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Why the Church Can Not Make the Disclosure Decisions

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It was interesting reading to see the Minneapolis Tribune  and MPR’s coverage of the hearing that took place a week ago Friday  concerning additional names to the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis  and the Archdiocese of Winona lists  As the Tribune reported:

The judge rejected an archdiocese proposal to first allow the church 30 days to investigate an abuse claim. The archdiocese is not a neutral party for evaluating whether a claim is true or false, Van de North said, noting that it has failed to report cases of abuse in the past.

Likewise, the archdiocese’s criteria for evaluating sexual misconduct can be “fuzzy,” he said. The archdiocese, for example, said it suspended two priests for “boundary issues” — Rev. Joseph Gallatin of the Church of St. Peter in Mendota and Rev. Mark Wehmann of St. Boniface Catholic Church in Minneapolis.

“One person’s boundary violation is another person’s sexual abuse,” said Van de North.

MPR coverage included:

The hearing also touched on the broader issue of clergy sexual abuse.

Wieser, the archdiocese’s lawyer, argued that child sexual abuse is no more common in the Catholic priesthood than elsewhere. Van de North’s order, he said, could create a precedent to force schools, social service agencies and others to disclose information on people accused of child sexual abuse.

Van de North replied that the archdiocese is unique because, unlike other groups, it has failed for years to report child sexual abuse claims to police. “In some ways, they’ve sort of brought that on themselves by not being forthcoming in the past,” he said.

That the Church earned this questioning is at the very heart of the argument that they need to fully disclose and let someone else decide what should be protected.

The lists that have been disclosed already show the problems:

  • As names that clearly should be on more than one list are not.
  • Only one list (St Cloud) included a deacons,  despite other deacon to be named out there.
  • The odd statements from Diocese Bishops about not knowing what to expect,  despite coming from Dioceses that had their own undisclosed lists.
  • The conflict that exists when Priests who seem to be too close to those who are reviewing the lists.  There are those who have gone to school together and served with each other.
  • There has not been quick, clear disclosure to the authorities.

It is time that zero tolerance was given teeth  and full disclosure was achieved.

The names are now disclosed, however there are more lists that exist in Minnesota and there are many more names to find.

Abuse of children and the continued silence by the offenders needs to be prevented. If you suffered, saw, or suspected such events, it is important to know that there is help out there.

 

2 Comments

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  1. mike ference says:
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    The following letter was sent to Rita Flaherty of the Pittsburgh Diocese. She responded that it was passed on to the appropriate people.

    Hello Rita Flaherty,
    Can you review this information with the appropriate people at the diocese. I believe the attempted murder of my son could have been avoided if the Pittsburgh Diocese had properly reacted to the many warnings received about Father John Wellinger, a credibly accused sexual predator.

    I also want this letter passed on to Bishop David Zubik, can you advise how I can best do this.
    Please respond that you did receive this message. I can be reached at 412-233-5491

    Mike Ference

    An open letter to Bishop David Zubik, Pittsburgh Diocese

    Could the attempted murder of my son, Adam Ference been averted if diocesan hierarchy had properly supervised former Catholic priest Father John Wellinger.

    Please review my allegations, noting which ones are true or false. If you need additional information, I would gladly provide it.

    Question 1. Allegedly, in the first quarter of 1987 Fr. John Wellinger, a priest of the Pittsburgh diocese and pastor of Holy Spirit Parish in West Mifflin, PA, drugged a University of Pittsburgh student in an apartment that the victim shared with his older brother, also a Pitt student.

    According to the victim, he was knocked out for hours. When he awoke, he intuitively called 911. After rushing downstairs, against the wishes of Fr Wellinger,
    the teenage victim flag down meet the ambulance and the attending EMTs in the street.

    The allegation of the rest of the event goes as follows:

    The ambulance whisked away to Presbyterian University Hospital emergency room (now University of Pittsburgh Medical Center; UPMC). Fr. Wellinger allegedly followed the young victim to the hospital. Upon finding him in the emergency room, the victim requested that Wellinger find his nurse. When the nurse returned the victim would explain that Wellinger was the man who had drugged him.

    Wellinger was ushered out by the nurse. To the best of my knowledge police were not notified; not even a security guard from the hospital. The victim was not examined by a doctor. In other words, the entire event was covered-up.

    The parents of the victim came to the hospital and took their son home. Furthermore, I was told by then Clairton Public Safety Director William Scully, in January of 1990, that a hospital worker, possibly a social worker, warned the parents to not take on the Pittsburgh diocese, because they are too powerful and wealthy.

    I can provide the victim’s name and contact information to verify my story.

    Bishop David Zubik is this event TRUE or FALSE. If it’s true, the attempted murder of my son could have been averted.

    Question 2. Allegedly, a few days after the above event, the victim’s father searched out Wellinger at the parish house. At the time, Wellinger was holding a parish council meeting. So, there were plenty of witnesses present, including the victim’s mother. The victim’s father was angry, because Andreas Wellinger had allegedly drugged his son and possibly raped and sodomized him. The man was also angry over an outing that lasted all night long between Wellinger and his wife. According to an eyewitness Wellinger was ushered out a back door and the West Mifflin Police were called.
    Concerned for the safety of Fr. Wellinger, parish council members ushered the priest out the back door and called the West Mifflin Police. Parish councils were logically concerned, because the victim’s father may have been intoxicated and carrying a weapon.

    Is there evidence of any police report? Did the father would receive notification from attorneys for the Diocese of Pittsburgh to stay away from Father John Wellinger and to stay off Holy Spirit property in West Mifflin, PA.

    Bishop David Zubik is this event TRUE or FALSE. If it’s true, the attempted murder of my son could have been averted.

    Question 3. An allegation was brought to my attention within the past year or two, by a Catholic priest who stated to me via telephone that a person by the last name of Volmer went to Father Charles Bober in 1987 and warned Bober about Fr Wellinger’s deviant behavior. To the best of my knowledge, nothing was done.

    Bishop David Zubik is this event TRUE or FALSE. If it’s true, the attempted murder of my son could have been averted.

    Question 4. Sometime in 1988, the personal secretary of Father Wellinger allegedly went to the Pittsburgh diocese and spoke to Father Ronald Lengwin about Wellinger’s deviant behavior. She also reported that a teenage boy used the rectory as his home for the longest time and enjoyed making 900 calls to porn sites, while costing the parish hundreds, if not thousands of dollars.

    Sadly, the women whom I interviewed would be labeled as a rumor-monger, and once again, Bishop Bevilacqua and would err on the side of dysfunctional sex freak, Fr John Wellinger, rather than erring on the side of caution.

    Bishop David Zubik is this event TRUE or FALSE. If it’s true, the attempted murder of my son could have been averted.

    Question 5. A suicide occurred in Father John Wellinger’s parish in 1989. According to then Clairton Public Safety Director William Scully, the suicide allegedly was linked to Wellinger. Scully said that he just didn’t have the needed proof. The boy was a 16 year old who took a gun to his head and pulled the trigger.

    According to Scully, the boy had an interest in the occult and Satanism. Wellinger would hold a seminar on occult practice and Satanism months later.

    Bishop David Zubik is this event TRUE or FALSE. If it’s true, the attempted murder of my son could have been averted.

    Here’s her response:
    Mike,
    I did receive your email and will share it with the appropriate people here. If you want to send a letter to Bishop Zubik, you can send it to him at:

    Bishop David Zubik
    Diocese of Pittsburgh
    111 Blvd. of the Allies
    Pittsburgh, PA 15222

    Have a good afternoon!
    Rita Flaherty

  2. Mike Bryant says:
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    Very troubling story, sorry to hear what you are going through.