Dover Church Seeks Damages, Saying Bishop Botched Probe of Rev. Gregoire

By Sean Murphy
October 5, 2003

The Rev. Paul Gregoire may have returned to his place as pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Church in Dover, but for the parish council the issue is not quite resolved.

The council has drafted a letter to the Most Rev. John B. McCormack, bishop of the Diocese of Manchester, asking for reimbursement of expenses totaling $14,613. The letter, according to the council, has also been distributed to parishioners.

In the letter, dated Sept. 19, the council attributed the expenses to extra "administrative fees" and fees to other priests the parish had to pay for as part of arranging a temporary replacement for Gregoire.

Pat McGee, spokesperson for the diocese, said on Saturday that he had not personally seen the letter, and declined to comment on its contents. McGee did say that McCormack would likely respond privately, and directly to the parish council.

Gregoire was removed shortly after Thanksgiving Day of last year, amid allegations of sexual misconduct against a young woman. Since then, church officials declared the allegations groundless, and Gregoire returned in August.

At the time of his return, it was not clear just what brought Gregoire back. His supporters publicly stated it took an appeal to the Vatican, while diocesan officials said they maintained support for Gregoire all along, and were not trying to keep Gregoire away.

In addition to the description of the money issue, the letter goes on to emphasize its support of Gregoire and criticize the diocese’s investigation of Gregoire.

"We feel justified in the request (for reimbursement) because we feel that Fr. Paul’s removal was not necessary," the letter read.

In part, the letter accused the diocese of not taking fast enough action after getting what the letter referred to as "testimony from both the mother and brother of the accuser exonerating" Gregoire.

"This fiasco should have ended at that time, but you chose to extend it for seven more months," the letter stated.

The letter was signed by Council Chairman Richard Valliere and Council Secretary Thelma Anne Gitschier. Valliere was unavailable for comment, but Gitschier said on Saturday that the letter was drafted after the issue was discussed in a recent council meeting.

Gitschier declined to offer details or a breakdown of the expenses, but said "We’re just asking to try to make ends meet."

The letter also alludes to a dip in income for the church in general. Gitschier said the church did notice a 30 percent drop in offerings after Gregoire was removed, but added the council was not asking the diocese to reimburse that.

Gitschier said she suspects the parish community will support the council, just as it has supported Gregoire all along. The community wrote countless letters to numerous church officials on Gregoire’s behalf after he was removed, Gitschier said.

"They’re incredibly supportive of Father Paul," she said.


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