Thursday, November 10, 2011

Called to Communion? Or called to be abused, only to have the “infallible” church cover it up?

The contrast now cannot be more clear. A mere five days after learning of sexual abuse in its midst, the board of trustees of a backwoods university met, convened, and fired both the president of the university and a legendary head football coach for failing to protect young people in the midst of a sexual molester. We are talking one molester, at least a handful of enablers, and a dozen or more victims. This was a clear, quick, and decisive response on the part of the university.

On the other hand, the Roman Catholic Church, which had policies for decades, if not centuries, to cover up such abuse, to move abusers from place to place, to enable abusers to continue to violate the young and the innocent, in the most heinous of ways, in the name of protecting “the Church”, just this week celebrated the life and ministry of Cardinal Bernard Law, who, among other things, “in 2005 participated in the conclave that elected Joseph Ratzinger as Pope.” Law is perhaps THE most notorious of the protectors of abusers. But there are many, many more like him.

Do you Roman Catholics yet understand that we are not talking about the abusers themselves, as heinous as their acts are. We are talking about the bishops and the very church Canon Law policies that hushed up, covered up, centuries-worth of sexual malfeasance. We are talking about more than hundreds of bishops worldwide, and thousands of victims. We are not talking about abuse at the fringes of this “society”. We are talking about the very heart and soul and law and fabric of the Roman Catholic “faith”.

Those of you who defend Rome, let me ask you. What more could Rome have done? In the name of Christ, what should you be doing in the face of such a cover-up? Scott Hahn and Bryan Cross and Devin Rose and Taylor Marshall and Mark Shea and Dave Armstrong and “Catholic Answers” and all of you who are defending the Roman Catholic Church and trying to win converts to it ought to stop now what you’re doing and demand, that Rome itself repent for the sins it has committed, and to make restitution – real restitution – for the evil that its own laws and policies have perpetuated for centuries. And while you’re at it, you ought to examine your own lives and beliefs and motives. Because no artificial distinction between “dogma” and “discipline”, or “doctrine” and “canon law” can account for the pure and simple evil that Rome both perpetuates and hides over with folded hands and a smiling face.

It’s true that many lawsuits have wrung hundreds of millions of dollars from the bosoms of Roman dioceses. But those were not real payments for “the church”. They were largely paid by insurance companies. And the smiling, abusing faces of Roman Bishops, shuffled to their new positions, escape with their exalted positions and earthly glory intact. It is time, now, in this generation, to cut off the Roman charade, so that future generations are not subjected to its faithless abuses.

Christ didn’t call anyone to “communion”. Yes, he prayed for unity. But he called people to repentance. It was in repentance and faith that they would find unity. Not under the robes of abusive Roman priests and bishops and cardinals.

For anyone who wonders, this is close to home for me. Rev. John Wellinger, in the selection that follows, is the second pastor of the parish that I grew up in. He married my wife and me, and he baptized my two oldest children:
Wellinger affair Rev. John W. Wellinger, ordained 1970, pastor at Holy Spirit parish in West Mifflin, was accused by parents of molesting their son, kissing, fondling and performing a sex act on the 11-year-old altar boy in 1989, 1995. They said diocesan officials told them he would be removed from ministry but he continued in the priesthood for up to seven more years. The diocese, for its part, insists Wellinger has not functioned as a priest since the 1995 accusation. Wellinger took a personal leave June 1995. Three months later a young man came forward to allege that Wellinger had abused him in 1989. Diocese banned Wellinger from active priesthood March 2003 when he failed to return from leave (for health purposes).
1. Wellinger lawsuit Suit filed 2004. Claims included in Diocese's September 2007 $1.25 million settlement as to 32 plaintiffs alleging abuse by 17 priests.

2. Ference accusation Former Catholic priest John Wellinger possibly having sexually abused the boy who shot Adam Ference on a Catholic school bus, then killed himself.

3. Mathews accusation Wellinger was reported to the Pittsburgh Diocese in 1995 for sexually abusing Chris Mathews, an 11-year-old altar boy at Holy Spirit Church in West Mifflin. “The boy’s parents first met with current Pittsburgh Diocese Bishop Zubik to voice their concerns, but little was done. It was not until 2003 that the Pittsburgh Catholic (official publication of the Pittsburgh Diocese) acknowledged that a sexual abuse crime “may have been committed.” By then, as with so many of these cases, the statute of limitations had expired for prosecuting the crime.

4. Witkowski accusation, Greg Witkowski, a 16-year-old boy from West Mifflin, PA, whose family were members of Holy Spirit, Welllinger’s parish assignment, was fed drugs and alcohol by Wellinger, possibly even assaulted. The Witkowski was able to break away from Wellinger and made his way to Shadyside Hospital emergency room (now part of UPMC). He was treated by the staff; his parents Robert and Ann Witkowski were summoned and advised of the criminal acts by Wellinger. The parents were advised not to call police and press charges, or challenge the Pittsburgh Diocese as the church had too much money and was much too powerful.
At a meeting we had with him at the rectory in 1991, Wellinger licked my three-year-old son’s face. (He was pretending to be a puppy dog. Parents: let this be a caution to you that you can’t be too careful with your kids.)

Here are some more local stories:

Bishop Donald Wuerl of Pittsburgh, under whose watchful care all of this occurred, is now Cardinal Archbishop of Washington DC.

Who are the trustees of the Roman Catholic Church, but those who trusted it and were betrayed by it in the worst kind of way? Who are those who are crying for justice, who have not gotten it from the hand of the organization that claims to be the very sacrament of salvation?

Rome has taken half-steps to try to mollify the pain, but it is clear that the larger goal of its efforts is simply to perpetuate itself and its system in power.

See also: Cardinal Law’s Birthday Party

Roman Apologists. If you truly believe in Christ, as you claim to do, what should you be doing right at this moment? How should you respond to the Roman Church?


  1. Good Post John,

    But I think your greatest evidence against Wellinger- is his licking your toddlers face. The other evidence is pretty specious.

    Also think that the evidence that Patty Bonds (James White's sister) has against her father is pretty specious.

    See here-

    Still praying for your wife, John.

  2. Ron, I don't think the evidence is specious at all -- not against Wellinger, or Law, or Wuerl, or any of the others. These things are too well documented, and they are occurring globally.

  3. As for Patty Bonds, I wouldn't trust her as far as I could spit her. I don't know why you would even bring her name up in this context. Are you trying to imply that there is some kind of parity between the claims of Patty Bonds and the claims that the victims of priests are making? On top of that, you miss the issue as well. Some organizations deal appropriately with evils within their ranks; others cover it up.

  4. Ouch,

    A little sensitive here John?

    However, I may be a little de-sensitized- because I've been been in both positions. Both accused and victim.

    And I was only mentioning Wellinger.
    And am well aware of typical abuser profiles.

    As per "context"?
    Your context was the claims of victims of priests.
    My context was the claims of victims of pastors (read my blog).

    An evil that we have to deal with as well, John.

  5. I'm not at all sensitive -- I'm impatient with the kind of foggy moral sense that you're exhibiting here -- the notion that there is some kind of moral equivalence between the alleged and isolated incidents perpetrated by Protestant pastors, and the organized, centuries-long cover-up perpetrated by the Roman hierarchy.

    My "context" was that of a right-functioning organization when it comes to this kind of horrific abuse [Penn State trustees], and a wrong-headed response.

    And you, Ron, have given us the perfect example of the kind of muddleheadedness in supposed Christians that enables Roman Catholicism to continue to get away with allowing Cardinals like Law, Wuerl, et. al., to perpetuate their charade of respectability, when all that they really are is a gang of co-conspirators, all-dressed-up.

    You talk about "victims of pastors", but look at the Roman case in isolation. There are not only isolated "victims of pastors" in Rome, but a whole network and organization designed to cover up and hide the acts perpetrated upon "victims".

    That is what you missed.

  6. Backwoods? Over 40,000 students, hundreds of majors, with some of the most highly regarded engineering, business and agricultural programs in the country and your description is backwoods!?

  7. It's a very fine university. But it's located in the middle of the woods. And far away at that.

  8. And if you look at the history of Penn State, compared with the history of the Roman Catholic organization, it really is small and provincial.

  9. Excellent post, John. This exact situation is, to me, the most damning commentary on the Roman church: it does not, and has never, dealt Biblically with the sin in the lives of its leaders. Start with Pope Alexander VI and keep going to today.

    There is no excuse for this horror except adherence to a veneer of status quo, and that is completely - 100% - opposed to the message of the Bible.

  10. Thorough post. Thanks bro. I know our Lord is with you. Speaking the truth with humility and passion is our call.

    I heard on the radio this morning of a man, who was a young lad who was involved in this Penn State thing. He called the Sandusky guy a "perverse sexual" man. Although he was never molested seems he would have been one of the victims if this or that would have happened.

    I am happy that Joe Pa was fired. And sad as well. I pray for our Lord to show mercy and bring conviction to Joe and bring him to the Cross, to humble him and also save his sinful soul.

    We do need to be iwse as snakes with all the perverts being allowed to molest. And also harmless as doves.

    Have a terrific day in our Saviors truth and grace.

  11. Thanks Chris. I do think there is one more highly "damning commentary" on the Roman church, and it would be its denial of the Gospel, buttressed by the peculiar kind of obfuscation that is employed that denies that a person can do as Christ bids, "come to me..." except through the Roman Catholic Church. For the Roman Church, calling itself the "sacrament of salvation" as it does, it inserts itself [hierarchy and all] necessarily between the believer and Christ in every instance. This is the precise opposite of humility and repentance. Rome wants to meddle in every single human life.

  12. Hi Don, I appreciate your kind thoughts and prayers.

  13. Wouldn't it be a remarkable coincidence if Sandusky and Paterno were Roman Catholics?

  14. I wouldn't know about Sandusky, but Paterno is Roman Catholic.

  15. Here's an article comparing Paterno with Bishop Finn of the Kansas City diocese:

  16. I would offer a couple of Biblical thoughts to this as a warning to come under the holy righteous Life in Christ:

    Romans 2:1-12..."...Rom 2:11 For God shows no partiality.
    Rom 2:12 For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. ...".

    And separating from this World is a daily event, is it not?

    Apostles Paul and John seem to indicate as much and more so as we see realizing the day of Judgment "is" nearer than the day we first believed the Salvation Story:

    2Co 6:15 What accord has Christ with Belial? Or what portion does a believer share with an unbeliever?
    2Co 6:16 What agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; as God said, "I will make my dwelling among them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
    2Co 6:17 Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you,
    2Co 6:18 and I will be a father to you, and you shall be sons and daughters to me, says the Lord Almighty."


    Revelation Chapter 18:"...Rev 18:4 Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, "Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues;...".

    In any event, your article speaks like deep calling to deep!

    I hope more and more are hearing you and receiving the gift of repentance and then bearing the fruits of the forgiveness of their sins because of your ministry, John?

  17. Thanks for your encouragement Natamllc :-)

  18. The reason the Catholic blogosphere doesn't disavow the RCC over such cases is because they consider it necessary to do evil (ie, protect the reputation of an institution that consistently covers up and shields abusers) so that good (upholding the good name of that institution so that it can preserve and spread the One True Faith) may come.

    If you follow Mark Shea, you will have noted how his dogged reporting of sex abuse cases by public school teachers has blown a gaping hole in the claims of the US public school system to be the one ark of salvation established by Christ Himself.

  19. they consider it necessary to do evil (ie, protect the reputation of an institution that consistently covers up and shields abusers) so that good (upholding the good name of that institution so that it can preserve and spread the One True Faith) may come.

    From your mouth to God's ear.

    Maybe Mark Shea can do a spin-off blog ... "Getting raped, and enjoying it, so good may come!" That will make the full point right there in the title.

    Of course, you have to understand that some of us don't have any conception that Rome has much of anything at all to do with the "one true faith" at all, and so, for the abused, its all pain and no gain.

  20. Here are some statements from the written policy of my archdiocese (Baltimore):

    “Individuals applying to be a priest, pastoral life director or deacon and priests seeking incardination in the Archdiocese are subject to psychological testing in addition to criminal background checks.”

    “Parishes, schools and Central Services will not knowingly employ an individual with a history of even a single incident of child sexual abuse or any sexual deviation that suggests the perspective employee might become a risk to children.”

    “Church personnel who receive a report, suspect or allege child abuse on the part of Church personnel are required to contact the Office of Child and Youth Protection immediately, in addition to reporting to civil authorities under state law.”

    “As warranted, Church personnel will be placed on leave or suspended pending completion of the investigation.”

    “For even a single act of sexual abuse of a minor the offender will be permanently removed from ministry” (Statement of Policy for the Protection of Children and Youth).

    In Christ,

  21. Pete, what's the date on that "single-incident" written policy?

    And, what was the policy prior to that?

  22. Hi John!

    The date on this particular document is January of 2003. You can find a link to it here:

    I read through it recently so that I would be able to sit in with my son Roman at his Sunday School classes. He wouldn’t feel comfortable without me being there, and I wouldn’t feel comfortable leaving him.

    What came before? Probably something that was not as good. And maybe something that was not that good at all, but I don’t know. I am personally not satisfied with the current “Code of Conduct for Church Personnel” document that you’ll find at that link (not the one I quoted from previously), and I’ll be submitting my feedback.

    The child abuse perpetrated by some of our priests and covered-up by some of our bishops is tragic and appalling. So sad and so completely evil. It doesn’t get any more demonic than that.

    Our archbishop has assured us that there is no priest with a credible charge of child abuse against him functioning in our archdiocese. He seems like a good bishop. But he’s also on his way out to head up something in Israel. So I’m hoping for God to send us a man after His own heart to lead us. Someone who’s going to preach the good news of Jesus Christ with an evangelistic zeal, and who has a love for the Bible.

    With love in Christ,

  23. "Pete, what's the date on that "single-incident" written policy?

    And, what was the policy prior to that?"

    And who insisted upon it? The Holy Spirit, the bishop, the lawyers advising the diocese, or the insurance company of the diocese?

    Since the RCC has proven to be unreliable in policing itself it looks like the civil authorities will have to do it for you. I wonder what Innocent III would say.