Predatory Priests, Silenced Victims: The Sexual Abuse Crisis and the Catholic Church

By Mary Gail Frawley-O’Dea; Virginia Goldner | Go to book overview

17
The Confusion of Priestly Secrets

Mark D. Jordan


WHAT KIND OF SECRET WAS CLERICAL ABUSE?

You can take the question as asking whether the abuse really was a secret. It looks, in fact, like a perfect example of the open secret—evident truth refused. In January 2002, when the Boston Globe broke stories about Cardinal Law’s repeated transfers of accused priests, it was hardly a revelation. Well-publicized American cases stretch back at least to 1985, when the national media picked up the story of Gilbert Gauthe from Louisiana (Boston Globe, 2002, p. 38). Since then we have received a steady flow of reports: Mount Cashel in Newfoundland and Covenant House in New York, diocesan priests in Chicago and the friars of Santa Barbara, James Porter from Fall River, MA, and Rudy Kos from Dallas. So what was the revelation? The number of crimes alleged against Fr. John Geoghan was high, but about the same as the estimates for Porter. Geoghan had been transferred repeatedly and then (it turned out) recommended to another diocese, but other cases also included transfers and commendations.

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