SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Former Bishop Joseph Maguire, who led the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield from 1977 to 1992 and faced allegations following retirement that clergy sex abuse and cover-up of that abuse had happened on his watch, died Sunday evening at the age of 95.
Maguire died at his residence in Springfield surrounded by his family and caregivers, diocese spokesman Mark Dupont said. His health had been in decline in recent years but he had been seeing guests and talking on the phone with friends up until a week ago, Dupont said.
Maguire was installed in February 1977 as the fifth bishop of the diocese covering western Massachusetts, which now has 217,000 members. He retired in February 1992 and suffered a heart attack several months later, according to The Springfield Republican.
He underwent aortic valve replacement and bypass surgery in 2005 and had knee replacement surgery in 2004 and in 2008, the newspaper reported. He remained active at ordinations and social events in the community until health issues began to force him to stay at home in the last year or so.
In 2012, a Williamstown man reached a $500,000 settlement with Maguire and another former bishop he said failed to stop a known pedophile priest who molested him.
The man alleged in a lawsuit that the priest molested him in the early 1980s and that Maguire and his subordinate, Thomas Dupre, knew that the priest had abused other boys in 1976 but assigned him to the church anyway. Dupre succeeded Maguire as bishop following Maguire's retirement but was defrocked by the Vatican in 2006. The priest also was later defrocked.
At the time of the settlement, Maguire apologized for the victim's suffering. "I only wish that in 1976 as a new bishop, I could have foreseen the true nature of one who violated our trust with such devastating harm to his victims," he said.