July 29, 2009: Area must heal from this tragedy

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To The Editor:
I am writing in response to the recent articles concerning Father James McDevitt, pastor of Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church. In your last letters to the editor section, it was written, “a person is innocent until proven guilty.” I understand that this is what our legal system practices and we pray for a just outcome.
What I believe the focus of our concern should be is for the children. If in fact the allegations are true, we must surround the children who were victims of the abuse and see that they and their families receive all the necessary help they will need to be healed. If in fact the allegations are true, these children will spend the rest of their lives trying to understand how they fell victim to someone in whom they placed their trust and their faith. The children must understand that they did nothing wrong. We as a community should join with one voice and demand that the children and their families come first.
The Roman Catholic faith community of the Sacred Heart is also suffering. I have met with members of this community and they have expressed embarrassment and shame. They have a sense of guilt and feel that what may have transpired will forever cast a dark cloud over their church. For the past 23 years that I have known members of the Sacred Heart Community, I have know a people of deep faith, a strong commitment, and generosity for the well-being and life of our community. If the allegations are true, they reflect only on one person, not on a whole community. It is my prayer that your faith community receives a strong leader that will help all of you heal and grow in numbers and in faith.
The Village of Margaretville and the surrounding area must heal as well. This is a loving and caring community. It is a good place to raise our children, work, play and pray. If the allegations are found to be true we cannot allow them to shatter the peace and tranquility of our community. We must not point fingers. Rather, we should fold our hands in prayer with our fingers pointed to the heavens and ask our God to make whole once again that which has been broken. This community has always come back stronger no matter what nature or humanity has dealt us and we will be healed once again. I ask all my brothers and sisters who lead faith communities in this area to join me in offering at your services, prayers for Sacred Heart Church, our community, and above all, the children.

Bishop Francisco J. Betancourt, FCR
Diocesan Bishop
Co-Pastor – Holy Innocents Church, Halcottsville
Catholic Apostolic Church in North America