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Dealing with McMahon

May 3, 2009

One of the worst, if not the worst, experiences of the past six years is the change in provincials in the Missouri province of Jesuits. Frank Reale, the predecessor of Tim McMahon, was a healer. He engaged people, listened well, and sought to resolve things to mutual benefit. He took calls, and he took time to understand the facts and issues.

Tim McMahon is defensive. I did not like him from the start. Although he as provincial has the responsibility to adhere to prior agreements of the province, he failed to do this. My earlier impression that I did not like him, five years ago, has held firm. I guess I am a good judge of Jesuits. It is no surprise that someone who is defensive, who does not engage people and listen well, is also a lousy supervisor and has no understanding of the commitments his predecessor made. Frank Reale never would have screwed this up.

I am being hard on McMahon because he deserves it. He failed. Instead of admitting that failure, he is choosing to be defensive and non-responsive.

Tomorrow marks ten days since I first made contact with McMahon about the Jesuit abuser’s breach of the conditions in the agreement and the obvious failure in supervision. I asked McMahon who to contact — the Jesuits in Rome or the bishop in St. Louis — about the Jesuits failure to properly supervise a Jesuit abuser, and his failure to address it. I will make those contacts and carefully document everything that happens.

My instinct is the time to “go public” is drawing near. I’ve kept careful records of what happened along the way, so I will spend time putting it all together. The failure of religious orders to supervise abusers should be made known, and my situation would be a good one to highlight it. There is a written signed agreement — not just promises made at a meeting or on the phone. The Jesuits’ failures are easy to prove.

I know this case can be handled in court too and that will likely happen if the Jesuits fail to respond. I look forward to that day, because by then I will be angry enough to do it. That’s how court works: most of the time you have to be angry, and have reasons to be angry, to go to that effort. It’s much easier with McMahon, not liking him. I wouldn’t take Frank Reale to court — but I wouldn’t even get to that point, given the kind of efforts he would have made to work things out.

So, I sent another letter — faxed and e-mailed it — to remind McMahon that tomorrow is ten days. Just building the record if this is a step toward court, but hoping it is a step toward resolving it.

Day 10 is coming.

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