Lennon Urged Hub Archdiocese to Probe Priest 'on Loan' to N.J.

By Tom Mashberg and Robin Washington
Boston Herald
February 6, 2003

A spokesman for Bishop Richard G. Lennon, interim head of the Archdiocese of Boston, said yesterday internal files make clear Lennon did not quash an investigation of a priest accused of touching a girl while in ministry in New Jersey.

The Rev. Christopher R. Coyne said church records on the Rev. John M. Picardi Jr. show Lennon urged Picardi be investigated by the Boston church rather than the Diocese of Paterson, N.J., where the priest was working on loan.

``Father Lennon was asked an opinion as to who has jurisdiction and he says Boston does,'' Coyne said of Lennon, who was then a canon law adviser. ``There was a process (and) an assessment and Father Picardi was suspended.''

Prior to the New Jersey incident, Picardi had admitted to a 1992 rape of an adult man in Florida, but was never disciplined for it, according to his files.

In New Jersey in 1995, the files state, he allegedly touched a 12-year-old girl on the buttocks. The file indicates Paterson Bishop Frank J. Rodimer asked the archdiocese of Boston for permission to investigate the accusations himself.

In a Sept. 26, 1995, document, Lennon recommends the archdiocese deny Rodimer's request, explaining, ``opening such an investigation runs the real risk of negative fall-out for Father Picardi and for the church.''

In the next paragraph, Lennon states: ``Since Father Picardi is a priest of the Archdiocese and since an allegation was made, the (Boston) Archdiocesan Policy must be implemented.''

In an Oct. 6, 1995, document, the Rev. Brian M. Flatley clarified Lennon's and his own position, writing, ``If Bishop Rodimer allows the investigation, and it clears Father Picardi, we may have to allow him to return to ministry. I am more and more convinced that this would be a mistake.''

Picardi's file shows he was then suspended for 19 months.

Ann Hagan Webb, New England co-coordinator of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, said the case ``insinuates to me that (Lennon) does have some understanding that children needed to be kept out of the way of these men.

``If he can do that again, now that he's in a real position of power, I'll be the first to stand up and applaud him,'' she said.

David Clohessy, SNAP's national director, agreed, though he cautioned: ``Sometimes documents aren't crystal clear. If he really was well intentioned, it would serve him well to speak directly and honestly about this case.''

Picardi, 47, was reinstated in 1997 by Bernard Cardinal Law after Picardi appealed his case to the Vatican. In response, Rome wrote a letter to Law that carried an implicit message Picardi be reinstated, church insiders say.

Law then wrote to Bishop Thomas D. O'Brien of Phoenix to offer Picardi as a ``lend-lease'' priest.

Law outlined two allegations against Picardi: a ``homosexual incident'' in Florida in 1992, and the 1995 incident. Law wrote that New Jersey officials had looked into the Paterson case and ``concluded the girl had been touched but that it was impossible to say if the event constituted sex abuse.''

Law, however, omitted that Picardi himself called the 1992 episode ``a rape.'' Picardi was suspended Tuesday by the Phoenix church.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
guide of business management sytem guide of job opinions guide of capital goods guide of make fast money guide of Debt restructuring guide of home business guide of income money guide of hospital products guide of international market guide of repair roof before winter guide of website income guide of secure your business guide of face makeup tools guide of jewellery arts guide of tv shows guide of best places on earth guide of job plans guide of cheap cars guide of creating products guide of women tools guide of eat less guide of car insurance process guide of sport stuff guide of garden home guide of cheap insurances guide of electronic tech guide of healthy feeding guide of what is next in fashion guide of improve company guide of tactical insurance guide of make money at home guide of development in business guide of dept loan guide of cooking secrets guide of correct companies guide of jobs with more income guide of reviews o general products guide of improving technology guide of ideal job guide of business sectors guide of dept problem guide of unlimited business guide of suitable insurance company guide of money cars guide of how to market guide of heatlhy diet tips guide of decoration tipse guide of security problems