Prominent Jesuit Scholar Accused of Abuse

The sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church has reached a “degree we could not have imagined,” according to a statement made by Pope Benedict XVI  on Monday that was quoted the December 20th New York Times

Indeed: Just recently, a prominent Jesuit scholar, Keith Pecklers, SJ,  was accused by 48-year-old Keith Brennan of sexual abuse, as reported in the December 12th Star-Ledger.

Pecklers is a professor of liturgy at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome and widely regarded as one of the foremost authorities on Catholic liturgy in the world. He is also a frequent commentator on Vatican Affairs for ABC News. Pecklers is a native of Jersey City and it was in St. Paul’s Church in the Greenville section of Jersey City that then-14-year-old Brennan was abused by him starting in 1976.

In a December 5th story, the Star-Ledger also reported about how John J. Myers, the Archbishop of Newark, shielded at least four priests who had been accused of sexual abuse against children and one adult:

In the four instances, the priests have either admitted improper sexual contact, pleaded guilty to crimes stemming from accusations of sexual misconduct or been permanently barred from ministry by the archdiocese after allegations of sexual misconduct. 

In his Christmas message to the Vatican hierarchy, the Pope wrote that 
“We must ask ourselves what we can do to repair as much as possible the injustice that has occurred…….We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of living the Christian life, to allow such a thing to happen.”

In the past year, investigations in IrelandGermanyBelgiumthe Netherlands, and the United States have found that clerics from parish priests to those at high levels like Fr. Pecklers, committed sexual abuse against children in many cases. And in many if not most cases, the church hierarchy covered up the abuse, sometimes moving priests with a history of sexually abusing children from parish to parish, and without informing parishioners of the priests’ history.

In his Christmas letter, even though the Pope states that ‘“We are well aware of the particular gravity of this sin committed by priests and of our corresponding responsibility,”’ he also says that the abuses should be viewed ‘in the context of these times.”‘ 

But rather than blaming ‘these times’ for the catalogue of abuses committed around the world, should not the Pope be looking at the culture of the Roman Catholic Church, a culture that, indeed, shielded and continues to shield—to protect—clerics who committed terrible crimes? As a July 8 editorial from the National Catholic Reporter states, the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church is ‘as it has evolved in the past half millennium is deeply damaged from within.’ 

Earlier this year, the Vatican revised its law on sexual abuse, a step in the right direction—-but a step that seems to be not only too little, but too, too late.

Photo by Kamoteus (A Better Way).


Sonny Honrado
Sonny Honrado4 years ago


Duane B.
.4 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Robert Moseley
Robert Moseley6 years ago

Could it be that the exploitation of innocent children by Catholic priests reflects a much larger population of pedophiles in the general society? And as mentioned what about such abuses against girls. Maybe because it involves gay males it reflects the prejudice that some use against them to justify hatred. Children either boys or girls should not have to victimized by pathetic inadequate people no matter whether they be heterosexual or gay.

tian y.
Past Member 6 years ago

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carlee trent
carlee trent6 years ago


Paul L.
Paul L.6 years ago

The problem is not celibacy but the ordination of priests who are not capable of embracing the celibate state.

Gordon Rowland
Gordon Rowland6 years ago

As an enthusiastic 21 year old Catholic convert in 1960, I knew next to nothing about Catholic schooling.

I soon learned that some Catholic parents, especially the most devout or spiritually ambitious among them, placed their adolescent boys in minor seminaries.

Re the clerical sexual abuse scandals, I sometimes wonder if there might be a disproportionate number of abusers among those ordained due to parental expectations/pressure, compared to those having a true vocation.

Many years ago, Lord Acton observed: 'Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.'

A priest who exercises both spiritual AND temporal power over a child, exercises absolute power.

This all resonates with my proposal in 'The Tablet Educational Supplement (The Lost Child', March 1982): that healthy spiritual growth derives from dialogue and education, not from coercion and indoctrination.

Even more so today, young people don't accept being told what to believe nor compulsory Mass attendance. But they do respond, for better or worse, to the example set by their elders.

As Francis of Assisi is said to have advised his followers: 'When preaching the gospel, use words only if necessary.'

Martha Eberle
Martha Eberle7 years ago

"abuses should be viewed in the context of these times" -- ??? What the hell does that mean? Pedophilia (sp) is more acceptable in these days than before? The mincing of words drives me crazy! Why doesn't the Pope come out and say it's horrendous and will not be tolerated under any circumstance? He is supposedly the spiritual leader for flocks all around the world who look to him for guidance. He and the R.C. church make me sick. Bunch of pompous blowhards.

Ainsley Chalmers
Ainsley Chalmers7 years ago

Those in the RC church should be tried and punished under the law like anyone for pedophilia and also those who cover up. i am sure there are many good priests but we never hear of them. perhaps we need to to keep our focus balanced

jane richmond
jane richmond7 years ago