The Never Ending Tale

Do you recall the scandal concerning the sexual predations of Catholic priests and religious that erupted a lustrum or so ago and virtually filled our newspapers and magazines for months and months and months? How surprised we standing on the outside were - well, some of us anyway. Eventually, as seems ever the case, this hot news cooled and eventually faded completely from the attention of our news media.

What follows is a reprise of an article I posted seven years ago at my old Christian Answers and the Proclaiming the Gospel message boards. I post it once again just to remind people that it very likely is business as usual within the closed ranks of Catholicism's priests and religious. And why think otherwise? After all, the motto of the Catholic Church is Semper Idem (Always the Same).

Let Us Prey

By George Neumayr

Why Should Parishoners Know?

Did California Jesuits sexually prey upon retarded men in their employ? Yes. Did the leadership of the California Province of Jesuits cover this scandal up? Yes. Court records now surfacing in the California press allege that Jesuits in the province used two retarded pan-washers at their Los Gatos Jesuit Center (Sacred Heart) as sexual toys for "as long as 30 years." The Jesuit leadership in California is admitting part of the claim, saying two members of the order abused the men. According to the Los Angeles Times, Debra Sullivan, a sister of one of the retarded men, said her brother "identified six Jesuits at Sacred Heart who sexually abused him: [Fr.] Burke, [Br.] Connor, two other brothers named in the lawsuit, a Brother Moniz and a man named Angel."

The Times reports that some of these Jesuits are registered sex offenders. Moniz "was convicted in 1995 after pleading no contest to one felony count of lewd conduct with a minor for fondling a 7-year-old girl in Los Gatos," reports the Times. "Mariano was arrested about midnight Sept. 21, 1998, in Campbell, Calif., near San Jose when a police officer caught him in a sex act with a 17-year-old student in a parked car. According to police reports, Mariano arranged to meet two teenagers by posing as a 25-year-old woman on an Internet chat room. He wore lipstick and rouge when he met the boys."

Where is this sex offender today? He is living at the residence of Father Thomas Smolich, the head of the California Province of Jesuits. "Since his arrest, Mariano lived at Sacred Heart off and on for about four months," reports the Times. Smolich says that he "needed a place to come back to. The issues around Father Mariano's situation have nothing to do with mentally disabled adults." Today, says the Times, "Mariano is living under the supervision of Smolich and his top assistant, Father Tony Sholander, at their residence near Santa Clara University."

By what Jesuitical casuistry has the California Province swept these matters under the rug? Here's Smolich on why he never told parishioners at Mariano's old parish about the priest's lipstick-and-rouge courting habits: "Why should they [know]? This is an Internet cruising thing. This is anonymous sex. This doesn't involve people at the parish. It wasn't a priest thing. He wasn't dressed in a collar." And why didn't Smolich and his predecessors inform the authorities about Jesuits helping themselves to the help at Sacred Heart? Because the mentally disabled dishwashers weren't minors, the Jesuit leadership rationalizes. Reports the Times: "The Jesuits have no obligation under California law to disclose the information, said [Paul] Gaspari, the Jesuits' lawyer. 'We are not mandated reporters because these two individuals are not minors.'"

The Jesuits didn't even inform the retarded mens' family of the incidents. Brother Connor, who is accused of repeatedly molesting one of the men, only left the Jesuit center after a cop pressured the Jesuits to move him. Police detective Dianne Camarda told the Times that she buttonholed the Jesuit superior at Sacred Heart at the time and said, "You will move him. If you don't, he is going to jail."

The Jesuits didn't quite catch the spirit of the request, as they then transferred Connor to a residence at a Jesuit boys' high school in the San Jose area, Bellarmine College Preparatory. The Jesuits didn't think it important to mention the reason for the transfer to school officials. "Connor lived at Bellarmine for a total of five months, two of them while school was in session," reports the Times. "A cloak of silence covered abuses," concludes the Times, which deserves kudos for researching the Bay Area story while the San Francisco Chronicle was too busy churning out stories about Ellen Degeneres.

Now it appears the order's cover-up will cost Catholics millions of dollars. The suit, brought on behalf of the two disabled men, seeks $10 million in damages. The moral meltdown of the Jesuits is historic. Never in the life of this once-great order has criminality and degeneracy bubbled so close to the top. Will the Vatican save the order from its disintegration, or continue to look the other way?

George Neumayr is a frequent contributor to the California Political Review and a recent media fellow at the Hoover Institution.

Article appeared in the May 2002 edition of SF Faith, Contents 2002 by Jim Holman Used with author's permission

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(C) 1994-2009 Ron Loeffler

(C) 1994-2009 Ron Loeffler