Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Archdiocesan Paper Ignores "Sexual Identity" Factor in Fr. Myers Incident

George Weigel, Bill Donahue, Michael Voris, Louie Verrocchio and others have faulted the recent John Jay Study on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church because it downplayed the role of homosexuality in the scandal--a scandal where 81% of the victims were post-pubescent males molested by men. Verrocchio called the study "a $2 million exercise in political correctness." It looks to me as if Catholic San Francisco, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of San Francisco is now engaging in a little political correctness of its own.

Over the past week, California Catholic Daily, the San Jose Mercury News, SF Weekly, and KTVU News all have reported on the case of Fr. William Myers, the pastor of St. Raymond's parish in Menlo Park. On April 19, San Francisco Police were called to the Ross department store after Fr. Myers followed a 17 year-old boy into a dressing room.

Last night, the June 10 issue of Catholic San Francisco was published online. They covered the story, too. Their coverage is reproduced in full below. Incredibly, not once does the CSF story mention that Fr. Myers has "sexual identity issues." Not once does it mention Fr. Myers has a "sexual addiction." It is impossible to believe that the omission is inadvertent. Those facts, absolutely relevant to the story, were naturally included in all other stories covering the incident:

San Jose Mercury News: "He (Fr. Myers) took time off in the mid-90s from the Diocese of Stockton to seek therapy because he was struggling with his sexual identity, (Bishop William) Justice said."

California Catholic Daily: "Fr. Myers was transferred to the archdiocese from the Diocese of Stockton 11 years ago. KTVU News and the San Francisco Weekly reported that Bishop Justice told St. Raymond’s parishioners that Fr. Myers had admitted to his superiors that he had a 'sexual addiction' and had undergone therapy around the time of his ordination in Stockton because he was 'struggling with sexual identity.'"

SF Weekly: "In what came as a bombshell for parishioners, Justice also said Meyers had admitted to his superiors that he had a 'sexual addiction,' and had undergone therapy around the time of his ordination in Stockton because he was 'struggling with sexual identity.'"

KTVU News: "He became the pastor of St. Raymond's last year. The bishop said the priest admitted to them he had a sexual addiction to adults. The archdiocese said it has also learned that when Father William was ordained in Stockton he had undergone therapy."

Here is the Catholic San Francisco story in full:

St. Raymond Parish: Archdiocese names interim administrator

The Archdiocese of San Francisco named retired Msgr. Harry Schlitt as interim administrator of St. Raymond Parish as the Menlo Park congregation reacted to its pastor’s suspension over an apparent violation of church child-protection norms.

Auxiliary Bishop William Justice announced after June 5 Masses at the parish that Msgr. Schlitt, who retired last year and long served as the archdiocese’s vicar for administration and moderator of the curia, has accepted the post while the archdiocese seeks a new parish leader to replace four-year pastor Father William S. Myers.

Bishop Justice also offered his apologies and those of Archbishop George Niederauer “for what has happened and for the pain and suffering that has resulted.”

In the first of a nine-day series of archdiocesan “support and presence” meetings for St. Raymond parishioners and school students and parents, Bishop Justice also apologized before 200 parish members at a church meeting June 1. People at the meeting expressed anger and grief and demanded to know how Father Myers became a priest, how he advanced to pastor of a school parish and how he was monitored.

One woman rose from her pew to say, “We’re wounded, the church has been wounded.” She said the parish needs to play a role in the selection of a new leader.

Bishop Justice offered additional details of Father Myers’ record at a meeting after 10 a.m. Mass June 5, stressing that no complaints or suspicions about sexual misconduct have been leveled about him during his ministry in the archdiocese. Bishop Justice said there has never been a concern children at St. Raymond School were at risk.

The archdiocese learned May 26 that the priest had been involved in an incident April 19 involving an encounter with a 17-year-old male in a changing room at a Ross clothing store in San Francisco.

“The police were brought in because there was suspect behavior,” said George Wesolek, communications director for the archdiocese. “The young man said there was no physical contact.”

According to a statement by the archdiocese, the police determined that no criminal act had been committed. “The case is open and inspectors are conducting follow-up interviews prior to meeting with the district attorney’s office,” San Francisco Police Department Sgt. Michael Andraychak said June 6 in response to an e-mail from Catholic San Francisco.

Archdiocesan officials met with Father Myers May 27, the day after they became aware of the incident. They placed him on administrative leave and referred the matter to the archdiocesan Independent Review Board as an apparent “boundary violation,” a type of inappropriate behavior that falls short of physical sexual abuse but is considered an offense under the U.S. bishops’ 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

At the June 1 church meeting, Bishop Justice said Father Myers acknowledged the incident but denied any inappropriate behavior with children in the past.

Interviewed after the June 1 meeting, parishioner Gerard McGuire cautioned against a rush to judgment on Father Myers. McGuire, a parish member for eight months, said his impressions of Father Myers were positive.

McGuire also said he was impressed with the church’s response to the crisis, which he called “tremendously fast.”

The archdiocese announced that any allegations of sexual abuse involving Father William Myers should be directed to the civil authorities and to the archdiocese’s victim assistance coordinator, Barbara Elordi. Her secure phone line is (415) 614-5506 and her e-mail is She is also available to assist with pastoral concerns as a result of this matter.

Posted by Gibbons J. Cooney

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