Berthold: Father George Berthold

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George C Berthold (Father George Berthold)

American priest.  Allegations of sex abuse of young boy in 1972 and of  improper physical contact with a seminarian in the mid 90s. 

After these allegations were known Berthold was hired to teach a 2002 summer course at Ottawa’s Saint Paul University. An  SPU official claimed no knowledge of the allegations – Berthold  was told his services were no longer required after this contact with SPU by a Boston Globe reporter.

According to “The Rev. George C. Berthold has a pending 2000 lawsuit for sexual assault and battery. His current church assignment and address are unknown.”


Voice of the Faithful of Long Island

“In another case, Cardinal Law, in a Feb. 10, 1997, memo, said Murphy recommended to him that the Rev. George C. Berthold, a Boston priest who wanted to teach at a theological institute in Ukraine, be returned to active ministry, and be allowed to teach overseas.

“Berthold had been dean of the Seminary at St. John’s, the Boston archdiocese’s training college for would-be priests, for only two months when he was removed after a credible allegation that he had molested a student. A short time later, another came forward to say Berthold had sexually molested him and a record of the complaint was in the archdiocese’s records. The archdiocese found both accusations credible, and Berthold was sent for psychological evaluation at Southdown, a Canadian institute that treats priests accused of molesting children. The psychiatrist who examined Berthold recommended to the archdiocese that it not allow him to accept the offer in Ukraine.

“After returning from Ukraine in 1997, Berthold got a job teaching at a Catholic college in North Carolina, where church officials a year later complained that Boston officials had misled them about the seriousness of Berthold’s misconduct. While Berthold was teaching in North Carolina, Boston officials learned of another allegation that the priest, years earlier, had molested a minor while working in a Woburn, Mass., parish. Boston officials told the North Carolina diocese of the allegations and Berthold was dismissed, returning to Boston, where he admitted to molesting a minor in Woburn. After the admission, Berthold was once again removed from active ministry.”


Law recommended fired dean for college teaching position

The Boston Globe

15 May 2010

By Stephen Kurkjian, Globe Staff

The Rev. George C. Berthold has been listed as “unassigned” since 1999.
Top church officials, such as Bishop John B. McCormack, have been implicated in systematic abuse coverups.  

Cardinal Bernard F. Law recommended the former dean of St. John’s Seminary in Brighton for a teaching job at a Catholic college in North Carolina in 1997, less than two years after Law dismissed him for having improper physical contact with a 19-year-old seminarian at St. John’s.

Law provided a written assurance to Belmont Abbey College that the Rev. George C. Berthold had an unblemished record, despite Berthold’s November 1995 dismissal. Just two months after he became dean of St. John’s undergraduate college, Berthold was accused of making improper advances toward a freshman seminarian, including kissing him on the lips.

Officials at Belmont Abbey expressed irritation that they knew nothing about the episode until a Globe reporter called it to their attention last week.

”If he [Berthold] had been removed because of a disciplinary problem, then he should not have been given that letter because we would not have hired him,” Teresa Sowers McKinney, spokeswoman for the college, said after consulting with the school’s chancellor, Abbot Placid Solari.

”Even if there had been an allegation, we should have been told so we could have decided on our own” whether to hire Berthold, McKinney added. She declined to make public a copy of Law’s 1997 letter.

Law’s willingness to vouch for Berthold is similar to what the archdiocese did for the Rev. Paul R. Shanley when he sought an out-of-state assignment in 1990. That year, Bishop Robert J. Banks, Law’s top deputy, assured the Diocese of San Bernardino in California there were no problems in Shanley’s background, even though Shanley’s file included allegations that he had molested boys and advocated sexual relations between men and boys.

But when the Shanley letter came to light in April, Banks asserted that he had been unaware of what was in Shanley’s file when he wrote the letter. In Berthold’s case, Law was personally involved in the decision to fire Berthold, according to the Rev. Christopher J. Coyne, a spokesman for the archdiocese.

In the Shanley case, the cardinal’s critics have accused him of being more concerned for the welfare of offending priests than for their alleged victims. After Berthold was dismissed from St. John’s, the seminarian, Christopher J. Sellars, transferred to another seminary. Last week, Sellars said he was disappointed with the way he was treated by Law and other seminary officials after he came forward.

What’s more, Law’s willingness to help Berthold obtain another position that would put him in contact with young men is another reminder that the archdiocese has only recently taken an unforgiving stance on issues of sexual misbehavior.

Even that tough new policy has its gaps: Despite Berthold’s dismissal, and an unrelated lawsuit filed in 2000 accusing him of molesting a boy three decades ago, he was scheduled to teach a course this summer at a Catholic university in Ontario. The course was scrubbed last week after the university learned from the Globe about Berthold’s history.

It was unclear whether Berthold sought archdiocesan permission to teach the course. Since 1999, the archdiocese has listed Berthold as ”unassigned.” Reached by telephone in New Hampshire, Berthold refused to answer any questions.

After Law’s 1997 letter, Berthold spent more than a year teaching at Belmont Abbey in Belmont, N.C. – until October 1998 when the Boston archdiocese informed the college that it was withdrawing its letter of approval. The reason for that withdrawal was not stated, McKinney said, ”but we withdrew his contract as soon as we learned of it.”

By early 1999, the archdiocese was aware of a sexual abuse complaint against Berthold. By mid-1999, the archdiocese was notified about the allegation – and subsequent lawsuit – that Berthold molested a boy when he was assigned to St. Joseph Church in Woburn in 1972.

Donna M. Morrissey, the cardinal’s spokeswoman, did not return telephone calls seeking comment from Law.

However, Monsignor Timothy J. Moran, who as rector of St. John Seminary’s College and School of Theology and was Berthold’s supervisor in 1995, confirmed in an interview that Berthold left after the allegation by Sellars surfaced.

”Yes, it was a very difficult thing to hear,” said Moran, who is now pastor of St. Joseph Church in Medway. ”It was a problem that we had to deal with, and we did.”

Moran confirmed that both he and Law had interviewed Sellars and found his account credible. Law supported Moran’s recommendation to the seminary’s board of trustees that Berthold be removed, Moran said.

Berthold, who had just taken over as dean in September, announced at the school’s Thanksgiving banquet that he was leaving because of ”health reasons.”

The resignation was a stunning blow for Berthold, who is now 67. He had spent most of his career in college classrooms, particularly at St. Anselm’s in Manchester, N.H., and is considered a leading authority on the fathers of the early Christian church.

The resignation ended more than a month’s turmoil for Sellars, a Tulsa native, who was the first high school graduate from his city to be accepted for St. John’s four-year undergraduate college. He arrived in Boston, he said, full of hope about a life in the priesthood.

However, a few weeks into the fall semester, Sellars said, he noticed that Berthold was paying special attention to him. According to Sellars’s account, on one occasion Berthold gave him a long, full-body hug, and soon afterward, invited Sellars to accompany him on a trip to New York.

Feeling uncomfortable about the attention Berthold was showing him, Sellars decided to confront the dean and tell him to desist. At the meeting, Berthold tried to allay Sellars’s concerns and told him that he was reading too much into his friendliness. He then approached Sellars, kissed him on the lips and said: ”You can call me `Daddy,’ and I’ll call you `my little boy.”’

Sellars said he hurried from Berthold’s office and quickly reported what had occurred to Moran. Moran promised to investigate, and a few days later he summoned Sellars back to his office. ”Moran told me that it would be my word against Father Berthold’s so he gave me a small tape recorder, and told me to go back into Father Berthold’s office and get him to admit what he had done,” Sellars said.

Although Berthold did not confess, Sellars recalled, he said sufficiently incriminating things that Moran agreed to inform Law of the incident. Sellars, too, asked to speak to Law.

Law was in Washington, attending a meeting of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops at the time, and although Sellars was flown there to meet with Law, he came away disappointed.

”I guess I was looking for an apology, or at least a recognition that what had happened was wrong,” Sellars said. Law told Sellars that he was aware that Sellars had lodged a complaint against Berthold, and assured him that he and Moran were looking into it.

Yesterday, Coyne, the spokesman for the archdiocese, confirmed the substance of Sellars’s account after conferring with Bishop Richard G. Lennon, rector of the seminary, and the Rev. Robert W. Flagg, dean of the college.

Coyne said the two seminary officials reviewed the records, which show that Berthold acknowledged at the time that he had kissed Sellars – but on the cheeks and not the lips. Having studied in France between 1969 and 1971, Berthold said he had become accustomed to kissing people on the cheeks, Coyne said.

Coyne, who was teaching at the seminary at the time, said that the faculty was told that Berthold had acted inappropriately with a student and had been suspended. At the end of the semester, the faculty was told that Berthold had been dismissed, Coyne said.

Berthold’s departure did not alleviate Sellars’s discomfort. Upset by his treatment by Moran and Law, he transferred to an Indiana seminary college. After graduation, he entered St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, Calif. He is to be ordained next year.

Berthold was scheduled to teach a course this summer at an institute in Eastern Christian studies at St. Paul University in Ontario. The Rev. Andrew T. Onuferko, assistant director of administration for the Metropolitan Andrey Sheptytsky Institute, said Monday that the archdiocese had not informed the institute of any problems on Berthold’s record, nor had the institute asked. Onuferko said that following the Globe’s inquiry about Berthold, the institute informed him that he would not be needed to teach the month-long summer course.

Also, the archdiocese permitted Berthold to make presentations at conferences in 1998 and in 2001 – a year after the lawsuit was filed – that were sponsored by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Canonical Orthodox Bishops of America.

Stephen Kurkjian can be reached at


Boston Church Official: We Told of Priest’s Past

But College, Charlotte Diocese Priest Still Say History Was Kept Secret

Charlotte Observer (North Carolina)
16 May 2002

The Archdiocese of Boston said it told Belmont Abbey College about allegations of inappropriate intimate contact made against a Boston priest before the college hired him in 1997 to head its theology department.

The college insists it did not know about the allegations before hiring the Rev. George Berthold.

Donna Morrissey, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, told the Boston Globe Wednesday that church officials had notified the college and the Diocese of Charlotte “verbally and in writing” that Berthold had been accused of inappropriate physical behavior with adult seminarians when he was dean of the undergraduate college at St. John’s Seminary in Brighton, Mass., in 1995.

Morrissey said the notifications were made before the college hired Berthold, but she wouldn’t make public any of the notifications.

Contacted late Wednesday by the Observer and told of the Globe’s article, college spokeswoman Teresa Sowers McKinney said the college stood by its earlier comments. story.

Janette Blandford, the Belmont Abbey professor who chaired the committee that hired Berthold, said Berthold told the search committee he was interested in moving from St. John’s to the Gaston County college because he wanted a warmer climate.

“Considering everything else that has happened in the church, I’m outraged,” said Blandford, who chairs Belmont Abbey’s philosophy department. “The circle just widens. I can’t believe it would extend right down to here. Somebody flat-out lied.”

McKinney said Berthold was released from his contract after Belmont Abbey was notified in the fall of 1998 that he was no longer in good standing as a priest.

Wednesday night, the Rev. Anthony Marcaccio, vice chancellor of the Charlotte Diocese, released the following statement: “Information that the Archdiocese of Boston shared with us did not indicate that Father Berthold should be prevented from ministering to children or vulnerable adults.”

Contacted late Wednesday by the Observer, Charlotte Diocese spokeswoman Joann Keane declined to elaborate, and said Marcaccio was unable to comment.

The college is located in the Charlotte Diocese, but is considered an independent institution.

No complaints of sexual misconduct were made against Berthold while he was at the Abbey, McKinney said. She also said there have been no charges of sexual misconduct by Abbey faculty.

From the fall of 1997 to October 1998, Berthold taught 10 theology courses.

Blandford said the committee that hired him was impressed by his charm, credentials and world travels. Also, she said, “We were desperate to get a theologian.”

Though she never heard any allegations regarding his behavior, Blandford said she heard complaints from students about his teaching – and in turn, heard Berthold complain about the quality of the Abbey’s students.

Blandford said she didn’t know until now why Berthold had been dismissed from the Abbey.

Two months after Berthold became dean of St. John’s undergraduate college, he was accused of making improper advances toward a freshman, including kissing him on the lips. He was also accused in 2000 of molesting a boy three decades ago in Massachusetts, according to the Boston Globe.

Since 1999, the Boston archdiocese has listed Berthold as “unassigned.” Reached in New Hampshire by the Boston Globe, Berthold, 67, refused comment.

McKinney said the college recently conducted sexual harassment classes for administration, faculty and staff.

A Catholic priest, Berthold wasn’t a Benedictine monk or part of the Abbey’s monastery. He lived in Charlotte instead of at the Abbey campus 14 miles west of Charlotte, McKinney said.

1 Response to Berthold: Father George Berthold

  1. Drew says:

    Thats POS tried to molest me in 1979…but all he got was a punch in the face!

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