Catholics Supportive of Bishop's Plan

By Kathryn Marchocki
The Union Leader [Manchester NH]
Downloaded February 28, 2003

Several New Hampshire Catholics are reacting favorably to Bishop John B. McCormack's pledge this week to consider including laity in future priest assignments and full disclosure of diocesan finances.

The bishop also committed himself Tuesday to strong lay involvement on elected finance and pastoral councils at the parish and diocesan levels and asked all parishes to have councils in place by June.

"For too long, many priests and bishops have not trusted in the competence of the laity," McCormack told about 500 diocesan clergy, religious and lay leaders in outlining his future vision for the diocese.

"We were wrong," he added.

Several Catholics invited to the meeting said they were most impressed with the bishop's pledge that all future assignments of priests and deacons would be made through a simple filter - would a parent agree to it.

"Those are the things that gave parents tremendous confidence," said Patrick H. Ford of Rye, a Seacoast businessman and former vice-chairman of the diocesan pastoral council.

"This removes the knot in people's stomachs," added Ford, who was invited to the gathering and gave the lay response to the bishop's remarks.

McCormack said he would ask the council of priests and diocesan pastoral council to consider ways to include parents and those with human resources expertise in making future clerical assignments.

He also said all diocesan information and diocesan files will be consulted before making future assignments.

Portsmouth attorney Jack Sanders, a parishioner at St. Theresa Parish in Rye and St. Matthew Parish in Plymouth who also was invited to the meeting, said, "Many of the principles (McCormack) enunciated are a renewal of the precepts of Vatican II."

He said he is pleased McCormack and the diocesan finance council will make an annual, audited financial statement of diocesan administration available to every parish and parishioner. The first will be published by the end of March.

"It's very important the folks that sit in the pews and are active Catholics and contribute money ought to know where the money is going," Sanders said.

Sanders said he believes the goals set forth by McCormack will change church structures that enabled child sexual abuse by clergy to reach crisis proportions.

"We, as Catholics, have been grappling with that issue and what McCormack has done has addressed the structure," he said.

Carolyn B. Disco, a parishioner at St. John Neumann Parish in Merrimack and former parish council member and religious instruction teacher, said she will wait to see what develops out of Tuesday's meeting.

"It's always in the implementation and the details and the action that we see final results. So I'm listening and interested in watching how things unfold," she said.

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