Archdiocese: Abusive Priests With Ireland Ties Worked In Boston

BOSTON — For the first time, the Boston Archdiocese has confirmed that some abusive priests with ties to Ireland worked in Boston. An Irish government report last year outlined rampant clergy sex abuse in Ireland,  but the Boston Archdiocese has never before acknowledged that any of those priests worked here.

The archdiocese released a statement Tuesday saying that three accused priests from Ireland did, at one time, work in the Boston Archdiocese. The archdiocese said it was unaware of any abuse accusations against the three men either before or while they worked in Boston.

Terry McKiernan, with the group BishopAccountability.org, wants more details about the priests. “It’s a bit of surprise and not really a surprise,” McKiernan said. “It seems to me a shame that this is still the way things are working. Surely the Boston Archdiocese by now should know it needs to come forward, it needs to come clean about situations like this.”

The late priest Brendan Smyth was accused of molesting children in Ireland, Britain, North Dakota and Rhode Island. In this undated file photo, Smyth leaves a courthouse in northern Ireland. (AP)

Bishopaccountability.org has been documenting the U.S. clergy sex abuse scandal. After the Irish government released its report (PDF) on rampant clergy sex abuse last year, BishopAccountability.org started asking questions about what may have happened on this side of the Atlantic.

Last month, BishopAccountability.org published a list of about 70 priests it said were either born in Ireland or are of Irish descent and who re-offended children in the U.S. The late priest Brendan Smyth was accused of molesting children in Ireland, Britain, North Dakota and Rhode Island.

Helen McGonigle, now an attorney in Connecticut, alleges that Smyth abused her when she was six years old and he was at Our Lady of Mercy Church in Rhode Island.

“He molested me in school, in church and in my home,”  she said. “When he first molested me, he told me I can’t tell anybody becuase his finger was the finger of God. That if I told anybody, I would end up like the body in the woods. It was a death threat. He was a monster.”

McGonigle said Smyth abused her after he was sent back to Rhode Island following his treatment in Ireland for abusing children. She has an active lawsuit pending against the Providence Diocese. The Providence Diocese says it has referred the issue to its Child Protection Advisory Board, which meets next month.

The priest, Brendan Smyth, died in prison in Dublin shortly after his 1997 conviction on charges of abusing dozens of children. “I am outraged,” McGonigle said. “Because if he abused so many kids in Ireland and my parish, it’s not a leap of faith to suspect that he abused kids in the Boston Archdiocese.”

The Boston Archdiocese, which would not go on tape for this story, maintained there were no similar abuse allegations against Smyth or the other two Irish priests during the time they worked in Boston. The archdiocese says the late Joseph Maguire worked in the Boston Archdiocese from 1981 to 1985, and Dennis Murphy worked in Boston in 1996 and 1997. The late Brendan Smyth worked in Boston in 1991.

The archdiocese also said one current Irish priest is alleged to have abused a child here some 30 years ago and is now under investigation. The archdiocese said law enforcement and the priest’s religious order have been notified. But it gave no further details.

Olan Horne works with clergy sex abuse survivors in Massachusetts. Two years ago he met with the pope to talk about the clergy sex abuse crisis. He is outraged that the Vatican and the pope have not taken stronger action following the Irish government’s report on the abuse.

“It’s Groundhog Day all over again, and it keeps happening again and again,” he said.

Horne also said the Boston Archdiocese and the pope should respond to clergy sex abuse survivors and come forward with the personnel records of priests from Ireland who have worked, and may still be working, in Boston.

“There needs to be a response, and one thing sorely missing, especially from the Vatican, is that survivors should be front and center,” Horne said. “He needs to hear from a large group of people about what needs to be done. People are outraged across the globe about the Catholic church and how it handles itself and continues to handle itself.”

Horne expects that dozens of survivors will try to meet with the pope this fall to push for more transparency about how the Ireland priest scandal may have affected churches around the world. And BishopAccountability.org said it will continue to press Catholic officials in Boston and Rhode Island for more details about their priests.

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  • http://SNAPnetwork.org david clohessy

    Despite his relentless posturing as some kind of “reformer,” it’s clear that O’Malley is just a more media savvy Cardinal Law, committed to keeping clergy sex crimes and cover ups hidden unless he’s forced to disclose by external pressure.

    The obvious question: How many other Irish predator priests are or were working in Boston, and how many of the dozens of other foreign-born priests in American churches now were sent here because of sexual allegations back home?

    David Clohessy, SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, SNAPclohessy@aol.com, SNAPnetwork.org, 314 566 9790

  • Skip Shea

    The statutes of limitation of crimes that may have happened in Boston (and Massachusetts) at the hands of Irish priests may not have run out, if these priests left the Commonwealth.
    The AG’s Office must first investigate all past settlements (and files) the Archdiocese, as well as the Worcester, Springfield and Fall River Diocese, has to see if there is a chance to prosecute these crimes.
    We can no longer expect the church to police itself. Actually, we never could.

  • Mary Caplan

    Abusing priests continue to be moved to places where they can prey on new victims. Promises of change and transparency are empty words till some real action is taken.
    All children must be protected and we expect no less from the church than we do from any other citizen. Child abuse and cover ups are a crime against all our societies.
    Mary Caplan, Snap New York

  • Mitchell Garabedian

    I have represented more than 700 victims of clergy sexual abuse.

    The reverse regarding location also holds true. Brother Fidelis DeBerardinis, while assigned to the Archdiocese of Boston allegedly sexually molested my client, an Irish child, in a church in Limerick, Ireland after sexually molesting children in Boston during the same Boston assignment. Brother DeBerardinis is currently incarcerated in MA for sexually molesting children.

    The cover up of clergy sexual abuse by the leaders of the Catholic Church is global in nature and knows no bounds.

  • bill nash

    I am sickened once again to see how the church has continued to hide these dangerous criminals. In the Boston Archdiocese, there has been a practice of hiding a priest in a “safehouse.” These “safehouses” were merely other rectories in remote areas of the diocese staffed by pastors. After i reported my abuse to the church, i was told that these “safehouses” should have been staffed by wardens, not pastors! Shipping off predator priests to other countries is also another common practice, espcally for religious orders. My abuser was sent to work at the Vatican in 2002, after more victims came forward in Boston. What a sick institution!

  • http://WBUR Virginia Doyle

    Shocked again? not really- we know Helen
    McGonigle for years now – she is extremely credible. Not a histo about the abuse she suffered – Agree with Skip Shea re what AG’s role should be in these recent revelations –

    Would appreciate discussion relative to this subject as to whether we church attending members are enabling the Roman Catholic church by still servicing it?

  • benedict

    Clohessy and friends will never get that the church sex abuse scandal was not a pedophilia scandal but a homosexual one. Apparently, you guys are in denial of that.


    Eight years and this kind of thing is just being owned up to while the archbishop keeps repeating how much the Boston Archdiocese has done to protect children?

    This is absolutely outrageous.

    Why weren’t all those auxiliary bishops, now known to have been enablers of those predatory priests, unceremoniously removed from office instead of being rewarded with their own individual diocese as were John McCormack and William Murphy for starters?

    I would never, ever recommend that victim survivors of childhood sexual abuse by clergy put their faith in any diocesan protection or advisory board and the reasons are self-evident.

    When are states going to get serious about prosecuting those enablers who put so many children in harm’s way, whether they are bishops or not?

    When are states going to rescind the deals they made with church leadership in the past which allowed them to avoid prosecution?

    When are there going to be more federal charges made against individuals who took children abroad for purposes of sexual exploitation? These federal Trafficking statutes do not expire.

    It is all so obvious that Accountability and Transparency were never really the order of the day.

    My heart goes out to those who were abused as children in the Archdiocese of Boston, the Providence, Rhode Island Diocese and in dioceses across the United States by the likes of a Brenden Smyth. If there is anything else I can do to help, please ask.

    I wish I had been able to participate in the demonstration outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston earlier this afternoon.

    Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
    Victims’ Advocate
    New Castle, Delaware

  • William Martin

    I remain greviously unhappy at “ou” institutional church. With all the reports of abusive clergy and the powers that be still do not get it. Further the coddling of a Cardinal in transferring him to Rome and heaping honors upon him. I believe that Jesus would forgive him, had he asked, but required him to live out his life as a hermit, not an honored Cardinal. Was this due to the fact that the present Pope pulled strings for him when he was the “power behind the throne”? For this reason, I do provide for my local church, and for local charities, but not a penny to the archdiocese or the Vatican. These evildoers cannot take my faith in Jesus from me. I see him upon the cross as I pray, but they cannot force me to donate to their coffers!

  • benedict

    If SNAP were tomorrow to wake up and say that the Church sex abuse scandal was a homosexual problem, then they would certainly lose all their money because who else is funding SNAP? If SNAP were to say tomorrow that child sexual abuse is more prevalent at Planned Parenthood and abortion mills than the Churches, they would lose alot of money because who is funding it?

  • Veronica G. Powers, M.D.

    The revelation of sexual abuse and coerced silencing of children by thousands of priests is horrifying. Could anything be more shocking? Yes!- the bishops and the pope, God’s representatives on earth,have participated in these crimes, covering them up and allowing them to go on and on.
    It is now evident to all that protecting their temporal power meant more to them than spiritual power and now they are losing both.

  • Stephen Gilfedder

    I had my rectum torn open by father Patrick Francis Magee who now lives in Ireland and is probally still offending. How is that justice.The church will do what it pleases because they don’t care about laws.They protect themselves because most of them are homosexual with pedophile tendencies.Hence the protection.Any religion who pretects this activity should be considered a criminal organisation and be treated as such.Still bleeding and waiting for New York law Makers to stand up for the victims. Stephen Gilfedder

  • christine

    Benedict: Are you aware that at least 30% of the victims of clergy are female? And, do you blame the massive cover-up by the hierarchy on homosexuality too? And, sexual abuse is not about sexual identity. Please educate yourself before making incorrect assumptions.

  • christine

    Benedict, SNAP is run on donations from a variety of people. SNAP is not funded by Planned Parenthood and “homosexual” groups. Do some research, please, before making such ridiculous comments.

  • benedict

    Christine, SNAP is basically a liberal front group. They are on the same level as Call to Action, Dignity, Catholics for a Free Choice and other loony liberal groups.

    By the way the researchers at John Jay College came to the conclusion that some 90% of the abusers in the priesthood were homosexual. Most of those abused were post-pubescent boys. Women are a minority in this issue, making heterosexual priests a minority in this. Its the homosexual problem. If you deny this, then you are certainly contributing to their cause which makes you and SNAP hypocrites.

    I stand by my comments on SNAP. Have you seen who is usually at their conferences? I know people who have been there to them and they say its like a Stalingrad

  • Stephen Gilfedder

    Is it normal to catch someone abusing a child sexually and not say a thing? Only if your a pedophile,benedict I wonder about you. you seem to think pedophilia is ok if your homosexual you have some very poor advice and I would personally change your therapist.

  • Helen McGonigle

    Thanks for your community support in this long journey. The Archdiocese of Boston is trying to pull the wool over our eyes by not reciting the whole story. When Fr. Brendan Smyth was sent to Boston August 3 & 4, 1991 the decision to prosecute him in Northern Ireland had just been made on July 25, 1991. He had been interviewed by the police in Ireland in March of 1991 and had been under investigation for child sexual abuse since 1990 after his 3 failed mental hospitalizations. Make no mistake he was a priest on the run and who does a “mission” for just 2 days hiding in Arlington, MA to avoid prosecution? Thanks to the protection afforded by Cardinal Law the authorities in Ireland could not locate him.

  • benedict


    You wrote, “Is it normal to catch someone abusing a child sexually and not say a thing?”

    My response: “Of course I would say something. Who wouldn’t? I would call the cops instantly. Those bishops who ignored this are either weak or got easiy got poor advice by corrupt administration”

    You write: “Only if your a pedophile,benedict. I wonder about you. you seem to think pedophilia is ok if your homosexual you have some very poor advice and I would personally change your therapist.”

    My response: First of all, I am not advocating pedophilia as you seem to imply. Pedophilia and homosexual lifestyles are both objectively destructive and both contrary to natural law. What I am talking about is the facts buddy and that is from the study done. While it is true the study now is over 5 years old, it does not disprove anything. In fact, it has stregthened it. I will repeat again.

    “the researchers at John Jay College came to the conclusion that some 90% of the abusers in the priesthood were homosexual.” http://www.usccb.org/nrb/johnjaystudy/

    Child Sexual abuse is traumatic and evil. I pray daily for an end to this monstrosity along with abortion, euthanasia, and embryonic stem cell research.

  • benedict

    Planned Parenthood has done more cover-ups in protecting child abuse. And this continues on to this day. Check out the brave and beautiful Lila Rose as she investigates this at her You Tube. http://www.youtube.com/user/LiveActionFilms#p/c/F67287E5C10EB429

    Also, check out Life Dynamics investigation of Planned Parenthood at this address.


  • benedict

    Senator Santorum, a possible presidential candidate and one of my favorite politicians had to say this of the Boston problem:

    “Priests, like all of us, are affected by culture. When the culture is sick, every element in it becomes infected. While it is no excuse for this scandal, it is no surprise that Boston, a seat of academic, political and cultural liberalism in America, lies at the center of the storm.”

    Liberalism is passive, silent and forgetful. Liberalism does not acknowledge good and evil. Liberalism does not believe in freedom of choice but no freedom and no choice. In their eyes, women who have abortions are seen as goddesses. The gay community is the savior of the world. Boston, a city enriched in history, has become San Francisco of the east.

  • John Hayes

    Benedict, you said:

    “the researchers at John Jay College came to the conclusion that some 90% of the abusers in the priesthood were homosexual.” http://www.usccb.org/nrb/johnjaystudy/

    That is certainly not correct, as shown in this report from November 19, 2009:

    A preliminary report commissioned by U.S. Roman Catholic bishops on the roots of the clergy sex abuse scandal found no evidence that gay priests are more likely than heterosexual clergy to molest children, the lead authors of the study said Tuesday.

    The full report by researchers at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice won’t be completed until the end of next year. But the authors said that their evidence to date found no data indicating that homosexuality was a predictor of abuse.

    “What we are suggesting is that the idea of sexual identity be separated from the problem of sexual abuse,” said Margaret Smith of John Jay College, in a speech to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “At this point, we do not find a connection between homosexual identity and the increased likelihood of subsequent abuse from the data that we have right now.”


  • maggie

    When one really looks into this scandel…Africa has a big
    challenge concerniing sexually active priests, as does Australia, as does Mexico and every other south and central American country. So though we would like to localize this scandal to a particular culture or ideology
    like Irish or liberal or liberation theology (the founder
    of the order of The Legionaires of Christ appeared orthodox) the challenge resides in basic fallen human nature. The challenge lies in dealing with both predator
    and prey justly. That is the true scandel, that these
    behaviors have not been delt with justly.

  • ben

    It all leads back to the bishops, ultimately to the to prefects of the curia and the bishop of Rome, which makes
    it an institutional injustice. What culture does not have
    the scandal of predator priests? What culture has provide
    justice to one who might report abuse, innocently expecting the bishop might actually care about, “The dignity of the human person”?

  • Jack Angelo Territo

    The problem , with homosexual pedophilism ,and pro -abortion Catholics is no brave leader could remove this evil .. The Pope must OBEY Canon Law and follow Church Doctrine by excommunicating ALL bishops ,priests,polititions ,and laity who AID,ABET ,and COUNSEL aborion,and\or homosexuality?93 Catholic Universities endorse homosexual Clubs.

  • XaurreauX

    I attended the 2009 SNAP conference and have donated to the cause. Nothing that occurred or was said there even vaguely suggested “Stalingrad.” I’m not homosexual, but of course my take on the event is “biased” because my masculinity isn’t threatened by homosexuals.

  • http://www.projecttruth2.com/Paul%20Richard%20Shanley.htm Shanley clergy abuse case

    In a related case in Boston, the Shanley recovered memory case, Shanley recently lost his appeal in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

    Shanley was accused of sexual abuse in the 1960’s, the 1970’s, the 1980’s and the 1990’s. His church personnel records indicated he was transferred from parish to parish despite allegations of abuse. The Boston Herald (4/9/02) printed that Shanley “spoke in favor of sex between men and boys at a formative 1978 meeting in Boston of the “Man Boy Lovers of North America” and that he “admitted openly to raping and sodomizing minors when confronted by church investigators under Boston’s two past archbishops, Humberto Cardinal Medeiros and Law.”

    Leadership Council Amicus Brief on the case

    Mass. Court Denies Ex-Priest’s Bid for New Trial 1/15/10 BOSTON (AP) NYT The Supreme Judicial Court agreed with a Superior Court judge who ruled earlier that repressed memory theory, or ”dissociative amnesia,” is controversial, but generally accepted in the relevant scientific community. The high court said the theory is supported by “a wide collection of clinical observations and a survey of academic literature.

    Cover up: Documents: Archdiocese knew priest was a rapist – by Tom Mashberg and Robin Washington – 4/9/02 Boston Herald http://web.archive.org/web/20020602180710/http://www2.bostonherald.com/news/local_regional/shan04092002.htm

  • Stephen Gilfedder

    If it were not for snap I would not by myself have a voice.I tried to contact the New York bishops office in 1985 and was completely ignored.The church continues to treat victims this way.When in life you face a problem you need to correct it or you will be the one who suffers.Its a matter of common sense with which many supposed intelligent individuals involved cannot seem to figure out.

  • http://www.leadershipcouncil.org/docs/ShanleyBrief.pdf Jason Auderly

    Related to all this is the Shanley recovered memory case. Shanley lost his appeal in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court.

    Shanley was accused of sexual abuse in the 1960’s, the 1970’s, the 1980’s and the 1990’s. His church personnel records indicated he was transferred from parish to parish despite allegations of abuse. The Boston Herald (4/9/02) printed that Shanley “spoke in favor of sex between men and boys at a formative 1978 meeting in Boston of the “Man Boy Lovers of North America” and that he “admitted openly to raping and sodomizing minors when confronted by church investigators under Boston’s two past archbishops, Humberto Cardinal Medeiros and Law.”

    This case showed that there is very strong scientific evidence that recovered memories exist. This has been shown in many scientific studies. The content of recovered memories have fairly high corroboration rates.


    The only way there will be any accountability or transparency in the institutional Roman Catholic Church is if we, Catholics or not, advocates, activists, members of groups like the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), the National Survivor Advocates Coalition (NSAC), Voice of the Faithful (VOTF), the National Association to Prevent Sexual Abuse of Children (NAPSAC), continue to lobby for significant changes in child abuse legislative while continuing to point out the contradictions between the bishops’ statments of care and concern and their vicious actions in opposing reform. They must be held accountable for their crimes and mortal sins of commission and omissiion.

    Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
    Victims’ Advocate
    New Castle, Delaware

  • http://hotmail norma brown

    I relate to the sexual and mind control of me by a priest. Although the denomination is different the abuse is still horrendous. It still haunts my life and my life is affected by it even through much counseling. I agree these situations must come to light and the CHURCH must be held accountable.

  • http://SNAP Clare Gerber

    First-I am grateful to SNAP for their relentless endeavor to keep us up to date on issues of grave importance. Many serious ethical and moral issues for all Catholics have being shared through out the last several years and sadly there appears to be little or no concern from not only the laity but especially the priest. To say the Bishops have a responsibility to report these issues is one thing but the priest and laity also have a moral responsibility to speak up and challenge all issues as well. To many are standing by and doing nothing. This is very disturbing.

  • http://monav.wordpress.com Mona Villarrubia

    My parents and my siblings and I were abused by two Catholic priests who were stationed in England in the Portsmouth Diocese. I have come to find out that Portsmouth was one of the dioceses referred to as a “Refugium peccatorum” (refuge of sinners) one that would take priests who had “problems.” I have been trying for years to get the diocese to take some responsibility for this. So far with no luck. But they agreed recently to take my 85 year old father’s testimony officially. We’ll see if they respond with any offer of help. I am not holding my breath.

  • http://catholicabusesurvivorsni.com catholicabusesurvivorsni.com

    catholicabusesurvivorsni.com—yes indeed we are famousin ireland for the shamrock and beer but also the largest exporter of paedohile priests and cover up in the western world, have a read it north korea over hear but better known as the north of ireland. sam

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