it has had to recognize that those who bore the greatest responsibility for the souls of others — priests, deacons, bishops, Church employees — had failed terribly. The victims of abuse have had their lives shattered and their faith terribly shaken, even destroyed. Worse still, crimes like sexual abuse have a ripple effect, traumatizing and alienating families and friends, and undermining the Church’s witness in the larger society.
The vast majority of priests are dedicated and faithful to their vows, yet they too have seen their reputations maligned and felt the distrust of strangers. In those parishes where children were abused by clergy, there is often distrust and woundedness on the part of the people even when the cases are addressed forthrightly. The priests’ relationship with their bishops has also been damaged. It is not unusual for priests to feel that while they are only one allegation away from having their reputations destroyed, their bishops are not as accountable and their bishops have made them scapegoats for larger institutional problems. Many, including the late Avery Cardinal Dulles, have warned of the rift that can occur between priests and their bishops as a result of this scandal.
The bishops — most of whom inherited cases of abuse from decades ago and lawsuits that deal with those terrible events — have seen a loss of their reputation and moral authority at a time when their voices are most needed in the complex issues of modern times.
For the faithful in the pews who get most of their news from the secular media, the reports have continued to erode faith in the institution of the Church and its leaders. This corrosion of trust has long-term implications that go beyond those who stop attending Mass. Those Catholics who were already alienated from the faith may use the occasion of scandals to formally break with the Church, but even those who stay do not understand the full context or see all that the Church is doing to correct past errors and prevent future ones. It is particularly for these people that we wrote our book, our fellow Catholics who may be getting only half the story.
Benedict XVI has also tied very closely the reform of the Church in the area of sexual abuse to a wider program of spiritual renewal. The crisis has thus provided the Church with the opportunity to bring needed reforms institutionally and a process of spiritual renewal. As you allude, both of these are well in keeping with the wider history of the Church’s aspirations to be in a constant state of reform and renewal, as Pope Gregory I the Great memorably declared.   
ZENIT: You talk about how Benedict XVI has been a leader in this crisis, and that his pontificate will be defined by how he is responding to sexual abuse in the Church. What do you see as the main elements of his response?
Bunson and Erlandson: The heart of our book is documenting the authentic record of Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI in dealing with the sexual abuse crisis, from his time as archbishop of Munich-Freising, to his tenure as head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to his leadership since his election as Pope in 2005.
As we have discussed, the Pope has been engaged with this issue for years. As head of the CDF, he assumed control over all of the world’s cases in 2001 after the decree was issued by Pope John Paul II centralizing the oversight of cases on the Vatican side. In that position, he became arguably the most well-informed leader in the entire Church about the extent and severity of the problem. He was a supporter of the norms and program of reform in the United States. He has accepted the resignations of bishop all over the world for their failures to provide leadership in handling cases. He has spoken extensively about the problem in his travels, such as his clear words to the United States in 2008 and his letter to the Catholics of Ireland. He has met with the victims of abuse, in the United States, in Australia, in Malta and at the Vatican; he has said that he is eager to meet with victims from Ireland. It is clear also that he plans to continue speaking about this issue, and he is expected to implement universal norms for the Church in this important area.
As we have stressed, the Pope has united these crucial institutional reforms with a wider program of spiritual renewal. As he taught a few weeks ago [during his apostolic trip to Cyprus], the Church can survive persecutions from external forces, but the greatest threat to the Church is from within, from the sins and the failings of her members. Without question, the sexual abuse crisis represents a catastrophe for the whole Catholic world, but following the lead from Pope Benedict, Catholics must not fear the truth, and we can know that a way forward is before us. The Holy Father is our leader in that long and difficult journey.



By Fr. James Manjackal M.S.F.S., Munich, April 6, 2010



On these days the emotional and sensational news throughout the world’s communication media, is the scandal in the Catholic Church concerning the child abuses by her clergy. The attack by the media and journalists aim to portray Pope Benedict and the Catholic Church, which he leads as “the epicentre of sexual abuse of the young”. In this small article I want to explain to the readers what is happening in the world today, how the Pope and the Church are blamed and ridiculed and what they are doing in the present world. Those who are ignorant of what is happening in the world today – especially ever since the sex revolution ushered into our human society in the later years of the second Millennium, might think that the Pope, the head of the Catholic Church, and the celibate Bishops and priests closest to him are culprits of all sex scandals in the world specially those of paedophilia.

“The sexual and physical abuse of children and young people is a global plague; its manifestations run the gamut from fondling by teachers to rape by uncles!”
(George Weigel, First Things Magazine, March 29th 2010). The sexual revolution that has pervaded into all areas of human society has perverted and degraded human dignity by destroying all forms of ethical and moral values of life. All that people considered morally good until recently is no more good! Until recently it was morally good for a young boy or a girl to be chaste or a virgin, now it is considered as abnormal and unhealthy. Until recently it was a moral mandate for married couples to remain faithful to each other in their marriage bond, now it is considered as infringement of one’s personal freedom. Until recently abortion was considered child- murder, now it is approved and legalized everywhere, as normality. Until recently homosexuality and lesbianism were considered to be perversions but today they are the normal people in our society! Until very recently old and sick people were given respect, sympathy, love and care, but now the society wants to get rid of them through euthanasia. It was normal that children would be born after the wedding of the couples, but now the majority of the children, especially in Western countries are born out of wedlock! The number of men and women living together in a sexual relationship without any form of marriage, either civil or ecclesiastical, is increasing; also the number of lesbian and homosexual unions. Masturbation, premarital sex, fornication, adultery, free sex, concubinage, prostitution, divorce, abortion, homosexuality, euthanasia, pornography, sex and erotic shops, hotels and brothels for child abuse, etc. have become normal and acceptable in today’s “modern and permissive” society.

According to the World Health Organization forty two million abortions are officially reported every year! Abortions are mainly the results of licentious and immoral lives. The divorce rate in Western countries is almost 70%. For the last 5 years more than half of the children born in Western countries are of unmarried mothers. The pornographic industry earns 2.500 Euro per second in Europe. At every second, 28.000 regular users visit pornographic websites. Every year the pornographic industry earns more than 75 billion Euro. The sexual abuse of children, “paedophilia” is the “normal” consequence of a morally sick and permissive society, such as the one we live in today, in which “sex” itself –as a mere instrument of lust and pleasure – is highly prioritized by governmental and private institutions. According to the first UN general’s study on violence against children (2006), 150 million girls and 75 million boys under 18 years are being forced to sexual intercourse and sexual abuse every year and, most of them by their parents, relatives and educators. Approximately 10-15% of all European children are victims of child abuse. 1.8 million children are forced to prostitution and pornography, and 1.2 million children are sold as slaves for child labour including victims of sex tourism, which is especially popular in Europe. The rate of paedophilia by homosexuals is more than that of anyone else in the society.

The Catholic Church is the only institution, the Holy Father the Pope as her head and the Bishops and priests as her messengers, that fights constantly tooth and nail without any compromise against the moral ignominy, depravation and degradation in the human society. It is certain that the demon of immorality that perverts the human society tries to pour filth on the Pope and the Church to malign and to defame them; and thus to eliminate the voice of the Pope and the Church, which is in reality the Master’s voice. The spirit of the antichrist, the spirit that destroys the works of Christ in the world is at work. The present Pope, Benedict XVI, again and again along with his predecessors has warned about the dangers of the spirit of modernism, secularism and relativism. An antichristian vision of the world is growing day by day! This vision believes that human life is not sacred, hence there is no need to defend life in the mother’s womb; marriage is not simply and intrinsically between man and woman, so same sex union must be accepted as normal; sex and sexuality are the needs of every man and there should be freedom to use them as one likes; religion should not dictate rules and regulations to the consciences of men and women, etc. In order to achieve these and other goals, the strong voice of Jesus that is uttered by the church through the Pope and the clergy must be stopped! Everyone knows that Europe is removing all Christian roots and culture! Hence the present attack on the Church and the Pope is the cunningly planned and frenzied campaign of Satan to smear the name of the Pope and the Church in the world today. There are even telephone calls to the Vatican from Austria, Germany, England and Ireland asking for the Pope to resign. Some even dared to call for his arrest! Let not Satan and all those who are polluted by his tactics think that they can intimidate and silence the Pope and the Church. Till the end of the times, the Pope and the Church will fight against the spirit of antichrist and the spirit of immorality, and the final victory will be that of the Church.

Being authentic to her master’s voice, the Church, through her Popes, Bishops and priests advocates, propagates and promotes holiness of life, especially with regard to sexual purity basing the teachings on sound moral and ethical values coming from natural and divine laws. Always and everywhere the Church boldly and loudly speaks: “God’s will for mankind is holiness of life, therefore all must refrain from all forms of immorality” (I Thessalonians 4: 3). The spirit that the Church breathes on those who believe in Christ Jesus is a spirit of holiness and purity, and therefore the Christians are called more specifically to holiness of life (I Thessalonians 4: 7-8). In this context it is very understandable why the spirit of impurity and unholiness is waging a war like a roaring lion against the Church and the Vicar of Christ.




It is time for the Church to discern and to know the spirits of impurity and antichrist that plague humanity and to be equipped to fight against them with courage and boldness.

It is true that the spirit of impurity infiltrated into the lives of a few clerics in the Catholic Church and now they are the prey of the journalists and media. The recent Popes were well aware of it, and without hiding anything tried their best to correct them, and even to the extent of rebuking and punishing them. The present Pope Benedict XVI is always in front to proclaim the need of a culture free from sexual abuses. Even before his ascend to Papacy, he was determined to cleanse the Church of “filth” (Ratzinger’s speech at Subiaco on 1st. April 2005). Pope Benedict has sought more energetically and efficiently to cleanse the Church of various corrupt tendencies and practices that crept into the Church. In the last 50 years priests were accused of 3000 cases of reported child abuse, although not all were found guilty of conviction. According Charles J. Scicluna – someone like the attorney general of the Vatican responsible for crimes – says that out of these 3.000 cases, 60% are ephebophilia, 30% are heterosexual relations and only 10% are truly paedophilic cases; it means only 300 cases of the total of 500.000 priests in the world which makes only 0.06%. According to Prof. Philippe Jenkins (Paedophilia and priests, anatomy of a contemporary crisis – Oxford University Press) the paedophilia problem in the Catholic clergy is lower than in other denominations of Christianity and other religions in the world. For example according to a report published by Luigi Accatoli, from the 210.000 registered cases of sexual abuses in Germany since 1995, only 94 correspond to people or institutions of the Catholic Church. In Austria, out of 510 cases only 17 refer to catholic clergy. By exaggeration and lies an artificial “moral panic” is created specially in the West on paedophilia of the Catholic clergy. The politicians and the press are trying to take the Church back to medieval Europe, to the times of the French revolution, in order to swift and to destroy her. According to Jenkins – the power of the continuing paedophile propaganda issue is one of the means of propaganda and harassment used by politicians in their attempt to break the power of the German Catholic Church especially in the fields of education and social services.

Most of the cases of paedophilia of the clergy are of the 60’s! It was the time some Catholic Universities in USA and Europe developed a misconceived teaching about human sexuality and moral theology. Perhaps some of the seminarians of that time were impressed by this and acted in an undignified way. Pope John Paul II strongly confronted such corruption, cancelling the permission to some teachers in the Seminaries and universities. We must know that today’s priests and ministers of the Church are recruited from some of the broken families, sometimes even from families that have immoral backgrounds. It is not necessary that the long and tedious period of training completely deleted all their spiritual and moral defects from their personalities, although it is what is meant by the superiors who trained them in the Holy Scriptures and teachings of the Church, saturated with prayers, meditations and sacramental life. Paedophilia is the psychological defect of a personality; it is a sexual interest in children below the age of puberty. Psycho analysis recognizes the child abuser as typically immature man who wants to ‘give love’ to a boy which he did not receive in childhood. He makes a narcissistic identification with the child seeing him as an idealised version of himself, and perceives himself as giving the same love which he wished he had received from his own father. The paedophile cannot understand that he is inflicting emotional damage to the person concerned but from his subconscious mind he thinks that he is doing something good. (Problem of paedophilia Nov 5. 1998 in Narth).

Hence there is no wonder if a small minority of the Catholic clergy are having bad tendencies towards homosexuality, paedophilia or other immoral behaviours, although they are to be deplored, renounced and removed. Pope Benedict acted without any tolerance or compromise against all that tarnished the honour and dignity of the priesthood and the integrity of the victims of the child abuse. He took rapid action when the issue of paedophilia erupted in some dioceses of USA and Ireland. In one of his letters to the Church in Ireland, the Pope called, “traitors” those guilty of abuse and announced a rigorous inspections in dioceses, seminaries and religious organizations. When he was the Prefect of the Congregation for the doctrine of Faith, he included such abuses in the list of grave sins and he exhorted the Bishops to refer such cases to Vatican.

Here we should know the meaning of the Church. The Church is both human and divine. The Church is founded by Jesus Christ, the holy and only begotten Son of God, on the foundation of the apostles who walked along with Him. Through the reception of various sacraments, the Holy Spirit keeps the members of the Church as the fellow citizens with the holy ones (Ephesians 2: 19-22). But at the same time the members of the Church are living here on earth, they are out of flesh and blood with all their human frailties and weaknesses; and they are trying to be holy with the grace received in the sacraments and liturgical prayers.  The members of the Church are destined to be holy but are now struggling on earth fighting against Satan, the flesh and the world and becoming holy. So, the church on earth is not the fellowship of saints but it is the fellowship of those called to be saints and are becoming saints! We must know that priests and ministers of the Church are also part and parcel of this Church – the household of God.

What about the 99.94% of the Catholic priests who are not accused of any sexual scandal? They stand witness to the holiness of the Catholic Church through their practice of celibacy, and the journalists or the world media have nothing to say about them. The holiness of catholic priests centred on the practice of celibacy is the axle and epicentre for all mankind to receive power and grace to live a morally good life; and it is the power of the Catholic Church. There is a story that once a small statue fell down from the dome of a big cathedral and the journalists made photos and reports about it and made sensational news in all newspapers, magazines, TVs, etc. When they read about it with deep sorrow, they failed to know about the 999 good and big statues that were still standing on the same dome! The Catholic priests who live a holy life by the practice of celibacy know the power of it and radiate it on those among whom they work bringing them to holiness of life.




I am a Catholic priest for the last 37 years, and have preached the Gospel in 97 countries in all 5 continents; and I have a retreat or a convention of 4 to 5 days every week. In all my works for the Lord and His Church I feel and experience the power of celibacy in my life. All my energies of sex and sexuality are surrendered to the action and unction of the Holy Spirit who sublimes them to supernatural energies to live and work for Jesus and His kingdom. In my last 34 years of preaching ministry, I have never come across with the accusation of anyone being misused or molested by a Catholic priest; but several times I have wept over those cases of children who were sexually misused by their parents or relatives.

It is a pity that the other denominations of Christianity who removed the truth of the Church, which is the foundation and pillar of truth and separated themselves from the Mother Church for their own selfish motives, are now decrying the faults of the Catholic Church with a very unchristian attitude. Already we saw that there are more paedophiles and sex abusers in those churches than in the Catholic Church. And they say that all this is because of the celibacy of the priests in the Catholic Church. The millions and millions of children abused in the world are not abused by catholic priests but by married people and even by their own parents. We must know that many pastors of those churches have divorced their wives, officially they have legalized abortion, divorce and homosexual unions. What is to say! They don’t only have women priests but they have lesbian priests and bishops. It is they who are trying to remove the splinter from the eyes of the Catholic Church unmindful of the beams which are on their own eyes. Today Christ should ask the conscience of those who accuse the Catholic Church, “Let the one among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her” (Jn 8: 7).

During this time of purification, the Church must be aware of what the Bible speaks, “Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith, knowing that your fellow believers throughout the world undergo the same sufferings” (I Pet 5: 8-9).
“For our struggle is not with flesh and blood but with the principalities, with the powers, with the world rulers of this present darkness, with the evil spirits in the heavens” (Ephesians 6: 12). But she did not fear the assaults of the enemy because Jesus the Lord and Head of the Church is there to fight with her. The promise that Jesus had made to the first Pope Peter remains true even to the Pope today, “And I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it. I give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosened in heaven” (Mt 16: 18-19). It is the Catholic Church, with the Pope as its head, which Jesus founded and He has given her the keys of the kingdom of God, and the gates of the netherworld will not prevail against it. When the soldiers crucified Jesus, they thought that His story ended, but it was only the beginning of the story.

The timely humiliation to which the Catholic Church has been dragged by the lies and calumniation of the journalists and the world media will end soon, the true Church of Christ, the Catholic Church, will triumph again as the light of the world to shed light and grace to all those who live in the shadow of sin and darkness specially of the sins of immorality, so that human beings created in God’s image and likeness which is holiness and goodness will again shine out in holiness of lives by the teachings of the Bible and the Church. [All emphases are the author’s]


Q&A on the issues of homosexual priests, the pedophilia issue, the biased reporting by the secular media, etc. answered by Bro. Ignatius Mary OLSM, arranged in chronological order:

I was recently in a debate in which I believe I gave a rather poor showing, so I’d like to have some help if the topic were to be broached in the future.

How does one defend the Church in light of the current abuses? What I am referring to are the priest child abuse scandal, etc. How does one defend celibacy in light of these abuses?

Also, how does one also defend the opulence of the Church? It is one of the richest organizations in the world with priceless masterpieces everywhere, yet it preaches the values poverty and selflessness. One of the examples given was the opulence that the local archbishop lives in (a multimillion dollar high rise).

I took the position that the church may have corrupt elements but that comes from being a very old bureaucracy. I said that every organization goes through periods of relative decadence and the Church is fallible in matters of bureaucratic administration and efficiency and therefor mistakes are to be deplored but not unexpected. I also stated that loyalty in the Church was, and needs to be, to the faith of the church. The people who left the church after the abuse didn’t “get it.” Apostolic tradition is still valid before as well as after and the same is true of Christ’s message. He responded by saying, in effect, “by their fruits you shall know them.” So, could you help give me some ammunition to help defend this in the future? I honestly believe he’s overstating his case as far as corruption is concerned, but I don’t have enough facts to prove it. –John

July 20, 2004


The first thing to remember is that these arguments are false arguments made by unthinking people who are bigots. Remember the source of such ignorant arguments.

With that said, the issue of celibacy has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with sexual abuse. The FACTS are that most child abusers are MARRIED MEN.

Among professionals the 66% of the perpetrators come from the professionals of (in this order) psychiatry, psychology, and social work. This is according to a study by the Wisconsin Psychological Association.




The same study found that only 11% of those in the profession of clergy have molested. Now ANY percentage other than ZERO is too much, but the point is that the largest problem of molesting children is not priest (only 1 1/2 percent of priest have sinned in this way), nor is it clergy; it is the Mental Health Profession.

Who do children end up going to for help once they are molested by clergy? Social workers, psychologist, and psychiatrist (the largest group of professions who molest children).

Secondly, the Church does not teach that molesting children is a good thing. Those priests (who by the way are mostly NOT pedophiles, but homosexuals with teenage boys) committed SIN against the children, against the Church, and against God. The Church does not support sin.

Maybe 1 1/2 percent of priest have sinned in this fashion. A handful of bishops have sinned in covering it up perhaps. There are about half a million bishops and somewhere around 4-5 million priests. In the United States the figures I think are around 46,000 priests and around 428 Bishops and Cardinals. There is a better statistical probability that there is a higher percentage of child molesters in the families of these people who attack the church than there is among priests.

The Church herself cannot be blamed for the sins of its people any more than I can be held responsible for my great, great cousin who was a horse-thief and tarred and feathered and run out of town. Those priests and bishops who committed the sin are responsible for that sin.

As for the “opulence” of the Church and its riches, there is nothing to defend since the Catholic Church is NOT even close to being the richest organization in the world and is NOT opulent. I use to be a member of a Baptist Church that had a budget of $4,000,000 and that was only ONE parish. The Baptist Church down the road had a budget of $20,000,000. Keep in mind these are 1976 dollars.

The artwork at the Vatican are not assets of the Church to use as it pleases to buy expensive steaks or something. That artwork is held in trust in the Vatican museums. Like ANY museum its holdings are in trust to the public. To sell off those holdings is as stupid as any other museum selling its holding so that the hungry can eat for a few days. As the old cliche says, it is better to teach a person how to fish than to give him a fish; to give the hungry food for a week has no meaning against teaching people to fish or farm whereby they can feed themselves for life.

If the Vatican would sell all of these holdings, the hungry of the world will be fed for about one week, and the world will be deprived of the art auctioned off to private collectors and museums scattered throughout the world.

Jesus said that the poor will always be among us. It was Judas who criticized Jesus for what he thought was “opulence”. Jesus chastised Judas.

If we are to construct great buildings for kings and presidents, should not God be given a great building? God thinks so. Take a look in the Old Testament when poverty and hunger was about 1000 times worse than today. Despite the hunger and poverty God directed the building of a great and expensive Temple.

Those who make this argument are ignorant of the Bible, and worse, are usually hypocrites. At the same time they are attacking the Church on this, they are spending $20+ on Internet Access (something utterly unnecessary), on coffee, soda pop and meat and other lovely foods while at the same time people are starving, even here in the United States. Think of all the hungry who would be fed for a couple days if all the bigots got off the Internet, gave-up smoking and drinking, sold their boats, move to a low income areas for a cheap house, etc. and spent the saving on feeding the poor. Until they do that, I shall not throw my pearls before swine.

The fact is that the Catholic Church is the NUMBER ONE charity in the world helping the poor. The fact is that nearly all of the great vestments, marble floors and statues are DONATED to the Church by private citizens. The fact is that we can honor God by giving God the best we can offer and at the same time help the poor.

I live on less than $400 per month and I still find the money to support a girl in India whose family makes less than $100 per month. Almost 20% of their income comes from me. Once can do both.

I might add that the apartments of the Pope are small and not that comfortable from what I understand. Until recent years much of the Vatican was falling apart. But let us not confuse the bigots with the facts. 🙂

For the most part, I would advise NOT arguing with dingbats who make such stupid arguments. St. Paul tells us to not involve ourselves in unproductive argumentation.

In addition, we need to remember Proverbs:

Proverbs 26:4: “Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest you be like him yourself. 5, Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he be wise in his own eyes.” –Bro. Ignatius Mary OLSM


I recently had a discussion with someone on the priest abuse scandal. I said that there were two things that make it more difficult than if it were just some scandal within the management of a big corporation:

1) Once ordained a priest, a person remains a priest, and he still has those “powers.” They cannot be taken away any more than an MD can have knowledge sucked out of him when convicted of malpractice.

2) The church preaches forgiveness and the possibility of redemption from even the most heinous sins. For the Church to be unforgiving would be terrible.

On #1 was I right? What happens to these priests who have been found to be guilty of child molestation, etc.? What does the Church do? What constraints are on the Church theologically that wouldn’t be on, say, Burger King or Microsoft? -David

July 29, 2004




You are correct and the analogy of a Medical Doctor is a good one. The Medical Doctor still has the “powers” of medical treatment at his disposal even if his license to practice medicine is revoked.

If he performs medical procedures, those medical procedures are still valid, but he performs them illegally.

The same goes for a “defrocked” priest. Once a person is validly ordained a priest, he is a priest forever even if that man ends up in hell. His faculties as a priest, however, can be suspended or revoked. That is, his “license” to perform the duties of a priest can be revoked. This is called laicization — returning the priest to the lay state (defrocked). The priest is still a priest, but he is no longer clergy. He is returned to the lay state. If a defrocked priest tries to say Mass, or offer confession, or perform any other duty of a priest, he does so validly as a priest, but does so illegally (without permission from the Church).

But in times of emergency, in danger of death, a non-clergy (defrocked) priest may still legally provide “last rites”.

A defrocked priest also is no longer called “Father”.

As for what happens with a priest discovered to be molesting children, the Church has handled that according to the advice given to them by the psychiatric community. Most of the situations for which we now hear so much about were situations in the 1960’s and 1970’s and some in the 1980’s. At that time, the psychiatric community did not understand the dynamics of pedophilia as it does today. Thus the psychiatric community recommended the Church simply move the priest to a new parish to get him away from the one he was attracted to sexually. This, of course, does not work, but psychiatry did not understand that at the time.

Since the Church is not a psychiatric agency, the bishops trusted the psychiatrist on what to do with these priest.

This is not to say that there were not bishops who genuinely tried to cover-up things and not do as they ought, but the point is that most bishops were doing only what the psychiatric community told them. They made the BIG mistake of trusting psychiatry.

As to the charge of covering-up, in most cases the bishops were doing their job according to the moral imperatives of the faith. It is a bishop’s job to try to avoid scandal. Scandal is one of the most dangerous things that can happen because it can adversely affect so many people. These sex scandal of the past few years is proof of that — many Catholics have lost their faith because of the scandal. Yes, this is very immature of them, but it is the case nevertheless.

Scandal should be avoided at all possible costs, but this morally required need to avoid scandal is NOT supposed to be an excuse to not deal with the people who have done wrong. While it is a moral mandate to avoid scandal, it is also a moral obligation to hold the sinner responsible for his actions in a real and demonstrable way. It is also a moral obligation to provide pastoral care and concern for the victim.

The public blood-lust for fallen priests should not interfere with the moral obligations of the Church, or how the Church properly deals with these situations — at least in a perfect world.

As a result, I am afraid that the Church has been pushed into the corner by the enemy and the blood-lust of the public to hand over fallen priests to the wolves.

This blood-lust is mostly against Catholic Priest even though fewer Catholic priest are involved in this sin than are Protestant ministers. In fact, among the molesters who are professionals the greatest amount of molesting is not with any sort of clergy at all, but with the mental health professionals.

According to study by the Wisconsin Psychological Society of the children who are molested by professionals, 66% are molested by psychiatrists, psychologists, and social workers, in that order. That same study found that clergy represented 11%.

Now I am not suggesting that this lets clergy off the hook, I am only pointing out the total perspective and the lack of blood-lust toward the largest group of molesters — the mental health professionals who are supposed to help the children after they are molested by the clergy and other people.

Now keep in mind that the largest group of molesters overall are married men who are family or friends of the family of the child. But among professionals priest are the safest group one can entrust their children. I do not even think twice about leaving my grandchildren in the care of a priest, but I have great concern about leaving my grandchildren in the care of a social worker or other so-called “child welfare” worker or agency.

Anyway, back to your question. The Church has an obligation under God to offer pastoral care and concern, forgiveness, and assistance to a priest who has fallen. Burger King and Microsoft have no such obligation.

What does the Church do now?

I haven’t kept up with the policies on this but one aspect of the Church policy is that criminal activity needs to be referred to the police authorities. To quote a statement from the Diocese of Denver’s website:

“All incidents of sexual abuse of anyone under the age of 18 years of age, should be reported immediately to the civil authorities.”

In addition a priest is usually either relieved of his duties or suspended pending the outcome of the investigation of the charges. If the priest is found guilty then he would be “defrocked” — laicized — removed from the clerical state. The Church will still provide pastoral care to the fallen priest as well as to the victims. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OLSM


Just one correction on your answer—

Although all Masses celebrated by laicized priests are valid but illicit that is not true for any of the other sacraments

The faculties of the Bishop are absolutely necessary for even the validity of granting absolution, confirming, witnessing marriages (except in danger of death where the universal Canons provide the faculties)

August 3, 2004


Dear Father, Thank you for the clarification. I went back and saw the statement you are responding to. That statement was indeed not accurate. Thanks. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OLSM


Many of us are forgetting that we are all sinners in the eyes of God, and we all fall short and cannot enter into the Kingdom, myself too. I thank God for his abundance of mercy and love. The Church has her own Judas, and the priests who are truly guilty of violating the trust of an innocent child or a young teenager have betrayed the Church.

We are entrusted with the message of Divine Mercy; therefore we are obligated to show that Mercy even to those traitors of the Church and our children.

I myself was abused as a young kid at the age of 10 by a cousin no more than 5 years older than me. A few years ago I wrote a letter sharing that very mercy and love and forgave him- I DID NOT CHARGE HIM OF ANY CRIME! And I did not have to. Yes, I could have, but what good would it have done me- God is our only Judge.

I also experienced the other side of the same coin- 1985 I was charged with 2 counts of child abuse and I declared my innocence, and maintain that to this day and will continued to do so. Charges were dropped for lack of evidence. I thank God for his Mercy. I faced 16 years of my life behind bars! I can truly understand the plight of the innocent priests who cannot prove their innocence, especially those who had no choice but to plead no-contest. I know of one priest and I pray for him all the time; I also pray for his accusers. The truth will come out! -Michael

July 31, 2004 


Thank you for sharing your thoughts and experiences. All I can do to add to your words is: AMEN. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OLSM


If I may be permitted, I’d like to add a response I have used when speaking to others about the priest/abuse issue:

Christ warned us there would be wolves among us and false prophets but we must always remember that there are thousands and thousands of very good, decent priests in the Church.

Because the Church is filled with humans there will always be those who commit sin and we must remember that as a whole what the Church teaches is true and trustworthy since these teachings came from Christ first, then passed on down, unchanged throughout the centuries.

Yes there have been evil priests, some bad Popes, and others who committed evil, but they never changed the teachings of the Church. If a math teacher for example molested a student, that math teacher committed an evil act upon an innocent yet what the math teacher taught, i.e.: 1 + 1 = 2 and so on will still be a truth and unchanged no matter the actions of the teacher. We do not stop sending our children to schools, for it is not the school that did the evil or taught incorrectly, but we get rid of the evil-doer. The same holds true if a parent molests their own child (which sadly happens throughout the world’s history). We do not get rid of the “institution” of the family. Just because some parents are abusive doesn’t mean every mother or father is abusive. So it is with the R.C. Church.

For those people who use this as an excuse to leave the Catholic Church, going to another denominational church is not the answer to getting rid of evil minded molesters. Unfortunately, you will find that there are those kind of people everywhere, (ministers, Reverends, judges, policemen, boy scout leaders — you name it.). Abandoning the true Church founded by Christ, the only Church that has the fullness of truth and complete teachings of Christ is not the answer.

Whoever does becomes separated from the Eucharist (the Body of Christ) and Christ’s true Church. -Claire

August 1, 2004 


I normally do not allow posting of reader’s responses to questions unless the response adds significantly to the already published answer. What you are saying here has already been said, but you say it so well that I think that it is a good summary and thus I have posted it. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OLSM


Can a Roman Catholic priest be validly ordained if he is a homosexual? -George

November 8, 2004


Yes, a homosexual man may be validly ordained, but shouldn’t be.




The following is reported by the BBC and the National Catholic Register on this issue:

Ordaining homosexuals “is absolutely inadvisable and imprudent and, from a pastoral point of view, very risky,” wrote the Vatican’s point man on the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments in an official communication.

Cardinal Jorge Medina Estévez, responding to a letter from a bishop, added that “a person who is homosexual or has homosexual tendencies is not, therefore, suitable to receive the sacrament of sacred orders.”

The Congregation (Vatican Department) for Divine Worship and the Sacraments published Cardinal Medina’s letter in December in the congregation’s bulletin. It was written last May to an unnamed bishop who had inquired about the propriety of ordaining homosexual men.

In addition, a February 1961 Vatican document also clearly states: “Advancement to religious vows and ordination should be barred to those who are afflicted with evil tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty, since for them the common life and the priestly ministry would constitute serious dangers.” –Bro. Ignatius Mary OLSM


Thank you for answering my previous questions. Suppose I go to a local priest for the Sacraments of Confession and Communion. If that priest is a homosexual, are the Sacraments valid? Should I avoid priests that I presume to be homosexual? -George

November 9, 2004


A priest who is homosexual is still a valid priest, thus the Sacraments are valid.

There is no reason to avoid a homosexual priest to receive the Sacraments. Besides, it would be sinful for you to “presume” a priest is homosexual. Such presumption is at best the Grave Sin of Rash Judgment. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OLSM


It’s me again. I’m doing a final graduation project for school. I’m taking a stand for priests, cardinals, bishops, and etc. who have been falsely accused of sexual abuse and how our religion is being discriminated against by other religions who act like they don’t have sexual abuse in their clergy.

I need to know if Cardinal Joseph Bernardin who innocent. I want to use his story as an example. I can’t find straight information on him. Do you know anything of his story? -Suzanne

February 11, 2008


There are many people out there who traffic in rumor, innuendo, and gossip about Cardinal Bernardin. Some of this gossip is quite vitriolic, calling him everything from a pederast to a Satanist, and none of if supported by evidence as far as I know.

Cardinal Bernardin was accused, along with some other priests, of molesting Steven Cook. Cook filed an $810 million dollar law suit naming the Cardinal and the other priests.

The “memory” of Cook, however, came into question, even to himself. His so-called memory was gained by hypnosis, which is a highly unreliable technique for this purpose. Since Cook himself could not trust his own memory and had no direct memory of the Cardinal molesting him, Cook recanted his allegations against the Cardinal and removed him from the Law Suit.

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) supported Cook’s decision and praised his decision to remove the Cardinal from the Law Suit:

“Our hearts go out to Cardinal Bernardin,” said David Clohessy, the organization’s national director. “We believe Steve Cook did the right thing by dropping his suit if he is unsure of his memories, and we applaud the cardinal’s Christian response to this suit and his defending himself while not attacking his accuser.”

Read the whole story here.

By the way, many years ago, in the late 1980s or maybe early 90s the Evangelical magazine, “Christianity Today” published a study that found that around 30% of Protestant ministers admitted to sexual improprieties with their parishioners. This is a percentage FAR greater than among priests. Bro. Ignatius Mary OLSM


I always wonder when I read books like that of Ralph Sarchie’s “Beware the Night” about how the author would deal with the question of the part that apparently numerous catholic priests played or took part in very improper sexual conduct and touching with children in their custody?

I thought when these stories were first hitting the media – how could this extensive sort of abuse happen in a church so dedicated to truth and justice et al? Any thoughts would be appreciated this question has always troubled me. -Joe

March 21, 2008


Well you are misinformed. We need to remember that the media is not in the business of telling the truth, but in getting ratings to make money.




The “extensive” sex scandal in the Catholic Church is a fantasy invention of a bigoted media. There is no “extensive” sex scandal in the Catholic Church. There is a sex scandal but only about 1% of the priests in the United States are involved. While even one priest involved in a sex scandal is one too many 1% does not constitute “extensive.”

A study just last week reported that school teachers molest children 100 times more than priests.

A study a number of years ago found that 66% of the molesting cases involving professionals were among the professions of psychiatry, psychology, and social work. 11% were clergy of all types.

Several years ago the Evangelical magazine, “Christianity Today”, published a report that revealed the 30% of the Evangelical Protestant pastors “admit” to improper sexual exploitation of their parishioners.

Sexual abuse has been reported in nearly all denominations — even among the Amish. There is nothing particular about the Catholic Church on this and sexual abuse in the Catholic Church is LESS not more than most other groups.

This does not excuse anyone, especially a priest, from molesting anyone, but we need to get a perspective here. And we need to wonder why there is no media blitz about the mental health/social work profession who molests more children than all other professionals combined.

Also, very few of the priests who were involved in any sexual impropriety were pedophiles. A pedophile is a person who has a sexual attraction primarily or exclusively to pre-pubescent children and not to adults. Nearly all the victims of priests were teenagers, not pre-pubescent children. The proper term for those attracted to teenagers instead of to adults is hebephile.

I might add, as a sidebar, an isolated instance of molesting a child is NOT pedophilia. To be a pedophile, according to the Psychiatric manual one must, among other things, be involved in this activity recurrently and for more than six months and have no or little interest in adults. Some of the people who have molested children were isolated cases, and some of the perpetrators also had sexual interest in adults; thus those particular individuals cannot be classified as pedophiles.

Hebephiles are people whose sexual interests are primarily or exclusively teenagers. Hebephilia is not listed in the Psychiatric manual since attraction to teenagers is considered normal. Most people have an attraction to both teenagers and adults but with a preference to adults.

The problem arises when attraction to teenagers becomes the primary or exclusive sexual interest. This is usually handled in psychiatry as an obsession rather than a sexual paraphilia.

Legally, however, most states make it a crime to have sex with persons under sixteen. In many cultures, however, girls may marry as early as thirteen. That was true even here in the United States not too long ago.

As for how this can happen in a Church? Well, the Church is a hospital for sinners, not a resort for saints, as one Baptist preacher once said. We are all sinners. Even the Pope is a sinner. The Pope goes to confession weekly. People sin, priests sin, bishops sin.

The Church teaching remains the same, however, and is never changed because some of its priests, bishops, or even Popes, sin.

Sexual exploitation, molesting, and the like is grave sin. Those who do it need to be held accountable to God, the Church, and to the civil law. The victims should be treated with compassion and caring and assisted in any reasonable way.

It is also a sin, however, to exploit the sex scandal situation by suing the Church (any Church) to gain lots of money out of greed or revenge. This is exploitation too that hurts many people who are deprived of the Church’s resources in charity because of greedy law suits. This motivation has been seen many times in the false claims that have been made against priests and bishops, in the huge settlements that serve only greed and revenge, and in the attitudes of the people who sue and their attorneys. Greed and revenge is sin. Proper justice is okay.

Ultimately, the Church seeks to minister care and healing to the victims and to seek rehabilitation, reconciliation, and forgiveness for the perpetrator. This is what Christ calls us to do.

Oh, that reminds me, about the lie that once a molester always a molester. That is another media invention. The FACT is that after a sex offender is released from prison they are the LEAST likely to commit another crime compared to ANY other criminal.

That has been found in study after study after study for more than forty years. The most recent study was in 2003 by the Department of Justice that confirms this fact.

Bottom line: get the facts and do not presume as true the propaganda in the popular media.

By the way, while I am thinking of it, to offer another example of how incompetent the media is in “reporting” anything, let alone anything about the Church — In 1991 I watched a speech on C-Span of President Bush (the 1st) concerning the first war in the Gulf. A couple of hours later the Evening News was broadcast. I do not remember which Network, but it would have been either NBC or CBS. I was watching the network news with my father. The newscaster reported on the President’s speech. What the news anchor reported was an outright lie. I looked over at my father and told him that I saw that speech live and unedited on C-Span a couple hours earlier and what President Bush said was NOTHING like what the Evening News reported.

Do not trust the popular media to report what the calendar date is accurately let alone anything to do with religion, and especially not when it concerns the Catholic Church. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OLSM


This morning I turned on my computer and read on the main page, ‘New Scandal Rocks the Catholic Church’. I asked myself “What now?”




An article appeared about a journalist for NRC Handelsblad in The Netherlands by the name of Joep Dohmen who did a report about some 10 teenage boys who were castrated during the 1950s by the Dutch Roman Catholic Church. According to the story, they were castrated in Catholic hospitals to treat their homosexuality and also as punishment for telling on the priests who had molested them.

It was very hurtful to read some of the comments by posters on the internet who depicted the Catholic Church as an evil organization. There were posts about a BBC report about thousands of babies being stolen from Catholic hospitals in Spain over a period of four decades and sold to devout Catholic couples who couldn’t have children. All of this was done with the approval of the clergy there and the real parents were lied to making them believe that their babies died after childbirth. A ‘Clinica San Ramón’ in Madrid was mentioned as one of those hospitals.

The Magdalene Laundries in Ireland were also mentioned by one of the posters and the abuse of the women who worked there by the nuns running these laundries.

What are we as practicing Catholics supposed to say when non Catholic friends bring up these horrible stories? All of this is very embarrassing when I try to defend my faith. -Anthony

March 20, 2012


There are a couple of issues to consider when dealing with situations like this:

1) The media never reports on the Church accurately. The media exaggerates, misinterprets, slants the report, or outright lies on any report concerning the Church. I mean by this, that this happens with 100% of the reports on the Church by non-Catholic media. There is always some aspect that is not accurate in some way.

Thus, news reports are never to be trusted to be accurate and unbiased when the subject is the Church.

2) An example of this bias are headlines like, “Catholic Church Castrated Boys”. The Catholic Church has done no such thing. Mutilation is a grave sin. It is not the Catholic Church that does these things, it is the sins of individual members of the Church, such as particular bishops, priests, brothers, sisters, or laity. These people are violating Church teaching not carrying out Church teaching.

I know for a fact that the media likes to distort information about the Church. A few years ago a reporter from the Chicago Sun-Times called me. She noticed that we had resources in our Deliverance Counseling training program from a priest in Chicago. This priest had been convicted of molesting a 13 year old boy. She asked me if I knew this. I said that I didn’t.

The reporter then asked if we were going to discontinue using this priest’s teaching tapes because of his conviction. I replied that the decision on that is up to our board, but that we would not stop using the priest’s material just because he was convicted. I explained that a man’s legacy is not defined by the mistakes he makes, even a crime, and that fact does not diminish the good teaching that he did. After all, if Hitler were to say 1+1=2, is he not correct even though he is Hitler?

The reporter didn’t seem to like my answer. She referred to this priest as a pedophile. I said, “Wait a minute. Didn’t you say he molested a 13 year old? That means he is ….” She interrupted me saying, “I know, he is a Hebephile.”

This discussion proves that these reporters know the difference between a Pedophile (preference for pre-pubescent children), and a Hebephile (preference pubescent children to 14 years olds), and a Ephebophile (preference for teenagers 15-19) but do not care about misleading the public — using the term pedophile sells more papers, of course.

Even if the facts are accurate it does not mean the story is true. The film with Sally Feld and Paul Newman, Absence of Malice, illustrates this point. A reporter writes a story about a businessman. While the information was technically accurate, the reporter presented the information in such a way that led readers to jump to the wrong conclusions.

This has become a mainstay of the alleged “journalism” of today.

Back in 1991 during the Gulf War I watched a speech on CPAN by President Bush. About a hour later NBC reported on the speech during the Evening News. What was reported was an utter lie. I turned to my father and said, “That was a lie. I saw the speech live on CPAN and President Bush did not say what Tom Brokaw just reported. Of course, few people would realize this distortion unless they say the speech live on CPAN.

The media are all whores. They are after what sells papers or garners ratings, or they are after propaganda to their own biases, but what they are not after is the truth.

3) There is nothing that some individual bishop, priest, religious, or laymen has done that is not done in other organizations and communities. This is not an excuse. These stories are heinous. Rather, we need to keep this in perspective.

For example, a studies have shown that children who are molested by professionals are most molested by mental health professionals. Psychiatrist are the worse, followed by Psychologists, and then Social Workers. Of children molested by professionals 66% of the cases involve those three professions. Clergy of all stripes represent 11% of cases.

Catholic Priests are the least likely to molest. Less than 1-1/2 percent of priests in the U.S. have been convicted of molesting. Again, this is not to excuse those Catholics, but to put into perspective the issues.

There is also molesting, a lot of it, among teachers. Non-Catholic orphanages are notorious for abuse. Charles Dickens wrote about non-Catholic orphanages.

There was a time in which the practice of mutilation was extensive in mental hospitals. In fact, mental patients and the disabled were experimented upon by the U.S. Government many years ago.

There are plenty of horror stories to go around and plenty of dirty hands.

The point is that there is no excuse for such evil behavior by anyone. Such things do happen. But, these actions are a violation of Church teaching.




Human beings are flawed and sinful by nature. Catholics are no different. Catholics sin. That is a “dah” moment. But, the individual sins of even a bishop does not represent the Church.

An illustration of the nonsense of this is seen by considering a relative who is a thief. Does that mean that the whole family approved of the thievery? Richard Nixon committed a crime of covering-up the Watergate burglary. Does that indict the entire United States?

Well, neither does the sins of individuals, even that of Popes, indict the whole Church. Those who believe that are hypocrites because they do not apply that standard to all groups.

Thus, the answer to those who ask about these horror stories is that everyone sins, including Catholic clergy and religious. Those religious, priests, or bishops involved behaved in violation of Church teaching. They sinned against their victims, they sinned against the Church, and they sinned against God. As such, they will be held accountable before God.

Their sins, however, do not represent the Church any more than Nixon’s actions represented the entire United States, any more than Uncle John’s criminal acts represent the whole family.

With that said, these stories are horrific. Those who have committed criminal acts need to be prosecuted no matter who they are. But, none of this indicts the Church herself.

We need to pray for the victims and for the perpetrators of these evil acts. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OLSM


I know someone who was taught at an all-boys Catholic Elementary boarding school by Religious Nuns in the 1960’s and 70’s in Quebec. These Nuns screamed at the kids, used excessive and frequent corporal punishment, took the kids’ possessions away from them with no explanation, and were generally mean and miserable.

I have other friends who had the same experience in regular Catholic schools in other provinces. Then there’s the residential schools!

I never know how to answer people who ask how a Catholic Nun could do such things. Do you have any sort of explanation that will help me to practice apologetics and give a sound explanation for this?

Also, this same friend went to an all-boys Catholic high school where priests were the teachers, and the same sorts of things happened. The principal of the school (a religious brother) was murdered by his homosexual lover! And his parish priest had sexual relations on a regular basis with the wife of one of his parishioners! I love our Nuns and Priests, and I love the Catholic faith, but I have to admit that this is a very difficult one to answer to!! I know that these Nuns and priests are individuals, and that individuals can make bad choices and act against their vocation and against the teachings of the Catholic Church.

But I would like to know if there is any specific incident from this time period, or any information you can give me that will help me to both understand and explain it to others who have lost their faith in the Catholic Church because of these incidents. -Greta

June 9, 2012


The best advice I can give you is to walk away from the anti-Catholics. It is not worth the argument. Besides, St. Paul specifically admonishes that we are to avoid unproductive argumentation.

But, as far as these accusations go, yes there was some of this happening back then. But, this was no different than at most secular private and boarding schools.

Such disciplinary measures were common in those days. This has nothing whatsoever to do with the Catholic Church in particular.

As to abuse, sexual or otherwise, some of that happened, but more abuse, including sexual abuse, took place in secular schools. That is no excuse for Catholic schools, but we need to consider this in perspective. Right now the Catholic sex abuse scandal is being replaced by the Public School teacher’s sex abuse scandal.

As recently reported by the Catholic League:

Today attention has turned to the public schools where sexual abuse is still rampant, as well as to elite private schools such as Horace Mann in the Bronx; the Orthodox Jewish community is currently facing dozens of cases. Still, it is old cases involving priests that garner most of the press: in Philadelphia, Lynne Abraham, the D.A. who started the grand jury hearings over a decade ago, never once investigated other religions, though she was explicitly asked to do so. Her bias is palpable.

In all of these institutions, homosexuals account for a disproportionate share of the abuse, yet it is almost never reported.

As for Catholic Priests, most were homosexuals molesting teenagers (which is not pedophilia, but rather Hebephilia). Between 1950 – 2002, 4,392 priests were accused which amounts to approximately 4% of the 109,694 priests in active ministry during that time. (This is priests who were accused, not that were guilty).

The allegations were substantiated for 1,872 priests and unsubstantiated for 824 priests. They were thought to be credible for 1,671 priests and not credible for 345 priests. (John Jay Report) Thus, the percentages are more like 1-2% of priest were guilty.

The percentages are higher in other non-Catholic institutions.

The highest instances of professionals’ molesting children are in the mental health profession. Of the cases involving professionals 66% of the offenders are psychiatrists, psychologists, and social works (in that order).




The greatest percentages of offenders against children are with family members and friends of the family. In fact, my own girls were molested by friends of my ex-wife.

The sex scandal crisis is over in the Catholic Church. “In the last three years, there has been an average of 7 new credible accusations made against over 40,000 priests,” reports the Catholic League.

The bottom line is that it has always been the case that it was safer to leave one’s child in care of a priest, religious, etc. than it was any other educational or orphan institution. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OLSM


First, I want to start with telling you that I have been reading your blog for over two years now and find that you are very respectful, intelligent, and genuine. My comments or questions today are not directed at you. I have written to you on two different occasions asking questions about why domestic violence/sexual assault shelters that I have worked at have had hauntings. I am a psychologist working with victims of abuse, 95% of my clients have been sexually abused as children. I have worked with sexual abuse survivors for over 5 years. These individuals, as adults, are in such psychological, emotional, and spiritual pain… pain that, even with therapy, will last a life time and may control their lives until they die.

While at work today, I found articles in the news regarding comments made by Father Benedict Groeschel regarding sexual abuse. I became enraged at his comments. Here are some articles that are currently reporting on this:

He is prominent in the Catholic Church ministry and many people look to him for spiritual advice. I have watched his Sunday evening show on EWTN and have at least one book of his.

{Paragraph deleted by moderator}

I have read many posts/answers you have written that state these few priests do not represent the church and that the priests who sexually abuse are about 1% of all priests. I completely accepted this and understood where you were coming from. But at this point, after hearing about this man’s comments, this is an institutional problem. I am so sick of the excuses.

I believe that evil has taken over the Vatican, the body of the church, and the leadership. The continued struggle for power and the apathy with criminal behavior within its leadership is sick.

I am so heartbroken with the apathy and the rationalization, that I have lost all faith in the Roman Catholic Church. I feel that the people (who are the true body of the Church) have been cheated, lied to, manipulated, and treated like idiots.

I would like to hear your thoughts on Father Groeschel and about evil slowly overtaking the Roman Catholic Church.

This was the final nail in the coffin for me. I am converting to the Russian Eastern Orthodox church. I have dragged my feet on this, but I am confident with my decision now. At least the OCA quickly forced Metropolitan Jonah out when he hid a priest’s rape allegation. -Hope

August 30, 2012


I am sorry to hear that you have lost hope. But, your loss of hope is not based on facts, but upon pride and hurt. To leave the Catholic Church places your soul at risk. The Catholic Church is perfect; it is only its members who are not. The reason you have lost faith in the Catholic Church is because you are looking at man, at the storms, instead of looking at Jesus.

St. Peter could actually walk on water when Jesus beckoned him to come. It was only when St. Peter took his eyes off Jesus and instead looked at the storms around him that he sank. Keep your eyes on Jesus, not on the sins of men.

Keep in mind that you are a sinner, too. What did Jesus say to the sex offender? The woman accused of adultery? After writing down some things in the sand and everyone left, Jesus turned to the sinner and said “Go and sin no more.”

Sex offenses, which almost all people are sex offenders (e.g., fornication, masturbation, lust, adultery, concubinage, etc., these are all sex offenses/crimes), can be forgiven. Who are we to condemn them when Jesus did not?

To judge the whole Church for the sins of a very, very few is grave sin itself.

The Church is not responsible for the sins of its members or even of its bishops. The Catholic Church is the Church that Jesus founded and Jesus does not authorize you or me or anyone to abandon his Church. If you leave you will be sinning and risking your soul.

There is no sin “slowly overtaking the Church.” If that were true, then God is a liar. The gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church. God says that. If that is not true then God is a liar. God is not a liar. Satan is the father of all lies. Satan is the ultimate instigator behind all people who leave the Church. The sex scandal is over. Those cases involved situations mostly from around 1950-1985. And, as you quoted, maybe around 1% were guilty of anything. I will bet you that you have family members or ancestors who were corrupt, committed crimes and such. Does that mean your whole family is corrupt, that you should divorce and disown your entire family because of those few? No.

As far as Fr. Groeschel, I should state that I have a passing acquaintance with him. I found him a good man and a good priest. I have, however, not always agreed with his psychological assessments.





You need to keep in mind that the Huffington Post and the Daily Mail are organizations that hate the Catholic Church. They are not credible sources about anything concerning the Catholic Church. I have read both of their reports. The first thing I noticed is that they quote Father Groeschel out-of-context and with a bias like a drooling dog happy to find meat to bite into.

Father Groeschel’s mental capacities have waned. He did not mean to imply that a child is at fault for his own abuse. The adult, even an adult with mental problems, is always the one at fault. Taking his words out-of-context makes it appear that he is blaming the teenagers. He is not saying that. Such jumping to conclusions is a sin. It is called rash judgment. The Church teaches that:

2478 To avoid rash judgment, everyone should be careful to interpret insofar as possible his neighbor’s thoughts, words, and deeds in a favorable way:

Every good Christian ought to be more ready to give a favorable interpretation to another’s statement than to condemn it. But if he cannot do so, let him ask how the other understands it. And if the latter understands it badly, let the former correct him with love. If that does not suffice, let the Christian try all suitable ways to bring the other to a correct interpretation so that he may be saved.

Have you obeyed this moral requirement?

I think I know what Father Groeschel was trying to say. He just did not say it well. Keeping with the moral imperative that we must be ready to give a favorable interpretation, to give the benefit of the doubt, and to clarify by asking the person what he meant, we need to reserve judgment until we hear from Father.

Well, Father has responded to the controversy. He issued this statement:

I apologize for my comments. I did not intend to blame the victim. A priest (or anyone else) who abuses a minor is always wrong and is always responsible. My mind and my way of expressing myself are not as clear as they used to be. I have spent my life trying to help others the best that I could. I deeply regret any harm I have caused to anyone.

The case is closed.

Hope, I have done you a great favor by deleting part of your question. Your accusations about Fr. Groeschel were libelous and sinful. I am not a lawyer, but I am a para-legal. What you said, I believe, would be considered libel per se, which means that the statement is automatically considered libelous, and it is up to you to prove otherwise. Father does not have to prove anything. You have to defend your accusations with provable facts. Again, I am not a lawyer, but had I allowed your words to remain, Father Groeschel could have, if he wished, sued you for libel, and I believe, he would have prevailed.

More importantly, your accusations were gravely sinful. As a psychologist you should know better than to jump to the huge conclusion you did based on these few statements that were taken out-of-context and without checking with Father about what he meant by his comments.

However, even if Father Groeschel was some sort of monster, which he is not, that does not give you the excuse of leaving Jesus’ Church. If you wish to abandon Christ’s only true Church in the fullness of the Faith, then do so. Stop using others as an excuse.

I pray that you will mortify your pride and remain in the Catholic Church. Abandon yourself to God and His Church and be healed. Keep your eyes on Jesus and not on the sins of man.Bro. Ignatius Mary OLSM


I thank you for having mercy on me and removing the second part of the paragraph. I broke one of my cardinal rules and reacted/responded when I was still angry. I was seeing red all day and should have waited until today to send in my comments/questions.

I am very protective of my clients, out of compassion, but also because no one protected them as children, leading them to feel they were to blame and worthless. About 80% of my clients went to an adult that they trusted and told about the sexual abuse, and either were not believed or were told to keep it quiet. The rest didn’t tell because they were too scared, ashamed, humiliated, couldn’t trust adults close to them, or took on the responsibility of not wanting to hurt their family. (I have never seen an adult that suffered from childhood sexual abuse, who was believed and protected, in therapy. This says that those children who are believed and protected do not carry most of their pain into adulthood) 99% of rape victims, whether they are children or adults, already struggle with self-blame and humiliation…. but then society, criminal courts, friends and family compound this by victim blaming.

I do not know Father Benedict Groeschel and should have not have made those statements. It was wrong. And I completely agree with you that you should always give someone the benefit of the doubt, particularly when you do not know all of the details. As a human being, it is very difficult not to judge individuals who hurt the innocent. But this correspondence has reminded me that i should pray not only for the victim but also the perpetrator.

I would like to ask a few questions about the schism between the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Roman Catholic Church, but I will use the “Defending the Faith” forum.

Thank you for your authoritative response, patience, and mercy. -Hope

August 31, 2012


We can all find ourselves making bad decisions when we are emotionally involved or emotionally reacting. It is part of the human condition. What is significant is that you realized your mistake and corrected it. That is a mark of both psychological and spiritual maturity.



Let me make it clear so there is no misunderstanding. Father Groeschel has never placed a child in jeopardy. His work with priests was to try to help them to overcome their predilections, which is a good work since most sex offenders will be out of prison someday. He has never advocated anything that would place any child at risk.

I recognize that when we are talking about those most vulnerable, such as children, emotions can be very high, but we cannot allow emotions to cloud the objective facts. The facts are that many molesters were molested themselves. Others have a variety of other psychological problems that needs attending. Technically, not everyone who molests a child is a pedophile, hebephile, or ephebophile, three distinct diagnostic conditions, all of which are grounded in the person’s preference for the particular age-group rather than to an adult partner. Some molest a child without a preference for children and thus they do not have any of the paraphilias. These troubled individuals are usually one-time offenders whose offense was environmentally and circumstantially such that lent itself to the person’s emotional breakdown. These people need psychiatric care and with that care will be extremely unlikely to offend again.

Many offenders were victims themselves and need our prayers and help. There is an alarming percentage of children who were molested by their babysitters. Most molesting, however, comes from family members and friends of the family. The lowest percentage of molesters come from strangers.

My own daughters were molested by friends of my ex-wife. When my ex-wife abandoned the kids one time, and before I could come get them, the girls were molested in a County Children’s Home.

The highest percentage of molestation by professionals is not the clergy or teachers, but with the mental health profession. One study found that psychiatrists, psychologies, and social workers, in that order, but together represented 66% of all molestation by professionals, clergy (all clergy of any stripe) was 11% (the same as social workers).

But, the largest percentage of perpetrators remains family members and family friends.

Another myth is that “once a sex offender, always a sex offender.” The propaganda we hear from the media and even law enforcement, who should know better, is that a sex offender will certainly re-offend. That is a bald-face lie. Every study I have seen since 1970, including studies found today on the Department of Justice website, show that once a sex offender is released from prison, he or she is less likely to re-offend than any other ex-con.

Now, not all sex offenders are alike. Some are more likely to re-offend than others, but overall sex offenders have less recidivism than other criminals. Most states now have a multi-tiered system to assess risk. Nebraska’s system make the most sense. They have three, or maybe it is five, levels. Level 1 offenders are least like to re-offend and their names are not included in public online sex-offender lists. Level 2 offenders are also not on the public online sex-offender lists, but the police will notify schools and daycare centers of the person’s move into the area. Only Level 3 offenders are placed on the online sex-offender lists as being the most likely to re-offend.

While other states have the tiered system, I am not sure any other state restricts inclusion on the public lists to Level 3 offenders. Some states place an offender on the sex offender registry for life (which I believe is unconstitutional), others for about 10 years, which is reasonable.

In any event, we must avoid approaching this in a manner of a Scarlet Letter. Some states have proposed that, such as sex offenders having a special license plate or the requirement to place a large sign on their house. 2000 residency laws are in effect in many states. Law Enforcement almost unanimously says that this approach is not useful and protects no one.

While an emotional response may be in favor of such actions, this is not the way to go. If we were to do that then we need to have a Scarlet Letter law for drug dealers who do far more damage to more children than sex offenders.

Concerning any criminal, the fact is that 98% of all prisoners will be released from prison someday. Only 2% die in prison or are in for life. Thus, since nearly all prisoners will be released and may become our next door neighbor, it behooves us to support measures of prison reform that will facility human dignity that belongs to all human being no matter what they have done, and to provide services to help offenders, sexual or otherwise, to overcome the circumstances and reasons they became offenders.

Scarlet Letter laws and open registry laws even for Level 1 offenders, and given that sex offenders are the least likely to re-offend than any other ex-con, not only makes no sense as such laws protect no one, but actually make it more likely that the person will re-offend because he is outcast and thereby without the support needed to live a good life from now on.

None of this diminishes the horror of the child who is abused, but we must also recognize that it is to society’s benefit to understand the dynamics of the offender and to address that.

It is only with a holistic approach that we can hope to stave off the alarming statistics of sex crimes. This also means changing society, since our society is infiltrated with sex, and even more to the point, infiltrated by sex with children. From beauty contests for 4 year olds to the fashions teenagers wear, to the movies and TV where sex is shoved down our throats and is where many of our kids learn about sexual ethics (such as sex is okay on the third date).

This is a systemic problem that touches all of society, personal moral values, psychological health, and spiritual health.

I have worked with several woman who were sexually abused in satanic rituals as early as 4 years old. Many of these girls become multiple personalities, and many become demonized. They are so hurt physically, emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. The degree of their hurt makes it almost impossible for me, as the counselor, to even listen to them. I just want to run out of the room to escape the unimaginable pain to which they suffer. But, I do not do that of course. Some of these women and men do heal, and sometimes their forgiveness of their perpetrators brings the perpetrator to repentance. I am referring to an actual case of two girls whose father was a Satanist. He terribly abused them when they were girls. While many scars are present that will never go away, these girls worked through it all and came, as adults, to forgive their father. These two brave women were privileged to be present when their father, moments before his death, repented and confessed.




A healing is possible, but it must start with forgiveness. Most people have a hard time with forgiveness because they really do not know what forgiveness entails. We have a brochure we hand out to our clients: Dealing with Bitterness and Unforgiveness that has helped thousands.

I am sure I will get hate mail from this post. But, emotional hysteria and hatred will not help the children, and in fact it further hurts them in the long run. It is only with compassion to all parties, the victims and the abusers, and coming to our Lord God, that we can begin to heal as a society and thereby, perhaps, eventually find fewer sex offenses. At least that can be our prayer. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OLSM


You have cited before a study from the Wisconsin Psychological Association finding 66% of molestation cases rooted in psychiatry, psychology, and social work. I have been debating this issue and was asked to find a link to the study itself. Would you happen to know where I can find the study? -Ryan

September 10, 2012


Sorry, I saw that information once a long time ago. I do not think it is referenced on the Internet anymore.

But this document might help: Child Maltreatment Report 2006. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OLSM


I am a cradle Catholic but not in full communion with the church because my spouse was previously married. We married 10 years ago outside the church and have a beautiful family. He agreed for me to raise the kids Catholic so the children are all practicing Catholics.

I miss dearly the sacraments. My spouse has dragged his feet through the years about getting an annulment from his first marriage due to his fears and lack of respect for my wishes and lack of respect for the church after the sex abuse scandal. He’s not Catholic by the way but is Christian. Please pray for me and my family.

Unfortunately I have dealt with impurity my entire life. I’ve had impure thoughts, and as a child I experimented from age five-ten with other girls and boys my age. There was a lack or supervision during gatherings anytime my peers (friends, family, and neighbors) would get together and we would touch and kiss while the grownups were in other parts of the house.

Fortunately, by the grace of God the physical acts with others ended when I was 10 after my mom caught family members my age committing these acts, but for me the physical acts with others transferred to masturbation and impure thoughts which have plagued me through the years. To make a long story short as I apologize for the long winded details, I have been turning to pornography on my cell phone and cable TV three times a month for about a year. This is the worse ever.

Every time I try to stop or think it’s behind me I fall into temptation again and commit the same sin. I pray to God that one day soon I will be freed from this sin and that my marriage is blessed in the church.

Without the sacraments how will I beat this?

I hate this sin. Please pray for me that I am opened to your guidance. I feel like I’m trapped in complete bondage to pornography and impurity. When I’m in this state often I feel like I’m on autopilot. Where can I go to get help? What can I do? Thank you and God bless. And please remember my family in your prayers. –Kim February 14, 2013


Your story is remarkably similar to my own. By the time I was 12, I was addicted to pornography and masturbation. It took about 38 years to overcome the addiction. Of course, as it is with any former addict, there will always be a struggle, but I thank God the addiction is healed.

Our apostolate runs the very first online support group for Catholics with sexual addictions. It is called the Catholic Support Group for Sexual Addiction Recovery. We have had 1000s of people come and go over the years since 1998. We have around 450 people right now in the group.

I would suggest that you join our group. There are women and men with similar problems who can share their experiences in struggling with these compulsion. There is also a special section for women only, and a section we call the Accountability Logs, where you may, if you wish, log your progress, and other people can comment to help you.

We have developed a “20 Steps to a Pure Heart and Mind”, which if followed diligently can promise freedom from the compulsions. These twenty-steps and a few other resources are available to the public. The Discussion Group itself is anonymous and open only to members. The group is on a secure server for added protection and those who join do not use their real names.

I invite you to join CSGSAR.

As to the necessity of the Sacraments, I am afraid that dealing with your compulsion without the Sacraments will be hard, not impossible, but much harder.

I would appeal to your husband, if he loves you, will consider your feelings and needs. He does not have to become Catholic, but he does need an annulment and then you marriage to be regularized in the Church. He should do this for you, out of love, regardless of what he thinks of the Church.





As for the Church, the sex scandal involved less than 2% of priests from cases mostly in the period of the 1950s to the 1980s. The incidents of new cases has gone dramatically down. Other denominations and organizations, such as public schools, have a far greater rate of sex abuse. Christianity Today, a prestigious Evangelical Protestant magazine, reported some years ago that in a survey 30% of Protestant pastors admitted to sexual impropriety with their parishioners.

Nevertheless, this involves not the Church, but priests and bishops within the Church, teachers who work at schools, other clergy in nearly all denominations. 

It is not the fault of the Catholic Church, Protestant Churches, or schools that some of their members sin and commit crimes. None of these institutions approve of these sex crimes.

To blame the Church for the sins of a very few of its members, is the same thing as blaming and condemning your husband’s family because some family member committed a crime. It is not his family’s fault that one of its members committed a crime. It is not the fault of the Church for the sins of its members, not even of the priests and bishops. We each must be responsible for our own sins and not blame institutions for our sins.

But, this is not about convincing your husband about all this. This is about his loving you enough to proceed with an annulment because he loves you and wants to see that your needs are met.

To put it bluntly, I am sorry, but for him to refuse this is not an act of love, but a selfish, prideful, and petty position on his part.

This is not a big deal. The papers are filled out, and submitted, and that is it. One just waits about a year to hear back. If the annulment is granted, then he must follow up on an act of love, and agree and participate in the regularizing of your marriage.

At that time, you may go to Confession and begin again a Sacramental life, which will not only help with your compulsions, but will strengthen you spiritually and psychologically as it will bring you closer to God.

We will be in prayer for you and your compulsions, that you may be healed. We will also pray for your husband to do the loving thing and do what is necessary for you to return to the Sacraments. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OLSM


A friend of mine was criticising the church for our grand cathedrals, churches, wealth etc. and quoted “Jesus said to give all your possession away and follow me”. How would you answer him? -Fred

June 9, 2013


The Church is not wealthy. The annual budget of the Vatican (around $350 million) is about 17 times less than the budget for the State of Iowa (6.2 billion) and is often in the red. Dioceses are mostly strapped for money. Parishes are closing down because of lack of money. Contrary to popular opinion, the Vatican does not fund dioceses, and the dioceses do not fund its parishes. Each entity must pay for itself. That is also true for religious orders.

The first question I would ask your friend is, “When are you going to give away all your possessions and follow Christ.” Without exception the people who make this stupid charge against the Church are ignorant of the facts and would never give up their goodies for anybody. Many of these people are just anti-Catholic bigots (even if there are Catholics) looking for a bugaboo.

If the Vatican were to divest itself of all its artwork and other valuables it would feed the world’s poor for about a month at most. But, then the world would be deprived of the beauty contained in its museums. Those collections would end up in private hands or scattered throughout the world in various museums. This means that most people will be deprived of seeing God’s beauty as they may be able to go to Rome, but not around the world.

This is the whole point of museums — to centralize the collections of art, history, science, etc. so that people can see and experience the artifacts. This is also the point of libraries. Does you friend suggest that all museums and libraries sell off their artifacts and books and give the money to the poor? If not, why is he picking on Vatican museums and libraries? Could it be bigotry?

The economy for Christians in the New Testament is not exclusive to “give away all your possessions.” Some Christians also came together in groups to pool their resources together, and other Christians lived independent lives but tithed to contribute to the needs of the Church. Jesus did not demand that everyone give up all their possessions and live itinerant lifestyle surviving on alms (donations).

As for other aspects such as cathedrals and the like, those are built in honor of God. We are to present our best to God. If we are to build a grand White House for the President, are we to build a shack for our God?

Abel gave of his first-fruits, the best of his labor and accept for himself what was left. Cain kept the best for himself and offered God the leftovers. When God honored Abel and not Cain, he decided to kill his brother. Your friend, and all those people who spew this idea, remind me of Cain. In addition, God Himself ordered that the Ark of the Covenant be constructed out of the most expensive wood covered with gold. God gave similar expensive instructions to build the Temple. Jesus allowed Mary to anoint him with oil that cost a full year’s wages. It seems that God has a different opinion than your friend.

It is God, not man, who identifies Himself as King, the King of Kings. If we are to adorn our earthly kings (Presidents) with find houses, castles, monuments, art, and the like, how much more ought we to offer to God those first-fruits of man can creativity and labor.




There is not a single person going hungry or naked because of this. The Catholic Church is the NUMBER ONE charity in the world, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, sheltering the homeless. No institution on the planet does more than the Catholic Church.

Does your friend even donate $5 to any worthy cause? Why does he not sell his car, TV, cell phone, air conditioner, fine clothes, a full refrigerator, and his house? He can live in a shack with old and tattered clothes, walk everywhere he goes, and live off alms. That is what the Apostles did. I bet your friend would be horrified to think about living off nothing but donations. I have actually done that—divested myself of all assets and lived off alms, to follow Christ as a celibate brother-hermit. I didn’t have much, I was homeless at times, I had little food sometimes. I lived on whatever donations came in, but I had many blessings.

Unless he is willing to put himself in the same position he wants for the Church, he is just an ignorant bigot blathering about things for which he hasn’t a clue.

The Church has a solemn obligation to promote, build, collect, and to protect beauty (which is directly related to the divine) as a trust for the people. That beauty lifts up the human soul to God. The world would be sorely impoverished if the Church did not do this.

The Church has the solemn obligation to give back to God the best that man can create. It is a love offering to God. –Bro. Ignatius Mary OLSM



[Lutheran] Woman bishop resigns

Hamburg, July 18, 2010

The world’s first woman Lutheran bishop has resigned after accusations of abuse in her Hamburg diocese. She is the latest casualty of a scandal that has rocked the church.

Maria Jepsen, 65, came under fire for bungling the case of a pastor accused of abusing young boys and girls in nearby Ahrensburg in the 1970s and ’80s. She reportedly knew of the case for several years but failed to act.

”My credibility has been called into question,” she said at a hastily convened press conference to explain her decision. ”Therefore I am no longer in a position to continue the duty I promised to God and to my congregation when I was ordained and when I was elected as a bishop.”

German media had reported that a 46-year-old woman said she had been the victim of repeated sexual abuse by the pastor between 1979 and 1984. The pastor had admitted the abuse when confronted by his superiors.

The victim said she had revealed the abuse to the bishop as far back as 1999.

Bishop Jepsen has said she was told only about ”unworthy behaviour” by the pastor and learnt of the precise nature of the abuse only this year.

Without reacting directly to the criticism, on Friday she called for the abuse cases, in Ahrensburg and elsewhere, to be cleared up as quickly as possible.

In 1992 she became the first woman to be appointed a Lutheran bishop and was elected to a second term in 2002.



How Radhe Maa wore a mini skirt and took the pants off India’s godmen
(All photographs have been omitted –Michael)

August 6, 2015

How do babas, who renounce all family and worldly possessions, end up with empires full of worldly possessions?

When an akhada or assembly of Hindu monks appoints someone mahamandaleshwar or the great godman, the aam aadmi does not take notice. When it happens ahead of a Kumbh fair, held every 12 years, other monks raise a hue and cry. It’s part jealousy, part wonder at how people with dubious distinctions dominate divinity, while the ascetics are made to carry their palanquins. When Swami Sachidananda Giri was appointed the mahamandaleshwar ahead of the Nashik Kumbh, questions were raised about his days in the saffron robe. Barely two years into monkhood, Sachidananada is accused of buying the throne for himself. This Land Rover-riding pub owner and builder from Noida was till then known as Sachin Dutta. He says he used to drink like a fish. Now his ascent to the chief ascetic rank has the akhadas astounded. Last time, it was Radhe Maa, who has been banned from Nashik this time.

What makes a baba more attractive and babadom more lucrative than real estate and dance bars? And how do babas, who renounce all family and worldly possessions, end up with empires full of worldly possessions? The answer is marketing and not everyone has the skills to nail that. First of all, a baba must have a USP, the unique selling proposition. A look at the USPs of four popular babas and that one maa.



USP: Main Tera Hero.





He is quite the filmi hero to his followers. He sings, dances, and does these in costumes. In fact, one costume resembling the attire of a Sikh Guru got him in big trouble. His teachings are simple, mostly because he is not that well-read. When he found some time from body-building, the Chhora Babbar Sher ka (lion cub) read up on religions. His girth stands witness to the fact that he has given up on body-building. He mixes well-meaning verses from different faiths and creates a cocktail that works likes magic on his disciples. He despises casteism. To rid people of casteism, he rids followers of their surname. He gives them a unique surname: Insan. That’s a noble thought. He acted in a movie, MSG: Messenger of God, which his followers ensured was a runaway hit at the box office. He makes regular appearances on TV and in a CBI court in Ambala, where he is tried in criminal cases ranging from rape to murder.



USP: Snacks!

He recommends yummy street food as the cure for perplexingly complex life issues. His congregations (samagam) are like wedding receptions, except there is no bride in sight. He sits on the stage, groom-like. In a hall generally packed with devotees who have paid for tickets, people stand up one by one in three different sessions. The first session is where devotees rise and shower him with praise. Everybody is given two microphones tied together with transparent adhesive tape, and four bouncers hold them from leaping towards the resident deity. In the second session, people just talk about their divine experiences in Nirmal Darbar, and Nirmal Baba shakes his hand as if he’s patting an imaginary horse. The third is where they put up their problems, ranging from daughter’s unfulfilled desire for marriage to son’s unemployment to serious heart and brain problems. His advice generally begins with food items or objects one may have seen. He rounds it off with an imperative visit to a shrine closest to the seeker’s place of residence. That’s the moment the devotee is supposed to shed tears and bouncers are supposed to stay unmoved. This Patiala businessman tried his hands at selling cloth, owning a brick-kiln and mine-contracting in Jharkhand because his brother-in-law, a prominent Jharkhand politician, wanted him to succeed. After failing at everything, he tried his hands at blessing people with pakodas, and today he owns a lot of property, including a bunch of boutique hotels.



USP: Flower shower.

This horse-cart-driver began his spiritual journey as a storyteller and is one of the biggest stories of crime and intrigue today. In jail for raping a minor, his ashrams are notorious for land grabbing and mysterious deaths. His style of delivering mythological discourses involves a lot of singing and dancing. And he would shower petals with a mechanised device on his followers, who would go home believing they are bathed in divinity. He counted many politicians among his followers, but politicians, being politicians, abandoned him when he went to jail. Subramanian Swamy still stands by him and for him, but he ain’t no follower. The followers who became witnesses against him are dying one by one.



USP: Closed red lips.

It is better to stay silent and look like a fool than speak and remove all doubt. Radhe Maa doesn’t speak a word even as the 50-year-old fools around in garish make-up and gaudy dresses. She carries a trident and often sports a crescent on her bouffant. She sits like a dumb doll on the stage one moment, and frolics with her fans the next. She jumps into the arms of unsuspecting devotees as if she is a baby. Chhoti Maa, who is much older than her, speaks on her behalf and says very little. To meet her, one needs to meet Talli Baba first. Born in Punjab’s Gurdaspur district, she was married off early to a sweetmeat seller. His business floundered and she began stitching clothes for a living, and found solace in a dera in Mukerian. Her guru Mahant Ramdeen of Paramhans Bagh Dera declared her divine at the age of 23. But it was Mumbai businessman Manmohan Gupta, who owns an outdoor advertising agency, who introduced her to the world as Radhe Maa. His company’s hoardings, when not occupied by advertising, advertises Radhe Maa. She lives on the first floor of his Borivali home. Her congregations or chowkis are like festivals, where people shower her presence with flower petals and she showers people with love in a world devoid of it. She is now charged with a dowry case. Manmohan Gupta’s daughter-in-law has filed a case against the Guptas and Radhe Maa, accusing them of harassing her for dowry.



USP: Gold. What else?

Born in a Punjabi Kakkar family in East Delhi’s Gandhinagar, Bittu Bhagat went to Haridwar and aimed to be a sadhu. He came back and erected a temple in his locality and began blessing people in exchange of affection, and, of course, donation for his ashram. He realised gold is rare and beautiful, apart from being valuable. He wanted his followers to become like gold, and also give him their gold. He wears about 10kg of that. Greedy income tax sleuths have apparently tried to find the source of all that glitter, but then, devotee donations are tax-free. “This is god’s gold, not mine. I know what the tax officials are trying to do, but I hope that by being close to me they will eventually be brought into god’s way and give up their greed.”

And gold, yeah! He came to fame when he visited the Kumbh Mela covered in gold and flanked by white women disciples. He, himself, goes to other senior babas for blessings and loves being photographed. Above all, he is a glittering, fun-loving chap in a Bentley.




How Radhe Maa’s mini skirt exposes our blind bhakti

By Angshukanta Chakraborty, August 7, 2015 (All photographs have been omitted –Michael)

So what if a little sex is being mingled with a lot of satsang? So what if Radhe Maa and her disciples’ religion is soft porn in the backdrop of Bollywood numbers? So what if she jazzes up jagrata banality with a dash of red of the sleazier variety, with quasi-orgies masquerading as religious congregations? Asaram is allegedly a paedophile sitting atop a Rs10, 000-crore empire of conmanship. Ramdev, with his yogic moves and disgustingly misogynist, homophobic rants, is also an entrepreneur of (some version of) Ayurveda. Why wouldn’t conning be an equal-opportunity profession?



CB Probe Blows Lid off Sarathi Empire

August 10, 2015

Bhubaneswar: More and more skeletons are tumbling out of the coffers of Sarathi Baba as the Crime Branch has dug into the financial transactions and wealth accumulated by the self-styled godman. He not only amassed property for himself, benami assets were also believed to have been created in the name of members of the Satyam Charitable Trust.

The cyber experts of the Crime Branch have laid their hands on a whopping 5 gigabyte (GB) information on his accounts from his laptop which could unravel the financial empire of Sarathi, alias Santosh Raula and help the agency pin down the self-styled godman.

Raula —who was brought on remand by the CB on Sunday — operated six bank accounts. While four of them were in his own name, two were operated by the Trust. The investigating agency is looking into the transactions in these accounts, Additional DG BK Sharma said.

Though donations were the only source of income of the godman, Raula channelised them to invest in property both in Kendrapara and Bhubaneswar. He owns a house in the Capital and so does Satyam, who is stated to be his son though Raula claims that he adopted the 20-year old. The two property are valued at several crores of rupees.

While interrogating him since 1 pm on Sunday, the CB officials also brought in the chartered accountant who was engaged by Raula to conduct the financial audit of the Trust. The CA has made significant revelations about the transactions, sources said.

The CB, which has a specialised Economic Offences Wing (EOW), has found out that Raula filed Income Tax (IT) returns and so did the Trust. The investigators have also stumbled upon a notice served by the IT department on Raula which the CB plans to trail and seek details from the Income Tax officials.

Besides real estates, investments were apparently made in an Odia film Bachelor. The agency is trying to ascertain if the investment was made directly by Raula or through any firm. “If it was made through a firm, we can go through the Registrar of Companies and seek the details of the company,” sources said.

Since Raula is also accused of encroaching “gochar” land, the CB will send a team to Kendrapara on Monday which will carry out demarcation and valuation of the ashram land and other property. A local tahsildar and executive engineer of (Roads and Buildings) will escort the CB sleuths in the exercise. During interrogation, Raula confessed that he frequently travelled by air and stayed in star hotels across the country. All this was done by using the donation money.


Rotten sex lives of gurus and token saints

By Sreemoyee Piu Kundu, November 19, 2014

Till how long must the God-fearing Indian continue to suffer?

It was an early winter afternoon in 2013. We sat in a sun-tinged café, somewhere in Defence Colony. All around us were happy couples, along with a bunch of firangs sipping masala chai. Their eyes restive, the chatter loud. One of them wore a T-shirt with the famous Osho quote, “Brahmacharya is not against sex”.

I stared at his teal eyes. As if it were a sign. Across the table, sat a woman in her mid ’20s. “You can call me Neeti, it’s not my real name, I cannot tell you my real name… I knew you’d understand… I am not a liar,” she chose her words with caution, ordering a vegetarian sandwich for herself. A thick, bandhni dupatta guarded most of her face.

“How did you know my story? How could you?” she paused, finishing the last bite, her lower lip quivering.

I had been waiting for this moment. When a woman who regularly inboxed me on Facebook, and regularly “liked” my status updates (short extracts) about the book I was working on, even expressing a strong desire to meet me in person, on her next trip to Delhi, sharing her cell number and calling me promptly upon arrival, the way she had promised, would cross over, becoming an actual person.

Flesh. Blood. Cuts…


“It’s all your will, Maharaj. If you so desire, my Badi Bahu will conceive without any complications… who doesn’t know of your miraculous powers. Oh holy One, I beg you to bless her womb” she went on, lowering her head devotedly.

“What is her name?” Guruji thundered, his wooden sandals scraping the ground.

“Meera… I had her janam kundli sent to you as soon as the alliance was fixed,” Ba reminded him.



For a while no one spoke, then I heard the kutir door creaking to a close. Ba had departed. It was only Guruji and I.

“Look at me, Meera,” he commanded. The sound of his voice sent a sharp shiver down my spine.

“Step forward and look into my eyes. I’m not going to hurt you, I promise…” I heard the words up-close as a pair of brawny hands tugged at my wrists, pushing my ghunghat off my head.

As if in a hypnotic trance, I looked up at his looming silhouette.

“You have been thinking about me, haven’t you?” Guruji scoured my face, stepping forward from the surrounding shadows, a sense of assuredness soaking his last words.

He had a handsome, bearded face. I confronted his intense, dark rimmed eyes, which brimmed over with the turbulence of the river back home.

My throat was parched.

“Do you think I will harm such an attractive woman as you?” he continued unperturbed, securing his muscular arms around my shoulders and drawing me to him.

“It’s… I mean it’s not so simple… you are a holy man… revered by one and all…” I don’t know why I suddenly blurted.


There was an awkward silence.

“I was 16, ours is a business family from Jaipur, and my husband is almost twelve years my senior. When I hadn’t conceived after my second year of marriage, my in-laws said they were taking me to see their family Guruji, claiming he had miraculous powers. I was probably too naïve, and also, worried about being labeled a “baanjh”. And, so I relented. Initially, my mother-in-law accompanied me to his ashram. I was usually administered a lot of jaributis that I had to consume daily, along with observing rigorous fasts. Every evening almost, there was a satsang. Then one day, my husband came along. I was led to Guruji’s kutir alone. There was no one. Since I knew him by then, I wasn’t scared of being in his presence, but kept asking him what was the purpose of this sudden visit, if I had not observed his strict diet etc.

Guruji, almost in his 60s then placed my left hand over his organ. It’s how things started… the first time… after he explained how the body is simply a medium, and how it is my dharma and karma as a woman to procreate – that sex is like a sadhana. I broke down, telling Guruji the darkest secret of my life. My husband’s problem – the fact that I suspected he was impotent, his sexual prowess unsatisfactory, and how it wasn’t my fault. I was still weeping, when I felt him behind me. His loin pressed into my buttocks. I was shocked and tried fighting him. Guruji placed his hands over my neck. Then. We did it from the rear. Technically, I was still a virgin. I walked with a limp for days…”

Neeti choked.

“Is that your son?” I interrupted, turning her cell phone around, peering into the honey-glazed eyes of a little child. Maybe three or four.

Neeti asked for another glass of water. Chilled, she clarified.

“You say you are writing a story of an ordinary, Indian, middle class housewife… but, will you have the strength to tell the story as it happened… will they believe you? The people reading… after all, this is India. Here, politicians and religious leaders can get away with murder… rape… anything. And women, like Sita maiyya must always go through a strict agnipariksha. Besides, I am not here today to create some sensation. What happened to me is my fate. I must fight it, somehow. Tell my son, the truth if I can. I also want to write… one day… about why mother-in-laws parade their bahus to all these dhongi Babas… and why we all prefer silence… like a coward… the hawas… behind those havans… and how easy it is for sex and spirituality to be confused under the guise of women unable to have children… impotent men who never really own up to their physical limitations… gay men marrying for family pressure… or men… who decides what is punya and what is paap? A man? Or a God?” she grit her teeth.

The woman in me, more, much more than the writer felt defeated at this point.

“Did you ever think of telling your husband, Neeti? At least him? Ever?” was all I could manage. Placing my hands over hers.

For a while, we remained like that.

“Woh…” she drank a sip of water.

I cleared the bill, as a strange restlessness gathered inside.

“Woh hamesha bahar baithe hote rehte hain…,” her dupatta slid off, finally.

Neeti’s neck was burnt.

My book Sita’s Curse came and went. For some, it will be called “India’s first feminist erotica” that rocked the literary charts. But to me, Sita’s Curse stands as a colossal failure – our collective shortcoming as a society to shield our women. To educate them, insulate them from the damaging effects of religious superstitions, that are mostly man-made, and a whole lot of mumbo jumbo, aimed to tighten the patriarchal noose around her frail neck. To save them the sheer disgrace and humiliation of being prostrated before men, sometimes old enough to be their fathers, in saffron or white, flowing robes. For something as banal and regressive as being a Manglik or a Baanjh. For being single too long, failing to conceive, being in an unhappy marriage, or producing a healthy, male heir.

For defining a woman’s purpose with the same orthodox rigidity, as her penance. For our impotent rage every time a news headline breaks out about self-proclaimed Godmen and sagas of their gory sexual exploitation, where along with images of the molested victim whose face is often blurred, we witness a sea of blind followers, vociferously arguing his innocence, their eyes ablaze, citing all the miracles he may have performed, grey ash smeared all over their foreheads, as they point to the charities he runs, hospitals, free beds, Yoga camps, Ayurvedic medicines, before observing austere fasts, waiting with their hands, folded, outside countless courtrooms, and ashrams. As if both must have the same purpose – to read out a verdict on a man.



Mahapurush? Mafia head? Molestor? Messiah?

Even as I sit writing this, the country’s top headlines scream of one such Baba Rampal who holds Hisar to ransom. Charged for conspiracy to murder, inciting mobs and contempt of court, Baba Rampal has missed his High Court hearing thrice – November 5, November 10 and the latest, being November 17. Around 30,000 supporters (Baba’s commandoes who wear black and operate under the name, Rashtriya Samaj Sewa Samiti) are allegedly inside his ashram controlled from a “war room,” guarding the fortified 12-acre ashram with 20 firing trenches, some of them even carrying .315 caliber rifles. Around 200 people, including 40 policemen, are being treated in various hospitals for injuries. What’s however startling is the statistics that his followers allegedly hold people, including women and children as a human shield to prevent his arrest.

There is no dearth of paapi posterboys in a country that looks to religion for everything. No wonder then that joining rapists and child sex offenders and netas with criminal records are an odd bunch of self-styled Godmen.


Like Asaram Bapu for instance, who openly delivers sex sermons, that even a customary search on YouTube throws up – videos where the tainted sanyasi is seen dispensing sex gyaan to his shishyas. “Avoid sex during amavasya, purnima, Shivaratri or Holi. A child conceived on these days will be born handicapped,” one of his pathshalas declares, with dire celestial consequences, “even if a child is not conceived, intercourse on this day will lead to impotence and the man could face several other problems. Similarly, if a child is conceived between 12.30 and 2.30 during the day, he or she will go on to become a highly intelligent person.”

Asaram, who is currently embroiled in a highly publicised sex case was arrested by the Jodhpur police for allegedly raping a 15-year-old girl in his ashram. Earlier in 2008, the Guru who declared that masturbation or homosexuality in men is a waste of energy, sapping them of physical and mental stamina, was charged in a criminal case when two young boys died in his Motera ashram in Gujarat.

“There has been a conspiracy to malign him for many years,” Asaram Bapu’s most trusted media manager Sunil Wankhede has gone on record to claim, further adding that his mentor lacks sexual desires as he is not a “common man.” “He is a sant (saint). And saints don’t have sexual desires,” Wankhede asserts.


Like Asaram, Swami Nithyananda of the Dhyanapeeta Charitable Trust in Bidadi, near Bangalore was also caught on local TV channels in 2010 in a compromising position with a Tamil actress. The same year, Aarthi Rao, a former follower of Swami Nithyananda, filed a complaint with the criminal investigation department, Bangalore, alleging sexual harassment by him. Nithyananda was arrested subsequently, but freed in 53 days.

“Doctors at the state-run Victoria Hospital in Bangalore, who are yet to submit the medical report to the police, said that the potency test conducted on Nithyananda is incomplete, as he had reportedly ducked a part of the test. Maintaining that he was a “Sanyasi” and had not indulged in any sexual activity, Nithyananda initially did not cooperate with some of the tests, but underwent them later, sources said,” the Daily Mail shamefully highlighted, as recently as September 11.this year.


Religion in India is risky business. Hinduism sadly reduced to its lowest common denominator, relying greatly on puja path, vraths, daan, dakshina and suraksha kawach’s to help espouse its moral fiber, while being conveniently tight-lipped about its deep-rooted sexual delineations – parading sex as a magical healing tool for the unsuspecting victim, mostly women. Take for instance, the esoteric tradition of tantra where spiritual salvation is sought through sexual union, commonly misused to trap foreigners who often travel to India, in search of nirvana, be it in the copiously crowded ghats of Benaras or in the misty foothills of Rishikesh.

Though we prefer not to own up to the eroticism that is latent in our cultural consciousness, sacredness and sex go back a long way. The ancient temples of Khajuraho and Konark revel in broad hipped and plump-breasted nymphs (apsaras)with intricately carved bodies indulging in shringaar, washing their tresses, playing games, dancing, and knotting and unknotting their girdles. Besides, the celestial nymphs exist griffins, guardian deities and passionately interlocked maithunas, or lovemaking couples. Noted American art historian, Stella Kramrisch, describes this state, which is, “like a man and woman in close embrace,” as a symbol of moksha, the final release or reunion of two principles, the essence (Purusha) and the nature (Prakriti.)


A family friend who first visited India, from UK in 1987, recalls an experience that she describes as “sexual enslavement”, when on a visit to a Guru’s ashram in Haridwar to perfect
Kundalini yoga, she was asked to perform a complicated ceremony, at first. “He said it was some rudrabhishek… where basically I must pour milk on his penis and drink the same liquid… the Guru insisting I suck on his organ, claiming it would prepare me for my session – that I had to be one with the energy of the universe. It was sick. I somehow ran out, though I still feel the man had me in some kind of hypnotic trance all the while… it was easy to be attracted to this version of divine Indian male virility,” quotes Amanda, who has since then travelled to India six times, staying clear of tantric touts, as she labels them.   

India’s historical and mythological past too corroborates this primordial relationship between sex and religion. The Mahabharata, one of our greatest epics, is spilling over with debauchery, lechery, and sexual immorality. Ved Vyasa for starters was the illegitimate son of Rishi Parasara and Satyavati. His mother after her sexual romp with the Rishi married King Santanu. From whom she had a son called Vichitra-virya, who died childless. Ved Vyasa was later roped in to impregnate Vichitravirya’s two widows at the insistence of Satyavati, and along came two sons Dhritrashtra and Pandu, between whose descendants the mighty war of Mahabharata was subsequently fought.




Before her nuptials with Pandu, Kunti is famously known to have had a son from Surya Devta – her eldest Karna who was later thrown into a river. Since Pandu was sterile, Kunti at his behest again invoked the mantra given by Durvasa Muni, and bore three sons: Yudhisthira (Son of Dharmraj, Lord of justice), Bhima (Son of Vayu), and Arjun (Son of Indra). Before passing on her shakti to Madri, who became a mother to Nakula and Sahadeva.


Sexual promiscuity is not new in India with many ancient texts even pointing to games like “Ghatkancuki” where some a group of elite men and women were made to indulge in sexual acts for the entertainment of the audience. The game was said to continue until every man would have had sexual intercourse with every woman. There is also reference to incest, a subject that we squirm at today. It is said that Shatrupa, sage Vasishta’s daughter had a sexual relationship with him assuming him to be her husband. The Rig Veda, also bears traces of a conversation between a brother-sister duo Yam and Yami where Yami expresses her desire to initiate a sexual relationship with Yam and when he refuses to entertain the same, she claims that a brother is of no use if he cannot fulfill his sister innermost wishes. Narada, another popular mythological character too was born after Daksha gave his daughter to his father, Brahmadev.

Who are we then? As a race? Perhaps it’s time to question. And introspect. And what becomes of our swacch sexual intentions? Who will save our souls? Which Guru must we trust? Who will sell them?

What is the price generations of God-fearing Indians must pay? How many more women must be violated? Touched? Tormented?


Sex and the yogi

By Gayatri Jayaraman, March 3, 2015

Does yoga reduce rape or does it enhance the chances of it? Centuries of celibacy attempts and spurious gurus gone wrong stand testimony.

The Brihadaranyaka Upanisad’s sixth Adhyaya, which holds the incantations and mantras, recipes and potions for sexual intercourse and begetting a child, is not a very kosher tablet by modern standards. By any means, in the current environment, digital or printed, and were it not preordained as sacred, it would be banned as pornography.

Sex, in Indian Hindu tradition, and its enjoyment and wilful participation in it, is as much a part of Vedic culture as it is in modern celebration of it. Semen is said to contain the life force and the genitals, the source of procreation, vital energies. There is nothing unsacred about it. Brahmacarya, or celibacy, was recommended practice by those who wished to conserve this life force or energy.


The processes of yoga, apart from keeping the body limber enough to withstand the duress of deep meditation, are used to activate the chakras and utilise them. Asanas like parivritta trikonasana or utkatasana accentuate the energies of this chakra. The suryanamaskar, done correctly, alone activates it thrice during one complete cycle. But here is the thing about yoga, at advanced levels, and in the hands of a Master, the asanas are used in combination with each other to open and close advance and activate according to what energies the body requires. The simple practice of anulom-vilom is a pranayam, or method of alternate-nostril breathing, can be regulated to heat or cool the body. The ashtanga yoga format which studies ethics, self discipline, diet, the mind, to regulate the body is a comprehensive programme. It is only under the guidance of an expert, or more traditionally, a dedicated guru, and often after years of training that a student can begin to understand and activate the body in such a manner that is within his control. Rigorous yoga practitioners also speak of diseases the body throws up in the first few months or years of practice – akin to the withdrawal symptoms of an addict. It can take up to ten years for the kundalini shakti to rise along with one’s levels of mastery over it to be made adept. If anything the purpose of the yogic practice is to reverse sexual energy or prana into brain energy via celibacy, and the few who achieve this impossible task, are yogis.


S. Radhakrishnan wrote in the introduction to his Principal Upanishads, “When controlled, brahmacharya helps creative work of every description. When the seed is wasted in sex excesses, the body becomes weak and crippled, the face lined, the eyes dull, hearing impaired and the brain inactive. If brahmacharya is practiced, the physical body remains youthful and beautiful, the brain keen and alert and the whole physical expression becomes the likeness and the image of the Divine.”

It is yoga’s impact on beauty and physical fitness, a side effect to its original purpose, that makes it a universal draw in a looks-driven age. Put all of this in the context of a Rs 200 a neighbourhood yoga centre session which anyone can sign up for or drop out of, do 20 suryanamskars, measure his or her hips for weight loss in 20 days and mix and match a bunch of asanas without understanding what it is they activate or energise. The unleashing of energies in strange concoctions implies, especially by the strictest yogic standards, chaos for the body, and the mind. 

An editor friend of a fitness magazine recently joked with me about how many socialites ended up having affairs with their yoga instructors. Even as Bikram, the hot yoga guru, currently facing rape and assault charges in the US*, told Elle magazine India in January that wherever he went, women he taught found him “irresistible” and he was forced to oblige them. These are not untrue instances of what results when yoga is used unchecked. The admittedly tenuous link also traces back to why spurious and mass spiritual movements are often rocked by sex scandals. *See following page




American yoga guru John Friend**, who taught an Anusara style of yoga, a couple of years ago shut his practice post a sex scandal.
**See pages 104 ff.

The Hare Krishna and Mahesh Yogi followers of the post ’60s saw sex scandals and free spiritedness with deep links to transcendental meditation. And Madonna, goddess of pop sex, and Sting and their experiments with tantra and the kundalini, are well documented. Gandhi’s own experiments with truth and with celibacy, or those of spiritualist Andrew Cohen’s, and the accounts of Japanese monks of the Taoist orders document the struggle some of the wisest men of our times in dealing with sexual energies. It is not then pragmatic to expect that the neighbourhood yokel who has walked into a yoga class and is unleashing energies without a second thought to them, will have them under balance in about two months.  

Ancient Indian systems of knowledge had built in checks and balances that allowed only hand-picked students, thought mature enough to handle the knowledge, to advance through levels. All knowledge was not to be disseminated without thought to the ultimate user and its impact on them and on society. That this eventually degenerated into a system that coercively kept certain classes out is another debate altogether. 

The ignorant propagation of yoga in fact, Dr Murli Manohar Joshi, could thus very well result in a rise of rape, not a decrease in it. It would be wonderful if those who propagated Hindu systems of practice took the pains to inform themselves about it, rather than sell them out of context, as fads and quick cures for everything from the size of your waist to rape. The latter, alas, only good governance can cure. How about some of that?



Lawsuit accuses founder of yoga empire of misconduct

By Sara Beck, March 26, 2013

A former student has sued Bikram Choudhury, the millionaire founder of a wildly popular yoga franchise, accusing him of sexual harassment, discrimination and defamation.

According to legal documents filed this month in Los Angeles County Superior Court, Sarah Baughn, 28, a Bikram student, teacher and international competitor who lives in San Francisco, said she considered Mr. Choudhury her hero until he made advances toward her during a 2005 teacher training course in Los Angeles.

Ms. Baughn, who was 20 at the time, said she was uncomfortable when she first noticed how other female students would brush his hair, wash his feet and give him massages, but she chalked it up to cultural differences. Then, she says, he offered her his diamond Rolex watch, which she did not accept, and told her he had known her in a past life.

“What should we do about this?” the lawsuit claims Mr. Choudhury said. “I have never felt this way about anyone,” he continued, adding, “Should we make this a relationship?”

Mr. Choudhury opened his first yoga studio in the early 1970s in the basement of a bank building in Beverly Hills, Calif. A national yoga champion from Calcutta, Mr. Choudhury was said to sleep on the studio floor, spurn the advances of women and offer classes by donation only.

Then Shirley MacLaine (a leading New Age guru), an early student, gave him some advice.

“She said no American respects anything that’s free,” Mr. Choudhury recalled at the 2012 Bishnu Charan Ghosh Cup, the yoga asana competition named after his guru.

Now, Mr. Choudhury, 67, charges $25 per class, oversees hundreds of studios on six continents, owns several Rolls-Royces and is called “Yoga’s Bad Boy” by Yoga Journal. His copyrighted yoga sequence is practiced in a 105-degree room often nicknamed the torture chamber.

“Sarah dropped out of college to study with Bikram, and every penny she had went to him,” said Mary Shea Hagebols, Ms. Baughn’s lawyer. “She was a true believer and student.”

Ms. Baughn says she rebuffed Mr. Choudhury’s repeated advances and at times tried to redirect his attention to his wife, also a teacher and the founder of USA Yoga, a yoga sports federation with Olympic ambitions. The legal document claims that his advances continued; he is accused of pressing his body against hers while adjusting her posture, whispering sexually charged comments into her ear, ordering her to kiss him in front of other trainees, and assaulting her in a hotel room in Acapulco, Mexico, during a teacher training.

Her lawyer declined to say whether Ms. Baughn ever reported any of these accusations to the police, but she did speak with senior teachers at his Los Angeles-based Yoga College of India. “Sarah wants whatever justice the jury decides so that this never happens again — that’s her primary goal,” Ms. Hagebols said.

Neither Mr. Choudhury nor his wife, Rajashree, who is also being sued for her role in running the business and the teacher training program, could be reached for comment. But a spokeswoman for USA Yoga said the group was confident that the court would determine the truth.

“In the interim,” said the spokeswoman, Rachel Golden, “we believe it is vitally important to continue to support the millions of devoted yoga practitioners around the world in reaping the benefits of their practice.”

Reporting Mr. Choudhury’s behavior to the senior teachers did little good, Ms. Baughn says in the suit. They promised that he was harmless and “innocent, like a child,” she said. Ms. Baughn said she was told that she needed to “separate the man from the teacher” and understand that powerful men were often flirtatious.

“Vulnerability and devotion are big parts of the practice,” said Benjamin Lorr, the author of the memoir “Hellbent:





Obsession, Pain, and the Search for Something like Transcendence in Competitive Yoga.” “Bikram creates this mentality that the outside is phony. There is no path but this path, and everything that happens in this path is just a part of your yoga, that you have to learn to be strong and get past it.”

Considered a guru to celebrities like Madonna, George Clooney and Jennifer Aniston, Mr. Choudhury wears a Speedo while presiding over teacher trainings that cost $11,000. Over 300 would-be teachers practice three hours of yoga per day in a sweltering hotel conference room. They also study anatomy, Hindu philosophy and Bikram’s views on life, love and ethics.

Ms. Baughn says her financial investment was one reason she continued to study, practice and teach the series despite her accusations that Mr. Choudhury attempted to sabotage her career and competition results when she repeatedly refused his advances.

“There was a culture of fear,” Mr. Lorr said of the Bikram teacher trainings he experienced, where he tried to interview other students. “No one really wanted to go on the record with me. They thought they would lose their certificates, that all the hard work and money they put into it would be taken away.”

Some Bikram studio owners are wondering how to confront the accusations.

Tricia Donegan, the owner of Bikram Yoga on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, explained that some students did not even know that Bikram was an actual person.

“Bikram’s name may be on the door,” she said, “but my particular space is a safe haven.”


Bikram Yoga Guru Hit With Yet another Sexual Assault Case

By Michael Lipkin, February 18, 2015

San Diego – Bikram Choudhury, the founder of Bikram Yoga facing a barrage of rape claims from former yoga teachers who attended his training seminars, was hit with yet another suit Friday in California court from a woman accusing him of repeated sexual assaults.

Jill Lawler claims she spent $10,000 to join a Choudhury teacher training course in 2010, but was quickly the target of Choudhury’s requests for intimate massages and sexual advances…


Schism Emerges in Bikram Yoga Empire amid Rape Claims

By Jack Healy, February 23, 2015



Los Angeles — He is the yoga guru who built an empire on sweat and swagger. He has a stable of luxury cars and a Beverly Hills mansion. During trainings for hopeful yoga teachers, he paces a stage in a black Speedo and holds forth on life, sex and the transformative power of his brand of hot yoga. “I totally cure you,” he has told interviewers. “Whatever the problem you have.”

But a day of legal reckoning is drawing closer for the guru, Bikram Choudhury. He is facing six civil lawsuits from women accusing him of rape or assault. The most recent was filed on Feb. 13 by a Canadian yogi, Jill Lawler, who said Mr.
Choudhury raped her during a teacher-training in the spring of 2010.

This month, a Los Angeles judge cleared away several challenges to a lawsuit from a former student who said Mr. Choudhury raped her during another 2010 teacher-training.

The first complaint was filed two years ago. As more surfaced, and more women spoke publicly about accusations of assault and harassment, their accounts have created fissures in the close-knit world of yoga students and teachers who have spent thousands of dollars to study with Mr. Choudhury; opened studios bearing his name; and found strength, flexibility and health in his formula of 26 yoga postures in a sweltering room.




Many have stayed loyal to a man they call Boss and revere as an eccentric guru. Others are walking away.

“A lot of people have blinders on,” said Sarah Baughn, 29, a onetime Bikram yoga devotee and international yoga competitor whose lawsuit against Mr. Choudhury in 2013 was like an earthquake among followers of his style of yoga. “This is their entire world. They don’t want to accept that this has happened.”

Mr. Choudhury, who remains the face of his yoga empire, his grinning photo placed prominently on the home page of Bikram’s Yoga College of India, denies any wrongdoing and faces no criminal charges.

A statement issued by lawyers for Mr. Choudhury and his yoga college, which is also named as a defendant in the lawsuits, said that “Mr. Choudhury did not sexually assault any of the plaintiffs” and that the women were “unjustly” exploiting the legal system for financial gain.

“Their claims are false and dishonor Bikram yoga and the health and spiritual benefits it has brought to the lives of millions of practitioners throughout the world,” the statement said. “After a thorough investigation, the Los Angeles County district attorney declined to file any sexual assault charges against Mr. Choudhury or the college for lack of evidence.”

An August trial date has been set in Ms. Baughn’s case. In her complaint, she said Mr. Choudhury pursued her starting with a teacher-training she attended in 2005, when she was 20. She said he had whispered sexual advances during classes, and had assaulted and groped her in a hotel room and at his home.

In the other case involving a 2010 teacher-training, Mr. Choudhury’s lawyers argued that the woman had waited too long to file the lawsuit, beyond the statute of limitations. But the judge denied parts of the lawyers’ argument, saying the woman, known in court papers as Jane Doe No. 2, had endured so much damage to her life and psyche that most of the suit could move ahead.

“The cases are moving very quickly,” said Mary Shea Hagebols, a lawyer for the six women suing Mr. Choudhury. “Any stays have been lifted, and we’re moving full steam ahead.”

Even as the lawsuits against Mr. Choudhury multiplied over the past two years, new Bikram-branded studios continued to open, joining a list of hundreds of independently operated studios in places like Buenos Aires and Shanghai. Mr. Choudhury is listed as the director of his Los Angeles headquarters, and he personally oversees the grueling, weeks-long teacher-trainings that cost $12,500 per pupil.

“There have been thousands of Bikram yoga teachers, studio owners and practitioners who have conveyed messages of support and encouragement,” the statement from his lawyers said.

But several owners have decided to jettison the name Bikram from their yoga, saying they now felt uncomfortable with the association. On the Southern California coast, Tiffany Friedman renamed her Bikram studio Haute Yogi Manhattan Beach and began offering her own mixture of yoga styles.

Ms. Friedman had been doing Bikram-style yoga for years, and she said that after buying a studio in 2008, she decided to attend a teacher-training in San Diego. She hoped to learn more about yoga philosophy, anatomy and the underpinnings of a physical practice she had come to love. She found none of that, she said.

“I was pretty much appalled,” she said. “It was very cultish.”

The daylong trainings, she said, consisted of marathon yoga practice in a roasting room, rote memorization of a yoga script to which teachers had to adhere, what she described as rambling lectures led by Mr. Choudhury and mandatory viewings of Bollywood movies until 3 a.m. She said other teacher trainees frequently massaged Mr. Choudhury as he sat in an oversize chair on stage before rows of pupils.

“I saw how people really wanted his favor and wanted him to shine a light on them and wanted to believe he was a guru and had all these powers,” Ms. Friedman said. “It was heartbreaking.”

Ms. Friedman said she had clashed with Mr. Choudhury when she had begun offering an abbreviated version of his 90-minute class, and decided to part ways with the Bikram brand after reading details from the lawsuits.

“I stopped sending people to training,” she said. “I changed the name.”

But other studio owners have drawn borders between the man and his yoga, saying his methods work. And they have continued to use his name in their business.

In moment-by-moment detail, the civil suits against Mr. Choudhury accused him of harassing, targeting and assaulting young women who had once revered him.

The most recent complaint, filed by Ms. Lawler, described how she felt that “Bikram Yoga was her calling, and that her purpose was to share it with as many people as possible.” At 18, she signed up for a spring 2010 teacher-training in Las Vegas.

Lawyers for Mr. Choudhury said they had not yet been formally served with the lawsuit.

According to the complaint, Mr. Choudhury praised Ms. Lawler’s recitation of the teaching script that accompanied the yoga postures. She massaged him for hours during Bollywood viewings, the complaint said, and at one point, he began groping her.

Ms. Lawler was afraid to speak up, the court papers said, and having spent $10,000 from her college fund on the training, she felt she had to complete the course. Mr. Choudhury pulled her aside one night, apologized for touching her and promised to “make her a champion,” the complaint said.

Weeks later, Mr. Choudhury told Ms. Lawler to accompany him to his hotel room, where he sexually assaulted her, the complaint said.

According to the lawsuit, Ms. Lawler stayed part of the Bikram world for years after that; the complaint accused Mr. Choudhury of sexually assaulting her on multiple subsequent occasions, most recently in February 2013.

In July 2014, she taught her last Bikram yoga class, the lawsuit said, and took a job as a waitress.



Ms. Baughn, who once loved teaching yoga and earned accolades for her strength and flexibility on the yoga mat, has also left the yoga world. She no longer teaches or practices, and she said she could never go back.

“I went through total hell,” she said, adding: “What happened to me was awful. I’ll probably always have bad dreams.”


Yoga: Harmless Exercise or New Age Sex Cult?

Recent expose of Bikram yoga founder prompts questions.

By Patti Maguire Armstrong, February 26, 2015

Editor’s Note: In light of the February 23 New York Times article, “Schism Emerges in Bikram Yoga Empire amid Rape Claims,” we take a closer look at the roots of yoga. Is it harmless exercise, or should we be concerned? 
I consider myself flexible.  But if you are talking about physical flexibility and the ability to cross my legs and the wrap them around my head, well, that’s not going to happen!
Yoga is not my sport. But my aversion to it is not a matter of disdain for the lean and limber who stretch into unnatural poses. Stretching is legitimately good for the body. Yoga, however, is more complicated than physical fitness.
My first introduction to yoga came when I was in high school living in Dearborn, Michigan. My friend Denise and I took an evening class at a local public school. We went to the Catholic school and were looking for something adventurous to do while we scanned the list of community education classes. Denise’s mother nixed the belly dancing class (bless her) so yoga it was. We did a lot of harmless balancing and stretching such as “The Tree” in which we stood one-legged with the foot from the other leg pressed on the opposing inner thigh while holding our arms outstretched.  We wobbled and struggled to stay upright and felt very un-tree-like.
One day, the instructor brought in a picture book of yogis in advanced poses.  Good heavens, I’ve bet you’ve never seen the likes of such contortions outside of a circus — and even then… The various Gumby-like yogis looked bizarre; bending and twisting in ways I never imagined possible.

Now, fast-forward 30-some years. I’ve grown in knowledge and experience and have ten kids. Where once my faith was shallow, it now goes to the core.  And I’ve learned some things about yoga along the way.  Many years ago I read a book by a Christian and former New Ager previously considered an authority on spiritual power though crystals. Once converted, he warned of the danger and actual demonic influences in New Age practices, which had become clear to him after a difficult but major awakening to Christianity.  This man had personally explored a number of new age practices in depth, including yoga.  He had attended a special center for Yoga in California and reached a high level. The author claimed that at the upper levels, practitioners are actually inviting the serpent into their bodies during advanced relaxation poses and meditations. Hint:  the serpent is not God.

Not one to spread rumors that cannot be verified, I went to the Internet and put in the words Yoga and Serpent.  Lots of entries popped up.  Some of it was Christian-based warning against yoga.  If you are a yoga enthusiast, you could easily brush these sites aside as fanatical.  But you can’t brush aside the fact that actual yoga sites announce the power of the serpent as part of the attraction. Here is an excerpt from one of many sites:
• Kundalini (Divine Serpent Power) is a super power of our life.
• Over here lies focused all energies of the body and mind.
• Great Yogis, Rishis, Munis had discovered it.
• They all proclaimed that Kundalini is the supreme energy.
• It is the final step that helps us unite with God.
• Divine Serpent Power is the super power of our life.
As a Christian, this should shout out… False god! One book on yoga sold through Amazon is even called The Serpent Power.

On “The Lighthouse” website, self-described as a Christian Bible Based Cult Awareness Center, people are warned that Yoga is not in harmony with Christianity:

Yoga, in the Indo-European language, the ancestor of English, Latin, Greek, Sanskrit and many others, had a root meaning “to join,” according to Webster’s Dictionary of Word Origins. In the English word, borrowed from Sanskrit, yoga means literally “union” (with deity), and is used specifically to refer to a program of spiritual discipline to attain this union. Christian understanding is that the goal of uniting with an alternate spirituality to God is to be united with a demonic being. 
Harper’s Encyclopedia of Mystical & Paranormal Experience by Rosemary Ellen Guiley, describes yoga as “Various systems of spiritual discipline and liberation from the senses.” This is an interesting way of saying that yoga is designed to separate one from their mental faculties by creating an altered state of consciousness… 
In Asia, Yoga is also found in Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, and Bon (the early religion of Tibet) and has evolved into different systems, but all share the common goal of “union with the Absolute,” or divine, and are spiritual practices inseparable from the Eastern mystical religions that spawned them. 



To the Christian, the greatest danger is the spiritual idolatry, before God, in engaging in practices devised thousands of years ago by pagan experts or “adepts,” to become “united” with spiritual deity, they believed to be the “Absolute,” or “Ultimate Reality,” but which the Bible calls “fallen angels” or demons.

Is yoga rooted in the demonic?  Some say yes, while others say it’s merely an Eastern religion. To make the demonic connection automatically puts the naysayer in the light of fanatic. But even if it’s nothing more than an ancient religion, how should Catholics view it? Is it harmless physical exercise when just the stretching is used?

There is another, very surprising aspect behind those stretches. Yoga’s historical roots as a sex cult was reported in an article in New York Times this year.
Reporting on a sexual scandal of a well-known leader in yoga, the Times reported that the frequent scandals common among yoga devotees should come as no surprise.
Yoga teachers and how-to books seldom mention that the discipline began as a sex cult – an omission that leaves many practitioners open to libidinal surprise. 
Hatha yoga – the parent of the styles now practiced around the globe – began as a branch of Tantra. In medieval India, Tantra devotees sought to fuse the male and female aspects of the cosmos into a blissful state of consciousness. 
The rites of Tantric cults, while often steeped in symbolism, could also include group and individual sex.

Yoga is offered far and wide from gyms to schools and church activities. Isn’t it going overboard and becoming a troublemaker if we object to the practice of Yoga?  But even in a yoga class where you evaluate it as mere stretching and balancing, are you astute enough to understand any and all terms that might be thrown out there in languages you don’t understand?
Looking at an excerpt from The Power of the Serpent, it’s easy to see that you could unwittingly participate in a class without understanding what is really taking place.  Do you know what it means to pierce the Six Centres or regions (chakra) or Lotuses (padma) of the body?  I don’t, but based on what I know, I think we should abstain. Here is an excerpt from the book:
The power is the Goddess (Devi) Kundalini, or that which is coiled; for Her form is that of a coiled and sleeping serpent in the lowest bodily center at the base of the spinal column until by the means described She is aroused in that Yoga which is named after Her. Kundalini is the Divine Cosmic Energies in bodies…” 

Does it strike you as odd that the author capitalizes pronouns “she” and “her” when referring to this serpent?  A footnote on the page explains, “Devi is Bhujagi, or the Serpent.”  So if your yoga instructor mentions Bhujagi during class, will you recognize the serpent being called on? Many people like exotic, exciting things.  Different languages and cultures are interesting but yoga is not like a trip to a Chinese restaurant.

In Fr. Mitch Pacwa’s book, Catholics and the New Age, he describes Yoga as the general category of various kinds of Hindu disciplines meant to unite a person with the divine. He states: “Yoga can refer to physical (hatha) mental (raja) sexual (tantra) or other discipline to achieve enlightenment.” Fr. Pacwa’s book was written to alert Catholics of new age influences that hamper Catholic practices and traditions. It is highly regarded and is cited in the magisterial document Jesus Christ Bearer of the Water of Life: A Christian Reflection on the “New Age”.
On the Catholic Answers website, a mother wrote wondering what her response should be to Yoga being practiced at her daughter’s Catholic elementary school during religion class.  Here was their response:
Particular physical exercises that are common to yoga and that help improve one’s health are perfectly fine. The problem is when a Christian participates in non-Christian Eastern spirituality. If your church is sponsoring an exercise class, it should call it simply an exercise class and omit confusing and possibly scandalous terminology such as yoga. If the church is sponsoring classes in non-Christian Eastern spirituality that is a serious problem that should be discussed with the pastor.


My kids have been to a Catholic vacation Bible school that had yoga.  My highschoolers were in sports that had a class in yoga as part of their conditioning. (It’s not a part of the program any more, thanks to solid, Catholic influences.) I figured it was just the exercise part of yoga – no religion involved.  Since they were not rising to the upper levels, I did not imagine their stretches were anything more than harmless exercise.
But recently I reconsidered this issue. In the future, I plan to gently but firmly protest such practices.  I don’t like being a thorn in the side to anyone. However, I am willing to be a thorn for the One who wore a crown of thorns for us.
Yoga is an ancient pagan religion. There are many parts to it such as stretching and meditation but they are all connected. Therefore, even if we don’t consider the serpent, why is it okay to take a part of a pagan religion and sponsor it and even force participation of it in schools and sports?  My contention is that even in a public school, forced participation falls under the definition of pushing and proselytizing children into a religion. Certainly in a Catholic school, a pagan religion – even a part of it – should not be required.
“For crying out loud,” the reply may be, “we’re just talking about some simple stretches and relaxed breathing techniques.”  Well, fine.  Then why not simply have stretching exercises?  Yoga is a religion with different parts and levels to it.  The stretching and meditation is just a part of it. I am raising my kids Catholic. They can learn about other religions, but practicing it goes beyond learning.
As Catholics, we should not be put on the defensive if we don’t want our children participating in an Eastern religion.
Patti Maguire Armstrong is a speaker, author, and was managing editor and co-author of Ascension Press’ “Amazing Grace” series. Her latest books are Big Hearted FamiliesDear God I Don’t Get It, and Dear God, You Can’t Be Serious. This article was originally published on The Integrated Catholic Life is and reprinted here with kind permission.




Yoga without ethics: just empty posturing?

Can the fitness fad live up to its traditional roots?

By Zac Alstin, March 5, 2015

Bikram Choudhury, founder of the popular
Bikram Yoga, is
currently facing
six civil lawsuits from female former-students alleging rape or sexual assault. Bikram Yoga is famous for its 90 minute classes carried out in 41 °C (105 °F) heat at 40% humidity. First introduced in the 1970s, Bikram Yoga has made its namesake a wealthy man with a net worth reportedly in the billions. With several dozen Rolls-Royces and Bentleys, an 8,000 square foot Beverley Hills mansion, and devoted students spending thousands of dollars just to train with their hero for a week: the swearing, name-dropping, speedo-wearing guru hardly fits the popular image of what a master Yogi should be.    

Yet Yoga in its many, varied forms has become so popular in the West that – along with meditation – it has even made its way into corporate environments, promoting physical and mental health in the workplace.  But the mainstream adoption of these ancient religious practices is not without its critics. Buddhist psychotherapist Dr Miles Neale coined the terms “McMindfulness and Frozen Yoga” to describe the denaturing and secularisation of these practices, stripped of their important ethical content for the sake of mainstream palatability:

“What we see in America today, in both the yoga boom and mindfulness fad, is an overemphasis on training in meditation (samadhi) to the exclusion of the trainings in wisdom (prajna) and ethics (shila)…

American culture is fascinated by quick fixes, glamorous fads and celebrity teachers: yoga and mindfulness are no exception to this trend. What’s next? Drive-through yoga? Meditation on demand? We are experiencing a feeding frenzy of spiritual practices that provide immediate nutrition but no long-term sustenance.”

Even the overtly irreligious expressions of the Bikram Yoga founder can’t take the spiritual shine off the mysterious Indian practice. According to Choudhury “Religion is the biggest piece of **** created in all time!”, yet civil lawsuits describe:

a cult-like atmosphere where the charismatic Mr. Choudhury would tell young women training to be instructors they had been “touched by God” before forcing himself upon them.”

In fact what most Westerners know as “Yoga” is more accurately described simply as “asanas” or postures. Traditional Yoga (from Sanskrit yoga, think “yoke”) is a spiritual discipline aimed at union with the divine.  The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, compiled around 400 AD, include eight aspects or “limbs” of this spiritual discipline:

Yama – abstaining from violence, deceit, covetousness, sexual activity, and possessiveness.
Niyama – observing cleanliness of body and mind, contentment, austerity, scriptural study, and worship of God.
Asana – the postures required to maintain physical health as a support to the Yogic discipline.
Pranayama – breathing exercises.
Pratyahara – withdrawal of the senses from the external world.
Dharana – mental concentration.
Dhyana – steadfast meditation.
Samadhi – the final blissful goal of meditation.

It’s hard to imagine Yoga being quite so popular in the West if the first two limbs were emphasised over and above the promise of a “taught and toned Yoga body” with intimations of feel-good meditative bliss. Likewise, it’s hard to imagine Choudhury having as much cachet in a society where ethics extends Yogic discipline beyond the merely physical.

But in our self-consciously secular environment it’s hard to give credence to the idea that mysterious-looking postures might be less effective than onerous moral injunctions, let alone religious observances.  Without a trace of irony, many Westerners would rather twist themselves into the most difficult and unlikely contortions if only to avoid the conclusion that self-denial, moral rectitude, and religious observance might be the genuine path to a better way of life.

Zac Alstin is associate editor of MercatorNet. He also blogs at



Alleged victims of Shiva School of Meditation and Yoga were previously sexually assaulted–shiva-school-of-meditation-and-yoga-were-previously-sexually-assaulted-20150317-1m1c3a.html

By Jane Lee, Miki Perkins, March 17, 2015

Many women at a Melbourne ashram at the centre of a sex scandal joined the group seeking healing after surviving rape and sexual assaults elsewhere, advocates say.

Fairfax Media reported on Monday that Mornington Peninsula’s sexual offences and child abuse investigation team were investigating the Shiva School of Meditation and Yoga at Mount Eliza after a number of victims reported alleged abuse there.

It can be revealed that many of the alleged victims were particularly vulnerable, having turned to the ashram and its spiritual teachings to help them with their own personal problems.

The school’s former treasurer, Dan Conquest, had lived at the ashram for about 11½ years when he left last year, days after hearing about Swami Shankarananda‘s “tantric practices” with members through a friend.

He was shocked because he believed the Swami was celibate and eventually left because he did not want to “passively condone” what he believed to be sexual abuse at the ashram.




He said that the Shiva School has threatened to sue at least one whistleblower for defamation if they continued to discuss sex abuse allegations, and a number of people have left the Shiva School since it was revealed the centre’s former director, Swami Shankarananda, American-born Russell Michael Kruckman, had had “secret sexual relations” with residents last year.

Nigel Denning, a counselling psychologist and owner of an East Melbourne private psychology practice, started going to the Mt Eliza ashram about a decade ago and regularly attended its meditation classes. 

In August last year some of his fellow students started confiding to him allegations of emotional, psychological and sexual manipulation at the hands of the school’s director, Swami Shankarananda. Mr. Denning stopped attending classes immediately and advised these students to report it to the police: “It was a shocking, appalling situation,” he says. Mr. Denning did not approach the school directly at the request of the alleged victims. 

Some of the women were survivors of rape and sexual assault and were already highly vulnerable when they arrived at the yoga school, he said. 

Helen Last, chief executive of victims’ support group In Good Faith and Associates, has spoken to about 38 alleged primary and secondary victims of the Shiva School. Ms. Last said many victims had previously been raped or sexually assaulted and had drug or mental health problems before they joined the ashram.

“They went [to the ashram] seeking something for their wellbeing and have found that they have been deceived and betrayed and sexually oppressed as part of the teachings.”

Ms. Last said she was not critical of the Hindu teachings themselves, but of “where it’s been used to confuse women to make them totally naive and subservient – including providing regular sexual service.”

Psychologist Mr. Denning said one of the public processes at the ashram was called “shiva inquiry”, where people were “shamed” for having negative emotions, he said.

He was told this process was also used in private: when women expressed guilt or shame about having a sexual relationship with someone at the school, they would be told they had the wrong “spiritual understanding”.

Mr. Denning has been running support groups for people who have left the ashram, as well as offering counselling. 

The sexual practices were confirmed at a prayer meeting in December. A board member of the residential ashram – which has about 500 members and up to 40 residents – announced the ashram was aware of sexual allegations against Swami Shankarananda.

Mr. Conquest said leaders accused a member of the community of “spreading lies” about the sexual relations. He confronted them, asking them what the truth was but was given an ambiguous response. “Then we heard through first-hand accounts from women who had bad experiences and that’s when we realised … it had crossed a line,” he said.

“There was coercion, [an abuser] was really unrelenting…after they said no, he would continually pursue them in different ways saying, ‘This will be good for you, you have to surrender.'”

Since then about 60 per cent of the ashram’s members and eight residents had left. He was concerned for the 20 people who still lived there.

Shiva School’s lawyer, David Galbally, QC, said he would not be providing any comment at this time. Swami Shankarananda’s lawyer, Paul Galbally, also declined to comment, saying it was inappropriate while the police investigation continued. 

The ashram last year released a statement to members saying it was aware the swami had had “secret sexual relations” with a number of women over time but he had never claimed to be a sexual renunciant or demanded celibacy from his disciples.  


**See page 98


Yoga and Sex Scandals: No Surprise Here

By William J. Broad, February 27, 2012

The wholesome image of yoga took a hit in the past few weeks as a rising star of the discipline came tumbling back to earth. After accusations of sexual impropriety with female students, John Friend, the founder of
, one of the world’s fastest-growing styles, told followers that he was stepping down for an indefinite period of “self-reflection, therapy and personal retreat.”

Mr. Friend preached a gospel of gentle poses mixed with openness aimed at fostering love and happiness. But Elena Brower, a former confidante, has said that insiders knew of his “penchant for women” and his love of “partying and fun.”

Few had any idea about his sexual indiscretions, she added. The apparent hypocrisy has upset many followers.

“Those folks are devastated,” Ms. Brower wrote in The Huffington Post. “They’re understandably disappointed to hear that he cheated on his girlfriends repeatedly” and “lied to so many.”

But this is hardly the first time that yoga’s enlightened facade has been cracked by sexual scandal. Why does yoga produce so many philanderers? And why do the resulting uproars leave so many people shocked and distraught?

One factor is ignorance. Yoga teachers and how-to books seldom mention that the discipline began as a sex cult
— an omission that leaves many practitioners open to libidinal surprise.

Hatha yoga — the parent of the styles now practiced around the globe — began as a branch of Tantra.

In medieval India, Tantra devotees sought to fuse the male and female aspects of the cosmos into a blissful state of consciousness. The rites of Tantric cults, while often steeped in symbolism, could also include group and individual sex.




One text advised devotees to revere the female sex organ and enjoy vigorous intercourse. Candidates for worship included actresses and prostitutes, as well as the sisters of practitioners.

Hatha originated as a way to speed the Tantric agenda. It used poses, deep breathing and stimulating acts — including intercourse — to hasten rapturous bliss. In time, Tantra and Hatha developed bad reputations. The main charge was that practitioners indulged in sexual debauchery under the pretext of spirituality.

Early in the 20th century, the founders of modern yoga worked hard to remove the Tantric stain. They devised a sanitized discipline that played down the old eroticism for a new emphasis on health and fitness.

B. K. S. Iyengar, the author of “Light on Yoga,” published in 1965, exemplified the change. His book made no mention of Hatha’s Tantric roots and praised the discipline as a panacea that could cure nearly 100 ailments and diseases. And so modern practitioners have embraced a whitewashed simulacrum of Hatha.

But over the decades, many have discovered from personal experience that the practice can fan the sexual flames. Pelvic regions can feel more sensitive and orgasms more intense.

Science has begun to clarify the inner mechanisms. In Russia and India, scientists have measured sharp rises in testosterone — a main hormone of sexual arousal in both men and women. Czech scientists working with electroencephalographs have shown how poses can result in bursts of brainwaves indistinguishable from those of lovers. More recently, scientists at the University of British Columbia have documented how fast breathing — done in many yoga classes — can increase blood flow through the genitals. The effect was found to be strong enough to promote sexual arousal not only in healthy individuals but among those with diminished libidos.

In India, recent clinical studies have shown that men and women who take up yoga report wide improvements in their sex lives, including enhanced feelings of pleasure and satisfaction as well as emotional closeness with partners.

At Rutgers University, scientists are investigating how yoga and related practices can foster autoerotic bliss. It turns out that some individuals can think themselves into states of sexual ecstasy — a phenomenon known clinically as spontaneous orgasm and popularly as “thinking off.”

The Rutgers scientists use brain scanners to measure the levels of excitement in women and compare their responses with readings from manual stimulation of the genitals. The results demonstrate that both practices light up the brain in characteristic ways and produce significant rises in blood pressure, heart rate and tolerance for pain — what turns out to be a signature of orgasm.

Since the baby boomers discovered yoga, the arousal, sweating, heavy breathing and states of undress that characterize yoga classes have led to predictable results. In 1995, sex between students and teachers became so prevalent that the California Yoga Teachers Association deplored it as immoral and called for high standards. “We wrote the code,” Judith Lasater, the group’s president, told a reporter, “because there were so many violations going on.”

If yoga can arouse everyday practitioners, it apparently has similar, if not greater, effects on gurus — often charming extroverts in excellent physical condition, some enthusiastic for veneration.

The misanthropes among them offer a bittersweet tribute to yoga’s revitalizing powers. A surprising number, it turns out, were in their 60s and 70s…

Another case involved Swami Rama (1925-96), a tall man with a strikingly handsome face. In 1994, one of his victims filed a lawsuit charging that he had initiated abuse at his Pennsylvania ashram when she was 19. In 1997, shortly after his death, a jury awarded the woman nearly $2 million in compensatory and punitive damages.

So, too, former devotees at Kripalu, a Berkshires ashram, won more than $2.5 million after its longtime guru — a man who gave impassioned talks on the spiritual value of chastity — confessed to multiple affairs.

The drama with Mr. Friend is still unfolding. So far, at least 50 Anusara teachers have resigned, and the fate of his enterprise remains unclear. In his letter to followers, he promised to make “a full public statement that will transparently address the entirety of this situation.”

The angst of former Anusara teachers is palpable. “I can no longer support a teacher whose actions have caused irreparable damage to our beloved community,” Sarah Faircloth, a North Carolina instructor, wrote on her Web site.

But perhaps — if students and teachers knew more about what Hatha can do, and what it was designed to do — they would find themselves less prone to surprise and un-yoga-like distress.

William J. Broad is the author of “The Science of Yoga: The Risks and the Rewards,” published this month by Simon & Schuster.

A version of this article appeared in print on February 28, 2012, on page D1 of the New York edition with the headline: Yoga and Sex Scandals: No Surprise Here.


John Friend, Head of Anusara: The Accusations 

By YD on February 3, 2012 in News, Yoga, Crime, Yoga Feuds

More trouble in Anusaraland. Let’s pause for a moment. Take a deep breath. Because this is some heavy shit. An anonymous tipster has sent us info that could potentially muddy the shiny, happy, image of John Friend and Anusara Inc., and shed some light on the recent flurry of exits by some of the brand’s foremost teachers like Elena Brower and Amy Ippoliti.

Until now, we’ve had our share of poking fun at the Anusarans, their meltiness and King Melty Heart Mogul, John Friend. But if these accusations are true, they paint a whole new perspective on the innerworkings of one of the most popular yoga corporations and the possible misdoings of its grand leader.

Let us state that we don’t take this stuff lightly, and that we are simply reporting on what was tipped off to us. We do not wish harm upon the Anusaran folk or outer yoga worlds. This info was provided anonymously, and we have not spoken to any of the other people notedly involved. The claims also published at a dedicated site




Accusation #1: JF as a Wiccan leader and the Wicca-Anusara Connection

John has been the head of a wiccan “coven” that claims to use sexual/sensual energy in a positive and sacred way to help build the efficacy of our practices. John engaged in sexual relations with women in the coven unbeknownst to his girlfriend, Anusara teacher Christy Nones. The Coven has caused rifts in the marriages…

In a letter to Laura Miller:

You and I always shared a love for what is Good, Shri, and Delightful. We shared a love of Wicca, which is grounded on doing that which enhances Nature, affirms the Goodness of Life, and fosters love. We shared our love for Anusara yoga, which is a philosophy and practice that is totally aligned with Wicca on every level.

With this common ground of wanting to bring more Light and Love into the world you and I started a small circle to use our knowledge and power to manifest our elevated intentions. Tiffany joined us in this auspicious and sacred endeavor. As part of our rituals you and I both agreed that we would use sexual/sensual energy in a positive and sacred way to help build the efficacy of our practices, which is a common element of most Wiccan circles, as you know.


Accusation #2: JF as Homewrecker and Sexual Deviant

Sexually graphic images, explicit emails from –name removed– (the purported home that was wrecked) and revealing skype conversations between –name removed– and John Friend are provided to support the claim that JF used his power and position to engage in shady, sexual relations with his employees.


Accusation #3: JF and Anusara Illegally Freezing Pension

Sexually graphic images, skype sessions, Wiccan woopie aside, what stands out to us as the real kicker is that stuff about offering pensions to Anusara employees, then freezing them illegally without notice. This would be enough for us to quit too:

John Friend has always touted the excellent benefits of working for Anusara. One of these benefits was a defined benefits pension plan, a highly desirable alternative to a traditional 401K retirement plan.

In January 2010, John Friend froze this pension plan without notifying any of the employees. This was an illegal act. (source)

In December of 2010, almost one full year later, Anusara employees were verbally informed that their pensions had been frozen in order to obtain a loan that would be used to expand the company and “make them all millionaires”.

When pushed, Anusara acknowledged that pension contributions had been frozen in January of 2010. People who had been working passionately in support of John Friend and Anusara had believed they were working towards vesting and had full faith that they had been earning pension contributions found out that John Friend and Anusara management had intentionally deceived them, robbing them of the retirement they believed they were earning.

In December 2011, the US Department of Labor intervened. Anusara responded by passing out RETROACTIVE notices of the pension amendment — backdated to January 2010 — and communicated to the employees they had simply “forgotten” to do so previously and attempted to leave it at that.

In January 2012, the US Department of Labor stepped in again, informing Anusara that the illegal act had not been remedied by passing out retroactive notices. They offered Anusara the chance to bring the pension fund up to date and into compliance to avoid being cited and penalized for their illegal freezing of the pension funding.

According to sources inside the company, the pension fund is slated to be frozen again in March of 2012. This time John Friend has been forced to do the legal thing, even if his actions are still morally reprehensible.


Accusation #4: Pot Assistance

While not the most shocking of all new agey revelations, John Friend is being accused here of endangering Anusara assistants by having packages of marijuana delivered to various places, requiring employees to accept illegal substances on his behalf.



While this information may be difficult for some to swallow, it’s not so outrageous in a time when power can so easily be misused, which we’ve seen time and again in the yoga world and beyond. Do we care what JF does in the bedroom with his Wiccan Coven? Not really. But we do expect taking responsibility for actions, and truthfulness and transparency when it comes to adhering to your own principles that thousands of people around the world believe in.

The website has more.

There’s plenty more on John Friend at YOGA-02



Yoga Fans Sexual Flames and, Predictably, Plenty of Scandal

By William J. Broad, February 27, 2012

Swami Muktananda (1908-82) was an Indian man of great charisma who favored dark glasses and gaudy robes.

At the height of his fame, around 1980, he attracted many thousands of devotees — including movie stars and political celebrities — and succeeded in setting up a network of hundreds of ashrams and meditation centers around the globe. He kept his main shrines in California and New York. In late 1981, when a senior aide charged that the venerated yogi was in fact a serial philanderer and sexual hypocrite who used threats of violence to hide his duplicity, Mr. Muktananda defended himself as a persecuted saint, and soon died of heart failure.





CELEBRITY GURUSwami Muktananda
had many thousands of devotees, including celebrities. A senior aide charged that he was a serial philanderer and sexual hypocrite


Joan Bridges was one of his lovers. At the time, she was 26 and he was 73. Like many other devotees, Ms. Bridges had a difficult time finding fault with a man she regarded as a virtual god beyond law and morality.

“I was both thrilled and confused,” she said of their first intimacy in a Web posting. “He told us to be celibate, so how could this be sexual? I had no answers.”

To denounce the philanderers would be to admit years of empty study and devotion. So many women ended up blaming themselves. Sorting out the realities took years and sometimes decades of pain and reflection, counseling and psychotherapy. In time, the victims began to fight back



Yoga Fans Sexual Flames and, Predictably, Plenty of Scandal

By William J. Broad, February 27, 2012

Swami Satchidananda (1914-2002) was a superstar of yoga who gave the invocation at Woodstock. In 1991, protesters waving placards (“Stop the Abuse,” “End the Cover Up”) marched outside a Virginia hotel where he was addressing a symposium. “How can you call yourself a spiritual instructor,” a former devotee shouted from the audience, “when you have molested me and other women?”

ACCUSED GURUSwami Satchidananda was a superstar of yoga who gave the invocation at Woodstock.


I have reproduced only part of the evidence that I have in my files. Yoga gurus are by far the most rapacious among all religious sexual predators.


See also


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