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St. Raymond pastor on leave after 'boundary violation' with teen, archdiocese says

Original post made on Jun 2, 2011

Father William Myers, pastor of St. Raymond Catholic Church in Menlo Park, is on leave following an incident with a 17-year-old boy, according to a statement released by the Archdiocese of San Francisco on Tuesday (May 31).

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, June 2, 2011, 9:50 AM

Comments (54)

Posted by vague article
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jun 2, 2011 at 11:29 am

Did the priest know the child before the incident occurred? This article sounds like they went went to the store together. The Mercury-News said they were strangers when the priest went into a dressing room with the child: Web Link

The Mercury-News also says there were other incidents in the priest's past and parishioners are questioning church policy if moving questionable priests to new churches before authorities can build cases against them.

Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 2, 2011 at 12:01 pm

Let's see a Catholic priest and an underage boy---anyone really shocked by this? Considering that the latest head of the church (and accomplice to child molestation) is pushing the previous head of the church (and accomplice to child molestation) for sainthood, we should not be surprised that there were other incidents involving this "man of god". It has been the policy of the church to move priests to new locations while covering up any acts of malfeasance. fortunately the boy's father was there to intervene

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2011 at 12:37 pm

Nothing like innocent until proven guilty.

There is nothing mentioned here that could not be an overactive mind looking for problems. It seems now that a priest has to be more cautious than anyone else of accidentally going into an occupied changing room, sure I must have done it myself sometime.

I suggest that those condemning wait until charges are filed.

I know there have been many coverups in the past, but it seems the pendulum is now swinging in the opposite direction.

Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 2, 2011 at 12:49 pm

"It seems now that a priest has to be more cautious than anyone else of accidentally going into an occupied changing room, sure I must have done it myself sometime."
From the Sj Mercury News story:
"The pastor of a Menlo Park church was placed on leave after religious officials learned last week that he struggles with sexual addiction and followed a teenage boy into a store dressing room"

"Myers tried to strike up a conversation with the boy, who he did not know, and followed him into a dressing room stall"

Sounds to me a little more than him going into an occupied changing room.

"I suggest that those condemning wait until charges are filed."
The fact the this priest has had issues in the past and they were kept secret by the higher ups is ground for condemnation already.

"I know there have been many coverups in the past, but it seems the pendulum is now swinging in the opposite direction."
really. This is a perfect example of the ongoing policy of the church to keep a lid on these scandals. John Paul II and Benedict knew about these incidents. They allowed them to continue to happen and they were complicit in the cover ups. They are both no better than the pedophile priests they continue to shield

Posted by Observer
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 2, 2011 at 1:44 pm

Can anyone be surprised by this? I would never let a Catholic priest anywhere near my children. The church has promoted and sanctioned and hidden sexual abuse of children for ages. Parents who are not willing to see this after the hundreds of cases that have been exposed, and to keep their children out of these corrupt hands are responsible for what happens. Shopping, on the other hand, ought to be safe. Good for this dad!

Posted by Kathy
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 2, 2011 at 1:58 pm

The problem with the Catholic church is that it allows its priests be homosexuals, even though it opposes homosexuality. The main issue with the priests is that homosexual priests are going after young men. It is NOT pedophilia! Time to get over this false claim.

The Catholic church should allow its priests to marry, thus attracting non-homosexual priests. Once that happens, it will mostly be left to deal with priests who molest young women, and that is MUCH less of a problem, even though it will still be one.

Posted by Resident of Menlo Park
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 2, 2011 at 2:19 pm

I am sick. I used to be an active member in the Catholic Church for many years. And I had been a member of St. Raymond's and I know Fr. William. He was an ear for me when I was going through a tough time. And I appreciated it. But I cannot condone the Catholic Church for the way they refuse to make it safe for church members - there needs to be transparency regarding any priest, teacher, leader working with children.

I left the church over a year ago because of the continuing cases of molestation, cover ups, and a lack of real change in the church. Perhaps Fr. William made a mistake this time, but I would not want anyone with a history of sex addiction around my kids. Not unless they were continually monitored, mentored, and in on-going treatment. Even then, there are temptations.

Instead of faith, sometimes we need realism. Addiction is real. Homosexuality is real. We are all humans with flaws -- the church needs to create family in their leadership - not a men's club.

Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 2, 2011 at 2:28 pm

"The main issue with the priests is that homosexual priests are going after young men. It is NOT pedophilia! Time to get over this false claim."

Thanks, Kathy for your observation. There will always be people around trying to defend/make excuses for the church. However, pedophilia is a problem in the church. It has been for years. It has nothing to do with homosexuality. You can call it pedophilia, you can call it sick individuals going after children. Call it anything you want--either way it is a group of sick men that cannot keep their hands off of young children. It has been covered up for too long by the church and this cover up reaches the highest offices of the church, including the pope.
trying to blame homosexuals for this problem is ridiculous and example of trying to turn the spotlight away from the guilty parties and blame a population of people.

Here is but one example of the kind of behavior that Kathy/Sharon is trying to make excuses for:
Web Link

Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 2, 2011 at 2:34 pm

AS a further rebuttal to Kathy's claim ("The main issue with the priests is that homosexual priests are going after young men. It is NOT pedophilia! Time to get over this false claim.")

Web Link

"Explaining that it is an oversimplification to assume to that priests who abuse male victims are gay, Smith said: "The majority of the abusive acts were homosexual in nature. That participation in homosexual acts is not the same as sexual identity as a gay man.""


""It's important to separate the sexual identity and the behavior," Terry said. "Someone can commit sexual acts that might be of a homosexual nature but not have a homosexual identity." "

So much for the bogus and despicable claim that homosexuals are preying on children.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 2, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Why does/should being a priest exempt you from being civilly and criminally liable for your actions? Forget the church - just call the cops!!

Posted by Ronna Devincenzi
a resident of another community
on Jun 2, 2011 at 3:04 pm

As a Cradle Catholic, I agree with "Resident". We do need to be realistic. So frankly, right now I blame us pew people for the ongoing crisis in our church due to sexual abuse of teenage boys & the sexual exploitation of adults (both men & women) by celibate clergymen.

Experts say the exploitation of women makes the abuse of minors pale, by comparison, and there have been so many instances of other men coerced into inappropriate behavior by priests (& bishops- remember Santa Rosa?) there's a term for it: "The Lavendar Mafia". Are most Catholic pew people aware of this? Information is plentiful.

So we Catholic pew people are the largest group of clergy abuse enablers, worldwide. It's mostly when it hits our own neighborhoods that it gets our attention. So at least in the Bay Area, it's either time to collectively wake up, or we need to just accept that we cannot trust our clergy. None of them. Sad because many are good.

When I was a child, the problem was alcoholic priests and those with anger control issues. It's ALWAYS been something big enough to be on our radar screen, IF we are paying attention. It's just been getting bigger, and bigger, and now, it involves sex.

Pew people have been paying the bills, asleep at the wheel for long enough. We have been cow-towing to the hierarchy, allowing men in the Vatican that really do not know what side is up, to lead us, without even *questioning* their proclamations. Why?

The best remedy is something Catholics refuse, and yes, I mean REFUSE, to do: To go to Scripture and see how our church is to be structured, then demand that our leaders implement what WILL work.

How come we are not listening to people that have been trying to get our attention for years, beginning with (are you seated?) St. Peter Damian, when he complained to the Pope of His Day about what we face now? His pope ignored him too, so JPII and Pope Benedict are just following suit. (Reference: The Book of Gomorrah, by St. Peter Damian)

Studies showed in the years after a big scandal involving clergy sex abuse, pew people step to the collection plate, empty their wallets, and vocations rise dramatically, with young men wanting to come to the RC church's rescue. So Peter Damian's pope, JPII and Benedict are in on the routine. When the dust settles, donations pour in.

I must commend Archbishop George Niederauer of San Franciso, for acting so quickly to bring a resolution to this. In the PADN article, Barbara Elordi's name was mentioned - a savvy lady whose advice is best heeded. It was reported that Bishop Justice went himself to the parish to speak to the congregation, and he will be presiding at their Masses, until this is resolved. That took courage and shows wisdom. Niederauer, Justice and Elordi are on top of this.

When I was a member of a lay organization that formed in 2002, after the Boston news broke, I met a lot of clergy abuse survivors. One thing I learned about priests with sexual issues is they can be heroes to some people, compassionate and caring and wonderful; but on the other side, when the truth of how they live comes out, it can be shocking.

I attended the memorial of an abuser at the request of his survivor, and while the man was revered by many that day, what went unmentioned was his unidentified son sitting among the mourners, & the fact that in his younger days, he was having inappropriate sexual relationships with 4 women, simultaneously. Pew people: wake up. Or time to stop complaining. This will not resolve itself.

Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton
on Jun 2, 2011 at 3:17 pm

Ronna makes an excellent point - the pew people who support the church need to retake control. The church is supposed to serve you not the other way around. Quit contributing until the church reforms.

As for me, I am an ex-catholic simply because I could no longer support an institution which was based on fear, was male dominated and which ignores local laws and social standards.

Posted by Checking In
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 2, 2011 at 3:56 pm

Unfortunately, we are long on our way to becoming not surprised at these stories. Given the increasing news events of the last ten years, what would be more shocking is if the victim were female. And as per usual, only last week the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops concluded the root cause of the entire Catholic clergy scandal has been the sexual revolution of the 1970's. They are simply living in denial and continue to blame someone else rather defrocking their own. When have we ever seen any Bishop charged criminally and standing trial for complicity in hiding these guys?

Posted by A Catholic (or at least I try)
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 2, 2011 at 4:07 pm

"I would never let a Catholic priest anywhere near my children"

"I am an ex-catholic simply because I could no longer support an institution which was based on fear, was male dominated and which ignores local laws and social standards."

Pretty remarkable statements by members of an allegedly tolerant community, aren't they? Of course some priests are criminals, sexual and otherwise, just like any other segment of society. Of course some parts of the Church are corrupt, just like any massive, ancient bureaucracy. These people should be held responsible for their deeds; these coverups should not be tolerated. But those who pronounce that such acts are representative of the entire Church and its servants are demonstrably wrong. I suspect they are mere bigots, same as any others who justify prejudice and hatred against an entire group because of the crimes of a few. And, finally, they are woefully ignorant of the Church's role history....including Poland in the 1980s.

Posted by Thoughtful
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 2, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Thank you, A Catholic (or at least I try), for your wise and tempering words. More facts need to come out on this case for the public to really know what was going on, otherwise, it's much of it is based on our assumptions.

Posted by Kathy
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 2, 2011 at 5:04 pm

The Catholic church covers for its homosexual priests. That is the core of the problem. Homosexuality is a sin in the Catholic belief system. Yet, its priests are are disproportionatley homosexual. There should be NO homosexual priests. How can this dicotomy exist, except for the fact that the Catholic church demands celibacy among its priets, amd heterosexual men are less likely to become priests? Homosexuals in the seminaries, living a lie, show no particular propensity to be celibate...thus the lavender boys club.

Until the Catholic church comes to its senses, and allows marriage among the clergy, this probelem with homosexual predation will continue.

Once again, this is not a problem of pedophilia. It is a problem of homosexuality. Until this basic fact is understood, there will be no solution.

Posted by ChrisC
a resident of College Terrace
on Jun 2, 2011 at 6:18 pm

I met Fr. Williams only once, but he radiated such caring and kindness that I joked with friends I would go that church if I were ever going to go to church at all. This is very sad news.

Posted by Ronna Devincenzi
a resident of another community
on Jun 2, 2011 at 6:39 pm

@ A Catholic - Tolerance only goes so far. Like the old adage: "Fool me once? Shame on you. Fool me twice? Shame on me." That's what is involved now. Pew people can't continue to claim we are unaware. That argument will *not* fly anymore.

Did you know last Fall in Delaware, a PARISH was made to pay $3 million of a $33 million settlement? It was for negligence on the part of PARISHIONERS. I think the jury made a wise decision. Pew people will be paying for their refusal to question church leaders. If they have to close parishes, so be it. Worship in homes. Find out how much keeping our collective heads in the sand is worth to us.

Adults must remember that any adult using an underage person for sexual gratification is a crime. For too long, Catholics called the abuse of a child and underage boys/girls, a "sin". It is sin. But that's in God's economy. Let's put it in perspective: it's a crime. Even in Third World Countries, that behavior is shunned in socially responsible cultures.

So your post objecting to a parent wanting to protect his/her children is really about "child endangerment" at this point, under a banner of this being area being tolerant. Surely you did *not* mean to imply that. Did you?

A parent is expected to make sound judgments about one's children, no matter where they live, protecting them as much as humanly possible from *all* harm, most especially, from a potential perp.

If a potential perp is a neighbor, or he is wearing a Roman collar, a potential perp is still a potential perp.

Until we see massive changes in the Roman Catholic church, wise pew people are well served in taking the motto: "Let the buyer beware."
It's sad for those clergymen (priests & bishops) that are sincere. There are some. Everyone will be affected.

But this problem has gone on for over 1,000 years. Even modern-day priests, if they are not hiding their own issues, have friends for whom they are covering, looking the other way, biding time until the issue is no longer newsworthy. That's sad for a few reasons:

1- Blaming the press + survivors, will not result in healthy change
2- Until there is healthy change, there will not be trust for the clergy & the Vatican is rendering itself irrelevant.
3- Clergymen (priests AND bishops) needing help are not likely to receive it.

It's gotten so bad because, "Those that live in glass houses ought not throw stones." Many bishops did not get promoted based on their stellar clerical skills. They just play ball well. "The Bishop's Man" is the most likely to be promoted. Cardinal Law, who might have gone to jail, got a prime post in Rome and a six-figure salary.

Really big in California for bishops is not, "Can they preach and teach the Gospel?" but "Can they speak Spanish?" Their priorities are just skewed. Pew people need to be the grown-ups at this point, and start speaking up. We're intelligent. We live in The Real World.

The Vatican spent 15 years revising words to the liturgy (coming Advent 2011) that's just going back to Pre-Vatican II verbiage for those of us old enough to remember. With all the problems we have, these men spent 15 years doing THAT? I think it's a distraction. They maintain power and control that way - not to mention the $$ the Vatican draws in during those ad limina visits -it's almost a racket.

Celibate males without (legitimate) families they are responsible for caring for personally, are less likely to really give a hoot about the daily needs of pew people's kids. That's why Paul wrote to Timothy and Titus that an ordained man *should be married*, ".for if a man cannot manage his own little family with dignity, how can he take care of the church of God?" Paul asked a good question.

The problem has been so pervasive that the US church already spent $2 billion in settlements to suvivors. If they allowed priests to marry, a priest's wife would be able to afford sable underwear with those salaries.

What really annoys me is a priest can adopt a child (or children) and all he needs is an okay from his bishop. But he cannot marry, because a wife would take too much of his time. Seriously. A wife takes more time than do children?! I object.

When bishops have their U.S. meetings later in June, parishioners should send them all a message that the status quo is no longer acceptable. Time to finally heed St. Paul.

Posted by Svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 2, 2011 at 6:58 pm

Kathy- Read the links I posted earlier in response to your previous claims about homosexuals. Trying to blame homosexual and claim that it is their fault is despicable. There is a pedophilia problem in the church and it teaches the highest levels of the church. The church is rotten at its core and refuses to recognize its problems. Scapegoating a group of people and painting them as deviants is typical for a supporter of the status quo.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jun 2, 2011 at 7:45 pm

Kathy says that, if her goal of ridding the church of all homosexual priests is met, the church will then be left to deal with "only" the molestation of women , "which is much less of a problem.". Why is the molestation of women less of a problem? Is it because women are so little valued in the church?

Posted by Kathy
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 2, 2011 at 7:51 pm

"There is a pedophilia problem in the church"


The homosexual priests are preying on young men who have passed beyond puberty. It is NOT pedophilia, which is a very different psychological condition. The problem with the Catholic church priests is homosexuality, NOT pedophilia. Until this basic fact is understood, there can be no useful discussion.

Posted by Kathy
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 2, 2011 at 8:01 pm

" Why is the molestation of women less of a problem? Is it because women are so little valued in the church?"

On an individual basis it is the same thing as the molestation of young men. However, it is much less frequent. The current crisis within the Catholic church is homosexuality, not the hetersexual molestation of young women, even though it does occur, occasionally.

There appears to be a politically-correct, head-in-the-sand denial of the problem of homosexuality in the priesthood. Until this denial is corrected, the problem will persist.

Posted by Svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 2, 2011 at 8:04 pm

Kathy, you can continue to ignore the facts and ignore the links I have provided regarding this matter. I guess the priest that molested hundreds of deaf children was not a pedophile. I guess the church has not been riddled with pedophilia for decades. The church had a pedophile problem that had been covered up for years and the problem reaches the highest levels of the church leadership. BTW, your comments, kathy, are very similar to comments made by another midtown residents in other threads of this nature.
The church had a pedophile problem and it is unfortunate that church leaders blame the decade of the 70's for the problem and it is a shame that some people make excuses for these degenerates and try instead to target homosexuals as the problem. Shame on those people and shame on the pope

Posted by abused at a young age
a resident of Addison School
on Jun 2, 2011 at 9:08 pm

I commend the father of this boy. I wish my mother would have listened to me and my sisters when we said that a priest was molesting us. The message here is to listen to your children. Also, this is the second case I have heard of where the church knows that a priest has an issue and they switch the priest to another parish. How sad that a wonderful beautiful deity is being brought down by people who cannot be honest -- and these individuals hear confessions. I pray that parents listen to their children when they share about abuse and I pray that there can be honesty and help provided to the priests who need help -- there has been way to many people harmed by this.

Posted by Kevin
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 2, 2011 at 9:31 pm

Sorry Kathy, but raising and knocking down the straw man of pedophilia (conduct with those under 13) does not make the main issue homosexuality. The main legal and ethical problems the Catholic Church has faced have been 1) various levels of innappropriate conduct with minors (those under 18), and 2) innapropriate conduct with "clients" no matter what their age.

Also, while there may be a disproportionate number of incidents involving boys, that doesn't make it a homosexual interest. Much of the Church is gender segregated. Priests have much easier access to boys than girls. Just as with rape in prison the issue is one of access and power, not gender preference.

Posted by moi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 2, 2011 at 9:34 pm

". . . it will mostly be left to deal with priests who molest young women, and that is MUCH less of a problem."

Wow, how revolting is this comment? And coming from a woman? A self-loathing woman.

Kathy, Kathy, Kathy.

Posted by Bob M
a resident of Greendell/Walnut Grove
on Jun 2, 2011 at 11:13 pm

The most interesting thing about the majority of comments I see here is the truly impressive amount of vitriolic, ignorant, ill-informed anti-Catholic bigotry expressed by the supposedly educated and sophisticated populace of Palo Alto.

Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 3, 2011 at 6:24 am

"vitriolic, ignorant, ill-informed anti-Catholic bigotry "

Bob M--what do you consider to be ignorant, ill-informed and anti-Catholic?
I think it is pretty clear that the church has a problem. I think it is pretty clear that for decades the church tried to keep it quiet. I think for years the church moved pedophile priests around thereby setting off a new round of abuse of children. I think it is pretty clear that the hierarchy of the church knew what was going on and did nothing to protect innocent children.
It is too bad that you are following in the footsteps of William Donahue and labeling criticism of the church and their actions in light of a despicable pattern of behavior by so-called "men of god" as ignorant, ill-informed and anti-Catholic. That seems to be the knee jerk reaction of those that are against cirticism of the church. Too bad.

Posted by daniel
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 3, 2011 at 7:08 am

There are pedophiles in every ethnic and religious group, but the Catholic church has established an unprecedented cover up operation in which most of the incidents, many of which qualify as rape, go unpunished. It would be impossible and unwise to trust comments by church officials on priests sexual abuse incidents because of the history of cover-up. lies and deception.

Posted by A Catholic (or at least I try)
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 3, 2011 at 8:54 am

svatoid, let this article answer your question to Bob M:

Web Link

Any fair-minded person would already know and recognize the good works of the vast majority of priests and other Church leaders (or should I say "potential perps"?), even as they held grave concerns about the undeniable wrongs involving abuse of children and adolescents (which the John Jay report puts into proper context). Not so the enlightened progressives of our community, at least those who have been commenting on this thread. None so blind as those who will not see. Ugly stuff.

Posted by narnia
a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2011 at 9:06 am

Ronna Devincenzi, a resident of another community, says"

"Really big in California for bishops is not, "Can they preach and teach the Gospel?" but "Can they speak Spanish?" Their priorities are just skewed. Pew people need to be the grown-ups at this point, and start speaking up. We're intelligent. We live in The Real World." "
Really, you live in The Real World?
This forum would, of course, not be complete without some racism. Ronna Devincenzi apparently doesn't understand the duties of a priest.The role of a Catholic priest is primarily to shepherd the faithful and to provide sacramental services . The priest can only do that if he is in contact with the people he serves. In the bay area that means speaking spanish and perhaps korean too to assist his parishioners. In others areas it may mean to speak italian or gaelic or even have an irish, or portuguese accent. Apparently, father Myers was good at preaching the Gospel. That would have satisfied Ronna Devincenzi, but not her italian forebears. The Church is for all, not exclusively for the english speaking and mainly actually is not for the english speaking which are in minority. If Ronna woud have understood this she would have understood that the real tragedy is that
there are victims and that hordes of people different places and languages and many are abandoning the catholic faith due to the fact that abuse by the clergy and religious orders (nuns included) . Pew people should demand that priests be pastorally checked for potential and past abuse and rejected as a pastoral liability as necessary.

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 3, 2011 at 9:36 am

Since this has become a discussion about the RCC (Roman Catholic Church) and not about a particular individual, I will add my comments.

The RCC insists that its priests should be celibate and not marry. These are two different things but is assumed to be the same.

Because of these requirements, many men who would make wonderful priests decide not to take vows which would be too onerous to handle. Therefore there are likely to be a higher number of men with sexual tendencies outside the norm who are attracted to this calling. Decades ago, subtle pressures were put on good catholic families that either a daughter or son should enter the church and within a family those pressures often fell on a reluctant offspring. Fortunately, that is no longer the case.

What we do have is a tendency for those with the idea that they can have easy access to younger men (those who have passed puberty but may or may not be over 18) or prepubesent boys to be attracted to the priesthood. Those who wish access to young women or young girls do not necessarily see that the priesthood would so easily have the access they wish so the attraction is not there.

It is true to say that there is a difference in being attracted to prepubesent boys and young men beyond puberty who may or may not have reached the age of 18. The law may say one thing, i.e. that all sexual advances with someone under the age of 18 is pedophilia, but to those with the inclinations, they will see a big difference. I agree that the law should treat both the same, but we should still acknowledge that there is a difference.

The RCC should look at its own teachings and doctrines, and that of St. Paul, who said that it is better to be single to do God's work, but if that is too difficult, which it is, then be married. Back in the early centuries, the Church allowed not only its priests to marry but also its monks and nuns and they all lived with their families in the monasteries. It is not the ancient teachings of the Church whereby priests must remain unmarried and celibate, but a later revision of its teachings.

It is time for the RCC to allow its priests to marry. This would attract more priests with a desire to serve God without requiring the sacrifice of their physical desires. The RCC would be stronger for doing so and would gain my respect, for one, for doing so.

Posted by Observer
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 3, 2011 at 9:59 am

The RCC doesn't want priests to marry because they don't want to have to give up any assets the priest might wish to leave to his wife, children, etc. It's a way of keeping property in the church. Ironically, they lose a lot of assets in paying off victims of the abuse. As a Catholic who is abstaining from all participation in the religion because of its sanctioning of child abuse, as well as gender discrimination, I know first hand that females of all ages are mistreated in every way by priests and lay people who are associated with the church. I know many wonderful practicing Catholics, but this will not improve until they overthrow the entire system. They might start with this terrible movement to make a saint out of a pope who approved and promoted all the abuse.

Posted by Checking in
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 3, 2011 at 11:34 am

It's about time we consider this repeated scourage upon the Catholic church to be God's hand bringing enough pressure to bear upon its leaders to make serious reforms. Consider one pressure upon the church to be vocations which have dried up. Most priests are all 50+ years of age and many are much older and about to retire. Another pressure is the huge payouts and declining attendance at mass, declining Sunday collections along with Catholics leaving for Evangelical Christian churches. There is no reason to think a married priest cannot serve God effectively. Many priests who become pastors have no administrative or leadership skill and often become dictatorial and micro managing like little children. They do not even know how to delegate authority. Then again, their bishops are also cut from the same cloth. The church keeps applying human band aids to what is a spiritual problem. They have not allowed the Holy Spirit to lead them --but have kept seeking their own failing human solutions. That's why God kept the Israelites running around the desert for 40 years --to break them until they submitted to His will rather than their own. Catholic bishops are the modern day "stiff necked" people that Moses always complained to God about.

Posted by Ronna Devincenzi
a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2011 at 11:43 am

@ Resident - Once again, I agree with you. Specific qualifications for *men* in ordained ministry, per the Bible, are that they're best married with children.

Only since the year 1139AD has the Magesterium for the Latin Rite in Rome called for priests to be celibate using Matthew 19 (Jesus' quote) and the verse you mentioned written by Paul, as the reason.

It was the influence of the early Gnostic converts to Christianity that deemed the spirit, "good" and the flesh, "bad", ignoring the Holy Spirit-inspired "Song of Solomon's" teachings about marriage and all the SPECIFIC verses about qualifications for men in ordained ministry.

The institutional church has fought over this for years, since the first council of Elvira in Spain, where celibacy was first implemented there.

Please allow me to point out that Paul was writing to pew people in the verse you mentioned. At that time, he thought the world was going to end soon. He was most certainly *not* referring to those in ordained ministry. This is the importance of reading Scripture IN CONTEXT, and looking at *who* is being addressed.

Qualifications for men in ordained ministry are found in Paul's letters to Timothy & Titus, given to them when Timothy was organizing a church in Ephesus and Titus was doing the same in Crete.

It's crystal clear - ordained men are best married. Check out Paul's mention in 1 Corinthians 9:5 too. "Do not Barnabas and I have the right to marry a believing woman, as do Cephas (Peter) and the rest of the apostles?"

Heads up: Catholic apologists, like Scott Hahn, will go to the mat with you that what Paul meant is the apostles took along "sister women" to do chores for them, like the laundry, and prepare meals. Catholic pew people that believe that bunk would drink the Kool-Aid, if it were offered. It's beyond funny. And so untrue. No wonder the RCC has a reputation for being mysogenistic.

As for what Jesus said in Matthew 19, the church can as easily call for mandatory castration for priests upon ordination instead of celibacy. Jesus spoke of "those that are rendered eunachs for the sake of the kingdom", in the same conversation w/ the apostles. If we take Jesus' words *out of context*, I'd vote for that error, instead of celibacy.

Origen, a Church Father that was never declared a saint because he veered from official church teaching sometimes, took Matthew 19 so seriously, he had himself castrated, even though most of his peers, and the official magesterium at the time, instructed him not to do that.

Warning: Pope Benedict has been pushing Origen a lot lately, giving him credibility. So frankly, if castration upon ordination were mandated instead of celibacy, it would be a real sacrifice, and it would end a lot of Roman Catholic Church problems. But it is not what God asks of anyone.

If mandated celibacy was what is intended in Scripture, it should be working better. Instead, we have over 1,000 years of failure. This is not to say that there are not many good priests. There are. And it's not to say that there are not a FEW good bishops. There are.
But do they have power? No. And they're the minority, not the norm.

Do you remember what happened at St. Catherines in Burlingame several years ago? A wonderful priest - Fr. John Conley, if memory serves, a late vocation and a former prosecuting attorney - walked in on his pastor "wrestling" on the ground with a teenage boy in a darkened room. He immediately reported it to ARCHBISHOP LEVADA, when the cardinal was still in SF, and guess who got in trouble? Fr. Conley. No parish would have him. It was outrageous.

Well, Fr. Conley sued and WON. From what I understand, what made him happiest is ARCHBISHOP LEVADA HAD TO PUBLICLY APOLOGIZE for his part in the fiasco. I'd say Fr. Conley is a great priest. Thank God he's still able to wear his collar, serve Mass, and function as a priest. He was the whistleblower. Pew people: wake up.

Even the church itself gives this statistic for how many homosexual men are in the priesthood (priests AND bishops) = 22-45% are identified as having homosexual inclinations. It may be as many as 50% (statistic is from Santa Clara University professor & author, Dr. Thomas Plante).

This, while in any given population, the figure is between 3 - 5%. Now even if the priesthood is on the low side, at 22%, why so many? Is it a sacrifice for a homosexual man to not marry a woman, and to forgo having a family? Think about it.

Please note a homosexual inclination in an of itself is NOT a cause for the abuse of children, or even the abuse of teenage boys.
A homosexual man is able to keep his behavior in check as is a heterosexual man, given he is in the Word of God, and accountable to others that are also in the Word.

If only we pew people would dust off our Bibles, read & heed what the specific instructions for MEN in ordained ministry are, it would be so easy. But as I mentioned in my earlier post, we pew people REFUSE to listen to God's word. So -- we suffer. And as in the case of Delaware, we will soon pay, and big-time. I mean $$$$$. Maybe that will get our attention.

No single man (of God) should be having sex with *anyone*- another man, a woman, a teen, or a child. It is exploitation. It is abuse. Clergymen are in a position of trust. And just like with a psychologist, there should be SEVERE consequences for abusing the trust. Pew people have been put on notice, world-wide, that there IS a problem. We ought not be shocked by this ever again.

JPII ignored what was happening to nuns by priests in Africa, although their mother superior spoke with him directly, and he outright refused to allow even an investigation into the dozens of accusations made about his friend (and Vatican cash-cow) Fr. Marcial Maciel, and yet he is on the fast-track to sainthood, due to public demand. HOUSTON: We have a problem.

St. Patrick in the 5th century was the grandson of a Catholic priest and the son of a Catholic deacon. He did okay. He converted nearly all of Ireland. He knew the Gospel, and he could preach and teach.
He knew how to shepherd the faithful = a key responsibilty of a bishop even today, and the reason for the staff they're given.

Posted by Mary
a resident of Menlo Park
on Jun 3, 2011 at 2:41 pm

It is not clear whether Fr. Myers was seeking help for his sexual addiction prior to or after "the event".If the Archdiocese was aware of his inclination he should not have been given a pastoral post. One can have an addiction and not act on it. Ask any recovering alcoholic or drug addict.

Posted by A Catholic (or at least I try)
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 3, 2011 at 3:38 pm

The sophistry and false scholarship here regarding the Church's policy on priestly celibacy and its supposed consequences is astonishing. To use Moynihan's famous line, everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but not to their own facts. The Huffington Post article linked in my previous comment (here it is again: Web Link describes the following findings by the John Jay College of Criminal Justice:

"The study also shows that the vast majority of abuse cases occurred between the mid 1960s to the mid 1980s. Ninety-four percent of all cases happened before 1990 and 70 percent of offenders were ordained before 1970. Claims being made that more cases will come out from the more recent past once victims reach the age when they feel compelled to talk are simply not true. There have been plenty of incentives for coming out in recent years and the data from other sources confirms that we have most of the reports now."

"Another false claim being made is that other organizations -- the Boy Scouts, public schools, Protestant and other faith congregations -- don't have this problem because they deal with it when it happens. Again, data shows that the level and type of abuse in the Catholic Church is consistent with other large organizations with men who had unlimited access to children during this time frame."

So much for the inherent evil of a celibate priesthood. So much for the facile justification of anti-Catholic bigotry and unfounded hatred for its clergy. Those who are so quick to quote scripture, if they are honest with themselves, will surely find an appropriate passage about this phenomenom.

Posted by Ronna Devincenzi
a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2011 at 4:37 pm

The Tom Plante article I referenced, indicating 22-45% of the Roman Catholic priesthood is composed of men with homosexual orientation is found here:

Web Link

Posted by Observer
a resident of South of Midtown
on Jun 3, 2011 at 5:03 pm

I really don't know how anyone can continue to defend the church in all this. Denial is not a river in Egypt.

Posted by narnia
a resident of another community
on Jun 3, 2011 at 6:33 pm

celibacy never took anyone to abuse children . As " A Catholic" pointed out many other organizations have and have had the same rate of child abuse as the catholic church. Such organizations are structured in a way that hierarchical, authoritarian, personal under the cover of providing some type of care, either spiritual or/and physical to people (in this case children) of limited defenses . Such structure provides opportunities galore for abuse in the same way abuse in nursing homes, day care centers is seldom discovered until it's too late.
The measure of trust that is necessary for such organizations to work (such as the Boy Scouts) is also it's downfall. The Catholic Church hierarchy has not taken a firm position in the past and I hope that the recent developments at St Raymond's will make the local Church aware that without catholics to form a community there will be no Church,. And that will be a pity.

Posted by Horrendous history
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 3, 2011 at 6:36 pm

The church is sex-obsessed, whether about celibate priests, abortion, contraception, homosexuality, and on and on. Until they get over their fear of women as well as their need to control them, the obsession dominates everything they do. (except for their history of killing non-believers).
How can anyone respect an institution with such a horrendous history and horrendous present. They have to keep warping the minds of the young and the poor to keep it going.

Posted by daniel
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jun 3, 2011 at 7:12 pm

The Catholic church has acted as the enabler of pedophiles and child rapists forever. No demagoguery can change this irrefutable reality. This horror is very much related to the pathological need to control and oppress women and the denial that sexuality is a primal, and very healthy human urge. Until the church renounces its opposition to the most basic principle that women, and only women, should have a right to control their bodies, including the right to terminate a pregnancy, if they so choose, the church will continue to be an enabler of child rape and women abuse-they are all related. The catholic church must emerge from the dark ages, or it won't survive.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 3, 2011 at 7:17 pm

I wonder how people would react if these types of comments were directed towards Protestants, Jews, Muslims or Hindus. Interesting.

Posted by Kathy
a resident of Midtown
on Jun 3, 2011 at 7:45 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of East Palo Alto
on Jun 3, 2011 at 9:01 pm

We know few facts about this, incl if the priest knew the youth's age. I looked way over 17 when I was, no one mistook me for a teen. If he's a sex addict, he may not be a pedophile. But again -all of this speculation is useless because we don't know the facts & people are overreacting. I think the editors really need to be watching this thread - many of the comments are hateful & off-topic.

Posted by Old Palo Alto
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Jun 4, 2011 at 11:28 am

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Ronna Devincenzi
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2011 at 12:59 pm

[Post removed by Palo Alto Online staff.]

Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 4, 2011 at 1:47 pm

Celibacy may not be the cause of what is happening in the RCC, but it may be the cause of why so many heterosexual men are not interested in entering the priesthood. The reason why the RCC has so many sexual perverts is that those with normal sexual drives are not interested in taking a vow of celibacy.

Having spent some time in a strong RCC country, I know that the local Parish Priest is often unmarried but not celibate. It is often well known by the parishoners as to who is the lucky lady even if she is keeping her mouth shut, and she is often not unmarried! Whether the Bishops or hierarchy care about this fact probably varies considerably from area to area, but although no one condones it, the behavior is not harming anyone and so the blind eye is turned.

Therefore, celibacy and not marrying are not the same thing. In fact for some Parish Priests, they have the best of both worlds. They get the opportunity to have regular sex without the commitment that marriage would entail. If the ladyfriend is widowed or has a husband who does not live at home, as long as contraception is available and being used, no questions are asked although innuendos may be made. Even if a pregnancy does occur, the local nunnery will take the pregnant woman in and hide her for the duration while a suitable cover story explains the absence. Subsequently, a suitable home is found for the child before the mother returns to her regular life. Why else do Catholic adoption agencies exist in the first place?

For many PPs, this is the solution, particularly if they have been guilted or bullied into the priesthood by their families.

Old Wives Tale? Fact or Fiction? Unless you are one of the players you will never know, the true story never comes out.

Sexual predators are attracted by the RCC, nonetheless. This is why other male dominated organizations do not have the same problem. They do not require celibacy and therefore the leaders can be happily married men with children of their own and are less likely to be sexual predators.

Posted by Ronna Devincenzi
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Resident- thank you for your candid post. What you wrote is so common, and in every country of the world, priests having sexual relationships is called a "lapse". A lapse between a priest and a woman can be a one night stand (if he is sexually confused, wanting to know more about his feelings) or an 8- year relationship, often with many, many pew people knowing about it, keeping his secret.

I know a former priest in San Jose who had his rectory phone number forwarded to the home which he shared with his wife and two little sons in the '70's. His A-list of parish friends knew about it, and it lasted until his boys grew older. Then he left the priesthood, and married the mother of his sons. That marriage remains intact today, & he now has grandchildren. That priest did the right thing.
But most do not. They do not have to.

As for no one being hurt, there is a video out that, if memory serves, is called "The Gilmore Girls". It is the story of two young women, probably in their 20's today -the documentary was made when they were both teens, a few years ago.

Their father was a priest in the Oakland area, and when the bishop at that time found out about the priests two toddler daughters, he gave Fr. Daddy (another well known term) the choice to marry the woman and be a father to his daughters or the diocese offered to move the priests family out of the area, allowing him to remain in ministry, because, the bishop said, "Charismatic priests are so hard to come by."

Of course, like an indulged child, the priest chose to remain in ministry. But what got Fr. Gilmore removed was when he had another child out of wedlock, with another woman.

When news of sex scandals in Boston broke in 2002, I had friends visiting Italy at the time. This couple told me parishioners in Italy couldn't understand why Americans were so upset by priests having sex, because over there, the joke is, "In every village, there's a child that's the spitting image of the parish priest."
They laugh about it. No wonder one could shoot a canon off in churches all over Europe, and not hit anyone. Churches there are empty. It's Third World Countries, where Catholic numbers are up.

Experts say if figures could be determined about the numbers of clergymen (priests AND bishops) that had sexual relations with women,
it will make the abuse of children & teenage boys pale, by comparison.

"The Gilmore Girls" want to become attorneys, helping other children that have been harmed by clergy (dead-beat fathers) that are allowed to live two lives.

The saddest part is we pew people are helping keep these men emotional children. One common complaint from survivors is, "It's all about him." The all-male mentality among our clerical elite results in a form of narcissism that's almost inbred, yet, they are put on pedastals, rewarded & applauded for it.

Not to say there are not some that are indeed living celibate lives, priests and bishops. Celibacy is a valid state. But it ought never be mandated. Mandating it is a recipe for disaster. Now, with Internet, TV news, etc., it's amazing we pew people continue to accept it, knowing how much devastation it has caused. When I read articles such as this one, I brace myself first. It's so pathetic.
It does no-one any good, and it is doing GREAT harm.

While I have only happy memories of being a life-time Roman Catholic, I know how many suvivors feel when they say they cannot bring themselves to walk into a Catholic church anymore. Ever since I went to the memorial of the priest that fathered a son that few people knew about, and who was having a relationship w/ 3 other women at the same time (for a total of 4!).

The still active priest that gave the eulogy, and that knew all about the deceased past, said of him, "He was such a wonderful priest! We need more like him!" I remembered thinking, "My word! We HAVE more like him." And ever since that day, when I think or hear of that parish in San Francisco where I attended the memorial, it literally gives me chills. It's pathetic.

Some good news - based on how much I've followed this issue, globally, and for the past 10 years, I truly believe that Archbishop Niederauer is well-intended, and I believe he is trustworthy to handle this situation well. I may have to eat my words. But from what I've seen of him, I trust him. He is a 100% improvement over Cardinal Levada. Since Jesus started His church with 12 good men, maybe with Archbishop George and a few others, there's hope for us still. But Catholic pew people will have to wake up. We all have an opportunity with the USCCB bishops meetings later in June. United we stand. Divided we fall. If pew people can send a message that our church must be brought to health, and it won't happen trying the same old things that didn't work for 1000 years, but with new people. I think most men go into the priesthood with good intentions. But we all change and (hopefully) grow. A 27 year old man promising never to marry may be different at age 47, and when they leave the priesthood, say goodbye to the "brother-priest" mentality. You're lucky if you get a "Don't let the door hit you on the way out, traitor." And that's when they marry a woman.

Do an internet search on the nun that told JPII her nuns were being used for sex by priests in Africa. I read it in the San Jose Merc a few years ago. That story would make any compassionate person cry. Even an Agnostic or an Atheist with a sense of decency and awareness of others would say: STOP THIS INSANITY. But the Vatican ignored it.

Posted by Ronna Devincenzi
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2011 at 3:16 pm

Resident- Here's some documentation. New York Times & the BBC.

Link to article about jury decision in Delaware, where parishioners pay for their parish’s part in sexual abuse by their pastor:

Link to the news released in March 2010, in newspapers across the world. I read it locally, in the SJ Mercury, 10 years ago.

Web Link

Posted by Checking in
a resident of Mountain View
on Jun 4, 2011 at 4:34 pm

@ Hmmmm of East Palo Alto. These stories have been front page news for 10 years. They keep telling us they have made internal corrections but the bleeding has not stopped. The reason this is directed at the Catholic leaders of the Catholic church and not Protestants, Muslims, Jews, et al is because the Catholic church presents a "holier than thou" place in our society. These people are "suppose" to know better and be of moral integrity. By hiding the perpetrators they only prove they live in glass houses. Enough is enough. Instead of emulating Obama by going on a world apology tour, Pope Benedict should fumigate the church and defrock these guys. One and done. They have lost all moral authority.

Posted by Monitor this forum
a resident of another community
on Jun 4, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Once again, these comments need to be monitored by the editors. They have strayed far from the subject at hand. A person we know little about is being castigated, accused, tried and hung. This needs to stop. There are not enough facts known to the public. If these comments were directed at any other major religion - which all have their scandals, including those of sex abuse - they would be removed. Editors, do your job!!!!

Posted by svatoid
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Jun 6, 2011 at 6:47 am

svatoid is a registered user.

SO an irate supporter of the status quo vis a vis the Catholic Church and pedophilia claims that the priest with the sex addiction who was transferred to this area without his problems being revealed to the public and has been accused of accosting a 17year old in addressing room is being "castigated, accused, tried and hung". Furthermore this person claims that the Catholic Church is being singled out and the editors immediately start deleting posts and close the thread to non-registered posters. Really????

This op-ed was in yesterday's New York Times:

Web Link

I think this may explain why some people are upset with the church. Higher ups that help cover up the pedophilia scandal are rewarded with cushy jobs at the Vatican.

Posted by Ronna Devincenzi
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Ronna Devincenzi is a registered user.

Thank you, svatoid, for posting the NY Times link. I'd have missed it. It surprised me that Weekly editors censored some comments. I'd expect it of the National Catholic Register, but not a local newspaper, where this story is clearly news. No one in the blog referred to any person in particular. Rather, comments merely pointed out a cancer exists in the Roman Catholic church, a systemic disease affecting the whole body.

Protection and refusal to address this cancer has caused dysfunction on a level that has already resulted in $2 billion in payouts in the USA alone. Not to mention the loss of trust world-wide. I remember when former Governor Frank Keating resigned from the national review board, he was disgusted and compared the bishops (as a whole) to the Mafia. When Cardinal Levada was in SF, Jim Jenkins on the local review board, also resigned in disgust. (online references available)

I must point out again that Archbishop Niederauer from San Franciso is, so far, very good in his handling of the issue of clergy abuse. I know for a fact that he (and the other two bishops, Justice and MacElroy) have been cooperative and transparent with survivors. I equate their mentality to that of the Irish archbishop.

Important points were broached by the Irish archbishop & important for pew people to know. Potential perps are usually very charming. If the intentions are not honorable, after the fact one can recollect that charm is really "grooming".

It's always best to have one's guard up, particularly when it comes to children and young teens, and that goes for anyone: clergy, friends, neighbors. We really need to be aware and to know people first. I applaud the father in this article that protected his 17 year old son.

As the Irish archbishop pointed out, many victims of pre-adult abuse never live to become survivors. They often commit suicide first. About 15 years ago, a local boy committed suicide, mentioning the name of an elderly pastor in his suicide note. Now, people knowing the boy have an idea why.

Ignoring the cancer has allowed arrested emotional development in too many clergymen, and it has caused the church overall, to lack moral authority. It does not have to be this way. A few good men and the backing of pew people will go a long way to change this, for a win/win for everyone, including the clergy that needs help.

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