The first principal at Mercy Cross High School, a Jesuit priest named Francis Landwermeyer, in later years railed against the coverup of pedophilia in the Catholic church but did not live to see himself publicly identified as a priest who abused minors.
Landwermeyer’s name was on a list of 42 Jesuit priests, scholastics and brothers whom the religious order identified as having been credibly accused of abusing minors or vulnerable adults.
His name appeared with those facing more than one credible allegation of abuse.
Landwermeyer is accused of abusing minors in the 60s and 70s. No allegations surfaced during the short year he spent at Mercy Cross, the inaugural 1981-82 year of the former co-ed school lost to Hurricane Katrina on Biloxi’s Back Bay.
The Jesuits’ Central and Southern Province, which released the list, said it is trying to protect victims’ identities by keeping private the specific dates and locations of the abuse to protect victims.
Landwermeyer came to Biloxi from Loyola University in New Orleans, where he was a visiting professor. But he didn’t stay long. Accounts from the Sun Herald say the board had some reservations about Landwermeyer’s performance at the end of his first year, but rather than work to improve, he chose to resign.
“There is no confidence in my ability or trust in my integrity among the persons most significant for my effectiveness,” Landwermeyer wrote in his resignation letter in May 1982.
Jesuit records show Landwermeyer moved on to South Carolina, then Michigan, and, finally, San Antonio.
He was removed from the priesthood in 2010 after the abuse allegations were lodged, said Therese Fink Meyerhoff, director of communications for the Jesuits Central and Southern Province. The province includes the former New Orleans and Missouri provinces and the Independent Region of Puerto Rico.
After he left the priesthood, Landwermeyer created a Twitter profile and started a blog. He wrote more than once about pedophile priests and railed against the church hierarchy, including former Pope John Paul II, for compounding the abuse.
“ . . . I believe it would be more accurate to call it the bishop-abuse scandal,” Landwermeyer wrote in February 2013. “Yes, priests were, for the most part, the ones causing such intolerable pain to young boys. But bishops were their enablers. The reassignment of predators from one parish to another, sometimes from one diocese to another, to protect the priest and the church certainly multiplied the occasions of molestation as well as prevented any effective measures to protect children.”
By January 2016, Landwermeyer’s health was declining and a friend was raising money to help him pay for assisted living, according to a GoFundMe page set up for the ex-priest.
He died Sept. 5 this year in San Antonio.