One day after Church Militant's groundbreaking exposé detailing decades-long history of abuse and cover-up in the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX), the SSPX has issued an official response, which contains a number of evasions, half-truths and inaccuracies that require a response. Most telling is not so much what the SSPX says, but rather its silence on so much of what Church Militant reported in our exposé.
The SSPX attempts to justify its stonewalling, silence and lack of transparency as a refusal to be "baited" by Church Militant, which it dismisses as "tabloid journalism" whose only purpose in reporting on the SSPX is to "generate web-clicks and revenue while hoping to stoke the fires of public controversy."
Church Militant has been at the forefront of exposing corruption, abuse and cover-up at all levels of the Church, with a strong track record of serious investigative journalism exposing the grave misdeeds of predator clergy and their protectors. The McCarrick revelations, the Pennsylvania grand jury report, the resignation of Cdl. Donald Wuerl, the bombshell testimony of Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò revealing a "corrupt gay mafia" strangling the Church — in short, the Summer of Shame vindicated everything Church Militant has been saying — often a lone voice in the wilderness — for years.
No serious Catholic with integrity would dismiss our work as merely clickbait in order to generate revenue. Thus the SSPX's dismissal of Church Militant's reportage can only be seen as a pathetic attempt at further evasion and subterfuge, more typical of the tactics of liberal, cover-up bishops we've encountered, who shoot the messenger rather than answer difficult questions about their role in protecting predator priests. We are all too familiar with such maneuvers.
The SSPX's claim that it wouldn't answer Church Militant's questions as a matter of "prudence" in order to avoid a "public war of words" is also disproven by their deeply embarrassing leaked emails, exposing leadership's strategizing on how to prevent Church Militant from knowing too much about Fr. Pierre Duverger's case — a case Vogel admits would be viewed as "bizarre" by the public because he's allowed to run a school while the subject of multiple sexual assault allegations — allegations known for at least two years that Fr. Wegner admitted directly to Jassy Jacas the SSPX never investigated.
The SSPX emails reveal one motive alone: how best to hide the truth from the public. James Vogel's admission about "ugly cases in France" (cases that involved the intervention of two superiors general — Franz Schmidberger and Bernard Fellay — to shuffle a pederast to another congregation, or lift his ban so as to allow him to be around children) as well as his admission that Church Militant would find a "gold mine" in Jassy's allegations suffice to expose their agenda.
It is thus laughable that the SSPX would charge Church Militant with a supposed "gross lack of ethics" for publishing the emails, when their strategizing to cover up the truth is the very definition of a "gross lack of ethics."
The Society's claim that it "cooperates with all police or other official investigations" is also demonstrably false. The Kansas Bureau of Investigation revealed to Church Militant that the SSPX stonewalled their investigation, dragging its feet in response to a subpoena inquisition the KBI submitted in November. It took months for the SSPX to respond with the documents, when the subpoena could have easily been responded to in a matter of two weeks or less — the expected response time for subpoena inquisitions of that nature.
The SSPX statement also attempts to cast doubt on the existence of a criminal investigation against multiple SSPX clergy — another false statement, as the KBI confirmed directly with Church Militant that this criminal investigation has been ongoing for approximately a year, and that it involves multiple clergy. In an email to Church Militant, Fr. Wegner himself admits there is a criminal investigation of SSPX clergy. While the name of Fr. Pierre Duverger has already been made public (thanks to the whistleblowing of Jassy Jacas), other SSPX clergy under investigation may not necessarily be known to the SSPX, and we are not at liberty to disclose their names so as not to compromise the investigation.
As to Fr. Jurgen Wegner's transfer to Austria, the assignment was announced in the middle of the criminal investigation, and comes at a highly convenient time. In spite of whatever treaties exist between the United States and Austria, the SSPX is fully aware that investigations are made infinitely more difficult when a priest is moved across state lines, cutting off investigators' access to the subject under investigation.
Church Militant has learned, however, that this is standard operating procedure for the SSPX, shuffling predator clergy — and those who cover for them — from one country to another, never informing their new flock of their priests' past misdeeds, in the hopes others will not find out. This makes the SSPX no different from "Novus Ordo" cover-up bishops who transferred guilty clergy from one place to another, never warning the flock about the priest's crimes.
The SSPX admits there have been "serious and tragic individual cases of abuse" by their own clergy — including those Church Militant exposed in our report:
As we said in our report, this is only the tip of the iceberg. Church Militant did not touch on the protection of gay pederast Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity by then-Fr. Alfonso de Galarreta when he was district superior of the SSPX in Argentina. Galarreta was made known of multiple charges of homosexual predation by Urrutigoity, who was a seminarian at the time, yet did nothing, leading to such exasperation by others at the seminary that a dossier of Urrutigoity's misconduct and Galarreta's failure to act was sent to Abp. Marcel Lefebvre.
There is much, much more. Church Militant is well aware of multiple other SSPX clergy and brothers all over the world who have sexually groomed, assaulted and raped victims, in some cases fathering illegitimate children with them while forcing the victims to remain silent and then abandoning the children — all with the knowledge of SSPX leadership.
Church Militant has confirmed that these priests still minister in various SSPX chapels to this very day.
With regard to the SSPX's so-called cooperation with Belgian authorities in the criminal trial of Fr. Abbet, the SSPX fails to mention that Bp. Fellay (as we exposed in our report) personally sent his private secretary, Fr. Raphael Granges (a lawyer), to accompany Abbet to the courthouse daily. Granges dressed in lay clothes in order to escape notice.
The SSPX also fails to mention that an SSPX tribunal cleared Abbet of guilt years earlier when other sex abuse allegations came to light — allegations brought by distraught parents when they discovered their child had been abused by the priest. The SSPX leadership assured the parents they would handle the matter, asking that they not go public with their allegations — only for the SSPX to set up a tribunal to formally clear Abbet of guilt. It would take a secular court to deliver the justice the SSPX canonical court refused to serve.
It's also laughable that the SSPX blames its failure to report known abusers to police on a "lack of infrastructure." As if a "lack of infrastructure" is what prompted Fellay to lift a ban on gay pederast Fr. Philippe Peignot (found guilty of abusing an 11-year-old boy, among others), allowing him to be around more young boys.
As if "lack of infrastructure" is what prompted Schmidberger to sit on the allegations against Peignot for a year — before transferring him to another congregation, where he would go on to abuse more boys.
As if "lack of infrastructure" is what prompted Lefebvre to ordain a known homosexual predator who had earlier been kicked out of the SSPX seminary for his sexual propositioning of a seminarian.
As if lack of infrastructure is what prompted Fellay to limit rapist Fr. Roisnel's punishment to two years of prayer and penance in a monastery before letting him loose. Thanks be to God the police found him and delivered him to justice, rather than waiting on the soft "justice" of the SSPX.
Was it that "lack of infrastructure" that led three SSPX priests to counsel Kyle White not to report child rapist Peter Palmeri to police?
Was it that "lack of infrastructure" that prompted Fellay to move pederast Fr. Abbet to live in a priory right next door to a school, where he abused three boys? We could go on, but the point is clear.
This "lack of infrastructure"is the exact same excuse we've heard before from so many cover-up bishops to justify their failure to report predators to police in times past, instead sending them off to do prayer and penance or go to rehab centers before placing them back in active ministry, where they often abused again.
The SSPX claims to be fully "committed to transparency." That is yet to be seen, proven by its latest statement full of evasions and deceptions, only lending further weight to our report exposing the SSPX as a bastion of cover-up and corruption, carrying on its work under the cloak of piety and traditionalism. Because of their promotion of orthodoxy and a reverent liturgy, their betrayal can rightly be viewed as far greater than that of other clergy.
Victims and witnesses of abuse by the SSPX or other clergy can contact the Kansas Bureau of Investigation at firstname.lastname@example.org or they can call 1 (800) KS-Crime (1-800-572-7463).