A group of parishioners in Portland, Maine, canceled a party for their former pastor who was forced to resign last year. The priest had allowed a now-convicted sex offender to live in his rectory for two years and failed to report an incident of sexual abuse by the guy. The subsequent investigation revealed that the priest had also had an incident of “inappropriate physical conduct” with a minor 20 years ago. It wasn’t called abuse and no criminal charges were filed, but he wasn’t exonerated by any means.
So, his former parishioners decided to throw him a going-away party. Huh? If that isn’t spitting in the eye of abuse victims, I don’t know what is. Sure, they probably don’t mean it that way, and they’re just trying to do something nice for someone who’s done something nice for them, but what about the victims? Yes, a sinner has a right to forgiveness, but it also requires a period of rehabilitation of his reputation and remittance of his deeds. To throw a party so soon is just bad taste and a lack of sensitivity.
“All we know is that Father Coughlin tried to help a man who was out of work, had no place to live, and winter was coming, and he was trying to help him. That’s his crime as far as we are concerned,” Guesman said.
But that wasn’t his crime as far as it concerned the two boys abused by the man the priest allowed to live in the rectory or the victim the priest failed to notify authorities about.