An Open Letter to Archbishop Myers of Newark

Dear Archbishop Myers,

I know we have never met, so I think it would be appropriate to introduce myself.  My name is Mike Boyle, and I am a Catholic.  I don't live in your diocese, but I used to live in New Jersey, so I suppose I have some connection to what you are doing.  I also have friends who live in your former see of Peoria, so I have a connection there as well.

I came across the letter you wrote to the priests in your current diocese.  Your letter lashes out at unnamed media figures that have criticized you in connection with your handling a claim of sexual abuse involving Father Thomas Maloney.  While you don't name specific names, I suspect you are angry at this coverage in Commonweal magazine, plus likely the coverage in the Newark Star-Ledger.

In your letter, you say that some of your statements in your deposition (given in 2010 in connection with a lawsuit against the Peoria diocese stemming from that accusations Father Maloney sexually molested an eight year old boy) have been taken out of context.  Well, I read the entirety of your deposition, as well as all of the exhibits offered by the plaintiffs in connection with the deposition.  I suppose I should also point out that I am a lawyer, so I take and defend depositions for a living---not every day, but as a regular part of my work.  So, I am very familiar with depositions.

Based on my reading of the deposition, the only conclusion I can come to is that the coverage of this matter has been more than fair to you, perhaps even lending you the benefit of the doubt.  To be blunt, you do not come across in your deposition as remotely credible.  Not even close.

You core contention is that you really didn't know Father Maloney very well, and knew nothing about the serial accusations of misconduct against him prior to the alleged molestation of the victim in this case.  And yet, we find in the deposition exhibits a series of personal letters, signed by you, where you thank him for personal gifts he has given you and reference specific lunches and other meetings between the two of you.  Or how about this letter where you invite him to vacation with you?  Is it your contention that these letters are not authentic?  That someone forged your signature on these letters?

I was struck in particular by this letter, where you thanked Maloney for a "silver object so large it could be tied around one's neck like a proverbial millstone."  Surely, you must have been struck later by the irony (or, perhaps, prophecy?) of this comment, in light of Jesus's statement that "[i]f any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were fastened around your neck and you were drowned in the depths of the sea."  [Matthew 18:6, NRSV].  A teacher in a fiction workshop would have rejected this foreshadowing as far too heavy-handed to be believable, and yet that appears to be from your own hand.

But of course, you didn't know Maloney very well.  And you certainly didn't know about the various complaints made by his parishoners again him, including complaints and responses contained in letters that you were either cc'ed on, or were directly addressed to you..  Or this one that apparently you wrote and has your signature on.  Perhaps they are forged as well?  Oh, my mistake--you never saw these complaints because of the "slipshod filing system" in the Peoria diocese.  So, as I understand it, while you were the bishop of Peoria, correspondence went out in your name that you never saw, and correspondence addressed to you never made its way to you.  What exactly were you doing as the bishop of Peoria?  Do you see why people might find your explanations less than credible?

Let's be honest.  You knew about the accusations against Maloney.  You knew that multiple people had gone on the record with their evidence that he was not safe to be around children.  You did nothing, because he kissed your ass and gave you presents.  And, when confronted with these facts after the fact (after you knew Maloney was dead, by the way), you pretended you didn't know him.  At best, you were deliberately obfuscating.  More likely, you intentionally lied and perjured yourself.

No matter--all is the fault of the media and various unnamed entities with various unnamed motivations to defame you.  I will confess that I have become somewhat immune to this kind of rhetoric.  When I first read your letter, my initial reaction was "well, at least he didn't blame it on the Jews, like Cardinal Rigali did in Philadelphia when confronted with [Jewish] DA Lynne Abraham's 418-page Grand Jury report on sex abuse in 2005."  As former President George W. Bush would say, I suppose I am suffering from the "soft bigotry of low expectations" in this area.

You ask, perhaps rhetorically, why no one is exploring the motivations of those that are criticizing you.  No need to explore---I will tell you.  I would like to be confident that, when I have children, I am not going to be bringing them around a church where they will be molested.  Call me crazy, but I feel that is reasonable.  And I would like to know that if incidents do occur, they will be taken seriously by the man whose charge from God is to take care of the members of his diocese.  If I lived in Newark, I would have zero confidence in your ability to deliver that.  None whatsoever.

But for me, the piece de resistance of your letter was where you suggested that people where criticizing you because of your "outspoken" conservative stands on the controversial issues of the day.  Ah yes, the horribly wicked American culture, with its condemnation of child molestation, potentially perjurious deposition testimony, and cover-ups.  But, to be fair, you have a slight point.  You see, people tend to get rubbed the wrong way in general when you harangue them about who to vote for, and more or less threaten those that disagree with excommunication.  But they really take it personally when you stake out the moral high ground and then dissemble about protecting little kids.  When you try to substitute your judgment for that of the voters of New Jersey, people are going to ask hard questions about that judgment.  And it has proven to be lacking.  People don't forget that kind of thing.

You see, from my experience, do you know what most Catholics sitting in the pews are looking for?  They want to belong to a church where their leaders are not going to be constantly embarrassing them whenever they click on their newspaper's web page.  It seems to me that thought unites Catholics of all political and religious points of view.  They don't want to hear constantly about a new story of a bishop covering things up in his old diocese before he moves on to another, more prestigious one.  They don't want to hear about the wounding of more little kids.  They want to belong to a religion they can be proud to tell other people they are members of, and not forced to constantly explain away the sins of its leaders.

In light of all of this, I have a request.  Do the honorable thing.  Do the thing you should have done years ago.  Resign as Archbishop of Newark.  You owe it to the victims, you owe it to their families.  And you owe it to the millions of good and honest Catholics who do not deserve to be constantly humiliated by you and your brother bishops.  If you love the Church as much as you claim, stop talking about Catholicism and actually do something constructive to aid in the healing of the Church.  Go away.  And take Cardinal Dolan and all of the rest of your fellow travelers with you.


Mike Boyle


Jebus Saves! said…
Wow. A Catholic CRITICIZING child molestation and those who aid and abet said molesters. That's certainly worthy of a blog post. Really out on a limb there, ain't cha?

Since you say you are some sort of shit hot lawyer (self-aggrandizing much?), why don't you donate some of your certainly outrageous fees to actually help those "little kids" if this behavior really troubles you enough.

No, instead you write these blogs to prove how "thoughtful" and "modern" you are. You don't even think homos are going to hell, with their buggery and lube and all. Wow! So enlightened.
V.D.E said…
To J---- Saves (I will not repeat that blasphemy),

Your post is not merely in poor taste, but ignorant as well.

This blogger is clearly a thoughtful young man, who writes well and seems to be genuinely concerned about living God's word. How dare you criticize his personal feelings that he is generously sharing with us? If you don't like it, ignore it. There are plenty of other interwebs you can visit.

To Traveler- Thank you for these posts. I sincerely enjoy reading them. Concern the sexual abuse controversy, would you not agree that the Church needs a modern day Inquisition to root these monsters and their enablers out of Its ranks? As a former Dominican, I am certain you know that their methods, while crude compared to modern ones, were extremely effective. Let me know what your feelings are on this. I'm sure most of the devices are being stored in churches around the world. Just need to dust them off!

Vox Dei electus
Traveller said…

Crime, even horrible crimes such as this, do not justify inhuman acts such as torture. That's not funny or witty, if that was your intention.

V.D.E said…
While I was making an attempt at humor with the "dusty devices" reference, I am deadly serious about the need for our Church to reinstate the Inquisition. More reverends, rabbis, mullahs and preachers molest children than priests, but ask someone about religious leaders harming children and EVERYONE says Catholic priests. Why? Because, more so than any other religion (with the possible exception of LDS), the Church is an worldwide institution. Literally "A Church" instead of a collection of churches. It is this institutional integrity that has kept our Church alive for twenty centuries and it is also this integrity that makes it a target. Catholic leaders need to harness this institution to make sure that the faithful (like yourself) do not need to worry about the safety and innocence of their children while at church (a concern you expressed in your post).

Your condemnation of the Inquisition is a bit startling to me. As a former Dominican, I assumed you were familiar with the recent (since the 1970's or so) scholarship on the Inquisition. Several scholars posit that the Inquisition was a fundamentally more fair, more humane system than anything secular Europe had at the time.

All the Inquisition did was conduct investigations and refer wrongdoers to the proper secular authorities for proper punishment. While the "wrong" in early modern Europe was usually heresy, this same model could and should be used to extirpate pederasts and pederast enablers from the Church.

Why couldn't the Church conduct probing, thorough investigations, utilizing all efficacious means and methods, into instances of alleged misconduct and, when the allegations were sustained, refer the matter to the proper authorities?

-Vox Dei electus

V.D.E. said…
And I apologize for my grammar, English is not my native language.

As they say in my country, "Tko si ne da dokazati, ne može mu se pomoći."

Vox Dei Electus
Traveller said…
My apologies, V.D.E.--I misunderstood the spirit of your comment. I thought you were trying to be provocative on purpose. When people talk about the "Inquisition" (at least in this country), they are generally talking about using the power of religion to enforce doctrinal conformity, usually through force in the form of torture. When you talked about their "methods" and "devices," that's what I thought you were referring to. Again, my apologies.

I think you are right that a more thorough method of investigating these cases is desperately needed. And the people sitting in the pews need to be confident in those procedures. I think that is sorely missing here.
V.D.E. said…
No need to apologize. I like to write to improve my English. And this topic is most dear to me.

No, there shouldn't be torture. Just like the american army base in cuba, just techniques to get the guilty ones to confess. I am so happy we agree.

Vox Dei Electus
Moon's Revenge said…
Although this type of blatant abuse demands action and serious discussion, you, Traveller, are only aiding in the strict patriarchal nature of the Catholic Church. Would this bring about such an outcry if this happened to young girls? The answer is no-- mainly because it has already happened over the centuries and across countries. Where is your response, Traveller?

And if you support this so-called "new Inquisition", what about the free thinking women that were persecuted during the Inquisition of centuries ago? Are women going to become targets of this witch hunt, instead of the men that perpetuate this behavior through the ranks of the Church? Is the Church going to start burning women at the stakes for using birth control or getting abortion?

I find your lack of understand and comprehension of women's issues in the Church deeply troubling. You have failed to recognize the inherent misogyny that is at the heart of your spiritual crutch.
V.D.E. said…
Vau! It must be "that phase of the moon" for Moon's Revenge. She does not understand the dangers of witches and witchcraft.

As my grand-mama always used to say about girls: Med ima u ustima, a cemer u srcu. (in English- something like "A honey tongue and a heart of bile.")

-Vox Dei Electus
Traveller said…
Let me be clear about what I mean. To the extent that V.D.E. is calling for some sort of organization that would provide for neutral investigations of crimes by members of the Church, I agree. And V.D.E. is right that, by the standards of its time, the Inquisition often, but not always, used an investigative process that was fairer than the norm.

But beyond that, I cannot go. Torture was wrong then, and it is wrong now (including that used by Americans in Guantanamo Bay). Burning witches is wrong. Persecuting those who have disagreements of faith is wrong. I am certainly not advocating any of these things.

As far as caring only because boys are being abused, respectfully, I think that is unfair. In the particular case I talk about in the post, unfortunately both boys and girls were involved. I do not deny the reality of the ways in which the Catholic Church has done wrong, and continues to do wrong, to women. But that was not the topic of this post.

And, V.D.E., I did not really understand your comment about the phases of the moon, but please do not insult other readers.

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