Parishioners Upset about Priest Allegation Announcement

February 21, 2011

SAN JUAN BAUTISTA, Calif - Parishioners at San Juan Bautista Mission are bothered by how they were given the news about the sexual abuse allegations against their priest, Father Edward Fitz-Henry. They say a lawyer stood up in mass last Sunday and announced it infront of everyone.

"Mass is supposed to be mass. You're supposed to come here for church. That wasn't called for," said Raymond Padilla who attends that parish. "It shouldn't happen like that. He was telling everybody. Even the kids!"

Other parishioners, however, think the direct approach was better.

"I think everyone finding out at the same time makes it a little bit better...It's a very emotionally charge subject, so by the time you hear about it...I just think it was like pulling off a band-aid quickly, so just do it," said Gloria Hennessy who also attends that parish.

Father Fitz-Henry preached at San Juan Bautista Mission until the Diocese of Monterey suspended him last month.

This Sunday, just a week after everyone found out about the allegations, many of them gathered to support Fitz-Henry.

Outside the mission, workers passed out dozens of envelopes addressed straight to Bishop Garcia. Stacks of those envelopes were out in the open during mass. Padilla has one and is happy to write a letter in support of Fitz-Henry's innocence. He still thinks the announcement should've been made differently.

"If they really want to get it to people, do it in the public. Do it that way. Not in church. Leave church to us," said Padilla.

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