N.H. Protest Calls for Removal of Bishops

By Robin Washington
Boston Herald [Boston MA]
September 22, 2003

MANCHESTER, N.H. - In one of the larger church protests in recent weeks, about 200 alleged clergy sexual abuse victims and their advocates gathered at St. Joseph's Cathedral here yesterday, renewing calls for the resignations of Bishops John B. McCormack and Francis Christian.

"Your diocese is in the hands of criminals," Wellesley's Ann Hagan Webb of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests said of church leaders who last winter cut a deal with the attorney general to avoid prosecution.

That record of abuse and coverup was accentuated by several speakers who said their demands for McCormack's removal are not just based on his role as an aide to Bernard Cardinal Law in the Boston Archdiocese.

"McCormack's mistakes did not end on the unlucky day he was made bishop of Manchester," said Ann Coughlin of New Hampshire Catholics for Moral Leadership.

McCormack has been accused of helping shuffle abusive priests from parish to parish under Law, who stepped down in December.

Christian has been accused of lying about previous sexual misconduct by the Rev. Roger Fortier to New Hampshire correction officials during a presentencing probe on Fortier.

The protest received a permit by Manchester police with the caveat it proceed quietly at Mass time.

"I think people are speaking from their heart. They have strong emotions that they are expressing," diocese spokesman Patrick McGee said, adding that neither bishop plans to step down.

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