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An Irish Tragedy

by Joe Riger

An Irish Tragedy, by Joe Rigert

The Story of how Irish immigrants helped to build the American Catholic Church is well-known. But the sad tale of how Irish priests later undermined the Church has gone untold, until now.

Investigative reporter Joe Rigert's search for the roots of the Catholic sex-abuse scandals led him to Ireland. There, he found that rigid sexual repression in both society and the priesthood had the opposite of its intended effect, fostering bizarre and criminal sexual expression.

Though a tiny country, Ireland has been a chief exporter of abusers to America. The cases Rigert documents range from a priest who as a youth was molested by priests in Ireland and then went on to abuse up to 50 girls and boys in America, to a bishop who had never dated a girl in his home country and later turned to boys for sexual satisfaction in an American seminary. Ultimately, Rigert reveals that abuse by Irish priests mirrors a sexual disorder in the Vatican itself. The late Pope John Paul II looked to Ireland to maintain his strict view on sexual morality, but could not enforce it even in his own nation state.



A riveting read with many remarkable insights.

—Terence Dosh, Catholic historian

An original contribution toward understanding the awful secret of clerical abuse and subterfuge in the American Catholic Church across the decades.”
—James Langford, director emeritus, University of Notre Dame Press

Great and convincing.”
—A. W. Richard Sipe, expert witness and consultant in more than 200 lawsuits
of clergy sexual abuse and co-author of Sex, Priests, and Secret Codes

—David Clohessy, executive director,
The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP)


Joe Rigert is a veteran investigative journalist, retired from the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He served as president of the international organization Investigative Reporters & Editors, and is the author of two books, Europe on Eight Kids a Day and All Together: An Unusual American Family. He and his wife, Jan, raised a multi-racial family of eight children, seven adopted.

Author Joe Rigert is available for speaking engagements . Mr. Rigert may be reached by email at


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