Bishop Accountability
  An Appeal to the Bishop

By Jimmy Breslin
September 15, 2002

The first public meeting on Long Island of the Catholic lay organization Voice of the Faithful drew a crowd of 750 at Wyandanch on Thursday night, certainly the largest seen on any matter for years. Which could indicate that the potential of the Voice of the Faithful movement is considerable.

A leader of the national Voice of the Faithful, Steve Krueger, was down with three assistants from Boston. The national membership is around 30,000, which indicates the feeling of betrayal is wide over the grotesque pedophile priests, and also the bishops and cardinals covering up and lying. The meeting on Thursday in Wyandanch was in a public hall. The bishop of the diocese, William Murphy, refused to allow this group of Catholics to use a Catholic church. He also ordered that no priests were to attend the meeting.

There were priests and nuns present.

Murphy is one of three Irish bishops down from New England who run the New York area. All arrived here with questionable backgrounds in handling the sex cases. The others are Cardinal Egan of New York and Bishop Daily of Brooklyn.

At the meeting was Robert F. Byrnes of Deer Park. He is a substantial, literate Catholic who is a retired college professor and now teaches a couple of economic courses at Suffolk Community. He credits Regis High for his English.

He has inquired about the construction of palatial living quarters for Bishop Murphy alongside the Cathedral of St. Agnes in Rockville Centre. Murphy has grabbed the huge convent building, chasing the nuns out to anywhere they can find. It is a place with room for 36 apartments for families. The bishop plans to live there by himself. He says someday he wants to have 12 priests in for dinner. He can live in the splendid rectory at the cathedral or remain in the expensive house in the country club section of Rockville Centre. He wants the convent.

As a concerned Catholic, Robert Byrnes wrote on May 22, 2002, to Bishop Murphy.

Dear Bishop Murphy,

I would like to respectfully repose these questions, in light of the information in Ms. Novarro's letter.

1. What is the cost of the third floor renovation of the convent?

2. Are there rooms available to you in the rectory?

3. Is there a house available in Rockville Centre for your use as a residence?

4. Are there no meeting rooms available to you in the Chancery Building on Sunrise Highway?

5. Who approves major expenditures such as these?

Very respectfully

June 5, 2002

Dear Mr. Byrnes:

I am in receipt of your letter of May 22nd concerning the renovation on the existing convent. I am providing you with an article which appeared in the Rockville Centre Herald along with a letter written by the Director of Public Information for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, Mrs. Joanne C. Novarro.

The house in which I am currently living will be sold and the proceeds from that will be applied to the cost of my moving into a residence next to the Cathedral and across the street from the Chancery where the bishop belongs. Trust me that the money realized from the sale of the house will be more than adequate to cover the cost of this move which is justified by both my role as your bishop and by my desire to be near my cathedral and my office.

Further questions such as the ones you have raised are certainly improper for a Catholic to raise to his bishop.

With my prayers and best wishes, I am

Murphy signed his name in pen.

June 15, 2002

Dear Bishop Murphy:

Your letter clearly responded to my question regarding the Diocesan house on Columbia Road. I was somewhat puzzled and, frankly, offended that you considered my other questions to be improper for a Catholic to raise to his bishop.

Assuming you believe the renovations for your quarters and the expenses involved in these renovations are appropriate, I do not understand why you not only will not share that information publicly but believe that you should not even be questioned by a Catholic about such matters. It seems to me that now more than at any other time, secrecy is inappropriate.

To be admonished by my bishop for respectfully asking what I believe to be very proper questions, leads me to believe that your model of Church is one that assumes all Catholics will expect no accountability from their bishop in terms of finances and in fact, considers such expectations to be improper.

Once again, I respectfully request answers to the following questions:

1. What is the cost of the third floor renovation of the convent?

2. Are there rooms available to you in the rectory?

3. Who approves major expenditures such as these?

July 25, 2002

Dear Bishop Murphy:

On June 15, 2002, I responded to your letter of June 5. These correspondences followed previous correspondences between you and me.

Along with objecting to your comment about improper questions posed by me, I respectfully repeated my request for answers to these three questions.

1. What is the cost of the third floor renovation of the convent?

2. Are there rooms available to you in the rectory?

3. Who approves major expenditures such as these?

Since I have not received a reply to my letter of June 15 in over a month, I respectfully request for answers to my three questions.

August 1, 2002

Dear Mr. Byrnes:

I am in receipt of your letter of July 25. You are correct. I did not respond to your other questions because I considered them inappropriate. For your information, I already had written to the priests of this diocese and explained to them the fact that the cost of providing me with a residence that is adequate for my role as the bishop of the sixth largest diocese of the country is being covered by the sale of the house in which I currently live; a house that is not adequate for the work that I have to carry on as your bishop. Frankly, most bishops in my position would not have replied to your letter. However, I wish to always give to every member of the Church the benefit of the doubt, and I presume that you have asked these questions in good faith and not out of either idle curiosity or disrespect for your bishop.

With my prayers and best wishes, I am ...

August 5, 2002

Dear Bishop Murphy, I am in receipt of your letter of Aug. 1st. I certainly appreciate your willingness to continue our correspondence.

You have made it clear that you have no intention of answering my questions regarding the third floor convent renovations, the availability of space in the rectory and the financial approval procedures.

I am disappointed that in a Diocese committed to openness and accountability, you refuse to share this information, other than that the cost will be adequately covered by the sale of the house in which you currently reside. Being somewhat aware of real estate values in Rockville Centre, I would certainly hope that the proceeds of the sale would more than cover the cost of your new quarters.

Be assured that my questions were not posed out of idle curiosity or in any way to disrespect you. On the contrary, these questions, which you characterize as inappropriate, were asked in an attempt on my part to ascertain the cost of a Diocesan expense, to explore other possibilities and to understand the methodology by which diocesan expenditure decisions are made.

I respectfully submit such questions are entirely appropriate. It would seem to me, that in a spirit of openness and accountability, all diocesan income and expenses should be available to members of the diocese. For the time being at least, it appears this is not to be so.

Again, thank you for responding to my inquiries. Very respectfully,

Robert F. Byrnes

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