Two Priests Suspended Over Allegations of Sexual Abuse Involving Minors

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston said Saturday that two pastors were suspended from all assignments fosexual misconduct involving minors.

The archdiocese, which has been reviewing personnel records under a sexual abuse policy announced two weeks ago by Cardinal Bernard Law, said it was giving Paul J. Finegan of St. Bernadette Church in Randolph and the Rev. Daniel Graham of St. Joseph Church in Quincy.

The archdiocese said multiple allegations of sexual misconduct with minors had been made against Finegan and that one such allegation had been made against Graham.

Archdiocese spokeswoman Donna Morrissey said she did not know when the allegations were made.

A message left for Finegan at St. Bernadette Rectory was not immediately returned Saturday.

A man who answered the phone at St. Joseph Rectory Saturday said Graham would not comment. The man declined to give his name.

In a message to parishioners printed in a bulletin for weekend masses, Graham, who has diabetes, said he was taking health leave to care for himself and his 97-year-old father.

"I apologize for the abruptness of this change but sometimes overwhelming needs must be dealt with immediately," Graham said in the statement.

Two bishops in the archdiocese addressed parishioners at weekend masses at the two churches.

Bishop Richard Malone, speaking to parishioners at St. Joseph, said telling them about the allegations was "the hardest thing I've ever had to do."

The parishioners are being offered counseling, and those with information about the allegations are being asked to contact either the archdiocese or prosecutors.

St. Joseph parishioner Mary Kahler, 33, said Graham has "always been a listening ear -- a positive voice. I'm hoping that the allegations are completely unjustified. Maybe a lot of us are in denial, but I don't think so."

Another parishioner, Frank Robinson, said he was "shocked and disgusted."

The archdiocese implemented the sexual abuse policy following the release of court records showing it had moved former priest John Geoghan from parish to parish despite allegations against him.

Geoghan was defrocked in 1998 and convicted of indecent assault last month in one of three criminal cases against him.

On Wednesday, the archdiocese reported names of priests accused of sexually abusing children over the past 40 years to local authorities. The archdiocese, which did not disclose the number of names, said none of those individuals were in active service in the archdiocese.

"The most troubling thing about me is the number," said Phil Saviano of the New England chapter of the Survivors Network for Those Abused By Priests. "It wasn't one priest."

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, who represents 70 alleged victims in civil suits against the archdiocese, said the church appeared to be moving in the right direction.

"You have to identify the problem before you make a correction. Apparently the Archdiocese of Boston is beginning to do that," he said.