Attorney Challenges Renegade Priest-Author to Expose "Ring of Predators"

By Matt C. Abbott
Renew America [Chicago IL]
November 26, 2004

The clergy sex abuse scandal that has shaken the Catholic Church in the last few years continues to make news.

Sheila Parkhill, a noted Catholic attorney who currently resides in Texas, has challenged renegade priest-author-sociologist Father Andrew Greeley to reveal the information he claims to have in "safekeeping" about the activities of a clerical "ring of predators" a ring that may have been involved in the 1984 still-unsolved murder of Greeley's then-acquaintance, Chicago musician and professor Francis E. Pellegrini.

The following is a significant portion of the letter Parkhill e-mailed to Greeley on May 6, 2004 regarding the matter. (To date, Greeley has not responded.)

"Dear Father Greeley:

"I have followed your career and writings for many years now, reading the many stories you've written about the sexual abuse crisis in our Church, the problems, the solutions, stories you have written denouncing the bishops and their cover-ups. 'Are the bishops sorry at all?', you asked 8/3/2003. They all sound so right, so self-righteous and yet, when it comes to your personal life, doing the right thing yourself, your silence is deafening "I had to laugh when I read that Bishop Wilton Gregory said: "I can assure you, known offenders are not in the ministry." Yet you and I both know that is not true. We both know of at least six. While I do not yet have the proof in my hands, you do.

"For over a year now I have been investigating the Boys Club in Chicago.

"In light of the arrest of Father Gerald Robinson of Toledo [see], isn't it time you do something about the Chicago Boys Club, including the priest, now bishop, whose name has been included with it? They are still in the ministry, active in parishes. Some of those parishes have schools. They have not yet been exposed. You have made it clear to all that you know who they are. Knowingly allowing evil conduct to evade justice is to cooperate with evil.

"In your autobiographical books, 'Confessions of a Parish Priest' and 'Furthermore! Memories of a Parish Priest,' you clearly acknowledge that you know who they are:

"'...But even in Chicago, the ring of predators about whom I wrote in the paperback edition of 'Confessions' remains untouched. There is no evidence against them because no one has complained about them and none of their fellow priests have denounced them. Those who have been removed are for the most part lone offenders who lacked the skill to cover their tracks. The ring is much more clever. Perhaps they always will be. But should they slip, should they get caught, the previous scandals will seem trivial..'

"That statement remains as true today as when you wrote it, because we are talking, not only about sexual encounters with children. [That is] truly evil. But we are also talking about ritualistic and satanic abuse of children, the ultimate evil, murder, and credit card theft and fraud.

"You say:

""There is no evidence against them because no one has complained about them and none of their fellow priests have denounced them.'

"You are one of their fellow priests. You were in Chicago at the time. You know who they are.

"If you don't denounce them, do you think you are any different from the bishops you denounce? Are you not even worse because you hide the proof of evil predators' guilt in safekeeping? Who is being kept safe? You? Remember these are satanic ritual abusers. Do you not think about the potential for other victims, children whose violation you have the power to prevent? As for those who have already been violated, you have the power to bring these predators to justice.

"You announce to anyone and everyone who reads your books:

'They are a dangerous group. There is reason to believe that they are responsible for at least one murder, and may perhaps have been involved in the murder of the murderer. Am I afraid of them? Not particularly. They know that I have in safekeeping information which would implicate them. I am more of a threat to them dead than alive.'

"I know that some of the information you obtained came from connections with the Chicago police department...and some from the priest who wrote the letter to [the late Joseph] Cardinal Bernardin about the group and their activities. I know that you worked closely with that priest and that he gave you some of that information because he lived with one of them and found out what was going on. I believe you have a copy of that letter which contains the names of the perpetrators, among other things, in safekeeping.

"I know that you knew at least one of those murder victims, Frank Pellegrini from the University. I know the police talked with you during the investigation. One of them told me you wouldn't give them any information. I know that you know that Pellegrini wrote a letter to Vicar of Priests Tom Ventura revealing the sexual conduct and his plan to go to the authorities with the information. But before he could do that, he was found murdered a satanic murder. (It has been reported that Father Ventura left the priesthood in 2002.)

"You trumpet the fact that you have in safekeeping information which would implicate the members of the Boys Club! Why don't you, and Father M, shall we call him, give it to the bishops. Give it to Rome. To [Joseph] Cardinal Ratzinger [of the Vatican Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith]. Give it to the police in Chicago and in Tucson. Give it to the FBI Task Force before it appears in the newspapers, along with the fact that you knew and did nothing except brag that you knew! If you do the right thing, you will be protected! You will be a hero! Stories will be written about you and your courage, that you stood up against true evil..

"If you do not come forward and expose these predators yourself, when it does come out, will you be charged as a co-conspirator, an accomplice after the fact, withholding state's evidence, obstructing justice? The statute of limitations doesn't apply. "There is reason to believe that they are responsible for at least one murder, and may perhaps been involved in the murder of the murderer."

"Yes, you are right, 'the previous scandals' certainly 'will seem trivial,' but more than that, the scandalous fact that you knew, you know, and don't expose them yourself will crowd all else out! Your own words in your own books will be damning evidence against you. In the end this will ruin your life, your reputation and all that you have been able to accomplish. It will shame your family.

"But even more important is your answer to this question: Do you believe? Remember what He said about the children and the millstone? You have it within your power to protect other children from abuse! To bring the offenders to justice for those who have already been abused! Release the information that you have "I look forward to your response. In the meantime, I will pray for you."

Parkhill's investigation and letter is the most recent attempt to crack this bizarre case. In 2000, several Chicago businessmen, including Catholic activist Michael Tario, teamed up with Stephen Brady, founder and president of the Petersburg, Ill.-based Roman Catholic Faithful (, a lay watchdog group, to investigate and expose the Boys Club.

In 2001, I asked Cardinal Francis George about Greeley's allegation. The cardinal responded that he had asked Greeley twice about it, but that Greeley didn't provide him with any evidence. Greeley merely told the cardinal to talk to two priests, whose names the cardinal did not reveal.


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