Neither the National Catholic Register nor Anybody Else in the Right Wing Noise Machine Broke This Story

By Mark Shea
Patheos blog
July 31, 2019

The visiting priests arrived discreetly, day and night.

Stripped of their collars and cassocks, they went unnoticed in this tiny Midwestern town as they were escorted into a dingy warehouse across from an elementary school playground. Neighbors had no idea some of the dressed-down clergymen dining at local restaurants might have been accused sexual predators.

They had been brought to town by a small, nonprofit group called Opus Bono Sacerdotii. For nearly two decades, the group has operated out of a series of unmarked buildings in rural Michigan, providing money, shelter, transport, legal help and other support to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Catholic priests accused of sexual abuse across the country.

Again and again, Opus Bono has served as a rapid-response team for the accused.

When a serial pedophile was sent to jail for abusing dozens of minors, Opus Bono was there for him, with regular visits and commissary cash.

When a priest admitted sexually assaulting boys under 14, Opus Bono raised funds for his defense.

When another priest was criminally charged with abusing a teen, Opus Bono later made him a legal adviser.

And while powerful clerics have publicly pledged to hold the church accountable for the crimes of its clergy and help survivors heal, some of them arranged meetings, offered blessings or quietly sent checks to this organization that provided support to alleged abusers, The Associated Press has found.

Though Catholic leaders deny the church has any official relationship with the group, Opus Bono successfully forged networks reaching all the way to the Vatican.

The AP unraveled the continuing story of Opus Bono in dozens of interviews with experts, lawyers, clergy members and former employees, along with hundreds of pages of documents obtained through Freedom of Information requests.

In recent months, two of the group’s founders were forced out after Michigan’s attorney general found that Opus Bono had misused donated funds and misled contributors. A third co-founder, a priest, was abruptly removed from ministry earlier this month after the AP began asking about an allegation that he had sexually abused a child decades ago.

Still, since 2002, Opus Bono has played a little-known role among conservative Catholic groups that portray the abuse scandal as a media and legal feeding frenzy. These groups contend the scandal maligns the priesthood and harms the Catholic faith.

Opus Bono established itself as a counterpoint to the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and other groups that have accused the church of trying to cover up the scandal and failing to support victims of clergy misconduct. Opus Bono focuses on what it considers the neglected victims: priests, and the church itself.

“All of these people that have made allegations are very well taken care of,” Opus Bono co-founder Joe Maher said in a radio interview, contending that many abuse accusations lodged against priests are false. “The priests are not at all very well taken care of.”

By all means, read the whole thing.

In related news, Michael Voris sprang to the defense of Fr. Corapi while accusing his bishop and his critics of being part of a shadowy Church of Nice conspiracy. Four years later, Church Militant was still very solicitous, not for Corapi’s victim, nor for the flock he betrayed, nor for the bishop Voris attacked for doing his job, but for Conservative Folk Hero Corapi (who still has not obeyed his bishop in 2019). Speaking of Conservative Folk Heros, Fr. Z. has pitched Opus Bono to his cult of personality for quite some time, in between going on cruises and asking for stuff and bullying laypeople. Seems to have left out the seedier parts.

This year, Voris’ priest was put under investigation for ‘credible’ allegations of sexual abuse. Yet again, Voris (and various others) immediately sprang to his defense, not to the defense of those bringing the allegations. Oh, have I mentioned? This priest is also the co-founder of Opus Bonus Sacerdotii.

At the same moment, a priest beloved by Lady Gaga was also accused. Much gloating from, you guessed it, Michael Voris and Church Militant. Just goes to show what these damned liberals are up to, say the Righteous. But stony silence about their Conservative Folk Hero priest.

Long ago, Tom Kreitzberg created a flow chart to explain this:

Meanwhile, here’s reality. The issue is not and never has been Gays and Liberals, despite the endless ignorant pronouncements of Michael Voris and the rest of the Righteous. The issue is abusers, gay and straight, and enablers, liberal and conservative.

I have no idea what the facts are about either priest and am content to wait for the results of the investigation. It could be both are guilty. It could be both are innocent. It could be one is guilty and the other innocent. We’ll know when we know.

Meanwhile, for the love of God, stop talking as though being a conservative is somehow a guarantee against being an abuser or an enabler. The iron skulls of the Righteous seem to have learned nothing from Maciel, Euteneuer, Corapi, Law, Neinstadt–or the behavior of Michael Voris and Church Militant and the people they defend.

We are a year out from the attempted coup against Francis by the shady Abp. Vigano. The Right Wing Noise Machine was johnny on the spot with the attack against the only pope who actually acted against McCarrick, doing what Vigano had six years to do and did not. This coordinated assault by such organs of propaganda as Liesite, 1 Peter 5, Church Militant and, of course, the Register was instant in their screams for the Holy Father to resign.

But this story? It took real journalists to do this, because real journalists are getting at facts and not merely baseless ideological assaults. When asked for evidence of his charges, Vigano refused to provide it and then disappeared, claiming that They were trying to kill him. Did Voris or Church Militant challenge this? Of course not. Because they only hear what they want to hear and they only tell their premium subscribers what they want them to hear.

Get your news from real journalists, not this crowd.








Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.