Monsignor at Roslindale's Sacred Heart Apologizes after Soliciting Donations for Accused Priest
By Todd Feathers
Wicked Local correspondent
March 30, 2012
|David Clohessy, of SNAP, and Anne Barrett-Doyle, of Bishop Accountability.org, held a press conference to protest Sacred Heart Church's efforts to solicit donations for Rev. John M. Mendicoa, who was suspended due to allegations of child sex abuse, March 29, 2012.|
The Archdiocese of Boston and the Rev. Msgr. Francis H. Kelley, pastor of Roslindale’s Parish of the Sacred Heart, issued quick apologies Thursday, March 29, after victims advocacy groups protested the use of parish resources to solicit donations for the legal defense of a priest accused of sexually abusing children.
Representatives from the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) and BishopAccountability.org held a press conference outside Sacred Heart at 169 Cummins Highway on Thursday, and passed out copies of the parish’s March 17 news bulletin, containing directions for how to donate to the defense fund for the Rev. John Mendicoa. Last August, Mendicoa was accused of sexually abusing children in the 1980s and was suspended by the Archdiocese which notified local authorities. His case is still in process, according to the Archdiocese website.
“I wish to express my apology to all impacted by this action,” wrote Kelley in a statement. “I now recognize that this announcement was not an appropriate use of the parish bulletin. I offer my personal assurance that such announcements will not be permitted going forward.”
Anne Barrett-Doyle, of BishopAccountability.org, said a concerned parishioner notified her organization of the bulletin. She worried that a statement of support in a parish publication would make it harder for potential victims to come forward.
“It’s very depressing to see a pastor raise money for an accused priest,” said Barrett-Doyle outside of Sacred Heart. “How will any whistleblowers come forward given Monsignor Kelley is raising money for Father Mendicoa?”
The response from the Archdiocese came within the hour:
“This fundraising effort is not sponsored or sanctioned by the Archdiocese of Boston. Msgr. Francis Kelley is an outstanding pastor who has taken responsibility for his inappropriate use of the Church bulletin.”
The statement from the Archdiocese added that it “has made it a priority to create safe environments in our churches and continues to provide support to survivors and all people who have suffered as a result of clergy sexual abuse.”
Before the apologies were issued, David Clohessy, national director of SNAP, requested Cardinal Sean O’Malley “insist no parish resources are used to fund legal defense for Father Mendicoa.”
He and Barrett-Doyle also demanded more transparency from the Archdiocese on Mendicoa’s case. Barrett-Doyle said advertising transparency and then not delivering “has been the cardinal’s pattern.”
“Obviously it’s a matter of child protection and healing for victims that the community knows the full story,” said Barrett-Doyle.
And Clohessy criticized what he called a culture of support within the Archdiocese.
“Even when a predator priest is suspended and accused by the Archdiocese, other people on the church payroll support him,” said Clohessy.
But Clohessey did allow that members of the parish have the right to support their priest, who has not been found guilty of any wrongdoing.
“They have that right,” said Clohessy, “(but) we think that’s very unwise and we think it’s unhealthy. We’re saying if you want to support him, do it in ways that don’t intimidate victims.”
While Kelley has apologized for the bulletin and promised it will not happen again, there were indications that at least some members of the parish still intend to support Mendicoa.
As Thursday’s press conference outside Sacred Heart Church wrapped up, a parishioner in an SUV stopped nearby and rolled down his window to ask what all the cameras were for.
He declined to give his name but he said very seriously, “Yes, we are supporting (Mendicoa).”