He responds here too.
He puts long statement in Sunday’s parish bulletin Church official acknowledges relocating here due to allegations. His “reputation” was “destroyed” in two other dioceses, he admits.
Jan. 26, 2010
A Catholic deacon who was refused ordination two years ago by a New Jersey bishop and was ousted by a Pennsylvania bishop now works at a Bend Oregon church and is defending himself in Sunday in St. Francis parish bulletins.
Leaders of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are unmoved by Deacon Joseph Levine’s missive.
“It’s deceitful and wrong for Levine to basically blame one individual for his own recklessness and cowardice,” said David Clohessy of SNAP. “And he did tremendous hardship by publicly and repeatedly defending pedophile priests. If he’s made peace with one former colleague, that’s wonderful. But he’s evidently done little or nothing to ‘un-do’ the real damage he’s done to Catholic families, Pennsylvania citizens and clergy sex abuse victims.”
Below is a copy of 1) Levine’s defense, 2) SNAP’s recent news release about Levine and 3) SNAP’s letter to Baker’s Catholic bishop about Levine. SNAP has not heard back from the bishop.
1) The following will appear by way of a bulletin insert:
When a man has been subject to vicious calumnies and been forced to relocate on account of them, he does not want to introduce himself to his new acquaintances by saying something like, “Hello, my name is John Doe and these are all the nasty things people are saying about me.” Anyone who reflects for a moment on the embarrassing events of his own life will, I think, agree that he would prefer not to have to introduce himself by making reference to those incidents.
I came to the Baker Diocese after my reputation had been destroyed in two other dioceses where I had worked despite the fact that in those dioceses the Bishops were very pleased with my faithfulness and dedication. In fact, both of them would have very willingly ordained me. Bishop Vasa and Fr. Joseph Reinig were fully informed of the circumstances. Now, however, it has come to my attention that half-truths are circulating in the parish and so it has become necessary to address the matter publicly. I am grateful that I have been allowed to work among you for the past five months without having to explain my past association. I hope that you now have some personal experience of me which will allow you to consider more objectively the worth or value of that which is now being said about me. You have the living man before you.
It is now more than six years since I was a member of a community called the Society of St. John that was established in the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania in 1998. I joined the community the same year because I thought the purpose was good and, to my knowledge, the men involved were good. Nevertheless, a scandal arose in which the priest-founder, Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity, another priest, Fr. Eric Ensey, were accused of sexual abuse. Though I was only a deacon I was placed in a position for which I was little prepared and succeeded the priest-founder as Superior of the community, even though the priest-founder’s charismatic influence remained dominant. I mistakenly believed that the priest-founder was innocent and defended him as such. In retrospect, I now know I was very naïve in my judgment. That naïve judgment has plagued me ever since. I have been repeatedly accused of having knowingly participated in a ‘cover-up’. That is the most serious allegation that has ever been made against me.
One man in particular, Dr. Jeffrey Bond, made an issue of these things and succeeded first in pressuring the Bishop of Scranton not to ordain me to the priesthood and then he succeeded in pressuring the Bishop of Paterson, New Jersey. Dr. Bond is highly credible because he had both firsthand knowledge and had made a diligent investigation. In the end, I have come to admit that he was substantially correct in his assessment of Fr. Urrutigoity. Before I came to Bend, Bishop Vasa acted as mediator between myself and Dr. Bond. The Bishop made reconciliation with him a condition for my acceptance into the Diocese. As a result of that mediation I wrote a lengthy explanatory letter and apology to Dr. Bond. That explanation and apology was accepted and Dr. Bond, who was almost singlehandedly responsible for the previous cancellation of priestly ordination plans, withdrew his objections to my ordination. My letter and Dr. Bond’s reply will be available in PDF format to any who wish to read it. Dr. Bond has the fullest knowledge of the serious problems with the Society of Saint John and they were extensive. Thus his withdrawal of objections speaks to the sincerity and seriousness of my apology and acknowledgment of error. Unfortunately, it is much easier to focus on events at the Society than the very significant journey I have been on since my departure from and the subsequent collapse of that community.
Deacon Joseph Levine