Leader: Parishioners Not Showing Concern

By Elizabeth Comeau
Kennebec Journal [Augusta ME]
January 31, 2007

The Rev. Lou Phillips said he hasn't gotten one concerned phone call from parishioners since the state's Roman Catholic bishop disclosed this past weekend the names of six Maine priests accused of sexual abuse.

Three of those priests -- Peter Gorham, Frederick Carrigan and Michael Plourde -- held positions in Augusta-area churches, which serve about 4,800 families.

"I checked with the other two priests in Augusta-Gardiner and they report the same," Phillips said Tuesday.

Phillips is head of the Augusta area cluster of churches, which includes St. Andrew, St. Augustine, St. Mary of the Assumption, all of Augusta; St. Joseph of Gardiner; and St. Denis of Whitefield.

This past weekend, Maine's Bishop Richard Malone publicly identified the six accused priests out of concern that some of them could commit offenses while waiting for the Vatican to complete its investigation.

"I'm assuming those people who had concerns in the past voiced them," Phillips said.

But Phillips also said he is urging people who may have been abused to report it to the Diocese or police.

"If someone contacts me, I would make arrangements to connect them with the proper personnel," Phillips said. "We're also making the Bishop's full announcement available at the back of all the churches."

He said Bishop Malone has set aside March 21 as a special day of prayer and penance for himself, all clergy, and laity who want to support the victims of clerical sex abuse.

Gorham, 79, served at St. Joseph in Gardiner in 1953 for about a month, said Sue Bernard, director of Communications for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland. He also served at St. Joseph in Waterville in 1953 for about a year, Bernard said.

Carrigan, 72, who was first accused in 1991, was removed from the ministry in 2002 after being accused of abuse dating to 1972. Bernard said he served at St. Joseph from 1969 to 1972.

Plourde, 56, who was accused by two minors in 1994 and was removed from the ministry that year, lives in Maine and served at St. Mary in Augusta from 1990 to 1992; St. John in Winslow from 1992 to 1993, and at AMHI from 1993 to 1994.

The other accused priests are: Francis Kane, George W. Beaudet and Ronald N. Michaud.

Of those six accused, the Vatican already ruled in the cases of Gorham and Kane. The Vatican made their removal from the ministry permanent and assigned them to a "life of prayer and penance."

Harvey Paul, the state coordinator for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said the bishop should release more information about the accused priests, such as where they live.

"Any information is important," Paul said.

"It's long past the time where we need to bring this out into the open. It's time to help survivors move on and protect the kids today."

Elizabeth Comeau -- 623-3811, Ext. 433


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