Archbishop Faced Criticism over Abuse Cases
New Leader Says He'll Approach Sex Charges Case by Case in Hartford
By Laura Walsh
The Day [Hartford CT]
October 21, 2003
Hartford— The newly named replacement for Hartford Archbishop Daniel Cronin has been criticized for the way he dealt with allegedly abusive priests, but said Monday he would deal with such charges on a case-by-case basis.
The Rev. Henry J. Mansell, bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, N.Y., was introduced Monday as the replacement for Cronin, who submitted his resignation to Pope John Paul II last year when he turned 75, the mandatory age of retirement for bishops.
Mansell, 66, has overseen the Diocese of Buffalo since 1995. In September he removed an undisclosed number of priests after allegations of past sexual abuse. But he was the target of criticism from victims' advocates when he did not release the names, parishes and number of priests removed from service.
“Mansell's penchant for secrecy, especially in light of the repeated and emphatic promises by America's bishops for openness and transparency, is upsetting and dangerous,” David Clohessy, national director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said in a news release.
Mansell, who will take over the Hartford role Dec, 18, declined to elaborate Monday on his actions in New York.
“I asked a certain number of priests in a certain number of years to retire,” he said. “I do not feel at this time that it is necessary to reveal names or numbers. I do not want to subject them to ridicule and humiliation. It is a violation of who they are.”
He called abuse “sickening.”
“It is important to talk about sexual abuse to realize this is a small fraction (in the church), and that it is a societal problem,” he said.
Mansell said he hoped to increase church attendance and create more vibrant parishes that will attract youth.
“I think what's happening today is we are no longer taking for granted our faith,” he said. “There is now a greater intentionality. I see, in the aspirations and the greater ideals of youths, a greater hope.”
In Buffalo, Mansell has also been known for his fund-raising efforts for Catholic Charities and other diocesan initiatives. He is also credited with championing the cause for sainthood for Lackawanna, N.Y., priest the Rev. Nelson Baker, who built Our Lady of Victory Basilica and ran an orphanage.
Mansell said he hopes to build upon what Cronin has done by encouraging parish activities, such as soup kitchen and hospital visits and bible studies.
Cronin said he was pleased by Mansell's selection.
“He's holy and very competent,” Cronin said. “He'll make a wonderful archbishop.”
Other current and former Connecticut church officials welcomed Mansell, including Bridgeport Bishop William E. Lori and Lori's predecessor, New York Cardinal Edward Egan.
Other potential candidates to replace Cronin were Archbishop Edwin O'Brien of the U.S. Military Diocese and Archbishop John Patrick Foley, who serves in a communications office at the Vatican in Rome, The Hartford Courant reported Saturday.
Cronin has led the Archdiocese of Hartford since 1992.
A former supervisor in the Boston Archdiocese, he was named in lawsuits filed last January that alleged he was among those in the diocese who did not do enough to protect victims of sexual abuse.
While overseeing in Hartford, he removed a priest accused of sexual abuse in Costa Rica from service in October 2002. He also agreed to forward abuse complaints to the Department of Children and Families.
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