Bettencourt dials it back

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When we left
D.J. Bettencourt, the majority leader of the New Hampshire House was
sticking to his guns, but late yesterday came the news that he had sent a
letter to Bishop John B. McCormack apologizing for calling him a
pedophile pimp. “Upon humble reflection,” he’d decided that the
characterization had been “at best undiplomatic and a better choice of
words was both warranted and appropriate.” Sunday will do that for
you–Sunday and perhaps the reflection that you don’t want to turn the
New Hampshire budget battle into a mano-a-mano between your 27-year-old
self and the Catholic Church.

The letter itself is an impressive
rhetorical performance. It’s more than plausible that a young New
England Catholic, coming into adulthood in the midst of the worst
scandal ever to afflict his church, should have burst into an angry
denunciation of one of the men in authority responsible for causing it.

My comments emanated from the deep hurt brought forward by the damage
caused by the sex abuse scandal that engulfed our church, which has
resulted in thousands turning their back on the church, particularly for
those of my generation. Unfortunately, your role in that scandal has,
in my opinion, hurt the Church in ways that will take decades to repair…

My comments were in no way were intended as an attack on the Catholic
faith, the Church, or on the position which you hold. I remain a
committed member of our church and am proud to be so. They also had
nothing to do with your message of caring for those less fortunate than

Yet while apologizing for his choice of
words, Bettencourt adamantly defended the funding cuts voted by the
House that McCormack along with other state religious leaders–not to
mention Gov. John Lynchdenounced as draconian. Members had “poured their hearts out to ensure that the most vulnerable in our
society were not disproportionately hurt by our work to have the state
live within its means.” I get it: Fairness means that the most vulnerable get hurt as much as the rest us.

The Church long ago decided (cf. Donatism)
that the efficacy of the sacraments could not be impaired by the prior
misbehavior of a ministering priest or bishop. Similarly, church
teachings ought to be taken seriously regardless of who is delivering
them. In criticizing cuts to services for the poor as well as defending
the right of workers to form unions (against a provision of the House
bill that would limit government worker bargaining rights), Bishop
McCormack was doing no more than delivering long-standing Catholic
social teachings. One can hope that, upon some more humble reflection,
Majority Leader Bettencourt will decide to take them seriously too.

  • drwho13

    Dr. Silk, I believe that it is important to ensure that the most vulnerable in our society are not disproportionately hurt by working to have the state live within its means.
    Nonetheless, I also believe that when a politician has an opportunity to take a shot at the RC Church for its handling of the bishop/priest pedophile scandal, they have a ethical responsibility to do so. It’s important to keep it in the public eye.
    I wrote, “Talk about yielding to punks and bullies, that’s what way too many public officials have done when dealing with pervert priests, and cover-up bishops in the past. Rep. Bettencourt slapped Bishop McCormick down good, and he had it coming!
    The Church has been hiding and sodomizing boys for too long in sacristies, and in the backrooms of rectories, talk about…”a big man, going after the poor and the most vulnerable in society.”
    Rep. Bettencourt was right on the mark in noting that when “he (McCormick) stepped onto secular soil…,” he was fair game. The Representative basted McCormick just as any pig should be basted before roasting. If we had more public officials like him the Church’s crimes against children would have ended along time ago.
    Rep. Bettencourt, I’m about as far away from being a Republican as one can get, but I like you! You have what it takes (courage) to look out for the people; and at 27, you’re going places Mr. Bettencourt.
    I don’t know what people mean by “sticking to the issue at hand.” Whenever a slimy Catholic official is on “secular soil,” buggery is always the issue. Strong language, no, just a legal term used in British law.
    Well done Rep. Bettencourt, and don’t back off due to pressure from those with no backbone to stand-up against perverted Church officials. They should be addressed severely, with contempt and disrespect. They have abused their power for too long and the younger generation will not tolerate it, as did their parents. Bishops are becoming less relevant each day.

  • Sister Maureen Paul Turlish

    Letter I sent in to the Boston Globe:
    No matter how offensive one may find N.H. Representative D.J. Bettencourt’s remarks about the bishop of Manchester, Bishop John McCormack’s role in enabling, facilitating and covering up for the sexual abuse of untold numbers of innocent children in the Archdiocese of Boston, Massachusetts is a matter of record, “N. H. lawmaker calls Manchester bishop ‘pedophile pimp,” (04/02/2011).
    He, along with Cardinal Bernard Law and a number of his fellows in the archdiocese have never been held truly accountable for their involvement in the sexual abuse of children by clergy or the cover-up that ensued.
    State authorities should have prosecuted these individuals, including McCormack, instead of cutting deals with them to avoid prosecution. To that extent, along with church hierarchy, those authorities have also failed the children of their state.
    Having failed to follow the words of Jesus Christ to protect children in the first place, church leadership cannot and should not be trusted to do the morally right thing now.
    Just look at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia where too many people trusted Cardinal Justin Rigali to do the right thing after the release of the 2005 Philadelphia Grand Jury Report on the Archdiocese, only to learn with the 2011 Grand Jury Report that very little of substance had actually been done in the intervening six years.
    All statutes of limitation, criminal and civil, must be removed regarding the sexual abuse of children – BY ANYONE. And there needs to be a civil window of at least two years to bring forward previously time barred cases of childhood sexual abuse – BY ANYONE.
    We did it in DELAWARE and we are attempting to do it in PENNSYLVANIA with the CHILD VICTIMS HOUSE BILLS 832 & 878.
    It should be done in every state and the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church should be leading the parade.
    No doing so is a contradiction of everything Jesus has taught us as well a sin against the Holy Spirit.
    Sister Maureen Paul Turlish
    Victims Advocate
    Sister Maureen is a Sister of Notre Dame de Namur who has been actively involved in statute of limitation reform and victim support for the past ten years. She spoke before the Senate and House Judiciary committees in support of Delaware’s 2007 Child Victims’ Law and she was recently invited to speak at the PA state capitol in support of House Bills 832 & 878 supporting victims of childhood sexual abuse.

  • GBullough

    When McCormack decided to abet pedophiles and other abusers in Boston, he was also deciding that, if caught, he’d suffer from severe damage to his moral authority.
    When he decided to take the job of bishop, he did so with full knowledge that he was “damaged goods.”
    When he then decided to use his moral authority in the political arena, he invited a reminder that he’s not a very credible speaker as regards standards of morality in society.
    This is a problem of this career-cleric’s own making.
    The politician’s remark simply exemplifies what many of his age-bracket think of the Church’s leadership. And most of them are NOT practicing Catholics any more.

  • John Shuster

    Why do big money church officials always trump politicians? The Roman Catholic Church organization controls political leaders just like the mullahs run the governments of the Middle East. That is not what America is about.

  • SarahTX2

    I read his letter and would not call it an apology. He restated his position rather eloquently and indicated that he probably should have used different words. That is not an apology by anyone’s measure, except perhaps the Catholic Church which has issued so many empty apologies in the past 10 years that it has lost sight of what apologizing actually means. In any event, Bettencourt should not apologize for defending innocent children. No one should apologize for that.

  • drwho13

    Rep. Bettencourt, I wish you hadn’t backed off. Perverted Church officials should be addressed severely, and treated with contempt and disrespect.
    This is a perfect example of unelected Church officials interfering with our elected officials, by INTIMIDATION. How does this differ from the way the Mullahs in the Middle East do it?
    I don’t want a Bishop or a Mullah directing life here in the US. We can best MINIMIZE them by addressing them severely, and treated with contempt and disrespect.

  • drwho13

    Anybody who wishes to educate themselves on McCormack’s shameful behavior should go to and read the legal papers.