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Catholic Culture Liturgical Living
Catholic Culture Liturgical Living

Punishing an innocent man?

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

Vision Book Cover Prints

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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