At age five, 1954, "the Bishop" (Chicago's Cardinal Stritch) stood over me and said, I had to "stop babbling" about what the priest did to me. It took me 40 years to talk about it again. Today, I babble.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

BOOK EXCERPT: Sons of Perdition, New Mexico in Secret History of Catholic Sex Scandal

By Kay Ebeling

The new book Sons of Perdition tracks the history of the pedophile priest problem in the Catholic Church, from the Vatican to New Mexico. Early chapters describe the transition from the Inquisition to current policies for priests who are sexual predators. We find out the Confessional had a unique perverse role in development of the problem.

Then in the 1950s, Servants of the Paraclete start a recovery center in New Mexico for priests with “psycho-sexual problems,” and reverends in early recovery go out and serve in nearby parishes, creating an inordinately large number of priest-rape victims in that one remote state.

Growing up in New Mexico author Jay Nelson had personal experience with “out-patients” from Servants of the Paraclete. So when as an adult, Jay found himself part of a population of adult victims of pedophile priests, he realized, “God, fate, or chance put me in a unique position to recover a far larger story than just my own.” In the 1990s Jay edited The Missing Link, quarterly journal of The Linkup, one of the early recovery organizations for victims. Linkup broke up when founder Tom Economus died of cancer. Jay began writing books.

All through the 230-pages you read facts that have never been published before, including the “unknown hand” of Benedict XVI in the handling of the crisis in the 1990s before he became today's Pope.

City of Angels blog is running a short slightly rearranged excerpt from the book here today, and part three of our coverage of Sons of Perdition is an interview with the author to be posted here next week. Also three editions of The Missing Link are now available to read any time at City of Angels 11.

Sons of Perdition

New Mexico in the Secret History of the Catholic Sex Scandal
By Jay Nelson

To this day, New Mexico’s isolation and indifference has made it attractive to sects of all kinds. Renegade Mormons, Bible-shaking fundamentalists, occultists of various flavors, even the suicidal Heaven’s Gate cult have all hidden out here at one time or another. The latest would be Messiah, Wayne Bent, was tried and convicted for lying naked with two female teen devotees in a supposed religious rite even as this book was written.

Founder Gerald Fitzgerald only sought for the Servants of the Paracletes to provide relief and refuge for troubled priests. Supposedly, providing a client with “psychosexual difficulties" for a ministry in the archdiocese or anywhere else as a “supply priest” was never anticipated at first, according to one of his successors. Such practices would have a toxic effect on the ministry.

Not to mention wrecking the lives of children, locally and elsewhere in the country, thus contributing much to the greatest crisis in the modern Church.

More from Chapter IX: A Refuge in the outlands

Originally, Jemez Springs was the small pueblo of Giusewa, one of several inhabited by the Jemez people. The Franciscans started a mission there, San Jose de los Jemes, in the 1620s. In the early 1940s, Los Alamos on the opposite side of the mountains became the site of the greatest and most secretive operation of the entire Second World War, the Manhattan Project, which developed the first nuclear weapons. An entire hidden city quickly sprang up on the pine-covered plateaus extending out towards the Rio Grande. Only a single guard tower remains from that era.

The mountains shielded other visitors wanting to avoid attention. Al Capone had an occasional vacation spot hideaway near Jemez Springs. Then at the end of 1946, half a year before something strange fell from the sky down south near Roswell, a Catholic priest arrived in Jemez Springs from back East. Father Gerald M. C. Fitzgerald was on a mission. He, too, sought an isolated location with just the right facilities to launch his own secret project.

What Fitzgerald established in Jemez Canyon would be an abbey unlike any other. It would become a covert laboratory of the spirit. In a way, the holy monastery in the valley was like a strange reflection of the unholy atomic workshop on the hill across the mountains. For just as in Los Alamos, dangerous clandestine experiments would take place. Little thought would be given to their widespread toxic and irrevocable consequences. Powerful forces would be unleashed that would change the world.

Fitzgerald prayed his endeavor would be a divine blessing to the people. But in time, powerful forces beyond his control would unravel his tight restrictions.


Describing New Mexico as a “dumping ground” is not that far off. Although New Mexico has only one half of 1 percent of America’s population, it had 20 percent of America’s priest pedophiles. Over two dozen priests from the Servants of the Paraclete were later named as abusers and many had re-offended - far more than “about ten” that the Servants claimed.

The bishops did indeed use Jemez Springs almost as a “job fair.” Just as the Servants accepted priests from all over, they sent their guests back out everywhere as well.

Apparently, guests (patients) of the Paracletes could be sent out as temporary “supply priests” on a weekend basis anywhere to substitute for a parish priest on vacation or otherwise absent.

Jay Nelson's unique perspective
From The Preface to Sons of Perdition:

I eventually decided to take the calling seriously. In August 1991 I was ordained as a priest in the Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch, an Independent Catholic Church, one of many small Catholic churches derived from, but free of, Rome.

Though I tried, a pastor I was never meant to be.

Eruption of the abuse issues seven months after I became a priest made any religious calling at all extremely difficult for me. Just wearing a clerical collar could be intensely triggering, so I soon abandoned any hopes of building a congregation.

Instead I engaged in behind the scenes supportive work.

Meanwhile I had eagerly volunteered to produce The Missing Link, the quarterly journal for the leading national victim’s support and advocacy group at the time, Linkup. Compiling each issue from reports submitted from all over the world allowed me to watch as the crisis grew and spread like a plague for over a decade. This proved invaluable, as most information about clergy abuse cases remain even now sequestered in local regions.

My luck had already run out in parochial school. There, a parish priest, Thomas P. Wilkinson had repeatedly molested me, though I repressed all awareness of the attacks for decades. I left the Church in the 1970s in College, but unsatisfied religious longings drew me back.

By far, the most memorable date leading to the creation of this book occurred seventeen years ago. As a new priest, during a return visit for Good Friday services to the parish where I grew up, I first remembered being sexually molested there as an altar boy.

That stunning realization has propelled this entire quest. But though I figure in it slightly, it is not my personal story. (Nelson did get a small settlement from the Church in the 1990s, enough to cover legal and medical costs.)

Coincidentally with my own awakening, the abuse scandals began in earnest across the nation. It soon became obvious that this mess involved much more than a few unlucky altar boys like me off way in the boondocks.

I amassed an ungodly mass of news clipping, (many since donated to Bishop Accountability) along with an extensive library, including some exposes and hefty nineteenth century academic histories. (Photo above right shows Jay in his Albuquerque home near some of his library.)

God, fate, or chance put me in a unique position to recover a far larger story than just my own. Whether I liked it or not, I found myself smack dab in the right place at the right time.

Once started, I was driven to dig ever deeper. The trail then inexorably led to Vatican II, and the complex remarkable role of the current pope, revealed here in this book for the first time anywhere in print.

I officially resigned from the Catholic Apostolic Church of Antioch ministry a year ago today (August 2009 date book published), having earned a rank equivalent to monsignor. My resignation was to spare them any repercussion resulting from my activities, including this book.

(End of Excerpt)
by Jay Nelson is available for sale
at Amazon click here

Check out City of Angels 11 where we have begun an archiving project, finding old issues of The Missing Link from the 1990s and posting them, for City of Angels readers to click, enlarge, then view - for eternity. The Linkup was a quarterly newsletter and main source of information about the brewing crisis in the Catholic Church, as stories about pedophile priests began to emerge at the end of the Twentieth Century.

If you have old issues of The Missing Link or other documents to be posted for posterity, especially pre-computer age items, please email them to Kay Ebeling at so we can scan them and post them at City of Angels.

PART 3 of this story will be an interview with the author where he talks about, among other things, trying to go onto Paracletes property a few years back with a TV crew from Hard Copy, but they only got close enough to take photos such as the one below, of "Lourdes House" one of the hidden dormitories on the Paracletes property outside Jemez Springs, New Mexico.

What the heck does the title Sons of Perdition mean?
It's from the New Testament
Second Thessalonians 2:3-4 and 7-8

"3. Don’t be fooled by what they say. For the Day of the Lord will not come until there is a great rebellion against God and the Son of Perdition is revealed—the one who brings destruction. 4. He will exalt himself and defy everything that people call God and every object of worship. He will even sit in the temple of God, claiming that he himself is God. ... 7.For this lawlessness is already at work secretly, and it will remain secret until the one who is holding it back steps out of the way. 8 Then the son of perdition will be revealed, but the Lord Jesus will kill him with the breath of his mouth and destroy him by the splendor of his coming."
Don't forget to Click PayPal if you haven't for a while... it takes cash to keep this mandate from degrading into mania ...

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