As Bishop Donald Wuerl addressed the congregation inside Holy Angels Church during Mass yesterday, angry parishioners advanced up the center aisle and fired questions at him about the sudden retirement of the Rev. David Crowley.And a few paragraphs later:
Crowley requested retirement suddenly last month after 34 years at Holy Angels and moved out a week later. This year, he will mark 50 years as a priest and Holy Angels will celebrate its centennial. Crowley, who turns 74 this month, could have stayed on until age 75, when all priests must retire. Priests may request retirement starting at age 70.And:
Crowley called it a normal retirement.
"Father Crowley, for reasons of his own, asked to retire," Wuerl said.A month earlier, the P-G published this:
The Rev. David Crowley, a priest known for his ability to bring fallen-away Catholics back to the church and for his care of the community of Hays, has announced his unexpected retirement, effective next week.That was the story in early 2003. Normal retirement, nothing to see here.
Local media have been besieged by calls from outraged parishioners, who believe that Bishop Donald Wuerl has forced a good priest to leave against his will. But Crowley, 73, called it a normal retirement and the diocesan spokesman said that Crowley offered his resignation.
"I'm on very good terms with Bishop Wuerl," Crowley said.
Although it is painful to leave the parish, "it wasn't any jolt or surprise. I'm leaving here at the end of next week -- just simply retiring . . . Everything is hunky-dory, except that it hurts."
On page 631 of the report, however, there's a little more to the story:
In 1992, a complaint was made by a mother and her twin adult daughters, one of whom was 16 years old at the time of victimization. Crowley was presented with the allegations in June 1992 and a referral for a mental health evaluation at St. Michael's Community was made in September 1992. In the interim, Crowley remained in his assigned parish. Evaluators at St. Michael's opined that Crowley was being truthful in his denials regarding the sexual abuse of the mother and her twin daughters and recommended outpatient therapeutic support to address insecurities, low self-esteem and obsessive -compulsive tendencies. Upon his discharge from St. Michael's following the one week evaluation period, Crowley was returned to his parish.And then there's this:
In late-2001, the mother and twin daughters renewed their complaint with the Diocese. The 2002 Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People triggered a report of this allegation on August 30, 2002, to the Allegheny County District Attorney's Office. Additionally, the allegation was presented to the Diocesan Review Board. The Board found the victims' allegations to be credible and rejected Crowley' s testimony. On December 9, 2002, the Board recommended that Crowley be asked to resign his position as pastor and should he refuse, that he be removed according to the norms of Canon Law. They further recommended that Crowley be requested to retire from active ministry, that his faculties be withdrawn and that he be asked to begin intensive counseling. [Italics in original]
Following the recommendations, Bishop Donald Wuerl gave Crowley an option to voluntarily resign and withdraw from active ministry, or undergo a judicial canonical process. Crowley chose resignation and submitted the same on January 7, 2003. Wuerl permitted him to announce to his parish that he was "voluntarily accepting an earlier retirement since he was only two years away from submitting a mandatory letter of retirement at age 75." This was permitted, according to Wuerl, to "protect his [Crowley's] reputation in the widespread community." Wuerl faced great scrutiny regarding Crowley's departure by members of the parish and the media who loved Crowley and thought there was more to the story (they believed that Wuerl had forced Crowley out). Wuerl maintained that "Father Crowley, for reasons of his own, asked to retire." [Italics in original.]But Crowley didn't "[ask] to retire" did he? And this was not a "normal retirement" was it? All that's a lie, isn't it?
So the incomplete story presented to the very angry parishioners at Holy Angels Church in 2003 was simply a cover to protect the reputation of a popular priest who faced allegations of sexual abuse - allegations that the Church itself (by way of the local Diocesan Review Board) found credible.
I'm just putting that out there. Isn't it interesting how this one story can be seen as representative of the whole?