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Spotlight Report

Law visits Geoghan parish

Said to apologize to parishioners

By Michael Paulson, Globe Staff, 1/27/2002

Cardinal Bernard F. Law made an unannounced appearance at the evening Mass at St. Julia Church in Weston yesterday and, according to a worshiper, apologized to parishioners at the church to which the cardinal had assigned John J. Geoghan, despite knowing that the now-defrocked priest was a pedophile.

Law reportedly made many of the same points he has made at news conferences, acknowledging that he had erred in reassigning Geoghan after learning of his background, announcing his policy of zero tolerance for pedophila, and pledging to establish a commission to review archdiocesan procedures and consider setting up a center on child abuse.

The cardinal's spokeswoman, Donna M. Morrissey, did not return a telephone call seeking comment. The description of his visit to the church came from Joseph E. Gallagher Jr. of Wellesley, who attended the service.

Morrissey had an aide call the Globe to say that Law would read a letter at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the South End at 11 a.m. today, but the aide said she had no information about the St. Julia appearance or when other priests would be asked to read the cardinal's letter.

Gallagher, who was a parishioner at St. Julia for 24 years, said he was upset because his six children were all taught by Geoghan. He refused to accept communion from the cardinal, and plans to protest in front of the cathedral this morning.

Asked if any of his children were abused by Geoghan, Gallagher said, "Not that I know of."

"The man [Law] absolutely should resign," Gallagher said. "We raised six kids in the church, and all of them are spiritual, but none want to have anything to do with the Catholic Church."

Geoghan, who was defrocked by Law in 1998 after 36 years as a priest, was assigned to St. Julia's from 1984 to 1993. Despite previous allegations that Geoghan had molested children, he was placed in charge of three youth groups, including the altar boys.

Law has said he reassigned Geoghan, who was recently convicted of one count of indecent assault and who is charged in civil suits of abusing more than 130 children, in good faith based on advice from doctors. But Law has called his decisions to keep Geoghan working as a priest "in retrospect . . . tragically incorrect."

This story ran on page A25 of the Boston Globe on 1/27/2002.
Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.


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