MESSAGE BOARD / Dec. 5, 2002
In recent weeks, a contrite Cardinal Bernard Law has made emotional apologies for his handling of abusive priests and met with members of a lay Catholic group he had previously shunned. But archdiocesan personnel files released this week have exposed glaring new instances of church negligence and provided more evidence that Law knew of abuse allegations against priests who were allowed to remain on active church duty for years. Facing an estimated 450 abuse claims, the archdiocese may declare bankruptcy. In light of this week's revelations, what are your feelings on the church crisis? Has Law lost the moral authority to lead the archdiocese? Where must Boston Catholics look for leadership? And what should be done to address the church's financial crisis?
It makes me sick to my stomach what was ALLOWED to happen in the catholic church. And I do mean ALLOWED. These priests, bishops and cardinal all knew exactly what was going on and instead of protecting innocent children they chose instead to protect the "Priests Club". I don't know how any family could feel safe raising their children in the Catholic church. I know I wouldn't and I was raised in a strict Catholic household. It's pretty obvious where the Pope and his hierarchy's priorities lie and it is not with the "common" parishoners. I don't believe anything will really change in this hierarchy even after all that has been divulged. I think their bottom line will always be to protect their fellow priests over children.
I am not a Christian but am totally disgusted what has happened in the Church but more disgusted with our judicial system. Why isn't Mr. Law (he doesn't deserve the respect of being called Cardinal Law) in jail? Why is he not being charged as an accessory after the fact? He is guilty of that crime and the documents prove it. Any crime on innocent children is shocking but for a man of the cloth to commit such a crime as sexual assault should not be tolerated. Law not only needs to step down but he needs to go to jail NOW! How dare the church think it can escape paying these victims by filing bankruptcy? The church has enough property to compensate these parishioners who put their trust in them. Is this another "special circumstance" that the church can stand behind? I am just so appalled by this whole thing that I will ensure that every time I am summoned to serve on a jury I will make it a point not to be picked. SHAME ON AMERICA for letting this sham continue.
I am a lifelong Catholic who has been ducking the news for almost 12 months. I am, of course, appalled at the continuing revelations concerning the actions of the administrators of the Archdiocese of Boston over the last several years. Under other circumstances, I believe Cardinal Law should resign. But, is the authority from Rome that rubber stamped the disgusting decisions made in Boston taking the same tack, and has Cardinal Law been advised to "tough it out" by the Curia and, therefore not free to resign? I can't believe that there is any other explanation. I am sorry for all the victims of this sick situation but I am also sorry for myself and other persons of faith who are lost and cannot find their place in the Church now. God help us all.
Joyce, Reading, MA
Cardinal Law: Get out of town!
The priests and the cardinal and his bishops who have either committed these crimes or abetted criminal behavior are clearly men who are emotionally arrested and whose sexual development ceased in their teens. Their behavior is simply that of white trash who just don't know any better. As for the rest of us who are life-long Catholics, we just should have known better than to have placed our children at risk by having such absolute trust in any man. Better that we all independently meditate more on Christ's teachings and pay less fealty to this church that continuously finds ways to fail Him...
greg, south boston
Cardinal Law is a pathetic human being by any standard. He lacks any of the qualities required to be a leader and most definitely does not posses the qualities, strengths, and enlightment necessary to be a spiritual leader. I have lost faith in the Catholic Church. It has failed to remove the cancer which is eating away at Boston's spiritual backbone. Cardinal Law needs to be removed as soon as possible.
Aside from being disgusted with the arrogance of the Archdiocese I would like to give a huge thank you to the media in general (and the Boston Globe in particular) for bringing this horrific issue to light and not letting it die. Without the media digging and probing we would all still be in the dark on this one and it would be business as usual in the Cardinal's criminal world. Once again Globe, thank you very much
The Church should be completely boycotted by everyone, including zero donations. Period.
Robert L, Boston
I'm one of the last people to come forward and call for Cardinal Law to resign. I am a devout Catholic and have long held the belief that he made serious errors in judgment and should be held accountable, but I didn't (and still don't) believe that his resignation will solve anything. That being said, his departure would be a symbolic move that might be a balm on our injured spirits. I too believe that priests should be able to marry and that woman can serve equally as well (and in many instances better) than our male counterparts. I also think we need to heal and there are steps we can take to do that can make a difference - speak up, withhold donations. But the donations hurt the neediest of all - I shudder to think of what's happening to all those who rely on the services of Catholic Charities for instance. So, don't give to the Cardinal's Appeal, but please continue to give. Secondly, speak up but remember the Catholic Church is not a democracy - we are not Protestants. We rely on our leaders and we need good, honest and faithful men and women to assist in our journeys of faith. Pope JPII, your time has passed - you should make history by being the first Pope to resign from office. I recognize and accept your infallibility on Church doctrine, but your commom sense is in serious doubt. It is time to remove the veil of secrecy that has plagued our Church for so long. Remember, as good Christians, it is our job to try to forgive these people for their serious errors. It's hard - I know this because I have dealt first-hand with the impact of sexual assault (not by a clergy member). So we do need to move on - all of us, including the victims. We need to try to forgive and remember that the healing starts with us, not with Cardinal Law or any other figurehead. Remember, these men are human and how they have proven it to us, over and over and over again. A few other points I have to say. Do not judge the thousands and thousands of wonderful priests out there, who are dedicated to their calling and who have upheld the vows they took (and to correct an earlier statement, priests do not take a vow of poverty - that's saved for the nuns!). Do not let the hideous acts of the few cast aspersions on the whole. Secondly, keep in mind that the abuse is not a current problem. We are going back 20 years or more with these cases - that does not erase the emotional scars of the victims. However we cannot rewrite history - we can only look to and pray for a brighter future. Finally, and one of my biggest sore points, is the Boston Globe. You are full of propoganda against the Catholic Church and have used these horrible events to perpetuate its own agenda against the Church. Hopefully we are all smart enough not to believe everything we read just because it's in print, and hopefully we can sift through the editorializing that's prevalent throughout the "unbiased journalism" that is the Globe. One small victory for me - I cancelled my subscription.
Katie M, Boston
Well, it's been a long time coming!!! As a Catholic, I am hoping that the centuries of hypocrisy and abuse will make way for priests who have all their marbles. I believe that soon there will be an American Catholic Church that will break off from Rome and allow priests to be married (or not - gay men are no necessarily pedophiles!!!!) or women. Let's get all of it out in the open. Shame on you, Cardinal Law, for keeping this secret for so long. You have destroyed many lives by your irresponsible abuse of power.