Burlington, Vt.- “It is with great joy that we welcome you, Bishop Coyne, to the Diocese of Burlington,” were the words Bishop Christopher Coyne heard after symbolically knocking three times on the door of the Cathedral of Immaculate Conception.
Catholics, non-religious and members of the community packed into the cathedral to welcome the new type of religious leader.
“He’s a joyful presence,” said Diocese member Betty Wyhownanek.
“I’ve heard even from my non-catholic friends how they’re watching him on the blog and stuff and he’s just this wonderful personality,” said Burlington Deacon Tim Gibbo. …
But leading Vermont’s catholic clergy comes with history. A national group, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, cites Vermont has 15 public accounts of accused, sued, and in one case convicted members of the state’s clergy for varying accounts of sexual abuse.
Bishop Coyne says his reach doesn’t have to be digital for those who need it most.
“As far as the present victims of the past abuse by priests, all I can say is, I’m willing to sit down, I’m willing to listen to you, I’m willing to hear what you have to say to me,” Bishop Coyne said. “I was not someone who was a perpetrator, but I want to be someone who perhaps can help them gain a little piece of mind and maybe a little restoration of the faith that they lost.”
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