Political Animal


January 19, 2013 4:56 PM Catholic Church round-up: Connecticut’s “Monsignor Meth,” plus, a devastating report on sexual abuse in German Catholic Church is released the same week German Catholic hospitals refuse to treat a rape victim

By Kathleen Geier

I can’t decide what my favorite news story of the past couple of days is. Is it the undeniably delectable Manti Te’o dead girlfriend hoax? Or the cross-dressing, meth-dealing priest who, as the Connecticut Post’s instant-classic headline put it, “liked sex in the rectory?” Show of hands? Okay, we’ll go with Monsignor Meth for now, and perhaps we’ll deal with Te’o tomorrow.

“Monsignor Meth,” aka Kevin Wallin — well, first off, you just know someone has become tabloid-immortal when they’ve already been gifted with a nickname. It’s kinda like the Mayflower Madam. Or Leona “Queen of Mean” Helmsley. I just want to know what his drag name was!

Anyway, you must, must read the article about him, because even the headline can’t really do the whole story justice. Some of my favorite tidbits: according to the article,”diocese officials found bizarre sex toys” in Wallin’s residence. What I wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall when that discovery was made. Also: how bizarre are we talking, here? In addition, former New York Cardinal Egan is described as Wallin’s “mentor” — so that’s what the kids are calling it these days?

Here’s my favorite detail, though: Wallin “enjoyed Broadway musicals and show tunes.”

The story of how he got caught is also quite interesting, to say the least. One of his most idiotic moves has got to be this: the cops say he laundered his meth profits by operating a shop that sold porn and sex toys. D’oh! Didn’t he bother to read Money Laundering for Dummies? You don’t launder money from an illegal activity by putting it into an activity that’s sketchy at best and bound to arouse suspicion, particularly if a priest is doing it. In fact, that’s the last thing you want to do.

Credit where credit is due to Skyler White: at least she devised a highly plausible money laundering scheme for the filthy lucre Walter acquired through his dealings with meth. She’s a smart woman who understands the need for discretion and has helped save Walt from some of his own worst instincts. See, this is why the Catholic Church needs to allow priests to marry. Having a life partner, who knows you inside out and whose counsel you seek and trust, can sometimes keep you from making terrible mistakes. Or, as my mom used to say, priests need to be able to marry, so they can have at least one person in their lives who can tell them when they’re being an a—hole.

Moving on to the far more somber news from Germany, the homeland of the current pope: the New York Times reports that this week, the German Catholic Church released a devastating report about sexual abuse in the Church. It is based on the testimony of over 1,000 victims, and it reveals that “priests carefully planned their assaults and frequently abused the same children repeatedly for years.”

Like so many men of the cloth who commit acts of sexual assault, many of the abusers told their victims that God sanctioned the abuse:

“I found particularly devastating the perpetrators’ lies to their under-aged victims that their actions were an expression of a loving bond with God,” [Bishop Stephan Ackermann of Trier] said Thursday. Claudia Adams, who said she was assaulted as a child in a preschool run by the church in a village near Trier, works through her trauma by blogging about the abuse scandal. The priest who abused her “told me that I was now ‘closer to God,’ ” she said in a telephone interview on Friday from her home near Trier.

The Times reports that also this week in Germany, two Catholic hospitals refused to examine a rape victim, apparently because the Church objects to the morning after pill, or something:

Germans were further outraged by reports this week that two Roman Catholic hospitals in Cologne had refused to carry out a gynecological examination on a 25-year-old suspected rape victim. An emergency doctor who had helped the woman told the newspaper Kölner Stadt-Anzeiger that the hospitals cited ethical objections to advise women on unwanted pregnancies and on steps that can be taken to prevent them, like the morning-after pill.

These stories make one thing clear: no one can questions the impeccable moral credentials of the Catholic Church as the basis of its authority to police the sex and reproductive lives of everyone else! Why, the very idea!

Kathleen Geier is a writer and public policy researcher who lives in Chicago. She blogs at Inequality Matters. Find her on Twitter: @Kathy_Gee


  • bleh on January 19, 2013 6:36 PM:

    You see? THIS sort of thing is why we need to respect the injunction against women blogging on the Sabbath.

  • alwaysiamcaesar on January 19, 2013 6:54 PM:

    K Geirer
    I like your mom .

  • bkmn on January 19, 2013 7:01 PM:

    Don't forget about the pedophile enabling bishops and cardinals seeking to censure do-gooder nuns:


  • jheartney on January 19, 2013 8:21 PM:

    I am so glad that my country gives the Church a tax exemption so their child-raping (including its legal defense) and other behavior is effectively subsidized by all the rest of us heathens. Wait, here comes William A. Donohue to tell us we're oppressing all his peeps by mentioning what their priesthood has been up to.

  • Lee Gibson on January 19, 2013 8:22 PM:

    Bertrand Russell wrote nearly a hundred years ago that "the Christian religion, as institutionalized in its churches, is the principal enemy of moral progress in the world today." I wonder what he would say now.

  • Judy Sierra on January 19, 2013 8:42 PM:

    Kathleen, I love your work. You (and Ed) are able to distill complex situations and maddening issues into short, breathtakingly exquisite works of blogpost art. Thank you. Oh, and in order to post this, I have to copy these words: incoursg thickness. Kind of appropriate.

  • Eton Penuts on January 19, 2013 8:56 PM:

    What does strides in women's health care matter if they are not available due to objections from the persons who operate the hospital?

    The Hippocratic Oath has gone the way of the oath of public office and the 10 Commandments...meaningless words that looks great on a plaque.

  • Al Poe on January 19, 2013 9:03 PM:

    And the word from the Vatican? We do not condone...blah, blah, blah.

    And nothing changes.

  • neildsmith on January 19, 2013 9:11 PM:

    So yeah... religion is stupid and those who belive in the magic are idiots. And they have the same pathologies as anyone else - maybe even more because they are too stupid to recognize how silly their beliefs are. Or maybe they use religion to tame their "demons" (Ha!) or whatever torments them (like sex, drugs, and rock & roll).

    We're all so smart. We have our shit together and these silly people (Jews, Mormons, Muslims, Hindus, Christians, etc etc) are just stupid and evil. Yeah!

  • Sean Scallon on January 19, 2013 9:17 PM:

    I wait until the end of the weekend to see if they'll be a Jewish round-up or Unitarian round-up. You see I have this feeling even the secular are not so much against all religions as compared to certain kinds of religions. You know, the ones that turn the other cheek.

  • oldswede on January 19, 2013 9:32 PM:

    The original article expands on Msgr Meth's relationship with Cardinal Egan:
    "He often attended musicals with his mentor, former N.Y. Cardinal Edward Egan and parishioners."

  • Beanie&Cecil on January 20, 2013 12:14 AM:

    You see I have this feeling even the secular are not so much against all religions as compared to certain kinds of religions. You know, the ones that have institutionalized child rape and protected the rapists on a global scale.


  • c u n d gulag on January 20, 2013 6:57 AM:

    I admire people who have faith.
    I have met some wonderful people who truly have it. They are not inconsistant - they believe, and act on those beliefs, for the betterment of others, and not themselves.

    Having said that, it's just too bad so many of them choose to follow grifters and hypocrites - and those are the "good" followers - the ones who have faith, and aren't merely faking it.

    But then, if you believe in an Old Sky Guy, (his Kid, and some Holy Ghost, or something or other, are optional), then you'll believe that the grifter at the front of the religious gathering is as genuine in his (her, in some religions) faith as you are - and doesn't see you as some sucker, fool, rube, mark, or moron, to be bled for greenbacks.

    For the most part, all religions are a racket for grifters and suckers.
    And a useful tool to keep women in their place.
    And, a convenient tool for governments to keep people in line.

    And THAT, boys and girls, is why the seperation of church and state is one of the most important things in our country.

  • Sean Scallon on January 20, 2013 8:31 AM:

    "For the most part, all religions are a racket for grifters and suckers."

    I hear ideologies are too.

    "You know, the ones that have institutionalized child rape and protected the rapists on a global scale."

    I hope you feel the same way as the public school system and the Boy Scouts, just to be fair.

  • c u n d gulag on January 20, 2013 9:03 AM:

    Sam Scallon,
    Yes, "ideologies," and 'idelogues,' too.

    To your second point - sure, there's a trust level involved in public schools, scout organizations, as well churches.

    And a betrayal of trust, is a betrayal of trust, and is heinous and reprehensible - but, to me, 'people of the cloth,' aren't just dealing with peoples hopes for THIS life, but for the hereafter.

    I think there's a difference - and, a greater betrayal of trust, when members of religious organizations, especially the ones in charge of 'tending their flock,' do so.

    But, that's me. Other's milage may vary...

  • T-Rex on January 20, 2013 10:03 AM:

    In all fairness to the Catholic Church, let's not forget that holy men of any faith include a fair share of grifters, hypocrites and charlatans. Monseigneur Meth's escapades bear a remarkable resemblance to those of evangelical Protestant Ted Haggard.

  • Mark-NC on January 20, 2013 10:19 AM:

    As a bit of a drift from topic, I'll further what c u n d Gulag just stated.

    When Clinton was caught in an affair, the screaming from the "righteous ones" was deafening. When it was pointed out that there are probably 10 Republicans caught cheating for every 1 Dem, the "righteous ones" don't care.

    However, IMHO, Clinton didn't run around screaming "morals & values". The people who do parade around with Jesus on their sleeves get caught about 10x more often cheating.

    Oh, I forgot - they prayed for forgiveness so it's OK.

  • HMDK on January 20, 2013 11:55 AM:

    Sean Scallon, well, the others either aren't as close to home or as obvious. I suppose we could go Quaker-hunting, but when you have a big fat target that's clearly guilty, you should probably concentrate on that before moving on to the other shit.

  • Beanie&Cecil on January 20, 2013 2:40 PM:

    To add to HMDK: "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye"

    SS: You mention public schools and boy scouts. Are these single organizations with decades of proven world-wide child molestation cases, whose upper levels of hierarchy has systematically protected the abusers? Are public schools and the boy scouts organizations that leveraged immortal souls against keeping quiet about the crimes? Suddenly, the false equivalence kind of falls apart, don't you think? (Maybe you don't. Meh.)

    If you want to tell me that there are evil people everywhere, you won't get an argument out of me. If you want to tell me that the RCC doesn't deserve to be held publicly accountable, and dearly, for protecting the robe-wearing class of the "Church" (i.e. the abusers) instead of the the real church (guess who?), then you are sadly mistaken.

    Jesus warned often to beware the Pharisees, who were publicly pious, but on the inside were corrupt and rotten. I really don't think he was limiting that to a class of first century Jewish religious zealots.

  • trex on January 20, 2013 4:10 PM:

    @Beanie&Cecil: Agreed. Very well said.

  • Keith M Ellis on January 20, 2013 4:27 PM:

    " If you want to tell me that the RCC doesn't deserve to be held publicly accountable, and dearly, for protecting the robe-wearing class of the 'Church' (i.e. the abusers) instead of the the real church (guess who?), then you are sadly mistaken."

    I agree with this emphatically. However, I think there's some validity to Sean Scallon's complaint — my strong sense is that a) there's now a widely-accepted (and false) belief that there's something exceptional about the Catholic Church with regard to pedophilia; and b) there's an almost gleeful malice evident in how many people criticize the Catholic Church that, to me, strongly hints at bigotry disguised as righteous anger.

    Incidentally, I'm an atheist.

    With regard to the first part, I think anyone who's been involved with working against sexual violence (particularly those knowledgeable about pedophilia and sexual predators) will tell you that the sort of predation we know about by catholic priests is extremely common wherever and whenever there's long-term opportunity (for cultivation of victims by predators) and institutional structure that reinforces group loyalty and insularity — and the primary example of this is the family itself. Sadly, terrifyingly, you can be certain that what we know about predatory priests is indicative of the scope of the problem in other religious communities, other educational communities, and in families. While I allow for a small amount of exceptionalism with regard to the Catholic Church (that is, there's arguably some combination of factors that made it an especially pedophile-friendly environment), I think it's most likely that this is a reporting artifact, not so much an indication of something truly exceptional. We know much of what we know partly because the church itself recorded it and covered it up, and partly because once it began to be reported it became easier and easier (in relative terms) for victims to come forward in a way that is much more difficult for better respected institutions or, of course, within families.

    With regard to the second part, it is absolutely the case that some non-believers are bigoted against believers and, in much greater numbers, non-catholics are bigoted against catholics. There are long traditions in the protestant world of anti-catholic bigotry and although there's a large catholic population in the US, it wasn't that long ago that anti-catholic bigotry was endemic.

  • R on January 20, 2013 4:47 PM:

    On a related topic, Gail Collins had a column in yesterday's NYT (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/01/19/opinion/collins-the-girl-of-my-dreams.html?smid=pl-share ) about the Manti Te'o mess, ending with this story:

    "This all occurred a couple of years after the Notre Dame team was involved in a genuine tragedy when a freshman from a neighboring girls’ college reported she had been sexually assaulted by a football player. The school did not order up an outside investigation. In fact, there appeared to be no investigation at all. After a period of dead silence in which she received a threatening text from another player, the girl died from an overdose of medication. Nothing else happened. Writing this week in The Washington Post, Melinda Henneberger, a Notre Dame graduate, noted that 'my alma mater held the kind of emotional news conference for the fake dead girl they never held for the real one, Lizzy Seeberg.'”

    I wonder if Notre Dame quietly moved that football player to another parish -- oops, I mean team.

  • Rick B on January 20, 2013 10:26 PM:


    holy men of any faith attempt to institutionalize the evangelizing of their beliefs. The only way an institution can survive over generations is with the support of government and through maintaining a written record of history and tradition. So the religious institutions become the legitimizers of the governments which perpetuate their specific institutionalized beliefs.

    The result is that the top individuals in the main religious intuition invariably become apologists for the politicians who support their institution.

    This is all over and above the process of spreading the beliefs. The institutions of both government and religion in the end work to perpetuate themselves. The spreading of the beliefs over generations is an accidental by product of this process.

    It gets worse, though.

    Robert Michels in 1911 published the Iron Law of Oligarchy is his book titled Political Parties. The people at the top of every institutional hierarchy find that position so rewarding both personally and economically that they soon begin to use the resources of the institution they lead to keep that position, even if using those intuitional resources are damaging to the purposes of the institution itself. Michel's specific example was how the leaders of syndicalist unions (which oppose hierarchies) became entrenched in the leadership of those unions and became no different from the exploitative leaders of the capitalist organizations they were supposed to oppose as an organization.

    Secular leaders hold power because they have to in order to defend the state. The religious leaders hold power because they are the keepers of the history and traditions of the nation. The individuals of each of those institutions, religion and state, require legitimacy and outside power to keep their hold on their position at the top of the hierarchy, so secular leaders do as Roman Emperor Constantine did and organize a state religion. Mohammed did the same thing.

    Interestingly the Persians did not want the Arab religion to dominate their state, so they encouraged the Shiite form of Islam to keep the Persian kings in power of what became Iran. And in every case the guys at the top of both the state and religious institutions obey the Iron Law of Oligarchy.

  • low-tech cyclist on January 21, 2013 8:37 AM:

    I'm pissed about the Christians who sexually abuse children because I AM a Christian, and they're making a laughingstock of MY faith.

    I hate it when supposed fellow believers treat the whole thing just like one more tribe, and value tribe loyalty over what our faith supposedly is about.

    If kids were molested in a public school, Sean, heads would roll once it was discovered. If higher-ups had been part of a cover-up of child molesting, their heads would roll too.

    In the Roman Catholic Church, many bishops, archbishops, and cardinals knew about the molesting that numerous priests were doing, and covered their tracks, moving them from parish to parish so they could find new victims before they got lynched by the parents at the old parish.

    You know how many of those bishops, archbishops, and cardinals have been defrocked by the Vatican? Zero, as best as I can tell. They even found one of them a sinecure over in the Vatican (Cardinal Law, if memory serves) to keep him out of the reach of U.S. justice. Rather than cleaning their own house, they've hunkered down to protect the wrongdoers in high places.

    The Bible has things to say about people who do that. But Bible, schmible, we've got to protect our own, says the Vatican.

    And don't get me started on the Mormons and the Romney campaign. Here you had a guy running a campaign that, if you took out all the bearing false witness against Obama, you'd have had practically nothing left. What did the Mormon hierarchy think of this? Apparently they were good with it: again, Christianity as tribe over Christian principles. And Mormons generally showed their approval by supporting Romney in overwhelming numbers - no crisis of faith there.

  • tcement on January 21, 2013 2:51 PM:

    This commentary is terribly unfair--nay, unjust!--to the overwhelming majority of dedicated, hard-working, devoted cross-dressing crystal meth dealers who are not priests. To smear all because of one bad apple, is damnable and detestable.