Bishop John D’Arcy: a Legacy of ‘Tough Love’

National Catholic Register


BOSTON — Ten years ago, Bishop John D’Arcy of the Fort Wayne-South Bend (Ind.) Diocese got an urgent call from lawyers representing the Boston Archdiocese, where he had previously served as an auxiliary bishop from 1975-1985. He learned that The Boston Globe would soon publish the personnel files of the alleged serial predator, Father John Geoghan, and that a plaintiff’s attorney had obtained a 1984 letter he wrote opposing the priest’s assignment to a local parish.

“I didn’t remember that I wrote the letter at first,” recalled Bishop D’Arcy, during a telephone interview last week while visiting his family in Boston. Ordained in Boston more than half a century ago, he retired as the shepherd of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese in 2009 at the age of 77.

Yet despite that initial lack of recall, Bishop D’Arcy would emerge as an uncommon hero as the clergy abuse scandal unfolded in the media. While the published personnel files of the Boston Archdiocese exposed a legacy of episcopal negligence, Bishop D’Arcy’s repeated efforts to raise the alarm would lead the National Review Board for the Protection of Children and Young People to describe him as a “voice in the wilderness.”

Asked to discuss the reason why he spoke up when others remained silent, Bishop D’Arcy insisted that he should not be singled out for special credit. Rather, he viewed the 10th anniversary of the Boston crisis as an opportunity to reflect on both the vital role of the Catholic bishop, and the ongoing importance of screening candidates for seminary.

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