Accused priests had BC ties
Published: Monday, November 18, 2002
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01
Individuals who remember the Rev. Paul Shanley's presence at and around Boston College say that the most disturbing aspect about his case was the calm, pastoral personality he portrayed to those who knew him, even as allegations of his sexual misconduct mounted.
"Paul's public persona was charming and funny and pastoral," said Rev. Robert VerEecke, SJ, pastor of St. Ignatius Parish in Newton. After his ordination in 1978, Shanley, came to BC to work in the Campus Ministry office. He assisted at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Newton, a French-Mission church that has since been torn down.
Before his position at St. Jean's, Shanley was assigned as a street minister in the Boston area, where much of his work was focused on ministering to homosexuals. He was so outspoken on the issue of homosexuality that, according to the Apr. 22, 2002 issue of Time magazine, the Vatican wrote to then-Boston Archbishop Cardinal Humberto Medeiros complaining about Shanley's public views.
Shanley's resultant removal from his street ministry led him to St. John's, the Newton parish where much of the alleged abuse took place. Alumnus Jack Crowe, BC '82, said it also led him to give an unsanctioned lecture at BC in 1979.
"That's what caused him to come to BC," said Crowe of Shanley's transfer to St. John's. "Because the Cardinal had fired him, BC wasn't very hospitable."
"At the time it was terribly controversial. I think he was basically trying to stir up a counter-defense to Cardinal Medeiros," said Crowe of the speech in which he said Shanley addressed what appealed to him and his liberal-Catholic friends.
"He was talking about what seemed to make sense to those of us students that were there, that [the Catholic Church] should be treating gays more equitably than it did." Crowe also had experience with Shanley through Crowe's involvement in music ministry at St. John's.
Shortly after the speech, BC banned Shanley from speaking on campus again, even though he previously gave a sanctioned lecture at BC in the winter of 1974 entitled "Homosexuality: The Case for Enlightenment." Rev. J. Donald Monan, SJ, then-University President, had no recollection of the action against Shanley when contacted by The Heights.
By the time Shanley gave his 1979 lecture, allegations of his sexual misconduct were already mounting, though quietly. According to Time, the first record of molestation dates from 1967. By 1978, he was associated with the North American Man-Boy Love Association (NAMBLA) and had publicly endorsed pedophilia.
A journal entry by Shanley, previously published in The Boston Globe and dating from the early '70s reads in part: "If they knew the madness in me, festering below the surface, they would join the ranks of my accusers."
"That's shocking. Creepy," said Crowe upon hearing the passage.
"Just incredible shock," said VerEecke of his reaction to hearing of Shanley's arrest last spring in San Diego, California. "The hardest thing for me is that the pastor there at the time who welcomed Paul, as an assistant, was a remarkable priest. He taught me a lot about pastoral care and priesthood. I'm just kind of shocked that the trust he put in Paul's hand was betrayed."
Shanley, now 71, is awaiting trial in Massachusetts on 16 counts of child rape and other charges.