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Bishop acknowledges he knew priest advocated sex with boys


Bishop Thomas Daily said he regrets his decision to appoint Fr. Paul Shanley acting pastor of a Newton, Mass., parish even after he knew of complaints that Shanley advocated sex between boys and men.

Daily expressed his regret during a deposition in a lawsuit brought by dozens of people who say Shanley abused them. The deposition was given in August and released to the public Oct. 28. Daily is one of the defendants in the lawsuit.

Daily, 75, now heads the Brooklyn, N.Y., diocese, the nation’s fifth largest. In 1983, while serving in Boston as auxiliary bishop and vicar general, he led that archdiocese for a brief period after the death of Boston Cardinal Humberto Medeiros and before the installation of Medeiros’ successor, Bernard Law. One of his executive decisions was to appoint Shanley as administrator of St. Jean’s Parish in Newton.

The decision was made despite Daily’s knowledge of complaints to the archdiocese that Shanley publicly endorsed sex between men and boys. A letter written by a disgusted Catholic layperson to Medeiros and made available to Daily said Shanley had said he didn’t think sex with minors was harmful, nor was incest or bestiality (NCR, April 19). Daily maintained in his deposition that he had no knowledge that Shanley had abused anyone when he promoted him.

In Daily’s deposition, he often said he could not remember details about his supervision of Shanley, but questions by Roderick MacLeish Jr., attorney for Shanley’s victims, did lead Daily to provide some succinct answers:

“You went ahead and appointed [Shanley] despite the fact that you had information before you that suggested Paul Shanley had attended and quite possibly endorsed the views of the NAMBLA [North American Man Boy Love Association]?” MacLeish asked.

“Correct,” said Daily.

“And you regret that?”

“I regret that,” he said.

Shanley, 71, was assigned to St. Jean’s from 1979 to 1989. He faces 10 charges of raping a child and six indecent assault and battery counts that are alleged to have occurred during the time he was assigned to the parish. He has pleaded not guilty to the counts and is being held in policy custody pending trial.

A deposition, also released Oct. 28 in another lawsuit alleging multiple counts of sexual abuse by a priest, sheds further light on Daily’s mishandling of abusive priests as archdiocesan vicar general.

Gerald Perry, a former Nahant, Mass., police officer, testified that in 1977 he once found Fr. Edward Kelley partially undressed in a parked car with a 19-year-old man. Nahant’s police chief at the time, Joseph Melanson, and Perry decided to contact Daily, who drove to the scene from Brighton. Though the police suspected Kelley of sexual misconduct, they released him to Daily under the provision that Kelley receive mental health treatment. After the incident, however, Kelley continued his ministry in area parishes. An Oct. 29 Boston Globe story says he didn’t undergo treatment for 16 years. In that time he is alleged to have committed dozens of counts of sexual abuse of minors.

Gill Donovan is an NCR writer. His e-mail address is gdonovan@natcath.org

National Catholic Reporter, November 08, 2002