An analysis and discussion has been going on in a Yahoo group, Whistleblower 411, moderated by Dr. William Corcoran. I thought I would share it here and invite anyone who is interested in joining in on this or other discussions go to Yahoo Groups, Whistleblower 411 and join.
This link will take you to the Yahoo page:
Dr. Corcoran posted the following article and asked if this case should be a required case study for Employee Concerns Program and Safety Conscious Work environment Professionals? The conversation rapidly took off from there. A side conversation had to take place about focusing on the analysis of what was taking place regarding decisions made about the whistle blowing aspect, rather than on the specifics of the pedophilia or religious focus. The comparison was made with the Boeing whistleblower, Gerald Eastman, case.
Here is the article:
April 3, 2009
Early Alarm for Church on Abusers in the Clergy
Link to Original: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/03/us/03church.html?th&emc=th)
By LAURIE GOODSTEIN
The founder of a Roman Catholic religious order that ran retreat centers for troubled priests warned American bishops in forceful letters dating back to 1952 that pedophiles should be removed from the priesthood because they could not be cured.
The Rev. Gerald M. C. Fitzgerald, founder of the order, Servants of the Paraclete, delivered the same advice in person to Vatican officials in Rome in 1962 and to Pope Paul VI a year later, according to the letters, which were unsealed by a judge in the course of litigation against the church.
The documents contradict the most consistent defense given by bishops about the sexual abuse scandal: that they were unaware until recently that offenders could not be rehabilitated and returned to the ministry.
Father Fitzgerald, who died in 1969, even made a $5,000 down payment on a Caribbean island where he planned to build an isolated retreat to sequester priests who were sexual predators. His letters show he was driven by a desire to save the church from scandal, and to save laypeople from being victimized. He wrote to dozens of bishops, saying that he had learned through experience that most of the abusers were unrepentant, manipulative and dangerous. He called them “vipers.”
“We are amazed,” Father Fitzgerald wrote to a bishop in 1957, “to find how often a man who would be behind bars if he were not a priest is entrusted with the cura animarum,” meaning, the care of souls.
His collected letters and his story were reported this week by The National Catholic Reporter, an independent weekly. Father Fitzgerald’s papers were unsealed by a judge in New Mexico in 2007 and are now becoming public in litigation, although some letters were public before now, said Helen Zukin, a lawyer with Kiesel, Boucher & Larson, a firm in Los Angeles. The letters were authenticated in depositions with Father Fitzgerald’s successors.
The scandals, which began in the 1980’s and reached a peak in 2002, revealed that for decades bishops had taken priests with histories of sexual abuse and reassigned them to parishes and schools where they abused new victims.
It was not until 2002 that the American bishops, meeting in Dallas, wrote a charter requiring bishops to remove from ministry priests with credible accusations against them.
Asked why Father Fitzgerald’s advice went largely unheeded for 50 years, Bishop Blase J. Cupich of Rapid City, S.D., chairman of the United States Bishops Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, said in a telephone interview that in the first case, cases of sexually abusive priests were considered to be rare.
Second, Bishop Cupich said of Father Fitzgerald, “His views, by and large, were considered bizarre with regard to not treating people medically, but only spiritually, and also segregating a whole population with sexual problems on a deserted island.”
And finally, he said, “There was mounting evidence in the world of psychology that indicated that when medical treatment is given, these people can, in fact, go back to ministry.” This is a view, he said, that the bishops came to regret.
A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said he could not comment because he did not have enough information.
Responding to Bishop Cupich’s comment about Father Fitzgerald, Ms. Zukin, who represents abuse victims, said: “If the bishops thought he was such a bizarre crackpot, they would have shut him down. In fact, they referred their priests to him and sent him financial contributions.”
She also said the psychiatrists who worked at the Servants of the Paraclete’s centers said in legal depositions that they had rarely recommended returning sexually abusive priests to ministry, and only if the priests were under strict supervision in settings where they were not working with children.
From the 1940’s through the 1960’s, bishops and superiors of religious orders sent their problem priests to Father Fitzgerald to be healed. He founded the Servants of the Paraclete in 1947 (“paraclete” means “Holy Spirit”), and set up a retreat house in Jemez Springs, N.M.
He took in priests who were struggling with alcoholism, drug abuse or pedophilia, or who had broken their vows of celibacy, whether with men or women. He called them “guests.” His prescription was prayer and spiritual devotion to the sacraments, which experts say was the church’s prevailing approach at that time.
At one point, he resolved not to accept pedophiles at his center, saying in a letter to the archbishop of New Mexico in 1957, “These men, Your Excellency, are devils, and the wrath of God is upon them, and if I were a bishop I would tremble when I failed to report them to Rome for involuntary layization.”
Laicization — or removing a priest from the priesthood — was what Father Fitzgerald recommended for many abusive priests to bishops and Pope Paul VI.
But that step was rarely taken, said the Rev. Thomas Doyle, a whistle-blower who often serves as an expert witness in cases against the church, “because the priesthood was considered to be so sacred that taking it away from a man was something you simply did not do.”
The Paracletes did not return calls for an interview.
After Father Fitzgerald died, his order grew and established retreat centers around the country and overseas, which became regular way stations for priests with sexual disorders.
His successors added psychiatry and medical treatment to the prayer regimen. They sent priests back into ministry, at the request of bishops. The Paracletes later became the target of lawsuits, and had to close most of their centers.
Here’s how I see it:
In the Church case, a whistleblower saw bad things were happening which were hurting some people, and could go on hurting a few more every year, if the perpetrators were not isolated or stopped.
And because of the environment those events occurred in, he tried to publically cover it up as he was expected to do, while privately sending warnings up his chain of command. He encountered apathy, and unwillingness to do anything about the problem all the way to the top. His conflict was whether to be loyal to his coworkers, all in special roles of trust and sacred affiliation, or to the children who may and probably would over the years be victims. The church
whistleblower then decided putting a down payment on an isolated island and then isolating all errant offenders to that island was a solution. He tried to come up with the resources to make that happen himself – unsuccessfully it appears – as the isolated retreat did not materialize, and the same perpetrators were allowed to go on and molest a growing number of victims. The priest does not appear to have anyone else in his chain of command to petition, other than the
good Lord himself. He could have stepped outside of his sacred chain of command and reported directly to the police or other appropriate legal authorities, but it appears, he chose not to.
I can only imagine how much of a taboo that would appear to be to a long time servant of the Lord in that environment. It is hard to second guess someone’s thinking, but it appears he may have felt that his loyalty should be applied to trying to hold the church and the social structure surrounding his faith together, over stopping possible victimization of more children. He did within what he saw possible for him to do, try to make a solution materialize, but it
was too little and too late, too big of a problem for one person to solve by himself. Later his group he started continued to try to “fix” the problem, but was unable to fix it by following the same path that had been set prior to this whistleblower’s death. This whistleblower died at a venerable age, and the scope of his efforts to try to get the problem addressed may not have been known to many until records were unsealed during lawsuit proceedings, as his upper
management layers appeared to keep mum about all of it, hoping it would go away.
In the Industry case, the whistleblower saw bad things happening which could endanger countless citizens, military, or public who flew on airplanes.
This whistleblower went up his command chain step by step, finding greed, apathy or fear and the unwillingness to do anything about the problem each step of the way. With each step up the ladder he took his concerns, his own situation worsened, due to increasing numbers of annoyed and threatened perpetrators or enablers of the corruption. Upon reaching the top, he found that not only were the highest managers aware of the problems, but they were probably directing
those activities to be handled the way they were. (Seeing no other level to petition within his own company chain of command, and seeing no improvement in the circumstances causing the liability, he courageously went to those who have
oversight and legal responsibility to assure air safety in the manufacture, and in the operation of aircraft by U.S. companies, including his own. What he found was a co-opted and sullied FAA and a disorganized, intimidated, and possibly corrupted DOT as well. Finally unable to accept the very real possibility of many lives lost due to the unwillingness of anyone to address the corruption he witnessed, he did what appeared to be the only course of action
left. He contacted the press, hoping to force his company, and possibly the oversight agencies as well, to do the right and ethical thing.
Now the differences are significant between the two situations. The church whistleblower worked in a setting where faith and a sacred attitude of protection of the organization is a long-standing tradition, based on mostly personal spiritual matters. The struggle between good and evil may be an overwhelming responsibility in this setting. It is not that money has no impact in this world, in fact there is quite a lot of money or other wealth involved, absorbed over a prolonged period of time by the organization. It is just that
many of the worker bees here, are probably not thinking of the money as they do their daily spiritual work. They are not called on to think about the money. They serve in spiritual ways. Their actions are not based on purely monetary considerations as they perform their duties or work with their parishioners. Rewards for good work are no doubt seen as heavenly rewards in the future.
The conflict and choice of how to deal the pedophiles is not entirely
surprising. It is of interesting note that going back many decades, those in the field of psychology working in our nations prisons and hospitals have known from their own data that pedophiles are a population for whom treatment does not seem to be effective. The pedophiles have been found to reoffend, given time, no matter what treatment has been given. The person who explained all of this
to me was an associate of mine who worked for many years at a state facility where the worst types of offenders (murders, pedophiles, sociopaths/psychopaths and worse with an average I.Q of 170) were long-term inmates. Within the mental health field and prison management, there was an ongoing war over whether to offer treatment or just warehouse the prisoners with as little expense as possible, even after the studies and data were obvious. It may still be going
The other is an industry setting in a company where workers are made constantly aware of the money. They compete for salaries and sometimes bonuses; they are pushed by managers who get bonuses for increased production (more work and productivity out of employees at same or less cost). They are essentially in a carrot and stick world, where Mr. Machiavelli still is alive and well, and the cafeteria fortune cookies no doubt have “The end justifies the means” and “Power
corrupts; absolute power corrupts absolutely” and “Ain’t it grand?” messages inside. It appears to me that nearly everything in this world is about money, after looking at countless examples of criminal cases involving this company and various money related frauds or crimes.
This is a company which has had numerous cases of different managers saying, “It was just a business decision,” when confronted or challenged about a decision made which may have had ethical questionability or which may have harmed an individual or group of people or even the general public. I heard one manager say these exact words myself in a public setting and have heard others relate
similar quotes that they have heard from managers of this same company.
In fact, I have heard some very observant people say that the only way to get companies (this one specifically in fact) to change is to “embarrass the hell out of them.” The decision to go public and embarrass management into doing what is right would most likely be the last resort of an ethical and “nice” person. Most people are loyal to their employers to some extent, in fact I would contend that most employees are much more loyal to their employers than their employers are to them. Think about the movie Office Space, where the
motto was “Is it good for the company?” That is not very far from the truth of what it is like working for large corporations, this specific one included.
The industrial whistleblower has not passed, thankfully, and is still here trying to find a way to get these problems resolved.
This is very complex. Maybe someone else can add pertinent observations?