When the media needs a quote to bash the Catholic Church for abuse from a half-century ago, one predictable source it often turns to is BishopAccountability.org.
The Massachusetts-based BishopAccountability.org professes to act as a sort of library of documents pertaining to sex abuse in the Catholic Church. It claims that it simply seeks to "gather and make accessible all public information about the Catholic abuse crisis and the bishops' role in it." However, a closer examination of the group reveals an organization which is just another anti-Catholic hate group using the old sex abuse issue as a pretext to bludgeon the Church.
Steeped in malice
Though it claims otherwise, BishopAccountability's ultimate mission has nothing to do with protecting children and everything to do with smearing Catholic priests and bishops as mercilessly as it can.
Both Terence McKiernan, BishopAccountability's president, and Anne Barrett Doyle, the group's catty "clerk/director," have been regular speakers at the conferences of notorious anti-Catholic groups such as SNAP and Voice of the Faithful, while Doyle has been especially vocal in trying to get legislatures to extend the statutes of limitations, a maneuver intended to further line the pockets of the Church-suing contingency lawyers she supports.
Smearing innocent priests
BishopAccountability's nastiest trait, however, is its extensive online database of "publicly accused" Catholic clerics. The group claims it maintains this database in order to track abusive priests so that bishops cannot transfer them about and harm other children.
However, it should be noted that this problem has already been solved. Many years ago, bishops implemented groundbreaking reforms to immediately remove any credibly accused priest from public ministry.
And BishopAccountability is not interested in the truth about accused clerics. No matter how flimsy, old, and/or thoroughly discredited an accusation may be against a Catholic priest, BishopAccountability will adamantly post the priest's name and history – and often his picture – on its site, suggesting the cleric is a child molester. (The group asserts that it removes the entries of those priests whose accusers have recanted, but we have already shown that this claim is demonstrably false.)
Take the case of Fr. Roger N. Jacques, who, after two decades of unblemished ministry, was suddenly the object of a single accusation in 2002. The case had several hallmarks of obvious fraud:
- the accuser invoked the discredited theory of "repressed memory" to claim that she only remembered her abuse after she allegedly underwent so-called "hypnosis therapy";
- she told conflicting tales about the very nature of the abuse;
- she lodged an additional, out-of-the-blue accusation of abuse against a second priest months after accusing Fr. Jacques.
After an intensive and thorough investigation by the Church taking four years, Fr. Jacques was fully exonerated. The priest then went to meet with McKiernan and Doyle from BishopAccountability to try to have his name removed from their database. He even provided the pair with extensive documentation demonstrating his innocence. But McKiernan and Doyle were steadfast and refused to remove the priest from their site. As a result, Jacques' name remains plastered on the site as if the priest were a rabid child molester. Needless to say, the long-time cleric is none too pleased to have his reputation tarnished.
"And my family isn't too happy about it either," adds Fr. Jacques, referring to his siblings and numerous other family members, individuals whom people often forget have to endure this embarrassment as well.
Sadly, the situation of Fr. Jacques with BishopAccountability is far from uncommon. BishopAccountability.org profiles countless innocent priests on its site; so many, in fact, that the number of troubling examples could fill an entire book.
[UPDATE, May 2013: Following this post and the persistence of Fr. Jacques, BishopAccountability.org has taken the rare action of actually removing Fr. Jacques from its database!]
How about a "JewishBankers.org" web site?
The mere premise alone of BishopAccountability.org is clearly bigoted and grossly anti-Catholic. While the best and most reliable evidence reveals that Catholic priests have abused at a rate far lower than that of men of the general population, BishopAccountability.org fosters the filthy stereotype that many, most, or all Catholic priests are child molesters.
Imagine if another organization maintained a vile and bigoted web site chronicling only Jewish bankers merely accused of monetary wrongdoing. Even though the organizers of such a wretched enterprise would likely argue that they are merely "informing the public," such a group would be rightfully dismissed as vulgar and anti-Semitic for propagating a false and repulsive stereotype about Jewish people. Media outlets would never even acknowledge the existence of such a despicable endeavor.
Yet the world's leading media outlets like the New York Times, the Associated Press, and Reuters routinely swarm to BishopAccountability.org – a site that only targets Catholic priests – to get predictably hysterical and hate-filled quotes on decades-old scandals. And they turn to the group as if it were simply some neutral historian on the issue rather than a purveyor of anti-Catholic bigotry that it is.
Our analogy may seem audacious, but we make it to chronicle this noxious and prejudiced double standard.
Bishop Accountability's profitable prejudice
According to its 2011 Form 990 (the most recent form available), BishopAccountability.org has raked in close to $1.7 million over the last five years, except that the primary beneficiaries of all this money have been only McKiernan and Doyle.
Taken together, McKiernan and Doyle have personally pocketed over one half of all of the donations made to the group in the past two years, with McKiernan securing a comfortable $120,000 in 2011.
Meanwhile, the group has spent $56,000 on hotel rooms and travel just in the past two years alone, presumably all for McKiernan and Doyle.