S.i. Parishioners React to ‘credible’ Sex Abuse Claims against Former Clergy
By Kyle Lawson
October 15, 2018
The message Sunday at Blessed Sacrament R.C. Church in West Brighton was pretty straight forward.
“There’s good, there’s bad... it’s been that way since the beginning of the world,” said Monsignor Peter Finn. “But guess what, the good will always win the battle... here on Staten Island, here at Blessed Sacrament Church.”
A week prior, he was among the church officials who addressed sex abuse claims against former Monsignor Francis Boyle. The alleged allegations have been substantiated by investigators; Monsignor Boyle awaits punishment from the Vatican.
“He was a very quiet man," said Kevin Genereux, who attended mass on Sunday with his wife. “He didn’t come across as somebody who had any issues, but you never know.”
They said two of their children were altar servers when Monsignor Boyle was leading mass on Staten Island, but they never detected signs of abuse.
“They’re in their 30s, I think they would have brought it to our attention if anything had happened," said Genereux.
A parishioner who had two children in Blessed Sacrament school at the time Monsignor Boyle served there, said he questions why the church hasn’t reached out to more parents.
“As a parent, we’re not being notified who his victims are; are they male or female, what his motive for securing the victims was, and in what way were they were victimized?” he said. “We don’t know as parents or as parishioners what we should be speaking to our children about.”
He said monsignors at the parish at the time were involved in CCD [Confraternity of Christian Doctrine], sports and after-school programs, as well as other school events. He said parents should know what programs Monsignor Boyle was involved in, so they can speak with their children.
The St. George resident said he remembers Monsigner Boyle as the consummate professional, making the sex abuse claims all the more frightening.
“As a society, we want people to come forward when they’re victimized, but the church isn’t operating in a manner to make people come forward,” he said.
Prior to his time on Staten Island -- 1991 to 2004 -- Boyle was pastor of Our Lady of Perpetual Help R.C. Parish in Pelham Manor in Westchester County, according to Advance records.
SECOND MONSIGNOR WITH SIMILAR ALLEGATIONS
Meanwhile, parishioners at St. Joseph-St. Thomas R.C. Parish in Pleasant Plains are dealing with the recent news that former Monsignor Charles Coen also faces punishment, amid similar allegations.
A couple leaving mass on Sunday, who had small children during Coen’s tenure, said their perception of an “intelligent" and “very nice” person hasn’t changed.
Coen taught and conducted Irish music for children during his time on the Island, in addition to his involvement Boy Scouts, according to Advance records and lifelong parishioners.
“I’d wait until we have some pertinent information and some evidence,” said the husband. “You just can’t say, ‘Oh I’m accusing you, and that’s it.’”
Allegations of abuse were brought against Boyle and Coen through the Archdiocese’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP), which assists victims of alleged priestly abuse.
"...it is certain that Msgr. Coen will never serve as a priest again,” according to a recent notice in the St. Joseph-St. Thomas bulletin.