The fall of Covenant House founder Father Bruce Ritter was an omen of the sexual-abuse cases involving hundreds of Roman Catholic priests and tens of thousands of victims all over the world.
This story for me is personal. Multiple times during my Catholic high school days in the years between 1975-1979, Pedophile priest Bruce Ritter came to my school and recruited high school students for volunteer work at his Covenant House in nearby New York City. I was going to go, but something held me back from doing it, and now years later I can see exactly why. Bruce Ritter was using his Covenant House to supply himself with an endless stream of young boys that he dazzled with gifts and money in order to engage in sodomite activity.
“But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of. And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not.” 2 Peter 2:1-3 (KJV)
When pedophile Catholic priest Bruce Ritter was operating back in the 70’s and 80’s, America and the rest of the world were nearly completely unaware and unprepared for the scandal that was getting ready to break. But the Vatican was not unprepared, in fact, they used their global resources and endless mountains of money to cover it up so that no one would ever know what was going on. And for a time they were quite successful.
“And after these things I saw another angel come down from heaven, having great power; and the earth was lightened with his glory. And he cried mightily with a strong voice, saying, Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird. For all nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, and the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth are waxed rich through the abundance of her delicacies. And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.” Revelation 18:1-6 (KJV)
The real scandal is not that the Roman Catholic Church is populated by a majority of homosexual priests, and the real scandal is not that they like to abuse young boys and occasionally some young girls. No, the real scandal is that the Vatican has always known about it, has always protected it, and has always lied about it in order that it could continue. That’s why you see current Pope Francis moving so slowly, reluctant to take any real action at all other than giving speeches about it. Francis doesn’t want to do anything about it because having homosexual priests who abuse young boys is official policy of the Roman Catholic Church, and has been for centuries. That’s the real scandal here, and there will be no justice until Revelation 18.
Since Ritter’s fall, predatory priests have since been found to have abused thousands of children and young men in New York, Washington, DC, Pennsylvania, Australia, Chile and Ireland.
FROM NY POST: For 18 years, Bruce Ritter was considered a hero for how he ran the charity he founded for wayward, homeless youths. Then, several young men claimed he had sexual relationships with them and illegally used nonprofit Covenant House funds to lavish them with money and gifts. He was given a slap on the wrist: Manhattan prosecutors made him quit, but did not charge him. Yet when Ritter was forced out in the winter of 1990, following a courageous exposé in The Post, few in the city could guess how widespread the problem was.
When the Bruce Ritter scandal was first broken by The Post in 1989, priest sex-abuse stories were rare in the United States and unheard of in New York.
His story differed from today’s church cases in that “the secular powers more than the archdiocese or the Franciscans protected him,” says Charles M. Sennott, the former Post reporter who at age 26 broke the story of the district attorney’s probe in December 1989.
Sennott, who founded and runs the Boston-based journalism advocacy and educational GroundTruth Project, said, “The story didn’t get at the deeper truth of coverups going on in one diocese after another” — because Covenant House belonged not to a diocese, but to the Franciscan order, a worldwide community of Roman Catholic priests founded by St. Francis of Assisi in the 13th century.
The Post’s front page on Dec. 12, 1989 shouted, “TIMES SQUARE PRIEST PROBED Former male prostitute cites ‘gifts.’” Based not on Kite’s word, but entirely on the facts of Morgenthau’s investigation, the story made no mention of sex with Ritter, except for one detail: Morgenthau had assigned the case to his Sex Crimes Unit.
But Ritter enjoyed a similar coverup for the same reasons that other charismatic clerics with cult-like followings do: unwillingness to blow the whistle on deviant priests who reel in money and garner political prestige under a veil of saintliness.
It took a young journalist to bring Ritter to heel, if not to justice. As Sennott related in his gripping 1992 book, “Broken Covenant,” it all started with an order from his boss to “pick up on six.”
Bruce Ritter founded Covenant House in 1972 as a small facility for homeless teens in the crime- and drug-ravaged East Village. But the strong-willed, intellectually brilliant and domineering priest eventually grew Covenant House into a charitable giant with 178 locations in the US, Canada, Mexico and Central America.
By 1979, its flagship shelter near Times Square was “emblazoned with a three-story symbol [of a dove in hand] painted in blue” flying above rooftops. Ritter’s belief in raising funds from private enterprise rather than from government made him seem the “perfect mix of free enterprise and compassion,” Sennott recalls.
President Ronald Reagan named Ritter one of America’s “unsung heroes” in his 1984 State of the Union Address. Covenant House subsequently more than tripled its annual budget from $27 million in 1985 to $90 million in 1989.
“He was a corporate St. Francis of Assisi,” Sennott said.
Ritter wielded the levers of power with an air of papal infallibility. In 1987, he outfoxed then-Mayor Ed Koch to take control of an old Greenwich Village union building that Koch wanted to use as a prison but where Ritter planned to house 800 homeless kids.
TV cameras focused on Bruce Ritter, then 62, standing next to First Lady Barbara Bush at President George H. W. Bush’s 1989 State of the Union Address. By that year, Covenant House’s board was a who’s who of financial and media clout.
It included captain of industry Peter Grace, financiers Teddy Forstmann and William Simon, Woman’s Day magazine editor-in-chief Ellen Levine and high executives of IBM, Chase Manhattan Bank and Bear Stearns.
But Ritter ran Covenant House virtually unchecked. Church officials and the organization’s insiders ignored years of buzz about his relationships with boys and a mysterious, secret “safe-house” program for certain youths who were Ritter’s favorites.
In October 1989, Post metropolitan editor John Cotter told Sennott to pick up a call. A former male prostitute named Kevin Lee Kite told Sennott about his long-term sexual relationship with Ritter. It wasn’t a crime — Kite was 25, although he claimed to be 19 — but Kite had much more to tell. In exchange for sex, Ritter had paid him off with a nice apartment, a computer, a college scholarship and money to buy good clothes and restaurant dinners — an illegal use of nonprofit Covenant House’s funds.
Sennott was raised in a traditional Catholic home in Boston and didn’t want to believe the worst about a saintly idol like Ritter. “It wasn’t easy for me,” Sennott recalled this week. “Cotter said to me, ‘What made you think it would be easy, pal? Welcome to journalism.’”
Days later, Kite showed Sennott paperwork to substantiate his claims, including receipts for the funds Covenant House lavished on him.
Kite told counselors at St. Luke’s-Roosevelt Hospital Crime Victims that his liaisons with Ritter started when the priest met him years earlier in New Orleans and brought him to New York with the promise of leading him to a new life. But it turned out to be another form of prostitution, Kite learned: sex in exchange for money and goods. Ritter’s hypocrisy also infuriated him. While on a panel set up by US Attorney General Edwin Meese to “study” pornography, Ritter publicly warned that the genitalia on Michelangelo’s David sculpture could provoke dangerous sexual desires.
Kite’s next stop was the office of Manhattan District Attorney Robert Morgenthau. Morgenthau’s famed sex-case prosecutor, Linda Fairstein, gave him a tape recorder to catch Ritter discussing sex and money with him.
Prodded by Cotter, who warned the reporter, “I’ll kick your ass” if he got beat on the story, Sennott pursued the scoop. He learned from sources that the DA had put Kite into a “witness-aid program” for his protection.
On Dec. 6, a nervous but determined Sennott reached Ritter by phone. The priest denied all the allegations to Sennott and suggested he, Ritter, was being “set up” by “organized crime.”
Father Bruce Ritter died in obscurity at his farmhouse in Otsego County on Oct. 7, 1999. Covenant House survived under new leadership, and continues to serve homeless and runaway youth. Since Ritter’s fall, predatory priests have since been found to have abused thousands of children and young men in New York, Washington, DC, Pennsylvania, Australia, Chile and Ireland. The church has paid out billions of dollars in settlements — including $60 million by the New York Archdiocese in the past two years, The Post reported this month.
Now Italian Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò charges that Pope Francis has known since June 2013 that former Washington, DC, Archbishop Theodore McCarrick was a “serial predator” but covered for him until an investigation forced McCarrick out in June. The pope unsatisfyingly responded, “I will not say a single word on this.”
It’s a pity that the church didn’t learn from the lesson of Father Bruce Ritter — that the truth will come out eventually, even if it’s too late to erase the suffering. READ THE FULL STORY HERE
Survivors Sue Archdiocese of New York, Covenant House And Franciscans For Sexual Abuse
Announce the filing of 2 lawsuits against the Archdiocese of New York, the Conventual Franciscan religious order, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York and Covenant House for sexual abuse as minors of 2 survivors by notorious perpetrator Fr. Bruce Ritter. The lawsuits were filed as a result of New York’s new Child Victims Act (CVA)
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