The Catholic Archdiocese of Boston has announced that three Irish priests accused of sexually molesting children had at one point worked in Massachusetts, tying the local church to the sex abuse scandal roiling Ireland.
The disclosure comes as the archdiocese faces pressure from victim advocate groups to release the names of all allegedly abusive priests who worked in the archdiocese, whether the accusations arose here or elsewhere.
The Boston Archdiocese said it has no record of accusations against the three Irish priests while they were working here. A fourth priest from Ireland, a member of a religious order, is under investigation in alleged abuse that occurred 30 years ago in Boston, although he has not been charged and is no longer in the country. The archdiocese would not identify him.
Yesterday, victim advocate groups called on the church to identify the fourth priest and any others who have been accused and said that a full disclosure of accusations is the only way to help survivors heal from the sexual abuse crisis that rocked the church a decade ago.
"The information released in the last couple of days raises as many questions as it answers," said Anne Barrett Doyle, of BishopAccountability.org.
BishopAccountability.org and the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests sent a public letter to Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley last month, asking him to identify any priests who have faced accusations of abuse elsewhere and had worked in the area.
The request followed the scandal in Ireland. Four bishops have asked the Vatican to be allowed to resign in response to an investigative report that found church leaders in Dublin had covered up abuse allegations against scores of priests.
Victim-advocate groups allege that church leaders in Ireland sent accused priests to dioceses in other countries, including the United States.
BishopAccountability.org published a list of 70 priests from Ireland who had been accused there or while in the United States.
The archdiocese disclosed yesterday that it had granted faculties to three priests on the list, meaning that it permitted the clergymen to celebrate Mass and perform other duties while in the Boston Archdiocese. They include Joseph T. Maguire, a priest from the Diocese of Manchester, N.H., who was allowed to work with the Stigmatine Fathers at the Espousal Center in Waltham from 1981 to 1985. He was convicted of molesting more than a dozen boys in New Hampshire, and died in prison in 2005.
Dennis P. Murphy from the diocese of Richmond, Va., was allowed to serve at St. Cecilia’s in Boston in 1996 and again in 1997. He was placed on administrative leave by the Richmond Diocese in 2004 while the church investigated accusations of abuse. His status was not known yesterday.
Also, Brendan Smyth, a religious order priest, was here for two days in 1991 and served at St. Camillus in Arlington.
Smyth later became the face of the sexual-abuse crisis in Dublin after he pleaded guilty to 74 counts of sexually abusing boys and girls in Ireland between 1958 and 1993. He died in an Irish prison in 1997.
The archdiocese said yesterday that a review of its records shows that it was not aware of any accusations having been made against the priests when they were granted faculties and that it found no records of accusations while the priests were here.
Terrence Donilon, an archdiocesan spokesman, said yesterday that the archdiocese was "not in a position to comment on an investigation involving a religious order priest."
He said that law enforcement officials have been made aware of the allegations and that any actions would be taken by the priest’s religious order in Ireland. The priest has not been in the archdiocese for decades, he said.
Also yesterday, the archdiocese announced the formation of an Office of Pastoral Support and Child Protection, a merger of several child advocacy and background screening departments, to better document and safeguard against child abuse. "We remain committed to doing everything in our power to protect children from the threat of sexual abuse," the archdiocese said.
Victim groups said the archdiocese should do more, by reaching out to victims and aggressively announcing allegations against priests to prevent future abuse.
Helen McGonigle, a lawyer from Connecticut who was molested by Smyth when she was a child in Rhode Island, said church leaders in that state and in Boston allowed Smyth to come here even while knowing of his past abuse. "They are liars," she said.
Mitchell Garabedian, a lawyer who has represented more than 700 victims, said the disclosure shows that dioceses have sent priests to other areas, including other countries, to conceal their past. He represents a client who was molested by a Franciscan brother in Ireland after the brother had already been accused in Boston. The brother, Fidelis DeBerardinis, is serving an eight-year prison sentence for molesting boys in East Boston.
"The situation is just the reverse and just as harmful," he said. "The coverup of clergy sexual abuse by leaders of the Catholic Church is global in nature and knows no bounds."