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Punishing an innocent man?

By Domenico Bettinelli, Jr. (articles ) | Sep 09, 2003

A New Hampshire priest reinstated to his parish has no kind words for Bishop John McCormack. Father Paul Gregoire says it was the Vatican's insistence on his rights and on conducting a fair investigation that led to his exoneration from accusation that he abused a woman in the 1970s. The priest contends that the women is mentally unstable.

Gregoire said the Manchester diocese's investigation was flawed and that McCormack pressured him to resign several times. It was only after he appealed to Rome in May that her allegation was deemed not credible. He was never contacted by police about it either.

This is what people were afraid of after the original Dallas policy was revealed--that innocent priests would be thrown under the bus when accusations were made so that it didn't look like the bishop or the diocese was soft on abuse. It's a good thing the Vatican insisted on changes to the policy that upheld the priest's canonical rights of due process and appeal.

"Some have suggested that Bishop McCormack was under some pressure because of the events in Boston," Gregoire said, "how he had let some things go by in Boston and now he was going to be firm. So I don’t know. Some have suggested that. He had a review board. It wasn’t just Bishop McCormack. I think the process was not perfect, which is proven by the results, because they came to one conclusion and Rome came to another conclusion."
Being tough for appearances' sake would be just as bad as doing nothing. This is a person's life and ministry here. What's important is the truth, not perception in the court of public opinion.

The bishop's spokesman denies all of it, but based on McCormack's track record I'm inclined to believe the priest.

By the way, when it was a gay priest who had sex with a teenage boy, who went to the wall for him against the outrage of the parish. But in this case, he was ready to write off the priest. It makes you wonder what the difference was.

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  • Posted by: shrink - Sep. 12, 2003 10:19 AM ET USA

    As a general rule, a weak leader selectively applies the law to maintain his own prestige. A weak bishop (you decide who they are) does the same. Currently, it's the safest political maneuver for them since orthodoxy is in retreat. E.g., punish the orthodox priest and please the left, and give an appearance to outsiders of being 'tough on crime'. Use 'discretion' with the gay (or other) miscreants gives the appearance of Christian compassion, and assures continued support from leftist clergy.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Sep. 11, 2003 7:13 PM ET USA

    A reasonable point of agreement, Steeltoe. May God bring His Church through this time of trial, ultimately pure and faultless! And may the Bishops be preserved. Pray for the Holy Father. Pax et Bonum JP

  • Posted by: - Sep. 11, 2003 10:28 AM ET USA

    No, I agree, I think orthodox bishops should really lay the down the smack in a public way. Our Church's leadership (in the US) is much too given to pretenses, so it would be wise for the bishops to begin a precedent in this country of public, fraternal correction. It just worries me somtimes when the laity thinks it must pick up the banner. The "people" often have a hard time being tactful. In any event, I'm glad you speak up, just that I would be more specific in my references. That is all.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Sep. 10, 2003 12:41 PM ET USA

    Dear Steeltoe, Why not??? The "good ones" (Bishops) are too "discreet" (nice word, I could have been more blunt) to severely admonish the clearly sinful ones, as is perscribed in Sacred Scripture, hence ALL of them have a significant share of the blame. As for "the good of my soul" as you say, I would (shockingly eough) consider it to be "sin" NOT to speak up. But by all means, feel free to take another kick.

  • Posted by: - Sep. 10, 2003 10:33 AM ET USA

    What are you, the repentence police, Mr. Plick? At the peril of your own soul, I would suggest you avoid making such generalizations about bishops, particularly ones that say most bishops are willing to send their priests to the flame to save "face." While this situation may be a case in point, I don't think a blanket judgement of the total espicopate is called for.

  • Posted by: John J Plick - Sep. 09, 2003 7:34 PM ET USA

    It seems clear to me, Mr. Bettinelli, that the Bishops themselves for the most part will not repent of their own sins of negligence. They prefer to sacrafice their subordinates, the priests. And people who are anxious to avoid blame are usually not to particular.