Proof: Bishops Knew about Pedophile Priests As Far Back As 1950s and Worked to Keep the Problem Secret. Documents Here, Click to Enlarge

By Kay Ebeling
City of Angels
June 16, 2008

[PARACLETES DOCUMENTS will live at for continued reference. See June 16 post]

The documents scanned in below prove the Catholic Church hierarchy knew pedophile priests were a problem as far back as the 1950s. Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, director of Via Coeli in New Mexico, (pictured at right [below in this cached copy of the article]) realized after years of treating sexually deviant priests that there was no “cure” and wanted to put the predator priests on a remote island where they could do no damage. He pled his case to bishops all over the country with personal visits and correspondence back and forth, some of which is scanned in below. But a growing belief in 12-step programs and surprisingly secular treatment concepts defeated Fitzgerald. Via Coeli instead in the sixties began treating pedophile priests as men with “issues” in need of talk therapy.

Not only did the church know there were pedophiles among the priests, but Catholic Church hierarchy had been well educated in pedophilia by Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald. Documents here show that bishops kept Via Coeli and its work with problem priests secret from the parishes. Meanwhile bishops were touring the Northern New Mexico treatment center and sending pedophile priests to Via Coeli, beginning in the 1950s, as these documents prove.

This is a long post with only a sampling of the documents from a lawsuit against the Paracletes in the 1990s in New Mexico, which were released to the public in June 2007, see the court order insert at right. (Click to enlarge.) Also you should be able to print to your own computer any doc enlarged here.

What I hope is we don't just read all this and go Hmm, Interesting, but as a group, survivors of church sex crimes do something with this information.

One idea I have is someone from as many regions as possible print out these documents. Then all of us on the same day, with word going out to the press, carry these documents into the Congressional district office in your community, hand delivering them to our representatives in the US Congress across the country, all on the same day.


As a group all on the same day, we’d deliver the docs to local congressional offices and ask for a federal investigation and hearings.

That's just one idea.

I hope people will read this post and email me at with feedback about ways to use this material.

The Paracletes Documents will stay at the top of City of Angels 11 (linked at left & at top) so as more posts go up here at City of Angels 4, you can continue to access this post in the next few weeks at City of Angels 11, where we will also continue scanning docs over the next weeks.

The story begins with Plaintiffs' Opposition to Defendants Motion in Limine to exclude reference to Servants of the Paracletes is the LA Clergy Cases, quoted here:

“Defendants (the church) take the position that they were blind to the warning signs and nature of pedophilia, because in the past, when the abuse of plaintiffs occurred, times were different. They (Church attorneys) have stated that the Salesians, like the public at large, were unaware of the epidemic of clergy sexual abuse.

"The evidence demonstrates that the Catholic Church was well aware of the problem of clergy sexual abuse before and during the time plaintiffs were sexually abused. In fact the Catholic Church were experts in the problems of pedophilia priests and the recidivist nature of pedophilia.”

Read the documents. They show that Fr. Fitzgerald was a lone voice, calling out in letters, personal visits, even magazine articles to bishops from the time of the mid-1950s. Don't return these "vipers" to the parishes. Fitzgerald was just beginning to develop a remote island as a treatment center when he was removed as Director of Via Coeli.

ABOVE: Gerald Fitzgerald met with Pope Paul VI in 1963 to discuss the pedophile priest problem.


In August 1963, convinced that pedophile priests posed a serious problem for the Catholic Church, Father Gerald Fitzerald traveled to the Vatican, met with the Pope and discussed treatment of pedophile priests at Via Coeli, documented in the letter to Pope Paul Page 1 at right, pages 2 to 5 following (click to enlarge). A quote from Page 1 of the letter from Father Fitzgerald to Pope Paul:
“In accordance with Your Holiness’ desire I am summarizing some convictions on the problem of the problem priests."
Quote of Note from Page 2 below: “Unfortunately there is an understandable temptation to consider the brilliant student as adequate for the priesthood without a deep scrutiny of his interior spirit. 3.) There has been an alarming increase in the present era of priestly casualties. . . the present conditions could have been easily predicted and are not in themselves surprising."

Page 3 to 4
Personally I am not sanguine of the return of priests to active duty who have been addicted to abnormal practices, especially sins with the young. (ME: Remember this was 1963 from the head of the Parcletes to the Pope after they’d met and discussed problem priests.)

Page 4
Because of the tremendous scandal given, I would most earnestly recommend total laicization. I say 'total' designedly because when these men are taken before civil authority, the non-Catholic world definitely blames the discipline of celibacy for the perversion of these men. They argue - rightly or wrongly - that these men turn to boys because they are denied the right of marriage.

"I Myself In Audience With Pope, Spoke Of This Matter"
September 1964, Fitzgerald was still following up on his audience with Pope Paul, here with a letter to a superior in the Paracletes in Rome, like so many letters, trying to convince that pedophiles were permanently sick, not to be returned to parishes:

On Page one at right: “3. I myself in an audience I was privileged to have with His Holiness, Pope Paul, spoke of this matter which undoubtedly has been one of the deep concerns of his fatherly soule.
Page 1-2 “4. May I take this occasion to bring to your attention what is a growing concern to many of us here in the States. When I was ordained, forty-three years ago, homosexuality was a practically unknown rarity.”

(NOTE: The word "homosexual" was at that time lumped into the same category as sex with male adults, teenagers and children, as shown in other documents from this June 4 load..)
He says 3 of 10 cases in 1964 are “representing aberrations involving homosexuality, a growing problem “in the wake of World War II.”
ALSO ON PAGE 2 of the 1964 Durick letter:
“We know of several seminaries that have been deeply infected and this of course leads to a wide infection.”

AFFIDAVIT OF FATHER JOSEPH McNAMARA begins at Left. McNamara took over as Director when Fitzgerald was forced to step down.
“We considered men who were attracted to male children, teenagers, or adults as ‘homosexual priests.’”
“When talking among ourselves, we used the term ‘homosexual’ (to describe priests with ‘psycho-sexual difficulties.’

“Until Servants of the Paraclete adopted the graduated program of rehabilitation proposed and recommended by Dr. John Salazar, SOTP did not deal with priests who had molested children or priests who manifested any form of what we considered to be sexual aberration.
We did not think of sexual activity with a male, whether a child, a teenager, or an adult, to be the result of a biological or psychological condition.”
Over and over again

Bottom of page 3 to page 4

(8) “Prior to the adoption of the graduated program of rehabilitation, If we learned that a resident who had been sent to Via Coeli Monastery for a different reason, such as alcoholism, was ‘homosexual’ - attracted to male children, teenagers, or adults, he would be told to leave immediately

“9. Father Gerald thought that such priests -- meaning priests attracted to male children, teenagers, or adults -- should be completely segregated from society, and consequently wanted a remote ‘island refuge’ far from civilization and a monastery would be established and such men could live and try to save their souls.

“Servants of the Paraclete could not keep guest priests there, as if it were a prison. Similarly, Servants of the Paraclete could not assign guests priests to duties in parishes or dioceses, either temporarily or permanently.

Whether a guest priest performed any priestly duties or activities in parishes was entirely up to others, as whether a guest priest performed any priestly duties or activities in parishes was entirely up to others, as were questions about how, when, where, and under what circuere questions about how, when, where, and under what circumstances such duties and activities would be performed.
September 26, 1957, letter from Father Gerald to the Bishop of New Hampshire, below,

In context with other documents, the letter shows in 1957 Fitzgerald did not want to return these priests to active duty as "Their repentance is superficial and motivated by a desire to be again in a position where they can continue their wonted activity."
"A new diocese means only greener pastures."
"To sum up: we are willing to shelter Father but it should not be with any hope that he will be recommended to another bishop even after he has spent some months with us.
"Even though it is true that many Bishops, especially in the West, are in need of priests."

In 1971 Bishop of Worcester wrote that David A. Holley's history gave "little hope for his being able to resume an effective ministry for a long time, if ever." The history was molesting boys. 1971. The bishop of Worcester wrote about it to Via Coeli below:

Here is what bishop accountability reports about Holley:

Abused in Massachusetts and sent to Paraclete center in New Mexico for treatment. Convicted 1993 of abusing 8 boys between 1972-1974 in Alamogordo, NM. 275-year sentence. Many victims in many states including 2 dioceses in Texas.
Quotes from 1952 letter by Fitzgerald below:

“We find it quite common, almost universal with the handful of men we have seen in the last five years who have been under similar charges - we find it almost universal that they seem to be lacking in appreciation of the serious situation."

"As a class they expect to bound back like tennis balls on the court of priestly activity. I myself would be inclined to favor laicization for any priest, upon objective evidence, for tapering with the virtue of the young.”

“In practice real conversions will be rare.

Many bishops believe men are never free from the approximate danger once they have begun.”

THE ABOVE LETTER proves 2 things: Fitzgerald wrote long letters to individual bishops explaining the lack of a cure for pedophilia. Also that the topic of priest pedophiles was discussed among bishops, with Fitzgerald’s phrase: “Many bishops believe men are never free from the approximate danger.”

Apparently Edmund Boyle was at large: “If Edmund Bolye returns here or we learn of his whereabouts we will notify Your Excellency.”
PROGRESS REPORT on BERNARD BISSONETTE: Listed here as a "Code 3" resident at Vie Coeli.

Bishop Accountability Also Has A Listing For Bissonette in the database under B:

Worked in Connecticut, Michigan, Minnesota, and New Mexico. Accused of abuse of numerous youths just about everywhere he served. One alleged victim committed suicide. Another victim filed civil suit 2002 and in July 2006, Connecticut Supreme Court ruled that the suit was timely filed and sent it back down to lower court to be tried. Laicization announced in 3/06

ABOVE: Progress Report and samples of 2 re Bissonette
Fitzgerald was a promoter, and he advertised, phoned, visited bishops telling of Via Coeli treatment for pedophiles et al.

By 1957 Fitzgerald did not want to treat pedophiles any more at Via Coeli but preferred to buy an island and put them as far away from civilization as possible.

Quotes: In September 18, 1957 letter below: “To Archbishop and Co-Fonder” (Possibly a letter that was reproduced and sent to many different archbishops)

“For the sake of preventing scandal, we will not offer hospitality to men who have seduced or attempted to seduce little boys or girls.”

“It is for this class of rattlesnake I have always wished the island retreat - but even an island is too good for these vipers.”

“When I see the Holy Father I am going to speak of this class to His Holiness.” Which he did, in the Pope correspondence shown in the letter at the top of this post.

To Set Up An Island:


It’s like pulling teeth, but at left in a May 11, 2007, deposition McNamara does admit that there were tours of the Paracletes’ Via Coeli in the 1950s. Bishops from all over the country came to Via Coeli for a tour or a seminar, on priests’ sexual problems, which did include “sexual impropriety.”

Pages 90 and 91 are on the left, click to enlarge and read the deposition. It takes two pages of transcript but McNamara admits there were seminars and tours for bishops in the 1950s. McNamara worked alongside Fitzgerald and took over as Director of Via Coeli when Fitzgerald was forced to step down.

Below in Fitzgerald's Own Hand:

September 26, 1957, letter from Father Gerald to the Bishop of New Hampshire, below, left and right, pages one and two (Click to enlarge).

In context with other documents, the letter shows in 1957 Fitzgerald did not want to return these priests to active duty as "Their repentance is superficial and motivated by a desire to be again in a position where they can continue their wonted activity."
"A new diocese means only greener pastures

"To sum up: we are willing to shelter Father but it should not be with any hope that he will be recommended to another bishop even after he has spent some months with us.
"Even though it is true that many Bishops, especially in the West, are in need of priests."

From Christ the King Seminary in New York to Father Gerald at left, documenting a phone call, shows that bishops were communicating with Fitzgerald on a casual personal, friendly basis about their problem priests.

Bishops knew who Fitzgerald was and what he was doing at Jemez Springs with pedophile priests as far back as 1959, as we see in this phone memo.

The memo above follows up on a phone call to Jemez Springs about Robert John Smith, saying there had been “complaints by some parents” It’s dates September 11, 1959.

Robert John Smith, pedophile priest apparently came to Jemez Springs after that phone call. Here is all we have in bishop accountability (so far) about Robert Smith pedophile priest:

Seminarian. “Accused of abuse. Died 1987 Santa Fe. New Mexico. Source: Albuquerque Journal 3.20.98


FATHER GERALD was ever a promoter. At left we see a letter that was apparently mimeographed (It was 1957) or typed over and over with carbon paper and sent to Archbishops and cofounders. Since everyone knows what he's talking about, he only uses code words.

In the above left letter Gerald Fizgerald writes to an anonymous Archbishop or Cofounder:

"It is for this class of rattlesnake I have always wished the island retreat."

Fitzgerald is planning to see the Pope:

"When I see the Holy Father I am going to speak of this class to His Holiness."

He did meet with Pope Pius VI in 1963, unfortunately, the Pope he's been speaking with for years, Pope John, had died one month earlier.

The Salesian Connection

At left, click to enlarge)
Q: All right, as you sit here today, are you aware of any Salesian priest or brother ever being referred to the Servants of the Paraclete?
A: Yes.

Q: Can you tell me what decade that individual was at the Servants of the Paracletes?
A: There was one in Jemez when I was a novice in 1970 and there was one in St. Louis when I was there in the

'90s and there was one in Jemez that I -- those are the three I remember.
Q: But he predated 1970, correct?
A: Yes.
Page 83-84, the witness is quick to answer that

the priest was treated for schizophrenia, no objection from the church attorney.

However, when asked (p. 83 continued), "Do you know whether he had been accused at any time of having had sexual contact with children or teenagers?


Objection. Lacks foundation, calls for speculation, hearsay and violation of the psychotherapy and clergy privileges and right to privacy.

Five grounds for objection.

But the church attorney had no problem with the witness saying the priest was schizophrenic. In that release of information that the priest had a major mental illness, no privacy violation in the preceding question, just the one about child molesting.

Church attorneys should be disbarred, the way they twisted law for archdioceses.

In God's Name Get This Man Laicized:

August 1960 letter (right)
to "Very Reverend Provincial"


“In God’s Name, get this man laicized as quickly as possible.”

“Men who sin repeatedly with little children certainly fall under the classification of those who ‘it were getter had they not been born.’

“As a layman, the civil authorities will make short work of his activity and place him in the protective custody that his type merit.

“As there are many little children in this Canyon, where I am the shepherd of souls, I could not in conscience consider receiving him here.”


ARTICLE 1950s shows in house publications reported on the Servants. AND another common theme, the Servants DID NOT go to the laity for support. The Laity did not konw about the Servants, but the Bishops and Cardinals were Very Aware of Via Coeli and what type of priests were sent there.

There's More

As I go through more of this pile of docs, I'll put an announcement at City of Angels 4 that more are being posted. This post with all the documents will live here at the top of City of Angels 11 For a time.

More to come, literally. . .


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