|ChrisOLeary.com > Sins of the Fathers > TOC > The Smoking Gun|
One thing I remember about my parish of Immacolata — that I've ALWAYS remembered — was a strange dichotomy.
On the one hand, we always had one special and powerful priest in residence. First, that was Father and now Cardinal Timothy Dolan. Then it was Bishop O'Donnell.
One the other hand, we always had one priest who was a little "different." Sometimes in being standoffish. Other times in being REALLY friendly with the altar boys, in sharp contrast to the way Monsignor Flavin interacted with us.
In the first case, that was a priest who had a REALLY affected way of singing and even speaking. In the second, that was Father Valentine.
I once asked my dad about this fact and he replied — and I've ALWAYS remembered this, because it seemed like a big deal — that Monsignor Flavin was good at working with "troubled" priests.
Who had "problems."
If I had only known what that meant...
And how it was part of a much bigger, and darker, reality.
The Smoking Gun
During the Summer of 2019 I was contacted by a woman via Facebook. I had started talking about my abuse on Facebook, and I guess she came across one of my posts looking for people in St. Louis who had similar knowledge and/or stories.
As it turned out, her mother had long wondered if her son in law, the husband of the woman who contacted me, had been abused by a priest.
A priest who was — still — a family friend, who was now a bishop, and whose interactions with the woman's husband and his family were just a bit...
The wife wanted to know what to look for, so I gave her a general sense of what I had gone through and how it manifested itself in my behavior.
I'll never forget what she said to me after a couple days of talking via Facebook DMs.
_____ has been sending us money for years, I now know why.
Over the Winter of 2019-2020, a story ran that indicated that this same person who may have abused that woman'd husband while a diocesan priest, and who was now a bishop, was interfering with efforts to hold problem priests accountable.
Maybe he thought he was doing his job and helping them, but what he was actually doing was enabling them.
That led to a conversation with the reporter who wrote the piece, and that conversation led me to start digging into that now-bishop's past.
Which included time spent at my (former) parish.
Going over the parish web site, I found a document — a document that's still there, last I checked — that DESTROYED me. It was a simple Word document with the names of four priests who had been named by the Archdiocese of St. Louis and the time they spent at the parish.
I've captured the page with the Wayback Machine and downloaded the document to my site for safe-keeping.
Rev. Thomas Cooper 1955 – 1961
What I found so devastating was the last three names. It wasn't (just) that they served at Mary Queen of Peace (MQP) during the same timeframe that I and countless others were being abused at Immacolata, or that my abuser was on that list, having been sent there immediately after Immacolata.
Rather, the troubling part was the DATES.
How they all match up.
One year after another. And another.
One predator priest moves out and another moves in.
And that happened REPEATEDLY.
Which means it wasn't an accident.
These guys were being MANAGED.
Which requires KNOWLEDGE.
The document makes it clear that the Archdiocese of St. Louis was making sure that MQP didn't have more than one abuser at a time.
But always had one.
The really terrible, horrible — and DEVASTATING — but unquestionable fact is, again, that such tight MANAGEMENT requires KNOWLEDGE.
They KNEW about these guys.
And they still kept them in ministry.
And kept sending them to parishes with kids.