Monday, September 03, 2007

The Rotten Apple Doesn't Fall Far From The Miter
"Shocked, SHOCKED!"

As if another scandal couldn't rock The Church here in America, along comes the latest and greatest out of Cleveland.

Here's a taste;

Former Cleveland bishop "shocked" by aide's fraud

Cleveland, Aug. 31, 2007 (CWNews.com) - Bishop Anthony Pilla, the former leader of the Cleveland, Ohio diocese, said that he was stunned to learn that a trusted aide had engaged in a scheme to draw secret payments from the diocese. Bishop Pilla testified in the trial of Joseph Smith, a former chief financial officer for the Cleveland diocese, who is charged with receiving up to $750,000 in payments for his part in a scheme to defraud the diocese.

Smith resigned from his post with the Cleveland diocese in 2004, shortly after the finance council began to raise questions about diocesan accounts, and the bishop suspended him from his post. Bishop Pilla himself resigned in April 2006.

Lawyers for Smith and Zgoznik have claimed that diocesan leaders, including Bishop Pilla, were aware of many secret accounts established and under-the-table payments made with diocesan funds. But at Smith's trial this week, the defense was barred from questioning Pilla about any subject other than his dealings with Smith and Zgoznik on issues relating to the criminal charges.

"Shocked. Shocked," Bishop Pilla replied, when asked to describe his response to the report that Smith had steered lucrative consulting contracts toward Anton Zgoznik, another former diocesan employee. Smith allegedly received kickbacks from Zgoznik in a plot that drew millions of dollars from diocesan accounts, according to prosecutors. Zgoznik will face charges in a separate trial.

There's also an additional article from June, 2007 from BishopAccountability.Org that has links to all the documents already available in the case United States of America v. Joseph H. Smith and Anton Zgoznik, as well as documents from a precursor civil suit, Rosie Andujar et al. v. Bishop Anthony Pilla et al. They also offer links to background articles and reporting.

They also state the following;

U.S. District Court Judge Ann Aldrich ordered the Diocese of Cleveland to turn over financial records to Joseph Smith and Anton Zgoznik, two former diocesan employees accused of stealing $784,000 from the church.

Smith and Zgoznik maintain the money they are accused of stealing was actually additional pay authorized by former Bishop Pilla and the Rev. John Wright, the church's former financial and legal secretary. Smith and Zgoznik claim the diocese had hundreds of off-the-book accounts that church leaders used to make secret payments to scores of people.

Now it's time to dig a little deeper. Let's take a look at some of the history concerning Bishop Pilla. From The Dallas Morning News (2002) expose on the cover-up by nearly 2/3's of America's Bishops;

He [Bishop Pilla] and his aides have long been accused of covering up for abusive priests. They kept Rev. Gary Berthiaume in a parish for most of the 1980s, for example, without telling the congregation about his prior molestation conviction in the Archdiocese of Detroit.

A priest assigned to monitor him, the Rev. Allen Bruening, himself previously had been removed from a parish because of abuse allegations and made director of a Catholic high school. Father Bruening was accused of misconduct again in the mid-1980s and ended up in Texas, where he became one of the Amarillo diocese's top administrators before being removed from ministry about 10 years ago.

Father Berthiaume was also transferred again, to the Diocese of Joliet, Ill., where he recently lost his job as a hospital chaplain. Last year, he and Father Bruening were accused in a lawsuit of repeatedly ganging up on one boy in a shower in the 1980s in Cleveland. One of Bishop Pilla's longtime top aides, Auxiliary Bishop A. James Quinn, advised a group of church lawyers in a speech 12 years ago to remove some documents from priests' personnel files. "If there's something you really don't want people to see, you might send it off to the apostolic delegate [the Vatican embassy in Washington], because they have immunity," said Bishop Quinn, who is also a lawyer.

Some plaintiffs' attorneys have since named him in lawsuits that accuse top Catholic leaders of racketeering. Bishop Quinn has said his speech was not about sexual abuse or any other crime. He serves on the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' abuse committee and, like all auxiliary bishops, is a voting member of the conference. In late May, Bishop Pilla announced that any priests who abuse children in the future will be permanently barred from ministry in his diocese. But it wasn't clear what would happen to several clerics who have been suspended because of past allegations.
(I've been searching the 'net, without any luck, for info if Bishop Pilla ever did "make it clear" what would happen to the several priests who have already been suspended. If anyone knows, please post a comment.)

But I believe if we really want to know what kind of Diocese Bishop Pilla ran, read the following from Tradition In Action;

In the Cleveland Diocese, Ursuline nuns are teaching the following occult and pagan superstitions to Catholics: Jewish Kabbalah, Tai Chi meditation, Yoga, Shamanism, Chakras, Feng Shui and Reiki. Further they are promoting the Gnostic book The Da Vinci Code. This is one of four New Age “Health and Wellness” centers which the Bishop Pilla promotes. In the April/May 2004 bulletin these centers hosted “Healing Yourself Through Mandalas” (1). The official Diocese of Cleveland website has a page for its ambiguous "Gay and Lesbian Ministry." (2)
1. For the Ursuline nuns, check at http://ursulinesophiacenter.com/cgi-bin/scsearch.pl (This site has been shut-down.) Here is a link from the National Catholic Reporter concerning the activities of the Ursuline Sisters in Diocese of Cleveland during the Episcopacy of Bishop Pilla - http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1141/is_26_38/ai_86047282; for the St. Joseph sisters see http://www.riversedgecleveland.com/wellness/index.aspx as well as http://www.sistersofstjoseph.com/ . By the way, the Sisters of St. Joseph also link to FutureChurch.org

2. http://www.dioceseofcleveland.org/gayandlesbianfamilyministry/mission/index.htm

For years Bishop Pilla also permitted the group Future Church to meet on Church property. This dissident organization promotes women priests, married priests, and homosexuality as part of its agenda. Only recently did the Bishop reverse his policy and disallow them from meeting on Church property. However, Future Church is still stationed at St. Mark’s in Cleveland.

Pilla on giving Communion to pro-abortion politicians

On the topic of giving Communion to pro-abortion politicians, journalist Colette Jenkins, who was present at a meeting with the Bishop and 35 politicians, reported these words of Bishop Anthony M. Pilla:

“The altar is a place of unity, healing, nourishment and grace. It is not a place for confrontation ... In my view, the battles for human life and dignity and for the weak and vulnerable should be fought not at the Communion rail, but in the public square, in hearts and minds, in our pulpits and public advocacy, in our consciences and communities.'' (Colette Jenkins, "Politics, sacrament don't mix, Bishop says," in the Akron Beacon Journal, July 2004).

This vague language means that the Bishop would give Communion to so-called Catholic lawmakers such as John Kerry and Ted Kennedy, who for years have been writing and promoting pro-abortion laws while voting against pro-life laws that would save unborn babies.
In the same meeting, Pilla continued:
“The view of refusing Communion to politicians who support keeping abortion legal is not part of the pastoral tradition of the Church …. Given the long standing practice of not making a public judgment about the state of the soul of those who present themselves for Communion, the pastoral tradition of the church places the responsibility of such a judgment first on those presenting themselves for Holy Communion” (ibid).


What was it again that Bishop Pilla said about the accusations against his former CFO? "Shocked, shocked"? That sounds an awful lot like what Claude Raines' character, Captain Renault, said in the film Casablanca. His quote appears to be about as sincere as the good bishop's is.

I'm shocked, SHOCKED to find that gambling is going on in here! (Helmet tip to Phineas)

Yes, Bishop Pilla... we're all shocked.

2 Comments:

Blogger Vir Speluncae Orthodoxae said...

These nuns are a far cry from Sister Rosalind, the massaging nun who's always at the St. Paul Saints games.

Being a massage therapist myself, I don't have anything against Tai Chi itself and yoga exercises, it's the paganism that tends to go along with it. If I do that stuff I always think the Jesus prayer.

As for Reiki, I'm very skeptical.

But yes I'm socked, SHOCKED!

2:12 PM  
Blogger aggiecatholic said...

His first problem was being named Joseph Smith, a little too Salt Lake for a Diocese of Cleveland aide.

7:34 PM  

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