A mass on Sunday, celebrated by Bishop Timothy McDonnell of Springfield at St. Michael’s Parish, was a moment of reconciliation for more than one reason.
The intention of the mass was for the victims of sexual abuse committed by priests. The bishop apologized on behalf of the Church to the victims, saying: "For those of you here today, who by the action of evil in the Church, have been made to feel hurt, isolated and abandoned ... for those of you who have been made to feel victimized, I am sorry.”
The event was also significant in that the bishop concelebrated the mass with the pastor, Fr. James Scahill, with whom the bishop had a falling-out in recent months.
Fr. Scahill had been very vocal about his criticisms of the diocese’s handling of the sex-abuse crisis. He even withheld a portion of the parish collections from the diocese for two years to protest the diocese’s continued financial support for a priest convicted of child abuse.
During a heated exchange in May, the bishop dismissed Fr. Scahill from a diocesan advisory council. The bishop had suggested the priest's criticisms had done as much damage to the Church's reputation as convicted pedophile priest Richard Lavigne.
The bishop publicly apologized to Fr. Scahill at the mass for his past comments.