Gregory Ingels is a former priest who has been credibly accused of molesting a 15-year-old boy in California, a scandal that led to his departure from public ministry in 2002. His story is fairly well known within Church circles. What’s not publicly known is that Ingels continues to work for the Church. I found this out by simply calling him up at his home in Minnesota.
He does “occasional” work on tribunals, he admitted to me. A long-time canon lawyer, he says dioceses call him up from time to time to seek his counsel. I asked him if he gets paid for some of this work. He said he does. But he insisted that he is “basically retired.”
That a credibly accused abuser still works for Catholic tribunals contradicts the “zero tolerance” message sent by the U.S. bishops. It is also an obvious violation of canon law, which requires that those who work on tribunals be upstanding members of the faith.
It would appear that the same culture of cronyism that protected Theodore McCarrick for so long has also protected Ingels, who once lived with the checkered San Francisco archbishop John Quinn. They shared a mansion together on the grounds of St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park, California, an arrangement that appalled James Jenkins, a psychologist who served on the San Francisco archdiocese’s abuse review board. Ron Russell of the San Francisco Weekly wrote in 2005,
At about the time Ingels was arraigned on criminal charges, Jenkins and other members of the review panel learned that he was living with former San Francisco Archbishop John R. Quinn at Quinn’s residence on the campus of St. Patrick’s Seminary in Menlo Park. Quinn moved to the century-old mansion on the seminary grounds after his unexpected retirement as archbishop in 1995. Ingels has been living with him in the elegant mission-style home, built as a summer residence for the late Archbishop Patrick William Riordan, since then, say persons who know the men. Neither Ingels nor Quinn responded to requests for comment for this article.
Jenkins says that he and others of the six-member panel were especially disturbed by reports that a “support group” for priests accused of sex abuse had held meetings at the residence. (The founder of one such group, Detroit-based Opus Bono Sacerdotii, confirmed recently that Ingels is an “adviser” to it. “Father Ingels may be the best canon lawyer in the United States, and we’re grateful to have him,” said Joe Maher. “He’s an excellent priest, a very holy man, and he’s a great help to us.”)
Jenkins says he and other panel members “didn’t believe that a former archbishop had any business keeping house with someone who had acknowledged on a wiretap that he had sodomized a 15-year-old boy,” and he and his colleagues saw the living arrangement as a source of scandal should it become publicly known. He says panel members conveyed those sentiments to Levada face to face, recommending that the archbishop order Ingels be moved elsewhere. “We looked at the archbishop and told him in no uncertain terms that there needed to be daylight between Ingels and Quinn,” Jenkins says.
[San Franciso Archbishop William] Levada responded that he would consult with Quinn, Jenkins says. A week or so later, Jenkins says, Levada reported back that he had spoken with Quinn, and the former archbishop “had seen no reason” for Ingels to move out.
Jenkins says his experience left him with “the clear impression that, for whatever reason, Ingels was being protected.” Frustrated that Levada had blocked the public release of the review panel’s findings on sex-abuse allegations involving dozens of priests, including Ingels, Jenkins resigned last October, faulting Levada for “deception, manipulation, and control” of the panel. He says he made one last effort to broach the subject of Ingels with Levada during a phone conversation last fall in which, Jenkins says, he sought to explain why he’d decided to announce his resignation. But, Jenkins says, Levada did not respond. “There was dead silence on the phone, and I remember asking if he was still there,” Jenkins recalls. “He just said, ‘Yes, I’m taking notes.’ ”
It was Levada who tapped Ingels for the outrageously ironic role of advising him on the Dallas Charter, the document that the U.S. bishops ostensibly crafted to eliminate abusers from the Church. McCarrick, of course, also played a role in shaping that document.
That the bishops still turn to Ingels for advice grimly compounds the irony. The same abuser who helped write the Dallas Charter has to tell the bishops how to pretend to implement it. Pathetic. But it is in keeping with the mores and methods of the gay mafia, for whom no former member, no matter how scabrous and compromised, ever faces permanent expulsion.