Cardinal O’Malley Forwards Concerns to Nuncio after Times Bombshell on N.Y. Priest

The Cardinal, who is head of the Commission for the Protection of Minors, forwarded concerns about the N.Y. archdiocese allowing a priest under investigation for sexually abusing minors to remain in active ministry until the N.Y. Times report.

Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, and president of the Vatican's Commission on the Protection of Minors.
Cardinal Sean O'Malley of Boston, and president of the Vatican's Commission on the Protection of Minors. (photo: Bohumil Petrik/CNA)

Catholic News Agency

Boston — The Archbishop of Boston this month forwarded to the pope’s U.S. representative concerns sent to him about a New York priest who was in active college and parish ministry while under investigation for charges of sexual abuse.

The cardinal forwarded the correspondence the day after media reports emerged detailing the allegations made against the priest.

On Dec. 21, Cardinal Sean O’Malley sent to Archbishop Christophe Pierre correspondence he had received regarding Father Donald Timone, a priest of the Archdiocese of New York, who was being investigated by the review board of that archdiocese.

“I note the seriousness of the allegations [redacted] presents with regard to Rev. Timone,” O’Malley wrote, in a letter published Dec. 28 by Spanish Catholic news site Religión Digital.

The cardinal said he had received a letter expressing concerns about Father Timone in early November, referencing the author of that letter whose name was redacted. Sources familiar with the letter told CNA that the person who wrote to Cardinal O’Malley about Father Timone’s ministry was himself a victim of sexual abuse by a New York priest.

The cardinal said he had not forwarded the correspondence sooner because he was “away from the Archdiocese for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops last month, [for] commitments in other dioceses, and meetings with the Holy Father in Rome this month.”

O’Malley acknowledged in his letter that “today the New York Times has published an extensive report concerning the allegations against Rev. Timone.”

Father Timone is accused of sexually abusing two teenage boys during the late 1960s and early 1970s. On Dec. 20, the New York Times reported Father Timone was allowed to continue to publicly minister as a priest despite allegations made against the priest, and a 2017 settlement with two of Father Timone’s alleged victims, one of whom was represented by his widow after succumbing to suicide. The priest was prohibited from ministry shortly after the Times report was published.

CNA subsequently reported that the archdiocese sanctioned the priest’s continued college ministry even while he was under investigation, telling a California college in a Dec. 4 letter that Father Timone had never been accused of abuse.

In August, O’Malley apologized after reports emerged that his office had received a 2015 letter detailing accusations of sexual abuse against Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, and failed to pass it on to Church officials.

The apology came after media reports revealed that New York priest Father Boniface Ramsey had tried to warn church officials about McCarrick multiple times, including in the 2015 letter, which he sent to O’Malley because of his role as President of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

O’Malley said his secretary Father Robert Kickham received the letter and responded to Ramsey himself, saying that the accusations fell outside of the jurisdiction of O’Malley’s office, as they did not involve minors. O’Malley said he only found out about Ramsey’s letter after the recent media reports.

O’Malley promised at that time to revise the policies of his office to ensure that all complaints of sexual abuse or episcopal negligence sent to him would be forwarded to appropriate authorities.