Controversial Deacon Put in Parish

By Matt C. Abbott
September 17, 2005

From Dr. Jeffrey M. Bond, president of the College of St. Justin Martyr (slightly edited):

"Deacon Joseph Levine, former Superior General of the suppressed Society of St. John, has recently been assigned to a parish. Monsignor John T. Conway of the Mother of Divine Mercy Parish in King-of-Prussia, Pennsylvania, made this announcement in his August 21, 2005 bulletin (

"'I am pleased to tell you that Rev. Mr. Joseph Levine has been assigned to Mother of Divine Providence Parish for his Sunday Diaconate Placement during the 2005-06 Academic Year. Deacon Levine's home diocese is Scranton. He is studying for the diocesan priesthood at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary. Deacon Levine will preach at Sunday Masses and assist with the administration of the Sacraments. His assignment will begin on the weekend of September 3rd and 4th. We warmly welcome him to our staff.'

"The parishioners of this parish must be warned about Deacon Levine. As Those familiar with the Society of St. John scandal already know, Deacon Levine became the Superior General of the SSJ after Carlos Urrutigoity, the former Superior General and founder of the SSJ, was exposed as a homosexual predator priest. While I have no evidence that Deacon Levine was personally involved in the homosexual molestation of boys or young men, Deacon Levine actively sought to protect those in the SSJ who engaged in these perverse deeds.

"In fact, upon his election to the office of Superior General, Deacon Levine publicly praised Urrutigoity in the SSJ's May 2002 Epistle. Deacon Levine gave this public endorsement of his predecessor despite his having been informed, as early as August 19, 2001, that Urrutigoity had a habit of sleeping with students from St. Gregory's Academy in Elmhurst, Pennsylvania.

"On that day Mr. Alan Hicks, the founder and headmaster of St. Gregory's Academy, personally informed both Deacon Levine and me that Urrutigoity was the object of a possible lawsuit for his 'sleeping sickness.' Moreover, Deacon Levine was fully aware by May 2002 that there was abundant and weighty evidence, including affidavits, establishing Urrutigoity's habit of sleeping in the same bed with boys and young men. (See

"It was Deacon Levine's position, however, which he personally expressed to me, that Urrutigoity was like St. Ignatius of Loyola insofar as he operates on a plane 'above the realm of human reason and prudence.' As a result of this conviction, Deacon Levine turned a blind eye to the overwhelming evidence of Urrutigoity's gross immorality.

"Indeed, by that time I had made public the fact that Urrutigoity had been formally accused of homosexual molestation by three different people from three different places: first, by Rev. Andres Morello, the former rector of the SSPX seminary in La Reja, Argentina, where Urrutigoity was a seminarian; second, by Bishop Fellay on behalf of a young seminarian who had left with Urrutigoity when he was expelled by Bishop Williamson from the SSPX seminary in Winona, Minnesota, where Urrutigoity was a professor; and third, by a graduate of St. Gregory's Academy where Urrutigoity was a chaplain.

"This last accusation was made by John Doe and his parents in a federal lawsuit that was recently settled at the cost of $450,550. In fact, the Scranton Times has reported that Bishop Joseph Martino intends to apologize to John Doe for the harm he suffered at the hands of Urrutigoity and Eric Ensey, another SSJ predator priest.

"Moreover, in a written statement provided to the Scranton Times, Bishop Martino all but admitted the guilt of Urrutigoity and Ensey: 'In view of the serious claims made by the young person and in light of the statements by the witnesses who supported his claim, it was determined that the just decision was to reach a settlement that will assist the victim and his family as they attempt to heal.'

"Yet Deacon Levine not only publicly praised Urrutigoity for his leadership, but he also credited Urrutigoity with transforming the members of the SSJ into a 'disciplined religious community.' Deacon Levine thereby sought to continue to portray the SSJ as Benedictine, a fraud initiated by Urrutigoity and perpetuated by Deacon Levine. Although the SSJ was nothing more than a group of diocesan priests with permission to live together, nevertheless the SSJ literature published under Deacon Levine's reign continued this fraud to the detriment of many unsuspecting Catholic donors.

"In the same May 2002 Epistle, and throughout his term as Superior General, Deacon Levine also continued to deceive Catholic donors concerning the status of the Catholic city the SSJ had proposed to build. Although it was abundantly clear by this time that there was no hope of building on the Shohola property — in fact, the SSJ was secretly trying to sell the property — nevertheless Deacon Levine exhorted his supporters to continue to donate more money to a project he knew was dead. The Scranton Times has recently reported that the Shohola property was sold to repay the 2.6 million dollar loan which the Diocese made to the SSJ to cover their enormous debts.

"Furthermore, Deacon Levine used his office as Superior General to defend the sexual predator priests of the SSJ and to attack me personally for my efforts to expose their crimes. In a six-page fundraising letter date June 19, 2002, which was sent to the tens of thousands of Catholics on the SSJ's mailing list, Deacon Levine repeatedly lied in an effort to protect the SSJ and defame me.

"Rather than list the libelous statements made by Deacon Levine (for which he has been named in a defamation lawsuit), I would encourage you to read my response to his defamatory remarks which can be found on the College of St. Justin Martyr web site at You will see there why it is absolutely imperative that this man never be permitted to work in a parish or ever be ordained a priest.

"Finally, it should be noted that Deacon Levine was not willing to leave the SSJ until it was made clear to him that he could not be ordained a priest while remaining with them. There is no reason to believe, then, that Deacon Levine would not seek to rejoin the SSJ, or some other cult-like group, once he has been ordained. As many of you know, the SSJ is desperately seeking to re-establish itself in Paraguay, and those like Deacon Levine, who have a cultist devotion to the SSJ, are very likely to return to the SSJ if the SSJ is permitted to resurface outside of the Diocese of Scranton."

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Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic journalist and commentator. He is a columnist for and/or contributor to,,,,, and He is also an occasional contributor to "The Wanderer" Catholic newspaper. He can be reached at


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