Sunday, November 17, 2002

From the Boston Herald: Fr. Thomas Doyle looks at the case of the Diocese of Springfield and its support of convicted child molestor Richard Lavigne, financially supported, that is, by the diocese, but not one of its priests:

Notable among them is a parish priest from East Longmeadow, the Rev. James Scahill, whose parish is withholding the 6 percent diocesan tax that goes to the bishop's office and is used at his discretion. Scahill and his parishioners have made it clear that they will continue to withhold this tax until the Rev. Richard Lavigne is laicized and no longer receives any compensation from the Diocese of Springfield.

Lavigne pleaded guilty to child molestation in 1992. Later in 1992, the diocese settled a suit brought by 17 additional victims for $1.3 million. More than 10 years after his conviction and in the face of additional lawsuits, Lavigne is still a priest, gets paid a salary by the diocese and has fully paid medical insurance.

As a canon lawyer, I can state that Bishop Thomas Dupre could have and most importantly should have sought the forced laicization of Lavigne during the last 10 years. Yet he has chosen to do nothing!

Bishop Dupre has been quoted as saying the process is too ``cumbersome'' and that even if he chooses to seek Lavigne's laicization, he will continue to pay him because canon law would force him to do so, that it is the ``charitable'' thing to do.

There is nothing in canon law that forces him to do any such thing. The reality is that almost without exception, laicized former priests, including John Geoghan, receive nothing from their dioceses, precisely because of canon law.

As Scahill states, ``Charity is reaching into your own pocket to help someone and not reaching into someone else's!'' By using money that has come either directly or indirectly from members of the Springfield Diocese, this bishop is not practicing charity; rather, he's reaching into the pockets of parishioners to support a notorious pedophile.

When are my fellow priests going to realize there is something seriously wrong with this picture? When are they going to get out from behind the pulpit and let their communities know these actions and inactions are unconscionable?

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