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Early Alarm for Church on Abusers in the Clergy

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  • smartnews@aol.com
    Early Alarm for Church on Abusers in the Clergy By Laurie Goodstein 4/2/2009 The founder of a Roman Catholic religious order that ran retreat centers for
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 3, 2009
      Early Alarm for Church on Abusers in the Clergy By Laurie Goodstein 4/2/2009
      The founder of a Roman Catholic religious order that ran retreat centers for
      troubled priests warned American bishops in forceful letters dating back to
      1952 that pedophiles should be removed from the priesthood because they could
      not be cured. The Rev. Gerald M. C. Fitzgerald, founder of the order,
      Servants of the Paraclete, delivered the same advice in person to Vatican officials
      in Rome in 1962 and to Pope Paul VI a year later, according to the letters,
      which were unsealed by a judge in the course of litigation against the
      church. The documents contradict the most consistent defense given by bishops about
      the sexual abuse scandal: that they were unaware until recently that
      offenders could not be rehabilitated and returned to the ministry. Father
      Fitzgerald, who died in 1969, even made a $5,000 down payment on a Caribbean island
      where he planned to build an isolated retreat to sequester priests who were
      sexual predators. His letters show he was driven by a desire to save the church
      from scandal, and to save laypeople from being victimized. He wrote to dozens
      of bishops, saying that he had learned through experience that most of the
      abusers were unrepentant, manipulative and dangerous. He called them "vipers."
      "We are amazed," Father Fitzgerald wrote to a bishop in 1957, "to find how
      often a man who would be behind bars if he were not a priest is entrusted with
      the cura animarum," meaning, the care of souls. His collected letters and
      his story were reported this week by The National Catholic Reporter, an
      independent weekly. Father Fitzgerald's papers were unsealed by a judge in New
      Mexico in 2007 and are now becoming public in litigation, although some letters
      were public before now, said Helen Zukin, a lawyer with Kiesel, Boucher &
      Larson, a firm in Los Angeles. The letters were authenticated in depositions with
      Father Fitzgerald's successors....Bishop Cupich said of Father Fitzgerald,
      "His views, by and large, were considered bizarre with regard to not treating
      people medically, but only spiritually, and also segregating a whole population
      with sexual problems on a deserted island."....At one point, he resolved not
      to accept pedophiles at his center, saying in a letter to the archbishop of
      New Mexico in 1957, "These men, Your Excellency, are devils, and the wrath of
      God is upon them, and if I were a bishop I would tremble when I failed to
      report them to Rome for involuntary layization."
      _http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/03/us/03church.html_ (http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/03/us/03church.html)



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