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Ministry of Presence

By Diogenes (articles ) | Aug 22, 2003

Remember Fr. Rick "I feel like I'm a victim here" Boyd, the Crookston, MN, priest forced out of ministry by "groundless accusations"?

On [July 17th] he offered his resignation to Bishop Victor Balke, and it was accepted with regret, said the Rev. Roger Grundhaus.

"This is just so frustrating to me because there's nothing to it -- to any of it," Boyd said of the recent complaints. "I have a right to my good name. If you have evidence, show it. If not, then let me be."

That was then. In the span of a month, the purveyors of the groundless accusations have felt the earth firm up under their feet. This from Sunday's paper:

[Parishioners] said his 1984 conviction for possessing child pornography, which they learned about only after he came to their parishes two years ago, raised questions about his fitness as a priest. And he seemed to be pursuing too-close relationships with young teenaged boys in the parishes, they said. Other parishioners supported Boyd. The priest, 52, resigned July 17, telling the Herald that "innuendo and gossip," while false, destroyed his credibility. He also denied using pornography since his 1984 conviction, for which he served two years probation and underwent six months of residential treatment at a Catholic center in Massachusetts. An investigation last month by the Clearwater County Sheriff's Department, however, found that Boyd had apparently recently posted photos of nude men, next to photos of himself partially clothed, on Web pages he had built on the Internet. It wasn't illegal, so no charges were filed, Undersheriff Lyle Colligan said.

The story has a positive side. The concerned laity met with Bishop Balke and Vicar General Grundhaus and passed around the pertinent Internet photos. They found, like Stephen Brady before them, that one JPEG is worth a thousand letters to the Chancery. The Diocese issued a we're-sorry-if-you-misconstrued-our-motives statement:

"The diocese acknowledges that the concerns raised by the parishioners are valid and meaningful concerns, not innuendo, gossip or allegations. Bishop Balke apologizes if he gave the impression that he or the diocese is not open to hearing all concerns of sexual misconduct by any priest."

It's something less than a retraction and something less than an apology, but it's a start. Father Rick is currently living at the Chancery and saying mass at for nuns, pending the outcome of a new investigation. I trust the good sisters have DSL access and can be helped to understand the good name to which Father has a right.

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