I’m not like some bishops…

by Steve Ray on October 28, 2009

… in that if I find out a priest or friend has caused scandal in the Church, I am not going to sweep it under the rug or act as though it didn’t happen. I say this because I just found out that a friend of ours who has stayed at our home has a sordid past which certainly alters our friendship, to say the least. Fr. Joseph Skelton, whom we first met on one of our many missionary trips to the Philippines recently plead guilty and was convicted of sexual abuse while in the seminary in Detroit in the 1980’s.

Since I have hosted him in our home, interviewed him on radio and introduced him to friends, I must now have the integrity to tell what I’ve just discovered even though it breaks my heart. I do so for the safety and awareness of others. I have no evidence that this sin continues to this day, but knowing similar situations, it could be, and therefore I am telling what I know to keep a clear conscience and to maintain my own integrity. I had to do the same thing with Bishop Kamal of Jerusalem about a year ago.

This is not a situation that effects only Catholic priests. It is far worse in Protestant circles and in public schools. One only has to read the sad story of Patty Bonds. It is not a Catholic problem; rather it is a human problem. But the media loves to target Catholics and put them in the headlines even though the problems are much greater in other circles. This fact however, certainly does not condone perverts in our midst. This is one reason I will always speak what I know to warn the faithful and to help put a stop to this kind of scandal.

REMEMBER: The Church is like a ship (the barque of Peter) taking us across the seas to the Celestial City. No one promised their wouldn’t be problems on board, that the crew would always be holy and perfect. We were told there would be sheep and goats, wheat and weeds. We can expect storms to swell and toss the ship.

What we ARE promised is that the ship WILL get to the other side. For me and mine — we will stay with, and love the ship no matter what. We will trust Jesus that the gates of hell will never prevail against the ship and we will make it to the shores of eternity in one piece.

Seminarian convicted of homosexual abuse of teen, then ordained in another country
Archdiocese blasted over 2 predator cases (Detroit Free Press)
Group blasts archdiocese for not publicizing abuse cases (Detroit News)

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Paul October 29, 2009 at 7:30 AM

This is sad sad news…….. not to judge the man now, but I sure hope there hasn’t been victims there since…… I have many friends in Bohol where he’s located.

Jeb Protestant October 29, 2009 at 9:02 PM


I happen to agree that the media targets the catholic church on this issue, but I’d like to see the evidence that the situation is “far worse” in protestant churches or the public schools.

The catholic church could at least excommunicate people like Law who enabled this, instead of giving them plum jobs.

Andrew Pinto October 30, 2009 at 8:09 AM

Steve you may find this video interesting, this Protestant preacher speaks against Purgatory here and yet amazingly seems to affirm it at the same time, see it for yourself, very bizarre:


Carla October 30, 2009 at 11:15 AM

There are statistics that say Protestants have a slightly higher problem with sexual abuse, of course it could actually go higher since it is harder to pin things down in Protestant land… however, I would agree that it is a human problem. And yes, unfortunately I had two grandmothers who had Prot preacher fathers who sexually abused their families. Perhaps fortunately or unfortunately you can’t get kicked out for an offense of sin, that’s just not why people get excommunicated.

Anyway, I applaud you Stephen for revealing this atrocity and I agree with you and think you are doing the right thing.

Doug Sirman November 1, 2009 at 7:34 AM

I’m sorry to hear about your friend’s behavior. I hope he and especially the one’s he has affected, are able to find peace.

The media targets the Catholic Church because unlike protestant churches and public schools, She has a hierarchy which proved itself more than willing to continue sacrificing other people’s children as long as they could continue pretending there was nothing wrong and worshiping the false idols of “the church” and “the priesthood.” There aren’t any protestant denominations with that kind of structural organization and public school systems, while being statewide, are grossly disorganized at even the local level.

We can complain all we want, but the fact is when Cardinal Law arrogantly and stupidly called down God’s Judgement on those who reported such things, he got EXACTLY what he was asking for. That bad ol’ debbil, the media, served God’s purposes regarding this situation far more than ANY Bishop did in the entire Church…and that includes the previous bishop of Rome.

Doug Sirman November 4, 2009 at 7:58 AM

Can we also expect that some of the crew will murder passengers and throw them overboard while pious individuals quote St. Francis De Sales’ absurd claim that those who have been spiritually murdered are guilty of their own deaths?

Steve Ray November 4, 2009 at 3:29 PM

I am not arguing with you. Predators should be dealt with in the severer manner! No one abused by them is guilty of anything. It is time to clean up the mess and it is slowly happening.

Not familiar with thevDeSales quote. Please share it with us.

Doug Sirman November 4, 2009 at 8:33 PM

No, I don’t think you’re defending what’s happened. It’s not just goats and weeds and other agrarian analogies: some people left the church, drank themselves to death, OD’d, or simply led lives wrecked by this. Some prayed just as much or more than you or I, and still it utterly destroyed them. You know this. Goats and weeds doesn’t describe the truth of it by half.

I’m glad the Church will continue. I should be, I was confirmed less than two years ago.

The De Sales quote, which I can’t source directly, is along the lines of: “those who cause scandal are guilty of spiritual murder, but those who take scandal (or “are scandalized”) are guilty of spiritual suicide.” Any reading about this topic, particularly in writings by priests and religious, and you will encounter this quote. Every time I’ve asked someone who used it to explain it, they evade the obvious contradiction, and then say it’s because I just don’t understand.

It may be from “Devout Life” which I have but haven’t had the courage to start yet.

Thanks for your kind reply.

Steve Ray November 5, 2009 at 10:50 AM

Doug: I am not minimizing the wickedness by using the analogy of sheep and goats. Sheep and goats are a good analogy because the goats who represent sinners are going to hell. Jesus also said that if anyone offends one of these little ones it would be better for them to have a millstone tied around their necks and they be cast into the sea. As to the “utterly destroyed them” I understand what you mean. A relation of mine was abused by a married baptist deacon and I can only guess at the deep destruction it caused. I am not minimizing anything here. But there is always a chance for healing and redemption and that is what we and the Church should be doing to assist those abused – though it is not usually the case.

I can understand the quote by DeSales — though it is difficult to explain something that is being paraphrased and maybe out of context or paraphrased inaccurately — but for you or me to be scandalized by the sins of others to the point of leaving the Church, yes, it is spiritual suicide. On the other hand, I am not sure the word “scandal” is the correct word to use for those who are actually abused. I think we would need to use a stronger word.

Bottom line: abusers deserve the strongest and severest punishment and isolation; abused need the strongest and most merciful healing and sympathy; we all need to stay with the ship, clean it up, weather the storms and make it to glory where the weeds will be cast into the fire and the wheat gathered into the barns and the sick and abused healed and made new and recompensed for the egregious evils they suffered.

Doug Sirman November 6, 2009 at 7:14 AM

“On the other hand, I am not sure the word “scandal” is the correct word to use for those who are actually abused.”

An excellent point, and one that I’d obviously never thought of. Thank you!

Paul August 15, 2011 at 6:48 AM

As of April 2011, he is STILL serving as a priest in Bohol, Philippines. Incredible.

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