Staten Island Advance [Staten Island NY]
March 30, 2021
By Maura Grunlund
Six months before his death, the Vatican cleared a former prominent cleric on Staten Island of sex-abuse charges that previously were deemed credible in an independent review process sponsored by the Archdiocese of New York, according to reports in Catholic New York.
The Holy See restored the good name and priestly status of Monsignor Francis Boyle several months before his death on March 13 and years after his stunning fall from grace amid the Roman Catholic church’s sex-abuse scandal.
Monsignor Boyle was a priest for about 40 years when he was named a monsignor in 1995 while at Blessed Sacrament R.C. Church in West Brighton, where he assumed the pastorship in January 1991. He retired in July 2004 and transitioned to the role of pastor emeritus for the parish.
The monsignor, who held powerful positions within the archdiocese for decades, died at age 91 after residing at St. John Vianney Priests Residence in the Bronx for the past 16 years.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the archbishop of New York, celebrated the funeral Mass for Monsignor Boyle on March 18 at Holy Family R.C. Church in New Rochelle, according to Catholic New York.
The Holy See confirmed a recommendation by Cardinal Dolan to dismiss an allegation of sexually abusing a minor that had been brought against Monsignor Boyle, according to an article published on the Catholic New York website in September 2020.
“The usual canonical investigation determined that the allegation had not been proven, and, after consultation with the archdiocesan review board, these findings were forwarded to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith,” the Catholic New York reported.
“Cardinal Luis Ladaria, S.J., prefect of the congregation, wrote to Cardinal Dolan with the congregation’s conclusions. In a letter dated September 17, 2020, Cardinal Ladaria said that, after studying the case of Msgr. Boyle, they had determined that the accusation brought against him ‘does not have the semblance of truth,’ and further directed the archdiocese to take whatever steps are needed to restore his good name.”
In October of 2018, an announcement in the Blessed Sacrament bulletin said “allegations of abuse” were brought against Monsignor Boyle through the Archdiocese’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP) that assists victims of alleged priestly abuse.
The findings of the investigation were confirmed by the Archdiocesan Lay Review Board.
“The Lay Review Board has concluded that the allegations were credible and substantiated,” according to the bulletin notice in 2018.
“Msgr. Boyle has been suspended, and may not function or present himself as a priest. The Holy See will decide an appropriate penalty, which could include dismissal from the clerical state or imposing a life of prayer and penance. However, it is certain that Msgr. Boyle will never serve as a priest again.”
TIME ON STATEN ISLAND
During his years on Staten Island, Monsignor Boyle was a highly-regarded religious leader who was honored “for his contributions to the church and the community as a person of Irish descent” at a ball in October 1996, according to an Advance article about the event.
“Since his appointment as pastor of Blessed Sacrament Church six years ago, Monsignor Boyle has been highly visible in parish and community affairs and has taken a special interest in the development of enhanced educational programs at the parish school,” the 1996 article said. “It is his wish that proceeds for the ball and its companion journal be used for a new computer center in the school.”
Born in Manhattan, the monsignor attended St. Francis de Sales School in his home borough, Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx and St. Joseph’s Seminary in Yonkers.
Ordained in 1955, Boyle spent his early years in the priesthood working in parishes and holding administrative and educational positions in the seminaries that he had attended.
“In 1968, Msgr. Boyle was appointed procurator at St. Joseph’s Seminary in Dunwoodie, and of the former Cathedral College Preparatory Seminary in Manhattan. In 1974, he was named director of development at Dunwoodie,” according to Catholic New York. “At the seminary, he also served as dean of students, professor of homiletics and director of the deacon internship program and the field education program.”
He also helped to determine the career paths of ordained priests while serving on the Priests’ Personnel Board of the Archdiocese of New York in the 1990s and the Priests’ Council from 1985 to 1990. He was chairman of the Commission of Inter-Parish Finances from 1983 to 1985, and the Priests’ Senate from 1979 to 1983. He was assistant director of the Priests’ Conference on Pastoral Life from 1966 to 1970, according to Advance records.
Monsignor Boyle led Our Lady of Perpetual Help R.C. Church in Pelham Manor, Westchester, from 1979 to 1991. He was parochial vicar of St. Gabriel R.C. Church in the Bronx from 1959-1968 and of St. Malachy’s, the Actors’ Chapel in Manhattan, from 1955-1959.