Church Suspends Milton Priest
The Rev. Beale Worked with Troubled Clergy

By Kevin Rothstein
Patriot Ledger (Quincy, MA)
July 18, 2002

A Catholic priest who ran a home in Milton for troubled clergy now faces allegations of wrongdoing himself, and has been suspended from active duty.

The Boston Archdiocese suspended the Rev. Robert P. Beale, director of Our Lady's Hall in Milton, because of an allegation he sexually abused a minor more than 25 years ago. He is the 18th priest in the archdiocese suspended since January.

The archdiocese determined Tuesday night that the allegation was credible, then moved to put the Rev. Beale on administrative leave yesterday, said church spokeswoman Donna Morrissey.

Civil authorities have also been notified of the complaint, she said. "It's my understanding the proper legal authorities have been notified," she said. Counseling has been offered to the Rev. Beale and the person who made the accusation.

There are no priests currently staying at Our Lady's Hall at 287 Highland St. in Milton, where the Rev. Beale was director for 20 years. The 18-room mansion is part of the archdiocese's Priest Recovery Program, and has long been used to house alcoholic priests.

To the surprise of the Milton community, the archdiocese admitted in 1997 that priests accused of sexual misconduct had also stayed there.

The Rev. Beale was a part-time chaplain at the Norfolk County jail in Dedham. In that capacity, he ministered to John Salvi, the Brookline abortion-clinic gunman who killed two women and later committed suicide in prison.

The Rev. Beale gave communion to Salvi, a regular churchgoer, inside the Norfolk County jail.

In addition to celebrating weekly Mass, the Rev. Beale provided pastoral care and one-on-one counseling with inmates, said David Falcone, a spokesman for Norfolk County Sheriff Michael Bellotti.

"He's always done a good job. We've never had any problems with him," Falcone said.

The archdiocese removed the Rev. Beale from all assignments, presumably meaning he was suspended from the jail's ministry. The sheriff's department has not heard from the archdiocese regarding the suspension, Falcone said.

The Rev. Beale was ordained in 1970 and first worked as a priest at St. Anne's in West Bridgewater. Later he was assigned to St. Mary of the Annunciation in Cambridge and, in 1980, to St. Luke's in Belmont.

The following year, a Catholic church directory noted his address as "Care of St. Joseph's Parish Rectory" in Salem, N.H.

He was a member Boston's Singing Priests, a group of clergymen who sang show tunes and inspirational songs for charity.

Another member of the group was the Rev. Jon Martin, the former pastor of St. Agnes Church in Middleton and supervisor of convicted child molester Christopher Reardon. The founder of the Singing Priests, the Rev. William Cummings had AIDS and died in 1994.

Earlier this month, the Rev. Beale was a scheduled speaker at a Minneapolis conference on treating priests who were alcoholics or addicted to other substances.

The Rev. Beale will continue to receive pay and medical benefits while the investigation continues. If he is cleared, the archdiocese promised to try to "restore the priest's reputation."

Despite the Rev. Beale's reluctance to talk about the treatment of sexually abusive priests at Our Lady's Hall, church records indicate he had at least some hand in the matter.

An archdiocese official wrote to him in 1992 asking for time to discuss the case of the Rev. Ernest Tourigney, a former Weymouth priest.

The letter refers to a note written by the Rev. Beale to Cardinal Bernard Law about an assessment made of the Rev. Tourigney at another facility.

The Rev. Tourigney, a priest at Immaculate Conception Church in Weymouth during the 1960s, was accused of sexually abusing minors and of being a problem drinker. It was not clear why he was being assessed. The recommendation from the facility was that he remain for six months' treatment.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.