Request To Bishop Murphy to Resign:
Long Island Voice of the Faithful,
P.O. Box 1007
Nesconset, NY 11767
July 29, 2003
Most Reverend William Murphy
Bishop of Rockville Centre
50 North Park Avenue
Rockville Centre, N.Y. 11570
Dear Bishop Murphy:
The findings of the Massachusetts
Attorney General's report on "The Sexual Abuse of Children in
the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston," issued on July 23,
2003 contains numerous credible charges against the leadership of
the Archdiocese, including yourself. We have considered those charges
in light of your statements and actions since you became our bishop
in 2001. We have concluded that the differences between the Attorney
General's report and your views, expressed in the Long Island Catholic
and elsewhere, bring into question your moral authority to lead.
It is with deep regret that the Board
of Directors of Long Island Voice of the Faithful, acting on behalf
of our members, finds it necessary to request that you step aside
as our Bishop. Your continuing presence as head of our church on Long
Island can only perpetuate the distrust that threatens our Church.
The revelations of the report have
so compromised your role as bishop that it is no longer possible for
you to exercise the spiritual leadership required for the church of
Dan Bartley Patricia Zirkel
C: Most Reverend John C. Dunne, D.D., Vicar, Central Vicariate
Most Reverend Paul H. Walsh
Most Reverend Emil A. Wcela, D.D., Vicar, Eastern Vicariate
Our Position Paper
Long Island Voice of the Faithful,
P.O. Box 1007
Nesconset, NY 11767
August 1, 2003
On Wednesday, July 23, 2003, the office of the Attorney
General of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts issued its Grand Jury
report on "The Sexual Abuse of Children in the Roman Catholic
Archdiocese of Boston".
On Thursday, July 24th, 2003, after careful review
of the report, the Board of Directors polled approximately 700 of
its 1,300 members, (members with e-mail addresses), asking them to
vote electronically either for or against calling Bishop William Murphy
to step aside. 385 members voted;
In Favor:371 members (95%); Opposed: 14 (5 %)
Some of the reasons why we
are asking Bishop William Murphy to resign:
1.According to the Report, Bishop Murphy played a key role in the failure
to protect the children. As a consequence, he has abdicated his moral
With regard to Bishop William Murphy, now of the Diocese of Rockville
Centre, the report says:
And, even with undeniable information available to him on the risk of
recidivism, Bishop Murphy continued to place a higher priority on preventing
scandal and providing support to alleged abusers than on protecting
children from sexual abuse. (P.39)
2. Bishop Murphy misrepresented
his role in the cover-up.
In his "Report to the Diocese - Part one,"
(TLIC 7/2/03) Bishop Murphy says that a Delegate (at one time a priest
also named William Murphy) was responsible for handling cases of sex
abuse, and that the Delegate reported directly to the Cardinal. However,
the Attorney General's Report says that. "Although
Cardinal Law delegated responsibility for handling clergy sexual abuse
matters, his senior managers [i.e. bishops] kept the Cardinal apprised
of such matters either directly or through the Vicar of Administration,
who supervised the ... Delegate." (P 31) Bishop Murphy
himself became Vicar of Administration in 1993 [to 2001]. (P 38)
The Report also says that the "Delegate
... sometimes discussed clergy sexual abuse matters directly with
the Cardinal, and on other occasions conveyed information to the Cardinal
through Bishop Murphy."(P 38) The report further says
that the Delegate ".generally kept both
the Cardinal and Bishop Murphy apprised of significant clergy sexual
abuse matters." (P 48)
The report thus clearly contradicts Bishop Murphy's
allegation that he was bypassed in the reporting of sexual abuse cases.
Indeed, "There is overwhelming evidence
that for many years Cardinal Law and his senior managers* had direct,
actual knowledge that substantial numbers of children in the Archdiocese
had been sexually abused by substantial numbers of priests. Any claim
by the Cardinal or the Archdiocese's senior managers that they did
not know about the abuse suffered by, or the continuing threat to,
children in the Archdiocese is simply not credible." (P.
25) In addition: "Top Archdiocese officials
regularly addressed and supported the perceived needs of offending
priests more than the needs of children who had been, or were at risk
of being, abused." (P. 30) (emphasis supplied)
* Bishop Murphy is identified in the report as a senior
manager and a top archdiocese official.
3. Bishop Murphy abdicated his duty to protect
the children by ignoring the criminal nature of child abuse.
In denouncing Bishop Murphy's actions, the Report
"The problem was
compounded because Bishop Murphy failed to recognize clergy sexual
abuse of children as conduct deserving an investigation and prosecution
by public authorities. Instead he viewed such crimes committed by
priests as conduct deserving an internal pastoral response."
4.Bishop Murphy showed a regrettable lapse
of judgment when he assigned an alleged abuser to oversee abusers.
In an apparent lapse of judgment, Bishop Murphy was
involved in having a priest named Melvin Surrette, who had "been
accused himself of sexually abusing children, to be Assistant Delegate
responsible for arranging suitable job placements for priests found
to have engaged in sexual abuse of children." (P.38) The
Attorney General's report further comments that,
"The Archdiocese documents relating to Surrette's assignment
do not show any consideration of the propriety of having a man accused
of sexually abusing children significantly involved in finding suitable
job placements for other alleged abusers. Further, there appears to
have been no appreciation of the inherent conflict of interest or
appearance of impropriety in having a priest under investigation by
the Delegate working as Assistant to the Delegate."(39)
5. It is our firm conviction that Bishop Murphy
is not meeting the spiritual and material needs of our Parishioners.
Our diocese is suffering under his rule. We are without a spiritual
Bishop Murphy has not satisfactorily addressed the
needs of the diocese, especially those of the poor. The Bishop's extravagance
in the renovation and furnishing of his own lavish quarters has compounded
the problem. The Bishop's Appeal is down; Parish collections are down;
donations made by Long Island Voice of the Faithful to Catholic Charities
have been returned by Bishop Murphy because "it is important
to maintain a sense of unity of mission." Could this be a reason
why Mass attendance is also down? Bishop Murphy's decisions and policies
have hurt those in need and hindered the ability of the diocese to
raise funds from the laity.
6. Bishop Murphy's credibility has been damaged
On numerous occasions, and in statements published
in the Long Island Catholic, Bishop Murphy has downplayed his role
in the Boston cover-up. An objective reading of the Attorney General's
Report clearly brands our bishop as one of the key wrong doers.
7. Bishop Murphy's continued presence thwarts
the healing our diocese needs.
Our diocese is scourged with disunity. Faithful Catholics
are disillusioned. Attendance is down, contributions are down. We
are in a state of disarray. There is a profound and pervasive distrust
for our spiritual leader. Polls overwhelmingly support his resignation.
We desperately need new leadership.
8. Bishop Murphy has contributed to the American
Bishops' loss of moral authority.
In a wider context, Bishop William Murphy, along with
the Bishops of the United States, has lost the moral high ground that
used to give weight to statements concerning issues such as poverty
in our country, war, nuclear weapons and the death penalty. Whether
or not people agreed with the Bishops' positions on these issues,
the statements were debated both within and without the Catholic Church
and in the pages of many respected publications. This, unfortunately,
seems no longer to be the case.
It is time to restore credibility to the American
Catholic Church by replacing those leaders who have so damaged that
standing. The Board of Directors and members of Long Island Voice
of the Faithful are calling for the resignation of Bishop William
Murphy and all Bishops associated with the cover up and misrepresentation
of sex abuse within the Roman Catholic Church.
Others Agree That Bishop
Murphy Should Resign
National Catholic Reporter The Independent Newsweekly
EDITORIAL This week's stories - Issue Date: August
Time for some more bishops to resign
Bishops John McCormack, Manchester, N.H.; Thomas Daily,
Brooklyn, N.Y.; Robert Banks, Green Bay, Wis.; William Murphy, Rockville
Centre, N.Y.; and Archbishop Alfred Hughes, New Orleans, should resign.
Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas Reilly's 76-page
report on the Boston archdiocese's handling of priestly sexual abuse
places blame for the crisis in the Boston church squarely where it
belongs: with the former archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Law, his predecessors,
and the auxiliary bishops responsible for day to day management of
"The mistreatment of children was so massive and so
prolonged that it borders on the unbelievable," says Reilly's report.
"For decades cardinals, bishops and others in positions of authority
within the archdiocese chose to protect the image and reputation of
their institution rather than the safety and well-being of children."
No one will go to jail as a result of Reilly's 16-month
investigation, though his report is scathing. The laws on the books
at the time make it impossible to seek indictments, Reilly said.
The aforementioned bishops -- auxiliaries under Law,
whose careers benefited from his patronage -- stand accused of stymieing
criminal investigations, shuffling known predators to child-rich environments,
demonstrating undue respect for the rights of molesters over the kids
they abused, failing to inform parishes of the predators in their
midst, transferring abusers out of Boston, and accepting non-Boston
abusive priests into the archdiocese.
Somehow, it never occurred to these men that child
rape is a crime that should be reported to the police, whether or
not members of the clergy were "mandatory reporters" under the law.
That loophole became a noose for the 1,000-plus children abused by
Any other institution in this society -- government,
business, nonprofit -- would rightly show these men the door. Enron
was a catastrophe, but Ken Lay is now unemployed; Howell Raines no
longer edits The New York Times. It's called accountability.
At their June 2002 meeting in Dallas, and their subsequent
Washington gathering in November of that year, the U.S. bishops took
a number of positive and necessary steps. A national board to investigate
the causes of the crisis was established, programs were put into place
to protect children, and procedures were promulgated to remove known
abusers from the priesthood.
But incomprehensibly the bishops, both individually
and collectively, remain loath to take responsibility for their own
managerial and pastoral malpractice. Instead, they maintain to the
utter disbelief of Catholics throughout the nation, that blame lies
solely with the "small percentage" of priests who abused children.
And to the degree culpability goes up the chain of command, they tell
us, bishops made mistakes of the heart, attending generously to the
needs and hurts of their brother priests.
The attorney general's report puts the lie to this
weak defense: "Any claim by the cardinal or the archdiocese's senior
managers that they did not know about the abuse suffered by, or the
continuing threat to, children in the archdiocese is simply not credible."
To regain credibility, leaders of the church must
accept responsibility for their actions. As the good sisters in grade
school taught us: Actions have consequences. Or at least they should.
In the spirit of "fraternal correction," their brother
bishops should call upon McCormack, Daily, Banks, Murphy and Hughes
to retire. And each bishop in the country should examine his own conscience
to determine whether he is similarly culpable and, if so, should take
Only by taking personal accountability for their egregious
failures will the bishops, individually and collectively, begin to
restore their lost credibility and become worthy pastoral leaders.
National Catholic Reporter, August 1, 2003