Archbishop Denies Knowledge of Charges

Boston Globe [Boston MA]
Downloaded March 12, 2004

Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley last night denied knowing that a Massachusetts bishop was accused of molesting children until the day before the Vatican accepted the bishop's resignation.


In a statement issued at 7 p.m., O'Malley's spokesman, the Rev. Christopher J. Coyne, said O'Malley had learned on Feb. 10 that Bishop Thomas L. Dupre of Springfield was accused of abusing two boys. The Vatican accepted Dupre's resignation Feb. 11. Coyne also said O'Malley did not know until Feb. 11 that Dupre offered to resign last November.

"Archbishop O'Malley has never spoken to Bishop Dupre about his reasons for retiring or the allegations being made against him," Coyne said.

Whether O'Malley knew about Dupre's alleged misconduct has become an issue because the two launched a campaign against gay marriage after Dupre allegedlly knew he faced abuse allegations, and because O'Malley serves as the regional metropolitan, or senior bishop. The US Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2002 agreed that "in cases of an allegation of sexual abuse of minors by bishops, we will apply the requirements of the Charter (for the protection of children and young people) also to ourselves, respecting always Church law as it applies to bishops. In such cases, the Metropolitan will be informed when an allegation has been made against a bishop."

The agreement does not spell out what the metropolitan is supposed to do once he learns of an allegation.

Roderick MacLeish Jr., a lawyer for two men who yesterday filed suit against Dupre, said he has subpoenaed O'Malley to question him about his conversations with Dupre. He said he also wants to ask about the handling of a November phone call placed by a Springfield priest seeking to report the alleged abuse. Coyne has said O'Malley's office has no record of receiving the call.

Michael Paulson


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.