Monday, April 27, 2015


                                                     By Charlene C. Duline

Father Gordon J. MacRae

“Why say it twice?”  That is one of Father Gordon’s favorite expressions. He was ready to respond to his attorneys after being notified of Judge Joseph LaPlante’s decision on Father’s Habeas Corpus petition. I was anxious to know what the judge said and when I asked, his response was, “Why say it twice?” He began dictating.  With the first few words I knew the decision.  Still, it came as a blow.  As he dictated, I felt my tears welling up, and then they were flowing down my face and I couldn’t see what I was typing, but my fingers knew the keys.  I could not believe what I was hearing. Suddenly I blurted out, “The court is going to make you stay in prison until you die?!” I could not help it.  He said I had to stay strong in order to help him.  And now he had to make a decision about whether to continue to appeal or not.  One attorney, an old friend of his, cautioned that his funds were too short to continue.  Another attorney felt that they had to soldier on, and he was already preparing.  When Fr Gordon asked my opinion, I said “You can’t give up now! We’ll get the money somehow.” 

 These attorneys, mind you, had kept Fr Gordon silenced for years when the media wanted to interview him.  PBS wanted to interview him a few years ago and the Department of Corrections said “No,” and his attorneys agreed. Several media outlets wanted interviews and while Fr Gordon was always agreeable, the attorneys refused. They didn’t want his appeal to be heard in the court of public opinion.  Finally, a priest, Father James Valladares, was allowed into the prison for an hours long interview with Fr Gordon in preparation for a documentary film he was producing.  As he searched for funding, Father Valladares wrote a book about priests, “Hope Springs Eternal in the Priestly Breast.”

Philip Seymour Hoffman, the actor who had agreed to be the voice in the film, caused some excitement in the MacRae camp, and then we learned of his sudden death. He would have been superb. It seems that every day Fr Gordon and those who work with him relearn the Murphy’s Law that says if anything can go wrong, it damn sure will!

When Father MacRae was accused, his diocese was as helpful as a can of grease in a kitchen fire . . . as it continues to be.  Shortly before his trial, the diocese issued a press release stating he was guilty, and all potential jurors read that and believed it.  We have the dishonorable Monsignor Edward Arsenault to thank for that since at that time he was in charge of the diocese while Bishop McCormack simply followed his lead.  Recently Msgr. Arsenault was arrested and convicted of stealing from the estate of a dead priest, and for embezzling funds from his former diocese to wine, dine, and travel with his male lover.  Bishop Libasci said everything would be out in the open; he promised to laicize Arsenault immediately.  Well, guess what? Arsenault is lounging in a country jail (not prison) and will be released very soon to "home arrest."  He will also be welcomed back to a diocese in the area to continue his mockery of the Catholic Church and his vows. 

Judge Arthur Brennan who sentenced Fr Gordon to this life sentence still believes that he did the right thing.  Still, I wonder if he ever asks himself if he could have been wrong in ignoring the psychotherapist who would motion from the back of the courtroom when Thomas Grover was to pretend to sob and be unable to answer a question.  Does he ask himself if he erred is not letting Fr Gordon speak in his own behalf? Does he ever wonder about the motive of the hulking man who accused Fr Gordon, a man who battered his wife, who was a drug and alcohol addict, who had no job and would have done anything for a monetary windfall? 

Msgr. Edward Arsenault being led to prison - Fr MacRae  - Judge Arthur Brennan being arrested in D.C. 

And now comes the learned Judge Joseph LaPlante.  Judge LaPlante is a Catholic so stellar that the Catholic Lawyers Guild in 2012 presented him its St. Thomas More Award.  “The award is given to a judge or lawyer who is a practicing Catholic and embodies St. Thomas More's spirit of courage, dedication, integrity, civility and compassion toward others.”  It is my opinion that Judge LaPlante showed none of those characteristics during Fr Gordon’s appeal. I didn’t expect him to be a bleeding heart, but I did expect him to clearly see the problem of this man being sentenced to 108 years in prison for a crime that never happened.  Instead, the judge declined to hear the merits of the case and refused to hear the witnesses. The courts of New Hampshire seem determined to wear down the sources of money for Fr Gordon to continue to appeal.  It takes thousands of dollars for each appeal.  The State can refuse to hear his case over and over; it’s no cost to them.  Remember early on Fr Gordon was told by a New Hampshire lawyer:  “New Hampshire courts have never overturned a conviction based on actual innocence and they are not about to start now.”  Such is justice in the “Live Free or Die State”!

If it wasn’t for bad luck, Fr Gordon would have had no luck from the day he was ordained.  The night before his Ordination, the other deacon who was to be ordained, decided to quit.  Fr Gordon had a lot of bad luck when he was sent to parishes that had problems as well as problem priests. In 1985 Father Stephen Scruton was assigned as pastor to the St. Bernard Parish in Keene, NH where Fr Gordon was an associate pastor.  Fr Gordon discovered that Scruton – I have dubbed him the Teflon Priest – was into pornography and young boys.  Father Scruton had been arrested in New Hampshire and Massachusetts and charged with indecent exposure and lewd conduct. The parish was abuzz about Scruton’s previous arrests, and he managed to alienate some by his arrogance.  Shortly after his arrival, Fr Gordon began getting complaints from parishioners about Scruton’s sexual innuendoes and improper language.  Young males began complaining about him.  Fr. Gordon called Msgr. Christian who told him to address these matters with Fr Scruton.  He did, and Scruton denied the accusationsFr Gordon was fresh out of the seminary,  had confronted the Teflon pastor, and now he is told by his superiors to handle the situation.  The cowards who headed the diocese simply washed their hands of both priests and didn't want to hear any bad news.   

  “By the summer of 1986 the rectory situation had become unbearable.  Father Scruton was incommunicative and would leave the rectory almost every evening, stay out all night, and then sleep for most of the day.”  (  Fr Gordon had several confrontations with the Teflon Priest – one involved fisticuffs -  who finally and reluctantly, got rid of his pornography, and transferred from the parish.  The Teflon Priest figured prominently a few years later when he headed another parish.  Scruton was away on vacation in Ireland when a disturbed young man and his girlfriend invaded the rectory and demanded to see the pastor.  A priest from another parish was called and he, the parish secretary and her son were held hostage for most of the day.  The priest saved the secretary and her son by helping them escape out of a window.  Eventually the young man killed the priest, his girlfriend and himself. Whatever beef he had with Fr  Scruton was kept from the public by the governor, a friend of Scruton, who ordered the case sealed. The Teflon Priest lived to cause more contention.   

Scruton promised to testify for Fr Gordon, and insisted that he did not need to be subpoenaed.  

Instead, he fled the state for several years. Perhaps his testimony might have helped Fr Gordon had 

Scruton simply told the truth, but he chose to flee instead.  A few years later when Scruton returned to 

NH, Fr Gordon’s FBI investigator contacted him and arranged to interview him.  The Teflon Priest 

agreed to meet with him, but when the investigator got to his house, Scruton had changed his mind 

and refused to see him.  Another man in the house was heard urging Scruton to talk to the 

investigator, but he adamantly refused. Later Scruton fell down some stairs and died after a few days 

in the hospital. The Diocese of Manchester protected this priest who was, and who remains,  the 

cause of much of Fr Gordon’s troubles.    

From the lying and conniving Keene Detective James McLaughlin, to the hulking Thomas Grover, 

now hiding out on an Indian reservation in the West, and his brothers who also tried to milk the 

Diocese of Manchester for money after seeing their brother receive $200,000, to the original Judge 

Arthur Brennan who kept much testimony out of court that would have helped Fr Gordon, to the 

prosecutors who twice offered Fr Gordon plea deals of 2 – 3 years, to the Teflon Priest who left this 

Earth after molesting hundreds of young boys, and no one in the Catholic Church was prepared to 

deal with him except for Fr Gordon, to those who believe in Fr Gordon and who contribute to his 

defense fund, to those who love him, and yes, even to those who are doing their best to see that he 

spends the rest of his life in prison – to all the many who have ever interacted with Fr Gordon – let us 

hold keep Fr Gordon in our hearts and in our prayers.  We are blessed for having known this man 

destined to become a saint. We are also weak, and we shed tears and none of us knows how long he 

or she will live, but we all can look forward to being welcomed to Paradise by Our Lord and Savior 

Jesus Christ and by Father Gordon MacRae whenever he and we arrive there.   

Let us help this priest, truly one of God’s own. God is good.  All the Time.  All the time God is good. 

And that's why we say it twice! Amen.

Monday, January 26, 2015


                                                By Charlene C. Duline

I love Pope Francis. I loved him when he told our priests and bishops that they should smell like their sheep; that they should get out from behind their desks and get out among their sheep.  We, the laity, being the sheep.  At the same time, dear Francis is aware that we the common folk don’t always want to smell like sheep. He invited some homeless men to have dinner with him and one man refused because he felt that he smelled too bad to eat with the pope. The Holy Father sent out an emissary to see what the homeless needed and wanted. The result is they want a place where they can shower. The Holy Father then had showers installed at the Vatican for the homeless.  He listens to his people.

I daresay that Pope Francis might be unaware that many American priests are also homeless and living on the streets, and who would welcome the opportunity to have a shower available. Some of our priests who have been accused are unable to find housing and live under bridges with others who are homeless. Priests who are accused of sexual abuse – and no bishop has ever asked for proof – and go to prison have nothing when they are released from prison.  They cannot live near a school or a public park or a beach, no place where children might be present. None of our bishops or canon lawyers seem able or willing to help them since they are assumed to be guilty – despite any evidence to the contrary – and they are removed from public ministry and thrown out of their rectories, AKA The Dallas Charter.  One monsignor waited ten years before his diocese determined that he was innocent of all charges against him.  One wonders how that was determined since the crimes were supposedly committed almost 50 years ago.  What a farce. Few Catholics in the pews are concerned about priests , yet the same Catholics rant and question the legitimacy of this pope. One case in point is that of Father Gordon MacRae, now serving his 21st year for a crime that never happened. Yet his ordinary, Bishop McCormack and his trusted assistant, Msgr. Edward Arsenault -  now serving a prison sentence for stealing money from his diocese and the account of a deceased priest - and the bishop who followed, Bishop Libasci, have ignored his pleas for assistance which they promised. Arsenault also was accused of having an affair with a male musician who he wined and dined sumptuously and publicly.   

We must continue to keep Pope Francis in our prayers.  There are those inside the Vatican who would like to see him dead.  He is reforming the Curia; managing the Vatican’s bank, and condemning the Mafia and their followers; all of which puts crosshairs on his back.  But he continues shaking up the Church.  I firmly believe that as long as he resides at the little guest house, he will be fairly safe. His penchant for venturing into crowds, kissing babies and touching people call for our prayers that he will be kept safe. We trust our Lord to protect him. He has a reason beyond the ostentatiousness of living in the Vatican for not residing there. We remember Pope John Paul I and his short tenure.  A number of odd events happened the night of his death, and Pope Francis is not unaware of those things. Yet he continues to greet people up close and personal, walks among them and, he works as a man time-driven who realizes that he might not be with us for very long.

Some Catholics complain that he is not following tradition.  No, he doesn’t want to wear little red shoes.  He doesn’t wear mink and ermine around his neck because he does not want to.  And I don’t blame him one bit.  I’ve never seen him look happier than when someone put a live baby lamb around his neck.  The Holy Father beamed. He loved it! Perhaps other popes were accustomed to living grandly.  Francis is not.  Back in Argentina, he rode the bus to and from work. He drove his own car and lived simply.  He cooked his own meals. He has not changed. He sees no need to dwell in luxury.  Above all, he always thinks of the poor. None of the lack of those “traditional” things makes Francis any less of a pope. I have read some comments from some who emphasize that they feel he is the “legitimate” pope, but they disagree with his policies.  “Legitimate” pope? What does that mean? Legitimate as opposed to what – an illegitimate pope?  Oh please!

Because he won’t wear red shoes and other paraphernalia that you have become accustomed to does not make him any less a pope.  Because he refuses to live in the Vatican; washes the feet of a Muslim girl along with other youth who may or may not be Catholic; has clouded your vision of a pope living in the Vatican and, speaks often about us serving the poor and unfortunate as we should – get over it! Pull up your big girl panties and your big boy pants, and stop your nonsense about Pope Francis.

We do not deserve such a wonderful pope that God has given to us, a pope who forces us to lift our eyes to our Lord and to see the least of men and women as our brothers and sisters.  Francis does and says things that make people uncomfortable, especially Catholics.  We have neglected and ignored the poor for so long. Francis makes us feel ashamed and we grumble that he should be doing “traditional” things.  The Holy Father is not here to make us feel comfortable as you know. If he makes your butt squirm in your pew on Sunday, so much the better. Perhaps it will cause us to take a second look at the beggar who’s a fixture on our local corner who we have managed to ignore for years.  How would he look and feel in a warmer jacket? Do you have one to spare? Would he enjoy a hot cup of coffee or tea, or a hot sandwich? Speak to him. Let him know that you recognize that he is a fellow human being. If that makes you uncomfortable, then you should enroll in the Pope Francis School of Thought that is guaranteed to shake up your world.  Step outside of your “tradition” and do the right thing.

Many Catholics as well as non-Catholics find Pope Francis to be open and refreshing!  He reaches out to everyone, and when he speaks his words resonate with many outside of the Church.  What a blessing to have such a man as our pope! 

Some dare to suggest that Pope Francis is causing a scandal in the Catholic world.  If listening to and loving and trying to help the poor is a scandal, then let the scandal continue!