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Deposition of Cardinal Bernard Law
May 8, 2002, Suffolk County Superior Court

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Q. Donna Morrissey works in the Office off Communications at the Archdiocese?

A. That's correct.

Q. Who appointed Donna Morrissey to the position?

A. I did.

Q. So she works for you?

A. She works for the Archdiocese, yes.

Q. Does she work under your direction or under the chancellor's direction?

A. She would be directly on a day-to-day basis responsible for general moderator or the curie, who is now Bishop Edyvean but she also, because of -- she's also responsible to me.

MR. GORDON: Could we have this marked as Exhibit 236?

THE WITNESS: We're done with these?

MR. GORDON: Yes, for the time being (Document marked as Exhibit 236 for identification.)

MR. GORDON: Sorry about that. That's if you have difficulty reading.

MR. ROGERS, III: Sorry?

Q. Your Eminence, you've been given a one-page document which was marked as Exhibit 236. It appears to be another news release from the Archdiocese of the Boston Office of Communications, appears to be a statement of David W. Smith, Chancellor Archdiocese of Boston. Have you seen this statement before?

A. Yes.

Q. Were you aware this statement was going to be issued Friday afternoon?

A. Yes.

Q. Okay. You knew -- I'm not asking how you knew it, but you knew some of the Geoghan 86 victims were suicidal, didn't you?

A. I had been informed of that.

Q. What provision was made so that 86 individuals could learn that what they thought was a major settlement in a major point in their lives of resolving substantial traumatic experiences was being withdrawn prior to this release?

MR. TODD: Objection to form.

MR. ROGERS: Objection.

Q. You can answer.

A. The release itself was an effort in as timely a fashion as possible to communicate this decision.

Q. Now, you in your profession deal with people who suffer pain and anguish; is that correct?

A. That's correct.

Q. When there's a traumatic event in their lives, is it better that they learn about a traumatic, devastating event through the mass media or by people they know and have some trust in in a personal setting?

A. The latter.

Q. Okay. How is the news release anything like that?

MR. TODD: Object to the form.

MR. ROGERS: Object to the form.

Q. How is Exhibit 236 or how did -- strike that. Were you aware or did you make any efforts to let plaintiffs, through their attorneys, know, prior to the issuance of this news release, that the archdiocese was withdrawing from the settlement agreement or attempting to withdraw?

MR. ROGERS: Well, I object to the form of the agreement. It assumes facts that are not before the Court and that are not accurate. My conversation with Mr. Garabedian predated the release of this news conference, this press release.

MR. GORDON: And what time was that conversation?

MR. ROGERS: Just prior to the press release.

MR. GORDON: Neither of us are -- I was privy to that conversation. That was at 4:45. I asked His eminence to indicate to me what the date is that he can see on the bottom of this news release that was sent to us by Fox News, if you can read it.

MR. ROGERS: Well, you're representing. If you want him to read a date, fine. But to read the date that it was sent to you by Fox News is inappropriate.

MR. GORDON: On the bottom it says "from Archdiocese of Boston," and there's a time in front of that.

MR. ROGERS: I have no problem with reading it. But to read it as though he were reading when Fox News sent it out, that's an inappropriate question.

MR. GORDON: I'm not saying that that's when they sent it out. I'm saying that's when they got it.

MR. ROGERS: Once again, if you want the Cardinal to read that, he'll read it, but not to read it as to when they got it; he has no knowledge of that.

MR. GORDON: Well, then let him read that line, which is at the bottom.

MR. ROGERS: I have no problem with that.

A. May 3, '02, 4:02 p.m.

Q. Do you know what time plaintiff's counsel were given notice that the archdiocese was withdrawing?

A. I have not known that until I heard the time mentioned just a moment ago.

Q. And you don't know if it was in fact 4:45 on Friday afternoon, do you?

A. I do not know.

Q. And even if it wasn't 4:45, do you know if plaintiffs' counsel, if defendants' counsel, your attorneys told plaintiffs' counsel that a news release was being issued before the Geoghan 86 could be notified?

MR. ROGERS: Object to the form of the question, but go ahead.

A. I do not know that. I would have trusted in the fact that counsel would have appropriately informed the plaintiffs' counsel.

Q. Now, when did the finance council meet?

A. The finance council met Friday morning.

Q. Okay. And were there some issues as to whether or not the finance council's decision was mandatory or advisory?

A. Yes, there were.

MR. TODD: Object to form. What do you mean, some issues? What do you mean?

Q. Were there questions about whether or not the decision of the finance council was binding on the archdiocese or advisory?

A. There was some question.

Q. Okay. Was there a time in the day of Friday when that question was resolved?

A. There was.

Q. About what time in that day?

A. It would have been, it would have been in early afternoon.

Q. Okay. So, if it was resolved early that afternoon, your counsel would not have been able to convey anything until at least that time, isn't that correct, because it wasn't resolved?

A. Counsel, counsel seated here at this table with me was not party to those discussions with my canonical experts.

Q. But were they ultimately notified?

A. They were notified.

Q. They were notified?

A. Yes.

Q. Sometime after early afternoon?

A. That's correct.

Q. And there were 86 individual plaintiffs on the other side. Was there any thought of how long it would take to bring them in individually and convey to them what to them was devastating news, some of whom were suicidal?

MR. ROGERS: I object to the form.

MR. TODD: I object to the form.

Q. You can answer.

A. The thought given was that experience had shown us the very difficult matter of anything being kept confidential, and we felt it necessary to make this statement in as timely a fashion as possible so that we could explain the action in a way that hopefully would not -- that would explain it as best it can be explained, in the interest of not being secretive, in the interest of being open about it, that's why we did this.

Q. So there was no analysis or concern that if it was given out in the fashion it was that it might cause emotional crises for some of the Geoghan plaintiff victims?

MR. ROGERS: Object to the form.

MR. TODD: Objection to the form.

A. This, as you will note, is David Smith's statement. This is not my statement. I addressed this matter two days later, and was able to express in my own words my own feeling at that time, and my hopes.

Q. Did you express to David Smith a concern that this information not be put out until the plaintiffs would have had a chance to receive --

A. I did not.

Q. You did not?

A. I did not.

Q. Did anybody at Chancery raise this, that maybe we need to give these victims a chance to absorb this news in a private setting?

MR. ROGERS: You mean raise it directly to the Cardinal?

MR. GORDON: Raise it directly to the Cardinal.

A. Nobody raised it to me.

Q. Did anybody raise it in this finance council?

A. The issue of the possible -- the issue about the victims was raised in presenting the case for the settlement going forward at the finance council meeting.

Q. I understand from public reports that you and Mr. Rogers were outvoted.

A. Well, I.

MR. ROGERS: Object to the form.

Q. You didn't vote?

A. The council is a council to give me counsel and Mr. Rogers is not a member of the council. I invited him to be present at that council to help make the case for the settlement, to provide background information that might be asked.

Q. And this is the first time the council has ever overturned a recommendation of yours?

A. Refused to accept a recommendation of mine, that's correct.

Q. Did you have any information prior to the council's meeting that indicated to you they were going to reject your request?

A. I had no firm assurance that that would happen. I was, I was aware of the fact that there were those who were very, very much opposed to the settlement moving forward under the present circumstances. I had hopes that I would be able to override those objections.

Q. When the council voted, were you upset?

A. Yes. I was -- upset? I was disappointed.

Q. Why was it David Smith who issued the statement and not you?

A. David Smith is the chancellor and as chancellor in our administration here, he is responsible for financial matters of the diocese and it seemed to fall within his purview, particularly with the follow-up questions that might be asked.

Q. Would it shock you to hear that a number of people were emotionally distraught all Friday evening after hearing this information?

MR. ROGERS: I object to the form, but -- would it shock the Cardinal to hear that? I object to the form. Go ahead, you can answer.

A. I believe in my statement at the cathedral on Sunday, last Sunday, wasn't it, that I reflected that and indicated the -- so, no, I would not have been shocked. I would not be at all shocked.

Q. If you had had, and you can -- I know there will be objections to this, but if you had had a clearer head as a pastor, would you have counseled the archdiocese to allow these victims some time to receive this news in private rather than issue a public statement?

MR. ROGERS: I object to the form of that question. That's wholly inappropriate. That's an argumentative question, and I think it's inappropriate to present to the Cardinal. He has fully set forth his position.

Q. Well, let me ask this.

MR. TODD: This question is withdrawn?

MR. GORDON: It's withdrawn.

Q. Let me ask this: Do you think in the way this information was conveyed to the plaintiffs it was done in a pastoral manner?

MR. ROGERS: Well, I object to the form there because it assumes how counsel for the plaintiffs conveyed it to them. I think that's inappropriate.

MR. GORDON: Counsel to the plaintiffs never had a chance to. They got it obviously through the media.

MR. ROGERS: Well, all right, if that's -- all right then. If you frame it that way, that's the question.

MR. GORDON: Fine, that's fair.

Q. Do you think it was an appropriate pastoral response to these 86 victims, some of whom you knew to be suicidal, to receive devastating news over the TV and radio rather than through their lawyers who in some cases the only people they now trust in the world?

MR. ROGERS: I object to the form again, but go ahead.

MR. ROGERS, III: Objection.

A. Hindsight, I have learned, is a wonderful thing, and you try to do the best you can at the moment, and it seemed at the moment the best thing to do is to be forthright, clear, concise, and communicate this information publicly. As you will recall, there was quite a media frenzy on this subject, and there has been for a long, long time, and an awful lot of talk had gone on about the finance council. Information leaked, some of it accurate, some of it nonaccurate. But rumors have a way of taking a life of their own, and I've certainly experienced that over the last four months. So what was done was done with the best of intent: To get the information out as accurately in as timely a fashion as possible. As I sit here now before you, I would say, yes, I wish that it had, it had happened in another sequence. I wonder if it could have happened in another sequence. I wonder if news would have leaked of this decision in a way which would not have been accurate. So it's part of what I have come to experience as an exceedingly painful, complicated mess.

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