MA diocese scolded by clergy
By Stefanie Cohen - Berkshire
October 26, 2003
LEE -- A Wilbraham priest released a statement Friday asking
to "stand up for life and challenge Bishop [Thomas] Dupre
Diocese of Springfield to reconsider their handling"
of a sexual scandal
at St. Mary's Church here.
The Rev. Joseph M. Soranno, pastor of St. Cecilia's Church
wrote a letter to the editor of The Republican in Springfield
forwarded the letter to The Eagle on Friday.
Call for Christian charity
"I find it confusing that the bishop continues to pay
for the medical
insurance and monthly stipend for Fr. Lavigne, Fr. Kennedy,
Fr. Lavelle and other priests who have been suspended for
crimes against children, but the diocese does not feel obligated
Christian charity to pay for the medical needs of an unborn
child or its
pregnant mother," Soranno wrote.
In response, diocesan spokesman Mark E. Dupont said the diocese
fact, paid for some of Dizoglio's medical expenses.
"We feel we have met our obligations to this point and
will continue to
meet our obligations in the future," Dupont said. "I
am confused as to
how Father Soranno arrived at the conclusion we are not."
The diocese suspended the Rev. Paul LaFlamme of St. Mary's
Church in Lee
on Oct. 17 after he admitted to having two sexual encounters
Josephine Dizoglio, a 34-year old rectory housekeeper who
pregnant. Dizoglio has said that LaFlamme is the father of
child, but Dupont denied that LaFlamme has made such an admission.
Attempts to reach LaFlamme were unsuccessful.
Dupont said the diocese would be willing to shoulder some
expenses of the child after the paternity is determined. A
test would not be administered until after the birth of the
"We certainly feel bad about the situation, and we continue
available to this woman," Dupont said. "We will
assist her in any
Dizoglio also has accused St. Mary's pastor, the Rev. Gary
having told her to "make the problem go away" when
he found out she was
She alleges that she was the victim of emotional abuse at
the hands of
Dailey, both before and after he discovered she was pregnant.
Dailey learned of the pregnancy, Dizoglio said that he fired
to have her evicted from her apartment, forbade her to see
told her she could no longer set foot on church property.
In a speech delivered to parishioners at Masses held last
Dailey called the allegations "untrue and half-true."
He said every
action he took was in conjunction with the advice of diocesan
Soranno, who described himself as a "quiet kind of guy,"
said his letter
was not written to contradict the diocese but to take a stand
on what he
called a "life issue."
"We are a pro-life church, and we may not appreciate
circumstances, but here is a woman who is pregnant and who
Once again, we are fighting the victim. The unborn child is
and the child needs care, and if the mother's means of support
taken from her, I don't know how she will get care,"
he said in an
"I am not trying to challenge the bishop," he said.
"But if we stand for
life, this is a life issue."
The Rev. Thomas Doyle, a priest and canon lawyer who has
advocate for survivors of priestly abuse for two decades,
also spoke out
about the events at St. Mary's.
Doyle, who contacted Dizoglio after reading about her in
the press, said
Friday: "If the stories in the media describe the pastor's
accurately, and if, in fact, he justifies his actions by saying
followed the instruction of the diocese, that is a chilling
of his lack of awareness and that of the diocese itself.
"It is an indictment against them for their lack of
compassion for this
woman and illustrates clearly the narcissism and self-centeredness
the celibate, clerical world," he said.
Doyle also condemned the diocese for "doing everything
they can to
protect clergy abusers."
"They transfer them, lie for them, cover for them, but
do nothing for
those who have been abused, unless they are forced to by the
press or by
the courts," he said.
Doyle said the atmosphere within the Catholic Church has
since the recent clergy abuse cases have been revealed, which
it possible for people like Soranno to take a public stand.
"The bishops are like monarchs," he said. "Their
diocese is their
kingdom. There is no democracy; there is no freedom. If you
mind, you can be punished severely. But as more priests are
out, the bishops don't want to look worse than they already
Dailey is facing possible disciplinary action from the diocese.
meeting between Dailey and the bishop has been delayed until
returns from vacation, within the next two weeks. LaFlamme
is on an
indefinite administrative leave.
Dizolgio has described the sexual encounters between herself
LaFlamme as "not consensual." When the incidents
took place, Dizoglio
was going to LaFlamme for counseling.
'Abuse of power'
Ann Webb, a New England coordinator for the Survivors Network
Abused by Priests, called the encounters an "abuse of
"It is abusive in the same way that it would be for
a therapist to have
sex with a client or a gynecologist and a patient to have
sex, only this
is even more extreme. This is a confessor, the person who
can give you
absolution for your sins," Webb said. "He took advantage
of her weakened
psychological state to have his own sexual needs met."