More McCormack Spin
The Bishop Still Dodges the Truth

The Union Leader [Manchester NH]
Downloaded March 3, 2004

WHEN MANCHESTER Bishop John McCormack delivered a prepared statement last Friday containing these words - "The entire church is facing the truth about the devastating crime and sin of sexual abuse by clergy, and it is a hard truth. So we do not fear this truth; we use it." - he was not being truthful.

The National Review Board, a panel of lay Catholics set up to study sexual abuse by priests, concluded last week that 6.6 percent of priests in the Manchester Diocese had credible allegations of sexual abuse made against them. The national average in the Catholic Church is 4 percent, the board found.

In an interview with The Union Leader on Friday, McCormack made two contradictory statements about the numbers.

"What it reveals is we worked hard in encouraging people to come forward and to be helped (with) being a victim of sexual abuse by a priest as a minor," he said in explanation of why New Hampshire had a higher than average percentage of abusive priests.

Perhaps New Hampshire's 6.6 percentage rate was caused by the church encouraging abusers to come forward. By flatly stating that as truth, McCormack misleads. Three of the 55 abusive priests identified in the report were from other parishes but were serving here with the blessing of the bishop. It is not unreasonable to suspect that Manchester's bishops were known as protectors of abusive priests, which would have attracted abusers to the diocese and inflated its percentage rate. Which brings us to McCormack's other spin.

"There were 94 percent of our priests who are faithful, kind and generous in their pastoral life and service. And this study, although it is hard and difficult, should not cloud their good life and ministry or the good works and mission of the church."

McCormack knows well that no such thing is true. As he acknowledged in the former quote and when he said "come forward" to any victims who have kept their abuse a secret, the 6.6 percent figure represents only known sexual predators in the diocese. How many more remain undiscovered is a mystery.

McCormack says he has learned a great deal from this scandal, and that may be true. But he hasn't learned to stop spinning and state the simple truth, which is why we continue to believe he is unfit to lead the Catholic Church in New Hampshire.


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