Wednesday, June 08, 2005

An enabler of child molesters is scheduled to preside over a Catholic high school graduation Mass in New Hampshire tonight, and a few malcontents actually think that's a bad idea:

MANCHESTER -- Nearly half of Trinity High School's graduating class signed a petition asking that Catholic Bishop John McCormack not celebrate tomorrow's baccalaureate Mass, a student who was part of the effort said.

The petition led to a meeting Friday at the school between McCormack and about 35 students, said Trinity's principal and senior Katie Bartlett....

Bartlett said she and some friends collected the signatures of 50 seniors, out of a class [principal Denis] Mailloux tabbed at 112...

Damn juvenile delinquents!

Of course, their petition was rejected:

Last night, the Rev. Edward Arsenault, a spokesman for the Manchester Diocese McCormack heads, said the bishop plans to celebrate the Mass. It will be held at 7 p.m. at Abbey Church at St. Anselm College in Goffstown.

"He doesn't go to baccalaureate Masses because he is picked," Arsenault said. "He goes because it's his ministry."

McCormack treated the kids like something he found stuck to his shoe:

Bartlett said the hour-long discussion left her feeling even worse than before. She said McCormack was combative and would not directly answer questions about his past.

"We were left without any answers. He avoided questions and he was rude at times," Bartlett said. "We would ask him questions and he'd yell, 'Prove it. Show me the evidence.'"

As The Boston Globe noted in 2003, that's pretty much how he treated people concerned about sexual abuse when he was working in Boston -- though he was much nicer to many of the molestors:

 As [Cardinal Bernard] Law's secretary for ministerial personnel, McCormack's practice was to confer directly with an accused priest, but he frequently heard the victim's story only by proxy, through an aide's written report. When he did come face-to-face with victims, McCormack sometimes reacted to their charges skeptically, and even dismissively. In one case, he told a parent that a priest could not have molested children, when he knew otherwise.

He gently directed accused priests to lawyers and therapists and seemed especially solicitous of his seminary classmates, sometimes clearing the way for their return to ministry despite evidence in church files about their sexual misconduct....

A couple of examples:

McCormack has acknowledged that about 1970, when he was regional director of Catholic Charities, he was warned by several parents that [Father Joseph] Birmingham had molested children at St. James in Salem. He said he referred the parents to Birmingham's pastor but did nothing else.

In 1987, when the father of a 13-year-old altar boy serving with Birmingham wrote a letter asking whether Birmingham was the same priest who had previously been removed from another parish because of a sexual abuse allegation, McCormack's answer was evasive. "There is absolutely no factual basis to your concern," McCormack wrote back....

Asked why he did not tell the concerned father that his son was indeed serving with the same Father Birmingham, McCormack said, "I can't explain why I didn't tell the full story. ..."

In 1988, Peter Pollard, who says he was molested by the Rev. George Rosenkranz at Star of the Sea parish in Marblehead in the mid-1960s, met with McCormack soon after reporting his alleged abuse to the archdiocese. But McCormack told Pollard he had found nothing to justify removing the priest from ministry. McCormack said Rosenkranz merely had "sexual issues," adding that what Pollard viewed as abuse -- acts that included kissing and Rosenkranz's request that he masturbate in front of him -- may simply have been expressions of affection, according to Pollard. "I was stunned," Pollard recalled....

And he was quite kind to one of the worst of the priests, Paul Shanley:

It was McCormack who carried on a friendly correspondence with Shanley, even though he knew Shanley had publicly endorsed sex between men and boys. In 1991, he visited Shanley, now awaiting trial on three counts of child rape, in California, where Shanley and another priest later operated a clothing-optional gay motel.

In one deposition, a plaintiff's attorney asked McCormack about the friendly phrasing in one of his letters to Shanley in which he marveled at the priest's ability to "maintain your sense of humor in the midst of your difficulties."

McCormack said he was simply trying to supply pastoral support. "If you read the letter, you know all the complaints that he had and yet he maintained a sense of humor, and I guess my sense is that I was trying to be supportive of that so that he didn't get any more, for want of a word, depressed," the bishop testified.

I occasionally go to the Web site of the Cardinal Newman Society, which relentlessly monitors the commencements of Catholic colleges, looking for speakers who support abortion rights, embryonic stem-cell research, emergency contraception, non-emergency contraception, gay marriage and/or civil unions, and the ordination of women.

Oddly, the appearance at a Catholic high school commencement ceremony of a pedophilia cover-up conspirator doesn't seem to bother these folks.

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