When reports of McGuire’s sexual abuse of minors came to Fr. Schaeffer’s attention in 1993, no significant action was taken to remove McGuire, a renowned retreat leader and close friend of Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta, from his ministry. Fr. Schaeffer, who was the Jesuit Provincial in Chicago at the time, never contacted the police regarding the allegations; instead, he sent McGuire for rehabilitative treatment which reportedly ended early and in failure due to McGuire’s lack of cooperation with therapists.
Reports of McGuire’s abuse extended as far back as the late 1960s, yet Fr. Schaeffer, like his predecessors, allowed McGuire to continue traveling with young boys while offering retreats. It is believed that he abused children until as late as 2003, and it was not until 2007 that McGuire was expelled from the Jesuits, laicized by the Vatican, and sentenced to 25 years in prison on molestation charges. Today, McGuire still claims that he is innocent.
When news broke last week regarding Fr. Schaeffer’s involvement in the McGuire case, various groups on campus called for his resignation. On behalf of the faculty, Professor Susan Michalczyk of the Arts & Sciences Honors Program and president of the Boston College chapter of the American Association of University Professors asked Fr. Leahy for Fr. Schaeffer’s resignation from the board during a regularly scheduled faculty meeting last Wednesday. Fr. Leahy seemed unwilling to take any definitive action regarding the matter.
“His response, I think, stunned the faculty in the audience,” said Michalczyk.
University spokesman Jack Dunn explained Fr. Leahy’s hesitancy, saying that proper protocol regarding membership on the Board of Trustees is governed by the board’s bylaws and cannot be imposed upon by the President.
The next morning, Fr. Schaeffer did submit his resignation.
“As all in our community know, Boston College is a wonderful, caring institution of higher education,’’ wrote Fr. Schaeffer. “I do not want to harm it or be a distraction. Therefore, I am ending my service as a trustee today.’’
David Clohessy, director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said in a comment to The Boston Globe, “This is a step forward, but real progress will be when Catholic officials, not public pressure, force those who ignore and conceal child sex crimes to step aside.’’
Before the resignation was widely known, a small protest and media briefing had been planned by a group of advocates for victims of clergy sex abuse. The protest was staged near the main gate on Linden Lane, and the organizers discovered upon their arrival that Fr. Schaeffer had already resigned earlier that day. The group had been prepared to deliver a letter to Fr. Leahy demanding Fr. Schaeffer’s resignation.
At the briefing, Terence McKiernan, founder of Bishop Accountability, an organization that monitors sexual abuse by clerics, said, “We’re certainly happy to hear BC has been tendered the resignation for Brad Schaeffer.” McKiernan went on to say, “The Jesuits have certainly known about his past and it’s astonishing to us that he was ever admitted to the board.”
After the briefing, Professor Michalczyk expressed her pride in the Boston College community for standing up and speaking out.