Whistleblower Priest Becomes Another Victim of the System

By Warren E. Mason
Boston Herald [Massachusetts]
February 21, 2004

We've become numb to the stories, sick of the accusations, as the Catholic Church gropes to find a semblance of truth and dignity.

Nevertheless, the latest episode is a compelling lesson in simple truths, and grave deceit:

Springfield Bishop Thomas Dupre resigns within hours of being confronted with accusations that he molested 9- and 13-year-old boys beginning in the 1970s.

After years of trumpeting family values, leading the charge against gay marriage, and coddling abusers, Dupre finds himself on the hot seat. More than a week after the revelations first surfaced, Dupre tellingly has nothing to say. It appears he has lived a lie - a 40-year lie!

Rather than expressing outrage at the potential abuse by one of its own leaders, the Archdiocese of Boston gives us a slight of hand, designed to protect the image of Archbishop Sean O'Malley, while sacrificing the Rev. James Scahill of St. Michael's Parish in East Longmeadow - the priest who blew the whistle on Dupre.

Three people were present when Scahill told the archbishop's personal secretary it was extremely urgent that the archbishop gets back to him concerning a "dire" problem in the Springfield Diocese.

The Rev. Christopher Coyne, spokesman for the archbishop, told the Associated Press, however, that Scahill should have gone through proper channels, adding, "An unsolicited phone call of such an ambiguous nature is not the way you handle serious matters such as this."

He made it sound as if Scahill were a telemarketer pestering the archbishop to buy a set of Ginzou knives. How could the call from Scahill have been anything but "unsolicited"?

It would seem reasonable that the archbishop, or one of his aides could have found time to check out what Scahill thought to be so "dire." Scahill has yet to hear from the Archdiocese of Boston.

There continues to be a huge void between concern for victims, and the "let's circle the wagons" mentality that pervades Catholic hierarchical thought.

If you're not a member of the Catholic fraternity, you're treated as a second-class citizen; expected to accept the pabulum that is doled out, and to accept it with a smile.

You are indeed the ultimate fraternity pledge!

Scahill attempted to report the allegations against Bishop Dupre in the prescribed manner, while ministering to one of the alleged victims and his mother.

Rather than castigating Scahill, the archbishop would be better served to emulate his ministry, and to praise Scahill for his vigilance in the protection of children.

St. Michael's has grown by 250 families in one year, drawing from Connecticut and surrounding Massachusetts towns. Contributions are up 30 percent, while the parish has 40 altar servers, boys and girls.

How can this be, when the Catholic Church is shrinking faster than the Wicked Witch of the West?

Quite simply, Scahill has stepped out of the insular clerical box. He chooses to see the world as a parent, a friend, a caregiver and an equal.

David Clohessy, executive director of SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), said, "Father Scahill is the most courageous priest in the U.S."

On the other side is the Catholic hierarchy. They make the simple seem impossible; the truth seem a vague conception; and storytelling a twisted art form.

They attempt to stand the world on its head, when we thirst for simple truth, honest compassion and moral outrage.


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