The Worst Still-Serving Bishop in the US
John McCormack of New Hampshire. Where to begin? Where to begin? This disastrous bishop was, until he resigned from it, actually the head of the bishops’ commission or task force or committee or Kavalcade of Klowns or whatever it was on, you guessed it, sexual abuse. Think of it! This…man… (whose grotesque record is described here and here and whose deposition is excerpted here) was the guy in charge of dealing with sexual abuse for the American episcopacy. This bishop who could detect nothing amiss in Shanley’s advocacy and practice of “man boy love”. This man who is responsible for the rape and abuse of a grotesque number of children.
Now, of course, he finds life is much harder–and it is a cause for much whining. And, unlike Law (whose flickering sense of dim awareness that he did a Bad Thing seems to have been dimly sputtering back to life before his resignation), McCormack seems to be much more resistant, so far, to the proposition that he’s got something to learn here. Even in the midst of the catastrophe to which he made so many rich and varied contributions, he has persisted in calling his egregious sins “mistakes” (the first line of defense for the morally obtuse), kicked out a decent priest under dubious circumstances and (most incredibly) replaced him with yet another gay priest who had (you guessed it) admitted to a sexual affair with a teenager. When he encountered ferocious protests from the parish for this unbelievably stupid act, he actually yelled back at them. He’s also dealt with his troubles by urging everybody to look at all the good things he did. And most recently, he has graced us with this magnificent example of moral reasoning untroubled by actual reference to the Catholic Faith:
McCormack says he sees a difference between abuse by a priest of a parishioner and other abuse:
Q. … Why does that make a difference?
A. It makes a big difference, I think, that a – you know, that a person uses his office to take advantage of a parishioner is very different from a person who, on his day off, [was] involved in sexual misconduct with a person that he picked up in an automobile …
Q. You think there’s a big difference?
A. There’s a big difference in the type of activity. … 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 and whatever was going on that day he picked up this person and engaged in a sexual activity, and I’m very concerned about that, he was a young person and that he did it in that instance, but it’s quite different from being with a parishioner. …
I sincerely hope that Bp. McCormack’s flock makes life an absolute living hell for him. When people are deaf, you shout, says Flannery O’Connor. This man needs, I think, high levels of suffering and there’s nothing like having thousands of pissed-off sheep to provide that for a bureaucratic moral cipher like him. I doubt very much whether he will remain in his office very much longer. But while he’s there, he needs to see and grasp what a horrendously bad bishop he is–if only for his own soul’s sake.
Update: Dom Bettinelli does a nice fisk of McCormack’s deposition. I may start a pool on how long he will remain as bishop. I shall be quite surprised if he’s there by year’s end, but my crystal ball is still on the fritz, so I could be wrong.