Priests are supposed to offer spiritual comfort to adults and counsel young people on the values they will need later in life. They are not supposed to be sexual predators taking advantage of children.
That’s what makes the release of a list of alleged pedophile priests from this area, including one formerly of the Sacred Heart Church in Cairo, a tragedy and a disgrace. The priests were named in lawsuits filed against the Albany Diocese by alleged sexual abuse victims under the Child Victims Act.
It’s an offensive litany of accusations, both legally and morally. Father Sean McMahon, a priest from Ireland, was assigned to the Sacred Heart Church in Cairo. In 1984, according to the lawsuit against him, McMahon engaged in unpermitted sexual contact with an alleged victim who was 16 at the time. Details of the alleged sexual contact were not outlined in the court papers.
McMahon is the second priest from the Cairo area to be accused of sexually abusing a minor. Father Jeremiah Nunan was the former pastor of Sacred Heart Church in Cairo and Our Lady of Knock Mission in East Durham. Nunan was permanently barred from ministry June 30, 2018 by Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger after the Albany Diocese Review Board ruled that he had sexually abused a minor in the early 1990s.
It’s horrifying to note that Nunan, McMahon and nearly two dozen other suspected priests in this region were continually moved from one parish assignment to another, always one step ahead of civil litigation or criminal prosecution or both.
Many of these alleged predatory priests are dead; others are in their 80s and 90s, old enough to have lived a long time with their heinous allegations. But the institutions that handled and protected them still exist. It is legally and morally right to make them account to the fullest extent for shielding alleged predatory priests and covering up their reprehensible acts.