By Bishop John B. McCormack
Diocese of Manchester Website
May 9, 2002

Reprinted in the Union Leader
May 10, 2002

I am grateful for the opportunity to comment on my role as bishop in New Hampshire. Sexual abuse of minors by priests has seriously wounded victims, their families and the Church. In the past, the response of Church leaders, including myself, to these horrific acts is now revealed to have been flawed and inadequate. I have asked forgiveness from God, His people and especially the victims of abuse for the part I played in this response.

While I cannot undo the past, I can ensure that the Church will not make these mistakes again. I will deal with these matters openly and forthrightly.

I know too that the trust the Catholic people of New Hampshire have in their bishop is challenged by the manner in which I dealt with child sexual abuse by some priests in Boston. Every day I pray that the Lord will help me to be a better bishop. I am not perfect. My imperfections are open to God's grace, and, because of this, I am able to grow, improve and move forward.

My current challenge is to lead all Catholics and to be sure that our Church and her institutions remain safe for everyone. I dedicate myself to do everything in my power to accomplish this goal. I have already intensified our efforts to make our Church a safe place for our children. In my conversations with people around our state, I have received affirmation about my work and support about what the Diocese is doing regarding the abuse of minors in New Hampshire.

An open and fair investigation of all complaints with broader participation of the laity, full cooperation with civil authority and a firm commitment to never assign or employ a known child abuser will be hallmarks of our efforts.

Even though some think that I should step aside, Pope John Paul II appointed me to be your shepherd. I know and believe that my role as bishop is to be faithful to my responsibilities both in hard times as well as good. I am committed to this fidelity, and my work is far from complete. With your prayers, your support and your willingness to place your trust in me, we will protect all God's children and become even more the Church God calls us to be. I will remain your servant and toil ceaselessly on your behalf as Bishop of Manchester.


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