Thursday, November 21, 2002

As we know, Bishop Robert Banks, now of Green Bay, suggested that Fr. Paul Shanley mediate in a sexual abuse case.

On Thursday, the bishop denied he knew of the abuse.

Bishop Robert J. Banks challenged assertions Thursday that he overlooked sexual abuse allegations against Father Paul Shanley while serving as a top official in the Boston Archdiocese.Banks, who has led the Green Bay Diocese since 1990, said he had no information about Shanley's alleged abusive history when he supported the defrocked priest's role as a mediator in a separate sexual abuse complaint involving Father Daniel Graham in May 1988.Similarly, Banks said he was unaware of Shanley's alleged pedophilia in 1990, when he sent a letter supporting Shanley to church officials in San Bernardino, Calif."The headline in (Thursday's) Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about my overlooking the pedophilia of Father Shanley is simply not true," Banks said."The first time that I ever heard of Father Shanley's alleged pedophilia was this year," he said. "To accuse me of overlooking pedophilia is pretty serious."

Okay, but....At the time Banks authorized Shanley's role as a mediator, he was aware of complaints about statements Shanley had made regarding sex between men and boys during his time as a minister to the gay community and street people in Boston.In a letter to the archdiocese, sent in 1985, a woman in Rochester, N.Y., complained about Shanley's preaching. The letter, quoted in a deposition by Cardinal Bernard F. Law, alleges that Shanley said: "When adults have sex with children, the children seduce them. Children may later regret having caused someone to go to prison, knowing that they are the guilty ones."Banks said Thursday that he had not seen that letter, which was investigated by another church official.He also said he did not review Shanley's file in the archdiocese offices before acting on the request that he be allowed to mediate, or before sending the letter endorsing him to San Bernardino church officials."What I knew about Father Shanley back in the 1980s is that he had earlier been assigned to minister to the gay community and the street people in Boston," Banks said in Green Bay on Thursday morning. "During that time, two incidents of inappropriate sexual talk by Father Shanley were brought to my attention. They were checked out."I did not know anything about allegations of pedophilia."

Here's what I don't get (maybe it's in the deposition, I don't know.) - From where did this "request" that Shanley mediate come from? Who in God's name would request that? Unless it was the perpetrator, of course...

But the painfully Clintonesque parsing remains. He says the headline's wrong. He didn't "overlook" the pedophilia because he didn't know about the pedophilia. Oh, he knew about the "inappropriate sexual talk," but he didn't know about the pedophilia. Yet approved him as a mediator in a sexual abuse case - but it's okay because he didn't know about the pedophilia.

Yeah. That makes it all good.

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