The Boston Globe | Abuse in the Catholic Church


'The council members expressed grave concern'

By Globe Staff, 5/4/2002

The statement released yesterday by David W. Smith, the Archdiocese of Boston chancellor:

This morning, consistent with the requirements of Canon Law, His Eminence Bernard Cardinal Law brought to the Archdiocesan Finance Council for its consent, the matter of the proposed settlement with the 86 alleged victims of John Geoghan.

Wilson Rogers Jr., counsel for the Archdiocese, explained to the Finance Council the history and timeframe of the discussions, which led to the agreement in principle concerning settlements. That agreement has been accepted by all of the alleged victims.

The council members expressed grave concern. Their concern was based on the fact that the proposed settlement would consume substantially all of the resources of the Archdiocese that can reasonably be made available and therefore, such an action would leave the Archdiocese unable to provide a just and proportional response to other victims.

While acknowledging the members' concern about the growing number of claims, the Cardinal and attorney Rogers nevertheless urged the members to vote in favor of the proposed settlement. Their argument was based on the fact that the agreement had been reached in good faith, although circumstances have changed dramatically since the process leading to the agreement began.

Notwithstanding the Cardinal's request for support, and for the first time since Cardinal Law came to Boston in 1984, the Finance Council did not grant the Canonically required consent.

In declining to approve the settlement the Finance Council members unanimously advised the Cardinal to develop a mechanism which will provide all necessary counseling for the victims and their families. They also advised him to come up with a non-litigious global assistance fund for all victims. Such a fund is to be in an amount consistent with the resources that can be made available without crippling the ability of the Archdiocese to fulfill its mission.

Cardinal Law expressed his deep regret at the vote, particularly in light of the fact that the Finance Council had previously been briefed on the proposed settlement and had expressed, at the time, a desire to see it go forward. The Finance Council members however, in declining to grant their approval, stated that they felt it was necessary to balance the diocesan response in the interest of greater justice to the full group of alleged victims.

The Cardinal ended with an expression of his appreciation to the members for their support of the concept of funding a fair and equitable plan, which will allow healing and reconciliation to continue.

This story ran on page A10 of the Boston Globe on 5/4/2002.
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