May 25, 2005

Opinion Mixed on Idaho Bishop's Role in Abuse


By Larry B. Stammer and William Lobdell
Times Staff Writers

May 25, 2005

BOISE, Idaho Southern Californians who were sexually abused by priests left in ministry by Bishop Michael P. Driscoll want him to resign or be fired.

But in Idaho, where Driscoll now serves as bishop of Boise, Roman Catholic opinion appears far more divided after the release last week of internal church documents that detailed his past handling of clergy sexual abuse allegations in Orange County.

Many Idaho Catholics have remained supportive of Driscoll, who has apologized for what he described as his "horribly misplaced" priorities in California. Others say they have trouble reconciling the engaging "Bishop Mike," who speaks passionately of his concern for children and the poor, with the portrait that has emerged from the files.

According to the documents, Driscoll moved priests accused of molesting minors from parish to parish in Orange County. He helped others relocate to other dioceses and countries to avoid prosecution, ignored or delayed acting on parents' complaints, and accepted a convicted molester from Wisconsin into a local parish.

The files were released last week as part of a $100-million settlement involving 90 alleged victims of sexual abuse and the Diocese of Orange. Driscoll served as chancellor and later as auxiliary bishop in Orange County from 1976 to 1999, when he became head of the statewide diocese in Idaho.

Posted by kshaw at May 25, 2005 06:56 AM