I appreciated the comments of “Mr. Experience” in response to my post about Opus Bono Sacerdotii (“work for the good of the priesthood”). https://catherinebroad.blog/2023/04/09/of-course-this-under-the-radar-freak-show-started-in-michigan/. OBS apparently does most of its work for the good of pedophile priests, which I am not so sure is work for the good of the priesthood at large. That’s probably why they stay on the down low. As Mr. Experience states, it certainly undermines credible victims of sexual predator priests. That, I would argue, is a large part of OBS’s purpose and message. I will defer to Mr. Experience when he says there are many priests doing good work who are in the priesthood for the right reasons. Let’s hope so. For me, the argument that a sexual predator priest is entitled to compassion might fit into the Jesus playbook, but this feels more like protecting the church itself at any and all costs. They are consistent, I’ll give them that.
A reader sent me the 2018 IRS form 990 for OBS. (Thank you.)
The form discloses that at some point in 2018, the “company” was restructured from a membership to a directorship nonprofit. (P. 43 of download). Base compensation to President and Director Joseph R. Maher for 2018 was $161,423.00. Treasurer/Secretary Peter A. Ferrara had a base compensation of $120,224 and other reportable (and apparently problematic) compensation of $50,859. Unsurprisingly, the OBS board maintained this “is a reasonable and not excessive compensation” after engaging a “nationally-recognized compensation consultant.” (P. 35). I guess it’s hard work (Maher claims 60 hours a week’s worth, P. 7) finding “solutions to the problems confronting priests in accordance with the authentic teaching of the Roman Catholic Church and of the Holy Father and his Predecessors.” (P. 2). Whew! I’m surprised 60 hours could even touch those “problems.”
Take a look at Schedule L, Transactions with Interested Persons, Part V, for an explanation of sorts for the shell game played with Fourione Studios, LLC, of Dryden, MI, and rental income for office space for a problematic priest who was a “legal advisor.” (P. 38). The “interested person”/treasurer was later terminated in October 2018. (P. 44.)
Schedule O contains a sanitized explanation of OBS’s financial settlement ($10,000) with the office of the Michigan AG to make a little old complaint about misuse of funds go away. (P. 40. Compare https://www.wlns.com/news/michigan/state-2-men-raising-money-for-priests-are-milking-charity/ and https://www.columbian.com/news/2019/jul/29/priests-accused-of-sex-abuse-turned-to-under-the-radar-group/).
The rest of the dough this 501(c)(3) raises is used to “provide direct financial assistance to and on behalf of active, retired, suspended, laicized, or incarcerated Roman Catholic priests for a variety of needs, including living expenses (e.g. food, lodging, transportation, job-search costs, healthcare and automobile insurance and repair), legal expenses associated with Canon Law (also known as “church law”) proceedings, legal expenses associated with Secular Law proceedings (e.g. criminal and civil actions), prison commissary funds, and expenses related to compliance with parole terms, direct financial assistance takes two forms recurring and emergency. Recurring assistance is typically provided to priests who lack enough funds to make ends meet each month. Emergency assistance is provided on an as-needed basis. Priests who receive emergency assistance often become recipients of recurring assistance.” (P. 40).
OBS provides “24-hour telephone support for priests facing spiritual and emotional crises,” referral to attorneys, a buddy to go to court with them, “protection from physical assaults,” ministering and “fraternal support” via prison visits, re-entry into the community, job-placement assistance for those “who can no longer minister publicly,” and help with those pesky financial skills. (P. 40).
And who better to fulfill these roles than the scammers of OBS? I’m all for re-integrating convicted felons back into society after they are released. But let’s be real. Do you honestly think a “company” (oh, I mean “nonprofit”) like this even acknowledges the rate of recidivism with pedophiles? Especially with priests who got away with these crimes for decades and who believe it’s all o.k. because they prayed to their god for forgiveness? People who think a civil lawsuit (often with damages awarded that are less than the salaries listed in this 990) as a “feeding frenzy” or a “money grab” instead of the imperfect, difficult and very inadequate method for getting some small justice?
Often these convicts are old men who evaded penalty for decades for a wide variety of reasons we are all too familiar with. See https://ag.ks.gov/docs/default-source/documents/20230106-kbi-clergy-report.pdf?sfvrsn=695cbd1a_2 (pages 8 and 9 of download). By the time they are convicted and sentenced (for a fraction of their offenses), their attorneys prevail upon the judge to have mercy on them because they are so old and frail. So they may well end up back on the streets. It would take a lot more than 60 hours a week of “monitoring” by OBS to keep an eye on these men. Maybe Richard Thompson at the St. Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor could give a few of these poor souls a job in his office. Or Tom Monaghan could have some answer phones or take online orders at a Dominos pizza joint. Just keep them away from the kids and the grandkids, right?
The Catholic church has cybersecurity that would impress Jack Teixeira and his gaming pals. There have long been credible allegations of church (not just the Catholic church) intimidation of victims, their families and their supporters. https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-04-24/survivors-of-church-abuse-speak-out-about-intimidation-tactics/11041506. These men of god take vows of celibacy and poverty, don’t they? I guess once they crash the celibacy gate, the poverty deal goes out the window, too. That’s when donations to OBS come into play.
To see how seriously fucked up this whole thing is, read more about the attorney for the AG who handled the settlement of the complaint against OBS and about pedophile priest-loving, snake oil nonprofit salesman Joe Maher at https://www.columbian.com/news/2019/jul/29/priests-accused-of-sex-abuse-turned-to-under-the-radar-group/. You can’t make this sad shit up.