Why They Stay. Why They Can’t: New York Catholics Wrestle With Their Faith Over Abuse Allegations

Oct 23, 2018

By Luis Ferré-Sadurní and Mariana Alfaro

New York City is a Roman Catholic stronghold.

One out of every three residents identifies as a Catholic. And there are more than four million Catholics in the city and seven surrounding counties.

So when a series of scandals involving the Roman Catholic Church unfolded in rapid-fire succession this summer, New York gasped.

First came accusations of sexual abuse by a premier American cardinal, Theodore E. McCarrick, who quickly resigned but left in his wake lingering questions about the role Pope Francis played in covering up the predatory behavior.

In August, an 884-page grand jury report out of Pennsylvania landed with a thud, offering a grim catalogue of seven decades of child abuse by more than 300 priests.

And last month, the attorneys general of New Jersey and New York followed Pennsylvania’s lead, announcing investigations into claims of clergy abuse and cover-ups, joining five other states that have started similar inquiries. Last Thursday, Pennsylvania dioceses said they had received subpoenas for documents as part of an investigation by the United States Justice Department.

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