According to legal documents including internal church records produced as part of lawsuits brought by victims, Fr. Geisinger--who served in the second highest leadership role of the Chicago Jesuits in the 1990s as well as associate chancellor of the Chicago Archdiocese and as a presiding judge on the Archdiocese's metropolitan tribunal--knew as early as 1995 about abuse complaints dating back to the 1960s against the then-Reverend Donald McGuire, SJ. As late as 2002, Geisinger advised church officials concerning how to discipline Fr. McGuire.
A former spiritual adviser to Mother Theresa who once commanded a worldwide following as a gifted teacher and philosopher, McGuire is now 84 years old and serving a 25-year sentence in federal prison. In 2013, Jesuit officials agreed to pay $19.6M to settle a lawsuit by 6 men who alleged that McGuire abused them. The men, ranging in age from their 20s to 40s, said they were molested between 1975 and the early 2000s.
Responding to the Boston Globe story, Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, SJ, said in a statement that his fellow Jesuit has a “solid and proven record in child protection dating back nearly two decades.” Lombardi also said that Geisinger, while serving in his leadership role, “voiced concerns” about McGuire’s conduct and was the canon lawyer who prepared the case that led to McGuire’s dismissal from the clerical state.
Despite the allegations, Geisinger apparently won't be removed. According to Lombardi:
The Holy See fully expects Father Geisinger to continue to do an
excellent job as Promoter of Justice, based on his prosecution record,
his commitment to justice, and his concern for victims.
Ditto with Fr. Geisinger’s predecessor as chief sex crimes prosecutor, the Most Reverend Charles Scicluna. The bishop told the Associated Press (AP) that Geisinger’s previous work in the church as procurator general in Rome for the Jesuits was excellent. “He is a fine canonist dedicated to serving as a very strong promoter of justice,” Scicluna said.
The Director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, David Clohessy, disagrees. He released a statement Sunday urging Pope Francis to rescind the appointment of Geisinger as sex crimes prosecutor. AP quotes Clohesy as asking:
Why on earth would Francis pick a priest with a problematic track
record on abuse in the U.S. to deal with abuse worldwide? Why choose
one who so clearly and repeatedly refused to call the law or tell the truth
about a notorious, now-imprisoned serial predator?
Other bloggers wonder whether there's a conspiracy in all of this, likening Fr. Geisberg's appointment to a "Game of Jesuit Thrones."
Following the much-publicized kerfuffle at the recent Extraordinary Synod on the Family, Pope Francis may be experiencing yet another headache.
Let the discussion begin...
To read the Boston Globe article, click on the following link:
To read the AP article reprinted in the Chicago Sun-Times, click on the following link: