Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Controversial deacon defends himself

Here he is at an Oregon Parish where he's listed as a "transitional Deacon" despite being bounced on two other occasions from other Diocese because you were covering up for predatory homosexuals like Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity.

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


Joelle Casteix said...

If Levine truly “made mistakes” and has allegedly “learned,” where’s the evidence that he:

-- has warned U.S. or South American church officials where his two former colleagues, the credibly accused predator priests, now live and work
-- has apologized or is apologizing to their victims in Pennsylvania, or
-- has apologized or is apologizing to Pennsylvania and Bend area Catholics?

Levine makes a big deal out of the fact that he’s reached some sort of agreement with his chief critic. That could be something positive - or it could be pure self-interest, because Levine is afraid that Bond would otherwise block in his career path to the priesthood.

Levine is quoted as saying “A man. . .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." Who can argue with that? None of us like to voluntarily confess to our shortcomings.

The trouble is, sometimes that’s the brave, appropriate, and moral thing to do. Like when our wrong-doing endangers kids. And like when church officials repeatedly claim they’ll be “open and transparent” about clergy sex crimes and cover-ups.
(How different all this might feel had Bishop Vasa gone to the parish and said “Look, good people, I think Levine’s a great guy but you should know this about his past.” Or had Levine done this himself. Or had Vasa even warned a handful of responsible parish leaders. But none of this happened. Instead, the same old secrecy and shuffling that we’ve seen for decades.)

Some are comforted that Levine now claims he erred and is sorry. But he only ‘fessed up’ after having been exposed by our group. If a six-year-old is caught stealing cookies, he’ll likely apologize too. Shouldn’t we expect a tad more from those who seek to lead us?

Catholics wonder why so many priests, nuns, seminarians, deacons and bishops molested thousands of innocent boys and girls. Catholics wonder why so many church employees ignored or hid the allegations or crimes. There’s no one simple answer. But one clear reason is that so many of us expect so little of the church hierarchy, and do so little when that hierarchy repeats its deceptive, secretive, reckless patterns even now.

Joelle Casteix
Newport Beach, CA
SW Regional Director
SNAP - Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

Anonymous said...

The photograph you show as Deacon Levine is not him, but of another priest in the Diocese of Baker. Please remove the photograph.

Tancred said...

It does resemble the gentleman in the television interview.

Anonymous said...

1. Fr Urrutigoity alledgedly made indecent assault againt pubescent young men, not children. None of them indented a law suit. Fr. Ensey alledgedly abused a pubescent young man while he made him drunk to the point of not remebering what hapened to him. This victim got $454,550 in a civil settlement. Neither of these are "kids".
2. At the time Dr. Jeffrey Bond disclosed the facts, almost all families attending mass at thiat place took their defence and you should know how it is hard for people (including Deacon Joseph Levine) to believe such accusation at once.
3. These priests flew to south America. Enough public campaign was made against them by Dr. Bond for Deacon Leavine not to need to add more.
4. At the bottom line Deacon Levine is only accused of having defended these priests at a time he believed them innocent and not to have flogged himself publicly since then.

Tancred said...

Three points:

1. In response to your point #1 that boys not of majority age are not children: It's really a point of quibbling and we certainly can define a child as being an immature person. It was ever thus and well within the bounds of standard English usage.

Indeed, legally speaking, children are defined as being those below the age of 18.

Of course, society at large holds a very dim view of men who prey on children. Even Woody Allen and Roman Polanksi's reputations have been justifiably destroyed by their own bad judgement and evil deeds.

2. Dr. Bond isn't the only person who had serious problems with Fr. Urrutigoity and the rest, but there were others, to include Fr. Munkelt, who also held a very dim view of the SSJ's pedagogic activities:

"Rev. Andres Morello, the former Rector of the SSPX seminary in La Reja, Argentina
Bishop Fellay of the SSPX.

Mr. Jude Huntz
Mr. Paul Hornak
Br. Alexis Bugnolo
Mr. Joseph Sciambra
Rev. Richard Munkelt
Mrs. Diane Toler
Mr. Howard Walsh
Mr. John Blewett
Mr. Matthew Sawyer"

[cf. http://angelqueen.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=347278#347278]

And we'd include the founder of TAC:

Dr. Ronald McArther

3. Deacon Levine was made aware of this problem by more eminent individuals than just Dr. Bond, and he now maintains that the SSJ was what Dr. Bond said it was.

We're interested in Dr. Bond's letter explaining his possible rapproachment with the justifiably disgraced (in our opinion) Deacon Levine and will post it as soon as it is made public.

Anonymous said...

Sorry for this late answer
Tancred, you make good points.
The only thing is too see if they are applicable in this case.
1. You are legally right for boys under 18 (and even morally at any age, I should add). The fact is I am not even sure this was the case of the victims of SSI priests. "John Doe" was working (was it pro bono or with a salary, I don't know) for them as network administrator, he could have well been above.

2. Whether these people contacted directly Deacon Levine when he was "pushed" Superior general I don't know. But if they were only quoted by Dr Bond at that time, in a context where the case could appear as a personal revenge from his part, I understand he wouldn't wanted to even take a glance at these quotes. The fact is Dr Bond opposed the SSI for valid reasons, with all the resources of a briliant mind, but turning everything to account up to the point of attacking people who were not primarily involved.

Note also that even Rev. Richard Munkelt confesses he remained in the SSI until being ordained (Quote from http://www.saintjustinmartyr.org/news/ReverendMunkeltsStatement(1).html )But why did I not try at least to correct the situation, that is, confront the Society and Rev. Urrutigoity with the possibility of scandal resulting from the young men sleeping in Rev. Urrutigoity's room with him. Simply put, and without excuse: fear of losing my ordination, after all the years spent wading through the morass and corruption of post-conciliar formation
(end quote)

May be this was also the case for Deacon Levine. May be also he should consider a regular order dedicated to contemplation.

3. Let's hope and pray