Bishop John McCormack of Manchester, New Hampshire, was deposed in the Birmingham case yesterday. Afterward, one of the plaintiffs who sat in on it said McCormack said he didn’t think that of what Birmingham had done as a crime, but as a sin. The plaintiff was incredulous:
- “Bishop McCormack said it was a sin - he didn’t look at it as a crime,” said Bernie McDaid of Lynn, a leader of a group calling itself Survivors of Joseph Birmingham. “He thought it was a sin - just a sin. That just floored me.”
“Only a sin.” That raises an interesting question. Which makes a particular act worse, that it is a sin or that it’s a crime? Looked at from the faith viewpoint, obviously the sinful aspect is worse because it breaks the laws of God and adds to the Cross of Jesus Christ. A crime only breaks the laws of man. Now, the fact is the acts we’re talking about here are infractions against both God and man so I’m not trying to minimize it, but to say that he only thought of it as sin does not get him off the hook.
The fact is that if Bishop McCormack had really looked at Birmingham’s perverse actions truly as sin, then he would never have sloughed them off as easily as he apparently did. Repentance is not just, “I’m sorry,” but it’s also, “I must be removed from temptation” and “I must make restitution.” The apparent case is that McCormack looked at what Birmingham and others did as neither sinful nor criminal or he would never have allowed it to continue. Actually, he could overlook a crime that wasn’t a sin (civil disobedience), but he could never overlook actual sin. Not if he was a true minister of the Gospel.