Demonstrators are demanding Bishop John B. McCormack follow his former boss, Boston Cardinal Bernard Law, and step down for enabling accused priests to have continued access to children. "Bishops throughout the country who protected rapists need to step down," Anne Barrett Doyle of the Coalition of Catholics and Survivors told protesters Sunday outside St. Joseph's Cathedral in Manchester, the seat of the Diocese of New Hampshire.
The gathering of some 250 protesters was the largest demonstration yet against McCormack, who was at an undisclosed parish elsewhere in the state at the time, according to church officials.
A spokesman, Patrick McGee, said McCormack has no plans to resign and "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."
McCormack, 67, before coming to New Hampshire, had been the top aide to Law from 1984 to 1994 and played a key role in handling accused priests in the Boston archdiocese. According to thousands of pages of internal church documents released under court order to lawyers representing hundreds of alleged victims of clergy abuse, McCormack appeared to know more about priests who molested children than anyone else. Law has said he often acted on McCormack's advice on reassigning accused priests. Law resigned as archbishop of Boston last month nearly a year after the scandal erupted publicly.
Sunday's "Solidarity March" and demonstration was co-sponsored by New Hampshire Voice of the Faithful and the Boston-based Coalition of Catholics and Survivors. More than 80 protesters carried posters above their heads with the photographs of children allegedly abused by priests. It took 30 minutes for the names to be read aloud. "There has been no justice yet for the people sexually abused by a priest, either in the Boston Archdiocese of the Manchester Diocese," Doyle said.
"We suffered alone during our abuse and after our abuse," David Clohessy, abuse survivor and national director of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests told the gathering. "But because of your courage, we are no longer alone," Clohessy said.
Demonstrators such as Rose N. Yesu, 58, of Newton, Mass., said they plan to continue to protest "until all the bishops and priests involved in the cover-up resign." The protesters, many from Massachusetts, said McCormack is at least as culpable as Law for shifting accused priests from one parish to another rather than remove them from access to children.
Several alleged molesters, such as Joseph E. Birmingham, Paul R. Shanley, Bernard J. Lane and James D. Foley, were McCormack's seminary classmates. Church records show that McCormack, despite knowing of allegations against them, cleared the way for them to return to ministry.
Among those who joined the demonstrators was the Rev. Thomas Doyle, a Dominican priest who on Saturday was honored in Boston for his efforts to help victims of clergy sex abuse. Clohessy described Doyle as "the greatest unsung hero of this whole movement."
Almost 20 years ago Doyle wrote a report as a canon lawyer at the Vatican's Washington embassy urging crisis intervention to prevent priests from abusing children. The report and its recommendations for change were largely ignored by church leaders, and Doyle lost his Vatican position. "All you have and all we have is the truth," Doyle told the crowd, "and because of that we are going to make a change."