Virginia & Tennessee

Mr. Tom Lee recently wrote an e-mail to all the priests of our diocese of Richmond, about the situation we face here. Tom made an interesting point in his e-mail: the late Bishop Carroll Dozier served for a time as a prison chaplain.

Carroll Dozier mural
mural of the founding Catholic bishop of Memphis, removed last September, thanks to Mr. Tom Lee’s efforts

You may remember, dear reader, that Carroll Dozier ministered as a priest of the Diocese of Richmond. Then he became the first Catholic bishop of Memphis, Tennessee.

When our diocese of Richmond last year released a list of priests ‘credibly accused’ of sexually abusing minors, Dozier’s name appeared on it. At the end of this past February, the Diocese of Memphis released a similar list, with the name of their founding bishop on it.

The Diocese of Memphis credits us with having provided the information about Dozier. The current bishop of Memphis insists that their records contain no information at all about the crimes of Carroll Dozier.

Information about the crimes of Carroll Dozier, however, certainly exists. Fairly copious information. The man victimized multiple young people. The diocese of Richmond paid at least two settlements, decades ago. (Dozier’s brother served as a lawyer for the diocese.)

So, with all due respect to both bishops involved in disclosing that Carroll Dozier “has credible accusations” against him–that is, the sitting bishops of Richmond and Memphis–a question arises. Why not actually give the public all the information available? And if only the Vatican has the information, why not publicly ask the Holy See to disclose it?

At least one victim of Dozier’s still lives. The Attorney General of Virginia has a substantial amount of information about Dozier’s crimes. Why not take responsibility as churchmen, now, for the outrageous cover-up perpetrated by your predecessors?

Why remain silent? It only exposes the Church to yet another catastrophic public-relations blow. That is: the blow that will inevitably come, whenever the information the Attorney General has about Dozier ultimately comes to light?

Whoever lives the truth comes to the light, so that his works may be clearly seen as done in God. (John 3:21, which we read today at Holy Mass)

…Meanwhile, at the other end of Tennessee: Apparently, the Diocese of Knoxville violated the vaunted Dallas Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

According to Mr. Michael Boyd: a former bishop of Knoxville, along with the Vicar General, sexually abused Michael while he was in school. Mr. Boyd reported the abuse to the diocese in 2018. Getting nowhere, he proceeded to sue the diocese in 2019. Then the diocese’s lawyers tried to get Mr. Boyd to agree to a non-disclosure agreement.

The rules governing the Catholic Church in the United States clearly prohibit such agreements, unless the victim requests it. When Mr. Boyd’s lawyers pointed this out, the diocese changed it to a “non-disparaging agreement.” The victim thereby promises “not to make any disparaging remark” about the diocese.

Boyd agreed, apparently hoping for peace and quiet after the agreement got reached. But after the ink dried, the diocese turned around and disparaged Mr. Boyd. The bishop insisted that he “personally feels” that Mr. Boyd is not telling the truth.

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests complained to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops about this rule violation. Mr. Tom Doyle, about whom we have talked before, wrote a memo supporting the complaint.

Mr. Doyle points out:

The non-disparaging clause is a poor attempt at intimidating the victim from discussing the abuse he suffered as well as the agreement he signed. It is clear that if he relates the facts of his case as well as the identity of the perpetrator that this is clearly not disparaging or slanderous toward the diocese.

Nonetheless, Doyle notes:

How the bishop and his attorneys would interpret the agreement is another matter. It is entirely possible that should Mr. Boyd make a statement, especially a public statement, that the bishop believes violates the agreement, Mr. Boyd could be drawn into further civil court action and thereby re-victimized.

Knoxville cathedral nave
Knoxville cathedral

Doyle goes on:

It is clear the bishop is trying to deny that the plaintiff’s claims are true, which is thinly covered re-victimization. The press release from the diocese insults and demeans Mr. Boyd. Mr. Boyd’s attorneys thought a mutual non-disparaging agreement would stop the diocese from doing this. It did not.

Doyle makes a solemn charge:

The on-going attempts by the USCCB and by individual bishops to create the impression that they sincerely care about and are concerned for the pastoral welfare of the many victims of sexual violence by clerics are trivialized by the actions of Bishop Stika and any other bishops who follow similar policies.

The SNAP complaint asks that the diocese of Knoxville not receive a letter from the bishops’ body that certifies compliance with the Dallas Charter.

If the office does certify Knoxville, Doyle argues, the certification “practice is not only meaningless but insulting not simply to victims but to the Catholic people who have been asked to trust that their bishops have turned a corner.”

…I asked Tom if the USCCB office that received the complaint in January had responded. Answer: they have not even acknowledged receipt of the complaint.

16 thoughts on “Virginia & Tennessee

  1. Because such disclosures are not healing to most people, it is just a media circus of vengeance.

  2. A “non-disparaging agreement”?!! The Catholic Church is in the business night and day of denying free speech to its priests — see Mark White — and to its members — see Michael Boyd. Does the church encourage debate and discussion? No. It says SHUT UP about your opinion — you will suffer if you don’t.
    This denial of our God-given right of expression is the worst thing about the Roman Catholic Church at this time. It is very, very bad — bad enough to justify any intelligent person’s decision to leave the Catholic Church.
    Ann White

  3. This blog should be “Exhibit 1” in the current “… at odds” matter with the Bishop. Outstanding post. Dozier‘s personal conduct and the continuing conduct of some in the Church to continue to be less than transparent is why THERE IS A NEED FOR blogs likely your’s. My humble opionion is, “…if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem…“. So thank you Fr. Mark for your courage to be “ part of the solution. I’m keeping you in my prayers.

  4. To understand, love and believe in the Catholic Church is to understand and believe that it is more than the number of the many corrupt Hierarchy. Could She have survived more than 2,000 years it that were not the case? Fr. Mark, thank you for your heroic efforts the shine light in the current darkness created by the actions of many of our self serving rather than Church serving Bishops. May Jesus Christ guard, protect and guide you in your efforts.

  5. Dear Anne White, you wrote: “It is very, very bad — bad enough to justify any intelligent person’s decision to leave the Catholic Church.” I understand that you are supportive of Fr. White’s ministry with sex abuse victims, but please reevaluate your ‘Strawman Caricature’ of Catholics who choose to remain within the one and only Church that God Incarnate founded! Ironically, you presume what many corrupt individuals within the Catholic hierarchy presume: that the “Catholic Church” is only a temporal, social contract, constituted and ordered by the finite directives of creatures… But anyone who is “intelligent” will be able to discern that the reality of “Thoroughly Corrupted Individuals” is not one and the same thing as the “Sanctified/Sanctifying Bride of Christ.” (Ever hear of the logical principle of non-contradiction?) Anyone who has perceived this distinction will recognize that the “Body of Christ” does not equate to the wicked deeds of Mr. McCarrick and his spiritually-rotten friends. Moreover, intelligent Catholics will discern that the “Chair of Peter” and the “Episcopal Office” created by God Incarnate is not the same thing as the “abuses of power” effected by “the souls of evil men.”

  6. The Roman Catholic Church is nothing if not hierarchical. Stipulated. So the reaction by the USCCB to Mr. Tom Doyle’s complaint is just the natural flow of a sewer whose headwater is the Vatican. Nothing surprising there. The diocese of Knoxville is on sandy soil in its re-victimization of Mr. Boyd. The “non-disparaging agreement” smells like thin legal gruel to me. And the fact that the diocese is now actively and affirmatively violating its own ad hoc NDA is very bold. I don’t know if there’s a legal aid society like the Rutherford Institute or the Thomas More Law Center for victims of clerical abuse, but there ought to be (maybe SNAP could recommend one). In law as in most things, specialization is critical. There are veritable buckets of chum in the water with respect to Mr. Boyd’s quest for justice. All of the world’s faithful, in solidarity with the repeatedly abused victims, cry for justice – for the sexually abused and for the hierarchically abused.

  7. There are two parts of the Catholic Church: the faith it teaches, and the hierarchy which “manages” the church–two separate parts of the same entity. I believe in the faith teachings of the Catholic Church, even as I am deeply concerned about the problems within the church created by human decisions. The hierarchy of the church continues to try to operate under rules (i.e., no transparency, cover-up, etc.) that may have worked for them for years but not in today’s world. Even when it claims “change” and “transparency,” it falls very short.
    Fr. Mark and others are working to bring these sexual abuse problems to the forefront, making more and more people aware. And this is not just his “opinion” – he supports what he writes with extensive documentation.
    I believe I am a fairly intelligent person. But I do not believe leaving the Catholic Church is the answer…it is most certainly not my answer. (I am a convert. I chose to be Catholic. I will remain Catholic.) I believe it is time to be faithful and work for change. Support the priests like Fr. Mark who are working for that change. Make your voice heard. Talk to other parishioners about the problem. Write to the Bishop. Information is spreading but change can take time. ABOVE ALL, we must pray without ceasing for God’s protection over those working to bring about this change.
    I am not a “blogger” other than these occasional comments. I do not know how to research for information. But I do know how to pray. And that I will continue to do.
    Judy Rogers

  8. Folks, I’m talking NO FREE SPEECH here. “Make your voices heard.” Are you kidding? There are no dissenting voices permitted to be heard.
    Mark wrote words his bishop didn’t like and expressed opinions with which his bishop disagreed. Result? His bishop is working every day to drive Mark out of his parishes.
    How can anyone defend this?
    Ann White

  9. I have taken several deep breaths before writing this response. A thorough purging and cleansing of God’s Church is a necessity. The lame actions, excuses and irrational comments from the heirarchy are nothting but a thin veiled effort to wear “us” out, distract “us” and hope we will eventually move on to another “crisis”. This will not happen because God, in His Wisdom, will not be a party to it. Remember Jesus in the temple overturning the tables of the money changers? We are smarter than “they” think we are. The wound is very deep, pussy and must be healed. A priest who is willing to assist in that healing regardless of the cost must be supported to accomplish that end. Emotions run high on this issue but, when the dust settles…the air has been cleared we will stand in the room called righteousness. The silent majority cannot afford to be silent any longer. I believe prayer is potent and the Holy Spirit is on the side of Truth. We have no idea where the path will lead other than it will be one of justice, compassion and healing. Pray as if our lives depend on it because…they do!
    Father, The Church Militent, The Vortex and Taylor Mashall can be powerful allies for you. A priest, Fr. Mark Goring, faught a similar battle. He has a youtube channel and facebook page that are supporting the Truth as you are. God Bless you.

  10. My words, “Make your voice heard,” in an earlier comment were addressed to the people in the pews, obviously not to Fr. Mark or others who find themselves in the news. I thought that was clear. “Dissenting voices” have been heard, in my opinion. Many have written letters to the Bishop. I have written several times. A parishioner’s letter supporting Fr. Mark appeared in the Martinsville Bulletin. (To my knowledge the writer has not been threatened by the Bishop.) We did not receive the responses we wanted (usually no response at all). But I am not aware of a parishioner being threatened or told not to write. We are not important enough to the Bishop. I wish we were! But we will continue to write.
    No one is defending the Bishop! (I have re-read all of the comments to date on this blog to see if I missed something.) We are all well aware of what the Bishop is trying to do and why he is doing it. I do not understand why anyone would think otherwise.
    We understand the price Fr. Mark is paying for the stand he has taken. The ways in which we support Fr. Mark may seem small, but we are doing what we can. Parishioners from both parishes gathered in the parking lot at St. Joseph’s on Sunday with horns blaring and calls of “We Love You Fr. Mark” when he arrived. (I imagine Fr. Segerblom reported back to the Bishop what he saw on Sunday evening.) Many of us are doing what we can to assist financially with Fr. Mark’s legal fees. We will continue to do this.
    I do not know what is fueling this crusade by the Bishop against Fr. Mark. I have a personal theory. Or perhaps it is simply a matter of wielding “power.” Whatever, may God grant the Bishop the willingness and wisdom to seek peace for all to the glory of God. And may God bless and protect you Fr. Mark.

  11. Dear Anne White, as I politely insinuated in my previous post to you, your thoughts seem to revolve around an objectively erroneous understanding of what the “Catholic Church” is. It is evident from your commentary that you discredit the logical possibility that the Catholic Church is a miraculous reality founded by God. Perhaps you would like to put a bit of research into your (Strawman) idea of what pious Catholics actually think and believe instead of insulting us with your silly caricature?

    On a different note: Yes “free speech” is at stake here. Nobody in this forum has denied that. But the crux of this crisis is that human beings do not actually believe that God became incarnate and became exalted as the Head of a real, historical Body which happens to be the ONLY basis of Salvation for human beings. Perhaps you already believe this, but it is not “constitutional law” as conceived by the 17th Century Enlightenment that saves man. In other words, “free speech” [[and every other so-called “right” authorized by Modern contractual law]] is futile if it is not rooted in a principle that TRANSCENDS man-made institutions. The United States as it stands today is a nation that: legally destroys infants in the womb; legally enforces public acceptance of ‘same-sex’ marriages; ;ega;;y creates embryos from three parents; and many other evils that cry out to heaven… Why has it degraded to this point? Because too many folks presume that Modern contractual law [[with its contrived system of “rights”]] are enough to save the human race from its own vices!! I hope you will agree. Otherwise, it may be possible that you personally have been duped by the deception of “Secularism” envisioned by the Modern Enlightenment.

  12. Freedom of speech is a God-given right, part of our human personhood created by God. It absolutely does transcend human institutions.
    Ann White

  13. Dear Ann White, you say Freedom of speech is a “God-given” right. As a Catholic who values the “intelligent” practice of Christianity, I am sincerely interested in knowing why you believe this.

    Look at the “right” to raise children in a homosexual home. How does this “right” transcend any collective power shared among humans? Or the “right” to pay an abortionist to terminate a human fetus. How does this “right” transcend any collective power shared among humans? Or the “right” to curse and blaspheme the Lord God’s name. How does this “right” transcend any collective power shared among humans? Or the “right’ to adore a Fallen Demon or a graven Pachamama idol. How does this “right” transcend any collective power shared among humans?

    The crux of my interest is this: On what intelligent basis do you see a difference between a right that is authorized by citizens of a Modern State, as opposed to a “Divine” right that transcends human institutes? You said that “God-given rights” are a “part of our human personhood.” If rights somehow constitute humans as you say, how are they “part” of humans while at the same time being “transcendent to humans”? Seems like a logical contradiction.

  14. Thank you for speaking the truth. I pray more of you will have the strength and courage to do the same!

    Liz D’Aquino Middlebrook, VA

    On Wed, Apr 22, 2020, 11:47 AM Father Mark White Blog wrote:

    > frmarkdwhite posted: “Mr. Tom Lee recently wrote an e-mail to all the > priests of our diocese of Richmond, about the situation we face here. Tom > made an interesting point in his e-mail: the late Bishop Carroll Dozier > served for a time as a prison chaplain. You may remember, ” >

  15. There is never any good reason to leave the Church. To do so is to remove oneself from the sacred body and blood of Christ which is His gift to us.

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