Jesuits “Lied for Jesus” About This Priest For 40 Years…UPDATED

As you might guess, this turns out badly.

It’s timely that I posted something earlier  about the sexual abuse scandals, whistleblowers, and how lying about them for Jesus has damaged the Church. And when I say Church, I mean the present, and future, faithful. Not the buildings, or the hierarchy. I mean the full Body of Christ in the world.

Manya Brachear of the Chicago Tribune has the scoop on how the headline above came to be from a story that hit the wires just a little while ago.

Internal church records released Tuesday show that Chicago Jesuits consciously concealed the crimes of convicted sex offender Donald McGuire for more than 40 years as the prominent Roman Catholic priest continued to sexually abuse dozens of children around the globe.

One letter written in 1970 by the Rev. John H. Reinke, then president of Loyola Academy in Wilmette, described McGuire’s presence at the school as “positively destructive and corrosive.” Instead of insisting he be removed from ministry or sent to treatment, he suggested a transfer to Loyola University.

“This whole situation has been so muddy and troublesome I just wanted to get it out of my mind from time to time,” wrote Reinke, who died in 2003. “Anyway, here it is, for the files and the record. … There is little hope of affecting any change. … He cannot be corrected.”

The documents contributed to a $19.6 million settlement between the Jesuits and six men from four different states announced Tuesday. With an average payout of $3 million per person, the amount per individual is the largest in the history of the U.S. Catholic sex abuse crisis, the victims’ lawyers said. The settlement and the documents add one more chapter to the still unfolding story of sex abuse in the church.

While the settlement of the lawsuit against the Chicago Province of the Society of Jesus doesn’t name any priests accused of abusing minors who have not been previously disclosed to the public, it does name a number of Jesuit superiors who for four decades kept McGuire’s crimes a secret and, the victims’ attorneys said, enabled him to abuse more young men.

To date, lawyers have identified 28 men who have alleged abuse by McGuire from the 1960s until 2004. Eight have filed lawsuits.

“Jesuits made choices time and time again that demonstrated willful indifference,” said Jeff Anderson, the plaintiffs’ attorney. “Not one Jesuit official has yet to be prosecuted for their complicity in these crimes.”

The Rev. Timothy Kesicki, who as Chicago provincial leads the area’s Jesuits, said in a statement that the order is “painfully aware” that it made mistakes and failed to protect children. Many steps have been implemented since 2007 to go above and beyond the policies to protect children passed by the U.S. Catholic bishops, said Jeremy Langford, a spokesman for the Chicago Jesuit province.

“More important, we failed to listen to those who came forward and to meet their courage in dealing with Donald McGuire as we should have,” said Kesicki, who has been promoted to lead the Jesuits’ national office next year. Lawyers for the victims commended Kesicki for understanding the failure of the order’s leadership in protecting children.

As former spiritual director for Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity, McGuire offered Roman Catholic retreats around the globe.

Read the whole, sordid, story.

Ah. Yes. It would have been shameful to have dealt with this particular malefactor in the way St. Peter approached Ananias and Sapphira, right? Directly, I mean. And by not disciplining this particular rockstar Jesuit in a manner that put the needs of the flock ahead of the wayward wolf preying upon it, folks got creative. Clever as snakes, they were. And innocent as the same.

Forsaking the gifts of wisdom, fortitude, piety, and the rest of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, see, the Chicago Province took matters into their own hands. The same lie that Adam and Eve fell for ensnared the Jesuits in this case. And like all lies that stay hidden, it grew, and spread, and corrupted more and more folks who had to become complicit with it, as the original players in the plot to outfox, fool, trick, and outsmart the rest of us sheep passed on, or passed away.

Eventually, during the process of discovery for a lawsuit, the beach ball of deceit could no longer be held underwater.

In 2011, documents that Wisconsin prosecutors were told never existed began to surface that showed consecutive Jesuit provincials in Chicago had known the truth about McGuire for a while.

And lies begat more lies, as they are wont to do.

In 1998, the Chicago Archdiocese granted McGuire permission to serve in the archdiocese based on a glowing endorsement from his superior, the Rev. Richard Baumann.

“Specifically there is nothing to our knowledge in his background which would restrict any ministry with minors,” Baumann wrote.

Meanwhile, the bridge of trust, so important for evangelizing, and which had been built so strongly, and maintained so carefully, was willfully neglected, and allowed to fall into disrepair.  All because someone decided that it was more important to protect the reputation of the Church as an institution, than it was to maintain the actual health of the Body of Christ.

In their bid to be more Machiavellian, and less Catholic, you see, the Jesuits of the Chicago Province didn’t achieve the end that they hoped their means would obtain. Instead, they wound up outfoxing, out-fooling, out-tricking, and outsmarting themselves into a big ‘ol ground-zero sized crater, with a mushroom cloud of duplicity billowing above their heads.

And now, collectively, present and future generations suffer from the fallout.

Mark down another epic fail for the brilliant idea of lying for Jesus.


Kevin O’Brien:  The History of Lying

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11 Responses to Jesuits “Lied for Jesus” About This Priest For 40 Years…UPDATED

  1. Jim Russell says:

    Hi, Frank–I had not realized you had previously attempted to link the cover-up of clergy sex abuse with the permissible use of deception in undercover investigation work, but I think it is extremely unfortunate to do so.
    It really needs to be kept in mind that the phrase “Liars for Jesus” is the erroneous and uncharitable label utilized as a bit of snark in the conversation regarding why the Church permits more than one view on what constitutes the sin of lying and what does not. Obviously, there is no way to justify linking those who cover up sex abuse with those in the Church (like Jimmy Akin) who have articulated the point that this question has not been settled by the Magisterium.
    I have to assume the best and conclude that you really do not mean to create such a link. After all, the wildest of accusations already have been put forth–the so-called “Liars for Jesus” are also dissenters from the Magisterium, blasphemers, and accessories to murder. Not sure there’s room on the rap sheet for the new charge of “supporters of sex abuse coverups.”
    I’d urge readers to stand with the Church instead–acknowledge those areas that clearly fall into the category of gravely sinful lies such as covering up sex abuse–and give latitude on whether other much less clear examples ought to be counted as the sin of lying, just like the Magisterium does.


  2. Gail Finke says:

    Well that’s just disgusting.


  3. Jeannie Guzman says:

    I think that “Liars for Jesus” just about covers it, and really hits the nail, hard on the head! Throughout history, thru the Crusades, the Inquisitions, the Holocaust of WWII, the burning of witches (like St. Joan of Arc), the Gallileo fiasco, etc., the Church has used, “Lying for Jesus,” as an excuse to protect “The Sanctity of the Holy Roman Catholic Church. Now, the Holy Spirit is taking the cover off of this criminal, as well as sinful, habit. Like the old song of the “Flower Children of the 1960’s,” When will the Church ever learn(Q mark broken). When will She ever learn(Q mark).


  4. Jeannie Guzman says:

    Hi, Frank: Count me in as one of the “Dissenters from the Magisterium!” Remember it was the Magisterium, who condemned Galileo Galilei, one of the greatest minds of the Renaissance. It was also the Magisterium that burned St. Joan of Arc at the stake, as well has 10’s of thousands of innocent men, women and children during the Inquisitions, who chose the Jewish Faith. Let’s face it. The Magisterium only has a great track record for those who are unfamiliar with Church History.


  5. Duy Nguyen says:

    can’t the police just arrrest him? I’m disappointed in both the Church and our secular authority


  6. Jim Russell says:

    Part of the difficulty in giving the proper context to the conversation is that it is often claimed that the “less rigorous” view on what constitutes lying is proposing a solution in which something “evil” is done for a good reason. But this is not the case. The proposal being made is that the thing done (the human act), despite resembling what we know as the sinful human act of lying, is in itself *not* an evil human act. Thus the “human act” of undercover work is *not* being proposed as an “evil” act somehow being excused as being done for a “good” reason, but rather the “human act” is being proposed as a morally *permissible* act that in fact does *not* have an intrinsically evil object and therefore *may* be done for a good reason.
    And this type of proposal is in full compliance with what the Magisterium permits. So, as it is discussed, it is *so* much better to avoid casting this as a “consequentialist” argument–since what is proposed does not involve doing evil so that good may come from it. The Magisterium instead permits the proposal that certain acts that “look” like sinful lying are actually *not* sinful…


  7. erikcampano says:

    “…like all lies that stay hidden, it grew, and spread, and corrupted more and more folks who had to become complicit with it, as the original players in the plot to outfox, fool, trick, and outsmart the rest of us sheep passed on, or passed away.”

    Yup, yup, yup. That is why it is so important for the press to keep covering religious corruption. Our 1st amendment doesn’t permit courts to regulate these things, so the only check-and-balance is public exposure.

    “Painful awareness” is not the same thing as actually doing something about it. These scandals have been going on for decades now. Churches always say they’re sorry and that they’re taking steps… but then nothing changes. Even the 2002 zero tolerance policy seems to have had little effect. Apology is a behavior, not an emotion.

    The Roman Catholic, Episcopal, Anglican, Orthodox, and other hierarchical churches need to adopt the same strict background check, investigative, and disciplinary procedures as schools and universities, and allow the same level of transparency and public scrutiny. Even that won’t put an end to it fully, but it would make a huge dent. Parents need to know that sending their kid to Sunday school should be at least as safe as sending them to elementary school, and that letting them be alone with their priest is at least as safe as letting them be alone with their public school teacher.


  8. Jeannie, I’m not dissenting from the Magisterium. Nor do I believe that the Magisterium definitively “permits the proposal that certain acts that “look” like sinful lying are actually *not* sinful” as Jim proposes above.

    CCC 1753: A good intention (for example, that of helping one’s neighbor) does not make behavior that is intrinsically disordered, such as lying and calumny, good or just. The end does not justify the means. Thus the condemnation of an innocent person cannot be justified as a legitimate means of saving the nation. On the other hand, an added bad intention (such as vainglory) makes an act evil that, in and of itself, can be good (such as almsgiving).


  9. This just has to go to prove what I’ve been saying for a long time: we need transparency in the Catholic Church. Sadly, that means we can no longer protect the victims of abusive priests in this way, but by providing the full employment records of any accused priest, we can at least assure that nobody will trust him in the future.


  10. That is almost as ironic as depending on Alanis Morrisette’s definition of the word ironic.

    The flower children had learned about war- but their learning about family was broken. The Church had learned about morality- but their learning about transparency is equally broken.


  11. I want a public database of all ordained ministers in any faith, with a simple “clean” or “needs investigation” binary reputation indicator.

    And *everybody* should be able to access it.


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