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 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 investigate, 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 nearly $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 ranging from two - three years, to the Teflon Priest who left this Earth after molesting hundreds of young boys, and no one in the Diocese of Manchester 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 the 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 (SNAP, VOTF to name a few), to all the many who have ever interacted with Fr Gordon - let us hold Fr Gordon in our hears and in our prayers.  We are blessed for having known this man who is destined to become a saint.  

We are all so weak, and we shed tears not only because this good man is being held prisoner while innocent, but because our Church, his Church, the Roman Catholic Church (Bishop John McCormack) cowers and would rather try secretly to have him laicized after telling at least two people that he believed Father Gordon to be innocent.  How can he live with himself and celebrate Masses with this huge black blot on his soul? It makes one wonder what kind of bishops do we have? Bishop McCormack is certainly not reflecting the spiritual values that Pope Francis demands of his priests.

Father Gordon has been deserted by his bishop, but not by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ..He will be welcomed into Paradise whenever he leaves this Earth. It is important that we help this priest, truly one of God's own.

God is good.  All the time.  All the time God is good. Amen.
Why not say it twice?

Father Gordon has been deserted by his/our  Church, but we know that he will be welcomed into  Paradise by our Lord