Thomas Doyle Memo
An examination of the Canon Law in matters
concerning the sexual abuse of children.
A Short History of “The Manual”
by Thomas Doyle, O.P., J.C.D.
The “manual” as it is commonly referred to, was the work of three people: Fr. Michael Peterson, M.D., founder and director of St. Luke Institute, Suitland, Maryland, Mr. F. Ray Mouton, J.D., civil attorney from Lafayette, Louisiana and Fr. Thomas Doyle, O.P., J.C.D., secretary-canonist of the Apostolic Delegation, later called the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington D.C.
The “Manual” in its original form consisted of about 100 pages of text prepared by Mouton, Peterson and myself. This treated various aspects of the medical, civil law, canon law, insurance and pastoral aspects of the problem. As part of the manual, Fr. Peterson included copies of several clinical articles about the nature of pedophilia, its treatment, curability etc. Although the manual was originally intended to be confidential, it very shortly became anything but. It has been widely copied and disseminated around the US and is also in several other countries.
The Manual was not commissioned by nor assigned by anyone in any position, official or otherwise. It was an entirely private venture, undertaken by the above three, as a response to what they believed was quickly developing into a very serious problem for the Catholic Church. The case of Fr. Gilbert Gauthe of Lafayette LA had become a public issue by the late fall of 1984. Fr. Gauthe was facing serious criminal charges and the diocese hired Mr. Mouton to act as his defense. A civil suit had already been initiated by one of the families (Glen and Faye Gastal) whose son had been abused by Gauthe. The idea for some sort of instrument about how to deal with cases of priest-pedophilia first came into being in Jan. 1985 at a meeting between myself, F. Ray Mouton and Fr. Mike Peterson.
Mouton was in Washington to meet with Fr. Peterson about the possibility of sending Fr. Gilbert Gauthe to St. Luke Institute for evaluation and possible treatment. Peterson was founder and director of St. Luke Institute, a health care facility for priests and religious. I had put Peterson and Mouton in touch with each other. I had never met Mouton but Peterson was a friend and collaborator. I was, at the time, canonist at the Vatican embassy and charged with monitoring the correspondence on the Gauthe case.
Shortly after the new year (1985) Fr. Peterson informed me that Mr. Mouton planned a visit to Washington to discuss the situation of Fr. Gauthe. The day after Mouton arrived, Fr. Peterson called and stated that it was urgent that Mouton meet and speak with me. We decided to have the meeting at the Dominican House of Studies rather than at the Nunciature.
Mouton indicated that there were several other priests in Lafayette who had been involved in sexual abuse of children and that the Diocese was covering them up and thus hurting his chances of a decent defense for Gauthe. He had hoped to reach a plea bargain for Gauthe which would enable him to be hospitalized or otherwise confined to a secure facility where he would receive treatment for his problem. This discovery of the other priests would make this plan risky if not unworkable in light of the fact that the District Attorney, Nathan Stansbury, would not be able to treat the case lightly. In the course of our conversation, Peterson indicated that he knew from confidential sources that there were many other priests around the country who had sexually abused children.
I informed Archbishop Laghi of the gravity of the situation. Fr. Peterson spoke with Archbishop Laghi a few days later. The archbishop then called Archbishop Hannan of New Orleans and informed him that there would be a meeting in the Washington area at which Bishop Frey, Archbishop Hannan, their lawyers, Fr. Peterson and I would be present. The purpose of the meeting was to attempt to clarify the issues especially those of the other priests. The meeting was held on Feb. 8 in a hotel in Arlington. Present were Hannan, Frey, Alex Larroque, Bob Wright and Thomas Reyer as well as Fr. Peterson and myself.
Subsequent to the meeting, and after conversations with Mouton and Peterson, I suggested to Archbishop Laghi that a bishop be delegated to go to Lafayette to assist in managing the crisis. I selected Bishop A.J. Quinn, auxiliary of Cleveland because of his legal background. Archbishop Laghi agreed with my suggestion and the appropriate communications were had with the Holy See to secure the appointment.
The three of us were of the opinion that now that the Gauthe case had become public and received so much publicity from coast to coast, that the entire issue would no longer be able to be contained by Church leaders. I was also aware of other cases of sexual abuse that had quickly become public throughout the country.
Also, for the first time, a family was starting a civil suit against a diocese (Gastal v. Lafayette) for failure to take proper precautions when warned about Gauthe. When the criminal suit was filed, the district attorney in the area also brought criminal charges. Fr. Gauthe had in fact been reported to the bishop several times since 1972 and before long, it was discovered that he had abused scores of young children. All were young boys with one exception. In the end, he pleaded guilty to 39 counts and was sentenced to twenty years in prison.
We decided on our own, to try and write something to give to the bishops to assist them in dealing with cases that we predicted would start to appear with increasing regularity. We discussed various approaches with different people including several bishops who were receptive to the idea.
We had several conversations with Bishop Quinn. Bishop Quinn suggested that whatever was composed be done in such a format that it be based on a set of questions that would respond to as many different angles and aspects of the issue as could be conceived of. Within a short time we had decided to collect information and put together a manual or book that would be set up in a question and answer format. The full edition would also contain copies of several medical articles about pedophilia. Most of these were taken from medical journals and several were authored by Dr. Fred Berlin of the Johns Hopkins University Hospital Sexual Disorders Clinic.
Along with the manual, we also proposed that the NCCB sponsor a committee (or project) that would supervise detailed research into the various areas of the problem: civil and criminal law, insurance, canon law, medical, pastoral. The research would be made available to the bishops in order to assist in making enlightened decisions about the problem. The third part of the proposal involved a crisis intervention team which would consist of legal, medical and canonical/pastoral resource persons who would be available to any bishop who requested their services in assisting in dealing with specific cases.
A key aspect of the manual and proposal included a method of uniform case management or at least case following. Within a few months after the Gauthe case, i.e., by the middle of 1985, there were several civil court actions involving priests and dioceses. Over the years since then there have been hundreds. There has been no uniform case management or following by any Church agency. Hence there has been no way of determining the development of civil law jurisprudence, of tracking the nature and amount of settlements, of studying legal strategies etc. On the negative side, the lack of following has given rise to rumor and innuendo about the monies spent, judgments of courts etc.
The original idea for a crisis intervention team was Ray Mouton’s (cf. letter of Feb. 22, 1985). The notion of a research committee was essentially mine but quickly concurred with by Mouton and Peterson. The nature of the entire proposal was presented to Archbishop Laghi. Indeed, I had been briefing him on the overall situation on a daily basis.
The original idea was to compose a manual containing information about the issue from different approaches: canon law, civil law, criminal law, insurance, pastoral practice, medical. The manual would be given to the NCCB in hopes that they would take some kind of action. We were not commissioned to write it and did so entirely on our own with no backing, financial or otherwise, from anyone.
Drafts of sections were composed by the three of us. In the meantime I was speaking informally to the Vatican ambassador (Archbishop Pio Laghi) and to a number of bishops and cardinals about the project. I had support from all to whom I spoke. This support extended to the research and crisis intervention aspects of the overall proposal. Conversations with bishops indicated that they were certainly alerted to and worried about the problem.
Fr. Peterson called Cardinal Krol (Philadelphia) in May to ask for a private meeting. Such a meeting was arranged and took place in the office of the director of the National Shrine in May, 1995. Just prior to the meeting I had sent the cardinal a copy of the canonical section of the report which I had drafted. At the meeting, the Cardinal praised the draft section, praised and promised support for the entire project. He stated that he would speak to Cardinal Law and Bishop Quinn. He subsequently wrote to me on June 11, 13, and 29 about his efforts and support of the project.
Cardinal Law (Boston) stated that he would get the project into the NCCB by creating a special ad hoc committee of his own committee on research and pastoral practices.
The final draft was completed on May 14, 1985. That same month the three of us had met with Archbishop Levada, secretary to Cardinal Law’s committee. He was positive about progress. A short time later he phoned me and stated that the project had been shut down because another committee of the NCCB was going to deal with it and the duplication of efforts would not make the other committee look good. No more was said about the project to me or anyone else. I heard informally that the NCCB Committee on priestly Life would be looking into the issue but never heard or saw anything that had been done.
Nevertheless we proceeded and contacted auxiliary bishop Quinn of Cleveland (then an ally) who would take several copies of the manual to the NCCB June meeting in Collegeville MN. This he did. The president of the NCCB announced after an executive session at which there was discussion of the problem of priest-pedophilia, that a committee to work on the issue was formed, headed by now retired Bishop Murphy of Erie PA.
At the meeting three presentations were made in an executive session. One each by Wilfred Caron (civil law), Bishop Kenneth Angell and Dr. Richard Issel (psychology). The reports about the session from bishops were that the psychologist was excellent and the lawyers mediocre at best. This sentiment was stated in a letter from cardinal Krol to myself.
I learned later in June from Bishop Bevilacqua of Pittsburgh (now Cardinal of Philadelphia) that there was actually no committee and no action was planned. It was merely a PR move to announce it. I later learned that the Committee of Priestly life was supposed to consider the issue. If it actually did, nothing ever came of the consideration.
At the press conference held by Bishop Malone, he specifically stated that such a committee existed. Yet in a deposition given in 1993, Sr. Euart, associate secretary general of the NCCB stated that the first committee ever to exist was that headed by Bishop Kinney and created in 1993.
Nothing was ever said to Peterson, Mouton or myself about the manual. We never knew what happened to it on the NCCB level. Some sources from that agency stated that the manual was never properly submitted for consideration by the conference. Its existence was well known. The internal procedures of the NCCB were not known to any of the three authors nor did anyone ever suggest the procedures to be followed. In later years, after the manual had been circulated around a great deal and had become well known to attorneys and others involved in the issue, people, especially reporters, would often ask bishops or officials at the NCCB whether they knew about it or had it and if so, why had no action been taken either at the time or since. These questions engendered a variety of answers, none of which accurately reflected the truth.
The general response from the NCCB, almost always through the office of their general counsel (Mark Chopko), was that the NCCB already knew everything that was in the manual, that the NCCB had already taken appropriate action, that the idea of a special committee and ad hoc team of experts was not appropriate. He stated the latter, saying that the NCCB could not bind other dioceses, that it would cost too much, that Mouton, Peterson and I were in this only to sell ourselves to bishops and thus make money off of the problem. He also stated that there were problems with the content of the manual. As one of the authors, it is my contention that the original motivation for composing the manual and submitting the action proposals was grossly misunderstood or perhaps understood but intentionally misconstrued by the officials at the NCCB. It has occasionally crossed the minds of the two remaining authors that officials at the NCCB/USCC who have consistently made derogatory comments about the project are in fact, trying to shift the onus of responsibility from themselves to someone else, or at least conjure up some sort of excuse for failure to act in the face of explicit warnings about the problem, its extent and probable consequences.
At no time since then (1985 to the present) was any contact made between anyone in the NCCB and either Mouton, Peterson or myself.
In December, 1985 a copy of the manual was sent to each diocesan bishop in the US through St. Luke Institute. There was no response from anyone to this gesture. Some bishops, when asked by the press, indicated that they had found it helpful. The NCCB however, never acknowledged its existence no have they ever contacted Mouton or I in relation to any of the meetings which they have had concerning the issue since that time.
I have received only one letter from the NCCB (Oct., 1992) and that was a response to a letter I had sent to the president after the first VOCAL conference of victims in Chicago in Oct., 1992.
The bishops conference has discussed the issue in plenary meetings at least five or six times, the first one being in June of 1985 (already alluded to above). Speakers at that meeting included a psychologist (Dr. Richard Issell, Chicago), an attorney (Wilfred Caron, NCCB), a bishop (Bishop Kenneth Angell, Providence RI). The bishops conference has also issued at least five statements on the subject and sent several memos from the general counsel to all diocesan bishops.
The early suggestions for a research committee as well as a crisis intervention team never went anywhere. It was not until very recently (Oct. 1993) that the NCCB appointed a committee of bishops, headed by Bishop John Kinney of Bismarck, to study the issue. This committee has had some meetings but to date has done nothing more than issue a report.
The original version of the manual contained four major sections: civil law, criminal law, canon law, insurance and medical considerations. To these were added photocopies of articles about the medical/psychological dimensions of pedophilia. Fr. Peterson composed and attached an “Executive Summary” to the manual during the summer of 1985. At that time the canonical section was also revised to reflect the change in belief that accused priests not be canonically suspended during the initial investigation but rather that they be placed on administrative leave.
Thomas Doyle Memo
An examination of the Canon Law in matters
concerning the sexual abuse of children.
A Short History of “The Manual”
by Thomas Doyle, O.P., J.C.D.