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The following story is sad, depraved, graphic and nauseating.  Please make sure the kiddies are away from the screen whilst you read it.  However, it is one that needs to be told, particularly in light of Anglicans moving to the Catholic Church. 

Cardinal William J Levada is the Cardinal Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Althoughthe unpleasant events below do not concern the Cardinal directly, he knew about them and did nothing, as you will see. 

The protagonist in this story is not the cardinal himself, but G Patrick ‘Pat’ Ziemann, the former bishop of Santa Rosa, California, who died at the age of 68 on October 23, 2009.  He had resigned his post as bishop 10 years before because of an affair which came to light with Jorge Hume Salas, who was a priest at the time.  Hume Salas — referred to by either name below, depending on the source — has since left the priesthood and returned to his native Costa Rica.  You can read more in the Los Angeles Times here, excerpts of which follow.

Ziemann, who spent his final years at Holy Trinity Monastery near Tucson, Arizona, was born into a prominent family in Pasadena, California.  He was the third of eight children and, like his seven siblings, was raised to be a devout Catholic.  Pat was a charming young man who seemed to naturally gravitate towards the priesthood.  He was ordained in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 1967.  His career encompassed service as a parish priest, high school teacher then dean and vice rector of Our Lady Queen of Angels High School Seminary in the San Fernando Valley.  By 1987, he became auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.  He was appointed Bishop of Santa Rosa in 1992, where he would serve for the next seven years before his ignominious resignation.

The Los Angeles Times article states:

The bishop gave up his post at the Diocese of Santa Rosa after a priest filed a lawsuit alleging that Ziemann had coerced him into a two-year sexual relationship in exchange for keeping silent about the priest’s admitted theft of money from a Ukiah parish..

Ziemann publicly acknowledged his affair with Father Jorge Hume Salas after the lawsuit was filed but said the relationship was consensual.

The Santa Rosa Police Department and the Sonoma County district attorney’s office investigated Salas’ allegations of sexual coercion, bolstered by a secret tape-recording of Ziemann apologizing to the priest.

Authorities declined to file criminal charges, however, questioning Salas’ credibility. Their investigation showed that Salas had been expelled from several seminaries and posed as a priest before he was ordained.

The Santa Rosa diocese agreed to a $535,000 settlement with Salas, who has since left the priesthood and returned to his native Costa Rica.

Church leaders, meanwhile, found Ziemann had squandered $16 million in diocese money — the result of poor oversight, bad investments and overspending, diocese officials said.

The shortfall forced the diocese to lay off about a third of its staff and cut funding for religious education, youth ministry and other programs, angering many local Catholics who had contributed money, the officials said.

Diocese leaders said Ziemann did not personally benefit from his financial decisions.

Now, we turn to an exhaustively detailed account on San Francisco’s SFweekly.com, ‘Bishop Bad Boy’, dated March 19, 2003, which states (emphasis mine):

He has been protected by and remains intimately connected with three influential fellow hierarchs, including San Francisco Archbishop William J. Levada. It was Levada who presided over Ziemann’s skipping away from Santa Rosa with criminal impunity after church officials refused to fully cooperate with authorities. Ziemann’s mentor and chief patron is Los Angeles Cardinal Roger M. Mahony, whose problems with pedophile priests rival the scandal-plagued Boston archdiocese’s. The other member of the troika is Manuel Moreno, who until his surprise resignation this month for health reasons, was bishop of Tucson, Ariz., and in whose diocese Ziemann was given refuge at the Holy Trinity Monastery near the legendary gunslinging town of Tombstone. Moreno has a long and tawdry record in covering up for pedophile priests.

Ziemann’s ties to the trio, and their bonds to each other, go back four decades to St. John’s Seminary College, on a secluded Southern California hilltop overlooking the Ventura County coastline. The men overlapped as students there in the late 1950s and early ’60s After Mahony became archbishop of Los Angeles in 1985 (Pope John Paul II elevated him to cardinal in 1991), Ziemann’s stock soared.

After naming him to oversee a junior seminary for high school boys, Mahony appointed Ziemann auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles in 1987. Church sources say the cardinal was instrumental in securing the Vatican‘s 1992 appointment of Ziemann to head the Santa Rosa Diocese. The sources say Mahony also had a hand in Levada’s coming from Portland, Ore., to become archbishop of San Francisco in 1995, following former Archbishop John Quinn‘s decision to step down for health reasons. Thus Levada (St. John’s class of ’58) became Ziemann’s ostensible boss.

Levada gave Ziemann all the necessary support:

The day Ziemann resigned, shortly after a lurid audiotape surfaced exposing the bishop’s illicit relationship with the priest, Levada extolled his friend as someone who had done much to help the diocese ... ‘It was like a testimonial send-off for his bishop who had just finished disgracing himself in the worst way imaginable,’ recalls Don Hoard, a Petaluma advocate for sex-abuse victims, referring to Levada’s verbal backslapping. ‘It was surreal’.

As archbishop, Levada stepped in to run the Santa Rosa Diocese for nearly a year until a new bishop could be installed. During that time, Levada’s underlings dragged their feet and discouraged police and prosecutors from pursuing possible criminal charges against Ziemann and his former top lieutenant, Monsignor Thomas J. Keys, in the wake of a colossal financial scandal, the full extent of which has yet to be disclosed. This, after diocesan lawyers worked vigorously to discredit Hume, whom Ziemann began shaking down for sex not long after ordaining him. It was on Levada’s watch that the diocese paid Hume $535,000 to settle a civil lawsuit against Ziemann, while swearing him to secrecy ...

Levada declined to be interviewed for this article. A spokesman said the archbishop feels he has already sufficiently addressed Ziemann and related issues.

SFweekly.com’s article says that court documents and interviews from Ziemann’s time in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles show that allegations of sexual abuse by priests were ignored and covered up: 

Some of these relate to the period before Mahony became archbishop, while others occurred during the time Ziemann served the cardinal as auxiliary bishop.

Readers on the West Coast who are familiar with these events will know that Hume turned out to be a dubious individual.  So, here’s a short look at his story.  A nun, Sister Jane Kelly, arranged for Hume to come to the United States as a potential candidate for the priesthood.  Hume was 35 at the time and his English was not very good.  Bishop Ziemann fast-tracked the man.  It later transpired that police reports revealed that he had been expelled from other seminaries in Latin America and the United States.  They also show that he posed as a priest to obtain money under false pretenses.  But, in fairness, no one in Hume’s new circle knew that at the time.  Hispanic parishoners in Hume’s first parish complained that he asked them for extra money for performing baptisms and weddings.  Later, Hume would be fingered in stealing funds from his parish church.  Ziemann stepped in and asked the police to halt the investigation. 

There was no arrest and no jail.  Ziemann sent Hume away for rehabilitation at a Catholic treatment centre in St Louis, Missouri.  Of course, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.  Police records state that Ziemann and Hume had a sexual encounter in June 1996, before the latter left for St Louis. Ziemann visited Hume in St Louis, entertained him, had relations with him and gave him money.  Once he returned to California, Ziemann asked him to wear a beeper. They met once or twice a week.  Then Hume started seeing other people indiscreetly.  Ziemann dumped him and Hume filed the lawsuit mentioned at the beginning of the story.  Page 4 of the online account has the lurid details of Hume’s recorded telephone conversations with Ziemann.  Hume did this on legal advice.     

Two allegations surfaced soon before the 2003 SFweekly.com article was written: 

At least two men have come forward to claim that Ziemann molested them as altar boys in the L.A. suburb of Huntington Park during his first assignment as a priest in the late ’60s. The bishop denies the charges. But the accusations of one of the men, a 47-year-old Oregon resident who says Ziemann paid him for sex for nearly two decades, are likely to open old wounds in Santa Rosa.

That’s because the accuser (who spoke to SF Weekly on condition that he be identified only by his first name, Richard) contends that although he and the bishop stopped having sex in 1986, Ziemann continued to give him money until shortly before stepping down from his Santa Rosa post. If that’s true, the source of the money could draw the ire of those still upset that Levada didn’t provide a full accounting of how millions of church dollars were squandered, and who insist that the archbishop was more interested in quelling scandal than pursuing justice. Richard is suing Ziemann and the church for alleged sexual abuse, and L.A. police investigators recently interviewed the Oregon man in what may be a harbinger of more serious trouble. Richard says that Ziemann paid him ‘several thousands of dollars’ while he was Santa Rosa’s bishop, and that some of the money was drawn on an account called the ‘Saint George Fund’.

H/T: St John’s Valdosta Blog.

Tomorrow: Levada and the finances

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