Grave Irony: Sexually Deviant Priests Serve on Diocesan Tribunals

News: US News
by Martina Moyski  •  •  December 3, 2019   

They make critical decisions on fate of Catholics

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An ironic thread of the Catholic Church's "zero tolerance" policy can be seen in the existence of sexually deviant priests serving on official Church tribunals.

Take the case of Gregory Ingles, a former priest, who was charged in 2003 with molesting a 15- year-old boy in 1972. Secret police recordings in 2003 revealed Ingels apologizing to the male victim, saying, among other things, "What I did to you was terrible." The charge was dropped later that year due to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling (Stogner vs. California) on statute of limitations.

Other accusations were leveled at Ingels, including a woman who reported Ingels sexually abused her over a four-year period, beginning in 1973, when she was a freshman at Marin Catholic High in California, and another young who woman who said she was raped by Engels in the 1980s in her family's home. (Ingels returned a few hours after the assault to share in a family dinner.)

Early photo of Gregory Ingels

Ingels was (and is) considered a legal expert and canon lawyer, skills that made him a useful favorite for former San Francisco Abp. William J. Levada. In fact, Ingels had helped devise the American Church's "zero tolerance" policy regarding priestly sex abuse that the pope signed off on in 2002, also known as the Dallas Charter.

The priest who abused children had become a well-known, sought-after and protected canonical expert on child sexual abuse.

In a recent article, George Neumayr explains how he contacted Ingels via a phone confirming that Ingels still does "occasional" work on tribunals.

As a long-time canon lawyer, Ingels says dioceses across the country now call him up to gain his counsel. He gets paid for his work, from diocesan funds collected from parishioners. But Ingels told Neumayr he is "basically retired."

"That a credibly accused abuser still works for Catholic tribunals contradicts the 'zero tolerance' message sent by the U.S. bishops," Neumayr winced. "It is also an obvious violation of canon law, which requires that those who work on tribunals be upstanding members of the faith."

Running pretty much concurrently with his history of predation, Ingels had often been the Church's "legal point man in sex abuse cases, flitting around the country as an expert witness and going abroad on behalf of the Canon Law Society," a professional association dedicated to the promotion of both the study and the application of canon law in the Catholic Church.


An orphan Ingels allegedly raped over a four-year period

He was former vicar of priests of the San Francisco archdiocese where then-Abp. Levada not only allowed Ingels to remain in public ministry but also to flourish as legal celebrity in crony circles.

In 2001, the year before Ingels was placed on leave, Abp. Levada chose Ingels to help set up the San Francisco archdiocese's Independent Review Board, the panel entrusted with investigating clerics against whom complaints were lodged.

In May 2003, Ingels was in the San Francisco prosecutor's crosshairs, but Ingels walked, escaping prison as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision that stopped criminal investigations across California in their tracks. By ending any possibility of public trials in those cases that exceeded the statute of limitations, it also kept information on decades of alleged misconduct by clerics from entering the public realm.

Even after the High Court decision ended the prosecution of Ingels, Abp. Levada continued to push for secrecy in sex abuse matters — and district attorneys within the archdiocese's territory, including San Francisco's Kamala Harris, took questionable steps to help Levada keep records of clerical predation in northern California away from public eyes.

With the archbishop's blessing, Ingels served as an adjunct professor at St. Patrick's Seminary in Menlo Park and performed parish duties at St. Bartholomew Church in San Mateo, while being sought after as a canon lawyer. Levada also appointed Ingels director of formation for the Permanent Diaconate, entrusting him to supervise Church deacons within the 425,000-member archdiocese.

Church Militant reported last September on another case of a gay ex-cleric who "wed" a fellow former priest, then served on a diocesan marriage tribunal in Delaware. One-time priest Jack Anderson served as a defender of the marital bond for the diocese of Wilmington. Anderson consequently resigned as defender of the bond, according to Neumayr who has been vigilant in reporting on such cases.

Neumayr told Church Militant that these cases illustrate not only a "grave irony" but "the rampant cronyism and hypocrisy within the gay mafia" that allows such discrepancies as Ingels' and Anderson's to occur.

Because of the actions of thousands of predator priests, lay people pay the price "frequently complain[ing] about the gauntlet they must run before even volunteering in the Church now."

Neumayr added summarily, "Yet here is [Ingels], a molester who abused a teenage boy, still on the Church's payroll! That he helped write the Dallas Charter and advises bishops on how to implement it is beyond parody — something not even Evelyn Waugh could have thought up."

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