Open Season: NH Lawmakers hurl names at bishop, threaten to tax Catholic Church

What is this, open season on the Catholic Church? The Republican lawmakers in New Hampshire need to cool off. I’ve been watching this situation get worse day by day:

Leading conservative leaders began to step in Wednesday to try and quell the simmering controversy over House Majority Leader D.J. Bettencourt’s attack against Roman Catholic Bishop John McCormack as a “pedophile pimp.”

While Bettencourt has apologized for his comments and plans to meet privately with McCormack today, other GOP lawmakers have picked up the assault. Fremont Republican Rep. Timothy Comerford said McCormack is a “corrupt scumbag in my book,” in comments he posted online at the New Hampshire Union Leader website.

Meanwhile, Derry Republican Rep. Andrew Manuse said he would consider seeking legislation to strip the Catholic Church in New Hampshire of its tax-exempt status and accused McCormack of breaking the law by speaking out against the House budget last week.

Manuse backed off later, saying he has no plans to seek such legislation and said his comments were “completely overblown.” (Nashua Telegraph)

“Completely overblown”? Here’s exactly what Rep. Manuse emailed to Bill Donohue:

“I am now considering a bill to remove the Church’s tax exempt status in New Hampshire, for you have clearly shown that you no longer want it.”

There’s no room for confusion here.

Behaving immaturely in public is irresponsible enough, but threatening the Church’s tax status (i.e., livelihood) is even worse … especially when the threat comes from lawmakers once they get upset that people are calling them out for their anti-Catholic rants.

In other words, how is it that Rep. Manuse is fine with punishing the entire Catholic Church in New Hampshire over his personal dislike for the Archbishop there? That’s why I feel free to classify this as anti-catholic behavior, since evidently Rep. Manuse sees fit to threaten all Catholics in the state, making this more than a personal (immature) dust-up.

Rep. Bettencourt is going to visit the Archbishop (to apologize further, I presume). Reps Manuse, Comerford and Lynne Ober (that I know of) should hitch a ride with him.



  • J H

    Thomas – you are way off on this one. Why does the “man in the pew” have to cowtow to these bishops who do nothing to support to Church and only use their power to further their liberal ideologies? I was a parishioner in New Hampshire and McCormack was known for not even voting “present”. Who is responsible for leaving the church open to such attacks – precisely the bishops.

    Do you realize that McCormack was personnel director under Cardinal Law? Do you realize that his job was to assign and move priests to other parishes? Do you realize his culpability in placing children at risk, as well as the souls of the victims, the priests, and those faithful who were so disillusioned? And how does he spend his time? Telling the legislature that collective bargaining is a human right? Really? There aren’t more pressing issues at hand – gay marriage, abortion, etc. etc. etc.

    I don’t appreciate “catholic bashing” but I think that bishops deserve what they get.

  • NB from NH

    Perhaps I am misunderstanding the comments here, but the issue the Bishop was speaking out about was collective bargaining, not marriage, correct?

    I find it interesting that the Bishop chose to spoke out so publicly about this particular bill in the state of NH and not the recent parental notification bill (for minors seeking abortions). Or the parent school choice bill that would give parents whose students are enrolled in Catholic Schools a tax break. Perhaps he did and it just wasn’t publicized?

    Teachers in Catholic schools in the Diocese of Manchester do not have the same ‘rights’ that the Bishop was speaking about at this protest (or any other diocesan employee for that matter). They are not able to unionize, collective bargain, they don’t get paid maternity leave, no diocesan retirement plan, etc. I’m not saying they should (goodness knows tuition is hard enough for families to afford) but I just found that interesting. Catholic school teachers have had their salaries frozen in the past few years, even dropped in some cases, in response to the recent economy. Why isn’t the same being asked of their public school counterparts? Or other public employees? And why is the bishop speaking out so vocally? I just don’t get it… :( He definitely has a right to speak his mind. And I’m trying hard not to question his authority as the Bishop. However, it seems hurtful towards those who give their lives to the ‘vocation’ of Catholic school teacher (or other diocesan employee) with not much in the way of a monetary reward. It is as if to say, “Rights for all workers, well except for you guys over here. You don’t matter.”

    Let me be clear, I don’t think speaking out in such a vulgar manner is appropriate by any means. But I can understand at some level the frustration behind those remarks. Maybe someone can help shed some light on this?

    • JH from NH

      You’re absolutely right. The bishop has no business whatsoever using his authority in this manner. We need to be bold as Catholics and call a spade, a spade. This bishop is acting in a ridiculous manner, he has no shame about his actions as another commentator implied, and he should be focused on the church’s work – not a liberal agenda. I wish he would just retire already!


    I sent an email to Bettencourt and got a quick reply. It was the basic “I’m sorry you were offended” kind of political apology. I’m a NH native, and have spent some time with the bishop at various events, and despite his storied history with the Boston archdiocese and Cardinal Law, I think he is profoundly humiliated and humbled by the experience, and penitent. He deserves better than ugly comments from wack job Republicans, who I am willing to bet are pro-death penalty and using contraception to boot. I also heard that there is a movement to have Bettencourt kicked out of the Knights of Columbus. This is certainly not something to expect from a “catholic gentleman”.

  • Michael S

    …and people want to know what’s wrong with this Country…it’s VERY, VERY, VERY SICK !!!

  • Some Guy

    Republicans love Catholics when it comes to abortion and gay marriage. Mention the rest of Church teaching, and they attack us.

    • Bruce

      Correct, and not surprising in the least either.

  • Pingback: Episode 118: A Nation of Takers, not Makers



Receive our updates via email.