Tuesday, December 6, 2011

A Book Every Priest Needs to Read: Catholic Priests Falsely Accused

By Fr. Gordon J. MacRae

Catholic Priests Falsely Accused: The Facts, The Fraud, The Stories is a new book by David F. Pierre, and a Corporal Work of Mercy for the Church and priesthood.

If you’ve been wondering what might make a thoughtful and practical gift for your parish priest this Christmas, consider arming him – and yourself – with the truth. It might seem a strange thing to give the priests you know a book about every priest’s worst nightmare, but doing so – and reading it yourself – could very well be an act of generosity, justice, and mercy.

A few weeks ago, I received a copy of David F. Pierre’s newest book, Catholic Priests Falsely Accused: The Facts, The Fraud, The Stories (The Media Report, 2011). The book documents the stories of six priests who have suffered under the millstone of false witness over the last decade of scandal in the Catholic Church, and their arduous trek to exoneration. Having lived in this nightmare for close to two decades, I could not put the book down.

But David Pierre also included a seventh account that has not – not yet, anyway – had a happy ending, and it made my hands tremble. It’s Chapter 20 in his book, and it’s entitled “Guilty or Falsely Accused? The Disputed Case of Fr. Gordon MacRae, Diocese of Manchester, NH.”

I could feel my anxiety rise as the chapter title jumped off the Table of Contents at me, and I braced myself. I have seen the words “the case of Fr. Gordon MacRae” abused and manipulated in the mainstream media far too often to expect anything just and fair. What makes the case “disputed” is the fact that I was convicted in a 1994 trial, and, in covering that fact, most in the news media have overlooked the devil in the details.

Not so for David F. Pierre. He presents in this new book a factual analysis of my trial, and what he calls “an alarming opposite side…that has not been widely told.” David Pierre did his homework, and captured well “The Twilight Zone” aura around my trial, exposing how spectral wisps of rumor and innuendo were reshaped by a prosecutor to get a conviction with no evidence at all. David Pierre simply took the story that has been hiding in plain sight, and stated it in plain speech. The result could rival the legal thrillers of John Grisham and Scott Turow. Sometimes real life makes for the most gripping drama.


But the chapter on my trial isn’t why I recommend that you consider this book as a gift to your parish priest. Just three hours after David Pierre’s book, Catholic Priests Falsely Accused arrived in my hands, I received a letter from an old friend, “Father C,” a 71-year-old priest who retired from full time ministry just months ago. Father C has been a faithful and much beloved priest for over 45 years, and I knew how much he looked forward to retirement and “senior priest” status in his diocese. Many older pastors look forward to ministry as priests free of all the administrative responsibilities of a large urban parish. Few priests can ever actually retire, but Father C looked forward to the title, “senior priest,” and deserved it.

Then the other shoe fell. During the last decade in the child sexual abuse witch hunt, Father C’s name showed up on a contingency lawyer’s personal “suspect” list. Despite the fact that no claims or accusations were ever brought against Father C, this lawyer doggedly pursued something against the priest because he thought he could eventually drive an accuser out of the past. In a decade of stalking Father C, the shameless lawyer could find no one to accuse the priest, and his witch hunt tactics eventually backfired. The lawyer was suspended from the practice of law for falsifying evidence and for what a judge called “a personal vendetta against the Catholic Church...”  (continued)


1 comment:

C. LaSalle said...

As a former sexual abuse survivor by a(family friend) I am deeply disturbed and saddened that a number of priests have become fair game as targets by false accusations. What bothers me even more is that they do not appear to be protected as anyone else would be? Seriously, the Church needs to stop REACTING every time someone shouts abuse and start RESPONDING. It doesn't have to be an either/or situation, it can be a both/and process. Anyone who molests children should be properly investigated by civil authorities until the Church has a world wide method for doing a through job itself.