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Bishops, Boys, and the Bat Phone

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Sep 16, 2003

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Former Phoenix Bishop Thomas "Always Our Children" O'Brien leaned on (then Father) John Ladensack to play along in the obstruction of jus ... I mean, the non-judgmental approach to healing game:

Because he expressed concerns about an accused priest working with children, Ladensack said his relations with O'Brien deteriorated. But the situation worsened, Ladensack said, after he was called to the home of a family he had befriended in Chandler and was told that Giandelone had molested another 12-year-old boy. Ladensack said he calmed the family down, helped them call Chandler police to file a report and then used a special direct line to let O'Brien know about the crisis. "We used to call it the bat phone," said Ladensack. "He had a top secret number that all the priests had, but it was used only for top-secret emergencies."

Ladensack told investigators O'Brien exploded when told that the police were already looking for the accused priest. "He said why did you go out there? Why did you call the police? You have to come to me with this immediately and to me first and to only to me," Ladensack said. "He said you owe me obedience, you took a vow of obedience and you need to -- must I remind you, young man -- that you need to keep your vow of obedience."

On assuming the administratorship of Phoenix, Archbishop Michael Sheehan went out of his way to praise O'Brien for his pastoral contribution --"under his leadership, the diocese has grown." Perhaps he was referring to the Bat Phone. It's important to keep in mind that we, as church, know a lot more today about contacting law enforcement officials than we did in 1982. Isn't it time we moved on?

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