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By Diogenes (articles ) | Apr 18, 2004

Kim Sue Lia Perkes, an avowed lesbian, was Bishop O'Brien's last press liaison. She joked in a recent interview that, "If it weren't for the gay clergy in Phoenix, there wouldn't be any clergy in Phoenix."

Dom points us to a lengthy article in the Phoenix New Times giving striking (if somewhat disconnected) details in support of the notion that the diocese was run by a network of predatory gay clergy. The article retells the story of ex-priest Joe Ladensack, who claims to have been disturbed by the way Bishop James Rausch -- and his assistant and successor Thomas O'Brien -- blithely reassigned child molesting priests to new duties, then lied shamelessly to cover their tracks. Ladensack says O'Brien deflected his protests by turning the tables on him:

"[O'Brien] said, 'That's my decision,'" recalled Ladensack. "'It's not for you to suggest. As a matter of fact, Joe, I think you're a little bit too obsessed with this gay pedophile issue. I think, Joe, you have some kind of problem. Maybe you need to go get counseling to deal with that problem.'"

On an occasion when Ladensack helped a victim's family notify the police, O'Brien lost it:

Using a secret line identified as "the bat phone," Ladensack called O'Brien who -- put out over the interruption -- told the priest, "This had better be good."

According to Ladensack's account, the bishop blew his stack. "He said, 'Why did you go out there, why did you call the police? You have to come to me with [something like] this immediately, and to me first and only to me,'" related Ladensack. "I thought O'Brien got livid before, but he was absolutely beyond himself." ...

O'Brien said, "You owe me obedience, you took a vow of obedience, and must I remind you, young man, that you need to keep your vow of obedience." By that time, Ladensack remembered, the bishop was "totally out of control."

It was Ladensack, naturally, who needed the therapy. This is "Always Our Children" country. Not discussed by the New Times, but surely germane, is the threat made by Tucson priest and child molester Robert Trupia relative to the Rausch-O'Brien axis. A Boston Globe story from August 2002 gives the details:

When Monsignor Robert C. Trupia was confronted by his superiors in 1992 with an accusation that he had sexually molested an altar boy, he replied with a pointed warning: Pursue the charge and he would go public with information about an Arizona bishop's sex life, with scandalous results for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Tucson.

Church officials thought they knew what he was theatening to reveal, that he'd had a sexual relationship with James S. Rausch, the late bishop of Phoenix, according to sealed court documents, including church records, obtained by the Globe.

But Trupia's secret was much more explosive. The documents obtained by the Globe, including a secret affidavit in a clergy sexual abuse lawsuit, allege that Rausch, Trupia, and the late Rev. William T. Byrne all had sex during the late 1970s and early 1980s with a Tucson teenager who was later given a chancery job to ensure his silence.

Trupia's explicit threat is part of the sealed evidence in 11 civil lawsuits against Trupia, Byrne, and two other priests that were settled earlier this year by the Tucson Diocese for a sum estimated at $14 million by people familiar with the details.

Puts a Whole New Perspective on the astonishingly benign treatment given O'Brien by his fellow bishops, doesn't it? We're about reconcilation. And healing.

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Show 2 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Apr. 23, 2004 9:04 PM ET USA

    Birds of a feather, flock together. May the Lord protect and defend those who remain faithful in and around that diocese and may the children be kept safe from further abuse.

  • Posted by: Pseudodionysius - Apr. 18, 2004 9:55 PM ET USA

    Still no return phone call from Bishop Wilton Gregory? Its a theological freak show, and well past time to start loading the catapaults with miscreant clergy to be flung over the tower wall.

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