In a packed sanctuary that held hundreds, Father Mike, as he was known, stood before the congregation he had led for a dozen years. Reading from a statement, he told them that 19 years ago he had “transgressed the personal boundaries of an adolescent.” (Only later would it emerge that the diocese knew he, in fact, had been accused of sexual misconduct with several other children.) With the diocese’s zero-tolerance policy now in place, he said he was being forced to step down. The tone of his statement made him sound like a martyr—someone who had been kicked out of ministry for a single mistake, a simple boundary violation—nearly two decades ago. As he read his short statement, the parishioners sat in stunned silence. Some women fished in their purses for tissues to wipe away their tears. As Father Mike walked out of the church, the congregation rose and gave him a standing ovation.
When the applause started, my first reaction was disbelief. A standing ovation? Though the language softened the act, I had just heard this priest admit that he had molested a minor. Diocesan officials had kept the information secret from the parishioners of San Francisco Solano, who until now would never have thought twice about leaving their children in the pastor’s charge. As a parent, my response was outrage and disgust. Imagine that a beloved schoolteacher who had taught your children had admitted to once sexually molesting a child but the school district never called the police, kicked him out or bothered to tell the parents. Would you rally around the teacher? Or would you be angry that a predator was left in a position of great trust with easy access to children—without your knowledge? I’d guess that the school superintendent would be forced to resign under pressure from parents—and face criminal charges for aiding and abetting a criminal.
(Losing My Religion. William Lobdell. p. 153-154)
Brady applauded at Armagh mass
The applause that rippled through Armagh’s vast St Patrick’s Cathedral as Dr Séan Brady entered this morning stated in the clearest terms exactly what his parishioners think of their cardinal.
Contained and measured, the spontaneous gesture nevertheless sent out a loud message to those calling for the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland to step down.
The majority of the 300-strong congregation applauded him again after his apologetic homily and as he left the magnificent church at the close of St Patrick’s Day mass.
“We didn’t need to clap him,” parishioner Maura McClean said afterwards, “because I think God will applaud him”.
“But that was the reaction of the decent people of Armagh. I think he’s a true genuine person who’s done no wrong.”