RCF Responds to Diocesan Report

By Matt C. Abbott
Renew America [Springfield IL]
August 9, 2006

Stephen Brady, founder and president of Roman Catholic Faithful, has issued the following (slightly edited) press release, dated Aug. 9, 2006.
RCF's Spring 2006 edition of Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam
RCF's summer 2005 edition of Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam

On August 2, 2006, Bishop George Lucas of the Springfield diocese in Illinois held a press conference releasing the results of his 18-month investigation into clergy misconduct within the diocese. A complete copy of the report is available at

What is most noticeable in this report by the diocese is that the bishop never uses the words homosexual or sin. The problem of homosexual clergy is never addressed.

The first paragraph of the report contains the following:

    A Diocese of Good Priests

    ...the probe revealed former Bishop Daniel Ryan engaged in improper sexual conduct and used his office to conceal his activities. The investigation found a culture of secrecy fostered under Bishop Ryan's leadership which discouraged faithful priests from coming forward with information about misconduct. The actions of Bishop Ryan no doubt were harmful and seriously eroded the trust of parishioners and the community at large...

The sexual misconduct mentioned includes Bishop Daniel Ryan sodomizing teenage boys he picked up off the street. In some cases he would hear the boys' confession in order to ease their young consciences. This information was made available to Cardinal Francis George of Chicago in 1997 and to Bishop George Lucas in 1999.

Neither showed concern for victims or took action until Roman Catholic Faithful (RCF) repeatedly — for more than ten years — made this issue public through mass mailings and our publications. Both men continued the culture of secrecy fostered under Bishop Ryan. The information gathered by RCF was taken to Rome by the late Father John Hardon, SJ. RCF's report is available to those who request it.

All Catholics who placed their trust in Bishop Daniel Ryan, Bishop George Lucas, Bishop Joseph Imesch or Cardinal Francis George can now realize they were lied to for years by 'men of God' whose only interest was in protecting their 'good name.' They showed no concern for the faithful or the children raped by Ryan and monsters like him. These men attempted to destroy the credibility of RCF and of me personally. Bishop Lucas went so far as to tell me to 'disband RCF.' Why should anyone trust them now?

Today, those Catholics who now know the truth and, through their false sense of charity, refuse to demand an accounting are part of the problem.

The next section of the report reads, in part:

    In December 2004, the Chancellor appointed by Daniel Ryan and retained by Bishop Lucas, Msgr. Eugene Costa, was involved in sexual misconduct. Msgr. Costa was attacked by two young men when he allegedly propositioned them for sex in a city park. When the allegations against Msgr. Costa came to light, Bishop Lucas immediately removed him from public ministry.

More lies. Costa was removed by Bishop Lucas only after he was beaten in the park. Costa's homosexual activity was common knowledge years earlier. In 1997, Jimmy Lago (the investigator for Cardinal George and now his chancellor) specifically asked me about allegations against Costa. In interviews with the State Journal-Register after his beating, some of Costa's parishioners admitted knowing of his homosexuality.

Shortly after Costa was found beaten in a Springfield Park by two teenage boys he solicited for sex, Mr. Thomas Munoz became a suspect in that beating. Munoz contacted RCF after the police accused him of beating Costa. Munoz's story was covered by the Illinois Times and written about in the last issue of our newsletter.

Munoz told RCF that he believed he was being set up by the diocese (in particular, by Msgr. John Renken) because of things he had witnessed. Munoz said he had been paid for sexual favors by several members of the Springfield clergy and knew of others who were active homosexuals. Munoz gave RCF the names. After our interview with Munoz he was arrested on an attempted burglary charge stemming from an incident at a Rochester Catholic Church. The charge was later dropped and is now the subject of a false arrest lawsuit filed by Munoz.

Munoz, through discovery, has obtained copies of police documents regarding Costa's beating and arrest of Munoz. In a sworn statement by a Springfield police detective, the detective states that it was Renken who suggested Munoz may have beaten Costa and went on to state that, according to Renken, Munoz had had sex with Catholic priests. Renken's statement confirms what Munoz had told RCF and raises other serious questions. How did Renken learn this information, and why are the priests Munoz had sex with still active as pastors?

Munoz did fail a polygraph test that only questioned him about his allegations against Bishop Lucas. RCF set up and paid for that polygraph — not the diocese. The FBI agent who conducted the test told me it indicated deception or said there was a chance Munoz was just very nervous or scared.

Further on in the report:

    The Designation of Monsignors — There exists the perception that Bishop Lucas rewarded those who protected Bishop Ryan by granting them the title 'Monsignor' in 2003. In conjunction with the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the diocese, the committee overseeing the festivities recommended that 15 priests be honored with the title by the Holy See at the request of Bishop Lucas. Msgr. Renken, then Vicar General, chaired the committee making the Monsignor recommendations. Bishop Lucas acted upon the recommendation of his Vicar General and on what he believed to be the recommendation of the committee. Though no evidence suggests Bishop Lucas was aware of any wrongdoing of the honorees at the time he requested these priests be given the title of Monsignor.

In 2001, two years before Renken was made Monsignor, I sat in Bishop Lucas' office in a face-to-face meeting and brought up the issue of Renken's homosexual relationship with Fr. Kenneth Steffan. Bishop Lucas changed the subject. He was not interested in what I had to say. Lucas went on to place Renken and Steffan in charge of the deaconate program.

The final section reads, in part:

    Msgrs. John Renken and Kenneth Steffen — An investigation continues into Msgrs. Renken and Steffen who are now on leave because of allegations of personal and ministerial misconduct.

Regarding Renken, Mr. Scott J. Kastel has come forward with first-hand testimony regarding Renken's predatory homosexual nature. Kastel has allowed me to use his name publicly because he is scandalized by the fact that Bishop Lucas, while claiming to want information regarding clergy misconduct, refuses to act once he receives it.

Kastel provided both former Bishop Ryan (himself a predator) and Bishop Lucas with statements and came to RCF only after Lucas refused to take action. Kastel is the fifth individual I am aware of who has come forward with information on Renken's homosexual activity. (Renken was past president of the Canon Law Society and in 2002 was appointed advisor to the bishops' committee on child abuse in Washington, D.C.)

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic columnist. He can be reached at


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