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  Guest Column
Fr. Andrew Greeley's Dirty Secret? And His One-Sentence "Response"

By Matt C. Abbott mattcabbott@hotmail.com
Renew America [United States]
March 30, 2004

Fr. Andrew Greeley continues to chastise the Catholic Church for its handling of the clergy sex abuse scandal. The soft-porn novel-writing priest has always been part of the solution, you see. Not that he doesn't have some valid points. After all, no reasonable Catholic can deny that certain bishops have been, at the very least, grossly negligent in their duties. And this doesn't even take into account the widespread dissent and lack of orthodoxy in the American church.

But, alas, Greeley is a liberal. He's quick to point out the "hypocrisy" of the "right-wing" whenever it makes an assertion, whether in the realm of politics or in the realm of religion. And that, I must say, is most irritating especially in light of the following:

In Greeley's 1999 non-fiction book "Furthermore! Memories of a Parish Priest," on page 80, he writes:

"...But even in Chicago, the ring of predators about whom I wrote in the paperback edition of 'Confessions' remains untouched. There is no evidence against them because no one has complained about them and none of their fellow priests have denounced them. Those who have been removed are for the most part lone offenders who lacked the skill to cover their tracks. The ring is much more clever. Perhaps they always will be. But should they slip, should they get caught, the previous scandals will seem trivial...."

A footnote states:

"They are a dangerous group. There is reason to believe that they are responsible for at least one murder, and may perhaps have been involved in the murder of the murderer. Am I afraid of them? Not particularly. They know that I have in safekeeping information which would implicate them. I am more of a threat to them dead than alive."

(The murder Greeley is alluding to in the above passage is almost certainly that of Francis E. Pellegrini, who was the organist and choir director at All Saints St. Anthony of Padua Catholic Church, located on Chicago's South side. Pellegrini was allegedly in the process of exposing to the archdiocese the activities of the clergy sex/pedophile ring, but was found brutally murdered in his apartment on May 30, 1984. To date, the murder remains officially unsolved.)

The obvious questions: If Greeley is truly interested in justice and the good of the Catholic Church, why has he thus far refused to expose this "dangerous group"? Why is the "information" in "safekeeping" and not with the proper authorities? And what about the newspapers that run Greeley's columns? One would think that they would be aware of his (public) allegation. Yet, the silence from them on the matter is deafening.

As for the Church, the Archdiocese of Chicago has no information to corroborate the allegation "that a ring of priests may have been involved in criminal activity. Nevertheless, when this information was published, the Archdiocese brought it to the attention of the State's Attorney in Cook County." So stated a letter sent to Yours truly, dated July 31, 2001, from John C. O'Malley, director of legal services for the Archdiocese. And, according to Cardinal Francis George, Archbishop of Chicago, Greeley hasn't provided him with any actual evidence on the matter.

So...is it a case of Greeley's smarmy fiction, or is it a case of his liberal hypocrisy? Or both?

One more thing: A few days ago, Greeley e-mailed me. He stated, "for [sic] the record I began to write publically [sic] on sexual abuse by the clergy back in 1986."

Whatever.

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Matt C. Abbott is the former executive director of the Illinois Right to Life Committee and the former director of public affairs for the Chicago-based Pro-Life Action League. He is also a contributor to Cruxnews.com, MichNews.com, Newsbull.com, AmericanDaily.com, ChristianNewsToday.com, Catholiccitizens.org, "The Wanderer" Catholic newspaper, TCRNews2.com, Catholic.org, and CatholicExchange.com. He can be reached at mattcabbott@hotmail.com.