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Diocese of Manchester Changes Its Tune

Thursday, February 4, 2021


Contact: C. J. Doyle

The scandal plagued Diocese of Manchester is singing a new tune about the traditional Catholic religious order---the Richmond based Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary---which it has spent the last two years trying to suppress.

In January of 2019, the diocese, without warning, issued draconian Precepts of Prohibition against the Slaves, aimed at their complete dissolution as a religious ministry. The diocese not only deprived them of the services of a priest and forbade them from writing, teaching, or publicly speaking, but actually ordered them to contact the IRS and disavow that they were a Catholic organization.

Since that time, the diocese's controversial canonist, the Rev. Georges de Laire, has repeatedly castigated the Slaves in the pages of the New Hampshire Union Leader.

Now, in a February 2nd Union Leader story, de Laire claims that “The bishop [Peter Libasci] is committed to the Slaves and their supporters, as they are members of the church and he owes them ministry.” He went on to say that the diocese is ".... now engaged in an effort to dialogue...." with the Slaves. How that dialogue is advanced by yet another planted media story critical of the Slaves, de Laire did not explain.

The Friends of Saint Benedict Center are calling de Laire's claims of solicitude towards the Slaves "cynical, self serving and patently insincere."

Friends of Saint Benedict Center Communications Director C. J. Doyle made the following comment: "de Laire's hypocrisy is staggering. For years, the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary have patiently engaged in an unrequited endeavor to achieve reconciliation with the Diocese of Manchester."

"Their good faith efforts have been repaid with relentless hostility, petty insults, pettifogging restrictions, punitive measures, reprisals against clerics who support them, attempts to deprive them of their canonical rights (including the right to counsel) and a deliberate campaign of demonization in the secular media apparently originating with and apparently orchestrated by Georges de Laire."

"No ecumenical encounter between a Catholic diocese and a non-Catholic religious group would ever be characterized by the high handed arrogance, manifest contempt and sheer mean spiritedness shown by the Diocese of Manchester towards the Slaves of the Immaculate Heart of Mary."

"Georges de Laire's ally in this campaign to discredit the Slaves has been Union Leader stringer Damien Fisher, who has produced eight tendentiously hostile stories on the Slaves since 2019. What Fisher has concealed from his readers is that his wife is an employee of the Diocese of Manchester."

"Simcha Fisher is a columnist for the diocesan magazine, The Parable. If a public employee had such a substantive conflict of interest as Damien Fisher, that individual would be facing ethics charges."

"The cause for the change in tone remains to be seen. It could be that the failed attempt to crush the Slaves has become a public embarrassment for Bishop Libasci, or that de Laire is engaged in calculated misdirection, trying to soften the image of the diocese as a prelude to harsher measures. Whatever the reason, no traditional Catholic should trust the goodwill or good intentions of the bureaucrats of the Diocese of Manchester."

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