indicted without evidence

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Oct 05, 2006

Now here's a story that will surprise you, if you've been living on a mountaintop in Nepal for the past five years:

In the Palm Beach, Florida diocese, some of the faithful at St. Patrick's church had suspicions about their pastor's handling of parish finances . So they brought their concerns to the bishop, and-- can you guess?--

Ultimately, then-Bishop Keith Symons and his financial officer backed Guinan and told the parishioners to drop the matter.

Now mind you, the bishop didn't dismiss the parishioners' concerns lightly:

After receiving the petition, Symons assigned the Rev. Richard Murphy, diocesan vicar for pastoral services, to conduct an audit. Eight days after receiving the petition, Murphy wrote the parishioners.
Notice: The reply came after 8 days. Maybe you can do a thorough audit of a piggy bank in 8 days. But by the usual standards of chancery work that's just enough time to sharpen a few pencils, call the accused pastor and have a few chuckles with him over those pesky laymen, boot up the word-processing program, and personalize the fits-all-purposes form letter telling parishioners that their complaints are baseless. Sure enough:
"There is no evidence of any errors or wrongdoings," Murphy wrote without any details of the audit.

That was in 1994. In 1998, we learned why Bishop Symons had no interest in serious investigations of clerical misbehavior. A few weeks ago we learned that more than $8 million was missing from the accounts of St. Patrick's parish, and the former pastor was under indictment for grand theft.

It's odd that secular authorities were able to find enough clues to support felony charges against two priests, since there was no evidence. In fact the priest who did the audit warned the unhappy parishioners:

If it continues, it becomes apparent that this is a witch hunt against Father Guinan which brings us to a very serious situation of the defamation of a person's character....

As I've mentioned in the past, witch hunts are always inappropriate-- if you have the a priori certainty that there are no witches.

Sound Off! CatholicCulture.org supporters weigh in.

All comments are moderated. To lighten our editing burden, only current donors are allowed to Sound Off. If you are a donor, log in to see the comment form; otherwise please support our work, and Sound Off!

There are no comments yet for this item.