Saturday, November 9, 2013

An Open Letter to Father MacRae's Bishop, Peter Anthony Libasci

(This letter was sent to Bishop Libasci on September 24, 2013.  I have not yet had the courtesy of a reply)

                                                                                                            September 24, 2013

Bishop Peter Anthony Libasci
Diocese of Manchester
153 Ash St.
Manchester, NH 03104

Bishop Libasci,

Yesterday Father Gordon J. MacRae began his 20th year in prison for crimes that never happened.  Not only was he falsely accused and wrongly imprisoned (for life: 33 ½ yrs. to 67 yrs.), but his own Diocese played a major role in his sentencing. Bishop John McCormack, Fr. Edward Arsenault, Bishop Christian, etc. – all of “sterling” character – distributed a press release telling the public that Father Gordon was guilty of those crimes BEFORE his trial.  Everyone in the state had the opportunity to see that press release - especially the jurors. 
Bishop Libasci and Bishop McCormack
Father Gordon’s last correspondence with his bishop was a letter telling him that he, Bishop McCormack, had sent a letter to the Vatican, with no indication of what the letter was about.  Bishop McCormack would not speak to or correspond further with Father Gordon or with his canon lawyer, Fr. David Deibel.

Bishop Libasci, when you arrived, we the readers and the believers in justice, thought that at last a new bishop of the Diocese of Manchester would surely look into his case and see how unfair the Diocese had been to him, and would make some effort to correct that.  We thought the new bishop would at least visit Father Gordon since visiting prisoners (especially one of your own Diocese) is one of the duties of a shepherd. Your predecessor and his advisers made promises that were not kept. They deceived and lied to Father Gordon about how personal documents pertaining to him were released by the Diocese and published:

“When Bishop McCormack signed an agreement with the Attorney General's Office to publish the files of some 62 priests accused, a part of the agreement was that each priest would have a ten-day period to review and challenge publication of any files pertaining to him. Concerned that privileged legal documents and other materials produced post-trial by Father MacRae were about to be published, the imprisoned priest wrote to Father Edward Arsenault in January, 2003, asking that this ten-day review be afforded to him. He received no reply. 

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.”
(“Bishop Takes Pawn: Plundering the Rights of a Prisoner-Priest” by Ryan A. MacDonald, May 21, 2012,

Kelly Ayotte

So much for truthfulness to one of the Diocese’s priests. It appears that every dirty trick the Diocese could do to Father Gordon, was done in triplicate.  He has never said or written a negative word against his Diocese or brother priests.  No one from his Diocese has ever visited him.  In fact, the Diocese spread the word that Father Gordon did not want to have anything to do with his Diocese or his Church.  He has written to some of the priests of his Diocese and in turn received notes saying, “Please do not write to me again.” Father Gordon has not become bitter. He has become a better priest in prison and ministered to a lot more people in need than he could have in a parish. He simply writes the truth and readers can make up their own minds about his guilt or innocence. 

What is also true is that he deserves a second trial. So much has come out since he was sentenced. Bishop McCormack told two people – although he now denies it – that he knew Father Gordon was innocent. And yet the Diocese did not pay for an attorney (as promised) and Father Gordon had very little money. He was represented by someone who did not have his best interests in mind. Few people noticed the psychologist among the onlookers who motioned when the accuser should cry during his testimony. The judge – now a long-haired protester against the U.S. government 
Judge Arthur Brennan who sentenced Fr. Gordon to life and death in prison

– issued a sentence that was in no way just or fair. Father Gordon is not eligible to apply for parole because he maintains his innocence. Thus, he must serve the entire 67 years which means he will die in prison or be 108 years old when released. He won’t live that long. He suffers from a number of illnesses, some for which he won’t take medication because the disease becomes worse when the patient has to go without the medication for weeks or even months. Because of the lackadaisical attitude of the medical personnel at the prison, and the ineptitude of the guards, a prisoner seldom gets his medication as prescribed.

Father Gordon is an inspiration to many people in all parts of the world. One reader wrote:
With burning sorrow, I think of you today on the 19th Anniversary of your wrongful imprisonment. With God’s grace you have, no doubt at great cost to yourself, in reality transcended that dreadful wrong.  You are an inspiration to thousands of your readers far beyond the beauty and charm of what you write and even beyond the deft analysis you provide, but particularly in the humility and Christ-like spirit you show forth…. May our loving Lord grant you your release soon and Holy Mother Church at long last do the right thing by you! You are an example of holiness and wisdom to us all!”

Father Gordon J. MacRae

Bishop Libasci, I ask you too to be an example of holiness and wisdom, and above all, to be the shepherd a bishop is supposed to be. Our Holy Father, Pope Francis visits prisoners and writes to some priests in prison. How can our bishops do any less?

                                                                        Peace and Blessings,

                                                                         Charlene C. Duline

Monday, October 21, 2013

For Fr Gordon MacRae’s Appeal to Move Forward, Help Is Needed

New Hampshire courts have declined to hear the habeas corpus appeal of Fr Gordon MacRae, and now an appeal to federal court begins, but the help of many is needed.
Editor’s Note: This is a guest post by Ryan A. MacDonald, author of A Ram in the Thicket.
I hope every visitor to These Stone Walls has read and shared with others, “The Trials of Father MacRae,” an account of egregious injustice penned last May by Pulitzer Prize-winning Wall Street Journal columnist, Dorothy Rabinowitz. Ms. Rabinowitz was also interviewed in a compelling video on this case which I urge readers not to miss. One phrase in her WSJ article provides a conscience-stirring summation:
“Those aware of the facts of this case find it hard to imagine that any court today would ignore the perversion of justice it represents.’
Three months after the above article was published, a superior court judge in New Hampshire dismissed this appeal without hearing any testimony on its merits or evidence. More recently, an expensive but necessary appeal to the New Hampshire Supreme Court met, in late September, with yet another refusal by state courts to hear this case.
I am one of those aware of the facts of this case, one who, as Dorothy Rabinowitz put forth, finds it hard to imagine that any court today would ignore the perversion of justice it represents. And “perversion of justice” is the most apt description of the 1994 trial that convicted Gordon MacRae and sent him to prison. So I have asked for some space on These Stone Walls this week to update readers on the status of an appeal effort on behalf of this wrongfully imprisoned priest.
This is also an appeal of my own, an appeal to readers to assist with a fund raising effort to continue this hope for justice. Any gift, large or small, will greatly aid this just cause to bring hope and justice to an innocent man, a man who has just begun his 20th year of wrongful imprisonment. I have written below a description of why I am convinced this case is a just and worthy cause, and then I want to describe how you can help.
No. 1 - Rectory
Like so many who have looked at this case, I was aghast when I first became familiar with the details of the trial of Father MacRae. I wrote of this trial in an article entitled “Judge Arthur Brennan Sentenced Fr Gordon MacRae to Die in Prison.” Once I became aware of this trial, I also wanted to see for myself exactly where this was all claimed to have taken place. What I saw was a compelling visual to accompany something Attorney Robert Rosenthal included in his appellate brief to the NH Supreme Court:
“In what the petitioner asserts has been revealed as a scam to obtain a cash settlement from the Catholic church, Tom Grover, a drug addict, alcoholic and criminal, accused Father Gordon MacRae of molesting him years before. Grover’s civil suit – featuring MacRae’s conviction -earned him nearly $200,000. No witnesses to the alleged acts could be found, despite that they were to have occurred in busy places. Grover’s claims were contradicted by objective facts (e.g. inoperable locks that he claimed worked, acts in an office to which MacRae did not have access, claims about a chess set that had not [yet] been purchased).”
Just how busy was the place in which Thomas Grover claimed to have been repeatedly assaulted at age 15 by Father MacRae in the summer of 1983? To answer this question for myself, I became quite familiar with the scene above during a short trip this past summer to Keene, New Hampshire and its much-touted downtown Main Street.
A small city with a population of about 23,500 (not counting the 5,000+ students enrolled in Keene State College) Keene is the social and economic hub of southwestern New Hampshire. It boasts the widest Main Street in the United States, and its vibrant downtown area – the envy of many cities its size – is a bustling collection of quaint and busy shops, restaurants, a theatre, offices, and a concert area on the Keene Commons.
This bustling downtown area begins at the doors of Saint Bernard Church and Rectory, the scene depicted above. The building in the background is Saint Joseph Regional Catholic School (grades K to 8). The entire complex is bordered on the left by the 5,000 student campus of Keene State College, and on the right by busy downtown Keene. Just across the wide, heavily traveled Main Street from the rectory door is the region’s largest and busiest U.S. Post Office, a pizza restaurant heavily patronized by KSC students, and a convenience store conducting a brisk college town business 24/7.
No. 2 - saint bernard Rectory
In the scene just above, note the flat-roofed adjunct just to the left of the rectory building. It was added on at some point to the large old house that became St. Bernard Rectory. The few stairs and rounded door on the building’s left side was in 1983 the rectory’s main business entrance.
Around 1980 or so, a closed circuit television camera was installed just above that door because the rectory had been the scene of a number of urban burglaries and an armed robbery or two. In the late 1970s, two priests and the pastor’s elderly mother were tied up at gunpoint in the rectory basement while the house was robbed. 

Just inside that door in the 1980s was the desk of a receptionist and secretary staffed in two shifts from 9:00 AM until 9:00 PM. Also just inside the door was a waiting area for parishioners wanting to see one of the four priests assigned there in early 1980s, and for daily clients of the region’s busy St. Vincent DePaul Society seeking assistance with food, clothing, and emergency shelter. This doorway was the busiest place in or around Saint Bernard Parish in the 1980s. The photo above was taken very early in the morning. At virtually any other time, it is a hubbub of activity.
Just to the left of that door is a large window. It was just behind this highly visible office window – in full view of the daily hustle and bustle of Main Street traffic and a steady stream of visitors into and out of St. Bernard Church and Rectory – that 27-year-old Thomas Grover claimed at trial in 1994 that he was four times overpowered and sexually assaulted by Father Gordon MacRae in the summer of 1983.
It was here behind this window where Grover claimed that in the months just prior to his 16th birthday he sought MacRae out for counseling for his drug addiction, but instead was threatened, berated, made to cry, and then raped. It was here behind this window that 220-pound Thomas Grover claimed to have returned four times from week to week unable to remember the sexual assaults alleged to have occurred in previous weeks. It was behind this window that he claimed to have the PTSD induced “out-of-body experiences” that caused him not to remember.
Thomas Grover claimed that these assaults occurred in this office commencing in April 1983 and ending just as he turned 16 years old in mid-November 1983. It has been determined that Father MacRae did not arrive at St. Bernard Church until mid-June 1983, and did not have access to this particular office, or any office on the first floor, because they were occupied by other priests until the end of July 1983. Grover then vaguely claimed other assaults in other nearby places, moving at least one claim to an adjacent busy office to which MacRae also had no access that summer.
No. 3 picture saint bernard catholic church keene nh 0
The prosecution produced not a single witness to these acts. No one ever saw Thomas Grover there. No one ever opened the door to admit him, or saw him leave. No one ever claimed to have heard anything. An ornate marble chess set that Grover claimed was inside that office during the 1983 assaults was not purchased by the priest until three years later in 1986. According to Thomas Grover’s ex-wife, Thomas Grover perjured himself about the chess set claiming that it was what he was told to say. A lock Grover claimed that MacRae used to secure the office door had been dismantled and painted over years before the priest arrived.
The one person who could have helped in this appellate defense – a prominent priest of the Diocese of Manchester – refused to help. The above scene was his office for several years before MacRae arrived, and for several years after MacRae left St. Bernard’s. That priest could have spoken to the improbability of all that had been claimed. He could have described the locks that didn’t work, the shade on the office window that wasn’t there in 1983, the absence of air conditioning requiring that this office window remain wide open to the front door main entrance throughout summer months.
That priest could have attested to the traffic; to the noise of people coming and going, noise that easily penetrated that office door in both directions. He could have attested to the waiting area just outside that office door, and its steady stream of people. But he refused. In his answer to Father MacRae’s plea as the investigation for this appeal began, that priest wrote, “I can’t be of any help to you, and don’t see the necessity to entertain any further correspondence from you.”
And this as the Bishop of Manchester, who promised assistance and then reneged, informed Vatican officials and others that he and the Diocese of Manchester fully support Father MacRae’s right of defense.
We of good conscience and justice in our hearts cannot allow this to stand. Let’s make this an effort of the Church Pope Francis speaks of, the Church of the people addressing an egregious injustice with the small gifts of the many instead of the efforts of a few. Please help.
As listed on the “Contact” page of These Stone Walls there are four ways you can be of help, and I urge you to spread word of this information by sharing this post with your social media and online contacts. Here’s how to help:
LEGAL DEFENSE FUND: A legal fund has been established to accept gifts applied directly to legal costs that are ongoing in this case. As we now begin the process of preparing appeals to the federal courts, available funds have been seriously depleted, and continuance of this effort depends on assistance. Checks in any amount to this fund should be made out to Fr. Gordon MacRae and mailed as follows:
Friends of Fr. Gordon MacRae
P. 0. Box 863
Hampton, NH 03842-0863

TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS: The National Center for Reason & Justice ( has fully examined the case of Fr. Gordon MacRae. Its Board of Directors and wrongful conviction specialists voted unanimously to provide fiscal sponsorship of his ongoing legal defense. What this means is that this fine organization lends its name to this appeal for funds, and will accept tax deductible contributions earmarked for legal expenses in this appeal if they meet the criteria.
Please consult for instructions on how to make a tax deductible donation earmarked for the Fr. Gordon MacRae case. If you wish to donate to the NCRJ, please indicate in the “memo” line on your check that you wish to apply the funds to the Fr. Gordon MacRae case. If you also wish to apply for a tax deduction, you should indicate so in a cover letter. That address is:
National Center for Reason & Justice 
Re: Fr. Gordon MacRae Defense 
P.O. Box 191101 
Roxbury, MA 02119-1101
Website: (

THE PAYPAL LINK available on the front page of These Stone Walls is active, and it provides an opportunity for online gifts in any amount. If you take advantage of thePay Pal link, please include an e-mail instructing us on whether you prefer your gift to be used for legal expenses or the support of These Stone Walls.
A SUPPORT FUND is also established to accept assistance in support of These Stone Walls and the special circumstances in which Father MacRae must write and publish. This includes costs for domain and hosting fees, postage and typing supplies, and daily telephone costs from prison to edit and manage These Stone Walls and hear and respond to messages. Remember that as a prisoner, Father MacRae has no Internet access so all messages must be read to him by telephone. Checks to this support fund should be made out to Fr. Gordon MacRae and mailed as follows:
Fr. Gordon MacRae 
P.O. Box 8217 
Lynn, MA 01904-8217 
If you are unable to help with any of the above, you can still help enormously by posting links to These Stone Walls on other blogs, social networks, and to your own contacts. This is most important. And you can also pray, without doubt the most powerful intervention available to us. Let us hope together for justice.
Thank you, and God bless you.

Sunday, September 8, 2013



In my first grade class in a Catholic school many years ago, there were three little boys destined to make their marks on society.  One always said he was going to become a priest. He was absolutely certain that he was going to become a priest.  The second boy said he wanted to be a doctor when he grew up, and the third boy never voiced what he wanted to be as an adult, but he was intelligent and destined to do something noteworthy. 

The first boy told everyone who would listen that more than anything else in the world he wanted to, and was going to, become a priest.  There was no doubt in his or our minds.  He-was-going-to-become-a–priest!  He was a beautiful boy.  As someone said, he was so pretty he should have been a girl. His skin glowed, and was the color of cafĂ© au lait.  His hair was curly and jet black.  And when he smiled, the sun shone brighter. He was indeed a beautiful boy.  Our classmates knew that he would be an exceptional priest.  At our daily Masses he knelt perfectly straight on the hard wooden kneelers, hands folded in obeisance to God who he was preparing to serve.  We knew that he was well on his way to priesthood. 

At a very young age he entered a seminary to begin the rigorous studies to become one of the Lord’s own. Many years passed. Periodically when I returned home I asked about him, but no one had any information about him.  Somehow we all believed that he had become a successful priest. In my mind’s eye I could see him ministering in a parish somewhere near or far away. I hoped his parishioners were enjoying the young priest who so passionately wanted to serve them.

The second boy realized his dream and became a doctor – a gynecologist.  A friend who had just given birth looked up at a group of interns crowded around her bed as her doctor examined her, and she was chagrined to see a familiar face smiling at her.  It was our old classmate.  His dream had been realized.  But he knew nothing of our golden boy, the priest-to-be.

The third boy became a doctor also, a dermatologist, who I had occasion to visit after running into him and his sister in another city where I resided.  I asked about our friend who wanted to become a priest, but he knew nothing of him.

Years passed.  I always asked about him, but nobody knew where he was or if he had become a priest. I remembered him in prayer whenever I thought of his lofty ambition, and prayed that he was a successful priest.

Imagine my shock one morning when I read the obituary section in the daily paper and saw my friend’s name.  The obituary said at the time of his death, he worked at a clinic for  HIV patients in a major East Coast city.  What was even more shocking than his death was that there was no mention of his priesthood. That shock was compounded by another shock: he specifically requested that there be no church service.  My heart broke!  What could have happened to separate him from our Church?  What turned his dream of being a priest into a nightmare? I wept for his broken and unrealized dreams, and for this friend whose ambition was crushed somehow.

I often think of my childhood friend who went into the seminary barely in his teens, and it is always with great sadness that I remember him. I’ve never known anyone who wanted to become a priest, let alone someone with the passion that he had for the priesthood. Whatever happened must have been devastating to cause him to abandon that dream and to not even want prayers as his body was recommitted to the earth.

This wayfaring stranger who as a beautiful, young innocent was making his way through the world, died, sick and disappointed with his Church and maybe even angry at God. Now this wayfaring stranger is a stranger no more. He is now at Home where there is no sickness or fear, but only goodness, peace, and the presence and love of God. 

May my friend requiescat en pax.