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N.H. Bishop Apologizes Over Silence On Priest

Nov 4, 2002 | AP

Bishop John McCormack has apologized for the problems faced by parishioners of a church whose priest had a sexual relationship with a teenage boy, and has named a temporary replacement.

''I am sorry for the pain, confusion, and division that has resulted from this series of events at St. Patrick Parish in Jaffrey,'' McCormack said in a statement yesterday.

McCormack, who heads the Diocese of Manchester, transferred the Rev. Roland Cote to Jaffrey in June from a parish in Nashua without informing parishioners in his new post about his past.

Cote admitted to parishioners in September that he had a long-term affair with a teenage boy in the 1980s. Authorities investigated him in April after the teenager, who is now 35, told authorities the priest sexually abused him as a minor.

Prosecutors said they could not bring charges because the teenager was over the age of 16 when he first met Cote.

''In hindsight, I'm sorry I did it,'' McCormack told the Concord Monitor Saturday. He wrote a letter earlier to parishioners, telling them that though Cote's actions were wrong, they did not violate the Diocese of Manchester's policies on child sex abuse.

Cote told parishioners Friday that he was resigning immediately, explaining in a statement yesterday that the matter has ''been emotionally and physically draining to parishioners, as well as me.''

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