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Priest criticizes Bush, Kerry over Iraq war

By Matt Abbott
Op/Ed

Father Andrew Greeley, the priest-author-columnist, is at it again.

By now, all of Greeley's readers should know that he is steadfastly against the Iraq war. Greeley's Oct. 8 column in the Chicago Sun-Times is no exception. But this time, he actually criticizes John Kerry for supporting the war.

Writes Greeley: "The day of the first presidential debate, television served up pictures of the 38 children who died in an explosion in Iraq and their grieving mothers. The blood of those children is on George W. Bush's hands for starting this ill-advised war, and on the hands of all of those who continue to support the war, including John Kerry...."

"...In Iraq we are making all the mistakes: land war in Asia, puppet government, insurgents enjoying considerable sympathy, and no exit strategy. How could the administration have been so stupid! The president is not smart enough to know any history. Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld presumably are smart enough, but apparently they don't read history. They both tried after the World Trade Center attack to start the Iraq war then. The neo-conservative clique around them, which is in fact making policy, read books -- even history books -- but they had other agendas.

"Sen. Kerry proposes to have all the troops home in four years! How many more Iraqi children will die in four years? How many more American families will lose sons, fathers, husbands, brothers, sisters, wives, daughters and sisters in four years?..."

Of course, Greeley does let Kerry off the hook somewhat:

"...I hope Kerry wins because he may change his mind once in office (nothing wrong with changing your mind) and because he will at least clean out the vipers' tangle of neo-conservatives who talked the president into the war. Moreover, Kerry is not likely to reinstitute the draft or to get us into another ''regime change'' war in North Korea and Iran...."

But he ends his column with these words:

"...If you support the war; if, with the president and Kerry, you want to 'stay' the course, the next time you see the bodies of children strewn about a street in Iraq, ask yourself if their blood is not on your hands."

Now, yes, Greeley does have the right to voice his opposition to the Iraq war. Not a few traditional Catholics (Greeley is, of course, not among them) have made clear their opposition to the war, even. But I have a lot - and I do mean a lot - more respect for them than for Greeley, and for this reason: The other Catholics aren't protecting a "ring of predators." Greeley is.

On May 30, 1984, choir director and professor Francis E. Pellegrini, an acquaintance of Greeley's, was found stabbed to death on Chicago's South side. Pellegrini had been stabbed 20 to 47 times. His dog had also been stabbed, but survived.

To date, the murder remains officially unsolved. But there is more to the story.

Pellegrini reportedly had knowledge of a clergy pedophile ring operating in the Chicago area, and had a meeting scheduled with then-vicar of priests Fr. Tom Ventura about the matter. (Ventura left the priesthood in 2002.) Pellegrini was murdered before that meeting took place.

In his 1999 non-fiction book "Furthermore! Memories of a Parish Priest," Greeley writes:

"...But even in Chicago, the ring of predators about whom I wrote in the paperback edition of 'Confessions' remains untouched. There is no evidence against them because no one has complained about them and none of their fellow priests have denounced them. Those who have been removed are for the most part lone offenders who lacked the skill to cover their tracks. The ring is much more clever. Perhaps they always will be. But should they slip, should they get caught, the previous scandals will seem trivial...They are a dangerous group. There is reason to believe that they are responsible for at least one murder, and may perhaps have been involved in the murder of the murderer. Am I afraid of them? Not particularly. They know that I have in safekeeping information which would implicate them. I am more of a threat to them dead than alive" (p. 80).

Enter attorney Sheila Parkhill. Parkhill has been investigating this "ring of predators," also known as The Boys' Club, for over two years now. She believes Greeley does in fact have information - proof, even - about this group, reportedly comprised of at least six priests (one of whom is now a bishop) who are still in active ministry.

But Greeley isn't talking. If pressed on the matter, he seems to have given people, even the Chicago police, some cock-and-bull story about it. Go figure.

These priests, according to Parkhill, have been responsible for the "...abuse of children... murder, and credit card theft and fraud."

Good grief! Can Greeley say "huge hypocrite"? Has he no shame?

Sheila Parkhill can be reached at stparkhill@yahoo.com. Father Andrew Greeley can be reached at Agreel@aol.com.

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Matt Abbott
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