L.I.-VOTF Calls for Bishop Murphy's Resignation
Long Island Voice of the Faithful, Inc.
P.O. Box 1007
Nesconset, NY 11767
August 1, 2003
On Wednesday, July 23, 2003, the office of the Attorney General
of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts issued its Grand Jury report
on “The Sexual Abuse of Children in the Roman
Catholic Archdiocese of Boston”.
On Thursday, July 24th, 2003, after careful review of the report,
the Board of Directors polled approximately 700 of its 1,300 members,
(members with e-mail addresses), asking them to vote electronically
either for or against calling Bishop William Murphy to step aside.
385 members voted; 371 members (95%) responded in favor; 14 (5 %) were opposed.
Some of the reasons why we are asking Bishop William Murphy to
1. According to the Report, Bishop Murphy played
a key role in the failure to protect the children.
As a consequence, he has abdicated his moral authority.
With regard to Bishop William Murphy, now of the Diocese of Rockville
Centre, the report says:
And, even with undeniable information available to him on the
risk of recidivism, Bishop Murphy continued to place a higher priority
on preventing scandal and providing support to alleged abusers
than on protecting children from sexual abuse. (P.39)
2. Bishop Murphy misrepresented his role in the cover-up.
In his “Report to the Diocese – Part one,” (TLIC
7/2/03) Bishop Murphy says that a Delegate (at one time a priest
also named William Murphy) was responsible for handling cases of
sex abuse, and that the Delegate reported directly to the Cardinal.
However, the Attorney General’s Report says that… “Although
Cardinal Law delegated responsibility for handling clergy sexual
abuse matters, his senior managers [i.e. bishops] kept the Cardinal
apprised of such matters either directly or through the Vicar of
Administration, who supervised the ... Delegate.” (P 31)
Bishop Murphy himself became Vicar of Administration in 1993 [to
2001]. (P 38)
The Report also says that the “Delegate ... sometimes discussed
clergy sexual abuse matters directly with the Cardinal, and on
other occasions conveyed information to the Cardinal through Bishop
Murphy.(P 38) The report further says that the Delegate “…generally
kept both the Cardinal and Bishop Murphy apprised of significant
clergy sexual abuse matters.” (P 48)
The report thus clearly contradicts Bishop
that he was bypassed in the reporting of sexual abuse cases. Indeed, “There
is overwhelming evidence that for many years Cardinal Law and his
senior managers* had direct, actual knowledge that substantial
numbers of children in the Archdiocese had been sexually abused
by substantial numbers of priests. Any claim by the Cardinal or
the Archdiocese’s senior managers that they did not know
about the abuse suffered by, or the continuing threat to, children
in the Archdiocese is simply not credible.” (P. 25) In addition: “Top
Archdiocese officials regularly addressed and supported the perceived
needs of offending priests more than the needs of children who
had been, or were at risk of being, abused.” (P. 30) (emphasis
* Bishop Murphy is identified in the report as a senior manager and a top archdiocese
3. Bishop Murphy abdicated his duty to protect the children by
ignoring the criminal nature of child abuse.
In denouncing Bishop Murphy’s actions, the Report states:
“The problem was compounded because Bishop Murphy failed
to recognize clergy sexual abuse of children as conduct deserving
an investigation and prosecution by public authorities. Instead
he viewed such crimes committed by priests as conduct deserving
an internal pastoral response.” (P. 39)
4. Bishop Murphy showed a regrettable lapse of judgment when he
assigned an alleged abuser to oversee abusers.
In an apparent lapse of judgment, Bishop Murphy was involved in
having a priest named Melvin Surrette, who had “been accused
himself of sexually abusing children, to be Assistant Delegate
responsible for arranging suitable job placements for priests found
to have engaged in sexual abuse of children.” (P.38) The
Attorney General’s report further comments that, “The
Archdiocese documents relating to Surrette’s assignment do
not show any consideration of the propriety of having a man accused
of sexually abusing children significantly involved in finding
suitable job placements for other alleged abusers. Further, there
appears to have been no appreciation of the inherent conflict of
interest or appearance of impropriety in having a priest under
investigation by the Delegate working as Assistant to the Delegate.”(39)
5. It is our firm conviction that Bishop Murphy is not meeting
the spiritual and material needs of our Parishioners. Our diocese
is suffering under his rule. We are without a spiritual leader.
Bishop Murphy has not satisfactorily addressed the needs of the
diocese, especially those of the poor. The Bishop’s extravagance
in the renovation and furnishing of his own lavish quarters has
compounded the problem. The Bishop’s Appeal is down; Parish
collections are down; donations made by Long Island Voice of the
Faithful to Catholic Charities have been returned by Bishop Murphy
because “it is important to maintain a sense of unity of
mission.” Could this be a reason why Mass attendance is also
down? Bishop Murphy’s decisions and policies have hurt those
in need and hindered the ability of the diocese to raise funds
from the laity.
6. Bishop Murphy’s credibility has
been damaged beyond repair.
On numerous occasions, and in statements published in the Long
Island Catholic, Bishop Murphy has downplayed his role in the Boston
cover-up. An objective reading of the Attorney General’s
Report clearly brands our bishop as one of the key wrong doers.
7. Bishop Murphy’s continued presence thwarts the
healing our diocese needs.
Our diocese is scourged with disunity. Faithful Catholics are
disillusioned. Attendance is down, contributions are down. We are
in a state of disarray. There is a profound and pervasive distrust
for our spiritual leader. Polls overwhelmingly support his resignation.
We desperately need new leadership.
8. Bishop Murphy has contributed to the American Bishops’ loss
of moral authority.
In a wider context, Bishop William Murphy, along with the Bishops
of the United States, has lost the moral high ground that used
to give weight to statements concerning issues such as poverty
in our country, war, nuclear weapons and the death penalty. Whether
or not people agreed with the Bishops’ positions on these
issues, the statements were debated both within and without the
Catholic Church and in the pages of many respected publications.
This, unfortunately, seems no longer to be the case.
It is time to restore credibility to the American Catholic Church
by replacing those leaders who have so damaged that standing.
The Board of Directors and members of Long Island Voice of the
Faithful are calling for the resignation of Bishop William Murphy
and all Bishops associated with the cover up and misrepresentation
of sex abuse within the Roman Catholic Church.