4 Cardinals + Archbishop H. Flynn Meet 25 Survivors of Clergy Sex Abuse

USCCB Meeting
Dallas TX
Fairmont Hotel
June 12, 2002
4:00 p.m.

Partial Transcript by Helen Daly
June 24, 2002

25 survivors of clergy sex abuse (and their supporters) + 4 US Cardinals + Archbishop Harry Flynn meet in large conference room, sitting in a closed circle facing one another. Cardinals dispersed randomly in the seating arrangement amongst the survivors. Mark Serrano is right next to Cardnial Bevilacqua. Buddy Cotton is right next to Cardinal McCarrick. Bill Crane Jr. is right next to Archbishop Flynn. Mr. and Mr. Serrano are to the immediate right of Cardinal Mahony. Rev. John Bambrick is to Cardinal Mahony's immediate left. This historic meeting is strictly closed to the media.

Round-Robbin 20 second introductions are given by each participant and the meeting begins.

Gary: I was abused by two priests. I am here to bring up the abuse of adult women as well. A lot of classmates of mine growing up are victims of Father Don Kimball (Sp?)

Yvonne: I was raped by a catholic priest. And my order and his order tried to gag me, so I left .

Bill Crane: We have researched Father James Hanley and we have kept him under surveliance. Buddy, Mark and I all have the same perpetrator: James Hanley. This man is still a priest. This man is still a threat to children.

Rev. Clete Kiley introduces himself as USCCB meeting facilitator.

Lou Serrano: I'm here to support my son who was sodomized and raped by Fr. James Hanley.

Cardinal Roger Mahony of LA introduces himself.

Fr. John Bambrick: I was abused in the diocese of Trenton, NJ by Anthony Eremito, who is now serving in Lubbock. He walks this day free, never convicted or charged despite dozens of victims--in part because his bishop has never taken action.

[Survivor holds up a pic of himself with his perpetrator taken at his confirmation.]

Peter Isely: I was in seminary when I was abused. I'm here to try to help you guys out. We've been trying to help you guys out for 14 years.

Archbishop Flynn: If we can move through all of these amendments... we have 107 pages in response to the charter and we worked through the day and will work through the night.

David Clohessy: I was abused for four years. I met with Bishop Gregory on May 4. We asked for a televised listening session. ...

Mark Serrano: We had invited all the cardinals because we know all the respect you have.

Archbishop Flynn: I thank you for staying.

David: We want action. I will never be the same again having heard that story [told by the Pattersons, of their son's suicide]. And I've heard horror stories for years.

Mark: We represent thousands and thousands of victims. We speak for them.

Gary: Your draft is totally inadequate. I'd like to meet with you regularly.

Archbishop Flynn: It's do-able.

Gary: As much as we have been criminalized, we know the dialogue is critical.

Mark : We'd welcome each of you to join us in the press room [after the meeting]. My perpetrator is Jim Hanley. He was never charged, convicted or defrocked. Will you begin the paperwork to laicize him?

Cardinal Bevilacqua: Oh, I don't know.

Survivor: He doesn't deserve to be a priest.

Mark: Can you change this proposal so that all known offenders have their collar removed now?

Cardinal McCarrick: We can't speak today on that. That's something to speak to the whole conference [about].

Mark: Would you support that?

Cardinal McCarrick: I can't say it at the present time. We all feel that anyone who had done what you have indicated has been done to you should not be a priest anymore.

Peter:.... Like in most other professions working with vulnerable populations like children, that they be removed from the priesthood. You can work with them and rehabilitate them after they're removed.

Lee: The priest that abused me pleaded guilty and he's still a priest. He didn't even go to trial and he's still getting a pension check. He is still called father. He is still a priest. Do you think that someone who had pleaded guilty should still be a priest?

Cardinal Bevilacqua: We have strict policies on that. In the future, even one act removes a priest from ministry and I will move for his laicization.

Cardinal Mahony: I have a couple of people like that. They have disappeared on us... the current system. I can't follow the canon system while finding the guy.

Peter: Are you saying you have no known men in your diocese?

Cardinal Mahony: I've got several in the process of being laicized. We need this process very very desperately. I am not keeping these people as priests.

John: My bishop asked me for an evaluation [of the charter]. I gave it to him. If a bishop chooses not to follow [the charter], what will be the penalty?

Cardinal McCarrick: If the body adopts these strong recommendations and this becomes law, if a bishop violates it he will be censured by the holy father just as if he were to teach something that was not catholic doctrine. ... once this is put into law we will have an instrument we can use.

Cardinal Mahony: There's something broader. The whole system of accountability. I think the accountability system needs to be tighter. As we do with financials we have review teams.

Peter Isely: The Church fights like hell to keep divorced Catholics from receiving Communion but I don't see that fight about thousands of people who have been devastated. There is no accountability in this draft for bishops who have knowingly transferred across. We need accountability for future actions and past actions.

Barbara: Please know that I say this with all due respect. As I listen to the survivors and hear their pain and suffering, I just feel as though the bishops and cardinals really have not understood the depths of suffering that we've experienced-and our parents and brothers and sisters and our parish communities. When we come forward...when the bishops and cardinals hear an accusation, it's from someone they never heard of. No one knows who I am but everyone knows Father Warren He gave great homilies. Everyone liked him. You went through seminary with these guys.

Sue Archibald: ...after my abuse... I was 18. Finally I flew off to Washington and met with O'Brien. Within eight months not only was he removed but I heard he was excommunicated, and in many ways I feel guilty because of all of these terrible cases [where the perpetrators have gone unpunished].

Survivor [the guy who was there for his sister, I think]: When we went to the diocese 15 years ago, we went for healing and help and we didn't get help and we don't get it. The priest was met with healing and compassion and we were met with suspicion. The priest has been your brother.

Terrie: [hold up group picture from her first communion]. He's the priest that molested me shortly after this picture [was taken]. I grew up with lots of problems and didn't know it was related to this. They have left a toxic chemical in my body. I was a single parent with three kids and in horrible suicidal depression over paying for therapy and working and raising three children. I was totally nonfunctional. The pain was exquisite. Thanks to a lot of people in this room, I'd gotten better.

...If he'd said, What do you need? But instead I had to have an attorney. I got a $40K settlement of which I walked away with $22k. The church should have responded with cash. Are you willing to not let lawyers and not let the statute of limitations [drive your handling of victims' claims]?

Cardinal McCarrick: As soon as you would come in, we'd offer you counseling, help for the kids. We wouldn't give a settlement, but to help and keep you going.

Mr. or Mrs. Patterson: We have [found] the parents of four boys who were abused. ....

Terrie: What do you offer to victims?

Cardinal McCarrick: Whatever it is that is really helpful. We're there to help. It's based on the assistance ministry people. We have come in contact with victims that we didn't know, and we have been able to do a lot of things.

Cardinal Bevilacqua: I'd like to make some comments. I can never feel the pain, but I can sense it. None of the emotions can take all the heartbreaks that we have to take, but I do try to understand. As for what we do when a victim comes in, we have taken and it took awhile. We had to go through awhile. What you said is true: that we identified with the priest but gradually we have seen that the victim is the highest priority. [mentions false allegations] we've had cases that were just not credible. We immediately offer counseling. Immediately we bring in someone from social services, to see the needs: psychiatric, pastoral, physical, and they give whatever assistance but we do not give a settlement. Right now it would be seen with assistance....[as admitting wrongdoing]. The immediate response is of concern for the victim and all components of that need.

Cardinal Keeler: ...our policy is evolving. the day we came back from rome I announced the formation of the child protection office.... Our instructions are listen, offer counseling and try to see if there are any other victims.

Helen Daly: What are you doing about the victims who came forward in the past? There was a young man who shot his abuser, who had been put back in a parish.

Cardinal Keeler: In connection with that case.... I went to visit the young man and I spoke with him last night.

Mark: He called me because he feels very alone in the world right now.

[Female counselor states that victims are much more likely to harm themselves than their perpetrators.]

Bill Crane: The leaders of the catholic church are guilty of harboring predator priests and of moving them from old hunting grounds to new fresh hunting grounds. Paul gave the divine principles we can act toward now, in 1 Corinthians 5-cast out the wicked man.

Lee: I had what they called repressed memory. When I came forward none... All I've been treated with was depositions. They've deposed my wife. We've been asked for personnel files. I've had to give them a list of every doctor I've seen since I was born. Every job. Every school. When are you going to stop these hardball legal tactics? Nine years ago, OJ and Nicole were still married. How much longer do I have to work for justice?

Lee:I just want my day in court. We asked for binding arbitration and they won't go to binding arbitration.

Pat and Lou Serrano: If you had children, you wouldn't allow priests to molest them.

Lou Serrano: Tomorrow there will be about 500 newspaper people. There are 63 million Catholics in this country. The country is watching you. Ther might not be 63 million Catholics in this country next year at this time. There might not be nearly that many.

Survivor: We've got to have a church that's as safe as it can be.

John Bambrick: I'm offended your eminence with all due respect. I'm offended by the remark that it's frivolous and they're making it up. I don't understand why anyone would come forward to say they've been harmed and shamed. I'm not finished. ... he was transferred ... to have a pedophile in a children's hospital. They say I'm the only one that has come forward with an accusation, which is not true. I wish cardinal egan was here. I gave him a whole pile of evidence while the archdiocese wouldn't do [anything], and I gave them the evidence and they still ignored me. The DA's office had the courtesy to call me and say that we knew you were telling the truth in five minutes. It normally takes 20 minutes.

Cardinal Bevilacqua: May I explain what I tried to say. We will give counseling. ...It was very obvious that they were frivolous. "Give me 50K or we'll go to the press." In each case, it was a dead priest.

Buddy: I just want to say as a survivor, I'm very concerned about this charter because it will be a very significant source of healing. I am extremely concerned about how article 5 is written. As you told me earlier Cardinal Mahony, Article 5 should be written as one sentence: "If it is determined that there was clerical sex abuse committed against a minor, that priest will be laicized." Period. End of article 5. Its draft form is far too complicated ... multiple compound conditionals each w/ vague elements- not flattering to our church, and it insults me as a survivor.

John: Pope John Paul II said there is no room in the priesthood for those who offend [against] the young. There is NO place.

Buddy: There is an arrogance to the whole draft wording. You don't get a free bank robbery-or two. As a survivor, article 5 worries me a great deal.

John: We love the church, eminence, we love the church. We want to reconcile. We'd love to have our perpetrators confess and receive forgiveness.

Barbara: The guy just convicted in the bombing [of the churches during the 60s]. He hadn't bombed another church since then, yet it was important. He is in jail today because we as a society don't think we should let people off because it was just one time. If you understood the pain and suffering it would be a no-brainer.

Gary? Barbara?: We sat together ten years ago and they taught that there was rarely if ever one incident and rarely if ever one victim. So why would you think it's OK to leave someone in ministry if there is 'just one victim'?

John: Why do you want to disgrace the church, you men of great intelligence and deep spirituality?

Pat Serrano: I'm what you really wanted, a catholic mother. I have seven children. Our number six is a native American. What do we have now? We were the catholic family you wanted. I have grandchildren who aren't even baptized. I'm the mother of a broken family and I think the next time they'll be together is at my funeral, as they were last together at my mother's funeral.

Gary: Priests [who go into treatment] get 120 days, five days/week. To offer six months of counseling. To revoke the offer is unconscionable. It's also unconscionable that we must go to catholic charities. Why should you appoint a therapist?

Gary?: When you have a cardinal who can skip out of the country and then come back? I think that man should be in jail. I think he's despicable.

Gary: About removing them. There has to be a way to deal with bishops that flaunt these policies. In Camden, he ignored it, then the next one did. brought the issue of my abuse to __. Quite frankly I don't trust you guys. I love this church. I'm a priest in this church.

Mark Serrano: That empty table [at the press conference in Rome] told the world you just don't care.

Barbara: You could go a long way if you can get your whole group to release all victims from the gag orders. Several victims who wanted to come said they would be in violation of their gag orders. The impact of the abuse forces us to deny that it happened and by the time we realize it, we've come to adulthood and you know that. Please settle the suits and stop playing hardball.

I ask you to invite the SNAP and Linkup members. We're offering a gift because we're naming this evil and putting light on it and you bring light to us. It's a really healing experience to know your concern, to meet with you face to face and to hear that your hearts and minds are good. By being so distant and not seeing each other face to face, it's been easy to see each other as the enemy.

[everyone gets up]






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