July 30, 2009 | 3:24 pm
Posted by Brad A. Greenberg
Here’s an ugly story from the SF Weekly. A 30-year-old man is suing one of Mother Teresa’s spiritual adviser for sexually abusing him two decades ago, immediately after served as an altar boy at a ceremony honoring the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize winner. The Weekly’s way of retelling the boy’s ordeal is compelling for readers and damning for the priest, the Rev. Donald McGuire, but it also puts a lot of stock into accusations found in the lawsuit.
Here’s a portion of the lede:
It was at McGuire’s bidding that the 11-year-old came to serve as an altar boy that morning at St. Paul’s Convent, a boxy building of yellow stucco that rises from a tree-lined block near the intersection of 29th and Church streets. (The convent houses local novices in the international Missionaries of Charity order, founded by Mother Teresa in 1950.) The priest was close to the boy’s family: He had baptized the boy, and offered his mother spiritual and psychological counseling over the years. Indeed, within church circles, McGuire was something of a celebrity himself.
Steeped, as are all Jesuits, in the cerebral traditions of Catholicism, McGuire dazzled his many admirers with his command of ancient history and literature. He could speak eloquently about philosophy and theology, and deployed his rhetoric to powerful effect during multiday religious seminars based on the teachings of Saint Ignatius of Loyola, the Jesuits’ founder. He had silvering brown hair and a round, red Irish face that often creased into a puckish smile. He liked to give advice. And he liked to hear confession.
On that morning almost 20 years ago, however, McGuire’s interests were more profane than sacred. Following a morning Mass, he asked the boy to retire with him to a private chamber reserved for the priest at the convent. While the nuns and Mother Teresa milled about, McGuire closed the door to his room and asked his favored altar boy to join him, in his cot, for a nap. The boy lay down. The priest lay on the outside of the narrow bed and then reached across the boy’s body and into his pants.
So said the boy in a recent interview with SF Weekly. Now 30, he is suing the Jesuits for turning a blind eye to McGuire’s repeated acts of child molestation.
The headline, “For He Has Sinned,” also assumes guilt in this case. But that’s likely because of McGuire’s subsequent sex-crime convictions:
In 2006, the priest was convicted in a Wisconsin court of molesting two teenage boys he had taught decades earlier at a prominent Jesuit high school in the Midwest. Earlier this year, a federal judge in Illinois sentenced McGuire to 25 years in prison after a jury found him guilty of traveling abroad with a teenage boy to sexually abuse him. (For his part, McGuire still insists he is innocent and has appealed his latest conviction.)
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