“After All the Stuff He Did”

California Catholic Daily
January 29, 2009

At the request of the San Bernardino diocese, the Corona City Council has renamed a short cul-de-sac that runs in front of St. Edward Catholic Church, removing street signs honoring a longtime and now dead pastor later accused of sexual molestation.

Formerly known as Monsignor Thompson Circle, the city council voted earlier this month to rename the block-long street St. Edward Circle. The diocese had requested the name change in December.

Avery D. Ensley Jr., 62, who no longer lives in California, had pressed for the name change for nearly seven years. Ensley was among the plaintiffs who settled a nearly $200 million lawsuit with the diocese in 2007. He says Msgr. Matthew J. Thompson had molested him as a child when he attended St. Edward’s School and served as an altar boy.

"Having the street named after Monsignor Thompson, after all the stuff he did, was too much for me," Ensley told the Riverside Press-Enterprise.

Msgr. Thompson, who was pastor at St. Edward Church from 1943-1975, died in 1976, and the allegations against him were never proven. There were two allegations of abuse against the monsignor, and the diocese deemed them sufficiently “credible” to include Thompson’s name in a list of suspected abusive priests released in 2007.

Even though the diocese requested the street’s name be changed and included Msgr. Thompson on its list of priests with “credible allegations” against them, diocesan spokesman John Andrews told the Press-Enterprise Church officials were not entirely sure Msgr. Thompson was guilty. "Are we certain that the allegations against Monsignor Thompson are absolutely true? No, we're not, but… the allegations were deemed credible enough that his alleged victims were among those who were part of the settlement," Andrews told the newspaper.

The diocese’s request to remove Msgr. Thompson’s name from the street signs was "really based on our standing commitment that we have to the healing and reconciliation for victims of sexual abuse," Andrews told the Press-Enterprise.


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