Why was Paul Shanley given so many protections by the archdiocese? According to this Boston Globe article, accusations against Shanley were not given to the archdiocesan clergy review board and also did not tell a hostel in New York City where Shanley wanted to work about his past.
All of this comes out in the depositions of Msgr. Brian Flatley, who was the delegate for clergy sexual sinfulness from 1994 to 1996. Among other things, Flatley says he met regularly with Cardinal Law to discuss abuse cases which seems to conflict with the cardinal’s contention that he delegated responsibility for dealing with the specifics to subordinates.
But under questioning by attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr., Flatley said that he and Law routinely discussed the specifics of clergy sexual misconduct cases:
Q. MacLeish: Cardinal Law wanted to know the details during these meetings of priests that were accused of sexual misconduct; is that correct?
A. Flatley: That’s correct.
Q. MacLeish: So your typical practice was to discuss those situations involving priests who had been accused of sexual misconduct in detail with Cardinal Law; is that correct?
A. Flatley: That’s correct.
The other thing we learn is the steps taken to protect Shanley.
- Flatley, who served as Law’s delegate for clergy sexual misconduct from 1994 to 1996, said he could not explain the omissions and acknowledged that church officials acted in other ways to keep Shanley far from his accusers in the Boston archdiocese. In a 1995 memo, Flatley recommended approval of a Shanley proposal that he be allowed to move to an unnamed country because it “would secure anonymity for him.”
And that wasn’t the only example of special treatment for Shanley.
For instance, Flatley confirmed that, acting at Shanley’s request, he arranged for the church to pay at least a portion of Shanley’s legal bills associated with sexual abuse allegations through the archdiocesan Clergy Assistance Trust.
And he acknowledged that Boston officials did not immediately tell their counterparts in the New York Archdiocese about the allegations against Shanley, even though Shanley was working at Leo House, a Catholic-affiliated hostel where children stayed.
So why the special treatment for Shanley? For one thing, he apparently tried to blackmail Cardinal Humberto Medeiros, Law’s predecessor, by suggesting that he would reveal the name of a cardinal who allegedly abused Shanley. And then he tried again years later with Flatley.
Msgr. William Helmick, who was a secretary for Medeiros and Law from 1971 to 1987, agreed in his own deposition that Shanley was given extraordinary latitude to advance his “perverted” views during his days as a street minister, apparently advocating adult-child sex.
So why the charmed life? Perhaps Shanley knew something as he alleged. And maybe he wasn’t alone. If there was a network of pervert priests who knew “where the bodies were buried” it would go a long way toward explaining why so many of them lived “a charmed life.” As much as it hurts, it’s time to shed some light on the truth. It can’t be any worse than the slow water torture of finding out detail by detail over months and years.