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Spotlight Report

Lennon renews vow for healing

By Michael Paulson, Globe Staff, 4/18/2003

Bishop Richard Lennon led a service at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. The program was aimed at reconciliation within the Boston Archdiocese. (Globe Staff Photo / Jonathan Wiggs)
Bishop Richard G. Lennon's five-week-long effort at reconciling a wounded archdiocese ended quietly yesterday with an hour of largely silent worship with about 50 people at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

Lennon, in brief remarks toward the end of an hour of eucharistic contemplation and prayer, declared ''a commitment to work toward and for reconciliation, contrition, healing, and unity.''

The Holy Thursday rite was a low-key end to Lennon's first major effort at healing a church scarred by revelations that his predecessors had repeatedly failed to remove sexually abusive priests from ministry. His program began with a lightly attended Ash Wednesday Mass at the cathedral, but included better-attended discussions with priests and prayer sessions with laypeople in Eastern Massachusetts.

Lennon's spokesman, the Rev. Christopher J. Coyne, said efforts to heal the church would continue, although this program had ended.

''We'll continue the outreach and the work we've begun over the last year,'' he said. ''Bishop Lennon will continue meeting with victims. We recognize this is not the end - everyone recognizes more needs to be done.''

During yesterday's service, worshipers gathered in a chapel at the cathedral, and prayed silently before a golden monstrance containing the eucharistic bread, in which Catholics believe Jesus is present. Lennon, wearing a white cope, knelt in silent prayer through much of the hour, as Coyne periodically rose to encourage prayer for forgiveness and for the victims of abuse by clergy.

At one point, Lennon cloaked himself in a humeral veil, and, using the veil to cover his hands, picked up the monstrance and blessed the worshipers with it.

When Lennon rose to speak at the end of the hour, two victim advocates, Ruth Moore of Hull and Richard Orareo of Boston, rose and turned their backs to him. Afterward, Orareo said ''we turn our backs because there's a failure of leadership,'' while Moore said ''he talks about healing, but continues to inflict pain.''

After Lennon spoke, Julia Russell of South Easton initiated a round of applause for the bishop. After the service, Russell said she is a victim of abuse by a priest but also supports Lennon, saying ''Bishop Lennon needed to hear that there were people there that definitely supported what he is trying to do. I told him, `I applaud the efforts you're making.'''

In his remarks, Lennon said, as he has before, that prayer is not enough, but that ''we need to commit ourselves to working for ... results.''

Michael Paulson can be reached at

This story ran on page B1 of the Boston Globe on 4/18/2003.
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