The “mystery of the Church and Priesthood”

The grand jury report on the Catholic sexual abuses in Altoona-Johnstown is available for reading, and I’m sorry, it’s practically pornographic. What these people were doing to the children of their community, with the compliance of the police who turned a blind eye to their behavior, is obscene.

In 1971, Father John Boyle groped the genitals of a 15-year-old boy in the basement of St. Edward’s Church in Barnesboro, Pennsylvania on numerous occasions. Boyle also kissed the boy and performed oral sex on him. The boy was confused. He could tast the alcohol on Father Boyle’s mouth. He concluded that what was happening to him must be what the Church called the “mystery of the Church and Priesthood.”

It goes on and on like that for 145 pages. I could not bear to read much of it. But it’s clear that the diocese was knowingly shuffling pedophile priests around, doing nothing about them, and basically enabling the rape of children for decades.

They even had a pay-out schedule for offenses when they were caught at it!


That’s a lot of money. It’s telling that the church hierarchy was willing to fork over that kind of cash rather than actually punishing and stopping their bad priests — and that tells you the whole thing was rotten, root and branch.


  1. says

    When I read that the old joke about “what do you usually get? a pat on the head and a snickers bar” suddenly became un-funny.

    That’s my neighborhood. Not that – if I had kids – I’d have let them into a church, but the victims and their parents are my neighbors. This is 30 miles from State College, which is still reeling from the Sandusky case.

  2. says

    I lived in Boston when the Spotlight Team investigation came out, but everybody already knew. It was common knowledge and the subject of much dark humor. The legislature, the police, and the Boston Globe were totally in the tank for the Catholic Church, until Marty Baron — who was not Catholic and not from Massachusetts — became editor of the Globe. Also props to TV reporter Joe Bergantino, he really started breaking the story before the Globe.

    The church was essentially a conspiracy to provide pedophiles with victims and protection. That was its reason for existence. If that still isn’t going on, I don’t know why it exists any more.

  3. blf says

    Meanwhile, in Italy, Pell (the chief enabler in Ozland), testifying by videolink, is sticking to his story that everyone else is to blame, not him, not at all, his underlings told him nothing. Although, as an example, he did attend a meeting to “identify means of protecting assets in the event of successful litigation following allegations of sexual abuse”.

    As an article in, I think it was the International New York Times (formerly IHT) observed, Pell’s refusal to return to Ozland meant his testimony is getting fairly extensive coverage in Italy, where, apparently, the cult’s raping of children has not been written about / discussed / publicized much. Something, then, perhaps, of an own goal…

  4. knut7777 says

    It’s not just the priests of the catholic church, it is the whole catholic culture of self loathing and repression that needs to be effaced from humankind. I speak as one of five siblings, all of whom were raped before the age of sixteen by different individuals, all the product of, or authority figures in the blue collar catholic culture of the midwest. I can name another 3-4 of my 14 elementary classmates who were incest victims or abuse victims of upstanding catholics, pillars of the community, all wielding the usual theistic authoritarianism as cover for their crimes. Years later in an evidence room in Anoka County in MN, I read the notebooks of the guy who raped me. He kept lists of likely targets, and rated them for their potential for successful attack and silence. There I saw my own name and those of classmates, boy scouts, etc. This guy was a psychologist in a catholic group home, and was offered unfettered access to the kids of the community in the guise of counseling, interventions or “research”.

    As far as i am concerned there is no reform of catholic institutions or the culture. It needs to be left behind like a shed skin.

  5. says

    There’s nothing new under the rug where they try to sweep this stuff. Diocese, disease – what’s the difference? It’s long past tiem for governments to stop enabling such crimes with religious exemptions.

  6. Chaos Engineer says

    I can kind of understand what would motivate somebody to do a one-off payment for a one-time cover up.

    But I can’t understand what would motivate someone to create the chart above. (Which was the work of Bishop Joseph Ademec and appears on page 120 of the document).

    You’d have to sit down, type up the chart, add the footnotes for “Factors considered for valuation within a range”, and then lean back and say, “This has been a productive day at the office! I’ll come back to work tomorrow; I can’t think of any reason not to!”

  7. blf says

    I can’t understand what would motivate someone to create the chart above.

    It was pffffted! into existence by the magic invisible sky faeries. The priest was just a scribe, translating and transcribing it from the stone tables onto a more modern media and current currency. Therefore, “blameless”.

  8. gijoel says

    I can remember when Pell was archbishop of Melbourne in the late 90s, and he was being interviewed by Four corners. The reporter, I forget who, asked if it was the Christian thing to do to fight compensation claims from people who were abused by priests. Pell insisted that he had a duty to protect Church assets. That man should go to jail.

  9. Morgan!? ♥ ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ says

    There is one element that I have not seen addressed in this endless Catholic Church debacle. After the horrors and the priest shuffling and the confessions and the payments, what happens to all those defrocked priests? Most never get meaningfully punished. But when the church kicks them out, where do they go? Where do they end up? Do they have pensions to sustain them? Are there retirement homes for errant clergy? I am curious. Does anyone know?

  10. mostlymarvelous says

    One outcome from the Pell debacle has been this truly excellent bit of writing about victims. (Beautiful or lovely seem wrong given the subject matter.) The broken men of Ballarat are now, at last – after all the suicides, and decades of denial and rejection – getting a hearing and the support they so desperately needed when they were kids.

  11. says

    Are there retirement homes for errant clergy? I am curious. Does anyone know?

    The whole purpose of the shuffling about was to run out the clock. A lot of them die “natural” deaths in the comfort of the mother church. Then, once they are immune from earthly prosecution, the church admits that maybe fr so and so was a problem.

  12. Artor says

    So kind of the good fathers to write up a payout schedule. Clearly, if you’ve only been fondling kids, you should go straight to ass-rape before you get caught. It’s the only reasonable action, considering. I mean, look at the bottom line! (pardon the pun)

  13. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    That’s a lot of money. It’s telling that the church hierarchy was willing to fork over that kind of cash rather than actually punishing and stopping their bad priests — and that tells you the whole thing was rotten, root and branch.

    I’ve been saying this for years. I’ve also been saying that the individual Catholics giving money to the church bear some moral responsibility for funding this behavior.

    For that, I’ve often been called a bigot by regulars here.


  14. EnlightenmentLiberal says

    So how does this escape prosecution under RICO?

    Because no government prosecutor has the gumption to do so, because the public would be against it, and the government prosecutors care more about their own jobs (whether elected or nominated) than doing the right thing.

  15. says

    There are similar “revelations” coming out of Rome at the moment. The Vatican’s finance manager Cardinal George Pell is being interviewed about his apparent ignorance of decades of sexual and physical abuse by priests, many of whom he knew well. He has already admitted dismissing complaints from children about paedophile priests as being ridiculous and sitting on boards discussing the repeated transfer of paedophile priests to fresh parish hunting grounds but can’t remember why they were transferred except he knows it wasn’t for paedophilia. This prompted a lawyer for the victims to remark that the Cardinal’s mind “worked in mysterious ways.”

  16. dangermouse says

    Something else that disgusted me about Pell’s testimony was the story of a child knocking on Pell’s door to tell him of the abuse of the child’s brother. Pell says he didn’t act on the information provided as the child hadn’t specifically requested that Pell do anything about and was simply relaying information!!! WTF?!

  17. corporal klinger says

    “… and that tells you the whole thing was rotten, root and branch. …”


  18. mordred says

    I should print out that payout list and show it to a certain coworker of mine who, while not being religious, is still a member of the German Catholic Church and thinks her automatically paying the church tax is “donating for a good cause.”

    That’s the fscking cause you are supporting with your hard earned money!

    I left the church before I earned my first taxed income, and the only thing I regret is, that I can leave only once. Right now would be a good moment for a repeat!

  19. Brother Ogvorbis, Fully Defenestrated Emperor of Steam, Fire and Absurdity says

    Authoritarian organization? Check.

    The organization is the arbiter of morality? Check.

    The organization is rich (at the middle and upper levels)? Check.

    Parents trust the organization? Check.

    The organization has a strict hierarchy? Check.

    The organization has a mission to teach children? To teach them right from wrong? To teach morality? To teach obedience? Check.

    Does anyone have a better model for creating a situation in which children will be abused and the abusers protected? Scouts, churches, youth sports — not the same, but they have some definite similarities. And when the scoutmaster — who also runs a summer soccer programme (I had forgotten about that) — is also high up in a church (in his case, the Mormons, but the similarities are there)? Shit. We never stood a chance, did we?

    Had an argument/discussion with one of the asshats at work (a volunteer, not an employee). He insists that the abuse claims must be false as they either follow exactly the same narrative (which means the kids were coached by money hungry lawyers) or the narratives are so disparate that it shows the kids are making up stories out of whole cloth. I have printed out the Grand Jury report out of Altoona, dropped it in an envelope, and left it in his mailbox. I hope he reads it. Or enough of it.

  20. trixiefromthelurk says

    My mom was raised in the Mennonite church, in a village where everyone was Mennonite (or pretended to be). Not that Mennonite-ism isn’t a multi-generational fck-up, but she literally believed, based on what she was told, that Catholics were monsters. Turns out she was right about the priests at least.