McCormack should spend retirement in prison

Last modified: Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Between 1992 and 2004, I was the principal attorney for victims in the Boston clergy abuse scandal. I have represented well over 400 victims of clergy abuse; more than 250 individuals who were abused by priests of the Boston Archdiocese. I was the lead negotiator in the historic $85 million settlement with the Boston Archdiocese. I took countless days of depositions of Cardinal Bernard Law and Bishop John McCormack. We were able to obtain, for the first time ever, the secret archival documents that every diocese is required to retain, on matters relating to 'scandal.'

I could not disagree with New Hampshire Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt more on the Republican cuts to the budget. As a professor at Plymouth State University, I organized protests against those cuts. But I disagree with the Monitor that Bettencourt's choice of words, admittedly coarse but factually accurate, should have caused him to resign ('Coarse talk sullies House's reputation,' editorial, April 5). I might not have used the term 'pedophile pimp' to describe the bishop but, stated simply, the facts are clear and unequivocal to support this assertion.

McCormack placed perverted, child-molesting priests into unsuspecting parishes throughout the Archdiocese of Boston. He did so on numerous occasions. He knew that these priests had molested children. As an intelligent person (I met with him at the chancery when he invited me over to 'commiserate' over the Father Porter case), he knew that pedophile priests were at high risk to do it again. For example, he placed Father Joseph Birmingham in parishes where he repeatedly raped young boys. Our firm represented more than 50 of his victims. Internal church documents show that McCormack was aware many years earlier that Birmingham was feasting on innocent young boys. And there were many other 'Father Birminghams' who were enabled by McCormack.

McCormack was on New Hampshire Public Radio on Thursday saying that he is sorry for what he did in Boston, while at the same time calling for more Catholics to return to the Church. He was center stage at the protest for the budget cuts, stating that they would wreak havoc on the most vulnerable. He has no credibility when advocating for the weak and vulnerable; the same people he turned his back on for so many years.

Feeling sorry is not enough. McCormack was not there to pick up the pieces of the lives he destroyed; the lives that were fractured and broken; the victims who are now dead from some of the predictable consequences of child abuse - drug overdoses and suicide. He has no moral authority to ask for forgiveness from the many loyal Catholic families, some of them the parents of victims, who are now in their 70s and 80s and have completely lost their faith. There is nothing wrong with the Catholic religion; I worked closely with Catholic Charities in raising funds to help the families who lost loved ones on 9/11. But there is something wrong with McCormack.

When people knowingly and repeatedly put children in harm's way and allow them to be raped and molested, we hold them responsible; we put them in prison. And that is where he should spend his retirement.

(Roderick MacLeish is an assistant visiting professor at Plymouth State University.)