Jul 232011

John Magee -- The New Artful Doger

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.


  26 Responses to “Ireland’s Magee, Secretary to Three Pope, Now In Very Hot Water, Does Indeed Do A Bolt — Thought To Be Hiding In the USA”

  1. I am also intrigued by his choice of location. To me it’s a red-flag that he chose the United States over the Vatican. Particularly given that, should a warrent for his arrest ever come down, the Vatican is not obligated to hand him over whereas the United States (if found) would. To me the question is, how bad is his reputation with Rome that he chooses to hide in the United States instead?

  2. On the nail. Keep an eye out. Just doing ANOTHER post — your list compared. All the best.
    A bit cold up here today. Just the low 90s.

  3. Again…in my paperback edition of the book Pontiff,the blurbs endeavoring to sensationalize the various people covered say of Magee,”Private Secretary to all three popes…who could become the first Irish pope” (the other blurbed people are Paul VI,John Paul I,John Paul II,Agca,Cody,Marcinkus,and Sindona).I always considered this far-fetched,and note that they presented Magee replacing Noe as master of ceremonies as relegating Noe to obscurity,when Noe eventually became a cardinal and Magee wound up a provincial Irish bishop.(There is no clear cardinalitial track record for serving as master of Pontifical liturgical ceremonies…some men are elevated and some not).

  4. Here is the book’s internal description of Magee:
    “Private secretary to all three popes.Has known all their secrets,the very private foibles of very public figures.Protective,tough,and very Irish,knows the Vatican power plays and how to exploit them to his own quiet advantage.A heroic figure,destined to rise to the very top of the Church.Some say he could even be pope one day.
    Emphasis added.
    They certainly blew it on that one.

  5. Is that the one by Thomas and Morgan-Witts?
    Magee definitely had a ‘history’ at the Vatican. That he never became Archbishop, I think, echoes that.

  6. Well, lets us not jump to conclusions as yet. Who knows PP might still rate him as a papabili. Maybe he can be a real, genuine, contemporary quasi-pope based out of Boston.

  7. Hello from Ireland. Pope John Magee ? Never.

    The whole country of Ireland is crying out to him to return to his country and face the public.
    I don’t think he ever will.

  8. The last sentence is scary. The thought of him on the lam is not a pretty picture.
    Thanks for the feedback. All the best.

  9. Those were the authors,indeed.(They don’t seem to have returned to the subject in later writings).

  10. Did a quick search. Appears that there was a book called ‘Averting Armageddon: Papal Policies in the Pursuit of Peace’ after Pontiff‘ that was published the year after. http://www.amazon.com/Averting-Armageddon-Papal-Policies-Pursuit/dp/0385189850/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1311478116&sr=1-1 Sounds like material they had left over from Pontiff. I think they spent 3 years working on Pontiff. They probably needed a break. Appeared that in total all their books have sold over 60 million copies. So they probably were doing OK.

  11. LOUIS …
    Here is the definition of a Class III relic: ‘Third-Class Relics: Any object that is touched to a first- or second-class relic.’ Could Magee, on the run, be saved and venerated as a Class III relic?

  12. Do you have Malachi Martin’s Three Popes and the Cardinal?
    First sentence: ‘Well before the year 2000, there will no longer be a religious institution recognizable as the Roman Catholic and Apostolic Church of today.’ This was written in 1972. Would YOU agree?
    I guess with all these ‘married’ priests and perverts you could argue that maybe that this wasn’t total malarkey from Malachi.
    Then last night, my father, a great believer in equal-opportunity religion, FORWARDED this to me. It had been sent to him, as well as to another 1,200 Sri Lankans, by a Sri Lankan journalist who works for the ‘Asian Tribune,’ with this blunt statement:
    ‘React to this any way you like. We don’t give a damn.’ ((I think by ‘we’ be might have been referring to himself as Pius XII in particular was fond of doing or he might have been referring to Sri Lankans in general.))
    I never heard of this guy, but I became an instant FAN. He cracked me up … especially given that John Magee was on my mind.
    Here is the YouTube video. Do yourself a favor and watch at least the first 3 minutes. Brilliant.

  13. The Vatican in their VIS news bulletin for Friday, July 22, 2011 said this. I am publishing it here acknowledging that the copyright for these words belongs to the Vatican.

    VATICAN CITY, 22 JUL 2011 (VIS) – Replying to journalists’ questions concerning the current debate in Ireland about a report on abuse in the diocese of Cloyne, Holy See Press Office Director Federico Lombardi S.J. declared:

    “I can confirm that the Holy See will respond appropriately to the questions raised by the Irish government about the report on the diocese of Cloyne. In any case, it is to be hoped that debate about such dramatic matters may continue with the necessary objectivity, so as to contribute to the cause which must be closest to everyone’s heart: the protection of children and young people and, to that end, the restoration of an atmosphere of trust and collaboration in the Church and in society, as the Pope himself said in his Pastoral Letter to the Catholics of Ireland”.

    OP/ VIS 20110722 (150)

  14. Could Magee have met up with Bishop Vangheluwe?…his whereabouts were unknown last I heard as well.

    I don’t have Three Popes and the Cardinal,but I do have his similarly myopic The Final Conclave,which assumed 1978 would be the last of its kind,and starts with factual buildup and then switches to an inside narrative of a conclave of entirely fictional people,ultimately agreeing by acclamation on the Church handing all its property over to “an interdenominational lay trust”.

  15. Speaking of Cardinal Noe,he has just died at age 89 (opening up the title of Regina Apostolorum),

  16. Thanks. Do you keep Radio Vatican ‘on’ all the time? You are even ahead of Salvador — BUT unlike US he, I think, goes to Mass on Sunday.

  17. Thanks Louis, though the last thing I wanted to do on this glorious day was update all the stats because another cardinal decides to go home.

  18. OK. So what is the RELATIONSHIP between the rogue Magee and the apparently somewhat saintly Noe?
    Quite a coincidence.

  19. Most bishops who have to leave their diocese because the people are ready to feed them to the lions get promoted to Rome (Law and Burke). Magee, who had such close ties to Rome is persona non grata. He really must have done something scandalous that the Vatican does not want him back. I would love it if he turns around and starts spilling the beans about the murder of John Paul I. No better place than to spill the beans than Boston; although I do not believe he would be no friend of the Cardinal there. Probably with an old time Irish Bishop, a member of what we call the FBI clergy (Foreign Born Irish).

    Sorry I mistakenly identified him as an Archbishop.

  20. Dear Father,
    On my run today I was thinking of Magee.
    One thing that we must know … his Italian must be top notch — probably even better than yours.
    So my guess is that he has already become an Italian in the US. So he should be moving DOWN the East Coast. Maybe in Philly already. So keep an eye.
    I did THINK about him and your ‘hero’ the bearded cardinal.
    So … you tell me. What is the deal here. Isn’t O’Malley in charge of normalizing the Irish situation if normalizing the Irish was ever HUMANELY possible? Doesn’t this reflect badly on O’Malley?
    Magee probably can tell us stories that make our (OK, at least mine) hair turn gray?
    I wonder what his relationship was with the tortured Paul VI? He would have been VERY YOUNG when he was hand picked from the curia by Montini to be his personal secretary.
    I think the Vatican knows a LOT about Magee.
    Hence why he never made Arch. 13 years working for John Paul II — at his elbow all that time. Never got a promotion. John Paul II, from what I heard, made elevator attendants at the Vatican bishops. So … something very fishy.
    I would love to meet him and chat with him.
    He has probably never heard of New Hampshire. We are short of Italians and Irish up here. Good border control.
    All the best. Thanks.

  21. Sorry for my absence since my very first comment. Things have been a bit crazy here this week.

    Fr. John brought up the newly made Cardinal Burke, formerly Archbishop of St. Louis, Missouri. I hesitate to include Burke with the same breath as Law. His move (as far as I am aware) is wholly unrelated to the sex-abuse crisis. Burke was too inflammatory and ultra-orthodox to be a residential prelate. Since leaving for Rome, Burke has shown quite clearly why he is no longer a residential bishop. He said Cardinal Wuerl (Washington DC) should be deposed for not denying communion to pro-choice politicians. Because he lacks a sex-abuse record I am reticent to mention Burke and Law together without explaining the difference. It could unfairly drag Burke through the mud when he was moved for very different reasons.

  22. Darien,
    Have you had a chance to follow today’s uproar re. nuncio to Ireland. I just did a post. Has all you need to get started.

  23. Very good comment, Darien. Bravo. Thank you.

  24. For me, Burke and Law belong in the same category because the common thread is that they were both about to get lynched for the same thing – ARROGANCE! Both thought they were above listening to the people or had to account for their stewardship, whether it be concerning their record in dealing with predator priests or in exiling souls to hell for all eternity. Burke would have been just as bad if not worse than Law had he been in Boston. Same mentality. Although I think Burke is a little more twisted. I hear Law was quite the socialite before the scandal broke, able to raise money and rub elbows with the elite. I personally would prefer someone much more more comfortable rubbing elbows with the poor. That is why I like the “bearded one” much more!

  25. Oh, Father … if ‘arrogance’ was a crime! If you could ONLY see the arrogance and EGOs I have to contend with. What happened to humility?
    You know … I might have to re-asses my views on the ‘bearded one’ if it is TRUE that he rubs elbows with the poor. Just find that hard to visualize. But, he is local. I can make inquiries. I don’t think I have ever heard of him walking among the homeless in Boston. But, I will check that out.

  26. Fr. John – “Burke would have been just as bad if not worse than Law had he been in Boston. Same mentality.”

    Yes Burke is certainly arrogant, there’s no doubt about that, but he isn’t guilty of covering up sex-abuse. He IS guilty of being ill-suited to be a residential Bishop, but in my view that does not compare Law’s crimes. We’ll have to agree to disagree on this point.

    Anu – I’ll comment on the new Magee revalations on that page.

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