Faith in priest was steadfast
WALTHAMÁ When the Archdiocese of Boston reinstated the Rev. Roger Jacques as apriest earlier this week, his former parishioners showed they've kept acandle lit for him since 2002, when he was suspended from thepriesthood after being accused of sexually abusing a child.
BillAucoin, who assisted with Masses at St. Joseph's Parish, said he hadgrown up taught that a priest was ``on a higher plane,'' than the restof humanity - not to be challenged or questioned.
Boston's clergy sex abuse scandal broke him of that notion, but his faith in Jacques never wavered, he said.
``Wefound out that they were sinners, but there are good ones,'' he said ofthe clergy. ``We're pretty confident. If he said he didn't do it, webelieve him.''
St. Joseph's Church closed in 2004, two years afterthe Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston removed Jacques as its pastor.In 2002, the archdiocese suspended Jacques' status as a priest, pendingan investigation into allegations he raped an 11-year-old girl whileassociate pastor at St. Paul's Church in Wellesley in 1982.
Monday,the archdiocese announced the results of that investigation. Itreinstated Jacques, calling the original accusation``unsubstantiated.''
The alleged victim also filed a civil suitagainst Jacques, which was folded into a large group of similar suitsagainst clergy and the archdiocese that were settled througharbitration in 2003.
``She wanted to obtain some sort ofclosure,'' said her attorney, Mitchell Garabedian. The archdiocese'sinternal investigation seemed inadequate, he said. ``She felt that wasa kangaroo court.''
As part of the settlement, the civil claimagainst Jacques was dismissed, but court records show Jacques fought tohave the case go to trial, to clear his name, he said.
Another former parishioner, Joan Walsh, praised Jacques for his leadership during the church sex abuse crisis. She said before scandal came to his own doorstep, Jacques had called on Catholics and the archdiocese to reveal the abuses, no matter how painful.
``He did everything he could from the pulpit, urging people to speak out and get it in the open,'' she said.
In2002, not long after his suspension, Jacques was one of 58 clergy whosigned a letter criticizing Cardinal Bernard Law, which precipitatedthe cardinal's resignation as head of the Boston archdiocese.
Hisattorney, James O'Brien, said Jacques would not speak with reporters,but said his client is gratified to have his name cleared. ``It's beena very tough year for him,'' O'Brien said.
Meanwhile, in Waltham, parishioners remembered a devoted pastor, who instilled religious fervor in his flock.
IfJacques meets with the archdiocese to learn where he will go next, ``Iwould like to be there when he goes to talk to the cardinal,'' Aucoinsaid. ``I would say, what took you so long?''
[cf330]Galen Moore is a Daily News Tribune staff writer. He can be reached on 781-398-8004, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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