by Anura Guruge
Fr. John, with his finger never far from the vital pulse of the Church, 4 days ago [i.e., July 19], gave us a cryptic heads-up in one of his comments that ‘John Magee’ had mysteriously disappeared. [I did NOT notice it at the time, by Fr. John gave his namesake an elevation he never received, very tellingly it would now appear, from the Vatican. No, he was only an archbishop in his dreams -- when he wasn't dreaming about 17 year old boys!]
I wrote about Magee when he was unceremoniously booted out from the bishopric of Cloyne, in May 2010, two years ahead of his retirement age. I will readily admit that at that time I kind of felt slightly bad for the guy because I was very familiar with how he was forced to lie, thought it was obvious to ‘all’ that he was lying, in the John Paul I (#264), ‘who discovered the body,’ fiasco. Since then the allegations against him have worsened with even some claiming that HE acted improperly with young men! That is beyond the pale.
Now he has done the bolt. I had, per my wont, joked that he must be seeking refuge in a US Catholic farm. Appears I wasn’t far wrong, though I suspect he is holed up in some Bishopric Palace of a sympathetic ‘compatriot.’ I wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t in Boston — the Capital of Ireland (to us ‘locals’) awash with undocumented, illegal alien Irish (though I have never heard an undocumented Paddy ever been referred to as anything other than a ‘permanent tourist’).
It is funny, I had some ‘doubts’ and a mental picture of Magee after reading John Cornwell’s disappointingly inconclusive ‘A Thief In The Night’ (Life and Death in the Vatican) that is now making a lot of sense. In my earlier write-up, trying hard to be charitable, I referred to Magee ‘as an erratic character.’ Well, here is what I really thought. In 1978 he was 42 years old. He came across as an incorrigible ‘party-animal’ — a gay blade to use terminology of that time. It appears that he couldn’t wait for the pope to ‘retire’ so he could rush into town to hang out with friends. From what I remember, on that fateful night/early morning that John Paul I died, he had left even earlier for his night out with the boys — something that he tried to gloss over. Now we hear of him kissing 17 year old boys on their forehead and saying he dreams of the boy! He comes across as a very sick pup. Then I begin to think further. Paul VI was under a cloud. Magee was his secretary. Is there a story here?
That he is supposed to be seeking shelter in the US rather than the Vatican is also telling. This guy was the insider’s insider. But, he never rose above Bishop — and a Bishop of a rather obscure Irish see. He was the Master of Pontifical Liturgical Celebrations for 5 years (1982-1987) — this typically being a 5 year post. He was the secretary to the pope between 1969 and 1982 — 13 years. And he never made Archbishop. Was never mentioned as a cardinal. Now when he needs shelter he doesn’t hot foot it to the Vatican. He is obviously a Persona non grata over there? Can’t just be because he caused embarrassment by trying to protect the Church. There is more to this.
Rather than me trying to rehash all that is happening, let me just give you 4 good links.
1/ Irish Independent — Magee goes into hiding after report on sex abuse.
2/ Irish Times — Clifford unaware of any other inappropriate acts.
3/ Irish Central — Cloyne Bishop John Magee should be arrested.
4/ BBC — Cloyne report: Church failed to report all abuse cases.