The Pedophile Spiritual Director
of Mother Teresa
Margaret C. Galitzin
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He was the confessor of Mother Teresa and a spiritual director of the Daughters of Charity. He gave retreats around the world. He was one of the most prominent Jesuits of his day.
Fr. Donald McGuire, however, since the late 1960s was a pedophile priest. And despite repeated reports to religious authorities, nothing was done. Finally, in 2003 a civil lawsuit was filed against him for molesting two teenage boys at Loyola Academy near Chicago in 1969. His abuse of boys apparently began in the wave of novelties of Vatican II, which included a lax approach regarding morality. Eventually, in 2006, McGuire was convicted of sexual assault, sentenced to seven years in prison and was out pending appeal (1).
The Chicago Jesuit Province protested that they had no notion that anything was wrong with their famous protegé (2). But this was proved not to be true.
Pedophile Fr. McGuire: spiritual director of Mother Teresa and her Missionaries of Charity
Today, Fr. McGuire is again in custody, held without bond in Chicago, facing more charges of molesting two boys from a devout Catholic home-schooling family. One says the abuse began when he was 13, and that it continued from 1999 to 2003 in 12 states and six countries. The other says the abuse began in 1988 when he was age 9 and continued to age 14. More lawsuits are in the works claiming McGuire has abused boys sexually for years and that his superiors and other Church authorities paid no attention to concerns expressed by parents (3).
In effect, all the warnings, complaints and suspicions about McGuire since 1969 – and there were many – were ignored. The result is that for some 35 years the sexual predator was allowed free access to youth.
Who answers for the crimes committed?
For me, there are several things that make this case particularly nauseating.
First and foremost, there is the complicity of McGuirre's superiors. All his superiors refused to investigate and discipline him. This isn’t a case from the distant past; it is a story of abuse that continued right up to 2003 despite repeated complaints from families to religious authorities. It could well be going on right up to now but for the civil suit filed against McGuire in 2003.
Marc Pearlman, the attorney for several plaintiffs, recently released a strong arsenal of documents as part of the civil lawsuit process. Many of these documents are posted online - letters going back and forth between parents and Jesuit authorities for 34 years, from 1969 until the first civil lawsuit was filed in 2003. The letters from families accuse McGuire of inappropriate contact, sharing his bed with young boys, showing pornography and suspected sexual abuse. One family especially persisted in calling and writing Catholic authorities during the years 2001-2003 (4). This is, let me repeat, not the distant past, but even after the Dallas Charter was supposedly in effect...
The letters from the religious authorities are placating: “We’ll look into it.” “Be assured appropriate measures will be taken.” In fact, no one enforced discipline on McGuire and no Church authority ever reported his behavior to the law enforcement. Instead he continued enjoying his status as a high profile Jesuit.
According to the release documents, at least three separate Catholic institutions and 10 separate Church officials were aware of McGuire’s transgressions (5).
Jesuit Provincial Fr. Schmidt confesses he did see the "red flags"
Let me point to only three authorities who were informed, and did nothing, or next to nothing.
The Jesuit Provincial of Chicago: At first, any knowledge of abuse by Fr. McGuire was denied. Then federal prosecutors produced documents showing many warning and letters from parents. They also cited documents showing that McGuire’s Jesuit supervisors must have known something because they directed him in 1991 “not to travel on any overnight trip with any person male or female under the age of 21.”
So, the story changed. Excuses were offered: Provincial Edward Schmidt, trying to deny his guilt, said it just wasn’t possible to control McGuire because of his travels and independent schedule. Regrets were made. Schmidt admitted “there are lots of things we should have done differently... I wish we had.” On November 2, the Chicago Province of Jesuits issued a statement saying they expressed “apologies to anyone who was abused” (6). Ties were severed. The Chicago Province decided to wash their hands of McGuire and dismissed him from the Order (7).
That’s it. The Jesuit Provincial of Chicago apparently does not have to accept any personal consequences for his part in the crimes committed while McGuire was under his watch.
The Archdiocese of Chicago: In 2002 a home-schooling father contacted the Archdiocese of Chicago to complain that McGuire was sharing a bed with a youth, and assaulting another teen with porn and sex talk. After receiving the letters, the Archdiocese did nothing. They did not contact civil authorities; they did not immediately remove McGuire from public ministry – in direct contradiction of the Dallas provisions (8).
Card. George: denying he knew the charges against McGuire
Will the Cardinal of the Archdiocese Francis George, new president of the U.S. Bishops, have any accounting to make for this grave neglect?
The Bishop of Savannah: A couple wrote to Bishop J. Kevin Boland of Savannah in 2000 and 2003 seeking his help for their teen-age son who had a “relationship” with McGuire. Only in September 2003, a month after the first lawsuit against McGuire was filed, did Bishop Boland respond by writing a letter to the Chicago Jesuits (9).
The Savannah local paper is praising his action. It seems to me it came more than a tad too late. Further, his letter was not public, nor did he alert law enforcement. He passed on the parental complaint, but privately. Shouldn’t he have acted more responsibly? Will Bishop Boland have to answer for his entre nous response on such a serious matter of clerical abuse?
Abuse of Confession
Further, Fr. McGuire made use of the sacred rite of Confession to initiate the sexual abuse. According to testimonies from the victims, the alleged abuse would begin with a confession, with a special emphasis on sexual sins and temptations. Then came the corrective “guidelines,” which included naked showers, massage, pornography and oral sex.
“He made a mockery of the priesthood and the confessional” said a father who claims the Jesuit priest molested his two sons during confession (10).
The complacence continues…
The Dallas Charter makes no provisions of penance or punishment for the Church authorities who ignore the order of “One-strike-and-you’re-out.” It is a document without teeth with regard to the accomplice Bishops without spines.
The Charter isn’t working. Better proof than any theoretical-juridical analysis are the incidents that keep cropping up. The case of Fr. McGuire is just one of many. I am sorry to say that the solution of establishing lay boards in most of the dioceses to help control the scandals either is not effective, or their work is being neutralized by religious authorities, such as Cardinal Francis George who ignored for months a review board's advice to remove a priest accused of molesting three boys.
What is also astonishing is that a whole religious Congregation – the Missionaries of the Charity – and its own founder – Mother Teresa – were not informed about the calamitous moral state of Fr. McGuire, or disregarded such information. If the latter is true, it would cast serious doubts on the sanctity of Mother Teresa. If she were not informed, to not have noticed that something was wrong with her spiritual director speaks little for her discernment of soul.
1. Barbara Bradley Hagerty, "Papers: Jesuits were warned about Abusive Priest,” NPR online, November 13, 2007 online.
3. “Prominent Jesuit Priest Charged with Molesting Boys,” Belleville News Democrat online, Nov. 2, 2007
4. Hagerty, “Papers: Jesuits Were Warned.”
7. “Jesuit order severing ties to McGuire,” GazetteXtra online, December 11, 2007
8. “McGuire: What was known and when?” Commonweal, November 11, 2007
9. “Bishop Sought Help for Alleged Sex-Abuse Victim,” Savannah Morning News, Nov. 1, 2007T
10. “Priest convicted of child molestation accused of abusing 2 more boys,” Chicago Sun-Times online, October 24, 2007
Posted December 12, 2007
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