Diocese in Denial

By Warren Mason
Reposted November 4, 2003
On Religious News Online

While Archbishop Sean O’Malley has moved quickly to settle cases of clergy abuse in the Boston Archdiocese and shown genuine compassion for the victims, it is wishful thinking to believe that the Catholic Church can extricate itself from this ongoing crisis without real systematic and structural change.

Only ninety miles up the Massachusetts Turnpike, the Diocese of Springfield, Massachusetts has become a national poster child for all that is wrong within the hierarchical structure of the Catholic Church.

Bishop Thomas Dupre, a friend of Archbishop O’Malley, finds himself embroiled in a seemingly unending string of embarrassing revelations and cover-ups.

The recent case of Rev. Paul Laflamme is emblematic of the convoluted logic, and endemic dishonesty that pervades this institutional dinosaur. Briefly, the Rev. Laflamme, St. Mary Mother of the Church parish in Lee MA., is accused of impregnating a parish employee while she was being counseled by him. Even more telling, Rev. Laflamme’s pastor, the Rev. Gary Dailey, is accused of manipulating the situation, suggesting the victim, Ms. Josephine DiZoglio, “get rid of the problem”, and firing her from position as housekeeper to the parish. Rev. Laflamme does indeed admit to the relationship.

Rev. Dailey tells his parishioners that these problems are a result of Satan's desire "to place anger, judgment, condemnation and disunity amongst this parish".

It would be wise to remind Rev. Dailey that Satan didn't get Ms. DiZoglio pregnant!

In true Elmer Gantry fashion, Rev. Dailey plays on his parishioners’ innate fears and anger, while camouflaging the real issue- his duplicity in the victimization of someone who deserves far better than she has gotten.

Equating criticism of the Church to being a bad Catholic is old hat for Church hierarchy. Rev. Dailey’s diatribe has taken that ludicrous proposition to a new level, as he clearly suggests that such people are not only bad Catholics, but Satan himself.

It is the Rev. Dailey and Laflamme who have brought “anger, judgment, condemnation” and indeed shame to their parish. And it is Bishop Thomas Dupre and his ilk that have cultivated and fostered an environment that breeds such behavior.

Meanwhile, it took the Springfield Diocesan Misconduct Commission six months to act on Ms. DiZoglio's complaint. What did the Commission learn last week that they didn't know six months ago? Apparently they acted only after the local news media informed Bishop Thomas Dupre that they had been made aware of Ms. DiZoglio's credible accusation. No great surprise here, as this is the same diocese that continues to employ a convicted pedophile, Rev. Richard Lavigne, more than 12 years after his felony conviction. Rev. Lavigne remains the only acknowledged suspect in the murder of thirteen year old alter boy, Danny Croteau.

Bishop Dupre's office has been quoted as saying that the diocese will not pay for anything to do with Ms. DiZoglio’s baby, saying it is not their responsibility to do so! While this bishop is adamant that it is his diocese's responsibility to continue paying a convicted sexual predator, he says it bears no responsibility for the welfare of an innocent baby that may well have been conceived by one of its priests, under the guise of providing counseling.

“I find it confusing that Bishop Dupre continues to pay for the medical insurance and monthly stipend for Fr. Lavigne, Fr. Kennedy, Fr. Meehan, Fr. Lavelle and other priests who have been suspended for misconduct and crimes against children, but the Springfield Diocese does not feel obligated by Christian charity to pay for the medical needs of an unborn child or its pregnant mother,” states Rev. Joseph Soranno, pastor, St. Cecelia Church, Wilbraham, MA.

As long as Rev. Dailey’s parishioners and others in the Catholic laity nationwide are content to accept such inane, illogical and self serving excuses they do not have the right to consider themselves victims. They are enablers in every sense of the word.

Irrational, abhorrent behavior cannot be accepted and explained away just because someone wears the collar of a priest.

The Rev. Dailey says "Satan will not scatter this flock." Rev. Dailey, Bishop Dupre and Catholic hierarchy have shown that they can do that all on their own.

Warren Mason is a Massachusetts-based writer whose social commentary has appeared in numerous newspapers and other periodicals. He can be reached at"


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