Decades-old rumors about priest, pedophilia were ‘credible’

Yet another Catholic priest has been added to the list of alleged pedophile predators, and this time the sordid tale hits close to home.

The priest who was the principal of the high school I attended in the 1970s has been stripped of his privileges as a member of the clergy.

It’s alleged that in the late 1980s, he raped an altar boy more than a dozen times after being “reassigned” to another parish. The altar boy came forward more than 20 years later with accusations that the local diocese and the Vatican deemed credible.

As awful as that is, here’s what makes it worse:

There were rumors about this priest around the time I graduated from high school, almost 40 years ago.

We were naive Catholic high school kids and didn’t know what to make of it all — but if teenagers were hearing rumors, then some parents and other adults must have been talking about it as they looked the other way.

The sad and evil story of thousands of predatory priests in the Catholic Church has become commonplace in recent years. Our local diocese is considering joining others that have identified priests in the credible-evidence category, and might provide up to nine names.

Whatever the number, it’s too high.

And the church’s response is too little, way too late.

The priests who violated altar boys and other young parishioners, and the superiors who moved these pedophiles around for damage control, are criminals. They should do time, as some have. (The Vatican has ordered my former principal — now in his 80s — to a life of prayer and penance, according to a published report. A statute of limitations prevents criminal prosecution.)

The Catholic Church has lost some of its flock because of the rampant abuse and enabling behavior, and I am in that “lapsed” category.

Despite all the good that individual members of the church continue to do, I cannot get past the sick crimes and willful coverups. Nor do I feel I should even try.

I was an altar boy for two years, and a student for 13 years in schools run by priests and nuns. It’s sheer dumb luck that I wasn’t sexually abused. I also find it sadly ironic that we were terrified of the nuns and thought some priests were “cool.”

To my knowledge, none of my buddies growing up were ever abused. But who knows? In those days, many Catholics didn’t even talk openly about cancer — it was seen as a punishment from God, or some such nonsense.

Given the recent revelations about my former principal, it wouldn’t surprise me if someone from my high school surfaces with additional credible evidence against him or others. Sadly, there is strength in numbers now, and the climate is such that pedophile priests are no longer considered just “sinners.”

So, is it too late for the Catholic Church to save itself?

I want to say I hope so, but I’m not sure I even care. I don’t pay much attention to the church anymore, although I hear the new pope is progressive and popular. If he can keep any more altar boys from being raped, that’s more than just good public relations.

(As a footnote, the Vatican recently discovered hundreds of millions of euros it somehow didn’t know it had. Perhaps some of that loot can pay for counseling — and I don’t mean for the priests.)


About Jim McKeever

Writer, father, runner, advocate based in Central New York.
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15 Responses to Decades-old rumors about priest, pedophilia were ‘credible’

  1. Definitely a story that needs to be told, not hidden! Thanks Jim.
    Diana xo

    Liked by 1 person

  2. markbialczak says:

    It’s all beyond awful, Jim. Anybody discovered as accused now should be treated as any citizen would be treated by our legal system, no dispensation because of the Church, I believe. If the Church wishes to ALSO mete out judgment after any legal decisions, well, that’s its right. The dogma and cloak of dissapproval about these crimes makes the whole statute of limitations a sticky issue for me, too. As far as staying involved with our religion of birth, I wrote about this yesterday at my place in relation to reviewing the new “Exodus” for the New Times. I’m much like you. Not going anymore although still following … Good post today, sir.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Jim McKeever says:

    Thanks, Mark … I just cannot comprehend the coverups and “reassignments.” And this is a global problem within the church, not just in the U.S. … It’s beyond sick.


  4. chmjr2 says:

    This story and too many more like it are so sad on many levels. My family had a brush with a priest that abused children. While my family was not abused friend’s family were. One more thing that also saddens me is people like you and so many others that have lost faith. The world needs good people of faith. I try to maintain mine but it is hard at times. I look at the priest during Mass and wonder are they guilty or what did they know? It is not fair and I do pray on it. I still believe in God and the Catholic Church but it does take a little more work.


  5. Jim McKeever says:

    Charles, your comment says it all. Your family’s brush with a pedophile priest confirms how widespread the problem is, and I’m sure you are not the only one who looks at the priest each week and wonders if he’s one of “them.” I consider myself spiritual, rather than religious, and I do try to do right by others, failing regularly. I don’t need organized religion to guide me in that, although I should give credit to how I was raised (by two devout Catholics). I suppose some of the good I do comes from that. But the hypocrisy and the criminal activity in the church are too much for me to forgive, honestly. I respect others’ right to worship as they please. But when people use religion, or God, to justify criminal behavior — especially when the victims are children — I can’t accept that. Thank you for your thoughtful comments, as usual. Jim


  6. ermigal says:

    Thanks for shining a light on this topic, Jim. I also am “lapsed” and this was a major factor. Where is the justice, and how does The Church get to decide if a charge is “credible?” It must be taken out of their hands completely. Blessings to those Catholics who are still working in the trenches with the poor, refugees, and others who need love in action.


  7. Though I’ve lapsed, it’s not for this reason. But know many who have left loudly for this very reason. But I know others who have kept their faith, based on their faith, not man/men. Like you and others, if a person commits these heinous acts against children there should be no hiding behind or in any church. And anyone found actively and knowingly hiding them should be treated as any other knowingly hiding criminals. There is no excuse. Period.


  8. JB says:

    Jim, the revelation and article does a lot of good. It’s important that the activity not be hidden. Not until it is resolved to the degree it might ever be resolved. The biggest benefit I rec’d from divorce was excommunication from the church. I take that as a high honor. The church exited me. I did not exit the church. Though over time I may have slipped away – certainly the revelations would have hastened my exit. My background is near identical to yours. Catholic schools. Altar boy. I have not heard of one instance amongst my peers from that time of abuse. Good timing? Good luck? Or good priests? I’d like to understand the % of abusive priests vs non. Not that it will make any difference to the victims. One abusing priest is too many. It’s important to know what folks are dealing with. If a large % are abusive? Perhaps it is much more of a systemic problem than is being dealt with. Perhaps we lapsed, exiled, or excommunicated Catholics can be part of the solution as we are free to express our outrage an indignation absent an active Catholic’s compromise.


    • Jim McKeever says:

      Thanks, John … it’s definitely a systemic problem that needs to be taken care of from the outside, since the church has proved time and again that it can’t be trusted to do the right thing. One of the most galling anecdotes in the media accounts describes how the altar boy told another priest what was going on, and the priest slapped him in the face and told him to never tell anyone else. Yes, there are plenty of good priests, and I’m sure they outnumber the pedophiles. I’m just not sure they outnumber the enablers. Jim


  9. Jim I can see why you would read this over and over each Christmas it can be a very sad time of year. But there are so many beautiful souls out there that sense it and help others. Kath


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