Bishop's Easter Message Calls for Reconciliation

Union Leader [New Hampshire]
April 19, 2003

Stations of the Cross Good Friday was marked by the annual reenactment of the Stations of the Cross at Manchester's Mount Calvary Cemetery by members of the Ste. Marie Church youth group, including from left, Jim Fortin, Stephanie Sapowicz, Eric Ventura, Stephanie Allen and Zach Kleinberg. (Bob LaPree/Union Leader)

Bishop John McCormack's annual Easter message to New Hampshire Catholics this year calls for a time of healing and reconciliation after a year of pain and scandal.

"The darkest background always makes the light so much brighter. During the past year, the background has indeed been dark. We have looked into the darkness of sin and scandal, of terrorism and war. Perhaps more than ever, the Church - her leaders and entire membership - is aware of personal weakness, frailty and sin," wrote McCormack, who heads the Diocese of Manchester.

He urged all Catholics to imitate Christ's actions after his resurrection, and engage "in the mission of forgiveness and reconciliation."

The church has been torn for the past year over revelations that New Hampshire bishops knew that Catholic priests had victimized boys and girls, some from their own parishes, in sexual assaults. A recent Attorney General's Office report stated that in many cases, the Church knew of the priests' actions and reassigned them to other parishes. Investigative files contained information on 35 priests from the Manchester diocese.

Two lay groups have been calling for McCormack to resign from his post in the wake of revelations about the role he played in the Archdiocese of Boston's own scandal over priests who victimized young parishioners in sexual assaults. McCormack was a key aide to Bernard Cardinal Law, who made the unprecedented move of resigning his post as leader of the Boston Archdiocese.

McCormack's message yesterday urged Catholics to take note of how gospel writers describe the behavior of Jesus Christ after the resurrection that Easter celebrates.

"Christ, upon rising from the dead, immediately engages in the mission of forgiveness and reconciliation . . . He encounters them, not as an angry and vengeful master, but as a merciful and forgiving friend, eager to re-establish and deepen the old bonds of fellowship," McCormack said.

"As believers in the Easter miracle, we must allow the wounded hands of the risen Christ to touch us, heal us and lift us up . . . He rose to reconcile you and me to Himself and to one another."


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