New York Irish Catholic faithful feel let down by Church in sex abuse response
Irish mass-goers at a Bronx church on Good Friday expressed their disappointment and upset at the recent admissions of child sex-abuse cover-ups in Ireland.
“My faith is still strong in God and I’ll continue to go to Mass as long as I’m able, but my heart breaks every time I see in the news about the awful, unexplainable abuse that happened in Ireland, and here I suppose too, over the years,” said Ann Daly after attending the Stations of the Cross at St. Barnabas Church in the Bronx on Friday last.
Daly, an immigrant from Co. Roscommon who has been living in the Bronx for more than four decades, was visibly moved when she spoke about the abuse that many of her own generation suffered at the hands of clergymen back in Ireland.
“I suppose it was going on right under my nose back home when we were kids and I didn’t even know about it,” she speculated.
“We were told to respect the church and what it stood for, and by God we did just that.”
Daly, who lost her husband, Joseph three years ago, attends Mass at St. Barnabas every Sunday without fail.
“Do I look at the priests preaching from the alter in the same light I did back when I was younger, or even back before all these scandals broke out? No, but I still respect my parish priest, he is still the man representing God up there and I follow his lines,” she added.
Daly, who has three grown daughters, feels faith is essential in living life.
“I couldn’t do without it, and my three daughters are pretty good at going to Mass on Sundays although the youngest one doesn’t always get out of bed on a Sunday morning,” she laughs.
Deborah King and Laura Shields, both in their early twenties, spoke to the Irish Voice after “doing our Good Friday” duties.
“To be honest we don’t go to Mass every week but it’s Easter so we said we would make the effort,” smiles Shields, whose parents are from Co. Leitrim and Co. Cork.
King, whose grandparents are also Irish immigrants, said she would go to Mass more regularly if she wasn’t as “turned off” since the sex abuse scandals.
“I’ve no problem speaking out about this,” said King, a nurse.
“A lot of people don’t want to upset the priests because you can’t paint everyone with the same brush, and I don’t do that, but it’s just absolutely disgusting what went on behind closed doors, and it’s all only coning to light now.”
Shields, like her friend, is equally upset.
“My mother’s niece back in Ireland was abused for years and she didn’t tell anyone until she was in her late 30s, which was only about six years ago,” said Shields.
“I better not say the town in Leitrim but the parish priest there, who was a family friend would you believe, used to sexually abuse my young cousin after school and during church events.”
Shields, an office worker, added that her cousin has been getting counseling and has successfully managed to sue the church in Ireland.
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