James Gill: Catholic officials ‘instinctively secretive,’ even in defrocked New Orleans deacon’s case

The New Orleans Advocate

July 18, 2018

By James Gill

Pretty much the world’s first inkling that the Catholic hierarchy had been shielding pedophile priests came when Lafayette’s Gilbert Gauthe pleaded guilty in 1985.

New Orleans journalist Jason Berry was in the courtroom for the Gauthe hearing, and thus got to break the biggest, most sordid ecclesiastical story in many years. Now that NOPD is weighing charges against ex-deacon George Brignac, Berry notes how things have changed since the days when church policy was to say nothing and shunt the perverts of the priesthood off to prey on the children of a different parish.

Three years after Gauthe was sent to prison, New Orleans prosecutors dropped charges of child molestation against Brignac after the alleged victim refused to testify. But the evidence was evidently damning, for Brignac was promptly defrocked by then-Archbishop Philip Hannan.

So for sure, the church was now sworn to quit covering up for the sinners in its midst and to extend proper protection to the children in its care. This moral reawakening may have owed much to the revulsion that overcame the public when it became apparent that the church had harbored sexual predators time out of mind. The billions paid out to settle lawsuits have also no doubt encouraged the church to mend its ways.

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