A sordid saga of sex abuse, recycling, lies and deception
[ The information in the following saga is drawn from media coverage and my own personal knowledge, the latter attained both though interviews I conducted in the past and phone calls recently. In some instances there are discrepancies in numbers. I chose to go with information which I received from persons whom I believe to be reliable. Since this is an article for Sylvia’s Site I opted not to put foot notes but have attached links to all the articles which I utilized in putting this saga together.
It was fairly routine for some of the lads to head out to Father McCarthy’s cottage. Indeed, it was at Father McCarthy’s Lake Simcoe cottage that some of the young lads learned to water ski .
Truth be told, it was much more routine back then for the altar boys to go for sleepovers at the rectory. . Yes, it was pretty routine back then, back in the in the ‘80s at Our Lady of Grace Roman Catholic Church in Aurora, Ontario. That’s when Father Paul McCarthy was Pastor. He was pastor from 1980 to 1990.
The rectory was an exciting place to be for the boys. Father had Intellivision, a rarity indeed. Father even owned a VHS what amounted to the earliest version of a VCR player. Or, was it a Beta? Which ever it was, things like that were a novelty in those days too, at least, they certainly were in Aurora. So rare were they that there wasn’t even a place to rent movies in Aurora. Father rented his movies from an outlet in a nearby community.
Yes, there were lots of novelties at the rectory. Expensive things. Father McCarthy, ordained to the priesthood in 1967 could, I am told, well afford them. He came from a well-to-do family. He drove a back Cadillac – a new one about every 18 months.
Father also sang and played guitar. With his musical abilities he was well suited to run the COR weekends (Christ in Others Retreat – weekend retreats for teenagers, both male and female)
The altar-boy sleepovers at Our Lady of Grace went on for some time, both before and after the arrival of Father Barry Glendenning.
Father Glendinning arrived in 1984. Upon his arrival parishioners were told that Glendinning, a liturgist, had been receiving treatment for a drinking problem. To my knowledge no one questioned that. Why would or should they? If Father McCarthy told them that Father Glendinning had been receiving treatment at Southdown for a drinking problem, then that was exactly what had happened. They believed their Pastor. Why would he lie?
In short order Father McCarthy had put his new assistant in charge of the youth group. In equally short order, what with his extensive background and interest in liturgy, Father Glendinning was essentially in charge of the altar boys.
The sleepovers continued.
The boys had a grand time on the sleepovers. They ordered pizza, played video games, watched movies, and roared through the building and around the Church property. When the old church had been leveled and the new one was under construction they even roared around the construction site. They weren’t supposed to, but they did.
There were actually two groups of altar boys who went for those sleepovers: one group on one weekend, another group on another. There was the self-dubed “A” team: they were “the best of the best,” the boys who served at all the important functions And, then, of course, there was the “B” team.
A few ‘lucky’ boys were part of both sleepover groups. Those boys had the privilege of being included in both the “A” team and “B” team sleepovers. It is no surprise I suppose that this gave rise to a few pangs of jealousy here and there. It, did, after all, raise the question in some of those young minds: Does Father like those boys better than me? Yes, it did hurt just a little. Not a lot. And the little twinges of jealousy did pop up from time to time. Not outright jealousy, just those little pangs which need to be fought and pushed out of mind rather than embraced.
Those occasional pangs of jealousy aside, the sleepovers were lots of fun.
And then there was that one night…
It was nothing profound. Just something a little unusual. Something which would be remembered for years to come.
That was the night the two boys went missing.
The boys had been horsing around as usual. At some point they realized that two of their buddies were missing. Where were they? Where did they go?
The hunt began. They looked everywhere. No sign of their friends.
They searched high and low. No luck.
The hunt led them to the sleeping quarters in the rectory.
To be sure, they were not going on tippy-toe. They were not what one would call quiet.
Suddenly, a bedroom door swung open. There, framed in the doorway, stood an angry Father McCarthy. And there, spotted in the bed behind him – one of the two missing boys.
McCarthy sternly told the boys to quiet down.
And then, almost in the same instant, a second door swung open. And there, checking to see what all the fuss was about, was Father Barry Glendinning. And, yes, there, was the second boy. There in the bed behind Glendinning was the second of the missing boys. The boy looked terrified. Absolutely terrified.
Strange as it may sound, on seeing those boys in the priest’s beds, there was a teeny little pang of jealousy . After all, there they were, boy #1 and boy #2, – in beds. They weren’t,. like the others, sleeping on a corner of the floor, or on a couch. Those two boys had beds. They were actually sleeping in beds!
And, well, yes, truth be told, there was also the thought of favourites, i.e., Does Father McCarthy like boy #1 better than me?
And, truth be told again, at that moment in time there wasn’t so much as a thought of anything untoward happening to boy #1 and boy #2. Not a thought. True, boy #2 looked terrified, but, the boys were with the priests for goodness sake.
The memory of that night, and the two priests standing at their bedroom doors, and the two boys in the respective beds, stuck in the mind of at least one boy, as did the look of abject terror on the face of boy #2.
Chaos at Blessed Trinity in Willowdale
On 05 June 1978 Bishop Emmet Carter of London, Ontario was installed as Archbishop of Toronto. One year later, on 30 June 1979 he was made Cardinal.
It was Cardinal Carter who, in 1984, graciously took Father Barry Glendinning into the Toronto Archdiocese and assigned him to Our Lady of Grace in Aurora. Unbeknownst to the unwitting parishioners Glendinning, who was actually incardinated for the Diocese of London, had, in 1974, been charged and convicted for molesting children in London. Unbeknownst to them too was the fact that Glendinning had spent time in Southdown, and was then recycled to the Archdiocese of Edmonton, Alberta and, then, in 1983, had been shipped off to Southdown again, and that after admitting he had sexually abusing a number of altar boys. Indeed, Glendinning virtually went right from Southdown to Our Lady of Grace.
The parishioners at Our Lady of Grace were told none of that. They were told that Father had been treated for a drinking problem.
That was in 1984.
Then, somewhere around the early summer of 1989, Father Glendiinning was plucked out of Our Lady of Grace and popped into Blessed Trinity Roman Catholic Church in Willowdale, Ontario. Why is unknown. It was said to be part of the regular rotation of priests. Still, Father McCarthy had been at OLG since 1980, and there was no sign of him being moved anywhere, at least, not right then.
No matter, for whatever reason Toronto’s Cardinal/Archbishop Emmet Carter decided to pluck Father Glendinning out of Our Lady of Grace and pop him into Blessed Trinity.
The Pastor at Blessed Trinity was one Father Anthony Meagher.
Things had gone smoothly for Father Glendinning at Our Lady of Grace. For nearly six years, things had gone smoothly. No one knew.
Not so at Blessed Trinity.
Things did not go well for Father Barry Glendinning at Blessed Trinity.
In short order there was chaos. For good reason.
By August 1989 word was out both in the parish and in the media that Father Barry Glendinning was a convicted child molester who had molested again in the Archdiocese of Edmonton Alberta.
The parishioners were livid. Not all of them mind you. There are always those who excuse the inexcusable, but most were downright livid. They did not want Father Glendenning in their parish.
There was a bit of a media frenzy. And quotes galore.
Father Paul McCarthy, still very much the Pastor back at Our Lady of Grace in Aruora, was contacted. McCarthy defended the decision to return Glendinning to parish ministry:
“Rev. Paul McCarthy, who has supervised Glendinning in a Toronto parish for the past six years, called him a “tremendously conscientious” priest. He defended the decision to return Glendinning to parish ministry.
“There is no reason to question the level of recovery. We don’t have a time bomb sitting here,” said McCarthy.”
For his part Father Meagher said that he and his parish had been informed and consulted about the situation prior to Father Glendinning’s arrival, and that a decision had been made not to inform parishioners. According to Meagher, Father Glendinning had been “absolutely clean” for the past six years.
Suzanne Scorsone, spokeperson for the archdiocese, came to Glendinning’s defence with claims that “there has been, to our knowledge, no more wrongdoings on his part at this time,” and assertions that Father Glendinning had basically paid his debt to society.:
“I do rather wonder why you don’t leave the poor man alone” Scorsone chided the media “The guy has done well, why turn around and hit him?” According to Scorsone the message that the news coverage gave to those in Glendinning’s situation was: “Don’t bother reforming because we’re going to hound you.”
There was more from Scorsone:. : “It would seem tragic to take a man who has put his life into ministry and commitment back together and carried it out well over six years, and just because a news story appears throw him on the trash heap,” she scolded, “I don’t think it’s human to turn on someone who made a mistake and is trying to put his life together.”
Why, Ms. Scorcosne even suggested it would have been better if this information had come out while Glendinning was at Our lady of Grace where he served for six years and could have the support of his many friends.
Emmett Cardinal Carter got in on it too. Carter rallied to Glendenning’s defence. He talked of a “personality disorder,” and he claimed that since Glendinning completed his counseling at Southdown there had been no allegations against him, and there was no “shadow of suspicion.” The Cardinal insisted that Glendinning was leading “a blameless life.”
Initially the Cardinal denied the pleas of parishioners to have this convicted and serial molester removed from Blessed Trinity. He claimed that to remove Glendinning would defy Church rules of forgiveness. He pleaded with parishioners to live up to their “goodness” and capacity to trust.
In the midst of the very public brouhaha, even Father Barry Glendinning spoke to the press. Glendinning said he was still visiting a therapist, and that the last six years had been the happiest of his life. According to one source “Glendinning says he steers clear of any situation that would be compromising and is not alone with children.”
The last six years of Father Barry Glendinning’s life, of course, essentially referenced the six years since he left Edmonton for Southdown round #2. The bulk of that time was his years as assistant to Father Paul McCarthy at Our Lady of Good Counsel in Aurora. He may have factored in his stay at Southdown to roundit out to six years, but, time at Southdown aside, he was at Our Lady of Grace.. And those years, of course, are the years that Glendinning was in charge of the youth group, and in charge of altar boys, and involved with the sleepovers, and, yes, sharing his bed on at least one night with at least one terrified altar boy.
So, yes, lots of quotes. Everyone who was anyone was speaking to the media, and one and all busily went about the business of excusing the inexcusable, doing damage control, and trying to shame those who wanted rid of their priest, a priest who was a convicted and serial predator.
Ah yes. “He was living a blameless life.” He is not alone with children.
Parishioners at Blessed Trinity weren’t having any of it. They dug in their heels. They absolutely did not want a child molester as a priest.
They froze the collection plate.
Father Glendinning was gone. Well, he wasn’t truly gone. He was still very much a priest – and liturgist – in the Roman Catholic church. In short order , for example, Glendinning was chairman of the Archdiocese of Toronto’s Liturgy Commission.. He also began to serve as a consultant for the Toronto archdiocese’s Catholic Office of Religious Education.. And, yes, he continued to teach liturgy with the Summer Institute in Pastoral Liturgy at St. Paul University in Ottawa.
As an aside but of interest here is the fact that only weeks earlier, in late June of ’89 Father Angus McRae was charged with sex abuse of boys between July ’88 and May ’89 in the Archdiocese of Toronto. McCrae, a former military chaplain and priest with the Archdiocese of Edmonton, was convicted in Edmonton in 1980, sent to Southdown, and recycled into and given safe harbour in the Archdiocese of Toronto. Yes, he had indeed molested again.
And, as another aside, in 1997 Father Meagher, the Pastor at Blessed Trinity during this , became an auxiliary Bishop of Toronto. That’s the Father Meagher who decided parishioner had no need or right to know that his new assistant was child molester. In 2002 Anthony Meagher was installed as Archbishop of Kingston, Ontario. He died 14 January 2007 at the age of 66.
Chaos erupts at Our Lady of Grace in Aurora
Around the same time Glendinning was plucked out of Aurora, the Archdiocese of Toronto had issued a set of interim procedures for clergy to deal with “cases of alleged misconduct.”
In a letter outlining the procedures Cardinal Carter told clergy that suspicions of child abuse by priests or other employees of the Toronto archdiocese must be reported immediately. Carter noted that the 1984 Child and Family Services Act placed “urgent reporting obligations” on those with reasonable grounds to suspect child abuse. Priests in the archdiocese were told that any suspicions off abuse must be reported immediately to the Catholic Children’s Aid Society or the Children’s Aid Society.
That was July 1989.
Now back to Our Lady of Grace in Aurora and Father McCarthy.
In early January 1990, the media reported that Father Paul McCarthy was “ordered out of his parish and rectory residence while he is investigated for ‘misconduct..’”
The large majority of parishioners had not a clue what the “misconduct” was all about.
As for the ‘investigation,’ well, it was an internal investigation, one conducted by the Toronto Archdiocese. And, believe it or not, the ‘investigator’ happened to be a personal friend of McCarthy. The Archdiocese later justified that decision with the claim that there was no one else available to do the job.
Father McCarthy allegedly denied the allegations.
Anyway, McCarthy was removed.
Church officials kept the nature of the allegations secret. The Judicial Vicar, Monsignor Ed Boehler, insisted at the time that the allegations against McCarthy did not involve sexual assault on children and that there was no requirement to call police or Children’s Aid.
Not common knowledge at the time was the fact that , -and it was fact – the allegations came from three teenage boys, two of whom were brothers.
There were allegations of abuse of these three boys, and allegations that Father McCarthy had been giving boys alcohol at slumber parties. (It is unknown at this time if Boy #1 referenced from the sleepovers were amongst the three who had spoken up at that time. )
The internal ‘investigation’ dragged on. The lid was kept on. Parishioners were kept in the dark.
On 02 December 1990, nearly one full year after the “investigation” began, the new Archbishop of Toronto, Aloysius Ambrozic, arrived on a Sunday to advise parishioners that he was accepting McCarthy’s resignation.
There was chaos. “All Hell broke loose” said one parishioner who was later quoted in the media, “ It just kind of exploded.”
As I wrote back in 1999, some parishioners were yelling and screaming and others were crying. The parish was divided between those who defended McCarthy and those who felt he was guilty. Some parishioners called out “Guilty or not guilty?” The Archbishop’s reply, I was told by those who were there, could be paraphrased as: ‘It’s none of your business.’
The Archbishop read from a prepared statement which said in part:
“The investigation took into account the best advice available from archdiocesan personnel, experienced and prudent clerics from outside the archdiocese and by lay legal and other advisers for those affected.”
The “experienced and prudent clerics from outside the archdiocese” were not identified. Nor were the lawyers.
The distraught, frustrated and angry congregants were advised by their archbishop that Father McCarthy would undergo a “period of renewal” and would then be assigned other duties in the archdiocese.
The true nature of Father McCarthy’s “misconduct” was never revealed to parishioners.
When asked by a reporter, Monsignor Boehler refused to disclose if there had been any form of compensation. The reporter was told that McCarthy and “the parishioner” could have chosen to settle the issue in court but agreed to let the Church handle it.
In early 1999 I personally contacted Monsignor Boehler to inquire about the McCarthy allegations. The Monsignor adamantly refused to divulge the outcome of the investigation and curtly advised me that “we” do not discuss personnel matters. When pressed, he coolly stated that this is “a privacy issue” and referred me to canon 220. Appeals to the interests of the faithful were of no avail. Monsignor did, however, momentarily concur that the issue involved children, but instantly reiterated that this is a privacy issue and referred again to canon 220 (“No one may unlawfully harm the good reputation which a person enjoys, or violate the right of every person to protect his or her privacy.”).
McCarthy “resigned” in December 1990. By 1992 the Canadian Catholic Church directory gave his address as that of St. Justin Martyr in Unionville.
From 1993 until at least 2002 Father McCarthy was Pastor at St. Christopher Roman Catholic Church, Mississauga, Ontario.
Father McCarthy died of cancer 05 August 2009 at the age of 67. There were accolades to him in the Catholic Register.
The Glendinning scandal
Now back to Father Barry Glendinning.
As mentioned above, Father Barry Glendinning arrived at Our Lady of Grace in or about the summer of 1984. While there, he was sharing his bed with young altar boys.
Then, as also mentioned above, in the summer of 1989 he was moved to Blessed Trinity in Willowdale, and …chaos.
It was sheer accident that parishioners of Blessed Trinity found out about their new assistant priest’s past history as a sexual predator. They certainly were not told. When they did find out, they were furious, and, rightly so. Eventually Glendinning was moved.
So, what was the secret about Father Barry Glendinning’s past?
Much of this is written up elsewhere on the Sylvia’s Site, so very briefly.
Father Barry Glendinnining , a native of Wallaceburg, Ontario, was ordained for the Diocese of London Ontario in 1964. Emmett Carter was at that time Bishop of the London Diocese.
Shortly after ordination Bishop Carter sent the young Glendinning off to Sant’ Anselmo in Rome to pursue further studies in Liturgy. Vatican II was in process (’62-’68) and Carter seemed to sense the need and the future.
When Glendinning returned with his liturgical credentials he became Professor of Liturgy at St. Peter’s Seminary. He helped Bishop Carter publish the first Canadian Hymnal (The Catholic Book of Worship ) for the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops. He was a member of the diocesan Liturgy Commission and served as its Vice-Chair from 1971-1974.
Things were going well.
In 1974 Glendinning’s career as a liturgist for the Diocese of London and professor at St.e Peter’s Seminary came to a grinding halt; he was charged with gross indecency involving five boys and one girl.
Glendinning, as it turns out, had been molesting the children at his apartment in the seminary, and on camping trips, and at a cottage. He used to force the children to have sex with each other: Sometimes he watched and masturbated, sometimes he joined in. He liked to get the children to paint his nude frame with brightly-coloured neon paint, and he in turn would paint their nude little bodies. He took pictures of his artwork. I wrote an article on Glendinning. I called it The Painted Preying Liturgist.
Yes, Glendinning was convicted, but, kid gloves. No jail time. Three years probation.
On the Church front, Glendinning was sent to Southdown. That was trip #1.
Diocesan officials assured worried parents that Father Glendinning would not be allowed around children.
It is unknown exactly where Father Glendinning initially went after his release from Southdown. What is known is that in 1976 he surfaced in the Archdiocese of Edmonton, Alberta.
Archbishop Joseph MacNeil gave the convicted liturgist safe harbour.
Once again Glendinning was teaching young men how to be priests and how to ‘do’ liturgy, this time at Edmonton’s Newman Theological College and its affiliated seminary, St. Joseph’s. Once again he was actively involved with liturgy in an archdiocese, and once again he was a member of the diocesan liturgical commission.
At some point Father Glendinning began to assist at three rural parishes in the archdiocese. He had altar boy societies up and running in no time. The boys were clamouring to join. All was going well for Glendinning. He was constantly being chauffeured around by a young teenage boy.
In fact, for about seven years, all was well, at least for Father Glendinning.
Then, one day, Father Glendinning failed to show for his lecture. He just didn’t show up.
The jig was up. He was caught. Again.
Yes, Father Glendinning had been molesting those altar boys. One woman in the know told me that he had molested at least 15 boys. Several were repeatedly sodomized.
Glendinning admitted he had molested the boys. Whether or not he admitted that he molested them all I have no idea, but he did admit he had been molesting some boys.
There wasn’t a public peep of this horror story from Archbishop MacNeil. Nothing. Father Glendinning just up and disappeared. Overnight. It was all kept hush hush. Charges were never laid.
Father Glendinning was back at Southdown. Trip #2.
It was only when chaos erupted at Blessed Trinity in Willowdale that Catholics in Edmonton learned a little of Glendinning’s past, including his predatory activities while he was in their midst.
A vigilant Catholic in the Edmonton archdiocese found out that Glendinning was serving at Blessed Trinity. It was she who let the cat out of the bag, and it was thanks to her that Glendinning’s past crimes in both London and Edmonton Archdiocese became public knowledge.
Through the subsequent media coverage it emerged that Archbishop Joseph MacNeil knew very well what Glendinning had been up to in London, Ontario. The word was that after his conviction officials with the London Diocese decided that Glenddinning should not return there after his treatment at Southdown (trip #1). Who knows how it was all hammered out or who all was party to the hammering, but, at the end of the day Bishop Joseph MacNeil took the convicted molester in to the Archdiocese of Edmonton. The decision was that Glendinning could teach at Newman where he could be more closely supervised.
According to MacNeil, when he got word that Glendinning was assisting “a colleague” in a rural parish, he reviewed the Southdown report. The report, according to MacNeil, advised that Glendinning not be placed in charge of young people.
Did the report actually say “in charge of”? or did it say around?
Perhaps either way it was irrelevant to the Archbishop?
Anyway, MacNeil claimed that when he found out that Glendinning was assisting in “a” parish” he concluded that since Glendinning was living at the college rather than a parish there was sufficient supervision of his activities: “He was not living in the parish. He didn’t have access to people.”
“,Perhaps I made a mistake there” said the archbishop of the Glendinning fiasco, “It raises for me the major question then. Do I ever give anybody another chance, in fairness to the people?”
According to media reports of the day, Archbishop MacNeil said he had many regrets about the McRae case. And he said that still struggled with his decision to allow Glendinning back into a parish.”
Two interesting asides here: (1) Cardinal Carter was President of the CCCB from 1975-1977, and Archbishop MacNeil was President from 1979-81; and (2) Archbishop Joseph MacNeil was the Father MacNeil who sent the letter on behalf of the Archbishop of Antigonish, Nova Scotia to the Brothers of Our Lady of Seven Sorrow in Holland inviting them to Nova Scotia to run a technical school. Along with the brothers came Brother Gregory/Gregorius, the brother who had sexually abused Henk Heithuis, the young man who was castrated..
.Post Blessed Trinity
Father Glendinning had no problem after his ouster from Blessed Trinity. Cardinal Carter got him settled in “doing’ liturgy,” as they say, in the Archdiocese of Toronto.
Glendinning was still very much the liturgical guru. Serial predator or not, convicted or not, criminal or not, Father Barry Glendiining was still revered by bishops, clergy and laity across the country.
Despite all the publicity, Father Glendinning continued to teach at Summer Institute in Pastoral Liturgy at St. Paul University, Ottawa.
In 2000, word that Glendinning, a serial sexual predator, was teaching at St. Paul’s got out. A moment of embarrassment for Archbishop Marcel Gervais.
In 2008 Glendinning was laicized. I was told that it was at his request.
Why, after all of these years, Father Barry Glendenning suddenly decided he wanted to leave the priesthood is unknown. Were there more allegations against him? Is that it?
No matter, three years later, on 14 July 2011, Barry Glendinning died in a Toronto hospital. He has been hospitalized for about a week receiving treatment for various ailments..
Glendinning was cremated. On 17 August 2011 a funeral service was held at Conception Roman Catholic Church in West Bay(M”Chigeeng), Manitoulin Island.. Why Manitolin Island was chosen is unknown.
25 August 2009: Guitar-playing priest made everyone feel special
04 December 1990: Priest resigns in deal with parishioner, church says
03 December 1990: Priest’s resignation announced ‘all hell’ breaks loose at Mass
18 July 1989: Archdiocese sets guidelines for abuse cases
19 August 2011: BLOG I’m serious
23 July 2011: Abuse victims struggle with mental health problems
23 July 2011: Priest left legacy of pain
22 July 2011: BLOG He is dead
22 July 2011: The changing face of Ontario church sex scandals
22 July 2011: Church admits it erred
22 July 2011: BLOG Defrocked?
10 June 2010: BLOG “Unconscionable”
02 February 2004: Reasons for Judgement (Glendinning lawsuit)
20 April 2000: Priest accused of sex abuse leaves position at St. Paul
see April-Dec. 1999 “Sexual misconduct a privacy issue”
11 August 1989: Catholics discuss policy for sexual misconduct
18 July 1989: Archdiocese sets guidelines for abuse cases