Tuesday, June 21, 2011

J-Glenn, Gone

A leading scholar, speaker and onetime advisor to the US bishops, one of the Stateside church's most celebrated liturgists has been "permanently removed from ministry" over a credible allegation dating to the early 1980s.

After word first emerged from Jesuit circles last week, the move against Fr J-Glenn Murray has been announced over recent days in the various apostolates where he's served over 32 years of priesthood. Ordained for the Society's Maryland Province in 1979, Murray served for many years as worship director of the Cleveland diocese, and was most recently assigned to a parish in Washington.

The report of abuse was lodged by a young man who was one of the suspended cleric's students at Baltimore's St Frances Academy, founded by the legendary Mother Mary Lange, who began the Premier See's revered African-American community of religious women, the Oblate Sisters of Providence.

The principal crafter of Plenty Good Room -- the 1991 charter document on African-American worship released by the US bishops' Committee for the Liturgy -- news of Murray's suspension was given as follows by Fr Mark Horak, the pastor of the Jesuits' parish hub in the capital, the venerable Holy Trinity in Georgetown:

I am very sorry to share with you the difficult news that Fr. J. Glenn Murray, S.J., who served in the Washington, D.C., area from 2007 to 2011, has been permanently removed from ministry following a credible allegation of improper touching of a minor that occurred in 1981-82 while Fr. Murray was working in Baltimore.

According to Fr. Jim Shea, Provincial of the Maryland Province of the Society of Jesus, this is the only allegation of misconduct involving Fr. Murray that the Province has received.

An individual made an allegation against Fr. Murray to the Maryland Province in 2005. The Province immediately reported the allegation to the proper civil authorities and referred it to its own Review Board. The civil authorities told the Province that they had investigated the complaint but closed it when the individual making the complaint declined to speak with them. The Province’s Review Board conducted its own investigation through a third party investigator.

Based on the information uncovered at that time, the Board did not find the allegation credible.

This past spring, when Fr. Murray was being considered for assignment, the Province decided to conduct a second investigation. A new third party investigator hired by the Province conducted the investigation and uncovered new information.

Upon receipt of the Board’s report and recommendation, and after reviewing the entire record, Fr. Shea permanently removed Fr. Murray from all ministry. He now lives in a monitored residence with his Jesuit community.

The Province offered pastoral care to the victim when the individual first made the complaint in 2005, and the Province has renewed that offer of care and has apologized for any harm the individual has suffered.

The Maryland Province and the Jesuits at Holy Trinity assure parishioners that we are committed to the safety and wellbeing of all minors and other vulnerable persons. For further information on the Jesuits’ commitment to child protection, and for information on how to report an incident involving a Jesuit or an employee of a Jesuit work, go to: www.mdsj.org/children.html.

I ask you to join me in praying for the healing of the individual who made the complaint and who is now an adult, and for all minors and other vulnerable people who have been mistreated by Jesuits and other clergy and religious.

I also ask you to pray for J. Glenn.

Prior to the development, Murray had been slated as the keynote speaker for next month's annual convention of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM) in Louisville.