NH Catholics Must now Take Action

By Joseph W. Mcquaid
The Union Leader [New Hampshire]
Downloaded March 6, 2003

THESE ARE THE DARKEST of days for the Roman Catholic Church in New Hampshire and for the thousands of men, women and children who have defended it, sought solace from it, placed their faith in it and been betrayed by its leadership, past and present. Unless the men in that leadership leave, the future looks nearly as bleak.

They won't go easily. They are in "spin" mode where the litany is: Yes, mistakes were made. We have learned from them. Let us move on.

Sorry, that doesn't wash. These were no mere "mistakes." This was repeated willful neglect and tolerance of heinous, despicable criminal acts for which the attorney general of New Hampshire, quite rightly, said this diocese could have been criminally prosecuted.

The culture, the mindset, that allowed this is still here. Bishop John McCormack, whose record in Massachusetts is deplorable, hasn't learned anything. Just last year he sent out into his New Hampshire "flock" a priest who had allegedly paid a teenage boy for sex acts.

Auxiliary Bishop Francis Christian, it turns out, was doing in New Hampshire what McCormack was doing in Massachusetts - turning a blind eye to victims and thus enabling pedophile priests to prey on more. Christian hasn't learned. He says he did what lawyers told him to do and didn't mislead anyone. (An assistant attorney general all but called Christian a liar on that.)

A few months ago a priest of our acquaintance railed at the news media and people from Massachusetts for trying to tell the church here what to do, specifically the resignation of McCormack. "We are a church and we're a family," the priest said. "We'll take care of the problem."

The problem is still here, and growing. Cardinal Law was forced out in part because priests stood up and said he needed to go. Good priests need to step forward here. Good Catholics need to do the same. That may mean withholding funds. It may mean other forms of protest. It no longer means tolerating those who have enabled or tolerated this disgraceful, terrible mess.


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