EWTN employed an accused pervert priest?

EWTN employed an accused pervert priest?

Lee Podles raises some questions about a Boston priest once employed by EWTN who had a series of allegations of sex abuse lodged against him. The timeline is a bit convoluted so go to the link to get the whole thing, but the gist is that Fr. Ray Bourque, ordained in 1954, has been accused of abusing boys in Maine and Massachusetts and allegedly admitted to at least some of the charges. In 1993, he was sent by his religious order, the Oblates of Mary Immaculate (OMI), from Boston to work at EWTN. Around the same time, a notation was made in Bourque’s file of accusations in 1980 and the archdiocese contacted the OMI.

It wasn’t until December 1994 that Bourque was withdrawn by his order from EWTN (after a series of actions… again read the link above). The archdiocese subsequently said that Bourque’s appearances on TV were causing distress to his victims and said his TV ministry should cease. However, in October 1995 Bourque was allowed to return to EWTN albeit without permission to be on TV. He could only work behind the scenes. Nevertheless, Bourque was acting as a priest, running retreats, and promoting talks and a video. Bourque was known to be working at EWTN as late as 2002.

Lingering questions

Now Podles has a letter from William Stellmeier, chairman of EWTN, explaining Bourque’s situation. It could be that EWTN truly didn’t know what Bourque was accused of or that the accusations were credible. Stellmeier says they didn’t know about it when he started working there, and only knew “the general reasons” for Bourque being pulled in 1994. He adds that Bourque was allowed to return in 1995 “in the spirit of compassion,” and that EWTN had no knowledge of “specific allegations.” Still, Podles says Stellmeier’s letter leaves several questions unanswered.

The fact that Bourque was employed there is not necessarily a sign of guilt or complicity on the part of EWTN. They may have been duped by Bourque or his order or they may have made some bad assumptions. I think it’s in the best interests of EWTN to clear up the questions.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
  • I remember an article in the San Diego Reader, from about twenty years ago, about the SD “gay pride” parade.  It was talking about the link between NAMBLA and various “gay” organizations.  The artical said that as many as 20% of the parade participants were affiliated with NAMBLA.

    Funny how EWTN of all places, gets highlighted as a bastion of pedophilia, but the NAMBLA connection with “gay” organizations gets quashed.

    Well, “funny” isn’t quite the right word.

  • Should a priest credibly accused of abusing children be allowed to preach the faith on TV?

    And if you go to the link above, as I suggested several times, you’ll see that he was indeed working with children as late as 2006.

    A public school teacher who resigns doesn’t work as a public school teacher anymore nor does he work in the schools in any capacity (at least he shouldn’y). No one would be objecting if these guys weren’t presenting themselves as priests anymore or were not working in a Catholic apostolate.

  • Dom, the other such association with EWTN that springs to mind involves Kenneth Roberts (author of “Playboy to Priest”) who defied his bishop by continuing to host a Q&A forum for young people on AOL long after various credible accusations were made against him.  IIRC, the station was rather slow in pulling his works from both the air & their store. Roberts’ supporters pointed to his relationship w/ Mother Angelica/EWTN as if it was proof that he was innocent. I don’t think that he denied the charges but instead claimed that excessive drinking clouded his memory and may have affected his behavior.

  • It was sad to learn that Fr. Bourque apparently had committed some form of misconduct; he was a popular and, AFAIK, sound teacher on scriptural subjects around Boston through the ‘80s.

  • Dom,

    I was being hypebolic.  I was trying to contrast the complete insensitivity to the link between NAMBLA and “gay” organizations, with the hyper-sensitivity exhibited when anything resembling Catholic Orthodoxy can be smeared with slime.

    Some estimates say that as many as 30-40% of priests are homosexual(orientation).  What are the odds that EWTN, that has had hundreds(?) of priests involved in various shows over the last twenty-five years, wouldn’t have picked up a few damaged goods?

    I’m just going to wait this one out.