A Roslindale reverend under fire for using church resources to raise cash to pay the legal expenses of a clergy member suspended for allegedly sexually abusing a child, apologized Thursday.
The Rev. Francis H. Kelley, pastor at Sacred Heart Church, said in a statement he would no longer use a church bulletin to solicit donations for the Rev. John Mendicoa, who was placed on leave in August after being accused of sexually abusing a child in the 1980s.
Representatives from BishopAccountability.org stood outside of the church Thursday and called on Cardinal Sean O'Malley to put an end to the public fundraising.
"Its very disturbing to see a pastor publicly raising money for an accused priest. It will intimidate and silence anyone who has [been harmed]. They will fear they won't be believed," said Anne Barrett Doyle, the group's co-director.
Doyle said a parishioner contacted her to alert them about the fundraising efforts.
David Clohessy, director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, joined Doyle in Roslindale and called Kelley's actions "callous."
"It sends a very, very chilling message," said Clohessy. "Every single time someone backs an accused child predator, it intimidates people who ought to step forward."
As of Thursday, Mendicoa, the accused priest, was still listed on the church's bulletin as an associate pastor.
Clohessy said part of the initiative was to have Mendicoa's name removed from the bulletin as long as he remains on administrative leave for the sexual abuse allegations.
Mendicoa served at Sacred Heart from June 1997 until August of last year.
His case is pending.
Priest offers an instant apology
When Metro requested a comment from a spokeswoman for the archdiocese, she responded with a statement from the Rev. Francis H. Kelley that read:
"I wish to express my apology to all impacted by this action. I now recognize that this announcement was not an appropriate use of the parish bulletin. I offer my personal assurance that such announcements will not be permitted going forward. We at Sacred Heart abide by all of the child safe environment programs mandated by the archdiocese and we pray for all impacted by the tragedy of sexual abuse."
Follow Steve Annear on Twitter @steveannear