Bishop Accountability

Manchester NH Resources
January 25–31, 2003

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Bishop often sided with priests in abuse cases
Records show McCormack brushed aside abuse allegations

By Thomas Farragher and Matt Carroll
Boston (MA) Globe
January 26, 2003

A decade ago, when Cardinal Bernard F. Law wanted to reassure Boston Catholics with a new policy requiring that abusive priests be removed from duty, it seemed natural to call on the Rev. John B. McCormack to help craft it.

As guardian of his church's most tightly held secrets, McCormack knew more about priests who molested children than almost any other clergyman.

But almost immediately, McCormack's penchant for protecting priests in trouble trumped his new policy. Six weeks after its adoption, he was seeking an exemption for the Rev. Raymond C. Plourde.

McCormack thought Plourde should remain as pastor of his Newburyport parish even though he had admitted to molesting a 12-year-old boy.

An archdiocesan review board sharply disagreed. "For the good of the church," it concluded, "the priest must resign." Plourde became a convent chaplain until his retirement last year.

McCormack's advocacy for Plourde, who he believed had undergone a "true conversion," was hardly an exception.

A Globe examination of thousands of pages of internal church records make clear that McCormack, now bishop of the Manchester, N.H., diocese, was an administrator whose first sympathies frequently lay with his brother priests. With him, their words often carried greater weight than those of their victims.

As Law's secretary for ministerial personnel, McCormack's practice was to confer directly with an accused priest, but he frequently heard the victim's story only by proxy, through an aide's written report. When he did come face-to-face with victims, McCormack sometimes reacted to their charges skeptically, and even dismissively. In one case, he told a parent that a priest could not have molested children, when he knew otherwise.

He gently directed accused priests to lawyers and therapists and seemed especially solicitous of his seminary classmates, sometimes clearing the way for their return to ministry despite evidence in church files about their sexual misconduct.

"There was never an intent by Bishop McCormack to protect a priest to the detriment of a victim," McCormack's spokesman, Patrick McGee, said last week. "His job was twofold: to help the victim and assist the priest. The balance is hard to measure."

McCormack was a member of the St. John's Seminary class of 1960. So were Joseph E. Birmingham, Paul R. Shanley, Bernard J. Lane, and James D. Foley. And when those priests were accused of misconduct, they found a firm ally at the chancery in McCormack.

"Sometimes friendships blind you," said the Rev. Paul W. Berube, a close friend and 1960 classmate of McCormack's. "Joe Birmingham was a friend. There is no objectivity among friends."

McCormack's indulgent handling of some priests stands out in even sharper relief because he didn't always act that way. The church files chronicle many cases in which he moved discreetly yet decisively against priests whose misbehavior was beyond dispute.

Discretion, the records make clear, was the key. His guiding principle appeared to be the avoidance of public scandal.

"People like McCormack were picked as bishops because they were the types of priests who put the institutional church first," said the Rev. Richard P. McBrien, a Notre Dame theologian who graduated from St. John's Seminary two years after McCormack. "And the worst thing that can happen to the institutional church is scandal."

Indeed, that 1993 policy -- by design or not -- helped keep the extent of the sexual abuse problem secret. But the policy and its implementers also allowed the scandal to fester and grow until it exploded into public view a year ago.

It was decisions ultimately made by Cardinal Law -- the first US bishop to lose his job for mismanaging sexually abusive priests -- that paved the way for disaster for the church. But Law acted often on the advice of McCormack.

The New Hampshire bishop declined Globe requests for an interview.

"He recognizes there are things he didn't do as well as he should have," McGee said. "He has repeatedly apologized."

But for critics and protesters, who plan to gather in Manchester today, that is not enough. With Law gone in disgrace, they say McCormack, too, must go.

Restricted seminary life

McCormack, 67, grew up in Cambridge, graduated from Boston College High School in 1952, and entered Cardinal O'Connell Seminary, where a young John J. Geoghan, the pedophile priest whose case would one day cross his desk, was also enrolled. When he entered St. John's Seminary in the late 1950s, McCormack's life was rigidly circumscribed by rules crafted to instill humility and acquiescence.

There was no television. Radios were not allowed in rooms. A summary of Eisenhower-era news, clipped from the pages of The New York Times, was posted on a common bulletin board.

"The place was a clerical West Point," Berube recalled. "What it did was create a bonding experience that people who go through tough times like those in a boot camp or even a concentration camp share. ... You didn't learn to assert yourself; you had to learn that later on. What they produced every year was a group of men who were very obedient."

After seven years as a parish priest, McCormack was placed on a different ecclesiastical path. He got a master's degree in social work from Boston College in 1969 and became director of North Shore Catholic Charities. And when the newly arrived Archbishop Law needed a new personnel chief in 1984, McCormack said he had the requisite experience "in understanding and handling issues in human behavior."

He would need it.

Almost instantly, McCormack was dealing with accusations by adults who said they had been abused as children by priests -- often priests who were still in ministry. McCormack's practice was to summon the priest, assess the charges, order an in-patient psychiatric assessment, and then recommend whether the priest was fit to return to his rectory.

In the meantime, he also served as chief counselor to the accused priest and a key tactician for an archdiocese eager to settle or suppress the charges.

There was a premium on secrecy. When Sister Catherine E. Mulkerrin, the nun on his staff who dealt most closely with abuse victims, suggested to McCormack that parishioners be alerted when a molester had been in their midst, McCormack and other church officials killed the idea.

That decision ran contrary to a recommendation by US Catholic bishops that the church be forthright with parishioners. But McCormack's failure to follow the bishops' guidelines came as no surprise to Mulkerrin.

She viewed herself as the victim's voice at the chancery. McCormack, she recently testified, was more concerned about his fellow priests.

McCormack's special sensitivity for those priests shows through even in cases in which he removed priests from parish work.

When the Rev. Paul J. Tivnan was accused in 1985 of molesting a teenage boy, he admitted to a sexual addiction. McCormack advised Tivnan to stay away from Immaculate Conception Parish in Marlborough, where the molestation occurred. "If he needed to go to the rectory, do it quietly," McCormack wrote in a memo after meeting with Tivnan.

Some of McCormack's superiors favored giving Tivnan another chance in another parish. McCormack instead steered him into a chaplain's job at hospitals and nursing homes. In 1988, he persuaded a county prosecutor not to pursue charges against Tivnan because he was being treated for sexual disorders.

A year later, McCormack was drawn into what was to become the Boston archdiocese's most notorious abuse case when the boyfriend of a Jamaica Plain woman notified authorities that the Rev. John J. Geoghan may have sexually abused her 10-year-old son. McCormack, who summarized the case for his superiors in 1989, said the child had mimicked performing oral sex on his 3-year-old brother and said that he had learned to do it from "Father."

That incident prompted Geoghan's removal from St. Julia's in Weston for psychiatric treatment. But six months later, Geoghan was returned to St. Julia's. By the time he was removed again three years later, he had molested many more children.

Before dealing with sexual abuse cases became his full-time job in 1992, the volume of the work was not overwhelming. But it was bad enough to prepare him for the deluge to come.

Church records that are now in court files show a steady trickle of complaints to the chancery until the spring of 1992 when the sexual assaults by the Rev. James R. Porter of the Fall River diocese, who is now defrocked and imprisoned, exploded across newspapers and television screens nationwide. And then a dam burst.

Before long, complaints of sexual abuse by priests serving in the archdiocese began to arrive weekly.

And then, like ubiquitous car alarms whose piercing alerts no longer stir urgency for passersby, reports of sexual assault by Roman Catholic priests were so common that McCormack and other church officials often reacted to them with a startling, bureaucratic nonchalance.

Flood of complaints

Where personnel directors at other large organizations deal with health benefits, 401(k) programs, and employees who abuse sick leave, McCormack's chancery office had an added preoccupation.

In one week in 1994, for instance, McCormack was juggling issues concerning six priests accused of sexual misconduct. He pronounced the Rev. Peter J. Frost, accused of molesting a 13-year-old boy, to be "honest and involved in his recovery." He reviewed a complaint that the Rev. Ronald H. Paquin abused two brothers, sometimes during overnight stays in his rectory bedroom. He received an alert that the Rev. Ernest E. Tourigney, another priest removed for sexual molestation, was not spending much time at the residence to which he had been assigned.

"In general," said McGee, McCormack's spokesman, "he tried to be as fair with everyone as he could."

And he was monitoring reports about his classmates, Shanley and Lane, and other priests who have been at the center of some of the worst abuse cases uncovered in the scandal that began unfolding a year ago.

It was McCormack who carried on a friendly correspondence with Shanley, even though he knew Shanley had publicly endorsed sex between men and boys. In 1991, he visited Shanley, now awaiting trial on three counts of child rape, in California, where Shanley and another priest later operated a clothing-optional gay motel.

In one deposition, a plaintiff's attorney asked McCormack about the friendly phrasing in one of his letters to Shanley in which he marveled at the priest's ability to "maintain your sense of humor in the midst of your difficulties."

McCormack said he was simply trying to supply pastoral support. "If you read the letter, you know all the complaints that he had and yet he maintained a sense of humor, and I guess my sense is that I was trying to be supportive of that so that he didn't get any more, for want of a word, depressed," the bishop testified.

McCormack said he does not consider himself Shanley's friend. "We were friendly," he said in a deposition. "I wouldn't say friends."

McCormack makes the same distinction with Birmingham, the late priest who is accused of molesting more than 50 boys in parishes in Sudbury, Salem, and Lowell. But it is clear the men were not mere acquaintances.

McCormack was his classmate. He lived in the same rectory in Salem with him after ordination. And he traveled with Birmingham and three other priests to France and Italy where they celebrated the 25th anniversary of their ordination in 1985.

"There could have been a basic human blind spot with Birmingham," Berube said. "I don't know. I'm putting myself in that same position. I knew Birmingham. We went off and spent days off together. I never saw it."

Birmingham's accusers charge McCormack with being an enabler of his abuse. James M. Hogan of Wilmington, Del., says Birmingham took him to his rectory bedroom in Salem in the 1960s. Hogan said he is certain McCormack, who was then assigned to the parish, saw Birmingham taking him into his bedroom.

"McCormack was a witness," Hogan said last week. "This guy knew what was going on."

McCormack has denied that he ever saw Birmingham, who died in 1989, take boys into his rectory bedroom. Last week, McGee, McCormack's spokesman, said the bishop has no recollection of what Hogan asserts. Back then, McGee said, McCormack had no suspicions about Birmingham.

But McCormack has acknowledged that about 1970, when he was regional director of Catholic Charities, he was warned by several parents that Birmingham had molested children at St. James in Salem. He said he referred the parents to Birmingham's pastor but did nothing else.

In 1987, when the father of a 13-year-old altar boy serving with Birmingham wrote a letter asking whether Birmingham was the same priest who had previously been removed from another parish because of a sexual abuse allegation, McCormack's answer was evasive. "There is absolutely no factual basis to your concern," McCormack wrote back.

Asked why he did not tell the concerned father that his son was indeed serving with the same Father Birmingham, McCormack said, "I can't explain why I didn't tell the full story. ...

"I spoke to Father Birmingham," McCormack testified last June. "I told him that I knew about the reports about sexual abuse and I was wondering whether, you know, he had stopped this. And he had told me he's been clean."

For McCormack, that was good enough.

When a third seminary classmate, the Rev. Bernard J. Lane, admitted he had had inappropriate contact with a young boy, McCormack puzzled his superior when he recommended that Lane's case not be sent to the archdiocesan review board, which heard allegations against priests.

"I recommend the matter not be pursued," McCormack wrote in May 1993, dismissing the charges against Lane as not credible. "If you would like this presented to the Sexual Misconduct Review Board, I would do so. However, I do not encourage it."

That suggestion appears to have troubled Bishop Alfred C. Hughes, who also knew Lane's history. On McCormack's memo, Hughes scribbled: "Why do you recommend not going before the board?"

Hughes prevailed. Lane was placed on sick leave, and resumed ministry at a home for retired priests in the late 1990s before retiring in 1999. He has since been accused of abusing at least 17 men and the archdiocese has settled at least six molestation complaints against him.

It is also McCormack's apparent insensitivity toward victims that has quickened the drumbeat of demands that he step down as New Hampshire's bishop.

For example:

In 1985, McCormack reacted nonchalantly when a woman alerted the chancery that Shanley had given a talk in Rochester, N.Y., in which he endorsed sexual relations between men and boys. In a subsequent letter to Shanley, McCormack wrote: "Would you care to comment on the remarks she made. You can either put them in writing or we could get together some day about it." There is no evidence in church files that Shanley responded in writing or that McCormack ever followed up.

In 1988, Peter Pollard, who says he was molested by the Rev. George Rosenkranz at Star of the Sea parish in Marblehead in the mid-1960s, met with McCormack soon after reporting his alleged abuse to the archdiocese. But McCormack told Pollard he had found nothing to justify removing the priest from ministry. McCormack said Rosenkranz merely had "sexual issues," adding that what Pollard viewed as abuse -- acts that included kissing and Rosenkranz's request that he masturbate in front of him -- may simply have been expressions of affection, according to Pollard. "I was stunned," Pollard recalled.

In 1991, when a priest told McCormack that the Rev. Ronald H. Paquin might be molesting a teenage Haverhill boy, McCormack did not report the alleged abuse to state authorities. Asked during a deposition last year why he had not done so, McCormack replied, "because I didn't think there was any [sexual] activity going on. ... Father Paquin assured me there wasn't." A plaintiffs' lawyer then asked: "This is the same Father Paquin that you had a credible report about him molesting two boys a year earlier, correct?" "Correct," McCormack answered.

In 1993, when chancery officials found records showing that the Rev. James D. Foley had sought a transfer to the Calgary diocese because of a sexual affair with a Boston woman -- and transferred back because of additional sexual activity in Canada -- McCormack's immediate impulse was to forgive. "Sounds to me that he was dealing with `growing up' issues and seemingly has handled them well since he returned," McCormack wrote in a note contained in church records.

When McCormack left Boston for Manchester in September 1998, he may well have believed the scandal he and his church colleagues managed to contain for so long was well behind him.

But today, with protesters planning to stand outside his church and demand his resignation, McCormack feels under siege, misunderstood, and falsely accused, according to those who have met with him recently.

Renewed anger

"There's a lot of things he simply didn't know," said Berube, the friend and classmate who went skiing with McCormack earlier this month. "They were operating on the advice of the psychological community. There was a natural tendency to move priests around to give them another chance, never knowing the harm that was being done."

But as recently as last year, McCormack's attempt to protect yet another accused priest outraged Catholics in his own diocese.

In June 2002, he reassigned the Rev. Roland P. Cote to a Jaffrey, N.H., parish even though Cote had admitted to a sexual affair with a male teenager. McCormack did not inform parishioners about Cote's past.

After news reports, the priest admitted to parishioners in September that he had a long-term affair with the boy in the 1980s. State prosecutors have said they cannot bring charges against the priest because they could not determine whether the alleged victim, who is now in his mid-30s, was 16 or older when he first met Cote. The Cote case, and the bishop's well-documented role in the church scandal in Boston, seem to have undermined his standing in the eyes of many New Hampshire Catholics.

When a group of church members who recommended policy changes designed to prevent clergy sexual abuse issued a report earlier this month, they noted that many New Hampshire Catholics believe McCormack should not preside over a changed church.

"The most common sentiment expressed on the part of those speaking at listening sessions was that Bishop McCormack should resign," the group said in its report. "There was considerable concern that Bishop McCormack does not have the moral authority to implement the revised policy on sexual misconduct nor to lead the church forward in the healing process."

For others, the loss of faith in McCormack is more personal.

Gary Bergeron of Lowell, an alleged victim of Birmingham, has met with the bishop twice, most recently last Monday. Bergeron said the New Hampshire bishop is scheduled to meet this Tuesday in Salem with more than 100 alleged victims of Birmingham and their families.

"For me to say to John McCormack, `I want you to resign' and for him to resign tomorrow means nothing to me," said Bergeron. "If John McCormack meets with victim after victim and feels their pain and looks in the mirror and says, `Oh my God, what have I done?' That means something because he's owning it at that point.

"He's now feeling the pain that thousands are feeling. He said to me that his past haunts him. And I told him, `Your past haunts me, too."'

N.H. bishop condemned by activists at demonstration

By Robin Washington
Boston (MA) Herald
January 27, 2003

Manchester, N.H. -- Victims of clergy sexual abuse and their advocates rallied in the cold outside St. Joseph's Cathedral here yesterday, drawing national leaders of their nascent movement to join them in demanding the ouster of Bishop John B. McCormack.

About 250 protesters listened as the Rev. Thomas Doyle - who was lauded by Boston's Paulist Center this weekend as a whistle-blowing priest against clergy sexual abuse - praised them for their activism.

"For a long time, the four most painful words I often had to say was, `I am a priest,' " Doyle said.

"If I get pride back from saying those words, it would only be because I have been with you and I have walked with you, which has been the greatest privilege of my life."

Other speakers included David Clohessy, national executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, and Susan Archibald, president of the 3,000-member victims' group The Linkup.

"In the state of New Hampshire, approximately 7 percent of priests have been accused of abuse," Archibald said. "While the bishops and church leaders would like to give us the impression that there are just a few bad apples out there - perhaps 1 percent, perhaps half a percent - eventually the truth does come out. Seven percent is not acceptable."

McCormack, a former top aide to Bernard Cardinal Law who played a key role in the handling of accused priests in the Boston church, heads the diocese but does not celebrate Mass weekly at St. Joseph's. Yesterday, he visited a parish elsewhere in the state, spokesman Patrick McGee said.

McGee added that the local church welcomed the victims' event, which he declined to characterize as a "protest."

"The purpose of it was to show solidarity with victims," McGee said. "I think that's great. We want to stand in solidarity with them."

But not all the faithful agreed.

"I feel for what they're doing here but they're really not going about it the appropriate way," said parishioner Anthony Brankin.

His position was countered by another Manchester resident.

"This was my church until I found out what happened with Bishop McCormack," said Joan Barrett. "And then I quit."

Following the event, Doyle and the heads of eight victims' and advocacy groups met - some by phone - for the first time in a discussion centered around legislative and legal issues.

One issue, said Paul Baier of Boston-based Survivors First, is the possibility that the release of tens of thousands of pages of damning internal church documents under court order may cease with possible settlements of lawsuits against the church.

"We realize we may not see that many more documents coming forward," he said.

March puts faces on abuse victims; McCormack again target of criticism

By Annmarie Timmins
Concord (NH) Monitor
January 27, 2003

Manchester -- Nearly 200 people gathered outside St. Joseph's Cathedral yesterday to show New Hampshire a side of clergy sexual abuse the lawsuits haven't. They did it with 80-odd photographs of victims at the age they were abused.

Tom was 12 and already handsome. Six-year-old Greg's smile reached all the way to his eyes. Melissa, 8, was dressed in her confirmation gown.

"Being asked to crown Mary is the last happy memory I have of the church," she told someone about that year.

The march was organized by New Hampshire Voice of the Faithful and Coalition of Catholics and Survivors to support victims of clergy abuse. But with the news media looking on, angry Catholics also took the opportunity to call - again - for Bishop John McCormack to resign.

"Your mansion should be wallpapered by the faces of child sexual abuse victims," said Stephen Lewis, a victim from Lynn, Mass. "We'll never know just how many lives were destroyed by people like John McCormack, murderer of souls."

McCormack, who has admitted to mishandling complaints of sexual abuse while working for Cardinal Bernard Law in Boston, was not on hand yesterday to respond. Pat McGee, diocesan spokesman, asked that McCormack be judged on his work in New Hampshire, where he's been since 1998, rather than by his performance in Boston.

"The church stands in solidarity with the victims," McGee said. "(McCormack) has met with victims one on one. We've settled with 80-some victims and added . . . a licensed social worker to (McCormack's) team to be an advocate for victims. I think we've done a lot under the leadership of Bishop McCormack to support victims."

The people from New Hampshire and Massachusetts who stood in 18- degree temperatures for two hours outside the cathedral yesterday felt otherwise. Jim Preisendorfer of Penacook said McCormack is as liable for the victims' abuse as Law.

"McCormack is a better politician than Law," he said. "Some people are fooled by his demeanor. But it's all rhetoric."

Supporters began gathering around 8:30 a.m. in the parking lot outside the church, without interacting with parishioners attending Mass. Organizers greeted supporters with enlarged photographs of victims that included the person's first name, and in some cases, their age and scant details about their abuse.

Norma Colp and Sharon Harrington drove up from Massachusetts, and each asked to represent a survivor. Colp carried a color picture of Greg, who was abused by Father Paul Shanley between the ages of 6 and 11. Harrington knew only that the victim on her poster was named John and was first abused in 1979.

"We are a voice for the children who didn't have a voice," Colp said.

"We feel Bishop McCormack is responsible for what he did and did not do for us in Massachusetts," added Harrington. "And we have to make sure he's held accountable here for what he did and did not do."

Several other signs echoed the similar discontent with McCormack's record.

"McCormack can't remember," read one sign, referring to McCormack's memory lapses during depositions. "Victims can't forget."

Ben Murphy of Duxbury, Mass., made a sign that listed McCormack among several other priests who have been accused of harboring abusive priests. Law's name topped the list and had been crossed out, the implication being McCormack was next to go.

"NH Live Free," Murphy wrote on the opposite side. "Spurn McCormack."

The Rev. Thomas Doyle, a canon lawyer who began warning the Catholic church about its abusive priests in 1985, received a celebrity's reception yesterday for his continued willingness to criticize the church leadership.

"The church calls it improper touches and boundary violations," he said. "But you and I know it's rape and brutalization of innocent bodies. You are the real heroes of our church, not me. Those who walk this walk, we are going to see the end."

Ann Hagan Webb, a survivor of abuse, told the dozens who stood with her that their support sent a powerful message.

"All our voices raised together will be heard," she said. "Look at our faces (in the photographs) and let yourself be horrified, and never let this happen to another child."

Faces put on scarred lives at rally

By Albert McKeon
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
January 27, 2003

Manchester -- Emblazoned on placards, their young faces peered toward St. Joseph Cathedral.

Male and female, photographed at various stages of childhood, they had their lives wrecked by allegedly sexually abusive priests. As a result, they lost faith in God, father figures and in some cases, life.

Their visages provided a silent script to a solidarity march outside the cathedral Sunday: remind Catholics of New Hampshire that clergy abuse knows no state boundary.

That message also had a voice in about 250 people. They held the photographs aloft, told the victims’ stories and claimed that Bishop John McCormack had a hand in many abuse cases by keeping offending priests in ministry while he served the Archdiocese of Boston.

“I respect those attending Mass,” Ann Hagan Webb, a New England-based coordinator of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, told the crowd outside the cathedral.

“But the path to moral salvation cannot be found in there. The moral heart of the New Hampshire church is out here,” she said.

Most of the marchers clearly wanted McCormack’s resignation, and their demands served as a subtext to the march. A sizable number of those who attended hailed from states other than New Hampshire, with many coming from Massachusetts.

When Cardinal Bernard Law resigned as head of the Boston archdiocese last month, numerous alleged victims immediately expressed their desire to remove McCormack from his post across the border. Some observers of the church in New Hampshire, though, predicted that Granite State Catholics – regardless of where they stood on McCormack – would not tolerate Massachusetts residents telling them how to act.

“I know many of you from New Hampshire do not want us here,” said John Valenti, who claims a Boston archdiocese priest abused him in New Hampshire. “But clergy abuse knows no boundaries.”

Valenti pointed to the Diocese of Manchester entering into a criminal plea deal with the state and privately settling alleged victims’ lawsuits as proof that the abuse detailed in Boston exists here.

Perhaps, because of the stated theme of the march – to support victims – or the cold weather, no counter-protesters surfaced. Only one St. Joseph parishioner made waves by walking through the heart of the rally, instead of to the side as others had done, and calling the marchers “damn fools.”

Police helped parishioners enter the cathedral for morning Mass. Their arrival coincided with the start of the march around the cathedral, so police often stopped the procession line to give parishioners access to the church.

The survivor network’s national director, David Clohessy, tried to assuage the state’s Catholics. He asked that they not think of victims’ groups as confrontational but rather as agents of church reform.

“I ask those in New Hampshire to keep an open heart and open mind,” Clohessy said. “You will see things that will upset you. Don’t let quotes or sayings block your compassion.”

The New Hampshire chapter of the lay group Voice of the Faithful sponsored the march along with the national Coalition of Catholics and Survivors. Also participating were members of the grass-roots laity organization Speak Truth to Power.

Clohessy joined two other nationally recognized speakers: Susan Archibald of the victim support group The LinkUp, and the Rev. Thomas Doyle.

Receiving a thunderous round of applause, Doyle thanked marchers and victims for rallying around the cause this past year. A reformist who pushed for an end to clergy abuse nearly two decades ago, Doyle criticized the church for allowing rapists to remain in ministry.

“Four of the most shameful words I have had to say are, ‘I am a priest’ . . . because of this. If I get my pride back, it is because I am here with you,” said Doyle, who did not wear his clerical collar.

Police cordoned a section of Lowell Street across from the 133-year-old church when the rally started at 9 a.m. Marchers stood individually on a platform and unveiled from underneath purple cloths the photographs or sketches of alleged victims.

Some placards contained the victims’ ages, dates of abuse and their alleged abusers. Many marchers alleged that the Rev. Paul Shanley – awaiting trial on assault charges in Massachusetts – abused the children they represented.

The marchers unveiled the photos to the classical sounds of Samuel Barber’s “Adagio for Strings.” The music played perfectly for the numerous television cameras recording the event, reminding many that the march was media-driven to a large extent.

At times the event seemed overly planned, with organizers requesting that marchers with placards stand behind a speaker for the television cameras. One woman spoke of how her boyfriend had abused her, but did not mention being personally affected by abusive clergy. She shouted a remark against McCormack that reverberated off the walls of the cathedral.

The power of the victims’ stories still penetrated deeply.

Jamie Hogan said he found strength from the rally. He said it helped prepare him for a meeting he and other alleged victims of the Rev. Joseph Birmingham will have with McCormack in Salem, Mass., on Tuesday.

McCormack and Birmingham served at the same Salem parish in the 1960s, and the victims claim McCormack knew Birmingham had abused them. McCormack has denied the claim.

After the march, several people traveled to River Road, where they stood outside McCormack’s residence with protest placards.

“The church in New Hampshire stands in solidarity with the victims,” diocesan spokesman Pat McGee said of the church-sponsored victim support group Bethany and other initiatives. “I wouldn’t call it a protest. We’ve been working a lot with the victims.”

McCormack did not celebrate Mass at the cathedral, as he sometimes does.

Protesters: McCormack should go

By Kathryn Marchocki
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
January 27, 2003

Some had buck teeth and pig tails. Others flashed shy, youthful smiles and wore confirmation gowns, Catholic school uniforms or angelic, white First Communion dresses.

They are the poster children of clergy sexual abuse whose pictures were shown and stories told at a demonstration outside St. Joseph Cathedral in Manchester yesterday.

"We suffered alone during our abuse and after our abuse," said David Clohessy, abuse survivor and national director of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.

"But because of your courage, we are no longer alone. And that's huge," Clohessy told the more than 200 people who gathered to support victims of clergy sexual abuse and demand accountability from church hierarchy who allowed it to happen.

Standing in the gloomy cold, the crowd listened as the names of 83 childhood abuse victims were read aloud to the solemn strains of Samuel Barber's "Adagio" played over a sound system.

"The path to moral salvation cannot be found in there," said SNAP's Ann Hagan Webb, pointing to the cathedral where morning Masses went on as usual.

"The moral heart of the Catholic church of New Hampshire is outside the church today," added Webb, co-regional coordinator of SNAP's Boston-based New England regional office.

The "Solidarity March" and demonstration, co-sponsored by New Hampshire Voice of the Faithful and the Boston-based Coalition of Catholics and Survivors, was the largest to date held in New Hampshire.

While the event was intended to support abuse victims, many who stood beneath the snow-spitting sky for about two hours wanted much more.

Rose N. Yesu, 58, of Newton, Mass., said she will continue to protest "until all the bishops and priests involved in the coverup resign, when the church has settled all the cases against the victims and the structure of the church has changed so the secrecy that allowed this to happen is gone."

For Yesu, that means Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack -- who was Cardinal Bernard F. Law's top deputy in the Boston archdiocese from 1984 to 1994 -- must resign.

"We'll keep coming back until he's gone," she said.

Demonstrators carried posters that said "Shame" beneath McCormack's picture and "N.H. Live Free! Spurn McCormack."

Betty M. Foley, 65, of St. Anselm Parish in Sudbury, Mass., said McCormack is as culpable -- if not more -- than Law in the abuse scandal that forced Law's resignation as Boston archbishop last month.

"The church needs to be made aware that the coverup cannot continue," she said.

While Rose Miskus, 69, of Dover said her friend's sexual abuse as a young girl by a Chicago priest caused her to seek reform in the church, she said she won't stop until significant changes occur.

"All the bishops who were appointed under Law, they have to go," said Miskus of St. Thomas More Parish in Durham and member of the Seacoast chapter of Voice of the Faithful, a lay reform group.

The peaceful crowd included many from Massachusetts, including members of Massachusetts Voice of the Faithful chapters and Speak Truth to Power, a Boston-based victim advocacy group known as STTOP!.

In an apparent reference to earlier demonstrations when several Granite Staters told protesters to "go back to Massachusetts," two speakers told New Hampshire Catholics not to draw lines at the state border.

"I know that many of you who call New Hampshire home really don't want us here today," said John P. Vellante, 58, of North Andover, Mass., who said he was abused in Massachusetts and once in Concord by a former New Hampshire priest.

"Clergy sexual abuse has no state boundaries. It happened here in New Hampshire just as it happened in Massachusetts and in so many other states across the land," he added.

The Rev. Thomas Doyle, a Dominican priest and long-time advocate of abuse victims who lives in Germany, said: "All you have and all we have is the truth and because of that we are going to make a change."

After the demonstration -- which included a procession around the cathedral -- ended, about 15 to 20 people protested for about 40 minutes outside the bishop's residence at North River Road, police said.

McCormack was in northern New Hampshire where he said Mass at an unidentified parish and met with parishioners afterwards, diocesan spokesman Patrick McGee said.

McGee said "the church in New Hampshire does stand in solidarity with all victims of abuse."

He said McCormack has no plans to resign, but "plans to continue to work to move the church forward in its mission in New Hampshire and to continue to make sure the actions of abuse never happens again."

Victims confront bishop; McCormack accused of protecting accused priest

By Annmarie Timmins
Concord (NH) Monitor
January 29, 2003

Salem, Mass. -- Twenty victims of a sexually abusive Massachusetts priest and more than 60 of their supporters confronted New Hampshire Bishop John McCormack last night and demanded repentance.

Participants said McCormack, who has acknowledged protecting the priest when he worked for the Archdiocese of Boston, appeared shaken during the emotional and sometimes angry meeting. And he asked the victims for their forgiveness, they said.

"He said he was deeply moved and shaken by the sad stories," said Larry Sweeney, a victim of the late Father Joseph Birmingham. "He seemed visibly shaken, as he should be."

Jamie Hogan, another of Birmingham's victims, said McCormack took notes during the meeting but told the victims and their supporters he didn't know what to say. And when victims asked him questions, he declined to answer them, saying there were too many questions.

"It was a very typical response for a man who had his head torn off in this meeting," said Hogan.

"He stood up there like a kid caught by his parents being scolded," added Gary Bergeron, also a victim.

Victims said McCormack insisted last night that he knew of no abuse by Birmingham in Salem, Mass., specifically, where they served together in the early 1970s. But eight participants reminded McCormack that they had reported Birmingham to him at that time.

"They were saying, 'Shame on you, shame on you,' " said Hogan.

McCormack has met previously with a few of Birmingham's victims, but this was the first time he faced them as a large group.

The two-hour meeting held at the Old Town Hall in Salem, Mass., was closed to the press. McCormack left the meeting through a back door, escorted by his assistant, Father Edward Arsenault, and said little. He was carrying a bouquet of flowers; one activist said they were given to him by a woman whose brother had committed suicide after being abused by Birmingham. She asked him to put the flowers on her brother's grave.

"I learned a lot tonight," McCormack said. "I learned what their lives are like because of what happened to them."

Birmingham, who died in 1989, was accused of molesting more than 50 boys in parishes in Sudbury, Salem and Lowell, Mass., beginning in the 1960s.

McCormack is accused of ignoring complaints about Birmingham's behavior as early as the 1960s, when he was a priest alongside Birmingham, and later when he was in charge of handling sexual abuse complaints for Cardinal Bernard Law in Boston.

Several men are suing McCormack for his work in the archdiocese handling sexual abuse complaints.

Church records show that when presented with complaints against Birmingham, McCormack repeatedly sided with the priest. The two knew each other well, and critics have speculated that the relationship clouded his judgment.

The two attended seminary together and lived in the same rectory in Salem, Mass., after they were ordained. The Boston Globe reported this week that McCormack traveled with Birmingham and three other priests to France and Italy in 1985, to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their ordination.

McCormack has acknowledged mishandling some sexual abuse complaints against Birmingham. Specifically, he has admitted doing too little in 1970, when several parents warned him that Birmingham had molested children at his Salem parish.

McCormack was working for Catholic Charities at the time and had just earned a master's degree in social work. McCormack has said he believed the allegations, but rather than report the abuse himself, he referred the parents to Birmingham's pastor.

McCormack has also apologized for misleading a parent who contacted him with concerns about Birmingham in 1987. The father of a teenage boy wanted to know whether Birmingham was the same priest who'd been transferred for sexual abuse allegations. McCormack wrote the father back: "There is absolutely no factual basis to your concerns." At the time, Birmingham had been moved eight times and had been accused of repeated molestation.

But Birmingham's victims have said McCormack is culpable for more of their abuse than he's acknowledged. Hogan, the first to file a lawsuit against McCormack, has said McCormack actually saw Birmingham leading Hogan to his bedroom and did nothing.

And Bernie McDaid of Massachusetts has said McCormack frequently saw Birmingham escorting young boys in his car and believes he should have suspected improper behavior. Church files show that church officials received their first complaints about McCormack in 1964, and McDaid said his own father reported Birmingham in 1969.

McCormack has been at the center of attention in New England and beyond in recent months - not only for his role in handling sexual abuse complaints against Boston-area priests in the 1980s and 1990s but also for his unprecedented settlement last month with the state of New Hampshire.

According to that settlement, the state agreed not to prosecute the Diocese of Manchester for child endangerment in exchange for the church's release of thousands of pages of records documenting complaints against New Hampshire priests and the manner in which the church dealt with those complaints. Those files are due out in early March.

In the weeks before and since the settlement, some have called for McCormack to step down as bishop - much as Cardinal Law left his post in Boston. Many of those calling for McCormack's ouster have been activists and victims in Massachusetts - including some at last night's meeting. But a task force set up by the New Hampshire church to review its policies also heard testimony from numerous New Hampshire Catholics calling on McCormack to leave.

The bishop, however, has said he will not step down and has asked New Hampshire Catholics to judge him on his work in New Hampshire.

Following last night's meeting, several of Birmingham's victims held a press conference and described McCormack as repentant. But he also told them he needed time to absorb what he'd been told, they said.

"I told him his soul is not going to be saved until he accepts responsibility," said Sweeney.

Paul Ciaramitaro, another of Birmingham's victims, described the meeting as constructive. "There isn't a Band Aid big enough to heal all of us, but tonight is the first step, he said.

Bishop meets with alleged victims

By J.M. Hirsch, Associated Press
Nashua (NH) Telegraph
January 29, 2003

Salem, Ma. -- Manchester, N.H., Bishop John McCormack was apologetic and visibly shaken following a closed-door meeting Tuesday night with the alleged victims of sexual abuse by the late Rev. Joseph Birmingham, according to those who attended the 2½-hour meeting.

About 85 people, including 30 accusers, met with McCormack at Salem’s Old Town Hall, telling him how much they’ve suffered. They are among about 50 people who have accused Birmingham of molesting them while he was serving at parishes in six communities before his death in 1989.

McCormack, a top aide to Cardinal Bernard Law from 1984 to 1994, has been criticized for allowing priests who were sexually abusing children to remain in parishes. He became bishop of New Hampshire in 1998.

Larry Sweeney, an alleged victim, said McCormack asked for forgiveness for “the things he failed to do.”

Some of the accusers told McCormack he should step down.

“I challenged him to step down and then I might forgive him,” said alleged victim Bernie McDaid. “This man does not deserve to be a bishop.”

“I looked at him and told him to look at his hands and look at the blood on his hands,” Sweeney said. “I told him his soul is not going to be saved until (he accepts responsibility).”

“I think he was deeply moved and shaken, as he should be,” Sweeney added. “Yet there was not to me enough of an acknowledgment of responsibility.” Until he does, he added, “his soul is at stake.”

After the meeting, McCormack, walking to his car, said, “I learned a lot tonight. I learned what their lives are like because of what has happened to them.”

At a news conference afterward, accusers said McCormack began the meeting with a brief statement. He then sat and listened to testimony from the accusers and their families, and closed the meeting with about five minutes of more remarks.

“The first thing he said was he didn’t know what to say to us,” said Jamie Hogan. “It was very typical for a man who had just had his head torn off.”

Reporters standing on the sidewalk outside the building where the meeting took place, could hear sporadic applause from inside. They were told the applause came as survivors finished addressing McCormack.

At one point, a woman presented McCormack with four floral bouquets, saying they represented Birmingham and three of his alleged victims who committed suicide.

Organizers said McCormack needs to realize that families in six communities have been traumatized because of he failed to remove Birmingham from ministry.

N.H. bishop offers apology to dozens of alleged victims

By Michael Rosenwald and Stefany Moore
Boston (MA) Globe
January 29, 2003

Salem -- Bishop John B. McCormack of Manchester, N.H., apologized last night to dozens of people who say they were sexually abused by a Massachusetts priest he transferred from parish to parish.

About 85 people, including 30 alleged victims, met for 21/2 hours with McCormack, who as a top aide to Cardinal Bernard F. Law in Boston allegedly ignored complaints of abuse against Rev. Joseph Birmingham, now deceased.

Several alleged victims said that McCormack seemed visibly shaken and deeply moved by the stories he heard.

McCormack spoke for about five minutes at the end of the meeting, saying that he was sorry for what he did and failed to do.

The bishop ''recognizes it takes a great deal of courage to relive their pain by the retelling of their abuse,'' said Patrick McGee, a spokesman for McCormack. ''He knows that there's a lot of anger, both at him and the church, but he also knows that he must accept their anger. He prays that this will help them in their healing, and he asked for their forgiveness.''

The meeting, similar to one Law held with victims late last year before the cardinal's resignation in December, took place at the old Salem Town Hall, but was closed to the news media. Late last night, some alleged victims gathered in Salem to discuss the meeting with reporters.

Several said the meeting was often ''brutal'' for everyone involved. McCormack essentially had ''his head torn off,'' said one. After the meeting was over, several people approached McCormack and commended him for attending the meeting and listening to numerous personal stories, including ones about victims who committed suicide.

At the meeting, the sister of one alleged victim walked up to McCormack and presented four bouquets of flowers to him - representing three alleged victims who committed suicide. The fourth, she said, was in remembrance of Father Birmingham.

Larry Sweeney, who said he and his brother were abused by Birmingham in the early 1970s, told McCormack that many people in the room had lost trust in the church.

To this, McCormack responded, ''I've lost trust, too,'' Sweeney said.

The mother of one alleged victim participated by conference call, saying that she had spoken with McCormack in 1970 about the abuse of her child and he told her, ''I'll take care of this,'' according to another alleged victim at the news conference.

Bernie McDaid reminded McCormack that people had come to him in the 1960s in the confessional to tell him that something bad was going on with Birmingham.

McDaid last night called on McCormack to resign, saying he wasn't fit to be called a bishop.

McCormack, who said he would like to meet with victims one-on-one, didn't lead anyone to believe that he intends to step down.

Tom Blanchette said he welcomed McCormack's apologies, adding, ''We are beginning to see the truth, and I have hopeful expectations that we will see more.''

Bob Morton, who wasn't abused but grew up with a lot of the alleged victims, said McCormack ''is coming to grips with the fact that he didn't do the right thing.''

Bishop threatened to cancel meeting; Several supporters of victims were uninvited

By Annmarie Timmins
Concord (NH) Monitor
January 30, 2003

Bishop John McCormack threatened to cancel his meeting with Massachusetts abuse victims Tuesday night unless organizers uninvited victim supporters from New Hampshire and elsewhere.

"The victims asked us to be there," said Dover's Maggie Fogarty, a member of the New Hampshire Voice of the Faithful who had her invitation revoked. "The victims wanted witnesses, observers and supporters. The diocese apparently does not want witnesses and observers. That begs the question why."

About 20 people, several from New Hampshire, were excluded from the meeting, held in Salem, Mass., between McCormack, survivors of the late Joseph Birmingham and their supporters. McCormack has admitted protecting Birmingham against abuse allegations while working for the Archdiocese of Boston.

Pat McGee, spokesman for the Diocese of Manchester, said the bishop threatened to cancel because he had never agreed to meet with anyone but victims of Birmingham.

"(Adding support groups) takes it out from the relationship where the bishop is trying to be as responsive as possible to those people who have experienced pain and abuse," McGee said. "And it puts it in a much broader context of groups that have a different agenda. There may be a time and place for (meeting with activist groups), but last night was not the time or place."

But while New Hampshire's Voice of the Faithful members were refused entry, members of the Massachusetts chapter were allowed in. That led some locals to wonder whether McCormack was trying to contain his troubled Massachusetts past to Massachusetts.

"Friends and the Birmingham survivor group specifically invited both of us," said Merrimack's Carolyn Disco, secretary of the New Hampshire chapter. "We believe that is a poor decision on behalf of New Hampshire Catholics. State lines should not delineate support and friendship.

"There is a disconnect between a policy of openness and healing and the closing off of opportunities to bear witness to reconciliation," Disco said.

Tuesday's meeting was off limits to reporters as well, but several victims who attended described it as emotionally draining; for two hours victims confronted McCormack about his inaction concerning Birmingham and demanded his repentance.

Church records show that McCormack did not report allegations against Birmingham when parents came to him in the 1970s. Nor was he honest about Birmingham's past in 1987 when another parent wrote with concerns. The nearly 50 men who are suing McCormack for his supervision of Birmingham have accused him of ignoring far more abuse than he's acknowledged.

Tuesday night was the first time McCormack faced so many of his accusers at once.

The location was kept from the media. Organizers begged reporters who showed up to leave before McCormack arrived because his assistant, Father Edward Arsenault, had said the bishop wouldn't get as far as the door if he saw reporters or others not on his invite list.

When McCormack left the meeting, he did so through a back door and made haste for a vehicle parked in an alley nearby. He declined to be interviewed and said only that he had learned a lot from victims about how abuse had changed their lives.

Victims' supporters questioned the church's rationale yesterday for limiting the invite list, saying their groups are as dedicated as McCormack to helping victims heal.

"He was saying he wanted to reach out to survivors and wanted them to be part of the solution," said Ann Hagan Webb, a clergy abuse victim and coordinator of a Boston-area survivors' group. "When we were asked to join in the conversation by survivors, we were excluded by the bishop. It seems to me that once again the bishop is playing games."

Penacook's Jeff Blanchard, a member of the New Hampshire Voice of the Faithful, agreed.

"I'm kind of flabbergasted, I guess," he said. "We call on the bishop to be as open and honest as possible in the interest of resolving this and promoting healing. He has said he's interested in doing anything to promote healing, but I keep coming back to the sense that his words are hollow."

McCormack says he still has faith in church

By Kathryn Marchocki
Manchester (NH) Union Leader
January 30, 2003

Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack, responding to a comment attributed to him by an alleged clergy abuse victim, yesterday said he has not lost trust in the church.

"My trust in the church remains strong and undiluted," McCormack said in a statement yesterday.

The bishop's comment follows a statement made by an alleged victim of the late Rev Joseph E. Birmingham while recounting details of a private meeting with McCormack to the media Tuesday night.

Larry Sweeney of Chelmsford, Mass., said he told the bishop during the meeting, which was attended by about 85 people in Salem, Mass., that he has lost trust in McCormack and the church.

"He (McCormack) acknowledged that he has lost trust in the church, also, and I think that says a lot," Sweeney, 44, told the media at a press conference afterwards.

Manchester diocesan spokesman Patrick McGee yesterday said those were not the bishop's words.

"That's not what he said. What the bishop said essentially is he knows that people may have lost faith in him and in the church," McGee said.

Sweeney yesterday stood by his comment.

"He (McCormack) said, 'I know you've lost trust.' And he stopped and he paused, and it looked as though he was reflecting, and he said, 'I've lost trust'," Sweeney said.

"He said those exact words," added Sweeney, who says Birmingham abused him and his brother in a Lowell, Mass., parish in the early 1970s.

While Sweeney yesterday said McCormack "may not have used the words 'in the church'," he said that given the context in which McCormack spoke, "I can't imagine he meant anything other than the church or the people running it."

Another alleged victim privately confirmed he also heard McCormack say he has "lost trust."

Sweeney, who is a pharmacist, said he did not get the impression that McCormack meant he "lost trust in God or lost trust in the institution of the faith, but in human beings that run the church."

"If he meant trust in himself, that's just as bad. He's a huge part of the church," he added.

In his statement yesterday, McCormack said, "I have a deep trust that the Lord will continue to use his church to help victims heal.

"I recognize that many say they have lost faith in me and in the church. I acknowledge the sincerity of their feelings and I will do all that I can to help restore a broken relationship with them," the bishop added.

Paul Ciaramitaro, who says Birmingham abused him as a teenager in the mid-1980s in Gloucester, Mass., yesterday said he does not believe McCormack really understood how child molestation affects children and their families before Tuesday's meeting.

"I saw a different Bishop McCormack walk out of the building than I did when he walked in last night," added Ciaramitaro, 31, of Gloucester, Mass.

"(It) was the beginning of the start of the healing. We'll see what he does to follow it," he added.

Records on 10 clergy released
Documents reveal McCormack's role

By Sacha Pfeiffer
Boston (MA) Globe
January 31, 2003

In 1993, the Rev. John B. McCormack knew that a Xaverian brother seeking a job in the Boston Archdiocese had been diagnosed as a pedophile and had been forced to resign from a Boston homeless shelter for coming on sexually to a shelter resident.

Still, McCormack, then a top aide to Cardinal Bernard F. Law and now the bishop of Manchester, N.H., hoped to find a job here for Brother John H. Dagwell. And he lamented when he could not do so because of ''the present climate,'' an apparent reference to growing public awareness of sexual abuse by clergy.

Dagwell, whose personnel file was among the records on 10 accused clergymen released yesterday, had also been convicted of sexual assault for misconduct as a teacher and coach at a Catholic high school in Montvale, N.J. It is unclear from the records whether McCormack knew of the conviction.

Meanwhile, other documents that emerged this week further fill out the portrait of McCormack - under fire for his role in transferring abusive priests - during his years as a deputy to Law.

The documents show McCormack advocating a return to parish duty for a former seminary classmate, the Rev. James D. Foley, who had told McCormack that he had fathered two children by a married woman who later died of a drug overdose.

McCormack, in a February 1994 memo, described the woman's fate as ''horrendous.'' But three months later he indicated he would recommend a new parish assignment for Foley, even after Law advised that Foley spend the rest of his life in a monastery ''doing penance.''

''The publicly filed records once again disclose that Bishop McCormack was a very effective advocate for priests who had been engaged in sexual misconduct,'' said Roderick Macleish Jr., an attorney at Greenberg Traurig, the law firm that represents at least 200 alleged abuse victims. The files were given to the firm by the church under court order.

McCormack's letter informing the Xaverians that the archdiocese could not offer Dagwell an assignment suggests that his impulse was to overlook the troubled background of Dagwell, whom he viewed as ''bright'' and who made ''a good impression.''

''The present climate does not support the taking of aggressive steps to find John a placement,'' McCormack wrote in March 1993 to the Xaverian Brothers Provincialate. ''The public nature of his previous difficulty and the recent accusation locally confirm the sense that it would not be wise to place him within the archdiocese at this time. ... I regret that I cannot be more helpful in this matter.''

McCormack, who had asked an aide to check out job possibilities for the brother, also expressed regret for giving Dagwell ''the hope that I could do something for him.''

A spokesman for McCormack, Patrick McGee, said he had not seen Dagwell's file and could not comment on it. But McGee noted that although McCormack's notes about accused priests were often sympathetic in tone, ''ultimately you have to look at the decision of whether the guy gets placed or not.'' McCormack, he added, was ''trying to be a brother priest, even when he's delivering bad news.''

In 1995, Dagwell went on to become director of Crossroads Family Shelter, a facility for women and children located in a former convent at Most Holy Redeemer parish in East Boston. He landed the position after Brother Edward J. Keefe, the Xaverian provincial, wrote a job recommendation describing Dagwell as a priest ''in good standing.''

Dagwell was fired a few months later when Catholic Charities, which helped support the shelter, learned about his background from one of Dagwell's former coworkers. Catholic Charities president Joseph Doolin criticized the ''Xaverians' lack of forthcomingness'' in a letter to a church official.

It is unclear from the file whether McCormack knew of the East Boston assignment. Dagwell and Keefe could not be reached for comment.

Many of the other priest personnel files made public yesterday are thin and contain only a single recent allegation of sexual misconduct, most of which appear to have been made last year. One of the files - on the Rev. Richard S. Moran, who is assigned to St. Bernard's parish in Newton - does not contain an abuse accusation.

In Moran's case, the archdiocese received a report in 1992 that several female high school students felt uncomfortable with the way he had held their hands during a prayer. After an investigation, church officials declined to take action against him. Moran did not return a call for comment.

The Rev. Christopher J. Coyne, an archdiocese spokesman, said Moran's file was given to plaintiffs' lawyers because the church wanted to ''make sure we turn over anything that could possibly have to do with anything like this so we don't look like we're not cooperating in any way.''

Files were also released yesterday on the following priests:

The Rev. Charles E. Aubut, accused of sexual assault on an unspecified date or location. Aubut died in 1984.

The Rev. Leonard Bacigalupo, accused of unspecified abuse at Our Lady of Mount Carmel in East Boston in 1969 or 1970.

The Rev. Barry F. Bossa, who is accused in a lawsuit of repeatedly molesting two boys when they were about 10 at St. Thomas Aquinas parish in Bridgewater in the 1970s. Bossa is now assigned to Our Lady of Mount Carmel parish in Yonkers, N.Y. He could not be reached for comment.

The Rev. Louis J. Govoni, who is accused in a lawsuit of repeatedly molesting a 14-year-old boy in the early 1970s.

The Rev. Paul Hightower, accused of repeatedly sexually abusing at least two minors at Nazareth, a Jamaica Plain children's home, in 1968 when he was a student at Cardinal O'Connell Seminary. Hightower died in 1994.

The Rev. Jon C. Martin, who was accused of a single incident of kissing and fondling a 14-year-old boy in 1965. Martin was placed on health leave and resigned in 2001.

Raymond A. Prybis, an Oblate priest accused of approaching, while naked, a 14- or 15-year-old boy at Sacred Heart rectory in Lowell in the 1980s and asking the teenager to beat him with a belt.

The Rev. Patrick J. Tague, who is accused of repeatedly molesting a 16-year-old boy in 1971 when he was a staff member at Hyde Park House, a Boston facility for delinquent teenagers. Tague allegedly told boys there that he could get them paroled if they engaged in sex acts with him. In 1979, Tague was convicted of stealing $30,000 from the facility.


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