The murder of Irene Garza by a Catholic priest: 56 years of impunity

Irene Garza

An 83-year-old ex-priest named John Feit was arrested Tuesday in Arizona for the 1960 murder of a 25-year-old woman named Irene Garza. Ms Garza was a teacher. She went to confession with then Fr. Feit at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen & was pulled five days later from an irrigation canal. Asphyxiation was the cause of death.

There’s no point in speculating on the 56 year default of prosecutors who apparently had evidence for indicting Feit. We don’t know enough about the details of the case. But we do know in 1960 it was considered unthinkable a priest would be so monstrous. Revelations about the issue of priest sexual assaults did not start coming out until the 1980s & later when the victims began to speak out. It should be said that the women’s movement had significant impact on dragging the crime of child sexual assault out of the darkness.

The church hierarchy transferred Feit shortly after the murder to a monastery & on to several other locations which is shamefully how they handled all priests so charged. Let me say as a personal aside, that when I was in the convent in 1962, a young nun who molested Down Syndrome children was simply transferred to work in an old folks home & assigned to do novenas for redemption.

Family members claim authorities sheltered Feit–for whatever reason, including possible disbelief. But police took it up later as a cold case file in an era when there was no longer impunity for priests. Nor any disbelief left to tap.

When Bishop Daniel Flores, head of this Catholic diocese, was asked today by a reporter if the diocese would stop moving priest offenders to evade prosecution, he got all mumble-mouthed & dummied up instead of taking a decisive stand against sexual crimes by priests. And here we thought Pope Francis had cleared that mess up in the church.

Flores is going to be traveling with Pope Francis in Mexico. Maybe we should tweet the Pope to straighten out Flores. You can’t leave a man in charge who doesn’t know his ass from his elbow about murder or about culpability.

Photo is Irene Garza. May she finally Rest In Peace.