30 Mar 2011

Jesuit leaders concealed 40 years of warnings about pedophile priest who became spiritual adviser to Mother Teresa





New York Times - March 28, 2011

Suit Says Jesuits Ignored Warnings About Priest

By ERIK ECKHOLM



Jesuit leaders in Chicago largely ignored or kept secret numerous reports, spanning four decades, that a prominent priest was sexually abusing teenage boys, lawyers for victims charged on Monday in a motion for punitive damages in a Chicago court.

Included in the motion were more than 65 recently obtained church documents and depositions that, the lawyers said, demonstrated “a reckless disregard for the safety of others in the face of repeated reports of sexual misconduct” on the part of Chicago Jesuit leaders.

The former priest, Donald J. McGuire, now 80, was convicted on several counts of sex abuse in state and federal courts in 2006 and 2008, and is serving a 25-year federal sentence.

The newly public documents date from the early 1960s, when a concerned Austrian priest, in imperfect English, first observed in a letter to Chicago Jesuits that Father McGuire, newly ordained and studying in Europe, had “much relations with several boys.” The reports extend into the last decade, when Father McGuire reportedly ignored admonitions to stop traveling with young assistants, molesting one as late as 2003, as law enforcement was closing in. The legal motion argues that Father McGuire’s superiors in Chicago turned “a blind eye to his criminal actions.”

The current case started with a civil suit brought by six men who say they were victims. Three have since settled with the Jesuits, but three others, identified as John Doe 117, John Doe 118 and John Doe 129, are still pursuing the suit against the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus and Mr. McGuire. Most of the newly released documents were obtained in the discovery process for the suit: letters and memos the church was required to produce from its files, and transcripts of depositions.

The motion filed on Monday asks the Cook County Circuit Court to take the unusual step of considering additional, punitive damages, given what the motion says is the evidence of a long trail of credible warnings about the priest’s behavior and ineffective responses by church officials.

Terence McKiernan, president of BishopAccountability.org, a victim advocacy group that has long monitored the church’s response to sexual abuse charges, said that the series of warnings given to Jesuit leaders by parents and fellow priests was unusually long and clear.

“I have never seen such detailed and frequent notice received by the priest’s superiors, so many ‘directives’ regarding the priest’s future behavior, and so much evidence presented to his superiors that those directives were being violated, without the priest being removed from ministry,” Mr. McKiernan said.

His group has posted a history of the case and many of the key documents.

Mariah E. Moran, a lawyer for the Chicago Province, said she could not comment on the motion because she had not had a chance to study it, and a spokesman for the province did not respond to requests for comment. In depositions and settlement meetings over the last three years, senior Jesuit officials have said that until recent years they had not heard firm-enough evidence of sexual abuse to justify stronger action against Father McGuire.

Last week, the Jesuits’ Oregon Province agreed to pay $166 million to hundreds of victims of sexual abuse, which occurred decades ago at remote Indian boarding schools. The two cases shed rare light on how religious orders have dealt with charges of sexual abuse, as opposed to the Catholic dioceses and bishops at the center of most recent scandals. The Jesuits are the world’s largest Roman Catholic religious order.

The motion filed on Monday charges that the church misled prosecutors in 2006, with its lawyers claiming that they had little information about the priest — despite the lengthy record of complaints.

The case has been acutely troublesome for the Jesuits, an order known for its scholarship and its elite high schools and universities. Father McGuire was by all accounts a mesmerizing teacher, and after he was barred by some Jesuit schools in the 1960s and 1970s for suspicious behavior, including having students share his bedroom, he went on to became a popular leader of eight-day spiritual retreats around the country and the world.

For about two decades, starting in the early 1980s, he was a spiritual adviser to Mother Teresa, who put him in charge of retreats for the nuns in her worldwide order, Missionaries of Charity. Several times each year, in India, the United States, Russia and other countries, he led retreats for the sisters.

In these travels he routinely took along a teenage boy as an assistant, saying he needed help administering his diabetes treatment. In complaints voiced by some parents and priests at the time, and in later depositions, those assistants said their duties often included sleeping in the same bed as Father McGuire, showering and reading pornography together, providing intimate massages and watching him masturbate.

The Jesuits have their own administrative structure, with a leader in Rome and regional provinces in the United States, although they also operate with permission from local bishops.

On his return from Europe in the 1960s, Father McGuire was assigned to live and teach at Loyola Academy, a high school in Wilmette, Ill. Two boys stayed with him in his room for about two years each, where he constantly abused them, according to the 2006 trial.

In 1969 the second of those boys, then 15, ran away and described the abuse to his parish priest, who contacted the Jesuit president of the academy. The school responded by removing Father McGuire, but, according to a letter released on Monday, publicly described his departure as a “sabbatical.”

In 1991, in another of the many warnings revealed on Monday, the director of a retreat house in California reported to the Chicago Province’s leader that Father McGuire was traveling with a teenage boy from Alaska and sharing a bed with him, and that the boy’s mother had expressed her concern that “her son has in some way changed.”

That year, the Chicago Province’s leader, the Rev. Robert A. Wild, imposed the first set of “guidelines” on Father McGuire. In written instructions he said: “I ask that you not travel on any overnight trip with any boy or girl under the age of 18 and preferably even under the age of 21.” But Father McGuire was left to police himself, and Father Wild said in a 2009 deposition that he had regarded the case as “a serious matter” but also “ambiguous.”

The province sent Father McGuire in 1993 for a psychiatric examination and six months at a treatment center — but in the week before he was to report for the evaluation, he was allowed to conduct a retreat in Phoenix, where he molested another boy, the documents indicate.

As late as 1998, the new documents show, the Chicago provincial wrote a letter of “good standing” for Father McGuire to allow him to minister in a diocese, stating that “there is nothing to our knowledge in his background which would restrict any ministry with minors.”

As the reports of abuse accumulated, the Chicago leaders issued one set of restrictions after another on Father McGuire, finally, in 2002, saying he could minister only to nuns in the Chicago region. But none of these directives were enforced, the court motion asserts.

Father McGuire was formally removed from the priesthood in February 2008 after a conviction in Wisconsin and after a federal indictment had been issued in Illinois.


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4 comments:

  1. Dark times with nuns of Mother Teresa: a memoir

    National Post - Charles Lewis

    There’s an episode in Mary Johnson’s An Unquenchable Thirst that seems to epitomize the painful years she spent in Mother Teresa’s religious order.

    It is just one of dozens of uncomfortable moments the former nun recalls as a member of the Roman Catholic Missionaries of Charity, but it exemplifies the degree to which she saw life around her as one of repression, repercussions and guilt — the things that drove her out of the order in 1997.

    At one of the order’s homes in Rome, a supervisor, Sister Dolorosa, began shouting in her sleep, “I need a man! I need a man!”

    The sister was faithful to her vows, but the evidence of her subconscious desire sent shock waves through the other nuns.

    Sister Dolorosa’s words “reverberated in my brain, my gut, my bones,” Ms. Johnson writes.

    One sister said, “It’s only normal. We are all human.”

    “But she’s our mistress,” said another. “We’re supposed to learn from her.”

    When Sister Dolorosa found out what she had said, she hid in shame from the others.

    Ms. Johnson, who was in Toronto this week to promote An Unquenchable Thirst, said no one reading her book should think life in the Missionaries of Charity was typical of that in other women’s religious orders.

    Other orders, she said, allow their members to have some semblance of a normal life: to engage with friends outside; to keep up with current events; and to stay in close contact with their families.

    “We weren’t even allowed to be friends with each other,” she said. “All our contacts were cut off.”
    ...

    Still, reading it is hard to fathom why anyone who would have lasted 20 years. But Ms. Johnson explained the conviction you have been called by God to do something is far stronger than anything that could be imagined in a secular pursuit.

    “We’d always been told you are here because God has called you, so the worst thing you could do is leave.”

    During her time with the sisters she broke her vows with chastity with another nun and later with a priest. She believes now if the order allowed more humane relationships she would never have broken her vows.

    “I think if I hadn’t been that lonely it would have been a whole lot easier to keep my vows. I’m not making excuses. I know I violated my vows and that was something very complicated for me and that I felt guilty about for a very long time. But at the same time I found myself unable to resist having a relationship.”

    The book tells of superiors who became drunk with power, whose normal mode of communication was to shout and invent irrational accusations against those below them.

    Because arguing back was considered a sin against humility, even the most irrational charges could not be countered properly for fear of appearing to be proud or arrogant. Self-flagellation with a rope or a chain was used as a means to conquer pride.

    “As I lived it out, I realized that sort of radical draw also brought these drawbacks where people didn’t have any way of pursuing any form of pleasure or relaxation,” she said.

    “The food was bad, living conditions were difficult, and we didn’t mind that, because we had signed up for that. But what happens is some of the people get their only pleasure in the exercise of power. And this part of what happened in the Missionaries of Charity.”

    read full article at:

    http://life.nationalpost.com/2011/09/23/dark-times-with-nuns-of-mother-teresa-a-memoir/

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  2. Tainted Saint: Mother Teresa Defended Pedophile Priest

    By Peter Jamison, San Francisco Weekly January 11 2012

    The death of journalist and polemicist Christopher Hitchens last month gave those familiar with his work a chance to revisit one of his more controversial subjects: the Albanian nun Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, better known to the world as Mother Teresa. In his 1997 book, The Missionary Position: Mother Teresa in Theory and Practice, Hitchens argued that the "Saint of Calcutta," who founded and headed the international Missionaries of Charity order, enjoyed undeserved esteem.

    Despite her humanitarian reputation and 1979 Nobel Peace Prize, Mother Teresa had set up a worldwide system of "homes for the dying" that routinely failed to provide adequate care to patients, Hitchens argued — an appraisal shared by The Lancet, a respected medical journal. Mother Teresa also associated with, and took large sums of money from, disreputable figures such as American savings-and-loan swindler Charles Keating and the dictatorial Duvalier family of Haiti.

    Notwithstanding these black marks on an otherwise sterling reputation, Mother Teresa — who died in 1997 and is now on the fast track to a formal proclamation of sainthood by the Vatican — was never known to have been touched by the scandal that would rock the Roman Catholic Church in the decade after her death: the systematic protection of child-molesting priests by church officials.

    Yet documents obtained by SF Weekly suggest that Mother Teresa knew one of her favorite priests was removed from ministry for sexually abusing a Bay Area boy in 1993, and that she nevertheless urged his bosses to return him to work as soon as possible. The priest resumed active ministry, as well as his predatory habits. Eight additional complaints were lodged against him in the coming years by various families, leading to his eventual arrest on sex-abuse charges in 2005.

    The priest was Donald McGuire, a former Jesuit who has been convicted of molesting boys in federal and state courts and is serving a 25-year federal prison sentence. McGuire, now 81 years old, taught at the University of San Francisco in the late 1970s, and held frequent spiritual retreats for families in San Francisco and Walnut Creek throughout the 1980s and 1990s. He also ministered extensively to the Missionaries of Charity during that time.

    In a 1994 letter to McGuire's Jesuit superior in Chicago, it appears that Mother Teresa acknowledged she had learned of the "sad events which took [McGuire] from his priestly ministry these past seven months," and that McGuire "admitted imprudence in his behavior," but she wished to see him put back on the job. The letter was written after McGuire had been sent to a psychiatric hospital following an abuse complaint to the Jesuits by a family in Walnut Creek.

    "I understand how grave is the scandal touching the priesthood in the U.S.A. and how careful we must be to guard the purity and reputation of that priesthood," the letter states. "I must say, however, that I have confidence and trust in Fr. McGuire and wish to see his vital ministry resume as soon as possible."

    The one-page letter comes from thousands of pages of church records that have been shared with plaintiffs' attorneys in ongoing litigation against the Jesuits involving McGuire. (The documents were also shared with prosecutors who worked on his criminal cases.) It is printed on Missionaries of Charity letterhead but is unsigned, and thus cannot be verified absolutely as having been written by Mother Teresa. Officials in the Missionaries of Charity and the Jesuits did not respond to requests for comment on its provenance.

    continued in next comment:

    http://www.sfweekly.com/2012-01-11/news/mother-teresa-catholic-church-john-hardon-donald-mcguire-child-abuse-jesuits/

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  3. continued from previous comment:

    Yet statements throughout the letter point to Mother Teresa as the author. The writer speaks of "my communities throughout the world" and refers by name to Mother Teresa's four top deputies, calling them "my four assistants." Rev. Joseph Fessio, a Jesuit and former University of San Francisco professor who knew Mother Teresa, said the reference to her assistants is an "authentic" aspect of the letter.

    The letter could have an impact on the near-complete process of canonizing Mother Teresa. In 2003 she was beatified by Pope John Paul II, the penultimate step to full sainthood.

    "What we see here is the same thing we see over and over in regard to the [priest pedophilia] scandal — the complete lack of empathy for, or interest in, possible victims of these accused priests," said Anne Rice, the bestselling author of novels including Interview with the Vampire and a former Catholic who has been outspoken in her criticism of the church's handling of the sex-abuse scandal. "In this letter the concern is for the reputation of the priesthood. This is as disappointing as it is shocking."

    Other documents that have emerged in the criminal and civil cases involving McGuire could affect the sainthood prospects of another deceased religious leader eyed by the Vatican for sainthood. Among the newly uncovered church records are letters by Rev. John Hardon, a Jesuit who also worked extensively with Mother Teresa and died in 2000. He collaborated with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, on the Catechism of the Catholic Church, a landmark summation of contemporary church doctrine. In 2005, the Vatican opened a formal inquiry into whether Hardon should be made a saint.

    But statements by Hardon in his letters could complicate that process. The documents reveal McGuire admitted to Hardon that he was taking showers with the teenage boy from Walnut Creek whose complaint led to McGuire's psychiatric treatment. He also acknowledged soliciting body massages from the boy and letting him read pornography in the room they shared on trips together.

    Despite these admissions, Hardon concluded that his fellow Jesuit's actions were "objectively defensible," albeit "highly imprudent," and told McGuire's bosses that he "should be prudently allowed to engage in priestly ministry."

    The postulators, or Vatican-appointed researchers and advocates for sainthood, assigned to investigate Mother Teresa and Hardon did not respond to repeated requestsfor comment.

    While it is unclear exactly what impact the new documents will have on the evaluation of both figures for sainthood, the evidence of involvement by two prominent and internationally respected Catholics in the McGuire sex-abuse scandal is likely to cause consternation among critics of the church's handling of predator priests. The situation is aggravated since McGuire went on to abuse more children after suggestions to return him to ministry were heeded.

    "We're talking about extremely powerful people who could have gotten Father McGuire off the streets in 1994," said Patrick Wall, a lawyer and former Benedictine monk who performs investigations on behalf of abuse victims suing the Catholic Church. "I'm thinking of all those post-'94 kids who could have been saved."

    [...]

    read the rest of the article at:

    http://www.sfweekly.com/2012-01-11/news/mother-teresa-catholic-church-john-hardon-donald-mcguire-child-abuse-jesuits/

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  4. The Jesuits and Donald McGuire SJ - A Management History

    The website BishopAccountability.org provides a user-friendly version of the most significant document on religious orders yet to emerge from the Catholic abuse crisis. It is a motion, filed on March 28, 2011 in two Chicago court cases, that analyses and documents in shocking detail the Jesuits' 50-year history of concealing and enabling sexual abuse by Donald McGuire SJ – scholar, retreat leader, high school teacher, and confessor to Mother Teresa and the nuns of her international order.

    The Jesuits are the largest Catholic religious order in the world, and their high schools and universities in the United States are elite institutions in the country's educational system. They have a massive missionary presence in the developing world, and especially since Vatican II and the demise of confession, their Ignatian spirituality has been a dominant approach in Catholic spiritual direction and retreats. The Donald McGuire case offers insight into abuse within Jesuit education and spiritual practice, and is a highly significant window into the way abuse cases are managed within the system of Jesuit provinces. It also reveals the lengths to which the provincials of the order will go to defend the Jesuit brand and the fund-raising that depends on it.

    The 180 pages of Jesuit documents that accompany this motion also offer unique insight into abuse within the far-flung orthodox Catholic community, providing a case history of vulnerability and resourcefulness among devout Catholics. McGuire is a shocking example of the ways in which confession and spiritual practice can be perverted. His method of obtaining total control over his victims – as high-school boarders, live-in-assistants during his retreats, even in one case as a ward with McGuire as guardian – show the dark side of a strong Jesuit culture, whose leaders showed consistent and thorough neglect of the parents and victims who approached them over the years.

    In the Catholic abuse crisis, attention has focused on the perpetrator priests and to some extent on the bishops who tolerated the abuse and their staffs. But sexual abuse in the religious orders, which often concentrated their efforts on children in schools, has not received as much attention. As the largest religious order in the United States, numbering 2,795 priests, brothers, and scholastics in 2010, the Jesuits have access to minors in their high schools, their colleges and universities, their parish ministries, and their domestic missionary work among Native Americans in Alaska and the West. The results have sometimes been horrifying for the children involved.

    BishopAccountability.org has been able to identify 127 Jesuit clerics in the United States who have been accused of sexually abusing minors. That number is certainly a fraction of the true total. The management practices and arrogant disregard revealed in these McGuire documents are part of the reason a full account has not been given.

    See:

    http://www.bishop-accountability.org/docs/jesuits/McGuire_Donald/Punitive_Damages_Motion/

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