KC update: vicar general was once accused of harassing a young man — UPDATED

The sad story of the troubles in Kansas City has taken a new twist:

The Catholic official who oversees sex abuse complaints against priests in the Kansas City-St. Joseph Diocese, has himself been accused of past sexual improprieties.

A Kansas City man wrote the bishop of the diocese four years ago, alleging sexual harassment in 1984 by the Rev. Robert Murphy, a priest who is now vicar general.

Brian Heydon, a licensed professional counselor, said Murphy exposed himself and propositioned him as a young man during a meeting at St. Catherine’s rectory, where Murphy then lived.

The diocese has said Heydon’s claims are unfounded.

Murphy, now a monsignor, has recently come under fire for the way he handled the case of a priest charged last month with possessing child pornography.

Murphy, who was named vicar general when Robert Finn took over as bishop in 2005, handles the diocese’s sex abuse complaints against priests and is on a diocesan review board that assesses allegations against priests and makes recommendations to the bishop.

Heydon first raised the issue in 2007 and contacted The Kansas City Star. The newspaper did not publish the story at his request out of concern for his privacy.

Heydon said he has now decided to come forward.

“In light of recent reports detailing the continued cover-up of abuse in this diocese, I feel that I can no longer in good conscience keep silent,” Heydon said.

Read the rest.

UPDATE: Former U.S. attorney to investigate sex abuse cases in K.C. diocese. You can read the press release here. And Elizabeth Scalia has a few thoughts on all this — as usual, spot on.

  • Paul Stokell

    So, according to Dallas 2002, if a priest’s accusation is found to be unsubstantive, he is returned to ministry in good standing.

    Smells like Cindy Sheehan to me.

  • Eugene Pagano

    If a reliable process, i.e., unlike in Philadelphia, found the accusation to be unsubstantiated, he should have been returned to ministry. However, a person who had undergone such a process should not be participating in reviewing similar accusations against others. His impartiality would be too subject to question.

  • momor

    Woe to Murphy if he did what Heyden said he did. He may have cost the Church a vocation. I think there is reason to believe Heydon is credible given that he tried to report what happened with Murphy in 02 and 07. Perhaps Murphy already knew by the time Ratigan came along exactly what Finn wanted him to do and knew there was no need to show Finn the letter.

  • http://www.patrickomalley.com Patrick O’Malley

    Bishop Finn should go to JAIL for reckless child endangerment and aiding and abetting a known pedophile. He let Vicar Murphy, an accused pedophile, monitor the pedophile program, which is why they were so lenient on Fr Ratinger, a known pedophile.

    Catholics are much too soft on child rape. They just don’t care. They’ve proven it for 50 years. Society isn’t going to start a remedial rape education program just because Catholic Bishops still aren’t smart enough to understand that.

    Law enforcement has to take over and throw the Bishop and all other complicit managers in jail.

    Start a Grand Jury investigation like the did in Philadelphia. You want to see how bad this is? Read the first 6 pages of the Philadelphia Grand Jury Report at http://www.philadelphiadistrictattorney.com/images/Grand_Jury_Report.pdf to see how children were raped and Bishops protected them.

  • momor

    Patrick O’Malley,

    Heyden was 23. Murphy wasn’t accused of being a pedophile.

    You are posting the same stuff, practically word for word all over the place. At least read the articles referenced and get your facts straight.

  • naturgesetz

    None of this tells us what Bishop Finn did between the time he got the letter and the time he replied. I hope he didn’t just sit in his office and think about it and ask Msgr. Murphy if it were true. Even though, as momor points out, the accusation did not involve pedophilia, there should have been some sort of investigation before the conclusion was reached that the allegation was not credible. Obviously, it was verifiable that Msgr. was vocations director at the time and that he was living at St. Catherine’s Rectory. If there were a letter in the Vocations Office file, that would be a further piece of corroboration. Recollections of priests who had regular contact with Murphy could have tended to support or discredit the allegation that he drank heavily, as it is unlikely that he would have done so only once in his life. Recollections of others who had contact with him as potential seminarians could support or diminish the plausibility of these allegations.

    Of course, it is always possible that Msgr. Murphy did exactly what he is accused of, but only that one time — never before and never again. If that is so, it would be extremely difficult to substantiate the allegation. It is far more likely that if he did it that time, he did it other times as well. So there should be corroboration from others.

  • momor

    The latest news from KC is that the diocese has hired a retired prosecuter as an independent investigator to review the policies and procedures – like Philly I guess.

  • pagansister

    momor, the article said Heydon brought up the accusation in 2007, 23 years after it happened. It didn’t say that Heydon was 23 years old when it happened. So, I expect he could have been a child when the alleged incident occured. If Murphy did so, then he could be accused of improper behavior with a minor.

    What is the saying? Something is rotten in Denmark AKA Kansas City?

  • N.A.O.

    Here’s more information regarding Heydon’s age:

    “Heydon wrote that when he was 23 he met with Murphy at a restaurant on the Country Club Plaza…”

    Read more: http://www.kansascity.com/2011/06/08/2937490/diocese-official-who-oversees.html#ixzz1OpoGmHO3

    The incident described is a betrayal of Murphy’s vows if true, but not illegal. It bothers me that there are allegations of a clumsy sexual advance 27 years after an incident with no way of proving or disproving them. It’s “he said/he said” in a matter where there is no underlying crime.

  • http://www.bannonoceanart.com Bill Bannon

    Solomon was faced with a she said/she said predicament over a baby…and he solved it. Finn and the diocese should want to interview Heydon for a long period and then do the same to Murphy. And compare. Instead they immediately positioned themselves in the OT position that one witness is insufficient because that justifies Finn’s letter to Heydon 4 years ago. But Solomon didn’t stop there at the “two or three witnesses” standard where a baby was concerned.
    If Murphy stays in that sexually relevant office, some laity will drop away from Mass and parish life and lawsuits will increase in number. Aggression breeds aggression. The Diocese may be waxing confident by noticing that venues like the NY Times are too busy with Anthony Weiner and all of the mideast….to get involved with this. There’s only so many reporters to go around. Finn may be hedging his bets. Now we have two major city dioceses hiring an ex prosecutor of sexual exploitation to check on the diocesan process. That prosecutor might remove Murphy. But one wonders if all these things are happening in dioceses in tiny cities….without any press coverage.

  • Phil Brown

    Pagansister,

    The article also said Heydon is now 50 years old. So if the incident in question occurred 23 years before Heydon made the accusation in 2007, that would have been in 1984…when Heydon was 23.

  • diakonos09

    From what I hear Heydon was not a minor. If that’s the truth then this needs to be separate from the abuss scandals and kept where it belongs: the internal forum along with repentance and ongoing daily conversion which we all need. Clergy having a slip with another adult is nothin new whatsoever under the sun…been going on from the beginning. Let’s keep things separate and clear.

  • diakonos09

    Of course I am presuming much. It could still be abusive or at least harassment.

  • FED UP

    Patrick O’Malley is right.

    Why is Finn allowed to hire his own personal (and who wants to put money on the fact Graves is Catholic…?) investigator at this point.

    Finn is clearly guilty of felony level criminal activity — obstruction of justice by knowingly conspiring to destroy evidence.

    Murphy, Finn and Hess are clearly guilty of failing to notify law enforcement of suspected child abuse activity.

    Ratigan is guilty of child abuse.

    The parents, too, are guilty, although perhaps not criminally so, of failing to act speedily and appropriately in the face of a disgusting, sick predator.

    It is time for Catholics to put their children before their idols. Anything else at this point is negligence.

    At this point in time, it is clear that RICO laws apply.

    Finn, Murphy, Ratigan, and probably Hess should be arrested and charged and perp-walked through the streets of Kansas City.

    Until this nation stands up and screams from the rooftops that Catholics are not above the laws of this land, this will never end.

    Catholic parents who conspire to protect the Church’s image to the ponit they willingly place their children in harm’s way should be declared unfit parents and have their children taken away from them.

    We are all horrified when we hear stories such as the one in which a mother allowed a pedophile she met on the internet to have sex with her children. How, exactly, is continuing to put your children in the same room with a Catholic priest any different at this point?

    The most vocal defenders of the Church have been claiming for years now that the Catholic Church is now the safest place for children because of the protocols that have been established since these revolting, hideous truths about the Church have come out. Now we see this is not the case at all, that the Church is still not safe for children.

    At this point in time, knowing what we know now, Catholic parents who continue to blindly hand their children over to these filthy pedophiles are as guilty as the pedophiles themselves.

    And for all you folks who think this is a “homosexual problem”, Ratigan preyed on girls.

    The Church needs to be equally safe for boys AND girls. Girls are human beings, too, and God doesn’t think it’s any less vile and evil to harm a girl than a boy.

    Shame on you all. You sit back and spew wordswordswords and do NOTHING. Shame on you. Shame on you. God will hold you accountable. He doesn’t care about your stupid words and excuses and whining. He cares about what you actually DO when faced with evil.

  • naturgesetz

    FED UP — Your post is so over the top with wild exaggeration that it doesn’t even deserve this response.

    (And how did you avoid having it called “spammy” by the filter?)

  • alter Dan S.

    “cover up.” Yes, one you apparently decided to participate in, Mr. Heydon.

  • FED UP

    What’s factually wrong with my assessment of the situation?

    Murphy supposedly glossed over the report to Finn (not that I believe Finn didn’t see the entire thing the day it arrived).

    Finn never notified law enforcement but instead went through the filthy pics the child abuser Ratigan had on his computer, selected a bunch, copied them and then gave the computer to Ratigan’s family to destroy. He conspired to destroy material evidence.

    Hess never followed through. She lists one clearly serious issue after another on this report, and then passes it on and sits on her butt doing nothing when she got no response.

    The parents, too, are guilty of passing the buck — while this may not necessarily be criminal in the eyes of the law, how do you think God views it? What do you think God thinks of adults who endanger the innocents He entrusted to them? And for what? Because they’re worried about public opinion? Because they’re too scared to be actual adults and take an unpopular stand? Because they might not get invited to the neighborhood block party if they were the ones making the fuss?

    How is that over the top?

    What exactly is “over the top” when it comes to standing up and expressing righteous furor over the decades and decades of abuse and cover ups?

    If some Hollywood studio head had known of an underling who repeatedly abused children and had done nothing, and then, when outed, still refused to hand it all over to the Feds but hired his own personal buddy to investigate, you’d be shouting from the rooftops about what a travesty it all is. But put a guy in a beanie and a pink dress, string a cross around his neck, and it’s okay.

    Shame on you. You shame God, you shame the Cross and you shame all of humanity. Shame on you all, you pack of do-nothings.

  • http://www.bannonoceanart.com Bill Bannon

    Fed Up
    You use a shotgun method of posting with a myriad of pellets that no sane poster is going to track down one by one.
    Scripture says, “The just man weighs well his utterance.”. You are the only person here who thinks that describes you. But you are really talking for your benefit so it may not matter to you.

  • Dinosaur

    MOST interesting: A temperate reply to an insanely bigoted posting by Fed Up was rejected. Perhaps for mentioning theology and the US Constitution?

  • kirsten Philadelphia

    as i have said, repeatedly…

    abusers will do ANYTHING to get into a position to abuse. they will find positions where they can target their chosen victims, and settle in happily. this oculd be scouting, hospital work, medicine (look up “Delaware Pediatrician/pedophile”), police, law enforcement, or ministry.

    i converted after being in several religions. i can assure you i met abusive religious leaders (and atheist group leaders) across the board.
    you want hard to get help? try accusing your Wiccan/Pagan Elders of abuse. i advise ducking….because unlike being a Catholic the LAW assumes that since you are non mainstream you must be crazy/consenting/whatever.

    the problem that the Catholic church has to face is that for some time abusers have recognized that our church is a good place for them to find victims. This means that you have abusers who have been in place for some time.. and other abusers who fall into one of these categories:
    1. a fellow abuser
    2. someone who is truly innocent, and therefore CANNOT conceive that a fellow priest would do such a thing.
    3. someone who believes it, but assumes publicity and damage to the church trumps justice.

    this is equally likely to be found in any hierarchy that i know of. you need only look at abuse in police departments to see this same pattern of 1,2,3.

    the only way we will resolve this is to resolve that ANYONE who has been accused of abuse (even if found innocent!), cannot be on the review committee owing to bias (even if its bias toward thinking of false accusations).

    to institute the two deep policy already in place in many other groups…(never one adult alone with one child)

    and to have clear statements, hammered over and over again in every seminary, school, meeting, etc that permitting evil does more harm to the church than bad publicity.

    it is better to be true to our faith, and our laws …while having people think badly of us, than to guard our reputation while living without God
    the world doesnt think well of us? well.. didnt we get warned about that? whats important is GOD thinks well of us.

  • kirsten Philadelphia

    my comment apparently got mangled in editing somehow….

    “and other AUTHORITIES who fall into these categories”
    not other abusers
    my apologies, i must have cut and pasted badly

  • FED UP

    @Bill Bannon

    That you think outrage in the face of this travesty is “spam” is exactly WHY the abuse continues. Exactly.

    Until every Catholic is as outraged as I am, it’s never going to stop.

    Until every Catholic parent stops sending their kids to Catholic schools and universities, the abuse Will. Not. Stop.

    Until every Catholic closes their wallet and stops supporting these corrupt, dishonest and dishonorable men, the abuse will go on forever.

    You just don’t get it. You don’t get that abusing children is as wrong as it gets.

    What will it take for you to get it? What has to happen before you think that maybe, just maybe, there’s something really rotten here, has been for a long time, and the only way to fix it is to burn it down and build anew?

    But no, the lives of the innocent are nothing to you when compared to your glittering facade of a “church”.

    You worship the institution, not God. You worship the showiness of it all, the cachet you think it lends you. You worship the robes and incense and candles and stained glass windows.

    What cachet do you think the label “Catholic” really gives you now that “Catholic” and “child rapist” are synonymous?

    When you excuse priests and bishops, when you ignore the suffering of children, and when you attempt to silence the few who WILL stand up, you become what those priests and bishops are. You are one and the same.

    You cannot be silent, you cannot hide and make excuses and still be respected. Not now. Not anymore.

    It’s time to end the evil that is the Catholic hierarchy for good. You either stand against evil or you stand for it. There is no middle ground.

  • N.A.O.

    I don’t see the clever and wise analogue to splitting the baby here. Sexual charges are unique in that, due to human psychology, they carry a presumption of guilt. In this case there was an investigation which found ““The suggestion that he was repeatedly inebriated, and that he used strong vulgar language or erupted in anger, does not square with others’ life-long knowledge of this priest.” Not surprisingly, due to the nature of the charge, no one is satisfied with this result: we will only accept a finding of guilt here, and we will view anything else as a whitewash.

    Is it wise to air charges publicly that cannot be conclusively proven or dismissed when there are no criminal proceedings underway? Murphy has had his name tarred, not merely in KC, but, via the internet, throughout the English speaking world, and he can never be exonerated.

    I’m willing to name publicly, in the interests of children, those accused of crimes against minors, but this particular case makes me queasy.

  • http://www.bannonoceanart.com Bill Bannon

    N.A.O.
    Finn could have that new prosecutor interview both Murphy and Hayden at length and compare their stories….and ask pivotal questions. The event was 23 years ago. What would motivate Heydon, a professional counselor, to write Finn after 23 years aside from a concern about the position that Murphy had. Where’s the motivation for his act which profits him nothing tangible. If there was instead a revenge motivation on Heydon’s part…what was it about… Murphy could shed light on that. If he doesn’t, why not?
    While there is doubt, Murphy should keep his vocation and faculties as a priest but be willing to step away from a position that involves sexual matters for the children in light of the doubt. If he didn’t, I would pull my kids out of Catholic school there because in such doubts, some one has to suffer and it should be Murphy rather than children. Someone will suffer either way. Murphy stays…the parents suffer with doubt that this is Philly redux…and then they will withdraw from the church spaces and serious ones may travel to another diocese to feel like its home

  • kirsten Philadelphia

    certainly be outraged at the people who have done this.
    certainly be outraged at the people who have covered this up.

    but being outraged at an entire community, including the innocent, because of the guilty is not helping anyone.

    you are saying that if i send my kids to Catholic school.. i support child abuse.

    child abuse happens in EVERY school. just down two blocks from me a child was raped by the janitor in their public school. across town from me a child was raped by a teacher in public school. in a neighboring community a child was raped in a non catholic religious school.

    if the school has taken abuse/rape/bullying seriously, has taken steps to safeguard the children… then by all means send your kids there. if they have not? do not. simple.

    for the record i was not raised Catholic. i went to both private and public schools. i was abused in both.

  • N.A.O.

    Bill, I agree, Murphy will have to step down because the existence of a charge of this nature convicts. There will always be doubt and it can never be removed. Given that, I think that for the Star to run this story without strong corroborating evidence was unethical. As printed it is a transcription of the accusers case, and the only result that can follow is the destruction of Murphy.

  • FED UP

    Exactly. When an organization has shown they have not taken serious steps to bring justice to the abused and to prevent further abuse, you remove your children from that organization.

    The Catholic Church has proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are not serious about bringing justice to the abused and preventing further abuse. Instead, they have shown the world exactly where their priorities remain: the protection of the arrogant, prideful hierarchy. They have shown the world that they are not even remotely serious about protecting the innocent.

    Kansas City is proof positive that nothing has changed at all.

    To bury your head in the sand and make excuses and say that other people do bad stuff too so it’s okay if the Catholics do, all while your own children will suffer as a result, is obscene.

    The only serious response in Kansas City is for Finn, Murphy and Ratigan to be prosecuted for breaking the law.

    Finn, Murphy & Ratigan all belong behind bars. Until that happens, nothing will ever change and no child will ever be safe in any Catholic community in the world. Ever. If you don’t get that by now, after everything we know and continue to discover, you’re either evil or stupid.

  • http://www.bannonoceanart.com Bill Bannon

    NAO
    I would think the Star tried to have Murphy give input and he may have declined….and possibly in light of lawsuits being begun which have been mentioned. The parents have a right to know the accusation so that in the real world, they can judge what to do next for the safety of the children as they also watch for Murphy’s response. The private good often comes second to the commonweal but no one’s stopping Murphy from even going on TV and defending himself convincingly.

  • N.A.O.

    Bill, no amount of public pleading can ever remove the slime from charges like this. Simply asserting ones innocence will not evaporate doubt, no matter how vehemently one does it. There are only two courses an innocent person can take: prove they he absolutely could not have been on the scene at the time, or destroy the accusers credibility. I don’t believe the second avenue is open here because that would be a public relations nightmare for the Church. Murphy will never be free of this.

    Also, it does not follow for me that someone who propositions men in their 20′s will be lax on pedophilia. These are two very different things (adult homosexuality and the rape of children) and I don’t see the public safety angle here. The Star should have had a lot more to go on before setting this train down the tracks.

  • cathyf

    “If some Hollywood studio head had known of an underling who repeatedly abused children and had done nothing…”

    Uh, Roman Polanski?

    Ever hear of the “casting couch”?

    Michael Jackson?

    Elvis Presley?

    Jerry Lee Lewis?

    While I think that Catholic priests ought to be held to a higher standard than celebrities, I find it ludicrous that anyone can be so ignorant of the flagrant perversion that is not only rampant but celebrated in Hollywood.

  • FED UP

    Yes, that’s the point. I said if this had happened in Hollywood, Catholics would be having a tantrum about it. When it happens in their own parishes, they turn into meek little milquetoasts.

    The people you mention aren’t CEOs or studio heads. They’re individual celebrities, which is another animal altogether. Their counterparts in the Catholic Church would be the Fr. Corapis of the Church. When he was accused of improprieties, his fans were as blind and slavish as Jackson’s or any other nutjob star’s devotees.

    Believe me, I’m not ignorant of the misbehavior and lax attitudes of the Hollywood set. But I guess you don’t care about the real issue at hand and are just another mindless, blind sheep who pays, prays and obeys — and turns a blind eye when the priests and bishops are the ones who are enaging in the wrongdoing. You just want to pick a fight with anyone who dares to call for true justice for ALL Americans.

  • pagansister

    Phil Brown #11: I stand corrected. Thanks.

  • former Navy pilot

    One thing that needs to happen is the bishops need to act like the truth matters to them. I understand that an accusation of something that happened 27 years ago is difficult to weigh, but to act like it’s impossible to come to a conclusion with reasonable certitude, and therefore not worth investigating, is culpable negligence at the least.
    In the civil arena, where there is a he-said, he-said conundrum, the acid test is cross-examination under oath. And reputations of the witnesses obviously matter in such a process. So the accuser who waits 20+ years to report should be prepared to explain why he waited so long and to have his reputation for truthfulness fully, but fairly, examined. Similarly, if the VG were to deny this behavior under oath, any similar acts would be relevant for exploration, as sexual patterns are deeply ingrained–no one does something like that only once.
    Investigations by former prosecutors is a good start. But administrative trials under oath, before a jury of good and reputable men and women if necessary, is what is needed. It is workable, transparent process that I think would engender a sense of reliability.
    I realize jury trials are not part of the Canon law or Code law tradition, but here’s something the Anglo-American common law can legitimately infuse into the Roman ethos.
    As Americans, it’s also a legitimate societal expectation.

  • Richard M

    There are a lot of people, myself included, who are appalled at what some of these priests have done, and at the bishops who enabled and protected them.

    And then there people whose rage goes beyond that into irrationality. “FED UP” reveals himself to be a raving anti-Catholic bigot, eager to condemn anyone who does not share in his bigotry. It is posters such as this that make discussions about these scandals well nigh impossible.

  • http://stjuniatheapostle.blogspot.com Rev Dr Laura

    Any sexual overtures to a person over whom one has a position of power and authority are abusive, even if that person is a legal adult, because of the impossibility of free consent. This is why sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal, therapists lose their licenses for sex with clients, and colleges now discipline profs who have sex with students. Clergy who represent God and the church have even more power over those in their pastoral care, and this would be magnified further by Murphy’s power as vocation director to further or hinder Heydon’s application for priesthood. It is no surprise that a 23 year old man raised to revere priests would be afraid to speak out and if he had he would most likely have been disbelieved and attacked, as he is now, despite having no financial or other reason to lie and a detailed and convincing story.

  • http://stjuniatheapostle.blogspot.com Rev Dr Laura

    This dismissal of sexual abuse and misconduct when victims are older teenagers and young adults played an important part in Dignity Dayton’s and Dignity USA’s recent lies and coverup in the National Catholic Reporter when I exposed their knowingly allowing Ellis Harsham, a notorious pedophile suspended from RC priesthood for a substantiated allegation of child sexual abuse, to celebrate mass for 10-12 years at DD. Their only action has been to require a pseudo resignation as presider leaving Harsham eligible for other ministries with no safety precautions. Like Murphy, Harsham used vocation work to have sex with a young adult seminarian; give porn, alcohol, and drugs to teen boys; and molest some of these as well. He admits giving porn to one boy and the Dignity person I spoke to dismissed this because the boy was 17 (at the end of two years of alleged abuse). Also, the two longterm Dignity Dayton priests–one straight and one gay–who were part of the coverup appear to have broken their own vows and forced their long term partners to live in secrecy and shame for years before resigning. So it is not surprising that they dulled their consciences and gave a pass to their buddy who perpetrated graver misconduct. Ironic replication of hierarchical coverups at their worst.

  • momor

    I don’t see why you are relating anything that goes on at Dignity to be pertinent to this discussion of a Catholic priest. To my understanding Dignity is not a Roman Catholic institution nor is your ministry as a female ‘priest’.

  • RevDrLaura

    Hi Momor! Among the connections: 1) As conservatives often point out, clergy sexual abuse is not restricted to the RC church but happens in all religious groups. Understanding the common roots and causes can help us all better prevent and respond to it. It is especially important for progressive and dissident Catholics to acknowledge that abuse can happen in our communities and we must be vigilant to police ourselves and admit the truth when mistakes are made. 2) Ellis Harsham spent his first 30 years of ministry (till 1994) as an RC priest, and all the abuse described above happened there. The only consequence when he abused the seminarian was to be stop working there; he remained an active priest with access to many boys in parishes. Even when many came forward, a huge lawsuit was settled with one, and a substantiated allegation led to his suspension, the archdiocese protected their image by hiding and minimizing the number and extent of the allegations and allowing him to resign rather than carry out a fuller investigation and dismissing him. 3) Harsham belongs on the registry of sex offenders and the children of Dayton have been and continue to be in danger because he isn’t. Why not? Because the statute of limitations prevented criminal charges from being filed when the grown boys came forward–and the RC church has been the greatest opponent of lifting the statute in Ohio and elsewhere, endangering children and retraumatizing survivors. Both 2 and 3 also made Dignity more willing to endanger children by allowing him to celebrate mass and more able to cover up their malfeasance now. 4) If the RC church and Blessed JP2 had listened to the Holy Spirit and ordained qualified and called Catholic women, married men, and gay men in faithful adult unions, and stopped demonizing LGBT people and fighting their civil rights there would be no need for Dignity, and Harsham would have been in that Episcopal Church basement alone. Plus I probably wouldn’t have been abused myself by a married Protestant pastor who was my theology adviser at Santa Clara University…I was especially vulnerable because he was the only possible mentor for answering my call to priesthood as well as my recommender for my PhD in theology at Notre Dame.

  • RevDrLaura

    PS to Momor: Forgot #5 last night: it is no accident that two male priests at Dignity gave a pass to their buddy for years, the few second class laywomen let them do it, and it took a female priest who was their equal, and a mom furious at the endangerment of her own and other kids to speak out at quite a personal cost. This replicates the dynamics in the mainline Protestant churches which also had the problem and the coverups in the past by almost invariably male clergy (though not in as high a percentage, to the best of my knowledge, as the RC church)…But began to deal with it in an open and honest and healthy way several decades sooner, largely because of the theological/ethical work and activism of female clergy.

  • GBullough

    If Murphy did what he did as Vocation Director, it is very likely that it was not an isolated incident. In most such cases, we see subsequent accusers come forward in the ensuing weeks and days after the initial revelations. This is particularly the case where the accuser takes a lot of heat or receives a lot of skepticism.

    Unfortunately, the roles such as Vocation Director and Formation Director have attracted individuals who would use them to gain access to the objects of their fancy.

    That the alleged victim was of age at the time is immaterial; if a priest solicited a woman during the course of providing her with counseling or spiritual direction, would that be acceptable? It may not be a crime in the secular world, but it is a crime under Canon Law.

  • pagansister

    Rev. Dr. Laura: Am I correct in assuming you are an Episcopal priest—since the RCC doesn’t “allow” a woman to be a priest. Kudos to the Protestant’s for getting their act together earlier than the RCC in trying to clean up and reduce the number of violations caused by those that claim to represent the church. Unfortunately you had to deal with such a person.

  • RevDrLaura

    I am actually ordained in the Old Catholic/Independent Catholic movement, pagansister. We are somewhat similar to the RomanCatholicWomanPriests in having valid apostolic succession but not being in union with Rome….Have actually been around much longer, but are less well known since the drama of their defiance and Rome’s response has brought so much publicity in their case.

    The Old Catholic churches in Europe, including the Polish National Catholic Church, are well established, having broken off for various reasons over time but especially at Vatican I–infallibility was more than they could swallow. Many validly ordained Catholic bishops were part of the movement so the apostolic succession is recognized by Rome (but they would undoubtedly say the girl cooties make the Holy Spirit not work!). They kept basic Latin rite theology and sacramental life, moving quickly to married male clergy and a vernacular liturgy and more recently to female clergy. The movement here in the US came from them but are sort of like Baptists organizationally–tiny diverse groups ranging from pretty conservative, sexist and homophobic to very progressive and justice. We are similar to Episcopalians in many ways as a via media with Catholic spirituality, saints, and sacraments and Protestant emphasis on priesthood of all believers and lay participation in governance. We are mostly tentmaking worker priests with small house churches (like mine–click my name to see website if you’re interested) or renting worship space from other churches.

  • RevDrLaura

    Link didn’t seem to work in last comment but maybe that’s cause it’s in moderation…trying again. http://stjuniatheapostle.blogspot.com

  • pagansister

    RevDrLaura:

    Thank you so much for your site address. Very interesting. I just checked it out. Have not heard of your “branch” (if you will) of the Church. I will explore your site more later. BTW—am happy that this branch has women priests.


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