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Bishop Malone responds to Portland story

Tue, Nov 27th 2018 02:00 pm

Several media inquiries were received by the Diocese of Buffalo this past week regarding Father Thomas Lee and Father Paul Coughlin, two cases handled during Bishop Malone’s time as bishop in Portland, Maine.  Please find a statement below from Bishop Malone that was shared with media outlets as well as documents concerning both Father Lee and Father Coughlin.

I stand by the fact that the canonical process, as it relates to Father Thomas Lee and Father Paul Coughlin, was scrupulously followed during my time as bishop in Portland, Maine.  For anyone to imply that there was any sort of cover-up in either case is patently false.  We were transparent, issuing press releases and letters to the faithful throughout both investigations.  The attached releases from the Diocese of Portland document our transparency.

In the case of Father Lee, when the tribunal determined that the allegations were not proven, I supported an appeal.  When a second tribunal reached the same conclusion, no further appeal was possible.  Nevertheless, I continued the restrictions on his ministry.  I know some were critical of the canonical process because they did not like the result.  It’s no different than when people become frustrated with our justice system if they do not like the verdict.  But the verdict stands.

Father Coughlin was punished for permitting a convicted sex offender, John Skinner Sr., to live in a parish rectory and his failure to follow a 1987 policy to report information from a minor who had been abused by Skinner.  I sought and obtained Father Coughlin’s resignation from ministry but Canon law required I review his case periodically.  After three years, I allowed him to resume some priestly duties – saying Mass in convent chapels and filling in at weekend Masses.  There was a significant outcry to this decision so I re-evaluated my decision and restricted his ministry.

Supporting Documents:

Father Coughlin removal press release

Father Coughlin resignation presser

Father Coughlin resignation, Bishop Malone letter to parish

Father Paul Coughlin restrictions eased

Father Coughlin parishioner letter

Father Lee details of reports released

Father Lee; Bishop Malone statement to Lyman '03

Father Lee decision presser 3/6/04

Father Lee final decision presser Feb. 2011

Father Lee letter to Boothbay Register Jan. 2009

Father Lee letter to Lyman March 2004

Father Lee letter to Tupper on final decision Feb. 2011

Father Lee letter to victims final decision Feb. 2011

Father Lee steps down presser Sept. 2003

Father Lee: Bishop appeals to Rome Dec. 2008

Father Lee-Tupper lawsuit statement Jan. 2005

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