It will soon contain information along with a number of articles and documents related to Father Eric Ensey, Father Carlos Urrutigoity and the Society of Saint John.
Many Canadian boys were exposed to these priests when they, the boys, attended St. Gregory’s Academy on Scranton, PA. There are sex abuse allegations against both priests. Despite the allegations Bishop Rogelio Livieres, the Bishop of the Diocese of Ciudad del Este, Paraguay took the Society of St. John priests into his diocese. In March 2014 Father Carlos Urrutigoity was serving as Vicar General of the diocese and had unhampered access to children and youth. Also in the diocese is Canadian born Father Dominic Carey – Father Carey admitted that the society priests sleep with boys and explained this away as a means for the priests to bond with the boys.
Father Ensey was defrocked/laicized in 2014.
Bisbop Lieveres was removed from the diocese for reasons which seem unrelated to Father Urrutigoity. Father Urrutigoity was removed as Vicar General but continues live in the diocese and remains a priest in good standing.
Fathers Ensey and Urrutigoity both listed as credibly accused molesters
(Click on images to enlarge)
Minutes from March 2002 Diocese of Scranton Independent Review Board summarizes regarding Southdown psychological evaluations of both priests (Southdown is a Canadian facility in Holland Landing, Ontario providing, amongst other things, psychological services for priests and religious with sexual problems. Many clerical sexual predators across North America are sent to Southdown for “treatment” ):
Re Father Carlos Urrutigoity: “In view of the credible allegation from the seminarian (John Doe), 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; he should be asked to live privately.”
Re Father Eric Ensey: Southdown “”strongly recommended that [Ensey] undergo residential treatment to address severe anxiety and depression” which was caused by repressed sexuality. Said Ensey’s sexual attraction toward adolescent boys is “a stage he appears to be locked into” and recommended he “be strictly prohibited from any public ministry of any kind; he should have no contact with any young person.”
Recent developments re Father Carlos Urrutigoity
Series in Commonweal magazine
31 December 2015: The Curious Case of Carlos Urrutigoity (VIII)
30 December 2015: The Curious Case of Carlos Urrutigoity (VII)
23 December 2014: The Curious Case of Carlos Urrutigoity (VI)
17 December 2014: The Curious Case of Carlos Urrutigoity (V)
23 December 2014: The Curious Case of Carlos Urrutigoity (VI)
29 August 2014: The Curious Case of Carlos Urrutigoity (III)
21 August 2014: The Curious Case of Carlos Urrutigoity (II)
04 August 2014: The Curious Case of Carlos Urrutigoity (I)
May or early June 2014: Father Carlos Urrutigoity blames “hysteria” on accusations (VIDEO)
07 April 2014: Latest case shows change in church
19 December 2011: BLOG Some fortunately do ‘dodge the bullet’
19 December 2011: Priest apologizes to parishioners
17 December 2011: Father Horgan’s ‘lapses of judgment’
09 July 2013: Father John and Me
06 September 2012: Father Groeschel Goes
31 August 2012: BLOG “To Do” List
26 May 2012:St Gregory’s Academy closes (from St. Greg’s Academy website: www.stgregorysacademy.org)
19 December 2011: Priest apologizes to parishioners
17 December 2011: Father Horgan’s ‘lapses of judgment’
31 July 2009: Affidavit of James Bendell with attachments
Attachments in above:
Scranton Diocese 21 March 2002 Independent Review Board re Southdown reports on Father Urrutigoity and Ensey;
excerpts from 15 December 2008 Deposition of Chancellor James Earley;
excerpts from 16 December 2008 Deposition of Bishop James Timlin;
Bishop Timlin 12 April 2002 letter to Sister Martin de Porres McHale letter;,
Sister Martin de Porres 10 April 2002 letter to Bishop Timlin;
12 September 1999 memo re Matt Sawyer, James Earley20 December 2000 letter to Howard Walsh;
Bishop Fellay 10 February 1999 letter to Bishop Timlin, Howard Walsh 12 December 2000 letter to Chancellor James Earley;
Bishop Timlin 26 October 2000 Statement to Thomas Drolesky;
27 October 2000 fax cover from Bishop Timlin to Father Urrutigoity with Bishop Timlin revised Statement to Thomas Drolesky,
23 August Washington Times article;
08 July fax cover from Chancellor Earley to Father sUrrutigoity and Ensey with copy of 05 July 2000 letter Matthew Sawyer sent to the priests and forwarded to the Chancellor,
14 January 2000 fax from Father Urrutigoity to Chancellor Earley with copy of letter pf same date from Father Urrutigoity to John Blewett,
28 November 2001 letter from Bishop Timlin to Nuncio;
15 October 2001 letter from Bishop Timlin to Father Munkelt and Dr. Bond;
Society of St. John brochure;
1999 SSJ Update;
excerpts of 15 December 2008 Bishop Martino Deposition;
Spanish – 17 November 2008 – Bishop Livieres in Paraguay support of SSJ with google translation; and
Father Munkelt 25 October 2003 letter to Bishop Joseph Martino.
24 June 2009: Dr. Jeffrey Bond Affidavit
(Timlin admits that Dr. Bond did in fact complain to him about the conduct of SSJ priests before he, Timlin, denied Bond permission to found the College.)
25 September 2006: Booted Society of St. John makes comeback on Web site
20 June 2006: Catholic school still tainted by scandal
09 March 2006: Suppressed society of priests surfaces in South America
04 August 2004: Corrected Affidavit of John Zoscak re Father Carlos Urrutigoity at St. Gregory’s Academy
01 July 2004: File on alleged priest abuse gone
17 June 2004: Judge Says Priest’s Records Are Open To Lawyers’ Review
09 June 2004: Ex-bishop: Priest OK’d for duty
24 March 2004: Urrutigoity wears vestments in photo
2004: Child’s Missal: The Eucharist this newly published missal for children features a fully vested Father Carlos Urrutigoity on page 7, this despite the fact that, due to sex allegations against him, Father Urrutigoity was relieved of his duties as a priest in the Diocese of Scranton PA and told not to appear or function in public as a priest. The ‘crucifix’ on page 5 with the contorted corpus is the same as the one used by the Society of Saint John at Shahola, PA.
24 March 2004: Accuser to get reports on priests
13 January 2004: Earlier accuser part of abuse suit
05 January 2004: Plaintiffs’ reply brief to Defendants’ opposition to Plaintiffs motion re videoconference and telephone depositions (John Doe, John Doe, Sr. and Jane Doe [Plaintiff] vs Father Eric Ensey, Father Carlos Urrutigoity. Bishop James C. Timlin, The Society of St. John, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter and St. Gregory’s Academy [Defendant])
20 October 2003: Extract of Deposition of Bishop James C Timlin
26 June 2003: Bishop sued for defamation
07 March 2003: Priests accused of pedophilia back in Shohola
14 June 2002: A Fifth Open Letter to Bishop James C. Timlin, Diocese of Scranton (re Fathers Ensey and Urrutigoity still socializing with young men and boys after suspension)
05 June 2002: Update on the SSJ’s Sexual and Financial Misconduct
06 May 2002: Diane Toler Affidavit re Father Dominic Carey acknowledging that SSJ priests do sleep with young boys and this as a means to bond with the boys
10 April 2002: Sister Martin de Porres McHale to Bishop Timlin re SSJ with enclosure (Advisory Board meeting of 20 March 2002) -expressing concern re SSJ finances
02 April 2002: From the Desk of Vincent F. Cioci -President/Founder
St. Joseph’s Enterprise, LLC
15 March 2002: Testimonies from Friends of the Society of St. John
06 March 2002: Bio of Father Eric Ensey
02 March 2002: SSJ’s Benedictine Furnishings
February 2002: A Second Open Letter to Bishop James C. Timlin, Diocese of Scranton (in response to Bishop Timlin’s statement of 21 February 2002)
15 February 2002: Bishop Timlin “To Whom it May Concern” (supporting SSJ)
10 December 2001: Affidavit of Joseph Sciambra
28 November 2001: Bishop Timlin to Nuncio Most Reverend Gabriel Montalvo (Bishop Timlin claims Dr. Jeffrey Bond exploded and began to “vilify” Father Urrutigoity and the diocese after Timlin refused Bond approval for a “hostile takeover.” Ref re Father Benedict Groeschel’s exam of Father U and conclusion that no indication of homosexuality )
05 November 1999: Bishop Timlin response to Bishop Fellay letter of 10 February ’99 – Father Urrutiogoity denies – Timlin claims he is “without the required certitude to take action”
10 February 1999: Bishop Bernard Fellay, Superior General of SSPX, Confidential letter to Bishop Timlin re Father Carlos Urrutigoity’s immoral behaviour in seminary and Father Eric Ensey’s knowledge of same
May 2005: $454,550.00 settlement to John Doe in Doe vs. Diocese of Scranton, the Society of St. John, the Fraternity of St. Peter and Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity and Fr. Eric Ensey
19 August 2001: Dr. Jeffrey Bond told by Alan Hicks (Headmaster at St. Gregory’s Academy) that Father Urrutigoity had a habit of sharing his bed with boys and young men while giving them “spiritual direction” (Bond Affidavit)
01 April 2000: Dr. Jeffrey Bond hired by SSJ to spearhead the formation of a Catholic liberal arts college which was to be associated with the SSJ as part of the Catholic village project
24 May 1998: Erection of Society of Saint John – founding members: Dominic Carey, Eric Ensey, Danile Fuyllerton, Brendan Kelly, Joseph Levin, Rhone Lillard, Christopher Manuele, Anthony Myers, John Nieto, Dominic O’Connor, Joseph Orlowski, Marshall Roberts, Basel Sarweh, Bernardo Terrera, and Carlos Urrutigoity
DOB: 13 August 1966 (Bio SSJ website)
Catholic sex scandal touched Milford
Decade-old story of sexual and financial improprieties winds through Pike court
The Pocono Record
24 June 2012
By Beth BreljePocono Record Writer
The Borough of Milford might have been a thriving religious college town today if members of a sect of priests looking to settle in a private, Shohola compound had not been caught sleeping with boys.
The scandal is at the root of a decade-old Pike County lawsuit that exposed secrets of the Catholic Diocese of Scranton, and the larger church’s response to the controversial Society of Saint John.
The suit, which is headed to trial in Pike County later this year, centers on a claim that the society collected millions of dollars in donations, in part to start a conservative college in Shohola, but that the money was not given to the college arm of the organization.
The society was founded by the Rev. Carlos Urrutigoity, a priest who, according to multiple witness statements in several court cases, routinely slept in bed with and had sex with boys in his care, calling it spiritual guidance.
It is one layer of an epic, ongoing scandal chipping honor away from the Roman Catholic Church.
Troubled priest on the move
Urrutigoity started his career in seminary school at the Society of Saint Pius X in La Reja, Argentina, but was dismissed for homosexual behavior, according to court documents.
He moved to the Society of Saint Pius X seminary in Winona, Minn., with a warning from the Archbishop in Argentina: Superiors should monitor his behavior, court papers say.
In the early 1990s, Urrutigoity was ordained and named a professor at the Winona seminary.
He developed a following and a vision for the Society of Saint John: a Catholic village with homes, a business district, an educational system for youth, and a college, all centered around a church featuring Latin Masses.
But Urrutigoity was dismissed for subversive activities, for trying to bolster the position of the society in the seminary, according to court documents.
Society finds home in Poconos
When Urrutigoity left Minnesota, some of his followers, clerics and seminarians went with him in search of a home for the society.
Although no background checks were performed on members of the society, they were accepted into the Diocese of Scranton by then-Bishop James Timlin in 1997 and given a temporary home with the Fraternity of Saint Peter in Moscow, Lackawanna County.
They lived at the headquarters of Saint Gregory’s Academy, a boys boarding school.
Timlin made the society an official clerical association of the Diocese of Scranton in 1998. In church hierarchy, it meant the society answered directly to Timlin, according to court documents.
That same year, the society started a major fundraising campaign aimed at Catholic donors with the stated intent of creating a Catholic village and college.
‘Cultivated intimate relations’
During this time, society members had become chaplains and teachers of the adolescent boys at Saint Gregory’s and continued in that role even after word came from Minnesota in 1999 that Urrutigoity had been accused of molesting a boy there, according to court documents.
In response to the accusation, Timlin sent a team to Minnesota to investigate the claim.
The Diocese of Scranton independent review board, which investigated, could not determine if the victim had been sexually assaulted.
No action was taken against Urrutigoity, according to multiple court papers.
Meanwhile, Urrutigoity and another society member, the Rev. Eric Ensey, had “cultivated intimate relations with students of Saint Gregory’s, plied minors at Saint Gregory’s with alcohol as well as sleeping with them,” according to a federal lawsuit brought in 2002 by a former Saint Gregory’s student.
Friction between priest, president
In September 1999, the society bought 1,000-plus acres of land off Route 434 in Shohola, near Kuhn Road, for $2.9 million, according to the Pike County Register of Deeds.
The land included a country cottage, and a hunting lodge that was converted into a chapel.
This is where the Catholic village and the College of Saint Justin Martyr were envisioned.
The college was to offer orthodox Catholic liberal arts centered on the daily offering of a traditional Latin Mass.
The Latin Mass is a cornerstone of the society’s belief structure, a strong draw for some believers, controversial to others.
Jeffrey Bond, an educator from New Jersey, was hired as president of the college. His $60,000 salary was paid by the society, Bond said in court papers.
Bond did not respond to a request for an interview. Nor did attorneys representing Timlin, who were in Pike County Court earlier this month.
Neither Urrutigoity nor Ensey could be reached to comment.
A neighbor allowed the society to use a house neighboring the Shohola land. That is where some 25 students attended the college’s first year, starting in October 2000, although the college had not been formally established in Pennsylvania and could not offer a degree.
Students were all members of the society and attended tuition-free. Classes included great books, music, Latin and Euclidean geometry.
Attendance dwindled as Urrutigoity pulled students out of class to do fundraising, cook and work on the grounds of the new property, Bond said in a deposition.
He became frustrated that students had little time to study. By January 2001, classes were no longer operating. This was one of several sources of friction between Bond and Urrutigoity.
Seeking fundraising money
There were zoning problems with the property. An expensive entrance bridge was needed, and the land was not zoned for dorms or a college.
Money raised was not going to the college. Eventually Bond was told the society would not be able to pay him anymore. The college would have to fund his salary separately, and Bond would be required to fundraise for the society, Bond said in court papers.
Bond asked the society to share its database of donors to raise money for the college, but says it was never given to him.
Bond believes the society raised between $5 million and $6 million, using advertisements highlighting the planned religious community and college in Shohola.
While the college struggled, the society paid $8,800 for a bedroom set, $15,000 for a desk and china cabinet; and bought a $16,000 dining table without chairs, according to court papers.
Bond is asking the Pike County Court to grant the envisioned College of Saint Justin Martyr one-third of the money earned through fundraising in the college’s name.
That’s the crux of a lawsuit Bond brought in Pike County in 2002 against the Society of Saint John, Timlin and the Diocese of Scranton.
A jury was ready to hear the case this month, but after attorneys met in the judge’s chambers, the case was continued to later this year.
It is unclear what the status of the planned college is today or why Bond continues to pursue the suit.
Milford as a college town
Lacking financial backing and having doubts about zoning at the Shohola property, the college’s board of directors, in a special meeting, agreed in June 2001 to move the college to Milford and slowly piece together a campus.
The board approved the purchase of property at 408 East High St. in Milford, if funding could be arranged.
At the time, the Tom Quick Inn was for sale, and a benefactor was ready to buy the inn, Bond testified in a 2008 deposition.
The inn would have been used as a dorm during the school year and as an unspecified money-making operation in the summer, according to court papers.
The building across from Saint Patrick’s Church rectory, also on High Street, would have been used for its classrooms. Several property owners were willing to house college students in apartments.
Pending funding, classes were to start in Milford in the fall of 2001.
But everything was put on hold on Aug. 19, 2001, when the headmaster of Saint Gregory’s Academy informed Bond that Urrutigoity and Ensey had been sleeping with boys, supplying them with alcohol and that a lawsuit was brewing.
Bond asked the bishop to allow the college to separate from the society and allow it to operate as a Catholic college in the Diocese of Scranton, but Timlin would not allow the college to operate independently, Bond said in deposition testimony.
Student molestation exposed
The society’s Shohola project imploded after a federal lawsuit was brought in 2002 by “John Doe,” a Saint Gregory’s student, and his parents, against Urrutigoity, Ensey, Timlin, the Diocese of Scranton and others.
The suit alleged that Urrutigoity and Ensey offered “spiritual direction” to the student by sleeping with him at Saint Gregory’s Academy and at the Shohola property, and that both priests sexually assaulted him.
Testimony in that case brought at least three similar claims of bed-sharing and sexual advances to light.
In 2002, Timlin suspended Urrutigoity and Ensey from their ministries and sent them to Southdown Institute in Canada for psychological evaluations.
Southdown specializes in treating clergy who have sexual boundary problems.
Attorneys for the diocese fought to keep the results of those evaluations out of evidence in the federal suit, which was settled in 2006, reportedly for more than $400,000.
Results of those evaluations are revealed in a stack of evidence in Bond’s Pike County case.
No contact with any youths
Minutes from a March 2002 Diocese of Scranton independent review board, summarize the evaluations by Southdown Institute:
The institute “strongly recommended that (Ensey) undergo residential treatment to address severe anxiety and depression” that was the result of repressed sexuality. The evaluation said Ensey’s sexual attraction toward adolescent boys is “a stage he appears to be locked into.”
And it recommended Ensey “be strictly prohibited from any public ministry of any kind; he should have no contact with any young person.”
The evaluation of Urrutigoity said: “In view of the credible allegation from the seminarian (John Doe), 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; he should be asked to live privately.”
These recommendations did not bring an immediate end to their priesthoods or the society, however.
Diocese of Scranton response
In 2003, the diocese loaned the society $2.6 million in the form of a mortgage on the Shohola property. It was quietly put up for sale, and in 2005, was purchased by Michael and Elizebeth Geitz for $3 million, ending the dream of a Catholic village.
Timlin retired as bishop in 2003.
In 2004, the new bishop, Joseph Martino, officially suppressed the Society of Saint John, a move that should have dissolved the society. Martino cited its financial instability, its failure to follow church law and the scandal caused by allegations of sexual molestation for the suppression, the Catholic News Service reported at the time.
“Six years after its erection, the society has shown no progress in attaining its stated purposes. It is principally a debt-servicing operation and can be seen continuing as such for many years to come,” Martino said in a 2004 statement.
Martino allowed Urrutigoity to transfer to Paraguay, where he has since been promoted to monsignor. The Society of Saint John operates there, overseeing a seminary and orphanage, according to a January 2012 report by Vancouver Sun writer Daphne Bramham.
Soon after the diocese had negotiated the settlement in the 2002 case, Ensey fled to Rome without the bishop’s permission, according to Bramham’s report.
Ensey ended up in Vancouver, where he and another priest convinced parishioners to donate money to Urrutigoity’s operation in Paraguay.
After a multi-year investigation, during which Ensey was barred from priestly duties, the Vatican dismissed Ensey as a priest in October 2011.
In May 2012, Saint Gregory’s Academy closed its doors.
RE: Settlement of Sexual Molestation Suit
Date: May 5, 2005
From the Law Office of James Bendell
The defendants in the case of Doe vs. Diocese of Scranton, the Society of St. John, the Fraternity of St. Peter and Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity and Fr. Eric Ensey (U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania, Case No. 3 CV 02-0444) have agreed to a settlement with the plaintiff, a former student of St. Gregory’s Academy in Moscow, Pennsylvania.
Under the terms of the settlement the defendants will pay the plaintiff $255,000 in cash and future periodic payments of $199,550, for a total settlement of $454,550.
During the course of the litigation of this case, information was brought to light concerning the corruption existing at the Society of St. John, a clerical association approved by former bishop James Timlin, who allowed these priests to form a clerical association in the Diocese of Scranton and to act as chaplains at a boys’ prep school after they had been expelled from the Society of St. Pius X. The new bishop of Scranton, Joseph Martino, has since suppressed the Society of St. John.
This large financial settlement is a vindication of the courageous young man who brought this case.
The plaintiff was represented by attorneys James Bendell of Washington State, and Harry Coleman of Pennsylvania.
Contact: James Bendell
Suppressed society of priests surfaces in South America
Critic faults the Diocese of Scranton
The River Reporter
09-15 March 2005
By TOM KANE
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.
Pennsylvania bishop suppresses local traditionalist priestly society
By Catholic News Service
01 December 2004
SCRANTON, Pa. (CNS) — Bishop Joseph F. Martino of Scranton has decreed the suppression of the Society of St. John, citing its financial instability, its failure to follow church law and the scandal caused by allegations of sexual molestation of minors by two of its founders.
The society has caused “grievous financial burdens for the diocese” that could amount to several million dollars, he said.
Priests who had left a schismatic traditionalist organization, the Society of St. Pius X, to return to the Catholic Church, established the Society of St. John in 1998. They received canonical authorization for the society as a public clerical association from now-retired Bishop James C. Timlin, Bishop Martino’s predecessor in Scranton.
Like the schismatic group, the Society of St. John is devoted to celebrating the Mass in Latin according to the Tridentine rite, as it was celebrated throughout the Latin Church before the liturgical reforms of the Second Vatican Council.
In 2002 Bishop Timlin suspended Fathers Carlos Urrutigoity and Eric Ensey from priestly ministry following an allegation that both sexually molested a student at St. Gregory’s Academy in Moscow, Pa., where the priests lived before they obtained a property in Shohola. Father Urrutigoity was founding superior general of the society and Father Ensey was the chancellor.
The student and his parents filed a lawsuit in 2002 over the alleged abuse. They named as defendants the two priests, their society, Bishop Timlin, the diocese, the academy and the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, which runs the academy.
Additional court documents filed in that lawsuit this year included depositions by three other former students testifying that Father Urrutigoity sexually fondled them or slept with them when they were minors.
In his decree, dated Nov. 19 and published Nov. 25 in the diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Light, Bishop Martino said the society was being suppressed for several reasons.
“Six years after its erection the society has shown no progress in attaining its stated purposes. It is principally a debt-servicing operation and can be seen continuing as such for many years to come,” he said.
He said the allegations of sexual misconduct “have caused a public scandal.” Even if those claims are not true, there were actions by members of the society that “have given rise to the allegations and the resultant scandal,” he said.
Explaining diocesan financial burdens created by “past financial decisions and conduct on the part of the society,” Bishop Martino said, “The burdens include the diocese being named in a civil suit for over $1 million and the need for the diocese to secure a $2.6 million loan in August 2003 because of the society’s indebtedness.”
On failure to follow church law, he said, “The Society of St. John has repeatedly refused to cooperate with the bishop of Scranton in the fulfillment of Canon 319, Para. 1 and Para. 2.” Those provisions of church law say that any public association canonically erected by a diocesan bishop must administer its goods under the direction of the bishop, give him an annual accounting of its administration, and give him “a faithful account of the expenditure of the offerings and alms which it has collected.”
“As a result (of the society’s failure to provide such accounting) the bishop of Scranton is at risk of being charged with failure to supervise if donors to the society judge that they have been deceived,” Bishop Martino said.
A separate lawsuit filed against the society in 2002 alleges that it has raised more than $5 million from donors. The suit was filed by the corporation formed in 2000 to establish a Catholic liberal arts college under society auspices, a project the society subsequently abandoned.
The suit claims that although the society represented to donors that part of their contributions would go to building the college, little money was directed to that project. It seeks to collect for the college at least one-third of all funds raised by the society.
The lawsuit holds the diocese liable for the society’s actions, saying the society acted as an agent of the diocese.
The Times Leader, Scranton’s daily newspaper, reported last month that Father Ensey filed a Chapter 13 personal bankruptcy petition Aug. 8 at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Wilkes-Barre.
Citing the lawsuit against the diocese, diocesan spokeswoman Maria Orzel declined to answer any questions from Catholic News Service about the suppression decree, including questions about how the diocese will deal with the priests and seminarians of the suppressed society.
Since the society was not a religious order but only a public clerical association under the diocese, the priests are all Scranton diocesan priests.
In addition to Fathers Urrutigoity and Ensey, the society’s Web site lists four other priests and eight seminarians or novices as members.
Three of the other priests were formerly with the Society of St. Pius X, which was founded by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre after he broke with Rome over liturgical reforms and the teachings of Vatican II. Two were seminarians under Father Urrutigoity when he taught at St. Pius X Seminary in Winona, Minn., and a third was a fellow professor at that seminary.
A large portion of the society’s Web site is devoted to plans to establish a “city of the Society of St. John” in Pennsylvania — a planned Catholic community of about 2,000 people with religious, educational, commercial, office and residential sectors. The plan calls for the entire town to be built within a 1,000-foot radius of the central church and plaza.
Accuser to get reports on priests
The psychological records are part of a Diocese of Scranton molesation suit.
Times Leader (Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, PA)
24 March 2004
By TERRIE MORGAN-BESECKER
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.”
Society of St. John Update.
Despite Legal, Financial Woes, Society Still Does Fund-Raising
September 5, 2002
By Paul Likoudis
SHOHOLA, Pa. – Its founder and former superior and his top aide are under criminal investigation and relieved of their priestly duties; the Society and its sponsor are defendants in three civil lawsuits; the Society’s debts total $700,000 (discounting the mortgage on the $2.2 million mountaintop parcel of real estate that was to be the site for a medieval village).
Nevertheless, the Society of St. John views these as “setbacks” and is continuing its fund-raising appeals.
Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity, founder of the Society of St. John, and Fr. Eric Ensey, both accused of homosexual molestation, remain under a criminal investigation by the Lackawanna County district attorney and the Pennsylvania state police based on charges leveled by a former St. Gregory Academy student, who, with his parents, has filed a lawsuit against the top two members of the Society.
Urrutigoity, who was ordained a priest for the Society of St. Pius X by Bishop Richard Williamson in Winona, Minn., and Ensey have been relieved of their duties by Bishop James Timlin of Scranton, Pa., and cannot appear or function in public as priests.
The lawsuit, filed by Seattle attorney James Bendell and Douglas Clark of Pecksville, Pa., also names the Diocese of Scranton and its bishop, James Timlin, the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter and St. Gregory’s Academy, an all-boys school operated by the Fraternity, alleging negligence on the part of the defendants for allowing St. Gregory’s students to have sleepovers with Urrutigoity and Ensey on Society of St. John property.
There are no allegations of improper sexual contact in any of the three civil suits against members of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter or staff or administration at St. Gregory’s Academy. The lawsuit claims that “prior to being incardinated in the Diocese of Scranton, an incident of homosexual molestation took place between Fr. Urrutigoity and a former seminarian” at the Seminary of La Reja, operated by the Society of St. Pius X, in Argentina, and that he was subsequently admitted to the Pius X Seminary in Winona “with permission and warning from Archbishop [Marcel] Lefebvre that Urrutigoity was to be monitored,” and then was subsequently dismissed for “subversive activity.”
In an August 15 press release issued by the lawyers for the Society of St. John, the allegations were described as “fallacious,” and “so absurd that, besides their untruthful content, it is also expected that they will be found to have glaring inadequacies in form according to law.
“We therefore first contest that the suits should progress any further, as it would be reckless to waste our efforts and time to prove what from the outset is obvious.” The statement, issued in the name of the defendants’ law firm, Foley, Cognetti, Comerford, and Cimini, declares that the defendants “are innocent of all the tabloid charges being leveled against them by one vocal detractor.”
That “vocal detractor” is Dr. Jeffrey Bond, whom the Society recruited to establish its St. Justin Martyr College, and whom the Society claimed in its June 19, 2002 fund-raising letter, is “dead set on the destruction of the Society…at apparently any price.” As this report goes to press, the lawsuits are in pretrial discovery phase, and a trial date, it is expected, will be set on September 5. Asked by The Wanderer to comment on the lawsuits, plaintiffs’ attorney Bendell would say only that “the local ethical rules in federal district court in Pennsylvania forbid attorneys from trying the case in the press, so I have no comment except to say that I look forward to going to trial.”
In his six-page appeal on behalf of the Society of St. John, Deacon Joseph Levine appealed to Society benefactors to continue supporting the Society, which consists of eight priests, one deacon, four novices, and four other members.
Asked to give an update on the Society’s financial situation, Deacon Levine told The Wanderer that it has not filed for bankruptcy, and does not anticipate doing so. He also said that the mountaintop property in Shohola is not now for sale.
He also said that the Society has not tried to return or sell any of the approximately $235,000 worth of furniture, purchased from Penn Furniture over two years from 1997 to 1999, which was purchased on credit.
According to invoices posted by Jeffrey Bond on his web site, saintjustinmartyr.org, the purchases included such items as a $15,000 mirror, a $6,828 bar, a $2,885 cocktail table, a $7,845 entertainment center, a $12,995 desk, a $15,000 bedroom set, and a $26,480 dining table (with chairs). Also, three rugs, totaling more than $18,000; a $4,900 oil painting, Roses on Chair; two bedroom nightstands, for $7,500; another desk at almost $10,000; two swivel chairs, at almost $1,000 each; a leather and iron cocktail table for $1,860; a 7′ x 5′ tapestry for $4,735; a chandelier for $1,828; a telephone table for $975, and so on.
Deacon Levine emphasized that these purchases were “never for the comfort” of the members of the Society of St. John, but were purchased for the comfort of “guest visitors.”
The Other Two Cases
The other two lawsuits against the Society of St. John name as codefendants Bishop Timlin and the Diocese of Scranton, and pertain to claims by Dr. Bond personally and as president of St. Justin Martyr College for breach of contract, raising money under false pretenses, among other charges.
Among the interesting allegations made in the lawsuit is that Bond quit his previous teaching job on a verbal promise from Fr. Urrutigoity that he would be the founding president of the college, after key members of the Society’s Board of Advisers, businessman Matthew Sawyer, John Blewett, and Howard Wash resigned because they were concerned about the Society’s mismanagement of its financial resources.
The lawsuit also alleges that Fr. Urrutigoity informed Bond that he could no longer pay him for his work as the college’s president, due to financial constraints, at the same time as he indicated his intention to hire a cook, a secretary, and a receptionist.
The attorney for this lawsuit, as well as the other, is Douglas Clark.
In the second lawsuit, the plaintiffs’ attorney alleges that the Society’s fundraising appeals used the notion of a new Catholic liberal arts college as a major component for drawing financial support for the Society, but “misrepresented” to donors that a portion of the money would be dedicated to the college.
Of the estimated $5 million the Society took in through its various appeals, the lawsuit states, “very little money was actually directed by the Society to the college project.”
At this time, the Society of St. John exists as an association of priests of the Diocese of Scranton, and continues to solicit funds, despite public allegations by former supporters, advisers, and board members that the Society is actually a cult of homosexuals.
Among those who made that charge is former member Fr. Richard Munkelt, who was ordained by Bishop Timlin for the Society, and subsequently asked for a release and who remains a priest of the Diocese of Scranton.
In a March 28, 2002 affidavit, he declared:
“.I believe with moral certitude that the Society of St. John is a cult of homosexual predators and their accomplices. They justify, or rather rationalize, perversion by recourse to a theory of male intimacy based in part on a specious criticism of puritanical attitudes. They foster among youth puerile fantasies of male camaraderie. And they use alcohol and tobacco to break down the resistance of victims.
“Friends of the Society and some parents of boys who have been closely associated with the Society are utterly fooled by the charm of these predators, and refuse to address themselves to the specific warning signs and evidence of Society malfeasance. Moreover, many of them wield the slogan of ‘innocent until proven guilty’ with appalling ignorance of the standards of evidence that justify moral action.”
Munkelt, who joined the Society in September 1999 as a deacon, and was ordained by Timlin in June 2001, stated that he resigned from the Society in August 2001, because: “1) I came to the conclusion that the Society was engaged in a land development scheme that was both infeasible and quite possibly fraudulent; 2) I had observed that the Society had reduced itself to a debt service and telemarketing corporation; and 3) I was convinced that the Society was unethically using the College of St. Justin Martyr to raise money for itself with no intention of supporting the college.
“Furthermore, I had my private doubts about Rev. Urrutigoity’s dealings with youth. During my tenure with the Society of St. John, I slowly began to take notice of the gatherings of young men hosted by Rev. Urrutigoity. Many of these young men were St. Gregory’s Academy graduates. These gatherings would sometimes involve evenings of heavy drinking and a number of young men sleeping in Rev. Urrutigoity’s private chambers along with Rev. Urrutigoity. I did not suspect homosexual activity but considered the activity to be rather irresponsible and recklessly imprudent, especially given the times and the publicity over cases of priestly sexual misconduct.
“Moreover, I thought, should such activity become known to the public it could destroy everything and everyone associated with the Society, including many donors and families, in a maelstrom of scandal. Let it be said right away that such a willful departure from sound judgment by Rev. Urrutigoity, as head of a clerical association and a project involving millions of dollars, itself constitutes gross immorality.”
Fr. Munkelt’s full statement, along with copies of the three lawsuits, and other informational items can be found on the Internet at saintjustinmartyr.org.
Bishop says priests will lose posts
The Scranton Times Tribune
18 June 2002
By Ray Flanagan
As many as six men serving the Diocese of Scranton will no longer be able to
act publicly as priests because of the policy adopted by American bishops in
cases involving the sexual abuse of minors, Bishop James C. Timlin said
The plan adopted last weekend calls for their removal to be taken without
naming the priests or explaining their offenses. The bishop conceded there
is a small possibility it could change.
“We are committed to be open,” he said, but added the diocese wants to
“temper” the purging “with compassion and charity.”
Bishop Timlin said those being divested of their priestly trappings would be
included in a list of assignment changes, which will be announced shortly
and become effective July 3. The reason for their new assignments will not
The bishop said he is taking the action reluctantly because he believes the
priests — all one-complaint offenders who have received treatment and shown
devotion to their vocation — have earned their second chances.
“I feel badly about these men,” he said. “They’re doing good work and now we
have to do this.”
But his feelings will not interfere with his duty, Bishop Timlin said.
“We are committed to implementing the policy.”
Conflicting figures made it unclear exactly how many priests face action.
The bishop spoke of three or four men who will no longer be able to show any
sign that they are ordained, but diocesan officials said in April that five
men, who had been involved with teen-agers, had been continued as priests in
assignments where they had no contact with youngsters.
At the time, the Rev. Thomas Skotek had just been suspended because he
admitted improper conduct with a teen-age girl 30 years ago.
The Revs. Carlos Urrutogoity and Eric Ensey remain under suspension because
of still-unconfirmed allegations they molested a teen-age boy several years
The issue of what to do with priests who had sexually abused minors in the
past was one of the most hotly debated last week at the bishops’ meeting in
Dallas. Many victims and others demanded “zero tolerance,” so the bishops
took a hard line.
Bishop Timlin, who favored a case-by-case policy, said he was surprised at
the support behind his position. It blunted the complete casting out of all
sexually abusive priests.
About the only connection that will remain between those who are divested
and the priesthood will be the ability to celebrate Mass for themselves.
“They can’t present themselves as priests,” Bishop Timlin said. “They can’t
wear the collar.”
Some who will lose their priestly capacity are aged, the bishop said, so
they will be retired. He did express concern that others who are retiring,
which is mandatory at 75, might be mistaken for the sexual offenders.
He did not say what would happen to the younger men.
The bishop said he has not talked to any of the priests about the action he
will take against them.
Bishop Timlin noted the new national policy, which calls for police and
prosecutors to be informed of all complaints about the sexual abuse of
minors, does not fully define what is prohibited.
For example, he recalled a heated complaint he received years ago from a
parent about a priest kissing his daughter on the hand. He said he does not
consider that incident reportable, but his thinking could be changed.
“If you don’t (report it),” the bishop said, “they think you’re hiding
He also said the Dallas policy does not address civil lawsuits. The church
has been criticized for using attorneys who play hardball with victims.
Bishop Timlin regrets that happens, but does not see any way around it. “If
you choose the court system,” he said, “then you have to play that game.”
The bishop said the most difficult part of the meeting was hearing from the
“We would be so anxious to talk to people if they would be reasonable,” he
The diocese is named as a defendant in a federal lawsuit along with Fathers
Urrutigoity and Ensey of the Society of St. John. The matter has been under
investigation for several months by Lackawanna County District Attorney Andy
Scranton Diocese has escaped devastating suits, but bishop still wants safety net
Coping with crisis
Posted on Sunday, 26 May 2002
By MARK GUYDISH
SCRANTON – Land was sold, but not to pay for lawsuits. Insurance costs rose, but not enough to threaten parish budgets.
Still, the risk of financial disaster in the Scranton Diocese has grown as the national priest scandal unfolds, Bishop James Timlin concedes, and changes might be needed to protect parishes and schools from the fallout.
“We’ve been in good shape for a long time,” Timlin said of the self-insurance system the diocese uses in dealing with liability claims, including about $500,000 for victims of priest misconduct in the past three decades.
That money – paid to the victims directly or for services they needed to recover – has been absorbed by the diocese with no impact on individual parishes, Timlin said. “But a huge settlement could wipe us out.”
Timlin cited a 1997 abuse case in Dallas, Texas, that originally awarded $119 million to 11 people. “No diocese can afford that,” he said. The amount has since been reduced to $23.4 million, forcing that diocese to mortgage assets to secure an $11.3 million loan.
The Scranton Diocese has not faced such coffer-draining suits, Timlin said, but is plagued with potentially costly claims these days. A lawsuit seeking more than $1 million was filed in March alleging sexual misconduct against a minor at St. Gregory’s Academy, an all-boys school in Lackawanna County.
That suit involves two priests – the Rev. Eric Ensey and the Rev. Carlos Urrutigoity – from the Society of St. John in Shohola, Pike County. The priests lived at St. Gregory’s during the alleged misconduct. They’ve been removed from duty, as per diocese policy, and the Lackawanna County district attorney is investigating.
Two other priests have been removed from duty since then: the Rev. Christopher Clay, a chaplain and theology instructor at Bishop Hafey Jr./Sr. High School in Hazle Township, and the Rev. Thomas Skotek, pastor of St. Mary’s and Ascension parishes in Conyngham Township.
No charges or lawsuits have been filed in those cases.
And two new lawsuits are pending, both stemming from a rift between the Society of St. John and Jeffrey Bond, the man hired by the society to form a college, and later fired. Those suits ask for unspecified monetary awards.
Timlin said the size of the diocese – 11 counties – makes him a frequent legal target.
“At any given time I’m involved in 40 lawsuits,” he said. Most are minor claims for injury or loss on diocese property – claims Timlin said the diocese frequently pays even when not liable because it’s cheaper than going to court.
Timlin’s name ends up on lawsuits because he is listed as the owner of all diocese property, but he stressed that’s a technicality. He is only a trustee and the property really belongs to the individual parish.
The diocese buys and sells property all the time, Timlin said. But he added “there is no program here of selling off properties to pay settlements.” Most transactions are between parishes.
Similarly, Timlin said all parishes are insured through the diocese, so claims are handled by the Scranton office. Small settlements are paid by the diocese. For large ones, the diocese buys coverage through a broker.
“Parishes pay their insurance policy to us. If they have a claim, they don’t have to quibble with us about liability. It’s a great savings for them,” Timlin said. “I put that program into effect many years ago when I served as chancellor.”
Insurance costs have risen sharply in recent years. The diocese releases an independently audited financial statement each year, and in a preface dated Feb. 7 that accompanied the latest statement, Timlin wrote that insurance claims increased $461,692 in the last fiscal year, which runs July 1 to June 30.
That jump, combined with operating and investment losses, left the diocese spending about $1 million more than it took in, according to the statement: nearly $19.5 million in revenue compared to about $20.5 million in expenses.
Timlin pointed out that, as a religious, nonprofit corporation, the diocese does not have to release such data. He said he started the policy of publishing a financial statement in the diocesan newspaper, The Catholic Light, because parishioners have a right to know.
That statement shows why people would sue the diocese, and not just a local church, when a problem arises: Total assets exceed $84 million. But much of that is wiped out by liabilities – insurance, pensions, school and cemetery costs – leaving the net assets at a little less than $16 million.
No matter how you measure, it sounds like a lot. And the way things are structured now – with all property falling under one umbrella – there is no legal fire wall separating parishes and schools.
For example, Timlin said, the diocese could be forced to sell a property such as Bishop Hoban High School as part of a settlement, even if the problem that led to the lawsuit had nothing to do with Hoban.
The potential for such big-ticket lawsuits has some diocese officials suggesting a move to protect properties, Timlin said. He cited a recent Wall Street Journal article that detailed a nationwide trend: Separate corporations are set up within a diocese to make it harder to go after those properties in lawsuits.
Timlin said he has not made legal maneuvers to protect property, but that it might be advisable in the future. He also said changes in diocese policy about complaints against priests seem likely, but will not occur until after the June meeting of the U.S. Conference of Bishops. The conference is expected to issue new guidelines for all dioceses.
In fact, he doubts any significant changes will occur before his mandatory retirement in August, when he turns 75 – something he admits looking forward to.
“I’m feeling my years. I would stay on if I was younger, but I’m either slowing down or things are speeding up. It’s not that I’m trying to run away from anything, it’s time. I’m 75 and most people retire long before that. ”
And that idea – that people might believe he is using retirement to run from hidden failures, clearly chafes.
“This is what I resent,” Timlin said. “People jump to conclusions and say we’re sheltering priests from authorities, or hiding or confounding the issue and paying out hush money. They use all those pejorative words, and it’s just not that way at all. We’re doing the best we can within civil law.”
Asked if he had advice for his successor after such a tumultuous final year, Timlin said: “I won’t tell the next bishop what to do; I’ll be available if he wants and give advice if he asks, but he will be in charge.”
Mark Guydish, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at 829-7161.
Allegations made by priest ordained by BishopTimlin
The Scranton Times Tribune
30 March 2002
BY RAY FLANAGAN / STAFF WRITER
Bishop James C. Timlin said Friday that a priest’s accusations that he Diocese of Scranton engaged in a “wholesale cover-up” of sexual buse and fiscal improprieties was full of “untruths and false conclusions.”
The charges, made by a priest ordained by the bishop nine months ago, come a week after two other priests from the Society of St. John were named as defendants in a federal lawsuit.
The suit claims the priests molested a boy while he was a student at St. Gregory’s Academy in Elmhurst in 1998 and 2000.
The Rev. Richard A. Munkelt, a former member of the Society of St. John, made the latest accusations in an e-mail message sent to The Times-Tribune.
“The rantings of Father Munkelt are a source of great dismay and sadness to me,” Bishop Timlin said in a handwritten reply. “His statement is just filled with untruths and false conclusions.”
The bishop has spoken out on the sexual-abuse issue in recent weeks, but the Rev. Munkelt says the bishop was told during the summer about St. John priests sleeping with students, and did nothing at the time.
In an interview earlier this month, Bishop Timlin said he heard reports about shared bedrooms in 1999 and immediately told Society members who were living in Shohola to stop the practice. The latest incident alleged in the lawsuit occurred in the fall of 2000.
The bishop also said he removed the Rev. Carlos Urrutigoity and the Rev. Eric Ensey, the accused priests, from their duties in January when he learned the name of an alleged victim. They are now in a retreat house.
Those allegations were also referred to Lackawanna County District Attorney Andy Jarbola, but no arrests have been made. The Rev. Munkelt said he has talked with county Chief Detective Thomas Dubas about the case.
In addition to the two priests, the defendants are the diocese, Bishop Timlin, the Society of St. John, St. Gregory’s Academy and the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, which runs the academy.
The Society of St. John, an order created to foster traditional rituals like the Latin Mass, is involved in a bitter dispute over the College of St. Justin Martyr, a still-to-be-built college.
The Rev. Munkelt has allied himself with Dr. Jeffrey Bond, who accuses the order of using the college as a money-raising tool that will never become a reality. The feud also involves liturgy, with one side favoring all-Latin services.
The priest’s criticism of Bishop Timlin revolves as much around decisions made about the college as about the sexual allegations.
The Rev. Munkelt also portrays Bishop Timlin and auxiliary Bishop John M. Dougherty as having different positions. Bishop Timlin denied the accusation, saying they are of “one mind” on the issues.
Asked about the Easter-time issuing of his statement, the Rev. Munkelt said: “The timing had to do with the inauguration of the priesthood at the Last Supper.”
The e-mail says administrators at St. Gregory’s told the Rev. Munkelt of sexual abuse by the Rev. Urrutigoity. No school official could be reached for comment.
The Rev. Munkelt was ordained in June after joining the Society of St. John in 1999 as a deacon. The priest, who holds a doctorate, said he is originally from Long Island. Bishop Timlin said the Rev. Munkelt received his training for the priesthood in the Bridgeport
After resigning from the Society, the Rev. Munkelt was given permission to search for a position in the educational field.
The Rev. Munkelt, who resides in Greeley, confirmed by telephone that he composed the e-mail message, but refused further comment.
Statement by Bishop Timlin:
The rantings of Father Munkelt are a source of great dismay and
sadness to me. His statement is just filled with untruths and false
conclusions. I deny that I have been negligent in my dealings with
the Society of St. John or anyone else. This matter has now become a
court case, and I am confident that the truth will be made clear to
reasonable minds in these proceedings.
I am happy to say that no one is more of one mind with me than my
auxiliary bishop, Bishop John M. Dougherty. It’s outrageous for
anyone to imply otherwise.
I learned of Father Munkelt’s statement from a newspaper reporter,
rather than from him. This is not the way a priest is to treat his
— Bishop James C. Timlin
©Scranton Times Tribune 2002
Priests Struggle With Image
The Scranton Times Tribune
03 March 2002
BY MARITA LOWMAN THE SUNDAY TIMES March 03, 2002
Dream with us of a village of winding streets scattered with warm homes, fields of children playing, an amphitheater busy with drama and music, a schoolhouse and markets…
“Every day from the towers of a magnificent church, the bells call the village families to amble up the hill to hear Mass, sing Vespers or simply gather in the Town Square for merriment and celebration.
— From the brochure of The Society of St. John
When four priests of the Society of St. John settled in the Diocese of Scranton four years ago, they brought with them a vision of intellectual culture, stirring liturgical worship and faith-filled peace.
Today they number 17, but the vision is shaken. Two are under investigation for alleged sexual misconduct with young men. The group is under criticism for freewheeling spending.
A rift among members and supporters leaves their plans in limbo, and the Catholic college the priests intend to build is still an unrealized dream.
The accusations against and criticisms of the Society of St. John in Pike County come at a time when the Catholic Church nationwide is baring its soul with revelations about priests who were sexual molesters.
Among clergy, the claims are not unique to Catholic priests, nor are the acknowledged incidents all new — many date back 20 to 50 years or more. But the confessed magnitude of them has cast a shadow on the church’s spiritual leaders and forced an examination of church policies.
From Boston to Philadelphia, Erie to Scranton, church officials are confronting a demon that has victimized hundreds.
Since January, when Cardinal Bernard Law made his forced public confession of dozens of Boston priests who molested minors, dioceses across the country have come under scrutiny.
Soon after Boston’s crimes came to light, Jeffrey Bond, a disenchanted supporter of the Society of St. John — admittedly angry over a business deal that did not go his way — began firing off a barrage of widespread Internet messages accusing two of the society’s priests with inappropriate behavior, strongly intimating sexual misconduct.
Since then, he said, he has received information that sexual misconduct did occur between the priests and two young men.
This month, the two priests are undergoing psychiatric and psychological evaluation, and if warranted, treatment, said Bishop James C. Timlin, who ordered the testing.
Lackawanna County District Attorney Andy Jarbola is investigating one of the claims, this one from a graduate of St. Gregory’s Academy in Elmhurst, where some of the Society of St. John’s priests resided in 1998. It has not been made clear whether the alleged incident occurred in Elmhurst, at the society’s property in Pike County or out of state.
The bishop referred the case to the district attorney’s office once he received a letter from the young man’s father identifying the young man.
He also called the alleged victim’s family, expressing his sorrow if the allegation is true, offering help and asking to talk with the son. The father said he could not.
The graduate and his family don’t live in Pennsylvania.
Meanwhile, against the diocesan lawyer’s advice, Bishop Timlin has written to alumni of St. Gregory’s in an attempt to learn whether other alleged misconducts occurred.
The Society of St. John is a remnant of a traditional Latin Mass movement led by the late Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, who opposed the Vatican II reforms, disregarded the pope’s authority and was excommunicated in 1988. That same year, the pope directed the church to accommodate Catholics who preferred the Tridentine liturgy and welcome priests from that movement who wanted to be part of the Roman Catholic Church.
The Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter came first and established St. Gregory’s Academy, a boarding school in Elmhurst.
The Society of St. John followed.
Bishop Timlin, impressed with the young men’s enthusiasm, intellectual bent and dedication to liturgical worship, permitted them to set their roots here. Initially, they stayed at St. Gregory’s. Later, with help from generous donors and ambitious plans to create a Catholic village and college, they acquired 1,025 acres in Shohola Township.
They hired Mr. Bond with the hope that he would lay the academic foundation for the college and be its president.
But in 1999, problems surfaced.
Allegations of past sexual misconduct arose, specifically against the superior general. The accusation stemmed from an encounter the priest had before coming to the diocese. Diocesan officials investigated the report, but discovered nothing conclusive.
If it had involved a minor, it would have been turned over to law enforcement officials, the Rev. Joseph Kopacz, the vicar of priests, said.
According to Mr. Bond, an earlier allegation against the society priest also occurred when he was a seminarian in Argentina.
In Shohola, other behavior sparked criticism. Some said the priests were spending too much money on furniture and decorations. Some took issue with their European habit of serving wine and beer to teen-agers.
And, oddest of all by American standards, some reported a practice in which priests and seminarians were sharing the same bedroom and in some cases the same bed.
Word of it reached Bishop Timlin, who ordered them to his office.
“I told them in no uncertain terms they had to stop (sharing bedrooms.) They could not have even the appearance of impropriety. They said the young men wanted to talk at night and would come into the room for spiritual direction. They agreed to stop meeting in the private bedrooms,” Bishop Timlin said.
He told them, too, to stop serving alcohol to the teens.
“I was banging my fist on the table. I told them they could be arrested in Pennsylvania for doing that. I told them to cut back on the spending, too, and come up with a budget,” he said.
“They promised they would. Did I trust them? Yes, I trust a lot of people.”
But by then, an internal rift fractured the society’s unity.
Bishop Timlin said he initially had the impression it centered on liturgical issues. While some members and supporters favored a pure traditional approach, others –including the two accused priests — preferred a mix of the Latin rite with Scripture readings in English.
Then finances entered the equation. Mr. Bond said his paychecks were late, funds raised for the college were going into the society’s pot and the priests wanted Mr. Bond to do fund-raising, an idea he rejected.
He and one of the priests, who has since left the society, asked Bishop Timlin to separate the proposed college from the society and form two corporations.
The society opposed the concept. The bishop tried unsuccessfully to negotiate a compromise and ultimately refused to order a split because, he said, he felt Mr. Bond’s group would be engineering “a hostile takeover of the society’s project.”
That decision was made in mid-October.
On his Web site, in e-mails and in interviews with reporters, Mr. Bond has leveled harsh criticism on Bishop Timlin and Auxiliary Bishop John Dougherty.
Bishop Timlin said Mr. Bond has twisted conversations around and misquoted the Scranton bishops.
According to Mr. Bond, Bishop Timlin ignored the sexual allegations until Mr. Bond launched his Internet campaign.
In light of the national picture and the allegations against two Society of St. John priests, some of the Diocese of Scranton’s policies will likely change, the bishop said.
Fledgling orders of priests who enter the diocese, such as the society, have not been put through the battery of psychological and psychiatric tests that well-established orders require or that even diocesan seminarians undergo at St. Pius X Seminary in Dalton. And because the new orders are typically composed of members from other states and other cultures, they do not have a family history here.
Monsignor Joseph Bambera, chairman of the Diocesan Council of Priests, said he believes anyone who comes to work in the diocese should undergo not only the same battery of testing that diocesan priests do, but even more rigorous examination.
Father Kopacz agreed.
“If there are any gaps, they have to be closed,” he said.
In his homily at Holy Family Church on North Washington Avenue two weekends ago, an emotion-filled Monsignor Constantine Siconolfi spoke about the “dark shadow that has stained a beautiful church.”
Coming on the heels of Boston’s crimes and as the Society of St. John’s allegations persisted, he urged parishioners to be remain loyal to God and to the church.
“I’m heartbroken for the people,” he said.
At the same time, he cautioned them to remember that “anyone can make allegations, and once said, a priest’s reputation is ruined.”
Monsignor Philip Gray, pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Church in South Scranton, broached the subject during a recent Mass, as well.
“It’s all very disturbing,” he said. “If the allegations and reports (around the state and country) are true, I’m just horrified. I brought it up because we need to talk about it. The people don’t know how to talk about it. I asked them not to generalize. This is a disgrace to the church, but we will survive. We will persevere.”
“For me, the whole thing puts a cloud over the ministry of all priests. It brings a sense of self-consciousness — Are people looking at us and wondering whether we are all that way?” said Monsignor Bambera.
“I think there may be a sense of uneasiness among us, an awkwardness in our relationships with people. But on the flip side, I feel very strongly that if these issues are out there and somebody’s responsible for hurting an innocent person, he has to take responsibility for it.
“People have a right to expect integrity in our lives and we have a responsibility we have to meet.”
The church, he said, must be open and forthright. If an allegation seems in any way legitimate, civil authorities must be called in quickly. As in the Enron scandal, he said, outside scrutiny brings objectivity.
In the Scranton diocese, he said, an allegation of sexual misconduct results in a priest immediately being placed on leave, entering therapy if the allegation seems plausible, and in some cases never being reassigned.
In past cases, Bishop Timlin persuaded two priests to leave the priesthood. He did not detail the circumstances.
“This is not a pleasant time for the church and it is an especially unpleasant time for us. Having said that, I also know it does not compare to what people go through if they have been abused. If a niece or nephew of mine was victimized by a priest or anyone, I don’t know if I would have much tolerance,” Monsignor Bambera said.
He and fellow priests, meanwhile, hope the onslaught of allegations does not ruin the reputations of innocent people.
Bishop Timlin worries about that, too.
“How does someone prove their innocence?” he asked.
At the Society of St. John, meanwhile, the 15 remaining priests are going about their business, saddened by recent events but determined to move their projects forward, said the Rev. Mr. Dominic E. O’Connor, an Englishman and one of the early members of the order.
Traditional Catholics are not immune to sex scandals.
National Review Online
February 7, 2002 9:15 a.m.
Are 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
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.”
DIOCESE OF SCRANTON
Two priests relieved of duties as name of alleged victim surfaces
Scranton Times Leader
Posted on Sat, Jan. 26, 2002
By MARK GUYDISH [email protected]
SCRANTON – Two Diocese of Scranton priests have been relieved of
their duties pending an investigation into alleged sexual misconduct
with a young man, Bishop James Timlin confirmed Friday.
The priests are part of the Society of St. John, a religious
community in Shohola, Pike County. Timlin and Auxiliary Bishop John
Dougherty stressed they have been unable to contact the young man
involved and that the priests have denied any wrongdoing.
But a conservative Roman Catholic group based in Illinois has called
for Timlin’s resignation, claiming he ignored the charges for years.
Timlin and Dougherty adamantly denied that accusation.
The misconduct accusations have been made for months against the
priests, but Dougherty said interviews proved “inconclusive” because
no one would provide the victim’s name. That changed when the
diocese received a “confidential letter” on Jan. 12.
“We got a name and immediately got in touch with the family, and our
policy went into effect,” Dougherty said. “Our first pastoral
concern is to find out if the man alleged to be involved was hurt,
and does he need help. We are told he is saying that in the case of
one priest there may have been molestation and in the case of the
other priest there was clearly improper contact.”
The incidents are alleged to have occurred years ago, and until they
talk to the man, Dougherty and Timlin said they cannot be sure if he
was a minor at the time.
The diocese had received notice of possible improper conduct by one
of the priests in February 1999, from a seminary in Minnesota where
the priest was before coming here.
Interviews were conducted and the matter was brought before the
“clergy review board,” a collection of priests and laypeople set up
to evaluate such cases and recommend action. The board ruled the
evidence was inconclusive.
There also were rumors that some of the priests at the Society of
St. John were inviting young men and sometimes minors to sleep with
them in their quarters at Shohola and, before that, at St. Gregory
Academy – a school for students in grades nine through 12 – in
Elmhurst, where the society resided before buying land in Shohola.
Timlin and Dougherty said those rumors were immediately looked into,
and that some of the priests admitted having other men sleep in the
same room but denied sexual misconduct, saying it was simple
hospitality in crowded quarters. Timlin ordered them to stop the
But Roman Catholic Faithful Inc., a conservative group that boasts
of exposing wrongdoing by other bishops, doesn’t accept Timlin’s
In a wide-ranging press release dated Jan. 15, the nonprofit
organization accused Timlin of refusing “to take action to remove
and punish those responsible for potential psychological and moral
harm to seminarians and other young men.”
Roman Catholic Faithful President Stephen Brady said his group based
much of those claims on reports circulated by Jeffrey Bond,
president of a fledgling college originally planned for the Shohola
Bond said he came from California to help establish the college
because he believed in the St. John Society’s conservative vision.
The society wants to set up a small community, say Mass in Latin,
and open a small liberal arts college.
But Bond said the college board of directors decided to separate
from the society late last year after learning of the “sleeping with
men” allegations and hearing about possible fiscal mismanagement by
society members, including buying “luxury furniture” they couldn’t
Dougherty said the diocese also checked into those charges, and
agreed that the society might have spent money “imprudently.”
The society was “perhaps too optimistic” in the amount of donations
they expected, and apparently bought more things and paid for land
development studies without realizing they couldn’t immediately
afford it, Dougherty said.
The society is an independent nonprofit corporation that has
considerable autonomy, but still must ultimately answer to the
bishop, Dougherty said. A written response provided by Dougherty to
the Roman Catholic Faithful press release said the diocese “has
every reason to believe that the Society has exercised scrupulous
care and restraint in this area for some time now.”
Dougherty and Timlin repeatedly stressed that they want to get to
the bottom of the sexual misconduct allegations. Diocese policy
requires that, if abuse is confirmed, the cleric must “submit to a
If the evaluation indicates treatment is needed, the cleric “will be
urged to enter” a program, will be given a supervisor “to assure
accountability,” and must undergo treatment and after-care for “four
or five years” before being eligible for a new assignment.
Timlin said the diocese has been and will continue to adhere to the
policy. He also dismissed demands for his resignation, saying that
Roman Catholic Faithful Inc. had no authority to call for it. “That
is between myself and the Holy Father.”
Timlin said he plans to resign on Aug. 5, when he turns 75, as
required by the church.
Mark Guydish, a Times Leader staff writer, may be reached at
In the wilderness, visions of a Holy City
The Pocono Record
21 October 1999
By TOM LEEK
Ottaway News Service
A new society of Roman Catholic priests, working to “build a new foundation for Catholic culture” in a troubled world, plans to build a city-like community on 1,000 acres of Pike County.
The city, complete with a college, schools, a business district and homes for up to 2,000 people, is planned for a $2.6 million site the church has purchased off Route 434 in rural Shohola Township.
The Society of Saint John’s liberal arts college should be running by next fall, if only on a small scale, said the Rev. Eric Ensey, the Society’s chancellor general. Long-range plans call for 300 students.
Within a year or two, the Society expects to have created a prototype village with a stone church, a friary and a retreat center.
Within four or five years, the “city” is expected to take shape. The Society’s vision calls for a city in the ancient sense, Ensey said. It would be a tighter community than the world is accustomed to today, he said, “a group of ‘city-zens’ who live closely together.” The townspeople would worship in a church modeled after St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, on a scale just big enough to seat all 2,000 residents.
The church, as the centerpiece of the city, would be built atop one of Pike County’s highest hills, with a view that stretches 40 miles or more.
” … It is a city on a hill that can be a light to the world around it — and not one that pretends to be a city of the elect surrounded by sinners,” Ensey said.
The project will be funded, Ensey said, by individuals and families with an interest in the order’s work, those who want to live in the new city, and by foundations.
“We’ve always had what we needed — and never more,” Ensey said of the fledgling Society’s fund-raising efforts.
Ensey and the Society’s leading priest, the Rev. Carlos Urrutigoity, spoke Tuesday to two dozen civic and business leaders from Pike County and the townships of Shohola and neighboring Lackawaxen.
Just more than a month ago, the group moved onto the 1,025 acres off Route 434 it bought for nearly $2.6 million. The site is five miles west of Shohola village and a little more than one mile east of the intersection of routes 434 and 590.
Shohola Township, population 2,000 year-round and 10,000 in the summer, is a sleepy town best known, perhaps, for the landmark Rohman’s Inn.
Built hard against the former Erie Railroad tracks, Rohman’s has been open since 1849. In its heyday, the inn welcomed Charles Lindbergh, Babe Ruth and a host of other celebrities who hopped off the train for a cold one.
“The plans sound fascinating, very interesting,” Shohola Township Supervisor George Fluhr said. One of town government’s biggest concerns about the project is environmental conservation, he said, although he is encouraged by Ensey’s assertion that the Society will build in a nature-friendly way.
Pike County Commissioner Chairwoman Sally Thomson, a student of the classics, said the Society’s plans to build a college are “like manna from heaven.”
Gibson McKean, a local real estate broker who was born on neighboring property, said the Society’s move to Shohola promises huge economic benefits.
“It’s the biggest thing that’s happened in this river valley, ever,” McKean said. “If we went out and tried to get a college to move here, we couldn’t do it. Now it’s being handed to us on a platter.”