Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Bishop Richard Malone purchases $600,000, four bedroom home two months after writing this op-ed about the poor

Sun Journal (Lewiston, Maine)
April 10, 2011 Sunday

Sense of justice demands we help the poor
By Bishop Richard Malone

I recognize and sympathize that there are no easy choices when it comes to balancing a state budget. This year is no exception.

While Maine is beginning to emerge from a terrible global recession, the recovery remains slow with ill effects being felt in many sectors. Too many people are without jobs, too many working families are struggling and more and more people are being forced to turn to the government for help despite their own best efforts at self-sufficiency.

Our own Catholic churches around the state are working in creative ways to bring relief to as many people as possible. They support homeless shelters and soup kitchens, provide services to the elderly and the disabled, and make sure children have access to quality child care.

But our efforts and that of many others in the faith community and private sector are not enough tosuffering and poverty. Government, as agent of the people, has a critical role to play.

Gov. Paul LePage has submitted his proposal for state spending for the next two years. In so doing he faced no easy choices, and I believe he put forward a plan that he believes balances the many competing demands of the state.

By all measures the state budget is a document about priorities; it offers insight into who we are as a community. It is a testament to our values as a state.

I believe that Mainers are kind and generous, that they care about their neighbors, the frail and the weak, the poor and lonely, children and the elderly, and that they would not want to turn their backs on them during a time of need.

Given those values, they feel a sense of responsibility for their communities.

I cannot, and I believe the people of Maine cannot, in good faith, support the proposed reductions in the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, MaineCare, General Assistance and programs serving legal immigrants contained in the current budget proposal.

The budget contains proposals that would place strict and arbitrary time limits on the TANF program, while also placing unreasonable new limitations on General Assistance. There are also proposals to deny health insurance coverage to working families through MaineCare, and to eliminate support programs for legal immigrants until they have lived in Maine for five years.

These changes, if adopted, will create new chaos in the lives of people who are already struggling. The consequences are alarming and frightening.

If these proposals are enacted, I fear more children will become homeless, the elderly will lose access to their medicine and families won't have enough to eat.

The economic conditions of our times have forced more working families into poverty, and pushed more people to the edges of our society where they too often struggle alone without the support necessary to stabilize their lives.

With the recent rise in fuel prices, many people who have managed to remain independent, including many seniors living on fixed incomes, will be at risk.

If these cuts are implemented, churches and other community support organizations will not be able to fill the growing unmet needs. While Maine has a robust network of volunteers and charities, they won't be able to keep up with an influx of thousands of people desperate for help.

I am not an economist, nor an expert on the state budget. I cannot predict when Maine's economy will meet its full potential and provide opportunity for every person to live a happy and secure life.

Until that time, and in the spirit of charity and Christian love, the church will do, as it always has, everything we can to help those in need. But we can't do it without our partners in the state and federal government.

Gov. LePage faces serious challenges as he leads our state, and I do not envy the choices that he must make. But we must not balance our budget on the backs of the poorest among us, those with the least to give and the most to lose.

The state budget is about choices and about how we meet our responsibilities and obligations to one another. It is a moral document that tells the world who we are.

Scripture is clear: We must not abandon the weak and the poor, the aged and those who have lost hope, the immigrant and stranger, the homeless and the young.

It is our duty, instead, to reach out our hand, to lift them up, and to share what we have. Even if that means self-sacrifice. Our faith demands it. Our sense of justice demands it.

As the good men and women who lead our government work to find a better solution to the budget problems of our state, we must lend them our support, offer up our most creative ideas and never lose sight of our commitment to one another as the children of a loving and charitable God.

The Most Reverend Bishop Richard J. Malone, Th.D., ordained a priest in 1972, was installed as bishop of Portland in 2004. He was elected to the Board of Catholic Relief Services in 2010 and serves on the U.S. Operations Committee.

Letters to the Portland Press Herald about Bishop Malone's new residence

June 28, 2011

Bishop's move to Falmouth panned

As a Catholic, I was always disturbed that the bishops lived in a mansion on the Western Promenade. I am now even more disturbed to read that Bishop Richard Malone is now moving to a $599,000 home in a Falmouth subdivision. What is he thinking? How does it look to read that he is closing the Cathedral School after 145 years and then he purchases a fancy new home in Falmouth for himself?

It would seem to make more sense to move to an unused or under-used rectory in the Portland area. Shouldn't he live in the Cathedral rectory? When my wife and I were forced to downsize because of job losses, we moved to a 985-square- foot double-wide mobile home in Old Orchard Beach.

A few years ago, we signed onto a three-year capital campaign to upgrade our church and parish hall. Soon after we completed the project, the church was closed and torn down.

The bishop doesn't seem to be a good steward of our money. That is why we no longer contribute to the annual campaign for programs in the diocese.

Peter Warzinski

Old Orchard Beach


Learning that Bishop Richard Malone will be moving from the Western Prom mansion to a home in Falmouth worth over half a million dollars doesn't sit well with many Catholics.

In a June 21 Portland Press Herald ar ticle by Dennis Hoey, Sue Bernard, spokeswoman for the diocese, was quoted as saying, "everyone, in this economy, wants to do practical things."

This is practical downsizing? It's like moving from the Taj Mahal to the Samoset Resort.

The Catholic Church faithful could have advised the diocese on what is practical and should h ave been consulted, given that the Church expects to financially support this move to yet another over-the-top home. Did they think we wouldn't notice?

We certainly have noticed the loss of parishes and priests, and the closing of Cathedral School, as well as the admonitions to step up our general financial support.

The Dioce se of Portland owns several properties with ample room for Bishop Malone in which he would have been adequately taken care of. The diocesan finance committee is charged with ensuring the financial soundness of the diocese, and is accountable for the use of resources for expenses authorized by Bishop Malone. It may be that Bishop Malone has underestimated just how much Catholics can swallow before it sticks in the craw.

Smart town and city managers know you should never underestimate public outrage. I don't choose to financially support the bishop's new living quarters. That decision will be reflected in what I place in the Sunday offering from now on .

Jamie Beecher



My pleasure turned to pain and outrage as I read the article in the June 22 Press Herald ("Bishop giving up Portland mansion"). As I started reading it, I was really pleased that the Roman Catholic diocese realized that stockpiling money in a "mansion" just wasn't the thing to do in these days and times. But my feelings rapidly changed as I read that the diocese had bought a house in Falmouth for approximately $600,000. Quoting the spokesperson for the diocese, "We want to be good stewards of the money we have."

I am not Roman Catholic but rather Episcopalian. I run an essentials pantry that serves 300-plus Portland residents each Tuesday. I see close-up and personal the real, practical needs of recent immigrants, refugees and just people of all kinds who are suffering in this economy.

I fantasize about what even a fourth o f $600,000 could do to help so many.

As a Christian, I ask myself all the time, "What would Jesus do?" I truly don't feel he would write a check for $600,000 to house one man when the needs of many are just so obvious. I only know what I know about the local Catholic diocese by reading the paper, but might there be a vacant rectory or two sitting around that could possibly house one man?

Richard L. Rasner


Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Child Protection Advocates Write Letter to U.S. Ambassador to Haiti.
Call for Investigation of Child Sex Abuse Allegations
Against U.S. Citizen, Michael Geilenfeld.

June 1, 2011

Kenneth H. Merten
Ambassador to the Republic of Haiti
Embassy of the United States
Tabarre 41, Boulevard 15
Port au Prince, Haiti

Dear Mr. Ambassador,

We, the undersigned child protection advocates, are calling upon you to immediately investigate allegations that children are being physically and sexually abused by U.S. citizen, Michael Geilenfeld, founder and executive director of the St. Joseph's Homes in Haiti.

It has been discouraging for us to learn that child sex abuse complaints against Geilenfeld have been know to U.S. Embassy investigators in Port au Prince for the past twenty years, yet Geilenfeld remains in Haiti with unlimited access to vulnerable children.

Since the 1980s, boys, men and visitors to the St. Joseph's Homes have alleged emotional, physical and sexual abuse by Geilenfeld and some of his associates. Geilenfeld denies the allegations.

Please note that child abuse allegations against Geilenfeld are documented as early as 1987 in Boston; 1990 in Haiti and the U.S.; 1995 in Detroit; 1997 in UK and Haiti; 1999 in Haiti; 2006-2007 in Haiti and U.S.

We believe it is the moral obligation of the United States of America to investigate and prosecute U.S. citizens who commit crimes against children anywhere in the world and especially in earthquake ravaged Haiti where children are even more vulnerable.

We look forward to your response.


Robert Hoatson, President, Road to Recovery, 862-368-2800
Paul Kellen, National Survivor Advocacy Coalition, 781-395-3628
Ruth Moore, Speak Truth to Power, 781-264-6519
Michael Sweatt, National Survivor Advocacy Coalition, 207-831-3791

cc: Rod Khatabbi, Special Agent, Department of Homeland Security