I have a new hero

George Foster

And his name is George Foster. He’s the kind of Catholic I’ve always admired; he saw something wrong and he didn’t stop until he fixed it:

Foster’s brother was a priest; the two heard rumors of abuses and began looking into them. In 2002, Foster wrote an op-ed for the local paper, calling on the church to clean up its house.

 Immediately, he was inundated with tips and evidence from victims, attorneys and even the police. He also did something no journalist had: He went through the files at the Blair County Courthouse from the 1994 civil trial of the Rev. Francis Luddy, a priest accused of molesting boys. The lawsuit against Luddy was filed in 1987, but records were sealed at the church’s request. They became public during the trial.

Foster found in the files documents showing church officials knew of credible allegations against many additional priests but kept them secret. He confronted then-Bishop Joseph Adamec. If this were a movie, outraged authorities would have taken action. But that didn’t happen. Adamec rebuffed him.

Finally, in 2014, state investigators in a different child abuse case contacted Foster, and he provided his files. The report cited them extensively and called Foster’s actions “nothing short of heroic.”

I wondered where the journalists had been. Local media covered the Luddy trial, and the Johnstown paper, tipped off by Foster, wrote about the Luddy files in 2002. But none of it drew national attention. I called Richard Serbin, the attorney in the Luddy case, who regularly represents clergy sex-abuse victims. There wasn’t a paper with the prestige of the Boston Globe to make an impact, Serbin said. It happened in a small community in decline, and few noticed or cared. “The facts were all there, back in 1994,” Serbin said. “And no one bothered to look at them.”

“Spotlight” ends with a lengthy list of investigations of church abuses worldwide. In Pennsylvania, the grand jury report offers prayers that the current bishop makes the right choices going forward. I hope that works. I’m not exactly in the mood for prayer.

Go read the whole thing. And if I could just point something out: The more patriarchal an organization, the more likely there will be sexual abuse of women and children. Funny how that works.

6 thoughts on “I have a new hero

  1. “The more patriarchal an organization, the more likely there will be sexual abuse of women and children.”

    Susie – I was thinking the exact same thing as I read this. I would go a step further and say the more patriarchal an organization or institution, without the moderating influence of diversity of members, including women and other marginalized groups, the more corrupt in general. Law enforcement and major league sports come to mind.

  2. Funny how that works. Celibacy causes sexual deviance. In the Catholic church the victims are almost always BOYS.

    So, Susie blames the “patriarchy,” when it is actually the policy of celibacy (proven from the hisorical behavior of the Catholic clergy before the policy of celibacy was institutited) and then falsely proclaims that it is females that are the ones to suffer.
    And that is ideological nonsense. Males suffer under the Catholic clergy’s celibacy.

  3. Celibacy does not cause the deviants. For one thing, a vow of celibacy is only a vow, it doesn’t mean those vows are kept or even that they were made in good faith. For another, the deviants were deviants before they became priests, and the trust afforded to priests is Part of why they take the job

  4. Enforced celibacy which is what the Catholic vow of celibacy is, does obviously create deviants. Notice I did not say that every priest is a deviant. But there is again an obvious plethora of homosexual child abuse in the Catholic priesthood. And don’t even get me started on the nun stories I’ve heard about.

    To quote you: “For another,” you could not possibly have the slightest idea if those priests were into young boys before they became priests. The opposite is most likely true, in fact. Yep, they broke trust, just like so many priests do. But mostly with males, women and girls have very little to do with this.

    And susie, isn’t the abuse of some of the Mormon enclaves, other renegade Christian cults, and whatever you are talking about in regard to Scientology abuse of a completely different nature than the Catholic priest abuse? For one, Mormons, Christian cults and if you say so Scientology sexual abuse does appear to be more of a man-girl type or man-woman type.

    So, you’re probably right: it seems patriarchal. The Catholic clergy used to have wives and commit adultry to such an extent that the Church felt it had to shut down the sex. That isn’t patriarchal. But as Kraft-Ebbing said: Celibacy is the only perversion. In other words, shut off sex and it “escapes” into something else, much more unsavory than having a secret wife or being adultrous.

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