Newly Released Report Details Failures of Jesuits in Sex Abuse Saga

A Boston Globe exclusive report published on Sunday, April 15, 2012 reveals some shocking details about how the leader of the Society of Jesus a.k.a. the Jesuits failed to act to prevent a serial priest sex abuser from harming children. The case documented in the Boston Globe report by Michael Rezendes involves now jailed Fr. Donald Maguire, SJ and his superior Fr. Bradley M. Schaeffer, SJ.
In 1993, Schaeffer received a letter from the father of a young man who was distraught to learn that Maguire and the boy were watching pornographic movies, showering together, and traveling the world together. Additionally, Maguire was diagnosed with a sexual disorder yet was inexplicably allowed to continue to interact with young boys.
According to the Globe, “The failed oversight of McGuire by Schaeffer and other Jesuit leaders – detailed in voluminous records from civil lawsuits released last year, but not brought to public attention until now – sheds rare light on how ineffectually the world’s largest Catholic religious order dealt with sexual abuse complaints even after the clergy abuse scandal rocked the church in 2002.
The Jesuits, who oversee 28 colleges and universities and 47 high schools in America, did not expel McGuire from the order until 2007, nearly 40 years after the first serious allegation against him.
“If the Chicago Province had acted promptly to cut McGuire off from contact with young men when it first learned of his misconduct in 1970, none of this abuse would have occurred,’’ concluded Cook County Judge Jeffrey Lawrence, in a June 2011 decision allowing McGuire’s alleged victims to seek punitive damages from the Jesuits.
Lawrence said Schaeffer missed a chance to stop McGuire in 1993 after McGuire was diagnosed with a sexual disorder, writing that some abuses “would have been avoided altogether,’’ if he had grounded McGuire.”
That’s always been the real tragedy in the sexual abuse horror. Jesuits have a long history of youth involvement in this country and around the world. While known for their intellectual and academic pursuits, their involvement in the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal has sullied years of work and ministry. Of course, like diocesan priests and other religious order priests, the Jesuits could have prevented this if their leaders had acted promptly and decisively to protect children.