Why Catholic officials are "picked on" about abuse
Fr. John Geoghan may be America's most prolific predator priest, with at least 150 victims over a 36 year clerical career. (He's not, however, the most efficient. That distinction goes to Mexico's Fr. Nicholas Aguilar Rivera who, in just 10 months in Los Angeles, reportedly assaulted 26 kids.)
This year is the 60 year anniversary of perhaps the first "red flag" Catholic officials had about Geoghan. In 1954, the rector of Geoghan's seminary expressed doubts about his suitability for the priesthood, in part because the seminarian was "decidedly immature."
It's also the 25 year anniversary of Cardinal Bernard Law sending Geoghan to St. Luke's Institute (one of at least three treatment centers where Geoghan spent time), where he was diagnosed as "high risk." Of course, he was still put back on the job in an unsuspecting parish.
And it's the 15 year anniversary of a 1994 Boston archdiocesan memo, labeled "confidential," that said that Geoghan would stay in a parishioner’s home who had eight kids “even when he was on a three day retreat because he missed the kids so much.” He “would touch them while they were sleeping and waken them by playing with their penises."
(Incidentally, last year was the 50th anniversary of Paraclete founder Fr. Gerald's Fitzgerald's letter to the pope advocating “Laicization for any priest, upon objective evidence, for tampering with the virtue of the young” noting that “real conversions will be found to be extremely rare" and "leaving them on duty or wandering from diocese to diocese is contributing to scandal." His advice was obviously ignored.)
Why mention all of this?
Because some Catholic officials still claim that only recently did they begin to “understand” pedophilia.
And because in the last two weeks, two of the very highest ranking Catholic officials claimed that the church hierarchy is unfairly “picked on” in abuse cases. (One was New York Cardinal Tim Dolan. The other was Pope Francis himself.)
The relentlessly reckless and selfish handling of the Fr. John Geoghan case is one of thousands of reasons Catholic officials are "picked on" about child sex crimes.
50 State AG Call for Grand Jury
Any investigation must be:
- independent of and separate from the church
- must have subpoena powers and ability to compel testimony under oath
Anything short of these criteria is a sham and whitewash.
In addition, write letters to the editor, make phone calls to politicians as they can apply pressure to keep them responsive to our demand. We need to make efforts to ensure that they follow up on what the state is doing to investigate these crimes.
Note to Letter Writers
Use your own words and style of writing. Cut and paste from the templates as you wish. Include your experiences, whether as a survivor or as a member of the community. And relate your letter to the state you were abused in or state now living in.