Vatican's Quick Action on Springfield Bishop Pleases One Local Clergyman

By Karen Gardner
North Adams Transcript [Adams MA]
Downloaded March 10, 2004

Wednesday, March 10, 2004 - ADAMS -- News of the Vatican's rapid replacement of Bishop Thomas Dupre with Bishop Timothy A. McDonnell comes as a welcome surprise to at least one area priest.

The Rev. Daniel J. Boyle, pastor of the Notre Dame and St. Thomas parishes of Adams, called the Vatican's quick decision to name McDonnell as the eighth bishop of the Springfield Diocese "amazing."

"It's wonderful," said Boyle. "It's certainly needed."

Less than a month ago, Dupre stepped down as the diocese's bishop following accusations that he molested two boys in the 1970s. A grand jury is looking into possible criminal charges against Dupre.

Boyle said that when Bishop Sean P. O'Malley was named as Boston's archbishop in July 2003, it had taken eight months for the Vatican to appoint him to the position.

"And it also took eight months for Palm Beach, Florida, which had two consecutive bishops accused of child sexual abuse, to have them replaced," Boyle said.

O'Malley was appointed bishop in Palm Beach, Fla., in 2002. There, two bishops resigned in five years due to allegations related to the sex abuse crisis. For McDonnell to be appointed in less than a month is notable, said Boyle.

"They put Springfield on the fast track," he said. "I didn't realize there was a track that fast in the Vatican."

Asked if he was surprised how aware the Vatican appeared to be of the Springfield Diocese's needs, Boyle said it is "very well-connected to the American church," as well as to the church all over the world.

"The Vatican has their own system of diplomats and they have their ear to the ground throughout the world, but in particular in the United States where unfortunately this situation of victimization has occurred," he explained.

With McDonnell in place as bishop, Boyle hopes the healing process for the region's Catholics can begin. He said while a certain percentage of molestation cases may have resulted by opportunistic individuals who may not be truthful in their claims, "Unfortunately, I would say that's in the minority.

"I'm sure that the majority of [the claims], as the truth becomes known, have credibility," Boyle said.

In addition to criminal investigations conducted by the district attorney's office, he said the diocese carries out its own internal investigations.

McDonnell arrived in Springfield Tuesday morning. He will be installed as bishop on April 1, at St. Michael's Cathedral, in Springfield.

McDonnell, who serves as an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of New York City and co-vicar general for that diocese, will bring to Springfield experience which includes helping to run Covenant House for six months, following the resignation of its founder and director, Father Bruce Ritter, who was accused of child molestation and financial wrong-doing.

The Rev. Michael W.T. Twardzik, pastor of the St. Anthony of Padua and St. Francis of Assisi parishes in North Adams, and the Rev. Mark J. Burke, SJ, pastor of the St. Patrick and Raphael parishes, did not return telephone messages seeking comment by presstime.


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