The Boston Globe | Abuse in the Catholic Church


Priest's victims get second-hand apology

By Matt Carroll, Globe Staff, 9/20/2002

The victims of defrocked priest John J. Geoghan received their money yesterday. What they did not get was an in-person apology from a high-ranking cleric, as victims did from bishops in Providence and Los Angeles. Instead they heard an expression of sorrow conveyed by a diocesan spokeswoman.

And there were other gestures the 86 victims did not get that other dioceses have allowed, such as the opportunity to vent their feelings face to face with a priest. Overall, other dioceses have made more of an effort - even if it was part of the legal settlement - to heal the emotional and spiritual wounds caused by abusive priests, said attorneys and a victims' rights activist involved in other cases.

In Los Angeles, the courtroom apology of two top diocesan priests to a victim made a tremendous difference, said lawyer John Manly, whose client was awarded $5.2 million last year. The apologies were a condition of the settlement and were given by an auxiliary bishop and a ranking monsignor. ''A sincere apology goes a long way,'' said Manly. ''No one had ever said, `I'm sorry,' to him or his family, until then.''

Lawyer Timothy J. Conlon, whose 36 clients settled last week in Providence for $13.5 million, said having an aide read an apology just doesn't cut it.

Boston archdiocesan spokeswoman Donna Morrissey, who offered the apology yesterday, said Cardinal Bernard F. Law was willing to meet individually with victims.

This story ran on page A9 of the Boston Globe on 9/20/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

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