the healing ministries

By Diogenes (articles ) | Oct 07, 2004

A Cape Cod jury has convicted gay rapist Paul Nolin of murdering 20-year-old Jonathan Wessner last September. So ends one chapter of a story so grotesque in its details as to be improbable in fiction. A brief review:

  • In 1982, Nolin kidnapped a 10-year-old boy from a playground, tied him up with a belt, raped him, and left him lying naked in the woods.
  • At the Massachusetts Treatment Center for the Sexually Dangerous, Nolin was "treated" by Fr. Donald Turlick, a priest on leave from the Diocese of Bridgeport, who employed Satiation Therapy, whereby the patient is made to masturbate in response to normal stimuli until ejaculation, then forced to continue masturbation while fantasizing about paraphilic images.
  • Turlick commenced a sexual relationship with Nolin -- attested to by guards, prisoners, and other therapists -- smuggled him contraband gifts of condoms, silk pajamas, and gold chains, and then testified at a 1995 hearing in Suffolk Superior Court that Nolin was no longer "sexually dangerous." Nolin was released in 2000 and came to live in Fr. Turlick's home on Cape Cod.
  • Turlick introduced Nolin to another promiscuous gay priest on Cape Cod, Fr. Bernard Kelly, who not only employed Nolin as a parish handyman and catamite, but rewrote his own will so as to make Nolin the heir of a $1.4 million horse farm and half of his remaining estate. Kelly was later found to have embezzled funds, perhaps as much as $800,000, from his Woods Hole parish.
  • On September 20, 2003, Nolin bludgeoned Wessner and knifed him through the skull, parked his own vehicle at Fr. Kelly's rectory with his permission, then ditched Wessner's car and asked another friend, Shawn Shirmer, to give him a ride home. Shirmer admitted he too was sexually intimate with both Kelly and Nolin and that the priest had occasionally given him money for yard work.

Can you spot a problem here with the screening and supervision of clergy? If so, you must be one of those knuckle-dragging Right Wingers who, we're taught, are eager for a witch hunt and neglectful of the marvelous contributions gay priests have made to the greater Cape Cod and Nantucket ecclesial community. Diocese of Bridgeport spokesman Joseph McAleer was still insisting last November that Turlick was "a priest in good standing," and even six weeks post-murder Turlick claimed that Nolin's satiation therapy was successful, that his relationship to him stemmed from his duty to "see Christ in everyone." Asked why Kelly was allowed to put a convicted child rapist on the parish payroll, Fall River Diocese spokesman John Kearns said, "Sometimes you have to reach out for someone who is having difficulty in his life. But that's the call of each pastor."

It seems not everyone was satisfied with Kelly's spiritual intuitions. In 1997, parishioner Mary Pat MacKenzie wrote the Diocese complaining of the spending devoted to Kelly's personal comfort and mentioning "that Kelly was cold and distant, read mail-order sermons ... and failed to mention Mother Teresa at Mass the week she died, instead asking the congregation to sing Happy Birthday to a visiting tourist." She concluded, "It would be cruel and cowardly to allow Father Kelly to run a functioning parish into a financial and spiritual morass." The response?

The Fall River Diocese receives many letters about pastors, "some pro, some con," said spokesman John Kearns. If all such pastors were investigated, "we'd never accomplish anything," he said, adding that [Bishop George] Coleman has no recollection of MacKenzie's letter.

It's premature, however, to conclude that the Church has learned nothing from these untoward incidents. Hint: look for increased scrutiny concerning the singing of Happy Birthday at Mass. Regarding MacKenzie's imputation of cruelty and cowardice, Jonathan Wessner was unavailable for comment.

Sound Off! supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

Show 11 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: - Oct. 08, 2004 8:29 PM ET USA

    Gertrude, I think most of the cwnews. crowd do teach their children to pray. I know errant priests and bishops who pray. I would say it is not the loss of the sense of prayer but the loss of the sense of sin which is the problem.

  • Posted by: Gertrude - Oct. 08, 2004 1:02 PM ET USA

    Mr. Tolemahcs and Mr. Gawain, you overreact. To extract taking personal blame for abuse, from my comment on the need for prayer, is a reach. My point was, that we have lost any sense of a need for prayer. Unless we train up ourselves and our children to walk closely with Christ in this manner(prayer), things will not change. And since when have the readers of Off the Record waited for priests(most of them anyway), to show them the way? GOR, to confound evildoers will go into my prayers.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 08, 2004 7:26 AM ET USA

    Great! So now if/when a priest in my diocese sexually abuses someone I have to confess this for not praying hard enough for him? And just how do we measure how hard we should be praying for him. The laity is not the problem here. If the priests started ratting out their fellow priests who are not only committing sexual abuses but also liturgical abuses it would go a long way to resolving this. And yes, I pray for our priests & bishops daily.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 07, 2004 11:54 PM ET USA

    Did any of you realize that the single most common extra degree that most priests earn is a Batchelors or Masters in Psychology! This Psychology degree is not based on Thomism; they are materialistic meaning that they give no credence to the existence of the soul or other non-material beings. So, after all that careful formation (?) in our Catholic seminaries, they turn themselves over to secularism to be reformed. And we, the laity, pay for the whole thing. Our bishops are on top of this.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 07, 2004 6:56 PM ET USA

    Gertrude, No doubt we should be praying for priests,but to imply that the laity is collectively responsible for murderous pedophile priests because they don't pray enough is ludicrous. After all grace perfects nature. And by the way, isn't it the proper role of the PRIEST to teach the laity how to pray?

  • Posted by: - Oct. 07, 2004 2:44 PM ET USA

    Very true, Gertrude and I do pray for them every day. But I do insert a subordinate clause - as it were. While asking God to send us good and faithful priests and bishops, I also ask Him to convert the hearts of those who lead people astray - and if they will not be converted, to CONFOUND their efforts. Not being privy to the Divine Intelligence ("Who knoweth the mind of God?"), I am of the view that we need a lot more 'confounding' these days...

  • Posted by: - Oct. 07, 2004 2:24 PM ET USA

    It is interesting how the meanings for common terms of conversation have been transformed in the modern world. In the Church, "a priest in good standing" used to mean one thing, today it evidently means something else. Let us rid ourselves of "priests in good standing" and replace them with "priests good at kneeling."

  • Posted by: Gertrude - Oct. 07, 2004 12:18 PM ET USA

    At a Eucharistic Conference featuring Fr. John Corapi, I was startled when he laid partial blame on the laity for the state of our clergy. He asked how much we prayed for our priests. Good point. If ALL of the laity in our country spent time "In Conversation with God", beseeching him to protect and guide our priests, we would have a far different clergy. Or are we getting exactly what we haven't prayed for? So, Off the Record laity, how much do you pray, EVERY DAY, for our priests?

  • Posted by: - Oct. 07, 2004 12:08 PM ET USA

    How many of this type of things need to happen? How many more homosexual perverts are there? What kind of Church do we have in America? This is so pervasive as to make one wonder if there is hope.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 07, 2004 11:39 AM ET USA

    I may be naive in this matter, but I simply cannot comprehend priests who consecrate the Body and Blood of Our Lord acting in such a incredibly evil manner while appearing rational, "welcoming", and functional. A man with any element of goodness in him could not commit these acts unless he was dissociated from himself. Then again, when we look at the harm done to society by crackpot forms of psychology, especially which influenced so many religious, we get a hint of why.

  • Posted by: - Oct. 07, 2004 11:14 AM ET USA

    So grotesque, in fact, that I'd expect the Gang of Clergy be broken up. And not just the homosexual priests, but all the ordained. It's just too dangerous, given this incident and the larger abuse scandal. The actions of the bad surely are not unknown to the good. I realize that we must "see Christ in everyone." That shouldn't blind us, however, when we find Satan.