March 19, 2005

Abusive priests often end up in St. Louis

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

By Tim Townsend
Of the Post-Dispatch

The Rev. James McGreal of Seattle has admitted to sexually abusing hundreds of children between the 1960s and 1980s. The Seattle archdiocese has so far agreed to pay almost $10 million to 26 of those victims, but because of Washington's statute of limitations, McGreal has never been convicted of a crime.

Because McGreal can't be sent to jail and has never been laicized (or defrocked) he is the responsibility of Seattle's archbishops.

For the last 20 years McGreal, now 81, has been living at the Vianney Renewal Center, near Dittmer in Jefferson County. Vianney and a nearby facility called RECON are the only two places in the country where bishops can permanently send dangerous pedophile priests.

"For those who need to be in a completely supervised environment there are two centers, which as providence would have it, are both in this archdiocese in the United States," said St. Louis Archbishop Raymond Burke in a recent interview.

Three years after the Roman Catholic clergy sexual abuse crisis broke in Boston, U.S. bishops are struggling to figure out what to do with priests who have been removed from ministry for sexual abuse of minors.

"This is a significant issue," said Sheila Kelly, deputy executive director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops's Office of Child and Youth Protection. "The basic concern is - are these people living and working in circumstances where they cannot continue to abuse children?"

Posted by kshaw at March 19, 2005 03:56 PM