Tom Doyle versus John Paul II
In 1985, Tom Doyle presented John Paul II at the Vatican his scholarly findings about the priestly sexual abuse in Louisiana and predicted that it will cost the USA Catholic Church millions of dollars in victims’ settlements. The Opus Dei laughed at him and continued to ignore him even until the eruption of the pedophile priests’ scandal in Boston in 2002 -- on the way of John Paul II to the World Youth Day in Toronto. So Opus Dei got Tom Doyle fired from his job as chaplain at the navy in Washington DC, one year short of his retirement which would have helped in his pension plan. See our coverages in the John Paul II Millstone weblog in earlier months www.jp2m.blogspot.com
=====July 1, 2009...7:02 am
Thomas P. Doyle: Fighting to Prevent Clergy Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church
Thomas_P_Doyle2The Rev. Tom Doyle was on the fast track. Eleven years after ordination to the Roman Catholic priesthood he was a canon or church lawyer on the staff of the Vatican embassy in Washington, D.C. His future looked exceedingly bright.
But in 1984 his career took a swerve he didn’t see coming. The idealistic Doyle was about to receive a crash course in radical evil, both individual and institutional.
A National Spotlight
The Vatican had been receiving reports of a high-profile case of clergy sexual abuse in Lafayette, Louisiana, about a two-hour drive west of New Orleans. Doyle was responsible for preparing files, monitoring correspondence, and preparing responses in the case for the Vatican ambassador, his boss, Archbishop Pio Laghi.
The trial involved Gilbert Gauthe, Jr., a 39-year-old Roman Catholic priest, who had been indicted in October 1984 on 39 counts of alleged sex crimes against children. He was defended in court by Ray Mouton, Jr., a highly respected member of the Lafayette community and a hard-charging attorney, trusted and retained by the Catholic Church.
Watershed events don’t usually occur in Lafayette, but here was an exception three times over. It was the first time in U.S. history national media turned its spotlight on a Catholic priest accused of alleged sex crimes. Next, it was the first time a family brought a civil suit against a diocese (Gastal v. Lafayette) for failure to take proper precautions when warned of Gauthe. Finally, the trial was a textbook case study for prosecutors seeking to bring pedophiles in the clergy to justice.
As trial testimony became public, both the community of Lafayette and the nation struggled with the details of Gauthe’s monstrous crimes against young children, mostly pre-pubescent boys. But perhaps more shocking were revelations of the Catholic Church’s cover-up of Gauthe’s despicable past.
Over a 12 year period Bishop Gerard Frey, head of the Lafayette diocese, routinely transferred Gauthe to a new parish when sexual-abuse complaints came to his attention. At each new parish church members would welcome Gauthe, popular with both children and adults, into their community, unaware of his history.
Given a clean slate by the bishop, the unsupervised Gauthe continued to molest young boys. In depositions he couldn’t recall the exact number but it may have been as many as a hundred.
Far from being punished, Gauthe was actually promoted to pastor from associate pastor during his tenure in the Lafayette diocese.
Outrage from victims’ families and widespread negative publicity finally caught up with Gauthe and the Church. He pled guilty to all counts against him and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
An Anomaly or Tip of Iceberg
Many outside the Church thought the Gauthe case was an anomalous blip on a screen, not soon to be repeated. But following the Gauthe conviction, civil and criminal lawsuits of alleged molestation by Catholic priests were filed across the country. Was the Gauthe case an abnormality or the tip of the iceberg?
Doyle was deeply concerned. He feared the U.S. bishops were in the dark about the magnitude of the problem and that they would continue to put Church interests ahead of victims’ needs.
Acting on their own initiative, Doyle, Mouton — working now to put pedophiles behind bars, not defend them – and Rev. Michael Peterson, M.D., a psychiatrist, took an unprecedented step.
“We put together a report for the U.S. bishops on how to respond appropriately and responsibly to reports of sexual abuse of children by clergy,” Doyle said. The 100-page report, really a how-to manual, was entitled The Problem of Sexual Molestation by Roman Catholic Clergy: Meeting the Problem in a Comprehensive and Responsible Manner.
“We put it together in good faith with every confidence that U.S. bishops would respond to what we believed to be a problem they were not aware of and would respond in an effective way, especially toward victims.” Interestingly, in the report they predicted the Church could pay potentially a billion dollars to defendants in diocesan lawsuits over the next decade. The claim would later prove prophetic.
They arranged a meeting with Auxiliary Bishop A. J. Quinn of Cleveland to discuss the report. Prior to the meeting Mouton said to Doyle, “You have the most to lose here. If you cross this threshold and go into that room, your career will never be the same.”
“I didn’t think a lot about it at the time,” Doyle said. “Obviously, I chose to cross the threshold, and we were wrong. They had known about the issue for some time. By ‘they,’ I mean certain bishops were aware; some weren’t. But I’ve learned since then that many were quite well aware.”
Sociologist Myron Glazer who studied 55 whistleblowers made this remarkable comment: “Virtually all of the ethical resisters…had long histories of successful employment.
They were not alienated or politically active members of movements advocating major changes in society. On the contrary, they began as firm believers in their organizations, convinced that if they took a grievance to superiors, there would be an appropriate response. This naivete led them into a series of damaging traps. They found that their earlier service and dedication provided them with little protection against charges of undermining organizational morale and effectiveness.” 1
Glazer could have been describing Doyle word by word.
Ally, Then Adversary
At their first meetings Quinn, initially an ally, was cordial to them and positive about their report. But in the following months he became an adversary, convinced the report was written to wring consultancy contracts from the Church.
A 2,000-year-old, male-dominated, hierarchical institution knows how to deal with perceived interlopers. After months of bureaucratic paper shuffling and minor discussions at bishops’ conferences, The Problem of Sexual Molestation by Roman Catholic Clergy report had itself become a problem. It was consigned to the dust bin, only to re-emerge 17 years later when another major sexual-abuse scandal of Boston clergy shocked the nation.
But by 1985 Doyle, a quick study, had become a student of how the inside game of Church affairs was played. “I discovered, especially after learning about the sexual abuse issue, how profoundly important internal Church politics were and how important the image of the institution and its structures were,” he said.
“I learned the policy of the institutional Catholic Church was not to respond to victims with any sense of pastoral concern or compassion, but to remain silent about the abuse victims had suffered and keep the matter as secret as possible so no harm or embarrassment would come to the institutional church,” Doyle said. “People suffering from sexual abuse by the clergy were an ‘entity’ the institutional Church would just as soon forget about. And, in fact, they did.”
Like countless other ethical dissenters, Doyle began to feel unwelcomed in his once beloved Church. Mouton was correct; Doyle’s career would never be the same.
In 1986 he took two decisive steps. First, he left his position at the Vatican embassy to enlist in the United States Air Force as a Catholic chaplain. Stationed at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware, Doyle would serve his country for the next two decades, with assignments in several overseas’ conflicts including Operation Iraqi Freedom. He retired with the rank of major in 2004.
No Way to Treat a Victim
Next, he found a new calling. Doyle became a relentless and outspoken victims’ advocate. “The events that made me choose the course I took was knowing the families and the victims of clergy sexual abuse,” he said. “I didn’t have any idea the depth and devastation that occurs when this happens.
“I began to learn from knowing these people how much incredible harm has been done, not only by the rape and sodomy of priests but by the – and I can’t use any other word – shameful way these people were treated by Church authorities, by the bishops. [They were] ignored, cajoled into silence, promises broken, phone calls never answered, threats made, and children ignored. I could not reconcile what I understood the Church to be, or the ministry to be, with that kind of behavior. I still can’t.”
One comprehensive survey determined that 10,667 individuals had made allegations of child sexual abuse by 4,392 priests, or 4 percent of Catholic priests in the U.S. during 1950-2002. Of accused priests, 384 were charged, 252 were convicted, and 100 served time in prison. The percentages mask a grim reality – only 2 percent of all priests alleged of child sexual abuse have ever gone to prison!
Still Persona Non Grata
Despite all that Doyle has done to prevent a radical evil, comfort the suffering, and change the Church’s policy of silence and denial toward victims of clergy sexual abuse, he is still persona non grata within the Church.
“I’m not welcome to do any public ministry in any diocese,” he said. “I’m the problem. Many times I get asked to speak around the United States and Europe about this issue or about the need for reform in the Catholic Church. Inevitably, and I would say without exception, in the past several years when the talk is scheduled in a Catholic church, university or college the local bishop, when he finds out, will either cancel the talk or cancel me.”
Still, Doyle hasn’t any regrets. “No, I’d rather have followed the path I did because I can live with myself,” he said. “I could not have lived with myself if I had looked the other way. I don’t want to be part of that type of life, the clerical life, of privilege, monarchial, isolated from reality.”
Other Catholics share Doyle’s sentiments. A Gallup poll found that Americans’ trust and confidence in churches, more specifically in the people who ran organized religion, declined from 68% in 1975 to 45% in 2002. 3
Integrity Is What’s Important
Growing up in Canada in the 1950s and 1960s, Doyle did not lack for mentors, secular or clerical. “My father was a business executive, a man of principle. I admired him greatly, and my mother as well. I was blessed with a good, solid family, with good parents.”
Doyle relished telling one story about his father. “He had been told by the ‘high command’ in his company – the new generation — to fire several men he knew for ages. These were good men. He told management, ‘No way’. I won’t use his exact words, which were pretty salty, but he refused. He faced them down. What was important to him was integrity.”
Doyle also recalled honorable priests from his childhood in Canada. “Priests I knew in our parish were decent men,” he said. “They were very active in the community in a very positive way. I still recall my pastor with tremendous affection. He was a gruff Scot-Irishman with a heart of gold.”
Apparently, Doyle learned well from his mentors. He received the Cavallo Award for Moral Courage in 1992, the Priest of Integrity Award from Voice of the Faithful in 2002, and the Isaac Hecker Award from the Paulist Fathers in 2003.
In 2003 Doyle, a priest in the Dominican Order for the past 39 years, received an official commendation from the Order for his “prophetic work in drawing attention to clergy sexual abuse and for advocating the rights of victims and abusers.”
Over the past 20 years Doyle has interviewed more than 2,000 survivors of clergy sexual abuse, written seven books, developed policies and procedures for dealing with clergy sexual abuse for dioceses in Canada, Australia and New Zealand, testified in support of child protection laws before state legislatures, and served as an expert witness in trials of alleged sexual abuse in the U.S., Canada, Ireland, Israel and the U.K.
Reflecting on his legacy, Doyle said, “If I am remembered for anything I would like to be remembered as someone who tried to be compassionate in dealing with people who are suffering; who tried to understand the pain they are in; who gave them support with their problems, and helped them find peace and serenity.”
1. Boatright, John. Ethics and the Conduct of Business. Third Edition. (Upper Saddle River: Prentice-Hall, 2000, p. 113)
2. Terry, Karen, et al.. “The Nature and Scope of the Problem of Sexual Abuse of Minors by Priests and Deacons.” John Jay College of Criminal Justice 2004 Web.6 Aug 2009.
3. Opinion, “A Clay-Footed Cardinal.” Los Angeles Times. June 13, 2003 Web. 17 July 2009.
Copyright © 2009 by Vince Reardon
By Jeff Israely/Rome and David Van Biema/New York Friday, Apr. 11, 2008
pope benedict catholic pedophiles sex abuse
Alberto Pizzoli / AFP / Getty
Possibly related posts: (automatically generated)
* The Pope’s Sex Abuse Challenge http://www.time.com/time/nation/article/0,8599,1730196,00.html
* Victim On Church Sex Abuse http://atlantis2.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=5029042n
Filed under Books, Legacy
Tags: clergy sexual abuse, Legacy, ostracized, pedophilia, Rev. Thomas P. Doyle, The Problem of Sexual Molestation by Roman Catholic Clergy, whistleb, whistleblower
July 4, 2009 at 7:14 am
And that’s why he’s known as Saint Tom in our house.
July 4, 2009 at 7:19 am
Thanks for the reply. I’m writing a book called “Legacy: Passing on Cherished Values in a Values-Starved World” and Tom is one of the exemplary individuals I profile. As you can gather from my article my admiration for Tom is unbounded.
Again, thanks for sharing your comment.
July 4, 2009 at 7:22 am
Ton Doyle, OP; priest, prophet, doctor, brilliant canon lawyer, and clearly a REAL SAINT IN THE MAKING!!!
GOD BLESS THOMAS P. DOYLE, and may his tribe increase and flourish!
Fiat Lux & Veritas!
PS: http://www.bishop-accountability.org/abusetracker for daily verified & vetted reporting on the Roman “La Cosa Nostra” Pedo Curia Cult & USCCB (Unremoved Sexual Criminal Cabal Bishop). THE SOLUTION? “STOP DONATING LAITY” as St. Peter Damien correctly asserted.
July 4, 2009 at 8:18 am
Dear Mr. Luciani,
Thank you for your comment. We are clearly in agreement about the awe-inspiring Tom Doyle!
July 4, 2009 at 2:17 pm
The uniqueness of Tom Doyle among clergy of the Catholic church is that he can read. The theme of every core sacred document of every religion … be it the Bible, the Koran, the Confucian Canons, the Torah, etc. … is that of humanitarianism: respect for, care and protection of for all living persons, creatures, environments. Tom Doyle has learned these rules, lives these rules, and models these rules. It is an honor to know him, listen to him, and read him in a time where it is very difficult to have respect for, care and protection of any religious.
August 6, 2009 at 7:31 am
If we had more compassionate people like Tom Doyle in the Catholic Church who were more concerned with protecting innocent children instead of dysfunctonal sex freaks, I’d still be a member.
August 6, 2009 at 11:51 am
Thanks for reading my profile of Tom Doyle. I can see that you admire him as much as I do. There are lots of clay-footed leaders in our society. So it’s reassuring and inspiring when you meet a real leader with, as you noted, compassionate, and who’s willing to take an institutional beating year after year to protect the most vulnerable in society — our children. Thank God for Tom Doyle!
Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
August 6, 2009 at 9:19 am
Thank you for this well deserved tribute to Tom Doyle.
Even at this late date I find it hard to accept the fact that there are only a few priests like him across this country.
God bless him.
Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
New Castle, Delaware
August 6, 2009 at 12:19 pm
Dear Sister Maureen,
Thanks for your kind note. As I gather from your note, you too are a great admirer of Tom Doyle. He is one of two dozen people I’ve interviewed for a book I’ve written and am publishing soon. It’s called “Legacy: Passing on Cherished Values in a Values-Starved World.”
In total I interviewed 50 notable Americans and selected 25 of the most compelling stories. Tom and Harry Wu, a Chinese dissident who spend 19 years in the Chinese gulag for his political beliefs, both stood out immediately. It was the sound of their voice. When they described the innocent victims of abuse (in Tom’s case, clergy sexual abuse; in Harry’s, abuse for political beliefs) they spoke with deep pain and sadness. I knew I was in the presence of special individuals. I never heard such voices! You can’t fake a voice like that.
In my life I’ve had the privilege of meeting a couple of people of true distinction. Both were scientists of the highest achievement. But they don’t come close to the admiration I feel for Tom Doyle.
May God continue to bless you for your good work as a victim’s advocate.