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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?

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I'm incredulous at all the Catholic laity who are incredulous that something like this could go on in their church. Non-Catholics have understood for centuries upon centuries that the Catholic hierarchy would stop at nothing from accomplishing their goal of converting everyone on Earth to Catholicism. While I sympathize with the victims of this terrible tradegy, I'd like to see the church start to atone for their role in the Holocaust. Their weak apology 2.5 years ago was just that, weak. Centuries upon centuries of demonizing Jews as Christ killers led to prejudice and hatred aimed at the Jewish people. While the church did not murder six million jews, it certainly planted the seeds of hatred. Today, despite some somewhat sincere efforts by Pope John Paul II to mend fences, he is leading the charge to canonize Pope Pius XII, whose war time efforts to help Jews is highly questionable. These efforts to canonize are a slap in the face for all Jewish people. Finally, another question: How can you simultaneously proselytize (sp.) to someone and respect their religion. The answer: you can't. When it came time to defend the Jews, if the Jews were not looked upon with hatred and disdain, they were certainly not respected by the Catholic church, and a good deal of the laity. Further bigotry toward women and gays is also shameful. Thus, once again, while I sympathize with the victims in this terrible tragedy, one needs to look only at the Catholic church's history and wonder why anyone would want to be associated with a group that has caused so much pain and suffering on this Earth.

Michael, Acton


My heart is broken...... a question for Cardinal Law: what would Jesus do???? RESIGN, RESIGN, RESIGN. I stand by my church & its core beliefs but am so woefully ashamed of many of its leaders. But as I have often done, I compare my Church to democracy.....the core beliefs I value with all my heart...it is some of the players (in both venues) that need to be replaced - they disgrace the very entity that they claim loyalty to.

Barbara L, Saugus


If I have to look at Cardinal Law's face, in that pondering look up to the sky, as he appears to be so befuddled as to how any of these horrible events could have happened on his watch, I think I am going to throw up! He is an utter disgrace & should be put in jail with all of the other child molesting, woman abusing, drug buying priests in the archdiocese. The facts are: Cardinal Law knew what was going on and continued to let it happen. His claim that he didn't know until recently how much damage these sorts of abuse was being done to the victims is a complete crock. The guy is a liar and should be locked up along with many others. This is the church's version of the mob.

KC, Anytown, USA


Cardinal Law should spend the rest of his natural life in prison for unleashing pedophiles on innocent children, ruining their lives forever. This man is no better than the pedophile himself. Is the mother charged with a crime by allowing a husband or boyfriend to beat her children? What makes Cardinal Law's position so different? How can he continue as Cardinal? How can we as people sleep at night knowing that the Pope is allowing this to continue? Why hasn't the Cardinal been prosecuted? Until something drastic happens within the church, and in addition that the Cardinal is prosecuted, the church no longer has our support.

Karen , Foxboro


The Cardinal's behavior has been criminal. He should be charged accordingly. He should resign at once. He has no moral authority. There is no good leadership available right now. Who cares about the financial crisis - let them sell their limos, garments, property etc. (And I'm a Catholic - or was perhaps)

Ann, Rockport, MA


It is clear that the Archdiocese (and the Vatican) are more interested in preserving their institutional power and stranglehold on Catholics in the United States than in moving forward. Dissent and discussion are not tolerated (witness the edict issued to Our Lady Help of Christians church). The church has no interest in the welfare of the children who were molested and abused by its clergy for the last fifty years, only in perpetuating its own power. What kind of a church is that?

Paul, Arlington


If you consider that these are just men working as priests, what we really have here is the largest child sex abuse ring in the world. The church is just a cloak to hide behind. Sadly they can get away with it because our elected officials are allowing it. If we weren't talking about the church, there would be no surveys and there would be no discussions. We would all be reading about the long prison sentences they are serving, including Mr. Law.

M, Boston


In light of further allegations of Cardinal Law's immoral behavior in "protecting his own", I think it is an utter disgrace that he has not stepped down. In any other institution/organization his superiors would have demanded his resignation at the very least. I don't think we could possibly count the number of individuals that he has placed in harm's way. Let alone the feeling that he has been criminally negligent (a doctor or teacher knowing of such acts is mandated in the state of Massachusetts to report)he is apparently morally inept and does not hold himself or those "serving God" to a very high standard. They should be held to higher standards so that their "followers" will do as they do. Rather, they are being held to a lower standard and as such cast a negative shadow on the whole of Catholic religious servants. Cardinal Law needs to go so that faith can be restored in the Church.

Tammy , Framingham


I was born and brought up in Boston as Irish Catholic, one of 10 children. I believe Cardinal Law has been permitted to hide behind his cloaks for too long, and he should be sentenced to life in prison for allowing the abuse of young children to continue for so many years. I will no longer support the Catholic Church, I have vowed not to bring my children to the Catholic Church any longer, I will not be a part of this religious arena where the leaders do what they wish, knowing it's morally wrong, and think because they are "priests" that we will be ignorant enough to allow this. I believe in God but I do not need the pompous Catholic leaders to tell me how to live my life as a good Christian.

Cecelia , Plymouth


Law is just as bad as the people who committed 9/11. He should be tried just as any terrorist would be.

So Sadd, Cambridge


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