The Boston Globe | Abuse in the Catholic Church


Bishop Daily breaks his silence on abuse scandal

By Fred Kaplan, Globe Staff, 3/23/2002

NEW YORK - Thomas V. Daily, the Brooklyn bishop and former chancellor of the Boston Archdiocese, said yesterday that he regrets ''certain decisions'' he made in defending priests accused of pedophilia, but added that he ''acted in good conscience, with the knowledge gained from consultations.''

His remarks - in the form of a six-page statement published in yesterday's edition of The Tablet, the newspaper of the Brooklyn diocese, broke the silence Daily had been keeping on the issue to the chagrin and anger of his own congregants and a growing number of his priests.

While in Boston in the early 1980s, as deputy to Cardinals Humberto S. Medeiros and Bernard F. Law, Daily played a role in moving John J. Geoghan from parish to parish - rather than turn him in to civil authorities - as accusations accumulated that the priest was a child molester.

Geoghan is now serving time in prison. Daily was named as a defendant in 56 civil lawsuits against the archdiocese, settled earlier this month.

The Globe has disclosed that Daily knew of Geoghan's behavior as early as 1980 but that Daily saw his role - as he stated in a deposition - as ''not a policeman,'' but ''a shepherd ... a pastor who has to go after the Lord's sheep and find them and bring them back into the fold.''

In his statement yesterday, titled ''On Clerical Sexual Abuse,'' Daily said that, ''in hindsight, I profoundly regret certain decisions,'' but he does not say which ones or why.

Nor, despite its title, did the statement provide new information about clerical sexual abuse. ''Because of the complexity and sensitivity of the issue,'' he wrote, ''I do not plan to issue the names and number of priests against whom allegations have been presented.''

He adds: ''While the number is very low, there is no excuse or justification for such activity on the part of even one. Furthermore, not every allegation proves credible.''

The bishop wrote that when the church hears accusations, they are examined by ''a committee of experts.'' If they are deemed credible, the offending priest is either removed from the ministry or placed in a different assignment.

''I firmly believe that our policy has served us well and that we have taken responsible steps to protect our children,'' he added.

He made no mention of informing law enforcement authorities as being one of those steps, though he said accusers ''are never discouraged from reporting their incidents to the police, to whom we give total cooperation.''

Daily criticized ''the media and other individuals'' for ''using this tragedy ... to discredit our beliefs and values and engender doubts in the minds of the faithful regarding other aspects of Catholic teaching.''

The Queens district attorney, Richard A. Brown, issued a statement yesterday. It was essentially a challenge: ''If the diocese has any evidence of criminal conduct, especially if it relates to the abuse of children, I would expect that that evidence would be promptly shared with me.''

Daily's diocese is the nation's fifth largest, encompassing 1.5 million Catholics in the boroughs of Brooklyn and Queens.

Cardinal Edward Egan, leader of the much larger New York City Archdiocese, is expected to release a letter today stating his views on the issue and addressing allegations that he covered up abuse by priests while he was bishop in Bridgeport, Conn.

This story ran on page A8 of the Boston Globe on 3/23/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

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