Why is it that when a notorious child abuser is removed from the priesthood, some bishops feel the need to point out the “good” that has been done in his ministry. The latest example is the laicization of Richard Lavigne. Lavigne was removed from ministry in 1991 after admitting he sexually abused children. He was convicted and sent to jail for it. But even worse is that he remains the prime suspect in the 1972 murder of an altar boy. Yet, Lavigne continued to receive paychecks from the diocese and the bishops of the Springfield, Mass., diocese resisted calls for his laicization until last year.
Now, when the laicization has finally been handed down, we get this:
[Bishop Thomas] Dupre said Lavigne’s priesthood “had unfortunate and tragic consequences,” but insisted that “along the way, much good was achieved.”
“However,” the bishop added, “the enormous harm that occurred and continues today cannot or should not be forgotten.”
But why even mention the “much good”? Why is there this reflexive need to mitigate the evil that has been done? Announce his laicization, denounce the evil, and be done with it.
In another article, Dupre says he derives no pleasure “in seeing such a severe penalty being handed down.” Okay, we don’t expect you to jump for joy, but shouldn’t you express some satisfaction that the priesthood will no longer be tainted by association with a child molester and possible murderer? Yes, we will pray for him, but Dupre goes beyond that.