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Spotlight Report

  Cardinal Bernard Law, joined by Fr. Michael Doyle of St. John the Evangelist in Canton (left) and Fr. John McGinty of Sacred Heart in Lynn, leave St. Camillus Church in Arlington where Law met with area priests. (Globe Staff Photo / Wendy Maeda)

Law said to soften stance toward group

Cardinal eyes meeting with Voice of Faithful

By Matthew Carroll, Globe Staff, 10/24/2002

 In-depth
A small gathering of Boston-area Catholics grew into Voice of the Faithful, a nationwide lay reform group.  
Coverage of Voice of the Faithful
ARLINGTON - In a further softening of his position, Cardinal Bernard F. Law yesterday told about 400 priests that he hoped to sit down with leaders of Voice of the Faithful, the lay group that has arisen out of the church's sexual abuse crisis and with which he has feuded, said priests who attended a meeting with the cardinal.

Law made the remarks at St. Camillus Church in a wide-ranging session that covered topics ranging from his decision not to resign in the midst of the crisis to the rights of priests accused of sexual misconduct. The meeting, which was his second in two days with archdiocesan priests, was closed to the media. But in remarks afterward, the cardinal said the assembled priests who spoke had kind words for the Voice of the Faithful.

''I would say the basic thrust of the comments was to encourage on my part a more open and positive approach,'' said Law. At the earlier meeting on Tuesday, most priests spoke positively about the organization, while a few voiced negative comments.

Inside the meeting, Law told Bishop Walter J. Edyvean to work with the group, said priests who attended. Edyvean, a top Law deputy, last met with Voice of the Faithful in June. However, Edyvean and leaders of the group have spoken over the past few days.

Law also told the priests that he had wrestled with resigning.

''I indicated it would not take a rocket scientist to realize that it is not an option that someone in my circumstances over the past 10 months would not have considered, and I did consider it,'' Law said. But after prayer and talks with advisers, he decided to stay and to try to resolve the crisis.

Another topic of concern was due process for priests accused of sexual abuse. The archdiocese is in the process of designing archdiocesan policy, Law said.

Law, who earlier this year described Voice of the Faithful as ''potentially divisive,'' has been offered a $56,000 donation by the group, but with strings attached. The group wants none of the money spent on church administration and also wants to know where the money will be spent. Law has previously said he would not take money from the organization, but has declined to comment more recently because he said he had not received a formal offer.

The archdiocese received official notice of the offer this week.

Earlier this month, Law overruled a regional bishop who ordered a parish not to allow the organization to meet on church property. Law said the several dozen chapters of the organization that are already meeting at churches can continue to do so. But pastors have been told to discourage new chapters from meeting on church property.

Matthew Carroll can be reached at mcarroll@globe.com

This story ran on page B3 of the Boston Globe on 10/24/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.


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