Archbishop Identifies Child-Molesting Priest

Associated Press, carried in The Oregonian [Portland, Oregon]
May 27, 1988

The Seattle archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church has identified a priest with a long history of child molesting, and Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen has written to all parish pastors, urging them to care for child-abuse victims who might come forth.

The letter names the Rev. James McGreal, a retired pastor in residence at St. Theresa's parish in Federal Way.

A cover letter instructs pastors to read the letter identifying the priest from their pulpits this Sunday.

"During this past week, many of you learned about the struggles we have faced concerning Father Jim McGreal, who has undergone extensive treatment for a sexual disorder eventually identified as pedophilia," says Hunthausen's letter, released Thursday.

"I am writing in hopes that this situation, as painful as it is, will serve as an opportunity to break the cycle of silence the perpetuates abuse in the human family. . . . We wish to create a new atmosphere based on education and dialogue, so that the problem of abuse and exploitation will become a distant chapter in our past."

McGreal was removed from the parish Wednesday, and the archdiocese will make other housing arrangements for him, said St. Theresa pastor Joe Kramis.

McGreal, 65, has never been legally charged with pedophilia or sexual deviancy, and has not had sexual contact with children in the 11 months he has been assigned to St. Theresa, church officials said.

His history of many years of sexual contacts with children was only learned last Saturday by most of his parish, and his identification was kept secret in news reports until Thursday.

For some, the first word came when a woman said on a television show that a member of her family had been sexually abused by the priest 27 years ago while he was at a Seattle church.

Some St. Theresa parishioners said they were outraged McGreal's history was hidden.

"He has a deviancy that is horrible," Kramis said of McGreal. "He talks about it. We've talked about it every day. He's terribly repentant of what he's done to the victims. He's shed tears over it."

McGreal is undergoing treatment for sexual deviancy. He was removed from his minimal ministerial duties two months ago.

Hunthausen's letter said the church would "cooperate fully with civil authorities" and try to help victims any way it could.

Archdiocese officials said McGreal served in a number of parishes and hospitals over the last 40 years, with a history of pedophilia stretching back for much of the time. Since 1977 he has been removed from two parishes and a Catholic hospital for molestation problems and has been enrolled in several therapy programs, they added.

Archdiocesan Chancellor George Thomas said the priest was assigned to St. Theresa because it was known as a caring parish.

The problem of sexual molestation in the church is not new. A report two years ago documented 200 pedophile cases among approximately 53,000 priests and estimated the church's liability could reach $1 billion over the next decade.

Earlier this month, a Port Angeles priest was charged with five counts of molesting young boys.

"The sad reality is that there are child molesters in every parish, but they're not priests," said Tim Smith, McGreal's therapist at Northwest Treatment.

"People who are abusers need a loving and forgiving community in which to live," Kramis said.

"In our parish alone, (statistics would show that) there are at least a 100 abusers, and they're alone and not being treated," he continued, "so I would hope all of us grow in understanding of how terrible sexual abuse is."

Sister Carol Ann McMullen, associate archdiocesan clergy personnel director, said her office has concluded that it's very difficult to keep a priest with such a history in a parish.

"We had to become practically parole officers," she said. Nonetheless, she added, "We're glad we tried."


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