BANGOR – Bishop Richard J. Malone has reversed his position on keeping secret the names of priests removed from ministry due to accusations of sexual abuse before June 2002.
Previously, Malone publicly identified priests only after the Vatican had adjudicated their cases and disciplined them.
This makes the Roman Catholic Diocese of Portland one of 15 of the 195 dioceses in the country that have a policy of releasing the names of priests whose sex abuse cases are pending in Rome.
Malone named four diocesan priests who have been removed from ministry but whose names have not been released previously. He declined to name the communities where they are living. They are the Revs. George W. Beaudet, 67, of Maine; Frederick A. Carrigan, 72, who lives out of state; Michael L. Plourde, 56, of Maine; and Ronald N. Michaud, 60, of Maine.
The bishop said at a press conference Saturday at St. John’s Catholic Church in Bangor that because it was taking the Vatican so long to act, he had become increasingly concerned about the potential risk of a re-offense in the cases of former priests who had not been identified to the public.
That fear became a reality last year for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Wilmington, Del., when a 77-year-old priest removed from ministry in 1993 but whose name had not been made public was arrested in Syracuse, N.Y., on charges of sexually abusing a boy there over a five-year period.
“Because of that, I have consulted at length with my advisers,” Malone said, ” and I am now convinced that the time has come to release the names of the remaining priests who were removed from ministry due to abuse allegations, whose offenses were admitted or sufficiently established.”
Members of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests criticized Malone, saying that his releasing the names did not go far enough. The organization called for the bishop to tell the public where the men are living.
“Kids will be safe when we know who the perpetrators are and where they are living,” Harvey Paul of Windham, the S.N.A.P. coordinator of Maine, said in a press release e-mailed Friday to reporters. “The first line of defense in protecting vulnerable children from sexual predators is identification and notification.
“If Bishop Malone is serious about protecting kids,” he continued, “he will publish the names and whereabouts of all priests and church workers who have been credibly accused of abusing children on the diocesan Web site.”
Malone said Saturday that the diocese has notified law enforcement officials in the communities where the men live.
“The church is not a sex abuse registry as is the state,” he said. “The church has its way of proceeding and the state has its way, and I don’t think there’s any law enforcement agency that would release the names and addresses of people who have been accused but have not been convicted of crimes. Some of them have been accused but not convicted.
“None of these men use aliases, so I don’t think it’s that difficult for the people in a given community to find individuals if they choose to do that,” he added.
Malone again apologized to victims and others harmed by the scandal. He also encouraged those who have been victims of clergy sexual abuse to report it to the diocese or the police.
“I pray each day, and I hope you will join me, to ask that our heavenly father will give us the wisdom, strength and resolve to confront the crimes and sins of the past without fear,” he said Saturday. “Only by admitting failures and taking corrective action can trust and moral credibility be restored.”
Malone set aside March 21 as a day of prayer and penance for Maine Catholics.
The bishop also released the disposition of two cases previously sent to the Vatican.
Peter P. Gorham, 79, of Maine and Francis J. Kane, 79, who lives out of state, were ordered to lead lives of prayer and penance. Both men have been restricted from ministry for a decade. Due to their ages and ill health, they will continue to receive retirement and health care benefits in accordance with a decision made in 2002 by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. They may not present themselves as priests, wear clerical clothes or celebrate Mass in a church.
The bishop announced last March that Christian Roy, 58, and John Shorty, 59, had been permanently removed from the clergy, would not receive a pension or health care benefits from the church and were prohibited from celebrating Mass. At the same time, John Audibert, 66, removed from St. Thomas Aquinas Church in Madawaska in early 2002 as the clergy sex abuse scandal in Boston was making national headlines, was ordered to lead a life of prayer and penance.
Malone said that there are six other cases pending in Rome:
. The Rev. Thomas Lee, 78, of Maine, who stepped down in 2003 as pastor of St. Philip Parish in Lyman, has maintained his innocence. His request for a trial under canon law has been granted.
. The Rev. Leo James Michaud, 55, was removed in 2002 as the pastor of St. Joseph’s Catholic Church in Ellsworth. Although there was no proof of sexual abuse with a minor, the bishop said Saturday that other misconduct that did not involve minors caused Malone to decide Michaud should not have public ministry.
. The Rev. John Harris, 51, of Canada was disciplined in 1999 after he was accused of launching a sexually explicit Web site. He was removed from ministry in 2003 after allegations surfaced of nude swimming, boating and hot-tubbing with minors 20 years earlier. No allegations of sexual abuse were made against Harris, the bishop said Saturday.
. The Rev. Marcel L. Robitaille, 68, was the pastor of St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church in Belfast in 1993, when he was accused of sexually abusing his three brothers and a nephew and removed from ministry.
. The Rev. Michael Doucette, 60, was removed from ministry along with Audibert in early 2002. He was pastor of St. Agatha Catholic Church in St. Agatha and St. Joseph Catholic Church in Sinclair when he was removed from ministry by former Bishop Joseph J. Gerry. Several of his victims have spoken publicly about the abuse they suffered.
. The Rev. Raymond Melville, age unknown, left the priesthood in 1997 while pastor of Holy Name Catholic Church in Machias. Accusations that he molested boys in various locations became public in 2002 when a lawsuit was filed.
Priests referred to the Vatican
The cases of the following priests, which have not been previously made public, have been referred to the Vatican for possible disciplinary action:
. The Rev. George W. Beaudet, 67, was removed from ministry in 2000 when accusations dating back to 1979 were made. Additional accusations were made in 2002. He served in the following parishes: Notre Dame, Waterville; St. Joseph, Portland; St. Theresa, Mexico; St. Mary, Westbrook; St. Gerard, Grand Isle; Notre Dame, Skowhegan; St. Patrick, Newcastle; St. Peter, East Millinocket; and St. Anne, Dexter.
. The Rev. Frederick A. Carrigan, 72, was accused in 1991 of sexual abuse dating back to 1972 and his ministry was limited. He was removed from all ministry in 2002 and was listed as retired in a 2003 diocesan directory. He served in the following parishes: St. Mary, Bath; St. Joseph, Gardiner; St. Mary, Bangor; St. Thomas, Dover-Foxcroft; St. Peter, East Millinocket; St. Matthew, Hampden; and St. Gabriel, Winterport.
. The Rev. Michael L. Plourde, 56, was removed from ministry in 1994 after he was accused of abusing two minors in incidents dating back to 1976. He served in the following parishes: Holy Cross, Lewiston; St. Joseph, Biddeford; St. Hyacinth, Westbrook; St. Agatha, St. Agatha; St. Joseph, Sinclair; Holy Family, Daigle; St. Mary, Augusta; St. John, Winslow; and at the former Augusta Mental Health Institute.
. The Rev. Ronald N. Michaud, 60, was accused in 1989 of sexual abuse offenses that occurred in 1973 in Maryland. He has been restricted from ministry since 1989. He served in the following parishes: St. Ignatius, Sanford; St. Andre, Biddeford; St. Hyacinth, Westbrook; St. Joseph, Sinclair; and Holy Family, Daigle.
The Vatican has ordered that the following men lead lives of penance and prayer:
. Peter P. Gorham, 79, first was accused in 1995 regarding an offense dating back to 1953. He retired in 1996. He served at the following parishes: St Joseph, Gardiner; St. Dominic, Portland; St. Joseph, Waterville; St. Mary, Bangor; St. Denis, Fort Fairfield; Sacred Heart, Lubec; and St. Joseph, Ellsworth.
. Francis J. Kane, 79, first was accused in 1986 and his ministry was limited the following year. In 1997, he was removed from ministry and retired. He served in the following parishes: St. Joseph, Portland; Christ the King, Hebron; St. Mary, Biddeford; St. Joseph, Lewiston; St. Joseph, Eastport; St. Ann Mission, Pleasant Point; St. Tomas, Dover-Foxcroft; St. Mary, Biddeford; and St. Bartholomew, Cape Elizabeth