May 29, 2005

Victims weren't first priority

The Orange County Register

The Orange County Register

Michael Patrick Driscoll didn't go into the priesthood to become a personnel manager. He didn't expect that his career path would include supervising some of the worst priest-pedophiles in Orange County's history.

But in the early years of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, that was his job. From 1976 to 1987, as the diocese's chancellor, Driscoll oversaw personnel matters involving priests. Personnel files released by the diocese over the past two weeks show that Driscoll participated in numerous decisions that gave accused priests the opportunity to remain in ministry.

Driscoll, who today is the bishop of the Diocese of Boise, Idaho, has repeatedly apologized for his role in those decisions. Most recently, on May 5, he admitted that his priorities were "horribly misplaced" when he dealt with allegations of abuse in the 1970s and 1980s.

"It is hard for me to understand today how we could not have seen what was happening to the children," Driscoll wrote in a statement posted on the Boise diocese's Web site. "People who know me well know how much I love children. They know that I would never hurt anyone intentionally, especially children."

People who know Driscoll say he is a warm, generous man, an exceptional speaker devoted to his religious calling. During his years in Orange County, he was a champion of the poor. Every Christmas, the rotund Driscoll donned a Santa Claus suit to distribute gifts to disadvantaged children.

Posted by kshaw at May 29, 2005 08:19 AM