The Rev. James Gandrau, a retired longtime local priest and former editor of the Seattle Roman Catholic Archdiocese's newspaper, has been...

Share story

The Rev. James Gandrau, a retired longtime local priest and former editor of the Seattle Roman Catholic Archdiocese’s newspaper, has been permanently barred from ministry after allegations of child sexual abuse were found to be credible, the archdiocese announced yesterday.

Gandrau, 72, served in five parishes in the archdiocese from 1958 to 2002.

He is the fifth local priest to be barred from ministry by the Vatican since U.S. bishops passed a policy three years ago that says priests with a single credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor cannot remain in active ministry.

The archdiocese’s press statement did not say how many victims came forward, nor did it include any details of the allegations. Spokesman Greg Magnoni said church officials would not comment further.

Thomas Frey, Gandrau’s attorney, said the statement “involves allegations that were made 30 years ago, and Father Gandrau categorically denies ever having molested any child.”

Gandrau served at St. James Cathedral following his ordination in 1958. He also served at St. Mark Church in Shoreline, St. Monica Church on Mercer Island, St. Joseph Church in Vancouver and St. Alphonsus Church in Seattle. He was editor of the Catholic Northwest Progress from 1960 to 1977. Gandrau retired in 2002.

“I was shocked that this finally happened,” said a 48-year-old woman in Portland who said she first came forward to the archdiocese with allegations about Gandrau in about 1993. She did not want to be named.

“For me, this has always been about the truth. About 12 years after I reported this man to the Seattle Archdiocese, they are finally willing to reveal the truth,” she said.

The woman said she could not disclose details about the allegations because of a confidentiality agreement.

Another woman settled a claim last winter against the Seattle Archdiocese in which she said Gandrau sexually abused her about 30 years ago when she was a minor, according to the woman’s attorney, Michael Pfau. That woman also did not want to be named.

Gandrau’s was one of 13 Western Washington cases reviewed by the archdiocese’s case-review board, which recommends to the archbishop what should be done with accused priests. The archbishop’s decision is then forwarded to the Vatican for final approval.

Of those 13 cases, three were deemed not credible. Decisions on five of the remaining 10 cases have been returned from the Vatican and released to the public.

In addition to Gandrau, three other priests — the Revs. James McGreal, David Anthony Linehan and Patrick Desmond McMahon — were permanently barred from ministry. A fourth — John Cornelius — was defrocked.

The five other cases are awaiting decision by the Vatican.

In Gandrau’s case, the review board found the allegations to be credible, and Archbishop Alex Brunett decided to bar Gandrau from ministry — a decision affirmed by the Vatican, according to the church’s statement.

The archdiocese has a policy of not releasing the names of accused priests until after the Vatican has taken action. That stance has come under fire from some victims and members of the case-review board, who argued that naming the priests would provide some accountability and justice for victims, and comfort to parents who need to know their children are safe.

The archbishop has said he would not release names of offending priests before the Vatican acts, because until that point, a priest might be able to challenge the archdiocese under church law.

Janet I. Tu: 206-464-2272 or