Cover-Up in Lincoln

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by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  April 30, 2020   

Many unanswered questions

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LINCOLN, Neb. (ChurchMilitant.com) - An archbishop is pledging transparency while glossing over the homosexual predation of a Nebraska priest.

Omaha's Abp. George Lucas is admitting that Lincoln's former vocation director and Newman Center chaplain, the late Msgr. Leonard Kalin, "did on occasion make sexual advances toward some seminarians and college students."

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Abp. George Lucas

But in a statement on the Kalin investigation Wednesday, Lucas inexplicably claimed that in spite of Kalin routinely preying on seminarians and college students, the "investigation did not find there was a culture of homosexuality at the Newman Center."

Concerning the report, Janet Smith, a theology professor at Detroit's Sacred Heart Seminary, asked, "Are we to believe that all those advances were rebuked?"  

Peter Mitchell, a former priest of the diocese of Lincoln from 1999–2013 and a seminarian under Kalin's authority from 19941998, is also critical of the report. Mitchell told Church Militant the statement by Lucas is merely an attempt to distract laity and priests from asking necessary questions and seeking answers they deserve.

Mitchell, who blew the whistle on Kalin in 2018, wants the diocese of Lincoln to confirm how many priests who spoke with the investigator were in fact abused by Kalin.

"I have heard from multiple sources that the investigator's report, which Bp. [James] Conley received in the fall of 2019 and chose not to make public before he left on his leave of absence, revealed that there are many," said Mitchell.

Smith is likewise asking how many priests accosted by Kalin are now priests in the diocese.

The statement by Lucas is merely an attempt to distract laity and priests from asking necessary questions and seeking answers they deserve.

"Are any of those individuals now priests in the diocese? Let me repeat: Are any of those individuals now priests in the diocese?" emphasized Smith.

The investigator's findings on Kalin showed that as far back as 1998, Lincoln was aware of what Lucas termed his "sexual impropriety." 

The report generated by Tom Gorgen, a licensed private detective hired by the diocese to investigate Kalin, listed the following fact: "In June 1998, Msgr. Kalin was retired as pastor of the Newman Center and diocese vocation director and named senior priest in residence at the Newman Center."

The report further claimed, "October 1998, Bp. [Fabian] Bruskewitz requires Msgr. Kalin to list all sexual encounters, which he does. Bishop Bruskewitz then issued a canonical warning forbidding Msgr. Kalin from being alone with any man under the age of 40 except for priests, close relatives and medical personnel."

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But Mitchell, who served as assistant pastor of the Newman Center from 2001–2002, says such restrictions were not revealed to him nor were they strictly observed. He acknowledged that Kalin was retired as the vocation director in June 1998 but clarified that he "was still 'around' as a retired priest." He elaborated:

In 2001–2002 I was assistant pastor at the Newman Center under the pastor who replaced Kalin. Kalin was frequently visited by staff, students, seminarians, etc., at the retirement home where he lived, came to Masses, events, etc., though he was in poor health. I was never in any way told there were any restrictions on him — in other words, "nobody knew."

Smith is troubled by the lack of transparency in the report which leaves much room for speculation. The report "raises more questions than it answers," remarked Smith.

"It states that Kalin made sexual advances 'on occasion' towards college students and seminarians," added Smith. "What does that mean?'

Getting more specific, Smith then asks, "How did the college students and seminarians respond? Did he give them liquor, money, or take them on trips in return for whatever they did sexually for him?"

Mitchell similarly asked, "What does 'on occasion made sexual advances' mean? Was it daily? Weekly? Was it every afternoon that he went to take one of his infamous showers with a seminarian? Every time he took one of his famous trips to Las Vegas and the Jersey shore?"

This is a brilliant sleight of hand.

Mitchell added, "This is a brilliant sleight of hand which the diocesan lawyers who wrote it should be proud of. It reveals nothing that was not already known and is sandwiched in the middle of a long statement that is vague and dismissive of people's serious complaints."

Mitchell's comment about "infamous showers" refers to revelations contained in his whistleblower article on Kalin in 2018. In the article, Mitchell stated that Kalin would single out a young man from the Newman Center to assist him in taking his daily shower.

The one chosen for this ritual (always only one) was then instructed ... to "help monsignor to take a shower" in one of the locker rooms at Memorial Stadium, to which Kalin somehow had a private key. The unconvincing premise was that monsignor was old and feeble and "needed help" in the shower.

Mitchell is asking priests of the diocese to speak up: "Can any of the many outstanding priests of the Lincoln diocese who were in the seminary under Kalin's authority in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s confirm that they never experienced any sexual impropriety by Msgr. Kalin, nor suspected it, nor reported it?"

Even though Kalin is dead, people like Smith and Mitchell are looking toward the mark that Kalin left on priests who are still active within the diocese of Lincoln or elsewhere. To that end, they're both calling for far more transparency than the investigative report or Lucas are offering.

"We can only hope," remarked Mitchell, "that the faithful laity and many excellent priests of the diocese of Lincoln will continue to demand answers to the painful questions that remain unanswered and continue to cause damage and pain."

--- Campaign 31540 ---

 

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