Justified, Righteous Anger

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by Gene Thomas Gomulka  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  February 12, 2020   

Retired Navy chaplain identifies with whistleblowers like Abp. Viganò

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I never met Abp. Carlo Maria Viganò, Fr. Mark White, or Fr. Paul Kalchik. Nevertheless, I feel like I know them very well. After reading what they wrote and what was reported about them, it appears they are not only distraught, but also very angry with how the sex abuse crisis has been playing out in the Catholic Church.

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Gene Thomas Gomulka

Archbishop Viganò was the former Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, who called upon Pope Francis to resign after accusing him of covering up homosexual predation on the part of disgraced ex-cardinal, Theodore McCarrick. Viganò claims that on June 23, 2013, he shared with Francis allegations similar to those that the late A.W. Richard Sipe reported to Pope Benedict in 2008. Sipe's documentation moved Benedict to place severe restrictions on McCarrick's movements and public ministry, not allowing him to venture beyond the seminary grounds where he was living, and not permitting him to say Mass in public.

Father Mark White is a pastor of two parishes in the Richmond diocese who was silenced by his bishop, Barry Knestout, for criticizing Church leaders on social media for their mishandling of the sex abuse crisis. When White complained in his blog about abuse cover-ups involving Cdl. Donald Wuerl and even Pope Francis, Knestout ordered him to shut it down after it drew more than a million viewers. With the belief that Pope Francis violated his own "zero tolerance" policy, White "begged" the pope to resign. His appeal echoed Abp. Viganò's "Testimony" in which he argued, "Pope Francis must be the first to set a good example for cardinals and bishops who covered up McCarrick's abuses and resign along with all of them."

Father Paul Kalchik was the pastor of a Chicago parish who fled after Cdl. Blase Cupich ordered him removed with threats of being placed in a mental health facility for allowing his parishioners to burn a rainbow banner that used to hang in the sanctuary of their church. The banner was hung by the former pastor who died naked in his rectory bedroom connected to a sex machine adjacent to mirrored closets filled with gay pornography. Before his parishioners burned the banner in a private ceremony, Kalchik — himself a sex abuse victim — wrote in his church bulletin: "The clandestine nature of the consensual homosexual sex going on among so many in the clergy allowed the intimidation of seminarians and rapes to be covered up."

Two such cases have come forward where active duty priest chaplains have been found guilty of engaging in immoral acts with minors. 

One reason I feel I know the above clerics well is because of a similar conflict I had as a Catholic Navy chaplain with my ecclesiastical superior, then-Abp. Edwin O'Brien. It was in February 2004 that I received a letter from O'Brien concerning his response to the John Jay Study in which he wrote, "As to our archdiocese, two such cases have come forward where active duty priest chaplains have been found guilty of engaging in immoral acts with minors." No sooner had I finished reading that sentence, I became extremely upset.

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Abp. Edwin O'Brien

Ten years earlier, as the deputy chaplain of the Marine Corps — with supervisory responsibility for some 250 chaplains from some 60 different faith groups — I dealt with five sexual abuse cases involving priest chaplains. One involved pedophilia and four involved homosexual predation. How could I have dealt with five cases within three years in the Marine Corps, while O'Brien claimed there were only two cases in 52 years in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard and the Department of Veterans Affairs? 

I couldn't help but have a flashback to my interaction with the predators, the victims and their families. Not only did I feel they were betrayed by the archbishop, but I also couldn't help but wonder just how many minors and young military personnel were actually abused by priest chaplains over all those years. It was years later that Bishop Accountability compiled a list of over 150 chaplains who were credibly accused of abuse.

In addition to the five cases I dealt with while stationed in Washington, I also reported a priest chaplain in Hawaii for having a "live-in boyfriend." Instead of confronting the priest, O'Brien covered up his homosexual behavior until he was arrested five years later for conduct unbecoming an officer, sodomy, aggravated assault and failure to inform sex partners that he was HIV positive. He currently is serving a 30-year sentence in a federal penitentiary.

One of the most respected sex abuse advocates in the world is Dominican Fr. Thomas Doyle, who was awarded the Cavallo Award for Moral Courage, the Voice of the Faithful's Priest of Integrity Award, and the Paulist Fathers' Isaac Hecker Award. The Dominican Fathers also issued him a commendation for his "prophetic work in drawing attention to clergy sexual abuse and for advocating the rights of victims and abusers."

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Fr. Thomas Doyle

When Fr. Doyle had his ecclesiastical endorsement as an Air Force chaplain revoked in 2003 by then-Abp. Edwin O'Brien without justifiable cause, he returned from his base in Germany to his home in the Washington, D.C. area only to be told he would not be granted faculties to celebrate Mass and the other sacraments. The prelate who denied him faculties was ex-Cdl. Theodore McCarrick, and the prelate who did not rescind this unjust action was retired Cdl. Donald Wuerl.

If I can identify with Viganò, White, Kalchik and Doyle, it's not only because we have spoken out against the abuse and the cover-ups, but also because we have all been reprised against in various ways for the stances we have taken. Why is it that Pope Francis, Cdl. Cupich, and Bp. Knestout seem to want to blame the abuse problem on "clericalism" when everyone knows over 80% of the abuse cases involve the homosexual predation of teenage boys? Why is it that most secular and religious news services remain silent regarding allegations that Pope Francis himself covered up more abuse in Buenos Aires than most prelates in the world, despite having said, "It never happened in my diocese"? 

Over 70 Catholic bishops worldwide have been accused publicly of sexually abusing minors, and more than 30 bishops have been accused of sexual wrongdoing with adults. Only seven of these bishops have been laicized to date.

If it is true that Pope Francis covered up abuse both before and after his papal election, are Abp. Viganò and Fr. White not justified in "begging" the pope to resign? Unfortunately, it appears that those clerics within the Church who speak out in the tradition of courageous sainted figures like John Fisher and Thomas More are threatened with psychiatric examinations; are denied faculties; and suffer censure for their righteous anger, while few prelates who engage in or cover up abuse are ever disciplined.

Over 70 Catholic bishops worldwide have been accused publicly of sexually abusing minors, and more than 30 bishops have been accused of sexual wrongdoing with adults. Only seven of these bishops have been laicized to date. Not only are sexually abusive bishops under canon law allowed to retain the title of bishop, but according to a 2008 document issued by the Congregation for Bishops, an abusive bishop (like Bp. Michael Bransfield) who is forced to retire, though relieved of administrative duties, retains his membership in the college of bishops and continues to "collaborate in the governance of the Church."

Gene Thomas Gomulka is a retired Navy Captain/Chaplain who served on active duty at Marine Corps and Navy commands for over 24 years. Father (Monsignor) Gomulka and Dominican Fr. Thomas Doyle had their ecclesiastical endorsements revoked as a result of their support for sexual abuse victims and their confrontations with Church leaders who underreported and covered up abuse.


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