Many Back Contested Priest Appointment
Bishop Praises Exemplary Ministry since 1999 Arrest on Suspicion of Lewd Act

By Meera Pal
Inside Bay Area
November 16, 2007

Parishioners at St. Augustine Catholic Church are praying, now more than ever, that their faith will guide them through a time of turmoil.

News continues to spread through the close-knit congregation that the pastor chosen to lead the parish was arrested several years ago in a case involving a lewdness allegation.

While some families feel they have lost all faith in the Roman Catholic Church and renounced their association with a religion that has guided them for decades, many others have vowed to stand behind the Rev. Padraig Greene, calling him a kind and generous man.

Greene, who will become parish priest Jan. 1 for the Catholic Communities of Pleasanton, was arrested in 1999 on suspicion of committing a lewd act in a public restroom in an Oakland hills park.

Fr. Padraig was and is filled with shame and great remorse over this incident, wrote retiring Pastor Dan Danielson on the Catholic Communities Web site. No doubt the hurt he experienced in his own life and his subsequent ways of dealing with it have contributed to his remarkably effective ministry.

Bishop Allen Vigneron and the

Diocese of Oakland also posted a statement supporting Greene: Fr. Green ... has performed exemplary ministry in the Diocese since that time. There have been no further incidents.

For many parishioners, the greatest difficulty lies in understanding why the parish leaders chose to hide Greenes past, especially after he was appointed to a leadership position. Parishioners

said they look to their church leaders as role models.

I am absolutely devastated by this news because I absolutely idolized this man, and he was one of the reasons I decided to go back to church, St. Augustine parishioner Hillary Bessiere wrote in an e-mail.

Bessiere is one of several parishioners who have renounced the Catholic Church entirely. She and her family will meet with a local Lutheran pastor about joining the pastors congregation.

As for the idea of telling parishioners years ago of Greenes arrest, Danielson said he does not ordinarily out the sins of church leaders. Most parishioners first learned about their future parish leaders past on Sunday, when Joey Piscitelli, director of the Northern California chapter of Survival Network of Those Abused by Priests, handed out fliers.

He shouldnt be made the No. 1 person for the entire Catholic Community of Pleasanton, Piscitelli said. My position is the truth has to come out.

Danielson and the bishop both noted that Greens charges did not involve minors, children or any other person and subsequently were dismissed. Danielson has asked Greene not to comment to the media about his 1999 arrest.

According to the Oakland police report, an undercover officer investigating complaints of sex in the restrooms at the North Oakland Regional Sports Center on Broadway said he saw Greene engaging in a sex act by himself. Greene spent two days in custody, and charges later were dismissed by the Alameda County district attorney after Greene agreed to six months of counseling at St. Michaels Center in St. Louis. The center treats priests, nuns and brothers who suffer from alcoholism and other afflictions.

I am certainly not accusing him of sex acts towards children, but it seems odd to me that someone would be so desperate to have to resort to a public restroom (at a sports park) to relieve himself of sexual tension, Bessiere said in her letter.

Regardless, the Diocese still plans to name Greene pastor of the Pleasanton congregations, because of its fundamental belief in forgiveness and redemption.

I believe in this concept of forgiveness; I can assure you, I am not alone. (Catholic Communities of Pleasanton) is filled with persons of faith, love and forgiveness, Pleasanton resident Elaine Snyder wrote in an e-mail.

For more information or to see the statement from the Catholic Communities of Pleasanton, visit

Meera Pal covers Pleasanton. Reach her at 925-847-2120 or


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