The Catholic Church, Its Rapist Priest, And Shattered Trust

The graphic artist didn't place that halo over the rapist priest's head. The Vatican did.

The graphic artist didn’t place that halo over the rapist priest’s head. The Vatican did.

In the year after “Spotlight” focused renewed public attention on the Catholic Church’s horrific betrayal of its mission, its members and humanity by the enabling of child sexual predators within its ranks, how could the Church not realize that reinstating a convicted rapist priest, as it did this week, undermines all of its efforts to regain the trust and faith it had forfeited?

After months in which Pope Francis presumed to tell the governments of the world what its moral obligations were, how could he allow this to occur?

In short, how can a credible religion have broken ethics alarms? How can the Catholic Church preach morality while rejecting ethics?

Father Joseph Jeyapaul,  a Catholic priest from India, served in the Crookston, Minnesota diocese from 2004 to 2005. While he was there, he raped at least two adolescent girls. I say “at least” because he admitted to raping them to cop a plea. Who knows who else he may have assaulted?

After being charged with the crimes, including rape and forcing at least one of his victims to perform fellatio on him, Father Joseph  escaped to India, where an Interpol warrant got him extradited back to Minnesota.  There he confessed, and as part of a plea bargain, received an outrageously light sentence of a year and a day for pleading guilty to one count of molestation.

Don’t ask me to explain why any prosecutor whose law license wasn’t obtained by passing a quiz about “Law and Order” episodes would make such a deal. I assume that some kind of political pressure from the Church was involved, or that the prosecutors were Catholic, or that they had brain lesions or something. Frankly, I’d rather not talk about it.

Jeyapaul was suspended from the priesthood and served his time in Minnesota. The U.S. deported him back to India with a DO NOT RETURN TO SENDER label after his release last July.  Meanwhile, the Minnesota diocese had to pay millions in a civil lawsuit, during which we learned that the rapist priest had told one of his victims  in the confessional that she was at fault, and had made Jeyapaul “impure” by letting him abuse her.

Does the term “evil” come to mind, or would you call that too judgmental?

Now comes the amazing part. In February, the Vatican lifted  Jeyapaul‘s suspension and restored him to the priesthood. It then assigned him to a new parish in India, where he is now the diocesan head of its commission for education. 

I’m sure it’s also a great place to meet chicks.

Minnesota attorney Jeff Anderson reacted to this news predictably, and in a press conference stated what is obvious to everyone but the Vatican and Pope Francis. “We are not only disgusted and alarmed, but we realize there is a serious danger,”  he said.  “Pope Francis has broken a pledge. This priest is a predator who needs to be stopped, and they have chosen not to stop him.”

Yes, that would be a fair assessment of this episode.

Megan Peterson, one of the girls raped by Father Jeyapaul when she was  14, has now sued the Indian Church for damages, saying in her complaint that this action by the Church makes her feel “abused, degraded and re-victimized all over again.” I don’t know it her suit will stand up, but her statement to the Indian news media is hard to argue with.

“It’s a well known fact that perpetrators or sexual molesters generally don’t stop at one victim. In fact there are multiple incidents involving him during his short stay in Minnesota. So, without a doubt children are at risk of being wounded by Father Joseph Jeyapaul,” Peterson told India Today. “Father Jeyapaul was a very manipulative, violent person. He used threat against me, my life to get me to cooperate with him.”

The Ootacamund  Diocese in Tamil Nadu, India has yet to comment, and the Vatican has remained silent as well. Does it matter what they say? I can guess, as can you. They will say that the Church embraces forgiveness, and that we are all sinners. The good, chastened priest has confessed, and is rehabilitated in the eyes of the Church and the Lord. He can be trusted now to go on with his important work.

Then the Catholic Church will go about its work of convincing human beings that it can be trusted to be a force for good in the world when it knowingly inflicts predator priests—still!—on its members. Incredibly, many, indeed most, will fall for it.

I am not being harsh. This is a fair verdict. I am not a Catholic, but I cannot imagine being so addled and robbed of common sense that I would read this story, nod, and think, “God bless him. Pope Francis is wise and compassionate.”

The Church has learned nothing from its existential crisis over the official enabling of child molesting priests all over the world, except that money and misplaced faith can cure just about anything. If it had learned anything else, such as, for example, that it has at least the same duty to keep sexual predators out of the workplace as high schools, theater companies, hospitals, police departments and delicatessens,  it would not tell a confessed rapist priest that he was back in the good graces of his superiors—the Vatican, the Pope, God—and free to rape again.

Such a decision is proof of incompetence, hypocrisy, negligence, arrogance, irresponsibility, stupidity, and fraud. It is shining, neon example of signature significance in many directions:

An institution that was serious when it apologized for siccing thousands of predator priests on children doesn’t do this…not even once.

An organized religion that is worthy of faith, belief and trust will not permit this…not even once.

A Church that does not assume that it can get away with anything because its followers are thoroughly, permanently indoctrinated fools will not allow this…not even once.

A pope who has any claim to moral authority that could be persuasive directing others not to throw their gum on the sidewalk, much less regarding energy policy and the redistribution of wealth, will not tolerate this…not even once.

The Catholic Church, the Vatican and Pope Francis believe that faith is sufficient to overcome total, undeniable untrustworthiness.

So far, they have been right.

_______________________

Pointer: Daily Beast. (Very few major US news sources have covered this story as of 4/24/16)

40 thoughts on “The Catholic Church, Its Rapist Priest, And Shattered Trust

  1. A while ago, there was a story about a priest hired to investigate sex crimes by priests being investigated for sex crimes by priests. That episode brought me to say that the Catholic Church is an organization that is either too incompetent or disinterested to root out the sex crime problems in its ranks.

    This makes me feel as though there’s some sort of pro-pedophile (prodophile?) movement in the church, like in that South Park episode where it turns out everyone in the Catholic church was molesting kids.

    Anyone who has given money voluntarily to the Catholic church since this scandal has broken and re-broken is purposely giving money to an organization that, through its actions, are almost indistinguishable from NAMBLA.

    The Vatican should be bulldozed, a toll booth built in its place.

    • Something does not make sense.

      When I run Micrisoft Word, I am certain it will not post kiddie porn images on its own.

      How csn a priest rape someone? Are not priests programmed to uphold the Word if God?

  2. As a Catholic who just yesterday got his third child baptized I am fucking pissed off. What is Francis thinking!? At least Benedict had enough political sense to avoid stuff like this.

    And now I’m going to shut up because I really have nothing even remotely nice to say.

  3. You say: “The Catholic Church, the Vatican and Pope Francis believe that faith is sufficient to overcome total, undeniable untrustworthiness.”

    To that I will only add that the Roman Catholic Church, the Vatican and Pope Francis believe — and it’s clearly true — that faith is sufficient to rot the brains of its followers and demolish all sense, care, love, responsibility, and understanding of justice. And they have the unmitigated gall to posit that priests are a direct line to God??

    Anyone today who has one ounce of respect for the Roman Catholic Church or the pontifications of its pontiff needs psychological help, and very likely an IQ test.

    I also agree with Jeff, who suggests bulldozing the Vatican and putting a toll booth in its place. Fine, but I’d steer clear. This is clearly unhallowed ground, and nothing good the Church has done in the past can make up for its treatment of pedophile/rapist priests. Period.

    • How does this website/article pertain to this issue? Granted, I did not read the article, but please tell me if there’s a connection.

  4. I had lost a lot of my respect for Francis when he addressed Congress and showed himself to be a pale shadow of John Paul II, interested in being “chief nice guy,” not a moral leader. I lost a lot more over the refugee thing. I just lost the rest. The man should never have been elected Pope, he is ethically and morally too lazy to lead.

  5. Pope Francis is an embarrassment to the Catholic Church and a hypocrite as well. He proceeds to lecture those of us in the USA about our need to show compassion to Syrian refugees and Central Americans who want to sneak into our country. Why doesn’t he show compassion to the adolescent rape victims by ending the policy of reinstating priests who are molesters and rapists to the priesthood.

    • Because they’re all part of a very nasty, clubby cabal. The few heterosexual molesters get a free pass because they intimidate the gay guys and the homosexual molesters by threatening them with exposure.

      I (whose only purpose in life, as far as my dear mother was concerned, was to become a Catholic priest) bailed from the church as a sixteen year-old when the now long time head brother at my Catholic high school, then a young newbie, was banging my best friend’s (our class’s valedictorian) separated and soon to be divorced mother at her house when we were juniors. It has since been well known at the school for decades among students, faculty and the other brothers. No one calls him on it. He’s never married my friend’s mother but they’re still an item. It’s terrible. And it’s never going to stop. Never.

      And don’t get me started on that Commie, Francis.What an arrogant asshole.

  6. Damn. Well, I can’t — CAN’T — defend the Church on this. I can say, however, that I want more facts. I also want to understand the official silence. I feel like I am in Bizarro World, because this makes no sense whatsoever.

    There was, interestingly, an article this week by John L. Allen at Crux which is critical of Pope Francis as an administrator.
    http://www.cruxnow.com/church/2016/04/23/is-a-governance-gap-emerging-under-pope-francis/
    Maybe the Vatican bureaucracy has been left in evil hands while Pope Francis goes around trying to be the Vicar of Christ. Not usually a conspiracy theorist, but I suddenly wondered if Francis’ enemies in the Vatican have done this to make him look bad.

    Please don’t call me a pollyanna. I am trying to keep an open mind until I hear some reaction from the Vatican — which better happen soon. Meanwhile, I’m in a state of shock and trying to make some sense of this senselessness.

    Damn.

  7. They will say that the Church embraces forgiveness, and that we are all sinners. The good, chastened priest has confessed, and is rehabilitated in the eyes of the Church and the Lord. He can be trusted now to go on with his important work.

    Sure, so long as that important work is taking a vow of silence and spending 14 hours a day illuminating medieval manuscripts on crop rotation in a monastery high up in the Himalayas.

    More seriously, forgiveness and trying to reintegrate a released criminal back into society are one thing, a good thing even, but putting a child rapist in charge of education is like putting a known embezzler in charge of the till. Part of rehab is not making it easy to fall back into old ways.

    Oh well, at least he didn’t put on a dress and a wig and demand to be allowed to get naked with little girls since no doubt there’s be a fool somewhere who’d fight for his right to do that.

  8. Stipulated, I am pissed as well.

    However, there are some key facts that do not add up here that I hope to research further before making strong conclusion.

    Firstly, the Daily Beast makes an accusation that sounds perfectly outrageous: “That parish even made him the diocesan head of its commission for education.” (Appointing a molester to a position with authority over teens and children). Yet, the statement is utter gibberish.

    The statement is that the parish he was assigned to appointed him to the “diocesan” commission. That does not add up. Either the parish appointed him to its local commission, or the diocese appointed him to the regional commission.

    Meanwhile, the diocese denies appointing him to any office whatsoever:
    “Father Sebastian Selvarajan, secretary of Bishop House, Ooty and spokesperson for the Diocese, told Hindustan Times that Jeyapaul was not given any job or assignment or reinstated as was being alleged. He has been simply given a residence, a permit to stay, that is all, he said.”
    (http://blogs.wsj.com/indiarealtime/2016/04/22/catholic-diocese-in-india-reinstates-priest-who-admitted-child-sex-abuse/), (http://www.hindustantimes.com/india/ooty-diocese-denies-reinstating-priest-punished-in-us-for-minors-abuse/story-MjylI6yyMgJVmEHgqt9J5H.html)

    This is sadly the kind of sloppy reporting that the Daily Beast is known for. Unlike the Spotlight crew, who thoroughly substantiated the story before going public, The Daily Beast puts together half-assed garbage, which is repeated elsewhere, and casts doubts over any part of the story.

    What is clear is that Jeyapaul was “reinstated” in February 2016 (http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/queens-woman-shocked-vatican-reinstates-priest-raped-article-1.2542685).

    And back in February 2016, the Ooty Diocese in India said they would only provide him a home, but would not give him any active ministry.
    “‘We have provided him accommodation but he will not have any active role in the Church,’ Selvanathan told AFP.
    (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3462976/Catholic-priest-convicted-sexually-abusing-minor-reinstated-church.html)

    In the Daily Mail article there is a vague statement that might suggest Jeyapaul will be assigned somewhere:

    “Bishop Amalraj lifted Jeyapaul’s suspension in mid-January, but he has not yet been assigned any responsibilities, Selvanathan said.

    ‘That will be decided in May, when decisions are taken by the diocese on changes and assignments,’ he said. ”
    (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3462976/Catholic-priest-convicted-sexually-abusing-minor-reinstated-church.html#ixzz46ocMNFyg)

    What may have happened was the Vatican “reinstated” Jeyapaul as a priest solely so that he could celebrate mass privately for his own benefit in a life a perpetual penance (that is a thing). The diocese gave him a residence to keep him off the street because he is now unemployable.

    Where did the Daily Beast got their damning peace of evidence, that a parish appointed him head of a “diocesan” education council? They do not say. They do not even address the publicly made statement made in FEBRUARY that flatly contradict their allegedly damning accusation.

    If you are going to call someone a liar and a accuse them of aiding a child molester, make your DAMN case make sense!

    Do I agree with the Diocese housing a predator priest? Not really, but I do not know the circumstances. Was it on a parish campus? A rented property somewhere else in the community? No one says. No one did they’re research. Do I agree with reappointing a predator priest to any sort of ministry? Not really, except to perhaps to a life of perpetual penance locked away in a cloister, far from human contact.

    The Daily Beast is known to have a difficult relationship with the truth. The Survivor’s Network for those Abused by Priests (SNAP) tends to comment on every story involving abuse, whether they have anything meaningful to say or not.

    If Pope Francis allowed a predator priest near children, Francis should resign. Sloppy reporting, however, just obscures the truth and potentially let the guilty slime their way through.

    • But of course a rapist priest should no longer be a priest. I think the issue of whom he endangers is secondary. He’s not fit to be a priest, and the single act of reinstating him sends the message that no conduct short of murder will cause a priest to be declared a disgrace to his faith and the mission of the Church. Since he isn’t locked up, he is still a priest; he can still induce others to trust that he will act like a priest, including women, and thus he can still do harm.

      I didn’t understand the Daily Beast’s terminology either. Their credibility is not good; the Church’s is worse. This man should not be a priest. That he is still a priest of any kind shows that the Church hasn’t learned a thing.

      • I read the Wall Street Journal’s article about this last night. None of the sources seem to have an abundance of facts. But Rich in CT makes some excellent points. I had similar thoughts last night but couldn’t wrap my head around them enough. Thanks, Rich in CT, for this thoughtful comment.

        There is a point about priesthood that you’re missing, Jack. It might all be hocus pocus to you, but the Church says that priesthood is forever. (It also talks about the priesthood of the laity, but application of this is inconsistent.) So, Jeyapaul, who should never have become a priest, is a priest forever. Yech. As a result, there are certain Canon Law procedures that must be followed to take away his priestly faculties.

        Regarding the priesthood — I have a friend (we’ve lost touch) who was a pedophile priest. When I first met him, I didn’t know this, as he hadn’t yet been accused. Once accused, he was convicted, did real jail time, had lots of counseling, was permitted to remain a priest but would never be permitted in a parish setting or anywhere around children. He was given an office job in the diocese and was also given the job of weekend Masses for a group of cloistered nuns. I spoke with him after he had served his jail time. He was contrite and admitted that he had had a problem and that his reassignments were good for him. He loved being a priest. He loved it more than any attraction to anything else, including any possible residual attraction to molesting children. He was grateful to continue being a priest and that the diocese had given him ministry where he wouldn’t be tempted. As a result of all of this, I have a little bit more compassion for these deeply flawed human beings. I don’t condone their behavior, but I can still see their humanity. Sometimes.

        IMNSHO, the scandal became more scandalous when Jeyapaul was given such a light sentence by the Minnesota courts, which I thought had been pretty tough on pedophiles. Once “laicized” by the Church, this predator is free to prey on anyone. I didn’t read anything about any required rehabilitation, counseling, etc. Maybe those are some of the facts that we don’t know.

        This case is a PR nightmare, though, and the Church needs to respond swiftly with complete transparency.

        • The man needs to be laicized, end of discussion. Another pedophile priest, who I am ashamed I actually knew and had dealings with (over getting a venue for choral singing) only dodged the bullet because by the time his wrongdoing was exposed, the statute of limitations had run. Yechh.

        • Thanks for that insight, as always.
          Comments:

          1. The priest forever policy is just lazy and arrogant clubbiness, and irresponsible for a profession, one of the requirements of which is the ability and integrity to self-policing. So we can look forward to a serial killer priest some day too?

          2. PR suggests more form than substance. I assume you don’t mean that. It’s like saying that allowing a rapist priest is “poor optics.”

          • Re #1 – Priests are still human beings, and have all of the positive and negative possibilities of any human being. One hopes that those who accept men into training for the priesthood will always attempt to screen for such aberrations as sexual predation, homicidal tendencies, and other crimes against humanity. This is not a science, unfortunately, and men who have these negative proclivities do and will slip into the priesthood. Just as they do and will slip into teaching, scouting, other religious leaderships, health care, etc.

            The “priest forever” thing is akin to the “mark of baptism.” It is a spiritual membership more than anything else. Just because you are a priest forever doesn’t give you the right to perform the duties of a priest — just as being baptized forever marks you as a Christian but doesn’t mean that you can’t damage that relationship to the point of excommunication, exiling you from participating in certain activities.

            Re #2 – No, I didn’t mean it to be so superficial. Allow me to rephrase.

            This case is a nightmare, though, and the Church needs to respond swiftly with complete transparency. Although PR is the least of the problems the Church has in this regard, it is still a problem wherein the transparency must occur. And by PR, I mean what it stands for: PUBLIC RELATIONS. The Church must heal the damage that has been done by pedophile priests to their victims, to Church members, and to those outside of the Church. These are all relationships, public and private.

            • Priests are still human beings

              That exactly is the problem.

              The humans should be replaced with robots.

              Robots are incorruptible because they can only do as they are programmed.

              Why do we need humans in any position of trust or authority at all? Would not life be better if computer networks ran everything?

          • Also, you speak of the priesthood as a profession. The Church views it as a vocation, a calling, something with deeper roots than a profession.

            • Well yes, and lawyers believe that their excrement doesn’t smell, but dealing in professional ethics, the priesthood is regarded as the first true profession, a calling in which an individual works for the good of humanity rather than money.

              Being a rapist is antithetical to professionalism.

              • And to be more specific (I roused myself from bed where I am recovering from having 5 teeth worked on and enough Novocaine to paralyze Cleveland to write this, because it’s driving me crazy), I really need a better explanation why raping people and fleeing doesn’t disqualify someone from being a priest, besides a Cronkite (“That’s the way it is.”) Because that shouldn’t be the way it is.

              • The priest forever policy is just lazy and arrogant clubbiness

                Like I said, nothing about the story makes me happy or proud. The only bit of perspective I could offer is that if the priest were laiticized, he would be strictly forbidden from celebrating mass, even privately.

                As Patrice says, the church teaches the priesthood to be a vocation. Celebrating the mass is central to this vocation. Forbidding its celebration, under pains of mortal sin and eternal damnation, seems cruel when the predator must also resist raping children under pains of mortal sin and eternal damnation.

                Rapist priests are an abomination, but to deny them the one positive outlet they have left, assuming they had any authentic attraction to the priesthood, seems unnecessarily cruel (assuming of course he is otherwise kept away from the vulnerable public).

                It deeply angers me that there should be any conflict of interests and ethical considerations at all in this matter. The Church has done such a damning job handling this isolation of predators in that past that I tend to agree predator priests should be stripped of their faculties altogether and left to fend for themselves as any other punished predator. My only hesitancy is that I would rather a he be able to celebrate mass at the bottom of the hole he dug himself into, than continuing pulling other people into his hole and raping them. (How is that for a ringing endorsement…)

          • Not exactly, it is the belief that the sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders leave an indelible character on one’s soul, which can’t be simply wiped away. The idea was that God was the only one who could grant grace, and only God could take it away, hence a priest who committed a wrong would not lose his priestly powers and endanger the spiritual well-being of his flock. As for a serial killer priest, well, we’re not there yet, but Alessandro Serenelli, who killed St. Maria Goretti during an attempted rape, became a lay brother in his later years, and one of the Connecticut home invaders has become an oblate.

              • I think the appropriate response is the church didn’t want its members to be concerned with whether their confessions and communions would lose their power if the priest was doing one of the shepherdesses or had his hand in the till. So the Holy See came up with this doctrine. I agree, yuk! But what do you tell the folks whose grandmother, who never hurt anyone, died in her sins because the priest who gave her the sacrament of the sick was diddling an altar boy on the side that no one knew about? Now grandma’s condemned to Hell for eternity through no fault of her own? There’s no easy out here. I agree with yuk for the last part too. It disgusts me that psychopathic murderers think they can undo the harm they did by embracing faith for their last few years. Serenelli was 20, old enough to know better, had tried twice for Maria before the fatal assault, and stabbed her 14 times. He deserved to SWING, not rot for life in prison, but because he was not 21, he served only 27 years of a 30 year sentence. I’d like to think that God was unimpressed by his later apologetics, and sent him to Hell, to suffer repeatedly the pain he caused.

            • The church is in desperate need of priests. They’ll keep anybody. All the theology about being a priest forever is just hocus-pocus. It’s a club whose members take care of each other first last and always. Don’t forget, it’s priest who make-up and interpret Catholic theology.

              • “The church is in desperate need of priests.”

                Which is annoying and unnecessary. Not to dive into Ecclesiology, the Catholics are flat out wrong in their structure and organization of the Church (that is flat out wrong assuming the Veracity of the Bible as Christianity’s founding document – even assuming Tradition has a role, founding document takes precedence).

                In short:

                1) There is no NEED for earthly priests at all – given that Christ assumed a *consummating* role of High Priesthood – he is simultaneously the one offering the sacrifice and is the sacrifce. And is CURRENTLY (better stated “will ALWAYS be”) our mediator between Man and the Father.

                2) With the role of High Priest being perpetually occupied, church structure and positions underwent redefinition – mentioned several times in the New Testament. The closest corollary to the Catholic notion of “priest” (once the sacrifice role is stripped away) is that of teacher or elder. The New Testament, usefully enough, discusses those roles quite thoroughly.

                3) And those roles, thankfully enough, not only DON’T ban church leadership from being married and having sex, but implicitly EXPECT the leadership to be married and have children.

                4) I think the Catholic Church, deciding to return to a founding document, would realize just how many EXCELLENT leaders it could gain if it wouldn’t hamper it’s leadership by denying one of the earliest gifts God gave man, in Genesis 1:28 – BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY.

                5) Men, like all humans, are big balances of chemical reactions, many of which are effected by external inputs – screw up the balance, screw up the man…

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