[AA] Terry, on your website, BishopAccountability.org, what are the most popular documents for what groups of people? Which kinds of documents appeal to what kind of people that use your site, like attorneys, survivors, psychologists, reporters. Like court briefs, for example, do you have depositions on there?
[T] Yes. We have depositions, we have the actual legal complaints that are filed when a survivor decides to pursue a case. We have, certainly, the largest online collect of investigative reports on the crises. That includes Grand Jury reports, and also reports that were commissioned by the Church, itself. We also have a large collection of news articles written about the crises. I think that people find all of that helpful. I'm not sure that it breaks down by the kind of person looking for the information.
[AA] How many documents do you have?
[T] In our hard-copy collection, we have well over half-a-million pages of documents of various kinds. On the website, we have thousands of pages of documents from Diocesan files ... probably over 10,000 by now ... tens of thousands of pages of news articles, 7,500 pages of reports ... large numbers of pages in all categories.
[AA] Have you read them all?
[T] Collectively, here at the site, yes ...we have. We have a staff of about five. Each person specializes in different things. The person who works on our database, reads every article, every day ...as does Kathy Shaw, who does the abuse-tracker part of our site. We're reading all the time.
[AA] When these guys [Editor's note: 'perpetrators'] look in the mirror, and try to make a decision about the Catholic Church as a spiritual body, and the Catholic Church as a political body, I imagine they must be just like someone deciding to sacrifice a couple hundred thousand civilian women and children in Iraq, and then deciding if God's going to forgive him, or if God's on his side. I don't know how these people think. In one sense, I want to say they're the best that Mankind can do and the worst ... but, they might just be the worst.
[T] How do they look at themselves in the morning? I think one clear conclusion you can draw from the crises, is that people who end up in the hierarchy of the Catholic Church, don't wind up there by accident. They're pursuing a career path. The higher they climb, the less and less they have to do with 'the people'.
[AA] Aren't they climbing the political ladder, not the spiritual ladder? Just like a politician's really a lawyer and he appears to be a politician, but he's really an attorney. Don't these bishops ...their forte isn't being a priest, their forte is being a politician. They're climbing the Vatican political ladder, because they're born as a baby just as close to God as they'll be as a priest. At the end of their careers, they have no more direct access than anyone else. Yet, they pretend they do, and they condition children to say that do. But, I wonder if they're just like political aspirants.
[T] I think that it is very much a political process. It begins very early on. The Suffolk County New York Grand Jury Report which came out in 2003, it describes in excruciating detail how much priests knew about the misdeeds of their fellow priests ...because, they lived together in the rectories with the priests, and often knew what was up ... and very often do anything about it. That's the world that the priests live in. They're, of course, dependent on the people in the parishes for money and attendance ...it's not that the priests don't care about those people, but, their careers really are focused on the priests that are parallel to them, and on the bishop who is above them. When push comes to shove, most of them make their decisions based on their peers and the bishop above them, not based on parishioners.
In many ways, they don't even know what the life of a parishioner is like ...meeting mortgage payments ...paying the rent ...raising their children ...all of those realities are more remote for them, than the reality of their relationships with their fellow priests, and pleasing their bishop, and moving up if they can. That's the career reality for them.
I think the brutal truth is, in the crises, even if a priest is not actually offending against children, he was protecting people he knew were offending against children ..or, was remaining silent about people he knew who were offending against children.
It's a very sad fact, but, I'm afraid, it is a fact.
[AA] One of my Catholic friends, he doesn't like attorneys. He's finally gotten to the point where he doesn't blame the victims, instead, he blames the attorneys.
[T] I've got to say, that I understand we do have a tendency to scapegoat attorneys and to have fairly stereotyped attitudes about them. I can say, in getting to know the attorneys I've gotten to know, like Anderson, and Manley and Rayano & Garabedian, these are people who are passionate and genuinely concerned.
[AA] That's my feeling too, in talking with Jeff.
[T] I'd also say, that the whole dynamic of tort law, and how it's operated in the crises, it's important to honor it. Because, the good that has happened in this horrible situation, has happened basically because of three categories of people: survivors themselves, of course; the lawyers who have taken their cases; and, the reporters who have reported about it.
Almost no good has come out of this crises because of the priests and bishops ...unless, they were forced to do good by the people in those three previous categories.
Jeff Anderson has been at this longer than almost anyone ...basically, since the mid-1980s. His aggressiveness and determination is based on an awareness of the entire scene ... not only in the United States, but now as he begins to work on cases in Mexico and internationally as well, is probably unique. There's nobody who's paid attention to as many cases as Anderson has.
That kind of breadth of knowledge is unique. And, uniquely important to the crises.
Another lawyer I'd mention as really important, is John Manly of Manly & McGuire, in Costa Mesa, California. Manly is a very aggressive lawyer. He's born and raised a Catholic, he cares passionately about this. He has a ‘take no prisoners' approach to it. I admire John a lot.