Bishop Accountability
 
 

Manchester NH Resources
January 1–12, 2003

Note: The documents in this file are offered solely for educational purposes. Should any reader wish to quote or reproduce these documents for sale, the original publisher should be contacted and permission requested. BishopAccountability.org makes no claim regarding the accuracy of any document we post.

Priest pleads guilty to raping altar boy; Paquin sentenced to 12-15 years

By Sacha Pfeiffer
Boston (MA) Globe
January 1, 2003

http://www.boston.com/globe/spotlight/abuse/stories4/010103_paquin.htm

[Photo caption: The Rev. Ronald H. Paquin being led into Salem Superior Court for yesterday’s proceedings.]

The Rev. Ronald H. Paquin pleaded guilty yesterday to three counts of child rape and was sentenced to 12 to 15 years in prison, becoming the first Boston Archdiocese priest to admit guilt in a criminal molestation case since the sex abuse scandal exploded in January.

Boston attorney Jeffrey A. Newman, who represents the victim in the case, described the turn of events as a ''major step'' in resolving an estimated 500 pending abuse claims against the archdiocese, since Paquin has agreed to testify against the church in many of those cases.

Paquin, an admitted child molester, was not removed from active ministry until two years ago, even though the archdiocese received at least 18 complaints in two decades that he had sexually abused young boys.

Newman, whose law firm represents about 300 of the additional alleged victims, said he expects Paquin to be a ''key player'' in providing information about the archdiocese's practice of transferring abusive priests. Paquin's defense attorney, Kevin Reddington, confirmed that Paquin ''will be available to testify'' in pending civil cases ''against the almighty Roman Catholic Church.''

The rapes Paquin admitted to were among at least 50 sexual assaults involving a young Haverhill boy between 1990 and 1992 in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine while Paquin was an associate pastor at St. John the Baptist Church in Haverhill, prosecutors said. Paquin befriended the youth, an altar boy at the church whose parents were divorced, by buying him gifts, giving him alcohol, and taking him on out-of-state shopping and camping trips. After cultivating an emotional bond with the boy, Paquin gradually introduced sex into the relationship, at one point saying he was doing a study on the sexuality of young males. The boy was 12 at the time of the first sexual assault.

In a statement he read in court, the victim, who is now in his mid-20s, married, and living in Peabody, said Paquin ''took my fragile life and used my lack of self-esteem, my problems with my parents, my childhood, and my innocence'' to his advantage. ''It's amazing when I think back how foolish, how ignorant, and how innocent I was. ... You abused your title of `Father,''' the man said. ''I know your religion says you are a priest forever, but ... you do not deserve to ever call yourself father or priest.''

Paquin, 60, his wrists and ankles shackled, wore thick black-rimmed glasses, a dark blue denim jacket, and a casual shirt and pants, and remained expressionless throughout the proceeding in Salem Superior Court.

After announcing Paquin's sentence, which he will serve at MCI-Cedar Junction in Walpole, Superior Court Judge Robert H. Bohn Jr., noting that Paquin has said he was abused by a priest when he was young, said he hoped Paquin, upon his release, ''would do everything he could ... to help break this pattern of sexual abuse that has been passed to him.''

Paquin, who acknowledged to reporters in January that he had sexually abused several boys, remains the subject of at least 28 civil lawsuits, according to Newman. Paquin also faces a wrongful death claim alleging that he was drinking when he caused a 1981 car accident that killed one Haverhill teenager, 16-year-old James M. Francis, and badly injured another.

At least 18 abuse complaints about Paquin were reported to the archdiocese and at least six claims against him were settled by the church for amounts totaling more than $500,000, according to church documents made public this year and interviews by the Globe. Most of the allegations are beyond the statute of limitations, preventing prosecutors from bringing criminal charges.

Cardinal Bernard F. Law reinstated Paquin to priestly duties as recently as 1998, and several of Law's former top aides - including current Bishop John B. McCormack of Manchester, N.H., and current Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre, N.Y. - supported his return to ministry, even though they knew about multiple allegations against him. And despite Paquin's checkered history, the archdiocese paid him a severance package of nearly $80,000 last year.

Paquin, who was ordained in 1973, started his career at St. Monica's Church in Methuen, where he was in charge of the altar boys, Boy Scouts, and Catholic Youth Organization, and allegedly began abusing young boys immediately, according to church records and interviews with former parishioners. He was transferred to Haverhill in 1981.

In 1990, after years of warnings that Paquin was molesting children in Methuen and Haverhill, the archdiocese sent him for extended treatment at the St. Luke Institute, a Maryland facility for sexually abusive priests. Upon his return to Massachusetts, Paquin lived at Our Lady's Hall, a home for problem priests in Milton, where he continued to sexually abuse one of his victims. From there, with McCormack's consent, Paquin was assigned as a chaplain at Bon Secours Hospital in Methuen while he lived in a rectory at St. Joseph in Lincoln. In September 1992, an adult male whom Paquin had met at the hospital filed a complaint against him with the archdiocese for alleged inappropriate behavior.

Not until 2000, when church officials received several more complaints, including one from a Dracut man who threatened to notify the media that Paquin was still working as a priest, was Paquin removed.

The sentence Bohn imposed exceeded Reddington's recommendation of between 6 and 10 years in prison, but was less than the 30 to 40 years recommended by Essex Assistant District Attorney William E. Fallon. After yesterday's hearing, Fallon said of Paquin: ''This is a person who should not see the light of day.'' Paquin will be required to register as a sex offender upon his release.



Mourners fill church for priest’s funeral

By Associated Press
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
January 4, 2003

New London -- Mourners packed the church Rev. Richard Lower had served at for 13 years to attend his funeral yesterday, one week after a molestation allegation may have led him to take his life.

"We are faltering disciples and we have come here on wobbly, weak, and shaking knees. We may even have come with clenched fists and tightened jaws, angry over all that has happened," friend and fellow priest Daniel St. Laurent wrote in a homily for the funeral Mass.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester termed Lower's death an apparent suicide soon after the 57-year-old priest's body was found Sunday on a hiking trail in Enfield, where he grew up. Police won't go that far and say it could be weeks or months before a cause of death is determined.

Lower's casket was surrounded by Christmas decorations and poinsettias in Our Lady of Fatima Church. Behind the altar, through large windows, mourners could see the leaden sky and spitting snow of an impending snowstorm. The windows were installed in a major church remodeling effort that Lower spearheaded, completed five years ago.

More than 600 mourners filled the sanctuary and choir loft. Another 300 or more watched on closed-circuit television in a basement room. The mourners included 55 priests and Lower's two sisters and their families. Both of his parents are dead.

Late last week, a man told the diocese Lower had molested him when he was a boy at St. Rose of Lima Parish in Littleton in 1973. The case probably was too old to be prosecuted, but a week ago Friday, diocesan officials told Lower he would be put on leave pending investigations by state and local authorities and the church.

By evening, no one could find him, and a search ensued.

In a written statement earlier this week, the diocese said circumstances that it did not spell out "indicate he may have taken his own life." Besides the accusation, Bishop John B. McCormack said Lower had been dealing with medical problems including chronic back and arthritic pain, and his mother had died in November.

Yesterday, McCormack celebrated Lower's funeral Mass, which was closed to reporters. McCormack did not talk to reporters afterward.

Pastoral council President Richard Biron, who spoke at the service, told reporters it focused on Lower's service to the parish and community.

"Everyone stands in a bit of disbelief and shock. At this time, they are concerned about the loss of a pastor," he said.

Biron said Lower had back surgery a year ago and noted the recent death of his mother. But he declined to speculate about what was on Lower's mind in his last few days.

"Only he knows and the lord," he said.

In a statement re-released outside the church yesterday, Lower's family focused on the positive, but also reached out to the unidentified man who said he was molested.

"We are very proud of his life's work," the family said. "The church was his life. He was our strength through life's difficult struggles."

"On behalf of Father Dick and ourselves, if anyone was ever harmed by him, we ask that you forgive him and seek out someone to assist you in your own pain," the family wrote.



Twenty protest McCormack at St. Joseph Cathedral

By Benjamin Kepple
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
January 6, 2003

About 20 protesters picketed outside St. Joseph Cathedral's 10:30 a.m. Mass for the second week in a row, receiving some support from passersby yesterday but not from many of the church's parishioners.

The protest, which organizers scheduled because of the Catholic Church's sex-abuse crisis, was generally more subdued than last week's. Then, picketers referred to Diocese of Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack, whom they want to resign, as a "charlatan," a "reprobate," and other names. Some taunts were also directed at parishioners.

This week, though, many parishioners were still angry the protesters were there.

"It shouldn't be happening. This is a church of worship," said David Bilodeau of Manchester, as he left St. Joseph after Mass. "They should just let us go into our church and let us be."

Many others wouldn't comment, but one elderly woman, as she walked across the street leaving Mass, was quite direct with her thoughts. As the picketers chanted, "Stop corrupt bishops!" her response was: "Go to Hell!"

Passersby also made their views heard.

"I think it's really a disgusting thing for them to be standing outside the church," said Kathleen Smith, of Manchester, a self-described former Catholic who shouted at the protesters as she walked by. "What they need to do is get on their knees and pray for their sins."

But not all the response was negative. After one car honked its horn in support of the protesters, one protester quickly made a sign that read "Honk In Support."

Afterward, at least half-a-dozen cars also honked their horns in support, resulting in cheers from the picketers standing on a snowbank directly opposite the church.

While the Mass went on, many of the protesters walked or stood on a patch of sidewalk just south of the church's main entrance. But they were quick to obey the ground rules which police on hand set forth.

When parishioners were entering the church, the picketers stayed across the street. Many of them stood on a snowbank. And when the first parishioner left Mass, all but one immediately went back across the street.

As was the case last week, many of the protesters were from Massachusetts, but a few more people from New Hampshire were on the lines than there were previously.

One of those protesters, Cindy Nickerson of Milford, said she came up to join the protest after hearing that protesters last week were told to "go back to Massachusetts."

"I just think it's appalling this man still has his job," Nickerson said. She also wanted to see McCormack resign.

"I think, morally, he should just be doing that," she said.

McCormack was not present for yesterday's Mass, and church officials have said that he only celebrates the Mass there on feast days, holy days, or special occasions. Yesterday, diocesan spokesman Patrick McGee said he didn't know where McCormack was on Sunday.

But both church officials and protesters have said they expect the picketing to go on for an extended period of time.

"It sounds as if the picketers -- and whether we want to hear this or not -- our brothers and sisters -- will be here for a while," wrote the Rev. Joseph M. Cooper, the cathedral rector, in St. Joseph's church bulletin.

In that same letter, Cooper also asked parishioners to respect those picketing, as The Union Leader reported last Thursday.

Other protesters, marking their second week on the lines outside the cathedral, said much the same. They planned to be back next week, and were preparing for a solidarity march on Jan. 19.



Hub protesters return to N.H. church

By Robin Washington
Boston (MA) Herald
January 6, 2003

Boston priest sex abuse protesters continued exporting their demonstrations across state lines yesterday as about 20 returned for a second week to St. Joseph's Cathedral in Manchester, N.H., while one ventured to Arizona to demand the ouster of bishops.

In Manchester, protesters repeated calls for the resignation of Bishop John B. McCormack, a former Bernard Cardinal Law aide whose signature is on numerous documents in clergy sex abuse case files.

In Phoenix, Phil DeAlbuquerque of Boston-based Speak Truth To Power brought protest materials to assist about two dozen demonstrators outside Saints Simon and Jude Cathedral, demanding Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien's removal. "They said, `We know what you did in Boston. Do you think we can do it here?' " DeAlbuquerque said. "I said, `Absolutely. You keep love and God in your heart and you can do anything.' "

Shari Roy, who was allegedly raped by the Rev. Patrick Colleary of Scottsdale, who admitted fathering a child by her 25 years ago, said Arizona victims heard DeAlbuquerque would be visiting the area and sought his expertise.

"We were more than happy to have him come out," she said.

In New Hampshire, protesters' signs quoted McCormack's own words from his depositions in abuse suits, with one reading: "We wanted to avoid scandalizing people about the sexual abuse committed by clergy." But police banned them from using bullhorns, saying residents living near the church objected.

"They refrained from using them. They were still loud, very vocal, but they were orderly," Manchester Police Sgt. Thomas Gallagher said.

McCormack did not celebrate the Mass yesterday.



Historian: Police protected clergy

By Kathryn Marchocki
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
January 8, 2003

Clergy who broke the law in decades past found protection not just from Catholic church officials, but also from police, a diocesan historian said this week.

Alcohol abuse was a problem for many priests who, when stopped by police while driving intoxicated, were escorted home and never arrested, Monsignor Wilfrid H. Paradis said.

"If they were arrested, it was in the police blotter, but disappeared from the (church) archives," he said.

"For many, many decades, the police cooperated in protecting the clergy. I imagine this would have been (true) for all clergy, for all faiths," added Paradis, author of "Upon This Granite: Catholicism in New Hampshire 1647-1997."

Paradis said "it's very possible" police also protected clergy accused of sexual abuse of children.

Asked if the state attorney general's investigation of the diocese's handling of clergy sexual abuse over the past four decades revealed police protected abusive priests, a state prosecutor yesterday said documents to be released next month "will speak for themselves."

"We are not going to hold anything back in that regard. If law enforcement made mistakes, it will be clear from the records themselves," said Senior Assistant Attorney General N. William Delker, who would not elaborate.

Paradis said he is looking forward to seeing the documents the state attorney general will make public as part of an agreement it struck with Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack last month.

The documents now number at least 11,000 pages and are expected to be released by Feb. 10, Delker said.

About half of this material comes from the diocese's secret archives and the remainder are transcripts of investigative interviews and police reports, he added.

Paradis said he is particularly interested in reviewing the secret archives, saying he cannot understand how these files grew from "such a small packet of materials" in the 1960s to thousands of pages today.

As a former chancellor, Paradis said he would have had access to the secret archives, but never had reason to look at them.



Where are the files?
Missing priest documents fuel additional concerns


Editorial
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
January 9, 2003

http://www.theunionleader.com/articles_show.html?article=17189

SO THERE ARE missing priest personnel files in the Diocese of Manchester. And the diocese’s explanation insufficiently accounts for the missing files. OK, raise your hand if you are surprised by this.

In yesterday’s Union Leader, Monsignor Wilfrid Paradis, who spent 16 years researching the diocese’s files for his book on the Catholic Church in New Hampshire, recalled that at least half a dozen priest personnel files were simply “gone.”

Diocesan spokesman Patrick McGee said the files may have been purged of medical records, which are privileged. But that would not explain why entire files are not where they are supposed to be. McGee granted that some files may have been moved into the secret archives and said that no files covering allegations of child sexual abuse have been destroyed since November 2000. That means files could have been removed or destroyed at any previous time.

What struck us most about this revelation was not that incriminating personnel papers may have been destroyed by past diocesan officials. Who didn’t suspect something of this sort? What surprised us was the contrast between Manchester Bishop John McCormack’s and former Cardinal Bernard Law’s comments about the sex abuse scandal and the media’s handling of it and Paradis’ comments about the same. Here is what Paradis said:

“I’m fundamentally relieved that the press has picked up on this issue and is forcing us to look at ourselves in the mirror. We as a church are supposed to be guardians of public morality. So when we as priests are offenders of public morality, then we should at least know it and do something about it.”

Well said, Monsignor.



Excerpts of Bishop McCormack deposition

Boston (MA) Globe
January 9, 2003

http://www.boston.com/globe/spotlight/abuse/stories4/010903_excerpts.htm

The following are excerpts from five days of depositions of Bishop John B. McCormack of the Diocese of Manchester, N.H., taken between June and November 2002. The questioning, by Boston lawyers Roderick MacLeish Jr. and Robert A. Sherman, is in connection with civil lawsuits filed against Cardinal Bernard F. Law by three men who allege they were sexually abused by the Rev. Paul R. Shanley. Most of the questioning focused on decisions McCormack made as a top aide to Law, from 1984 to 1994.

On whether he was urged in the early 1990s by Sister Catherine Mulkerrin, an assistant who helped him on abuse cases, to alert parishioners if a priest in their parish had been accused:

Q: Sister Catherine ... wanted to let the parishioners know, the parishioners who had been in these parishes that had been served by these priests with credible allegations against them, she wanted to let the parishioners know?

A: Correct.

Q: And you would agree with me that one of the reasons it would be important to let the parishioners know was because they might be able to get help for their children, is that correct?

A: Correct.

Q: That's what Sister Catherine told you, is that not correct?

A: Right, correct.

Q: And you decided that that was not an appropriate policy, is that correct?

A: Not myself; it was a matter of discussion among some of us. ... At that time our practice was to handle matters [such] as this confidentially and not to raise it to the point where it would become so public that - at that time we saw this as a scandal and that it would raise it to the level of a scandal ...

Discusses three priests accused of molesting children who were in his class at St. John's Seminary in 1960: The Revs. Paul R. Shanley, Joseph E. Birmingham, and Bernard J. Lane.

Q: ... You knew Paul Shanley from seminary, is that correct?

A: Right.

Q: Did you know him - was he a friend during seminary - at seminary with you?

A: No, as a classmate.

Q: Right. Have you stayed in touch with him after 1960?

A: We'd get together with classmates once in a while. When classmates would get together, Paul would be part of the group.

Q: Would Father Birmingham be part of the group?

A: Sure.

Q: Father Lane?

A: They're all classmates; when you get together once in a while.

On whether Law ever told him that his top priority in abuse cases was the protection of children. Law in his own depositions said that was his primary goal:

A: I would not understand that to be his first priority because it would have to be an occasion when a child was being harmed that he would raise that as an issue to be addressed, but that it was his first priority, I cannot say that I understood that....

Q: Did the cardinal at any time enunciate to [his] cabinet a policy regarding the protection of children? ...

A: I don't recall his enunciating a policy regarding the protection of children. ...

Q: Do you recall the subject of protection of children coming up at all in those cabinet meetings, by the cardinal ...?

A: I don't recall.

Addresses his role in the case of the late Rev. Joseph Birmingham, who has been accused by many of molestation. He is asked if he told anyone in 1985, when Birmingham was named a pastor, that years earlier he had spoken with the father of one of Birmingham's victims.

Q: ... You yourself didn't take any affirmative steps prior to Father Birmingham being named pastor ... or to put in the records the fact that you were aware there were at least ... two complaints of sexual abuse back in the 1970s that had been made directly to you?

A: I took - the only step I remember taking is saying to Father Birmingham one time ... that, you know, I know about your - about some complaints about you in Salem, and, I said, ''I'm wondering, you know, how you're handling that.'' And he said that ''I'm clean.''

McCormack has also handled sexual abuse cases as bishop of Manchester. Here he is asked what he thought the parishioners of St. Patrick's Church in Jaffrey, N.H., should know about the allegation of sexual abuse of a teenager byt he Rev. Roland Cote, whom he had transferred to the parish.

A: I thought it was important that the parishioners know that there was an allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor, that he was investigated, and that the investigations ended up that he had not had that. And so any parishioner who heard that knew that he was investigated for it and that the finding was that there was not sexual misconduct with a minor. ...

Q: Did you ever instruct Father Cote or anyone else to disclose to the parishioners in Jaffrey that Father Cote had engaged in ... sex with a young person?

A: ... We did not instruct him to reveal specifically but told him that if, ever asked, he should be very upfront about what the - what actually did happen.

McCormack says he sees a difference between abuse by a priest of a parishioner and other abuse:

Q: ... Why does that make a difference?

A: It makes a big difference, I think, that a - you know, that a person uses his office to take advantage of a parishioner is very different from a person who, on his day off, [was] involved in sexual misconduct with a person that he picked up in an automobile ...

Q: You think there's a big difference?

A: There's a big difference in the type of activity. ... You know, one is an activity where you have a trusted relationship with a parishioner; the other is an activity where you're away from the parish and you're off on your own and whatever was going on that day he picked up this person and engaged in a sexual activity, and I'm very concerned about that, he was a young person and that he did it in that instance, but it's quite different from being with a parishioner. ...

Discusses his visit w ith Shanley and the Rev. John J. White, a friend of Shanley's, in California in 1991:

Q: Didn't you then have concerns, when you went out to visit Father Shanley and Father White, that they might also have been involved in the past with the sexual molestation of children?

A: Never. ... Because that wasn't what drew me to go out there or to even suggest I go out. What drew me to go out there was their emotional state and their physical health and their whole attitude toward the Archdiocese of Boston. ...

McCormack on Shanley, whom he had described in a church memorandum as a ''sick person'':

A: ... You know, he feels alienated from the diocese, he feels distanced, he feels unsupported. He has all his neuroses and psychiatric problems plus all his medical problems ... I thought that the more isolated he was on his own, the worse he was going to get and the more distanced he would be. So that, you know, the effort is to engage him and to really try to keep in contact with him, and so the more we could do that, the better off I thought he would be as well as the diocese would be ...

Q: You didn't view Paul Shanley's statements regarding relationships between men and boys as falling within the area of sexual misconduct?

A: No, my understanding was ... that he wasn't endorsing man/boy relationships but that he, at the time, was explaining that some boys seduce men and that they - by prostituting themselves and that some people - and some of these people think that, you know, that they're always the ones. And he was saying that sometimes these boys need help; they're the ones who really have a problem.

Q: Do you consider yourself friends [with Shanley?]?

A: I wouldn't say friends; we were friendly. ...

Q: ... The last paragraph on that page states, ''It is wonderful how you maintain your sense of humor in the midst of your difficulties, Paul.'' ... You're expressing your support for his sense of humor as opposed to addressing the seriousness of the allegations against him ...

A: I was trying to be supportive to him as a person who was - had just gone through an assessment, had just been - if you read the letter, you know all the complaints that he had and yet he maintained a sense of humor, and I guess my sense is, is that I was trying to be supportive of that so that he didn't get any more, for want of a word, depressed. I didn't - because I also try to recognize that he had many difficulties and he had to deal with them, but I was trying to lift up that. At the same time, you know, it's good not to lose your sense of humor. I suppose I see humor as the opposite of tears and it would be good if he had both.



Bishop tells of shielding priests; McCormack says aide’s pleas ignored

By Michael Rezendes and Stephen Kurkjian
Boston (MA) Globe
January 9, 2003

http://www.boston.com/globe/spotlight/abuse/stories4/010903_mccormack.htm

It was 1994 and the Boston Archdiocese was being deluged with complaints that scores of its priests had sexually molested hundreds of children.

But the Rev. John B. McCormack, then the top church official handling the complaints for Cardinal Bernard F. Law, insisted on shielding the identities of accused priests from unsuspecting parishioners - despite the repeated pleas of his top aide who fielded complaints about more than 100 priests.

In five days of pretrial testimony released yesterday, McCormack said that he and a small group of church officials, including the chief legal counsel for the archdiocese, decided to keep the names of accused priests secret ''to avoid scandalizing people about the sexual abuse committed by clergy.''

McCormack, now bishop of the Manchester, N.H., diocese, said he knew the decision ran counter to a recommendation by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops that the church be forthright with parishioners. He also said the decision was made after Sister Catherine E. Mulkerrin, his top aide and the church official who had the most contact with victims, told him he should inform parishioners about accused priests - parishioners who might have children in harm's way.

Mulkerrin pressed the point so often that she worried at one point about sounding like a ''broken record.'' In her own pretrial testimony, she said she was ''horrified'' by the number of complaints and the plight of victims who had suffered in silence for years, according to the parent of an alleged victim who sat in on her deposition.

McCormack, who was in charge of drafting Law's 1993 policy for managing complaints of clergy abuse of minors, conceded in deposition testimony that the decision he and other church officials made to keep the identities of accused priests secret ran counter to guidelines of the bishops' confrence, which urged officials to ''deal as openly as possible with the members of the community.''

Under questioning by Roderick MacLeish Jr., an attorney representing alleged victims of the Rev. Paul R. Shanley, McCormack acknowledged a clash of values between Mulkerrin, whose chief concern was the welfare of victims, and a cluster of church officials intent on maintaining the confidentiality of accused priests.

MacLeish: You would agree with me that one of the reasons it would be important to let the parishioners know was because they might be able to get help for their children, is that correct?

McCormack: Correct.

MacLeish: That's what Sister Catherine told you, is that not correct?

McCormack: Right, correct.

MacLeish: And you decided that that was not an appropriate policy, is that correct?

McCormack: Not myself; it was a matter of discussion among some of us.''

McCormack said that discussion was held by a group that met weekly and included Wilson D. Rogers Jr., chief legal counsel for the archdiocese, the Rev. Kevin J. Deeley, the Rev. Edward M. O'Flaherty, and Mulkerrin.

Asked if he had ever discussed with Law the decision to keep the identities of accused priests secret, McCormack said, ''Not that I recall; I don't think so.'' McCormack also said that in the years he served as Law's secretary for ministerial personnel, from 1984 to 1994, the protection of children was never defined as a ''first priority'' but was ''a matter of concern.''

Law, in his own deposition testimony, has repeatedly described the protection of children as a top concern.

McCormack's spokesman in the Manchester diocese, Patrick McGee, responded to the revelations in the depositions by citing a May 2, 2002, statement by McCormack acknowledging mistakes he made in his Boston years. ''But he has also said that he has learned from those mistakes and he has learned to handle complaints differently than he did 10 years ago,'' McGee said.

Brian Tucker, one of McCormack's lawyers, said transcripts of his testimony do not provide ''a complete accounting of what Father McCormack and the Archdiocese of Boston did and did not do to respond to accusations of misconduct of minors by priests there.''

Mulkerrin's deposition

Mulkerrin's pretrial testimony, given last month, will not be released until later this year. But Rodney P. Ford, the parent of an alleged Shanley victim, attended her deposition, and described it in a telephone interview from his home yesterday. He said Mulkerrin testified that in two years as McCormack's top aide, from 1992 to 1994, she heard sexual abuse complaints against more than 100 priests - most of whom were living at the time.

Mulkerrin also said she heard complaints from hundreds of victims and came to believe that almost all of them were credible, according to Ford. Mulkerrin's repeated - and unsuccessful - attempts to persuade McCormack to inform parishioners about accused clergymen are also reflected in McCormack's deposition.

At one point, MacLeish presented McCormack with a copy of a memo written to him by Mulkerrin recommending that the identities of accused priests be published in parish bulletins.

MacLeish: Sister Catherine was telling you in this memorandum, as she had told you before, that in light of everything that was happening with the priests being reported for sexual abuse that there was a need to put something in the various parish bulletins where these priests had been, correct?

McCormack: Yes.

MacLeish: And it was not done, was it?

McCormack: Correct.

Mulkerrin, according to Ford, said in her own deposition that she made her recommendations in part to conform with the conference of bishops' guidelines and in part because other dioceses, including the St. Paul and Minneapolis diocese, had been informing parishioners about abusive priests who had ministered in their churches.

Mulkerrin, Ford said, stated that she routinely represented the interests of the victims while McCormack's primary concern seemed to be his fellow priests.

''The lasting impression I have of what she said was how overwhelmed she was with the complaints that were coming in and of how she had nowhere to turn,'' Ford said. ''She was alone, a voice in the wilderness, and she finally got drowned out.''

Mulkerrin resigned her position in 1994 after only two years on the job. She has never publicly aired her concerns.

Mulkerrin's lawyer, William H. Shaevel, said Mulkerrin was on a religious retreat yesterday and unavailable for comment.

At several points in his testimony, given on five days between June and November of last year, McCormack said he had little knowledge of child sexual abuse when he was named secretary for ministerial personnel, even though he held a graduate degree in social work and was a licensed social worker for most of the 1980s.

''I knew that there was abuse of children in the home, but oftentimes it was emotional or physical,'' McCormack said, speaking of what he learned while training as a social worker. ''I don't recall any kind of report or discussion about sexual abuse.''

At another point McCormack said his rudimentary understanding of child sexual abuse factored into the decision that he and others made to keep the identities of accused priests secret - despite the guidelines issued by the bishops' conference.

''Much of my understanding of sexual abuse was almost like a layman; it was only as we began to - as I began to deal with this, that it developed,'' McCormack said. ''So all of that played into why we decided to keep things confidential.''

Aware of legal hurdles

But at other times McCormack displayed a sophisticated understanding of the legal hurdles church officials might face if civil authorities were informed of clergy abuse allegations.

Under questioning by Robert R. Sherman, another attorney representing alleged Shanley victims, McCormack said he never made a record of Shanley's response to a 1993 allegation that he molested a minor because, ''I want to get as best a response as possible, but I had to respect his rights.'' McCormack then added: ''I learned more and more as we dealt with this that whatever was said to us was discoverable, and he had to know that.''

McCormack also was questioned about his more recent tenure as leader of the Manchester diocese and his decision to reassign the Rev. Roland P. Cote to a Jaffrey, N.H., parish last June even though Cote had admitted to a sexual affair with a male teenager.

McCormack said he was satisfied with a statement Cote made to Jaffrey parishioners explaining the affair. ''I feel comfortable with the fact that having gotten up in public and spoken to his people about it. ... (H)e has said that he's sorry for whatever he has brought to the parish in terms of this,'' McCormack said.

Jaffrey parishioners, however, were unhappy with Cote's explanation. They complained in September that they still had unanswered questions about whether the priest's affair involved a teenaged boy. Cote resigned from active ministry in early November.

Decade as secretary

But most of the questions directed at McCormack during his deposition concerned the decade he served as Law's secretary for ministerial personnel. At one point, McCormack acknowledged that the archdiocese did not report to state authorities a complaint that the Rev. Paul J. Mahan had taken two teenage boys from the now-shuttered Don Bosco Preparatory School on a vacation until 1997, three years after it learned of the allegation.

At the time, McCormack's license as a social worker had expired and priests were not required to report information regarding possible child sexual abuse to civil authorities.

McCormack also faced questions about favorable treatment he granted to several other priests accused of molesting minors, including four who were classmates at St. John Seminary in the class of 1960: the Revs. Shanley, Joseph E. Birmingham, Bernard J. Lane, and Eugene M. O'Sullivan.

McCormack offered a new explanation for his response to a 1985 letter from a Rochester, N.Y., woman complaining that Shanley had given a speech on sexual relationships between adults and children, contending that children are generally the seducers.

In his May 2 statement of apology, McCormack said he ''did not focus'' on the reference to sex between adults and minors in 1985. But in his June 3 deposition, McCormack said he had discussed the letter with Shanley and that Shanley said he was referring in his speech to child prostitutes.

When questioned about Birmingham, McCormack was asked about his assertion, also in his May apology, that he never intended that ''a priest be placed in an assignment where he could be in contact with children if he had an allegation of sexual abuse.''

McCormack acknowledged that in 1987, when the father of a 13-year-old altar boy serving with Birmingham wrote a letter asking whether Birmingham was the same priest who had previously been removed from another parish because of a sexal abuse allegation, McCormack replied, ''There is absolutely no factual basis to your concern.''

Asked why he did not tell the concerned father that his son was indeed serving with the same Father Birmingham, McCormack said, ''I can't explain that.''



Bishop McCormack’s deposition officially released

By J.M. Hirsch, Associated Press, Associated Press
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
January 9, 2003

Concord -- Transcripts of five days of questioning of Bishop John B. McCormack about the church sex abuse scandal in Boston officially became public yesterday.

Much of the material contained in the testimony previously was reported by The Associated Press, which acquired copies of the depositions prior to their official release.

McCormack, a top aide to Boston Cardinal Bernard Law from 1984 to 1994, gave the testimony in closed sessions in civil lawsuits brought by alleged victims of the Rev. Paul Shanley, who is awaiting trial in Massachusetts on charges of child rape.

Brian Tucker, McCormack's lawyer, said the bishop will continue to cooperate with lawyers in the lawsuits of alleged victims, but would not discuss the details of the depositions.

"The deposition transcripts do not provide a complete accounting of what Father McCormack and the Archdiocese of Boston did and did not do to respond to accusations of sexual misconduct of minors by priests there," Tucker said.

He also said that unlike in trials, "the questions posed in a deposition can be without any foundation whatsoever, can be based on hearsay or speculation, can be confusing, can be irrelevant to the matter at issue in the litigation, and can be argumentative."

Much of the questioning focused on how McCormack, who became bishop of the Diocese of Manchester in 1998, handled allegations against priests in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

In one exchange, the bishop suggested it is less serious for a priest to have sex with someone from outside the parish than with a parishioner.

"You know, one is an activity where you have a trusted relationship with a parishioner. The other is an activity where you're away from the parish and you're off on your own," McCormack said.

The bishop was discussing the Rev. Roland Cote's relationship with a youth while he was assigned to St. Patrick's Church in Newport during the 1980s.

"I'm very concerned about that; he was a young person. But it's quite different from being with a parishioner," McCormack said.

McCormack's spokesman has said the bishop believes all abuse is wrong, but was making the distinction that sex with a parishioner involves exploitation.

In June, McCormack assigned Cote to a different St. Patrick's Church, in Jaffrey without informing parishioners about Cote's history. He said he kept quiet because he did not consider Cote a threat.

After the AP reported details of the allegations, Cote acknowledged the affair and resigned.

Other highlights of the deposition include:

* When priests admitted sexual misconduct with minors, McCormack did not ask if there were other victims and did not investigate to see if there were.

* McCormack had trouble explaining delays in telling church officials in California about abuse allegations against Shanley in Massachusetts.

* Shanley warned of disclosures that would create "a media whirlwind," but McCormack did not ask what they were.

* McCormack said he believed a 1970 molestation accusation against the Rev. Joseph Birmingham, but does not recall volunteering the information when Birmingham was being made pastor of a church in Gloucester, Mass.

In another exchange, lawyer Roderick MacLeish, another alleged victims' lawyer, asked McCormack about how his decisions affected others.

"It was difficult work, particularly when there were allegations about sexual abuse of small children. Is that correct? Made it very difficult for you. Is that correct?" MacLeish asked.

"That and plus many other dimensions of the work, working with the priests, working with victims, working with staffs," McCormack said.

"Making some mistakes?"

"Making some mistakes."

"Mistakes that hurt people, correct?"

"Yes."



Bishop asked to preserve dead priests’ records

By Associated Press
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
January 9, 2003

Concord -- A group of alleged victims of priest sexual abuse is asking Bishop John B. McCormack not to destroy the personnel records of clergymen who have died.

The group, Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said in a letter to McCormack they recently heard he was considering destroying such files, and said to do so would prevent "healing, justice and truth."

The group asked McCormack to "be sensitive to the recovery of victim survivors of priest abuse and refrain from the unnecessary and deliberate removal of information that is vital to this process."

Patrick McGee, spokesman for McCormack, said the Diocese of Manchester is not considering such a move, and said the church has no plans to destroy records.

"At this point there is nothing that would trigger such a contemplation on our part," McGee said. "We've taken no steps in that direction."



Lay group urges McCormack to preserve records

By Kathryn Marchocki
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
January 10, 2003

Disturbed by recent revelations of document destruction by church officials, a Catholic lay reform group yesterday asked Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack to preserve all records of clergy sexual misconduct.

"We urge you to publicly pledge that the diocese will not destroy any more records associated with sexual abuse allegations against any priest, whether living or deceased," New Hampshire Voice of the Faithful president Peter Flood wrote in a letter to the bishop.

The letter was written on behalf of the steering committee representing eight VOTF chapters statewide.

The lay group said the diocese should retain all sexual misconduct records in a permanent archive to promote greater accountability.

Noting the diocese estimated 43 percent of diocesan priests accused of sexual abuse are dead, its records "can provide vital validation for survivors in coming to grips with the enormity of the abuse and betrayal they experienced," Flood said.

The agreement the bishop struck with the state attorney general last month allows -- but does not require -- the diocese to destroy all information related to sexual abuse of minors upon a priest's death, Flood said.

Under this agreement, the diocese would be free to destroy documents related to the Rev. Richard Lower, he added.

Lower apparently committed suicide last month, two days after learning he was accused of sexually abusing a minor in the 1970s.

"We have no plans to destroy anything right now," diocesan spokesman Patrick McGee said.

McGee said no documents have been destroyed since the Rev. Edward J. Arsenault became chancellor in November 2000, two years after McCormack was installed as bishop.

McGee said the diocese will issue a statement shortly on its document retention policy that will address "what we do and what we're planning to do."

"I'm not going to say the bishop is committed to anything other than the bishop is looking at it right now," he added.

Court documents filed last week showed retired Bishop Odore Gendron destroyed church records in the 1980s detailing sexual abuse of children by two priests.

A retired priest and diocesan historian said he discovered at least a half dozen clergy files in the diocesan archives that he believed were destroyed to keep incriminating information from becoming public.



Task force on abuse policy urges openness

By J.M. Hirsch, Associated Press, Associated Press
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
January 11, 2003

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/Main.asp?SectionID=25&SubSectionID=354&ArticleID=71485

Manchester -- The task force evaluating the sexual misconduct policy of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester says changes are needed to ensure the policy is enforced and that accusations are dealt with openly.

“There shouldn’t be any more secrets,” former House Speaker Donna Sytek, the task force chairwoman, said Friday. “We want people to know if they send their child to a Catholic church, the child will be in a safe environment.”

Bishop John B. McCormack appointed the task force this fall, directing members to compare the diocese’s existing policy with the one adopted by the nation’s bishops and recommend changes.

On Friday the group was finalizing the report it plans to present to McCormack sometime next week.

Sytek said the report will focus on the task force’s recommendations for changes, but also would include summaries of the concerns expressed by the church’s critics, even if they didn’t necessarily relate to the policy.

In November, Sytek said the 12-member group had “hijacked the mandate” McCormack had given them, broadening it to include concerns people shared with them during several public comment sessions.

On Friday, Sytek said the report would include concerns about:

- The credibility and moral authority of church leaders charged with enforcing the policy.

- The involvement of the laity in non-theological matters.

- Financial disclosure.

- Celibacy and the priesthood.

- The church’s teachings about homosexuality.

As for changes to the diocese’s sexual misconduct policy, Sytek said the task force is emphasizing openness, better record keeping and ensuring the measure applies to vulnerable adults as well as children.

In particular, Sytek said the group is urging the creation of a central personnel database that would track when and where every diocese employee was trained on the misconduct policy, as well as collect any allegations against them.

She also said the group is urging that all allegations be reported to civil authorities, and that church records and personnel files be retained for as long as civil and cannon law allows, perhaps forever.

Sytek said they also want an oversight committee established that would ensure the policy is followed.

The bishop is not bound by the task force’s recommendations, but the details of it will be made public next week.

Some of what ultimately ends up in the diocese’s policy is out of both his and the committee’s control.

In December, McCormack avoided an unprecedented criminal indictment of the diocese by agreeing to a settlement with the state attorney general’s office.

As part of the settlement, McCormack admitted the church failed to protect children from sexual abuse by priests. It also requires annual audits by prosecutors for five years, and that priests and other employees immediately report suspicions even if the victim is no longer a minor.

McCormack also has said that no priest facing a credible allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor will be allowed to serve in ministry.



Bishop insists he did not consider Shanley a threat

By Nancy Meersman
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
January 11, 2003

Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack repeatedly testified that in 1993, when he was a high official in the Boston Archdiocese and first faced with sex-abuse complaints against the Rev. Paul Shanley, he did not consider the now notorious priest a threat to young males.

Again and again, McCormack said in testimony under oath that he decided to limit Shanley's ministries because Shanley was a psychologically damaged person, not because he was a sexual predator who might harm children.

In a deposition taken over five days, lawyers for alleged victims tried to show McCormack knew, or should have known, that several priests in the Boston Archdiocese, including Shanley, were sexually abusing children and the archdiocese did not take effective action to stop them.

Plaintiffs in the lawsuit allege the offending priests were cavalierly handed off from parish to parish to prey on yet more, unsuspecting victims.

In 1993, three or four youths complained that Shanley had sexually assaulted them. At the time, McCormack was Cardinal Bernard Law's key aide responsible for handling sex abuse complaints against priests.

In the fifth and last session of his deposition for lawsuits against Cardinal Law, taken Nov. 22 and made public this week, McCormack said that prior to these complaints, he had no clue that his seminary classmate Shanley had been accused before, and that the complaints against him went back to the 1960s.

Repeatedly asked if Shanley -- who was arrested last year on 16 counts of assault and child rape -- posed a risk to young parishioners, McCormack gave other reasons for wanting to restrict Shanley's ministries, insisting he did not at the time consider Shanley a sexual threat.

When a psychiatrist wrote that "Father Shanley is so personally damaged that his pathology is beyond repair," McCormack said he did not think this assessment centered on Shanley's attraction to male children.

McCormack said the psychiatrist's opinion described Shanley's overall psychological condition and his related psychosomatic problems including asthma, and allergies.

He was asked if Shanley's "disorders" would include a tendency to sexually abuse children and if this was the reason McCormack had decided to remove Shanley from "any kind of ministry."

McCormack answers, "My understanding was that he was not sexually active and that he had a prostate problem, if I'm correct."

This is contrary to recent reports that describe Shanley, who was in California at the time, as continuing to be sexually active on the West Coast.

Attorney Robert Sherman then asks the bishop, "Because of his psychological makeup, people were at. . .or youths were at risk with respect to Paul Shanley?"

McCormack responds, "No, because of his psychological makeup, he could not perform good ministry."

Sherman, questioned McCormack again and again as to what the "risk" was in having Shanley perform a ministry and whether it was because he was a sexual offender.

Bishop McCormack replied:

"That his way of ministering was so narcissistic, so, you know, self-centered that he really couldn't relate to the needs and the feelings of others responsibly."

Sherman asked, "Is it your testimony that the notion of protecting others had nothing to do with the risk of sexual abuse occurring in the future?"

McCormack answered, "I'm not saying that, either, no. I'm just saying, it was overall. It was a general way that he shouldn't do any kind of ministry."

During this time, Shanley was in Palm Springs, Calif. According to plaintiffs' lawyers, McCormack did not notify church officials in California that Shanley was there.

McCormack explained his reasons for not notifying the Palm Springs bishop: a recommendation had not yet been developed for dealing with Shanley; the archdiocese had its hands full with multiple complaints about several priests, and it was not clear that Shanley would be staying on in California.

". . .at least those three reasons at least prompted, you know, my not contacting the bishop yet," McCormack said.

Sherman then probed why the church decided Shanley should come back to Massachusetts and handed McCormack the memo he wrote with the remarks: "No charitable immunity in California. Legal counsel says come home."

He asked if the archdiocese was concerned that Shanley might commit a sex crime in California and the archdiocese could be sued in that state.

"I can't say that, honestly," McCormack responded.

In an earlier exchange, Sherman had asked McCormack why he had included Shanley in dialogue about what to do with priests accused of sex abuse and whether a "safe house" should be established to house them.

McCormack said his Jan. 16, 1994 letter to Shanley mentions this because it was an idea he had discussed previously with him. He said "safe house" was Shanley's word for what McCormack described as "a place for priests to live who couldn't do ministry and who needed to have some kind of supervised living situation. . ."

McCormack said three places had been discussed as possibilities, a former convent, a former nursing home and a new structure on the grounds of McLean Hospital, a well-known psychiatric facility in Belmont, Mass.

Later Sherman asked McCormack why he would include in the discussions "somebody that had engaged in activities that were not only contrary to the teachings of the church, contrary to societal norms and indeed horrific and heinous. . .Why did you want to support somebody like that?"

McCormack answered, "At that time, I didn't know how extensive his behavior was, how horrific it was. . ."



McCormack testifies he did report abuse claims made to him ‘as a priest’

Manchester (NH) Union Leader
January 11, 2003

Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack has testified in lawsuits against the Boston Archdiocese that he did not report sexual abuse against children to Massachusetts social service authorities because he was acting at the time as a priest, not as a social worker.

McCormack has a master's degree in social work and was a licensed social worker in the Bay State from 1981 to 1988. As a social worker, he would have been required under Massachusetts law to report reasonable suspicions that a child was being sexually abused.

McCormack said he knew social workers were obligated to report abuse, but said he wasn't acting as a social worker at the time.

When asked if he was aware of the reporting law, he responded, "Correct . . . when I was acting as a social worker."

But he said that when he was serving as the archdiocese's secretary for ministerial personnel and dealing with sex-abuse cases, he was not required to report them as a priest.

"As a priest, the law did not require clergymen or psychologists, if I'm correct, to report anything that was spoken to them confidentially," he said.

"And so that at this time when people came to me as a priest, I was not obligated to report this matter because it was given to me, and people approached us in a confidential way."

McCormack also said people who complained to the archdiocese about sexual abuse were told they could make complaints to the Department of Social Services.



Bishop task force finalizing its suggestions

By J.M. Hirsch, Associated Press
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
January 11, 2003

The task force evaluating the sexual misconduct policy of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester says changes are needed to ensure the policy is enforced and that accusations are dealt with openly.

"There shouldn't be any more secrets," former House Speaker Donna Sytek, the task force chairwoman, said yesterday. "We want people to know if they send their child to a Catholic church, the child will be in a safe environment."

Bishop John B. McCormack appointed the task force this fall, directing members to compare the diocese's existing policy with the one adopted by the nation's bishops and recommend changes.

Yesterday the group was finalizing the report it plans to present to McCormack sometime next week.

Sytek said the report will focus on the task force's recommendations for changes, but also would include summaries of the concerns expressed by the church's critics, even if they didn't necessarily relate to the policy.

In November, Sytek said the 12-member group had "hijacked the mandate" McCormack had given them, broadening it to include concerns people shared with them during several public comment sessions.

Sytek said yesterday the report would include concerns about: the credibility and moral authority of church leaders charged with enforcing the policy; the involvement of the laity in non-theological matters; financial disclosure; celibacy and the priesthood; and the church's teachings about homosexuality.

As for as changes to the diocese's sexual misconduct policy, Sytek said the task force is emphasizing openness, better record-keeping, and ensuring the measure applies to vulnerable adults as well as children.

In particular, Sytek said the group is urging the creation of a central personnel database that would track when and where every diocese employee was trained on the misconduct policy, as well as collect any allegations against them.

She also said the group is urging that all allegations be reported to civil authorities, and that church records and personnel files be retained for as long as civil and cannon law allows, perhaps forever.

Sytek said they also want an oversight committee established that would ensure the policy is followed.

The bishop is not bound by the task force's recommendations, but the details of it will be made public next week. Some of what ultimately ends up in the diocese's policy is out of both his and the committee's control.

In December, McCormack avoided an unprecedented criminal indictment of the diocese by agreeing to a settlement with the state attorney general's office.

As part of the settlement, McCormack admitted the church failed to protect children from sexual abuse by priests. It also requires annual audits by prosecutors for five years, and that priests and other employees immediately report suspicions even if the victim is no longer a minor.

McCormack also has said that no priest facing a credible allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor will be allowed to serve in ministry.



Diocese planning to answer questions about record policy

By J.M. Hirsch, Associated Press
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
January 12, 2003

http://www.nashuatelegraph.com/Main.asp?SectionID=25&SubSectionID=354&ArticleID=71507

Manchester -- As criticism mounts about how the Roman Catholic Church has maintained and destroyed documents, the Diocese of Manchester is preparing to talk about how it handles record keeping.

On Monday, church officials will respond to recent questions about the destruction of church documents, Patrick McGee, spokesman for the diocese, said Saturday.

He also said that though the diocese currently has no formal policy governing records, officials are working on one, and they hope to have it completed this year.

The response comes less than a week after groups of church critics and alleged victims of sexual abuse by priests asked Bishop John B. McCormack to ensure that no church personnel records are destroyed.

The groups became concerned following reports that former Bishop Odore Gendron destroyed church records during the 1980s that detailed sexual abuse of children by two priests.

McGee has acknowledged that Gendron destroyed records, but said they were private medical documents, and it was not an attempt to cover up allegations of abuse. He also said no documents have been destroyed since November 2000.

Senior Assistant Attorney General William Delker, who sorted through thousands of pages of church records as part of a state investigation of the church, has said it is clear documents are missing, but wouldn’t speculate further.

The settlement the diocese reached with the state to avoid unprecedented criminal charges over its failure to protect children from abusive priests allows the church to destroy the records of deceased priests.

Last week McGee said the diocese has no plans to destroy any records.



Diocese to discuss record handling

By J.M. Hirsch, Associated Press
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
January 12, 2003

As criticism mounts about how the Roman Catholic Church has maintained and destroyed documents, the Diocese of Manchester is preparing to talk about how it handles record keeping.

Tomorrow, church officials will respond to recent questions about the destruction of church documents, Patrick McGee, spokesman for the diocese, said yesterday.

He also said that though the diocese has no formal policy governing records now, officials are working on one, and they hope to have it completed this year. He said tomorrow's discussion will detail some of that work.

The response comes less than a week after groups of church critics and alleged victims of sexual abuse by priests asked Bishop John B. McCormack to ensure that no church personnel records are destroyed.

The groups became concerned following reports that former Bishop Odore Gendron destroyed church records during the 1980s that detailed sexual abuse of children by two priests.

McGee has acknowledged that Gendron destroyed records, but said they were private medical documents, and it was not an attempt to cover up allegations of abuse. He also said no documents have been destroyed since November 2000.

Senior Assistant Attorney General William Delker, who sorted through thousands of pages of church records as part of a state investigation of the church, has said it is clear that documents are missing, but wouldn't speculate further.

And McCormack has said sloppy record keeping kept him from knowing the full extent of sexual abuse allegations against some priests while he was a top aide to Boston Cardinal Bernard Law.

Concern also arose because of a settlement the diocese reached with the state to avoid unprecedented criminal charges over its failure to protect children from abusive priests.

The agreement allows the church to destroy the records of deceased priests.

Last week McGee said the diocese has no plans to destroy any records.

But Peter Flood, spokesman for the New Hampshire chapter of Voice of the Faithful, wants to hear it from McCormack. He sent the bishop a letter last week urging him to safeguard all church records.

Similar calls also are coming from within the church.

Donna Sytek, who heads up a task force the bishop appointed to evaluate the diocese's sexual misconduct policy, also feels record retention is vital.

Yesterday she said two of her group's chief recommendations to McCormack will be to create a centralized database for church records, and that they never be destroyed. Those recommendations are expected to be delivered this week.

Sytek said this is important for a number of reasons, including for documenting when and where church personnel are trained about sexual misconduct, as well as for safety.

Without a centralized system, she said, it is difficult to track people who should not work with children. She said an applicant screened out at one parish could slip through at another if an effective record system isn't maintained.



 
 

Bishop Accountability © 2003
     
guide of business management sytem guide of job opinions guide of capital goods guide of make fast money guide of Debt restructuring guide of home business guide of income money guide of hospital products guide of international market guide of repair roof before winter guide of website income guide of secure your business guide of face makeup tools guide of jewellery arts guide of tv shows guide of best places on earth guide of job plans guide of cheap cars guide of creating products guide of women tools guide of eat less guide of car insurance process guide of sport stuff guide of garden home guide of cheap insurances guide of electronic tech guide of healthy feeding guide of what is next in fashion guide of improve company guide of tactical insurance guide of make money at home guide of development in business guide of dept loan guide of cooking secrets guide of correct companies guide of jobs with more income guide of reviews o general products guide of improving technology guide of ideal job guide of business sectors guide of dept problem guide of unlimited business guide of suitable insurance company guide of money cars guide of how to market guide of heatlhy diet tips guide of decoration tipse guide of security problems