Sunday, November 23, 2014

Rev. Robert Geisinger: Vatican prosecutor didn’t report on abuse Complaints

BOSTON — An American priest named by Pope Francis as the Vatican’s sex crimes prosecutor in September was among church officials who failed to report an abusive priest to law enforcement before the now-jailed and defrocked man committed other acts of sexual abuse, according to legal documents reviewed by The Boston Globe.

The Rev. Robert Geisinger, the second-highest-ranking leader of the Chicago Jesuits in the 1990s, knew as early as 1995 about abuse complaints against the Rev. Donald McGuire, and he advised church officials as late as August 2002 on how to discipline McGuire, the Globe (http://bit.ly/1FfOFh7 ) reported in Sunday editions. The newspaper cited legal documents including church records produced during lawsuits by McGuire’s victims.

Court documents also show that abuse complaints against McGuire date back to the 1960s, but the Jesuits failed for years to tell police.

McGuire, 84, is in federal prison serving a 25-year sentence. The former spiritual adviser to Mother Theresa, who once commanded a worldwide following as a gifted teacher and philosopher, is considered one of the most influential figures convicted in the Catholic Church’s sexual abuse scandal.

Geisinger declined to comment late Sunday, citing the late hour. He referred questions from The Associated Press to the Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi.

Lombardi said in a statement that Geisinger has a “solid and proven record in child protection dating back nearly two decades.” Lombardi said that Geisinger, while serving with the Chicago Jesuits, “voiced concerns” about McGuire’s conduct and was the canon lawyer who prepared the case that led to McGuire’s dismissal from the clerical state. ...

David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, released a statement Sunday urging Pope Francis to rescind the appointment of Geisinger as sex crimes prosecutor.

“Why on earth would Francis pick a priest with a problematic track record on abuse in the U.S. to deal with abuse worldwide?” Clohessy said. “Why choose one who so clearly and repeatedly refused to call the law or tell the truth about a notorious, now-imprisoned serial predator?”

Bishop Charles Scicluna, Geisinger’s predecessor as chief sex crimes prosecutor, or “promoter of justice,” told the AP that Geisinger’s previous work in the church as procurator general in Rome for the Jesuits was excellent.

“He is a fine canonist dedicated to serving as a very strong promoter of justice,” Scicluna said.

UNITED STATES/VATICAN CITY

Washington Post

By Associated Press November 23

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