He Continues To Shoot The Messengers . . . Archbishop Flynn Denies Reports About Kettlekamp

By Christopher Manion

WASHINGTON, D.C. — In a recent memo sent to all bishops, Archbishop Harry Flynn of St. Paul-Minneapolis lashed out at critics of Teresa Kettlekamp, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ enforcer of “safe environment” and volunteer “background check” programs nationwide.

Flynn branded as “untrue and unjust” the reports that have “link[ed] her with the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF) through the National Center for Women and Policing (NCWP).”

Such “irresponsible reporting” constitutes “rumor and innuendo,” alleges Flynn, who chairs the USCCB’s Committee for the Protection of Children and Young People, which is an upgraded version of the bishops’ ad hoc committee on sexual abuse, formed in 1993, which is supposed to oversee Kettlekamp’s activities.

Unfortunately, Archbishop Flynn’s memo seems to indicate that he and his fellow bishops have failed in their own responsibility to conduct even a cursory “background check” on Kettlekamp. Moreover, the episode reflects the damage and disarray plaguing the entire “safe environment” industry that the bishops have imposed on millions of Catholic families throughout the country.

Archbishop Flynn’s unfortunate assault on Kettlekamp’s critics, including The Wanderer and Catholic World News (cwnews.com, which first broke the story), can be best understood in light of the often-dysfunctional USCCB bureaucracy and its counterparts in hundreds of American chanceries. Filled with secular “experts,” they tend to act with little or no supervision from bishops. Their contempt for parents and families routinely embarrasses the bishops when the truth is finally pried out into the open. Yet the bishops fail to act.

Just two weeks ago, Bishop Robert Vasa of Baker, Ore., scored the heavy-handed, uninformed, and condescending memo that Kettlekamp recently sent to all bishops regarding “safe environment” programs. On a scale of zero to one hundred, the Kettlekamp memo implied that, according to Church teaching, parents merited zero confidence as teachers of their children, while secular public schools and their sex ed programs rated one hundred.

Bishop Vasa rejected the Kettlekamp memo out of hand. “We need answers,” he wrote. “I am prepared, at this point, to ignore [it].”

Obviously, Bishop Vasa has been asking questions. But he is unlikely to get his answers. According to reporters for other Catholic publications, Kettlekamp’s office and the USCCB press office have “no comment” on the entire fiasco, and do not return calls. The classic bishops’ bunker mentality has set in once more.

While Archbishop Flynn’s lack of information can be understood, it can hardly be excused.

For instance, his memo characterizes recent news stories reporting Kettlekamp’s feminist connection as “irresponsible”; however, Kettlekamp herself has rejected this charge. When reached by this writer as the story first broke, Kettlekamp said, “I want to thank you. I appreciate your professionalism and decency.” This is worlds away, of course, from Flynn’s accusation of “rumor, innuendo, and irresponsible reporting,” and reflects one more instance of the disconnect between the bishops and their bureaucrats.

So much for the reporting. What about His Excellency’s facts?

The Wanderer first reported that Kettlekamp was a member of the board of advisers of the National Center for Women and Policing (NCWP). Furthermore, it described the NCWP as a division of the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF), the pro-abortion juggernaut headed by the notorious anti-Catholic feminist, Ellie Smeal.

Archbishop Flynn’s memo to bishops, however, minimizes any such connection. In it, he indicates that the NCWP was merely “provided funding” by Smeal’s apparently independent FMF when the NCWP was “being formed.”

But this is not the case. Had he tried, Flynn could easily have confirmed that the NCWP was and is an integral “division” of the Feminist Majority Foundation, not an independent project that the FMF passively funded once upon a time. Moreover, the NCWP forms a central ingredient of Smeal’s anti-family, pro-abortion attack on traditional values.

“Revolutionize your Department,” blares the NCWP web site (which is funded, directed, and maintained by the FMF).

Hence, it is entirely mistaken to assert, as Archbishop Flynn’s memo does, that “Ms. Kettlekamp was never in any way associated with or active in the FMF. Reports that link her with the FMF through the NCWP are untrue and unjust.”

Clearly, the NCWP and the FMF are connected. But are Kettlekamp and the NCWP connected? Archbishop Flynn says no: “even with regard to the NCWP, Ms. Kettlekamp was never an active participant in its board of advisers; and since she retired from law enforcement in 2003, the continued listing of her as a member of the NCWP board was inaccurate information,” he insists.

True or false? Alas, Archbishop Flynn apparently has not even read his own USCCB press releases. Had he done so, he would have discovered that USCCB general secretary, Msgr. William P. Fay, proudly announced Kettlekamp’s appointment last April 15 by underscoring her NCWP connection.

“She was honored with the ‘Breaking the Glass Ceiling’ Award of the National Center for Women [and] Policing. She is Past President, State Chapter, FBI National Academy Associates, and Advisory Board Member of the National Center for Women [and] Policing,” Msgr. Fay’s press release trumpets.

Archbishop Flynn, call your office. They will inform you that the “Breaking the Glass Ceiling” Award is normally conferred every year upon the winners by none other than the FMF’s Ellie Smeal. However, Kettlekamp has told this writer that “I don’t even know Ellie Smeal,” so Smeal must have been absent at her particular ceremony.

Thus, the factual statements made by Archbishop Flynn to rebut reports regarding Kettlekamp’s associations are factually incorrect.

Msgr. Fay’s glowing introduction stresses Kettlekamp’s years of experience in investigations. “Teresa Kettlekamp’s nearly three decades of law enforcement experience began with investigating white-collar crime and public corruption cases. She carried out investigations throughout the State of Illinois and served in a variety of leadership positions in multiple divisions of the Illinois State Police.” Did I read “investigate”?

Msgr. Fay continues: “Ms. Kettlekamp was in charge of the Illinois State Police’s Division of Internal Investigation which investigates allegations of misconduct within the agency and the executive branch of government.”

After all these years of running investigations, Kettlekamp couldn’t even conduct a thorough investigation of her own affiliations. She was clueless, it appears, about Ellie Smeal’s connection with the NCWP. She was also apparently clueless about the NCWP’s revolutionary feminist goals, and of its connection with the NCWP.

As Sherlock Holmes told Doctor Watson, “Watson, when I say you are instructive, I mean I learn from your mistakes.”

With one glaring mistake after another, Archbishop Flynn’s memo passes off all of Kettlekamp’s NCWP/FMF past as a product of her innocent lack of information, and then attacks the “innuendo” of those who find fault with it. But he finds no fault with Kettlekamp’s failure to investigate her own past affiliations.

Outrageous as the Kettlekamp fiasco is, Archbishop Flynn’s decision to blast her critics is even more appalling. Clearly he was sold a bill of goods with the Kettlekamp appointment. He failed to conduct even a cursory “background check” of his own, even while expecting that tens of millions of American Catholics be required to undergo one, if they want to be active in their parish activities.

“The Committee has every confidence in her fidelity to the Church teaching,” Archbishop Flynn assures us — while her own mandate memo indicates her lack of knowledge of the teaching of the Magisterium regarding the rights of parents, children, and families. (In her conversation with this writer, she refused to discuss the memo’s various references to Catholic teaching.)

One thing is sure: Archbishop Flynn wants to make the USCCB a “safe environment” for Kettlekamp. The message to Catholic families is clear: With Bishop Vasa, until we have answers, we should reject the whole “safe environment” charade.

As Bishop Vasa put it, “We need answers!”

(Editor’s note: Christopher Manion’s report has been posted on The Wanderer’s website. We recommend that you send your bishop an email copy of the Manion report or a fax copy of the same. It is important for bishops to know that Archbishop Flynn has spread disinformation that has effectively been discredited.)

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