By Alexander Dworkowitz
Many Catholic parishioners in Queens have found the church’s response to the recent priest sex scandal troubling.
Nevertheless, some of the same worshipers said their faith remains strong, and they believe the Catholic Church has a strong future in the borough.
Last week American cardinals and Pope John Paul II met in the Vatican to discuss the issue of sexually abusive priests. The church leaders decided against a policy of zero tolerance, which would have called for the dismissal of any priests determined to have sexually abused children.
But Cardinal Edward Egan, leader of the New York Archdiocese, later took a stronger stance in his sermon to worshipers at St. Patrick’s Cathedral Sunday. The cardinal urged all victims of sexually molestation by priests to report the crime to state prosecutors.
Despite recent actions by the church to encourage reporting of abuse, many Queens Catholics were critical of the church’s handling of the priest sex scandal.
“I’m not sure he went far enough,” said Frederick Bedell Jr. a member of St. Anastasia’s Church in Douglaston, speaking of Egan’s call to report priests.
“They should have dealt with it much sooner,” said Jane Mahon, who attends Our Lady of Hope Roman Catholic Church in Middle Village. “They could have done something way before now. Hopefully, now they’re going in the right direction to address the problems and correct them.”
“They should have done something,” said Vivian Gibney, who has worshiped at St. Gerard Magella Roman Catholic Church in Hollis for 40 years. “They shouldn’t have just moved them around from parish to parish.”
While they were critical of the church, Queens worshipers said they had not lost faith.
“It hasn’t disturbed my faith in the church or the leadership,” said Bedell. “There are a lot of good priests out there.”
“You’re going to have good people and bad people,” said Frank Coccaro, a parishioner at St. Margaret’s Roman Catholic Church in Middle Village. “I still believe in what the church stands for.”
“I think we’ve bonded because of it,” said Harriet Morton, speaking for herself and other parishioners at Whitestone’s Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church.
Wanda Beck-Antosh, a parishioner at St. Mel’s Roman Catholic Church in Flushing, agreed with Morton.
“Like anything else, the church will survive and get stronger,” she said.
Reach reporter Alexander Dworkowitz by e-mail at Timesledger@aol.com or call 229-0300, Ext. 141.