The Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire issued the following press release in response to Beliefnet's assessment of the actions of Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack, who advised Boston's Cardinal Law on personnel matters from 1984-1994.

(MANCHESTER, NH) The Diocese of Manchester today strongly disagreed with an assertion by the Beliefnet website.

"Their report does a great disservice to both the truth and the journalistic profession," said Patrick F. McGee, Diocesan spokesperson. "By piecing together snippets of already published news articles, this organization has reached a conclusion unsupported by facts. They did not contact the Diocese prior to posting its unfounded conclusion, nor does it appear that the authors even had direct contact with the reporters from the various media they cite as source material."

McGee said that it is irresponsible for Beliefnet to assert a ranking of American bishops based on its inadequate research and no objective criteria. "These bishops have served the people of the church over the course of many decades. To try to label them because of actions some bishops took based on the common practice of the time and on the requirements they had under canon law is both unfair and without merit. Many of the bishops, including Bishop McCormack, have acknowledged that they are better today in dealing with allegations of abuse against priests than they were 10 or 20 years ago.

In Bishop McCormack's situation, he was not a bishop when he was working in Cardinal Law's cabinet. A bishop, along with every other individual, should be seen in the light of his entire time of service, not on selected snapshots."

McGee also pointed out that the Diocese of Manchester, under the direction of Bishop McCormack, has a clear and effective policy on sexual misconduct. Bishop McCormack made it clear on February 15 of this year that no priest with a credible allegation of sexual abuse of a minor will serve in any ministry in the Diocese. Bishop McCormack has enforced this policy both with priests who had prior allegations and those against whom new allegations have surfaced.

McGee said that all the allegations against priests of the [Manchester] Diocese date from before Bishop McCormack was installed in September 1998.

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