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August 29, 2011

O'Brien to lead order of knights in Rome

Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien has been chosen to head a Catholic order of knights based in Rome, the Vatican announced Monday, an appointment likely to move O'Brien closer to becoming a cardinal, but also will make him the first of Baltimore's archbishops not to finish his career here.

Pope Benedict XVI named O'Brien to lead the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem, a 1,000-year-old group charged with supporting the Christian community and sacred sites of the Holy Land.

O'Brien, the spiritual leader of the Baltimore area's half-million Catholics, will continue administering the archdiocese until his successor is named until his own successor is named, the Baltimore archdiocese said in a news release early Monday.

The archdiocese has scheduled a news conference for 10 a.m.

Read more on O'Brien's new assignment at baltimore

The press release follows, after the jump.


Pope Benedict XVI today named Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien, 72, Grand Master of the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem. He succeeds Cardinal John Foley, who retired in February for reasons of health. Archbishop O’Brien had served as 15th Archbishop of Baltimore since October 1, 2007 and will serve as Apostolic Administrator of the Archdiocese until his successor is named.

Archbishop O’Brien will be available to the media at a press conference today:
Monday, August 29, 2011
10 a.m.
Catholic Center, 320 Cathedral Street

Archbishop O’Brien was ordained a priest in 1965 and a bishop by Pope John Paul II in 1996, serving as Archbishop of the Military Services from 1997-2007. During his priesthood, Archbishop O’Brien has served as chaplain at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York, Fort Bragg, North Carolina, and Vietnam. He was appointed Archbishop of Baltimore, the first Catholic diocese in the United States, in July 2007.

Prior to his ordination as bishop, Archbishop O’Brien served as Rector of St. Joseph’s Seminary in New York and the Pontifical North American College in Rome.

The Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem is an ancient Catholic Order under the auspices of the Vatican. The Order seeks to promote and defend Christianity in the Holy Land and to support the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem, a priority of Pope Benedict XVI.

Posted by Matthew Hay Brown at 7:20 AM | | Comments (24)


I, for one, I am glad to see him go and hope he never becomes cardinal. My wife was a victim of priest sexual abuse in the 1970s, and later an church employee. A year and a half ago one of the priests in the Archdiocese inflicted emotional abuse upon her until she resigned from her job, in essence revictimizing her. After nearly two years, no apology, witnesses not interviewed, my wife disrespected by Church personnel, no credible investigation conducted. The Archbishop tolerates way too much hypocracy and allows his officials to violate basic teachings of the Church. Good riddance!

This is great news. The Equestrian Order is 1000 years old and an honor to belong to. I am sure he will look out after the Spanish population of The Holy Land as well as, or better than he looked out for us here. Good luck in Rome.

Isn't there any other church officials, other than Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien, who could have been chosen to be the head the Equestrian Order of the Holy Sepulchre of Jerusalem?

O'Brien has a bad track record of protecting child predator priests instead of protecting innocent children. Why do these guys keep getting promoted?

Judy Jones, SNAP Midwest Associate Director,USA, 636-433-2511
"Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests" and all clergy.

Tim your story sounds bogus. If your wife was the victim of sexual abuse in the 1970s why keep working for the church? How about after the second time with the church employee? You didn't specify what the emotional abuse was either. All of that causes me to doubt your claims are valid.

Judy I had this debate with another SNAP person and while they were long on accusations they were short on proof. Maybe you can provide some concrete examples to back those claims? Escpecially considering SNAP's record of playing fast and loose with the truth on occasions.

This sounds a lot like the Cardinal Law golden parachute at St Mary Major all over again. He has screwed up royally on abuse cases. O'Brian also heartlessly and shamnefully sacked Fr Tom Doyle as an AirForce chaplain when he headed the Military Archdiocese. I'll bet the Vatican is getting him out of the way before some more major allegations of abuse emerge. His new job will give him a cushy landing lots of pomp and no doubt a fat 6 figure salary. It is an innocuous post, from which he can do little damage, but it also provides him with Vatican diplomatic immunity just in case any American prosecutors come calling with subpoenas. That's the real reason.
Shame on Benedict! Once again all his rhetoric in regard to clergy abuse and sympathy for victims ring hollow.
Stay tuned for the real reasons for this faux promotion. You don't go from being head of America's primatial and cardinalatial See and to sit on a horse in Rome. Does the Vatican think we are that stupid? They are about as subtle as BashirAssad or Quadaffi.

My understanding of the Fr Tom Doyle situation was that it stemmed from a memorandum he wrote for two superiors at Ramstein interpreting the archbishop's expectations for how Catholic base personnel should be ministered to. On several points, he appears to contradict the written guidelines of Archbishop O'Brien.

For example, the archbishop had said that base chaplains were expected to celebrate Mass daily and that Catholics at installations with assigned priests "have the right to attend Mass regularly."

Actually, Father Doyle wrote, Catholics do not have a right to daily Mass, according to church law. Daily Mass is a strong custom, but not "an essential element of the practice" of the faith. He also contradicted Archbishop O'Brien by saying the archbishop's permission was not needed to substitute a communion service on Sunday for a Mass if no Catholic priest was available

Do you hae some credible evidence that would contradict that? It would help your claim.

As for the Law comparison I have seen no one present any credible evidence that would support any such comparison. .

There are THREE cowardly uses of "Anonymous" in this thread. Given the anonymity everybody enjoys on the web, why do administrators endulge these cowards.
To illustrate how unjustified this practice is, how can anyone address a response to them? Are they ONE coward, TWO or THREE. And if one of them responds, is it the person who made one, two or three of the other comments by "anonymous"?

Rev Ray nice personal attack. Logical resposnes are to the issue not the person so it should make no difference. The only reason for needing to know what you want would be to attack the person not the issue. That is the true coward's way. However since it does to you they are all mine. Now why don't you try addressing the issue and not me.

HOLY SPIRIT is a live and well! I for one am grateful for O’Brien’s appointment. It is recent example of the Peter Principle for O’Brien has been incompetent before. Still, addition by Subtraction makes Baltimore a better place.

O’Brien’s qualification for the job: He will say and do anything to please the Pope, regardless of TRUTH or FACT.

EXAMPLE: O’Brien’s 2004 Military John Jay Report stating only 2 when over 20 military child abusers were known and published in 2003. Bishop Accountability published about a 100 military connected child and adult abusers in March 2011 who had abused by the commandments criteria, but not John Jays and O’Brien.

Many priests are happier for O’Brien is a man to whom they knew by past examples not to speak the truth.

Exposing Truth – Protecting Kids and Adults – Not Predators! -

Frank you have made similar claims in the past with bogus evidence which when carefully examined didn't support your claims. Since you want to call O'Brien a liar can you prove by independent sources not tied to SNAP that the man lied. So far I've heard that claim but have never seen any proof from you or anyone else.

Bishop Accountability's information is about as biased as SNAP's working under the guilty until proven innocent concept.

In truth SNAP has been guilty of playing fast in loose with the truth in it's crusade.

No surprise that he would be promoted - he follows the Church's line on the facilitation and protection of clergy sexual deviants. This facilitation and protection has gone on for most of the 20th century. Fr Tom Doyle's advocacy on behalf of those who were horrendously abused by clergy marked him for sacking. If you rock the Vatican's boat you will be ditched. O'Brien ditched Doyle could be contrasted with how O'Brien colleagues DIDN'T ditch sexually deviant clergy.

Anonymous: Faithful expect bishops to tell the whole truth—an article by Justice Anne Burke who is Supreme Court judge in the US state of Illinois. She served as chairwoman of the US Catholic Bishops’ Conference National Review Board, the US equivalent of the Irish Catholic bishops’ National Board for Safeguarding Children.

Archbishop Edwin F. O'Brien ran the Archdiocese for the Military Services in 1997-2007, was asked in 2004 to give an account of sexual abuse in his chaplain ranks, he could count only 2 offending priests. Below for the 4th or 5th time is a link to that specific document O’Brien submitted.

Do you realize when you believe O’Brien you disregard evidence from U.S. State, Circuit, or District Courts, Court Marshals, news account of admitted, Bishops recommendation letters for know abusers and other Catholic Church believed abusers, etc? If you comprehended the Bishops Accountability Military Chaplain List you would have found over 2 dozen examples of abusive Military Chaplain that fit even O’Brien and John Jay’s narrow description of sex abuse.

In addition, it appears you disregard over 30 various reports including: U.S. Grand Juries, Irish Government, United Nations, Amnesty International, Germany, Belgium, Australia, and other organization and individual commissioned reports. Do you deny their validity?

Can you supply any Government or other than one person reports or church self evaluations that verify your fallacious opinions?

I have provided you with proof in the past and you show ignorance seldom witness which is only trump by your bulling remarks to survivors. Actually, I stop corresponding with you because of your desire to remain close minded and ignorant. Sadly, I have no hope of you changing, but pray you will stop bulling survivors.

Exposing Truth – Protecting Kids and Adults – Not Predators! -

Interesting piece of information I located on the internet.

A small number of newspapers reported in April 2002 that David Clohessy knew in the early 1990's of allegations that his brother, Kevin - a Catholic priest - was sexually abusing innocent boys. David said he had known for years about the allegations and agonized over whether to report his brother to authorities. He even contemplated distributing leaflets outside his brother's church. But in the end, he did not go to the police.

For two decades, David Clohessy has been railing against Church leaders for supposedly not calling authorities when hearing of suspected abuse by priests. Meanwhile, he did the very same thing, and he may very well have jeopardized the safety of numerous innocent children by his inaction.

In April 2002, David learned that the Boston Globe was about to publish Kevin's name as a priest that the paper had identified as a child abuser. Rather than having his brother endure the sudden embarrassment, shock, and humiliation that so many priests face when they are unexpectedly thrown into the public spotlight, David called Kevin to warn him of the impeding news. "Thanks for the heads up," replied the abusive priest.
Clohessy has frequently demanded that the Church provide the whereabouts and supervision of abusive priests who are not incarcerated. Questions for David: Where is Kevin today? How can we be sure that your brother does not have access to innocent, unsuspecting children?

Hypocrisy? It sure seems like it.

Frank I have a question. In your example you mention a statement of O'Brein made in 2004. In order to back your claim he is a liar you quote a something published 2011 by Bishop Accountability. Even if I assume that the information from Bishop Accountability is correct that is seven years after O'Brien's statement. In order to be a lie wouldn’t need to show that at the time he made the statement in 2004 he knew what he as saying was not true. How exactly does a report issued seven years later do that?

I guess neither of the SNAP representatives are going to clarify their claims with some evidence. Not surprising really.

Frank I never said I believed or didn't believe O'Brien. Since you called the man a liar I asked you to prove it. None of the links you provided accomplish that. In order to prove O'Brien a liar you need to show that at the time he made the statement he knew it was not true. Anything uncovered after that time would only prove he was wrong not a liar. Why is it my job to prove your claims wrong? That is the problem with SNAP and you. Claims get made and it presumption of guilt. You have provided nothing of any real substance in the past. You try and overload with data to give an illusion of credibility. Then when called on it you attack me personally.
Let me make it simple for you unless you can PROVE that at the time a statement was made the person making the statement knew the information was not true it can not be called a lie. The burden of that proof falls to you. If it’s as clear cut as you claim then show it without the attempt to overwhelm with details. Show me credible evidence that O’Brien made statements he knew to be not true.
You stopped corresponding with me because I asked you to prove your claims and you couldn’t. Frustrated that wasn’t fooled by your smoke and mirrors you resorted to empty accusations, ridicule and personal attacks. Just as you are doing now.

,Frank since you decided bring up the topics if close minded ignorance and bullying I thought I’d point out a few things.
Are you familiar with the case of Fr. Bohdan Borowec? Apparently even after he was exonerated SNAP still made false accusations and championed the so called victim even after the claims were shown to be a complete fabrication.
How about Debra Zakrzewski. In May of 2011 SNAP made the startling claim that a "credibly accused child molester" - a suspended Catholic priest - was living in a Connecticut child day care center. SNAP's National Director David Clohessy, the same person apparently protecting predator brother, to bring media attention to the situation. There is one major problem with all of this, however. The claim was false. Two separate and thorough investigations by two different state agencies - and conducted at two different times - completely refuted SNAP's claim.
Could you explain why the founder of SNAP, Barbara Blaine, wrote a passionate letter in 2009 to the Louisiana State Board of Medical Examiners on behalf of disgraced SNAP psychiatrist Dr. Steve Taylor. Apparently Dr.Taylor was arrested in April 2008 for "possessing more than 100 sexually explicit pictures of children." Blaine reportedly asked the medical licensing board, in the words of Nolan, "to consider Taylor's humanitarian work and professional contributions to victims of childhood sexual abuse.".
Here is another one for you. A convicted felon came forward in 2004 to accuse Msgr. Richard Martini of "fondling" him in the early 1990's. The accuser's claim was forcefully investigated and found to be unsupported by the accuser's witnesses. Msgr. Martini has never had any other allegations against him. Yet when the archdiocese assigned Msgr. Martini to a parish in Santa Clarita, California, in 2010, SNAP summoned the media and duped parishioners into thinking that the archdiocese had recklessly placed a child molester in their midst. A SNAP spokesperson even falsely claimed that Martini had been "found liable" in court of wrongdoing.
Maybe you could help me with this one. In a clear violation of its own stated beliefs, SNAP did not immediately notify law or church authorities when it received information that an admitted molester was still serving in active ministry. Apparently when the Southwest Director of SNAP received information that Rev. Martin P. O'Loghlen was serving as an associate pastor in the archdiocese of Los Angeles, she did not take the news to law enforcement. Rather, in an effort to create maximum embarrassment the information was given to the New York Times. Somehow that doesn’t seem like the actions of an organization trying to protect kids.
Maybe you should examine yourself because I see plenty of ignorance and close mindedness from your organization and sadly you as well. I don’t see where you are your organization are doing anything to protect kids as you claim in your slogan. My prayers go out to every victim of abuse. The Catholic Church failed miserably at protecting the children of God. I just don’t see healing as a priority to you or SNAP. What I see is an organization bent on revenge. An organization that is willing to do whatever it takes to get hurt the Church for the hurt it caused. Sorry if I don’t see anything Christian in that.

I didn't know SNAP had gone as far as to support someone arrested for having child pornography. Doesn't it seem a bit hypocritical claim to the mission of protecting the vulnerable, healing the wounded and preventing abuse while the organization’s head ignores the fact that one of their own people possessed something created by the exploiting of children?

Frank Dingle I agree with you that faithful Catholics should expect truthfulness from their bishops. I looked at the links you provided and I really didn’t see anything to support your claims about Archbishop O’Brien. The first link had nothing to do with him or military chaplains. The second was the statement he made and it agrees with your claim. The third does contain a list of accused and in some case convicted abusers. What appears to be missing is evidence to support that O’Brien knew about the higher number in 2004 when he made the statement. The comments at the beginning suggested that some bishops may have provided false information which could casts even more doubt on O’Brien knowing. It is possible what you claim is correct, however, based on what you provided I really didn’t see it. Are you sure you aren’t allowing your emotions to cloud your own objectivity?

Concern Christian: Below is one of several articles which state that over 20 Military Chaplains names were known by the Military Archdiocese and/or in the public domain in 2003. If O’Brien didn’t known for his 2/2004 John Jay Report from 1950 to 2002 in my opinion it demonstrates at best incompetence and/or negligence and at worst taken extreme liberties with the truth.

Associated Press -- October 8, 2003 – “More than 25 current or former Roman Catholic priests serving -- Accusations against Priests in the Military as U.S. military chaplains have been accused of sexual abuse.”

Last Paragraph: “An unknown number of military priests who have not been named publicly. Bishop John J. Glynn, a former top official with the military archdiocese, in 1993 told lawyers for Sugrue's victim that he knew of accusations against Melody and six other Catholic military chaplains he did not name.”

The above verification and others have been provided to Anonymous in the past. They may be found at:

Former Military Chaplains have told me that they informed O’Brien of additional abusers before 2002 and he did nothing. Therefore, O’Brien’s lack of actions caused over a dozen rapes and/or abuses before court marshals or dishonorable discharges of these abusers after the 2004 JJR. Also, it is my opinion O’Brien’s cover-up of these reports caused at least one of these men to leave the priesthood

Anonymous: No, I don’t know the facts of your few stated concerns. But, I do know that a few US Bishops have planted false information in the past. One example that comes immediately to mind is the attempted smear campaign of Gov. Frank Keating.

But, for the sake of discussion, let say your few concerns are totally correct. How does these isolated cases compare to the overwhelming evidence of the over 30 various much larger and substantiated reports including: U.S. Grand Juries, Irish Government, United Nations, Amnesty International, Germany, Belgium, Australia, and other organization and individual commissioned reports? Your comparison even if true would be of minimum value in any statistical analysis that I was part of in my past profession.

Furthermore, do I have this right? You think the copy of the 2004 O’Brien’s JJR of just 2 abusers in 52 years is bogus or proves nothing. You think Cardinal Law’s recommendation for an abuser is bogus or proves nothing. Actually, a Boston Archdiocese priest and a former Forty rectory residence stated that Forty was a know abuser in Boston before entering the Military at a 3/24/11 Baltimore press conference. However, the media choose not to report it. You think Bishop William F. Murphy’s recommendation letter of an abuser is bogus or proves nothing. Do you think O’Brien did his best to protect military service folks and their families by not reporting these fallacious recommendations to the Military Police or Federal Prosecutors?

Again, it appears we disagree. Peace and Grace.

My delay in responding was due to lack of electricity and traveling. Again, I will travel this week and there may not be internet service.

Exposing Truth – Protecting Kids and Adults – Not Predators! -

Frank interesting thing. I took a brief look at that bishop-accountability list. The first ones I looked at were not even in the military at the time O'Brien served as Archbishop of the Military Services (1997-2007). It kind of makes me wonder. Based on past examples maybe it's you and your organization that have problems with the truth? It's too bad because the survivors deserve better than to be lied to and used again.

Frank I never offered the information on SNAP to justify anything the church has or hasn't done related to abuse. I offered it as proof that SNAP is not as concerned with victims as much as punishing the church. I also mentioned it because some of SNAP’s actions appear to ring with hypocrisy. If you say you don’t know anything I’ll except your word. Don’t accept my word investigate what I said yourself. I’m confident enough that an honest investigation would support what I said. Your claim of false information being spread you backed it with only Gov. Keating. As I recall he referred to the church as acting like La Cosa Nostra. I’m sure you and SNAP would concur with that. Do you mean the letter that accused him of having a mistress? The one that Chicago's Francis Cardinal George twice apologized to Keating after receiving a copy of the letter. Then Gov Keating lied when telling SNAP he received no apology. Didn’t he co-chair McCain’s presidential campaign and made racists comments about Obama on Dennis Miller’s radio show in 2008? Maybe it’s me but his own actions do a pretty good job of smearing himself. True the letter was a smear but there is nothing linking it the Bishops as you alleged. Would you have any better examples?

I looked briefly at your list and again what is there is sketchy and inconclusive. In some cases the dates are well before O'Brien was there and there is no mention of if the people on it were there when O'Brien was there. Many of them don't even indicate of the allegations were even credible. It still comes off as an attempt to paint a picture that may or may not be true by using excessive information to create an illusion of evidence. I guess that’s why you have moved past calling the man a liar to incompetent. Have you ever supervised a large body before? Do you know how many things can happen that the person at the top doesn’t know about? Just some things to ponder before making accusations like calling someone a liar or incompetent. Think about this that you didn’t know those things about your own organization one could say the same about you.

Why bring up Law? I've never once even attempted to support how that situation was handled. The handling of that whole situation by the church was wrong plain and simple. The Law situation in no way compares to O'Brien. I can only assume you bring that up for emotional effect.

The bottom line for me is this. Both your organization and you appear to be more interested in inflicting punishment on the church than helping victims heal and recover. As for O'Brien I have no real idea what how good a job he did and neither do you I suspect. You obviously don’t like O’Brien and have already judged him guilty so it’s probably best to drop it.

While I don’t see everything as you I do wish you Peace and Grace and safe travels.

Well according to one SNAP member the value of hypocrisy is of " minimum value". Maybe that's why many self-professed clergy abuse victims have sharply criticized SNAP.

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About Matthew Hay Brown
Matthew Hay Brown writes and blogs about faith and values in public and private life for The Baltimore Sun. A former Washington correspondent for the newspaper, he has long written about the intersection of religion and politics. He has reported from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East, traveling most recently to Syria and Jordan to write about the Iraqi refugee crisis.

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