Diocese Holds Meeting with Abuse Victims

New Hampshire Sunday News [Manchester NH]
Downloaded January 18, 2004

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Manchester yesterday held a special meeting called “A Day of Wholeness and Spirituality” at the Highlander Inn in Manchester for people who were sexually abused by Roman Catholic priests.

The Rev. Edward J. Arsenault said it was the first time the church had organized a small group meeting for adult victims of abuse at an off-site location and conducted by people independent of the church.

Arsenault was reluctant to discuss the meeting. Church officials had worked to assure those attending that the meeting would be confidential, and their identities protected, he said. He did not want media coverage.

But The Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News learned about the meeting, its purpose and location.

Church officials at the meeting told a Sunday News reporter, who arrived at the morning meeting that was attended by about 20 men and women, that it was a private meeting, not open to the media.

They asked the reporter to leave and also asked the hotel management to enforce private property rights to keep the media from trespassing.

The sign on the meeting room was titled “Joe Naff Meeting.”

Arsenault said Naff is the director of the church’s pastoral care and healing. A licensed clinical social worker, Naff works with those who report they have been sexually abused.

The Manchester Diocese, in the last couple of years, has paid out about $20 million to settle more than 220 cases of child sexual abuse by clergy, some of which dated back to the 1940s.


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