Sermon on the Mount (Carl Bloch)
I expect many have read or at least heard of the case of Fr Gordon Macrae sentenced to a term of life imprisonment in 1994 in New Hampshire, USA, for alleged assault and abuse of a minor in 1983.
During the past 20 years much has been written and spoken about the glaring inconsistencies and apparent injustices in this case. Fr Macrae himself has always maintained his innocence, and over the years support for him has snowballed. In April 2005, Pulitzer-Prize winning writer Dorothy Rabinowitz profiled the case of Fr. Gordon in two complementary articles in the Wall Street Journal, under the title 'A Priest's Story'. After months of studying Court documents and combing through testimonies, Rabinowitz concluded that Fr Macrae was clearly a victim of fraud and was wrongly convicted. In May 2013, Rabinowitz followed this up with a further article in the Wall Street Journal, entitled 'The Trials of Father MacRae', in which she re-iterates her original conclusion.
In 2012 a book ‘Catholic Priests Falsely Accused – The Facts, The Fraud, The Stories’ by David F.Pierre, Jr. was published, and the case of Fr Macrae was particularly highlighted.
Recently it was announced on Fr Macrae’s website, ‘These Stone Walls', that an Appeal was to be taken to the Federal Court challenging the verdict in this case, with new evidence concerning both the facts of the case and the handling of the case in the original trial, casting real doubt over the judicial correctness of the original verdict .
From the facts in the public domain, this is an Appeal which should be upheld. It is about more than one unjustly condemned priest receiving a fair hearing, although that alone would be more than an adequate reason, it is about justice being done for all those priests falsely accused of sexual crimes, who were never given the opportunity to defend themselves. Clearly and unfortunately, some allegations were based on truth, but an experienced lawyer has been quoted as saying that in his opinion, anything up to two-thirds of all allegations made against priests are false in one degree or another. Such allegations were either driven by malice against the Church, or/and by greed, with huge civil settlements being paid out of court by Diocesan authorities desperate to avoid Court publicity, and without any questions asked on the reliability or otherwise of the evidence. Many allegations referred to ‘incidents’ which had happened up to 30/40 years previously, and in many cases the accused priest had since died. This made no difference, settlements were still made and the good name and reputation of the priest concerned was effectively blackened. This post is not intended to portray the whole story, but I would urge you - if you are unaware of this case, or wish to refresh your memory, to connect to the link below:-
As can be appreciated, there is a great need for help towards the cost of mounting this appeal, please see details on the following link:-
In his book 'Catholic Priests Falsely Accused', David Pierre includes an article on Irishwoman Kathy O'Beirne, who in 2005 released a book, 'Kathy's Story: The True Story of a Childhood Hell Inside the Magdalene Laundries'. After apparently enduring harrowing abuse from her father, O'Beirne claims that aged 12, she was placed in the care of The Sisters of Our Lady of Charity at a Magdalene laundry. O'Beirne describes in frightening detail how she was repeatedly brutalised by the nuns, on one occasion suffering a broken pelvis. In addition she alleged that a priest raped her, and at age 13 she gave birth to a baby daughter who died 10 years later. With a torrent of clerical abuse allegations in the USA, and scandals brewing in the UK and Ireland, at that particular time, O'Beirne's harrowing tale found a fertile market. Her book reached no.3 on the UK's best seller list, with nearly 400,000 copies sold. Reviewers raved, the 'Irish Independent' castigated the Church, and 'She' magazine proclaimed, 'Her story is so horrific, it's almost unbelievable'. As things turned out this last reviewer was nearer the truth than she imagined, for in fact the whole of 'Kathy's Story' is complete fabrication. A year after the book was published, five of Kathy's brothers and sisters publicly addressed the media, declaring that her book was a 'hoax publication'. It transpires that Kathy was never in a Magdalene laundry or home, there is absolutely no record that she gave birth at age 14, and she was not raped by a priest. Mary O'Beirne, younger sister of Kathy, has this to say about her, 'Our sister has a self-admitted psychiatric and criminal history, and her perception of reality has always been flawed. She is very convincing though, and that is what makes her dangerous'. O'Beirne's co-author, a man by the name of Michael Sheridan, later admitted, 'There are no documents, and there is no evidence of Kathy in the two Magdalene laundries; there never was.'
A Tissue of Lies
Veteran writer Hermann Kelly investigated O'Beirne's claims, and found the whole story a virtual fraud. He recounted his findings in his own book, 'Kathy's Real Story'(Ireland Prefect Press 2007). Particularly upsetting to the O'Beirne family was Kathy's claim that their father was an abusive and terrifying man, an angry drunken thug. The reality was quite the opposite, 'My father never once lifted his hand to us. Never,' Mary O'Beirne has said. 'It was a normal happy childhood. He was a very proud, good man, and it breaks my heart to see the terrible lies Kathy has written about him'. Even after the author's credibility was destroyed, another publisher announced that it had won a bid to publish a sequel, and it was only as a result of action by the O'Beirne family, that the publisher announced that it was dropping the project because it had failed to resolve 'legal issues' with the author. In spite of everything the book continues to sell well in England and Wales, and unbelievably receives 5 star reviews on Amazon's UK site.
I decided to mention this particular case because I'm sure that very many people would have been understandably scandalised when the story first came to light, and they may not be aware of the truth. As I remember, the media made great play of this story, with the Irish nuns depicted as cruel and unfeeling bullies with little or no thought for the well-being of the girls in their care. Yet it was a tissue of lies, but was the good name of the nuns restored? I do not remember much publicity from the media to put right the lies and innuendos that they had originally promoted. Maybe I missed something, but I must confess that I was ignorant of the outcome until I read David Pierre's book. The truth needs to be shouted from the housetops, and I don't think that we can rely on the media to do this.
(Ack. 'Catholic Priests Falsely Accused. The Facts, The Fraud, The Stories' by David F Pierre, Jr.
published 2012, Mass. USA)
'Humiliation is the touchstone of sanctity.You will acquire more merit by meekly receiving an affront, than by fasting ten days on bread and water.'
(St Alphonsus de Liguori C.SS.R)
'May Our Blessed Lady guide and protect our Holy Father, Pope Francis' Amen.