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Church law loophole allowed a paedophile to keep his job

Church law loophole allowed a paedophile to keep his job

Paedophile Catholic priest Fr Kevin Gugliotta, 54, above, is currently languishing in jail, awaiting trial on charges of downloading and sharing images and videos of children involved in sex acts.

Now here’s a thing: according to this report, the Vatican was informed around 13 years ago that Gugliotta was alleged to have molested a 16-year-old boy.

But the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then headed by soon-to-be-Pope Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, decided that he could continue working because the assault took place before he was ordained as a priest.

Prior to his ordination he was a private-sector engineer and Boy Scout leader.

When he became a priest he served for years in various parishes, including a long stint as chaplain to a youth group.

When the allegation first surfaced, Gugliotta was suspended from his ministry in New Jersey and his case was referred to the Vatican for guidance, but he was then brought back into service.

A spokesman for the Newark archdiocese said the Vatican had ruled that Church law, known as canon law, prevented Gugliotta from being punished for something he might have done as a layman. In 2004, he was quietly reinstated.

That decision, which was not widely disclosed, is now being questioned by his accuser and others in the wake of Gugliotta’s arrest in October on 40 counts of possessing and disseminating child pornography.

Gugliotta remains jailed in Pennsylvania in lieu of $1 million bail, a spokeswoman for the Wayne County District Attorney’s Office said.

The man who accused him of sexual abuse in 2003 said he was unaware of the Vatican’s ruling on Gugliotta, calling it “mind-blowing” that the decision appeared to be based on a technicality.

The accuser, who did not file a lawsuit or seek money from the archdiocese, questioned how the Church could allow a potential threat into its parishes, particularly so soon after the clergy sexual abuse crisis exploded into national view two years earlier, in 2002.

archbishopjohn_ph_newark

Greg Gianforcaro, a lawyer who facilitated the accuser’s testimony before a board of Church investigators in 2003, put the onus on the archdiocese. Even if Archbishop John J Myers, above, could not bar Gugliotta from serving as a priest under canon law, Gianforcaro argued, Myers could have at least placed him in a position away from children. He said:

When does common sense take over, and what about the concern for children? That’s crazy.

Myers’ spokesman, Jim Goodness, said the archdiocese forwarded the case to Rome after it had:

Looked into the matter seriously. Since the allegations dealt with a time frame before he was a priest, there was nothing canonically the Church could do. All I can say is the direction that was given to us by Rome is that no penal action could be taken.

The Rev James Connell, a canon lawyer in the Archdiocese of Milwaukee and a prominent advocate for victims of clergy sexual abuse, said the Vatican appeared to act appropriately under canon law in determining Gugliotta could not be punished for alleged wrongdoing that occurred before he was an ordained priest.

At the same time, Connell said, Vatican officials should consider amending church laws to eliminate what he characterised as a loophole that could allow potential abusers to remain in the priesthood.

Connell was more forceful in suggesting Myers could have taken action to restrict Gugliotta’s ministry. Under canon law, he said, bishops have a free hand to assign priests where they see fit.

The bishop of the diocese has a responsibility to be watching out for the care of all the people. If he knows technically nothing can be done, morally something should be done, so he is not in a spot where someone could be hurt.

Critics of the archbishop say his handling of Gugliotta represents another misstep for Myers, who has previously been criticised for the manner in which he has managed priests accused of sexual abuse. Myers, whose retirement has been accepted by Pope Francis, is due to be replaced by Cardinal Joseph W Tobin of Indianapolis in January.

Said Mark Crawford, the New Jersey Director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), an advocacy and support group:

To me, it’s unconscionable that they allowed him to remain a priest without restrictions. And then to allow him to be a youth minister? How reckless was that?

Gugliotta, a nationally ranked poker player who has regularly competed in tournaments around the country, was arrested on October 21. He was extradited to Pennsylvania last month.

The priest had been at his latest assignment, Holy Spirit Church in Union Township, for about a week when he was charged in the child pornography case.

Gugliotta was never charged in connection with the abuse allegations that date to the mid-1980s.

His accuser, whose name is being withheld because he is an alleged victim of sexual assault, said he reported it to the Essex County Prosecutor’s Office in 2003, the same month he first reached out to the archdiocese.

The man, now a 46-year-old married father of two in Union County, said he was told the case could not be prosecuted because it was beyond the statute of limitations.
In a detailed letter given to the Archdiocesan Review Board – a panel that investigates sex abuse claims – and in testimony before the board in 2003, the man said Gugliotta was a close family friend who lived near him in Newark and who served as his troop leader in the Boy Scouts.

Beginning in 1986, he said, Gugliotta repeatedly fondled him against his will at Scout events, at his home and on family vacations. He said Gugliotta also once spied on him through his bedroom window as he masturbated.

On another occasion, the man said, Gugliotta hid in his room quietly, apparently hoping to catch him masturbating.

The accuser said Gugliotta eventually confessed to him that he was gay and that he loved him. When the man tried to avoid contact, Gugliotta continued to stalk him into his late teens, he said, at one point showing up unannounced at his college in Pennsylvania.

The man said he felt compelled to come forward in 2003 because he realised he was keeping a secret for the wrong reason and because he wanted to protect others.

I was not asking for or looking for any reward from the archdiocese. I just wanted solely to keep him out of a position of power where he could abuse others.

He said he was speaking up again now because the archdiocese, despite the child pornography charges, had remained silent about the previous abuse claims.
Crawford, of SNAP, echoed that criticism.

They have said, in their words, they have a responsibility to be open and honest and transparent with the faithful and to put kids before the institution. Clearly they failed at all levels here.

19 responses to “Church law loophole allowed a paedophile to keep his job”

  1. Stephen Mynett says:

    Paedophile priest keeps job and Vatican make a mess of things. I am totally shocked, cannot believe anything like this has happened before. Next there will be accusations that St Albanian Poison Dwarf did not give all the money collected to help the poor of India.

  2. H3r3tic says:

    Here we go again. Just when you think it was impossible to think less of the Catholic Church, this kind of shit appears! The Catholic acquaintances I used to have no longer speak to me because as soon as they start spouting off about religion and morality I mention this kind of shit. It’s undoubtedly easier for them to blank it out.

  3. Broga says:

    Well, fancy that. Who would have thought it?

  4. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    So they couldn’t do anything. What, not even report him to the police?

  5. AgentCormac says:

    As ever, the best interests of the church must be put first. All other considerations, including protecting innocent children from known abusers, are rescinded.

  6. Trevor Blake says:

    it takes one cleric to rape a child, dozens of clergy to know about it and do nothing, thousands of laity to read about it and keep silent, millions of ‘good Christians’ to never learn about it and have hurt feelings when an atheist insults their international child rape ring.

    Attack the faith as a whole, including the faith of the ‘good Christians.’ When the outer protective layer is peeled away, watch those near the rotten core scurry.

    All of the good deeds of the ‘good Christians’ are also done by secular people. The difference between the two is the secular people lack an international child rape ring at the core.

  7. barriejohn says:

    Of course Mother Church must be protected. It was the same when I was an evangelical Christian, though different language was used. It was “the testimony, the testimony” then. It’s like a gigantic PR job. Remember, to Catholics salvation ONLY comes through the Church and its “sacraments”, so anything that damages the organization or its reputation means millions more suffering in hell or purgatory for potentially years and years and years. You can justify hiding any amount of evil on that basis!

    Extra Ecclesiam nulla salus. All the categorical strength and point of this aphorism lies in its tautology. Outside the Church there is no salvation, because salvation is the Church.”

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Extra_Ecclesiam_nulla_salus

  8. Dick Chopper says:

    Ask yourself why Gugliotta became an rcc priest in the very first place. Yes, that’s right, because he knew he would get unsupervised access to children, get the protection of the rcc (who are only concerned about its own reputation) and be moved onto a new cohort of fresh children at regular intervals. What a calculating shit. And what a totally immoral and evil abomination the rcc really is. Aren’t all Roman Catholics accessories to the crimes of child rape and child pornograph on the basis that they provide the money to the rcc? And it’s nice to know that tax dollars are being spent on supporting an organisation that actually views the rape of children as recompense for its priests for low pay, long hours and the burdens of celibacy. Did you know that the anal salary of rcc priests is in the bottom quartile of the national salary distribution.

  9. Cali Ron says:

    “All I can say is the direction that was given to us by Rome is that no penal action could be taken.” Apparently Gugliotta didn’t adhere to the same standard.

  10. Angela_K says:

    Tell the religious they must obey the law and they’ll whine about persecution, one of the reasons there are so many cover-ups.

  11. Some things have not changed and are not changing. Sadly, Pope Francis continues to make promises, set up commissions and the like….

    One should read the letter sent to Pope Francis by Catholic Whistleblowers of which I am a founding member. It can be found on the national VOTF.org website at:

    http://www.votf.org/content/catholic-whistleblowers-letter-pope-francis

    Sister Maureen Paul Turlish SNDdeN
    New Castle, DE
    maturlishmdsnd@yahoo.com

  12. StephenJP says:

    Sister Turlish, I guess that in my understanding of how the universe works and what keeps it going I am about as far away from your position as it is possible to be. Nevertheless I salute your courage and I hope you get a serious response.

    Only…where do you draw the line in deciding what to accept from your church hierarchy? For atheists like me, it’s not a problem: we look for evidence and the application of reason, and are not prepared to take any dogma, tradition or alleged revelation on trust. Should we presume that on most other matters you accede to whatever the Vatican decrees?

    Anyway, best wishes for your campaign. Perhaps you might consider whether the Vatican’s appalling behaviour on this issue sheds any light on its attitude towards other current social and indeed scientific issues.

  13. Robster says:

    Is sexualy preditory behaviour a required talent to become a roman Catholic priest? Conclusive proof seems to be everywhere.

  14. no longer buying it says:

    What a puzzle…Catholic bishops screen seminarians to ensure they are not gay, because the church will not allow gay men to be ordained. Yet if you molest a child, tell that child you are gay and it happens before you were ordained…thats no problem at all. Does this not encourage seminarians to lie and hide their own past UNTIL they are ordained, when your past crimes will no longer matter to church officials? Is this why studies have concluded that approximately 40% of clergy are actively gay? How can we as a society, why do so many continue to accept such sheer hypocrisy on the part of our bishops?

  15. John says:

    Re. Maureen Turlish: does it never occur to you that your outfit has nothing to do with claimed Christian “values”?
    Some other churches perceive the RCC as thoroughly evil and embodying satanic belief systems.
    When one reads about cases like these, it is tempting to agree with them.
    I don’t believe in “gods” or “satans” but I do believe in a capacity for human and institutional evil, which Gugliotta and the Vatican appear thoroughly to embody.

  16. barriejohn says:

    People who remain members of the RCC and agitate for change need their brains read. The RCC is not a club or a democracy, it is an authoritarian institution the rules of which are decided by those in control, and if you don’t like it then the only course of action is to leave. The Pope is a divinely appointed leader, not a democratically elected president!

  17. John says:

    To say ‘The Pope is a divinely appointed leader’ is incorrect.
    He is elected to the post by the College of Cardinals.
    Afterwards, they burn the voting slips, which is why the world’s media concentrates on the chimney pot from their room for signs of smoke.
    The cardinals are not allowed to leave until they have elected a new pope.
    Divinity has nothing to do with it.
    Nothing at all.

  18. barriejohn says:

    John: I know that, but they claim that the “Holy Spirit” guides them in their voting, so that, if they are attuned to his “guidance” they will appoint “God’s choice”. It’s all bollocks, as can be seen by some of the choices that they made, but that’s the result of “Free Will”, which somehow operates alongside the “Divine Will”!

  19. Cali Ron says:

    Kudos sister for having the balls to post here and call out the pope for not having the balls to try to fix the churches sexual abuse problem. When your done questioning your pope you should question your religion and belief in god.