Adam Fisher: An abuse case's aftershocks

NORTHAMPTON - On precisely the same day that Andrew Nicastro of Williamstown on Friday withdrew his priest-abuse lawsuit against two retired Springfield bishops in return for $500,000, a contrasting scenario was playing out a half a world away.

n Australia, Bill Wright, the Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle, stated publicly that he would support a public inquiry into his church's handling of sexual assaults by priests.

The Newcastle Herald promptly wrote an editorial applauding the bishop and observing: "There was a time, when the first shocking revelations of abuse began to emerge into the public eye, when many probably believed the matter could be satisfactorily dealt with by the churches and the police. But since that hasn't been entirely the case, and since - on the contrary - more cases of abuse by more priests keep surfacing along with distressing evidence of church cover-ups and failed police investigations, public opinion has dramatically altered."

Back in Springfield, one of the retired bishops accused by Nicastro, Joseph F. Maguire, 92, issued a long and apparently heartfelt statement acknowledging Nicastro's molestation by defrocked priest Alfred Graves. The other defendant was retired Bishop Thomas L. Dupre.

Maguire's statement said in part: "That in this instance I was unable to protect young people from abuse is an enduring and deep regret. I ask the good people of western Massachusetts to join me in offering prayers for Mr. Nicastro and all victims of abuse. May they know God's love and compassion in their healing."

The style and substance of Maguire's press release has become a staple of a beleaguered Vatican attempting to buttress its meaning and relevance in an increasingly skeptical world: Acknowledge with apparent compassion the suffering of victims; p...

 

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