More questionable releases

More questionable releases

Ten more files on Boston priests were released by plaintiffs’ lawyers yesterday. I’m beginning to wonder where it will end. One file contains no abuse allegation, but simply notes that some high school girls felt uncomfortable holding hands with one priest during a prayer. This is ridiculous. The archdiocesan said the file was included so that there’s no appearance that they’re holding anything back. Meanwhile, this poor priest has his name included in a newspaper report along with real perverts and has his credibility undermined. Even now people will question whether there’s more to the allegation than before. The Boston Herald goes one step even worse by not putting on qualifiers on the case, just naming him along with the others.

And look at these two other cases:

    The Rev. Charles E. Aubut, accused of sexual assault on an unspecified date or location. Aubut died in 1984. The Rev. Leonard Bacigalupo, accused of unspecified abuse at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in East Boston in 1969 or 1970.

Unspecified date. Unspecified location. Deceased. How can the living defend themselves against this stuff, much less the dead?

I fully expect this to hit close to home soon. I mentioned this before, but in case you didn’t see it: When I moved back to Mass. from Franciscan University of Steubenville, I had intended to get an apartment with my friend Randy, also a FUS grad, who’d just gotten a job as a youth minister in Salem. But the pastor of the parish invited Randy to rent a room in the rectory. It’s a huge house and there were only two priests. Randy wanted to, but he noted I was depending on our arrangement for a place to live. So Fr. Murphy extended the rental invitation to me as well.

Within a couple of months, someone had sent an anonymous letter to the regional auxiliary bishop that “two gay guys” had moved into the rectory. Of course, it was patently absurd. By that time, I’d had a girlfriend for some time. Anyone who knew me or Randy would know it was wrong. Of course, the bishop contacted Fr. Murphy and he cleared it up. But now I’m wondering if that allegation will make it to the papers. Will something that stupid and baseless be used to destroy the credibility of another fine priest? At this rate, who will be left untouched? Where are the perfect priests for our parishes?

I am okay with releasing information on priests with credible allegations and specific charges against them. But what purpose does the rest of this serve except to further undermine people’s faith in the priesthood?

Written by
Domenico Bettinelli