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March 23
Law's words frame new play

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Wary Catholics return to church

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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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Earlier stories

Spotlight Report

More are calling for cardinal to resign

By Michael Paulson and Kevin Cullen, Globe Staff, 4/10/2002

Pressure for Cardinal Bernard F. Law to resign mounted yesterday as stunned Catholics began to digest hundreds of documents showing that the longtime archbishop of Boston allowed a known pedophile to continue working with children.

Two gubernatorial candidates, a key state senator, a leading Notre Dame scholar, and even a laywoman who just weeks ago was gathering signatures in support of Law yesterday called on the senior American prelate to step down.

Jack Connors Jr., perhaps Boston's most influential power broker and once one of Law's closest confidants, questioned whether the cardinal could still lead.

''I do not believe it is asking too much for the leaders of our faith to tell the truth,'' said Connors, founder of the advertising firm Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos Inc. ''If they are unable to tell the truth to their colleagues, their pastors, and the faithful, they may hold onto their titles, but they will not be our leaders.''

Law spent the day at a funeral for a fellow bishop in Maine, and neither he nor his spokeswoman had any comment on the day's developments. The spiritual leader of an estimated 2 million Catholics in Eastern Massachusetts has refused for weeks to take questions from the news media, and this week he has said nothing about the release of court documents that showed he promoted and supported the Rev. Paul R. Shanley despite allegations that Shanley had molested children for three decades and had said he saw nothing wrong with man-boy sex.

Across the archdiocese and the country, the Shanley documents and Law's responsibility in the case were the prime topic of conversation among many Catholics.

Law's status became an issue in the hotly contested race for governor yesterday. At previous public forums, candidates declined to take a position on whether the cardinal should stay or go, saying that was up to the church. But yesterday, several had had enough.

''With today's revelations, it's become increasingly clear that Cardinal Law should resign,'' said Democratic candidate Robert Reich, the former US labor secretary. '' As the father of two sons, who wants nothing more in the world than to protect them from harm, I've come to the conclusion that this scandal goes beyond church matters. ... This isn't about religion - it's about a leader and an administrator who fundamentally failed in his duties, and harmed innocent people in the process.''

Warren Tolman, another Democratic gubernatorial candidate, said, ''As a churchgoing Catholic and father of three, I reluctantly conclude that Cardinal Law should not continue to lead the archdiocese of Boston. ''

State Treasurer Shannon O'Brien, also a Democratic candidate for governor, did not call for Law's resignation, but said, ''as a mother and a Catholic, I'm angry over these allegations. Cardinal Law should seriously assess the situation and take even greater steps than making an apology. ... He needs to try and preserve the public's trust in the church and reflect on the damage that has been done.''

One apparent sign of the times: Just a few months ago, as disclosures about the church's handling of pedophile priests were first published in the Globe, Mary Denise Dunn, 65, organized a letter-writing campaign in support of the cardinal at her parish, St. John the Evangelist in North Chelmsford, persuading families to urge the cardinal to ''hang in there'' in the face of calls for his resignation.

Yesterday she reversed course.

'' This is too much,'' she said. ''Cardinal Law has done so many good things, especially for the poor. My heart aches for him. But I listened to the Shanley press conference on Monday and I wanted to vomit. I was sick to my stomach.''

Numerous other prominent Catholics said they were horrified.

Thomas P. O'Neill III, the former lieutenant governor who was among those summoned to the chancery to advise the cardinal two months ago, in part because of his long career in public relations, said, ''It's time he step aside.''

''The archdiocese and the church can't treat this as a public relations problem only,'' said O'Neill, son of the late US House speaker. Speaker of the House. ''If the cardinal is looking for a role in the future, he should go to His Holiness and provide leadership in the reform of the priesthood.''

And Senator Marian Walsh, a West Roxbury Democrat, became the first state lawmaker to call for Law to step down, saying that the cardinal is now incapable of providing ''the honesty and leadership and trust we need.''

Most of the members of Law's inner circle were unwilling to talk about his future. Only one came forward to offer a defense or an argument for why he should stay.

''I do not think he should resign,'' said Jack Shaughnessy Sr. of Shaughnessy & Ahern Co., a crane and rigging company, and a key church fund-raiser. ''I hope and pray he can bear up under this terrible pressure.''

Shaughnessy took issue with the term ''coverup'' that some have used to describe actions by Law, Medeiros, and other bishops.

''These are all good bishops and priests who were trying to protect the church from the image of scandal,'' he said. And, speaking of Law, he said, ''I have never met a more magnificent, concerned, compassionate, and caring man, who has been trying to walk in the footsteps of Christ all of his life.''

Calls for Law's resignation have been coming for weeks, first from talk radio show hosts, then from Catholics polled by the Globe and the Boston Herald, and then from prominent community leaders, including another local power broker, David F. D'Alessandro, the chairman and chief executive officer of John Hancock Financial Services Inc.

Privately, Law has reacted with fury: Last month, when Connors told the Globe he was no longer advising Law, the cardinal summoned him to the chancery and upbraided him.

On March 13, the Herald called for Law to quit; today, the Globe and the Union Leader of Manchester are calling for him to step down.

''To say that the information presented yesterday was devastating would be an understatement,'' said Richard J. Santagati, the president of Merrimack College, one of the Catholic colleges in Law's jurisdiction.

''Prior to yesterday, the best spin that could have been put on the situation was that maybe the wrong thing was done for the right reason, but now the evidence creates the impression that the wrong thing was done for the wrong reason,'' Santagati said. ''I don't know how he can represent the diocese.''

And R. Scott Appleby, director of the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism at the University of Notre Dame, said, ''It's clearly necessary for Cardinal Law to resign. Cardinal Law has failed in his most important task, which is the task of stewardship, both of the institution and of the souls in his care. The self-respect and ideals of the church require that he acknowledge that, so that the church can move forward.''

Priests were gathering and talking throughout the archdiocese about Law's future.

''I don't know whether he should resign or not, personally, but I think credibility is the key question and [Law] has lost credibility,'' said the Rev. Bernard P. McLaughlin, pastor of St. Gerard Majella Church in Canton. ''I think the whole thing is doing a lot of damage to the credibility of the church when he speaks on moral issues.''

Matt Carroll and Walter V. Robinson of the Globe Staff and Globe correspondent Christopher Tangney contributed to this report.

Michael Paulson can be reached at mpaulson@globe.com

This story ran on page A1 of the Boston Globe on 4/10/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.


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