NARRAGANSETT, R.I. — The leader of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Worcester apologized Monday for a “terrible error in judgment” following his arrest over the weekend here on charges of driving drunk and fleeing the scene of an accident.
Bishop Robert J. McManus was involved in an accident with another driver at the intersection of Boston Neck and Bridgetown roads Saturday at about 10:30 p.m. and drove away from the scene, said Narragansett police.
The other driver followed McManus to the Bonnet Shores beachfront community about 2 miles away, where McManus was arrested roughly 20 minutes later, police said. McManus and his siblings own a home in that section of town, a neighbor said.
McManus, 61, apologized in a statement issued by his office Monday.
“On Saturday evening, May 4, I made a terrible error in judgment by driving after having consumed alcohol with dinner,” he said. “There is no excuse for the mistake I made, only a commitment to make amends and accept the consequences of my action. More importantly, I ask forgiveness from the good people whom I serve, as well as my family and friends, in the Diocese of Worcester and the Diocese of Providence.”
McManus could not be reached for further comment.
The bishop was released from custody Saturday night and is facing charges of driving under the influence, leaving the scene of an accident, and refusing a chemical test, said Narragansett police Captain Sean Corrigan.
McManus is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday in district court in Wakefield, R.I., said Corrigan, who declined to release additional details about the incident prior to the court proceeding.
Asked if the other driver was hurt, Corrigan said, “If there had been serious injuries, then the charges would reflect that. So there [were] no serious injuries.”
A lawyer for McManus could not be reached for comment on Monday.
There was no answer Monday at the tan-colored, ranch-style home on Colonel John Gardner Road where McManus was arrested, but a neighbor, Michael Stanziano, 56, said the bishop and his siblings inherited the house from their parents several years ago. He said that McManus occasionally visits in the summertime.
“He’s a great guy,” Stanziano said. “I’ve never even seen him drinking.”
He said McManus and his siblings generally keep to themselves when they visit, but he and the bishop have spoken in passing.
“They’re great neighbors,” he added.
Stanziano said he was asleep at the time of the arrest but noticed minor front-end damage to McManus’s dark-colored Honda sedan the following morning.
Another neighbor, who declined to give her name, said she did not see or hear anything during the arrest, but she also spoke highly of McManus, saying, “We love him.”
Raymond Delisle, a spokesman for the Worcester Diocese, said in an e-mail that McManus has no prior arrest record. He said the bishop was in the Providence area for dinner Saturday night, but said he did not know with whom.
McManus had a clean driving history prior to his arrest in Narragansett, according to a copy of his record the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles released Monday.
McManus was installed as the fifth bishop of Worcester in May 2004 and was appointed by Pope John Paul II, according to a biography posted on the diocese’s website. The Providence native holds degrees from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., the Toronto School of Theology, and the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, the biography states.
McManus made news last year when Anna Maria College in Paxton, west of Worcester, rescinded a speaking invitation to Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the widow of the late US Senator Edward M. Kennedy, citing pressure from the bishop. Kennedy’s stances on abortion, gay rights, and health coverage for contraception are at odds with Catholic teaching.
In 2007, McManus asked the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester to refuse to rent space to a conference on teen pregnancy because Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts had representatives among the many attendees.
His diocese was at the center of another controversy in January, when it rescinded an invitation to Robert Spencer, a Catholic whose work depicts Islam as an inherently violent religion, to speak at its annual Catholic Men’s Conference.
A spokeswoman for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops declined to comment on McManus’s arrest. A spokesman for the Vatican ambassador to the United States could not be reached for comment.