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« Bishop Tod Brown's Accuser Identifies Himself | Main | Vatican: Pope's Refusal To Meet Rice Not A Snub »

Thursday, September 20, 2007



Msgr. Urell has gone to the "Southdown Center."

Here's some info from their website at

"The Southdown Institute is a registered, non-profit charitable organization whose mission is to provide the highest level of support to persons actively committed to Christian ministry. For over 40 years, the Institute has endeavoured to respond to the needs of Catholic clergy and religious, as well as clergy from other religious traditions, by providing a breadth of services to those who are dedicated to serving the people of God. These services include the provision of consultation, clinical treatment and leadership education.HISTORYThe Southdown Institute is situated on one hundred acres of rolling farmland approximately 50 kilometres north of Toronto. In this pastoral setting for over 35 years, we have attempted to provide compassionate, professional and integrative assistance to persons in ministry. Although our services have expanded to include clinical treatment, prevention, health promotion and leadership development, our beginnings are rooted in the struggle of one Canadian priest with the disease of alcoholism. After many years of struggle to overcome his illness, he achieved healing and dreamed of establishing an environment where others would not have to battle alone. Two Catholic laymen, friends of the priest, encouraged him to approach the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops.In 1965, with the generous support of the bishops, the Emmanuel Convalescent Foundation was established to develop a facility to care for the caregivers.Soon afterwards, the Canadian Religious Conference generously joined in the effort to expand services to provide a full range of mental health services to clergy and religious. The Residential Program currently provides treatment to 44 persons, with men and women participating from across the English-speaking world."



Although I have not seen Father Urell in almost 15 years, I did know him when he was a new priest assigned to Holy Family Cathedral.

He always struck me as a hard-working and pious priest, albeit in the "Spirit of VCII vein." (As an altar boy I can recollect him politely telling me in the sacristy after mass - "Yes you too must hold hands during the Our Father.")

Friends of mine still in the OC, and who have had more recent contact, also indicate the same traits of personal piety and intense hard work.

His trip to Canada for counseling is not illegal. He is not charged with anything. Not all priests, whether inside or outside the diocesan bureaucracy, are bad.

From the press reports it sounds as if the plaintiffs' attorneys are the ones stirring the pot on this particular nuance of the case.


When I read this the other day I was shocked at the blatant disregard for justice for the abused girl. The arrogance is overwhelming. Why couldn't the priest go to treatment AFTER testifying? I'm sure the Court could have accomodated his pressing needs (whatever they are) and the speed which he needed to leave.

Are you telling me this priest left the country for a treatment facility in Canada without advising the Bishop beforehand? What did the Bishop know, when did he know it, and why didn't he inform the Court about this development? Did he try to encourage him to finish testifying before leaving? I think attorneys will want to ask the bishop these questions.

"Curiously," I don't hear the Bishop saying that he should return for the one or two days needed for his testimony. Hmm, I wonder what that might mean? It is literally unbelievable. What do they think is going to happen...that the whole legal thing will just disappear and they'll all be in the clear? It's like OJ thinking: "Well, if we just drive around these freeways long enough, they'll just drop the whole thing." Unbelievable arrogance or foolishness.

And who, by the way, is paying for this expensive treatment? Was there need for pre-authorization? He can just leave St. Norbert's without having anyone cover for his duties (masses, etc.)? Come on! Why do I suspect no one in his parish or the diocese was surprised by his "sudden" departure and his coincidental selection of another country where he wouldn't have to testify? I wonder if any counsel told him that if he were in another country he wouldn't have to testify?

How convenient that the only treatment center with any vacancies happened to be in Canada, and now he can't be forced to testify!! No way could any other treatment facility in the United States have been available. I guess we don't have as many alcoholic/troubled ministers in America as they do in Canada. See what socialized medicine does to its ministers? It makes them raging alcoholics and troubled individuals.

How about the good bishop order -- under penalty of priestly disobedience -- the priest to return, testify, and then return to the treatment facility? Oh, but that would make too much sense.

And, more troubling, why did the diocese pick such an unstable, unsuitable person to be the point-person for allegations against priests? Could it be that certain people knew how fragile and weak he was, that this would mean he wouldn't be very confrontational, and would be more likely to "roll over"? Pervert scum are often the best at reading and manipulating other people. Was he put in a position he clearly couldn't handle on purpose, as a potential cover for abusers? At this point I wouldn't doubt anything.

What a disgrace our diocese has become!!


"A spokesman for the bishop did not return a phone call."

Well, so much for openness!

Michael Teissere

Bishop Brown could care less for anyone else. He can't even give me an offical document on the offical status of my cousin Fr. Rod Stephens.

A Simple Sinner

This just gets uglier and uglier.

Early retirement could save everyone a whole lot of pain.

Or maybe Bp. Brown could go on his own sabbatical to Canada...

Atlanta Catholic


It is very sad when people who have treated us with kindness and demonstrated acts of piety, are questioned by others. An article written a few years ago in a Catholic Newspaper reported that the faithful attending a funeral were quite surprised when Mosignor Urell was asked to lead the rosary,and he had to decline because he did not know the mysteries of the rosary. This always seemed incompatible with a priest being promoted to a Msgr., yet not knowing the mysteries of the rosary. Very odd. Yes he may say kind and pious things but this is very unusual to reach the level of Monsignor and be clueless on the mysteries of the rosary.

While this may seem to have nothing to do with the current events, it really does. Many of the victims have personally stated the brutality of treament from Msgr. Urell, when he dealt with them. Are they all just being uncharitable or lying? This is also incompatible with the reports of kindness to some people and young altar servers. The measure of piety and holiness is not how we treat the people who we like, it is when we deal with people who are threatening or difficult. It is a measure of our spiritual character how we treat, even our enemies. I have heard not only from victims how cold and cruel, Msgr. Urell acted, many other reputable reports said the same. He was cruel. He also knows everything that could collapse the house of cards at Marywood. This is why he is "gone"!

A story written by a homosexual priest in the Boston Globe about Southdown Institute in 2004, says this... While not everyone sent to Southdown is a molester or homosexual, some are sent for clinical depression. One thing that is a common thread to all that are sent to Southdown is that Bishops, and other hierarchy have wisked them away from the public spotlight in hopes of public attention dying down. The priest in the article also states that the wisking away is to avoid scandalizing the faithful with very bad information. This is exactly what Bishop Tod Brown has done. Bishop Tod Brown knows that Msgr. Urell was about to crack and that will be the end of Bishop Tod Brown's Episcopacy. The whole mess would be exposed. Google up Southdown Istitute and read the Boston Globe article about it yourself. Read the meaning of the word "rustication" at Southdown....(sent away to the rustic to get out of the spotlight!)Translate that to get Msgr. Urell outta here fast, before he caves in under the stress of having to be accountable and finks on all of us!

Are you seriously going to rationalize that there was not "one" clinic within the U.S. that could have helped Msgr. Urell. This is not rocket science common sense. One of the most important gifts that a Bishop confers on Confirmandi is the Gift of the Holy Spirit. This is a powerful gift throughout our entire life because it gives Wisdom. Why would Bishop Tod Brown make so many unwise choices? Isn't it obvious to you as a critical thinking law school grad who is Catholic, that Bishop Tod Brown is an Apostate to your and my faith? He has zero wisdom because he has abandoned our Faith. "Some" examples of disobedience to the Teachings and unwise choices are listed below.

1.Supporting Homosexual Domestic Partnership
2.Promoting an ill fated Covenant to be open
3.Keeping a secret and breaking his Covenant
4.Telling a parishioner three weeks ago on the telephone, that Rod Stephens was a Catholic in good standing. When asked if the Bishop knew that Rod was promoting women's ordinaton he said "YES, I'M AWARE OF IT, HAVE THE MEDIA CALL ME ABOUT IT"!

Those five points take zero wisdom to see that something is very wrong.

Loyolalaw did you pay attention to the people at Marywood who lost their jobs or were removed from positions by Bishop Brown when he arrived. There are quite a few. Do you really think that anyone who is at Marywood and given authority is incompatible with Bishop Brown? That includes Monsignor Urell. Now some there might be leading a double life by chumming it up with the Bishop but disagreeing with his theology to themselves. This is sad because it marginalizes a good priest into looking the other way. Is that what the Saints and the Martyrs did? So there is essentially no holy backbone and certainly a lack of wisdom coming out of the Diocese of Orange. Do you really think that Bishop Tod Brown would have placed Msgr. Urell in charge of dealing with the sex abuse claims if he were not in lockstep with the Bishop. Sure they might think differently on some simple things but when it comes down to it, Bishop Brown placed Msgr. Urell in that position because he thought he could trust him to handle things. That is not a compliment if you gauge it by Bishop Brown's other cover ups.

I have never forgotten a 20/20 show on television a few years ago on a boy scout leader who molested children. One brave young man came forward and reported the incidence of the scout leader attacking the boy at a campout. This scout leader was so kind and patient with everyone in the entire town. They loved him! He had aways treated people so nice. The people lashed out at the boy who came forward. They lashed out at his family, saying that they were only in it for the money. The chief defender of the scout leader was a mother of another scout. She publicly berated the family and the son who reported the scout leader. She was isistent how wonderful and good this man was. Several months later she had the unbelievably painful and humiliating expeience to learn that the same scout leader had been raping her own son for years. To add insult to this mother's pain the scout leader was even sneaking into her son's bedroom window at night in her own house. These heinous acts were being committed right under her nose....but she once thought him to be so kind. Her son was so damaged by everything he was sent to a mental facility and the weeping mother said that when she last visited her son, he was unable to communicate and remained curled up in a fetal position. This is why we must be careful when we defend something and prolong the agony of exposing wrong.

My point is that there is a serious reason why Msgr. Urell and Bishop Tod Brown are finding themselves in this situation. They are not innocent bystanders. I am not suggesting that Msgr. Urell molested anyone either. I don't know if that occured but I am aware of facts that Msgr. Urell and the Bishop would not want public. I am sad about every one of them. Father Benedict Groeshel who is an example of kindness said that people often defended people who were nice because they wanted to be nice back. He said that the derivative of the word nice comes from a Greek word that means stupid. Speaking in general,I know it is difficult when a beloved friend who has only shown kindness is being discussed. It brings out the desire to defend, but in this case prayer is needed to bring all of the truth out, not false compassion. None of us should want to end up like the mother who enabled the bad scout leader. There is more to this story than meets the eye!


There is no question that there is more to this story than meets the eye!!

What we have here is an old-fashioned scandal of the kind I've only read about and watched in cheap, third-rate stories. Unfortunately, we Catholics of Orange County are living through it.

Smart people, wise people, extremely thoughtful people make seemingly careless, boneheaded decisions/mistakes like these when they confront huge stress, are pressured to make quick or snap decisions, and aren't in the habit of thinking like an anti-social, premeditating criminal.

What I see is clumsy, stupid, and reactionary. This would lead me to think that our leaders are nervous/embarrassed about the presence of gross negligence, wrongdoing, or some other moral failure. Probably the chief, overarching concern is the fear of bankrupting the diocese and completely destroying their reputation. Who wants to be responsible for that?

I personally loathe these lawsuits. Why on Earth should the parishioners of the Diocese of Orange be responsible for the unsanctioned actions of some priests? Why should I have to pay for the actions of a homosexual ephebophiliac? Why should we lose church buildings because of a bishop's malevolence, bad judgement, or actions? I never understood this principle of law. It's unjust. I hate when I have to pay for police brutality for actions going against police policy; I hate when companies get sued for the unapproved actions of some employee. My hatred for the injustice of civil law is balanced by my anger over Church leaders and to actually find out what the heck happened.

I just hope this sorry tale ends soon.


I doubt that you have heard the end of this. Lawyers are questioning people around the country about the past actions of this bishop. If the rumors are true, this could get ugly. Or, should I say "uglier."

Mona Alona

I wonder if the Bishop's lawyers are practicing Catholics, does anyone know?


In my opinion, this is all a red herring and publicity stunt. My comments on another blog.

By the way, Urell was deposed one day, then was on a plane the next day to Canada, where he just happens to be outside U.S. jurisdication.


You have the diocese's chief point man on the sex abuse scandal leaving the country, which puts him out of reach of the legal system.

You are clearly not an attorney. You can take a deposition in Canada for a case pending in California. In fact, if it involves a party to the action, or the employee of such a party, it is as easy as taking the deposition in California - except for perhaps the distance to travel to the deposition. Failure to comply with the deposition notice will result in a court order to comply, failure to comply with the court order will result in sanctions.

So you see, sending Msgr. Urell to receive medical treatment, anywhere, does not place him beyond the jurisdiction of California courts, especially in a case where his employer, the Diocese of Orange, is a party.

Hopefully this info will help dispel the nasty rumor Steven has chosen to start/perpetuate.

Please see the California Code of Civil Procedure section 2027.010, et seq. You can find it at CCP sec. 2027.010.

Atlanta Catholic


There is no reason to wonder alona about that! I don't know if they are Catholic. There is a pretty good chance that if they are practicing, that they are practicing progressives. One thing for sure is they know their wallets will be compensated with plenty of the laity's hard earned money. They may be defending Bishop "Brown" but their motivation is the love of "Green". That seems to be a non-denominational attribute!

Steven Greenhut

Yes of course he CAN give a deposition in another country, but Urell will not give it! There eventually could be sanctions of some sort, but how can he be compelled to follow a U.S. court order in Canada? John Manly has filed legal action to try to get the deposition, but there is no question that Urell fled the deposition and is evading and stalling. Where's the rumor? There is NO question Urell -- the diocesan point man on these matters -- left in the middle of the deposition and was in Canada the next day. His own lawyer and the diocese admit as much. His spokespeople say he can't give a deposition for at least three months. And this isn't evasion? Who is starting rumors here?


Once this issue became a legal one, all nice-guy gloves came off. The Bishop's lawyers need to be just as cutthroat as the plaintiff's regardless of their religious persuasions and personal beliefs. They all hail the mighty greenback, that is the American way!
I want to know how Bishop McFarland has skating past this!! Msgr. Urell is the scapegoat here, falling on his sword for both bishops. I hope his loyalty to them does not destroy him any more than it has already. It's time for the bishops to take responsibility here, and not let their minions sway in the breeze.


To be sure, Tomyj, the whole diocese has and will suffer for the evil of the hierarchy. it's comforting to know, however, that Canada is not outside God's jurisdiction. Bravo, Atlanta Catholic for your enlightening and factual perspective! People have to pull their heads up out of the sand.

Atlanta Catholic


You are absolutely right. Canada is not outside God's jurisdiction. I am confused about tomyj stating that "once it became a legal issue that all the nice-guy gloves have to come off". Birds of a feather, (Bad Bishops and their defenders) flock together.

The faithful in the Diocese of Orange were informed long ago, that Bishop Tod Brown removed his nice-guy gloves. The minute he instructed ex-priest Father Rod Stephens to implement the "new liturgical norms" in the Diocese of Orange, (with these Spiritual Highlights... The faithful will now receive Holy Communion in a "standing" position and any new construction or reconstruction of Churches are to hide the Tabernacle outside of the main body of the Church), then the nice guy gloves were dropped on the canvas. Don't Adore the King of Kings! Adore Bishop Tod Brown's pro-homosexual rights agenda that seeks to diminish belief in the Real Presence so legislation for gay rights that are contrary to Church Teaching will be influenced by Bishop Tod Brown's presence.

When Bishop Tod D. Brown has not been a nice-guy to God, we are due for some knock-out punches. Not to make a pun... we never "stood" a chance of Bishop Brown being a nice-guy to the faithful, when Bishop Brown has been unfaithful to God.

Less important but factual is tomyj's cavalier mention of the Almighty Greenback being the American way. Those Greenbacks come from the hard work and the backs of Catholics. They are certainly not getting their money's worth in investment. In the business world you would call it a Bait and Switch the Teachings, creating problems that spiritually embezzle the flock.


the money comes from insurance companies, that is a known fact. Stop making it sound as if its coming out of our pockets or the collection plate.



I don't know about the Diocese of Orange. But, in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, the insurance companies pay part of the cost of the judgment and the diocese also pays part. And, with all that's going on, I bet the cost of insurance is higher than a cat's back.


The Diocese of Orange is the same as the Arcdiocese of LA. In fact, the name of the insurance company is "brotherhood" or.. brother something or other. They have had these policies for many many years. And yes, just like anyones insurance, once there are claims, the premiums go up. But there is a big difference between paying a deductable and having to buy a whole new car so to speak.

So, a few of their accidents have been hit and runs, and a few have been reported and delt with. Although if there were no witnesses, and the chance to run was there, Urell was driving.

And then there is the Catholic Coalitions, the Karchers etc who have paid many a bill. Who is paying Urell's personal lawyer. How can priests who have no personal money themselves afford lawyers?

At what point does a priest decide he needs to hire his own lawyer? Arent the diocese lawyers enough or is there a conflict of interest?

Like in the case of Lawrence Baird, a bill that was in the tens of thousands was paid.. by whom? An he had hired OJ Simpsons lawyers from the OJ civil trial. Not cheap council. He lost, but still.

Mona Alona


Diocesan priest do not take a vow of poverty as do the priests in religious orders do. The diocese pays their priests a salary. I would imagine the diocese is paying Fr. Urell's attorney fees.

I think our newly ordainted diocesan priests earn a salary of around 40k.

Mona Alona

Speaking of salaries, what makes me sick is to know that even if Bishop Brown is guilty of molesting that boy many years ago and even if that guilt is proven and Bishop Brown is removed he will still get a nice retirement package paid for by the Laity and continue living his comfortable lifestyle.

The majority of Catholics aren't aware that perverted pederast(men who like to have sex with adolescent males)priests who've been found guilty of molesting are still financially supported by their religious orders or dioceses.


Interesting Mona,

because in the Baird case, after the judge ruled he must pay the defendant's court costs, he claimed to only earning $500 a month, and he had only $500 in his account. (It was later learned his money was hidden in his mother's savings acct.)

So I was assuming with room and board, food, car, household needs and all insurance paid, that they were given about $500 a month spending money.. but of course that was because of the testimony of a cleric, which I now take with a grain of self bought salt.


"Not all priests, whether inside or outside the diocesan bureaucracy, are bad."

Ouch. Maybe that sentence didn't come out as it was intended?

We have 152 parishes in RI. There are wonderful priests around us, doing Christ's work, all the time. If I live to be 100 and still have not met a single "bad" priest, I will be grateful, but not surprised.
Unfaithful priests are still a rarity, no matter how extreme in their behavior and how universally discussed the rarities are. We are blessed by the abundant faith of most of our priests.


Hopefully one day if I become a priest, I become bishop of this diocese, I know that I'd fix things, and very fast.


Consider yourself EXTREMELY fortunate to live in RI

The bad ones aren't rare in ALL of California - or have you not been reading the papers - LA $600,000,000, D of Orange $100,000,000, San Diego $200,000,000 and that's just the "last settelement" there were hundreds of millions before that that no one heard or read about because the bishops demanded silence of the victims in exchange for the cash. How sick!!!.

Diocese of Orange - bad priests are the norm. The rarity is a good, and decent holy priest.
We used to have 4 of them - Fr. Donald Lovell, Fr. John Eves, Fr. Eamon Mackin and Fr. Daniel Johnson, all at St. Mary's by the Sea.

Fr. Johnson used to go to the annual diocesan MANDATORY priests retreat - and I have heard from other priests, he usually sat alone.

Now, that says a lot about the other priests in the diocese. Bad, ignorant, cowardly - pick one, OR ALL of the above.

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