Activists Try to Meet with Bishop

By Kathleen A. Shaw
Telegram & Gazette [Los Angeles CA]
Downloaded May 28, 2004

WORCESTER- Two area advocates for victims of clergy sexual abuse yesterday unsuccessfully attempted to meet with Bishop Robert J. McManus to discuss a new program called "restorative justice" that they believe might help the healing of both victims and abusers.

Mary T. Jean of Leominster, director of the Worcester Voice, and Daniel Dick of Worcester, victim advocate for Voice of the Faithful, went to the chancery to meet with the bishop but were told no meeting was scheduled. Mrs. Jean said they were told by the Rev. Rocco Piccolomini, the bishop's secretary, that Bishop McManus was "not available to us."

Mrs. Jean said she called Rev. Piccolomini earlier this week and told him they would arrive at the Elm Street chancery at 11 a.m. yesterday. She announced her intention to drop in, even though she received no response from the bishop to her letter asking for a meeting.

Bishop McManus said recently he will meet with various groups that want to see him once he settles in and gets to know the diocese.

Raymond L. Delisle, spokesman for the Diocese of Worcester, said the bishop has been unable to meet with them, although he intends to in the future, because his schedule is full. As newly installed bishop, he has board meetings, Confirmation ceremonies through next month, meetings with representatives of the various diocesan departments and ministries, and graduation ceremonies.

Mr. Dick has been meeting or talking regularly with Patricia Engdahl in the Office of Healing and Prevention regarding his proposal for "restorative justice," he said. That office is the bishop's official representative for these kinds of discussions and he has delegated authority to it for such meetings, Mr. Delisle said.

Mrs. Jean and Mr. Dick, after not seeing the bishop, held what they called a cordial meeting with Ms. Engdahl and social worker Frances Nugent to discuss the program of "restorative justice."

The program is now being used by the Gardner Police Department to assist victims of sexual abuse and is being adopted churchwide by the Unitarian Universalist Association, Mr. Dick said. The program would most likely involve the parishes, he said.

Mrs. Jean said victims often feel intimidated going to the chancery but might feel more comfortable if they could meet in their own parishes.

She and Mr. Dick said the "restorative justice" program is not the only means to healing but is something that should be considered along with other approaches.

Mrs. Jean and David A. Lewcon, who is active in some area victim advocacy groups, will appear at 6 p.m. today on Bill Coleman's "Talk of the Town" radio program on WORC-AM (1310) that will also be available on audio stream through the WORC Web site. They will discuss a variety of issues involving not only their attempts to meet with the bishop but their efforts to bring healing to victims in the Worcester Diocese.


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