Priest attended man-boy love meeting
Officials knew of allegations but still gave him access to children.

April 9, 2002

The Associated Press

BOSTON -- The Archdiocese of Boston knew one of its priests spoke in favor of sex between men and boys at a 1979 meeting that apparently led to the founding of a national group advocating the practice, according to documents released Monday by the attorney of a man who accuses the priest of rape.

The documents show archdiocese officials knew of sexual misconduct allegations against the Rev. Paul Shanley since at least 1967, but continued to allow him access to children in different parishes for three decades.

The papers also show that the officials had been told as early as 1977 about Shanley's teachings on sex between men and boys.

"All of the suffering that has taken place at the hands of Paul Shanley, a serial child molester for four decades - three of them in Boston - none of it had to happen," said Roderick MacLeish, an attorney for the family of alleged abuse victim Gregory Ford.

Ford, 24, alleges in a lawsuit filed this year that he was repeatedly raped by Shanley in the 1980s. The suit also alleges Cardinal Bernard Law allowed the priest to remain as pastor at St. John the Evangelist Parish in Newton until 1989, despite knowledge of his behavior.

Shanley, 71, did not return a call for comment Monday. He has not been criminally charged. Shanley has lived for the past two years in the San Diego area, and remains a priest but has no parish.

Shanley was ordained in 1960 and became well known as a "street priest" over the next two decades. He established a ministry for runaways, drug abusers, drifters and teen-agers struggling with sexual identity.

MacLeish showed reporters some of the 818 church records turned over to Ford under court order.

One document is a copy of a Feb. 12, 1979, issue of a publication called GaysWeek that included an article titled "Men & Boys."

The article described a meeting of 150 people in Boston on the topic of man-boy love.

It said many speakers representing various religions endorsed such relationships - including Shanley, who was there as a representative of then-Cardinal Humberto Medeiros' program for outreach to sexual minorities.

Thirty-two men and two teen-agers apparently formed the North American Man Boy Love Association at the end of the conference. There was no indication in the article that Shanley was among them.

Shanley moved to California and joined the San Bernardino Diocese in 1990 after a medical leave from Boston. He served at St. Anne Catholic Church in San Bernardino for three years without restriction on his contact with children.