By H. James Towey, Legal Counsel and authorized spokesperson for the Missionaries of Charity
Former Catholic priest Donald J. McGuire deceived Mother Teresa of Calcutta and the Missionaries of Charity throughout his relationship with them. It was after Mother Teresa’s death that evidence emerged publicly which exposed the extent of his duplicity and the damage he had done to others during the years of his priestly ministry. The Missionaries of Charity deeply regret that McGuire’s past association with Mother Teresa appears to have been used by him to groom the trust of others, including those he sexually, emotionally and psychologically abused. The sincere prayers and sympathy of the Missionaries of Charity are with the victims of McGuire’s predatory behavior, as well as the members of their families and all those who were harmed or scandalized by him.
Mother Teresa neither knew nor had reason to believe that Donald McGuire sexually abused others. Mother Teresa would not have remained associated with McGuire, or allowed him around her Sisters, if she had known or had any reason to believe that he had engaged in sexual conduct with anyone at any time. McGuire betrayed her trust in him. Even a saint can be duped by an artful liar leading a double life.
With respect to the February 2, 1994 letter from Mother Teresa on McGuire, it simply is not possible, 27 years later, to reconstruct the events that led to the letter’s origination. It is certain that Mother Teresa did not author the letter. The letter was not prepared or signed in Calcutta because she was in Washington, D.C. on that date. The Missionaries of Charity Sister who accompanied Mother Teresa from India, and the Sister-in-charge in Washington at that time, are both long-deceased. Mother Teresa, then 83-years-old, would have depended heavily upon them during her stay to oversee the management of her correspondence while in the United States.
The letter’s contents make clear that Mother Teresa relied upon the findings of fact and conclusions of Fr. John Hardon, S.J., the mediator tasked by the Jesuit Provincial, Fr. Bradley Schaeffer, S.J., on the McGuire matter. Mother Teresa’s letter states that Fr. Hardon “had established Father (McGuire)’s innocence of the allegations against him.” Mother Teresa reasonably relied on Fr. Hardon as well as the Provincial who re-instated McGuire. Both Fr. Hardon and Fr. Schaeffer, unlike Mother Teresa, had direct access to the evidence that existed at the time of McGuire’s psychological evaluation at the facility referenced in the letter. Sadly, we now know that both men were grievously misled by McGuire, as were so many others, for so long.
Media accounts which presented McGuire as Mother Teresa’s spiritual confidant are false. Hundreds of priests over the years heard Mother Teresa’s confession, or gave retreats to her or her Sisters. McGuire was not her spiritual director or regular confessor, even if he represented to others that he was.
Mother Teresa would be heartbroken by what is now known about McGuire’s grave sins and the terrible harm he inflicted on his victims and others. The Missionaries of Charity commend the cares all of those wounded by McGuire’s grievous misconduct to the healing grace of God and the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and trust that Mother Teresa, too, is praying on their behalf.