The pope appointing a sexual abuse prosecutor who helped hide a sexual abusive priest is tragically bizarre, but it has apparently happened, as the Boston Globe reports, and though follow-up stories from the Vatican attempted to change the narrative, the essential elements seem accurate.
A prominent American Jesuit recently named by Pope Francis to prosecute priests accused of sexually abusing minors under church law was himself one of several Catholic officials who allowed a notorious abusive priest to remain in ministry for years after learning of his long history of sexual abuses, legal documents show.
The Rev. Robert J. Geisinger, named in September as the Vatican’s “promoter of justice,’’ was the second-highest-ranking official among the Chicago Jesuits in the 1990s when leaders were facing multiple abuse complaints against the Rev. Donald J. McGuire, a globe-trotting priest with many influential supporters, including Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
But the Jesuits failed to notify police or take effective steps to prevent McGuire from continuing to molest minors.
Documents examined by the Globe, most of them church records produced during lawsuits filed by McGuire’s victims, show Geisinger had detailed knowledge of the complaints against McGuire as early as 1995 and advised officials in Chicago on how to discipline McGuire as late as August 2002.
McGuire was finally convicted in 2006 by a Wisconsin jury of molesting two boys who had notified civil authorities. He was also convicted on federal charges in 2008 and is serving a 25-year-prison sentence.
“It’s astonishing that, for such a high-profile, sensitive position, the Vatican wouldn’t want someone whose background is unassailable, in the sense that there shouldn’t even be questions raised,” Philip F. Lawler, the editor of Catholic World News, said of Geisinger. Lawler has been a prominent critic of the church’s handling of the sex abuse crisis.
Geisinger, reached at his Rome office, referred questions to the Vatican press office, which expressed confidence in his abilities, saying, “the Holy See fully expects Father Geisinger to continue to do an excellent job as promoter of justice, based on his prosecution record, his commitment to justice, and his concern for victims.”
Retrieved November 24, 2014 from http://www.bostonglobe.com/metro/2014/11/22/vatican-new-top-prosecutor-abusive-priests-implicated-past-failure-stop-notorious-abuser-donald-mcguire/gPaBPJUdvuTy5PSTl1j5sM/story.html