Clandestine Clergy: Politics & Policies-Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church

The Legal Edition [Boston MA]

March 5, 2021

By Mary Kay Elloian

[See video interview of Mitchell Garabedian, Esq.]

The Legal Edition has released programming on child sexual abuse by clergy in the Catholic Church entitled, ‘Clandestine Clergy: Politics and Policies on Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church.‘ Program guest is noted Boston attorney, Mitchell Garabedian, who brought the first Archdiocese of Boston pedophile priest cases to justice. He and his work were featured as the subject of two award-winning movies: ‘Spotlight’ and ‘Our Fathers.’ Since that case in the 1990’s, Garabedian has continuously worked as an attorney advocate for the victims who bravely come forward after decades of repressing their pain, many turning to drugs and alcohol – others to suicide.

A Lifetime of Pain

Many of the victims of clergy sexual abuse, suffer a lifetime of emotional pain as a result of their childhood abuse. Most wait decades to come forward, many until their final decade of life. The reason recounted by Garabedian: shame, fear, and guilt – victims waiting until many members of their family are deceased, in order to spare their parents the pain and guilt a parent would feel knowing they subjected their child to sexual abuse by someone they trusted.

What is important to learn about abuse itself, any kind of abuse – child or domestic violence – the perpetrator always threatens the victim about telling others, that is something bad will happen if they tell another. In the case of domestic abuse, the perpetrator will threaten the victim, often the wife they will lose custody of their children or lose financial support. In the case of a pedophile priest, they threaten the child that if they tell another adult – they will be punished severely by their parents, won’t be believed, or even worse. According to Garabedian, the convicted pedophile priest, John J. Gagan would tell his child victims, if they told their parents, their parents would either die or get divorced – or both.

This fear of exposing their secret would not only disempower the child from telling his/her parents, but immobilize them in fear in an untenable dichotomy. That is, if they exposed their secret, they feared being disbelieved, punished for lying, or responsible for their parents death or divorce. If they kept their ‘secret’ they would spare their parents the pain and keep their parents alive, and their family intact. Such a huge and unfair burden for any child to endure – ‘in addition’ to the pain and suffering from the abuse itself.

Concerted Effort to Deceive and Disempower by Archdiocese

Not only did the Catholic Clergy abuse their position of trust and honor as representatives of God and the Catholic faith, they were deceitful in how they garnered the trust and adoration of unsuspecting families and children. What was even more horrific, was the ‘coverup.’ Garabedian exposed through ‘discovery’ – the ‘Secret Files’ of the church – showing the church hierarchy ‘knew’ of the pedophile priests, yet attempted to ‘cover’ it up. How the Church allowed pedophile priests to continue to ‘minister’ to unsuspecting parishioners by moving them to new congregations without warning, and without any ‘meaningful’ restitution and repentance of their past conduct and betrayals.

Abuse of Innocence – Preying on Children

These abusers were indoctrinated in the art of praying, but here they were preying on the naivety of both parents and their children, the pedophile priest had carte blanche – easy access to an unending supply of young, innocent prey – innocent children of devout and trusting families.

In essence, these priests were in the business of stealing their innocence while devouring their souls.

To ensure that priests get exposed for their wrongdoing and punished, according to Garabedian:

Never go and tell the church, a bishop or the hierarchy of clergy – call the police.

That is the only way to stop the abuse and prevent it from happening again.

Who Knew?

According to Garabedian – everyone in the Catholic Church hierarchy knew. From Cardinal Law of Boston Archdiocese to the Vatican. According to the Vatican files, much of the abuse was an ‘open secret.’ In fact, Garabedian is currently prosecuting another case of former, very prominent and influential former cardinal and bishop, Theodore McCarrick. According to Garabedian, he was responsible for the vast amount of fund-raising the church had seen. He curried favor with dignitaries, US presidents, and even foreign countries. His exploits spanned decades – allowed to continue unabated by the Vatican with impunity.

The Vatican Report of 2020

As of November 2020, the Vatican issued a Report on the issue of pedophile priests among the ranks. This new report is supposed to breathe new life into a troubled  history of secrecy and deference to clergy. Yet according to Garabedian, the report has no teeth – nothing to prevent the abuse from happening again.

His advice: the church will never put in place adequate safeguards or accountability. It is upon parents to watch their children, and verify the people who they consort – whether priest, boy scout leader, babysitter, or teacher – find out the reputation of the person and use your own judgment. Trust but verify. Don’t just blindly trust because of their position or history of employment.


To learn more about the cases, the tactics, and the church, watch our program: ‘Clandestine Clergy: Politics and Policies on Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church.

  • Read the newly released  461 page “Report issued by the Vatican and Pope Francis on Clergy Sexual Abuse, in November of 2020 – pertaining to the newly defrocked Cardinal, Theodore McCarrick  formerly of Washington D.C.
  • Also see report on the Church of Latter Day Saints consisting of reports that are equally as troubling.
  • Lastly, to track pedophile priests to find if they are still ministering or are incarcerated, here is a method to do so.

Investigation into many of Attorney Garabedian’s client accounts of clergy child sexual abuse, can be viewed in the award-winning movies:  (2015) “Spotlight,” and (2005) “Our Fathers.”

For Additional Programming on Trauma and Abuse – Domestic Violence:

The Sound of Silence: The Hidden Epidemic of Domestic Abuse & Trauma: with Dr. Judith Herman, Psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School, co-founder of Cambridge Center for Victims of Violence, and author of Trauma & Recovery and Father-Daughter Incest.

Conquering the Enemy, the Memory Within’ with Dr. Roger Pitman of Harvard Medical School & Massachusetts General Hospital, Research & Treatment of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in Abuse Survivors & Veterans of War.