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Seattle Catholic is not affiliated with the Archdiocese of Seattle
Seattle Catholic
A Journal of Catholic News and Views
11 Apr 2002

Compassion, Secrecy and Scandal in the Archdiocese of Seattle

by Peter Miller

Countering attempts to obscure a sordid legacy

As Catholics across the country continue to reel from the scandalous activities of morally corrupt priests and the bishops who covered for them, it becomes necessary to turn our attention towards the local situation in Seattle. In what is appearing to be more of a beginning than commencement to what some have called a "purging" process, the factors which have contributed to this crisis require honest and direct evaluation.

Over the past couple months, several American bishops have recognized (or at least admitted to recognize) the damage wrought by policies serving more to enable clerical pederasts under the guise of "forgiveness" and "compassion" than show actual compassion to their past and potential victims. The steps some have taken to prevent their dioceses from becoming the next Boston have included dismissing from active ministry all priests accused of sexual abuse, handing over diocesan files to the local authorities and even coming out and publicly asserting that no priest accused of sexual misconduct is serving in their respective dioceses.

In Seattle, Archbishop Alexander Brunett has taken this opportunity to reaffirm the commitment of the Archdiocese of Seattle to "promote and protect the safety and well-being of our children in every parish throughout the archdiocese," stating that "every child has the right to live and learn in a safe, positive and balanced environment." 1 The archbishop describes the local policies as providing:

These policies were instituted in the "mid-80's" following the public exposure of two clerical child molesters in Western Washington. In summarizing the archdiocesan efforts, Brunett tells us:

Defending your own actions and policies is one thing; grouping them together with those of your predecessors is quite another, especially in Seattle. We Catholics who have been in the area longer than five years remember the legacy left by Hunthausen and Murphy — a legacy marred by scandalous activities, liturgical abuses, ecclesial defiance and a strange attachment to various left-wing political causes. Given the details of this recent history, I challenge the claim that the bishops of this archdiocese have acted with "pastoral care and compassion." This can be seen in at least two areas: (1) the actions of the archdiocese which served more to protect its own liability than the safety of the faithful; and (2) the promotion of an anti-Catholic homosexual agenda while operating in defiance of or paying lip-service to the Magisterium of the Church.

Local scandals revisited

The Seattle Archdiocese has acknowledged the "pedophilia" of two priests: Fr. Paul Conn who was indicted on five counts of taking indecent liberties with altar boys and Fr. James McGreal who was shuffled from parish to parish by authorities who knew of his perversions but kept this information concealed only to disclose them after McGreal's exploits were announced on a local television program. Both cases came to a head in 1988, the same year which King County Juvenile Judge Gary Little committed suicide the day before local newspapers were to expose his long history of molesting teenage boys. His mingling among local elites led to a number of shocking discoveries concerning what has been called Seattle's "Gay Mafia," whose influence reportedly extended into the ranks of the clergy.

Jason Berry's 1992 book "Lead Us Not Into Temptation — Catholic Priests and the Sexual Abuse of Children" tells the story of Adele Doran and Maryalyce Stamatiou, two local women who succeeded in ending the archdiocesan secrecy on Fr. McGreal.

After a series of tragic experiences, Adele dedicated her life to the study of child sexual abuse, publishing research papers and organizing local forums on the topic. It is through this work she met Maryalyce, a woman who had been abused by her older brother who had in turn been molested by Fr. McGreal, a "close family friend" whose picture hung in her parents' home. The statute of limitations already having passed on criminal charges, Maryalyce sought to confront McGreal, a man who was in and out of various "treatment centers" and shuffled around to different parish assignments. Only after Maryalyce threatened to expose McGreal to the press, the archdiocese agreed to her request.

During the arranged session (supervised by therapists Tim Smith and Fran Ferder), Maryalyce told Fr. McGreal how his molestation of both her brothers led them to lives of psychological problems, criminal behavior, drug use, sexual abuse and pornography production. "This is the legacy of sexual abuse in my family that you contributed to!" she exclaimed.

The sixty-four year-old McGreal told how as a child he had himself been molested by a priest and that he had started his pederasty at the age of twenty-seven. He explained his behavior with the following psychobabble:

After the session, Maryalyce made the horrendous discovery that Fr. McGreal was not in an isolated treatment center as she was told, but in residence at St. Theresa parish in Federal Way where he regularly celebrated Mass and had some contact with children. To make matters worse, this was Adele Doran's home parish. Adele cried for three nights before writing to Archbishop Hunthausen:

Hunthausen responded with an expression of sadness but defended the assignment as consistent with the recommendations of therapists (presumably Smith and Ferder). Adele next appealed to then chancellor (now auxiliary Bishop) George Thomas, but to no avail. After coadjutor Archbishop Thomas Murphy spoke at St. Theresa parish, Adele followed him to his car, attempting to give him a memo which requested the removal of Fr. McGreal and the disclosure of his perversions to local Catholics. Murphy refused to accept the memo. The following week, Adele received a message from the archdiocese that she would be sued for breaking confidentiality if she went public with information about McGreal! This despite the fact that nothing was ever told to her in confidence.

Seven months later, James McGreal was still at St. Theresa's when Fr. Paul Conn was indicted for molesting altar boys in Port Angeles. The scandal prompted a KING-TV television special ("Good Company") which featured Jeanne Miller from Chicago (using the pseudonym "Hilary Stiles"), a woman working to empower sexual abuse victims and their relatives. Maryalyce was in the studio audience. During the show, she was interviewed and told tens of thousands of viewers about a Catholic priest in Federal Way and the harm he had caused to her family. McGreal was not identified by name but since there were only two parishes in Federal Way, the list of possible suspects was short. That following Sunday (May 22, 1988), Seattle Times reporter Carol Ostrom attended Mass at St. Theresa's where she would hear the pastor, Fr. Jospeh Kramis, announce "Father McGreal is a pedophile."

On May 25th, after being publicly embarrassed for his secrecy, Hunthausen put out a letter stating:

Sound familiar? No apology has ever been given for the fact that the archdiocese had known Fr. McGreal was a child molester for at least ten years,7 transferred him from parish to parish without informing the parishioners of his problems, refused to remove him when confronted and even threatened to sue those requesting his removal! Is this what is meant by "pastoral care and compassion?"

McGreal had served in the archdiocese for forty years, working at ten parishes and two hospitals. The parishes were St. Patrick in Tacoma (1948-1950), St. James in Vancouver (1950-1954), Holy Rosary in West Seattle (1954-1956), St. Mary in Monroe (1956-1966), St. Michael in Olympia (1966-1971), St. Catherine in Seattle (1971-1977), St. Anthony in Renton (1977-1981), St. John Bosco in Tacoma (1981), Queen of Angels in Port Angeles (1986) and St. Theresa in Federal Way (1986-1988). The hospitals were St. Joseph in Tacoma and Providence Hospital in Everett.8 His 1986 assignment at Queen of Angels put him under the direct supervision of Fr. Paul Conn. At that time, Port Angeles had three Catholic priests; two of them were child molesters.

Amidst the ensuing scandal, Chancellor George Thomas announced that Fr. McGreal would be moved from his assignment at St. Theresa's. He ended up going to a ministerial retirement center. Less than two months later, Adele, Maryalyce and Maryalyce's father went to the chancery to achieve some degree of closure with Archbishop Hunthausen and George Thomas. Adele describes the meeting:

Does this man's compassion know no bounds? Is this what Catholics were to expect under Hunthausen's "new atmosphere?" After this incident, the Archdiocese of Seattle instituted the aforementioned policies on sexual abuse under the counseling and leadership of Sr. Fran Ferder, a woman who both denied the link between homosexuality and child abuse and publicly dissented from Church teaching on a number of issues, including the "ordination" of women (more on her later). This is the same therapist who consulted with Hunthausen on McGreal's assignment. Regarding the disproportionate reliance of bishops upon psychological advise, one Catholic World News writer lamented:

Hunthausen's false compassion was shared by St. Theresa pastor Fr. Joseph Kramis who announced that Fr. McGreal would be welcome to return to his parish:

As opposed to McGreal, Fr. Conn did not evade legal responsibility for his perversions and ended up in prison. In this case, the infamous "compassion" of the archdiocese was not on display until after Conn was publicly identified and charged with the crimes. In the mid-90's, after Hunthausen's "retirement," a suit was brought against the archdiocese on behalf of almost a dozen of Fr. Conn's victims. Three of the victims were brothers whose mother was a very poor widow and devout Catholic. Responding to the suit, the archdiocesan attorneys took the outrageous step of filing a countersuit against this woman for negligence, charging that she did not procure appropriate psychological help for her children after Fr. Conn had molested them! Additionally, rather then respecting the privacy of the victims by using their initials (as is typically done), the suit publicly identified them by name. As if this wasn't enough, part of the settlement agreement required the plaintiffs to sign gag-orders preventing them from disclosing its details to anyone.

Is this an example of the archdiocese doing "all in its power to provide pastoral care" to the victims as pledged by Hunthausen? Is such behavior "patterned after the loving example of Christ the Divine Physician" as expressed by Brunett? Of what function does a countersuit against a poor widow serve except to intimidate victims and protect financial assets? What does the forced silence of the victims ensure but continued secrecy and evasion of accountability? Should a Catholic Archdiocese, part of the Mystical Body of Christ, act like a profit-centered corporation whose primary concern is protecting its own assets and public image? One would (and should) expect a bit more from the Church.

The legal maneuvers employed by this archdiocese echo actions of other dioceses across the country. As Michael Kelly writes in The Washington Post:

In addition to McGreal and Conn, there has been at least one other clerical pederast in the Seattle Archdiocese, remaining unnamed to this day. According to a report by Ed Penhale and Mary Rothschild in a May 27th, 1988 Seattle P.I. article:

The archdiocese has not named the priest, who is said to be undergoing treatment and not serving in a parish. But sources said that the unidentified priest works as a counselor for adult alcoholics.

So if this other child molester is discovered and his exploits broadcast on television, then his identity will be revealed by the archdiocese? Would this fall under the "ongoing commitment to the safety and well-being of our children" or is it more accurately "full cooperation with law enforcement agencies and civil authorities?" Mary Rothschild wrote a follow-up article that appeared in the P.I. exactly one month later telling the story of Bernice Snider, whose sons were molested years earlier by an unnamed priest in Renton:

When she called Hunthausen, he told her she "had a bucket of worms and that it was best to bury it." 15

In what is presumably a related reference, Vanessa Ho's P.I. article last month reported:

"Current officials" know nothing about the case? Archbishop Hunthausen, who knows this priest's identity, is still listed as having an office in the chancery. Why not ask him?

Most recently has come Ray Rivera's article in the April 3rd Seattle Times reporting on a lawsuit filed against the archdiocese last September:

The alleged abuse took place in Vancouver some time in the 70's. This unnamed priest, who served in a parish up until about two years ago, denies the allegations.

And so the secrecy continues.

Several other cases have come up in the area and, while not directly involving archdiocesan priests, they are worth noting:

Pedophilia and homosexuality

As elements of the secular media find themselves leading the crusade against clerical sex offenders, they are faced with an undeniable reality: almost every victim in these cases is a male (not a female) who was abused as a teenager (not as a child). As such, these priests cannot be classified as pedophiles but are simply homosexuals. Roderick MacLeish Jr., a Boston lawyer, said 90 percent of the nearly 400 sexual abuse victims he has represented have been boys, and three quarters of them are post-pubescent.23 After a sex scandal in the early 90's, the Archdiocese of Chicago opened up records for all 2,252 priests over the past 40 years. Only one priest had allegedly assaulted a preteen. The vast majority of the complaints involved 15 to 16 year-old boys.24

The main problem lies in the fact that (since 1973) homosexuality is no longer officially classified as a psychological disorder, but pedophilia is. Secular humanists have a hard time supporting the homosexual agenda on one hand and railing against homosexual, teenager-molesting priests on the other. It's much safer to call it "pedophilia," which everyone can safely be against.

But there remains the lingering knowledge that almost all these victims are boys. If even as little as half of the priests in America do not suffer from the homosexual disorder, why aren't we seeing a wave of abused girls coming forward? Is it that unreasonable to acknowledge the connection between homosexual behavior (like sexual relations with teenage boys) and homosexuality?

One reporter willing to speak honestly about the problem is Rod Dreher of National Review Online. He writes:

Another such reporter is Joe Fitzgerald of the Boston Herald:

Fitzgerald goes on to quote a priest who tells him:

The "Vatican's view" he mentions was recently repeated by Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls when he told The New York Times that "people with [homosexual] inclinations just cannot be ordained." This was a restatement of a 1961 Vatican directive (never abrogated so still in effect) that forbids the consideration of homosexuals as candidates for the priesthood, as it would constitute a "grave danger" or temptation for homosexuals and pedophiles: "Those affected by the perverse inclination to homosexuality or pederasty should be excluded from religious vows and ordination." Last year, Archbishop Tarcisio Bertone, secretary of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), reiterated in an interview that "persons with a homosexual inclination should not be admitted to the seminary." 28

For a brief refresher on the Church's teaching on homosexuality and homosexual behavior, one can refer to the 1986 CDF Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church entitled "On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons:"

So those who hold or further the opinion that a homosexual orientation is desirable, neutral, or anything less that an "objective disorder" clearly stand against the authority and perennial teaching of the Catholic Church.

Catholicism and homosexuality in Seattle

For at least the past twenty-five years, the Archdiocese of Seattle has been at the forefront of the assault on Catholic teaching concerning homosexuality. In fact, it was Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen's sponsorship of a special Mass in St. James Cathedral for the 1983 national convention of the dissident group "Dignity" which many believe prompted the Vatican's investigation into his activities. Dignity's primary position is outlined in their 1987 letter:

This coming barely one year after the aforementioned CDF document's warning, which may as well have identified Dignity by name:

For twenty-one years, Dignity would have a presence in this archdiocese which included varying degrees of participation in "Gay & Lesbian" liturgies. This association was ended in September of 2001, sixteen years after Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger's following statement to Hunthausen on the matter:

Hunthausen's dissent was clear at least six years prior to the cathedral incident when he granted his Imprimatur to and subsequently promoted the book "Sexual Morality: A Catholic Perspective" by Fr. Philip Keane. This book denied that homosexual acts were objectively evil and called chastity "unrealistic," completely contradicting the Vatican's "Declaration of Certain Questions Concerning Sexual Ethics" released less than two years earlier. In 1984, the Vatican ordered the Imprimatur withdrawn. Archbishop Hunthausen defended his decision to endorse the book, never admitting an error in judgment.33

Although some will defend Hunthausen's words and actions as consistent with Church teaching, it's hard to explain the clear and repeated praise he received from a homosexual community which believed they were anything but "intrinsically disordered." In 1988, when the archdiocese took over the "Gay and Lesbian Mass" from Dignity to give it the illusion of orthodoxy, a Dignity spokesman told The Seattle Times:

In 1990, when militant homosexuals were protesting at cathedrals across the country, throwing condoms and consecrated hosts upon the ground in New York, the Seattle demonstration served as more of a symbolic gesture. Dan Gibbons of "ACT UP" and "Queer Nation" admitted that they were targeting Cardinal O'Conner and the Pope, not Hunthausen:

Kevin Van Dyke, who helped organize the 1983 Dignity convention told The Seattle Times in the wake of Hunthausen's retirement:

Far from being a fringe movement involving select individuals, the drive for homosexual "acceptance" in the Archdiocese of Seattle was promoted from the very top. Hunthausen's "leadership" would inspire a number of priests and women religious still exercising considerable influence in the archdiocese to this day.

On August 10th 1995, twelve years after the infamous Dignity liturgy, St. James was the scene of another exercise in desecration as the newly-renovated cathedral hosted a funeral service for a homosexual individual by the name of Cal Anderson. Anderson was not just another confused man struggling with a tragic psychological affliction, but an embodiment of everything that is wrong with the homosexual political movement. As the "only openly gay member of the legislature," this state senator was a local "queer celebrity." He championed bills to recognize same-sex "marriages" (including the 1992 "Gay/Lesbian Civil Rights" bill in Olympia) and was prominent in homosexual fund-raisers and demonstrations. He enthusiastically supported abortion "rights" and was posthumously awarded for his efforts in this area. He and his "partner," Eric Ishino, were known among the gay community as Seattle's "first couple." Cal boasted to Seattle Gay News of his sodomization of heterosexual males while he was in the army. He even worked his way up the ranks by seducing his commanding officer.36 Cal Anderson was an unrepentant sodomite up until the very end of his life, when he died of AIDS.

Presiding over this funeral, authorized by the late Archbishop Thomas Murphy, was cathedral pastor and former Vicar General Fr. Michael G. Ryan. During the service, multiple mentions were made of Cal's "beloved partner," Eric, who processed up the main aisle arm in arm with Cal's mother before taking a seat in the front row — clearly indicating an imaginary spousal status. After several eulogies (still forbidden in Catholic funeral services) and biblical readings, a Makah Indian Chief performed a tribal chant and dance around the coffin.

Among the guests in the audience were former Washington State Governor Mike Lowry, current Governor Gary Locke, Seattle Mayor Norm Rice and other local civic leaders. But the primary attendees were members of Seattle's homosexual community which included the disturbingly demonic "Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence" — a group of gay men adorned in nun costumes and plaster-white face make-up ( - don't miss the picture of "the pope"). Their attendance in this manner was perhaps the most horrifying insult imaginable to the memory and legacy of St. Frances Xavier Cabrini whose statue stands at the main entrance to the cathedral. Also in attendance were "The Leathermen" and their prized representative, "Mr. Leather 1994" who showed up for the occasion in his finest studded leather vest.

In his various "prayers" and eulogies, Fr. Michael Ryan thanked God "who was very good for giving Cal to us," compared Cal to John F. Kennedy and described him as a "hero." Fr. Ryan continued this drivel, proclaiming:

If "paying the price for love" is the new euphemism for dying of AIDS, it is horribly lacking in accuracy and charity. He continued:

Moving beyond Cal's uplifting touches, these informal canonization proceedings continued as Fr. Ryan called upon the "heavenly angels and martyrs of the Church" to welcome him. In a futile attempt to explain why this funeral was being held in the cathedral, he said it was because:

Think again. Local Catholic Erven Park observed:

One Seattle priest accurately commented that:

The details of this event are neither rumor nor hearsay and have not been embellished over the years; I saw it all with my own eyes. The entire service was videotaped, televised and distributed for sale. No apology was given for this debacle and none of the participants received any punishment. Fr. Michael Ryan is still the pastor of St. James Cathedral, a location which is described by the "Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Religion and Spirituality" section of the Google Web Directory as follows:

One of the cantors at the funeral was a priest by the name of David Jaeger. Fr. Jaeger is the former head of the archdiocesan "AIDS Ministry" and the current head of the "Gay/Lesbian Ministry" (recently renamed to "Pastoral Care and Inclusion Ministry"). As reported by Dr. Gary Bullert,

In a letter he co-authored to the Seattle Gay News defending Archbishop Murphy's conditional acceptance of condom distribution, Church teaching on sexual behavior was explained as:

Does a "committed relationship" equate to or merely include marriage? In a lecture he gave on April 5th of this year on "Catholic Teaching on Human Sexuality," he responded to a question on whether Church teaching against "gay marriage" can ever change with "I don't think I'm supposed to give my opinion on that," and after thinking about it for awhile more, "I don't know."

For ten years, Fr. Jaeger was Director of Seminarians up until 1989 when he left this position amidst a controversy over homosexual behavior. He promoted the advancement and ordination of Fr. Paul Conn. In the Seattle Gay News, he voiced support of Jeannine Grammick and Robert Nugent, two long-time dissidents recently silenced by the Vatican for their erroneous views spread under the guise of authentic Catholic instruction. The aforementioned 1986 CDF document makes specific note that:

Does the selection of Fr. Jaeger as head of the ministry to those afflicted with the homosexual disorder represent an exercise in "special care" on the part of the archbishop?

While Jaeger was directing seminarians, another dissident — a woman by the name of Fran Ferder — was placed in charge of psychological screening for seminary candidates and performed that role well into the 90's. As reported in The Wanderer:

As previously stated, Sr. Ferder was also given the assignment of counseling priests accused of child molestation as well as their victims. To this day, her "TARA" group still provides services for local parishes. An article in the last November's Catholic Northwest Progress reported:

Father Heagle and Franciscan Sister Fran Ferder, co-directors of the Seattle-based Therapy and Renewal Associates (TARA), a counseling resource for ministers and others who value spirituality, are behind an effort to help parishes become mental health resources for their parishioners. They met Nov. 8 with representatives from St. Madeleine Sophie, St. Louise and Sacred Heart parishes in Bellevue, which are currently looking for ways to respond to the mental health needs and other health needs of their parishioners.44

One priest who "came out of the closet" revealed the local seminarian screening procedures to have been suspect for some time. In 1988, Fr. James Jorgenson announced to the media that he was a homosexual and was leaving the priesthood. He told The Seattle Times that Archbishop Hunthausen said to him people weren't yet ready for homosexual priests and advised him to keep the matter secret. Jorgenson equated his plight with the persecution of blacks in the colonial South and compared his "outing" with the resurrection of Christ:

While the archdiocesan officials were more concerned with his public announcement than his objectively disordered condition, some local priests went beyond uneasy silence to bold and open support. Fr. Bill Heric, currently "Parochial Vicar" at Holy Innocents Church in Duvall and formerly head of the "Gay/Lesbian Ministry," wrote a disturbing letter to The Catholic Northwest Progress stating:

According to the National Catholic Reporter, the archdiocese chose not to punish Fr. Heric for this letter, opting instead to remove the newspaper's editor for allowing its publication.47

Perhaps the most shocking discovery to come out of this controversy was Jorgenson's revelation that he knew of his homosexuality before he entered the seminary. He said the seminary directors were fully aware of his condition, choosing to support and ordain him anyway. This same support (or false "compassion") continued through his priesthood as shown by his crediting the members of the archdiocesan hierarchy with reinforcing his belief in the "goodness and giftedness of homosexuality." 48

As noted above, the Vatican has stated that "advancement to religious vows and ordination should be barred to those afflicted with evil tendencies to homosexuality or pederasty, since for them the common life and priestly ministry would constitute serious dangers" — a position reinforced recently by Archbishop Bertone and Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls. However, some Catholic officials do not view homosexuality as an impediment to ordination. One such individual is auxiliary Bishop George Thomas. A Seattle Times article reported in 1988:

and again in 2001:

Are local officials exempt from the Vatican prohibition on ordaining homosexuals? After countless scandals across the country, are not the errors of such defiance apparent?

The list of sexual antics seen in several local priests took a bizarre turn in 1996 when Naturist LIFE International published a pornographic book by the name of "Vermont Unveiled" which documents and glorifies a religious nudist community. On page 43, there is a picture of three nude priests with arms around each other including Fr. Lester "Jerry" McCloskey, current pastor of St. Gabriel's Parish in Port Orchard. McCloskey and the other priests pictured are wearing Our Lady's brown scapular and little else. When Archbishop Brunett was asked in a correspondence as to McCloskey's status in the archdiocese, he responded:

Who besides himself could prevent the Archbishop of Seattle, the leader of the local Church, from discussing such matters?

When he first arrived in Seattle, Archbishop Brunett got off to a bit of a rocky start. During his first press conference, after giving a less than clear affirmation of the infallible doctrine of an all-male priesthood, Brunett was asked for his stance on same-sex "marriages," to which he replied "I'd have to see the legislation first." Later that week, he clarified his statements, explaining that the Church may be compelled to accept same-sex marriage legislation as a lesser evil:

What same-sex "marriage" legislation in Washington State had to do with the systematic crucifixion and gassing of homosexuals was far from apparent.

Perhaps to prevent future mishaps when having to state Catholic doctrine on the spot, Archbishop Brunett hired Bill Gallant as the Director of Communications and official spokesman for the archdiocese. He is the host of the weekly archdiocesan television program Northwest Catholic and the first to speak with the media on issues relating to the local Church. What makes this personnel decision strange is that Mr. Gallant made a name for himself as a daytime radio talk-show host while championing various extremely liberal and anti-Catholic causes ranging from same-sex "marriages" to abortion "rights." In a telephone conversation relating to other matters, I asked Mr. Gallant if he was Catholic. He laughed and asked if I really thought the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle would have as a spokesman someone who was not himself a Catholic. Given the choice made, they may as well have.

Considering the homosexual dimension of clerical sexual abuse, does the ecclesial promotion of homosexualism through words and actions show "pastoral care and compassion" or adherence to an anti-Catholic agenda? Does the list of activities documented above contribute to the "safe, positive and balanced environment" in which we have been told "every child has the right to live and learn?"

Correspondence with the Archdiocese

With sexual abuse scandals popping up across the country, an article appeared in the March 2nd Seattle Times quoting Bill Gallant as saying:

Regarding Gallant's timeline, note that McGreal and Conn were exposed in 1988 (less than 14 years ago) and lawsuits relating to clerical sex offenders continue to this very day.

In response to the article, I sent Mr. Gallant the following letter:

March 9, 2002

Bill Gallant
Director of Communications
Archdiocese of Seattle
910 Marion Street
Seattle, WA 98104

Mr. Gallant,

I came across the Associated Press article printed this last weekend ("Abuse scandal in Boston recalls 1980s cases in Seattle" - 3/2/02) which quoted you as saying, " the Archdiocese of Seattle, and elsewhere, people need to know our No. 1 concern is the pastoral care of the victims and the protection of our children." This is very encouraging to hear, especially given the situation currently faced in Catholic dioceses across the country.

In some dioceses, active priests who have been accused of sexual misconduct at any point in their careers have had their names handled over to the police (e.g. Boston, Manchester), been compelled to make a public confession (e.g. Maine) or have been summarily dismissed from their duties (e.g. St. Louis, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh). Other dioceses have come forth and asserted that they have absolutely no active priests who have been accused of sexual abuse (e.g. Washington D.C.). While I'm sure you've been keeping up on such matters, a summary of the various responses can be found here:

To my knowledge, the Archdiocese of Seattle has yet to take any similar actions, which I hope is an indication that no problems of this nature exist here. Indeed, your comment that these issues were "sort of experienced" twenty years ago suggests that such problems are well behind us. However, in interest of alleviating some remaining concerns, I have a couple questions:

1. Are there any priests active in the Archdiocese of Seattle who have been accused of sexual abuse or misconduct?

2. What are the procedures for handling such allegations? If someone were to approach me with information about clerical abuse, what are the appropriate steps for me to take and what actions could I expect to see from the archdiocese?

3. What is the diocesan policy on clerical sexual misconduct with minors? Has it been changed or strengthened recently?

4. Are sexual abuse victims asked to sign gag-orders preventing them from disclosing the settlements to anyone? If so, why?

Thanks for your time in answering these important questions. Given that the "No. 1 concern" of the archdiocese is the "protection of our children," I'm sure you will have no problem addressing the concerns of a Catholic father faced with the responsibility of protecting his own children.

God Bless,
Peter Miller

p.s. — I would appreciate hearing back on this matter in a timely fashion. If I don't receive a reply in the next ten days, I will consider it as a refusal to respond.

Soon afterwards, an article came out in a March 18th Seattle P.I. that further quoted Bill Gallant as saying:

He refused to disclose the number of priests who have been accused or the amount of money paid out in settlements, justifying the continued secrecy with the comment:

Are "pastoral care," "compassion," and "commitment to safety" now being replaced by "clarity," "context," and "perspective?" Demonstrating the archdiocese's trademark humility, he concluded:

Since the archdiocesan communications director failed to communicate back to me, I sent a follow-up letter directly to the archbishop:

March 26, 2002

Most Reverend Alexander J. Brunett
Archdiocese of Seattle
910 Marion Street
Seattle, WA 98104

Your Excellency,

This past March 9th, I sent the enclosed letter to Bill Gallant, Director of Communications for the Archdiocese of Seattle. Since I have yet to receive a response, I am compelled to bring these matters directly to Your Excellency's attention.

While some of the issues I raised were covered in Mr. Gallant's statements published in the March 18th Seattle Post-Intelligencer article, "Seattle's archdiocese speaks to concerns," several key questions remain, specifically:

1. Are there any active priests in the Archdiocese of Seattle who have been accused of sexual abuse or misconduct?

2. Are sexual abuse victims asked to sign gag-orders preventing them from disclosing the details of the settlements to anyone? If so, why?

Furthermore, I have three additional questions which directly relate to the Archdiocese's professed "ongoing commitment to the safety and well-being of our children:"

3. To date, how much money has the Archdiocese of Seattle paid out in sexual abuse settlements?

4. What is the Archdiocese's relationship to Fran Ferder and her Therapy and Renewal Associates (TARA) organization? Are her psychological screening services still employed for seminary candidates?

5. The previously mentioned P.I. article includes the following passage: "Gallant said those cases [Conn and McGreal] are the only confirmed child molestation cases involving clergy of which the archbishop is aware. But at the time of the scandal, the archdiocese revealed that a third diocesan priest was being treated for pedophilia. He was never named publicly, and Gallant said current officials know nothing about the case." (emphasis added) Can this be taken to mean that there is potentially a clerical pedophile in the area whose identity is unknown to Your Excellency? Would not a commitment to the safety of our children entail a serious effort to find out something more about this case rather than state a lack of knowledge?

Allow me to express my gratitude in advance for the time and consideration Your Excellency gives to these important matters. When it comes to the safety and protection of our children, the gravity of such issues can never be overemphasized. It is my sincere hope that Your Excellency agrees that continued silence and secrecy surrounding such matters can only serve to make matters worse.

God Bless,
Peter Miller

p.s. — As was the case Mr. Gallant, if ten days come to pass without the courtesy of a response, I will consider it an unfortunate refusal to respond.

As of the date of this printing, I have yet to receive a response from either letter. Why did Bill Gallant give the media the opinion that "we believe there's nobody in active ministry today that poses a threat." rather than make the affirmation that there are no priests in active ministry who have been accused of sexual misconduct? Why should Catholics trust the archdiocesan hierarchy on who does and does not constitute a threat? The Archdiocese of Boston didn't consider Geoghan to be a threat when they shuffled him from parish to parish. The Archdiocese of Seattle didn't consider McGreal to be a threat, keeping his perversions silent until they were broadcast on the local news. Why not publish the names of such priests? Why not publish the amounts dispersed in settlements? Catholics raising children in and contributing money to the Archdiocese of Seattle have the right to know. The systems put in place by the American hierarchy have shown their deficiencies. The way to make sure they don't fail again is through total disclosure. A recent P.I. article stated:

As expressed by local commentator Ken Schram:

I encourage every Catholic in the archdiocese to write a letter to Archbishop Brunett. Ask him which priests in active ministry have been accused of sexual misconduct. Tell him that if he does not respond or responds with the non-answer that "we don't believe any of them to be a threat," you will assume that he is withholding information that is potentially harmful to our children. Ask him how maintaining secrecy helps protect our children from sexual predators among the priesthood.

Furthermore, ask him how much money has been paid out to settle with victims of clerical molestation over the past twenty years. Tell him that as a financial supporter, you have a right to know and his answer (or silence) will directly affect your future contributions to the archdiocese.

As a recent Newsweek cover story stated:

The time has come for full disclosure from those withholding such information.

Peter Miller
Seattle, WA

1. A. Brunett "An ongoing commitment to the safety and well-being of our children" The Catholic Northwest Progress (3/14/2002)
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.
4. J. Berry, "Lead Us Not Into Temptation - Catholic Priests and the Sexual Abuse of Children" Illinois (1992) [LUN]
5. Ibid.
6. Ibid.
7. E. Penhale & M. Rothschild "Pedophile priest still welcome, his pastor says" Seattle Post Intelligencer (5/27/1988) [PPS]
8. Ibid.
9. [LUN]
10. Catholic Would News "Holding Bishops Accountable" (2/1/2002)
11. [PPS]
12. M. Kelly "The Systematic Corruption of the Catholic Church" The Washington Post (3/20/2002)
13. [PPS]
14. M. Rothschild "Suffer the Children" Seattle Post-Intelligencer (6/27/1988)
15. Ibid.
16. V. Ho "Seattle's archdiocese speaks to concerns" Seattle Post-Intelligencer (3/18/2002)
17. R. Rivera, "Archdiocese Sued Over Abuses Claim Dating to the 1970s" The Seattle Times (4/3/2002)
18. Ibid.
19. "Sex Charges Hit Juanita Hard" Bellevue Journal-American (5/29/1989)
20. "Teacher With AIDS Sentenced to 6 Months for Rape of Teen" The Seattle Times (9/2/1989)
21. L. Kamb "Former Day Care Worker Accused of Raping Boy, 4" Seattle Post-Intelligencer (3/14/2002)
22. C. Heckman "Second Sex Case Reported at Day Care Center" Seattle Post-Intelligencer (3/20/2002)
23. M. Paulson & T. Farragher, "Priest abuse cases focus on adolescents" Boston Globe (3/17/2002)
24. L. Miller and D. France, "Sins of the Father" Newsweek (3/4/2002)
25. R. Dreher "Andrew Sullivan's Gay Problem" National Review Online (3/30/2002)
26. J. Fitzgerald, "Homosexuality is true plague on priesthood " Boston Herald (3/11/2002)
27. Ibid.
28. J. Dougherty, "Vatican homosexuality paper re-examined" (3/29/2002)
29. Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, "On the Pastoral Care of Homosexual Persons" (10/1/1986) [OPC]
30. Dignity, "Pastoral Letter on Sexual Ethics: Preliminary Study Document Prepared by the Dignity Task Force on Sexual Ethics" (1987)
31. [OPC]
32. "Vatican Releases Cardinal Ratzinger Letter", The Progress (5/28/1987)
33. Dr. G. Bullert, "The Hunthausen File" (1992) p 63-66 [THF]
34. C. Ostrom, "Church to Sponsor Gay Mass" The Seattle Times (6/30/1988)
35. T. McGuire, "Gay Groups Protest Outside Cathedral" The Catholic Northwest Progress (12/13/1990)
36. The Wanderer (9/24/1995)
37. Ibid.
38. E. Park, "St. James Cathedral: Schism with Rome Declared" (1995)
39. The Wanderer (9/24/1995)
40. [THF]
41. Fr. D. Jaeger & Fr. J. Stanley, "Church Defends Archbishop's Letter on Condoms" Seattle Gay News (12/27/1991)
42. [OPC]
43. P. Likoudis, "Training the Trainers" The Wanderer (4/5/2001)
44. T. McGuire, "Mental health ministry can be a part of parish life" The Catholic Northwest Progress (11/22/2001)
45. M. King, "A Gay Priest Decides to Go Public" The Seattle Times (6/26/1988) [AGP]
46. The Progress (7/21/1988)
47. "Catholic Press Losing Editorial Freedom" National Catholic Reporter (11/4/1988)
48. [THF]
49. [AGP]
50. M. King, "Religions divided over gays in clergy" The Seattle Times (7/3/2001)
51. Letter to Mr. James Bendell (8/21/1999)
52. S. Macdonald "New archbishop gets a lesson in Seattle's media" The Seattle Times (11/1/1997)
53. Associated Press "Abuse scandal in Boston recalls 1980s cases in Seattle" The Seattle Times (3/2/2002)
54. V. Ho "Seattle's archdiocese speaks to concerns" The Seattle PI (3/18/2002)
55. Ibid.
56. Ibid.
57. V. Ho, "Catholics keep the faith during troubled times" Seattle Post-Intelligencer (3/29/2002)
58. K. Schram "Ken Schram Commentary: The Catholic Church Should Not Be Above The Law" KOMO 4 News (3/30/2002)
59. L. Miller and D. France, "Sins of the Father" Newsweek (3/4/2002)
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