- Associated Press - Monday, December 1, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) - A retired bishop of the western Massachusetts Roman Catholic diocese, criticized for his handling of clergy sex abuse, was praised at his funeral Monday for what mourners called dedicated and joyful leadership of the church.

Retired Bishop Joseph Maguire died Nov. 23 at age 95. He was Springfield bishop from 1977 until 1992.

Hundreds attended his funeral Mass at St. Michael’s Cathedral, led by Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley and conducted by Springfield’s new Bishop Mitchell Rozanski.

Five western Massachusetts police chiefs served as pallbearers for Maguire, a Boston native and son of a Boston police officer who also had been a police association chaplain and ministered to jail inmates.

Another retired Springfield bishop, Timothy McDonnell, said in his homily that Maguire worked at being a “true shepherd to all people” and found a retirement role as “the diocese’s heart,” making personal visits to people in need.

“When it came to light that young people had been abused by priests under his jurisdiction, he anguished over the pain those young people had suffered, pain they carried into adulthood, pain many carry still,” McDonnell said in prepared remarks.

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 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.

“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,” Maguire said in a public apology at the time of the settlement.

McDonnell said Maguire’s regrets and his prayers for the victims continued to the end of his life.

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