Let us now praise Tom Doyle, pioneer of the anti-clergy-abuse campaign

On all counts a heavy hitter.

Doyle has interviewed 2,000 victims of clerical sexual abuse in the U.S. alone, and has been the only priest to testify in court in over 200 cases as to the legal liability of the Church.

He has developed policies and procedures for dealing with cases of sexual abuse by the clergy for dioceses and religious orders in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. As an expert in this area, he has delivered lectures and seminars for clergy and lay groups throughout the U.S.

In 1989 he appeared as an expert witness before the legislature of the State of Pennsylvania concerning that State’s child protective legislation. As an Air Force major stationed in Germany, and who also recently served as a military chaplain in Iraq, he holds 16 military awards and decorations for distinguished service.

He currently serves as a consultant/court expert in clerical abuse cases throughout the U.S., Canada, Ireland, Israel and the United Kingdom.

His onetime brothers in Christ chimed in:

 In June of 2003 Doyle was also issued an official commendation from the Dominican Fathers for his “prophetic work in drawing attention to clergy sexual abuse and for advocating the rights of victims and abusers.”

But he arguably and apparently paid for his good work in 2004 by losing his job of 30 years as an Air Force chaplain.

Dominican Fr. Thomas P. Doyle, who has been an outspoken critic of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ handling of the priest sex abuse crisis, was dismissed as a military chaplain by the Catholic Archdiocese for Military Services in September.

Doyle has made no public mention of the withdrawal of his “endorsement to serve,” by Archbishop Edwin F. O’Brien Sept. 17, but knowledge of the incident, as well as some papers pertaining to it are now circulating.

The Dominican was apparently given no hearing, just notification of the withdrawal, “effective immediately,” according to a copy of O’Brien’s letter obtained by NCR.

O’Brien had called for daily mass in the three chapels which Doyle and another priest chaplain were serving. At the request of his immediate chaplain superior, a non-Catholic, Doyle wrote a private memo about “the legal force” of what O’Brien was asking.

The memo was sent by a Catholic liturgical minister to O’Brien, who (inaccurately, Doyle said) saw it as a denial of the centrality of the Eucharist in church life. O’Brien acted immediately to expel him from the chaplaincy.

Doyle was not angry.

“I have had an excellent military career as a chaplain,” [Doyle told NCR], “with commendations and citations. I have tried to be a good priest and chaplain. I’m saddened this misunderstanding is ending that career on this note. I do not have any hostile, angry or bitter feelings toward the archbishop or the military archdiocese.”

He’s being too kind, said some of his chaplain friends, “less sanguine” about the matter. Moreover, wrote NCR,

The withdrawal of Doyle’s endorsement to serve is regarded elsewhere as the long arm of those determined to punish Doyle for his outspokenness and leadership on the sexual abuse issue.

All too likely, I fear.

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