Churchgoers Shocked by Allegations

By Brandon Bain
Newsday [Long Island NY]
November 20, 2006

Parishioners at churches in Babylon and Roosevelt where the Rev. Thomas G. Saloy most recently presided over said yesterday they were shocked and saddened of his arrest on federal child pornography charges, while some said they would pray for him.

"We're just shocked, I guess we're all humans and he's in a position of trust as a priest," said Thomas Quigley of West Babylon. "But it's not going to shake my faith in Catholicism."

Saloy, 45, who has been placed on administrative leave by Bishop William Murphy, was arrested Friday after authorities said they found some 1,300 sexually explicit photos and video clips of children on his rectory computer. Authorities said the pastor also had racy online conversations with detectives who posed as teenagers.

If convicted, Saloy, who is currently at Mercy Medical Center in Rockville Centre after authorities noted a "suicidal gesture" during his arrest, faces a maximum prison sentence of 10 years, a lifetime of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

Pastors at Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Church in Roosevelt, which Saloy recently joined and Our Lady of Grace Church in West Babylon where he worked in the early to mid-'90s, preached forgiveness as they briefed parishioners of Saloy's case during Mass yesterday.

Churchgoers said they were pleased that the case was not "swept under the rug."

"We're all sinners, why should a priest be any different?" asked Mary Leonard of West Babylon.

Described by parishioners as gentle, upbeat, well-spoken and a little conservative, Saloy also had served at St. Mary Church in East Islip and St. Raphael Church in East Meadow.

Judy O'Toole, a 30-year parishioner at Queen of the Most Holy Rosary Church, said she was surprised to hear of the arrest this weekend.

"He spoke beautifully ... I think he is a nice guy," she said. "It wasn't something that I was planning on hearing."

"I don't understand how people turn like that," said George Eckert of Copiague, who converted to Catholicism and was baptized by Saloy last year.

Linda Candreva, a Merrick resident, said she would often call the Roosevelt church to find out when Saloy would serve Mass and that she had planned to have him counsel her 13-year-old son, who lost his father in September.

"Maybe in this day and age with the Internet and all of the sex that's out there people can't help themselves, it's human nature," said Candreva.

Emerson Claridge contributed to this article.


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