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March 23
Law's words frame new play

March 2
Wary Catholics return to church

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Churches report attendance up

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Dot parish struggles to survive

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Hudson fill-in priest welcomed

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Law prays daily for diocese

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An angry protest, and prayers
Voices of protest and support
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Many outraged after AG's report

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Law to skip bishop installation

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Earlier stories

Spotlight Report

Outside cardinal's headquarters, protesters multiply

By Scott S. Greenberger and Michele Kurtz, Globe Staff, 2/18/2002

Steven Lynch two years ago staged a solitary, 40-day vigil outside the Boston Archdiocese's Brighton headquarters, charging the Roman Catholic Church with indifference toward him and others abused by pedophile priests.

Yesterday, with accusations of clergy sexual abuse making local and national headlines, Lynch was back at his post. But this time, as he stood in an icy drizzle across Commonwealth Avenue from the headquarters, he surveyed more than 100 protesters arrayed before him and simply sobbed.

''I want to thank you for standing here, because I don't want to be alone anymore, and I can't fight the Church alone anymore,'' Lynch said, choking back tears.

But his grief quickly transformed into anger at the way Cardinal Bernard F. Law has handled disclosures of abuse.

''I'm enraged at the arrogance and the hypocrisy of this leader who considers himself a father,'' said Lynch, 42, of Danvers, who says he was molested by a priest in Salem when he was 9. ''A father doesn't trick or deceive his sons and daughters.''

Lynch won't have to protest by himself anymore: Law's admission that more than 80 of the Archdiocese of Boston's current and former priests have been accused of molesting children has given Lynch and other victims new allies.

Yesterday's dreary weather seemed to capture the mood of many of those who gathered to picket, sing hymns, and listen to the stories of victims such as Lynch.

''One thing we need to do is find a new leader to start making some progress,'' said Asa Gallagher, 24, one of many protesters who called for Law's resignation. Others held signs reading, ''Law Abiding No More,'' and ''Law Breaks Law - Resign.'' They chanted, ''Two, four, six, eight, Cardinal Law you spoke too late.''

''It seems like he's intent on ignoring all of this,'' Gallagher said. ''But the pressure's definitely rising.''

Law has acknowledged that he erred in transferring priest John J. Geoghan, who was eventually defrocked, to another parish after he was accused of molesting children. But he has said repeatedly that he will not step down.

At Mass yesterday at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Law referred briefly to the scandal during his homily, which centered on Lent, the period leading up to Easter that focuses on sacrifice and self-denial.

''We enter this Lent very conscious of the frayed trust among us, very conscious of the pain among us, very conscious of the feelings of betrayal,'' Law said.

He acknowledged that for many parishioners, his handling of the unfolding scandal has proved a ''source of alienation from their bishop.''

But some who attended yesterday's Mass expressed their confidence in the cardinal. After services, Gerry Zeller, 59, stood outside the cathedral with a pro-Law placard hung around his neck. As fellow worshipers streamed out of the cathedral doors, Zeller distributed lapel stickers in the shape of a red hat, a symbol of a cardinal, and asked worshipers to wear them as a show of support for Law.

''We're in prayerful support of the cardinal and the faithful priests,'' Zeller said. ''The Christian message is to reach out and offer forgiveness to the sinners.''

Cesar Gilbert, 43, who drives his family from North Andover to attend weekly services at the cathedral, yesterday pledged his unwavering support for the cardinal.

''I think he's a man of faith, a man of God,'' Gilbert said. ''He has no intention to see children abused by any priest or clergy.''

At the protest, some argued that the problem goes beyond Law and his handling of the crisis.

Kathleen Reardon, a Lexington psychotherapist who described herself as ''a former Catholic,'' said the Church needs to take ''an incredibly long look at what has contributed to the pervasiveness of this sort of behavior.''

''To what degree has celibacy contributed to it, and the all-male culture?'' Reardon said. ''Unless the Church commits to examining these issues and asking these questions in a brutally honest way, this could continue to happen time and time again.''

News reports yesterday seemed to lend credence to the idea that the Church faces a broader problem: The Springfield Union-News and Sunday Republican reported that at least six Catholic priests have been removed from churches in Western Massachusetts for alleged sexual misconduct, including one who now serves on a tribunal that considers annulment petitions.

The final one was removed in 1994, however, and the diocese has not faced a lawsuit in more than five years, Bishop Thomas L. Dupre of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield said.

One of the organizers of the Boston protest, Anne Barrett Doyle, described herself as ''a Catholic who loves her Church, and wants to change it.'' She wore a purple ribbon - purple symbolizes suffering in Catholicism - and urged regular churchgoers to continue attending Mass but to wear the ribbons as a sign of protest and solidarity with victims.

''I think the anger is incredible - and there's a feeling of great helplessness,'' said Doyle, who added that not all the protesters want Law to resign. ''We don't know how to demand change because we have no power.''

Doyle met Lynch and several other organizers at yesterday's protest at a much smaller gathering outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross several weeks ago. They spread the word about yesterday's event through e-mails and fliers passed outside a dozen Boston-area parishes.

The protesters say they intend to keep up the pressure. They plan to picket at the cathedral every Sunday that Law is conducting Mass, and on Good Friday they hope to ring the church with a human chain.

''This is just the beginning - I'm sure of that,'' Doyle told the crowd before it dispersed.

Material from the Associated Press was used in this report.

This story ran on page B1 of the Boston Globe on 2/18/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.


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