Today, a new bishop has been officially installed as the Archbishop of Baltimore. Bishop William Lori previously worked as the Bishop of Bridgeport, CT, having led the diocese there since 2001. During Lori’s tenure, he has made several questionable and objectionable decisions.
One particular case was the handling of Fr. Jean Marie DeGraff. Last December, a Connecticut newspaper disclosed that Fr. DeGraff was arrested in October for allegedly molesting at least one child in Canada in 2010 and 2011. From 2007 to 2008, DeGraff worked at St. Mary Parish on Greenwich Avenue and other churches in western Connecticut, and during that time he had been the subject of allegations of abuse. Rather than remove Fr. DeGraff, Bishop Lori instead sent him to Canada where he was able to abuse another child.
Earlier, in 2010, Bishop-Accountability.org released hundreds of pages of files that illustrated how the Diocese of Bridgeport had allowed at least five priests who had been credibly accused of abuse to move to other dioceses. Despite knowledge of the accusations that these priests faced, Bishop Lori saw no harm in moving them out of his diocese, although he knew it was bad enough to warrant making the moves as quiet as possible.
We do not believe that Bishop Lori has demonstrated the ability to protect children in his flock well enough to warrant such a promotion. The Archdiocese of Baltimore would do well to choose a different individual who has a better track record on abuse. Even better would be if the Archdiocese were to promote someone from the lower rungs of the hierarchy such as a local parish priest, since their removal from abuse cover-ups would make them a better fit than someone who actively participated in them.
Bishop Lori is a poor choice. We hope that the Archdiocese of Baltimore reverses course and bucks the trend of promoting Catholic prelates who have done more to harm children than to protect them.