Bishop Accountability
 
  Manchester NH Resources
December 12
–14, 2002

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Church troubles still facing McCormack

By J.M. Hirsch, Associated Press
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
December 12, 2002

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/Main.asp?SectionID=25&SubSectionID=354&ArticleID=69584

Concord, N.H. -- Bishop John B. McCormack avoided an unprecedented criminal indictment of his diocese Tuesday, but potential pitfalls still lurk for the leader of the state’s Roman Catholics.

McCormack averted charges and a trial by publicly acknowledging the diocese probably would have been convicted of failing to protect children from sexually abusive priests if prosecutors had gone to court. Now comes the daunting task of winning back the trust of parishioners.

The task will be complicated by a continuing criminal investigation in Massachusetts and by ongoing releases there – and soon in New Hampshire – of damning documents.

“It’s a very bumpy road,” Philip Lawler, editor of Catholic World Report, said Wednesday in a telephone interview. “He has major problems facing him.”

McCormack, who became bishop for New Hampshire in 1998, declined a request for an interview.

Many of McCormack’s troubles stem from his time in Boston, where critics say he and other top aides to Cardinal Bernard Law failed for years to act on accusations that priests were molesting children.

Law is under pressure to resign. McCormack, who was one of Law’s top deputies from 1984 to 1994, could find his fate tied to the cardinal’s.

“If Cardinal Law steps down, then I suspect people will ask legitimate questions about other bishops, and Bishop McCormack will be near the top of that list,” Lawler said.

Several newspapers and grassroots Catholic groups already have called on McCormack to resign, saying he lacks the moral compass to lead the diocese. The bishop said again Tuesday that he won’t step down.

If he stays, he is likely to face fresh questions about his judgment as thousands of pages of personnel records from the Boston archdiocese become public in civil lawsuits.

McCormack’s credibility has been battered for months by the release of records giving graphic details of alleged abuse by dozens of priests.

The records indicate that church officials, including McCormack, downplayed the accusations and repeatedly took the word of the priests over those of the victims’ and their parents.

Ann Donlan, a spokeswoman for the Massachusetts attorney general’s office, would not discuss the scope of that state’s investigation other than to say it is comprehensive. She would not rule out McCormack as a potential target.

Sylvia Demarest, a Dallas attorney who has been tracking abuse claims, says McCormack’s troubles are not likely to derail him.

She said he is part of a culture that lacks accountability, and allegations alone aren’t sufficient.

Basically he’s probably off the hook unless there are charges that can be filed against him in Massachusetts,” she said.

Though McCormack no longer must worry about criminal charges in New Hampshire, civil lawsuits continue to mount.

The diocese has settled with nearly 90 individuals so far this year, but several lawyers say deals with more clients aren’t even close.

Attorney Mark Abramson has more than 60 cases pending.

He said the diocese has fought his efforts to get church records and he plans to ask a judge to impose penalties if they are not turned over by a court-imposed deadline.

Meanwhile, attorney Robert McDaniel has filed a suit on behalf of a priest who says McCormack and other diocesan officials drove him from the church after he discovered a deceased priest’s child pornography collection.

Both lawyers say they are ready for trial.

Tuesday’s agreement also means that for the first time in New Hampshire, McCormack will face the disclosure of church records here.

After the victims’ names are blacked out, nearly 10,000 pages, including personnel records and correspondence, will be made public.

Though most date from or focus on the 1960s and 1970s, decades before McCormack came to New Hampshire, he is likely to bear the brunt of the criticism as head of the diocese.

How much of a threat this poses to McCormack is open to debate.

Bill Gately, New England spokesman for Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, believes McCormack will weather the storm.

“He will be pounded for what he stands for,” Gately said. “But will that pounding detract from his ability to lead the diocese? I would say probably not.”



Catholics find a voice

By Albert McKeon
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
December 12, 2002

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/Main.asp?SectionID=25&SubSectionID=354&ArticleID=69586

Nashua -- As the world’s largest religious institution, the Roman Catholic Church has many divergent voices among its faithful.

But most Catholics, particularly in the United States, have reached a consensus this year: that their church should no longer tolerate abusive clergy and leaders who shelter them.

Nearly 90 people echoed this view Wednesday evening as they deliberated how they could eradicate the causes of clerical sexual abuse. It was the first meeting for a Voice of the Faithful chapter in Nashua, and it came during a historic week in the church.

New Hampshire’s Catholic spiritual leader, Bishop John McCormack, signed a legal agreement Tuesday admitting the Diocese of Manchester had kept abusive priests in ministry without notifying the law or parishioners. It marked the first time a Catholic institution has cut a plea deal with a prosecutor.

Meanwhile, McCormack’s former supervisor, Cardinal Bernard Law, remains in Rome, where Vatican officials consider removing him as head of the Archdiocese of Boston because of his prominent role in the abuse crisis.

“A lot of us come here with anger,” said Kathy Vincent. “But I didn’t want to voice just my anger.”

Vincent and many others spoke of checking their anger and instead searching for a way to rebuild the church. They agree that change will come with the laity because they no longer trust their bishops.

The stated goal of Voice of the Faithful is structural reform in the church, specifically through an empowered laity. The organization started in a Boston-area church as the clergy crisis unfolded earlier this year, and now the group claims 25,000 members worldwide.

Chapters in New Hampshire have formed only this fall.

After attending meetings in Massachusetts, three local Catholics felt the need to involve others in the Nashua area.

With the blessing of the pastor of St. Joseph Church, the Rev. Gerald Desmarais, the group held its first meeting there. Plenty of voices were heard.

Many detailed the shame they have felt this year. Lifelong Catholics, they have considered leaving the church.

“I’ve been thinking of looking at other religions,” said Nancy Kring-Burns. “I can’t believe I’m saying this.”

A woman sitting in a pew nearby responded: “They’ve got problems, too.”

Peter Larose, who identified himself as a gay Episcopalian, called for the Catholic Church to at least lift the clergy celibacy vow and allow active heterosexual male priests. Larose intends to “get Episcopalians to speak out against the Catholic Church.”

His words drew applause, but jeers as well. When he continued beyond his allotted speaking time, audience members told him to sit down.

Joe Caffrey quickly responded by blaming the sexual abuse crisis on gay clergy. He, too, earned boos and cheers.

Although Larose attends another church, the exchange mirrored an argument that has picked up steam throughout Catholicism.

Some Catholics believe pedophile priests are gay, whereas others point out that no studies have linked pedophilia and homosexuality. The debate will undoubtedly serve as a linchpin in future examinations of the crisis.

The laity, though, will hold most of those discussions, as church leaders have splintered on whether the topic deserves examination.

Those leaders remain the focal point for the members of Voice of the Faithful, and at the meeting, many called for McCormack and Law to resign.

In a recurring theme, older Catholics recalled a childhood in which they never questioned clergy and bishops. Now, they demand scrutiny of their leaders.

“I want priests to stay around. I want them to make my faith grow, but I’m concerned about the administration of the church,” said Ed Kirby.



Grand jury is said to call Law; Subpoenas for clerics in probe of abuse

By Walter V. Robinson
Boston (MA) Globe
December 12, 2002

http://www.boston.com/globe/spotlight/abuse/stories3/121202_jury.htm

Cardinal Bernard F. Law and more than five bishops who worked for him have received subpoenas to appear before a state grand jury looking into possible criminal violations by church officials who supervised priests accused of sexually abusing children, according to people with knowledge of the investigation.

State troopers from the office of Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly delivered Law's subpoena to his Brighton residence last Friday, the same day that Law left for Washington. A day later, he flew from Washington to Rome.

The subpoenas, according to the sources, mark a pivotal phase in a secret, monthslong grand jury investigation convened by Reilly. The grand jury had previously demanded church records.

Reilly has said that his criminal investigation continues, even though he and other prosecutors have acknowledged that they have yet to find grounds to bring charges against Law and others alleged to have permitted sexual abusers to remain in positions where they continued to molest minors.

In addition to Law, the subpoenas have been issued for Bishop Thomas V. Daily of Brooklyn, N.Y., the nation's fifth-largest Catholic diocese; Bishop John B. McCormack of Manchester, N.H.; Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes of New Orleans; Bishop Robert J. Banks of Green Bay, Wis.; and Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y.

At least one additional bishop and several priests who have assisted Law in dealing with the sexual abuse issue have also been subpoenaed, according to the people familiar with the grand jury inquiry. The identities of the other subpoena recipients could not be determined by the Globe last night.

In an interview Tuesday, Reilly refused to comment when he was asked whether he had subpoenaed Law. Yesterday, after the Globe learned about the multiple subpoenas, Ann Donlan, Reilly's spokeswoman, would only say that a ''comprehensive and active investigation'' continues.

Reilly declined to be interviewed yesterday, but on Tuesday, he accused the archdiocese of employing ''every tool and maneuver'' to impede his investigation, despite church officials' public pledges of cooperation. So far, Reilly said, the investigation has gathered evidence of what he called an elaborate and long-running scheme by church officials to cover up the crimes of priests.

Timothy P. O'Neill, a lawyer who represents Bishops Daily and Banks, said he could not say whether his clients have received subpoenas. But O'Neill said he thought that Reilly's comments, which were published yesterday by the Globe, were inappropriate.

''As a member of the bar, I am astonished that the attorney general would make substantive comments about an ongoing grand jury investigation,'' O'Neill, himself a former prosecutor, said last night.

It could not be determined when Law or any of the others are expected to testify. Although it is uncertain when Law is due to return from Rome, he is scheduled for two days of pretrial depositions, starting next Tuesday, in the civil suit brought by alleged victims of the Rev. Paul R. Shanley.

Law's personal attorney, J. Owen Todd, did not return calls.

Law himself remained out of view in the Vatican, where he has been since Sunday for meetings with Vatican officials about whether the Archdiocese of Boston should file for bankruptcy and whether he should resign as archbishop of Boston.

Law's aides in Boston had no comment on the cardinal's meetings in Rome.

As to the grand jury subpoena, testifying under oath about this issue will be nothing new for Law: So far, he has been deposed on 10 days since May 8.

But a grand jury appearance presents a different set of challenges for Law, the other bishops, and their lawyers.

Daniel I. Small, a former federal prosecutor and now a defense lawyer, said he saw no way for church attorneys to block the appearances by Law and the others.

If the grand jury is investigating possible criminal violations by church leaders, Small said, he would usually advise such a client to assert his Fifth Amendment rights and refuse to answer questions. ''From a strictly legal point of view, that advice is easy to give, if the client were anyone but Cardinal Law,'' Small said.

''The downside for a cardinal who invokes the Fifth Amendment would be enormous,'' Small said, noting the public perception of such claims by witnesses.

On the other hand, he said, it would be risky for Law to testify and rely on the grand jury process to keep his testimony secret. Prosecutors like Reilly, he said, can issue findings that include the grand jury testimony.

Reilly has said that he feels an obligation to report his findings to the public.

Reilly has never acknowledged the existence of the grand jury investigation, even after the Globe reported in June that the grand jury had been hearing evidence for several weeks. In April, Reilly said his office had not ruled out bringing criminal charges against the cardinal.

Prosecutors have investigated the possibility of indictments charging civil rights violations or conspiracy counts, though neither may apply. The issue most commonly raised is whether Law or the other bishops could be charged as accessories.

But legal specialists have said that such a charge would require proof that those to be indicted had intended that the priests under their supervision molest children. And, in most cases, the statute of limitations has long since expired.

Reilly's has been a major voice on the clergy sexual abuse scandal from the moment that disclosures began last Jan. 6. When Law apologized for his actions on Jan. 9, he said that all future allegations of abuse would be reported to authorities. Almost immediately, Reilly and several district attorneys publicly demanded that the church report all past allegations of abuse, and Law quickly agreed.

Initially, an agreement was struck for the church to voluntarily turn over files. But Reilly and other prosecutors soon complained publicly that the archdiocese was slow to provide the information. One prosecutor, Norfolk District Attorney William R. Keating, used grand jury subpoenas to force the handover of documents, according to law enforcement officials.

One person who knows about the subpoenas said that several archdiocesan officials, including other bishops, have already testified before the grand jury.



Priest is muscle behind church reform; Support for Arsenault strong

By Annmarie Timmins
Concord (NH) Monitor
December 12, 2002

http://www.cmonitor.com/stories/news/state2002/arsenault_2002.shtml

Father Edward Arsenault appeared in newspapers across the country yesterday as the point man for nothing less than reforming the way the Catholic church in New Hampshire deals with sexually abusive priests. If the job wasn't tough enough, Arsenault begins it with a big liability.

His bishop and his church admitted this week to grave mistakes, namely putting children at risk by mishandling abuse allegations against priests. But those who've come to know Arsenault through the clergy abuse scandal consider him amply qualified to do better.

He's a priest who's young enough to have learned about the harm of child abuse in seminary. And he talks about the pain the church has caused victims in a way not often heard from church officials.

"He's the perfect pick," said Donna Sytek, a former state legislator chosen by Bishop John McCormack to lead an evaluation of the church's sexual harassment policy. "He's driven by what's right. He cares about people. And he knows how to get things done."

On Tuesday, Attorney General Philip McLaughlin expressed confidence in Arsenault's willingness to forge change even as he announced that his office would no longer trust the Diocese of Manchester to investigate abuse allegations against its priests alone, without state supervision.

"Father Arsenault would have undertaken changes (absent the state's insistence) because he thought it was the right thing to do," McLaughlin said. "(Arsenault) expressed confidence that . . . (the church) can be relied upon to enforce this agreement (with the state). And I believe that."

That "agreement" requires the church to drastically improve the way it handles complaints against abusive priests and to share with the public files showing how it handled - and mishandled - past allegations. In exchange, the state agreed to cease investigating the Diocese of Manchester for child endangerment.

It's the first agreement of its kind in the country. As McCormack's assistant in charge of handling sexual abuse and harassment, Arsenault must see that the agreement is followed. Yesterday, he explained his obligations for investigating abusive priests and how he's approaching them.

Arsenault cited as an important advantage the very thing much of the public sees as an obstacle to change: McCormack's experience - failings included - doing the same job for Cardinal Bernard Law during his 10 years in the Archdiocese of Boston.

"In Boston, he was a priest administering a policy for an archbishop, and I think he did the best he could," Arsenault said. "What's different now is here he's the guy who decides. He has admitted his own share of mistakes and in that has looked back at things that didn't help. That's why I think he's uniquely qualified to help get us through this process."

Arsenault is in his 40s and has been a priest just 11 years. After being ordained in 1991, he worked with the Hispanic community from parishes in Nashua and then Manchester. "I was happy doing what I was doing," Arsenault said. "I liked it so much I thought I should keep doing it."

Bishop Leo O'Neil, then in charge of the Diocese of Manchester, thought otherwise and pulled Arsenault out of parish work shortly thereafter and sent him to school to get a master's degree in finance. Arsenault preferred working with parishioners to numbers but went willingly.

"That is the nature of our ministry," he said. "We go where we are sent."

He arrived at the diocese in 1995 to use his finance degree and has served most of his ministry in administration since. When McCormack arrived in Manchester in 1998 to take over for O'Neil, who had died, he gave Arsenault the two second highest roles in the diocese, those of his assistant and his delegate for handling sexual misconduct complaints.

Arsenault refuses to take the credit others give him for agreeing to this week's state-mandated changes in the way the church has handled clergy sexual abuse. He instead credits McCormack, saying he has enhanced the diocese's understanding of and response to allegations of sexual misconduct.

"I can tell you what I get to (do alone)," he said. "I pick my breakfast, when I go to bed and, one day a week, I get to pick the color of my socks. The way the church is structured, I don't take any initiatives that are not on (McCormack's) agenda."

So while Arsenault was advocating weeks ago for an enhancement of the state's reporting law for child abuse, he said it was McCormack's decision to sign the state's agreement this week that does hold the church to a more explicit reporting standard. The church must now report all child abuse, even if the victim waits until adulthood to come forward.

What the public does not know, Arsenault said, is that McCormack began improving the church's policy against sexual misconduct as soon as he arrived in the Manchester.

Specifically, Arsenault said, McCormack established the diocese's review board of non-clergy that helps church leaders evaluate allegations against priests. And McCormack insisted that the church include someone in that investigation process who would advocate just for victims, Arsenault said.

The changes Arsenault described are largely a re-creation of the system McCormack was part of in the Boston archdiocese. Arsenault doesn't like that characterization because he fears it implies that the system that failed in Boston is failing in New Hampshire.

It's not, Arsenault said, because McCormack has the final say on what to do with priests the church believes are guilty of child sexual assault. Arsenault emphasized the distinction yesterday saying that McCormack has never reassigned a priest who has sexually abused a child to a parish in New Hampshire as he did while in Boston.

"No one is asking for an excuse for he did or did not do for the people of Boston," Arsenault said, noting again that in Boston, McCormack was acting on behalf of someone else. "For the people of New Hampshire, I would want them to measure his success by the decisions he makes here."

Arsenault said McCormack decided this year to formalize that prohibition of reassigning abusive priests part of his official policy, although he acknowledged that it still does not appear in writing.

But Sytek and others insisted yesterday on giving Arsenault more credit than he's given to himself.

For instance, McCormack urged Arsenault to hire more help for responding to sexual abuse complaints. But it was Arsenault who went outside the clergy and hired a social worker and a lawyer, one a man, the other a woman, to help him investigate accused priests and support victims.

He has responded quickly to every request Sytek's task force has made of him as it evaluates his work for weakness. And while McCormack's signature, not his, appears on the diocese's agreement with the state, it is understood that Arsenault is the one who negotiated the deal with the attorney general's office.

"Look at the way the diocese has responded to (the state's demands it improve its handling of abusive priests)," Sytek said. "They could have stonewalled and behaved like Boston. But the Manchester diocese has been so much more caring about the victims. The combination of Father Arsenault and Bishop McCormack seems to be working."



McCormack subpoenaed in Massachusetts sex-abuse inquiry

By Kathryn Marchocki
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
December 13, 2002

Despite striking an unprecedented agreement this week to avoid criminal prosecution of the Catholic Church in New Hampshire, Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack now must answer to a grand jury in Massachusetts.

McCormack is among at least six bishops who served under Cardinal Bernard F. Law of Boston to be issued subpoenas by Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly in the past week. Law also was subpoenaed.

Reilly is investigating the Catholic hierarchy's handling of clergy sexual-abuse cases in the Boston Archdiocese.

"Bishop McCormack has cooperated with civil authorities in New Hampshire and Massachusetts and will continue to do so," said the bishop's attorney, Brian Tucker of Concord.

He would not discuss specifics of Reilly's investigation.

Meanwhile, McCormack will be deposed Monday in Boston by the attorney representing about 55 people who alleged in lawsuits that the Rev. Joseph E. Birmingham sexually abused them while he served at various Boston area parishes from the 1960s through the 1980s.

Birmingham, who died in 1989, was a classmate of McCormack's, and the two served together at the same Salem, Mass., parish in the 1960s where parents said they complained to McCormack that Birmingham had sexually abused children.

Birmingham remained in ministry and was promoted pastor of a Gloucester, Mass., parish in 1985, when McCormack was Law's secretary for ministerial personnel.

A Massachusetts grand jury reportedly has been investigating the church's conduct for six months.
While Reilly's office would not confirm the existence of a grand jury, spokeswoman Beth Stone said, "We have an active, ongoing investigation here in Massachusetts."

Reilly's office for months has been investigating how the archdiocesan hierarchy handled clergy sexual abuse and whether there are criminal laws that will enable him to prosecute.

Reilly has complained that state laws make it difficult, if not impossible, to charge church officials who knew about pedophile priests but failed to protect children from them.

"There was a cover-up. There was an elaborate scheme," Reilly said yesterday. "It is very difficult under the criminal laws of this state to hold a superior accountable for the acts of another."

Unlike New Hampshire, Massachusetts just this year passed a law similar to the child endangerment statute that enabled New Hampshire prosecutors to negotiate an agreement with the Catholic Diocese of Manchester.

Massachusetts also this year enacted a mandatory reporting law for clergy.

Neither law can be applied retroactively to prosecute crimes in Massachusetts, Reilly's office has said.

Accomplice liability and conspiracy liability are possible legal theories Reilly's office might consider in trying to bring criminal charges against Law and his former top leaders, New Hampshire Assistant Attorney General James D. Rosenberg said.

"The problem with this is you've got statute-of-limitations considerations . . . ," he said.

Pursuing an accomplice-theory prosecution also is exceedingly difficult because it must be proved that church leaders had the same intent as the person committing the assault, he added.

New Hampshire prosecutors used the state's child endangerment statute to strike an agreement in which the diocese admitted the state's evidence likely would result in a criminal conviction for failing to protect children from abusive priests.

It is the first such admission of its kind by any diocese in the country and was reached under the threat of grand jury indictments.

Pressure also could continue to mount against McCormack if Law resigns.

The cardinal has been in Rome meeting with Vatican officials this week and is expected to meet with the pope today amid speculation that he will offer his resignation.

Some observers said a resignation by Law could trigger a similar reaction among his former top aides, including McCormack.

"This is probably one of the things that people think might happen, and one of the things the Vatican is afraid will happen, that this will be a domino effect if he does resign," said Richard Sipe, a former priest and authority on clergy sexual abuse.

But Ann R. Riggs, assistant professor of religious studies at Rivier College in Nashua, said the "significant differences" between the Manchester Diocese's and the Boston Archdiocese's handling of the sexual-abuse crisis could derail a "domino effect."

"The situation in Boston is unique, and it's too soon to tell if there will be repercussions on other bishops," Riggs said.

"Bishop McCormack has shown as much effort to change as just about any bishop could and certainly has made more of an effort than any of the other bishops I have heard about," Riggs said, adding he "certainly is more secure than Cardinal Law."

Diocesan spokesman Pat McGee said McCormack has no plans to step down.

McCormack's "commitment to be faithful to the church in New Hampshire is still strongly in place, and he continues to work day and night to fulfill his mission here as requested by the Holy Father."

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)



Records further damage Boston church’s credibility

By Gill Donovan
National Catholic Reporter
December 13, 2002

http://natcath.org/NCR_Online/archives2/2002d/121302/121302m.htm

Boston archdiocesan leaders during the past two decades overlooked criminal behavior committed by priests, including assault and battery of a 58-year-old woman, sexual abuse by a priest of teenage female postulants and novices, and the exchange of sex for illegal drugs, according to press reports on archdiocesan records recently released to the public.

The 2,200 pages of records were released Dec. 3 by lawyers for victims of Fr. Paul Shanley, which the lawyers say help prove a pattern of negligent behavior by the archdiocese of transferring abusive priests.

The archdiocese currently faces about 450 civil suits in which sexual abuse by priests is alleged. On Dec. 4, the archdiocese took a step toward declaring bankruptcy when its finance panel gave Boston Cardinal Bernard Law permission to do so if he chose.

The 2,200 pages of documents detail abuse accusations against eight priests and are part of some 11,000 pages documenting allegations against a total of 65 priests. The archdiocese attempted in a last-minute effort to seal all the records from the public by court order Nov. 22. That attempt failed, and one of the lawyers for victims of abuse by Shanley, Robert Sherman, told the Los Angeles Times that the remaining 8,800 pages about the other 58 accused priests would be released in the future.

The latest documents were released nearly a year after the archdiocese was first forced under court order to turn over personnel records of serial child abuser priest John Geoghan. The public viewing of those records accelerated the clergy sex abuse scandal that has since broken across the country (NCR, Feb. 1).

Some who have followed the ongoing church scandal closely say the release of the 2,200 pages is especially damaging to the credibility of Law and some of his former archdiocesan officials who have since been promoted to head dioceses of their own: Archbishops Alfred C. Hughes of New Orleans; and Thomas Daily of Brooklyn, N.Y.; and Bishops Robert Banks of Green Bay, Wis.; John McCormack of Manchester, N.H.; and William Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y.

Said David Clohessy, national chair of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests: “If anyone had the notion that this was just about Cardinal Law, that notion is dispelled. Clearly, Banks, Daily and McCormack and others were deeply and recently involved.”

Recommendations ignored

The records indicate that one of Law’s former officials, Bishop John D’Arcy, who since 1985 has headed the South Bend, Ind., diocese, consistently opposed the transfer of abusive priests. The records show that his recommendations, however, were regularly ignored by Law and his other auxiliaries.

The documents reveal that three women accused Fr. Robert Meffan of sexually abusing them when they were teenagers. In each case, Meffan had convinced the teens to enter formation programs for the sisterhood. Abuse allegedly occurred for years when the priest would visit, ostensibly to offer spiritual guidance. Meffan, according to the records, would tell the girls he was Christ and that they were “brides of Christ” and initiate sexual activity.

Though records indicate that during his ministry Meffan denied ever abusing anyone, the priest, now 73, admitted the abuse in a Boston Globe telephone interview: “What I was trying to show them is that Christ is human and you should love him as a human being.” he told the newspaper. “Don’t think he’s up there and he’s spiritual and he’s not human and physical. He’s human, he’s physical. That’s what I was trying to point out to them.”

According to the records, the first complaint against Meffan was in 1980. No evidence has been found that the archdiocese followed up on the complaint.

In 1984 a diocesan official wrote to Law, who had taken over as Boston archbishop months earlier, that Meffan had refused an assignment because he said he had a secret mission from God that needed his attention.

D’Arcy also wrote to Law saying that Meffan was not “balanced” and could harm the archdiocese. Law, however, reassigned Meffan in December 1985 to a parish in Pembroke, St. Thecla. Meffan held that position until further accusations of abuse led Law to suspend him in July 1993. In July 1996, Meffan complained to Law about the restrictions on his priestly duties, in an essay, saying that he was “a prisoner of love in a cell of allegations.”

In reply, Law characterized the essay as “a beautiful testament to the depth of your faith and the courage of your heart. ... You have touched me deeply, Bob.” It was one of several letters in the records that showed Law as lavishly understanding toward accused abusers.

The archdiocese’s records also outline the history of abuse and involvement in illegal drugs of Fr. Richard Buntel.

Bishop Thomas Daily was notified in 1981 that Buntel was involved in distributing drugs to minors.

Buntel left Malden in 1983 after he denied a charge that he had traded a 15-year-old boy cocaine for oral sex. Buntel was transferred to St. Catherine in Westford. That move was made against the recommendation of D’Arcy, who, in a letter to Daily, said that the archdiocese had been told that Buntel was abusing illegal drugs, was alcoholic, was engaging in homosexual activity, and was providing drugs to minors.

Drugs for sex

Buntel remained in Westford until 1994, when, under questioning about the 1983 allegation of trading drugs for sex, Buntel admitted to the drug use. He maintained, however, that the sexual relationship with the boy began only after he turned 18. Buntel was placed on leave in March 1994.

Records of Fr. Thomas Forry contradict Law’s assertion in January that no priest then serving in the archdiocese had been credibly accused of child abuse. Forry continued to minister in the archdiocese until February, even though multiple allegations of abuse had been made against him.

Forry ultimately admitted to attacking his 58-year-old housekeeper in 1979. A doctor describing the woman’s injuries from the attack said she had bruises, cuts, and that a portion of her hair had been pulled out of her scalp.

A warning by D’Arcy about Forry’s violent behavior did not lead to the priest’s permanent removal from ministry. Law instead transferred Forry to a parish in the southern part of the archdiocese.

In 1984, a woman with whom Forry was alleged to have had a sexual relationship complained to the archdiocese that Forry had abused her son, the same year in which Forry refused long-term pyschiatric care, despite the recommendation of psychiatrists who said he was in “grave need.” Forry opted instead for two months of outpatient treatment.

In 1988, Law approved a transfer for Forry to full-time Army chaplain.

When serving in the Department of Corrections in 1999, according to the Boston Globe, Forry was accused of “screaming and shouting and exhibiting emotional and behavioral problems.”

Correspondence from an archdiocesan official called Forry “a deeply troubled person,” and said he should be “held accountable for his behavior.” Law, however, next made Forry a member of the archdiocesan emergency response team, where he would fill in at parishes during any assigned priest’s absence. The next complaint against Forry was made in October 2001 by a woman who said Forry had molested her and her brother years ago when they were still children. Forry was finally removed from ministry this past February.

Records released about other priests accused of abuse who worked in the archdiocese -- Robert Morrissette, Robert Burns, James Nyghan, Peter Frost and Robert Towner -- tell similar stories of accusations of sexual abuse against minors usually leading to transfers by archdiocesan officials.

Fr. Walter Cuenin, pastor of a large, thriving parish in Newton, Mass., Our Lady Help of Christians, said learning of the contents of the documents has been difficult. “Some of these men are our classmates,” he told NCR. “We know them.”

“For priests in the Boston archdiocese it’s a very sad day,” he said. “Many of us feel sad and ashamed by the terrible things that were happening.”

Tom White, the development director of Voice of the Faithful, a lay organization advocating church reform, reacted by wondering: “How much more can we be revulsed?”



Pressure on McCormack could intensify; Fate of Cardinal Law likely to affect him

By J.M. Hirsch, Associated Press
Concord (NH) Monitor
December 13, 2002

http://www.cmonitor.com/stories/news/state2002/1213_churchjason_2002.shtml

If Cardinal Bernard Law steps down, calls for his former deputies to follow suit could intensify.

Law, who has been battered by accusations that he allowed priests who were sexually abusing children to remain in parishes, was at the Vatican to see the pope this week to discuss the scandal that has enguled the archdiocese for nearly a year.

Speculation that he would resign as leader of Boston's Roman Catholics intensified yesterday, prompting some to question what that would mean for people such as Bishop John McCormack, a top aide to Law from 1984 to 1994. McCormack has been bishop of the Diocese of Manchester since 1998.

Richard Sipe, a former priest and an authority on sexual abuse in the church, said Law could be the first of many to go.

"This is probably one of the things that people think might happen, and one of the things the Vatican is afraid will happen, that this will be a domino effect if he does resign," he said. "If the Vatican accedes to this, then where will it stop?"

McCormack has faced similar pressure, including calls for him to step down by state newspapers and grass-roots Catholic groups.

Patrick McGee, spokesman for McCormack, said the bishop has no plans to step down and plans to "remain faithful to his people in New Hampshire and to the promise he made to the Holy Father as their shepherd."

But Sipe said pressure from angry and disillusioned parishioners, coupled by Law's departure, could initiate a major change in church leadership and practices.

"I do not think that the Catholic Church will get out of this without a thorough reformation," he said.

Law and seven bishops who worked for him were subpoenaed last week to appear before a grand jury looking into possible criminal violations by church officials in their supervision of accused priests, a source familiar with the subpoenas confirmed yesterday to the Associated Press.

State police from the office of Attorney General Thomas Reilly delivered Law's subpoena to his Boston residence Friday, the Boston Globe first reported.

The following day, Law flew to Rome, where he was still meeting with church leaders yesterday.

Law's trip to the Vatican came amid speculation that the cardinal may resign or get approval to declare bankruptcy in a bid to spare the archdiocese from financial ruin. He has met with Vatican officials who would be involved in handling a resignation; however, only the pope would receive a resignation from a cardinal and decide whether to accept it.

Vatican spokesman Joaquin Navarro-Valls said yesterday that Law was expected to meet with the pope today. Any resignation would not come before such a meeting, he said.

Law raised the possibility of resigning when he met with the pope in April, but he came away determined to stay on and repair the damage to the Boston Archdiocese.

Regardless of Law's future, the cardinal's former aides continued to be pulled further into the scandal.

Subpoenas to appear before a Massachusetts grand jury have been issued to Law and several bishops who once worked with him, including McCormack.

James Farrell, a member of the New Hampshire chapter of Voice of the Faithful, said Law's departure, though good for the church, would represent a de facto admission to many allegations. He said that could further taint McCormack.

"If Cardinal Law has in fact resigned, then John McCormack should be right behind him," Farrell said. "Really the only defense he has for what he did was, 'I was doing what the cardinal told me.' And that's no defense at all."

But Farrell isn't convinced the bishop will succumb to the pressure, despite his belief that support for McCormack even among the faithful has eroded.

"If he was at all responsive to public opinion, I think he would have been gone long ago," Farrell said.

Monsignor Thomas Green, a professor of cannon law at The Catholic University of America in Washington, said no bishop is safe if Law resigns, but he doesn't foresee wholesale departures.

"Whatever happens, it will probably be on a case by case, situation by situation basis. And a lot will depend, I suppose, on how closely involved the other bishops were in the actual day-to-day personnel operations of the archdiocese," he said.

"If the good cardinal resigns fairly soon, the very fact that things have gone on so long and he has not resigned is an indicator to me that the Holy See has not been pushing this issue," Green said.



Focus shifting to McCormack

By J.M. Hirsch, Associated Press
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
December 14, 2002

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/Main.asp?SectionID=25&SubSectionID=354&ArticleID=69700

Concord, N.H. -- Within hours of toppling Cardinal Bernard Law on Friday, alleged victims of priest sexual abuse set their sights on a new target – Bishop John B. McCormack.

“Bishop McCormack, we’re coming after you,” alleged abuse victim Gary Bergeron said during a Boston news conference about Law’s departure.

Law announced from the Vatican on Friday that he was stepping down as leader of Massachusetts’ Roman Catholics following a tumultuous year spent at the heart of the priest abuse scandal.

McCormack, who was a top aide to Law from 1984 to 1994, has shared much of the criticism for allowing priests who were sexually abusing children to remain in parishes. He became bishop of New Hampshire in 1998.

“Cardinal Law got here in 1984 and became part of the problem. Bishop McCormack has known about this since the 1960s,” said Bergeron, 39, of Lowell, Mass.

“For every document I’ve seen with the name Bernard Law, I’ve seen 100 with the name Bishop McCormack.”

Bergeron is an alleged victim of the late Rev. Joseph E. Birmingham, who served with McCormack at St. James parish in Salem, Mass., in the mid-1960s.

On Friday, McCormack said he has no plans to resign and wants to be judged by his time in New Hampshire, not Boston.

“Recognizing my own imperfections, I ask the people of New Hampshire to measure my resolve to serve and my plans for our future as Church by what I have done well as your bishop,” he said in a written statement.

Boston attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr., who represents more than 200 alleged victims including Bergeron, said the focus of the scandal now must shift to McCormack.

“You’ve got to talk about John McCormack, the bishop of New Hampshire, the man that I knew in 1993 when we were doing the (Rev. James) Porter case, that appeared so compassionate yet covered up and put back into ministry so many of these predators,” MacLeish said.

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represents other abuse victims, also said it is time for McCormack and other former Law deputies to step down.

“To all the other supervisors, you know who you are,” he said. “You need to look within yourself and make a determination as to whether you should also resign.”

But the Rev. Edward Arsenault, McCormack’s delegate on sexual misconduct cases, said the bishop is “one of the true jewels” among bishops. “This is the guy who should be leading the church in New Hampshire,” he said.

Arsenault said the unprecedented agreement McCormack made with prosecutors earlier in the week to end the state’s criminal investigation of the diocese is a sign of the good McCormack can do for the church.

In February the state began investigating whether the diocese broke the law by reassigning priests who molested children. The agreement averted an indictment and included an admission that the church failed to protect children.

Attorney General Philip McLaughlin said he trusts McCormack to abide by the deal, which includes mandatory reporting of abuse allegations beyond what the law requires.

“Weighing as I do Bishop McCormack’s history in Boston, what we have in New Hampshire is a bishop who did the unthinkable,” McLaughlin said.

“There are many bishops who have had problems,” he said.

“Bishop McCormack is thus far the only one on the stage who has done something about it. I think that deserves some credit,” McLaughlin added.



Loyal bishops seen drawing new focus

By Michael Rezendes
Boston (MA) Globe
December 14, 2002

http://www.boston.com/globe/spotlight/abuse/stories3/121402_deputies.htm [photos of priests]

They were loyal bishops helping their cardinal in the gentle handling of sexually abusive priests. And as they fanned out across the country to lead dioceses of their own, some allegedly continued the common practice of the Boston archdiocese: forgiving the accused while concealing their misdeeds.

Now, with Law's resignation, survivors of abuse and others who have followed the scandal in the Catholic Church say attention is likely to shift to Law's former deputies and other bishops who have tolerated abuse.

''The fear of the Vatican has always been that if Law resigns there would be a domino effect, not only among his auxiliaries but also among other bishops who didn't do what they should have done with abusive priests,'' said Thomas J. Reese, editor of the Jesuit magazine America.

Law himself has said in pretrial testimony that he often relied on subordinates in dealing with priests accused of sexual misconduct. And two of those subordinates have already drawn public anger and the attention of law enforcement authorities for their handling of abusive clerics in Boston and in their own dioceses.

Bishop John B. McCormack, a top deputy to Law as recently as 1998, narrowly escaped a criminal indictment of his Manchester, N.H. diocese earlier this week by signing a legal agreement to release thousands of pages of church records on abusive priests.

At an emotional news conference yesterday, alleged clergy abuse victims repeatedly called on McCormack to follow Law's lead and resign. ''Bishop McCormack, we're coming after you,'' said Gary Bergeron, an alleged victim of the late Rev. Joseph E. Birmingham, who was reassigned to parish work despite numerous complaints made directly to McCormack.

Bishop Thomas V. Daily, a top assistant to Law in the mid-1980s and the leader of the Brooklyn diocese, had to be prodded by law enforcement officials into suspending an accused pastor earlier this year. Daily, 75, has submitted a mandatory retirement letter to Pope John Paul II.

And survivors of abuse say that leaders of the nation's largest and second-largest archdioceses - cardinals Roger Mahony of Los Angeles and Edward Egan of New York - are also likely to draw increased scrutiny in the wake of Law's resignation.

''If it weren't for the shadow cast by what's been happening in Boston I think there'd be much more heat on Mahony and Egan,'' said David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

In October, Mahony was sharply criticized by a local district attorney for his reluctance to relinquish church documents to a grand jury reviewing evidence of clerical abuse. Egan, meanwhile, has had to defend himself against accusations that he failed to remove sexually abusive clerics while the leader of the Bridgeport diocese.

Other, less prominent bishops may also draw increased attention. Earlier this month, Bishop Thomas O'Brien of the Phoenix diocese was singled out by a district attorney who cited evidence that O'Brien advised the families of victims to withhold information about sexual abuse from law enforcement. That could lead to obstruction of justice charges, the prosecutor said. Arizona state law includes clergy among a list of professionals required to report child sexual abuse to civil authorities.

Some officials directly involved in managing the clergy crisis do not believe that bishops other than Law are likely to resign any time soon.

''The circumstances surrounding Cardinal Law were special. It would be a terrible mistake if people used it as some sort of precedent,'' said Robert S. Bennett, a prominent attorney and a member of the National Review Board named by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops to monitor compliance with their new policy for dealing with sexually abusive priests.

But survivors and their attorneys said that if the scandal in Boston appears to be an anomaly, it is only because Boston is the only place where legal action has led to the public disclosure of all church records on priests accused of sexual misconduct.

''People view Boston as an aberration because it's only in Boston that a courageous judge and some courageous survivors have persisted to the point where documents have been opened,'' Clohessy said, referring to orders issued by Superior Court Judge Constance M. Sweeney. ''If another judge in another diocese had acted in a similar manner, I think we'd be looking at the same situation elsewhere.''

The church records aired in Boston - through lawsuits filed against former priest John J. Geoghan and the Rev. Paul R. Shanley - have linked Law and six of his former bishops to the lax supervision of priests who were moved to new parishes after abuse was discovered. A seventh former aide, Bishop John A. D'Arcy of the Fort Wayne-South Bend diocese in Indiana, repeatedly questioned the assignments of troubled priests during his tenure in the Boston archdiocese, the records show.

In addition to McCormack and Daily, the bishops associated with Law's oversight of abusive priests include William F. Murphy of the Rockville Centre diocese in New York, Daniel A. Hart of the Norwich, Conn. diocese, Alfred C. Hughes of the New Orleans archdiocese, and Robert J. Banks of the Green Bay, Wis. diocese.

Murphy was directly involved in the supervision of defrocked priest Paul J. Mahan before leaving for Rockville Centre last year. He recently handed over church files on abusive priests in his Long Island diocese to a Nassau County grand jury.

Hart, a regional bishop under Law before leaving Boston in 1996, was a supervisor of Rev. Anthony J. Rebeiro, a suspended priest accused of sexually assaulting a female parishioner.

Hughes, who was named bishop of the Green Bay diocese in 1990, played a role in the oversight of Boston priest James D. Foley, who fathered two children with a woman who later died of a drug overdose.

And it was Banks who arranged to tone down an unfavorable psychological evaluation of Geoghan before the pedophile priest was transferred to a Weston parish, despite credible allegations that he had molested several boys.

''They were all number twos,'' said Mitchell Garabedian, an attorney for victims of Geoghan and other abusive priests. ''Any leader of the church who had a role in the sexual molestation of innocent children should follow the example of Law and resign.''



Task force on abuse by clergy still on the job

Manchester (NH) Union Leader
December 14, 2002

The agreement between the Diocese of Manchester and the Attorney General's Office ended a criminal investigation of diocesan actions with respect to allegations of priests' sexual misconduct with minors, but it doesn't eliminate the need for action by the Diocesan Task Force on Sexual Misconduct Policy.

Task force Chairman Donna Sytek yesterday said, "Our policy is broader than that." While the agreement focuses on implementing policies designed to prevent child sexual abuse, respond to allegations and ensure reporting of neglect and sexual abuse of minors, the task force is working on drafting revised sexual-misconduct policy recommendations.

A topic of discussion at yesterday's task force meeting was a report on the agreement by Senior Assistant Attorney General William Delker and Assistant Attorney General James Rosenberg.

Sister Lorraine Trottier, P.M., a former Manchester teacher and principal, questioned why the agreement says the diocese can destroy all documents and information about abuse allegations after a priest dies. "What if a new victim comes forth?" she asked. Delker said, "This was a request the diocese made." He said the AG's office didn't object because criminal prosecution would no longer be an issue, but he acknowledged, "There may be civil implications."

Although the agreement gets the diocese and administrative personnel off the hook, Delker said, individual priests could still be prosecuted if new allegations come forth.

Delker said he and Rosenberg would be meeting Monday with diocese officials and attorneys to draw up detailed procedures for the agreed-upon annual audits. He said the factual investigative report and raw materials, with victims' identifying information removed, would be released in four to six weeks.

Bishop John B. McCormack mandated the task force to compare the diocese's existing sexual misconduct policy with the one adopted last month by the nation's bishops and make recommendations for changes. But the task force decided to draft its own revised policy, and it's struggling now with defining who is a victim.

Sytek yesterday asked fellow members to consider whether to narrow the focus to minors and vulnerable adults.

The diocese is working on a code of conduct for all employees, including priests, but attorney Diane Murphy Quinlan, the diocese's delegate for police administration, said that currently the code doesn't address sexual misconduct.

Task force member Deborah Jones Cooper proposed having the code of conduct address consensual adult behavior, while the task force focused on sexual misconduct and harassment.

Colby-Sawyer College professor and child psychologist Dr. Marc Clement said the policy needs to address sexual harassment or exploitation of "anyone with whom they have an unequal relationship." That relationship can make an adult vulnerable.

Richard Ashooh, vice president of public affairs at BAE Systems in Nashua, suggested making the issue protection. "Our commentary should be limited to protection of the community," he said, with the policy going beyond an age-limiting factor.

Sytek reminded the group the bishop had charged them with a policy regarding minors. Clement persisted: "It's the issue of who's vulnerable."



Despite Law’s resignation, church critics remain

By Nancy Meersman
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
December 14, 2002

Bernard Law's departure did not quell the outrage.

With the head of the Boston Archdiocese gone, the alleged victims of Massachusetts priest John Birmingham, in particular, are setting their sights on New Hampshire Bishop John B. McCormack.

"Bishop McCormack, we're coming after you. I'll see you Monday," said Gary Bergeron, a 40-year-old resident of Lowell, Mass., who will be at the conference table Monday when Bishop McCormack is deposed in the lawsuits against Birmingham.

"It's only a matter of time before he will be gone," predicted Bob Morton of Newton. Newton is not himself a victim of Birmingham's but as a child knew the priest and joined the cause. Birmingham died in 1989.

"In our group, John McCormack is considered a much worse perpetrator than Law," he said.
McCormack was for many years the person delegated by Cardinal Law to investigate and respond to allegations of sexual misconduct by priests in the Boston Archdiocese.

Both Morton and Bergeron are members of the Survivors of Joseph Birmingham, made up of alleged victims and others who are demanding change.

Morton said that in his eyes, Cardinal Law "turned the corner" when he resigned and expressed remorse for what happened to the hundreds of children allegedly molested by priests in the Boston Archdiocese.

Morton and Bergeron said they believe it's McCormack's turn to undergo scrutiny and they predict the spotlight will show him to be far more involved in shifting pedophiles from parish to parish than the cardinal was.

McCormack has been subpoenaed as a witness in a criminal investigation by the Massachusetts attorney general and is, as well, a key target in several sex-abuse lawsuits, including those brought by the alleged victims of Birmingham.

The latter served in the Massachusetts parishes of Sudbury, Lowell, Brighton, Gloucester and Lexington. For several years, Birmingham ministered to the parishioners at St. James in Salem alongside his seminary classmate John McCormack.

Bergeron alleges that McCormack saw Birmingham "taking boys into his bedroom, taking boys into his car and taking boys with him on trips. I think he turned a blind eye."

Morton accuses the Manchester bishop of not accepting responsibility for the way he handled alleged child rape cases in Massachusetts and for choosing instead to blame "those priests" who did terrible things -- not the church leaders who did not stop it.

"His hands are all over this," said Bergeron. "For every document with Law's signature there are hundreds with McCormack's signature."

Bergeron said he wouldn't be surprised if organized groups that have been picketing in Boston start shadowing McCormack.

"Why the people of New Hampshire would even consider wanting this person to lead their church is beyond me," he said.

Attorney Charles Douglas, who recently settled sex-abuse lawsuits for 16 clients who sued priests with the Manchester Diocese, said Cardinal Law's resignation was long overdue.

It remains to be seen, Douglas said, whether the problems in Massachusetts will hinder McCormack "up here and affect his ability to work out solutions to our problems. . . . And how much the next few weeks of document releases in Boston will splash on Bishop McCormack."

The fact that new evidence is coming out "puts him in the line of fire, no doubt about it. It makes him the next target," Douglas said.

Attorney Peter Hutchins, who recently resolved 62 cases with the Manchester Diocese for $5 million, said people can only speculate whether the document releases in Boston will have repercussions for McCormack.

"My view is, from a New Hampshire standpoint, my clients were victimized long before he got here. He has done an exemplary job in handling the New Hampshire crisis, in a way that was unprecedented nationally," Hutchins said.

"The diocese immediately reached out to the victims, settling the cases and not raising technical legal defenses and not questioning the credibility of the victims."

Hutchins said the settlement his clients reached requires confidentiality only on the part of the diocese, in contrast to the past focus on avoiding scandal.

"These victims are free to disclose their settlement and, beyond that, to say anything they want to say," he said.



Bishop McCormack intends to stay

Manchester (NH) Union Leader
December 14, 2002

Bishop John B. McCormack released the following statement yesterday:

"Faith anchors us to God and to one another. At a time when so much in life seems unsure, belief in the Lord and our reliance on one another are essential. This week, I signed an unprecedented agreement that acknowledges our Diocese's own imperfections in order to restore confidence in our future.

"I intend to remain faithful to the people and to fulfill the Holy Father's assignment to be the shepherd of the Church in New Hampshire. Leadership in the Church must rely not only on my office, but also on collaboration within the Church and cooperation with other leaders in our communities. Recognizing my own imperfections, I ask the people of New Hampshire to measure my resolve to serve and my plans for our future as Church by what I have done well as your bishop.

"We have to work together. I am committed to doing what is best for the Church in New Hampshire by forging ahead through this painful cleansing of the deep wounds within us. Good shepherds are faithful servants who lead by example, call others to join in and then together seek out those most in need. My ministry is a privilege which both humbles and challenges me. Our Church is healed by the coming of the Lord. This Advent and Christmas we need Him more than most. Christ in all things."



NH bishop won’t resign

By Kathryn Marchocki
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
December 14, 2002

Cardinal Bernard F. Law's resignation as Boston archbishop yesterday may increase the pressure on Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack, who said he has no intention of following suit.

"I intend to remain faithful to the people and to fulfill the Holy Father's assignment to be the shepherd of the church in New Hampshire," McCormack said.

"Recognizing my own imperfections, I ask the people of New Hampshire to measure my resolve to serve and my plans for our future as church by what I have done well as your bishop," he said in a statement.

Law's resignation comes at the end of a tumultuous year in which the Boston Archdiocese took center stage in the child sexual-abuse scandal embroiling the church.

McCormack has shared in the disgrace as one of Law's top aides in Boston whose mishandling of abusive priests was revealed in church documents, victims' stories and depositions through the course of the year.

"I think (McCormack) perhaps has to have the same consultations that Cardinal Law did, and he ultimately has to make his own decision. If he decides he can be a healer and a healing force, he should stay," said former Manchester Mayor Silvio Dupuis.

The agreement McCormack struck with the Attorney General's Office this week will probably "set a standard for the country" and at least shows a determination on the bishop's part to be that force, he added.

The diocese this week acknowledged its handling of sexually abusive priests since the 1960s probably would have resulted in a criminal conviction for child endangerment.

It also agreed to public oversight of how it handles sexual assaults and to comply with stricter child-abuse reporting mandates than those required by law.

Unlike Boston, where 58 priests this week asked for Law to resign, Monsignor Thomas J. Hannigan of Manchester said he sees no such movement among New Hampshire's approximately 234 diocesan priests.

"There has been no groundswell of any kind to ask their bishop to resign," he said.

"They think he is doing the very best he can," added Hannigan, citing the agreement with the attorney general, ongoing efforts to draft a new sexual-abuse policy, the bishop's admission mistakes were made and promises that it won't happen again.

Peter Flood, president of New Hampshire Voice of the Faithful, said the lay reform group may take up the question of McCormack's resignation once it organizes statewide in the next few weeks.
The current mood among VOTF's approximately 200 members statewide is for McCormack to step down, he said.

"I can honestly say if it were put to a vote now, it would probably be a majority and probably much more than a majority," Flood said.

Flood said he personally has "mixed feelings" about whether McCormack should resign.

"I don't know who his successor would be . . . and we don't know how effectively he would carry out the necessary policies to make sure these things never happen again," Flood said.

"And, to a certain extent, McCormack is taking some steps in the right direction. But his involvement in Boston is certainly going to affect his leadership position here in New Hampshire," he said.

The Rev. Thomas J. Reese, editor-in-chief of America magazine and a national authority on the church, said it's too early to tell what affect Law's resignation may have on McCormack and other bishops who served under him.

"It may be that Cardinal Law's resignation will clear the air. It may be that people will start looking at other bishops. . . . We will have to wait and see," Reese said.

But having the support of his priests will be an important factor, Reese added.

The Rev. Thomas J. Doyle, a Dominican priest and international authority on clergy sexual abuse, said he hopes Law's resignation will trigger more resignations among his former deputies.

"I hope this demand for accountability spreads to others who are directly responsible for what has happened in Boston, particularly McCormack. He knew what was going on. He was part of the cover-up. He was part of the revictimization of victims," Doyle said.

"They would not want a domino effect. But they need a domino effect," he said.

Law's resignation puts tremendous pressure on McCormack, said James Farrell, a University of New Hampshire professor who called for McCormack's resignation earlier this year.

"The cardinal finally recognized and said as much today that, looking forward, his remaining would be inconsistent with the good of the church," said Farrell, of Somersworth.

"I would hope Bishop McCormack would get the same message because it seems to me he is not quite at the same point where the cardinal is in recognizing that he is the same sort of obstacle to restoring trust in the leadership of this diocese," he said.

McCormack, for his part, is stressing the work he has done since he became bishop of New Hampshire in 1998.

He will celebrate the 10:30 a.m. Mass at St. Joseph Cathedral in Manchester tomorrow.
McCormack is expected to address "where the church goes from here in light of what has been an extraordinary week in the history of the church in this diocese and in the United States," spokesman Pat McGee said.



Pressure on bishops likely to intensify
Now that Law is out, focus shifts to McCormack, others

By Larry B. Stammer (LA Times)
Concord (NH) Monitor
December 14, 2002

http://www.cmonitor.com/stories/news/state2002/1214_assess_2002.shtml

The end of Cardinal Bernard Law's tenure as archbishop of Boston will shift pressure to a second tier of bishops who until now have received less attention because of the intense focus on Law's failures, church observers said yesterday.

Indeed, even as Boston parishioners absorbed the news of Law's departure, leading figures in the continuing scandal over sexually abusive priests were calling for additional departures.

"I think doubtless other resignations will be appropriate to get a clean slate," Gov. Frank Keating of Oklahoma, who serves the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops as head of its review panel on sexual abuse, said in interviews with reporters.

And the leading group that advocates for victims of sexual abuse issued a list of likely targets.
Cardinals Roger Mahony of Los Angeles and Edward Egan of New York and five bishops who once served as auxiliary bishops in Boston made up the list released by Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

The five former Boston bishops, all of whom now head their own dioceses, are John McCormack of Manchester, Thomas Daily of Brooklyn, N.Y., William Murphy of Rockville Center, N.Y., Robert Banks of Green Bay, Wis., and Alfred Hughes of New Orleans. Each has been linked to some of the Boston-area cases in which priests accused of sexual abuse were shifted from parish to parish without authorities or lay Catholics being told.

Mahony and other California bishops might find themselves in the cross-hairs because of a new state law that takes effect Jan. 1. It waives the statute of limitations for one year to allow victims of older sexual abuse cases to sue the church or other institutions in civil court during 2003.

Sordid revelations contained in court filings released last week in Boston helped to bring down Law after a year of controversy.

Only last month, Law appeared to be regaining his balance. During the Washington, D.C., meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, he spoke in favor of a "zero tolerance" policy to remove priests and deacons if they ever had abused a minor sexually.

He also presented a report on Iraq as chairman of the bishops' international affairs committee.
At the time, some saw Law's emerging visibility as a sign of his rehabilitation. In retrospect, it appears more as part of an exit strategy to allow him to resign gracefully.

As debate over Law's future continued over the summer, Vatican officials were worried that a resignation could set off a cascade of others, according to church insiders.

"I think the Vatican is terrified of a domino effect, and I also think they are probably still so out of it that they think his resignation will solve the problems, quiet down the survivors and others and allow life to get back to normal, but it will never happen," said Father Thomas Doyle, a military chaplain in Germany who co-authored a report to U.S. bishops in 1985 warning of an impending sexual abuse crisis.

Some of the circumstances leading to Law's resignation are unique to Boston, particularly the unrelenting nature of the past year of scrutiny by prosecutors, the media and sexual abuse victims.

Father Richard McBrien, a professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame, said a domino effect was not inevitable. "The basic reason why Law resigned is that it was at the end of a lot of developments," he said, noting that chief among them was Law's losing support of many of his own priests last week. Still, he said, "what's happening in Boston represents a sea change."

The church has been dominated by a "feudal understanding" of the bishop's office, said Father Thomas Rausch, chairman of the theology department at Loyola Marymount University.

Now, however, "the idea of an absolute, monarchial bishop that's accountable only to the pope I don't think makes a whole lot of sense," Rausch said.

One of the chief effects of the year-long scandal has been to spur lay Catholics to assert themselves, said Father Robert Silva, president of the National Federation of Priest Councils.

But much depends on the staying power of the laity. At the moment they are energized. But "once Law goes how many people will come out for meetings," asked Father Thomas Reese, editor of the Jesuit magazine, "America."

So far, advocacy groups for victims and lay organizations such as the Voice of the Faithful continue to give every indication they will not cease their efforts.

 


 
 

Bishop Accountability © 2003
     
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