"Pedophile pimp" fallout: NH pol wants to meet with bishop

And after sparking headlines over the weekend, he says he will not resign over words that he now describes as “inartful.”

Details, in the Concord Monitor:

New Hampshire House Majority Leader David J. Bettencourt said he regrets calling the Catholic bishop of Manchester a “pedophile pimp” and has asked for a meeting with the Catholic leader to personally apologize for his “inartful” words.

But Bettencourt, 28, a practicing Catholic in his fourth term as a state representative from Salem, said he still has “strong opinions” on Bishop John B. McCormack and his ability to lead New Hampshire’s 290,000 Catholics because of his role in the clergy sexual abuse scandal.

Bettencourt, who is also a law student, said he has been receiving support from fellow Republican lawmakers and would not step down from his leadership post if asked to do so.

Many readers of UnionLeader.com also supported Bettencourt and told him not to apologize for anything. Patrick O’Malley of Nashua wrote: “Don’t back down … He’s a disgrace.”

But Bettencourt said the words fall below his standards, and he wants to “refocus” attention on the issues of the Legislature.

He said he’s also shut down his Facebook page, where he had posted the comments.

“Everybody needs to take a step back, calm down and humbly reflect,” he told reporters at a meeting at the State House majority leader’s office Monday.

“The terms I used were not appropriate for someone in my position and I take full responsibility for that,” Bettencourt said. “A man of God should not be addressed in that fashion.”

“Most regrettably, my comments were seen as an attack on the church and Catholics throughout New Hampshire. Nothing could have been further from my intentions. And to my fellow Catholics, I offer my sincere apology,” he said. “I failed to … separate the man from the church.”

You can read more here.

Also, local Catholics in New Hampshire have a few things to say on the subject.

Comments

  1. Mr Flapatap says:

    “Practicing Catholic”? Does that mean in mediaspeak that he was baptized as a child? Does that mean a “3-B” Catholic (Baptisms, Bridals, and Burials)?

    Has to be less than “devout” which usually means that he/she goes to Mass once a year on Christmas day.

    [Mr. F ... with Bettencourt, it appears that it's a bit more than that. He's also a member of the Knights of Columbus. Dcn. G.]

  2. You can be a member of the Knights of Columbus and still be an A&P Catholic

  3. Holly Hansen says:

    I will admit this is a partisan political observation. Republicans like the bishops when they slam Catholic Democrats on the abortion issue. They dislike the bishop’s when they speak out on immigration and social programs for the poor. All in all it isn’t easy being a bishop.

  4. Deacon Bill says:

    I’m disappointed by the judgments being made here in the comments.

    Why can’t we take things as the come on this? There’s a 28 year old law student, serving as a State legislator, who made an inappropriate comment about the bishop. He’s acknowledged that mistake and apologized for that language. He wants to see the bishop.

    Why does “practicing” raise concerns about his orthodoxy or the depth of his commitment to faith and church? Would you rather the description be that he is “inactive” or “non-practicing”? Why can’t a fully engaged and faithful Catholic make such a comment and then apologize for it?

    As we say in the Navy, “Take an even strain. . . .”

    God bless,

    Deacon Bill

  5. Deacon Bill,

    You’re right on all counts. Bettencourt needs to have this meeting with the bishop. He needs to encounter him as a human being and not a depersonalized function or role.

    Speaking on another thread as a brother Knight of Columbus, I said that Bettencourt disgraced himself as a Knight in speaking as he has. This is a chance at redemption and maturation. A very proactive Pope has left him in office, and that tells me something.

    I hope that Bettencourt makes the most of this opportunity.

  6. He still doesn’t get it. He thinks he needs to separate the man from the Church. But, golly, it was his words about THE MAN that were outrageous. He called THE MAN a pedophile pimp. Flatly false, and per se libellous.

    Great scot.

  7. Unapologetic Catholic says:

    “Flatly false, and per se libellous”

    Truth is an absolute defense to a defamation action and that truth will be decided by a jury. My recommendation is: “Don’t file that lawsuit.”

  8. “Practicing Catholic” In other words, he shows his face in Church when election time rolls around. The Bishop should ex-communicate him till he learns some respect towards his Church and fellow Catholics.

    Did he think for a moment and realize that his statement brought out all the haters again to attack our Church? Did he realize that the cases of abuse took place before McCormack was brought in? What is Bettencourt doing to stop the abuse that is taking right now in public schools and foster homes, and broken families? He is just like Seth Williams (D.A. Philadelphia), they use their power to attack their own Church.

    As for the Knights of Columbus, they are supposed to be defenders of the faith. But all they are is a bunch of old foggies who dress up in stupid hats, and run bake sales and raffles. No one under 50 even wants to be associated with them, they are such an embarrasment. So if he is in that organization, it is only for political gain.

  9. Ray:

    I am sure that if you read the Philadelphia Grand Jury Report on Clergy Abuse (2011) and also the various comments of the District Attorney, Seth Williams, you will realize how unfair your comment about Seth Williams is.

    For example:
    He has been quoted in an interview in the local newspaper:
    “I told the cardinal, I said, ‘Your Eminence, I hope you know I don’t take pleasure in doing things that in any way have a negative impact on the church. I have to do what I was elected to do, and I believe there is probable cause to hold [the indicted priests] accountable to secular society.”

    He has been criticized by some Philadelphians for

    1- having deferred the announcement a week so as not to interfere with Catholic Schools Week when “the kids are cleaning up their churches and schools to market them so that people who might want to go to school can come and see.”

    2- for having informed the Cardinal of his announcement of the Grand Jury Report ahead of time.

    Others have questioned his ability to prosecute members of his church, particularly because he is an active and devout member and owing to the fact that he had previously worked for a law firm that is the principal firm representing the archdiocese.

  10. HMS,

    I am hardly being unfair to Seth Williams. He is a material opportunist, riding the popular wave of Catholic Bigotry to further his political career. If his main concern was the safety of children WHY ARE CATHOLIC PRIESTS HIS ONLY TARGET? Why is he wading through 20 and 30 year old cases when he could be focusing on preventing new cases of abuse amongst public school teachers, sports coaches, step fathers, members of other clergy? This is the second witchhunt the city of Philadelphia has orchestrated against the Church, while there has yet to be any investigation against any other segment of society. If you think these sex abuse cases are not being driven by money and greed you are wrong. Seth is a Judas who has sold out his faith, for his 30 pieces of silver, and Bettencourt is no better.

    I had thought better of the people of Philadelphia. New Hampshire; a state that did not allow Catholics to run for office until 1877, its pretty much par for the course. They should both be ex-communicated for their actions.

  11. The Bishop was there to defend program cuts that would hurt the poor and needy. Programs that Bettencourt mercilessly wanted to slash. This had nothing to do with sex crimes. Bettencourt used this viscious and calculated attack to discredit his political opponent. He is no Catholic in my book. He is a viscious, ignorant punk! He doesn’t even have the decency to be a man and appologize. The best he could do is say it was “inartful”????? And as evidenced by posts through out the internet he has rallied all the haters and Catholic Bashers, who use the sex scandals to legitimize their bigotry. Bettencourt is a disgrace. His lack of concern for the poor, his lack of respect for the Church, and his lack of civility as a public leader.

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