Mr. Demers decided that he could not in conscience honor the secrecy demand of his bishop when two years later he learned that the bishop sent the case of Father MacRae to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in Rome seeking his canonical dismissal from the priesthood based upon no evidence other than the fact of his convictions.
"It was unfair of the Diocese not to assist Gordon with funding an appeal of his sentence leaving him with a public defender for his only remaining hope for appeal."
Father Edward Arsenault contacted Father MacRae through the prison chaplain in 2002 with an assurance that the Diocese would retain Attorney David Vicinanzo to represent him. Reportedly, Father Arsenault asked the imprisoned priest to forward to his office all defense files retained by the priest. In December, 2002, Father Arsenault answered one of Father MacRae's letters with a statement that he "has not yet had an opportunity to discuss the materials you sent with Attorney Vicinanzo."
At the same time all of this was going on, Father Edward Arsenault and the Diocese of Manchester were deeply involved with negotiations with plaintiff lawyers for mediated settlements. For a stunning review of what went on behind closed doors in these mediated settlements, please see an eye-opening article by Father George David Byers entitled, "The Judas Crisis...Follow the Thirty Pieces of Silver."
Ten days after the files were published, in March of 2003, Father MacRae received a letter from an attorney for the diocese describing what he must do to obtain his files and review them before the release. The month-long delay in his receipt of that letter has never been validly explained to him.
After the publication of this vast release of files, Father MacRae wrote to both Bishop McCormack and Attorney General Kelly Ayotte protesting the publication of files that were fraudulently obtained by the diocese and published without regard for the priest's confidentiality rights. Bishop McCormack wrote that he tried to prevent the publication of files that were confidential, but was not successful. Attorney General Ayotte's representative wrote to Father MacRae stating that all files obtained by a Grand Jury in New Hampshire are considered confidential under law, but added that Bishop McCormack signed a waiver of confidentiality enabling all the accused priests' files to be published.
At that time, Bishop McCormack sent a letter to Father MacRae expressing his concern that he has "learned you have retained new counsel" in this case. Bishop McCormack wrote that he has retained counsel to represent him - though no one knows why the Bishop would need representation in Father MacRae's appeal. The Bishop's letter also detailed that he has commissioned lawyers to conduct a review of Father MacRae's trial for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. The Bishop's secret "review" bypassed all the lawyers and investigators diligently working on Father MacRae's appellate defense. Bishop McCormack has refused to divulge to the priest or his legal and canonical advocates the nature of that secret review.
"For we have made lies our refuge, and in falsehood we have taken shelter." (Isaiah 28:15)
by David F. Pierre, Jr.
A Priest's Story Part One: The Trial