The Boston Herald reports today that despite a credible allegation against a seminarian, a decision by the clergy review board against him, and even the reservations of Bishop Richard Lennon, other leaders of the Archdiocese of Boston, including Cardinal Law, considered using a loophole to allow a questionable character, who couldn’t be ordained here, to be ordained in North Carolina.
“After consultation with my canonical advisors, I write to suggest that the easiest way for this to go forward would be simply to wait out the necessary five years and then proceed if you so decide that way,” Law wrote to Bishop William G. Curlin on Aug. 23, 1999. The five-year waiting period is outlined by [Msgr. Michael] Foster and the Revs. Charles Higgins and Mark O’Connell as a canon law loophole for both Law and Curlin to avoid the initial ordination of Doherty, who moved to Charlotte in 1996.
In a June 22, 2001, memo, Foster wrote Higgins, “Deacon Doherty has remained now in the Charlotte Diocese for 4 years and 10 months . . . Therefore, if neither Bishop states his opposition by December 15, 2001, then the incardination (ordination into the Charlotte Diocese) takes effect ipso iure on December 16, 2001.”
However, Bishop Lennon objected to the idea, saying that if it’s not possible to ordain the man under normal circumstances, then why should he be ordained using a loophole? It is a disturbing revelation. The bishops apparently had a reason to believe the guy was, at best, in danger of at least violating his vows and, at worst, abusing children. It’s not like the accusations were unsubstantiated. The review board found the evidence to be credible. That was why the guy was placed in the waiting period in the first place.
Thankfully, he was never ordained, but until recently he was teaching religion in a Catholic school in North Carolina. He has been suspended following the current revelations.