Policy Will Face First Challenge

Worcester Voice [Leominster MA]
October 12, 2004

The Worcester Voice has called upon the Diocese of Worcester to show how serious it is in enforcing its new ministerial code of conduct. The diocese need not look beyond Leominster to find a case worthy of its scrutiny of ethical and moral practices by clergy and a bishop. According to the new code, bishops and clergy are being held to an even higher standard that was was promulgated in the decree.

It was a cold wet day in December 2000 when arrival of a new priest was announced during Mass at St. Leo Parish in Leominster. The faithful were informed that because of the illness of Father Dolan, the new priest, Father Peter, would be celebrating Masses.

Within a week of his arrival, Father Peter was in the parish elementary school and he attended the seventh and eighth grade classes on a regular basis. No priest had ever spent so much time in the school. Other than the occasional Mass for a class, Fathers Doran and Dolan were never seen.

Now Father Peter was teaching religious education classes. Father Peter in February 2001 took the time to write a letter to all the eighth grade class students. A month later whispers were becoming more common and they involved sexual allegations that were made in the past about Father Peter Inzerillo and the amount of time he was spending in the parish with older children.

In April an eighth grade boy reported he was being pressured to attend individual altar server lessons alone with Father Inzerillo. Traditionally this service begins in the fourth grade. By June Father Inzerillo took the eighth grade class and had them joined in a circle of unity and while alone with these children he began a sexually explicit conversations. This was not a conversation about the moral issues involving dating or growing up. The talk is said to have begun with giving definitions of female genitalia and stimulation of male genitalia by females.

The lecture by Father Inzerillo went on for some time and he concluded by saying that ejaculation from the male penis is the most pleasurable experience a male can have. The children were shocked. Two parents and the eighth grade teacher met with Father Doran, the pastor, following their return to St. Leo’s. The eighth grade teacher retired after the meeting with Father Doran. Several days later, each parent of the altar servers received letters informing them that as on July 2001 Father Inzerillo would be placed in charge of the altar servers.

Who was protecting the children? One parent, Mary T. Jean, had attempted to confront the situation with the school principal in late April. Within weeks, Mrs. Jean was reported to the Massachusetts Department of Social Services by the parish school board president, Dr. F. John McLaughlin. Dr. McLaughlin called her the morning of May 3, 2001 and told her "this is how we take care of trouble makers." Among allegations he made against her were that her son had missed six months of school and she became politically involved and organized parents against school policy. The allegations were false. After a 10-month ordeal - that terrified innocent young children - the charges were reversed within 24 hours after Worcester Bishop Daniel P. Reilly was subpoenaed to attend a hearing to be held by DSS.

Another elementary school parent - a clergy abuse victim himself – in February 2002 confronted Father Doran about the truth of newly released information involved sexual abuse allegations made against Father Inzerillo. This happened just as the most recent wave of the clergy sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church was breaking. Father Doran wrote a false representation of what had happened and attempted to blame Dianne Williamson, a columnist for the Telegram & Gazette, and the Worcester Telegram & Gazette. The parents of Catholic school children once again were misled and children were led into danger.

It later became known that Father Peter Inzerillo was placed on leave from ministry in a Fitchburg parish after a Spencer man filed a civil suit alleging sexual abuse by Father Brendan O’Donoghue and Father Peter Inzerillo. The case was settled out of court by the diocese and the alleged victim with payment of $300,000. The settlement was to remain secret and no one in Leominster was to know about this but the facts of the settlement became known when this controversy in the parish arose. The bishop had reassigned Father Inzerillo to a parish that operated an elementary school in late 2000 knowing the diocese had just paid to settle a suit involving alleged impropriety by Father Inzerillo as well as the other priest.

Currently, Father Inzerillo faces a new civil suit filed in 2004 that is not connected to the first suit and involves a different male. The alleged abuse occurred on St. Leo Parish property. Diocesan lawyer Gavin Reardon in September signed on to defend Father Inzerillo yet once again.

The reassignment of Father Inzerillo after a secret settlement of $300,000 has never been publicly addressed. Bishop Daniel Reilly never informed any members of the community of the past accusations. To the contrary, he provided false information to Father Doran, St. Leo pastor, which was placed in writing to protect Father Inzerillo. Protection of the priest was paramount in the actions conducted by diocesan employees.

It appears that the St. Leo incident, which covers most aspect of this new code of ministerial conduct, should be used as a test to see if the diocese intends to properly address the issues at hand.

At Leo’s we had church personnel working alone with youth and engaging in improper sexually-oriented conversations and attempting to hold private meetings with underage youth. We have retaliation against one parent who questioned the church about Father Inzerillo, retaliation that involved bringing in a secular institution to do the church’s dirty work. This retaliation, which is barred in the new code, caused great distress to two young children who faced being taken out of their safe and secure home.

The St. Leo case also shows the intent of the diocese of cover-up for clergy sexual abuse. The intimidation and retaliation against those who attempted to expose the truth cries out for justice. Many were hurt by these immoral and unethical actions. Bishop Reilly did not do the right thing and he did not follow the example of Jesus Christ.

Words are easily written, but true acts of Christianity portray courage and faith. Will Worcester Bishop McManus portray the Lords work or will he succumb to worldly pressure like so many Bishops before him?


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