Background articles on the Society of St. John

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U.S. Coalition for Life International Media Release    

“Opus Dei Bishop Harbors Pederasty Cult of the Society of St. John” 

29 March 2010

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, “The relocation and restoration in South America of the formerly suppressed, U.S.-based scandal-ridden Society of Saint John (SSJ) is one of the most outrageous examples of ecclesiastical malfeasance facing the Catholic Church today,” charges Randy Engel, Director of the U.S. Coalition for Life.

“Disbanded and forbidden from representing itself as ‘a recognized ecclesial entity of the Roman Catholic Church’ by Bishop Joseph Martino, of the Diocese of Scranton in November 2004, after years of credible accusations of moral turpitude and gross financial fraud, the disgraced Society of St. John has found protection and solace in the arms of Opus Dei Bishop Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano of the Diocese of Ciudad del Este, Paraguay,” says Engel.

“At the heart of the controversy is Bishop Livieres’ incardination of SSJ founder Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity into the Diocese of Ciudad del Este,” says Engel. “The incardination took place despite repeated warnings from Bishop Martino to Livieres that Urrutigoity’s unchastity, disobedience and outright rebellion, and financial extravagance made him “unfit for ministry,” and despite assurances made in March 2006 by Archbishop Orlando Antonini, the Apostolic Nuncio of Paraguay, that Urrutigoity (and his accomplice and rapist Fr. Eric Ensey) were temporarily in the Diocese of Ciudad del Este, but had been sent away by Bishop Livieres. “… It seems that it does not remain any trace of this Society in Paraguay,” reported Archbishop Antonini. “That turned out not to be the case,” says the Coalition director.

“In his public letter of November 17, 2008, in defense of the SSJ and Urrutigoity,” says Engel, “Bishop Livieres states that Urrutigoity stands innocent of the charges against him; that there have never been any “serious and credible charges” against him; and that the “campaign of defamation” against him “was “orchestrated by one source.” “I believe that the record will show that the bishop’s assertions are incorrect on every count,” says Engel.

“From his earliest days as a seminarian at the Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) Seminary of Our Lady of Co-Redemptrix in La Reja, Argentina, Urrutigoity was accused of maintaining particular friendships, and of homosexual tendencies and acts against his fellow seminarians and layman living at the seminary,” says Engel.

“Later, after a brief stay at the priory of Cordoba (Argentina), Urrutigoity was shipped out of Argentina to the SSPX’ St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Winona, Minn. where he was ordained in 1989 and given a teaching position,” says Engel.

“In 1997, shortly after Urrutigoity was expelled from St. Thomas for ‘subversive activities,’ that is, secretly plotting a new religious order, he sexually molested a seminarian who had left with him – an action prosecutable under both canon law and civil law,” says Engel. “Unfortunately,” says Engel, by the time the incident was reported to SSPX authorities, two years had passed, and Urrutigoity and his followers had found safe haven in the Diocese of Scranton, Pennsylvania headed by Bishop James Timlin.”

“It was Timlin who gave the newly formed pederast Society of St. John its canonical standing as a ‘clerical association of the faithful’; lent his financial assistance to the building of the Society’s “City of God,” a project which attracted more than $5 million in donations but never materialized; and appointed the SSJ members as chaplains at St. Gregory’s Academy, a Catholic boys’ prep school operated by the Fraternity of St. Peter,” says Engel.

“Among the many warnings concerning Urrutigoity that Timlin received but ignored,” says Engel, “was a confidential letter dated February 10, 1999, from the SSPX Superior General Bernard Fellay  confirming the charges of sexual abuse against Urrutigoity stated above, and citing earlier charges made at the La Reja Seminary.”

Referring back to Bishop Livieres’ letter of November 2008, Engel notes that “while in 2001 the Scranton Independent Review Board reported that there were no explicit allegations of sex while Urrutigoity was sleeping with students at St. Gregory’s,  the bishop failed to report the Board’s final  recommendation made on March 21, 2002 which stated ‘In view of the credible allegation from the seminarian, his admitted practice of sleeping with boys and young men, and the troubling evaluation by The Southdown Institute, Father Carlos Urrutigoity should be removed from active ministry; his faculties should be revoked; and he should be asked to live privately (emphasis added).’”

Engel reports that “Even after the Scranton Diocese in 2002 was named as a co-defendant in a $1million plus sex abuse lawsuit brought by “John Doe,” a former student at St. Gregory’s Academy, who charged Urrutigoity and another SSJ priest, Eric Ensey with sexual assault,” says Engel, “and the case had been settled in the plaintiff’s favor for $454,550, Timlin continued to praise and support the SSJ just as Bishop Livieres is doing today.”

“There is no doubt that there is a ‘cult of personality’ that has developed around the charismatic and charming Urrutigoity,” says Engel, “and it is well-known that he has powerful familial, financial and ecclesiastical connections in Argentina and Rome, which explains the extraordinary degree of protection and immunity he has enjoyed over the span of more than two decades.” “But our concern is, and always has been, for the physical, moral, and spiritual welfare of the vulnerable and innocent children and youth who will fall into Urrutigoity’s path as a result of his appointment to the diocese by Bishop Livieres,” says Engel

“I believe the Catholics of the Diocese of Ciudad del Este have every right to demand that plans for the canonical erection of the Society of St. John by Bishop Livieres be terminated and canonical procedures begun to return Fr. Urrutigoity to the lay state,” says Engel. “If Bishop Livieres refuses to take action in this matter, then the task falls to the Holy See and ultimately the Holy Father,” she says.

“The U.S. Coalition for Life pledges its assistance to the people of Ciudad del Este by freely providing to Catholic organizations and members of the media throughout Paraguay and South America all the documentation necessary to back up the Coalition’s charges against Fr. Urrutigoity and the Society of St. John,” Engel says.

“We also plan to challenge the Society’s IRS tax-deductible tax status which currently enables the Society to raise funds from clueless Catholics in the United States for shipment to Paraguay,” she says.

“Neither Urrutigoity nor any other member of the Society of St. John is going to bugger his way through any youth or seminarian in Paraguay or anywhere else if we can help it,” says the Director of the USCL, “but we can’t do it without the help of the Catholic laity and clergy of the Diocese of Ciudad del Este and the Holy See.”

– End –

Contact:    Randy Engel, Director USCL

Box 315, Export, PA 15632

Media Phone Line – 724 – 327 – 7379

E-Mail ( correo electrónico)


Alleged predator priest is chaplain at Florida church

July 3, 2006

By Matt C. Abbott

Father Marshall Roberts, a founder of the suppressed and scandal-ridden Society of St. John (formerly under the jurisdiction of the Diocese of Scranton, Pa.) is currently the chaplain of St. Michael the Archangel Roman Catholic Church in Jacksonville, Fla.

The church is independent of any diocese.

Dr. Jeffrey Bond, president of the College of St. Justin Martyr (which had been associated with the SSJ before separating — well prior to the Vatican-upheld suppression), said in a July 3, 2006 e-letter (edited):

In March 2002 I exposed Roberts as one of the predators of the Society of St. John. (See my original warning here.)

As a seminarian at the Institute of Christ the King in Gricigliano, Italy, Roberts was expelled in 1993 by the seminary’s then vice-rector, Father Patrick Perez. Father Perez expelled Roberts for writing explicit love letters to a younger seminarian with whom Roberts was enamored. The younger seminarian, who did not appreciate Roberts’ advances, gave the love letters to Father Perez who then saw to it that Roberts was dismissed from the seminary within 24 hours.

Roberts later found a happier home with the Society of St. John, where [priests] Carlos Urrutigoity and Dominic O’Connor gave Roberts the freedom to pursue a ‘particular friendship’ with a boy who had caught his eye. The object of Roberts’ affections this time was a student at St. Gregory’s Academy who, upon graduation in 1999, joined the SSJ. Roberts and this boy occupied the same room on the SSJ’s property in Shohola. When Roberts later visited the SSJ in France, Roberts was given special permission to spend time alone with this boy in his room after compline.

Dr. Jeffrey Bond can be reached at


Suppressed society of priests surfaces in South America

Critic faults the Diocese of Scranton

The River Reporter (Narrowsburg, NY)

March 9-15 2006


SHOHOLA, PA — A suppressed society of Roman Catholic priests has moved out of Shohola Township in the Diocese of Scranton to the Diocese of Ciudad del Este in Paraguay. According to its current website, the suppressed Society of Saint John (SSJ) has reestablished itself in the Paraguay diocese with the apparent permission of the local bishop, Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano, who presides over the diocese of more than 500,000 Catholics.

The act of suppression, which dissolved the society’s status in the structure of the Catholic Church, came in 2004 by action of the Bishop of Scranton, the Most Rev. Joseph Martino. Also in 2004, the society defaulted on a mortgage loan held by the diocese and was the subject of a civil lawsuit by the parents of a youth who was allegedly molested. The society’s property on Route 424 in Shohola had to be sold, costing the diocese several million dollars.

The society claims it has a mission to maintain traditional Catholic values and express its liturgy in the Latin language. For this reason, it had attracted financial support from conservative Catholics, but lost much of that support when two of its priests were accused of the sexual molestation of several young seminarians under their charge.

The two priests, Rev. Carlos Urrutigoity and Rev. Eric Ensey, who were forbidden from exercising their priestly duties, are now with the society in Paraguay.

“The society no longer exists, but that may not stop several of its members from having recourse to another ecclesiastical authority,” said Bill Genello, spokesman for the diocese. “Bishop Martino intends to contact any bishop the society may attempt to seek out. The priests of the society are still priests of the Diocese of Scranton. The bishop has been taking all appropriate steps open to him under the Code of Canon Law to deal with the priests of the extinguished society.”

“What exactly are the ‘appropriate steps’ that Bishop Martino has taken?” said Jeffrey Bond, a fierce opponent of the society for the last six years. Bond, a former society associate, was to have been the president of a college founded by them.

“Why have the priests of the suppressed SSJ been allowed to wander here, there and everywhere, with no sanctions being brought against them? Why does the Diocese of Scranton always seem to be drowning in a canonical glass of water?”

Bond faults the diocese for being too easy, accusing the former bishop, the Most Rev. James Timlin, Martino’s predecessor, of harboring the priests and the society until he left office. Martino’s action suppressing the society did not satisfy Bond.

“At the very least, the Diocese of Scranton must tell the public where the SSJ priests are and what their status is,” Bond said. Information about the whereabouts and status of the society has not been divulged to the laity by the diocese.

The society is listed in the Archdiocese of Kansas City and has a post office box in Maple Hill, KS.


Urrutigoity wears vestments in photo

The priest, targeted in suit alleging sex abuse, is banned from wearing garb in public. (Wilkes Barre, PA)

Posted on Wed, May. 19, 2004


SCRANTON – Despite orders from the Diocese of Scranton banning him from publicly wearing priestly garb, an area priest accused of sexual misconduct with young boys is pictured in full vestments in a new children’s prayer book.

The Rev. Carlos Urrutigoity appears on page seven in “A Child’s Missal,” a book developed and posted on the Internet by a company called Patmos Inc., which has ties to a priestly society founded by Urrutigoity.

Urrutigoity and the Rev. Eric Ensey are fighting a lawsuit accusing them of molesting a young man while he was a junior at St. Gregory’s Academy in Elmhurst, where the two priests were initially assigned as they established the Society of St. John, now located in Shohola, Pike County.

Allegations of sexual misconduct by the two surfaced in 2001. In January 2002, then-Bishop James Timlin relieved both men of priestly duties and ordered them not to appear in public in priest clothing.

Yet in the new book, Urrutigoity is pictured wearing the vestments of a priest in front of an altar. The book isn’t finished, but the first eight pages are available on the Patmos Web site.

Diocese spokeswoman Maria Orzel said she knew nothing of the new book, but said Urrutigoity violated the ban if he posed for the picture after January 2002.

Orzel noted that the picture could have been taken before the ban, and said she did not know if publication of an older picture would violate that ban.

The Patmos Web site is under construction, and no information about the corporation is given. But a May fund-raising letter from the society – provided by society critic Jeffrey Bond – says the society is developing the Patmos site and asks for project contributions.

The Pennsylvania Department of State Corporation Bureau Web site does not list officers for the Patmos corporation, but lists the corporate address as 967 Bee Hollow Road, Shohola. According to voter registration records on the Internet, that’s also the address of Anthony J. Mioni. Bond said Mioni has been the society’s Web master.

A call Tuesday afternoon to the Rev. Daniel Fullerton, one of the society’s leaders, was not returned.

Bond was originally hired by the society to help establish a college in Shohola, but split from the group when he learned of accusations that some priests were sleeping with boys and plying them with alcohol.

He has waged a relentless campaign against the society ever since, and used the appearance of Urrutigoity’s photo in the new book to criticize the Diocese and Bishop Joseph Martino, who replaced Timlin in October.

In an “open letter” to Martino, Bond wrote: “While you have been busy shutting down Catholic elementary schools in your diocese, the (Society of St. John) has been busy rehabilitating Urrutigoity as ‘child friendly’ by preparing to place his image in the minds of unsuspecting Catholic boys.”

No police charges have been filed against the priests, but an alleged victim, identified as John Doe, filed a suit in March 2002 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

That case has taken some sharp turns in recent weeks, thanks to the revelation that both priests, at Timlin’s suggestion, were subject to at least two psychological evaluations after the accusations emerged.

Ordinarily, results of those evaluations would be protected by doctor/patient confidentiality laws. But James Bendell, the attorney for John Doe, argues that confidentiality didn’t apply because the results had been shared with a third party: Timlin.

The judge agreed to let Bendell see the test results, but attorneys for the priests are still fighting the move, contending the priests never gave permission for Timlin to learn of the results.

In the latest paperwork, filed last Thursday, Bendell dismissed that argument. He pointed out that Timlin was following diocese policy when he asked the two priests to submit to evaluations and when he had the diocese pay for those evaluations. Bendell pointed out that it would also be diocese policy for Timlin to see the evaluation results.

Mark Guydish, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 829-7161.



The psychological records are part of a Diocese of Scranton molesation suit.

Accuser to get reports on priests (Wilkes Barre, PA)

Posted on Wed, Mar. 24, 2004


SCRANTON – A federal judge has ordered psychological reports of two priests within the Diocese of Scranton to be turned over to an attorney representing a man who claims he was sexually abused by the men.

An attorney for the Rev. Eric Ensey and the Rev. Carlos Urrutigoity had argued the reports were protected by doctor/patient and attorney/client privilege. But U.S. District Judge John E. Jones on Tuesday ruled the priests waived that protection by releasing information in the reports to an outside party, then-Bishop James Timlin.

Jones’ order allows James Bendell, who represents the alleged victim in a federal lawsuit, to review the reports as part of his pretrial information gathering. Jones held off on ruling whether that information could be used at a trial.

Ensey and Urrutigoity were priests within the Society of St. John, a religious community founded in 1997 by Urrutigoity in Shohola, Pike County. They were removed from duty in the Scranton Diocese in January 2002, after the molestation allegations emerged.

The lawsuit was filed in March 2002 in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania by a man identified only as John Doe. It claims Ensey sexually abused the man in 1997 while he was a junior at St. Gregory’s Academy, a boys school in Elmhurst. The man claims he was molested by Urrutigoity in 2000, when the man attended the Society of St. John to study to become a priest.

Under state and federal law, psychological reports generally are considered confidential. But there are exceptions if the subject of a report agrees to release the information to others.

In the Doe case, the priests’ attorney, Sal Cognetti, argued he had sought the reports in anticipation that criminal charges might be filed by Scranton police, who were investigating the molestation allegations. Cognetti also argued the priests never consented to releasing the records to the diocese, and that the diocese never received the written reports.

In his ruling, Jones said his review showed the reports, which were done in 2001 and 2002, were requested by Timlin as part of the diocese’s investigation into the molestation allegations. Jones found that Timlin might not have seen the reports, but he was verbally apprised of at least part of the content. Jones also found that Ensey and Urrutigoity knew the information would be shared with Timlin.

Jones noted a letter Timlin wrote to a Vatican cardinal in July 2002 in which Timlin said he had not decided whether the two priests were guilty or innocent, but noted concerns about Ensey.

“A psychological report about Fr. Ensey, however, indicated problems with pornography and other characteristics which concerned me given the allegations against him,” the letter said.

Jones’ order directs that the reports remain under seal, and that anyone who reveals the reports to people not associated with the litigation will face “severe contempt sanctions.”


Charges of Sexual, Financial Abuse Dog Society of St. John

 The Wanderer 

February 14, 2002

By Paul Likoudis 

SCRANTON, Pa. ; The Society of St. John, which began just four years ago with the ambitious dream of building a Catholic city based on a medieval manor high in the Poconos, is now dogged by accusations of sexual and financial impropriety on the part of its founder, Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity, superior general, and the chancellor, Fr. Eric Ensey, that could leave the order, which solicited millions of dollars from orthodox Catholics, a fainter memory than last week’s clouds.

In late January, Bishop James Timlin of Scranton, Pa., relieved the two priests of their duties, and launched an investigation into charges they sexually molested young boys after arriving in the diocese.


For traditionalist Catholics, the charges against these priests, and a number of other prominent “traditionalist” clergy in other orders and societies, such as the Sovereign Institute of Christ the King and the Society of St. Pius X, raise questions concerning the fundamental premise of many traditionalists that the restoration of the Latin liturgy, ipso facto, will bring about a restoration of the Roman Catholic Church, and, by implication, the society it is to evangelize and save.

The allegations of sexual and financial wrongdoing began circulating last October, when Dr. Jeffrey Bond, the president of the College of St. Justin Martyr, one of the Society’s initiatives, began sending out, over the Internet, letters alleging the improper behavior.

Bond, formerly a tenure-track professor at California’s Thomas Aquinas College, who was asked by Aquinas’ founder Dr. Ronald McArthur to establish the Society’s college and teach seminarians in the order, claimed to have information that Urrutigoity had a certain “sleeping sickness” that required him to sleep with young men, that a lawsuit against Fr. Urrutigoity and the Society was pending, and that Urrutigoity had been expelled twice from seminaries operated by the Society of St. Pius X, in Argentina and Winona, Minn.

At the same time Bond made these accusations, which were dismissed by the Society supporters at the time as “personality conflict” between Bond and Urrutigoity over differences about how to celebrate the Tridentine Mass, an Illinois businessman who had cosigned a mortgage note for the Society’s 1,000-acre tract of mountaintop land in Shohola contacted The Wanderer.

“A lot of people have been hurt by Urrutigoity,” Matt Sawyer, the businessman, told The Wanderer, “starting with me.”

Sawyer recounted how when he first saw the ad for the Society in The Wanderer, he was inspired to send a $500 check. “I thought this is exactly what we need, an order of orthodox priests who can help the Church, who will stick to the doctrine of the Church.

“Shortly after they got my check, Fr. Fullerton and Fr. Ensey came out to meet me and my wife, and we were very impressed.

“Then, in June 1999, they called and asked me to come out and look at this piece of property in Shohola they’d found. I spent hours negotiating the price with the owner, and more hours negotiating with the bank in Scranton. They got me to cosign on the loan, so I put my neck in the noose big time. Then, at the last minute, they called me up and said they needed more money immediately, and so I wired it.

“The next week,” Sawyer continued, “I flew out there, to take a look at it. 

Urrutigoity lives in the big house all by himself, like a king, and I see $136,000 of brand-new furniture. I’ve never seen such beautiful furniture, and I’ve been in the homes of billionaires. Twenty-six thousand dollars for a dinning-room table, $7,000 for an executive desk . . . the rugs, the tapestries, the paintings. I said to Urrutigoity, ‘This all has to go back,’ and he said, ‘No.’

“Then I looked at their financials. They’ve got 12 employees, and each has an assistant. The cook has an assistant, the cleaner has an assistant, the gardener has an assistant. So I said to Fr. Carlos, ‘Why can’t the seminarians and priests do some of the work around here?’ and he replied, ‘Oh, no. We don’t do things like that’.”

Sawyer was so upset, he immediately called Bishop James Timlin, and demanded to have his name taken off the mortgage. “I told him this order was off the mission, and it was going to crash.”

At the time, he added, he knew nothing of the parties and the charges of immoral behavior. “But I can tell you, Fr. Urrutigoity wants to live like King Tut or Hugh Hefner. I mean, who else sleeps in a $10,000 bed?”

Caught By Pride

Sawyer says he and Bond were snagged by pride. “Jeffrey Bond and I were caught by pride. He thought he was going to be a college president, and I thought I was going to finance a Catholic village.”

Bond acknowledged he was “blinded” by pride, too, by Urrutigoity, telling The Wanderer, “Fr. Urrutigoity was a very charismatic fellow, and for two years I wasn’t even conscious of the behavior around me. I didn’t want to think anything bad. I wanted to be a founder. I was blinded by the possibility of being a big gun.”

Bond and Sawyer weren’t the only ones blinded by the charismatic founder of the Society of St. John. A list of early backers of the project reads like a “who’s who” of prominent Catholic laity, including Howard Walsh, founder of Keep the Faith; Dr. Ronald McArthur, founder of Thomas Aquinas College; John Blewett, a career labor negotiator, Thomas Aquinas College administrator, and former president of the Wanderer Forum Foundation. Encouraged by the array of supporters of the Society among its friends and associates, The Wanderer accepted several advertisements from the Society of St. John and also published several favorable articles about the group.

Joining these backers where thousands of other Catholics blinded by the slick graphics of the numerous fund-raising appeals and high-level trusted endorsers, who simply suspended their practical judgment in hopes of being part of a mythical city.

They envisioned a medieval Catholic city, which, according to the promotional literature, was going to attract like-minded Catholics from across the country to live in a Catholic community with the Traditional Mass, a liberal arts college, and Catholic families living, working, and praying together. It is now judged entirely infeasible. Infrastructure and maintenance costs are beyond reckoning and the Society, now, will probably have to sell the property.

As one wizened Catholic said, “Even if an angel came down from Heaven bearing this city, in complete splendor at no initial cost to any Catholic in America, its maintenance would be a crushing albatross on its inhabitants and supporters.”

“What these people did was criminal,” Sawyer added. “They deceived us. They were wolves in sheep’s clothing, lawless renegades, who changed their story every week. They even tried to raise money from the 9-11 disaster.”

According to Bond, the Society is on the verge of bankruptcy, and threatening on the horizon are lawsuits from creditors and defrauded donors.

When Bond decided to sever the connection between the Society and college, he had the first of several face-to-face meetings with Bishop Timlin, and many more telephone conversations, to discuss the charges of improper behavior he had heard concerning Ensey and Urrutigoity.

In an e-mail to the Society of St. John dated September 27, 2001, he “asked the other members of the Society to repudiate Fr. Urrutigoity’s habit of sleeping with young men. It was still my hope,” he explained, “that the Society of St. John might be salvaged.”

“However, none of the Society’s members were willing to denounce Fr. Urrutigoity’s reckless behavior, despite the fact that it was becoming widely known that Fr. Urrutigoity regularly slept one-on-one in his bed with young men in his private chambers.”

One month later, Bond wrote Bishop Timlin another letter, informing him that Urrutigoity was dismissed from the Society of St. Pius X seminary in La Reja, Argentina, for homosexual behavior; and after transferring to the St. Pius X seminary in Winona, Minn., was ordered to leave “in 24 hours” due to accusations of excessive attention to certain young seminarians.

Bond also claims that the SSPX’s Bishop Fellay had warned Bishop Timlin about Urrutigoity; and that he has also spoken with other men who claimed to have slept with Urrutigoity after he “plied them with alcohol.”

Bond also claims to have received testimony from another young man asserting he had been molested by Fr. Ensey.

Opening Up The Can Of Worms

Throughout November and December, Bond continued sending letters to Bishop Timlin, to the Apostolic Nuncio Archbishop Gabriel Montalvo, and far and wide on the Internet.

In January, as Bernard Cardinal Law’s troubles in Boston put the issue of clerical molestation before the public mind, the lay organization Roman Catholic Faithful (RCF) issued a press release calling for Bishop Timlin’s resignation for not immediately suspending Fr. Urrutigoity.

RCF’s release, which raised the issue in the local press around Scranton, prompted Bishop Timlin to relieve Urrutigoity and Ensey of their responsibilities.

The diocese’s statement said: “There have been allegations made against two priests of the Society of St. John. These priests deny these allegations. In accord with diocesan policy, however, they have left their posts until the investigation is completed and appropriate action is determined.

“As wrong as the alleged actions in this case might be, and, if true, they are very wrong, certainly it would also be wrong for the Church to pass judgment on individuals without sufficient evidence. Suffice it to say that the Church’s law and diocesan policies have been followed at all times and will continue to be adhered to until this unfortunate situation is resolved. There has never been any effort to cover up anything or to ignore the seriousness of these allegations. . . .

“As far as charges of financial mismanagement which have been made against the Society of St. John are concerned, the Diocese of Scranton has every reason to believe that the Society has exercised scrupulous care and restraint in this area for some time now.”

In an hour-plus long interview with The Wanderer, Bishop Timlin told how, when accusations concerning Urrutigoity were brought to his attention, he immediately went to the priest and demanded he respond to the allegations, and told him to stop any activity that could be viewed with suspicion. As of the date of our interview, February 6, he said that he has yet to receive any substantive evidence or legal documents alleging molestation by Urrutigoity.

In the case of the charges against Urrutigoity and Ensey in Winona, as soon as he heard them, he immediately dispatched Auxiliary Bishop John Dougherty, his vicar general and the diocesan attorney, to investigate claims at the seminary. 

Since the seminary officials did say the charges were valid, he demanded that the diocese’s “independent review board,” made up of prominent Scranton-area professionals, make an inquiry. Its findings were that the case boiled down to a “he said-he said” because there were no witnesses.

The Society’s financial problems, he charitably explained, were due to the members’ “youth and inexperience.” He acknowledged that the Society ran up a large debt and “spent money like there was no tomorrow”; that he was opposed to the purchase of the property in Shohola; and that he made aggressive steps to take over the Society’s finances once he was alerted by Matt Sawyer to the problems, and has brought them “under control.”

“The Society’s financial problems,” he said, “are due to ambition. They started big rather than small; but there was no malice; that’s not part of their makeup.”

Bishop Timlin also said that he tried for two months to resolve the dispute between Bond and the Society before it burst into public view last fall, which he attributed to Bond’s desire to separate the college from the Society due to differences over the celebration of the Missal of 1962.

The Wanderer also interviewed Fr. Daniel Fullerton, who is acting as spokesman for the Society, for over an hour. He repeatedly denied any financial mismanagement, and blamed the allegations of sexual misconduct against Fr. Urrutigoity at the Pius X seminaries on “sede vacantists” within the Society upset that Urrutigoity and his friends had reconciled with Rome.

He also said, in a February 6 interview, that if Bond has witnesses to Urrutigoity’s sexual misconduct, he should turn those names over to Bishop Timlin.

However, on February 7, National Review Online’s Rod Dreher reported “the whole mess may soon end up in court. The young man who sent the January 12 letter to Timlin claiming he had been molested by a Society priest is said to be preparing a lawsuit against the Society and the diocese. Bond is also contemplating a lawsuit that would seek to hold the Society and Timlin responsible for the collapse – temporary, he hopes – of the College of St. Justin Martyr.”

A well-informed Pennsylvania priest who knows Timlin well said this scandal involving the Society of St. John must be “an enormous cross to bear for him.”

“Bishop Timlin was always open to helping his priests in all kinds of ways, especially if they had preferences for certain apostolates. Like his predecessor, Bishop J. Carroll McCormick, his entire life is marked by loyalty to and love for the Church. A stalwart defender of doctrine, his tendency is to be always open to the legitimate needs of his priests, whether it was ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal’: If it was allowed by the Church and would not bring scandal he allowed it.

“Like McCormick, Timlin is meticulous in his personal life so that no scandal would ever be attached to him or the Church. If there was anything untoward going on, as alleged, the fault is in Timlin’s openness and generosity to priests of all legitimate interests so they could function in his diocese without hindrance and often with support. Timlin’s large heart was manipulated or taken advantage of.”

There’s another warning in this story: If a scheme to launch a “Catholic restoration” sounds too good to be true, it probably is – especially if it involves a small number of priests and millions of dollars.  


Scranton Scandal

Traditional Catholics are not immune to sex scandals.

National Review Online

February 7, 2002 9:15 a.m.

Ron Dreher

re sex scandals involving Catholic priests the fault of moral and
theological liberalism? Some conservative Catholics think so. But an ugly
case unfolding now in Pennsylvania involving allegations of homosexual
misconduct, alcohol abuse, and financial fraud on the part of a
traditionalist religious community suggests otherwise.

In late January, Scranton Bishop James Timlin confirmed to the local media
that he had reassigned — but not suspended — the two leaders of the
traditionalist Society of St. John, pending the outcome of an
investigation into the purported sexual molestation of a young man, who
was a minor at the time of the alleged crime. The priests are the Rev.
Carlos Urritigoity, the society’s superior-general, and his chancellor,
the Rev. Eric Ensey. Auxiliary Bishop John Dougherty said the move came in
the wake of a January 12 “confidential letter” the diocese received from
an adult male alleging molestation against one of the two priests, and
improper contact with the other.

Jeffrey Bond, who was tapped by the society to run its planned college,
but who has turned on the order after discovering what he considers
evidence of financial and sexual impropriety, believes Bishop Timlin’s
actions are too little, too late. And the grassroots-activist group Roman
Catholic Faithful has called for the resignation of Timlin, whom it has
accused of foot-dragging to protect the order.

“Last summer, I knew we had to separate the college from the Society,”
Bond says. “First, because they were raising money in our name but not
giving it to us, and second, because I found out that Fr. Urritigoity had
a problem with sleeping with young men.”

He’s not using the verb as a euphemism for sex between the priest and
others, which he says he cannot prove. Urritigoity, though, has a strange
habit of sharing his bed with seminarians and other young men, say Bond
and others formerly associated with the Society. Bond and his lawyer
provided NRO with two affidavits and a letter from a Franciscan friar, all
of whom say they witnessed activities involving alcohol and improper
physical intimacy among Society priests and young men — including teenage
boys — in their company.

The Society of St. John began as a breakaway group from the Society of St.
Pius X, a traditionalist Catholic order founded by the late Archbishop
Marcel Lefebvre. When Bishop Timlin canonically established the Society in
his diocese in 1997, he gave its members temporary housing in St.
Gregory’s Academy, an all-male Catholic boarding school sponsored by the
Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter. Jude Huntz, who was head dorm manager,
stated in a sworn affidavit that on several occasions, he saw Society
members getting male students drunk. Brother Alexis Bugnolo, a Franciscan
friar who overnighted in the Society’s quarters in 1999, says in a letter
that he is prepared to testify in court that he witnessed during that stay
several instances of homosexual activity among students, including one boy
who later became a postulant of the Society.

Later that year, Society members relocated into two houses on a vast rural
Pennsylvania estate it had purchased for $2.2 million. That did not end
the Society’s relationship with St. Gregory’s boys, though. One former
Society postulant, who was with the order for six months in the year 2000,
told NRO that 18- and 19-year-old St. Gregory’s graduates would visit
Urritigoity on weekends, many of them spending the night in the priest’s
room, which contained only one, single-sized bed.

A sworn affidavit provided by the 32-year-old California man, who asked
NRO to withhold his name, details several instances in which he claims to
have seen young men in compromising positions with Urritigoity, and the
Society’s priests plying young men with booze. On one occasion, the
ex-postulant alleges he saw a man who had been extremely drunk the night
before, leaving the 37-year-old Urritigoity’s bedroom in the morning.

“None of them ever told me they had had intercourse with him, but it was
all very weird,” the ex-postulant said. He added that when he shared his
concerns about “musical bedrooms” with others in the Society, “I was made
to feel that I was the one with the problem.”

Meanwhile, the Society was presenting to the public an appealing image of
a vibrant new religious community based on the Latin Mass, classical
scholarship, and Catholic cultural tradition. Its well-designed website
promotes the Society’s vision for an ideal Catholic priestly and lay
community — including the building of a model traditionalist Catholic
village — which brought donations pouring in from sympathetic Catholics.

Behind the scenes, though, the Society was “spending money like a drunken
sailor,” alleges a prominent Catholic businessman who served on its board
of advisers, and who helped the Society raise money.

“I was concerned because they had a certain arrogance and a certain
attitude about things,” says John Blewett, who is now managing editor of
Latin Mass magazine. “They were careless financially, and very haughty
about what they could do. That’s not the kind of humility and attitude one
brings to that kind of endeavor.”

Matthew Sawyer, an Illinois businessman and former board member, says he
was rebuffed by the Society’s leadership when he questioned them about
what he describes as their “wild spending sprees,” and the possible
illegal handling of their finances.

“Then I petitioned Bishop Timlin, and he couldn’t have cared less,” says
Sawyer. “He said that’s the way they are.”

In public letters to the bishop, who is a favorite of traditionalist
Catholics, Bond accuses him of looking the other way as he and others
presented evidence of the Society’s financial mismanagement and sexual
shenanigans. Among his allegations: that Timlin knew, or should have known
had he done a background check as required by diocesan guidelines, that
Urritigoity was a potential danger to boys at St. Gregory’s.

Bond provided NRO with a copy of an undated letter, written in Spanish,
purportedly sent by a Society of St. Pius X seminary in Argentina to SSPX
counterparts in the United States, warning them that Urritigoity had been
caught numerous times engaging in homosexual activity while a seminarian
there. Bond came across the document while investigating Urritigoity, and
says he e-mailed the information to Timlin on December 8.

“Why did I have to be the one to find this out about Fr. Urritigoity’s
past?” says Bond. “If Bishop Timlin had bothered to do a background check
before he let this guy work with kids, as the diocesan policy says he’s
supposed to, he would have found it out on his own.”

A spokesman at SSPX’s American headquarters declined to comment on the
letter, calling it “a private communication.”

For its part, the Diocese of Scranton issued an angry January 24 statement
categorically denying Bond’s charges (the official statement, which is not
available on the diocesan website, can be found here, along with a short
statement by the Society, and responses by Bond. The diocese’s statement
referred requests for further information to its attorney, but does not
identify the lawyer. Calls to the diocese’s spokeswoman were unanswered.
Nor did the Society answer NRO’s request for comment.

The whole mess may soon end up in court. The young man who sent the
January 12 letter to Timlin claiming he had been molested by a Society
priest is said to be preparing a lawsuit against the Society and the
diocese. Bond is also contemplating a lawsuit that would seek to hold the
Society and Timlin responsible for the collapse — temporary, he hopes — of
the College of St. Justin Martyr.

Meanwhile, both the implosion of the Society and the bishop’s actions have
left some Catholics feeling angry, betrayed, and alienated from the
traditionalist movement.

Sawyer describes the Society’s priests as, “Wolves in sheep’s clothing. I
gave them my all, and they just kicked me in the teeth. They’re lawless
renegades, and the way they handled their money and property, they’ve got
to be in violation of their 501(c)3 status.”

The ex-postulant from California, whose family had donated a large sum of
money to the Society, is, like Sawyer, estranged from traditionalist
Blewett, whose Latin Mass magazine is the editorial flagship of the
movement, agrees that scandals like this rob good people of their hope,
and make them cynical. And the fallout will, unfortunately, affect even
good traditionalist orders.

“When these brushes tar, they tar widely,” he says.

Bond says until this happened, he believed sexual disorder in the clergy
was the fruit of modern liturgy and liberal bishops. Now, he says, he has
learned the hard way that personal orthodoxy does not guarantee that a
bishop will do the right thing when it comes to governing his diocese,
particularly in the matter of protecting kids from potential sexual
predators. And he is convinced even a bishop as well-liked by Church
conservatives as Timlin must be held publicly accountable.

“I’ve gotten my share of people telling me to be quiet about this, and I
keep telling them that you can’t say we have to avoid scandal, and let
people get harmed,” says Bond. “Your duty is to stop the evil and let God
take care of the rest. The scandal is caused by the actions of these
people, and what you’re doing is trying to stop it.”

1 Response to Background articles on the Society of St. John

  1. Larry says:

    Traditional Mass is just as beautiful and inspiring.Personally I don’t like to see such  division as Traditional or Modern.The Mass is always the same for over 2000 years.

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