News

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.

19 Responses to “Catholic Church fixer tells of his role in covering up clerical sex abuse”

  1. dogon says:

    Seems odd that the US media have not picked this up yet.

  2. Broadsword says:

    To read the article here you would want this guy strung up, but before you condemn him, listen to his radio interview. When he saw the extent of the kiddie fiddling (why not say child fucking), he got out. I think he thought he was meant to justify a few cases but was sickened at its ubiquity within the paedhood. These sub-humans should be hunted down with the same vigour that Israel chased old nazis. Good on him. He’s an essential resource and whoever engaged him to mitigate child abuse is a criminal. I hope he exposes the corrupt individuals who would defend this creaking institution, and the child fuckers they should have vetted before unleashing them on society.

    As a dad I can only say what I would do if I got my hands on a fiddler:
    Taser, van, death. Don’t speak or tell it what it’s done. Just dispose of it. Take no pleasure from it either. For me this is unemotional, you’re not dealing with a human life. Just put the bin out for the ashman.

  3. Urmensch says:

    I heard this guy talking on the NPR podcast ages ago. He is a basically good guy who got out when he realized the extent of the abuse. He helps bring lawsuits against the RCC now.

  4. Broadsword says:

    I’d not heard of Patrick Wall until I read about him on The Little Tinker. Does anybody know if he’s still religious?

  5. Lucy says:

    Careful Broadsword. Every person is human. No one is rubbish to be ‘exterminated’ and then put in the bin. Once you think or act like that for a ‘good ‘reason, you open the possibility of thinking and acting like that for a ‘bad’ one. It is a line that should never be crossed.

  6. Angela_K says:

    Well done to Patrick Wall for having the courage to leave the priesthood and fighting against his former masters – There must be a lot of knives out for him though.

    Lucy: “Every person is human” Yes but some are less human than others. Paedophiles are vermin and should be dealt with as such.

  7. Lucy says:

    Nope, don’t agree. That is the argument used by all genocidal monsters to justify their crimes.

  8. RubberBaron says:

    I’m with Lucy here. You descend to their level and you lose all moral right to judge.

  9. sailor1031 says:

    for more see his blog at:

    http://patrickjwall.wordpress.com/

  10. Broga says:

    Meanwhile Ratzinger is still on the way to the UK and likely to cost taxpayers around £20 million – if we are lucky. Now, the question is, while David Cameron and his co politicians are warning us that the UK finances are worse that expected and we are going to be hit very hard how can he still fund Ratzinger? If he comes here then he and his church should pay every penny themselves. This is not a state visit and even if it were he would still be repellent to most fair thinking voters.

    We mught also wonder about the BBC enthusiasm for boosting his visit with an utterly contemptible flattery.

  11. Doug says:

    A quick look at Mr. Wall’s blog will show that he is either 1)Ignorant of the Catholic faith and totally misinformed about some of the most basic Catholic beliefs and practices; 2) A fraud; 3) Incompetent 4) All of the above.

    Anyone who would have put this guy in charge of “fixing” things would have to be either crazy or similarly incompetent, since Mr. Wall appears to be totally unqualified for the job.

    I doubt Wall was ever ordained a priest. I’m guessing he washed out of the seminary half way through his first year. The errors and omissions on his blog prove that, absent a sudden and severe attack of Alzheimer, he could never, ever, have been a Catholic priest.

    Furthermore, there is no need to “parachute” someone in to resolve these types of problems, since there’s typically plenty of trained, qualified, politically sensitive, legal and clerical help available locally.

    Making no excuses whatsoever for the scandal, or how it was mishandled … this guy’s story simply doesn’t add up.

    You don’t necessarily have to be a practicing Catholic to figure that out … but it helps.

  12. mojoey says:

    He was featured on This American Life a couple of years ago. Revisited in #404: Enemy Camp 2010

  13. NeoWolfe says:

    Is there anything new to say on the subject? It would be of extreme interest to get a look at the number of RCC priests that have been accused of molestation, but, the reality is sealed in vaults at the Vatican or destroyed. By now, they must be learning their lesson, the paper trail leads to the pope, and they can’t let that happen again. They are probably burning their records like they used to burn books with dissenting ideas. Their strategy hasn’t changed, they just find themselves playing defense now, something they imagined would never happen.

    NeoWolfe1

  14. eheffa says:

    Doug,

    Your attempt to discredit Patrick Wall is a tactic that the ‘Practicing Catholics’ have used with great success on their victims: Discredit them, impugn their character by suggesting that they deliberately tempted their priestly rapists or simply shame them into silence.

    If you think that the hush-up campaigns were orchestrated at a merely colloquial or local parish level, you have had your head in the sand.

    There is no evidence of a loving god in this corrupt organization. I would suggest that we all recognize that fact, stop honoring them with any special merit & move on.

    -evan

  15. Doug –

    Your name calling is transparent. When I read a statement like yours, “A quick look at Mr. Wall’s blog will show that he is either 1)Ignorant of the Catholic faith and totally misinformed about some of the most basic Catholic beliefs and practices; 2) A fraud; 3) Incompetent 4) All of the above.” and notice you have no details or facts, it simply makes me laugh at you. People don’t fall for those types of arguments anymore, we’re becoming smarter than that. Now, if you had even one detail or fact I’d consider your argument. Otherwise you are just a joke.

  16. Rosita says:

    @Doug:

    The same argument could be made against any of the Pedophile Priests. It’s a wishful extension of the “no true Scotsman” argument or the “x was never a real Christian” argument. The only people who believe such nonsense are those who want to deny that their cherished set of beliefs could lead to behavior their socially derived moral code decries. In other words, it is a Believer’s attempt to dissipate intolerable cognitive dissonance and is very unlikely to convince non-Believers.

  17. Rosita says:

    @Doug

    P.S. Patrick Wall is described as an ex-Benedictine Monk, not an ex- Catholic Priest. That still makes him a Catholic (either ex- or continuing). Since this was mentioned twice in the article what does this say about your own mental acuity?

  18. Barret Denman says:

    That they receive their education not in the schools but rather at home and in the church. You know in places where their are never any studies done to actually TEST what progress a particular instruction set makes over another?

  19. By not reporting known crimes, this person along with the pope and many others, is an “Accessory after the fact”. This is a felony in mys civilized countries. In addition, they may also be prosecuted for “aiding an abetting” as they helped the child abusers to move on to commit further crimes.

    The fact that he is now more or less on the other side, does not change anything. All of these people are still criminals.