Where Are the Files?
Missing Priest Documents Fuel Additional Concerns

The Union Leader [Manchester NH]
Downloaded January 10, 2003

SO THERE ARE missing priest personnel files in the Diocese of Manchester. And the diocese’s explanation insufficiently accounts for the missing files. OK, raise your hand if you are surprised by this.

In yesterday’s Union Leader, Monsignor Wilfrid Paradis, who spent 16 years researching the diocese’s files for his book on the Catholic Church in New Hampshire, recalled that at least half a dozen priest personnel files were simply “gone.”

Diocesan spokesman Patrick McGee said the files may have been purged of medical records, which are privileged. But that would not explain why entire files are not where they are supposed to be. McGee granted that some files may have been moved into the secret archives and said that no files covering allegations of child sexual abuse have been destroyed since November 2000. That means files could have been removed or destroyed at any previous time.

What struck us most about this revelation was not that incriminating personnel papers may have been destroyed by past diocesan officials. Who didn’t suspect something of this sort? What surprised us was the contrast between Manchester Bishop John McCormack’s and former Cardinal Bernard Law’s comments about the sex abuse scandal and the media’s handling of it and Paradis’ comments about the same. Here is what Paradis said:

“I’m fundamentally relieved that the press has picked up on this issue and is forcing us to look at ourselves in the mirror. We as a church are supposed to be guardians of public morality. So when we as priests are offenders of public morality, then we should at least know it and do something about it.”

Well said, Monsignor.


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