The Edmonton Journal
05 August 1989
A Catholic priest who twice admitted to sexual improprieties with boys — once in the Edmonton area — is now working in a Toronto parish.
At least three top Roman Catholic bishops have been involved in moving Rev. Barry Glendinning through three dioceses in two provinces after being confronted with reports of his misconduct.
The bishops have not always ensured that those responsible for supervising the priest in his new locations are fully informed of his past. Police were not informed of incidents in Edmonton and London, Ont., dioceses. The bishops say they do not know how many victims were involved.
Senior officials in the Toronto archdiocese did not know until The Journal contacted them that the priest’s visit to an Ontario therapy centre in 1983 was his second. Neither did they know his removal from Edmonton in 1983 was his second move as a result of misconduct with boys.
The officials were not aware Glendinning was removed from the London diocese in the 1970s and sent then to the therapy centre, the Southdown Institute, near Toronto.
In Toronto, Monsignor Leonard O’Malley, director of personnel for the archdiocese, was unaware that Glendinning had been sent to Southdown twice.
“I’m not aware he was there more than once,” he said. “In my own experience no one has ever been to Southdown twice and put back in a parish.”
Under current policies, a priest with Glendinning’s record would not be permitted to serve in a Toronto parish if he were to apply there today, said Suzanne Scorsone, director of the Toronto diocese’s office of Catholic Family Life.
“We’re much more alarmed now than we were 10 years ago. Now, even one or two recidivist (repeat) activities are enough to get him taken out permanently,”
Toronto’s archbishop, Emmett Cardinal Carter, bishop of the London diocese at the time of Glendinning’s first offences, declined to be interviewed about Glendinning. The London diocese covers the southwest corner of Ontario.
Glendinning does not deny his illness, and says he feels sorrow for his victims. (While the incidents are widely known in the parish, The Journal is withholding the name of the community in the interests of the victims still dealing with the past).
For the past six years, Glendinning has received continuous therapy and there have been no allegations of misconduct.
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.
Some Catholics in the parish outside Edmonton have not forgotten Glendinning’s misconduct. One parishioner contacted The Journal with concerns. Others said they felt the matter was closed and should be dropped.
Lorraine Bourque said she was astounded when she learned that Glendinning was serving in a Toronto parish and had access to children. “We wonder how many more will be hurt,” said Bourque. “This has been moved from our midst and put somewhere else.”
Wednesday, six years after Glendinning was pulled out of the parish, the Edmonton archdiocese sent two priests to speak to parish members who are still angry.
Glendinning joined the staff of Newman Theological College, a Catholic educational institution on the St. Albert Trail, in 1976 after treatment at Southdown.
London Bishop John Sherlock said he decided Glendinning should not return to London after treatment at Southdown.
Edmonton Archbishop Joseph MacNeil agreed that Glendinning could teach at Newman, where he could be more closely supervised.
Said Sherlock: “There was a lot of optimism that the treatment was effective.”
While teaching, he volunteered to help a colleague in a country parish.
When MacNeil learned that Glendinning was working in a parish, he reviewed the report from Southdown. The report recommended that Glendinning not be in charge of young people.
Since Glendinning was living at the college, rather than in the parish, MacNeil felt there was sufficient supervision of his activities.
Besides, the people in the parish were saying “this is the best priest we ever had,” recalls MacNeil.
But several years later MacNeil was shocked.
“All of a sudden I got word that something was happening with older altar boys and asked `Is it true what we are hearing?’ He said yes.”
Details of the sexual acts remain sketchy partly because church investigators say they didn’t ask for details.
Now 56, Glendinning declined to discuss the details of his activities and treatment.
But he says he has deep remorse for those he hurt.
“To anybody who has been hurt it’s a terrible feeling of course. Anything said to those hurt seems terribly trivial and trite. I feel the best way I can say I’m sorry is by working as whole-heartedly as I can,” he said in an interview.
Glendinning says he steers clear of any situation that would be compromising and is not alone with children.
He said he’s wrestled to understand his behavior.
“It’s a difficult thing to deal with, it’s a sickness,” he said. “Surely it has to do with a very inhibited and undeveloped sexuality in the early years.”
Still visiting a therapist, he says the last six years have been the happiest of his life.
“This is an area where there hasn’t always been 100-per-cent success. It’s been a bedevilling problem for people and I count myself among the fortunate, the blessed that somehow therapy has finally taken hold and worked.”
Recently, another priest who worked in Edmonton was banned from parish work for life after he pleaded guilty to a second offence of molesting boys.
Rev. Angus McRae, 63, pleaded guilty last month to sexually molesting two Toronto boys. McRae had returned to parish work in Toronto after serving a four-year sentence for buggery in Edmonton in 1980.
Archbishop MacNeil said he has many regrets about the McRae case. And he still struggles with his decision to allow Glendinning back into a parish.
“He was not living in the parish. He didn’t have access to people,” he reflects. “Perhaps I made a mistake there. It raises for me the major question then. Do I ever give anybody another chance, in fairness to the people?” he asks.
“All I can say is that this man can no longer function in this diocese,” he said.