Quincy priest on leave after abuse allegations

Accusations date back 50 years

Boston Globe/June 14, 2010

Quicny - A priest at St. Mary's Church in Quincy has been placed on administrative leave following allegations of child sexual abuse that occurred about 50 years ago, the Catholic Archdiocese of Boston said yesterday.

The Rev. F. Dominic Menna, a senior priest at St. Mary's, will not be allowed to preside over services and will no longer be allowed to reside at the parish until the investigation is complete, according to Kelly Lynch, a spokeswoman for the archdiocese. According to a statement released yesterday afternoon, the archdiocese notified police and has begun to investigate the accusations.

Lynch declined to comment on the circumstances or location of the alleged sexual abuse, citing the privacy of those involved and the integrity of the investigation.

A spokesman for Boston police said no information about ongoing sexual abuse investigations could be released, and Jake Wark, a spokesman for the Suffolk district attorney's office, said he was unaware of the case and could not comment.

One parishioner, Ned Hobin, 56, a Quincy firefighter who was walking his dog near St. Mary's yesterday evening, said he was saddened by the news.

"It's a terrible thing to have happen," he said. "I mean, the man is 80 years old. I'm not sure how I feel about it yet."

A woman who was at a church bingo game and declined to be identified because she has children in the parish's school said she was shocked and confused.

"My kids loved Father Menna," she said. "Why now?"

Mary O'Toole, 56, of Quincy, who has been a parishioner nearly 20 years, said she was hesitant to believe the allegations because they were coming so long after the alleged abuse.

"I like him. I've met him and he doesn't strike me as the kind of person who would do that," she said.

True or not, she said, it doesn't change the way she feels about the church.

"Your faith is between you and God," she said. "I pray to God, not to a priest."

Just hours before the archdiocese made the announcement, a dozen people protesting sexual abuse by clergy picketed in front of the Cathedral of the Holy Cross as Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley said Mass inside. O'Malley honored couples celebrating their 25th and 50th wedding anniversaries this year and stressed to them the importance of commitment.

Protesters have appeared at the cathedral most Sundays for the past eight years.

The pickets, many from a group called Call to Action Boston, held signs bearing photographs and names of children who have said they were sexually abused by clergy.

As families made their way past the protesters into the cathedral, mothers held children close. Some called the protest inappropriate or disgraceful. But some churchgoers said they sympathized. "Bad things happen to good people, and they're doing what they can about it," said Chuck Comeau, 48, of Boston, as he made his way into the church.

For Stanley Doherty, 57, a Catholic from Hingham who has stood outside the Cathedral protesting for nearly eight years, the issue is simple.

"Being out here is not at odds with the faith; it's what's right," he said.

The archdiocese's Office of Pastoral Support and Outreach will continue to offer counseling and other services for victims, their families, and parishes affected by sexual abuse cases, according to yesterday's statement.

"My prayers and concern are with all people who are impacted by this matter," O'Malley said in the statement. "I remain concerned to doing everything possible to protect our children, to further the healing process, and to rebuild trust."

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