Pardon me while my head explodes. On Thursday, the 75-year-old Catholic bishop of Manchester, NH, John B. McCormack, turned up at a rally at the statehouse in Concord to decry proposed budget cuts. “We urge the legislature and the governor to place the poor, the unemployed, and our most vulnerable citizens first,” he said. Whereupon, on Friday, the 27-year-old House majority leader, D.J. Bettencourt (R.-Salem), a member of Sts. Mary and Joseph Parish, took to his Facebook page to suggest that Bishop McCormack was in no position to advocate on behalf of the least among us:

Would the Bishop like to discuss his history of protecting the “vulnerable”? This man is a pedophile pimp who should have been led away from the State House in handcuffs with a rain coat over his head in disgrace. He has absolutely no moral credibility to lecture anyone.

Whoa! To be sure McCormack was one of Cardinal Law’s henchmen in Boston, serving from 1984 until 1994 as his Secretary for Ministerial Personnel–which made him the point person for dealing with priests charged with sexual abuse. Two months ago, his opposite number in Philadelphia, William Lynn, became the first high-ranking church official to be criminally charged for transferring accused pedophiles to other parishes. But by the time the Boston scandal broke, McCormack was safely ensconced in the Granite State. New Hampshire Voice of the Faithful’s Carolyn Disco acknowledged that Bettencourt had a point: “the lack of credibility of Bishop John McCormack’s voice in the state.” Such are the wages of scandal in New England.

Still, suggesting that McCormack had been in the business of procuring altar boys for priests was over the top, and the remark has elicited calls for the majority leader to resign his position from Democrats and distancing from Republicans. For his part, Bettencourt is unrepentant: “Are the words harsh? Sure, they’re harsh. But they are deserving, given this man’s role in a very dark period in the church’s history.”

Personally, I’m waiting for Bill Donohue to discharge one of his “dissident Catholic” broadsides at Rep. Bettencourt. But because the good doctor keeps his guns trained to the left, I’m not holding my breath.

Update: I was wrong, I should have held my breath.

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