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Flynn sends letter of support to Boston Catholic priests

By Linda Matchan, Globe Staff, 8/10/1992

 In-depth
In 1992, the Rev. James R. Porter case in Fall River brought the problem of clergy abuse into the open.  
Coverage of the Porter case
ayor Flynn has sent a letter to every Catholic priest in Boston to offer support and appreciation in the wake of recent reports of sexual abuse accusations against two priests and a former priest from Massachusetts.

"I am deeply troubled by the recent negative publicity surrounding a small number of clergy because of its potential to overshadow the rich contribution that you and your fellow parish priests are making every day to the quality of life in our city neighborhoods," Flynn wrote the church leaders.

"I can only imagine how difficult it must be to experience recent media controversy as you go about the daily business of helping your parishioners and their neighbors struggle through a brutal recession and the other challenges of urban life.

"Under the leadership of Cardinal Law, a man who has a deep moral commitment to helping people, you and your fellow parish priests are helping to keep Boston strong."

In a telephone interview yesterday, Flynn said he felt compelled to write the letter because "it troubles me to see all the attention given to the behavior of a small number of people . . . I am out in the city every day, and see the priests helping the elderly and children and needy people and quite frankly, I don't know what the city would do without the clergy."

The accusations of abuse of children have come up during the past few months. Former priest James Porter has been accused of sexually molesting scores of boys and girls while working as a priest in the 1960s in North Attleborough, Fall River, New Bedford and Revere. Rev. John R. Hanlon of Hingham pleaded innocent to charges he raped a teen-age altar boy in North Plymouth in the early 1980s. Rev. Richard R. Lavigne of Shelburne pleaded guilty to two counts of indecent assault and battery against two boys a decade ago.

This story ran in the Boston Globe on 8/10/1992.
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