Saturday, April 22, 2006

Brutta Figura in Birmingham

The Scandal hits EWTN:
A Roman Catholic ministry that bills itself as the largest global religious media network kept a priest on its staff for almost seven years despite knowing of his history as an admitted child abuser while serving in Maine and Massachusetts.

The Birmingham-based Eternal Word Television Network said the Rev. Real Bourque [OMI] conducted mass, held weekly Bible study for workers and visitors and gave talks at retreats, but he wasn't allowed on the air or to be around young people after 1995, when executives say they learned of his past....

Officials said they were unaware of any allegations of misconduct by Bourque related to his time in Alabama.

But responding in writing to questions from The Associated Press, EWTN President Michael P. Warsaw said "it is clear that we should have asked a lot more questions" about Bourque before letting him remain with the network....

On part of its Web site answering questions about the sexual abuse scandal within the Catholic church, EWTN has a section that says all abuse should be "severely punished."

"(EWTN) has tremendous influence and wields tremendous respect among traditional Catholics all over the world," she said. "This just isn't consistent with what it preaches."

Bourque now lives in a Catholic retirement home in Belleville, Ill. In an interview published last week in The Belleville News-Democrat, Bourque admitted sexually abusing boys in the late 1970s and early 1980s while serving as a priest in Maine and Massachusetts.

"I was a victim myself," he said. "I'm retired. I'm 78 years old. I don't want to be part of a witch hunt."