Bishop Accountability
  Manchester NH Resources – July 2002

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Bishop says he accepted priests’ denials of abuse

By Stephen Kurkjian and Matt Carroll
Boston (MA) Globe
July 9, 2002

New Hampshire Bishop John B. McCormack acknowledged under oath last month that he accepted without question the denials of two priests in the Boston Archdiocese that they had molested youngsters despite receiving repeated sexual abuse allegations against the men.

McCormack also said he did not think he was obligated to inform authorities about the allegations against the Rev. Ronald H. Paquin and the Rev. Joseph Birmingham because as a priest he was not covered by state law at the time requiring reporting of sexual abuse of minors, according to a transcript of the confidential deposition obtained by the Associated Press.

McCormack, who served as Cardinal Bernard Law's top deputy for investigating clergy abuse before being named bishop of Manchester in 1998, was deposed in connection with a civil lawsuit filed by three men who allege they were sexually abused by another Boston-area priest, the Rev. Paul R. Shanley.

The lawsuit accuses Law, McCormack, and several other top archdiocesan officials of failing to stop the alleged abuse by Shanley, who was indicted last month by a Middlesex County grand jury on charges of raping three youths during the 1980s while assigned as pastor of a Newton church.

Although the suit focuses on Shanley, Boston attorney Roderick MacLeish is seeking to show that archdiocesan officials put children and youngsters in harm's way by failing to properly respond to sexual abuse allegations made against priests in their charge.

Questioned by MacLeish, the attorney for the alleged victims, McCormack acknowledged that he had accepted Shanley's explanation in 1985 that he had been quoted out of context in a speech Shanley had made stating that when adults have sex with minors, children are often the seducers.

McCormack said he was wrong to have accepted Shanley's account that he was only speaking about child prostitutes. ''I saw Paul as a person who was an honest guy, who was always trying to help the church reach out to the alienated, the marginalized,'' McCormack said during the deposition held June 4 in Manchester. ''I had no reason to think that he was, when he reported to me, that he was being dishonest. In hindsight, I do, but then I didn't.''

The AP said the transcript of McCormack's sworn testimony was provided by Massachusetts sources. The public release of the information is likely to prompt a response from Superior Court Justice Constance M. Sweeney, who is overseeing all civil cases involving alleged sexual misconduct by Boston archdiocese priests.

Sweeney has denied media requests to obtain transcripts of depositions taken in the civil case involving convicted pedophile and defrocked priest John J. Geoghan, saying the sworn testimony by Law and other archdiocesan officials could only be released 30 days after the deposition was complete.

Sweeney is likely to toe the same line with all sworn testimony involving clergy sexual misconduct suits in which depositions have not been finished, according to some attorneys involved in the cases.

McCormack's deposition will be continued at a date yet to be determined.

According to selected portions of the transcript, which the AP released last night, MacLeish spent most of the deposition questioning McCormack about his handling of allegations the archdiocese had received about Paquin and Birmingham.

In an account previously reported in the Globe, McCormack said that he had confronted Paquin in 1991 about information he had received from a priest who alleged that Paquin was having inappropriate contact with a Haverhill youth.

''I spoke with Father Paquin. He assured me there was no sexual contact, that this was a boy he had known, that he was trying to be helpful to, so I took him at his word,'' McCormack said. Paquin was indicted last month by an Essex County grand jury for having sexually abused the youth.

McCormack acknowledged in the deposition that he did not question Paquin's account even though he had ordered Paquin removed from a Haverhill church in 1990 after receiving credible allegations of abuse from two other youths.

McCormack also dismissed the concerns of a Gloucester parent who asked in 1987 if Birmingham, who until recently had been assigned to his parish, was the same priest he had heard had abused children elsewhere.

Church officials received abuse allegations for years against Birmingham, who died in 1989. The Globe has previously reported that at least three people say they told McCormack, or that McCormack knew, that Birmingham was abusing children during the 1960s and 1970s.

McCormack said he confronted Birmingham at the time, and Birmingham assured him he was ''clean'' of any problems.

Later in his exchange with MacLeish, McCormack acknowledged learning of another complaint against Birmingham. Asked whether he contacted the unidentified Gloucester parent with that information, McCormack said he could not recall having done so.

McCormack acknowledged having reservations about Birmingham, but said he advised the man not to worry about Birmingham and said he saw no need for him to raise the issue with his son.

''I can't explain why I didn't tell the full story,'' McCormack said.

Sweeney had issued no formal order prohibiting the release of the depositions taken in the Shanley case. But J. Owen Todd, an attorney for the archdiocese, said he believes that a Massachusetts Appeals Court order last month referring all civil cases involving clergy abuse to Sweeney prohibited the leaking of depositions taken in the Shanley case.

''I am astonished by what's happened here,'' Todd said, adding that he was certain that Sweeney would hold an immediate hearing regarding the disclosure of McCormack's deposition.

MacLeish last night vehemently denied being responsible for providing the transcipt. If the deposition was provided by an attorney, he or she could be held in contempt by Sweeney, MacLeish noted.

Law aide: I believed priests, not accusers

By Robin Washington
Boston (MA) Herald
July 9, 2002

A former top deputy to Bernard Cardinal Law admitted accepting the word of two priests that they had not molested children over repeated allegations by parishioners and other evidence to the contrary, according to a transcript of a deposition made public yesterday.

Bishop John B. McCormack, now head of the Manchester, N.H., diocese, told lawyer Roderick MacLeish in the sworn testimony that he and other church officials chose to keep allegations against priests secret in part to avoid scandal.

"Our practice was to handle matters . . . confidentially and not to raise it to the point where it would become so public that, at that time we saw this as a scandal, and that it would raise it to the level of a scandal," McCormack said in the transcript released by The Associated Press.

The wire service said it obtained the June 4 testimony from two unnamed Massachusetts sources.

The turnover of the transcript is in violation of an order by Superior Court Judge Constance Sweeney, who has jurisdiction over the church sexual abuse cases and the release of depositions.

MacLeish, whose deposition of McCormack was part of a suit against the Archdiocese of Boston by three Newton men claiming they were sexually abused by the Rev. Paul Shanley in the 1980s, condemned the release.

"If someone thought by releasing this they were helping victims of sexual abuse they're sadly mistaken," he said, adding that it "wouldn't make sense" for the leak to have come from his office.

"It's mind-boggling. This is a huge setback. Judge Sweeney indicated she would take under advisement whether the transcripts would be released. Why would anyone think about releasing it when the motion was under advisement?"

MacLeish said he would not "affirm in any way that this is in fact a deposition transcript."

But the transcript appears genuine, with questions attributed to MacLeish reflecting his broad knowledge of the priest sexual abuse cases and McCormack's part in them.

In a passage about the late Rev. Joseph Birmingham, who is accused of molesting scores of children, MacLeish asked McCormack about allegations from 1987.

"So even though you were aware of the multiple allegations against Father Birmingham and even though you had your own reservations about making him pastor, you were content to take Father Birmingham's word on the fact he was clean. Is that your testimony?" the lawyer asked.

"Yes," McCormack replied.

"Well, it turns out that seven weeks earlier there had been a report made by another parishioner of St. Ann's (in Gloucester) where Father Birmingham was working to show that he wasn't clean, correct?"


"So you were mistaken in taking Father Birmingham's word for it, were you not, Bishop?"


Likewise, MacLeish questioned McCormack why he didn't act on a warning from another priest that the Rev. Ronald Paquin, who is now in Essex jail charged with three counts of rape of a child, was molesting a teenage boy in Haverhill.

"You didn't go to DSS (the Massachusetts Department of Social Services) did you?" MacLeish asked.

"No, because I didn't think there was any activity going on . . . Father Paquin assured me there wasn't."

After showing McCormack correspondence of allegations of earlier molestation, MacLeish continued: "(The priest) tells you that, and your only response from these documents is to go and speak with Father Paquin about it . . . and tell him to cut it out?"


"But you said earlier that when you had a report that you believed where a child under the age of 18 where there was reasonable cause to believe might be being abused, it was your practice to contact DSS?"

"That wasn't my assumption here, that he was being abused," McCormack said.

McCormack also was questioned about child abuse reporting requirements in Massachusetts, where he was a licensed social worker from 1981 to 1988.

Though social workers were legally and ethically required to report suspicions of abuse to civil authorities, McCormack said he did not always do so. He said he was working as a priest and priests were legally exempt from reporting requirements.

"I was not acting as a licensed social worker," McCormack said. "They came to me as a representative of the church."

MacLeish also asked McCormack how his decisions on alleged molester priests affected others.

"It was difficult work, particularly when there were allegations about sexual abuse of small children, is that correct? Made it very difficult for you, is that correct?" MacLeish asked.

"That and plus many other dimensions of the work, working with the priests, working with victims, working with staffs," McCormack said.

"Making some mistakes?"

"Making some mistakes."

"Mistakes that hurt people, correct?"


Also in the church legal arena, lawyers for mediators who helped broker a settlement deal between the archdiocese and 86 alleged victims of defrocked priest John J. Geoghan made a last-ditch effort to avoid being deposed themselves yesterday.

In a petition for interlocutory relief, mediators Paul A. Finn and Sarah E. Worley asked an appeals court judge to set aside a ruling by Sweeney ordering the pair to be deposed by victims' lawyer Mitchell Garabedian tomorrow.

Garabedian is seeking to reinstate a $20 million to $30 million settlement reneged on by the church.

"(Judge Sweeney's) allowance of a limited deposition is certainly a step in the right direction," Garabedian said.

McCormack responds to father’s concerns

By Associated Press
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
July 9, 2002

Bishop John B. McCormack was questioned by lawyers June 4 about a letter he wrote to a parishioner in April 1987. The man had asked church officials if the Rev. Joseph Birmingham, who had been assigned to his parish in Gloucester, Mass., until the previous month, was the same priest he had heard abused children at other parishes. The man said he was concerned for his 13-year-old son, who was an altar boy.

McCormack's letter, dated April 14, 1987, read:

Dear Mr. (name deleted):

His Eminence, Cardinal (Bernard) Law, received your letter and asked me to look into the matter for him.

I contacted Father Birmingham and asked him specifically about the matter you expressed in your letter. He assured me there is absolutely no factual basis to your concern regarding your son and him. From my knowledge of Father Birmingham and my relationship with him, I feel he would tell me the truth and I believe he is speaking the truth in this matter.

From my perspective, therefore, I see no need of your raising this question with your son. But if you feel drawn to do so, for whatever reason, I suggest that you contact Mrs. Mary Byrne at North Shore Catholic Charities in Peabody (telephone number deleted). She is the Director of Professional Services and is experienced in these matters.

I hope that you find this helpful and that it allays any concerns you may have.

Sincerely yours in Christ,
Reverend John B. McCormack
Secretary for Ministerial Personnel

Lawyer for alleged victims wants McCormack to resign

By Benjamin Kepple
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
July 9, 2002

A lawyer for 13 people alleging that priests sexually abused them called for Bishop John B. McCormack's resignation yesterday, after it was revealed McCormack rejected two abuse accounts when the priests involved professed their innocence.

Chuck Douglas, a former congressman who now works as an attorney in Concord, said it was time for McCormack and other church leaders to take a look at whether their roles in the church abuse scandal are damaging the institution.

"There comes a point where your time has come and gone, and it's time to move on. That's clearly the case for many bishops and cardinals," Douglas said. "Both Bishop McCormack and Cardinal Law are going to be enmeshed in what's happened in Massachusetts, as well as what's happened up here."

McCormack was deposed in early June on his conduct while he worked for Cardinal Bernard Law of the Archdiocese of Boston. The case involved lawyers for a Massachusetts man alleging church leaders in the archdiocese failed to stop Paul Shanley, a former Boston priest, from abusing him.

McCormack's deposition was leaked yesterday to an Associated Press reporter. In it, the Associated Press reported, McCormack said he dropped two accounts of clergy abusing minors, and didn't always report suspicions of abuse.

Douglas said that "it didn't look good" for McCormack if those were the opinions expressed in the document. He said the admissions helped show a pattern of conduct among church officials.

Yesterday, church officials did not question the transcript's veracity.

"Quite frankly, once you get a pattern of reports, it doesn't matter whether a priest denies it or admits it," Douglas said.

Patrick McGee, a spokesman for the Archdiocese of Manchester, said yesterday that the church was disappointed that the transcript was released.

"Bishop McCormack is not opposed to the release of his deposition when it's complete, but this is not his complete testimony," McGee said. McGee said the church's stand was that McCormack's deposition should only be released in full, and only after all parties had the chance to review them, make corrections, and add commentary.

McGee said a tentative date for McCormack's next deposition in the matter was set for July 24.

McGee would also not comment on the transcript's contents.

"We're still trying to live within the spirit of (Suffolk Superior Court Judge Constance Sweeney's) order that it not be released at this time, so we're not going to comment on what's in there," McGee said.

McCormack comments on Father Paquin

By Associated Press
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
July 9, 2002

Lawyer Roderick MacLeish questioned Bishop John B. McCormack at his June 4 deposition. Here, MacLeish asked McCormack what he did when a priest told him the Rev. Ronald Paquin might be molesting a teenage boy in Haverhill, Mass., a decade ago:

Q -- But you didn't go to DSS (the Massachusetts Department of Social Services) did you?
A -- No, because I didn't think there was any activity going on.
Q -- Well, you were told --
A -- Father Paquin assured me there wasn't.
Q -- Well, Father Paquin assured you there wasn't. This is the same Father Paquin that you had a credible report about him molesting two boys a year earlier, correct?
A -- Correct.

The questioning about Paquin continued:

Q -- What we see from looking at these memorandums is that you got the report about him molesting two boys and a year later he's romancing another 15- or 16-year-old boy. (The priest) tells you that, and your only response from these documents is to go and speak with Father Paquin about it, correct?
A -- And tell him --
Q -- And tell him to cut it out?
A -- Right.
Q -- But you said earlier that when you had a report that you believed where a child under the age of 18 where there was reasonable cause to believe might be being abused, it was your practice to contact DSS?
A -- That wasn't my assumption here, that he was being abused.

Bishop John B. McCormack: Role in sex abuse scandal still questioned

Manchester (NH) Union Leader
July 9, 2002

As Bishop John B. McCormack nears the end of his fourth year as spiritual leader to New Hampshire's Catholics, questions linger about his role in one of the most explosive crises to beset the church. Prior to becoming the ninth bishop of the Diocese of Manchester in September 1998, McCormack was one of Cardinal Bernard F. Law of Boston's top deputies charged with handling clergy sexual misconduct cases.

McCormack, 66, was secretary for ministerial personnel in the Boston Archdiocese from 1984 to 1994.

During that time, he and Bishop Robert J. Banks, then vicar for administration and now bishop of Green Bay, Wis., shared the handling of clergy sexual abuse cases, McCormack told The Union Leader in a May interview.

After the scandalous sexual misconduct case of former Fall River (Mass.) diocesan priest James R. Porter broke in 1992, the Boston Archdiocese realized it needed a policy and procedure for dealing with these cases, McCormack explained.

Delegate for sexual misconduct: By mid-1992, McCormack said, he began taking over this role and was a key figure in drafting the archdiocese's new sexual misconduct policy. He officially became Law's delegate for sexual misconduct in early 1993. In his new role, McCormack said one of his first tasks was to review all priests' files for past allegations of sexual misconduct.

He said he found "at least 30 priests" who had past accusations against them.
Most of them were placed on administrative leave or retired, he said.

"The whole effort was to remove all these priests from being a danger to a child," he explained.

Shanley's handler: He said the file of retired Boston priest Paul R. Shanley never came up in this review.

While McCormack said "I was not involved in reassigning" priests, he said he recommended to the vicar for administration and independent archdiocesan review board that some clerics with past abuse allegations return to ministry with restrictions.

"I did, on certain occasions, but it would be to restricted ministry where he would never have contact with children," he explained. McCormack stressed, however, that since Feb. 15 he enacted a policy for the Diocese of Manchester that immediately removes a priest from any ministry who has a credible allegation of child sexual abuse against him.

Shanley was indicted June 20 on 10 counts of child rape and six counts of indecent assault and battery for allegedly abusing four boys from 1979 to 1989 while he served in a Newton, Mass., parish.

The 71-year-old priest will plead innocent to the charges at his arraignment tomorrow in a Cambridge, Mass., court, his attorney, Frank Mondano, said yesterday. Shanley is in jail on $300,000 bail.

Shanley went on sick leave from the Boston Archdiocese in 1990 with at least 15 child sexual abuse allegations in his personnel file and written complaints from several Catholics about his publicly advocating sex between men and boys.

McCormack was Shanley's handler when he went on sick leave in 1990 and moved to the Diocese of San Bernardino.

But McCormack said he never knew of Shanley's alleged sordid past until 1993 even though church records show Shanley's first sexual abuse allegations were made in 1967 and even the Vatican inquired of Shanley's teachings on homosexuality as early as 1979.

More than 1,000 pages of church documents, the first batch of which became public under court order in April, reveal, however, that McCormack knew about two sexually-related incidents involving Shanley prior to 1993.

One involved an upstate New York woman's complaint about a 1985 speech Shanley gave in which she quoted Shanley as saying children seduce adults into having sex with them.

McCormack spoke with Shanley about the remarks and concluded the woman "misunderstood him," the records show.

McCormack told the Union Leader in May that he regrets not picking up on the remark at the time, but said he never thought Shanley really meant what he said or would ever practice it.

But when questioned under oath last month by the attorney representing one of Shanley's alleged victims, McCormack said he now believes Shanley was talking about his work with child prostitutes who were soliciting sex.

McCormack said he was unaware of Shanley's past -- including Shanley's endorsement of man-boy sex at a 1979 Boston conference that led to the formation of the North American Man Boy Love Association -- until Shanley's personnel file became public in April.

McCormack blamed this on poor record keeping by the Boston Archdiocese. Asked whether there was a secret file kept on Shanley by the archdiocese, McCormack said he doubted this was case.

"I don't think they kept a secret file for damage control. I think matters like this would be in his confidential file and, yes, the file I went to didn't have those papers," McCormack said.

But when deposed a month later in the Shanley case, McCormack reportedly said the archdiocese kept a "secret archive" on abusive priests to which he didn't have access, according to parents of one of Shanley's alleged victims who were present during McCormack's deposition. McCormack said he would ask Banks and Bishop Alfred C. Hughes, now archbishop of New Orleans, for access to Shanley's confidential file but he "never saw any of those other papers."

He also said Shanley "duped" him into believing he was broke only to learn later that Shanley and another Boston priest co-owned a gay motel in Palm Springs.

Geoghan case: McCormack also denied having any role in transferring former Massachusetts cleric John J. Geoghan from parish to parish despite numerous allegations of child sexual abuse against him.

"That's not true. The only thing I did with Geoghan was remove him out of a parish and then, based on the recommendations of his treatment facility, I recommended he . . . ought to do something so he could work with retired priests and he would have no contact with minors," McCormack said.

McCormack said he first learned of past allegations of sexual abuse against Geoghan when he began his review of priest personnel files after becoming delegate for sexual misconduct in 1993.

Geoghan is accused of molesting more than 130 children in different Massachusetts parishes over three decades and was convicted and sentenced to prison for abusing one.

"Looking back at it now, the diocese made some, for want of a better word, bad mistakes in transferring him," McCormack added.

Rev. Joseph E. Birmingham: McCormack also has said he now questions his handling of parents' complaints that the Rev. Joseph E. Birmingham was molesting children at St. James parish in Salem, Mass., in the 1960s.

McCormack also served at that parish in the 1960s and was graduated from seminary with Birmingham, along with Geoghan and Shanley.

McCormack said he told one parent who complained to him about Birmingham in the early 1970s to go to the pastor.

But Birmingham was transferred to other parishes and eventually made pastor of St. Ann Church in Gloucester, Mass., in 1985 while McCormack was secretary for ministerial personnel.

McCormack now is a defendant in a civil suit brought by 40 men who allege Birmingham molested them as children at several Massachusetts parishes.

Asked why he didn't take steps to stop Birmingham when he became secretary for ministerial personnel, McCormack said, "I've asked myself that question.

"The one thing I can say is that I had thought he had stopped . . . his behavior or he wouldn't have continued that far," he said.

McCormack said he once confronted Birmingham, telling him he was aware of his behavior.

"I spoke to him about his past behavior and told him that I knew about it. And he told me that he was clean," McCormack told The Union Leader in May.

But another release of church documents, nearly 1,000 pages made public by court order June 4, show McCormack in 1987 brushed off a father's concern that Birmingham might have AIDS and could have abused his son.

"I have a real and rightful concern about this whole matter. I am concerned about the AIDS situation and about a priest possibly molesting my son," a Gloucester, Mass., father wrote Cardinal Law.

The father, whose name was redacted in court documents, belonged to St. Ann Church where Birmingham recently had resigned for "health" reasons.

The parent became worried because he learned the same priest had been removed from St. James Church in Salem around 1970 for molesting boys there.

McCormack wrote back to the parent, saying he talked to Birmingham, who assured him "there is absolutely no factual basis to your concern regarding your son and him."

"From my knowledge of Father Birmingham and my relationship with him, I feel he would tell me the truth," McCormack wrote in 1987.

Boston attorney Matthew J. McNamara, who in 1995 represented one of Birmingham's alleged victims, wrote that his client told McCormack in the 1980s that Birmingham had molested him. "The truth, of course, is that Father McCormack was very close to Father Birmingham," McNamara said. Both priests graduated from St. John's Seminary in 1960, were "long term" friends and often took groups of boys on ski trips while at St. James parish, he said.

McNamara also wrote that Birmingham may have died from AIDS-related complications and faulted McCormack for not providing pastoral assistance needed to ease his client's anxiety over this.

Several of those who said they were molested by priests recount their experiences in dealing with McCormack.

Rev. Edward Kelley: Former Massachusetts altar boy Stephen A. Lewis told McCormack in 1992 that he was molested by the Rev. Edward Kelley in the 1960s when he was a child.

Two months passed and nothing was done, Lewis said.

Taking matters into his own hands a month later, Lewis tracked Kelley to a Medford church where he said he found a parish school playground teeming with children and learned Kelley was in charge of the K-6 religious education program there.

"McCormack had known about this for months. Then . . . he says he hasn't even brought it up with Kelley. That's when I got furious. That's when I hunted Kelley down," Lewis, 45, of Lynn, Mass., told The Union Leader in May.

After confronting Kelley over the telephone, Lewis said he got a call from McCormack. But by then, it was too late.

Lewis instead decided to sue Kelley and the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston. He received a $10,000 out-of-court settlement in 1996.

Lewis said Kelley molested him several times in 1968 and 1969 when he was an altar boy at St. Mary Church in Lynn. Lewis said he repressed the memories until scores of sexual abuse allegations surfaced against the Rev. James R. Porter of the Fall River Diocese in 1992.

Lewis said he told McCormack about being molested by Kelley at a September 1992, meeting with McCormack. "He (McCormack) said he would bring the accusation to the priest. He said he would pray for me as we were going out the door," Lewis added.

A week before Thanksgiving, McCormack called Lewis to say he still hadn't spoken with Kelley. McCormack said he was going away for a week, Lewis said.

"Do you feel I should speak to him before I go, if you want I will?" Lewis recounted McCormack's words.

Lewis said he replied, "Excuse me, Father, but the urgency is not with me."

Lewis said McCormack told him he would get back to him.

"I didn't trust him. As a matter of fact, I was furious about getting such a call and learning he hadn't even approached him (Kelley) yet," Lewis said.

"He didn't take me seriously. It's the idea they're above you. It's a sense of control. They have this arrogance that they are so far above you," Lewis explained. Lewis also said he has contacted the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office about Kelley's trips to Camp Fatima, a summer camp for boys in Barnstead owned by the Catholic Diocese of Manchester.

"Kelley used to go up there every summer. When he was stationed at St. Mary's, he would take kids up from St. Mary's," Lewis said.

"They called them waiters," Lewis explained of the youthful volunteers Kelley tried to recruit to wait on tables at the camp. "It was well known around the school, but when I heard Father Kelley was in charge, I wouldn't have anything to do with it."

Rev. Ronald H. Paquin: For Timothy Menihane, his 1992 meeting with McCormack to report years of sexual abuse he said the Rev. Ronald H. Paquin inflicted on him was a turning point in his regard for the priesthood.

The seminarian who himself planned on becoming a priest had just confronted the trauma of his alleged past abuse in the wake of the Porter scandal.

Menihane came to church officials for help. But he said he was struck by the lack of Christian response he got.

McCormack, he said, was "pretty cold" when he told McCormack of how Paquin had sexually molested him for years beginning when he was in junior high at St. Monica Church in Methuen, Mass.

While Menihane said he reached an out-of-court settlement with archdiocese and was offered counseling, the lack of compassion struck him.

"I was interested in nothing more than getting better. I thought that was going to be McCormack's number one priority. But I learned as soon as we started talking that was not the number one priority," Menihane, 39, of Methuen told the Union Leader in May.

"Basically, he was telling me that this is a business. We have a way of dealing with it and you're welcome to continue to pursue your own life, we're going to pursue ours," he added.

"That was pretty much the formal split with me" from the church, Menihane explained. "My entire childhood growing up . . . I always had a deference toward the priests. I lost it back in 1992. They don't deserve that anymore."

McCormack was involved in many of the cases of 10 priests accused of child sexual abuse whose personnel files were made public by court order June 4.

A judge ordered the Boston Archdiocese to turn over the nearly 1,000 pages of church documents to attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr., who is pursuing a lawsuit on behalf of a man who says he was repeatedly raped by Shanley.

The following are summaries of several cases McCormack handled based on church personnel files:

* The Rev. Ronald H. Paquin, 59, had 18 child sexual abuse complaints against him by Dec. 1, 2000, while two other alleged victims were considering bringing formal complaints. The Boston Archdiocese had settled eight of them.

Paquin, who said he was sexually abused by a priest when he was a child, began molesting children as early as 1964 when he either was a seminarian or just before entering the seminary.

Paquin was assigned to St. Monica's Church in Methuen, Mass., after he was ordained in 1973, where he allegedly molested numerous boys. He was transferred to St. John the Baptist Church in Haverhill in 1981, where he allegedly continued to molest children.

Since 1994, top Boston church officials recommended Paquin be defrocked four times. Paquin refused.

A Massachusetts grand jury indicted Paquin May 15 on three counts of child rape. Paquin pleaded innocent and is being held on $500,000 bail in a Massachusetts jail. He is accused of sexually abusing a boy multiple times between March 1989 and January 1992.

McCormack became involved in Paquin's case in mid-1990 at the request of Bishop Hughes.

McCormack sent Paquin to be assessed at a Canadian treatment center that summer and recommended he be removed from pastoral ministry until he underwent residential treatment.

"There is a serious concern how he has expressed his care and concern for young boys," McCormack wrote.

After Paquin underwent residential treatment at St. Luke Institute in Suitland, Md., McCormack recommended in 1991 that Paquin not work with young people.

Paquin went on sick leave in September 1990, and enrolled in a pastoral education program at Holy Family Hospital in Methuen.

But Paquin's new ministry didn't keep him from visiting a young man he was "romancing" before he left the nearby Haverhill parish, McCormack wrote in a confidential memo in 1991.

In 1994, a man complained to the archdiocese that he contracted AIDS as a result of Paquin's alleged abuse of him years before, McCormack wrote in a memo to Paquin's secret file.

"If what he described in this report really happened, it is pretty bad," McCormack wrote.

With more reports coming that Paquin was seen in the company of young teenage boys despite being on sick leave, McCormack that year recommended the priest be defrocked. Law accepted the recommendation.

After the Porter case broke in 1992, Paquin was sent to Our Lady's Hall in Milton to be "warehoused."

In 1996, the Rev. Brian M. Flatley tried to get Paquin to leave his part-time job at a CVS store because he could not work with teenagers, church records show.

Paquin resisted, saying McCormack had approved his working there.

In July 1998, Paquin was made part-time chaplain at a Cambridge hospital, which infuriated several of the priest's alleged victims when they learned of it, church records show.

He was removed from the post in November 2000 and suspended as a priest. The next month, Law wrote the Vatican requesting Paquin be laicized.

"It is my judgment that he is the cause, potential and actual, of grave scandal," Law wrote Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, on Dec. 26, 2000.

* The Rev. Ernest E. Tourigney was first confronted by church officials about his alleged abuse of children in 1974 after a Holliston pastor and the parish housekeeper reported that he had molested a boy in the parish.
Tourigney denied it when confronted by Robert Banks.

By 1995, five alleged victims claimed Tourigney had sexually abused them.

After taking over Tourigney's case in June 1992, McCormack sent the priest to a St. Louis, Mo., residential treatment center. McCormack, who had access to Tourigney's confidential file, removed the cleric from public ministry, placed him in counseling and in a supervised living situation.

The next year, McCormack wrote that Tourigney still was not ready to return to ministry. He "does not understand the impact he had on victims," he said.

While several alleged victims said they were pleased with how McCormack had been handling Tourigney's case since he took it over in 1992, they criticized the Boston Archdiocese's approach to these cases.

"There is no doubt about our mutual agreement that Ernest Tourigney is, and has been for many years, a dangerous man," the alleged victims, whose names were redacted, wrote McCormack in 1993.

But they attacked the archdiocese for its "pastoral approach" to investigating child sexual abuse by clerics, saying church officials refused to treat it as a crime and seek out more victims.

They also said the church was more concerned about abusive priests than it was about their victims.

"The archdiocese's refusal to take a proactive role in the recognition of childhood sexual abuse as a criminal matter is a point we will never understand or reconcile," they wrote.

"The . . . refusal to formulate investigative teams to surface victimized children, in our minds, is a wanton neglect of its moral obligation to its members and society as a whole," they added.

In 1993, two alleged victims said they felt McCormack "manipulated" them by soliciting their comments on a draft sexual misconduct policy the archdiocese was developing in 1992 only to find none of their input was included in the final document.

* The first entry in the Rev. Richard Matte's personnel file dates back to 1992 when two complaints were made against him.

McCormack scheduled Matte for a psychological assessment at St. Luke Institute in Maryland on Nov. 15, 1992.

McCormack also interviewed Matte, who denied the allegation the mother made.

"I am not sure what side to support in the understanding of Father Matte's behavior. Part of me sees him as being very indiscreet. He also speaks about not remembering things. Then I wonder whether he is denying," McCormack wrote in an Oct. 29, 1992, summary to Matte's confidential file.

Matte was sent to a residential treatment facility in Canada in 1993.

There are three allegations against him by November 1993.

In February 1994, McCormack writes Matte saying he no longer can be in parish or public ministry.

Cardinal Law adopts McCormack's and Review Board's Nov. 8, 1993, recommendation that Matte be placed in a residential house and encouraged to find other work since he will not be placed in parish ministry and can have no contact with adolescent males.

* McCormack became involved in the Rev. Bernard Lane's case in 1993 at the request of Bishop Hughes. McCormack had access to Lane's confidential file from the start.

Hughes reported a 1978 incident of "rather lewd conduct" with a teenager at Alpha-Omega House in Littleton, a residential program Lane developed for "street kids" to give them a last chance before going to jail.

The youth alleged Lane was naked when he touched and embraced him in his room, records said.

A criminal prosecutor found the allegation not credible and dropped charges.

McCormack's investigation consisted of a telephone call his aide, Sister Mulkerrin, had with the wife of the new director of Alpha-Omega house. The woman recalled an allegation had been made, but didn't know the substance of it.
There is no record McCormack spoke with the alleged victim.

"My impression is that Father Lane must have been overextended and probably was not using good judgment at time. This is just an intuition," McCormack wrote in a confidential memo to Hughes in 1993.

"I recommend that the matter not be pursued," he wrote.

He wrote Hughes that he would "not encourage" bringing the matter to the Sexual Misconduct Review Board.

Hughes, in a handwritten note to McCormack at the top of the confidential memo, asked: "Why do you recommend not going before the board? I appreciate all the steps you have taken, but I wonder about your last sentence."

Later that year, new accusations began to surface against Lane, and Law put the cleric on sick leave on McCormack's recommendation.

From 1993 through 2002, the archdiocese received 10 sexual misconduct allegations against Lane. The archdiocese settled one claim out of court by 1995.

The alleged victims said Lane would engage in therapy sessions that included massaging and masturbating the youths or giving them vigorous full-body massages that he called "body rushes."

Some alleged victims said Lane abused them at his family's lakeside cottage in Barnstead, which had a bedroom equipped with ceiling mirrors and colored lights.

Another alleged victim, who claims Lane digitally sodomized him once or twice weekly in 1974 at Alpha-Omega House, said he witnessed teenage men lying naked in the house masturbating each other and reading pornographic magazines. Triple X-rated films also were available.

In 1994, an archdiocesan review board said that, "in light of legal claims," Lane should not do any public ministry in the near future. It suggested his case be reviewed in two years.

The Rev. Charles Higgins asked Lane to submit his resignation and go on retirement status in June 1999.

Lane was assessed at a Connecticut residential treatment center where he was found to be able to continue in "unlimited ministry without restriction."

McCormack questioned this finding and recommended in 1994 that Lane live with other priests.

No accusations against priests since McCormack’s arrival cited

By Kathryn Marchocki
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
July 12, 2002

State prosecutors have uncovered no accusations of clergy sexual abuse of children in the Catholic Diocese of Manchester during the nearly four years Bishop John B. McCormack has been here, a prosecutor said recently.

"We don't have any allegations of clergy sexual abuse occurring since he has been bishop," Senior Assistant Attorney General E. William Delker said.

Whether the diocese's handling of dozens of priests accused of molesting children since the 1960s was criminal has been scrutinized by state prosecutors for several months.

The Attorney General's Office has received abuse allegations against about 50 priests and religious brothers dating back decades. Individual cases have been referred to county attorneys and local law enforcement to investigate.

In addition, prosecutors are doing a separate inquiry into what role diocesan officials may have had in the scandal.

"What we're looking at is the conduct of the diocese in relation to the alleged abuse caused by priests under the diocese's direction and what role the diocese had in possibly facilitating it," said Delker, chief of the criminal justice bureau.

The probe -- which is being conducted by two or three state prosecutors and about a half-dozen investigators -- so far has revealed no abuse allegations against clergy since McCormack became bishop in September 1998, said Delker.

Attorney General Philip T. McLaughlin already has said McCormack is not a target of the investigation.

Delker said the ongoing investigation bars him from discussing what evidence, if any, prosecutors have gathered.

Endangering the welfare of a child, a misdemeanor, is the type of criminal charge the state would consider lodging, Delker said.

"Generically, that's the type of conduct we're looking at," he said without elaborating.

He would not comment on whether prosecutors are considering conspiracy charges.

Prosecutors hope to conclude the investigation and decide whether any action will be taken by early fall.

"We're continuing to make progress. We have been in regular contact with the diocese and continue to gather information through them and other sources," he said.

The "volume of information" prosecutors must pore through is the biggest obstacle confronting them, Delker said.

Catholic Faithful wrestle with scandal

By Carol Robidoux
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
July 17, 2002

Last night, a ripple of momentum gathered a bit more steam in the basement of the Immaculate Conception Church in Penacook.

There, 35 people came together with a common goal of making some waves within the Catholic Church.

They are the New Hampshire Voice of the Faithful, a spinoff of a Massachusetts group of Catholic laymen that emerged in the wake of the priest sex scandal to work toward institutional change, which includes taking a more active role within the church.

They came last night to share their frustrations and find a unified voice as they continue seeking answers to the murky questions swirling around the church they love.

Membership has dwindled to about a third of the 100 people who showed up for the first meeting, attended by Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack, in June.

Summer vacation aside, group member Jim Preisendorfer said the sparse turnout is representative of what is happening in parishes throughout the diocese.

"That's exactly the concern we've heard from other people, that membership is dropping (in churches) or people are holding back contributions from their parishes because of the scandal," said Preisendorfer.

"We're telling them to hold back contributions to the diocesan appeals for money, or from the Pope's appeals. But don't deny the work of your own parish," he said.

The group is as militant as a gathering of faithful Catholics will allow itself to be. That was apparent in the exchange between two members discussing one of the group's key goals, which is to support priests of integrity.

"We can't judge priests; we have to be very careful not to judge individuals, just as we would not want to be judged," said Elise Tougas, a member of St. Anthony's parish in Manchester.

Janice Steenbeke, a mother of five from Immaculate Conception Parish, was quick to respond.

"I hear what you're saying. But there are certain lines you don't cross. If I abuse my children, I will lose them. I want the priests held up to the same standards that we are as people of integrity," she said.

After a 30-minute discussion on defining their goals and other organizational matters, the group listened to a panel of experts talk about the aftermath of sexual abuse. Panelists were Manchester attorney Francis Murphy, Concord Police Det. Tim O'Malley, and Concord social worker Mary Ellen Forrestal.

Forrestal spoke about what victims of abuse need most from their church community.

"They need to share with someone who will listen, without the sense of what's happened to them is somehow their fault," said Forrestal.

Murphy spoke not only as an attorney currently representing 60 clients in a class-action suit against the Diocese of Manchester, but as a former altar boy from a Rhode Island parish whose own positive childhood experiences are such a contrast to the horror stories emerging from the church.

"The chief allegation in these lawsuits is that the church was complacent. They either turned a blind eye or refused to see what was in front of them," said Murphy.

He said that, for now, there is a cooling-off period as terms of a settlement are being discussed. But Murphy said McCormack has sent a clear signal that he would like to see a settlement rather than have these cases go to court.

"Instead of the diocese bleeding from 1,000 wounds, we're looking at the possibility of a global settlement," Murphy said. "They are talking about a pastoral component of some kind, in addition to a monetary figure."
But, he added, there is clearly something that can never be restored to the victims of abuse.

"These people are all coming to us with a common theme: trust. They cannot develop a trusting relationship because of their abuse and it is sad, as someone brought up in the Catholic Church and as a person, to see what these people have been through," said Murphy.

Following the meeting, the group firmed up plans to join an estimated 5,000 fellow Catholics at the Voice of the Faithful's first national convention July 20 at Hynes Auditorium in Boston.

(For more information on the group or the convention, visit on the Web.)

Judge rules public should see video of cardinal's deposition

By Tom Mashberg
Boston (MA) Herald
July 18, 2002

Bernard Cardinal Law will give more sworn testimony today in the John J. Geoghan abuse suit - a day after a judge ruled video of Law's depositions should be made public and a lawyer for Geoghan's accusers blasted the church over its latest legal angle on the case.

Separately yesterday, the Archdiocese of Boston suspended yet another active priest, the Rev. Robert P. Beale, for a single molestation allegation dating from the 1970s.

Beale was director of Our Lady's Hall in Milton, a treatment center intended for alcoholic priests where several accused child molesters were sent to live during the 1990s - notably the Revs. Ronald H. Paquin and Edward T. Kelley.

Currently, no priests live at Our Lady's Hall, the church said.

In the ongoing sexual abuse lawsuits against the church, Superior Court Judge Constance M. Sweeney ruled that edited audio-visual depositions of Law and of Bishop John B. McCormack of Manchester, N.H., Law's former Archdiocese of Boston personnel chief, should be made public at the same time as the written transcripts: 30 days after the final day of their ongoing depositions.

"The public has a keen interest in assessing information concerning the alleged child molestation at issue," she wrote, noting that Law and McCormack are outspoken public figures who control private media outlets such as newspapers and broadcast stations.

The church has objected to the release of the transcripts, arguing in particular that the videotapes could prejudice the public and potential jurors if and when the civil suits against the church go to trial.

Lawyers representing some 250 people suing the archdiocese for clerical sex abuse have agreed to put off further depositions of Law and his aides until at least Aug. 5 as they seek a negotiated settlement.

But the lawyer representing 86 separate alleged victims of Geoghan, Mitchell Garabedian, will depose Law this morning over Law's knowledge of the abandoned $20 million-plus settlement between the plaintiffs and the archbishop. Garabedian insists the deal should be made binding on the church.

That deposition is in advance of a July 31 hearing at which Sweeney will be asked to rule on whether the agreement should be treated as an enforceable and legal contract.

Church lawyers this week filed new papers claiming the archdiocese itself should not be forced to cover the costs of the Geoghan settlement even if the deal is held binding. They argue Garabedian's lawsuits do not specifically name the archdiocese as a defendant, instead citing Law and 16 associates.

"It is undisputed that no signed writings exist in which the (archdiocese) in any manner agreed to assume responsibility to pay the amounts which the defendants ostensibly agreed to pay in settlement of this matter, even assuming such a settlement existed," church lawyers said in their new motion.

But Garabedian scoffed at that stance. "It is plaintiffs' position that Cardinal Law, in his legal role as Archbishop of Boston, a Corporation Sole, was fully familiar with the details of negotiations, and was represented for the entire time by corporation counsel," he said.

"Legally, there is no difference between Cardinal Law, who is a defendant in these settlement agreements, and for all intents and purposes the archdiocese," he said.

In the past, church officials have stated they would not pick up the costs of judgments against individual priests, bishops and even Law if they are held liable for damages as a result of the abuse scandal.

Church leaders destroyed pornography found in dead priest’s home

By J.M. Hirsch, Associated Press
Foster’s Online
July 23, 2002

Concord, N.H. -- A Roman Catholic priest filed a lawsuit Tuesday accusing Bishop John B. McCormack of waging a campaign to keep him silent about the discovery of a dead priest’s pornography collection.

The Rev. James A. MacCormack sued the Diocese of Manchester, McCormack and other church officials seeking undisclosed damages, saying they derailed his career to avoid a scandal.

The diocesan chancellor, the Rev. Edward Arsenault, denied the allegations and accused MacCormack of digging for money.

"We are deeply saddened that a priest has chosen to attempt to capitalize on the death of a fellow priest for personal gain," Arsenault said.

MacCormack and his lawyer, Robert McDaniel, have pressured the church for money through "a series of threats to expose the difficult circumstances of the death of a priest in exchange for financial consideration," he said.

McDaniel denied his client was motivated by money, saying he wants to "clean up the sordid and reprehensible pattern of lies and deceptions. That’s what he’s motivated by. At no point ever was there the slightest suggestion by anyone that our client’s silence could be purchased."

McDaniel also said he informed the state attorney general’s office and federal investigators about the case because his client alleges church officials destroyed the child pornography, which could have been evidence of a crime. Attorney General Philip McLaughlin would not comment on whether his office was investigating.

McDaniel conceded diocesan officials never specifically ordered MacCormack to stay quiet about the priest’s pornography. But he said the bishop led an effort to ensure MacCormack’s silence, including accusing the priest of mental instability.

His client’s lawsuit, filed in state court, accuses the defendants of fraud, defamation, wrongful discharge and intentional infliction of mental distress.

Bishop McCormack has come under heavy criticism this year for his handling of sex abuse claims in his former post as an aide to Boston Cardinal Bernard Law.

The lawsuit says the case began Nov. 15, 1999, when MacCormack helped authorities identify the body of the Rev. Richard Connors, who had died of a heart attack the night before at the home of two men.

According to the lawsuit and police records, Connors was clothed partially at the time of death and had a black leather device tied around his genitals. The two men told authorities Connors had come to the house to buy a dog.

Connors, 56, had been a mentor to MacCormack and was carrying his friend’s business card when he died, so MacCormack was summoned to identify the corpse.

After initially saying MacCormack’s account of the death was incorrect, Arsenault said during a news conference he would not refute the reported circumstances of Connors’ death.

After assisting authorities, the lawsuit says, MacCormack went to Connors’ rectory. There, the suit says, he was joined by the Rev. Donald Clinton, a friend of the dead priest, and the Rev. John Quinn, head of financial affairs for the diocese.

Quinn allegedly told the priests to help him scour Connors’ residence for anything embarrassing. The lawsuit says the clergymen found hundreds of pornographic videotapes, as well as many pornographic images depicting "men engaged in sexual activity with boys."

The material was loaded into a car and later destroyed, according to a police report.

Arsenault said Connors was living an "immoral life" and that commercially produced homosexual pornography was found and disposed of in a parish trash bin in Concord. But none of the pornography involved boys, he said. He also said no abuse complaints had been lodged against Connors.

Arsenault acknowledged that church officials did not view any of the videotapes to determine whether they contained child pornography, and that police did not have a chance to look at them before they were destroyed.

MacCormack’s lawsuit says church officials never mentioned the Connors incident to him again and that, in June 2000, he was assigned as pastor to St. Patrick parish in rural Jaffrey.

But in February, when the clerical abuse scandal began to grow, the bishop and others started viewing MacCormack as a threat, MacCormack’s lawyer said.

McDaniel said his client found himself increasingly involved in confrontations with Bishop McCormack, who insisted the priest was mentally unstable and needed help.

MacCormack, 42, consented to a psychological evaluation in April. Though he was found to be mentally sound, Arsenault told the clinic conducting the examination that MacCormack lacked "any prudent sense of with whom to share confidences," according to a copy of the psychological report reviewed by The Associated Press.

Arsenault would not comment on the evaluation, nor what had prompted his concerns about MacCormack’s sense of confidentiality.

MacCormack said he left his parish a month later, after the bishop became angry he was quoted in a weekly newspaper criticizing the church’s handling of the sex abuse crisis.

The diocese maintains MacCormack left his church assignment of his own free will.

MacCormack entered the priesthood late in life. As a young man he worked for years as a quality control engineer in Massachusetts. But in 1987 he ended a five-year relationship with his high school sweetheart to follow his calling into the church and was ordained in 1997.

MacCormack said he has not returned to church since leaving St. Patrick. He plans to ask to be formally released from the priesthood.

"I feel violated emotionally and spiritually," he said.

Priest alleges sex cover up

From staff and wire reports
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
July 24, 2002

A priest sued Bishop John B. McCormack and other church officials yesterday, alleging they ruined his career to keep him silent about the circumstances of another priest's death and the subsequent removal of "dozens of plastic garbage bags" of pornography from the St. Pius X rectory in Manchester.

The Rev. James A. "Seamus" MacCormack accused the church of shunting him off to a rural parish and forcing him to seek psychiatric help because church leaders feared he would disclose what he knew about the 1999 death of the Rev. Richard Connors -- just as the church's child sex abuse scandal exploded into the headlines earlier this year.

The lawsuit says the case began Nov. 15, 1999, when MacCormack helped authorities identify the body of Connors, 56, who had died of a heart attack the night before at the home of two men. Connors was a much-beloved pastor at St. Pius and credited with turning the parish around.

According to the lawsuit and police records, viewed by the Associated Press, Connors was partially clothed at the time of death and had a black leather device tied around his genitals. The two men told authorities Connors had come to the house to buy a dog.

The Rev. Edward Arsenault, chancellor of the Manchester Diocese, said he was dismayed that MacCormack would malign another priest in order to pressure the church for money. He wouldn't go into detail about MacCormack's alleged demands, but he said, "We have never exchanged money for silence."

MacCormack's attorney, Robert E. McDaniel, reacted angrily to suggestions that his client was trying to "shake down" the church for money.

"I can't think of a more desperate act of a desperate organization," he said of the money-for-silence charge. "There is no way to buy Seamus's silence. He went public a long time ago. He reported this to law enforcement. He was never going to be silent." He said MacCormack's aim was to "clean up the sordid and reprehensible pattern of lies and deceptions" by church leaders. "That's what he's motivated by."

McDaniel said MacCormack told the Attorney General's Office about pornography depicting "men engaged in sexual activity with each other, and men engaged in sexual activity with boys."

Attorney General Philip McLaughlin refused to say whether he was investigating the matter.

McDaniel said MacCormack lost his calling and wanted a "relatively small amount of money to get him re-training and send him down the road." He stressed, "At no time did we ever suggest that his silence could be bought for money."

The lawsuit, filed in Hillsborough County Superior Court, was full of "falsehoods," Arsenault said, but during a news conference he would not refute the reported circumstances of Connors' death. The diocese faxed out a list of 26 facts to counter assertions in the lawsuit.

MacCormack alleges a church cleanup crew scoured the St. Pius rectory after the death of Connors, filling bags with videotapes, images, sex toys and other embarassing items, and destroyed them.

Arsenault said no child pornography was among the materials and none of the videos were homemade, although he acknowledged he hadn't seen them.

Later, the diocese said the priests who removed the items said all of the pornographic material was clearly marked as commercial adult pornography, and printed material consisted of pictures of adult males.

"The priests who saw the material did not view any of the tapes, but did inspect the covers and no covers depicted child pornography," the church said.

McDaniel said his investigation showed pornographic images of boys were among the materials destroyed. "We'll try that issue," he said.

According to the diocese, the cache consisted of 50 to 100 videotapes, along with magazines and pictures.

The lawsuit says MacCormack was called to identify Connors' body because police found MacCormack's card in the dead priest's pocket. After assisting authorities, the lawsuit says, MacCormack went to Connors' rectory. There, the suit says, he was joined by the Rev. Donald Clinton, a friend of the dead priest, and the Rev. John Quinn, head of financial affairs for the diocese. The two priests are also named in the lawsuit.

Quinn allegedly told the priests to help him scour Connors' residence for anything embarrassing. MacCormack said Quinn tried to comfort him by saying, "Don't worry. We've done this lots of times." The lawsuit says the clergymen found hundreds of pornographic videotapes, as well as many pornographic images depicting "men engaged in sexual activity with boys."

The material was loaded into a car and later destroyed, according to a police report.

Arsenault said Connors was living an "immoral life." The homosexual pornography was disposed of in a parish trash bin in Concord. But none of the pornography involved boys, he said. He also said no abuse complaints had been lodged against Connors.

Arsenault acknowledged that church officials did not view any of the videotapes to determine whether they contained child pornography, and that police did not have a chance to look at them before they were disposed of.

According to the lawsuit, "The state medical examiner concluded that the deceased priest had died from heart problems which were likely exacerbated by the use of Viagra, and, that at the time of his death he was wearing a leather sexual device on his genitals."

McDaniel conceded diocesan officials never specifically ordered MacCormack to stay quiet about the priest's pornography. But he said the bishop led an effort to ensure MacCormack's silence, including accusing the priest of mental instability.

"Our theory is that when the scandal broke in February, the church looked to where the weak links were." They concluded, McDaniel said, that "Seamus had to be brought to heel and cast in such a light that he would not be believed."

McDaniel said his client found himself increasingly involved in confrontations with Bishop John B. McCormack, who insisted the priest was mentally unstable and needed help.

Bishop McCormack has come under heavy criticism this year for his handling of sex abuse claims in his former post as an aide to Boston Cardinal Bernard Law.

MacCormack, 42, consented to a psychological evaluation in April. Though he was found to be mentally sound, Arsenault told the clinic conducting the examination that MacCormack lacked "any prudent sense of with whom to share confidences," according to a copy of the psychological report reviewed by The Associated Press.

Arsenault would not comment on the evaluation, nor what had prompted his concerns about MacCormack's sense of confidentiality.

MacCormack said he left his parish a month later, after the bishop became angry that he was quoted in a weekly newspaper criticizing the church's handling of the sex abuse crisis.

Bishop McCormack ‘humbled,’ ‘humiliated’

By Kathryn Marchocki
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
July 26, 2002

Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack yesterday said he is "humbled" and "humiliated" to realize decisions he made about abusive priests -- though well-intentioned at the time -- sometimes caused more harm than good.

"As a bishop, I have been humbled by these past six months because I've become even much more aware of myself as a person and my limitations . . . and what effect my judgments and my decisions and recommendations have had on the protection of children," the bishop told the Queen City Manchester Rotary Club.

"As a bishop, I have been humiliated, too, because I really feel that many of the things that I thought we were doing that were good, in retrospect were not as effective, and probably were even counterproductive to the healing of victims and to the good handling of priests," he added.

As a former top aide to Cardinal Bernard F. Law of Boston charged with handling clergy who sexually abused children, McCormack oversaw the Revs. Paul S. Shanley and Ronald H. Paquin, two of the most notorious alleged offenders to emerge in the scandal that has rocked the Catholic church this year.

(Massachusetts lawyer says settlement talks with the Boston diocese have ended. See story, Page A3)

McCormack, 66, conceded naivete contributed to poor decision-making while in the Boston archdiocese, where he served as Law's secretary for ministerial personnel from 1984 to 1994.

"As a bishop, I have also sometimes become aware of my own naivete as a young priest for not being suspicious about the actions of a priest. My own naivete in accepting the word and trusting the honesty of others," he explained. McCormack, who has been spiritual leader of New Hampshire's Catholics for nearly four years, said he must restore people's trust in him if he is to effectively lead as bishop and carry out the church's mission, which he said affects the quality of life in the state as a whole.

"I must live with the consequences of all that I have said and done as a man, a priest and a bishop," he told the 55 business men and women gathered at the Puritan Backroom Restaurant in Manchester.

What to do about offending priests and the bishops who assigned them to ministry are other key challenges ahead for all the nation's bishops, said McCormack, who was the group's invited guest speaker.

"Some people think these bishops should resign," said McCormack, who himself faces calls for his resignation.

"I was assigned here to serve. The Holy Father assigned me here. That's between him and me. But I must say, at the same time, that I must really gain the confidence of the people so I can lead," he said.

He said he hopes the new sexual misconduct charter adopted by the nation's bishops in Dallas last month that calls for the removal from ministry of any cleric accused of sexual misconduct with a minor is a step in the right direction.

But what to do with offending priests remains a "sore point" for many.

"There are those who say you should tear their hearts out, get rid of them and just cast them aside. There are others who say, 'No, they are priests. We should support them and we should help them'," he explained.

McCormack said the challenge is to find ways to restrain these priests while granting them "human respect."

Many questions posed to McCormack after his 15-minute speech focused on why bishops reassigned priests known to have molested children repeatedly.

"I know no bishop who would reassign someone who was a danger to others knowingly," McCormack responded.

Referring to Shanley and former priest John J. Geoghan, two Massachusetts priests accused of repeated, multiple offenses, McCormack said bishops often didn't fully realize the dangers these priests posed to children.

Sometimes bishops didn't understand pedophilia as an illness and crime, perceiving it instead as a "moral issue and thought they (priests) could control it and wanted to give them a second chance."

One woman questioned McCormack on how he, as a trained social worker, failed to grasp the traumatic effect sexual abuse had on children.

"I was trained in the 1960s . . . I never dealt with that kind of abuse," the bishop replied. He added that it was only a few decades ago that the psychological community linked sexual abuse as a factor in trauma.

Rotary acting president Chris C. Houpis said that, on the one hand, "I can understand what he's saying. As a businessman, it relates to equal opportunity and sexual harassment issues. I think we're far more knowledgeable today than 30 years ago."

"But, I still have difficulty reconciling how something could happen repeatedly and different results didn't occur," added Houpis, marketing and client services director with ManagedOps Inc. in Bedford.

McCormack deposition set in Shanley case

By Kathryn Marchocki
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
July 27, 2002

Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack is scheduled to be deposed Aug. 15 for a second time as part of a Massachusetts lawsuit by three men who say they were molested by the Rev. Paul R. Shanley in the 1980s. The deposition is a continuation of the one held June 3 in Manchester, the bishop's attorney Brian Tucker of Concord said yesterday.

McCormack handled clergy sexual misconduct cases for the Boston archdiocese as a former top aide to Cardinal Bernard F. Law.

McCormack is a defendant in several lawsuits filed by Shanley's alleged victims, Tucker said.

The bishop was questioned June 3 by Boston attorney Roderick MacLeish Jr., who represents several of Shanley's alleged victims.

A spokesman for his law firm, Greenberg Traurig, said the firm is not releasing the names of the attorneys who will be deposing McCormack next month.


Original material copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.