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by Thomas Doyle, O.P., J.C.D.

The original idea for a crisis intervention team was Ray Mouton’s (cf. letter of Feb. 22, 1985). The notion of a research committee was essentially mine but quickly concurred with by Mouton and Peterson. The nature of the entire proposal was presented to Archbishop Laghi. Indeed, I had been briefing him on the overall situation on a daily basis.

The original idea was to compose a manual containing information about the issue from different approaches: canon law, civil law, criminal law, insurance, pastoral practice, medical. The manual would be given to the NCCB in hopes that they would take some kind of action. We were not commissioned to write it and did so entirely on our own with no backing, financial or otherwise, from anyone.

Drafts of sections were composed by the three of us. In the meantime I was speaking informally to the Vatican ambassador (Archbishop Pio Laghi) and to a number of bishops and cardinals about the project. I had support from all to whom I spoke. This support extended to the research and crisis intervention aspects of the overall proposal. Conversations with bishops indicated that they were certainly alerted to and worried about the problem.

Fr. Peterson called Cardinal Krol (Philadelphia) in May to ask for a private meeting. Such a meeting was arranged and took place in the office of the director of the National Shrine in May, 1995. Just prior to the meeting I had sent the Cardinal a copy of the canonical section of the report which I had drafted. At the meeting, the Cardinal praised the draft section, praised and promised support for the entire project. He stated that he would speak to Cardinal Law and Bishop Quinn. He subsequently wrote to me on June 11, 13, and 29 about his efforts and support of the project.

Cardinal Law (Boston) stated that he would get the project into the NCCB by creating a special ad hoc committee of his own committee on research and pastoral practices.

The final draft was completed on May 14, 1985. That same month the three of us had met with Archbishop Levada, secretary to Cardinal Law's committee. He was positive about progress. A short time later he phoned me and stated that the project had been shut down because another committee of the NCCB was going to deal with it and the duplication of efforts would not make the other committee look good. No more was said about the project to me or anyone else. I heard informally that the NCCB Committee on priestly Life would be looking into the issue but never heard or saw anything that had been done.

Nevertheless we proceeded and contacted auxiliary bishop Quinn of Cleveland (then an ally) who would take several copies of the manual to the NCCB June meeting in Collegeville MN. This he did. The president of the NCCB announced after an executive session at which there was discussion of the problem of priest-pedophilia, that a committee to work on the issue was formed, headed by now retired Bishop Murphy of Erie PA.

At the meeting three presentations were made in an executive session. One each by Wilfred Caron (civil law), Bishop Kenneth Angell and Dr. Richard Issel (psychology). The reports about the session from bishops were that the psychologist was excellent and the lawyers mediocre at best. This sentiment was stated in a letter from cardinal Krol to myself.

I learned later in June from Bishop Bevilacqua of Pittsburgh (now Cardinal of Philadelphia) that there was actually no committee and no action was planned. It was merely a PR move to announce it. I later learned that the Committee of Priestly life was supposed to consider the issue. If it actually did, nothing ever came of the consideration.

At the press conference held by Bishop Malone, he specifically stated that such a committee existed. Yet in a deposition given in 1993, Sr. Euart, associate secretary general of the NCCB stated that the first committee ever to exist was that headed by Bishop Kinney and created in 1993.

Nothing was ever said to Peterson, Mouton or myself about the manual. We never knew what happened to it on the NCCB level. Some sources from that agency stated that the manual was never properly submitted for consideration by the conference. Its existence was well known.

The internal procedures of the NCCB were not known to any of the three authors nor did anyone ever suggest which procedures should be followed. In later years, after the manual had been circulated around a great deal and had become well known to attorneys and others involved in the issue, people, especially reporters, would often ask bishops or officials at the NCCB whether they knew about it or had it and if so, why had no action been taken either at the time or since. These questions brought variety of answers, none of which accurately reflected the truth.

The general response from the NCCB, almost always through the office of their general counsel (Mark Chopko), was that the NCCB already knew everything that was in the manual, that the NCCB had already taken appropriate action, that the idea of a special committee and ad hoc team of experts was not appropriate. He stated the latter, saying that the NCCB could not bind other dioceses, that it would cost too much, that Mouton, Peterson and I were in this only to sell ourselves to bishops and thus make money off of the problem. He also stated that there were problems with the content of the manual. As one of the authors, it is my contention that the original motivation for composing the manual and submitting the action proposals was grossly misunderstood or perhaps understood but intentionally misconstrued by the officials at the NCCB. It has occasionally crossed the minds of the two remaining authors that officials at the NCCB/USCC who have consistently made derogatory comments about the project are in fact, trying to shift the onus of responsibility from themselves to someone else, or at least conjure up some sort of excuse for failure to act in the face of explicit warnings about the problem, its extent and probable consequences.

At no time since then (1985 to the present) was any contact made between anyone in the NCCB and either Mouton, Peterson or myself.

In December, 1985 a copy of the manual was sent to each diocesan bishop in the US through St. Luke Institute. There was no response from anyone to this gesture. Some bishops, when asked by the press, indicated that they had found it helpful. The NCCB however, never acknowledged its existence no have they ever contacted Mouton or I in relation to any of the meetings which they have had concerning the issue since that time.

I have received only one letter from the NCCB (Oct., 1992) and that was a response to a letter I had sent to the president after the first VOCAL (later changed to the LinkUp) conference of victims in Chicago in Oct., 1992.

The bishops conference has discussed the issue in plenary meetings at least five or six times, the first one being in June of 1985 (already alluded to above). Speakers at that meeting included a psychologist (Dr. Richard Issell, Chicago), an attorney (Wilfred Caron, NCCB), a bishop (Bishop Kenneth Angell, Providence RI). The bishops conference has also issued at least five statements on the subject and sent several memos from the general counsel to all diocesan bishops.

The early suggestions for a research committee as well as a crisis intervention team never went anywhere. It was not until very recently (Oct. 1993) that the NCCB appointed a committee of bishops, headed by Bishop John Kinney of Bismarck, to study the issue. This committee has had some meetings but to date has done nothing more than issue a report.

The original version of the manual contained four major sections: civil law, criminal law, canon law, insurance and medical considerations. To these were added photocopies of articles about the medical/psychological dimensions of pedophilia. Fr. Peterson composed and attached an Executive Summary to the manual during the summer of 1985. At that time the canonical section was also revised to reflect the change in belief that accused priests not be canonically suspended during the initial investigation but rather that they be placed on administrative leave.

Insight into the negative response to the manual and attached action proposals came later. In 1988 Bishop A.J. Quinn wrote to Archbishop Pio Laghi, then Apostolic Nuncio (Vatican ambassador) to the U.S. complaining about Doyle’s various comments to the secular press. In this letter he stated:

“The truth is, Doyle and Mouton want the Church in the United States to purchase their (Doyle’s and Mouton’s expensive and controvertible leadership in matters relating to pedophilia.”

The erroneous opinion that the authors of the manual and the action proposals sought monetary gain probably originated with the General Secretariat of the NCCB/USCC. When asked about the manual by secular press reporters, the Conference General Counsel responded with essentially the same statement as Bishop Quinn.

In 1989 Monsignor Daniel Hoye, then General Secretary of the NCCB, was deposed by plaintiff counsel in a civil suit stemming from the abuse of a woman by a priest named Vance Thorne. In his deposition and in a related affidavit, Monsignor Hoye stated the following:

“The report was neither requested by nor presented to the NCCB/USCC”
“The report gave short shrift to the on-going diocesan and NCCB/USCC efforts at prevention of sexual abuse.”
“A key aspect of the Mouton-Doyle-Peterson report was the proposal that a national ‘team’ at least supplement, but more often displace, diocesan officials in responding to complaints of sexual abuse on a local level.”
“The authors of the report were rather pointed in their dire predictions of the fiscal disaster for the church unless such a team was hired.”
“One of the authors intended to be part of that expert team retained at considerable expense by the NCCB/USCC.”

Bishop Quinn and Monsignor Hoye knowingly misrepresented the purpose of the report, the aim of the action proposals and the intentions of the authors. The report made no mention, either critical or otherwise, of the efforts of the NCCB/USCC or individual dioceses nor did any of the authors ever mention such in public or private statements. We were unaware of any such efforts. No bishop ever mentioned such efforts. In private conversations that I had with several bishops they admitted that the conference had nothing to offer and needed direction in dealing with sexual abuse issues.

The critics have referred to the Crisis Intervention Team as a “Swat Team” which is a complete mis-characterization of its form and intent. There was never any intent that such a team would displace diocesan officials. The team was to have been available for bishops at their request. Its purpose was to visit a diocese and act as a resource for the bishop and diocesan officials. It would have no authority from the conference or any other source, would not make decisions or set policy. On two occasions this approach was used at the request of bishops and the results were highly successful.

In drawing up the proposal for the Crisis Intervention Team we included a proposal budget which amounted to about three million dollars to fund the team for a period of three years. This figure included the retention of a full-time coordinator for the team, office and travel expenses as well as expenses for the various expert members. Mr. Mouton offered to apply for this position. This would have involved a significant financial sacrifice on his part.

The budgetary aspect of the proposal was met with initial approval by the bishops with whom we discussed the idea. It never became a point of criticism until the General Secretariat began using it as an excuse to defend their actions (or inactions) and to discredit the manual/proposals and the authors. Fr. Peterson and I never envisioned ourselves as part of the on-going effort nor did we propose such. Mr. Mouton’s commitment to the work was not related to obtaining the position of coordinator. He offered himself because of his experience but had no high hopes that he would actually fill such a position.

© Copyright 2003 Internations' Justice Federation