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Priest who celebrated Biden’s inaugural Mass under investigation

Father Kevin O’Brien, S.J., president of Santa Clara University, is under investigation for alleged inappropriate behavior.

Fr. Kevin O'Brien at a 2014 event at Georgetown University. (Larry French / Getty Images Entertainment)

Washington D.C., Mar 19, 2021 / 07:04 pm (CNA).- A Jesuit priest who celebrated Joe Biden’s inaugural Mass in January is under investigation for alleged inappropriate behavior, according to the California university he heads.

Father Kevin O’Brien is president of Santa Clara University, located near San Jose, Calif. He presided over the Jan. 20 Mass at St. Matthew’s Cathedral in Washington D.C., which President Biden attended the day before his inauguration.

A March 15 statement from the university’s board chairman announced that he had recently learned of “accounts that Father O’Brien exhibited behaviors in adult settings, consisting primarily of conversations, which may be inconsistent with established Jesuit protocols and boundaries.”

Chairman John M. Sobrato said the university is taking the allegation seriously and that the Provincial of the Jesuits’ USA West Province, Fr. Sean Carroll, has launched an independent investigation.

He urged any witnesses to inappropriate behavior to contact the Jesuits’ USA West Provincial Office.

“The Trustees support those who came forward to share their accounts. It is important that anyone who witnesses actions they believe are inconsistent with [the university’s] values or rules is able to share their concerns and have confidence that they will be taken seriously,” Sobrato said.

“At the same time, we fully respect Father O’Brien’s right to a fair and impartial investigation, and we appreciate his strong belief that any complaints involving him should be held to the highest standard and carefully and independently investigated.”

A spokeswoman for the Jesuits West Province, when queried by local news, declined to provide further details about the alleged misconduct, citing the order’s confidentiality practices.

“Jesuits are held to a professional code of conduct, and the Province investigates allegations that may violate or compromise established boundaries,” Tracey Primrose told the San Jose Mercury News.

O’Brien, who has been placed on leave, has agreed to cooperate fully with the investigation.

Sobrato said the university would not be providing interim updates, but would communicate the final results of the investigation.

O’Brien has reportedly known the Biden family for at least 15 years, dating back to when O’Brien was serving at Georgetown University, according to SCU. In addition to this year’s Mass, he presided over Mass for Biden and his family in both 2009 and 2013, when Biden was sworn in as vice president, the Mercury News reported.

The priest was reportedly popular and well-liked as SCU’s president, a post he took during July 2019. He was a frequent contributor to MSNBC, CNN and the Washington Post on Church-related issues.

Santa Clara University, established in 1851, counts current California Governor Gavin Newsom and former Governor Jerry Brown among its alumni.


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18 Comments

  1. Well isn’t that special? Surprising? Not really.

    One is reminded of the question – If Jerry Brown is the answer, what is the question?

  2. “Santa Clara University, established in 1851, counts current California Governor Gavin Newsom and former Governor Jerry Brown among its alumni.”
    Does that not say it all regarding Jesuit education during the last century, and they do not hold that basket alone by any means. Catholic education from kindergarten through graduate studies has been deeply subverted for a century though certainly without shame since “the council.” What can be termed “lust” for secular academic credence has allowed us to literally “sell out” — one need only revisit Land O’Lakes 1968. Religious formation in virtually all the orders has been replaced by a rationalized secular academism, except of course, when it comes to towing the line under the mask of a perverted employment of evangelical obedience.
    We have more work to do in cutting out this cancer than we can conceive.
    God alone suffices.

  3. Biden and that priest have excommunicated themselves by their public approval of abortions, gay marriage. Meanwhile the bishops , ardinals and so called pope say nothing of huge scandal of it-Biden. We Catholics are darn sick sick sick of our supposed leadership. They are only the leaders of simple or ignorant Catholics. Thinking Catholics are detached from their own Church. Society continues to implode due to the modernist/ liberal/dissenting Clergy. We watch it crumble as the prophets of old watched sinfulness go unaddressed. When Catholics can’t root out their own wolves in sheep’s clothing, very bad things will always keep growing. Denial is never the answer.

    • Bingo !
      Cultural Catholics will slip away if the don’t follow the mystical way of St Francis, St Teresa of Avila…and ask Christ who are you, and who am I, what should I do.

    • Thank you Mr. Brady, your post sums it up accurately.
      “By the waters of the Babylon (Potomac, perhaps?) we sat down and wept”.

  4. Bingo !
    Cultural Catholics will slip away if the don’t follow the mystical way of St Francis, St Teresa of Avila…and ask Christ who are you, and who am I, what should I do.

  5. I know by reading the comments by others that I must have missed the point, but I stumble over Fr. O’Brien’s full intent. Did O’Brien leave the church or did the church leave him? President Biden is an anomaly. I wish that he would return to the flock and admit his wrong judgement. However, I am not willing to see his administration fail in perhaps the darkest time needing leadership. If Biden fails, we all fail. Our willingness to compartmentalize revealed itself with the support of Trump.

  6. “If Biden fails, we all fail.”
    If Biden succeeds I’m sure there will be many aborted who would emphatically disagree with your statement.

  7. ““accounts that Father O’Brien exhibited behaviors in adult settings, consisting primarily of conversations, which may be inconsistent with established Jesuit protocols and boundaries.””

    Conversations inconsistent with established Jesuit protocols and boundaries, huh?

    To be a bit flippant: perhaps he praised the Extraordinary Form of the Mass or expressed doubts about the need to have felt banners with ugly modernistic designs in churches, or stated flatly that homosexual behavior is a grave sin.

    (With apologies to Fr. Fessio and other honorable exceptions).

  8. Jesuits are held to a professional code of conduct
    Unless of course your name is Jorge Bergoglio or you’re the homosexualist Pied Piper of Sodomy James Martin LGBTQWXYZSJ.

  9. The excitement on condemnation of the priest and Biden sounds so uncharitable. Are catholics supposed to show love as they admonish their sinful brethren?. There are 10 commandments but strangely the 6 and 9 seem to be the only ones condemned here. What about the 5 7 8 etc.

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