The Church Doesn’t Get It

Why Bishop Chaput is not the answer

The testimony before a grand jury in 2003 and 2004 of Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, during the D.A.’s investigation of clerical sexual abuse, is now online courtesy of the Inquirer; it was filed as part of the current trial of Monsignor William Lynn. Reading Bevilacqua’s actual words is important, to get the feel of who he was, his thinking, and the way he should run his archdiocese.

There’s another reason we should read what he said. The problem that the archdiocese of Philadelphia faces is not merely that it has been run by men who were far more concerned with protecting pedophile priests and the Church itself than the children who were raped by those priests. If that were the case, the solution would be straightforward: You get rid of those men at the top. But the problem is far deeper than a few Cardinals who are morally bankrupt. And that is what the Church refuses to understand.

Bevilacqua’s testimony is telling. At one point over many hours and many days, assistant D.A. Charlie Gallagher asked the Cardinal several times why–when a priest who had sexually abused a parishioner was removed–Bevilacqua did not inform that parish as to why their spiritual leader was gone.

Charlie Gallagher: “Don’t you think it would have been advisable to do that, to find out if he had abused anyone else?”

Cardinal Bevilacqua: “I repeat what I said before–we did not see it was necessary because no one was held back from reporting it.”

Gallagher: “Weren’t you concerned about whether or not there were other victims in that parish?”

Bevilacqua: “Oh, I’d be concerned about any victim, but there’s–if they wanted to come to us, they could have come anytime.”

Gallagher: “So you left it all up to these innocent children to come forward and make these claims; is that correct?”

Bevilacqua: “Their families. I don’t see–there was no restriction on anybody. They could come any time at all.”

Gallagher: “I’m not questioning the restriction …  put upon the other parishioners. All I’m asking is: Don’t you think it would have been wise to go back to that parish to find out if there were other victims in that parish?”

Bevilacqua: “No, I didn’t think it was necessary, and I don’t see why we had to do that.”

That exchange, of course, is only the tip of the iceberg. We now know the story, of how the Church protected priests who raped children by moving them around to other parishes, where they went on their merry way raping more children. But I cite the above because of Bevilacqua’s chilling tone, and how it nails his monumentally skewed priorities.

So can this scandal be solved by the retirements of Cardinals Bevilacqua and Justin Rigali, and by bringing in Bishop Charles Chaput, who supposedly has a good record on sexual abuse (though there are serious questions about that)? In short, will Chaput’s aggressive brand of Catholicism move the archdiocese past the current mess?

No. Because the mindset and actions of Cardinal Bevilacqua–and his successor Rigali, who punted on the problem–are a symptom of a crisis even deeper than priests who rape children being protected and allowed to rape more children.

We are too far down the road of understanding institutional power for the Church to do anything but openly admit not just the facts of abuse, not just the awful way it has dealt with that abuse, but the most basic truth that everyone can now see: That the Church as an organization–as an institution with power held tightly at the top, with maintenance of that power the abiding concern–must fundamentally change.

I invite you: Take a look at that grand jury testimony of Cardinal Bevilacqua. His attitude merely reflects how power is organized and maintained in his Church. So it is beside the point to grade Bishop Chaput on what he did in Denver, or to put much stock in him reinvigorating the local faithful, because what this archdiocese needs, what the Church needs, is the radical understanding that its own power structure has gone haywire. In fact, it has been haywire, and the sexual abuse scandal, like the Arab spring, as messy as it is, as painful as it is, speaks to a changing world: In this case, the Church is no longer powerful enough to mute victims, and it must start listening to them. And to parishioners.

Watch, many are saying about Bishop Chaput: This guy is a firebrand. No such thing as Catholic lite from him. But Chaput’s style of faith, as charged and beautiful as it may be, is not the answer; his appointment, in fact, is an end run on the crisis. Because back to the fundamentals in an authoritarian way, which is what Chaput really offers as head of the archdiocese, is exactly the style that got the Church into this mess over the past few centuries. How long will it take to understand that?

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  • Rumplestilskin

    The Catholic church is nothing more or less than another large corrupt greedy CORPORATION like Enron or Exxon or any of the others too numerous to name.

    • CER1940

      Rumplestilskin, you slander Enron and Exxon. They never pretended to be the represeentative of God on earth. They never claimed that you owed them loyalty and obedience and all of the rest. They (even Enron) have done much less damag to the human race than the RCC.

  • unabletotrust

    It is clear why ‘chaput’ was sent here even though ‘chaput’ claimed he doesn’t know why his employer the ‘pope’ sent him here. He ( chaput) is a “henchmen” who purpose is to oppose legislation as he did in Denver and use what ever tactics, law firms, public relations firms, scare tactics and political influence he can muster to defeat this legislation. Hopefully ‘chaput’ and his activities will be monitored and if he violates the ‘Separation of church and State” he will be appropriately held accountable within the context of the Statues. Make no mistake the current legislation will hold everyone and anyone accountable no matter who they are or who they claim to represent !

  • Abuse of children goes on wherever there are children and unrestricted adults. The Catholic church is making steps to protect children under their care. They have admitted and continue to admit the sins they have committed by omission and commission. What about prep schools? What about summer camps? What about public schools? Why isn’t anyone getting in a tizzy about mothers who choose their boyfriends over their molested children? That is FAR more common than priest abuse and we seem to be obsessed with the Catholic Church’s problem as though it were not in our own families, schools, and other religious institutions.

    As long as we treat children as posessions or accessories instead of human beings, we will have molestation. It’s time that we as a society make it stop. We can only do that by protecting children in our own sphere of influence and pushing for laws that cover everyone, including the Catholic Church!

    • Jane Kosiek

      The Catholic Church professes to be the “one true church”. Wouldn’t that make them most accountable to God for their representation of Him?

      The only reason the hierarchy has addressed the sexual abuse of children by priests at all is because they were forced to — because a light is beginning to shine in a very dark place. God is purifying.

      “For it is time for the judgement to begin with the household of God; if it begins with us, how will it end for those who refuse to obey the gospel of God.” 1 Peter 4:17

  • Judy Jones

    “Chaput really offers as head of the archdiocese, is exactly the style that got the Church into this mess over the past few centuries.”

    I think they DO understand that, but they believe if they get their controlling power over people back again, parishioners and victims will stay quiet again out of fear.

    They are trying to get their control back, so the secrets can be kept secret, and they can continue to do as they did …

  • mike ference

    Last Call

    For over 22 years I have been investigating clergy sex abuse and the coverup of crimes that would stun the imagination of Hollywood producers and directors. It’s time for The Last Call. It’s time to come to the aid of victims and survivors of clergy sex abuse from the Pittsburgh Diocese; just one of the many cesspools created by Bevilacqua and the cronies who followed him.

    It’s time for the following people to stand up and do the right thing, share the information that will allow victims of clergy sex abuse and their families to finally have justice served and served on God’s terms: Anthony Bevilacqua, Donald Wuerl, David Zubik, Lou Washowich, Jim Brewster, Tom Brletic, Bill Scully, Pittsburgh law firm of Dodaro, Matta and Cambest, Pittsburgh law firm of Behrend and Ernesberger, University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Pittsburgh Diocese, Holy Spirit Church, West Mifflin, PA, Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala, Pittsburgh EMS Squad just to name a few.

    More names will soon be releashed along with more information.

    Last call before the perfect storm.

    Mike Ference

    • Bob

      How about the perfect jerk. Does
      Ference seem to fit that? This guy should write science fiction cause that is what he practices. Proof, proof, proof. Put up or shut up.

      • mike ference


        Please correct my mistakes. Specifically detail the errors I’m stating. There’s plenty of space left to defend your accusations. Now calm down and start rebutting my claims. People are going to think I’m getting under your skin and causing your to be anxious.

        Maybe it’s too late for that. What do you think, Bob?

        Mike Ference

  • Steve Armiger

    Leave the church to its own ruin. Take the money you previously donated and give it to more worthy and more accountable causes. Don’t allow any taxpayer money to go to the Catholic Church. Eliminate tax breaks for corrupt churches.

    • CER1940

      Steve Armiger, I agree whole heartedly.

  • Mike Ference

    Here’s a few more names: Misty Ward, Las Vegas, Tom Carter former chief of police McKeesport, PA, Alfred Yates, Pittsburgh Attorney, Sister Dorothy former principle at St. Clare of Assisi School also known as Clairton Central Catholic, Richard Dorch, former Catholic priest Pittsburgh Diocese, Tim Bendig, Alfred Yates Pittsburgh Attorney, Brian Knowles, former Pittsburgh Attorney, the list will grow and the information will flow.

    Last call to do the right thing and save your ass.

    Mike Ference

    P.S. Bill Scully is the lowest form of human existence. How many children did you father as a Clairton Police Officer. When I say last call I mean last call.

  • Mike Ference

    The Zappala Crime Family has been making money off of innocent chilkdren for years. Sicilian Scumbags each and every one of them. Former PA Supreme Court Chief Justice report to at least two Mafia Crime Families. It’s time to put our children first and Sicilian Scumbags last.

    Name one Italian-American Social organization that has been critical of the Mafia’s involvement in child pornography. There are known. Sicilians are less than human, not a hate crime, maybe a truth crime. Yet, we lwt these bastards take our children and destroy their lives. Ask Sandy Fonzo.

    Mike Ference

  • Mike Ference

    Anyone named Zappala is now a liability to the mob. When a $8.50 an hour security guard outs a prominent mafiosa it’s worse than being a snitch. Th Zappala’s are done. And rightfully so, Sicilain scumbags each and every one of them. Maybe Richard Sprague will take me to court for harming the name of the Zappalas.

    What a joke. Stephen Sr. is a scumbag. Come and get me, my address is 817 Worthington Avenue Clairton, PA. Yopu’re a joke Stephen Sr. You’re kids are pieces of crap.
    Mike Ference

  • Change won’t ever happen from the inside as they still don’t admit that what they did was criminal behavior. The only thing stopping them from being prosecuted is the arcane statute of limitations here in PA. Join victims of this abuse in their cry for justice. Support changing the PA statutes of limitation on child sex abuse.

  • NJ Citizen

    It appears that the lid is about to blow off of the Pittsburgh diocese at the sunset end of PA. This does not surprise me. The Catholic Church in PA over the centuries has been responsible for so much good for the commonwealth, and also so much evil. This is because not much has gotten thru the legislature in H-burg for decades without a coalition of the SE and SW Catholics and mid state right-wing Protestants. PA is a strange state, with a bewildering mix of highly progressive things on a base of reallly regressive taxes and finance, a bloated and dysfunctional legislature, and above all a legal profession that has a strangle hold on everything. For example, I can go online as a layman and look up any law, ruling, or precedent of NJ to my heart’s content. Try that for PA, and see how far you get on the internet! In other words, the Catholic Church, rightist Protestantism, and the Law in PA are in cahoots to keep us in the dark in order to keep their power.
    PA, east, middle, and west, is in for a long, hard period of painful reform in two of its major institutions, government and organized religion. This is the wikeleaks world, boys–nothing is hidden, nothing is safe from reform.

  • mike ference

    Last Call

    Anyone reading the messages that I have been posting, feel free to pass on to the national media. It’s time the Zappala Crime Family got their due.

    Here’s a few more names: Ken Evans former so-called investigative reporter for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Mary Pat Flaherty, former reporter for Pittsburgh Press now with the Washington Post, John JR Block, JR., formr publisher of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Robert Griffin, former PA State Trooper, expert in Satanism and the occult. More names to follow.

    Mike Ference

  • Mike Ference

    Demobocrats get caught doing the devil’s work
    Mike Ference

    It was late afternoon; mid-week, if I recall correctly. It was unseasonably warm for late January or early February. That was the time when I received a call from former Clairton Public Safety Director Bill Scully. It was the break in the case that my family and I had been praying for – or so I thought.

    My son Adam had been the victim of an attempted homicide, while on a school bus that had just crossed into Serra Catholic High School grounds, in McKeesport, PA. The shooter held a gun inches away from my son’s skull and fired one shot directly into the back of his head. The shooter then turned the gun on himself and fired one shot into his head, probably dying instantly, as he slumped downward with his gun falling into one of his jacket pockets. This occurred on December 5, 1989.

    According to Scully, the case had been quashed. This new development, transpiring literally weeks after the attempted homicide of my son, should have clinched the case – if only Bill Scully were a decent human being. Scully proceeded to tell me that the two Pennsylvania State Troopers who were assigned to patrol Clairton, on account of the city having no police force, somehow stumbled upon two boys climbing out of an abandoned underground mine shaft in a wooded area known as the flats. According to Scully, the shooter and his gang of alleged devil worshipers loafed in this area. Also according to Scully, it was the same area where neighbors complained about animal sacrifices – of neighborhood cats and dogs being killed, with their moans and cries being heard, mostly at night. Needless to say, if Scully and the suspicious parents in the area were correct, there’s no telling what might have been found in miles of underground mines.

    According to Scully, the two boys who were observed crawling out of the mine shaft were Robert Lasich and Jonah Dusi. Both were good friends the shooter who tried to kill my son.

    Here’s what Scully planned to do, or maybe what someone else had planned for Scully to do: The Bureau of Mines was contacted, so that it could send out a field representative the next day, in order to safely explore the underground mine and hideout. Nothing would be done to secure the sight except to place a steel plate over the hole and then to drop a bucket load of dirt in front of it, according to Scully. I immediately protested, telling Scully that it would never prevent teenage kids from shoveling the dirt away, then lifting the steel plate, and removing whatever incriminating evidence might be stashed in the gang’s hideout. Scully assured me that I was wrong. Muzz DiLonardo was the city employee who ran the heavy equipment and who also was a member of the St. Clare of Assisi Church where John Wellinger was once its pastor. He was also related to Bill Scully through marriage. Scully’s sister and DiLonardo’s wife are sisters-in-law.

    According to my sources, it was Muzz Dileonardo who allegedly was the bagman (picked up gambling slips and bets) for the Pat Risha coffee shop that was in his wife’s name and that was raided the week of the Super Bowl back in the 1990s (see my article The World’s Fattest School Superintendent for more details).

    After hanging up the phone with Scully, I immediately put in a call to Al Yates, the attorney my wife and I retained to represent my son’s interests following his handgun attack on the Serra Catholic bus. Yates was out of town, in Erie, according to his secretary. I called Scully back and half-threatened to police the area that night with my oldest son and a pair of shotguns. I knew better and could not have risked another family tragedy.

    When my attorney got back in town, I relayed the happenings. Yates said he would have hired a security firm to guard the area for the 12 hours or so before the Bureau of Mines inspector would have arrived. By now it was too late. Scully called the next day, in order to report that the dirt had been shoveled away, the steel plate removed from the opening of the mine shaft, and whatever was in the hideout was removed, except for a few cigarette butts and some other trash. Scully indicated that it was obvious that whatever was stored in the mines had been removed.

    Hindsight is always 20/20. But even an elementary school patrol guard could have come up with a better plan than Scully did. For starters, why wasn’t the media notified? That would have guaranteed no trespassing by anyone – and for a city suffering hard financial times – no financial charge. Why weren’t the investigating officers from the McKeesport police department called in? If they were, why didn’t they respond? Why wasn’t PA State Trooper Corporal Robert Griffin called? He was the expert brought into the case, to investigate the satanic and occult side of the case. Over a year later, I would meet with Griffin and his facial expression would show his disgust and disdain toward Scully for not making him aware of this event as I relayed the details. And finally, teenaged kids had been going in and out of the mine shaft probably for years. Just how unsafe would it have been to go inside? I would have gladly gone in and I should have.

    A sidebar to this story: In a lengthily Pittsburgh Post-Gazette exposé written by Joe Grata and published on November 24, 1996, Pat Risha’s checkered career was closely examined by the seasoned Post Gazette reporter. Here’s a quote from Grata’s report that may explain some of Scully’s less than admirable performances as a Mon Valley lawman, along with Scully’s connection to Pat Risha.

    Robert Weimer, former Alcosan director of administration,
    said Risha invited him to a private meeting at Ciccanti’s Risto-
    rante in Jefferson in April 1992, when Risha was aligned with
    Democratic county Commissioners Tom Foerster and Pete
    Flaherty. Weimer said Risha told him he would be fired by the
    end of the year “if I didn’t start piping Mon Valley people into
    jobs.” (Risha) “said I could have a good life if I wanted to coop-
    erate with him and be his inside guy at the authority,” Wiemer
    said. “I said no thanks. From that day on, he tried to destroy my
    life.” Alcosan dismissed Weimer six months later.

    Bill Scully is the security director at Alcosan. Was it a reward to Scully for protecting one of Risha’s informants? John Wellinger was a drunken pedophile Catholic priest, who may have dabbled in Satanism to lure his victims. What would it take for a rogue priest to sell information gleaned in the confessional? According to the notes I took while discussing my son’s shooting with Scully, Wellinger would go out every night accompanied by two or three others, sometimes to the symphony or to the theatre. I would learn many years later that Wellinger would often allegedly be accompanied by Pat Risha’s former wife Karen, Maria Campano (Wellinger’s long-time female companion), Babe Campano (a former Risha girlfriend I’m told), and Maria’s sister.

    Not very many levels of separation from Donald Wuerl to the mob – via John Wellinger, Pat Risha, Muzz Dilonardo, and Bill Scully. On the other end you have Donald Wuerl separated by his former legal advisor, former Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Stephen Zappala, along with Zappala’s former protégé and PA turnpike commisisioner James Dodaro whose law firm Dodaro and Cambest served at Pat Risha’s pleasure. Mr. Risha passed away a few months ago.

    Scully – DiLonardo – Risha – Wellinger – Wuerl – Zappala- Dodaro – Risha – Dilonardo – Scully: Get the picture?

  • For all you people out there that respond to the Catholic sex abuse issues with the attitude as: oh well, this happens everywhere are quite ignornant and very misguided. Yes, children are abused by many different people and in many different settings. But when it happens everywhere else other than a Catholic Church it is reported to the authorities and the pedophile is punished! They are sentenced to jail and put on a sex offender list. No priest I’ve ever heard of molesting children is on a sex offender list! NO, they are sent away to another parish to do it all over again. And yes, that is still going on today. And if you’re Catholic and participate within that church and you are not questioning your priests and you are not putting systems into place to protect these children, well you’re just as guilty! What kind of person would think that it wasn’t necessary to alert a congregation that a pedophile is amoung them? A truly sick individual like Bevilacqua and every other leader of the Catholic church. How would you like it if your school district moved pedohile teacher from school to school. Oh, would that be ok? Would you be saying: “why is everyone picking on the school district?” No, you people would be the first ones demanding justice. What child do you know speaks up about abuse? None. And that is what the church relies on. Stop the silence and fight for the children. Remember it could be your son, father, uncle, cousin, grandfather, etc. In my case, it was my baby brother, he lost his battle to depression May 04, 2010. It could have all been prevented if someone would have warned us that Bevilacqua dicided to send a known pedophile to our parish All Saints Church in Etna to hide him. Pedohile Richard J. Dorsch is the reason for so many death in our small community. That’s why I will not say, Oh well, it happens everywhere.

    • unabletotrust

      Here are two more names of abusers that are not on sex offender lists in fact they are not on the archdiocese of Phila web site because they are not archdiocesan priests, it is a loophole, ‘charles newman currently in prision for stealing over $900,000.00 from archbishop ryan hs and his pal ‘regis howitz’ both are franciscans and although the allegations of abuse are creditable neither one has been laicized !!!!

  • mike ference

    As you can see from my writings, there is nothing to fear. The more you tell, the less they can do. Now is the time to come out with all the crimes committed by catholic clergy and covered up by catholic hierarchy. Contact me at 412-233-5491 or send an email to I’ll guide you through the process, we’ll do it your way and it will be safe.

    Mike Ference

  • Chaplain T.S.

    I appreciate your understanding of power play – the use or abuse – in the catholic diocese of Philly. It’s not to say that power is bad intrinsically but how it is used. To my mind, power whether it be in politics, economics or ecclesiatical – has to be at the service of common good. Common good – is the community where every individual is counted as important yet committed to the wholistic well-being of all members – the body. Jesus used power and he was accountable to God whom he sees present in people/community in their day-to-day condition.