NH legislator calls bishop "a pedophile pimp" — UPDATED

It happened on his Facebook page, and was duly reported by the Concord Monitor in New Hampshire:

House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt this morning wrote on his Facebook page that Catholic Bishop John McCormack is a “pedophile pimp” with “absolutely no moral credibility to lecture anyone.”

McCormack spoke yesterday at a State House rally where thousands of demonstrators criticized the state budget proposed by the House of Representatives. McCormack criticized the budget for failing to protect people in need and called caring for the poor “the fundamental requirement of our religious heritage.”

This morning, Bettencourt posted on his personal Facebook page: “Bishop John McCormick (sic) of the Catholic Diocese of NH told the crowd, ‘It’s a moral concern (because) the vulnerable take priority in our society.’ Would the Bishop like to discuss his history of protecting the “vulnerable”? This man is a pedophile pimp who should have been led away from the State House in handcuffs with a rain coat over his head in disgrace. He has absolutely no moral credibility to lecture anyone.”

Bettencourt, a Republican from Salem, said in an interview that he posted the Facebook message because he believes McCormack failed to protect children when he worked in Massachusetts under Cardinal Bernard Law. He said he was not calling McCormack himself a pedophile.

“Bishop McCormack was assigned, when he worked under Cardinal Law, reassigning priests who they had knowledge were sexually abusing children,” Bettencourt said. “What he did is he shuffled them from church to church, knowing that they had this history.”

Bettencourt, a Catholic who said he is a member of the Knights of Columbus, a Catholic men’s group, said in the interview that “I just really took exception to his questioning the things that we tried hard to do, which is to make sure that we cared for those who couldn’t care for themselves.”

He said some constituents could take offense to the posting, but that he was being honest about how he felt. Bettencourt, 27, described Facebook as a “public forum.”

“Are the words harsh?” Bettencourt said. “Sure they’re harsh, but they are deserving, given this man’s role in a very dark period in the church’s history.”

Read the rest.

Evidently, Bettencourt had second thoughts.  The next day, he sent a conciliatory letter to the bishop, quoted in the New Hampshire Journal:

Upon humble reflection, the characterization of my feelings towards your leadership as bishop was at best undiplomatic and a better choice of words was both warranted and appropriate. I pride myself on “calling it as I see it” and standing strong for the things that I believe in. But in this case my frank words detracted from my genuine sentiment, one which is shared by many Catholics in New Hampshire and across the country. All too often, we express the greatest degree of raw emotion when we are hurt, such was the case here.

My comments emanated from the deep hurt brought forward by the damage caused by the sex abuse scandal that engulfed our church, which has resulted in thousands turning their back on the church, particularly for those of my generation. Unfortunately, your role in that scandal has, in my opinion, hurt the Church in ways that will take decades to repair.

As a practicing Catholic myself, I cannot separate your involvement in what has been the darkest period in our Church’s recent history. While ultimately the Lord will judge each of us, many people judge our faith by our leaders and I feel that it why a large number have left the Church.

The rest of his letter can be read here.

UPDATE: Ed Peters has a few choice words on this story:

Bettencourt insulted the bishop with a crude ad hominen attack utterly unconnected to the issue before them, and twice accused the bishop of civilcrimes warranting immediate arrest, namely, pedophilia and pimping. In writing. Politics can occasion some pretty harsh descriptions of one’s opponents, I know, but it should never, ever, excuse an elected leader’s public leveling of plainly criminous accusations against a fellow citizen who disagrees with the politician, absent, at least, immediately proffered evidence that backs up the claim of crimes.

So, does Bettencourt have evidence that McCormack engaged in pedophilia? Does he have evidence that the bishop worked as a pimp? If he does not, then, even though Bettencourt can never erase his vile words, he can at least apologize for them. Immediately.

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34 responses to “NH legislator calls bishop "a pedophile pimp" — UPDATED”

  1. More on Bishop McCormack’s background:

    1) New Hampshire chapter of Voice of the Faithful called for resignation of Bishop John B McCormack and deputy Bishop Francis Christian because of their handling of sexual abuse of children by priests; group sends letter to Pope John Paul II.

    2) Diocese Plans To Shut Home Of Its Bishop After Suits.

    Diocese of Manchester will close New Hampshire residence of Bishop John B McCormack to help offset legal costs for sexual abuse cases and drop in donations.

    3) Bishop John B McCormack of Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester, NH, apologizes to group of men who accuse him of allowing abusive priests to remain in ministry when he was top official at Archdiocese of Boston; 13 men say they were abused by Rev Joseph Birmingham as youths.

    4) Bishop John B McCormack, former top official of Boston archdiocese, acknowledges in deposition that he refused to inform parishioners that priests in their churches had been accused of child molestation, fearing it would create ‘scandal’; says he also worried that public announcement would discourage people from coming forward; he had been urged to reveal information by outreach coordinator, Sister Catherine E Mulkerrin, after highly publicized molestation case involving Rev James Porter.

  2. If Bettencourt takes his Catholicism seriously, that comes with a certain set of requirements from Jesus about how to proceed with fraternal correction. He should also consult Jesus on how the measure he measures out to others will be measured to him on the last day.

    He also needs a lesson or two about forgiveness and mercy. As Jesus said of Mary Magdalene, “She loves much because she has been forgiven much.” Peter denied Jesus three times. He wasn’t stripped of his papal authority.

    So what is Bishop McCormack supposed to do? Not address injustice because of his past sins? If that’s the case, the Church would be leaderless and rudderless. Where do we draw the line? My understanding is that the line runs through the Confessional.

    Bettencourt is 27 and hasn’t had much exposure to the corrupting influence of the world. Having eviscerated his bishop as he has so very publicly, he has established a pretty high bar for himself as a public official. He has also disgraced himself as a Knight of Columbus, and I say that as a Fourth Degree Knight. Past sins are not the same as current injustices.

    On the last day, Bettencourt will appeal to God for the mercy and forgiveness he has been so quick to deny Bishop McCormack. I wish him luck.

  3. Standing up to injustice = Disgrace as Knight of Columbus. So marks the mind of a modern Catholic.

    Bishop McCormack admits publicly that he covered up abuse by pedophile priests. His congregation wanted him to resign, his home is sold off to cover costs of lawsuits, the Catholic church loses millions of dollars to fund costly lawsuits, and the good Bishop refuses to resign.

    Yet, the man who calls a spade a spade is the disgrace?

  4. 1) Bishop McCormack graduated in 1960 from St. John’s seminary in Boston, where his schoolmates included at least six men later accused as serial pedophiles, among them the Rev. Paul R. Shanley.

    2) In depositions this fall, Bishop John B. McCormack said he knew the Rev. Roland Cote had had sex with a teen-age boy but noted that the boy was not a parishioner.

    “You know, one is an activity where you have a trusted relationship with a parishioner. The other is an activity where you’re away from the parish and you’re off on your own,” McCormack said in depositions obtained by The Associated Press on Monday. “I’m very concerned about that; he was a young person. But it’s quite different from being with a parishioner.”


    3) As recently as June, McCormack reassigned a priest to a parish even though the priest admitted having sex with a teenage boy in the 1980s and the diocese was arranging a secret financial settlement.

    When the settlement was revealed, McCormack bluntly explained that he had decided to keep the Rev. Ronald P. Cote in ministry because “it was not anticipated that this would be public.” Parishioners were outraged, newspapers editorialized for McCormack to resign and protesters who picketed against Law said they would begin demonstrating at St. Joseph Cathedral in Manchester.


  5. Bettencourt is absolutely right. One may not like the way he put things, as he readily admits in his letter, but he is absolutely right. What moral credibility does the Bishop have? As faithful Catholics, we are called to respect the Bishops but we can still call them out when they are out of line. “Rid the Church of it’s filth” as the Pope said!

  6. If what the poster “George” has said is in fact true, then I can understand why House Leader Bettencourt would ;say that the bishop has lost his moral authority. Yes, Peter denied Christ three times and was forgiven but he then went on to persecuted and eventually martyred, yes?

    As much as we may wish it to be otherwise, the Church is often judged by the actions of its all-too-human leadership and, thereby, found wanting. It is sad that the very real and important message that Bishop McCormack was given was drowned out by the focus on his actions but, unfortunately, “his actions speak so loudly, we cannot hear his words” . Those who would set themselves up as moral leaders need to lead lives that are as clean as possible. We are all sinners and we all make mistakes but that does not excuse enabling child abuse – whether the child is a parisioner or not

  7. Bishop McCormack is a disgrace to the Church and a disgrace to the episcopacy, and this has been clear for years to anyone who has followed the abuse crisis in Boston. Anyone who did what Bishop McCormack did should have had the decency to resign as a bishop. Instead, he thumbed his nose at all the people he hurt in the Boston archdiocese and went on to then totally mismanage the diocese of New Hampshire.

  8. While what Bettencourt said might or might not have been true, putting down the Bishop on Facebook the way he did doesn’t say much for his maturity level. Public personal attacks on a person when what that person is saying is not to one’s liking – come on!

  9. Argue the issue on its merits and don’t resort to “whatever (the opposition) says is meaningless because he did such-and-such.” Don’t react like a child and say “I don’t have to listen to you. You have no right to say anything. You can’t lecture me.” Instead, say “The bill is not unjust. It does not neglect the vulnerable because…” If you respond in this manner, you attack the issue based on the facts. If you attack the messenger, you then left all the others who agree with the Bishop still maintaining their position. Maybe the representative tried to argue the issue on its merits but that was lost in his condemnation of the bishop.

  10. George,

    I’m not familiar with the issue of McCormack and the particulars of the case against him. My issue with Bettencourt has more to do with the manner in which he went after McCormack, a manner that even prompted Bettencourt to tone down the vitriol and write an apology letter for hsi tone, but not the substance.

    As for guilt by association, what of the other members of the class of 1960?

    A curiosity in all of this is why Pope Benedict and the U.S. Bishops have not acted regarding McCormack. Benedict was the one to begin draining the swamp when JP II was in his infirmity, and has been very proactive during his own pontificate. If McCormack is guilty of half the things that you say, then he needs to be laicized. Period.

    However, given the fact that the media and public steadfastly refuse to take on the pedophilia of over 99% of the victims whose perpetrators are NOT Catholic clergy, I’m inclined to slam on the brakes when a priest or deacon is put in the spotlight. I question the motives of those who insist on a Catholic-only focus. Of the thousands of children I worked with in Times Square for seven years, not one ever claimed to be abused by a priest. Not one. That squares with all of the sociological and criminal data on child sexual abuse.

    The Knights of Columbus have a chain of command for addressing such concerns in a manner that respects the dignity of Holy Orders and demands truth and justice be served.

    If as a legislator Bettencourt is as concerned about pedophilia in the Catholic heirarchy, he would receive a fair and favorable hearing with the Papal Nuncio and Archbishop Dolan, who heads the Bishop’s Conference.

    As a legislator, will Bettencourt take on the schools, where the Catholic numbers are trivial by comparison? That’s my litmus test for a genuine concern for protecting children vs. Catholic bashing. It’s easy to pile on the Church, because most of the problem has been exposed and resolved. But where are the noble champions of the other 99% of children who are victims of pedophilia?

  11. Gerard N. –

    “The issue of McCormack and the particulars of the case against him” were national news for a painfully long time, supporting years of demands that he resign. His pre-trial testimony in Boston in 2002 about his 10 years of carrying out Law’s coverup was illuminating:
    McCormack earned a reputation second only to Law’s for what he inflicted on the Faithful of Boston.

    It is hardly curious anymore that Pope Benedict and the U.S. Bishops have not acted regarding McCormack. They presumably act in accordance with their values and priorities, and they don’t do that sort of thing.

  12. @ Gerard Nadal

    Since you have never taken the time to actually read the is history of this case before rendering your opinion, I will fill in the blank spots.

    “what of the other members of the class of 1960?”

    The kind Bishop was in charge of discipline of his seminary friends which allowed them to escape prosecution and abuse more children.

    The congregation contacted the Vactican to get this Bishop removed and they were ignored.

    This legislator is Catholic himself so by your standard he is prohibited from exercising his freedom of speech to criticize his own church.

    The Knights of Columbus also have a long history of covering for problems priests and abuse by their own members.

    “Knights of Columbus want sex abuse cases dismissed”

    “the Knights of Columbus concealed the report of abuse and intimidated the victim into not making the abuse public”

    “On Dec. 14, the Miami law firm Mermelstein & Horowitz filed two lawsuits against the Knights national organization and its leader, Supreme Knight Carl Anderson, alleging that Julian Rivera, who worked as a leader in Columbian Squires youth program in Brownsville, Texas, sexually abused two boys in the 1970s.”


  13. George — the NYT article you linked was dated December 2002. The stuff with Fr. Cote you’re talking about happened nine years ago. When you say, “As recently as June,” you should say, “As recently as June, 2002,” — not exactly ongoing. And, as the story says, the other party was 18 when the affair started. This was apparently before the Dallas standards were adopted, or he’d have had to suspend Fr. Cote, just as Fr. Corapi has been suspended.

    Of course, no priest should be having an affair with anyone, much less a young man, but this incident is not an example of Bishop McCormack covering up for a child abuser.

    Bishop McCormack did not do a good job in his position from 194 to 1994. From what I’ve read, some of it stems from an apparently sincere belief that guilty priests admitted what they had done, resulting in his taking denials as true. There also seems also to have been a desire to prevent general knowledge of the facts when a priest was a known abuser. And for a fair amount of his time in the position in Boston, people really believed that reassigning a priest would make it possible for him to avoid the sinful activity he had committed in his previous assignment. He’s a good example of what went wrong in the Church to allow the abuse to continue and spread as it did, but as incompetent and mistaken as he was (along with many others around the country), I don’t believe he actually wanted to let the abuse continue.

  14. If Bishop McCormack was speaking at a political public rally, there is nothing wrong with responding publically.

    The Bishop may have violated the restrictions on Religious that he is required to adhere to regarding political involvement. CCC 2245, 2246.

    If indeed the Bishop is a “pedophile pimp” and this is known in his Diocese, the truth has been spoken. (Lies are never permitted.) The Bishop should be removed from his position and he should be placed on administrative leave until an investigation is completed.
    The Bishop has no expertise in State or Federal budgets.

    Church officials must realize that when the Federal Government and/or States are in dire financial straights due to severe debt – both the taxpayers and poor will suffer.
    What the Bishop should have been doing is tell those in his Diocese to help the poor according to their ability and the Church Doctrine of “subsidiarity” -CCC 1883, 1885, 1894, 2209.

    Just like individuals, the States and the Federal Government have a responsibility to pay their debts. Not paying their debts is – Stealing and violates the 7th Commandment.
    The debts and spending of most States (and the Federal Government) is out of control, and unsustainable by US taxpayers.

  15. There is never any excuse for sexual sins against children or anyone else – at any level of the Church.

    Bishops are required to follow the “Catechism of the Catholic Church”, Second Edition just like the rest of us.
    He should not have been involved in a public political process. He has no special competance in State or Federal budgeting (CCC 2245 & 2246).

    States and the US Government have severe financial problems due to current & past overspending.
    This does effect all taxpayers and the poor. Being able for States to pay their debts should be the concern of all, and we should be greatful that some Legislators are trying to solve the problems to the best of their ability.

    Rather than being part of the problem (spend, spend, spend) Bishops should strive to help the Legislators solve the spending problem by suggesting alternate ways to support the poor in their Diocese.

    As said before the Bishop should tell those who are able in his Diocese to help the real poor (not the lazy). – This is our individual responsibility under “Subsidiarity” as stated in the CCC.
    If you can’t afford dollars, help in a soup kitchen or food distribution center. Give unneeded clothing and shoes to St. Vincent de Paul Society. Help in Habitat for Humanity for housing. Have a garage sale and give the proceeds to a local Catholic Charity (not the Diocese to pay for their sins).
    We all can do something to help the real poor, and to make certain that our dollars help the poor, rather than being spent on administration costs of larger organizations.

    Support your Federal and State Legislators to get spending under control. We need balanced budgets.

  16. Thank you to the poster who provided these links to remind us of the issues which included public admissions and testimony under oath by the Bishop.


    No wonder the Bishop does not promote the owning and reading of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition” by all Catholics over age 15 in his Diocese.

    CCC – “1868 Sin is a personal act. Moreover, we have a responsibility for the sins committed by others when we cooperate in them:
    – by participating directly and voluntarily in them;
    – by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them;
    – by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so;
    – by protecting evil-doers.”


    CCC – ” 1869 Thus sin makes men accomplices of one another and causes concupiscence, violence, and injustice to reign among them. Sins give rise to social situations and institutions that are contrary to the divine goodness. “Structures of sin” are the expression and effect of personal sins. They lead their victims to do evil in their turn. In an analogous sense, they constitute a “social sin. “

  17. Edward — what is the source of your information that Bishop McCormack “does not promote the owning and reading of the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition” by all Catholics over age 15 in his Diocese?” Or is it just a libel that you invented based on your own rash judgment?

  18. George,

    I write under my full, legal name. I own every word of what I say and do not hide behind pseudonyms. Your characterizations of Bishop McCormack have been less than forthright, as have your allegations concerning Carl Anderson.

    Your words might have more heft if you were to write under your full, legal name so your targets could sue you for the characterizations that are either the result of sloppiness and lack of intellectual rigor, or just plain viciousness on your part.

    As one who has worked for years with street kids, many of whom spent years as teens working as prostitutes, I know genuine concern for children when I see it, and when I see oportunistic bottom-feeders with an axe to grind.

    Get well soon.

  19. “I know genuine concern for children when I see it, and when I see oportunistic (sic) bottom-feeders with an axe to grind.”

    Once again, Gerard, you have muddied the waters with an unnecessary and unproductive “ad hominen” comment.

  20. naturgesetz, I tried to answer your question, with examples for documentation, but got an automatic response about being “spammy” which is was not.
    I will try one more time.

  21. HMS,

    You call the waters prior to my assessment clean and clear?! George claimed that six members of the class of 1960 raped children, therefore McCormack is what?

    What of the swipe at the Knights of Columbus?

    The neglect of mentioning his recent case being nine years old?

    Please. Be serious.

  22. Sorry naturgesetz, I was going to send you direct document links for ease of reading but this web site still will not allow it (spammy).
    I was also trying to send you some other Diocese web sites links that do promulgate the CCC for comparison.

    First of all the Bishop does not have a link to the CCC on his Diocese web page, and has not asked his Pastors to do this.
    (I wrote to him in 2010 about this.)

    His RCIA classes do not use the CCC – the only catechism from the Magisterium (guaranteed accurate), or the “Compendium Catechism of the Catholic Church” promulgated by Pope Benedict in 2006.

  23. 1) “Your characterizations of Bishop McCormack have been less than forthright.”

    False. They are not my characterizations but documented accounts with facts and dates. I did not make up the rapes and cover ups, it’s available to you in court records in black and white.

    Just give me the text you have a problem with and I will give you the citation.

    a) It is funny that you say I claimed, “six members of the class of 1960 raped children”, it’s not a claim, or an exaggeration, or an embellishment. It is a hard core historical fact. You can pretend it did not happen, but it did.

    “McCormack was a member of the St. John’s Seminary class of 1960. So were Joseph E. Birmingham, Paul R. Shanley, Bernard J. Lane, and James D. Foley. And when those priests were accused of misconduct, they found a firm ally at the chancery in McCormack.

    “Sometimes friendships blind you,” said the Rev. Paul W. Berube, a close friend and 1960 classmate of McCormack’s. “Joe Birmingham was a friend. There is no objectivity among friends.”

    Birmingham’s accusers charge McCormack with being an enabler of his abuse. James M. Hogan of Wilmington, Del., says Birmingham took him to his rectory bedroom in Salem in the 1960s. Hogan said he is certain McCormack, who was then assigned to the parish, saw Birmingham taking him into his bedroom.

    “McCormack was a witness,” Hogan said last week. “This guy knew what was going on.”

    McCormack has denied that he ever saw Birmingham, who died in 1989, take boys into his rectory bedroom. Last week, McGee, McCormack’s spokesman, said the bishop has no recollection of what Hogan asserts. Back then, McGee said, McCormack had no suspicions about Birmingham.

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


    b) It is not a ‘swipe’ at the Knights of Columbus, it is another fact that they Knights are being sued for abuse and coverup. You may not like it, but it is happening.


    2) I applaud you for trying to help endangered youth. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

  24. Gerard Nadal et al. –

    In 2011, there’s no need to hypothesize about McCormack and debate about whether he earned Bettencourt’s harsh but rather accurate label.

    Highlights of McCormac’s role in the long-running Boston clerical abuse operations, with links, are at:

    The Boston Globe landmark site provides voluminous documents and information, including a long list of story links below pictures of Law and McCormack at:

    A quick summary about the notorious seminary Class of 1960 – abusers and McCormack:

    One difficult question is why two Popes have left him enthroned as a Roman Catholic Bishop. What matters?

  25. Thanks, Edward.

    While I wouldn’t be sure that the reason for his inaction on this optional matter is motivated by a desire to avoid having the faithful read those paragraphs — in fact I doubt it — I’m glad to know that you have actual knowledge of the situation.

    The site is kind of funny about what it allows people to post and what it doesn’t allow. Thanks for being persistent.

  26. Jack,

    You ask the same penetrating question that I do. Benedict has been very proactive as both Cardinal and Pope, so this issue of Bishop McCormack remaining in Office is incongruous.


    Just because the Knights are being sued does not mean that they are guilty of anything. With over $14 Billion in the insurance fund, we make an appealing target. You are jumping the gun.

    As for the guilt by association, how many Bishops have had classmates who were predators whom they did not protect?

    Are you a Catholic who supports the Magisterium?

  27. Gerald — “You ask the same penetrating question that I do. Benedict has been very proactive as both Cardinal and Pope, so this issue of Bishop McCormack remaining in Office is incongruous.”

    Perhaps the Vatican is able to distinguish between actual abusers and unwitting enablers and considers Bishop McCormack the latter. Perhaps the Vatican removes bishops for wrongdoing, but not for mistakes or poor judgment.

  28. People really need to stop using sources like the Boston Globe, and the NY Times, to attack preists and Bishops. They both have a deeply rooted hatred towards Catholics and the Catholic Church’s teachings. And they are both spoon fed their stories by organizations like SNAP and lawyers like Jeff Anderson, who have made millions from suing the Church.

  29. As for the reliability of these news outlets. From the Boston Globe, Patricia Smith and Mike Barnicle were caught falsifying quotes and plagiarizing. Barbar Smith had falsified accounts of a seal hunt, that didn’t take place. At the NYT Maureen Dowd (another Catholic Judas) was busted for plagiarism and of course there was the Jayson Blair plagiarism/cover-up. The NYT’s top religious reporter – Laurie Goodstein is a jew – who knows very little about the Catholic faith, and her stories feature nearly verbatim accounts of SNAP press releases.

    But I suppose if your only purpose here is to attack the Catholicism, then the reliability of sources hardly matters. Copying and pasting any old google search will suffice.

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