Priests Support Bishop's Denial of Statement
By Bill Pomerleau
The Catholic Observer [Springfield MA]
September 27, 2003
SPRINGFIELD – All but two of the priests who attended a March 2002 meeting of the presbyteral council have denied that they were told that the late Springfield Bishop Christopher J. Weldon had destroyed church documents concerning Father Richard Lavigne.
In a front page article in the Sept. 17 edition of The Republican newspaper, Father James Scahill, said that Bishop Thomas L. Dupre? had “announced that fortunately for the , upon his retirement, he (Bishop Weldon) destroyed many personal and personnel files."
Father Scahill, a member of the advisory board, told the newspaper that Bishop Dupre? made the comment "with glee in his voice and gleam in his eye."
Bishop Dupre? told The Catholic Observer that except for Father Paul Manship, whom diocesan officials had not been able to contact by press time, all the other members of the advisory group deny hearing his alleged statements.
The others in attendance at the meeting were: Msgrs. John Harrington, Richard Sniezyk and Leo Leclerc; and Fathers Stanley Aksamit, Hugh Crean, Vernon Decoteau, David Joyce, Daniel Liston, Christopher Malatesta, Howard McCormick, Daniel Pacholec, Thomas Reilly, Thomas Shea, Michael Shershanovich.
Some members have no recollection at all of comments about Bishop Weldon’s record-keeping.
Others joined Bishop Dupre? in recalling an informal discussion in which the bishop mentioned a story he heard second-hand about events after Bishop Weldon"s death in 1982.
Bishop Dupre? said he had heard that the late Msgr. David Welch, Bishop Weldon’s executor, sorted through his personal effects, disposing of personal letters and returning some personal papers to the diocesan archives. He said he heard the story from diocesan attorney John Egan.
Bishop Dupre? insisted that he never heard anything about personnel records. "And what I heard about the personal papers I never heard from any direct source."
Father Scahill, pastor of St. Michael Parish in , has been withholding his parish"s cathedraticum tax payments to the diocese to protest diocesan maintenance support for Father Lavigne, whose laicization is now being considered by the.
Father Scahill has also accused the diocese of never apologizing to sexual abuse victims, and of using a permission form for religious education field trips used in some parishes as a means of absolving the diocese of legal responsibility for abuse by its employees. The diocese has denied both of these allegations.
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