MANCHESTER, N.H. - More than 200 Roman Catholics and alleged victims of priest sexual abuse gathered outside St. Joseph Cathedral yesterday and called for Bishop John B. McCormack's resignation.
Many said they were unimpressed by McCormack's apologies and explanations of how he handled accusations against priests while he was a top aide to Boston Cardinal Bernard Law from 1984 to 1994.
"John McCormack, don't ever again try to confound the laity with your babble," said Stephen Lewis, of Lynn, Mass., who said he was abused by a priest when he was a child and that McCormack didn't act on his complaints.
McCormack did not attend Mass at the cathedral yesterday. His spokesman, Patrick McGee, said the bishop has no plans to resign and wants to continue working to help the victims of abuse any way he can.
"The purpose of the demonstration was to show solidarity with victims, and I think the church in New Hampshire does stand in solidarity with victims," McGee said.
McCormack has been accused of ignoring warnings about predator priests in Massachusetts. And according to church documents released in civil lawsuits, he repeatedly took the word of accused clergymen over alleged victims.
"He was a pedophile shuffler," said demonstrator Lilliam Albert, of Hanson, Mass. "If he doesn't think the abuse of a child is a crime, he doesn't need to be a priest, or a bishop."
McCormack has been under mounting pressure to resign since Law stepped down last month. The scandal arose in Boston a year ago after court documents revealed that Law and others had shuffled abusive priests from parish to parish rather than removing them from positions where they had access to children.
In an unprecedented agreement last month, McCormack averted criminal charges against the Manchester diocese by admitting the church's handling of abuse allegations had harmed children.
Lewis said he wasn't impressed by that settlement. "There is nothing courageous about this man cutting a deal with the attorney general when the law had him in a corner by the throat with indictments of violating the child endangerment laws of this great state of New Hampshire," he said.