Report Details Auxiliary Bishop's Role
By Albert McKeon email@example.com
The Telegraph [New Hampshire]
Downloaded March 4, 2003
Auxiliary Bishop Francis Christian had kept a relatively low profile since the clergy abuse crisis captured the public's attention last year.
Christian emerged Monday when a state report faulted him for mischaracterizing the abuse history of a convicted priest.
The report also details Christian instructing a priest how to respond to abuse allegations so the diocese could prevent accusers from pursuing court action.
Christian expressed regret Monday about his 1998 statement on the history of the Rev. Roger Fortier, in which he said Fortier's "sexual problems with youth were unknown to the diocese."
Christian said he made the remark because he thought Strafford County Superior Court officials already knew about a Derry police investigation of Fortier years earlier.
"Along with Bishop (John) McCormack and the entire Catholic community in (New Hampshire), I have learned many painful lessons this last year," Christian wrote in a statement.
Christian's role in the handling of Fortier and several other priests charged with sexual abuse unfolds in the state attorney general's report on the diocese's handling of abuse allegations. The report based its conclusions on thousands of pages of church documents, and investigative interviews.
After receiving legal advice, Christian told Strafford County Probation Officer Stephen Carlisle that Fortier's "sexual problems with youth were unknown to the diocese," according to the state report and Christian's statement.
"When I stated Roger Fortier's 'sexual problems with youth were unknown to the diocese,' I was referring to the serious nature of sexual assault for which he had just been tried and convicted. As I look back now, it is clear to me that his previous behavior in Derry was sexual misconduct, and I wish that I had not made the statement to Mr. Carlisle in the manner that I did," the bishop wrote.
Assistant Attorney General Jim Rosenberg said Christian's remarks were one of many examples of diocesan officials making misstatements on abuse. Christian had direct knowledge of Derry police's 1984 investigation of Fortier's behavior with minors, Rosenberg said.
Derry police learned that Fortier assaulted one minor, and watched pornography with other minors, while providing them alcohol, in his Manchester rectory room, the attorney general said. Fortier was convicted in 1998 on 16 counts of sexual assault.
Christian worked as the diocese's chancellor from 1977-1996, when he was installed as auxiliary bishop.
Documents also show Christian telling the Rev. Paul Aube that when complainants ask about the priest's behavior, "it is better to be honest from the very beginning (sic) about the knowledge of the diocese and the treatment we had assisted the priest to obtain. Hopefully, this prevents the people in question from pursuing civil or criminal action."
Christian's statements show "a good effort to avoid scandal," Rosenberg said.
The state said it could have obtained numerous indictments against the diocese based on its mishandling of Aube. The priest was long a sexual threat to minors but the diocese kept him in active ministry, the state said.
"The victims were usually in great pain," Christian wrote. "I tried, with the assistance of others, to attend to their needs as fully as possible. I believe some would say I helped. I am also sure that for some I was not as sensitive or responsive as they would have wished. I apologize to any victim who did not receive from me the care and compassion of Christ."
Albert McKeon can be reached at 249-3339.
Any original material on these pages is copyright © BishopAccountability.org 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.
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