Catholic Church Struggling with Sex Abuse Allegations

News 10 Now [New York]
February 9, 2004

Religious leaders across the country said people are losing faith, and that's costing the church. The revelation of sexual improprieties amongst some priests, is not only hurting Catholics. The sex scandals are adding to the financial difficulty facing churches of all denominations in Watertown.

As accusations of sexual misconduct continue to surface, the number of devoted church goers is going down.

"There is no question that trust is denied. That relationship of pastoral care is fractured, and there's no doubt in my mind that people could feel the injury to the point where at least for a time, they would absent themselves from the corporate body of the church," said Father Don Turner of the Trinity Episcopal Church.

This turned out to be the case with one family at Trinity.

"I hadn't seen this family at a church you know for about the last year, about the time this whole thing came out in the news about the bishop coming publicly about being homosexual, caused them to leave, not just this church but the Episcopal church altogether," said church member Alice Richardson.

Turner said it's gotten to the point where anyone with a collar is classified as untrustworthy.

Turner is trying to change that.

"Loving pastoral care"the witness of real concern and appropriate love, and that in time rebuilds trust when people see that it's genuine," said Turner.

Relationships aren't the only thing that needs repair.

"Through the years, the cycle of freezing thawing and freezing has eroded the stone work, the brick work, created leaks and other problems. The weather is a big, big problem," said Turner.

Turner said hanging the climate of how the community sees the church is what matters the most. But with needing $2 million to stabilize the building, the church would benefit from people to open up more than just their hearts.

Trinity is one of more than a half dozen churches in Watertown struggling with a shrinking congregation.


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