Catholic Culture Overview
Catholic Culture Overview

"that leaves us very concerned ..."

By Diogenes ( articles ) | Nov 30, 2006

700 pages of records pertaining to clerical sexual abuse in the Diocese of Forth Worth have been unsealed this week, giving us yet another look into the bait bucket of ecclesiastical malfeasance. Most of the docs concern molester Fr. Philip Magaldi and his bishop, Joseph Delaney, who died last July. If Magaldi's serial delinquencies are unusually sordid, Bishop Delaney's serial acts of leniency are wearyingly familiar (e.g., he forbade Magaldi's coaching the altar boys, but let him continue as scout chaplain).

The Dallas Morning News provides links to PDF files of the records, which make grim reading. Particularly striking are, first, Magaldi's skill as a manipulator, and, second, Delaney's susceptibility to manipulation. Below is an excerpted transcript of Bishop Delaney's interview of Magaldi after the Diocese of Providence informed Fort Worth of an incident Magaldi had kept hidden (pp. 30-31 of this file). Take note of where the bishop's concern chiefly lies -- and keep in mind that this interview took place, not in the 1950s, but in December of 1998:

BISHOP DELANEY: Well, Fr. Magaldi, what concerned us particularly, having heard all this, was what happened two years ago. The --


BISHOP DELANEY: -- allegations that were made that exactly the same kind. of things: enemas and money.

FATHER MAGALDI: Yeah! I can understand where that would raise a question and it would be difficult, okay! But I mean --

BISHOP DELANEY: Let me be clear about the seriousness of this --


BISHOP DELANEY: These events are alleged to have happened somewhere between 18 and 15 years ago --


BISHOP DELANEY: -- the last ones about 15 years ago; and then two years ago another event occurs of the same type, and that leaves us very concerned. Secondly, the Diocese went to great lengths to defend you in two different cases. First when the whole thing broke out over your trial --


BISHOP DELANEY: -- we kind of stuck by you when you came back ... went very public with it, but gave you another assignment --


BISHOP DELANEY: -- and then last summer when Brooks Edgerton, the reporter from the Dallas Morning News came out attacking [Bishop] Teczar -- attacking me and Teczar because of you --


BISHOP DELANEY: I defended you totally. In the back of my mind, though, was this case two years ago that we concluded did not constitute really serious sexual misconduct. But that was -- there's always been a question, Father.

FATHER MAGALDI: I know it is going to hang over my head like this other thing.

BISHOP DELANEY: Now, now though, we have the likelihood that Brooks Edgerton will get all of this. In fact, I've been watching the .. looked at the Morning News this morning to be sure that it hasn't broken yet -- that the next day, week, month we're going to get a big front page article in the Dallas Morning News saying Magaldi is guilty of sexual -- accused of sexual misconduct --


BISHOP DELANEY: -- and we just can't wait for that. So we have to deal with this this morning.

Do we hear concern on the part of the bishop for the physical or psychological well-being of the victims? No. For the spiritual well-being of the victims? No. For the faith of the victims' families? No. For the possibility that there may have been abuse still going on as he spoke? No. For the thousands of Catholics to whom Magaldi ministered in his thirty-plus years as a priest? No. For the moral and spiritual condition of Magaldi himself? Can't see it. What we do see is vexation about journalist Brooks Edgerton's earlier "attack" on the person of the bishop himself, and extreme agitation about the chances that, having kept Magaldi in ministry with perfunctory restrictions ("I defended you totally"), there was now another negative article in the offing. As Delaney puts it so movingly, "We just can't wait for that. So we have to deal with this this morning." The pastoral approach.

And what of the diocese's indulgence toward Magaldi? Well, it's of a piece with the way this particular variety of "boundary violation" was treated by U.S. churchmen before the diocesan bankruptcies began. When Magaldi's recreations got to the point that they couldn't be ignored, he was sent to therapy. But since mainstream therapists don't regard Magaldi's appetites as disordered at all, they fixed what wasn't broken (and vice-versa), billed the laity, and -- presto! -- there he was back with the boy scouts.

Some of you may have noticed that Magaldi's prey were not girls and may be led thereby to rash and erroneous conclusions -- about Father and about the men who kept him in his job. No, no, Magaldi was an compulsive deinaphile, and deinaphilia, you remember, is a word compounded of philia, Greek for "attraction," and "deƮna," Greek for "watch this space." By a diagnosis of deinaphilia -- modeled on the term ephebophilia -- experts mean "a disorder that hasn't made it into DSM-IV but which sounds scientific enough to buy us time while we think up a syndrome and denounce as 'ignorant' those who make the obvious connection between the perp's predominantly male victims and his subscription to Men's Health magazine."

Still works.

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