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Father Greeley's secret

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | May 31, 2013

Matt Abbott reminds readers on the Renew America site that in his book Furthermore! Memories of a Parish Priest--published in 1999, well before the sex-abuse scandal reached its peak—the late Father Andrew Greeley made a sensational charge. Some priests in the Chicago area were involved in a “ring of predators,” Father Greeley charged. And not only that:

They are a dangerous group. There is reason to believe that they are responsible for at least one murder and may perhaps have been involved in the murder of the murderer.

The irrepressible Father Greeley said that he personally was not afraid of this nefarious crowd. Why?

They know that I have in safekeeping information which would implicate them. I am more of a threat to them dead than alive.

Now Father Greeley is dead. Is he a threat to that cabal? Will the information that he claimed to have withheld come to light after his death? Or was he exaggerating things: either the extent of a conspiracy among child-molesters, or the importance of his own evidence against them, or both?

My guess is that the story died with Father Greeley, and we’ll never hear anything more about it. But the sensational charge, aired more than a decade ago, leaves some unanswered questions about the Chicago archdiocese. Were there (and are there now) some priests involved in an unspeakably evil conspiracy? Or was there a prominent priest of the archdiocese making reckless accusations against his colleagues? Neither possibility is reassuring.

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  • Posted by: 30 year priest - Jun. 04, 2013 4:46 PM ET USA

    As I recall, there may have been some connection here with the unexplained death of a music director in a south side Chicago parish during the time of Cardinal Bernardin. From my own viewpoint, there is a lot that goes on in the archdiocese of Chicago that is hard to stomach.

  • Posted by: extremeCatholic - Jun. 01, 2013 9:39 PM ET USA

    I recall the claim. I think it was his made-up Chicago version of the very real 1980 murder of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl in Toledo OH. You can Google that name for the details.

  • Posted by: hartwood01 - Jun. 01, 2013 3:57 PM ET USA

    How was Greeley any different from the bishops who looked the other way when an abusing priest was found out? Maybe,if he wasn't just blowing smoke,doing his time on the other side.

  • Posted by: jg23753479 - Jun. 01, 2013 6:50 AM ET USA

    I hadn't heard about this, but I remember that another priest/writer, the Jesuit Malachi Martin, once made some accusations about a Chicago Catholic prelate thinly-veiled in fiction. If I remember correctly, they involved predators and satanism.

  • Posted by: Petronius - May. 31, 2013 8:51 PM ET USA

    If what Fr. Greeley said was true, wouldn't that mean he was part of the problem?.s

  • Posted by: Frodo1945 - May. 31, 2013 7:01 PM ET USA

    If he knew something, it seems to me that he had an obligation to speak up.

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