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Did his past come back to haunt him?

Stockton bishop loses bid for chairmanship of committee on child protection after sex-abuse survivors group registers protest


Stockton Bishop Stephen Blaire failed to win the chairmanship of the U.S. bishops’ Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People -- though he has served on the committee for several years.

Instead, at their semi-annual meeting in Baltimore on Nov. 20, 130 U.S. bishops voted to give the committee chairmanship to Bishop Blaise Cupich of Rapid City, South Dakota. Blaire, who is also president of the California Conference of Catholic Bishops, received the support of 101 bishops.

Blaire’s candidacy to head the committee, which is tasked with developing policies dealing with clergy abuse of minors, was opposed by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), which describes itself as a “volunteer self-help organization of survivors of clergy sexual abuse and their supporters.”

SNAP opposed Blaire in part because he had wanted a California law that removed the statute of limitations of one year in cases of sexual abuse of minors to be overturned, according to the Nov. 14 Stockton Daily Record. The state law in question removed for 2003 the statute of limitations both in criminal and civil cases involving sexual abuse. In June 2003, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that removing the statute of limitations in criminal cases was unconstitutional. The court’s ruling did not affect civil cases.

In an Oct. 16, 2003 letter to California bishops, SNAP said it was “deeply troubled by recent legal maneuvers by one of your colleagues to overturn California's new child sex abuse law.” Blaire, said the letter, “is challenging the constitutionality of this law.”

SNAP criticized Blaire as well for his handling of the case of defrocked priest Oscar Pelaez. In 2001, Blaire learned of allegations that Pelaez, a priest of the Stockton diocese, had molested a 14-year old boy at Sacred Heart Church in Turlock in 1997. Blaire immediately suspended Pelaez, according to a March 6, 2003 Stockton Daily Record story and sent him to a medical facility on the East Coast -- but he did not report the incident to civil authorities.

Blaire told the Record that, because the victim was an adult when he alleged the abuse, the diocese saw no need to report it. Blaire said his critics “made an issue about not reporting. We had no [legal] obligation to report."

The victim’s therapist, however, reported Pelaez to authorities, and in the summer of 2002, the priest pleaded no contest to 12 counts of child molestation and was sentenced to 40 months at Mule Creek State Prison in Ione.

The Stockton diocese settled with Pelaez’s victim in 2002 for $1 million. The diocese agreed to the settlement, Blaire told the Record, because of "the uncertainty involved in what would be litigated."

Stockton diocese’s spokeswoman Sister Terry Davis told the Nov. 16 Record that, under Blaire, the diocese has instituted sexual abuse policies in compliance with U.S. Bishops’ Conference directives. These include suspension of a priest from ministry during an investigative period and turning all information over to law enforcement.


READER COMMENTS

Posted Wednesday, November 28, 2007 12:06 AM By Central Valley
I have little doubt that all of the California bishops, maybe with the exception of the Sacramento bishop and San Diego auxiliary voted for Blair. Birds of a feather stick together...Mahoney, Brown, Steinbock and the other protectors of malcontents, perverts and sodomites.

Posted Wednesday, November 28, 2007 4:11 AM By Norma Villarreal
According to spokeswoman Sister Terry Davis, under Stephen Blaire the diocese has instituted sexual abuse policies in compliance with conference directives. Unfortunately, Blaire's record of opposing the removal of statue of limitations in civil cases and his failure to report alleged incidents of sexual abuse to the authorities because "there was no legal obligation to report," indicate that the protection of children and young people is not his main concern.

Posted Wednesday, November 28, 2007 8:25 AM By hugo
Thank God for SNAP and Voice of te Faithful for keeping the focus on the failure of the bishops to cleanse their own ranks. All the talk of child protection policies is only a smokescreen to deflect attention from their widespread failure all over thi country ( and the world) to reign in predator priests. Now their battle is to hold onto outdated statues of limitation that is all about protecting their assets without regard to vctims' llegitimate rights to compensation and healing. The bishops as a body have lost all credibility in society at large and among ther flocks.

Posted Wednesday, November 28, 2007 9:25 AM By MGauer
The Bishops have no credability at all. They just elected another criminal bishop to lead them in Cardinal George. They just don't get it and the lay catholics who give money weekly continue to drink the kool-aid!!! Bishops should be elcted by the faithful and held accountable for their criminal actions.

Posted Wednesday, November 28, 2007 11:13 AM By mike
It seems to me that the reason Bishop Cupich was elected chair of the USCCB's Committee for the Portection of Children and Young People was the belief of the majority of Bishops that he was the best person for the task. I suspect they voted FOR Cupich rather than AGAINST Blaire. SNAP continues to vilify all our Bishops. As I recall they tried to keep the Bishops from electing Cardinal George as their President. In all their communications I didn't notice that they were FOR another candidate. They seem to be very effective at tearing down...but not too good at building up. I look forward to the day when they take a public stand FOR one of the Bishops. Then my belief in miracles will be renewed!!

Posted Wednesday, November 28, 2007 12:53 PM By Papamac
MGAUER, Please take note that the Faithful elect our Senators and Congresspeople, they elect Presidents and some times Judges. At Mass on Sunday walk around the parking lot and see the posters for Clinton, babblingbama,Guiliani, Romney, Edwards, Richardson, all of these creeps believe in Abortion,Gay rights and special gay laws, Euthanasia, sodomy and a few other assorted satanic idea's, anything for a vote, and we will attempt to justify our votes for these pathetic creatures by citing so called fiscal responsibility, the enviroment or their ever changing stance on Iraq. You want Catholics who at the rate of over 50% historically have been voting demonic driven agenda's to vote for Bishops, no way Lady, we are much to involved in supporting satans agenda ourselves to be calling those who select our Bishops to task. This does not mean we should support the USCCB and their ever increasing secularist leadership, but we must keep in mind that we have to trust in our PRAYERS and the Holy Spirit to lead the Catholic Church away from the direction a FEW malcontent Bishops continually try to lead us in. The vast majority of our Priests and Bishops bring a smile to the face of our Lord every day as they go about his work, we need to support them by Prayer every day and thank God that there are so many in his vineyard that are making a difference.Jesus himself only picked eleven faithful Apostles, one he picked was downright evil, take a hint from this example that he gave us. he was telling us that this would happen, so why does everyone seem to pounce on the whole Priesthood over the actions of a few. Try PRAYER for them, it does work you know, Jesus "I TRUST IN YOU" GOD BLESS

Posted Wednesday, November 28, 2007 3:36 PM By Sonja
Bishop Blaire is no better or worse than any of the other members of the USCCB. When it comes to the coverup of the rape and sodomy of children, every one of the Lowerarchy have mud on their skirts; and some are even accused perps themselves. I am not making excuses for Blaire, but I know from personal knowledge that he is trying to correct some of his past errors. I also feel that these past errors can never be forgiven; that said, Blaire is at least TRYING to make amends, which is certainly more than can be said for Mahony, Brown, Brom and others who do nothing at all.

Posted Wednesday, November 28, 2007 7:25 PM By Laurette Elsberry
If Bishop Blaire wants to make amends, let him disavow his pro-"gay" activity of the past. Specifically, I am thinking of his participation in the Cdl. Mahony-sponsored video, "A Journey for Understanding". This video, a Catholic production, just reeked with sodomite affirmation and even featured a couple of activists who were among the ACT-Up group that assaulted St. Patrick's Cathedral in 1989. One of the "Journey" stars, Jim Curtan, became even more famous by forming a movement known as the "Body Electric", a training program in mutual masturbation and "sacred intimacy". Great buddies you have, Bishop Blaire. The bishop has also participated in a NACDLGM (National Association of Catholic Lesbian and Gay Ministries) conference and written a forward to a pro-sodomite book. I'll believe that Bishop Blaire is concerned about his actions of the past when he admits he was in error about the homosexual "lifestyle" and works actively towards teaching the truth of God's words on this subject.

Posted Wednesday, November 28, 2007 8:35 PM By John L. Sillasen
mike, it is not SNAP that tears down bishops ... they destroy themselves, and SNAP informs the rest of us.

Posted Wednesday, November 28, 2007 9:57 PM By Kenneth M. Fisher
Sonja, Thank God not eveyone of the, what you called "Lowerarchy" has mud on their shoes! None of them are Saints yet, but many I know personally are working towards that very loffty goal. I hope and pray that what you have said about Bishop Blaire trying to correct some of his past errors is true, time and events will tell! God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher, Founder & Chairman Concerned Roman Catholics of America, Inc. www.crcoa.com

Posted Thursday, November 29, 2007 8:52 AM By Sonja
No, Kenneth, I did not say, MUD ON THEIR SHOES.....I said, MUD ON THEIR SKIRTS. From what you have written on this blog over the past months, Kenneth, I know you are a good and honorable man. But we have to face up to the fact that most of the USCCB are Moral Vagrants. I know you would like to believe otherwise; so would I, but I cannot. I have attended one of their , so called, Bishops Confrences, and only one of the Bishops would talk with us. The rest of them pushed us aside as they headed for the various bars in the hotel where they were staying. Perhaps they do most of their CONFABBING AND POW WOWING over drinks, but they certainly had no time for the Faithful who pleaded with them for just a moment of thier time.

Posted Thursday, November 29, 2007 10:47 AM By Victoria
Being a Clergy Abuse Survivor who struggles everyday for Survival, I have no affection for the United States Confrence of Catholic Bishops. But Bishop Blaire does seem to have sorrow and reget in his heart for the things he did not do, but could have done to help my fellow Brothers & Sisters in suffering in the Diocese of Stockton. HE HAS TRIED to make up for past wrongs; but I believe he does so in genuine humility; quietly, and not as a publicity stunt in the interests of sympathic press as Cardinal Mahony would do. I cannot bring myself to hate something (Holy Mother Church); something I once loved so much. Something I had once wished to dedicate my life to. There are those who would disagree with me. Still, as a human being, I am entitled to my opinion.

Posted Thursday, November 29, 2007 5:31 PM By John L. Sillasen
Sonja, there are well over threehundred bishops in the USCCB ... how do you know how many "wear skirts"?

Posted Friday, November 30, 2007 12:59 AM By survivor
Can see that a GREAT move was made in at least as not picking Blaire....whom even in this article tries to take the legal over MORAL High ground....We were not legally obligated to report.,,,,(which equates to STILL not putting the innocent children and families first and keeping them safe) SO much for looking towards this man while on the alter to guidance....It is the WHAT NOT TO DO role

Posted Friday, November 30, 2007 1:09 AM By NANCY SLOAN
Bishop Blaire....As ONE of your "critics" let me agree with you ON ONE point. Heck ya I take issue with you NOT reporting the Pelaez crimes. It is Not a matter of what you are legally required to do. You have a MORAL obligation to protect children from abuse...esp from A PRIEST This includes the likelihood of future victim BY REPORTING Hard to see you as a spiritual head...when you keep making such BLUNDERS.

Posted Friday, November 30, 2007 5:08 PM By Thea Joy
Sonja, I hear your frustration and respect your views, but I would ask that you take care in choosing language to make your point. A Powwow is a sacred gathering for Native People. We come together to honor the Creator and celebrate the generations, and we do not even allow alcohol on the premises. The history of missionary priests and brothers who have sexually abused our children is bad enough. To have you take an event is sacred to us and use it to characterize what you describe as an unholy gathering of bishops is adding insult to injury. You shriek about injustice in language that does injustice. A curious thing, that.

Posted Friday, November 30, 2007 6:32 PM By John L. Sillasen
Thea Joy, thankyou for informing us. I did not know "powwow" was a special and sacred word. Realize, however, that if somebody uses a word or phrase while not knowing it offends someone, that there can hardly be any blame. But absolutely there should be instruction. You cannot really expect most people to know such things. And you need also to understand that the word "powwow" is common parlance in American society for a meeting of people for resolving issues. My take on Sonja's use of it was that she was not denigrating a meeting, or a powwow, but the men who abused and mocked the meeting.

Posted Friday, November 30, 2007 7:40 PM By Kenneth M. Fisher
Sonja, your right, I mistakenly wrote shoes. However, I too have been to their meetings, we may have even been to the same meeting, but I found many Bishops willing to talk to us and we actually had passed out expose literature on Cardinal Mahony and others at that meeting! Two Bishops actually embraced me even though they knew we had been the ones to put such literature under all the Bishops doors, and many talked at length with me even though I always told them who I was. I do agree that far too many of them are way off the Holy path, but thank God not all! God bless, yours in Their Hearts, Kenneth M. Fisher, Founder & Chairman Concerned Roman Catholics of America, Inc. www.crcoa.com

Posted Friday, November 30, 2007 9:05 PM By theajoy
Thank you so much, John, for enlightening me as to the idiosyncrasies of the spoken language that has been mine for nearly 60 years. The master's degree in linguistics and doctorate in literature that I hold have prepared me ever so poorly to understand the nature of linguistic change and proper word usage. So I truly am grateful to you for the lecture so clearly intended to guide me through the darkness of my ignorance. Meanwhile . . . as ever, the forked tongue takes many shapes. One of them is defense of questionable language--which belies the pretense of one's willingness to receive "instruction" in its usage. In case you cannot understand this ignorant, backward Indian's broken English, here's a translation: it would appear that what is a legitimate concern for me is in your view mere cannon fodder, in the service of an argument of far greater importance to you. So you will simply continue defending the indefensible, and if you're satisfied with that, as we say, that's "cross the crick"; it has nothing to do with me. I continue to stand firm and speak up in the service of respect and human dignity for all of God's people--most especially the indigenous ones, old, young, and in between, who somehow keep landing on the sacrificial altars of folks who presume the right to appropriate and degrade. In that regard, I point out that the Native American community is hardly outside the loop of anyone's discussion on clergy sexual misconduct. Now, somehow I sense that Sonja has a sincere and passionate heart and is perfectly capable of speaking for herself. I'd be glad to share insights with her anytime, if she's interested. In the meantime, walk in peace.

Posted Friday, November 30, 2007 10:40 PM By Sonja
TheaJoy, I stand corrrected and humbly beg your forgiveness. You are absolutely right.

Posted Saturday, December 01, 2007 7:08 AM By John L. Sillasen
theajoy, your contrition is charming. Too much specific education tends towards utilitarianism. You should know, then, that no language is perfect. Your "backward Indian's broken English" is no less capable of dealing with God than the best Latin in the Magisterium. St Paul explains the "tongues of angels" to us, and also the fact that God hears and understands our deepest groanings. Does it take a college degree or better to grasp this? Of coure not; that is why our salvation does not depend upon how good our grammar is, how many words we know, how well we can compose them ... it depends upon whom we worship ... oops there goes my use of good grammar ... I mean, it depends on who (incorrect case, but often better communicatively) we worship. If all it took to teach and disciple the nations was advanced degrees, then why with so many of them in society today is education incapable of steering civilization towards God? Yet, your message about "powwow" is one I well cherish.

Posted Saturday, December 01, 2007 12:31 PM By Sonja
TheaJoy, I Thank YOU for instructing me as to the origins and nature of the words, POW WOW. Growing up, I can remember my elders speaking many denegrating words and phrases, that would never be permitted today. I have learned so much from your words and, I promise you, I will never use THOSE words again. You are a TRUE Teacher. You instruct with kindness and understanding; but with authority and common sense.

Posted Saturday, December 01, 2007 6:51 PM By Talia
Terrible photo of Blaire. What is with the, what appears to be, makeup?

Posted Saturday, December 01, 2007 8:58 PM By Thea Joy
God bless you, Sonja, and thank you for your willingness to hear me. There is pain in these situations for everyone; we all are grasping for sense and for comfort where we can find it. And since we cannot create any perfect thing, neither can we find "perfect" language to speak from hearts that are anguished and confused and tired of struggling to understand the mixed messages coming from the bishops. I don't know if you are aware of it, but the perception in many Native quarters is that the Church routinely dumped abusive clergy into reservations, villages, and other Native communities, where children do not talk of these things. This is in addition to the history of forced "education" that took our children out of their homes (to "school the Indian out of us")and placed them in Catholic and other religious boarding schools where they suffered at the hands of abusive clergy. The situation in Canada is already legend, there is serious "mess" in Alaska, and much more recently, A Navajo man has taken on the Gallup (NM) diocese in a tribal court because he has given up on the wider system. If you are interested; there's an interesting article at http://www.gallupindependent.com/2007/november/110707ehb_sexabuseshiprock.html. my opinion and 50 cents won't buy coffee at Mickey Ds, but I think that Our Lord can do a lot with your desire to call the bishops to account and to remind them that to lead is to serve. God be with you as you continue to be "sober and vigilant." Stay strong, Sister, stay strong--we need you!

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