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Church Aid Claims Pleas Went Unheard

Apr 8, 2003 | AP

A former aide to Bishop John McCormack said she repeatedly urged church officials to warn parishioners about priests who had been accused of sexually abusing children, but her pleas were ignored.

In a deposition released publicly Monday, Sister Catherine Mulkerrin said she received allegations against more than 100 priests in the Boston archdiocese from 1992 to 1994, while she was working as an aide to McCormack, who was then Cardinal Bernard Law’s delegate on clergy sexual misconduct. McCormack is now Bishop of Manchester, N.H.

She said she told McCormack that the archdiocese should put a notice in parish bulletins to warn parishioners that a priest who worked there during a certain time period had been accused of sexually abusing children. At one point, she described herself as a "broken record" in a memo to McCormack in which she again urged church officials to notify parishes where abusive priests had worked.

"My deepest hope was that more people would feel free to come forward because so many of the people I had met had waited for years (to come forward)," she said.

Mulkerrin said she also expressed her frustration to McCormack that priests who had been sent for treatment after being accused of sexual abuse were later allowed to return to parish work, without the kind of supervision she had recommended.

"I expressed concern, consternation. What are we thinking of? What are you thinking of?" she said she told McCormack.

When McCormack was pressed about her concerns, "I think the gist of what he told me was that he was trying," Mulkerrin said.

Mulkerrin answered questions over three days this winter in a deposition taken as part of civil lawsuits filed against the church for its handling of sexual abuse allegations against priests.

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