I had been explaining to this individual how priests who have had bloodsuckers and leaches claim false charges of sexual abuse to get some money in their wallets have been treated by the humble friar looking to reach out to victims of injustices...and my friend is just starting to "get it".
He asked me what kind of a story was in the Pilot, how Cardinal and the Chancery handled the announcement, what kind of help the priest was getting for the trauma, etc., etc.
A very moving story written by Gail Besse.
His ordeal began with what another Boston priest called the church’s “KGB cure” in response to the abuse crisis: A priest facing an abuse claim must cease his ministry, vacate the rectory as if he were guilty, and then prove his innocence.
No civil rights, no Canonical rights, no money to hire a lawyer who wants a retainer of $250,000, no ministry, no pastoral care, no comfort. Nada.
In fact, it's just the opposite.
My friend asked me to find the "story" in the Pilot exonerating Fr. Murphy. "I'm telling you right now", I said, "it's lame."
The norms of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops state: “When an accusation has been shown to be unfounded, every step possible will be taken to restore the good name of the person falsely accused.”
Boston archdiocesan spokesman Terrence Donilon and review board members declined to explain what steps are taken to restore a priest’s reputation.
Humble and pastoral, caring and transparent indeed.
O’Neill said that one difference between this case and some earlier ones was that these defendants would not settle in mediation but waged a vigorous two-year civil defense. “Most priests just don’t have the money for those legal fees,” he said.
Some people were just in it for the money,” said Father Edward Sherry, pastor of Church of the Nativity in Merrimac, Mass. The archdiocese had paid off a 30-year-old abuse claim against him in 2003, but then found on review that the charge lacked validity. He returned to ministry in 2005.
“I’m not bitter. I knew I was innocent,” Father Sherry said in an interview. “The archdiocese is questioning claims more now than it did before.”
Good for him.
I knew the allegation against Sherry was bogus from the minute I heard it. I had met him a few months before when he showed up unannounced at an planned Eucharistic Adoration service for a missing teenager. It's rare when you meet a priest who has the glow from the Eucharist. Sherry had it all over his face, in his demeanor, in his quiet reverence, in his eyes.
Isn't it interesting now when we encounter each other, even as strangers, how we recognize each other? St. Louis DeMontefort was right in the bullseye. I went over to Sherry and as I approached him, we both had that look of recognition and smiles on our faces. I asked him where he was operating his shtick and when he told me that he was on the emergency response team, I said "What a waste!". "Why"? , he asked. "Because we need you in a parish" I said.
And the Confraternity of Catholic Clergy, based in Marysville, Pa., helps diocesan priests with fellowship and formation. Father John Trigilio, its president, warned against a “miscarriage of justice” by “over-reacting to the clergy sex scandals by denying priests their natural right to due process, legal defense and the presumption of innocence.”
The Confraternity is an organization I recommend to every priest I know. They have retreats a couple of times a year and they used to have an email group that supported each other in between. Building networks where authentic priests practing the faith in the face of the KGB of the Chanceries and the Klu Klux Klan of the Legislatures and Senates.