–First published on November 12, 2013.
Update: On January 15, 2016, the Seattle Archdiocese included Michael Ledwith on their published list of priests accused of sex abuse of children. Here is his name on the list, which includes notification that he had been defrocked (laicized) for his actions –
Evil travels the world to find a home here –
“Thus the one who needs to molest and the one who needs to be molested—because he needs to understand it—are brought together for the experience. In the understanding called God, nothing is evil.” – from JZ Knight’s “Ramtha—The White Book.”
In 1988, JZ Knight told ABC’s 20/20, “If a person is ever sorry about what they ever did, then they will never learn, and they never progress and go forward.”
All those words must have had a ring to them.
The following year, Irish Monsignor Michael Ledwith began a double life, commuting half way around the globe to study under JZ Knight at Yelm’s Ramtha School of Enlightenment (RSE).
That was quite a coup for JZ Knight. At the time he joined RSE in 1989, Monsignor Ledwith was President of the National University of Ireland at Maynooth, and head of the National Seminary in Ireland.
He was one of a small handful of theological advisors to Pope John Paul II. There was talk of him becoming Archbishop. He had risen very quickly through the ranks, and was still quite young for all his achievements.
Others in RSE’s 1989 beginners’ group, Ahk Men Ra, said that Michael Ledwith started off in the rank and file. Soon enough, though, his remarkable credentials quickly vaulted him into JZ Knight’s inner circle. He became one of RSE’s most esteemed teachers.
Other RSE students felt honored that such an important man was part of their fledgling school in Yelm. They felt that Michael Ledwith’s presence gave legitimacy to RSE and JZ Knight’s teachings.
Invitations to dinner parties with Ledwith were eagerly sought. He regaled the other RSE students with stories of his adventures around the world, hobnobbing with the upper echelons of power and prestige.
It’s a good guess that Monsignor Ledwith had kept his connection to JZ Knight a secret from his other life in Ireland and the Vatican.
Knight teaches that there is no right or wrong, that not even murder is wrong. That there is no good or bad. That you should think only of yourself.
All of that didn’t jibe with the teachings of Jesus, to which Ledwith had pledged his life when he was ordained as a Catholic priest in 1967.
It turned out that Monsignor Ledwith had other secrets in his life, besides RSE. Dark, ugly ones.
Secrets that, when finally revealed, made him a hated man in Ireland. The Irish press reported that Ledwith “fled” Ireland to come…here.
Where JZ Knight waited with open arms. No more double life. He apparently needed JZ for real, this time. And she certainly knew how to make good use of him.
When Michael Ledwith’s dark secrets finally came to light, angry Irish citizens demonstrated against the Church leadership who had punished and banished a whistleblower priest many years earlier.
That brave priest’s life was ruined when he had tried to report Ledwith’s ugly secrets in the early 1980s. Meanwhile, Ledwith’s career had skyrocketed.
These same secrets were later discussed on the floor of the Irish Senate, with the Minister of State in attendance.
Ledwith’s Dark Secrets Finally Come to Light
Irish Senator and Medical Doctor Mary Henry spoke on the Senate floor on November 10, 2005, responding to a weighty government report that had finally exposed decades of tragic, heartbreaking cover-ups of the worst of crimes:
“I welcome the Minister of State to the House.
I cannot say I welcome this report because it is utterly appalling.
Senator Glynn is correct to say that the effects of child sexual abuse on a person last forever. I do not think repayment can do them lasting good but the recognition that wrong was done to them does seem to be the one thing we can do…
Under the Constitution the churches in this country are permitted to order their own affairs and that is as it should be. However, when the authorities within the church neglect their duties to the most vulnerable people in their flock, we must speak out and take immediate action…
One of the most serious aspects of the Ferns report is the section dealing with former Monsignor Ledwith, who we learn later was involved in the sexual abuse of children.
This is significant because for the ten years between 1985 and 1995, the then Monsignor Ledwith was President of Maynooth College, the most important Irish institution for the training of priests.
This begs the question as to what type of training on sexual matters priests studying in Maynooth at the time received from this man.
I listened with dismay to the Vincent Browne programme last night as a moral theologian from Maynooth appeared to suggest, as he did in an article in The Irish Times earlier in the week, that the bishops may not have understood that child sexual abuse was a crime.
It is beyond belief that he should make this suggestion or suggest that Vatican II was somehow responsible for making sexual sins a form of emotional aberration. I query that anyone should teach theology of that nature nowadays…
The issue must have been discussed with all the bishops when it first arose because they took out insurance at the time to deal with it.
I encourage the Minister of State to ensure legislation is introduced as soon as possible making provision for the crime of willful endangerment of children.
The Minister of State will have a little laugh when he learns that at the time the South Eastern Health Board was not in a position to investigate gross abuses against children…the board should have been addressing what was happening to children who had been disgracefully abused.”
Michael Ledwith was fired from the National University of Ireland in December 1994, after the years of cover-up finally began to unravel.
Ledwith had refused their request that he check himself into a U.S. treatment center for child molesters. He denied everything.
Prior to being fired by the University, Michael Ledwith had entered into a confidential financial settlement with “Raymond,” who stated that Ledwith had sexually abused him for two years in the early 1980s, starting when Raymond was thirteen years old. The Catholic Church in Ireland also paid for counseling for Raymond and his family.
Raymond’s accusations were separate and unrelated to the other boys’ accusations against Ledwith, which had caused the whistleblower priest to be fired and banished, over ten years earlier.
That whistleblower priest, Father Gerard McGinnity, had been Senior Dean at the National University of Ireland at Maynooth at the time. He was an accomplished and respected scholar—and he had been trusted by the seminary students to stick up for the boys.
Which he did.
It became his undoing.
In December 1994, Irish Bishop Comiskey notified their Health Board about Michael Ledwith.
In January 1995, Bishop Comiskey notified the Archbishop of Seattle, after learning that Ledwith had moved here, into the Seattle diocese.
In 1996, the Irish bishops developed a new set of policies for handling child molestation allegations against priests, including a mandate to inform law-enforcement officials of all credible reports of abuse. Ledwith was eventually defrocked.
When the Seattle Diocese got a new Archbishop in 2000, a repeat notification about Ledwith was sent from Ireland.
In June 2002, the trustees of the National University of Ireland confirmed that Ledwith had made confidential settlements with two former seminarians, in 1995 and 2000, following allegations of sexual abuse—which Ledwith continued to deny. Like he had always denied everything.
Over twenty years after being fired and banished for reporting Michael Ledwith in the early 1980s, Father Gerard McGinnity finally received an apology from the Catholic Church.
Father McGinnity responded, “It is easy to utter words, but when you’ve been ousted from your position and for twenty years are denigrated as a result, how can a few words melt away the incalculable damage suffered?”
Demonstrators gathered to demand financial reparation for Father McGinnity, as well.
He didn’t participate.