News Alert: Federal Appeal Filed in Fr Gordon MacRae Case

Alert-  Federal Appeal Filed in Fr Gordon MacRae Case s

The National Center for Reason and Justice announces a new federal court appeal filed by Attorney Robert Rosenthal for wrongly convicted priest, Fr Gordon MacRae.

Editor’s Note: The following is a TSW guest post by Ryan A. MacDonald.

I am once again pleased to write about a major step in the effort to free Father Gordon MacRae, a priest of the Diocese of Manchester, New Hampshire now in his twentieth year of unjust imprisonment. In a memorable quote in “The Trials of Father MacRae” in The Wall Street Journal last May, Pulitzer-prize winning author and columnist, Dorothy Rabinowitz summed up an appeal to state courts to overturn the unjust 1994 sexual assault convictions of this falsely accused priest.

“Those aware of the facts of this case find it hard to imagine that any court today would ignore the perversion of justice it represents.”

That “perversion of justice” continued when New Hampshire state courts rejected this appeal without a hearing on its merits, its new evidence, or its documentation of gross ineffective assistance of counsel in the 1994 MacRae trial. In an upcoming guest post on These Stone Walls, I plan to write in more candid detail of that perversion of justice from documents I have recently obtained in this case.

But first, some hopeful news. The National Center for Reason and Justice, a Boston-based organization that reviews claims of wrongful conviction and now sponsors the appellate defense of Father Gordon MacRae, has announced a new federal court appeal. Attorney Robert Rosenthal, lead counsel for the defense, has written an extensive new habeas corpus petition filed in the United States District Court in Concord, New Hampshire seeking to overturn the conviction of Father MacRae. We urge readers to review this appeal brief published by the NCRJ and here at These Stone Walls.

Petition for Writ of Habeus Corpus


It was the readers of These Stone Walls that made this step possible. In my last guest post here last October I wrote, “For Fr Gordon MacRae’s Appeal to Move Forward, Help is Needed.” Readers stepped up admirably to help meet expenses to ensure the continuation of this case.

But now we must ask your help in expanding this effort to raise funds and to promote justice. The drafting of this extensive new appeal and its hundreds of pages of exhibits has exhausted all available resources and left the defense of Father MacRae in debt for the first time since it began. At the conclusion of this post, I will list once again the ways readers can help. We are deeply grateful to those who already have.

It may also help a good deal if readers would circulate a link to this post by sharing it on your social media networks, among your contacts, and in comments on other blogs and websites. We need to generate awareness of this case and the importance of justice not only for one falsely accused priest, but for the priesthood itself. We must together promote the mandate of the global Catholic Church to be a mirror of justice. Just two days before writing this post, I read the following in a weekly Catholic newspaper by a prominent Catholic writer:

“I hate to say it, but there really is no way to defend any of these guilty priests or their enablers anymore. The priest sex abuse scandal has been responsible for so much of the brutal criticism and fracturing of the modern day Catholic Church. We have been shamed. We have been put in a very difficult position as lay Catholics where we face scorn and ridicule…”

Who could disagree? I can’t! However I also happen to know first-hand that many accused priests are not guilty. The scorn and ridicule we face as Catholics will only be magnified – in this life and in the next – if the justice we see meted out is not marked by mercy, and especially by truth.

And the truth is that the Church is not just an easy target for the slurs of detractors, but she is also an easy target for lawyers and false claimants looking to score a windfall. This aspect of the scandal is seriously neglected – even by the Catholic press – because organized victim groups stand ready to trumpet their cause and demean the Church whenever the legitimacy of a decades-old claim is questioned.

As a result, bishops have been bullied into silence and unquestioned settlements. They have also been bullied into discarding our priests, ignoring their due process rights under Church and civil law, and into casting adrift the accused without due process. Justice itself has been the most abused victim in this tragedy for the Church.

By once again exposing the truth of “The Trials of Father MacRae,” Dorothy Rabinowitz and The Wall Street Journal presented compelling reasons to revisit this case, not only for the integrity of the justice system, but for the integrity of the Church as a mirror or justice.

To paraphrase a well known Gospel parable, Father Gordon MacRae was beaten by robbers and left on the side of the road in our Church. No amount of Catholic shame over the sex abuse scandal can justify passing him by on that road, not by us, not by his bishop and diocese, and not by the global Church. We of good conscience, with truth and justice in our hearts, cannot allow the injustices visited upon this priest to stand.

Please read at least the Introduction to Attorney Robert Rosenthal’s new brief, and please share this post with others.

Petition for Writ of Habeus Corpus



As listed on the “Contact” page of These Stone Walls there are four ways you can be of help, and I urge you to spread word of this information by sharing this post with your social media and online contacts. Here’s how to help:

LEGAL DEFENSE FUND: A legal fund has been established to accept gifts applied directly to legal costs that are ongoing in this case. As we now begin the process of preparing appeals to the federal courts, available funds have been seriously depleted, and continuance of this effort depends on assistance. Checks in any amount to this fund should be made out to Fr. Gordon MacRae and mailed as follows:

Friends of Fr. Gordon MacRae

P. O. Box 863

Hampton, NH 03842-0863


TAX DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS: The National Center for Reason & Justice ( has fully examined the case of Fr. Gordon MacRae. Its Board of Directors and wrongful conviction specialists voted unanimously to provide fiscal sponsorship of his ongoing legal defense. What this means is that this fine organization lends its name to this appeal for funds, and will accept tax deductible contributions earmarked for legal expenses in this appeal if they meet the criteria.

Please consult for instructions on how to make a tax deductible donation earmarked for the Fr. Gordon MacRae case. If you wish to donate to the NCRJ, please indicate in the “memo” line on your check that you wish to apply the funds to the Fr. Gordon MacRae case. If you also wish to apply for a tax deduction, you should indicate so in a cover letter. That address is:

National Center for Reason & Justice

Re: Fr. Gordon MacRae Defense 

P.O. Box 191101 

Roxbury, MA 02119-1101

Website: (

THE PAYPAL LINK available on the top right corner of These Stone Walls is active, and it provides an opportunity for online gifts in any amount. If you take advantage of the Pay Pal link, please include an e-mail instructing us on whether you prefer your gift to be used for legal expenses or the support of These Stone Walls.

A SUPPORT FUND is also established to accept assistance in support of These Stone Walls and the special circumstances in which Father MacRae must write and publish. This includes costs for domain and hosting fees, postage and typing supplies, and daily telephone costs from prison to edit and manage These Stone Walls and hear and respond to messages. Remember that as a prisoner, Father MacRae has no Internet access so all messages must be read to him by telephone. Checks to this support fund should be made out to Fr. Gordon MacRae and mailed as follows:

Fr. Gordon MacRae

P.O. Box 205
 Wilmington, MA. 01887-0205


And remember, you can also help enormously by posting links to These Stone Walls on other blogs, social networks, and to your own contacts. This is most important. (See Social Media Buttons Below)  And you can also pray, without doubt the most powerful intervention available to us.

Once again, please review Attorney Robert Rosenthal’s new federal appeal on behalf of Father Gordon MacRae. Let us hope together for justice.

Petition for Writ of Habeus Corpus


About Fr. Gordon J. MacRae

The late Cardinal Avery Dulles and The Rev. Richard John Neuhaus encouraged Father MacRae to write. Cardinal Dulles wrote in 2005: “Someday your story and that of your fellow sufferers will come to light and will be instrumental in a reform. Your writing, which is clear, eloquent, and spiritually sound will be a monument to your trials.” READ MORE


  1. Nancy says:

    I will keep you in my thoughts and Prayers, Father.

  2. Diane Ekman says:

    Blessings Fr.McRae,
    Today is St Therese’s feast day.
    If you haven’t received any flowers, never mind, they
    Are all there in your rosary beads.
    Imagine each one as a prayer from friends in all the five continents.
    God bless you Father.

  3. kathleen mf says:

    Dear father macrea. i often think of you and look for news of your release. Please remember me. i look to your innocence and wonder how barrabus is free to walk. still i know you are in a state of freedom they cant touch. your living martydom is a source of stenghth fo me. Please pray for me and mine. your my living proof. ask the Lord our God to stop the maddness. -kathy

  4. Judy oBrien says:

    Continuing to pray for justice for Father Gordon.

  5. Essej says:

    It’s April 18, Good Friday, have there been any developments in the federal court appeal?

  6. Lynda says:

    Continuing to pray for the long-overdue overturning of this clear miscarriage of justice. Why have the trial judge’s egregiously prejudicial comments, and references to matters not before the Court, made to the jury, not included in the grounds for the HC petition?

    • Ryan A. MacDonald says:

      Thank you, Lynda, for raising this question. I presume you refer to the comment by Judge Brennan instructing the jury to disregard inconsistencies in the accuser’s testimony. That could not be raised in the current appeal brief before the federal courts, if I understand this correctly, because the same issue was raised in a direct state appeal following this trial, and the court dismissed it. As such, even if the injustice is egregious, the matter cannot be raised again in a federal court. Justice is not always just.

      • kaymf says:

        I wonder sometimes what happened to brennen. weather he died and went to purgatory or further south.

  7. Jeanette Slaw says:

    My prayers are with you, Fr. MacRae.
    I pray that you receive the card I sent.
    Peace & Blessings,

  8. Frank Faas says:

    Our ministry deals with all inmates across the country we will in prayer and other ways help Father to be freed ….his story of beating is like the good Samaritan may sanctuary house be of help. Released inmates come to live with us.

  9. Domingo says:

    Dear Father Gordon,

    Thank you for the post on ’33 Days’. When I went to Adoration that particular week, lo and behold, a free copy of the book was waiting to be picked up at the anteroom. Now I intend to start the retreat on Feb 20 in time for March 25 consecration. Please pray that the retreat will bear fruits in me for His greater glory.

    And by the way, my family and I hope that you are enjoying the current Downton season.

    Thanks, Mr MacDonald, for moving forward the case of Fr Gordon. God will reward you kindly.

    Asking for your priestly blessings for me and my family, Father.

  10. philip says:

    Dear Fr.Gordon-

    My prayers continue for you.
    With the help of St. Maximilian Kolbe may your stone walls fall down. Mother most merciful, grant your son Gordon the favorable outcome he so patiently seeks. This dear Mother of God, for the greater kingdom of your Son Jesus Christ. Amen.

  11. Lionel (Paris) says:

    Dear Father Gordon,
    You still have my full support
    Union de prière LD

  12. My prayers always and I hope that fr Gordon will be free soon.

  13. Maria Stella says:

    Praying that this appeal will be successful.

  14. Bea says:

    A heartfelt thank you to Ryan MacDonald for bringing this latest development to our attention. I do hope and pray that the scarcity of comments in response to this post is not an indication of the amount of financial support flowing into Father Gordon’s appeal fund, nor of our courage (or lack thereof) to share this story and plea for help with others.

  15. Natalie Anne says:

    I am a survivor of incest and I am one of the many who have been helped by Catholic Priests through my healing process. Catholic Priests have done for me in my journey to healing than any therapist or counselor. It shames me that innocent Priests are accused of heinous crimes against children when I have survived the horror of brutal incest and have been healed through the care and help of Catholic Priests.
    God bless you Fr and pray for me.
    Natalie Anne

  16. Msgr. Michael says:

    Dear Gordon,

    Your posts are always enlightening and give life for us “outside”. I redouble in prayers that this new legal move might bring you at last freedom. I often think of you and always keep you in my very poor prayers. I owe you an extra extra extra long letter ! Love to Charlene and all thise who help you make TSW a reality !

    Ryan, thanks for helping Fr. Gordon !

    In caritate Christi,

    Msgr. Michael

  17. Mary Jean Scudieri says:

    Thank you Ryan for all that you have done for this wonderful priest!
    The prayers are continuing and the links will continue to be shared.
    God is not ignoring him. God bless you all!

  18. Lionel (Paris) says:

    Dear Révérend Father Gordon,
    Bon courage! you have my support in this ordeal.
    Union de prière
    In Caritate Christi per Mariam (Médiatrice de toutes grâces) LD

  19. Liz says:

    God bless and keep you, Fr. Gordon. You and the whole team are in our prayers. Thanks Ryan MacDonald for all that you have done for this case and true justice!

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