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I was age five when the bishop stood over me and said, "Stop babbling about what the priest did to you." Then, forty years later... I started babbling.
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Monday, December 13, 2010

PippiLeaks: In 1957 letter, Manchester Diocese asks Fitzgerald to help put perp priest John T. Sullivan back in parishes

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If you still doubt that Catholic bishops knew, as far back as 1957, that a lot of their priests were pedophiles, and if you doubt the Catholic Church used Servants of the Paraclete as a kind of laundry service for dirty priests, here is a letter from the Bishop of Manchester, New Hampshire, to the New Mexico rehab center, about John T. Sullivan, a priest who liked little girls.

In the one page September 23, 1957, letter scanned here click to elarge and read, to Gerald Fitzgerald, Superior General at Via Coeli, Matthew Brady, the Bishop of Manchester, writes for help with errant priest Sullivan.

“His problem is not drink but a series of scandal-causing escapades with young girls.”

At the end of the letter the Bishop of Manchester suggests: “I would hesitate to write to a bishop myself without giving him all the details of the past life of this priest. Perhaps if he went to Via Coeli for a while you might be able and willing to recommend him to some bishop on the grounds of his good conduct there and his promise for the future.”

In 1958 Sullivan perpetrated on at least three girls in Grand Rapids, Michigan, who won settlements as adults in 1993. But the world did not hear about Sullivan’s crimes until 2002, in news stories the $500,000 settlement two women shared in 1993. After those news reports, more women from Grand Rapids, Michigan, came forward with their experience of abuse at the priest’s hands. It makes one wonder how many women who were victims of John T. Sullivan as little girls did not see the news stories, how many of his victims did not even live to adulthood, and most important, how many would not have been raped if the Church back in 1957 had put Sullivan someplace where he would no longer have access to little girls.

Bishop Accountability summarizes John T. Sullivan's career in the database under S:

"Ordained by Manchester but abused girls during assignments in NH, MI, TX, NM & AZ over a period of 35 years. Fatherered a child in 1949 and stalked a nursing student in 1952. Manchester released his personnel file 2/03. Grand Rapids paid 3 sisters $500K in 1994 because of Sullivan. Privileges removed multiple times. Died in 1999."

As City of Angels reads the 1957 letter, the Catholic Church wished to wash Father Sullivan at Via Coeli in New Mexico and return him back into parish work, like another laundered hundred dollar bill.

Here is more from the 1957 letter from the Bishop of Manchester:

“Dear Father Gerald.

“I have in the diocese, what is an old story to you, a problem priest for whom I am at loss to find a place to serve. He is Rev. John T. Sullivan. His problem is not drink, but a series of scandal-causing escapades with young girls. There is no section of the diocese in which he is not known and no pastor seems willing to accept him. He is at present suspended since July 11, 1956. He is 40 years of age and 15 years ordained.
“At times I have considered him insant, diabolically cunning, and again, as at present, sincerely remorseful. The enclosed letter from him is a sample of it.”

[CofA Lady hopes that letter is in the stack I'm going through]

“The solution of his problem seems to be a fresh start in some diocese where he is not known. It occurred to me that you might know of some bishop who would be willing to give him that opportunity. I would hesitate to write to a bishop myself without giving him all the details of the past life of this priest. Perhaps if he went to Via Coeli for a while you might be able and willing to recommend him to some bishop on the grounds of his good conduct there…..”

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A Washington Post story about New Hampshire documents made public in 2003 said:

When he learned that one of his priests was preying on teenage girls, Bishop Matthew F. Brady of Manchester, N.H., yanked the man out of ministry. Then he wrote letter after letter -- at least 15 in all -- warning other bishops not to let the priest back into parish work.

Considering how many Roman Catholic bishops have quietly transferred sexual abusers to new parishes, Brady's stand was notable. But what's really startling is the year he took it: 1957.

Brady's letters are among 9,000 pages of documents made public by New Hampshire's attorney general at the end of a grand jury investigation last month.

The correspondence makes clear that sexual abuse by priests did not begin with the "sexual revolution" in American life in the 1960s, as some Catholics have maintained. By the 1950s, the New Hampshire files show, U.S. bishops had a lot of experience with the problem.

But the Brady documents reveal much more. They contain evidence, in confidential messages between bishops, that a shortage of priests sometimes led Catholic officials to accept the calculated risk of keeping sex offenders in ministry.

They also disprove the contention that church leaders were unaware until recently that pedophilia is difficult, if not impossible, to cure. The advice Brady received from the nation's first treatment center for troubled priests, Via Coeli in Jemez Springs, N.M., was that priests who had molested minors were unlikely to change.

Released then was a letter from Fitzgerald to Brady referring, I think to the correspondence scanned in here. Problem is the letter from Brady shows, to me, that the Bishop of Manchester was perfectly fine with the idea of washing the priest through the Servants of the Paraclete center in Jemez Springs and then putting him back in a parish.

Above is from WASHINGTON Post article at Bishop Accountability.

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An Arizona Republic story from August 14, 2003 identifies Sullivan as one of “six priests recently named by the Gallup Diocese in New Mexico as sexual predators [who] served in small Arizona towns.”

"Sullivan was in the Gallup Diocese from 1961-69, after several complaints were lodged against him in New Hampshire and Michigan. He worked in the Phoenix Diocese until 1982, when he retired. He died in 1999. He was accused of molesting a 13-year-old girl in 1979 at a church in Bullhead City and pleaded no contest. Allegations also were made by several other girls.
[COFA: Must have been when he was with Servants of the Paraclete.]

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The Gallup Independent reported in August 2005:

John T. Sullivan “served in the Diocese of Gallup for eight years before transferring to the Diocese of Phoenix. The Diocese of Gallup has said that no victim has come forward from this diocese.”

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As the 1957 letter scanned here and released at City of Angels Blog today shows, Catholic bishops took a flagrant disregard for the victims of these priests, and wanted to keep the priests in service producing more of those hundred dollar bills. Imagine if John T. Sullivan had been kept on an island someplace like, oh let’s see, Tortola, from 1957 on, how many less damaged women would have been walking around the Earth today.

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From 2002 news story on Sullivan:

Gr Diocese Reveals $500,000 Payment in Decades-Old Sexual Abuse Claims
The Money - Paid out in 1994 - Went to 3 Women Who Said a Priest Abused Them When They Were Girls

Grand Rapid Press (Michigan)
April 6, 2002

The Catholic Diocese of Grand Rapids acknowledges it paid more than $500,000 in 1994 to three women who were sexually abused as young girls and teens by a Grand Rapids priest.

How many women's lives could have been saved by keeping Father Sullivan in isolation from 1957 onward?

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PippiLeaks is a project of City of Angels Blog, releasing documents that prove the Catholic Church knew full well its prieshood was festered with pedophiles and left them in service with no concern for the well being of children for decades, named with a nod to Pippi Longstocking (pictured right).

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1 comment:

city of angels lady said...

Comment emailed:

They're (clergy) supposed to pray for us, not PREY on us!

Ignacio Aceves