There’s No Statute of Limitations on Stupidity

My own Bible, with an Israeli 20 shekel note as a bookmark.

Those who know me know that I am not just Catholic in name only, but a Mass every Sunday, and occasionally attend weekday Mass as well. I have article tags for the Catholic Church and Catholic Priesthood. And the last thing I want to see are more sexual abuse cases among the priesthood revealed.

Philly archdiocese accused of covering up sex abuse complaints against priest who allegedly found a new victim in Nashville

“If there was ever a case of reckless disregard for the safety of the public and parishioners,” said lawyers representing a woman now suing church officials over an alleged cover-up, “it’s this one.”

by Jeremy Roebuck | Thursday, April 20, 2023

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia is facing new accusations that it covered up sexual misconduct, this time involving a former priest who allegedly forced himself on multiple women and told them the unwanted encounters were “special trials” ordained by God.

In court filings this week, a 27-year-old woman said church officials’ failure to disclose previous complaints against the Rev. Kevin Barry McGoldrick enabled abuse she endured after he was transferred from Philadelphia to Nashville in 2013.

Even after the Philadelphia archdiocese had substantiated her claims that McGoldrick had plied her with bourbon and then sexually assaulted her while he was serving as a college chaplain in Tennessee, she said, church officials here still refused to acknowledge they’d received reports years earlier of his involvement in similar misconduct.

The woman, now living in Virginia and identified in court filings only as Jane Doe, made those accusations in a lawsuit filed Tuesday that seeks hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages from church officials and McGoldrick himself in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas.

There’s more at the original, but the important date is that Fr McGoldrick was transferred from Philadelphia to the Diocese of Nashville in 2013. Msgr. William J. Lynn, once a secretary for Cardinal Anthony Bevilaqua, the Archbishop of Philadelphia, was convicted in June of 2012 for his role in transferring priests accused of sexual misconduct to other parishes, and though that conviction was twice overturned, the Monsignor was behind bars in 2013.

Cardinal Justin Rigali, the Archbishop of Philadelphia from 2003 to 2011, had his resignation upon reaching 75 accepted by Pope Benedict XVI, but, as The New York Times noted, his resignation was tainted by the priestly abuse scandal. The Times had also noted that the District Attorney’s office had “been investigating the archdiocese aggressively since 2002“.

So, how is it that, in 2013, with the previous Archbishop having his resignation accepted under an ethical cloud, Msgr Lynn behind bars for his role in identifying ‘problem’ priests, priests Edward Avery and Charles Engelhardt in prison for the sexual abuse of minors, as was Catholic school teacher Bernard Shero, that the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, then under Archbishop Charles Chaput, allegedly knew of Fr McGoldrick’s reported sexual abuses transferred him to Nashville?

Lawyers for the accuser say former Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput failed to disclose earlier investigations into McGoldrick and signed off on his transfer to Nashville in 2013. That move came two years after Pope Benedict XVI had tapped Chaput to take over the Philadelphia archdiocese and oversee reform efforts after a series of damning grand jury investigations highlighted its failures in handling clergy sex abuse complaints.

Let me be clear here: there have been no criminal charges or convictions in this case: “Jane Doe” has filed a lawsuit, something which is subject to a much lower standard of proof, the “preponderance of the evidence,” and that lawsuit has not gone to trial. At the moment, Archbishop Chaput and Fr McGoldrick are neither legally guilty nor adjudicated as responsible for any wrongdoing. I’d like to believe that Miss “Doe” is making a fraudulent claim, which is certainly a possibility. Archbishop Chaput, having been appointed to the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in large part for his previous strong handling of such cases while Archbishop of Denver. It would seem improbable that he would have approved that transfer of a known sexual abuser.

However, if Miss “Doe’s” claims are valid, it might be a slightly different case. The article states that she is 27 years old now, which means she would have been 17 or 18 at the time Fr McGoldrick was transferred, and she might have been legally an adult at the time she claims she was abused by the priest.

But my wanting the claim to be false does not preclude the possibility that it could be true. And while I want it to be false, there are a lot of people out there who will be convinced that the accusations are true, because it has happened so often in the past.

If the accusation is true, it means that Archbishop Chaput and his subordinates in the Archdiocese learned absolutely nothing from not only what had happened in the past, but happened in the recent past. And our bishops have to know, and understand, this: there is exactly zero tolerance for this stuff among the public, and cover-ups just don’t work. With so many people hostile to the Church, and looking for wrongdoing, and with possible victims out there, this stuff will eventually be exposed.

There has to be zero tolerance in the Church for this, and everybody needs to know it. Actually, every priest and bishop in the Church does know it; they are all highly educated men, and they just aren’t stupid. But not being stupid overall does not mean that they can’t do stupid things, and trying to cover up for this stuff, regardless of how much they may like and respect their friends and colleagues in the priesthood, is just plain stupid.
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