For immediate release:
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
Chancellor Marc Caron tells family member of sex abuse victim, "I will not meet with you."
She sat by herself for two hours in the chancery waiting room.
"My request is simple," said Marie Tupper of Boothbay Harbor. "I want Msgr. Caron to look me in the eye and assure me that Father Michael Plourde is not sexually abusing children in Biddeford." .
Portland, ME - Marie Tupper, whose family member was sexually abused by Rev. Thomas Lee, serves as Maine's Regional Coordinator for the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP).
Late Tuesday afternoon, Msgr. Marc Caron, Chancellor of Maine's Roman Catholic Diocese, told Tupper that he "will not meet with her."
On Wednesday of last week, Tupper sent an email message to Msgr. Caron, expressing her concerns and fears regarding the safety of children in a Biddeford, Maine neighborhood. Tupper asked Msgr. Caron for more information regarding Father Michael Plourde, a Maine priest who was removed from public ministry eight years ago due to child sex abuse allegations and is now living anonymously in a residential neighborhood in Biddeford.
Sexual abuse victims have reported to Msgr. Caron and other diocese officials that they were sexually abused by Father Mike when they were ten to twelve years old. Bishop Richard Malone and Msgr. Caron, among others, have refused to warn neighbors about Father Mike's past history of sexually abusing children.
Msgr. Caron did not respond to Tupper's email. On Monday morning of this week, Tupper called Msgr. Caron's office. Msgr. Caron's secretary informed Tupper that Msgr. Caron had no intention of responding to her questions and in Msgr. Caron's own words would "not meet with her today or at any other time."
An hour later, Tupper called back. She told Caron's secretary that "my concern for the safety of children is more important than Msgr. Caron's dismissive attitude towards me. I will come to the Chancery and sit in the waiting room until he is willing to see me."
Tupper arrived at 2:30 p.m. Once again, she was informed that Msgr. Caron would not meet with her. She sat in the waiting room for two hours, until such time that she was informed she would have to leave the building because the Chancery was closing.
Shortly thereafter, Tupper approached Caron in the parking lot as he exited the building. "I am afraid for children who live near "Father Mike," she told him. "Please reassure me that they are not in danger of being sexually abused. I can't bear to think that what happened to my family member will happen to even one more child."
"I am not going to talk to you," Caron responded. He then walked away.
"Msgr. Caron's callous disregard for Marie Tupper's concerns about the safety of children is just one more example of what really happens behind closed doors in Maine's Roman Catholic Diocese," said Paul Kendrick, a founder of the Ignatius Group.
"Bishop Richard Malone and his staff try to appease our concerns about the safety of children by telling us that they are 'following procedure; i.e., Canon Law,' as to which abuser priests will be identifie, " said Kendrick.
"This explanation may sound good to some, but it does nothing to protect Biddeford children from Father Plourde. Canon Law, after all, is nothing more than the Catholic Church's corporate handbook. It contains, among other things, policies and procedures for reprimanding, disciplining and firing employees, just like the company handbook at General Electric or Microsoft," added Kendrick.
"See if this makes sense," said Tupper. "Bishop Malone has established certain categories for priest abusers. Each category defines whether or not Bishop Malone will identify and warn parents about a particular priest who has a history of abusing children."
Here are the categories:
1) If a priest is working in a parish when credible allegations of sexual abuse are brought against him, Bishop Malone will identify the priest and the nature of the allegations.
2) If a priest is not working in a parish when credible allegations of sexual abuse are brought against him, Bishop Malone will not identify the priest and the nature of the allegations.
3) If a priest was previously removed from public ministry (prior to June 2002) due to credible allegations of sexual abuse, Bishop Malone will not identify the priest and the nature of the allegations.
"Father Mike" fits into Category 3.
(When contacted by telephone, Msgr. Rene Mathieu, pastor of Notre Dame de Lourdes in neighboring Saco, Maine and a member of the Diocese of Portland Clergy Review Board (reviews allegations of clergy sexual abuse), hung up on a caller who asked why Msgr. Mathieu isn't warning mothers, fathers and their children in Biddeford about "Father Mike." )