Rev. Edward C. McDonagh of St. Ann Church in West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, has endured what far too many priests have had to face. Fr. McDonagh has been the victim of a vicious false accusation of child abuse against him.
In 2002, during the height of the media frenzy against the Catholic Church, the sister of a deceased man came forward to accuse the pastor of abusing his late brother. After a nine-month suspension, the Archdiocese of Boston reinstated Fr. McDonagh.
So when the Boston Globe profiled Fr. McDonagh's retirement and his ordeal (Sun. 4/24/11), who was the villain of the priest's difficult episode? Was it the terrible person who lodged the bogus charge against the man? Was it the media who plastered his name everywhere as a "credibly accused" child molester? Was it the so-called 'advocacy groups' (SNAP, VOTF) who assume guilt with every accusation and demand immediate and permanent removal of priests?
No, the villain was the Archdiocese of Boston, who somehow should have known – by ESP, maybe? – that the accusation was false.
Bella English's awful article is yet another example of how the Boston Globe steadfastly refuses to properly examine the many important issues surrounding false accusations against Catholic priests.
What are some of these issues, you ask?
2. The number of accusations against deceased priests continues to rise.
3. The near-guarantee of anonymity makes false accusations even more tempting for criminal minds.
4. It is nearly impossible to disprove – not to mention prove – an allegation of child abuse from decades earlier.
5. Pressure from an antagonistic media, aggressive lawyers, and mean-spirited groups like SNAP make dioceses extremely wary of returning anyone to ministry after any accusation of abuse, no matter how flimsy the claim.
6. The definition of "credible" as applied to abuse allegations is overly and unfairly broad.
7. The emotional and nauseating crime of child abuse often paints the accused as "guilty until proven innocent."
Instead of addressing some of these issues, the Globe delivers yet another tired attack on the Church.
File under: Lame.