Manchester NH Resources
By Tom Mashberg and Robin Washington
The lawyer for a priest and a religious brother indicted over the summer on sexual assault charges has moved to have most criminal cases against the men dismissed on the grounds that the statutes the pair were charged under were enacted after their alleged crimes.
The Rev. James F. Talbot, 64, a Jesuit, and Fidelis Berardinis, 75, a Franciscan brother, were "unconstitutionally arraigned" on a total of 14 felonies, their lawyer, Timothy P. O'Neill, argues in recently filed a Superior Court motion.
"The Suffolk County DA's office appears to be oblivious to fundamental principles of the Massachusetts constitution by overreaching and pandering in seeking indictments that simply cannot stand," O'Neill said yesterday.
In his brief, O'Neill notes that Talbot was indicted by a Suffolk County grand jury on five counts of "indecent assault and battery on a person who has achieved the age of 14."
Talbot's acts are alleged to have occurred in the late 1970s, while he was a wrestling coach at Boston College High School.
Massachusetts General Laws, however, show that the specific crime in question, Statute 265-13H, was not made into law until 1980.
Similarly, O'Neill argues DeBerardinis was wrongly indicted on five counts of rape of a child under 16, and four counts of assault with attempt to commit rape on a child - all for the years 1968, 1969 and 1970.
O'Neill notes that the comprehensive set of Bay State rape laws that included those offensives were not enacted till 1974.
David Procopio, spokesman for Suffolk County DA Daniel F. Conley, said yesterday that O'Neill's motion "challenges some but not all of the felony assault charges against these two defendants."
"We have reviewed the motion and are preparing a response," he said. "Regardless of the outcome, we're confident the essence of the cases against these individuals will remain intact, and their victims will have their day in court."
Also filed in Suffolk Superior court yesterday was the deposition of Bishop Robert J. Banks, chief of the diocese of Green Bay, Wis., and No. 2 under Bernard Cardinal Law in Boston from 1985 to 1990.
In his testimony, Banks, 75, repeatedly insists he referred clerical abuse matters to Bishop John B. McCormack, who was Law's personnel chief at the time and who is now under fire in his post as chief of the Diocese of Manchester, N.H.
Asked by attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr. what became of child abuse accusations at the archdiocese, Banks said, "As a matter of fact, those problems would be referred to Father McCormack."
Later, Banks admits he was personally familiar with at least four major cases - those involving the Revs. Paul R. Shanley, John J. Geoghan, the late Joseph E. Birmingham and Donald Graham. Banks acknowledged writing a letter in 1990 to California diocesan officials vouching for Shanley in the face of complaints about the priest's sexual views.
Banks said that when he came to learn many Archdiocese of Boston priests were guilty of sex abuse, "I did not do anything (because) I didn't think it was necessary."
Asked why he did not alert parishioners who might have put children in the care of the problem priest, he said, "I did not think that would have been a very helpful piece of information to give out."
A spokeswoman for the Green Bay Diocese said Banks was out of his office
yesterday. Banks has said he plans to offer his resignation to Pope John
Paul II on Feb. 26.
By Robin Washington
In sworn testimony released yesterday, Bernard Cardinal Law repeated assertions he delegated sexual abuse allegations against now-defrocked priest John J. Geoghan to subordinates, despite his lieutenants' own claims denying responsibility for priest molestation cases.
In a four-day deposition, taken in May and July 2002 by attorney Mitchell Garabedian, Law placed most of the responsibility on his former top aide, Bishop Robert J. Banks, now head of the Diocese of Green Bay.
"Bishop Banks would have been the person who would have handled such cases, that's correct," Law said in answer to a question about a September 1984 letter from Marge Gallant warning of abuse by Geoghan, who was reassigned to a parish by Law a month later.
Geoghan was convicted of child molestation a year ago and is serving a nine- to 10-year prison term.
Law's remarks were made public a day after the release of similar testimony by Banks, who said in a November 2002 deposition he delegated clerical abuse matters to the Rev. John B. McCormack, then- secretary of Ministerial Personnel for the Archdiocese of Boston and now Bishop of Manchester, N.H.
"As a matter of fact, those questions would be referred to Father McCormack," Banks told Roderick MacLeish Jr., the plaintiffs' attorney in the Rev. Paul Shanley case.
Law's grilling by Garabedian included testimony about Geoghan's therapy reports from several clergy treatment centers, including Maryland's St. Luke's Institute - which diagnosed him as a "homosexual pedophile" - and Connecticut's Institute of Living in 1989.
Though St. Luke's clinicians recommended Geoghan remain institutionalized, those at the Institute of Living wrote Banks "we judge Father Geoghan to be clinically quite safe to resume his pastoral ministry."
But, they added, "we cannot guarantee that it could not reoccur" and "the final administrative decision (is) yours. It is both reasonable and therapeutic for him to be reassigned."
Law, who said Banks in that case did inform him of Geoghan's diagnosis, defended the priest's subsequent assignment to St. Julia's Parish in Weston, saying, "The operative word for us would have been `reasonable.' "
Michael Linscott, 45, of Hingham, one of 24 new plaintiffs who have retained Garabedian alleging abuse by Geoghan, said he was "disillusioned" by the testimony.
"This guy just closed his eyes to everything, like nothing was going on," he said.
"I'm not an expert on pedophilia. I'm not a psychologist. I'm an educated person. Just from what he read about the (St. Luke's) psychological report would tell you in a New York minute (Geoghan) had some psychological problems that say he shouldn't be around children whatsoever."
Garabedian, who settled 86 cases with the church last year for $10 million, said he is preparing 70 new suits involving 20 priests.
"Some of the (priests') names are new, about 10," he said.
"They span about 40 years except one case, where a woman came to
me who said she was molested in 1942."
By Kathryn Marchocki
New Hampshire Voice of the Faithful will join Boston-based and national groups in a march outside St. Joseph Cathedral in Manchester this month to support survivors of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.
"This is the first public event in New Hampshire to support survivors," said Carolyn B. Disco, press secretary for New Hampshire Voice of the Faithful, a lay reform group.
Several dozen alleged victims of childhood sexual abuse by priests will speak at the Jan. 26 event, organizers said yesterday.
Other speakers will include the Rev. Thomas P. Doyle, a Dominican priest and expert on church abuse issues; David Clohessy, national director of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), and Susan Archibald, president of The LinkUp, an advocacy group for survivors of abuse.
"We welcome the opportunity to join with our brothers and sisters to bear witness to the pain of children whose voices were silenced for so long," said Peter Flood, coordinator for New Hampshire Voice of the Faithful.
New Hampshire Voice of the Faithful is co-sponsoring the march with Coalition of Catholics and Survivors.
The "Solidarity March," which begins at 9 a.m., will include a solemn procession outside the cathedral.
While its focus is to show support for alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse, at least one group planning to participate intends to express its "outrage" at Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack for his handling of abusive priests while he served in the Boston archdiocese.
"We want to make it a big event showing our outrage at how Bishop
McCormack was involved with transferring of pedophile priests to other
parishes as Cardinal Law's right-hand man," said Philip L. deAlbuquerque,
co-founder and organizer of Speak Truth to Power (STTOP!), a Boston-based
group that is calling for McCormack to resign.
By Kathryn Marchocki
A task force helping develop a new sexual misconduct policy for the Catholic Diocese of Manchester yesterday presented its recommendations to the bishop.
The report, which will be posted online today, is expected to emphasize prevention and training, better record-keeping and improved methods for reporting and investigating sexual abuse allegations, task force members said yesterday.
"It's a report of very high quality because the task force was not comprised of the usual suspects," said member Richard E. Ashooh, vice president of legislative affairs for BAE Systems North America.
"It was comprised of people who have a pretty good idea of what the church and the community are trying to do in grappling with this very trying issue," Ashooh added of the group that has 10 lay members, one religious sister and a priest.
Members presented Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack with the approximate 20-page report during a private meeting at the chancery late yesterday afternoon.
"It's a good, strong document," task force member and Manchester Police Chief Mark L. Driscoll said. "A lot of people have worked very hard on it. It will be a good step forward for the church."
While the recommendations contained in the report must receive the bishop's approval, Driscoll said he "absolutely" expects McCormack will support them.
Ashooh said McCormack has monitored their work since the task force was formed early last October and "has been nothing but supportive."
Former Speaker of the House Donna Sytek, who chairs the task force, last week said the report will include summaries of concerns expressed by church critics, even if they didn't necessarily relate to the policy.
Ashooh said the group focused on developing a new sexual misconduct policy from "scratch," rather than building upon the existing one.
Key recommendations will be on preventing child sexual abuse through training and awareness, he said.
The report also will call for better and more centralized record-keeping and continued oversight to ensure the policy is being followed and refinements are made when needed, he added.
Driscoll said the recommendations would simplify and clarify policies and procedures dealing with sexual misconduct issues.
Recommendations that receive the bishop's approval will be sent to a four-member team who will draft a proposed new sexual misconduct policy, said Diane Murphy Quinlan, diocesan delegate for policy administration.
Sytek, Quinlan, the Rev. Frederick J. Pennett Jr., a task force member, and the Rev. John J. Mahoney Jr., diocesan canon lawyer, will work on the draft with canon law experts and civil authorities, Quinlan said.
The draft also must comply with the agreement the diocese reached with the state Attorney General's Office last month and the essential norms developed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.
The draft sexual misconduct policy is expected to be completed by March, Quinlan said. The task force will review it before presenting their final document to the bishop for his approval, she said.
The task force's report may be viewed online at www.rcbm-taskforce.org.
By Kathryn Marchocki
Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack is scheduled to be questioned next week by attorneys representing 54 men who say they were sexually abused as children by a priest in the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston, his attorney said yesterday.
McCormack is expected to be questioned under oath in Boston Jan. 22 and 24 in the civil suit involving the Rev. Joseph E. Birmingham, according to the bishop's attorney, Brian Tucker, of Concord.
The suit alleges Birmingham abused the men when he served in four Massachusetts parishes from the 1960s through the 1980s. Birmingham died in 1989.
McCormack served with Birmingham at St. James Parish in Salem, Mass.,
in the 1960s. He was then Cardinal Bernard F. Law's secretary for ministerial
personnel when Birmingham was made pastor of a Gloucester, Mass., parish
By Kathryn Marchocki
From the Seacoast to the North Country to the Monadnock Region, their message was the same: Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack lacks credibility to lead the church in New Hampshire and must resign.
That sentiment was the most persistent one voiced by Christian faithful to a task force that crisscrossed the state last fall to hear suggestions on developing a new diocesan sexual misconduct policy.
"There was considerable concern that Bishop McCormack does not have the moral authority to implement the revised policy on sexual misconduct nor to lead the church forward in the healing process," the Diocesan Task Force on Sexual Misconduct Policy said.
Concerns raised by more than 200 people who attended "listening sessions" around the state and others sent privately by mail are incorporated in a separate section of the panel's report to the bishop.
Many comments went beyond the charge of the task force to develop recommendations for a new sexual misconduct policy. But McCormack requested that a summary of them be included in the report, and he plans to respond to them publicly.
The task force said it took no position on the concerns raised.
Several people were angry McCormack assigned a priest to a Jaffrey parish in June without telling parishioners the priest had a previous sexual relationship with a teenage male.
Others lacked trust in the bishop's ability to protect children given his handling of abusive priests while he served in the Boston Archdiocese, the report said.
Some questioned the task force's credibility given its members were appointed by the bishop.
The fact that the task force did not call for McCormack's resignation in its report, released yesterday, drew criticism from James M. Farrell of Somersworth, a University of New Hampshire communications professor and a Catholic.
"Insofar as the task force did not recommend the resignation of Bishop McCormack, they contribute to the ongoing scandal in the church," said Farrell, who drafted a letter for McCormack's resignation last year.
He dismissed the task force's recommendation that the bishop be reported to the Pope and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops if he fails to comply with the new diocesan policy.
The USCCB "by its own unwillingness to address accountability for members of the hierarchy has already sacrificed its own credibility on this matter," Farrell said.
Other concerns raised at listening sessions included the need for more lay involvement in parish decision making. Some called for elected parish and finance councils rather than having members appointed by the pastor.
Others suggested having parish councils review personnel files of priests before they are assigned to their parishes to ensure these priests have had no complaints of sexual misconduct or "immoral activity" against them.
Full disclosure of diocesan assets, both cash and property, was another concern expressed at listening sessions.
Some people at the listening sessions said priests should be allowed to get married. They said this would broaden the pool of applicants to the priesthood and would likely reduce the incidence of child sexual abuse.
The task force said it also became apparent there is a "difference in the understanding of some people about the church's teaching on homosexuality."
In particular, clarification is needed on whether men with a homosexual
orientation are "disordered" and ineligible for the priesthood.
By Kathryn Marchocki
The Catholic Diocese of Manchester's new sexual misconduct policy must hold all church workers accountable, including reporting the bishop to the Pope if he fails to comply with its provisions, a task force recommended yesterday.
The 12-member Diocesan Task Force on Sexual Misconduct Policy also said the diocese should find ways to monitor clergy removed from parishes or placed on restricted assignment after they were found to be involved sexual abuse.
"Child abuse is an appalling sin and a crime in our church and in our society. It is a matter of the gravest concern," said the report, made public yesterday.
The task force said its 22-page report will help mold "the next generation" of policies aimed not just at responding to sexual misconduct allegations, but preventing child sexual abuse from occurring in the first place.
Saying that "reliance on our criminal laws alone" is inadequate to rid the church of child abuse, the task force recommended the diocese enact a policy that is broader than civil law requires.
Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack formally accepted its recommendations Thursday, enabling a four-member team to begin working on a draft sexual misconduct policy they hope to present to the bishop for final approval in March.
"If this is adopted . . . it would put us exactly where we want to be. We would have a policy in place that has protection for children, that has an accountability provision, that has transparency so people can see what really happens and have confidence in it," said task force chairman Donna P. Sytek, former speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives.
"I would say it would be outstanding," she added.
The report deals with prohibitions against sexual abuse of a minor, or anyone under 18, and "vulnerable" adults whose ability to consent is compromised because of mental or physical disabilities.
The diocesan policy should continue to bar anyone who has sexually abused a minor from ministry or employment in the diocese, the report recommends.
Anyone found to have engaged in sexual exploitation of an adult or inappropriate sexual conduct other than abuse should be subject to disciplinary action, it added.
The task force recommends the policy apply not just to diocesan personnel, but also to those working in non-diocesan Catholic schools and institutions.
Its report calls for the creation of a confidential central database on all church personnel that would include any sexual misconduct complaints.
It also said records of allegations of sexual abuse and exploitation should be preserved for "the longest period of time permitted by canon and civil law."
Other key features include the creation of a lay advisory board to the existing diocesan review board which would monitor implementation of the policy.
"To have the confidence of the laity, you need to have lay eyes looking at internal church procedures," Sytek said.
Diane Murphy Quinlan, assistant to the delegate for policy administration, said McCormack wants the policy to undergo continuous evaluation.
"This is not a document that will gather dust on the shelves. It will be a living document that will be constantly amended when it needs to," she said.
The task force, which was appointed by the bishop last fall, strongly emphasized prevention through screening, training and education of clergy, employees and volunteers.
Criminal background checks should be done on all diocesan clergy and members of religious institutes living in the state, the task force recommended.
All church personnel should participate in the diocese's current training program on child sexual abuse and be take refresher courses.
Reporting of sexual abuse allegations must comply with civil and canon law, the agreement reached last month with the state Attorney General and protocols for reporting and investigating sexual abuse that will be issued by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops by early March, the task force said.
The reporting requirements contained in the Attorney General's agreement are broader than required under civil law.
The bishop should investigate and take disciplinary action against anyone who fails to comply with the new diocesan policy, the task force recommended.
If the bishop fails to comply, he should be reported to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Pope.
"This is the only (enforcement) mechanism we have: We're going to report you to your boss," Sytek said. "In the case of the bishop, the boss is the Pope."
Anne Coughlin, a Concord mother and member of Voice of the Faithful lay reform group, said she is most impressed by the report's emphasis on developing a policy broader than what is required by law.
"I'm glad to hear they want the church to have a higher standard than what is required by civil law," she said.
She had concerns about the recommendation to keep records of allegations for as long as civil and canon law allow. Canon law allows destruction of documents upon a priest's death, church officials have said.
"I think a lot of people feel the diocese should permanently maintain the records," Coughlin said.
She also said she would like the diocesan review board to have more than advisory power. "All the decision-making power would still rest with the bishop," she explained.
Patrick H. Ford, a Rye businessman and former vice chairman of the diocesan pastoral council, said the report is "comprehensive" and "extremely well done."
"In terms of rebuilding confidence with the lay people and restoring their trust, we really need a policy that doesn't have any holes in it," he added. "It's really a first step."
Ford said he likes the idea for a central database.
"As I read about what happened in Boston and what I will assume will be revealed in New Hampshire, that is one of the critical areas. The task force has addressed it as such," he said.
While Ford said expanded lay involvement through the creation of an advisory board to the diocesan review board is a good idea, he would like to see more done.
Specifically, he said laity should be review recommendations of future
By Pat Hammond
Responding to a report that Bishop John B. McCormack said he might resign if he feels he can no longer serve or heal his parishioners, Manchester Diocese spokesman Patrick McGee said yesterday, "The bishop has no plans to resign."
"I wasn't in the meeting," McGee said, referring to the private discussion Friday between the bishop and an alleged victim of priest sexual abuse during which, the victim later said, McCormack left the door open for resignation. "But there are two points I want to make," McGee said. "One is about helping victims, and one is about moving the Church forward.
"I think the bishop continues to be helpful to victims. He meets with victims who want to meet with him. He has led the diocese in a response to victims by trying to meet their needs outside of the contentious legal battle.
"He has also increased the staffing for the office of the bishop's delegate for sexual misconduct (the Rev. Edward J. Arsenault) to include a victim's advocate," McGee said.
"As far as leaving the church, I think the bishop again has demonstrated through the task force his willingness to include many voices in the formation of an effective policy, to engage the laity in many different ways in the church and to work day and night to move the church forward through this crisis."
The task force was appointed by McCormack to evaluate the Manchester Diocese's sexual misconduct policy.
Asked if retirement -- as opposed to resignation -- was an option that
McCormack, 68, might be considering, McGee said, "The bishop is expected
to serve until he is 75 unless, for health or any other grave reason,
he has to retire early."
By J.M. Hirsch, Associated Press
Manchester -- An alleged victim of priest sexual abuse said Bishop John B. McCormack told him Friday he will resign if he no longer can help victims heal and lead the church effectively.
"If the time comes when I can't serve as well as heal the victims, I'll step down," Gary Bergeron said the bishop told him during a 90-minute private meeting in McCormack's office at the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester.
McCormack has faced calls for his resignation since April, when his role in the Boston Archdiocese's lax handling of molesting priests first received wide publicity. He has rejected the calls, though he has acknowledged mistakes and has apologized repeatedly to those harmed.
On Friday, a policy study group McCormack appointed issued a report saying that calls for his resignation were commonplace at four "listening sessions" for laity in October and November.
The calls have intensified since Boston Cardinal Bernard Law's resignation last month after nearly a year of criticism. 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.
Bergeron, 40, of Lowell, Mass., says he was abused by the late Rev. Joseph E. Birmingham, who served with McCormack at St. James parish in Salem, Mass., in the mid-1960s. Bergeron and other alleged victims say McCormack knew Birmingham was molesting children but did nothing to stop him, an allegation McCormack has denied.
Bergeron said Friday it was clear McCormack is troubled by his past.
"He admitted that he had made mistakes. He apologized to me for those mistakes," Bergeron said. "I asked him if he thought he could have done more, and he said looking back now he realizes, especially with Birmingham, that he probably could have done more."
He said McCormack asked for his forgiveness.
"I said I would forgive him. I have to forgive him because there's been enough destruction in my life," Bergeron said.
But he said it was difficult because he still doesn't believe McCormack has fully accepted responsibility.
McCormack has agreed to meet with other alleged victims of Birmingham, including some next week. And on Jan. 28, he will go to Salem, Mass., to meet with a group of them.
Bergeron said McCormack blamed his errors on trusting "the word of Joe Birmingham. He trusted a priest."
"I looked at him and I said, 'So did I.' "
By Kathleen Burge and Sacha Pfeiffer
A Superior Court judge ruled yesterday that a civil lawsuit can go forward against Monsignor Frederick J. Ryan, accusing him of sexually assaulting a high school student in the 1980s.
Judge Constance M. Sweeney ruled that the former student, David E. Carney, didn't wait too long to file suit against Ryan, as Ryan's lawyer had argued. Drawing on a recent decision from the Supreme Judicial Court, Carney and his lawyers said that the statute of limitations doesn't expire until three years after a victim rationally understands that the abuse harmed him.
Sweeney agreed and said the case should move forward so a jury can consider Carney's allegation, which Ryan denies.
''Mr. Carney's deposition does not, as Monsignor Ryan claims, clearly illuminate the time frame during which Mr. Carney understood that he had sustained an injury to his psyche caused by Monsignor Ryan,'' Sweeney wrote. ''To the contrary, the deposition offers some evidence that Mr. Carney did not begin to grasp that causal connection until March 2002, and is still discovering, with the assistance of therapists, the depth and breadth of that connection.''
Carney, 36, sued Ryan and the Boston Archdiocese in April, alleging that the archdiocese's former vice chancellor sexually assaulted him in about 1981, when Carney was a student at Catholic Memorial High School in West Roxbury. He says he didn't make the connection between his sexual abuse and his later problems - drug use, drinking, flunking out of high school - until last March. Carney saw a television report about his friend Garry M. Garland, accusing Ryan of sexually abusing him at Catholic Memorial.
One of Carney's lawyers, Mitchell Garabedian, said yesterday that Sweeney's ruling would make it easier for the civil lawsuits of other alleged victims with similar circumstances to go forward.
''I know it's not over,'' Carney said. ''But it's just a positive step for me and, I'm sure, for a lot of other people.''
Ryan's lawyer, Timothy P. O'Neill, couldn't be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, depositions continued yesterday of both Cardinal Bernard F. Law and Manchester, N.H., Bishop John B. McCormack, a former top aide to Law. The two were questioned separately for about five hours by lawyers representing alleged victims of the Rev. Paul R. Shanley and the late Rev. Joseph E. Birmingham. The depositions were taken at the Boston law firm Greenberg Traurig.
At an afternoon news conference, several alleged Birmingham victims who had attended McCormack's deposition said that when questioned about his role in transferring Birmingham despite abuse complaints about him, the bishop repeatedly identified Bishop Robert J. Banks, one of Law's former deputies, as the administrator in charge of reassigning clerics. Banks now heads the Green Bay, Wis., diocese.
''He constantly points to Banks as the one responsible,'' said Larry Sweeney, a Chelmsford man who says he was molested by Birmingham at St. Michael's parish in Lowell in the 1970s.
McCormack also said that in about 1970, when a father came to him to report that Birmingham had abused his son and another boy, he himself had viewed sexual abuse as a sin rather than a crime, according to several of Birmingham's alleged victims.
Rodney Ford, the father of an alleged Shanley victim who attended Law's deposition, said the cardinal said it was ''common sense'' for him to allow the Rev. James D. Foley to remain in ministry in 1995 despite Foley's 1993 admission that he had fathered two children with a woman who later died of a drug overdose after going to bed with him.
McCormack's deposition will continue tomorrow and Law's will continue
By Kathryn Marchocki
Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack repeatedly said other church officials were responsible for allowing a Boston priest to continue in parish work despite complaints that the priest was sexually abusing children, several alleged victims who heard his testimony said yesterday.
McCormack was questioned under oath in Boston for about five hours by attorneys representing 54 men who say they were sexually abused by the late Rev. Joseph E. Birmingham in four Massachusetts parishes from the 1960s through the 1980s.
"When questioned about things he should have done, he kept referring to Bishop (Robert J.) Banks -- Bishop Banks should have done that," said Bernie McDaid of Lynn, Mass., one of Birmingham's alleged victims who sat in on the deposition.
Banks, now bishop of Green Bay, Wis., was vicar for administration in the Boston archdiocese while then Rev. McCormack was secretary for ministerial personnel in the 1980s.
McCormack also served at St. James Parish in Salem, Mass., with Birmingham in the 1960s.
"The church could have taken the extra step, especially with the red flag of child sexual abuse," said McDaid, 46, who said Birmingham abused him at St. James.
McCormack acknowledged a St. James parishioner told him around 1970 that Birmingham molested his son and McDaid, McDaid said.
McCormack, who was then working at the nearby Catholic Charities office, reported the allegation to the pastor, but never told McDaid's parents, McDaid said.
McCormack also said he didn't think of child sexual abuse as a crime at that time, said Paul Ciaramitaro of Gloucester, Mass., who also sat in on the deposition.
"He didn't think of it as a crime. He thought of it as a sin," added Ciaramitaro, 31, who claims Birmingham abused him at St. Ann Parish in Gloucester in the 1980s.
Birmingham died in 1989.
McCormack said in a statement afterward that he remains committed to helping alleged abuse victims.
"I know that moment in their lives and that of their families is painful. I cannot heal victims myself, but I am confident that I can help them," McCormack said.
He said participating in the depositions is part of the healing process, adding he hopes it will bring civil suits filed against him and the Boston archdiocese "closer to resolution."
McCormack will meet in Salem, Mass., Tuesday with about 100 of Birmingham's alleged victims, their families and guests, McDaid said.
"The most effective work that I can do with victims, survivors and their families continues to occur in personal and group meetings," McCormack said.
While McCormack was questioned in one conference room in connection with the lawsuit brought against him and the Boston Archdiocese in the Birmingham case, Cardinal Bernard F. Law was deposed in another.
Law, who resigned last month as Boston archbishop, finished his seventh day of testimony in civil suits filed against the Boston archdiocese for its handling of abuse allegations against the Rev. Paul R. Shanley.
McCormack tentatively is scheduled to be deposed again tomorrow in the
By Eric Convey
New Hampshire Bishop John B. McCormack said under oath yesterday that he once considered sexual molestation by priests a "sin" but not a "crime," according to alleged abuse victims who sat in on his deposition in a civil case.
"Bishop McCormack said it was a sin - he didn't look at it as a crime," said Bernie McDaid of Lynn, a leader of a group calling itself Survivors of Joseph Birmingham. "He thought it was a sin - just a sin. That just floored me."
Larry Sweeney of Chelmsford, an alleged victim of Birmingham, said, "What was a sin was that he did nothing about it,"
McCormack and Bernard Cardinal Law testified for five hours each yesterday - in separate cases - at the offices of Greenberg Traurig, a law firm handling cases against Birmingham and other priests.
McCormack, who previously served in Boston and oversaw personnel operations, was a longtime friend of Birmingham.
The two served side-by-side in a Salem parish in the 1960s. McCormack would later make important assignment decisions involving Birmingham, including making him pastor of a church in Gloucester despite having been told by families that Birmingham allegedly sexually abused boys.
Victims were especially upset that McCormack declined to act, given that he is a licensed social worker.
McCormack issued a statement yesterday saying he intends to spend considerable time listening to victims and their families and hopes suits move quickly toward resolution.
"I cannot heal victims myself, but I am confident that I can help them," he said.
David Lyko, who addressed reporters yesterday clutching a photograph of his 1973 elementary school class, accused McCormack of being especially cold in his refusal to stop Birmingham - beginning with his failure to act on warnings he heard by the late 1960s.
"I'm one of the few who felt sorry for Bernie Law," Lyko said. "As far as McCormack goes, I don't care if he rots in hell."
Separately yesterday, Law, the former archbishop of Boston, testified in the civil case involving the Rev. Paul Shanley.
Law appeared guarded, said Rodney Ford, father of an alleged Shanley victim.
"I think he was trying to limit himself in what he was saying," said Ford.
Law goes before a Suffolk grand jury in late February to discuss the case.
Jeffrey R. Newman, an attorney representing Shanley accusers, said he
expects to know next week whether cases are likely to settle out of court.
The first trial is scheduled to begin in March.
By Albert McKeon
An organization of Catholic laity will join a national group representing survivors of sexual abuse in a solidarity march Sunday outside St. Joseph Cathedral in Manchester.
The New Hampshire chapter of the lay organization Voice of the Faithful will join the national Coalition of Catholics and Survivors in a march to support abuse victims.
“This is an awareness and a welcoming of our brothers and sisters, and standing with them physically,” said Carolyn Disco, a Merrimack resident and member of the VOF state chapter.
“Some survivors have mentioned that some Catholics look at them as dirty, and that we won’t stand with them physically. This is saying we will.”
Disco thinks New Hampshire has never held a public event of this sort and magnitude. Cold weather will not stop the march; only rain or snow will postpone it, organizers said.
The march is scheduled to start at 9 a.m., with participants unveiling photographs of victims. The photographs will show victims at or near the age they were abused. Several victims will then share their stories of abuse, and their dealings with church hierarchy.
The march will also feature a trio of nationally recognized victim advocates, which Disco calls “the big three.”
The group includes the Rev. Thomas Doyle, who has railed against clergy abuse for almost two decades. A former canon lawyer at the Vatican Embassy in Washington, D.C., Doyle in 1985 recommended steps the church could have followed in solving the abuse crisis.
Church analysts fault U.S. bishops for ignoring Doyle’s report. They claim the bishops’ decision only exacerbated the crisis.
“Everyone wants a piece of him,” Disco said. “He’s one of the major thinkers in the world. He consults with dioceses all over the world.”
Susan Archibald, founder of the victim advocacy group The LinkUp, will also speak. Once an Air Force major, she resigned her commission after faulting the military and the church for not taking her claim of abuse seriously. Archibald alleges that an Air Force Academy chaplain abused her.
Archibald has focused attention on female abuse victims. Those victims think their claims are overlooked, and that they are often accused of initiating contact.
“I hope the event will provide some comfort for survivors,” said David Clohessy, national director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and the third featured speaker.
“If one survivor trapped in isolation comes and meets other people, and leaves feeling a little better, it’s entirely worth it. For any survivor taking action, it’s a worthy step. It’s not worth trying to ignore pain and suppress pain.”
The march will end at 10:30 a.m., just as Mass starts inside the cathedral. Bishop John McCormack occasionally celebrates Sunday Mass there, but will not this weekend, said Pat McGee, spokesman for the Diocese of Manchester.
Voice of the Faithful formed last year as the clergy abuse crisis started dominating headlines. It now claims 25,000 members worldwide, and has the stated goal of bringing church reform through active lay involvement.
The Coalition of Catholics and Survivors is a group representing victims and concerned lay Catholics. The group has a goal of bringing justice to victims and holding church leaders accountable.
Although organizers of the march have not expressed a desire to single
out McCormack, their choice of venues sends a message itself. McCormack
handled sexual abuse complaints for the Archdiocese of Boston under Cardinal
Bernard Law, drawing the fire of victims and reformists.
Bishop Accountability © 2003