December 26, 2018
The statement below has been issued by Paulist Fr. Michael McGarry, director of the Paulist Center in Boston. It regards Paulist Fr. Robert Rivers, who is in residence there.
The Paulist Fathers are committed to transparency in regards to clerical misconduct. Our principal goal is outreach to the victims of abuse. As director of the Paulist Center and on behalf of the Paulists, I want to alert you, the local Paulist Center Community, to another incident of clerical misconduct, this one at the Center.
About three years ago (in October, 2015), Paulist Father Robert Rivers, in a misguided effort to console a woman in grief, gave an unwanted, inappropriate kiss on the mouth. The woman was not a minor. At first, Fr. Rivers did not grasp that he had done something wrong. In retrospect, Fr. Rivers realized his actions were inappropriate and sought reconciliation, for he was and is remorseful. The handling of this incident occurred principally between Fr. Rivers, the Paulist President, and the survivor.
I became aware of this incident only on Thursday, December 20, when I learned from the Archdiocese that Cardinal O’Malley, on that day, had removed Fr. Rivers’ faculties (permission to act as a priest in Boston).
Previously, I brought to you the names of three Paulists with allegations about sexual abuse with minors. While Fr. Rivers’ misconduct is not, and I repeat, is not an abuse of children, nonetheless his behavior was inappropriate and unbecoming of a priest, thus abusing his role both as a priest and a counselor.
The primary purpose for my sharing this with you is to reach out to other possible survivors of inappropriate clerical behavior from Fr. Rivers. If this is the case, please contact me at 617.948.2454 or email@example.com; or Fr. Rick Walsh, C.S.P., at 617.948.2413 or firstname.lastname@example.org; or Fr. John Behnke, C.S.P., vice president and safety officer for the Paulist Fathers, at 212.757.8072 or JohnBehnke@paulist.org; or the Boston Archdiocesan Director of the Office of Victims Assistance, Ms. Vivian Soper, at 617-746-5995.
The Paulist Fathers are committed to living lives of integrity and observing professional and clerical boundaries. We are deeply sorry for the pain suffered by survivors of clerical misconduct by any member of our Paulist Fathers community. While we have no reason to believe that any other person experienced such a boundary violation, we offer this information to reach out to any other possible survivor. Further, learning about this incident about Fr. Rivers will undoubtedly be shocking and painful to hear. Please know we are eager to help listen.
To further this communication within and among the Paulist Center Community, we will be having Fr. Eric Andrews, president of the Paulist Fathers, come for a dialogue session within the next six to eight weeks, date to be determined.
And let us pray for/with one another.
Fr. Michael McGarry
Director, Paulist Center