Abuses enablers still rank in church

Sanctions are unlikely against archdiocesan officials whose actions - or inaction - link them to the clergy scandal. Some enablers remain in good standing

Originally published October 14, 2005

Last month's epic grand jury report on clergy abuse in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia revealed evidence of widespread cover-ups directed by Cardinals John Krol and Anthony Bevilacqua.

Though Krol is dead and Bevilacqua retired, many lesser-known administrators - "enablers" who helped craft the subterfuges or carry them out, according to the grand jury - remain in church posts around the region. Some are pastors. Two are bishops. All remain in good standing, with sanctions against them unlikely.

One is said to have issued instructions to never tell people with abuse complaints that their accusations were believed, according to the report. Today, he is the bishop of Allentown.

Another learned in 2002 that a child-molesting priest had surfaced as a teacher in a local public school, and alerted no one. In 2004, that official was consecrated as an auxiliary bishop of the archdiocese.

A third arranged the transfer of an abuser priest to an outlying area where "his scandalous action may not be known. " Today, that now-retired administrator lives in a large parish in Yardley, where he regularly says Mass and gives homilies.

The public uproar over the massive report targeted Krol, Bevilacqua, and, to an extent, Bevilacqua's top lieutenant, Msgr. William Lynn. But the names of other officials run through the report as well, all implicated in a variety of actions or inactions in response to abuse complaints.

Interviews indicate that in many cases, their flocks are still only dimly aware of the grand jury's disclosures about them.

Punishment is unlikely. Restrictive statutes of limitations shield the men from possible criminal charges. And Cardinal Justin Rigali is inclined to absolve them straightaway, archdiocesan spokeswoman Donna Farrell says.

"While aware of human errors and mistakes in judgment of those in administration," Farrell said in a statement, "the Cardinal is focused on moving the Archdiocese forward.

"The priests mentioned, along with other dedicated and faithful priests and lay administrators, are important to the work of healing and looking to the future. "

That response drew astonishment from Martin Donahue, 42, of Medford, who was abused by a priest in the archdiocese in the 1970s.

"It's absolutely like something from Mars," he said. "How do you not have sanctions against any of them? If you steal $70, you're defrocked and put in the paper, but if you have clout you get to go on. "

The following is a summary on eight of the administrators, with the facts as set forth in the grand jury report.

Vicar helped priest stay in service

Bishop Edward P. Cullen

Now bishop of the Diocese of Allentown.

As vicar for administration, Cullen was Bevilacqua's top aide from 1988 to 1998, attending meetings where cases were discussed and decisions were made.

According to the grand jury, Cullen facilitated the continued service of the Rev. Nicholas V. Cudemo, whom Cullen's assistant, Msgr. James E. Molloy, called "one of the sickest people I ever knew. "

Cullen testified to the grand jury that Bevilacqua was insistent that parishioners not be told the true reason for the removal of a priest accused of sexual abuse.

Molloy testified that Cullen instructed him to never tell victims that he believed their accusations, according to the report. The reason, Molloy surmised, was that such a statement would have suggested that church officials knew about other complaints, making later denials difficult.

In testimony to the grand jury, Cullen conceded that the archdiocese mishandled the 1991 case of a teenage boy stalked by a known abuser, the Rev. Francis X. Trauger, by not interviewing the boy and his family. Also, Cullen testified, he had come to believe "it would be good for society" if there were no statute of limitations in cases of sexual abuse of children.

Cullen, through a spokesman, declined to be interviewed. But in a Sept. 23 pastoral letter in Allentown, the bishop denied that he had ever conveyed that "victims of sexual abuse were not to be believed," and said he "never had the authority to transfer any priest or deacon" during his time in Philadelphia.

A mixed record in jury report

Msgr. John J. Jagodzinski

Pastor of St. Katharine of Siena Parish in Wayne.

As Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua's first secretary for clergy, Jagodzinski has a mixed record in the grand jury findings. He met with a victim of the Rev. Nicholas V. Cudemo in 1991 and, finding her credible, recommended that Cudemo be denied a pastorate he was seeking. Bevilacqua overruled him.

Later, Jagodzinski issued internal warnings about the Rev. Peter J. Dunne and another problem priest, the Rev. David E. Walls. But he recommended that Walls be reassigned after treatment. And in a 1992 memo, Jagodzinski noted that Dunne was in regular contact with pupils in his parish school, yet recommended that Dunne remain in place.

Jagodzinski, reached by phone, declined to comment. In a statement in his parish bulletin Oct. 2, he expressed broad concern while not mentioning his role in events.

"When it comes to protecting a child - in school, on the playground, at home - there is no such thing as being too careful," Jagodzinski wrote. "The children are our treasures and, as a parish, we are committed to protecting them from harm and its very hurtful ripple effect. "

Krol aide told priest to be silent

Msgr. John W. Graf

Now pastor of Assumption Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in West Grove.

Graf was Cardinal John Krol's assistant chancellor from 1984 to 1989 and sat on the Priest Personnel Board during Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua's tenure. He voiced futile in-house concerns at least twice about the Rev. David Sicoli's suspicious behavior around children, according to the grand jury report. But he also told a fellow priest to "keep your mouth shut" about accusations of abuse, the priest has told The Inquirer.

Graf testified that he told Bevilacqua and the cardinal's top lieutenant, Msgr. William Lynn, about his concerns about Sicoli in 1993. The cardinal said, "He'll get help. He's getting help," according to the report. There is no record that Sicoli got help.

In 1984, during his tenure as assistant chancellor, Graf told the Rev. James Gigliotti to keep quiet about allegations of abuse, Gigliotti told The Inquirer. A counselor at Bishop Egan High School, Gigliotti had told Graf about complaints against a known abuser, the Rev. James Brzyski , and tried to get counseling for two victims. A psychiatrist was consulted, but in a later memo, Graf wrote that "because of the sensitivity of the situation, we would ask [the psychiatrist] to do nothing until we get back to him. " No help was given, the report says.

Graf, reached Tuesday, declined to comment on the incidents.

"I feel a real compunction to the confidentiality of everybody involved," he said. "I pray that is not seen as a trying to avoid the issue. It's just that, being involved in so many of those lives, I feel a trust that I can't break. "

Warnings, though no deterrents

Msgr. James E. Molloy

Pastor of St. Agnes Church in Sellersville.

In 1991, as Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua's assistant vicar for administration, Molloy investigated a seminarian who had been abused for years by the Rev. Stanley Gana. Molloy told the grand jury that he and Msgr. William Lynn, his assistant, found the seminarian's complaints credible. Molloy also warned Gana to stay away from the student because "what he's describing is a criminal offense. " Still, the report said, officials did nothing to deter Gana.

In addition, Molloy and Lynn fielded complaints about the Rev. Nicholas Cudemo's molestations of several girls, "but they weren't sharing the allegations with Fr. Cudemo's parishioners who needed to know to keep their children safe," the grand jury said.

In 1991, after Cudemo denied allegations against him, Molloy told several complainants "there is nothing in the file that would prevent Father Cudemo from being a pastor," the report states. When one victim told him a young girl was currently spending time with Cudemo, Molloy replied that "there is no compelling evidence at this time to remove him" from his assignment.

Later, when Cudemo told Molloy that a nun was warning his school about him, Molloy suggested he look into whether that might be "defamation of character. "

In 1992, after getting a complaint against the Rev. Michael McCarthy, Molloy told the priest that Bevilacqua would not name him pastor at St. Kevin's Parish, where he'd been serving, so as to avoid "great publicity. " After a time, Molloy said, McCarthy might get another pastorate - but at a parish that "would be distant from St. Kevin Parish so that the profile can be as low as possible and not attract the attention of the complainant. "

Molloy, reached by phone, declined to comment.

A failure to alert parents

Msgr. Vincent M. Walsh

Pastor of Presentation Blessed Virgin Mary Parish in Wynnewood, now on sabbatical.

In 1970, as Cardinal John Krol's assistant chancellor, Walsh "sat silently" while a group of parents gushed about how their priest, the Rev. John Mulholland, had befriended their teenage sons, the grand jury states. The parents asked that the archdiocese reconsider its decision to transfer Mulholland to another parish. All the while, the report says, "Walsh knew what the parents did not: that these teens had been reported as possible victims of Fr. Mulholland's sadomasochistic behavior. The Assistant Chancellor said nothing to warn the unsuspecting parents, and Cardinal Krol left Fr. Mulholland in their parish. "

On later occasions, according to the report, Walsh heard complaints about Mulholland's suspicious behavior from parishioners and the parish pastor. "There is no indication that Fr. Walsh enlightened the pastor, who lived with Fr. Mulholland and could have been enlisted to monitor him, letting him know what Archdiocese officials had known for years - that the associate pastor sent to his parish had been known to involve parish youth in sadomasochism," the report states.

Walsh began a sabbatical about a month ago - several Wynnewood parishioners said it was for shingles, a nerve disorder - and could not be reached for comment.

Warned of a potential 'PR' issue

Bishop Joseph R. Cistone

Now auxiliary bishop and archdiocesan vicar for administration.

The grand jury found that Cistone, as assistant vicar for administration, was complicit in the 1996 silencing of Sister Joan Scary, who was trying to alert parishioners to the Rev. Edward DePaoli's history of abuse. It said Cistone received regular updates, including a final one that "everything is quiet at St. Gabriel parish concerning the situation. "

Cistone also wrote an administrative memo in 1998 saying that Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua did not want to meet with a victim of the Rev. Stanley Gana, a repeat abuser. When the victim demanded a meeting, Cistone wrote that such a step might "set a precedent, i.e. for the Cardinal to meet with such individuals. "

In response to church therapists' warnings about Gana and their recommendation that he be treated at a residential facility, Cistone wrote to Bevilacqua that "Bishop Cullen and I both feel that this has the potential of becoming a PR concern. " Gana left his parish assignment but was allowed to choose his treatment.

In 2002, the report said, Cistone learned that another molester, Raymond O. Leneweaver, had been teaching in two suburban school districts and took no action. The report says that in 2002, Cistone heard from a victim that the Rev. Thomas Smith had made boys strip and pricked some with pins. Smith had acknowledged the behavior, yet Cistone recommended letting him continue to perform parish duties.

In an e-mail last week, Cistone declined to discuss those incidents. "I am deeply aware of the suffering caused to the victims of abuse by some of our priests as well as the pain experienced by Catholics throughout our Archdiocese. I have taken the opportunity to publicly express my sincere, personal sorrow for these abhorrent acts as well as for any mistakes in judgment made by those of us ... with responsibility for these matters.

"[I]t would not serve any purpose to revisit the grand jury report and endeavor to recall the rationale for past decisions made in specific cases. "

Placed known abuser in youth leadership role

Msgr. Samuel E. Shoemaker

Now pastor of St. Ignatius of Antioch in Yardley, the parish where Statkus resides.

Shoemaker, chancellor for Cardinals Krol and Bevilacqua, is shown to have raised occasional concerns that the church was not acting forcefully enough against abusers. At the same time, in 1984 he appointed a known abuser, the Rev. David Sicoli, as associate director of the CCD youth program for the entire Philadelphia area - even though, the grand jury says, "the priest's file clearly showed that he used the Church's youth groups to reward, groom and manipulate his targeted boys. "

The grand jury also noted that Krol and Shoemaker tried to persuade the Rev. Edward DePaoli to plead guilty to child-porn charges to avoid "scandal and publicity. " DePaoli refused and said the church was mainly worried that "other things might come out at trial. " In a later letter to DePaoli, the grand jury said, Shoemaker acknowledged that "it has not been unknown for Federal Authorities to seek other information from an indicted person which may assist them in prosecuting other cases. " DePaoli was convicted in 1986 of receiving child pornography through the mail.

The grand jury pressed Shoemaker about DePaoli's later transfer to a New Jersey parish without apparent warning about his history. Shoemaker "acknowledged to the grand jury that this transfer put the children in the New Jersey parish at risk. "

Shoemaker, reached by phone, declined to comment.

Despite knowledge of abuse, his goal was avoiding 'general scandal'

Msgr. Francis J. Statkus

Now semiretired in residence at St. Ignatius of Antioch Parish in Yardley, where he assists with Masses and other duties.

As chancellor under Cardinal John Krol, Statkus comes under heavy criticism in the report. For instance, after learning that one priest, Raymond Leneweaver, had abused boys in three counties, Statkus said in a 1980 letter that Leneweaver would have to be transferred next to a Bucks County parish "because it is one of the few remaining areas where his scandalous action may not be known. "

Church documents show that Statkus repeatedly sat on information about abusers with the goal, as he wrote to Krol, that "general scandal" be avoided. After another priest, Joseph Gausch, admitted molestations to him, he told Gausch that if he did not have another "lapse" or cause suspicions, he would be considered for a pastoral appointment.

In 1982, Statkus met with a police detective complaining of sexual advances against his son from another known abuser, the Rev. Francis Trauger. In a memo, Statkus noted that the parish priests had not been informed and "I suggest that no mention be made to the priests. " He also said he had convinced the detective "of our sincere resolve to take the necessary action" and he "does not plan to press any charges, police or otherwise. " Trauger was subsequently transferred four more times.

Reached by phone last week, Statkus declined to discuss those and other findings against him.

"So many years have transpired, and I would rather not get into it," he said. "Whether they are accurate or inaccurate or charitable or uncharitable, I pass simply because of age. " Statkus is 84.