Whom do Bishops confess to? In the case of 61-year-old Bishop Robert J. McManus of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts, it would be his parishioners. Bishop McManus was involved in a DUI accident in Rhode Island and left the scene.
Luckily, there were no serious injuries. In fact, the driver of the other car reported the crash, then followed the bishop to his family’s vacation home in the Bonnet Shores beachfront community about two miles away.
Police arrested McManus, charging him with driving under the influence and leaving the scene of an accident. He earned additional charges after refusing to take a blood alcohol test. Previously, he had a clean driving record.
The bishop publicly apologized for a “terrible error in judgment”.
McManus initially pleaded not guilty to his charges. He appeared before a Traffic Tribunal judge on May 14 and agreed to plead guilty to a charge of refusing a chemical breath test. According to William Murphy, the Bishop’s attorney, “There was an agreement with our entry of admission of chemical test refusal that the DUI would be dismissed.”
The Bishop didn’t get off scot-free: He has had his driver’s license revoked for six months and was ordered to pay fines and court costs totaling $900.
Bishop McManus is not a particularly isolated case. Oakland Diocese Bishop Salvatore Cordileone, of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco was arrested in San Diego for DUI in August 2012. Like Bishop McManus, he apologized humbly for his poor judgement.
Even more shocking was the case of Bishop Thomas J. O’Brien of the Diocese of Phoenix. He resigned after being convicted of DUI and leaving the scene of a fatal accident in 2004.