Boston Cardinal Quietly Returns Criminal Priest to Parish Work

By Barbara Dorris
Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests
April 26, 2008

O'Malley doing what bishops have done for decades and still do: quietly moving an almost certain sex offender to unsuspecting parishes without warning, supposedly relying on the advice of therapists, using alleged alcohol to excuse criminal acts toward a child, alerting neither the public nor the parishioners, and disclosing all this only after being confronted by the news media.

Here's the bottom line: Why gamble with the safety of children, especially in the one community that may have suffered and be suffering the most because of dozens and dozens of similarly reckless, callous and secretive decisions for decades?

Less than a week ago, the pope admitted being 'ashamed' by the church's on-going sex abuse and cover up scandal and promised to rid the priesthood of pedophiles. Yet days later, O'Malley secretly puts back into parishes a priest who faced four criminal charges, and essentially admitted to one, just three years ago.

We don't think that secretly moving a criminal priest to unsuspecting parishes without warning is what the pope meant last week when he called for "a determined collective response" to child sex abuse.

The pope urged Catholics to "do everything possible" to heal the wounds of clergy sex abuse victims. Nothing is more healing than when we see that our pain has brought reforms and prevented more abuse. On the other hand, nothing exacerbates our pain than seeing kids put in harm's way and realizing that our pain means little or nothing to church officials who continue to act recklessly, callously and secretively.

(Note that the likely criminal's lawyer doesn't even deny what happens. He merely claims that police 'overreached.' Note too that the bishops' own national policy acknowledges that child sex abuse need not involve physical touching.)

When it comes to symbolic gestures, O'Malley is masterful. When it comes to actually protecting kids, he fails. Just last month, for the second year in a row, he was deemed in violation of the church's national child sex abuse policy for refusing to see that 20% of Boston's Catholic kids receive the sex abuse prevention training that's allegedly required. (That requirement has been in place for six years now, yet O'Malley refuses to honor it.)

We've seen no evidence that O'Malley issued public notices that Gillespie would be working in several parishes or would have issued one when Gillespie was given a permanent assignment. We challenge O'Malley to disclose when he first let this priest work in parishes again and explain why he did so secretly.

Once again, citizens and Catholics learn that a sexually troubled priest returns to parish work only because concerned individuals contact the news media.


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