- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 9, 2002

BOSTON (AP) The Archdiocese of Boston knew that one of its priests, now accused of rape, spoke in favor of sex between men and boys at a 1979 meeting that apparently led to the founding of a pedophile group, according to court documents released yesterday.
The documents also show archdiocese officials knew of sexual misconduct accusations against the Rev. Paul Shanley since at least 1967 but continued to allow him access to children in different parishes for more than 20 years.
"All of the suffering that has taken place at the hands of Paul Shanley, a serial child molester for four decades three of them in Boston none of it had to happen," said Roderick MacLeish, an attorney for the family of Gregory Ford.
Mr. Ford, 24, has claimed in a lawsuit that he was repeatedly raped by Father Shanley in the 1980s. The suit also claims that Cardinal Bernard Law let the priest remain as pastor at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Newton until 1989, despite knowledge of his behavior.
The archdiocese said in a statement yesterday that it "has learned from the painful experience of the inadequate polices and procedures of the past" but said church officials were confident that current policies are focused "on the protection of children."
Father Shanley, 71, has no telephone listing in the San Diego area, where he has been living for the past two years, and could not immediately be located for comment. He remains a priest but no longer has a parish. Last week, he was fired as a volunteer with the San Diego Police Department.
In a letter in his file to the Rev. Brian M. Flatley, assistant to the secretary for ministerial personnel in Boston, Father Shanley said he was sexually abused as a teen-ager and later as a seminarian.
Mr. MacLeish showed reporters some of the 818 church records turned over to Mr. Ford under court order.
The earliest document related to sex abuse dates to 1967, when a priest at LaSalette Shrine in Attleboro wrote a letter of concern to the archdiocese, relating allegations that Father Shanley had taken boys to a cabin and molested them.
Among the other revelations, the documents show that the Archdiocese of Boston was making an effort to keep homosexuals out of the priesthood while counseling Father Shanley.
In a 1979 letter to the Vatican, Cardinal Humberto Medeiros, now deceased, expressed alarm at the burgeoning homosexual movement and disclosed that he had spent five years weeding out homosexuals from area seminaries.
"The danger in seminaries, Your Eminence, is obvious," Cardinal Medeiros wrote to Cardinal Franjo Seper in Rome. "Where large numbers of homosexuals are present in a seminary, other homosexuals are quickly attracted. Other healthier young men tend to be repelled."
Cardinal Medeiros noted that some priests had publicly revealed they were homosexuals and were asserting that such acts may not be sinful. The Roman Catholic Church teaches that homosexuals are called to celibacy and that all sex outside marriage is wrong.
The cardinal, who died in 1983, wrote that he had encouraged seminary spiritual directors to "exercise their influence to remove from the path to the priesthood young men who are homosexuals." The cardinal proclaimed the effort a success.
Cardinal Medeiros' letter was written in response to Vatican questions about Father Shanley, who was ordained in 1960 and became well known as a "street priest" during the next two decades. He established a ministry for runaways, drug abusers, drifters and teen-agers struggling with sexual identity.
"I believe that Father Shanley is a troubled priest, and I have tried to be understanding and patient with him while continuously affirming both privately to him and publicly to my people the church's teaching on sexual ethics," Cardinal Medeiros wrote in 1979.
That same year, the cardinal reassigned Father Shanley to St. John the Evangelist.
One document in the papers on Father Shanley included a copy of a Feb. 12, 1979, issue of a publication called Gaysweek that included an article titled "Men & Boys." The article was sent to the archdiocese by a lawyer in New York who said he thought church officials should know.
The article described a meeting of 150 people in Boston on the topic of homosexual pedophilia. It said many speakers, including Father Shanley, representing various religions endorsed such relationships.
The article described an anecdote Father Shanley shared at the conference about a boy "who was rejected by family and society but helped by a boy-lover."

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide