Spotlight wins … scandal continues

Less than 48 hours after Spotlight nabbed the best picture Oscar, a grand jury report and an Australian cardinal are showing the world that the clergy sex abuse scandal is far from over.

Yesterday in Altoona, Pennsylvania, a grand jury released a 147-page report outlining sex abuse and cover-up in the Diocese of Altoona-Jonestown.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazzette:

Hundreds of children were molested, raped and destined to lasting psychological trauma by clerics whose abuses were covered up by their bishops, other superiors and even compliant law-enforcement officials in Blair and Cambria counties, the report said.

The conspiracy amounted to “soul murder,” the report said, with abuse happening everywhere from camps and homes to the historic cathedral itself. That description echoes that of similar grand jury probes into the Archdiocese of Philadelphia in 2005 and 2011 that found cardinals and other clerics shifted numerous known abusers from one unsuspecting parish to another.

Attorney General Kathleen Kane called it a “day of reckoning” for abusers and their enablers but lamented that no one could be criminally charged.

But that’s not all.

Simultaneously in Rome, an Australian Cardinal testified (via satellite) about what he knew about sex abuse and cover-up in his home country.

It didn’t go too well.

From NBC News:

There were audible gasps Tuesday when Vatican treasurer George Pell said a notorious Roman Catholic Church sex-abuse case “wasn’t of much interest” to him.

The Australian cardinal — the highest-ranking Vatican official to testify on systemic sexual abuse of children by clergy — said senior clergy lied to him to cover up abuse in the 1970s.

He insisted that there was no reason for him to know the extent of the abuse carried out by his onetime roommate — Father Gerald Ridsdale — who was later convicted of 138 offences against more than 50 children.

His comments drew gasps of disbelief in Sydney, where he was testifying by video link from Rome as part of Australia’s Royal Commission Into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse. Pell said he was unable to travel to his native Australia because of heart problems.


These cases are not outliers.


10 thoughts on “Spotlight wins … scandal continues

  1. you are full of it!
    no superior manager is going to tell a group of people what he is doing about or for a subordinate!

    GET A LIFE!!

  2. Wow M.P. You think you are the voice of the people at SSJ! Sad Sad! What you have written is your voice only and is filled with anger, your anger. Again, what is your vendetta about?

  3. It was a gift to child protections when Spotlight was named Best Picture — thank you to the Boston Globe team, the Spotlight team, and the courageous survivors who continue their public outcry with hope that children will be safer than they were in the future.

    However, I cannot help but wonder what is wrong with federal officials who allegedly opened a federal investigation into the Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese, as reported in February 2009 ( It is a DISGRACE that the cover ups that took place under Cardinal Mahoney’s watch have never been addressed by the USDOJ. California led the nation with legislation that lifted the civil window for filing lawsuits; however, government officials in California have played chicken — very tragic.

    Let’s hope that there is a Spotlight sequel that focuses on the CORRUPTION and cover ups in Los Angeles and Orange Counties. Based on my personal knowledge and experience, DA Rackauckas, now retired Bishop Tod Brown and his Diocesan General Counsel Maria Schinderle (licensed to practice law under the name of Maria Michele Rullo) will definitely have starring roles.

    1. Debby,

      There is a cover up going on in Orange County under Bishop Vann’s watch. Since Spotlight won best picture, I have been holding back my desire to speak up about what has been happening at Sts. Simon and Jude in Huntington Beach. I reported Pastor Daniel Barica long ago, but I was told to keep quiet. I cannot any longer.

      The movie talks about lawyers and well known people in the community that knew about abuse but did not say anything. I believe that is what is happening here. But there does not have to be a formal accusation for his actions to be scandalous.

      Fr. Daniel wrote about his sexual energy in the bulletin. Then he told the congregation of children and adults during his sermon that after a shower, his daily ritual is to stand in front of the mirror naked and anoint parts of his body with oil. People told me this brought a disturbing visual to their heads. If any of this was said by one of SSJ’s teachers, I expect that teacher would have been fired by Daniel.

      We do not need another Fr. Gus sex scandal. The documents that were released about Gus show that SSJ knew for at least 2 years about his past while he continued to work with children here. Then when they finally removed Gus, they sent him to Oregon and did not warn those people.

      Will there be a formal accusation here? Maybe. Unfortunately the Catholic Church has a history of covering up priests’ behavior until someone sues. There should be zero tolerance for Daniel’s words. He should also publicly apologize because this still bothers people that I know to this day. Instead, Fr. Rusty apologized on his behalf during one of his sermons. That makes me believe Daniel is not sorry. A priest must be held to a much higher standard of protecting children than teachers. If a teacher would have been fired for making those comments, so should a priest.

      Why would a priest ever talk about his sexual energy? Maybe that is why during our last annual festival, a woman he met long ago when he was at Mission Santa Barbara came down for the weekend. Instead of staying in a hotel, she stayed in his house. During that time, Fr. Dan Lackie was the only other priest living in the same house but he was away that weekend so the two of them spent the nights alone together. I do not understand why Daniel still continues this relationship with her. Since Rusty lives next door and is in charge of the friary, he should have reported Daniel. Even if nothing happens but she says Daniel raped her, that trial could cost millions.

      The last trial involving Gus and Fr. Alex cost about $2 million. The Franciscans should have made this public but they were probably worried that donations would stop if people knew the truth. The Province was even considering bankruptcy and giving up SSJ. After giving all that money to the lawyers, no wonder donating here is now more of a demand than a humble request. People I know are worried they will not be able to have their funeral at SSJ if they do not donate enough. Daniel even told the Men’s Club at a meeting that if he did not come here, the Franciscans would have had to give SSJ back to the Diocese.

      Because of who I am, many people have confided in me about Daniel. Choir members, teachers, staff, acolytes, and ushers that are not happy. Most tell me they are afraid to say anything and wonder how much longer he will be here. I have heard people call him a bully and other much worse names. Parishioners say he abuses his power and is verbally abusive to the point where some even cry, including one of our long time teachers.

      I also know Fr. Daniel was caught taking money from the collection to go on personal trips, including vacations and regular visits to his mother in Florida. If he worked for a corporation, I am sure he would have been fired and prosecuted for theft. The Franciscans should have also made this information public. Parishioners should have been told their donated cash disappeared. Fr. Rusty just told him to stop taking any more money. What about the money that is gone? Priests should not be above the law for theft.

      People have told me they are afraid to speak publicly and are afraid of retaliation by Daniel. Even if this would never happen, I think their fear that it could happen is how he controls them. I do not understand how a pastor can have so much power. He seems to divide the parishioners of this church. If anyone questions him, I have heard him tell them to be “ambassadors” of SSJ. To me, that is his way of telling people to keep quiet.

      Like the movie, the church has known all about Daniel’s past. SSJ even received concerned letters from SafeNet in 2012 and 2014. It seems like the Franciscans’ reaction is to ignore any warning signs. The least they should do is schedule an open meeting in a safe environment where people will not be afraid of retaliation by Daniel. Fr. Michael should also get involved and ask parishioners how they really feel about SSJ since he left.

      Google “Pastor Daniel Barica” and you will find the SafeNet letters and much more on pages 1-3 of the search:

      Before Daniel, I used to attend events at the priests’ homes but I stopped. I feel SSJ is so much less welcoming than when Alex and Michael were in charge. My biggest concern is all the kids that have left or will not get married in the church because of Daniel’s rules. They were supposed to be the future of SSJ. Parents have told me it breaks their heart that their kids have left SSJ since Daniel arrived.

      I know a parishioner who helped Fr. Ron build the church in the 70’s. He told me he was driving through Santa Barbara and stopped at the Mission not long after it was announced that Daniel would be transferred here. He went into the gift shop and told the ladies he was from Huntington Beach and heard that their pastor was moving. He said remembers their response clearly to this day: “You have no idea what you are in for!” This parishioner told me will not donate until Daniel is gone. I guess the best way to show disapproval is with your pocketbook.

      When one of the Men’s Club board members sent out a group email about Daniel, he wrote “Who does he think he is?” That board member was called into the parish office for a meeting with Daniel. After the meeting, he told me Daniel was in tears and asked how he could do this to him, as if Daniel was the victim.

      Something is not right about him. Daniel makes rules that upsets staff and parishioners. He will not even let a father walk his daughter down the aisle to get married. So during the prime wedding season in May and June of last year, we had a total of one wedding. At the funeral for a long time fireman parishioner, Daniel would not allow their tradition of ringing a bell 3 times at the end of the funeral in the church. 29 firefighters came all the way from Las Vegas on their own time. They wanted to honor their fellow firefighter but instead ended up being so upset with our church. Without permission, they still did their tradition outside the church as people were leaving. Daniel was not happy, which caused even more negativity about our church to spread.

      From where I sit, I have heard many sermons that refer to how his mother disciplined him. It seems like he was abused as a child. So maybe what happened is the abused became the abuser. But what is happening at SSJ is not Christianity.

      The National Catholic Reporter article of Oct 10, 2013 states “We finally have a pope who is adamant about pulling down the pedestals of clericalism.” It goes on to give a parishioner’s personal experience:

      “Many years ago, my parish lived through the dark ages of an authoritarian priest.”

      “When power and authority are abused, they must not be supported. For my husband and me,
      this meant withdrawing our time, talent and treasure, and we had given generously in all. Eventually, it meant walking out the door.”

      “This was our response to an abusive form of clericalism in our parish. I wish I could say our
      action changed things. It didn’t. I also learned that each parish has a small flock of obedient
      sheep that will continue to do the pastor’s bidding regardless of the extent of his nastiness. They will commiserate and grumble loudly about the injustices being committed, but never directly
      to the priest. Their silent acquiescence is interpreted as support. They remain faithful minions to the clerical bully, and the bullying goes on.”

      The Franciscans need to honor the pope’s request to pull down the pedestals of clericalism at SSJ. Being called a bully should be enough for them to do something before it’s too late. But Daniel writing about his sexual energy, having a woman spend the weekend alone with him, and saying he applies oil to his naked body in front of children should force them to take action.

      1. M.P. You have a serious problem and are a vindictive individual. I was expecting to read a reply to what Debby wrote and instead read a diatribe of your own issues against a priest at SSJ. Get a life M.P. In spite of the abuse in the church, I have still been able to keep my faith and see the good.

        I am disappointed in Joelle for allowing herself to be linked to this personal vendetta. M.P., you claim to know what Christianity is and yet what I read is slander and for me this means evil.

        1. This is not a personal vendetta. Many have already contacted SafeNet seeking help while maintaining their anonymity:

          Daniel writing about his sexual energy and telling parishioners that he stands in front of the mirror naked while applying oil to his body parts is not OK for anyone to say in the presence of children. Nobody questioned Fr. Gus, and that cover up cost $2 million in legal fees the donors should have been told about. People have said to me that if there is even a small chance Daniel is a predator, that is not acceptable. If he is having sex with the woman from Santa Barbara, then maybe we do not need to worry about little boys. But many people I know do not feel comfortable around him.

          The parishioners should have been told Daniel took cash from the collections. If you do not think this happened, ask Fr. Rusty. He is a priest so he cannot lie. If he does lie, that shows he is afraid of retaliation himself. Being afraid is actually a form of abuse. You should also ask members of the Pastoral Staff who reported Daniel but, like me, were also told to keep quiet or are afraid to report Daniel out of fear for their jobs. This to me is not Christianity.

          Ask the employees and parishioners of Santa Barbara and other places Daniel worked how they feel about him. Ask our Men’s Club, the Knights of Columbus, the ushers, the teachers (including the teacher he made cry), choir members, acolytes and volunteers who have quit, school families, long time parishioners, employees and ex-employees. Ask the people who no longer donate. Ask the fathers who simply wanted to walk their daughter down the aisle to get married. Ask the firemen who are not allowed their tradition to honor their fallen firefighter. Ask the parents who removed their children from SSJ school because of how Daniel treated their family. Most importantly, ask the school kids themselves. Then ask the teenagers who have left the church what they think of Daniel. If so many youth have left, what is going to happen to our church when the older generation is gone?

          You probably know Daniel announced during mass that last year at this time we were about 80% of our goal for the Pastoral Services Appeal, but this year we are way behind at only about 25% of goal. What could be the reason for this when the economy is doing well? I think it is a silent protest about how Daniel runs the church. I also think the recent announcement that it will cost $2.3 million to upgrade the parish grounds does not set well with parishioners. That money, along with the $2 million the Franciscans already spent defending sexual abuse claims, ($4.3 million) could have helped so many families in need and organizations like Loaves and Fishes and the Haynes Fund.

          Maybe you heard Fr. Michael is quitting the priesthood. Is he upset about what has happened at SSJ since he left? Is he upset that Daniel took money? Is he upset with how Daniel spends money? When people confided in Fr. Michael, did he invoke the confession privilege so that the conversations stayed confidential? Whether he is a priest or a layperson, Fr. Michael needs to come forward and help SSJ parishioners who are hurting or feel betrayed.

          Fr. Dan Lackie is now one of the leaders of the Province as a definitor friar. Please take him aside and tell him your feelings. If you remain silent, he and the other leaders will not know how you feel. Don’t hope someone else will talk to him. If you are afraid of retaliation by Daniel, ask Fr. Dan to speak to you with the confession privilege so he cannot disclose your identity. Here is information about Fr. Dan’s new role:

          Maybe this article explains why Fr. Michael is leaving: “One can argue that a sense of helplessness kept the friars from publicly speaking out. But their oath of allegiance actually contributed to their own suffering and, more to the point, to the unnecessary suffering of others. Repressive vows of obedience shackled these men to an antiquated rule that ultimately allowed others to distort the order’s principles and to abuse their power.”
          “The sad but harsh reality is that too many Franciscans seem to subscribe to the rule of the ‘thin brown line,’ an unspoken code that pledges absolute fidelity to all brother friars, including those who disgrace the very robes they wear–and often at the expense of doing the right thing.”
          It even says:
          “But independent facilitations must be carefully initiated in parishes like Mission Santa Barbara and SS Simon and Jude in Huntington Beach in order to ensure that all injured parties can finally speak freely without being bullied into submission for fear of being shunned or losing their jobs.”

          Any one of these things Daniel did should force the Province to stop the cover up and remove him, but the combination of all 4 should make it immediate: 1) Taking donated cash from the collections 2) Writing about his sexual energy 3) Having a woman spend the weekend alone with him and 4) Saying during a sermon, with children in the pews, that his daily ritual after a shower is to stand in front of the mirror naked and apply oil to his body parts.

          Maybe Fr. Michael will reconsider quitting and come back as our pastor. Or maybe Fr. Dan Lackie will help heal our parish by taking over. As a definitor, he certainly has the experience and authority plus he is already well liked at SSJ by young and old. If either of these men are pastor, I believe most or maybe even all of those that have left will return and we will once again be a great parish.

          I doubt change will happen for a long time unless these people know how you feel about Daniel:

          *Email Paul at SafeNet:
          *Email Joelle at The Worthy Adversary:
          *Link in with Fr. Michael: h
          *Talk to Fr. Dan after he says mass. If you do not see him, leave him a message at the office (714) 962-3333.

          SafeNet and The Worthy Adversary must keep you confidential when they speak as your advocate. If you want Fr. Michael and Fr. Dan to keep you anonymous, ask them for the confession privilege.

          Daniel is up for renewal of another 3 year term that starts in June. If you cannot handle another 3 years, stop donating. But I do not think that will be enough because of all the people that have already done this. If you want to take back SSJ sooner, let one or all of the above advocates and priests know your feelings as well.

          1. I dont like what has happened since Fr. Michael left either. I cant believe he will not be a priest any more! Something must not be right with the Franciscans. Could that be the real reason the others have quit too?

            I heard Fr. Daniel talking about putting oil on his naked body in church and it really upset me. After that mass people outside were talking about it but no one knew what to do. A picture of him completely nude popped in my head. Even though it was months ago it comes to mind every time I see him. Imagining a priest without even underwear on is not good. Its like a song that plays over and over in your head. I dont think I can ever unhear what he said.

            The best thing Spotlight taught me is that abuse or chance of abuse by priests cannot be ignored. I do know many people who want Fr. Daniel gone but other than stopping their donations they dont know what else to do. What he said in church should have been enough. But if he really did take money from the collection basket that violates all of our trust in him and our church. They need to be honest and tell us what really happened. Thou shall not steal and Thou shall not bear false witness must apply to priests above everyone.

            To me the church not saying anything is the same as lying. And who is this woman from Santa Barbara? SSJ needs to follow the commandments and be truthful about what is going on.

        2. I was just told about this post and i need to comment. I do not think MP has a problem at all. St. Simon and Jude Church is the one with the problem – the pastor. I have heard him called crazy, nuts, unstable and bully. I think he is all of those. Ask Chris Sumpter why she really quit. She can probably tell you why not very many teachers showed up for the annual end of school year party last week. Did you know that 10 SSJ seventh graders are not coming back in the fall? That is almost 1/3 of the class. SSJ has a bunch more kids from other classes leaving too. If that does not tell you something is wrong i don’t know what will. Those families will not be paying over $7,000 each to the school so the pastor is now costing SSJ six figures in lost income.
          A long time ago I posted on Yelp with a bunch of other people:

          At first my post was “recommended”, then later got dropped to “non-recommended”. I think someone at the church complained. Look at the very bottom and see all the other posts that got removed. People should be able to state their feelings and be included in the church’s rating. But then the Catholic Church is used to burying problems. No wonder priests got away with child abuse. I googled the boss of the Franciscans and came up with Father David Gaa (314)353-3421. I read somewhere in this that if you want to complain but are afraid to be identified to ask for the confession privilege.

          1. I was afraid to speak up earlier about this. In February a group of us from SSJ went to the annual mens retreat in Malibu. This time the former Provincial Fr. Mel Jurisich was there. During a meeting behind closed doors he said he was the one who decided to send Fr. Daniel to SSJ to “straighten him out”. This shocked me because that means the Franciscans know he has a problem.

            There were a lot of complaints when Fr. Daniel was at St. Francis Parish in LA. When too many people stopped donating Mel said he was transferred to Santa Barbara to keep an eye on him. Then after those parishioners got upset Mel decided to transfer him to SSJ. Mel even said Fr. Daniel owes him one. I guess giving him a promotion after he upset all those people would be a very special favor. This makes me think there is something more to their relationship.

            It is not surprising to find out lots of students left the school seeing how many don’t come to church anymore. I talked to one of them who said its because of how mad Fr. Daniel and the principle are all the time. Some were getting detentions every week but they did not care. And this student told me most of the ones that are staying say they don’t ever want to come back to SSJ after they graduate. That must be why the average age of this congregation is rising so fast. Cantor Patrick and others quit. Mark and Maurice should tell you the real reason.

            Moving Fr. Daniel around is like how they moved problem priests from church to church. Many in our group are not donating now. I don’t know how many more people need to stop donating before they finally do something but I think that day is coming.

  4. Heart problems aren’t what’s keeping Pell away from Australia. He’s hiding out in the Vatican. Heart problems didn’t prevent him from accepting the Pope’s appointment and going to Rome in the first place.

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