Newark Priest Knew of McCarrick " Sleepovers," Fires Back at Archdiocese
By Matt C. Abbott
December 18, 2005
Father Robert Hoatson, who recently filed a lawsuit against the New York and Newark archdioceses, is now the second priest to go on record as saying that Cardinal Theodore McCarrick abused his authority by "inviting" certain seminarians to sleep with him. (Father James Haley was the first priest to on record about the matter.)
Then-Bishop McCarrick reportedly would have the seminarians sleep next to him, but did not engage in sexual activity with them.
Recounts Father Hoatson:
When I had decided to leave the Irish Christian Brothers to become a priest in 1994, the very first question I asked the director of priest personnel, Father Bill Fadrowski, a former Marist brother who was selected to speak with me by McCarrick because his path to the priesthood was similar to mine, was, 'Has McCarrick stopped sleeping with the seminarians?'
I was concerned since I had been abused sexually in the Christian Brothers and did not want to confront the same issue with McCarrick. Without blinking an eye, Fadrowski responded, 'Oh, yes, the Papal Nuncio and Bishop [James] McHugh both spoke to him and told him to cut it out.'
A priest who did his seminary training in Newark wrote me and said he remembers the Newark seminarians dreading Fridays because it meant they might have to go to McCarrick's house at the Jersey shore.
Also, Father Hoatson had the following (edited) response to recent statements made by Archdiocese of Newark spokesman James Goodness:
[On December 15] I announced a five million dollar lawsuit against a number of Catholic institutions. Also yesterday, Jim Goodness, spokesperson for the Archdiocese of Newark, told [a media outlet] that I had requested a transfer from my position and changed my mind. This is the truth of the matter:
In the fall of 2002, I requested to be named a pastor since it was my opinion that my work at Good Counsel Schools had been completed. I was asked to go there to straighten out a critical situation of mismanagement and chaos in both schools. After a year, I had hired two strong principals and the schools were getting back on their feet.
I never received a response from the archbishop after making the request in the fall, so I phoned his office in late December to find out why I had not been responded to. It had been my expectation that I would start a new assignment by January 1, 2003.
On January 14, 2003, I met with the archbishop... and he simply discounted everything I had to say. He then asked me to remain at Good Counsel Schools until June, 2003, and enter my name into the pastor's pool for assignment after June, 2003. I agreed to stay on as he requested.
In February, 2003, I received a call from Father Frank Rose who wanted to come to see me. He evidently had been asked to consider replacing me in June, 2003. I was not made aware that he would be calling me, so I asked for an explanation from the vicar general who had told Rose to phone me. I also put it in writing. The vicar general (Bishop Serratelli) responded with a letter asking me to cooperate with Father Rose since they were beginning to plan for my succession. He also complimented me on the excellent job I had done at Good Counsel Schools.
When the news about Father Frank Rose's possible assignment to Good Counsel Schools filtered out, members of the Good Counsel communities 'begged' me to change my mind and stay since Father Rose's reputation from his time as an administrator in another parish was not very good.
I did write to the archbishop in the late winter or spring to tell him that since he wanted me to stay at Good Counsel until June, 2003, I would be happy to stay through the next year, the time my term was to end. I never heard from the archbishop.
On May 20, 2003, I testified before a Senate hearing in Albany about my abuse and the cover-up by Church authorities.
On May, 23, 2003, I was called to the chancery and given a letter of termination from my ministry, effective immediately. Bishop Serratelli told me that Albany diocesan authorities had phoned the Newark chancery within minutes of my testimony to tell my archbishop what I had said in my testimony. Serratelli claimed my language in Albany was inflammatory and instructed me to tone down my language at the direct request of the archbishop.
Even though my letter of termination was effective immediately, Serratelli wrote to me after my termination to instruct me to work with my replacement but direct the commencement exercises for both schools in June.
Father Frank Rose did replace me as director of schools for the parish of Our Lady of Good Counsel in Newark, NJ, but he was removed four months after taking over for 'inappropriately touching an eighth grade boy.'
Father Hoatson also provided me with the following (edited) information regarding his experiences in the Archdiocese of Newark:
During my second assignment, the auxiliary bishop pastor verbally abused me consistently for no reason. At one point, I was the full-time associate pastor, principal of the parish school, part-time youth minister, chaplain of the Hackensack Fire Dept. and scouts, and took 30 of the 58 weddings and numerous funerals that year. In addition, I inaugurated an annual carnival to raise money for the school.
I was glad to do it all, but the pastor had promised me a reduction in duties so I could have a day off. When I reminded him of his pledge, he told me that if I didn't like what I was doing, I should go to the archbishop and get a transfer. When I fired a parishioner from our after-care program because she had been arrested for smuggling money through customs, the pastor told me I was insensitive to her.
When I was told about a former scout master who had not returned over $7,000 to the scout troop when he left, I pursued the case, which was not pleasant. I succeeded in getting the money returned, but it took much work and the assistance of the regional scout leaders. The pastor told me I was insensitive to the scout leader who also was an usher at the parish and took up the collection!
It was in Hackensack, too, that I replaced a man who was removed for allegedly abusing a male parishioner.
After I told Myers all of this, he responded by saying, 'Oh, Charlie McDonnell (the aux. bishop pastor) is the nicest man in the world.'
Msgr. Peter Cheplic was removed as pastor of St. Aloysius Parish in Jersey City for an admitted case of sexual abuse of a teenager at the Jersey Shore. His best friend, Father Joseph Petrillo, was pastor of the parish in which I resided in 2002, Our Lady of Lourdes, West Orange. Petrillo approached me one night to tell me that he was moving Cheplic into the rectory. I balked at the suggestion, reminding him that the parish school was about 100 yards from the rectory and that it was not appropriate for an abuser to be living in the rectory. He moved him in.
I got sick (acute gastritis) and landed in the hospital. As a survivor of sexual abuse, I was nervous living with an abuser. I told the vicar general about this situation, and he responded about Cheplic, 'The poor man, what he's been through.' I had to move out — Cheplic stayed. When I told Myers this, he responded, 'You don't know the whole story about Cheplic.' By the way, three more victims of Cheplic have surfaced recently.
I moved to St. Mary's, Closter. Within a month of my moving in, a nun from the parish convent came to see me. She was being abused by her superior, in all ways but sexual. I advised her to ask for a transfer because her story was horrific. What I didn't realize was that her superior and the pastor were friends, and when the pastor realized that I was speaking to the first nun, and then a second nun, and then a third nun, he began to harass me.
He took away my rectory garage and gave it to the nuns' superior, cut back my Mass schedule, and told me I didn't know how to live in a rectory since I did not put the newspapers back in order after I read them! I literally escaped this place in the dead of night.
Myers' response — nothing. He told me I might be developing a reputation as a malcontent.
Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic journalist and commentator. He is a columnist for and/or contributor to RenewAmerica.us, TheConservativeVoice.com, MichNews.com, Catholic.org, Opeds.com, and Speroforum.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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