Faith in Priest Was Steadfast

By Galen Moore
Daily News Tribune
December 22, 2006

[Note from We have redacted this cached copy of the original article after reviewing the court file and other sources. The word in square brackets replaces a word used in the original article.]

Waltham — When the Archdiocese of Boston reinstated the Rev. Roger Jacques as a priest earlier this week, his former parishioners showed they've kept a candle lit for him since 2002, when he was suspended from the priesthood after being accused of sexually abusing a child.

Bill Aucoin, who assisted with Masses at St. Joseph's Parish, said he had grown up taught that a priest was "on a higher plane," than the rest of humanity — not to be challenged or questioned.

Boston's clergy sex abuse scandal broke him of that notion, but his faith in Jacques never wavered, he said.

"We found out that they were sinners, but there are good ones," he said of the clergy. "We're pretty confident. If he said he didn't do it, we believe him."

St. Joseph's Church closed in 2004, two years after the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston removed Jacques as its pastor. In 2002, the archdiocese suspended Jacques' status as a priest, pending an investigation into allegations he [molested] an 11-year-old girl while associate pastor at St. Paul's Church in Wellesley in 1982.

Monday, the archdiocese announced the results of that investigation. It reinstated Jacques, calling the original accusation "unsubstantiated."

The alleged victim also filed a civil suit against Jacques, which was folded into a large group of similar suits against clergy and the archdiocese that were settled through arbitration in 2003.

"She wanted to obtain some sort of closure," said her attorney, Mitchell Garabedian. The archdiocese's internal investigation seemed inadequate, he said. "She felt that was a kangaroo court."

As part of the settlement, the civil claim against Jacques was dismissed, but court records show Jacques fought to have the case go to trial, to clear his name, he said.

Another former parishioner, Joan Walsh, praised Jacques for his leadership during the church sex abuse crisis. She said before scandal came to his own doorstep, Jacques had called on Catholics and the archdiocese to reveal the abuses, no matter how painful.

"He did everything he could from the pulpit, urging people to speak out and get it in the open," she said.

In 2002, not long after his suspension, Jacques was one of 58 clergy who signed a letter criticizing Cardinal Bernard Law, which precipitated the cardinal's resignation as head of the Boston archdiocese.

His attorney, James O'Brien, said Jacques would not speak with reporters, but said his client is gratified to have his name cleared. "It's been a very tough year for him," O'Brien said.

Meanwhile, in Waltham, parishioners remembered a devoted pastor, who instilled religious fervor in his flock.

If Jacques meets with the archdiocese to learn where he will go next, "I would like to be there when he goes to talk to the cardinal," Aucoin said. "I would say, what took you so long?"

[cf330]Galen Moore is a Daily News Tribune staff writer. He can be reached on 781-398-8004, or


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