'Abused by Priests' group urges church to reverse local parish appointment | November 23, 2007 | Pleasanton Weekly | PleasantonWeekly.com |


Pleasanton Weekly

News - November 23, 2007

'Abused by Priests' group urges church to reverse local parish appointment

But diocese backs Rev. Greene as Pleasanton Catholic Community's new leader

by Jeb Bing

A national organization whose mission is to identify abusive priests and warn congregations where they are still practicing plans to step up its efforts to deny a Pleasanton cleric his appointment to lead the Catholic Community of Pleasanton.

Joey Piscitelli, the Northern California Director for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), who demonstrated outside St. Augustine Catholic Church two weeks ago, took his group to the front door of Bishop Allen Vigneron of the Catholic Diocese of Oakland last Friday to protest the decision to name the Rev. Padraig (Patrick) Greene to the top post. Greene is scheduled to succeed the Rev. Dan Danielson, longtime parish leader of the Catholic Community that includes St. Elizabeth Seton Catholic Church as well as St. Augustine. Danielson is scheduled to continue celebrating Mass for parishioners through the Christmas holiday, and to officially turn his duties as parochial administrator over to Greene on New Year's Day.

But Piscitelli said that a priest who allegedly committed an indecent act in front of an Oakland police officer at a park shouldn't be appointed parish priest for the Catholic Community of Pleasanton.

A police report obtained by the Pleasanton Weekly states Greene was arrested at 1:50 p.m. on March 2, 1999 at a park in Oakland for performing lewd acts on himself in a public bathroom. Oakland police officer "M. Oliver" was assigned to work in plain clothes at the North Oakland Sports Center and entered the men's restroom and observed Greene committing an indecent act at a urinal. After a brief conversation, Oliver arrested Greene.

The charge was later reduced to a misdemeanor by Judge Cecilia Castellanos and ultimately dropped after Greene agreed to participate in a six-month residential treatment program at the St. Michael's Community in St. Louis, Mo. Billed as "a healing place for priests and brothers," St. Michael's, according to an official report also obtained by the Weekly, provided individual sessions for Greene that included exercise, sexuality and interpersonal relationships and spirituality.

In a final report signed by the Rev. Joseph McNamara, Dr. Jack Croughan and Robert Furey, program director, Greene received a clean bill of health.

"We feel as a result of Father Greene's progress here, he can return to the community and be gainfully employed," the report said. "We believe there is a significant decrease of risk of any reoccurrence of the kinds of conduct which precipitated his admission and treatment here."

But Piscitelli disagrees.

"Our concern is that a man with a history of this kind of behavior is not the best choice to lead a community as pastor of both Catholic churches in Pleasanton, and have access to children," Piscitelli said.

SNAP is an organization of men and women who claim they were sexually abused by spiritual elders (Catholic priests, brothers, nuns, ministers, teachers and others).

The Rev. Mark Wiesner, spokesman for the Catholic Diocese of Oakland, said Bishop Vigneron, who was out of town at the time of the SNAP protests, and the diocese, are standing behind Greene because they think his arrest was "a single isolated incident" and he underwent "therapy and spiritual renewal."

"We were well aware of his past and believe he is doing well now," Wiesner said.

He added that no minors were present when Greene was arrested for lewd conduct at the North Oakland Regional Sports Center on Broadway and the charges against him were dismissed after he agreed to undergo therapy.

However, Piscitelli said the fact that Greene wasn't convicted of any wrongdoing "doesn't mean he was innocent" and he thinks it's unlikely the incident was the only time Greene, who worked at Christ the King Parish in Pleasant Hill at the time, behaved inappropriately.

He added that, "There's a high probability that kids were there at the time," although the police report on the incident doesn't mention any children.

Piscitelli said Oakland police staked out the park because it was suspected of being a place where men solicited sex with youths.

Piscitelli, who with other SNAP members handed out fliers to parishioners at St. Augustine, said only one parishioner was aware of Greene's past and the others were "shocked." He thinks concerns about Greene "will escalate" and contended that some parishioners already have quit the church.

He is also planning to distribute fliers outside Pleasanton schools next week when classes resume, although he has been warned that would be illegal unless the school district approves and he and his group could be arrested otherwise.

Although SNAP did not demonstrate this past Sunday or during the week, parishioners and the church council huddled over discussions about Greene's future. Postings on the Pleasanton Weekly online Town Square forum found opinions divided between those who believe Greene long ago completed therapy successfully and those who think the stigma of the arrest and its current publicity will make it difficult for him to assume the leadership position.

Danielson said the fliers are "misleading." and that said SNAP members "often view the clergy and the church through their own painful difficult experiences."

"This is understandable but it can lead to a misinterpretation of the facts," Danielson added. "Father Greene was and is filled with shame and great remorse over this incident. No doubt the hurt he experienced in his own life and his subsequent ways of dealing with it have contributed to his remarkably effective ministry."

In a statement, Vigneron said, "Father Greene has performed exemplary ministry in the diocese" and "there have been no further incidents" since his arrest.

A text version of the actual 1999 Oakland police report has been posted online at www.pleasantonweekly.com. Once there, visitors can go to the Town Square forum and click on "Police Report on the Rev. Padraig (Patrick) Greene."

The report is available only to registered users.


Posted by Kids First, a resident of Valley View Elementary School
on Nov 27, 2007 at 12:09 pm

Please just take a look at the fact that the guy/Priest went to a boysroom, mastxxxed in the open, chatted with an undercover cop about being there for an afternoon delight, kept on mastxxxing as he continued the conversation about "what goes up must come down."

The police sting was going on because of numerous complaints of sXxual liasons at the sight. Undercover cop was there because they suspected it to be a place where men solicited sXx with youths.

All of the above are hard facts. We have no hard fact he will not repeat an offence. Most do. My kids need to be safe. Nowhere else in society could this even be a discussion. GOD HELP US!

Posted by Santa, a resident of Birdland
on Nov 27, 2007 at 12:55 pm

Kids first and foremost! No excuses. Kids first!

Posted by A. Christian, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Nov 27, 2007 at 2:15 pm

It sounds Like Fr Dan has a favored spot in his heart for homosexual
relationships given his past dealings. This discredits his lecturing the Parishoners about the merits of Fr Padraig Greene. It is a sad state of affairs when the community must become split over such a matter of irresponsibility. I tend to agree that one does not drive 20 miles to visit a parks bathroom with a reputation for illicit sexual activities. The Bishop is leading CCOP down the wrong road on this appointment. There will be nothing but growing aynomosity as time moves along. The Priest can be forgiven; the real problem is the cover up by the Bishop - Oakland Diocese and the existing Pastor, after all that has publically preceded this past decade in millions,and millions of settlements. It is sad scenario indeed.

Posted by PToWN94566, a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Nov 27, 2007 at 5:07 pm

Why bring up homosexual relationships? I am gay and masturbating in a public bathroom at a park has no place in any community. What I find funny is that I haven't seen anyone say that if a child was to walk and was present, the priest would have been charged with a felony and been made to register as a sex offender. It didn't happen since he was caught, but if he wasn't, it could have happened! It's not something a leader should be caught doing! His duty was to serve and lead the catholic community and he failed- I would never want a leader who has a past such as this. Even if no minors were involved- his duty is lead to catholic community and obviously he wasn't doing that in the bathroom. Maybe he shouldn't be kicked out of the church, but he sure shouldn't be head pastor out here. Just because this is a religious event, he should be held accountable just a other professionals would be. If you found out your child's teacher had been caught masturbating in public, would you want him/her to continue?

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Nov 27, 2007 at 5:08 pm

DUPLICITY RULES! Are you saying that Bishop Vigneron is a Lxxxxar?

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Nov 27, 2007 at 6:12 pm

Why not bring up the homo connection? Many if not the majority of priest child molesters are homosexual. Thousands of homosexual priests have sexually abused children. As for your being gay, who cares? The good father was in a toilet where pervs slime around and pick up kids for sex. He was looking and he got busted. And, what is this business about a "religious event". Greene got busted for his criminal activity in a public toilet. It was a criminal event. And, he is a jailbird. I wouldn't kick Greene out of the church. That is crazy. He could easily be assigned to job at the diocese that doesn't involve contact with the public/kids. He is a bright man who got caught with his zipper down and this fuss is all about the consequences. Many people are hurt, confused and feel betrayed with this gay priest, his gay priest supervisor and a closeted bishop.

Posted by activemom, a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Nov 27, 2007 at 8:15 pm

I find it very inappropriate for the Church to elevate someone with Fr. Greene's past to a position of power and respect in one of the most influential parishes in the East Bay! In light of the climate of the country regarding any sexual misconduct with our political figures, or the clergy---this seems like a slap in the face. Or "more of the same" from the Catholic hierarchy. I am a parishioner and find this offensive. I DO believe in forgiveness for Fr. Greene's misconduct, but I DON't believe he should be promoted for it! Let him keep his existing job and look for someone more appropriate. Are they saying he's the best we get? I am debating my future at CCOP.

Posted by Catholic mother of 2, a resident of Verona
on Nov 27, 2007 at 8:33 pm

I find it hard to swallow the fact that I have had to listen to Fr Dan preach "ad nauseum" to the children of his parish about how God will not forgive them if they don't follow the church's rules...interesting how he now asks for understanding and forgiveness for Fr. Greene..how about "thou shalt not lie"?? I have a HUGE problem with the coverup that has occurred by the church's hierarchy...and would like to repeat another posts' comment - is this the best we can get?....I don't have a problem with Fr. Greene, per se, but DO NOT put him in the position as a leader in this community...his "talents" can be best served in another, less "public" position....And let's be honest....CCOP weekly $$$ donations benefit the diocese BIG TIME....so if the idiots in Oakland want their BJILLION dollar cathedral, they will have to draw from another city, because the parishioners at CCOP will pick up their bibles and find another church to attend.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Nov 27, 2007 at 11:20 pm

How come the diocese describes the treatment that Fr. Greene received in generalities? If Fr. Greene was depressed, I understand how his brain chemistry and body might feel better if he exercised. Combined with medications, Fr. Greene would likely function at a much higher level and have better judgment. However, what's this business/Rx about sexuality, interpersonal relationships, and spirituality? I would like to know more about this model of treatment and to discuss it with former professors at UC Berkeley. I would also like to know if the treatment center has ever conducted any longitudinal /outcome studies? Smooth talk is one thing, let us study your findings to determine how the treatment model works. 6 months of treatment could lower risk for awhile, but what about over the years. Isn't he expected to be the pastor for many years?

Fr. Dan don't come crying to me about Fr. Greene being filled with remorse and shame...so what? What does that have to do with loitering in a park toilet and engaging in indecent exposure/lewd behavior? He had fun for a few moments and then he got arrested in put in jail!

Shame on you Fr. Dan for lying, along with the bishop, to your trusting parish. You are the ones that have destroyed the trust. You are the one who by behavior have wreaked havoc on the psyches of your parish. SHAME! What is it like not to be so adored and trusted anymore. You don't care do you? It's all in a days work.

As for the new diocese cathedral, you don't deserve it.

Posted by parishioner, a resident of Carriage Gardens
on Nov 27, 2007 at 11:35 pm

This isn't about homosexuality!!! This isn't about children!!! This is about a weak moment with extremely poor judgement and a humiliating mistake, DURING SCHOOL HOURS WHEN KIDS WERE NOT AVAILABLE, and a person who has undergone extensive therapy with NO recurrances, and before most of us learned of all this, has given back SO MUCH to the community through many, many ministeries that have helped heal SO much pain, possibly utilizing his terrible personal experience, -for GOOD!!! It seems a sorry state of affairs to damn someone who's made a mistake, corrected it, NOT had any recurrances, has given back INCREDIBLY to this community - and not just to Catholics, and now - EVEN THOUGH IT HAS ALWAYS BEEN PUBLICLY ACCESSIBLE, he not only gets dragged through it all AGAIN but WRONGLY accused of MUCH more, and has to deal with all this liable!!! I wish he'd sue. He has a case!!!!! But I would bet he won't. About any other person so publicly humiliated wrongly would consider it. He probably feels it is God's will this comes out now and is probably praying to find the good FROM it, while personally rechastising himself over and over. JUDGING FROM HIS PAST BEHAVIOR AND SUCCESSES of the last 8 years he is an absolutely amaaazing priest who continually tries to empower people to deal with their pain and grow through it becoming closer to God. He's listened to "our bad mistakes" in reconciliation and not only kept OUR confidence but supported our efforts to learn from them! I am so sick of hearing people who don't even know him, never pray with him, slander his good name and not acknowledge how much good he's done for our community. They must be the "perfect" ones who are allowed to throw stones! Or in this case ROCKS! Well leave CCOP then!!! Christ came to save SINNERS!!! That's who we are!!! ALL are welcome here!!! So if you are already perfect and you don't need saving, don't bother coming!!! .......However, .......should you come, please pray side by side with us as we try to find God's will in all this, and help us ALL heal, and be stronger for it. Remember... "When two or more pray in His name..."

Posted by registered user, Jeb Bing, a resident of editor of the Pleasanton Weekly
on Nov 28, 2007 at 2:55 am

This topic has run its course. Thanks for postng. Jeb Bing