Demonstrators Recall Abuse Victims

By David Hench
Portland Press Herald [Portland Maine]
April 1, 2004

As Maine's Roman Catholic Church installed a new bishop Wednesday, two dozen demonstrators gathered across the street from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception to show support for victims of sexual abuse by priests.

The group, who came from the Boston area as well as from Maine, held placards showing childhood photographs of people who have identified themselves as victims of abuse by priests. Beneath each picture was the person's age when the alleged abuse occurred.

The demonstration was a memorial service for victims who had taken their own lives, said Paul Kendrick, an organizer of the event and an outspoken critic of the church's handling of sexual-abuse allegations.

The demonstration was not intended to mar the installation of Bishop Richard J. Malone as head of the Portland diocese or criticize his leadership, according to several participants. Many said they are optimistic about the Maine church's future under Malone, who has encouraged victims to come forward.

"He appears to be engaging and he expresses interest in what people have been through," said Michael Doherty, who said he was abused by a priest while a student at Cheverus High School in Portland. "I'm very optimistic."

But the issue needs to remain at the forefront of the church's priorities, he said.

"This is not the story of the day. This is the reality of the church," Doherty said. "Too many people walking in there today didn't want to look over at us."

Portland police required the group to stay across the street from the cathedral for security reasons. But the event was somber, and there were no confrontations and almost no interaction with those attending the installation.

Ann Hagan Webb, co-director of the regional chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said Malone could set a standard for leadership by visiting parishes where abusive priests worked and asking victims there to come forward and report new allegations of abuse to civil authorities.

Malone also should release the names and locations of priests relieved of ministerial duty for sexual misconduct, she said.

Others said they continue to harbor resentment toward the church, the priests who abused children and the supervisors who kept it quiet and reassigned offenders to new parishes.

"They do not deserve a day of celebration from the specter of their own corruption, the corruption we have remembered and others have chosen not to," said Claudette Dube Noonan of Greene, addressing the gathering through a bullhorn to be heard over the traffic on Cumberland Avenue.

Richard Orareo, a member of a group that protests every Sunday in front of Boston's Cathedral of the Holy Cross, carried a picture of a boy named Jim. Orareo didn't know the person. But Paul Kellen, executive secretary of another group - People of Conscience - said it was Jim Kelly.

Kelly reported being abused as a boy by his priest in New Jersey, Kellen said, and he became an outspoken advocate for victims. Last fall, he killed himself by stepping in front of a commuter train, said Kellen.

"We have to keep this issue in front of fellow Catholics," Kellen said. "Business as usual will guarantee another generation of abused children."

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:


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