A Catholic chaplain at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology has resigned after sending an email saying George Floyd “had not lived a virtuous life,” church officials said.
Rev. Daniel Patrick Moloney, who has reportedly served as MIT’s chaplain since 2015, agreed to resign following the “personal opinions” he shared on Floyd’s death in a June 7 email to the university’s Catholic community, officials from the Archdiocese of Boston said in a statement Tuesday.
“While Fr. Moloney’s comments should not reflect on the entirety of his priestly ministry, they nonetheless were wrong and by his resignation he accepts the hurt they have caused,” archdiocese officials said.
Moloney, who agreed to step down two days after sending the email, said that while the 46-year-old Floyd should not have been killed in police custody, “he had not lived a virtuous life,” the Boston Globe reports.
Moloney also questioned whether Floyd’s death — which was caught on video, showing former Officer Derek Chauvin, who is white, pressing his knee into the handcuffed, black man’s neck for nearly nine minutes — was the result of racial prejudice.
“In the wake of George Floyd’s death, most people in the country have framed this as an act of racism,” Moloney’s email continued. “I don’t think we know that. Many people have claimed that racism is a major problem in police forces. I don’t think we know that.”
Police officers “deal with dangerous people and bad people all the time, and that often hardens them,” his email said.
MIT’s Catholic community and university alumni alerted archdiocese officials to Moloney’s message, archdiocese spokesman Terrence Donilon told the Globe.
Suzy Nelson, a vice president at MIT and dean for student life, characterized Moloney’s message as “deeply disturbing” in an email to students Friday.
“By devaluing and disparaging George Floyd’s character, Father Moloney’s message failed to acknowledge the dignity of each human being and the devastating impact of systemic racism,” Nelson wrote.
Moloney, meanwhile, said Tuesday he didn’t intend to “hurt anybody” with his email.
“I regret what happened, I regret it was misunderstood, I regret that [it] became difficult for me to be a voice for Christ on campus,” Moloney told the Globe. “The whole thing went down in a way that I wish were otherwise.”
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