I love paperwork.
Yesterday, the Diocese of Orange issued a statement responding to the latest sex abuse and cover-up lawsuit against Fr. Richard T. Coughlin. In it, they said:
Richard Coughlin was ordained in the archdiocese of Boston in 1953 and incardinated in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in the 1960s, predating the Diocese of Orange, which was founded in 1976. Coughlin left parish ministry upon founding the All American Boys Choir in the early 1970s. Coughlin never served as a priest of the Diocese of Orange. (emphasis mine)
They’re parsing words here. The diocese is trying to say that after 1976, when the Diocese of Orange was formed, Coughlin did not serve as a priest in any official capacity. Are they trying to say that he’s the chorus’ responsibility? I don’t know.
But the truth is far different. Here are photos of the 1993 Diocese of Orange Catholic Directory. Yes, I have a copy. I am that weird.
The third priest in the top row—the one RIGHT UNDER the word “SERVING” is Richard T. Coughlin. Here is a closeup. (Excuse the marks in the book. It’s a used copy).
But it gets better. When it comes to the “official” listing of priests in any diocese, the bible, so to speak, is The Official Catholic Directory (OCD). It is the authoritative source. EVERY listing must be approved by every diocese and archdiocese. In fact, it is so precise, that the Catholic Church in the United States submits the OCD to the IRS every year to establish their tax exempt status and the placement of priests and other U.S. religious (priests who belong to religious orders).
In 1990, 1991, 1992, and 1993, Coughlin is listed as a priest of the Diocese of Orange on special assignment with The All-American Boys Chorus.
The diocese might say, “See?! He’s on Special Assignment. He’s not our priest.” Sorry that doesn’t work. Other priests on special assignment are Msgr. John Urell, one of the diocese’s most powerful priests at the time and the “bishop’s man” when it came to the cover up of abuse. And he also said Mass every Sunday at the parish where he was in residence. Now, he’s a full-time parish priest.
Here is the listing from the 1990 OCD (yes, it’s tiny. Forgive me):
Here is the OCD listing from 1991:
Note: For those of you who have been following these stories for a while, you’ll see that there are a number of other names that are familiar: Franklin Buckman, Eleuterio Ramos …
I also have the listings from 1992 and 1993. I can get the listings going back to 1976. But I’m a horrible graphic artist and no one wants to look at page after page of proof that the Diocese of Orange is lying to you.
You get the point: Coughlin was a priest of the Diocese of Orange. He served in the Diocese of Orange with the full permission and blessing of the bishop. Period.
If the Diocese is going to lie to you about this—something that I can prove with their own paperwork, available in their own libraries—what else are they going to lie to you about?