|Bishop Says He Felt Threatened
December 31, 2008
PORTLAND (AP) - Roman Catholic Bishop Richard Malone says church officials obtained a police order and threatened church sanctions against an outspoken critic because he felt the man's words and actions were "threatening to me personally and harmful to my ministry."
Malone, leader of Maine's 215,000 Roman Catholics, issued a statement late Tuesday afternoon on the Diocese of Portland's Web site following news accounts of his actions against Paul Kendrick.
In his statement, Malone said he turned the other cheek for nearly five years as the Freeport man flooded the diocese office with e-mails and held vigils outside his residence, the chancery and the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, where Malone often celebrates Mass.
But the final straw, Malone wrote, came on Dec. 16, when he needed a police escort to enter a building as Kendrick and others waited outside. A day later, Malone said he received a letter in which Kendrick threatened to become a distraction at Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve.
"I decided that the line had been crossed beyond legitimate criticism of the church to what felt threatening to me personally and harmful to my ministry as your bishop. Constructive criticism is always welcome, but this kind of harassment is another matter altogether," Malone wrote.
Kendrick, an outspoken advocate for people who were sexually abused by priests, disputed Malone's account of the Dec. 16 incident. He said the mother of an abuse victim tried to speak to Malone on a sidewalk, but the bishop walked by without saying a word.
"He brings this upon himself. A mother is serious about helping others and helping her family, and he wouldn't give her 10 minutes of his time," Kendrick said Tuesday. He described Malone's statement as "self-serving and histrionic."
Kendrick is a co-founder of the Maine chapter of the lay group Voice of the Faithful. Though he has distanced himself from the group, he has continued to aggressively criticize church leaders over their response to abuse allegations and treatment of victims.
He's currently under a criminal trespass order from the Portland Police Department banning him from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, which he hoped to visit on Christmas Eve. He was also served with an order to cease and desist from harassing Malone.
A diocese official also warned Kendrick of possible church-imposed penalties if he comes within 500 feet of the bishop or enters a building when Malone is present.
In his statement, Malone said "we have all been affected in one way or another" by the priest sexual abuse that rocked the Catholic Church in the U.S. He urged anyone who was abused by a priest or church worker to come forward to appropriate authorities.
He also asked for prayers for victims of abuse, their families, the church, the perpetrators of abuse and for "good and faithful priests, for me and all church leaders."
"I cannot undo the past, but I assure you that the Diocese of Portland has aggressively and appropriately responded to this crisis," he wrote. He also promised that all accusations of sexual abuse are "immediately investigated and appropriate actions are taken," Malone said.
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