In an article that’s mainly about two alleged abuser priests wanting their criminal charges tossed, we also get a brief addendum about the newly released transcripts of Bishop Robert Banks’ deposition. Banks is now the bishop of Green Bay, Wis., but he was Cardinal Law’s No. 2 guy between 1985 and 1990. He claims that he didn’t know anything about abuse, and especially about Paul Shanley.
- Asked why he did not alert parishioners who might have put children in the care of the problem priest, he said, “I did not think that would have been a very helpful piece of information to give out.”
We don’t want parents creating an embarassing public spectacle that a guy accused of molesting kids was put in charge of caring for their children’s spiritual well-being, do we?
In an Associated Press article about Banks’ deposition, he also defends his recommendation of Shanley to a California diocese.
- Bishop Robert J. Banks, now bishop of Green Bay, Wis.., said he did not know of any sexual abuse allegations against the Rev. Paul Shanley when he wrote a letter of recommendation for him in 1990. Banks said he discounted a complaint from a patient at a psychiatric hospital who said Shanley “came on” to him by talking about sadomasochism. Banks told the patient that Shanley denied the allegation. … Banks said that when he questioned Shanley about the alleged incident, he became “irate” and then said he couldn’t recall the conversation he had with the man. Banks said he then dropped the matter.
Look at the automatic deference shown by the bishop to the priest. As long as the priest denied the allegation with vehemence, the bishop was satisfied and dropped the matter. Also note the first sentence in the paragraph. Banks didn’t actually say he “did not know of any sexual abuse allegations” against Shanley in the letter. He didn’t say, “I don’t know anything” or “I can’t speak to the suitability of Shanley” or even the plain language “He is free of any accusations.“What he did say was, “I can assure you that Father Shanley has no problem that would be of concern to your diocese.” [emphasis added] The clear subtext is that there is a problem, but that the diocese (San Bernadino, if I recall) needn’t worry about it. So what was the problem that Banks didn’t think the bishop of San Bernadino should worry about?
Bishop Banks turns 75 next month and offers his resignation to Pope John Paul. Let’s hope the people of Green Bay get a wise and forthright new bishop.