SEATTLE, Washington— Seattle University’s athletics and recreation center will no longer be named after the late Archbishop Thomas Connolly.
The Seattle Times reports that the Jesuit school’s board last week approved removing Connolly’s name because of his role in covering up for a known pedophile priest for years beginning in the 1960s. The board renamed the facility “Redhawk Center” after the school’s mascot.
Documents show that as archbishop of the Archdiocese of Seattle, Connolly moved former Father Michael Cody from parish to parish in Western Washington in the 1960s and 1970s despite knowing Cody sexually abused children.
Father Stephen V. Sundborg, president of the university, said in a statement Friday that he brought the matter to the board after reviewing letters and documents.
“I brought the matter to the board at its first meeting following my own recent review of the letters and consultation with others,” Sundborg said in a statement. “This review affirmed in my mind that removing Archbishop Connolly’s name from our athletics and recreation center needed to happen and should have been acted on even sooner.”
Cody, who died in 2015, admitted to abusing over 20 minors between the ages of 8 and 12, although he told authorities the true number is “only a guess.”
“It’s tremendous acknowledgment on the part of the university that the sexual-abuse problems the Catholic Church had were not just due to the perpetrators, but also those who supervised them,” said Michael Pfau, a Seattle lawyer who has represented dozens of sexual-abuse victims.
“I don’t think anyone in the archdiocese was more responsible than Archbishop Connolly. He chose to ignore serious, serious problems,” he told the Seattle Times.
Connolly died in 1991.
A spokesman for the archdiocese did not immediately respond Friday to messages.
Crux staff contributed to this report.