April 02, 2006

A bishop’s failure: Audit shows McCormack is unfit

The Union Leader

WHEN SUPPOSED men of God have to be compelled by the state to protect children, something is terribly wrong.

That is the situation with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester. Last week the state Attorney General’s Office released an audit of the diocese’s compliance with the 2002 settlement agreement in the priest sex abuse scandal. That agreement required the diocese to take numerous steps to protect the children under its supervision. The audit found that although the diocese has made a great deal of progress, it has failed to comply fully with the settlement’s terms.

That is no surprise. The diocese never was as interested in protecting children, as in appearing to protect them. It adopted new procedures because not doing so would have resulted in criminal prosecution. But those procedures were drafted merely to follow the letter of the law. The spirit of the law — the deep-seated desire to shield the innocent from the depraved and the wicked — never found a home in the heart of the diocesian leadership.

One of the many failures cited in the attorney general’s report involved a priest who “did not complete the Safe Environment Screening Program requirements and was later accused of prohibited conduct, as defined by the Church’s Code of Ministerial Conduct.”

In a familiar story, the priest resigned “to seek medical treatment” and was later reinstated by the diocese. He was later found to have accessed pornography, possibly including images depicting children, on a church computer. The audit indicates that the diocese waited months before notifying the attorney general of this conduct, as it was required to do.

Posted by kshaw at April 2, 2006 09:58 AM