National News

 U.S. Headlines



Protesters Gather to Say Bishop McCormack Should Go

Union Leader - January 27, 2003

Some had buck teeth and pig tails. Others flashed shy, youthful smiles and wore confirmation gowns, Catholic school uniforms or angelic, white First Communion dresses.

They are the poster children of clergy sexual abuse whose pictures were shownand stories told at a demonstration outside St. Joseph Cathedral in Manchester yesterday.

SNAP Executive Director David Clohessy holds a photo of victim Eric Patterson of Kansas, as Sunday's Solidarity March in Manchester, NH.

“We suffered alone during our abuse and after our abuse,” said David Clohessy, abuse survivor and national director of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, or SNAP.

“But because of your courage, we are no longer alone. And that’s huge,” Clohessy told the more than 200 people who gathered to support victims of clergy sexual abuse and demand accountability from church hierarchy who allowed it to happen.

Standing in the gloomy cold, the crowd listened as the names of 83 childhood abuse victims were read aloud to the solemn strains of Samuel Barber’s “Adagio” played over a sound system.

“The path to moral salvation cannot be found in there,” said SNAP’s Ann Hagan Webb, pointing to the cathedral where morning Masses went on as usual.

LAURA BREAULT of Hull, Mass., holds up a photo of an alleged church abuse victim as a child, outside St. Joseph Cathedral in Manchester yesterday. (AP)

“The moral heart of the Catholic church of New Hampshire is outside the church today,” added Webb, co-regional coordinator of SNAP’s Boston-based New England regional office.

The “Solidarity March” and demonstration, co-sponsored by New Hampshire Voice of the Faithful and the Boston-based Coalition of Catholics and Survivors, was the largest to date held in New Hampshire.

While the event was intended to support abuse victims, many who stood beneath the snow-spitting sky for about two hours wanted much more.

Rose N. Yesu, 58, of Newton, Mass., said she will continue to protest “until all the bishops and priests involved in the coverup resign, when the church has settled all the cases against the victims and the structure of the church has changed so the secrecy that allowed this to happen is gone.”

For Yesu, that means Manchester Bishop John B. McCormack — who was

Susan Renehan, member of the Coalition of Catholics and Survivors, and several other advocate groups, spoke in support of countless silent female survivors.

Cardinal Bernard F. Law’s top deputy in the Boston archdiocese from 1984 to 1994 — must resign.

“We’ll keep coming back until he’s gone,” she said.

Demonstrators carried posters that said “Shame” beneath McCormack’s picture and “N.H. Live Free! Spurn McCormack.”

Betty M. Foley, 65, of St. Anselm Parish in Sudbury, Mass., said McCormack is as culpable — if not more — than Law in the abuse scandal that forced Law’s resignation as Boston archbishop last month.

“The church needs to be made aware that the coverup cannot continue,” she said.

While Rose Miskus, 69, of Dover said her friend’s sexual abuse as a young girl by a Chicago priest caused her to seek reform in the church, she said she won’t stop until significant changes occur.

“All the bishops who were appointed under Law, they have to go,” said Miskus of St. Thomas More Parish in Durham and member of the Seacoast chapter of Voice of the Faithful, a lay reform group.

The peaceful crowd included many from Massachusetts, including members of Massachusetts Voice of the Faithful chapters and Speak Truth to Power, a Boston-based victim advocacy group known as STTOP!.

In an apparent reference to earlier demonstrations when several Granite Staters told protesters to “go back to Massachusetts,” two speakers told New Hampshire Catholics not to draw lines at the state border.

“I know that many of you who call New Hampshire home really don’t want us here today,” said John P. Vellante, 58, of North Andover, Mass., who said he was abused in Massachusetts and once in Concord by a former New Hampshire priest.

“Clergy sexual abuse has no state boundaries. It happened here in New Hampshire just as it happened in Massachusetts and in so many other states across the land,” he added.

The Rev. Thomas Doyle, a Dominican priest and long-time advocate of abuse victims who lives in Germany, said: “All you have and all we have is the truth and because of that we are going to make a change.”

After the demonstration — which included a procession around the cathedral — ended, about 15 to 20 people protested for about 40 minutes outside the bishop’s residence at North River Road, police said.

McCormack was in northern New Hampshire where he said Mass at an unidentified parish and met with parishioners afterwards, diocesan spokesman Patrick McGee said.

McGee said “the church in New Hampshire does stand in solidarity with all victims of abuse.”

He said McCormack has no plans to resign.

“He plans to continue to work to move the church forward in its mission in New Hampshire and to continue to make sure the actions of abuse never happens again,” McGee added.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests