“The double standard has to stop and people must report to civil authorities, the police and child protection, not the church. The Catholic Church will only cover it up.”
McGonigle encounters clergy abuse even through her work. She is currently litigating a case of sexual abuse in the clergy for a deceased client, allowing her insight into the working of the church.
“I am having a first hand glimpse of the strategies and tactics used by the Catholic Church,” said McGonigle.
McGonigle does not attend Mass anymore. “I cannot attend church, and in my situation it would be against doctor's orders. Due to the stress brought about by the sexual abuse inflicted by Father Brendan Smyth, I had a grand mal seizure at age eight at Palm Sunday mass at Our Lady of Mercy,” remembers McGonigle.
“Once this all surfaced for me, and I had not had a grand mal seizure since I was eight, after some 39 years, I had another grand mal. The altar, white robes and smell of paraffin from the candles is all too triggering for me. Even the letters on the crucifix over Jesus -- "INRI" to me as a child registered as In Rhode Island -- that is a place of suffering,” she said.
McGonigle has her own personal relationship with God.
Smyth was convicted on 91 counts of child molestation – 17 in Northern Ireland and 74 in the summer
McGonigle isn’t included in this number. And undoubtedly, there are more just like her.