Peoria: Bp. Jenky stands up to anti-Catholic courts and media

A really interesting story came to my e-mail.

H.E. Most Rev. Daniel Jenky, Bishop of Peoria, ordered that a letter of his composition be read in all churches on Sunday.  Some parishes did not comply.

The issue?  His concern over anti-Catholicism.

Background: A court recently reinstated lawsuits that were previously dismissed because the statute of limitations had passed.  Article on the reinstatement is found here.    Executive summary:  Illinois law required lawsuits to be filed by the time the (alleged) minor victim was 30 years old, with the statute of limitations expiring afterwards.  The reinstatement has revolved around the rediscovery of repressed memories.

Here is a story from the Quad City Times

Let’s see the story and then Bishop Jenky’s letter with my emphases and comments.

Illinois bishop’s letter: Media has ‘intense hatred’ of Catholics

By Edith Brady-Lunny | Sunday, February 8, 2009 10:03 PM CST

PEORIA, Ill. — Catholic Bishop Daniel Jenky is lashing out [Interesting word choice.  Don’t only extremists or right-wingers "lash out"?] at the news media and Illinois courts over the handling of sexual abuse allegations made against priests.

In a letter dated for distribution over the weekend to Catholic parishes throughout the Peoria Diocese, Jenky expresses concern over media coverage and court rulings he thinks have been unfair to the diocese. At least two parishes [!  out of how many?] in the Ilinois Quad-Cities published the letter in its bulletin.

Barbara Roedel, pastoral associate at St. Pius X in Rock Island, said the letter was not read aloud during St. Pius services, which observed World Marriage Sunday and Scout Sunday.

“In our parish at Saint Pius, we printed in our bulletin the full text from Bishop Jenky,” she said. Likewise, Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Moline also printed the letter, said the Rev. Dale Wellman.

The Illinois Quad-City parishes are part of the Peoria Diocese.

“Amid all the tensions of our nation’s culture wars and in the face of the media’s intense hatred for our Catholic faith, I am increasingly concerned that our Church in effect no longer enjoys equal justice under the law,” Jenky wrote.

The diocese did not respond Friday to a request for comment on the letter. [Isn’t the letter then comment?]

Jenky defended the church’s policies and track record for dealing with abuse cases, saying credible claims have been settled while allegations unsupported by facts are rejected. He thinks measures put in place in recent years have made the church a safe environment for children.

The Catholic Diocese of Peoria has not allowed abusive priests to move from parish to parish, said Jenky, who also vowed not to be intimidated by “choreographed demonstrations or the abuse that is sometimes personally directed against me” by victims’ support groups.

The bishop questioned the motives of attorneys representing some victims and groups supporting them, saying, “Obviously (they) have a significant financial stake in trying to overturn our Diocesan policies.”

Jeff Jones, Peoria leader of the Survivors Network for those Abused by Priests, responded Friday to a copy of the letter provided to the organization.

“It’s a sad day when the bishop has to use these kinds of tactics to make sure innocent victims receive no reparations. He will stop at nothing,” said Jones.

In his letter, Jenky also assures area Catholics that he will be a “prudent steward of the money you offer for the work of Christ” and warned that difficult days may lie ahead as the diocese faces the potential of more than a dozen abuse lawsuits.

A recent ruling from the 3rd District Appellate Court could reinstate cases dismissed in June 2007 on the grounds that the alleged victims waited too long to file charges. Among the priests named in the civil actions are former Monsignor Norman Goodman and former priest Louis Condon, both of whom served in Lincoln.

Barbara Dorris, SNAP’s outreach director from St. Louis, also took issue with the letter.

“At least 18 current or former Peoria priests are admitted, proven or credibly accused predators. Is Jenky actually claiming the church handled every one of these cases promptly, openly and honorably? That defies common sense and painful history,” she said.  [Note how this story ends?  Bp. Jenky’s case is made in this story!]

(The Bloomington Pantagraph is a Lee Enterprises newspaper.)

The following letter was supposed to be read in churches throughout the Peoria Diocese over the weekend:

MOST REV. DANIEL R. JENKY, C.S.C.
OFFICE OF THE BISHOP
DIOCESE OF PEORIA OFFICE OF THE BISHOP
607 N.E. MADISON AVENUE
PEORIA, ILLINOIS 61603
PHONE: 309-671-1564
FAX: 309-671-5079

February 7-8, 2009

Dear Priests, Deacons, Religious and Faithful of the Diocese of Peoria,

My greatest responsibility as your bishop is to preach the Gospel, celebrate the Sacraments, and to try my best to be a good shepherd for this local church. The saddest part of my ministry has been to deal with our part of the immense societal issue of sexual misconduct with minors. Where there have been credible accusations made against individuals and with the advice of my Review Commission, I have not hesitated to remove them from all active ministry. I have also tried to attentively follow the charter adopted by the American bishops that deals in a comprehensive manner with this painful subject. I have not discovered any evidence in this Diocese that priests guilty of misconduct were ever moved from assignment to assignment. Our Diocese normally offers counseling to victims rather than paying out large cash settlements. Not every allegation has been found to be credible by our Review Commission, and so our Diocese resists supporting those claims that simply cannot be sustained by the facts. I take very seriously my responsibility to protect all the children entrusted to our care, and I am absolutely convinced that today the programs of our Church now provide the safest possible environment in America for your children.

In these perilous economic times, I will work to be a prudent steward of the money you offer for the work of Christ. Attorneys representing some claimants and some "victims groups" obviously have a significant financial stake in trying to overturn our Diocesan policies. Recent decisions in the Illinois courts may make our legal situation even more difficult in the future. It should be noted that the sexual abuse of minors cuts across all socio-economic lines, ethnicities, ministries, and religions. It is important to remember that the State basically exempts its own institutions from civil litigation. Amid all the tensions of our nation’s culture wars and in the face of the media’s intense hatred for our Catholic Faith, I am increasingly concerned that our Church in effect no longer enjoys equal justice under the law. I will not be intimidated by choreographed demonstrations or the abuse that is sometimes personally directed against me. I remain immensely proud of the zealous and holy priesthood of our Diocese. May God guide and protect his Holy Church and bless us all in his service. Sincerely yours in Christ,

Most Reverend Daniel R. Jenky, C.S.C. BISHOP OF PEORIA

 

Well done, Bishop Jenky.

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25 Responses to Peoria: Bp. Jenky stands up to anti-Catholic courts and media

  1. irishgirl says:

    I second that ‘well done’, Fr. Z!

    Stand your ground, Bishop Jenky! Don’t let the media and its cohorts intimidate you!

    Give them a smackdown!

  2. Peggy says:

    I am glad to hear this bishop speak up. I hope he is working with our Bishop Braxton in the Belleville IL diocese. We have had a case recently which the diocese lost b/c the judge somehow determined that the statute of limitations no longer applied. Astounding to me! The lack of regard for the statute of limitations is of great concern in this state. Bp. Braxton has appealed this case, much to SNAP’s chagrin. He needs our prayers here. I pray also that the State Supreme Ct restores the rule of law in this case.

    The plaintiff lawyers that won this case somehow scared up a couple of new victims of the same priest who was removed from ministry under (now) Abp. Gregory. The trial revealed the culpability of some other priests in not making full information known to Gregory or the review board. Recall, Gregory was known for cleaning up our diocese and then leading the USCCB to address the abuse as well.

    Further detail of these cases can be searched for at BND.com, the local Belleville paper.

  3. Al says:

    And Aslan Roared! Finally…More! More!

  4. TIPSTER says:

    After a little digging, it appears that Jeff Jones, the Peoria SNAP leader quoted in the article, is infact one of the individuals involved with this lawsuit.

    I find it absolutely appalling that the media would publish quotes such as, ““It’s a sad day when the bishop has to use these kinds of tactics to make sure innocent victims receive no reparations. He will stop at nothing,” without clearly identifying that the individual making the statement is infact a plaintiff against the diocese. (http://www.bishop-accountability.org/news/2005_11_30_WEEK_NewLawsuits.htm)

    This link (http://peoriastory.typepad.com/peoriastory/2009/01/pay-up-diocese-told.html) also quotes Jones as indicating he has been ordered to “not step foot on diocesan property.” Which indicates that he has, perhaps, been doing more on Diocesan property than simply attending Holy Mass. Other links can easily be found showing Jones openly calling for the Diocese to drop all appeals on these lawsuits, etc, often without pointing out that he is bringing one of said lawsuits.

    Please don’t take any of this as a personal swipe at Mr. Jones.

    This is a swipe at the media, who couldn’t be bothered to do a google search– or more likely, couldn’t be bothered to provide anything resembling fair coverage for the Catholic Church. I can think of no other scenario where the plantiff would be quoted in such a way without any identification whatsoever.

  5. Vox Cantor says:

    Don’t you just love it when bishops act like…well, Bishops!

  6. Al says:

    Here is a better visual interpretation of the Good Bishop’s response

    Skip to 7:55 on the time and start watching – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mq2TuKFtabU&feature=related

  7. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    “Barbara Roedel, pastoral associate”

    Does this name/title strike anyone else as strange? Perhaps she is Sister Roedel?

  8. Jordanes says:

    A correction: Bishop Jenky (my bishop) ordered that the letter be published in all of the parish bulletins. He did not instruct that the letter be read from the ambo.

    Some context: Bishop Jenky wrote the letter after an appellate court ruling reinstated several lawsuits that had been dismissed because they were filed after the statute of limitations had expired. At least a few, if not all, of these lawsuits were filed late because the plaintiffs “recovered” allegedly suppressed memories of being abused by priests: these alleged memories were “recovered” through the use of hypnosis. In other words, there isn’t any evidence at all that these people were really abused.

    The priest they’re accusing is indeed guilty of sexual abuse — that’s why Bishop Jenky suspended him in 2002. But there isn’t any evidence he abused these individuals.

    In addition, waiving the statute of limitations is not lightly to be done, and should never, ever be done when it is a case of people being hypnotised into believing a priest sodomised them. Many, many innocent people have had their lives ruined and been falsely imprisoned through the false testimony of people with spurious “memories” created by counselors and hypnotists. Hopefully the state Supreme Court will overturn this decision on appeal.

  9. TJM says:

    Bishop Jenky typifies the best of what used to be referred to in more halcyon days as “The Notre Dame Man.” He should be commended for his courage and
    also calling out the media for what it is, an anti-Catholic megaphone. Why faithful Catholics buy these rags is beyond me. Tom

  10. That’s been one of my biggest problems with this whole scandal..it’s almost as if they take Law, and since it’s the Catholic Church, get rid of it, just to get them.

    Way to go Bp. Jenky

  11. Jordanes says:

    Andrew asked: Does this name/title strike anyone else as strange? Perhaps she is Sister Roedel?

    No, Barb isn’t a religious. Bishop Jenky recently asked her to assist Father Greg Jozefiak at St. Pius X because Father Jozefiak and the other pastors in the Quad Cities parishes have been sharing additional responsibilities for two other parishes in the area after their pastor went AWOL after he was accused last year of sexual misconduct with a teenage girl some 12 years ago. He denied the allegation, but then disappeared, leaving Bishop Jenky no recourse but to suspend him from the priesthood in absentia, and making it necessary for the bishop to reassign priests and ask qualified laity to help cover the needs of the Quad Cities parishes. Barb is the diocese’s first lay pastoral associate, and I can attest that she’s a devout and solidly orthodox Catholic.

  12. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    Thanks Jordanes. Sounds like +Jenky is pretty good. Oh, if only cloning weren’t such a moral problem… ;)

  13. jarhead462 says:

    I am always suspicious of this “repressed memories” psychobabble. The only case of alleged abuse that I have an intimate knowledge of both parties, turned out to be one of these false accusations based on this highly specious “therapies”
    Fortunately, The accuser recanted after he realised that he fell prey to one of these preditory psycho-analysts, Who plant seeds in the minds of people who have come to them for help, convince them that someone (parent, Priest, teacher) has done some sort of unspeakable thing to them, thereby necessitating more expensive therapy.
    I’m certainly not denying that abuse does happen, it’s just that I have seen more people victimized by the Psychiatric industry than abused by members of the Church…..where is the outrage in those cases?

    Semper Fi!

  14. jarhead462 says:

    Sorry for all of the errors.
    It should be “proofread then post” for me.

    Semper Fi!

  15. YoungCatholicSTL says:

    Peoria is a great diocese. They have a beautiful cathedral that is largely (although not completely) untouched by Vatican II “reforms”. When I was up there in January, the Sunday vigil mass was a Novus Ordo sung entirely in Latin, with lots of incense and a number of seminarians serving. Three cheers for Bishop Jenky!

  16. Jordanes says:

    Yep, Bishop Jenky directed that the Saturday 4 p.m. Mass is almost always to be a Latin Novus Ordo. He also asked that his pontifical liturgies generally include the Latin Introit and chanted Kyrie and Agnus Dei. In addition, he and the masters of ceremonies, pontifical deacons, and pontifical servers always go down to the sanctuary steps and turn ad orientem during the Penitential Rite. Last fall he approved the formation of a “chant school” which he directed the diocese to completely fund so those who want to learn Gregorian chant can do so without registration fees or tuition. I have the impression that Bishop Jenky is trying gently to nudge diocesan liturgy back toward something more traditional, though he’s obviously not a traditionalist and really has no interest in the pre-Vatican II Mass.

  17. John Polhamus says:

    Catholics have, also, to stand up for themselves. What is really important about the Bishop’s letter – and it looks like he’s going to have to be persistent to get his message across to his own Diocese – is that he is telling Catholics to do just that. To recognize that there IS a problem, and that they have to defend themselves by defending the faith, not just wait for Bill Donohoe to make a soundbite. This is an excellent sign.

  18. Dennis says:

    Small corrections that do nothing for any argument except for accuracy. Fr. Greg Jozefiak is not at St. Pius X in Rock Island, IL. That honor goes to Fr. Mike Schaab. As I understand, Fr. Jozefiak is at St. Mary’s in Rock Island and also serves at Sacred Heart and at Alleman High School. A busy man indeed.

  19. Jordanes says:

    Whoops. Thanks for correcting that, Dennis. I’d gotten the three Rock Island parishes garbled in my memory. You are right about Father Schaab’s and Father Jozefiak’s assignments.

  20. James says:

    The letter was inserted in the bulletin at St. John\’s Catholic Chapel at the Newman Center at the University of Illinois.

  21. Jay says:

    To add a little to what others have said about the phenomenon of “recovered” memories . . . well, it’s a racket, in short. The vogue for believing in this stuff (back in the late eighties and early nineties) represented the death throes of practical Freudian psychoanalysis; even then, many intelligent and sensible psychiatrists saw it for the pernicious nonsense that it was. If there is any justice in the world, the lawyers retained by the diocese will be able to convince the court that, really and truly, the “repressed memory” issue has been settled and the only psychiatrists who buy into it anymore are quacks.

    Paul McHugh, one of our country’s most influential and respected psychiatrists, has written on this subject in two books, The Mind Has Mountains and Try To Remember, both of which I recommend for their topical relevance but also for their intrinsic interest.

  22. Sharon says:

    My son-in-law is a clincial psychologist and my daughter is doing her honours year in psychology and they both tell me that ‘recovered memory’ is regarded with great scepticism, at least in Australia.

  23. Alice says:

    To go along with some of the others, I am fairly certain this letter was for the church bulletins. The letter that was read at all the Masses was about subscription renewal for the Catholic Post, our diocesan newspaper, which is actually pretty good.

    Bishop Jenky is a very loving shepherd and a great teacher. At the beginning of every liturgical year, he writes a festival letter about some aspect of our holy faith. He also has good liturgical sense, so our cathedral liturgies are reverent, memorable experiences.

    Is Jenky actually claiming the church handled every one of these cases promptly, openly and honorably?

    Yes, he is. Is there something wrong with that?

  24. Zak says:

    Jordanes,
    Are you referring to the priest from St. Mary’s in Moline? It’s my grandmother’s parish and she got the letter about him being suspended but she was confused about what’s going on. Do you know more details?

  25. FRH says:

    The Post letter was not required reading at all Masses either.