Report: Daily Failed to Protect Kids From Priests

By Stephanie Saul
Newsday [New York]
July 23, 2003

Brooklyn Bishop Thomas Daily made decisions that placed children at risk from sexually-abusive priests when he held a leadership position in Boston from 1976 to 1984, according to a government report issued Wednesday.

As the second-ranking administrator of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, Daily conducted only cursory investigations of abuse allegations, moved abusive priests from one parish to another, and failed to notify authorities, according to the report by the Massachusetts Attorney General.

"Bishop Daily had a preference for keeping priests who sexually abused children in pastoral ministry, " said the report, the result of an 18-month investigation of the sexual abuse scandal in the Archdiocese of Boston.

The 91-page report also accuses Daily of "generally following a practice of transferring those priests without supervision or notification to new parishes."

Daily served as the vicar for administration to the late Cardinal Humberto Medeiros and Cardinal Bernard Law from 1976 to 1984. In that position, the No. 2 job in the Archdiocese, all high-level management decisions flowed through Daily to the cardinals.

Responding to the report, Daily's spokesman Frank DeRosa defended the Bishop by saying, "Given the understanding that people had about this issue at the time, the early 1980s, the Bishop followed procedures he felt were appropriate."

Previously, Daily has said he regretted many of his personnel decisions in Boston.

Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas Reilly said he found no criminal intent in the actions of Daily or other church officials, one of the reasons no charges were filed by the grand jury he empaneled last year. Rather, the secrecy of Daily and others was an effort to protect the church's reputation, he said. But their decisions came at the expense of the young victims -- 789 of them have come forward to report abuse that occurred beginning in 1940, he said.

Daily submitted a letter of retirement in September, as is required of bishops on their 75th birthday. The Brooklyn Diocese is awaiting the papal announcement of his replacement.

In news accounts, testimony and lawsuits since last year, it has been disclosed that Daily was instrumental in Boston in decisions to:

-- Promote the Rev. Paul Shanley to pastor of a parish even though he knew the priest advocated sex between men and boys.

-- Hire a sexually abusive priest from Ohio in the early 1980s, the Rev. Robert Burns, then assign him to Massachusetts parishes with no warning.

-- Reassign the Rev. John Geoghan to pastoral ministry following repeated complaints in the early 1980s that he had sexually abused children.

The report mentions Daily's involvement in the Burns and Geoghan cases, but contains no new disclosures.


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