Monday, May 20, 2002

March shows Catholic pride

Participants pray for church, sinners and victims

By Cindy Kranz
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — Determined not to let pedophile priest scandals shake their faith, about 400 Butler County Catholics joined in a Catholic Unity March on Sunday.

        Led by the Father Butler Council Knights of Columbus, they prayed the rosary as they walked down High Street five blocks to a service outside of St. Julie Billiart Church.

        Participants were a mix of old and young from nine Butler County churches and Badin High School.

        “There's no room for stereotyping that group just because a few individuals got lost along the way,” said Ed Mignery, a march organizer. “There are so very many good priests, brothers and seminarians.”

        Praying for the church, the Rev. Jeff Silver of St. Julie, said, “Where it is corrupt, reform it. Where it is in error, correct it. Where it is right, defend it.”

        Catholics also prayed for priests who had broken their vows and for victims of the sex-abuse scandals. Five Archdiocese of Cincinnati priests — including a semi-retired priest and another who works in the Vatican — remain in active service despite substantiated sex abuse claims. Another three are on paid administrative leave after admitting to sexually abusing minors.

        “Archbishop Pilarczyk has asked us to pray for forgiveness for those few individu als that have betrayed all of our trust,” Mr. Mignery told the crowd.

        Mr. Mignery, a member of St. Peter in Chains in Hamilton and a Hamilton High School teacher, had talked with other Catholics about reviving annual marches from the 1950s and 1960s, but the current crisis in the church moved up their plans.

        Joel Sackenheim, a 17-year-old Badin High School senior, held the school's banner during the service. “I wanted to be with a bunch of Catholics. Everybody is coming out supporting the church in these tough times. It's a minute number of priests getting all the publici ty.”

        The crowd applauded and prayed for priests and deacons who took the stage during the service. One was the Rev. Tim Bunch, pastor of St. Peter in Chains Church, Hamilton.

        These are challenging times to be a priest, Father Bunch said as marchers assembled earlier, but his parish has been supportive. “They're aware of the seriousness of the whole scandal and are praying about it.”

        Kathy Kelley, 42, of Hamilton came with her husband and two sons to show unity with the church and support good priests. “They're hurt by this as much as we are,” she said. “I admire them.”

        Tim McGuire wore a “Proud to be a Catholic,” T-shirt.

        “There are a lot of good, hardworking priests who are taking abuse for a very small minority of people,” the 46-year-old Hamilton man said. “I think the church will be stronger for this. God has a way of working these things out.”


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