Did Missouri’s taxpayers foot the bill for an out-of-state sex offending priest?

Posted by Joelle Casteix on November 29, 2015 in armored child, Clergy Abuse Crisis, Minnesota
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You bet they did.

A wealthy Minnesota Catholic religious order and a Catholic-owned rehabilitation hospital engaged in potential Missouri Medicaid insurance fraud to get free health care for a sex-offending priest, a newly released document shows.

The 2014 document, released as a part of a legal settlement against the Benedictines of Minnesota and sex-offending priests, show that the order withheld money from a priest in their employ—so that he would seem indigent and his health care would be paid for by the State of Missouri.

The document is stamped OSB McDONALD-OO861. It is page 420 of the pdf at the link.

The priest, Fr. Finian McDonald, admitted to having more than 200 sex “partners,” including his college-age counseling clients, high schoolers, sex trafficked children in South East Asia, and other adults. He was sent to a church-operated center for sex-offending clerics in Dittmer, Missouri in 2012.

He became ill in 2014 and was sent to Price Memorial, a nursing home run by Franciscan Missionary Brothers in Eureka, MO. The social service director of Price Memorial, Julie Whitley, LCSW, is copied on the memo.

The Benedictines own St. John’s University and Prep School in Minnesota, as well as a sprawling 2500-acre campus outside of the Twin Cities. They also own a publishing company. I think they could afford McDonald’s bill.

The letter, signed by Abbot John Klassen, the head of the Benedictines, and sent to McDonald and representatives at Price Memorial, says that the Benedictines can only send McDonald $45 a month. Otherwise, the letter goes on to say, “any money over $45/mo impacts the aid that you receive from the State of Missouri.”

McDonald is now back in Minnesota.

And Missouri is stuck with the bill.

Hopefully, local authorities will take a look. If Missouri’s taxpayers have been bilked out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, I think an investigation is in order.

Sex offending monks have no contact with students … or do they?

Posted by Joelle Casteix on November 28, 2015 in armored child, Clergy Abuse Crisis, Minnesota
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From the statement by St. John’s (MN) Abbey regarding the recent release of of the personnel files of five sex-offending monks:

“The files provided include those of monks currently living on the Saint John’s campus under safety plans. Their actions are limited and they are closely supervised.”


St. John’s Abbey and Prep School, with location key

Hmmm … if the 6th though 12th graders at the prep school want to get something to eat or attend Mass, how do they avoid all of those pesky sex-offending monks in the Monastic Residence?

And unless those pesky monks have ankle monitoring bracelets (which they don’t), how is the St. John’s management able to keep the offenders away from the kids? Do they show the 6th graders photos of Finian McDonald and say, “If you see this man, run away!”?

If your child’s school has had a sex abuse scandal or houses numerous sex-offending priests, think about other education options. The school will always lie and minimize (just like in this case) so that they can take your tuition money and run.

Speaking of money, tomorrow I’ll discuss how the monks engaged in Medicare/insurance fraud in the state of Missouri.

Vatican thwarts review boards, documents show

Posted by Joelle Casteix on November 25, 2015 in armored child, Child safety, Clergy Abuse Crisis, Minnesota

St. John's Abbey, Collegeville, MN.

                          St. John’s Abbey, Collegeville, MN.

Everything the bishops have been led you to believe about the independent power of lay review boards is deliberately misleading.

Citing a sex-offening priest’s “right to privacy,” a newly released Vatican document shows that priests are able to shield potentially damning evidence from review boards who are charged with determining whether abuse allegations against a priest have merit.

The 2006 document, sent from a Vatican office that oversees religious orders, says that canon law states that no priest’s files may be turned over to a third party, including internal and external review boards, without the priest’s permission and signature.

You can read the documents here. Start at page 94 (stamped on the actual page as 00526). The findings of the Vatican office—saying that McDonald’s privacy was violated and that review boards may not access a personnel file without the priest’s signature is on page 100 (stamped 00532)

The review boards were set up by bishops nationally as a part of sweeping 2002 reforms instituted as a result of the Boston Archdiocese sex abuse scandal. They are a part of the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.” While religious orders like the Benedictine’s were not a part of the agreement, the Canon Law cited in the Vatican’s response applies to all priests, whether they belong to a diocese or a religious order.

In fact, a simple google search using the words “priest cleared by review board” yields 74,000 results – with page after page after page of stories about how reviews boards didn’t have enough evidence to kick a priest out of ministry.

How many of those boards didn’t see the priest’s secret file? I’m guessing all of them.

Experts say that without the priests personnel file, review boards miss “99% percent” of the church’s own evidence against an offending priest, including written admissions of guilt, letters from victims, witness accounts, treatment records, and internal investigation reports. As a result, hundreds of offending priests nationwide—whose cases went before similar review boards nationwide—may still be working in parishes and with children.

The document was released as a part of the file of Benedictine priest and monk Finian McDonald, who worked and lived at St. John’s Abbey and University in Collegeville, MN. McDonald, who church officials called “a serial predator of our students,” (see doc 655) had been accused of molesting numerous college-age students at the Catholic college. 

McDonald’s case was brought before the Benedictine’s review board, who was charged with determining whether allegations against McDonald had merit and whether he should remain a priest. When the review board was given McDonald’s file, which included a psychiatric report that called McDonald a serious “moral, legal and financial risk” (see doc 293), McDonald petitioned the Vatican, citing common knowledge and canon law. 

I served on a lay review board. They were a puppet then and they remain a puppet now.

And now we have the proof.

Priest who destroyed evidence now taking reports of abuse in San Diego

Posted by Joelle Casteix on November 25, 2015 in armored child, Child safety, Clergy Abuse Crisis
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A controversial priest accused of covering up abuse in the Diocese of San Diego is in charge of taking victims calls and emails.

Msgr. Steven Callahan shot to the spotlight in 2014 after he became the temporary diocesan administrator after the death of Cirilo Flores.

Victims, supporters and Catholics were rightfully upset:

In 2007, Callahan testified that he destroyed evidence of child sex abuse and cover-up.

But now, if you are a victim of abuse, a witness, or a whistleblower, he is the guy you call or email to report what you know.

Why would anyone—especially a victim of abuse—believe that he would do the right thing?

Why would the new bishop, Robert McElroy, EVER think that putting Callahan in this position is a good idea?

Any iota of good faith that I may have had for the new bishop is gone.

But you have to hand it to the Diocese of San Diego: At least they don’t pretend that they care about transparency.

The faraway hum you hear isn’t holiday cheer. It’s Callahan’s shredder, and it’s hard at work.



MN Abbey: Prep School/University campus has housed abusers for decades

Posted by Joelle Casteix on November 24, 2015 in armored child, Clergy Abuse Crisis, Minnesota
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MNCO_500 x 325


Earlier today, attorneys for sex abuse victims by priests and monks at a prestigious Benedictine high school, university, and abbey released hundreds of pages of documents that show a decades-long cover-up of the sexual abuse of children and university students.

It’s important to note that many of the credibly accused priests still live on the  St. John’s Abbey campus, where the college and boarding schools are (including a priest who admitted to having abusing more than 200 sexual partners).

The boarding school enrolls children as young as the sixth grade.

The Benedictine Order, who owns the campus, claims that the men are under strict safety plans and have no contact with students.

I say that’s bunk. Check out the interactive map. These men are adults and are not handcuffed to their chairs. They have had “safety plans” in the past that were totally ineffective. These predators can go where they want, when they want … even into the 9th grade dorm.

Day students can enroll as young as the sixth grade. Tuition ranges from $5600 (for 6th graders) and $15,600 (for high school). (I’m assuming that perpetrators are a free benefit)

Over the next couple of days, I’ll be writing about some of the most egregious stories the documents tell. They go from Minnesota to Missouri to all the way to the Vatican.

In the meantime, you can read all of the documents here.

Stay tuned …


Vatican: We can indict foreign journalists, but not our own priests

Posted by Joelle Casteix on November 23, 2015 in armored child, Child safety, Clergy Abuse Crisis
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** Update: only two journalists were indicted. Note corrections belowhandcuffed_hands_line_drawing

Events last week showed that the Vatican has the power to indict foreign journalists … but earlier this year needed to draft new rules in order to indict its own employees for sex abuse.

Let’s take a look.

Last week, the Vatican issued indictments against five journalists five people, including two journalists, who “leaked documents that informed two books alleging financial malfeasance in the Roman Catholic church bureaucracy.”

The Vatican is seeking jail terms from four to eight years.

But when it comes to sexual abuse, the Vatican has said it was “powerless” to police its own employees who are located outside of the Vatican.

Case in point: The cancelled trial of Jozef Wesolowski was going to be a NEW kind of  Vatican Tribunal. According to the New York Times, just this year, the tribunal:

drafted new rules giving prosecutors more leeway in the cases, allowing criminal charges to be applied to Vatican employees anywhere.

Wesolowski died before the trial could be completed.

No one else in the global Catholic clergy sex abuse crisis has been indicted by the Vatican.

The Vatican’s view in a nutshell:

Do your job as a journalist and we will indict you, try you in absentia, and violate your human rights.

Abuse a kid? Meh. Our hands are tied. Let’s draft some new rules and then not use them.


It’s time for the Bishop Quiz!

Posted by Joelle Casteix on November 15, 2015 in Child safety, Clergy Abuse Crisis, Gallup, Guam, Minnesota
Time to put on your Thinking Zucchetto!

Time to put on your Thinking Zucchetto!


Did you just see Spotlight and get all fired up?

Or maybe you have noticed that your bishop’s actions don’t reflect transparency, humility … or anything remotely resembling Christianity. But you can’t quite determine the root of the problem.

And no matter how hard to try to believe that “things are different now,” your bishop’s words just ring false. What do you do?

I’m here to help.

Here is a handy-dandy quiz you can print and give your local bishop.


Your name: Bishop ______________

1) Do you live in a house that is worth more than $1 million or—for the sake of argument—worth $42 million? If so, why?

The only good follow-up to a yes answer is: “I wear a court-ordered ankle bracelet that requires me to stay in the confines of this home.”

Everything else is bunk—period.

If you live in California, it gets even better. The Diocese of Orange … er, I mean the parishes (see #5) … own MULTIPLE homes worth more than $1 million. This article is more than 10 years old, so we can just assume that prices have doubled from what is listed here.

2) If you found out that one of your priests sexually abused a 6-year-old boy when the soon-to-be priest was 16 or 17 years old, would you allow that priest to remain in ministry? Would you let him to lie to parishioners about what the allegations are? Would you let him travel with children? (stay tuned if you live in Chicago or LA)

3) Are there any pending civil or criminal complaints against any of your religious, volunteers, or employees? Are there any cases that you and your review boards are secretly handling? Have you made anyone sign confidentiality agreements since 2002?

4) Do you publicly post and announce USCCB “Warnings”—especially if they apply to your diocese? Why not? Aren’t you required to be transparent?

5) Are there Catholics with whom you refuse to meet? People like parents of survivors, concerned Catholics who may have dealt with an abusive cleric? Catholics who feel bullied by their local pastor?

6) Have you transferred land to parishes? Why? Do you still exercise all oversight on those properties—choose pastors, approve spending, take a percentage of collections, pay the salaries of priests? Can you cite the exact canon law where it says that parishes should own their own land? Why does your lawyer contradict you—saying that transferring the land “reduces your legal exposure” in sex abuse cases?

7) Are you familiar with the recent scandal in St. Paul and Minneapolis that came about as a result of the Minnesota Child Victims Act? If lawmakers pass a similar Child Victims Act in the state(s) where you have been a bishop and priest, what will we learn about your role in child sex abuse and cover-up?

8) Have Catholics in your diocese ever protested outside of your birthday gala? Do they continually press for your removal?

And the final question:

9) How much money have you paid to lobby against anti-crime legislation that would eliminate the criminal and civil statute of limitations for victims of child sex abuse?

There you have it! Have fun and get to work!



What do you do when the Bishop won’t listen? You go to Yelp!

Posted by Joelle Casteix on November 12, 2015 in armored child, Child safety, Clergy Abuse Crisis
Sure, the parishes own the land. But if you want to complain about how things are run, the only person who will listen to you is Yelp

Sure, parishes own their own land. But if they want to complain about how things are run, the only person who will listen is Yelp.


Why would Orange County Catholic parishioners go on a popular review site to voice their displeasure with how their parish is being run?

Because no one else is listening.

…and because the diocese won’t come clean about who truly manages the property that the parish now “owns.”

A few months ago, I wrote a post about Franciscan Friar Fr. Daniel Barica. Barica is currently the pastor of Sts. Simon and Jude Parish in Huntington Beach, a wealthy and popular parish close to the ocean.

On the eve of the September papal visit, Barica devoted a homily and a letter in the parish bulletin to how he “blesses” his body parts (including his sexual energy) in front of the mirror after his daily shower.

But there’s more.

At the time, frustrated parishioners had reached out to me for help, because for them, the problem is much more extensive. Barica, they say, is not listening to their concerns, kicking long-time parishioners out of the parish, changing the rules for weddings and funerals, creating a hostile environment, and—most importantly—they say he is bullying employees and church members who disagree with him.

They also tell me their their complaints are falling on deaf ears. Letters to the Franciscans and to Orange Bishop Kevin Vann have yielded no action and no help.

And the frustrated parishioners are going to Yelp to voice their outrage.

Why would parishioners go to Yelp? Shouldn’t they be able to have a say in how their parish is run and who runs it? Shouldn’t their letters to the bishop have traction?

In fact, since the parish actually OWNS the land where the church sits, shouldn’t they now have the right to hire and fire their own pastor?


If you visit the Yelp page for Sts. Simon and Jude, you are initially greeted with a bunch of happy 5-star reviews.

But scroll down, and the story is different. Of the 13 “not recommended” reviews, six of the one-star reviews call out Daniel Barica. Others site the Franciscans and their poor management.

Of the next 13 reviews that “violate terms of service,” all are one-star and most are from local Huntington Beach-area people. These are not bots.

For comparison, I picked out the most controversial church in the diocese, the new Christ Cathedral. There are a lot of people who could write bad reviews: former members of the Crystal Cathedral (the Robert Schuller mega church that built—and then lost—the property); former members of local parishes that were closed down to consolidate them into the Christ Cathedral parish; Catholics who were angry that the diocese bought the property in the first place without the input of the laity.

And despite all of this potential for negative reviews, Christ Cathedral is doing MUCH better than Sts. Simon and Jude.

The new cathedral boasts 5 reviews are not recommended and only 4 that violate terms of service. Their total count of one-star reviews is three.

The diocese has a problem. It’s called hypocrisy.

Sts. Simon and Jude is just a symptom of the bigger problem.

If the Diocese of Orange truly wants to escape legal exposure in cases of sex abuse by deeding parish land back to parishes, then they must truly hand over decision-making power, as well. Especially when it comes to pastors and how money is spent.

But instead of being transparent (such as in the case of Peter Balili), reaching out to victims’ groups, and ousting (for good) priests who actively covered up abuse, they are using smoke and mirrors and silence victims and parishioners.

It’s clear the the Diocese is simply playing “legal games” with parishioners in Huntington Beach and is afraid of sex abuse victims who will come forward with rights in the courts and parishioners who refuse to have the wool pulled over their eyes.

Feel free to add in the comments. You can and will remain anonymous. I will leave this thread open to people who need to be heard.


Former Orange priest subject of US Bishops’ “Warning!” OC Bishop stays silent.

Posted by Joelle Casteix on November 11, 2015 in armored child, Child safety, Clergy Abuse Crisis
OC Bishop Kevin Vann. If you want to learn about his bad priests, ask Cleveland

        OC Bishop Kevin Vann. If you want to learn about his bad priests, ask Cleveland


A priest who worked for six years at Orange’s St. Joseph Hospital has been accused of “improper conduct” in numerous assignments. The conduct was so bad, in fact, that he was “dismissed” from his home diocese and the US Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a warning to dioceses nationwide.

What did Orange Bishop Kevin Vann do with this warning? Not much.

Same with San Bernardino’s Bishop Gerald Barnes.

So here’s the scoop:

Fr. Peter Balili worked at Orange’s St. Joseph’s hospital as a part of his studies in “pastoral ministry.” The priest also had assignments in the San Bernardino and San Francisco dioceses.

But in 2014, the Diocese of Belleville, IL, DISMISSED him from his duties after they learned of (what they vaguely describe as) “improper conduct.” They also believe that he engaged in this conduct in his other assignments, including California.

How did I find out about this? The Diocese of Cleveland actually does as they promise and is transparent about these warnings.

If you know about Balili or his conduct while in California, let me know. If I am wrong about Vann’s reaction, let me know that, too.

Here is the text of the USCCB’s warning. You can read the whole PDF here (it’s on page 5 of the pdf):


The Diocese of Belleville has advised the Conference of its concerns regarding Fr. Peter Balili a priest of the Diocese of Tagbilaran (Philippines) who had previously served as a fidei donum missionary in the Diocese of Belleville. The Diocese of Belleville informs the Conference that it has dismissed Fr. Balili from this position, and has requested his bishop to direct Fr. Balili to return to his home diocese, and that it took this action based on instances of what the Diocese of Belleville viewed as inappropriate conduct regarding certain of his parishioners. The Diocese of Belleville also indicates that it has learned of similar inappropriate conduct in Fr. Balili’s previous assignments. Those needing further information should contact Fr. Von C. Deeke, liaison for International Priests of the Diocese of Belleville at (618) 277-8181.

There are other priests listed as well. You may want to take a gander and ask a few questions.

SPOTLIGHT: It’s not depressing. It’s not icky. Go see it.

Posted by Joelle Casteix on November 9, 2015 in About me, armored child, Clergy Abuse Crisis, Parenting
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In September, I was listening to AirTalk on KPCC, one of LA’s NPR stations. On Fridays, they feature Film Week (one of my favorites), a show where reviewers talk about new film debuts, international film festivals, and DVD releases. On this particular show, the host and one of the reviewers were discussing the Venice Film Festival and the film Spotlight. (still looking for the interview link. sorry)

The host, Larry Mantle, said something that struck me.

“Who is going to want to see a movie about sexual abuse?”

His guest answered it perfectly. He said – and I paraphrase – Spotlight isn’t a film about child sexual abuse. It is a film about journalists uncovering a story, layer by layer.

And the guest was right.

I will add: It’s a film about victims demanding accountability. It’s about justice through journalism. It’s a film with a winning message, a call to action, and the power of truth in reporting.

I was invited to a sneak screening of Spotlight in early October. I was lucky to be able to see it with Barbara Blaine, the founder and president of SNAP. I also took my father, who had never met Barbara, and who loves a good movie.

And what an amazing night it was.

My 78-year-old dad (who is not a part of the “movement”) loved the film. He left with questions – good questions – about whether or not things have really changed, how bishops still react, and if reporters were still devoted to such meaty stories. He looked at Barbara was blown away by the organization she created. He couldn’t believe that I actually KNOW Phil Saviano, Mitch Garabedian, and Richard Sipe (and have spoken with Mike Rezendes on numerous occasions).

The movie—because it’s a great movie about journalists uncovering a huge story for the right reasons—pushed him out the complacency where he had nested after the Los Angeles cases settled.

Not once did he say, “It made me uncomfortable.” He didn’t wince or squirm. And as the father of a survivor, he does a lot of squirming.

He left saying, “I love a good movie!”

And if it takes a good movie to remind everyone that the problem isn’t over, I’m fine with that.

When I tell people about the film they say, “But it’s such a depressing subject.” It’s not. It’s not icky. I promise.

I’ve been a part of the clergy sex abuse survivors movement for 14 years. I have seen movies about our work that are disturbing, upsetting, and make me cringe. This is NOT one of them.

So go see it.


And no, I wasn’t invited to any of the swanky premieres. Boo. My dream photo of me with John Slattery will have to wait.

Always a bridesmaid …




The importance of connecting to parents – in person

Posted by Joelle Casteix on November 4, 2015 in armored child, Parenting
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Heaven forbid you abscond with the paperwork …

Posted by Joelle Casteix on November 3, 2015 in Book Reviews, Clergy Abuse Crisis
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The next time someone tells you that “Pope Francis is different” when it comes to child sexual abuse, invite that person to think about this:

If you steal a few Vatican documents and expose corruption, you WILL go to Vatican jail.

From today’s LA Times

The books, both by Italian journalists, are based on leaks from the Vatican and follow the arrests over the weekend of a Spanish priest and an Italian public relations consultant suspected of supplying the authors with stolen documents.

Father Lucio Angel Vallejo Balda, 54, remains in jail at the Vatican, but consultant Francesca Chaouqui, 33, was released after her arrest by Vatican police.

BUT – If you sexually abuse children or cover up abuse, you will NOT go to the Vatican hoosegow. But the Vatican will put aside money to “accelerate things.”

From The New York Times, June 10, 2015

Father Lombardi said the tribunal would also examine some of the abuse cases perpetrated by clergy members that were “still pending” at the Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith. “They are still very numerous and have accumulated,” he said. The tribunal will “accelerate” matters, he said, noting that money had been set aside to bolster the new section.

If Francis truly wanted to punish child sex abusers or their enablers, he would. But he won’t.

The arrests and jailing of Balda and Chaouqui proves that the Vatican is doing little more than providing “lip service” to victims and Catholics who want accountability. That is totally unacceptable.


The Well-Armored Child is featured on San Diego Living

Posted by Joelle Casteix on November 3, 2015 in armored child, Child safety, Clergy Abuse Crisis, media, Parenting
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Click here to see my interview on San Diego Living (Channel 6 – the CW). I talk about protecting your child from abuse, the importance of statute of limitation reform, and … I say vagina (gasp!) on live television.


Parenting.com: Ten Myths about Sexual Abuse

Posted by Joelle Casteix on October 28, 2015 in armored child, Child safety, Clergy Abuse Crisis, media, Parenting
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This is no myth: Being a parent is hard.

Click here for my October 10 article on Parenting.com.

Making the case to eliminate statutes of limitations for sex crimes

Posted by Joelle Casteix on October 28, 2015 in armored child, Book Reviews, Clergy Abuse Crisis, media, Parenting
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Click here for my interview with Larry Mantle of KPCC’s AirTalk. We discuss the Cosby cases, statutes of limitations, and helping victims expose abuse.

Legal Examiner Review of THE WELL-ARMORED CHILD

Posted by Joelle Casteix on October 28, 2015 in armored child, Book Reviews, media, Parenting
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This book should be required reading for every parent, teacher, and youth athletic coach. The information in this book can protect children from childhood sexual abuse.

Read the whole review.

My Op-Ed in the LA TIMES: Don’t let time shield sex predators

Posted by Joelle Casteix on October 28, 2015 in armored child, Clergy Abuse Crisis, media, Parenting
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gavel smashing clock and scattering it - time concept

Whether it’s Cosby or the Catholic Church, statutes of limitations do one thing: protect sex predators.

Read my whole Oct 19 op-ed here.

The math: Pope Francis’ meeting with survivors

Posted by Joelle Casteix on September 28, 2015 in Child safety, Clergy Abuse Crisis
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Since yesterday’s announcement, I have been hearing a lot of this:

But Pope Francis met with survivors. He’s promised to hold bishops accountable. That’s good, right?

Um … not really. But first, let’s boil down the figures concerning the actual meeting.

Here is some math on Pope Francis’ meeting yesterday with abuse survivors.

The meeting was 30 minutes long, total.

There were five survivors present. Some were victims of predators employed, harbored, and protected by the Vatican. The others were not, and had very different histories to talk share with the Pope.

Each survivor brought a loved one

Francis talked for a few minutes at the beginning.

He prayed with each one at the end.

Some Catholic news outlets report that “The pope listened to each survivors’ story.”

At most, simple division tells us that each survivor had about four minutes (or less) to share his or her experience of abuse and betrayal with Francis. For those not abused in the church, they may have not even been able to get to the meat of their stories.

So my question is:

Does anyone really think that a 78-year-old never-married man who has been a priest for six decades really learned anything from this event?

And don’t forget: Francis refused to meet with survivors while bishop, archbishop, and cardinal in Argentina.

My conclusion:

Meetings and prayers may have been very healing for these survivors, but do absolutely nothing to keep kids safe now. Plus, the meeting was terribly hurtful for the thousands of survivors who have written the Vatican asking for help and received NOTHING. Or those who had to resort to the civil courts for justice, and watched as bishops paid millions of dollars to lawyers to keep criminal secrets hidden (that’s a math class for another day).

This meeting was nothing but PR.

But Francis can prove that he means action.

Pope Francis’s easy, free, and no-brainer first step would be to publicly admonish and strip all titles, honors, and wealth from disgraced Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony, equally disgraced Archbishop of St. Paul/Minneapolis John Nienstedt and convicted Kansas City-St. Joseph Bishop Robert Finn.

Making these three men live lives of prayer and penance would do a lot … and wouldn’t cost a thing.

And then, for #2 (the not-so-free-and-easy step): he must make public the sex abuse files in the Vatican and every diocese HQ worldwide. When that happens, there will be a lot more bishops who will need public admonishing. And a lot of child predators will go to jail.

Maybe then, we can hope that children are safer in the church.

Talking to KABC Radio about the Papal vist

Posted by Joelle Casteix on September 25, 2015 in Clergy Abuse Crisis, media
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You can listen to our discussion about sex abuse and cover-up, Roger Mahony, and protecting whistle-blowers here.



On eve of Pope visit: a Huntington Beach priest and a discussion of predatory grooming

Posted by Joelle Casteix on September 20, 2015 in Child safety, Clergy Abuse Crisis, Parenting
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Note: This post and the author are not implying that Huntington Beach priest Rev. Daniel Barica, ofm, is a child predator. But the post does serve to show possible RED FLAG behavior that should alert parishioners, parents, and Orange County Bishop Kevin Vann.
The crest of the Diocese of Orange. Now grab the oils, it's time for some sexual healing ...

The crest of the Diocese of Orange. Now grab the oils, it’s time for some sexual healing …


One of the most common requests I get from parents, groups, and the media is to give an explanation of Predatory Grooming.

Predatory Grooming is how a child sex predator creates “compliant” victims and communities—victims who are manipulated into not fighting back, communities who do not believe victims, and groups of victims who do not report.

I have an information-packed chapter in my book about predatory grooming. Click here for a collection of previous posts addressing the subject. It’s so important, I even discuss it in my TEDx talk (link is to the right —–>)

One of the ways that a predator grooms potential victims and communities is by blurring sexual and body boundaries. A predator does this by openly talking about sex with children; making sexual touching seem “normal”; and by using the counseling, clergy, or power relationship to make it “okay” to talk about sexual touching to inappropriate audiences.

Okay. So what does that look like?

It just so happens I have a great potential example. And on the eve of the papal visit, it’s very appropriate.

Let’s take a peek at a Catholic parish in Orange County, California: Saints Simon and Jude in Huntington Beach. In the June 7 bulletin, pastor Daniel Barica published this letter to parishioners  (it’s page 2 of the link, and quoted below) emphasis mine:


For the last 25 years or so, part of my morning ritual after a shower is to bless every part of my body for God’s purposes. The blessing prayer is somewhat like a cross between the prayer Catholics recite after the Gospel is announced and the Breastplate of St. Patrick. My version goes something like this: May God be in my mind, my words, my song, my heart (my emotional center), my digestive system, my bones (praying most especially for my spine these days), my hands and feet to serve, and my sexual energy (which I understand to be relational energy, the part that connects me to others, in chastity, according to the life I have chosen and the vows I have made). I normally use blessed oil of some kind during this ritual.

What? What?! He uses oils to consecrate his sexual energy? Huh? And he’s saying this in the bulletin?

Now, granted, he does say that it’s about chastity … I think … but why does he have to bring up sexual energy at all?

Note: This post and the author are not implying that Huntington Beach priest Rev. Daniel Barica, ofm, is a child predator. But the post does serve to show possible RED FLAG behavior that should alert parishioners, parents, and Orange County Bishop Kevin Vann.

You could chalk up the letter to Barica being a bit “Kooky.”

But that’s how we end up with sex abuse and cover-up scandals.

Barica has crossed the line: he has blurred sexual boundaries and made it okay to discuss sexual energy with children and teens (who can read the bulletin). He’s opened the door by saying that he blesses his sexual energy with oils.

I’m not making a leap here. We have seen this behavior all over the place. In fact, in my own case, the man who molested me and other girls would talk about sex, sexual energy, his girlfriends and virginity. Why? It opened the door with his students … a door to being a potential victim.

This type of behavior needs to be addressed … and stopped.

What makes this statement even more troubling is Fr. Barica’s past and religious order. Barica is a member of the Franciscan Friars based out of Santa Barbara.  The Friars have been the subject of a huge sex abuse scandal. You can read about it here.

Barica has not been accused of abuse, but parishioners at the Mission Santa Barbara have complained that Barica “minimized” the abuse in public statements.

Saints Simon and Jude has also had its share of scandal. Accused and convicted predators who have worked or volunteered there include Gus Krumm and Gary Pacheco. They also had a Boy Scout leader convicted of abuse. Krumm was idolized at the parish, and when it was discovered that he has been credibly accused of abuse before setting foot on parish property, it got ugly. The Franciscans have been cleaning up the debris ever since.

So … why would it ever be okay for Barica to discuss his “sexual energy” and anointing his body with oils after a shower?

In a word: it isn’t.

Hopefully, Bishop Kevin Vann agrees.

Note: This post and the author are not implying that Huntington Beach priest Rev. Daniel Barica, ofm, is a child predator. But the post does serve to show possible RED FLAG behavior that should alert parishioners, parents, and Orange County Bishop Kevin Vann.

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