As a child, I had personal experience with one of the only Catholic priests ever to be convicted and sent to prison for sexually abusing children. Here is my take on the issue.
UPDATE: Richard Allen Henry Dead at 67 Weeks Before Perv Files Released
With the appalling and horrific files on pervert priests from Los Angeles Catholic Archdiocese finally released to the public after a long legal battle, the sexual abuse of children by the Catholic clergy and the protection of perpetrators by the hierarchy is in the news once again. [See L.A. church leaders sought to hide sex abuse cases from authorities L.A. Times, 1/21/13.] While I've never written about this publicly, I am by far no stranger to the topic. Growing up in a traditional Catholic home, I attended parochial school my whole life and was an altar boy, etc. (listed in the Parish Bulletin as one of the top ten altar boys, in fact! :-)
As it may often appear that the general public is horrified and disgusted by reports of such crimes, it seems that commentators (particularly the secular pundits) often wonder why practicing Catholics aren't more outraged and indignant about this issue.
While I can't answer that, I can only speak for myself. I've never been particularly interested in bickering about religion with others. I try to respect other people and their deeply-held intimate beliefs. While there is certainly a proper time to respectfully debate all these things, that is not the purpose of this article. I will briefly state my position on religion for the record and explain how it relates to my position on the pervert priest scandal. I believe that our purpose in life is to get to Heaven. We have an immortal soul and were born to ultimately spend eternity in Heaven, with our Creator in paradise. I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and came to this Earth to redeem us, and that Jesus started one church- that is, the Catholic Church. Not thousands of different Christian sects and denominations, all with opposing beliefs.
In Scripture, Jesus said "You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my Church, and the gates of hell will not prevail against it" (Matt. 16:18).
This does not mean however, that evil forces of satan would not try to destroy the church from within. As a matter of fact, this is precisely what has happened and is happening. This point is conceded and documented in official church writings. On Thursday June 29, 1972, on the ninth anniversary of the Coronation of His Holiness, Pope Paul VI said in his homily that "The Smoke Of Satan Has Entered The Sanctuary." The original sermon in Italian is available on the Vatican website: "da qualche fessura sia entrato il fumo di Satana nel tempio di Dio". The Permanent Instruction of the Alta Vendita was an official document published by the church in 1861 to outline the attempted destruction of the church. John Vennari explains in the excellent 2001 article Freemasonry and the Subversion of the Catholic Church. Vennari notes, "In his book Athanasius and the Church of Our Time, Bishop Rudolph Graber quoted a Freemason who declared that "the goal (of Freemasonry) is no longer the destruction of the Church, but to make use of it by infiltrating it."
There have been many official encyclicals on freemasonry, most notably Humanum Genus by Pople Leo XIII, (April 20, 1884) which outlines the plot against the church. The widespread subversion of Catholic seminaries has been documented in recent years as well. In the best-selling book Goodbye, Good Men, the author outlines how the hierarchy is filled with perversion and that they promote and protect 'their own' homo buddies in the seminaries so that good men are excluded from the priesthood. Rev. Robert J. Johansen, M.A who reviewed the book 'Goodbye, Good Men' for Culture Wars Magazine in 2002, notes that the author Michael S. Rose
"describes a homosexual "subculture" which came to dominate some seminaries in the 70's and 80's. The middle chapters of the book describe the denigration and deconstruction of Catholic doctrine, liturgy, and devotion which subsisted in some seminaries during the same period. Other chapters detail the misuse of psychology in the seminary admissions and formation process, allegations of whitewashing of seminary problems by the American hierarchy, and how seminary admissions and formation were taken over by people with a "death wish" for the priesthood."
With all that in mind, I was never one to "deny" or "brush aside" allegations of evil in the church or anywhere else. My father, who grew up essentially as a non-religious pagan, converted to the Catholic faith in his 20's after he met my Italian Catholic mom. He took instructions at a seminary and the priest, father Victor, gave my dad many books to read. Among them was a book written by the freemasons themselves. Fr. Victor explained the masons' war against Christ and the church. That is why my dad came to know about such vexes as the "international bankers", the push for one world government, and fluoride in the water. "It's rat poison", he told me as a kid, "and we're never drinking it". And we never did. My dad was, and is, a very smart guy, and he was my foundation for fighting evil in the world.
When this pervert priest scandal hit the news in a big way in 2002, I was appalled. I remember hearing interviews with William Donohue of the so-called "Catholic League" on KFI radio in Los Angeles at that time. Donohue struck me as an absolutely terrible representative of the Catholic perspective. More than anything, Donohue seemed to try and brush aside allegations of abuse as uncredible, and to blindly defend the church, instead of holding steadfast in opposition to evil and upholding moral law. Many people seemed to try and paint sexual abuse victims as 'money-hungry litigants', merely looking for an easy payout.
This couldn't be further from the truth. As I drove down the 101 freeway one day in 2002, I heard KFI's John and Ken tell the story of Richard Allen Henry. The hosts were discussing an article that had appeared that day in the L.A. Times. The name "Father Richard Allen Henry" didn't immediately ring a bell at first. The case of Henry is unusual in the vast perv files, because Henry is one of the few priests who was actually convicted of sexual abuse of children and sent to prison. Henry was stabbed in prison and eventually got out of prison and moved to Maryland.
After listening to the radio show for a while, it suddenly hit me. Richard Allen Henry was the guy I knew as "Father Rick". Once it struck me that the radio hosts were talking about Fr. Rick, words cannot describe how appalled and disgusted I was. I had never even heard one word about this. Here it was 2002, decades later, and I found out by accident - by complete chance- while driving down the road.
Father Richard Henry was assigned to our parish when I was a kid. He was in charge of the altar boys, and he was my basketball coach for our team, the "Mighty-Mights." My house had most of the latest "Atari" video games at the time, but Father Rick had a virtual arcade at his house next to the Rectory. He had the best, latest and most extensive video game collection any of us kids had ever seen. I suppose that was his "draw". I visited the pipe-smoking priest's house many times, both with friends and by myself. In retrospect, the pervert is lucky that he didn't try anything with me. Perhaps he was afraid of my dad and older brothers. I don't know, but it makes me sick to think about it. I stopped and bought the newspaper that day. [Los Angeles Times, " Priest Scandal Echoes Family's Decade of Pain" June 17, 2002.]
This was a time when I'd already learned the truth about 9/11/01. I've never been afraid to address the reality of evil in the world, and ain't afraid to fight it. As a matter of fact, we have an extremely grave moral obligation to do just that. So, I never understood why some Catholics seem to be uncomfortable with addressing the evil of pederast priests in the church. On the contrary, I believed and still believe, that we must aggressively confront this evil and rout it out.
After the shock of finding out about Fr. Rick, I started doing a lot of research on the issue and protesting various pervert priests, as well as protesting against the actions of Cardinal Roger Mahony. One particularly memorable protest was around 2003 in front of Our Lady Queen of the Angels Cathedral in Los Angeles. There was a man there who was a police officer and a victim of sexual abuse by a priest, who had taken his story public. His name is Manny Vega, and he'd been awarded police officer awards, so he was not as easy to "discredit" as the establishment had attempted with other victims. He was conducting a 24 hour protest outside the Cathedral which made the news. There is an archived article about his 2003 protest on bishop-accountability.org. I was one of the ones there holding the vigil with him and a group of others on the sidewalk. I met Manny and spoke to him about his story and his battle. Needless to say I was very impressed. Manny is one of the people who still practiced the Catholic faith. It's remarkably amazing that despite the crimes committed against them, that victims of this sort are able to retain any faith at all. That is one of the biggest tragedies in all this. Lives are literally destroyed and the hell that these poor souls suffer is indescribable. Ten years after his protest outside the L.A. cathedral, Vega was interviewed earlier this month on KFI; the interview can be downloaded here. The Ventura County Star featured a story on him January 5, 2013, and can be found here.
Along the way during my 2002-03 activism, I also met Mary Grant, the southwest regional director of Survivors Network Of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP). Grant was victimized by Fr. John Lenihan in 1977 at age 14, while her mom was at work. Lenihan later admitted his crime to her on the phone while he was unknowingly being recorded by Anaheim Police in 1989. Mary is an admirable survivor and dedicated activist who should be commended and listened to, along with all the other victims. As the Long Beach Press Telegram reported in 2005,
Grant later settled a $25,000 lawsuit against the Catholic Diocese of Orange County. Even then, he was allowed to remain a priest for more than a decade. Another woman, who charged that Lenihan had molested and impregnated her when she was 16, later settled for $1.2 million. Does Grant regret settling for less? "I don't regret it at all," she says. "The money was not the issue. (The lawsuit) was the only way for me to expose the molesters. I had to do what I did when I did it."
While at Manny's vigil I met a tall mild-mannered gentleman who showed up at the protest. Many who attend these type protests are no longer Catholic, yet there are some practicing Catholics who take up the cause. Among them are the contingent who would be viewed as "progressive" types- they may advocate for an end to priestly celibacy, or advocate for married priests or even for ordination of women priests. But this man I met was more along my line of thinking. He was a traditional Catholic who told me an amazing story. He explained how he had actually been accepted to a seminary and had nearly completed the process to be ordained. It is a lengthy process, and at one of the final meetings consulting with his superior in charge at the seminary, the man, who was visibly angry as he told the story, related how the priest stood up from his desk, came over to him, held his face in his palms, and tried to plant a big wet kiss on his lips. "Now I'm not a violent man", he proclaimed, but explained how he got the man away from him quick. He left the seminary never to return.
This is the kind of degeneracy and perversion that we are dealing with. And here he was in the middle of the night in a rough neighborhood, a traditional Catholic protesting the perverted pederast priests. Because he knew the issue is real. It is literally a spiritual battle. There is no need to deny it, or to deny the evil.
Along my journey I also became familiar with a great group out of Illinois, Roman Catholic Faithful [RCF.org.] Far from a 'progressive' or 'left-wing' contingent, RCF was a traditionalist group headed by Stephen Brady. Brady's group was very successful in exposing a large number of homosexual priests and their unspeakable perversions abusing underage boys. The group retains their website archives. RCF worked with many good priests in exposing the evil, and at least one of those priests was actually found visciously murdered.
When someone is awake to the harsh reality of evil in the world, they generally have a clearer and more accurate sense of reality. Patrick Henry (no relation to Richard Allen, of course) spoke of this when he said "For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst and provide for it."
In 2002, when I was protesting Mahony, I held up a large sign that had the exact same message as yesterday's headlines: MAHONY: PROTECTOR & PROMOTOR OF CHILD MOLESTERS: RESIGN IN SHAME NOW!" The photo of me and my sign, taken by the Associated Press, appeared the next day in the Orange County Register's front page article about Mahony. There was quite a bit of satisfaction in the fact that while my sign on Temple street may have been seen by only a couple hundred dismissive parishoners, the message got out to millions the next day.
A few months ago I came across an article by Joelle Casteix, a SNAP spokesperson, which stated "The CA Supreme Court ruled that the Archdiocese of Los Angeles must turn over the files. Deadline is immediate." Out of 25 names on the list of those whose files must be turned over, Richard Allen Henry was number 18.
So I did a little research. The 2002 L.A. Times article notes that after initially pleading not guilty, Henry eventually pled no contest to four felony counts of "lewd acts upon a child." Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley pushed for prison time rather than probation, and Henry was sentenced to eight years in prison in April 1993. However, he was released on parole in 1996. As of 2002, it was not clear whether Henry had been formally removed from the priesthood. Mahony remarked "After he got out of prison, he disappeared from us." The L.A.Times also noted
"But The Times found Henry. Now 56, he lives in Montgomery County, Maryland. He declined to discuss his life. "It was a very painful time in my life and for the people I hurt. I really don't want to discuss it."
Failing to Register
While he is a registered sex offender in California, Henry has failed to register in Maryland. Under that state's law, a serious sex offender registered in another state must still register in Maryland if the crime occurred before 1997. The Maryland Department of Public Safety and Corrections is looking into the matter, along with local police, after inquiries by The Times."
In early January I conducted a search on the internet of both state and national Megan's law databases but Henry did not appear to be listed either in CA or MD. So I sent an inquiry to the Office of the Inspector General in Baltimore, MD to see if they had any information on Henry. I asked if he had ever registered, as required by law. A representative from the MD Sex Offender Registry contacted me promptly with a response:
|"Thank you for your email concerning Mr. Richard Allen Henry. After reviewing the Maryland Sex Offender Registry's file on Mr. Henry I can see that he moved to the State of Oregon. Once an offender is confirmed as living in another state by our office he or she is removed from Maryland's registry website. However, the State of Oregon, unlike Maryland and California, does not have what is referred to as an "offense-based" registry where all sex offense convictions are made public. Oregon has a "risk-based" registry and depending on the level of risk assessed the offender may or may not be subject to public registration. The MD Sex Offender Registry has confirmed that Mr. Henry is registered, and that he is currently compliant, but that information does not appear on any public website. More specific information is only available to law enforcement. You may want to contact the Oregon Sex Offender Registry for more information."|
Below is an exclusive photo of Richard Allen Henry in the 1980's. He was a guest in our home for a party. He is currently 66 or 67 years old. His files haven't been published by the newspaper yet, but I am working on getting a copy of them.
The four documents released by the L.A. Times thus far include a Statement by Cardinal Roger Mahony as well as information on Father Michael Baker, Father Michael Wempe and Monsignor Peter Garcia. The website abusedinsocal.com issued a press release on January 21st titled Newly revealed documents contradict former LA Archbishop Mahony's stated role in clergy abuse cases which states, in part,
"Portions of the thousands of documents filed in this case are posted on the web site www.abusedinsocal.com. The documents, which were not a part of the documents involved in the 2007 settlements with the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, demonstrate that former Archbishop and now Cardinal Roger Mahony knew from his first days in office that priests under his supervision were sexually abusing children in Los Angeles.
The documents further demonstrate that contrary to Mahony's past claims, he was intimately involve in handling the sex abuse scandal of priests in Los Angeles from 1985 to 2011 and communicated directly with priest perpetrators and their therapists--just as his predecessors McIntrye and Manning had done before him.
Also included in the documents is evidence that as Archbishop, Mahony worked with his Vicar for Clergy to thwart law enforcement involvement by ordering Pastors to not give Altar Boy lists to LAPD detectives, while at the same time, cozying up to high ranking officers at LAPD Juvenile Division."
In his response to the release of the priest files, Cardinal Mahony posted a STATEMENT REGARDING SEXUAL ABUSE OF MINORS BY CLERGY, which stated
Cardinal Roger M. Mahony
Archbishop Emeritus of Los Angeles
January 21, 2013
With the upcoming release of priests' personnel files in the Archdiocese's long struggle with the sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy, my thoughts and prayers turn toward the victims of this sinful abuse.
Various steps toward safeguarding all children in the Church began here in 1987 and progressed year by year as we learned more about those who abused and the ineffectiveness of so-called 'treatments' at the time. Nonetheless, even as we began to confront the problem, I remained naive myself about the full and lasting impact these horrible acts would have on the lives of those who were abused by men who were supposed to be their spiritual guides. That fuller awareness came for me when I began visiting personally with victims. During 2006, 2007 and 2008, I held personal visits with some 90 such victims.
Those visits were heart-wrenching experiences for me as I listened to the victims describe how they had their childhood and innocence stolen from them by clergy and by the Church. At times we cried together, we prayed together, we spent quiet moments in remembrance of their dreadful experience; at times the victims vented their pent up anger and frustration against me and the Church.
Toward the end of our visits I would offer the victims my personal apology -and took full responsibility- for my own failure to protect fully the children and youth entrusted into my care. I apologized for all of us in the Church for the years when ignorance, bad decisions and moral failings resulted in the unintended consequences of more being done to protect the Church - and even the clergy perpetrators - than was done to protect our children.
I have a 3 x 5 card for every victim I met with on the altar of my small chapel. I pray for them every single day. As I thumb through those cards I often pause as I am reminded of each personal story and the anguish that accompanies that life story.
The cards contain the name of each victim since each one is precious in God's eyes and deserving of my own prayer and sacrifices for them. But I also list in parenthesis the name of the clergy perpetrator lest I forget that real priests created this appalling harm in the lives of innocent young people.
It remains my daily and fervent prayer that God's grace will flood the heart and soul of each victim, and that their life-journey continues forward with ever greater healing.
I am sorry.
Posted by Cardinal Roger M. Mahony: at 2:35 PM
I will update this story as soon as more information is garnered. The general public in Oregon apparently has no way of knowing that Henry is a convicted sex offender and a danger to children. The Oregon State Police Sex Offender Registry has FAQ on their system:
Can I get the address of adult sex offenders on supervision from the county corrections agency?
What does "Predatory Sex Offender" mean?
Are all sex offenders considered "Predatory"?
Are all sex offenders required to register?
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