Except for the child molesting, he was a good priest

Except for the child molesting, he was a good priest

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.

  • Blackmail is not my first thought.

    I think this is clericalism:

    (1) defensivenss: the idea that somehow denouncing this bad priest affects the good names of others.

    (2) identification: the bishop identifies more with the priest than with the victim or parents of the victim.

    It’s kind of funny—like “At least Mussolini got the trains to run on time”  funny.

  • Could someone please explain why it has taken over twenty years for our Catholic Church to get rid of the scumbag Richard Lavigne?  Sorry, but there is no polite way to describe a sexually abusive and perverse individual of his ilk.

    Lavigne pleaded guilty in 1992 to molesting two altar boys and he is probably guilty of murdering another one but he has managed to hang on for years with the help of his friends and Bernard Cardinal Law is at the head of that list after the late Cardinal Mederios of Boston.

    Apparently the Pope “defrocked” Lavigne on November 20, 2003 but he will remain on the payroll until May 31, 2004.  Disgraceful! 

    But what really made the hair on the back of my neck stand up, what is really nauseating is Bishop Thomas Dupre saying the pope’s decision “brings me no pleasure,” “no priest or bishop can ever take pleasure is seeing such a severe penalty handed down,” and “as Christians, we must remain faithful to the church teaching of love and forgiveness…” Unbelievable!

    It is not about pleasure, it is about justice and right.  It is not about pleasure, it is about morality and integrity.  It is not about pleasure, it is about character and conscience.

    All are lacking in Richard Lavigne.

    If ever there was an example of the fact that far too many bishops still do not really appreciate the heinous, disgusting and unmentionable crimes that were visited on these innocent souls, this it it.

    Bishop Dupre does not voice his concern for the many victims of Richard Lavigne nor does he say that at last justice is being done for the survivors of this sick and depraved individual.

    No, Dupre talks of love and forgiveness.  It does not seem to matter that Lavigne still “maintains his innocence” and was “disappointed” when he heard of his “defrocking.” He probably thought it would never happen and he was almost right.

    Richard Lavigne is truly guilty of the “murder of the soul” of all these little ones.  And the Lord justly says of him “anyone who is an obstacle to one of these little ones who have faith, is would be better were he thrown into the sea with a great millstone round his neck” (MARK 9:42-45).
    Thanks be to God.
    This is a first step in the right direction even though it should have been taken more than 20 years ago.

    Sister M. Immaculata Dunn


  • Thanks Colleen, I appreciate that.  Oh, and I did send a copy to Bishop Dupre.