Tag Archives: Servants of the Paraclete

Servants Of The Paraclete Part 3: Gay Priest Reveals Secret Of Catholic `Boot Camp’

A Roman Catholic priest has given a unique insight into day-to-day life at a remote and little-known rehabilitation home used by the church to treat alcoholic, gay and paedophiliac clergymen.

The priest was sent to the residential treatment centre in Gloucestershire after his bishop found out that he was a practising homosexual. Writing anonymously in today’s Independent, he gives a detailed account of his week-long assessment at Our Lady of Victory – a place he describes as being like “an open prison” – situated high on a Cotswold hill in Brownshill, near Stroud.

The church is guarded about life inside the centre. It is run by the Servants of the Paraclete, a religious congregation of men dedicated to ministering to priests and brothers with “personal difficulties”. Anyone who is “sent to Stroud”, as Catholic circles put it, for longer than the initial assessment must sign a confidentiality contract.

Our Lady of Victory purports to offer “therapy in a spiritual context”. But according to Father Kieran Conroy, director of the Catholic Media Office, the approach is more “therapist’s boot camp” than “therapist’s couch”. Fr Conroy said he understood the treatment to be “quite confrontational”. “They do face you with your own shortcomings and there’s no question of denial, at all. It’s a process of knocking down and building up again, which I think some people find difficult to deal with because they are particularly vulnerable.”

The Servants of the Paraclete was founded in 1947 by Father Gerald Fitzgerald, a priest from the Archdiocese of Boston, in the United States. It has about 30 priests at Stroud, and there is a waiting list. Our Lady of Victory hit the headlines in 1993 when Fr Sean Seddon, a 38-year-old Roman Catholic priest, was sent there to try to forget about his six- year romance with a teacher. On learning that his lover had lost their baby, he committed suicide by throwing himself under a railway station near the retreat.

Fr Conroy believes the majority of residents at Stroud are alcoholics on the Chemical Dependency Programme, based on the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. “In the case of child abuse it would be assessment rather than treatment,” he added, “because most people realise that paedophilia is not a condition they can treat successfully.”

He said Stroud is not an alternative to the courts. Some of the priests undergoing treatment for child abuse have served prison sentences. At the end of the treatment, staff at Stroud assess the paedophiliac priest’s risk of reoffending, according to Father Conroy. “If they choose to remain in the priesthood – and presumably they will, otherwise they wouldn’t have spent six months or two years there – the church has to decide where the safest place for that person to work is. If he is high risk they must ensure that he is in a job that has little or zero risk of contact with children.”

To residents living near the centre, it is simply a “drying out clinic for boozy brethren”. But the priest recalls a “sense of listlessness” among inmates, “as if, realising the game was up, all the fight, all the desire for independence had gone.” He believes the “glassiness in their eyes” betrays “some form of brainwashing”. “How,” he asks, “is paedophilia `cured’ or any other form of addiction, sexual or otherwise?”

Former Questa priest named in new rape and abuse lawsuit

St. Anthony Catholic Church in Questa, where several priests who were found guilty of sexual abuse of a minor served.

Two men who were parishioners of Questa’s St. Anthony Church in the late 1960s have named a former priest as a sexual abuser in a lawsuit filed last week, marking another instance of alleged abuse by clergy associated with the beleaguered Catholic Church in New Mexico.

The lawsuit alleges Leo Courcy sexually abused the two boys on an overnight stay at the church rectory in the summer of 1969. One boy was raped and the other molested, according to the lawsuit filed Thursday (May 16) in the 2nd Judicial District Court in Albuquerque.

The lawsuit was filed against the Servants of the Paraclete, a largely inactive religious order that was founded in New Mexico in the 1940s, and its private foundation.

Aside from the sexual abuse allegations, the lawsuit also lays blame on the higher-ups of the Servants of the Paraclete for negligently putting known abusers into positions of power in underserved parishes across rural New Mexico.

The Servants ran a facility in Jemez Springs that became known as a dumping ground for sexually abusive priests from other dioceses. The religious order would assign priests to ministerial work as part of a “graduated program of rehabilitation,” according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit alleges that “only four days after Fr. Courcy arrived at the Servants’ Jemez Springs facilities for a second bout of treatment [for sexually abusing a minor, the director of the facility] made and finalized arrangements to send Fr. Courcy to a supply ministry assignment at St. Anthony Parish in Questa.”

In 2017, the Archdiocese of Santa Fe released a list of more than 70 priests, brothers and other members of religious orders who were “credibly accused” of sexually abusing minors; the list included Courcy. Courcy was also named as an abuser in a lawsuit filed in September 2017 that alleges he abused  another altar boy from the same year.

The lawsuit also claims the Servants did not keep a list of parish assignments for sexually abusive priests, or that it intentionally destroyed such documents when a wave of lawsuits were filed against it and the archdiocese in the 1990s.

The men who allege Courcy abused them aren’t named in the lawsuit, which refers to them as John Doe 127 and John Doe 143. The documents do not indicate if they are still residents of Questa.

The Servants and its foundation had not filed responses to the lawsuit as of press time. According to the archdiocese, Courcy is still living.

Unlike most lawsuits alleging abuse by priests and religious in New Mexico, this one was filed only against the Servant and not the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, which is in the midst of bankruptcy proceedings that is changing how sexual abuse lawsuits are getting filed in the state.

After decades of lawsuits and millions of dollars in settlements with sexual abuse victims, the archdiocese filed for bankruptcy in December 2018. Under federal Bankruptcy Code, the debtor – in this case, the archdiocese – comes up with a plan to pay its debts while continuing to operate.

Because of the bankruptcy, any new claims against the archdiocese must be dealt with as part of those proceedings, which have a June 17 cutoff, or “bar date.”

But according to attorney Levi Monagle, who is representing the John Does in the suit filed Thursday, the bankruptcy deadline does not “prevent the filing of lawsuits against other religious organizations like the Servants of the Paraclete, the Sons of the Holy Family, the Jesuits, the Franciscans, the Basilians, the Congregation of Blessed Sacrament Fathers or any other religious orders who were doing business in our state, and whose agents participated in raping children or protecting the rapists.”

Reference

Servants Of The Paraclete Part 2: Bishops Were Warned Of Abusive Priests

The Servants of the Paraclete complex in Jemez Springs, N.M., in 1993 (Jeffrey D. Scott)

As early as the mid-1950s, decades before the clergy sexual-abuse crisis broke publicly across the U.S. Catholic landscape, the founder of a religious order that dealt regularly with priest sex abusers was so convinced of their inability to change that he searched for an island to purchase with the intent of using it as a place to isolate such offenders, according to documents recently obtained by NCR.

Fr. Gerald Fitzgerald, founder of the Servants of the Paracletes, an order established in 1947 to deal with problem priests, wrote regularly to bishops in the United States and to Vatican officials, including the pope, of his opinion that many sexual abusers in the priesthood should be laicized immediately.

Fitzgerald was a prolific correspondent who wrote regularly of his frustration with and disdain for priests “who have seduced or attempted to seduce little boys or girls.” His views are contained in letters and other correspondence that had previously been under court seal and were made available to NCR by a California law firm in February.

Read copies of letters Fitzgerald exchanged with U.S. bishops and one pope.

Listen to Tom Roberts discuss this story on the April 1 edition of “Here & Now,” a National Public Radio news program from WBUR in Boston. (Scroll down the page to just before the photo of the waxy monkey frogs.)

Fitzgerald’s convictions appear to significantly contradict the claims of contemporary bishops that the hierarchy was unaware until recent years of the danger in shuffling priests from one parish to another and in concealing the priests’ problems from those they served.

It is clear, too, in letters between Fitzgerald and a range of bishops, among bishops themselves, and between Fitzgerald and the Vatican, that the hierarchy was aware of the problem and its implications well before the problem surfaced as a national story in the mid-1980s.

Cardinal Roger Mahony of the Los Angeles archdiocese, reacting in February to a federal investigation into his handling of the crisis, said: “We have said repeatedly that … our understanding of this problem and the way it’s dealt with today evolved, and that in those years ago, decades ago, people didn’t realize how serious this was, and so, rather than pulling people out of ministry directly and fully, they were moved.”

Indeed, some psychology experts seemed to hold the position that priest offenders could be returned to ministry. Even the Paracletes, as the order developed and grew, employed experts who said that certain men could be returned to ministry under stringent conditions and with strict supervision.

The order itself ultimately was so inundated with lawsuits regarding priests who molested children while or after being treated at its facility in Jemez Springs, N.M., that it closed the facility in 1995.

Whatever discussion occurred during the 1970s and 1980s over proper treatment, however, for nearly two decades Fitzgerald spoke a rather consistent conviction about the dim prospects for returning sex abusers to ministry. Fitzgerald seemed to know almost from the start the danger such priests posed. He was adamant in his conviction that priests who sexually abused children (often the language of that era was more circumspect in naming the problem) should not be returned to ministry.

In a 1957 letter to an unnamed archbishop, Fitzgerald said, “These men, Your Excellency, are devils and the wrath of God is upon them and if I were a bishop I would tremble when I failed to report them to Rome for involuntary layization [sic].” The letter, addressed to “Most dear Cofounder,” was apparently to Archbishop Edwin V. Byrne of Santa Fe, N.M., who was considered a cofounder of the Paraclete facility at Jemez Springs and a good friend of Fitzgerald.

Later in the same letter, in language that revealed deep passion, he wrote: “It is for this class of rattlesnake I have always wished the island retreat — but even an island is too good for these vipers of whom the Gentle Master said it were better they had not been born — this is an indirect way of saying damned, is it not?”

The documents were sealed at the request of the church in an earlier civil case involving Fr. Rudolph Kos of Dallas. Eleven plaintiffs won awards in the case in which Kos was accused of molesting minors over a 12-year period. He had been treated at the Paraclete facility in New Mexico. The documents were unsealed in 2007 by a court order obtained by the Beverly Hills law firm of Kiesel, Boucher & Larson, according to Anthony DeMarco, an attorney with the firm that has handled hundreds of cases for alleged victims of sexual abuse in the Los Angeles archdiocese and elsewhere.

According to Helen Zukin, another member of the firm, the documents have been used in some cases to dispute the church claim that it knew nothing about the behavior of sex abusers or the warning signs of abuse prior to the 1980s.

In a September 1952 letter to the then- bishop of Reno, Nev., Fitzgerald wrote: “I myself would be inclined to favor laicization for any priest, upon objective evidence, for tampering with the virtue of the young, my argument being, from this point onward the charity to the Mystical Body should take precedence over charity to the individual and when a man has so far fallen away from the purpose of the priesthood the very best that should be offered him is his Mass in the seclusion of a monastery. Moreover, in practice, real conversions will be found to be extremely rare. … Hence, leaving them on duty or wandering from diocese to diocese is contributing to scandal or at least to the approximate danger of scandal.” The advice was ignored and the priest was allowed to continue in ministry, and was ultimately accused of abusing numerous children, for which the church paid out huge sums in court awards.

While Fitzgerald told anyone who would listen of the futility of returning sexually abusive priests to ministry, that conviction became less absolute as the order, today headquartered in St. Louis, grew and the scope of its work became more complex. Fitzgerald, by most accounts, was deeply motivated by a sense of obligation to care for priests who were in trouble. Originally a priest of the Boston archdiocese for 12 years, he became a member of the Congregation of the Holy Cross in 1934, and started the Servants of the Paraclete in 1947. His concern at the time was primarily for priests struggling with alcoholism. As his new order matured and its ministry became known, bishops began referring priests with other maladies, particularly those who had been sexually abusive of children. The order for years was the primary source for care of priests in the United States with alcohol and sexual problems.

At times, Fitzgerald appears to have resisted taking in priests who had sexually abused youngsters. In his 1957 letter he requested concurrence from the cofounder archbishop “of what I consider a very vital decision on our part — that for the sake of preventing scandal that might endanger the good name of Via Coeli [the name of the New Mexico facility] we will not offer hospitality to men who have seduced or attempted to seduce” children. “Experience has taught us these men are too dangerous to the children of the parish and neighborhood for us to be justified in receiving them here.”

In September 1957 the bishop of Manchester, N.H., Matthew F. Brady, sought Fitzgerald’s advice regarding “a problem priest,” John T. Sullivan, who seemed sincerely repentant and whose difficulty “is not drink but a series of scandal-causing escapades with young girls. There is no section of the diocese in which he is not known and no pastor seems willing to accept him,” Brady wrote. The “escapades” involved molestation of young girls. In at least one instance, he procured an abortion for a teenager he had impregnated. In another case, he fathered a child and provided support to the mother until she later married. The charges of molesting girls would follow him the rest of his life.

“The solution of his problem seems to be a fresh start in some diocese where he is not known. It occurred to me that you might know of some bishop who would be willing to give him that opportunity,” Brady wrote in his original letter.

Fitzgerald responded that in his judgment the “repentance and amendment” in such cases “is superficial and, if not formally at least subconsciously, is motivated by a desire to be again in a position where they can continue their wonted activity. A new diocese means only green pastures.”

Fitzgerald added that the Paracletes had “adopted a definite policy not to recommend to bishops men of this character, even presuming the sincerity of their conversion. We feel that the protection of our glorious priesthood will demand, in time, the establishment of a uniform code of discipline and of penalties.”

He acknowledged the degree of deference with which Catholic clergy were treated even by civil authorities. “We are amazed to find how often a man who would be behind bars if he were not a priest is entrusted with the cura animarum [the care of souls],” he wrote.

Sullivan apparently had already been pulled from active ministry. In October 1957, less than a month after contacting Fitzgerald, Brady wrote a response to the bishop of Burlington, Vt., among the first of more than a dozen bishops approached by Sullivan for the next five years, warning against accepting him.

Brady then wrote a letter that he sent out time after time to bishops inquiring about Sullivan after he had requested acceptance for ministry. “My conscience will not allow me to recommend him to any bishop and I feel that every inquiring bishop should know some of the circumstances that range from parenthood, through violation of the Mann Act, attempted suicide, and abortion.

“Father Fitzgerald of Via Coeli would accept him only as a permanent guest to help save his soul but with no hope of recommending him to a bishop.”

According to a 2003 Washington Post story, Sullivan, who had bounced around from diocese to diocese for nearly 30 years, “was stripped of his faculties to serve as a priest after he kissed a 13-year-old girl in Laconia, N.H., in 1983, when he was 66. He died in 1999, never having faced a criminal charge.” After his death the church paid out more than a half-million dollars in awards to Sullivan’s victims, including three in Grand Rapids, Mich., and one in Amarillo, Texas, two dioceses that did not heed the warnings of the bishops in New Hampshire. The victims said they were abused when they were between 7 and 12 years old.

In April 1962, Fitzgerald wrote a five-page response to a query from the Vatican’s Congregation of the Holy Office about “the tremendous problem presented by the priest who through lack of priestly self-discipline has become a problem to Mother Church.” One of his recommendations was for “a more distinct teaching in the last years of the seminary of the heavy penalty involved in tampering with the innocence (or even non-innocence) of little ones.”

Regarding priests who have “fallen into repeated sins … and most especially the abuse of children, we feel strongly that such unfortunate priests should be given the alternative of a retired life within the protection of monastery walls or complete laicization.”

In August of the following year, he met with newly elected Pope Paul VI to inform him about his work and problems he perceived in the priesthood. His follow-up letter contained this assessment: “Personally I am not sanguine of the return of priests to active duty who have been addicted to abnormal practices, especially sins with the young. However, the needs of the church must be taken into consideration and an activation of priests who have seemingly recovered in this field may be considered but is only recommended where careful guidance and supervision is possible. Where there is indication of incorrigibility, because of the tremendous scandal given, I would most earnestly recommend total laicization.”

But by 1963, Fitzgerald’s powerful hold on the direction of the order was weakening. According to a 1993 affidavit by Fr. Joseph McNamara, who succeeded Fitzgerald as Servant General, the appointment of a new archbishop, James Davis, began a new era of the relationship between the order, which was a “congregation of diocesan right,” and the archdiocese. Davis and Fitzgerald apparently clashed over a number of issues. Davis was far more concerned than his predecessor about the business aspects of the Santa Fe facility and demanded greater accountability. He also demanded greater involvement of medical and psychological professionals, while “Fr. Gerald [Fitzgerald] distrusted lay programs, psychologists and psychiatrists,” favoring a more spiritual approach, according to McNamara.

McNamara said Fitzgerald was eventually forced from leadership by a combination of factors, not least of which was a growing disagreement with the bishop and other members of the order over the direction of the Paracletes. After 1965, said McNamara, Fitzgerald “never again resided at Via Coeli Monastery, nor did he ever regain the power he had once had.”

Nor did he get his island. In 1965 Fitzgerald had put a $5,000 deposit on an island in Barbados, near Carriacou, in the Caribbean that had a total purchase price of $50,000. But the new bishop apparently wanted nothing to do with owning an island, and Fitzgerald, who died in 1969, was forced to sell his long-sought means for isolating priest sex offenders.

When asked for comment, a spokesman for the Paraceltes referred NCR to historic accounts previoulsy written about the order.

Early Alarm for Church on Abusers in the Clergy

The founder of a Roman Catholic religious order that ran retreat centers for troubled priests warned American bishops in forceful letters dating back to 1952 that pedophiles should be removed from the priesthood because they could not be cured.

The Rev. Gerald M. C. Fitzgerald, founder of the order, Servants of the Paraclete, delivered the same advice in person to Vatican officials in Rome in 1962 and to Pope Paul VI a year later, according to the letters, which were unsealed by a judge in the course of litigation against the church.

The documents contradict the most consistent defense given by bishops about the sexual abuse scandal: that they were unaware until recently that offenders could not be rehabilitated and returned to the ministry.

Father Fitzgerald, who died in 1969, even made a $5,000 down payment on a Caribbean island where he planned to build an isolated retreat to sequester priests who were sexual predators. His letters show he was driven by a desire to save the church from scandal, and to save laypeople from being victimized. He wrote to dozens of bishops, saying that he had learned through experience that most of the abusers were unrepentant, manipulative and dangerous. He called them “vipers.”

“We are amazed,” Father Fitzgerald wrote to a bishop in 1957, “to find how often a man who would be behind bars if he were not a priest is entrusted with the cura animarum,” meaning, the care of souls.

His collected letters and his story were reported this week by The National Catholic Reporter, an independent weekly. Father Fitzgerald’s papers were unsealed by a judge in New Mexico in 2007 and are now becoming public in litigation, although some letters were public before now, said Helen Zukin, a lawyer with Kiesel, Boucher & Larson, a firm in Los Angeles. The letters were authenticated in depositions with Father Fitzgerald’s successors.

The scandals, which began in the 1980’s and reached a peak in 2002, revealed that for decades bishops had taken priests with histories of sexual abuse and reassigned them to parishes and schools where they abused new victims.

It was not until 2002 that the American bishops, meeting in Dallas, wrote a charter requiring bishops to remove from ministry priests with credible accusations against them.

Asked why Father Fitzgerald’s advice went largely unheeded for 50 years, Bishop Blase J. Cupich of Rapid City, S.D., chairman of the United States Bishops Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, said in a telephone interview that in the first case, cases of sexually abusive priests were considered to be rare.

Second, Bishop Cupich said of Father Fitzgerald, “His views, by and large, were considered bizarre with regard to not treating people medically, but only spiritually, and also segregating a whole population with sexual problems on a deserted island.”

And finally, he said, “There was mounting evidence in the world of psychology that indicated that when medical treatment is given, these people can, in fact, go back to ministry.” This is a view, he said, that the bishops came to regret.

A Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, said he could not comment because he did not have enough information.

Responding to Bishop Cupich’s comment about Father Fitzgerald, Ms. Zukin, who represents abuse victims, said: “If the bishops thought he was such a bizarre crackpot, they would have shut him down. In fact, they referred their priests to him and sent him financial contributions.”

She also said the psychiatrists who worked at the Servants of the Paraclete’s centers said in legal depositions that they had rarely recommended returning sexually abusive priests to ministry, and only if the priests were under strict supervision in settings where they were not working with children.

From the 1940’s through the 1960’s, bishops and superiors of religious orders sent their problem priests to Father Fitzgerald to be healed. He founded the Servants of the Paraclete in 1947 (“paraclete” means “Holy Spirit”), and set up a retreat house in Jemez Springs, N.M.

He took in priests who were struggling with alcoholism, drug abuse or pedophilia, or who had broken their vows of celibacy, whether with men or women. He called them “guests.” His prescription was prayer and spiritual devotion to the sacraments, which experts say was the church’s prevailing approach at that time.

At one point, he resolved not to accept pedophiles at his center, saying in a letter to the archbishop of New Mexico in 1957, “These men, Your Excellency, are devils, and the wrath of God is upon them, and if I were a bishop I would tremble when I failed to report them to Rome for involuntary layization.”

Laicization — or removing a priest from the priesthood — was what Father Fitzgerald recommended for many abusive priests to bishops and Pope Paul VI.

But that step was rarely taken, said the Rev. Thomas Doyle, a whistle-blower who often serves as an expert witness in cases against the church, “because the priesthood was considered to be so sacred that taking it away from a man was something you simply did not do.”

The Paracletes did not return calls for an interview.

After Father Fitzgerald died, his order grew and established retreat centers around the country and overseas, which became regular way stations for priests with sexual disorders.

His successors added psychiatry and medical treatment to the prayer regimen. They sent priests back into ministry, at the request of bishops. The Paracletes later became the target of lawsuits, and had to close most of their centers.

References

Servants Of The Paraclete; Part 1: SCANDALS IN THE CHURCH: THE TREATMENT PROGRAM; Abusive Priests Are Varied, but Treatable, Center Found

They came to a peaceful retreat in the mountains of New Mexico, bearing emotional troubles and sexual secrets.

Some had sinned with women; some, with men. Others were depressed or angry or anxious. One monk came for treatment of a foot fetish that drove him to steal socks. A priest from Africa arrived after it was discovered that he had several wives and many children.

But hundreds of the clergymen were sent to the treatment program in Jemez Springs because they had molested minors.

The public debate over the Roman Catholic Church’s handling of sexual abuse by its clergy members has focused on men like John J. Geoghan of Boston, calculating predators who appear beyond the reach of treatment.

But the history of the program at Jemez Springs, which in its 19 years of operation treated more than 500 priests and monks for sexual problems, suggests a more complex view.

In interviews, psychologists and psychiatrists who worked there said few of the clergymen fitted the image often presented in the news media.

For one thing, they said, the vast majority were not pedophiles: most had molested adolescents, not young children. In most cases, the clergymen’s transgressions were driven by confusion, fear, immaturity or impulse, not by cold calculation, the therapists said. Some of the clergymen had themselves been abused as adolescents. Many seemed to know little about human sexuality, and most initially tried to deny or rationalize their experiences, insisting that they had done nothing wrong or that their victims had benefited.

In some cases, said Dr. Robert Goodkind, a psychologist who worked at Jemez Springs in the 1980’s and 1990’s, the priests seemed oblivious that the boys they were abusing were minors. In psychotherapy, he said, they would talk as if they themselves were junior high school students, describing how they ”fell in love” or how they felt ”burned” when the boys did not return their affections.

”There was just a real absence of the perspective that this is a 30-year-old man talking about 15-year-old boy,” Dr. Goodkind said.

And while some clergymen — no one knows exactly how many — abused minors again after leaving the program, the therapists said, follow-ups indicated that many more did not. Rather, the men altered their behavior and rebuilt lives either inside the church or out.

The program at Jemez Springs, run by a small Roman Catholic congregation known as the Servants of the Paraclete, represented one of the the church’s earliest, most innovative and ultimately most controversial efforts to deal with sexual abuse among its clergy.

It was started in 1976 by two Paraclete priests, who sought to bring psychotherapy, education in human sexuality, medication and other modern tools to bear on sexual issues in the priesthood. By directly addressing sexuality, the program laid down a path later followed by other treatment centers for priests, like the St. Luke Institute in Maryland and the Institute of Living in Hartford. Experts at those centers said their experience of working with sexual abusers closely paralleled that of the staff at Jemez Springs.

By the mid-1980’s, when the case of a Louisiana priest, the Rev. Gilbert Gauthe, brought the problem to public view, the Paracletes had already treated hundreds of clergymen who had molested minors, said Dr. Jay R. Feierman, a psychiatric consultant to the program from 1976 to 1995.

But the church ended the treatment effort in 1995, when the Paracletes became mired in lawsuits over sexual abuse by priests who had been at Jemez Springs in the 1960’s and early 1970’s, before any systematic treatment program existed there. In those earlier days, priests’ sexual problems were addressed primarily through prayer, and some clergymen molested minors while visiting parishes to say Mass. The site, still owned by the Paracletes, now serves as a retreat center and retirement home for clergymen.

The abusers who came to Jemez Springs in the 1980’s and 1990’s, the former staff members said, were highly educated and socially skilled and they had more in common with university professors and social workers than incarcerated sex offenders. Few showed sociopathic tendencies, the staff members said, and the extent of their misconduct and the motivations underlying their actions varied greatly.

Still, the therapists said, every priest and monk who came to the program struggled with the challenges posed by their vows of chastity and celibacy.

Dr. Feierman said that in many cases, the clergymen lived double lives, on the one hand repressing ”sinful” thoughts and on the other, acting out sexually.

”They thought they were sinning if they entertained an impure thought,” he said, ”but at the same time they were having sex with boys.”

Priests and monks who came to Jemez Springs for treatment of depression or other emotional ills often found that their distress covered over conflicts about sexuality, Dr. Goodkind said.

”A lot of times people had been dealing with a secret inside them that they thought was quite horrible, and they had been keeping this secret for 10, 15 or 25 years,” the psychologist said. ”And after a while they just got terribly depressed and were not functional any more.”

But for all the sexual problems they saw, the therapists said they only rarely encountered pedophilia, an exclusive sexual attraction to prepubescent children.

Dr. Sarah Brennan, a clinical psychologist in Albuquerque, said that she treated hundreds of priests and monks in the 10 years she worked at Jemez Springs but that only one was a pedophile. Dr. Feierman, who studied 238 clergymen who were treated for sexual problems at Jemez Springs from 1982 to 1991, said that only a handful had molested young children or teenage girls; more than half, he said, had abused boys 12 to 17. Though his study was accepted in 1991 for publication in the Archives of Sexual Behavior, a scientific journal, it never appeared in print. The new director of the treatment program, the Rev. Peter Lechner, asked him to withdraw the manuscript, Dr. Feierman said.

He added that he now kept the paper in a safe deposit box and did not have permission from Father Lechner to discuss the study’s findings in more detail. Reached in St. Louis, where he is now the Paraclete congregation’s leader, Father Lechner confirmed that he had not wanted the report published but said it was because the study was based on the clergymen’s confidential records.

The age of the priests’ victims corresponds to the findings of other studies and to the observations of experts who have treated priests in other settings. It is significant, scientists said, because adults who become sexually involved with adolescents are considered more amenable to treatment than pedophiles. ”There’s a lot better prognosis,” said Dr. Eli Coleman, director of the program in human sexuality University of Minnesota’s Center for Sexual Health. ”It’s much easier to help someone who is attracted to postpubescent children to adapt to attractions to adults.”

Dr. Feirman said that in his view, many of the clergymen who abused older children were fixated on teenagers and were not attracted to adults, male or female. Other former staff members said that the priests they worked with were immature and confused about their sexuality, and their problem was bad judgment and a lack of impulse control rather than sexual fixation. Some priests were trying to ignore or suppress their attraction to adult men and ended up in furtive relationships with teenage boys.

Those relationships often began as fatherly bonds with altar boys or other adolescents who came to the rectory. In some cases, the boys had lost their fathers, and their mothers encouraged them to spend time with the priests and to regard them as role models.

Very few abusive clergymen, Dr. Feierman said, ”just had sexual relationships with the kids.”

”They would pick kids that were needy and needed things both emotionally and financially,” he said. ”They would take them on vacations, buy them clothes, buy them bicycles.”

But in a typical progression, the relationships moved gradually into touching and groping, and in some cases sexual penetration.

Dr. Fred S. Berlin, an associate professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University, said complex relationships were typical between the victims of sexual abuse and their abusers.

”This is not the fox in the chicken coop,” Dr. Berlin said. ”These are often situations in which the adult has genuine affection for the child, and sadly, because they begin to feel tempted in a way that most of us don’t, they give in to temptation.”

Dr. Leslie Lothstein, the director of psychology at the Institute of Living in Hartford, confirmed that, like the men treated at Jemez Springs, most of the priests who came to Hartford after sexually abusing minors had molested older boys.

But Dr. Lothstein said that although some of the men were gay, many others were not. Some were older priests, he said, who, having entered seminary as teenagers, ”were sexually undernourished, didn’t date and never really defined their sexuality.”

Having sex with boys, he said, seemed safer to those priests than having sex with women. Other men were replaying their experience as the victims of abuse by abusing others.

”They’re a very heterogenous group,” Dr. Lothstein said.

It was the realization that clergymen often had difficulty sorting out sexual issues that led two young priests, the Rev. Michael Foley and the Rev. William Perri, to found the Paracletes’ treatment program in 1976.

”We tried to create a forum, both in the spiritual and psychological realm, not where they were acting out the sexuality but where they were talking about it,” Father Foley said.

The priests borrowed the techniques being used by sexual disorder clinics in secular settings, including focused psychotherapy, education in human sexuality, relapse prevention and, for some men, the drug Depo Provera, which reduces sexual drive.

Priests who had molested minors, Dr. Goodkind said, were sent back with the stipulation that they not be returned to unsupervised ministry with minors. They were told to remain in therapy, and follow-up visits were made by the program’s staff.

But ultimately, the decision about what happened to the men after they left Jemez Springs was made by bishops and religious superiors.

No one can say with certainty how many of the men at Jemez Springs committed offenses after leaving the program. Dr. Feierman said he knew of only 2 men who were later arrested for sexual abuse and perhaps 5 to 10 more who had been caught in suspicious circumstances. For example, he said, one priest was later seen sitting in a hot tub in his apartment complex with two teenage boys.

Father Lechner, who became director of the treatment program in 1989, said he conducted an informal study in 1992 of 89 men treated at Jemez Springs. Only one had relapsed, he said.

Still, by the early 1990’s, the number of clergymen arriving at Jemez Springs had begun to dwindle, as lawsuits over priests who had sexually abused minors made headlines in New Mexico and other states.

”The whole program became associated with ‘priest pedophiles,’ ” Father Lechner said. ”We felt that was unfair to the men who were coming there to deal with other issues like depression or anxiety.”

For his part, Father Foley, who founded the program, said he still believed in its mission.

”I believe that a lot can be resolved and healed,” he said.

Still, he worries.

”I run through the papers before I go to work in the morning,” Father Foley said, ”and hope and pray that I’m not going to recognize a name.”

Reference