Wednesday, June 19, 2013
''Over the past years, it has become apparent that you are unwilling to cease from publicly slandering and defaming (Bishop Richard Malone's) character,'' stated a recent letter to Kendrick from the Rev. Andrew Dubois, the diocese's vicar general. ''This is a cause of great scandal, which may impede (Malone's) effective ministry.''
It was not an idle observation. Attached to Dubois' letter was a ''canonical precept,'' or order, from Malone mandating that Kendrick ''abstain from all verbal and written communication and physical contact with me.''
Malone's precept also prohibits Kendrick from being ''present in the same building with me (or) within 500 feet of me in public places.''
Finally, it instructs Kendrick to follow ''the prescripts of civil law'' -- most notably criminal-trespass and cease-harassment notices issued on Dec. 18 against Kendrick at the bishop's behest by the Portland Police Department.
Failure to follow Malone's decree, Kendrick was warned, could result in a canon-law ''interdict'' against him. Like the more serious sanction of outright excommunication, an interdict would bar Kendrick from attending church services or receiving the sacraments.
Sue Bernard, spokeswoman for the diocese, says Kendrick has more than earned the rebuke with his frequent public statements chastising Malone and the near-constant correspondence he sends to the diocese's chancery office.
''It's been obvious for years that the bishop has been taking this -- turning the other cheek, turning the other cheek and not doing anything,'' said Bernard. ''This has gone so far beyond victim advocacy. This is about harassment.''
But Kendrick, who has retained two lawyers -- one secular, the other canonical -- for whatever lies ahead, has a markedly different interpretation of Malone's motives.
''It's to send a message of, 'Don't challenge us. Don't ask us questions. Don't speak out,' '' Kendrick said. ''Would I change the things I've done if these are the criteria for (an interdict)? No.''
Kendrick, a lifelong Roman Catholic who was educated by Jesuits through high school and college, has railed against the church's handling of the so-called ''priest scandals'' almost since they first surfaced here in Maine and beyond eight years ago.
He's spoken with numerous people who have said they are victims and their families, some of whom have revealed their stories of abuse to him for the first time.
He's picketed the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception in Portland, along with other churches around Maine, to call attention to alleged abusers still among the ranks of Maine's Roman Catholic priests.
And long after the church-abuse stories faded from the front pages, Kendrick continues to deluge Malone and his staff with letters and e-mails exhorting them to be more welcoming of the church's victims and less protective of the priests who abused them. One such e-mail, written on Dec. 16, prompted Malone to retaliate.
CHURCH TAKES NOTICE
After telling Malone that he hoped to attend Midnight Mass at the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception on Christmas, Kendrick wrote that he would be sitting in the front row to hear the bishop's traditional Christmas homily.
''I will come in peace,'' Kendrick wrote. ''But if you happen to look my way from time to time, you may see me shaking my head ever so slightly in disbelief, or my head may be in my hands as I pray for tolerance to remain seated in spite of your hypocrisy.''
Bernard said the diocese took that as a threat to disrupt the service, prompting Malone to obtain the police notices and issue the official church warning for Kendrick to stay away.
''At the very least, it's distracting,'' Bernard said of the behavior Kendrick promised in his e-mail. ''And if the person saying or leading the Mass is distracted, that's disruptive to everybody.''
Kendrick, who ultimately did not attend the Mass, said the bishop is overreacting.
''I would never disrupt a Mass or worship service. I've never done that,'' he said. ''And I would never threaten to do that.''
Rather, he said, he simply wants Malone to sit down and talk with a woman from Boothbay Harbor named Marie Tupper.
Three years ago, Tupper settled a lawsuit against the diocese. In it, she claimed that when her son was a young child, back in the early 1980s, he was molested by the Rev. Thomas Lee at Our Lady Queen of Peace Parish in Boothbay Harbor.
Lee resigned his priesthood in 2004 after Bishop Joseph Gerry, Malone's predecessor, announced that complaints of sexual abuse by the priest had been deemed sufficiently credible to forward the case to the Vatican in Rome.
The diocese has never said how many complaints it had against Lee. Tupper said this week that she's spoken with nine other victims in Boothbay Harbor, where Lee served as pastor from 1971-85, and three at St. Philip Parish in Lyman, which he led from 1985-2004.
After Gerry forwarded Lee's file to Rome with the request that it be tried by a church court, the Vatican appointed a three-member tribunal of priests with expertise in canon law to examine the case. Earlier this year, the tribunal found that although Lee's actions were ''imprudent,'' the allegations that he had sexually abused minors were not proved.
HAS NOT MET WOMAN
In a Dec. 19 statement that was released just before 5 p.m. on a Friday, Malone announced that he would appeal the tribunal's finding to the Vatican.
''I am stunned and disappointed at the outcome of this case and frustrated that the process has taken so long,'' Malone said in a press release. ''It has undoubtedly been difficult for the families involved.''
What Malone did not say in the release was that he has yet to meet with Marie Tupper.
Diocesan spokeswoman Bernard said Malone has invited Tupper to meet with Dubois, the vicar general, and Paul Falconer, chairman of a diocesan board that reviews sexual-abuse claims. The sole reason Malone has not met with Tupper, Bernard said, is Paul Kendrick, who has been Tupper's primary spokesman these past several years.
''He does not feel comfortable sitting down with people who have such a close association with Paul,'' Bernard said. ''It's as simple as that.''
Bernard said the diocese's concerns were heightened again this month when Kendrick, Tupper and Harvey Paul, another victims advocate, confronted Malone with a video camera while the bishop was entering an Old Port bar to meet with a group of young Roman Catholic adults.
The bishop asked for and received a police escort past the trio, who peppered him with questions as he walked by, Bernard said.
Bernard said that tactic was typical of Kendrick, who ''keeps victims in a place of anger. We try to reach out -- we truly try to do that. But that's not what he's about.''
Contacted at her home Monday, Tupper called Bernard's comments ''absurd.''
''I'm my own person -- I'm very much my own person,'' Tupper said, noting that it was she who reached out to Kendrick, not the other way around, after her son first told her of the abuse, in 2002.
Tupper said the offer of a meeting with Dubois, the vicar general, was ''an insult.'' She tried for months to contact Dubois seeking an update of the Lee case, she said, but her messages went unanswered.
''The issue is that (the diocese) never wanted to have anything to do with the victims,'' Tupper said. ''They never have.''
It's too soon to say whether the standoff between Kendrick and Malone will progress beyond the church equivalent of a cease-and-desist order.
But Kendrick, while obeying the police warning to stay away from Malone physically, has already sent the bishop yet another letter.
''Am I to understand this to be part of a canon law process in which I am a defendant?'' he wrote on Tuesday. ''If so, why was I not informed of any rights I might have according to the pertinent laws of the Church?''
NO PLANS TO CONTEST ORDER
Mark Randall, a Portland lawyer who is representing Kendrick on the police notices, said he has no immediate plans to contest those orders. Still, Randall said, ''I don't believe the conduct they're complaining of meets the definition of harassment.''
In a letter last week to Gerald Petrucelli, the diocese's attorney, Kendrick decried Malone's actions as a ''scare tactic'' designed to ''intimidate and silence those who advocate for justice for victims.''
''I urge you to advise the Bishop of Portland to cease his campaign of defamation against Paul Kendrick,'' Randall wrote. He later added, ''The time for direct one-on-one communication (between Malone and Kendrick) is long overdue.''
As for Malone's precept and potential interdict against Kendrick, the Rev. Thomas Doyle, a canonical lawyer from Washington, D.C., and longtime friend to Kendrick, said Monday that he will represent Kendrick before the Roman Catholic Church.
That will include appealing the precept issued by Malone, Doyle said, as well as fighting an interdict should the bishop impose one.
''Paul is not a 'Sunday Catholic,' '' Doyle said. ''He's a man who lives his Christianity on a day-to-day basis.''
As for Kendrick, he said he will continue advocating publicly for victims regardless of what Malone does to silence him.
''I would receive the Eucharist no matter what he did,'' Kendrick said. ''He does not stand between me and God.''
Columnist Bill Nemitz can be contacted at 791-6323 or at: