US & World

New Clergy Abuse Scandal Hits Old Wounds In Boston

Boston was the center of the U.S. clergy sexual abuse scandal that rocked the Roman Catholic Church in 2002. In the wake of a new scandal, this time in Europe, some abuse survivors in Boston say the church failed to follow through on efforts toward reform. Bernie McDaid is one of those survivors who wishes the Vatican would have done more to resolve the issue.

Boston has been at the center of the U.S. clergy sexual abuse scandal since it erupted there in 2002. And during a Mass earlier this week in honor of priests at Boston's Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Cardinal Sean O'Malley said Europe's mushrooming abuse crisis is a painful reminder.

"These are not easy times to be a priest," he said. "Sometimes it feels like we are being walloped quite unfairly."

Not Enough

Many abuse victims say the new allegations implicating the highest levels of the church are, in part, a re-victimization — but also a validation.

"We said it eight years ago, we said, 'This is not an American problem — this is a global problem,' " says Olan Horne, who is one of a handful of victims who met with Pope Benedict during his visit to the U.S. in 2008.

"Nobody believed us," he says. "People were spitting in our faces, saying, 'Why didn't you come forward? This is all about the money. You hit the pedophile lottery.' "

Another survivor who was at that papal meeting was Bernie McDaid, who is disappointed that the Vatican has not done more for victims since that emotional meeting.

"I put my hand on his heart and said, 'You have a cancer in your flock. You need to do something about it,' " McDaid says. "The follow-through? I'm sad to say there was no follow-through."

'An Attack Against The Church'

But some Roman Catholics say the church has been addressing the issue.

"I'm sad for the priests, for the hierarchy taking so much grief," says 80-year-old Nancy Caruso, who regularly attends Mass in Boston's North End. "I'm sad for the pope. It's happened. Nobody wanted it to happen, but let's move on. Let's not forget the tenets of our religion."

For Carol McKinley, who considers herself a Catholic activist, the latest allegations are about religion.

"I definitely feel there is an attack against the church," she says. "Do we have a problem? ... I'm not quite sure we have a problem now."

The abuse survivors say the problem now is that the church must change. Neither Horne nor McDaid thinks the pope should step down, but they want to make sure their voices are heard as the Catholic Church works toward reform. Copyright 2010 WBUR. To see more, visit