Catholic Church fixer tells of his role in covering up clerical sex abuse

IN one of the most riveting interviews I have heard in months, a former “fixer” for the Roman Catholic Church in the US – ex-Benedictine monk Patrick Wall – told Radio 4′s Saturday Live this morning how he had unexpectedly found himself charged with the duty of covering up clerical child abuse.

Patrick Wall now devotes his life to helping victims of clerical abuse

Describing himself as a “company man” – a “soldier” who had to protect the institution of the Church above all else – the Minnesota monk said he would be parachuted into a parish in the aftermath of allegations of sexual abuse. His job was to right the situation. And quickly, he became adept at making scandals go away.

It was a job he did for almost a decade.

He said that protecting the Church was paramount and that little or no concern was ever shown for the victims.

Victims were regarded as a liability – a huge financial liability – and a big problem.

Asked whether he ever considered reporting abuse to the police or child protection services, Wall said “never”.

It was always about keeping the problem in-house and dealing with it in-house … it has been for centuries.

The solution was always to move an abusive priest on, and to keep lay members in the dark with “pious answers” when they questioned the sudden disappearance of a priest from their parish, he said.

According to this report – complete with audio – over time Patrick Wall became conflicted about the role he was playing. Eventually, his concerns pushed him to leave the priesthood.

Now, Wall spends his days helping people who have been abused by Church officials. He’s a legal consultant and a Canon Lawyer with the US law firm Manly and Stewart.

You can listen to the broadcast here; and there is a good background piece here.

Thanks to Sam for the Saturday Live recording.