Church: 3 Accused Irish Priests Served in Boston

Daily Comet
January 27, 2010

BOSTON - Three Irish priests accused of sexually abusing children in the United States served within the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, but were not the subject of any allegation during their time here, church officials said Wednesday.

In the wake of a clergy-abuse scandal that rocked the church in Ireland last year, the Massachusetts-based group created a database of 70 Irish-born priests who were accused of abuse and served in U.S. dioceses. In December, the group called on Cardinal Sean O'Malley to publicly identify any of the priests with ties to Boston.

In a statement, the archdiocese said three of the priests on the list, Brendan Smyth, Dennis Murphy and Joseph Maguire, served in the Boston area for periods ranging from two days to four years.

"Based on our research, none of these three priests was the subject of an allegation here in the Archdiocese of Boston," the statement read.

The archdiocese on Wednesday also revealed an allegation of abuse dating back some 30 years against a fourth, unidentified Irish priest. Terrence Donilon, a spokesman for O'Malley, said the priest had not been in the archdiocese for decades and that any action against him would come from his religious order in Ireland.

Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of, said at a news conference that the information released by the archdiocese raised as many questions as it answered.

"We're calling on Cardinal O'Malley to name immediately all of the parishes and hospitals and schools where these accused Irish priests have worked in this archdiocese, where they appeared, where they spoke, for one day or for one year," Doyle said. She also said the cardinal should publicly identify the fourth priest.

The archdiocese said Smyth was granted faculties for two days in August 1991 at St. Camillus in Arlington, Mass.

Smyth was accused of preying on children during a 40-year career at parishes in Ireland, Rhode Island and North Dakota. The Irish Republic's delay in extraditing Smyth to Northern Ireland after allegations of sexual abuse surfaced led to the collapse of the coalition government of Prime Minister Albert Reynolds in 1994. Smyth died in prison in 1997.

Two Rhode Island residents who say they were abused by Smyth as children have sued the Providence diocese, which has said it is not aware of any other allegations against priests from Ireland who served there.

The Rev. Joseph Maguire, who was assigned to the Diocese of Manchester, N.H., worked with the Stigmatine Fathers in Waltham, the archdiocese said. Maguire was later convicted of raping three altar boys in Dover, N.H., and died in prison in 2005, shortly after beginning a 44-year prison sentence.

Murphy served at St. Cecilia's in Boston in 1996 and 1997, the archdiocese said.

He was placed on administrative leave from the Richmond, Va., diocese in 2004 after allegations of improper behavior with teenagers arose, according to news reports at the time. said its records showed Murphy also spent time in Rhode Island and served as a chaplain at Yale University from 1988 to 1992. There's no record of charges being brought against him and his current whereabouts are unknown.

The government-ordered investigation in Ireland found that Dublin church leaders spent decades shielding more than 170 pedophile priests from the law. Four bishops resigned in the weeks following the report's Nov. 26 release.

The group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests renewed its call for O'Malley to be more forthcoming, saying there are credibly accused priests whose names have not been released to the public.

In a separate development Wednesday, O'Malley announced creation of an Office of Pastoral Support and Child Protection, a merger of three divisions currently responsible for child advocacy and outreach, and background screening of priests and other archdiocese employees who work with children.

O'Malley also announced a new Office of Professional Standards and Oversight, headed by former Plymouth County prosecutor Mark Dunderdale, which will be responsible for maintaining professional standards within the archdiocese.

The Boston Archdiocese reached an $85 million settlement in 2003 with more than 550 victims of the clergy sex abuse scandal, which resulted in the resignation of O'Malley's predecessor, Cardinal Bernard Law.


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