Ver­mont Catholic bishop plans statewide church tour

Pawtucket Times - - REGION/OBITUARIES -

ST. AL­BANS, Vt. (AP) — Ver­mont’s Catholic Bishop is hold­ing town hall meet­ings at churches through­out the state this month in an ef­fort to in­crease trans­parency amid mount­ing pres­sure on the church to re­spond to sex­ual abuse claims around the coun­try.

Bishop Christo­pher Coyne says the goal is to lis­ten to peo­ple and to dis­cuss how to re­gain trust among parish­ioners when at­ten­dance is de­clin­ing.

“As many peo­ple that are leav­ing, it is go­ing to take even longer to get them back,” Coyne said at the first meet­ing at St. Mary’s Church in St. Al­bans on Thurs­day.

The other meet­ings are planned on Jan. 22 at Holy Fam­ily Church in Es­sex Junc­tion; Jan 23 at St. Theresa’s Church in Or­leans; Jan. 28 at Sa­cred Heart Church in Ben­ning­ton; Jan 29 at Christ the King Church in Rut­land; and Jan. 31 at St. John Vian­ney Church in South Burling­ton.

The Catholic Dio­cese of Burling­ton an­nounced in Oc­to­ber that it would cre­ate a com­mit­tee to look into al­le­ga­tions of abuse of mi­nors in­volved with the church and re­lease a list of priests ac­cused of sex­u­ally abus­ing chil­dren. The an­nounce­ment came as au­thor­i­ties were in­ves­ti­gat­ing resur­faced al­le­ga­tions of phys­i­cal, men­tal and sex­ual abuse at the now-shut­tered St. Joseph’s Or­phan­age in Burling­ton more than 40 years ago.

Some 52 priests were ac­cused of sex­u­ally as­sault­ing mi­nors in Ver­mont, WCAXTV re­ported. There has not been an ac­cu­sa­tion of sex­ual abuse by a priest in Ver­mont in 16 years, Coyne said.

“I think that by hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with peo­ple and some­one says, ‘I’m con­cerned that my grand­chil­dren aren’t safe in the church,’ I can say to them, look, the church right now is prob­a­bly one of the safest or­ga­ni­za­tions for fam­i­lies and chil­dren in the United States,” he said.

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