What is not clear from Andrew Sullivan’s article or the church documents is that Kiesle [the priest] was defrocked in February 1987 – and yet was *still* working in youth ministry in May 1988:
The only sane voice appearing in the church’s documents is that of Maurine Behrend, who worked in the Oakland diocese’s youth ministry office in the 1980’s (see page 18). She wrote on May 11, 1988:
Dear Br. Haig:
I was not present for your meeting with our staff regarding the procedure for reporting sexual abuse. However, I need to inform you of my concern that a convicted child molester is currently the youth ministry coordinator at St. Joseph’s Parish in Pinole. This fact was reported to you in September when Steve’s name was turned in as coordinator. It was reported again in January when people from St. Anne’s in Union City recognized Steve at Youth Day (and were furious). I reported it to Sister Leonard on April 13 after Steve requested to be a part of the preparations for SPLUNGE, and I mentioned it to the bishop on April 29.
Today, Steve spoke with Peggy regarding his parish’s participation in Beginnings, and on the leadership day he has planned for volunteers NEXT YEAR! Obviously, nothing has been done after EIGHT months of repeated notifications. How are we supposed to have confidence in the system, when nothing is done? A simple phone call to the pastor from the bishop is all that it would take: ‘We do not allow convicted child molesters to work with children in this diocese.’
I need to let you know that because of my personal experience (my husband and I cared for an abused teenager last summer), I personally refuse to speak with Steve, or to include him in on any of the projects I am coordinating. That includes Beginings, SPLUNGE, and Youth Day. Furthermore. I plan to make regular contact with those in authority until he is removed, or until I am given a satisfactory explanation as to why he should be permitted to remain.
Maurine Behrend Office of Youth Ministry
Refreshingly full of outrage, anger, and demands for action, and *still* nobody did anything until Mrs. Behrend personally confronted Oakland Bishop John Cummins.
Kiesle was later sentenced to six years in prison for molesting a girl:
“He admitted molesting many children and bragged that he was the Pied Piper and said he tried to molest every child that sat on his lap,” said Lewis VanBlois, an attorney for six Kiesle victims who interviewed the former priest in prison. “When asked how many children he had molested over the years, he said ‘tons.'”
Conclusion: Trumping the Catholic hierarchy’s concern for children is concern that the faithful will be upset, or that there will be a scandal, if a young priest is released from his vows, however pedophilic his tendencies. That is the only official explanation given for placing children in harm’s way. I agree with Andrew Sullivan, who says:
“What’s fascinating in the steady onslaught of new incidences of previous cover-ups of child rape and molestation in the Catholic hierarchy is the notion that the hierarchs tended to see child rape as a sin rather than a crime. Hence the emphasis on forgiveness, therapy, repentance – rather than removal, prosecution and investigation. Obviously, there’s one reason for this: they were defending the reputation of the church by hiding its darkest secrets, and they were using the authority of religion to do so. But I suspect it’s also true that this is how they genuinely thought of child rape or abuse.