The media have spent more than a year telling the world one thing about Bishop Gene Robinson.
Last week, it was the world Episcopal church scolding the American church for tolerating an openly gay bishop. The week before, it was a full-page spread, with charts and graphics, showing how much money he was costing the church.
Archbishop John McCormack of New Hampshire was Cardinal Bernard Law’s personnel director in Boston.
He implemented the cover-up of priests who sexually abused children. He intimidated and blamed victims and their families, and lied and denied through his teeth.
Then, he got promoted to Primate of New Hampshire, where he continued covering up.
But in NH, unlike Mass, there is no statute of limitations on sexual abuse. Mac had to make a deal with the NH attorney general to keep out of jail.
Then he stonewalled for more than a year trying to avoid keeping his part of the bargain.
He still lives in a mansion in Manchester with an administrative staff and house servants tending to all his needs. People still kneel down and kiss his ring.
Every so often, he tries to convince the Legislature to use the state’s police power to force his idea of sexual morality on the rest of us.
Bishop Robinson was elected to his position by the people who had worked with him for years in their church.
McCormick was elected by one person who does not live in the United States.
Honesty does pay; NH bishop should try it
When things get desperate enough, some people will try anything, even honesty.
At a news conference April 19, the Boston Archdiocese, which has paid $150 million in damages so far for priests who abused children, opened all its financial records to reveal a $47 million deficit.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley said the unprecedented action is an effort to prepare people for some painful decisions about cutting services and closing more churches.
He hopes people will start giving money again when they see how bad things really are. The sex scandal has cost them tens of millions in donations, in addition to all those legal damages.
I think the cardinal is on the right track. In the 1970s, when I was director of a church-owned agency facing painful cuts in service (because of runaway inflation, not crimes against children), I found that most people were willing to pay a little more for a little less when we presented the whole picture honestly.
A little honesty by the church a decade or two ago might have prevented some of those lawsuits and maybe prevented this deficit. New Hampshire’s Catholic bishop should try it.
Instead of stonewalling, he should keep his agreement to have the diocese’s sex-abuse policies monitored. Maybe the faithful will stop asking why their spiritual leaders are still covering up when secrecy was so damaging in the past. They might start giving the church money again.
If the bishop doesn’t restore people’s confidence because it’s the right thing to do, and he agreed to it, he should come clean as a fundraising device.