Back to Boston.com homepage Arts | Entertainment Boston Globe Online Cars.com BostonWorks Real Estate Boston.com Sports digitalMass Travel The Boston Globe Spotlight Investigation Boston.com Abuse in the Catholic Church
HomePredator priestsScandal and coverupThe victimsThe financial costOpinion
Cardinal Law and the laityThe church's responseThe clergyInvestigations and lawsuits
Interactive2002 scandal overviewParish mapExtrasArchivesDocumentsAbout this site
2014 update: the Globe is launching

Crux, a Catholic news site

Please visit there for continuing Globe coverage of all Catholic issues.
 Latest coverage

April 7
Vt. church in record settlement

March 14
In Albany, bishop profile raised
Book Review: Guard of lies

February 28
Church hierarchy faulted
More than 80% of victims male

February 27
Diocese gives abuse data
Abuse peaked in '60s
2d man to aid Dupre case

February 26
Alleged victim to aid probe

February 24
Sniezyk clarifies his remarks

February 23
Prelate: Harm unrecognized

February 21
Springfield report questioned

February 20
Lawyer: Sermon riled accuser

February 17
4% of priests in US accused

February 12
Bishop resigns after claims

February 6
Arlington priest cited in suit

Earlier stories

Spotlight Report

Memo cited in case from mid-'90s

By Michael Rezendes, Globe Staff, 12/14/2002

 In-depth
In December 2002, Bishop Richard G. Lennon replaced Cardinal Law as leader of the Archdiocese of Boston.  
Coverage of Bishop Lennon
In the tens of thousands of pages of church files released during the year of scandal in the Boston Archdiocese, only a few bear the name of Richard G. Lennon, the man just named to run the archdiocese until a new bishop is named.

But those documents place Lennon among church officials who, in the mid-1990s, were trying to remove Rev. Paul J. Mahan from the priesthood with a minimum of scandal.

In a September 1995 letter to Lennon, who was then a priest working as an assistant for canonical affairs, the Rev. Brian M. Flatley outlined ''eight distinct accusations of sexual misconduct with children brought against Father Mahan'' and summarized a psychological evaluation that concluded Mahan was ''a dangerous person'' and ''a threat to adolescent males.''

A day later, Lennon wrote to Bishop John R. Keating of the Arlington, Va., diocese to let him know that Mahan had moved to Virginia, and that Cardinal Bernard F. Law had accepted Mahan's petition to the Vatican to be relieved of his priestly vows.

Later in the month, Keating wrote back, assuring Lennon that there was ''little reason to expect any scandal in this highly cosmopolitan area in the event that the Holy See should issue the requested dispensation.''

Then, in April 1996, before Mahan was officially defrocked but after Law had removed his right to act as a priest, Lennon wrote a memo to then-Auxiliary Bishop William F. Murphy with a crucial question: ''Should the archdiocese make these actions public?''

In his memo, Lennon cited church law and offered contrasting answers, noting, on the one hand, that ''a person has a right to his or her reputation and to protect his or her privacy.'' On the other hand, he said, canon law ''states that the Church is entitled to regulate the rights of the faithful in view of the common good.''

In the end, Lennon recommended a middle course that avoided informing the public of Mahan's danger to boys, arguing instead that church leaders restrict information about Mahan to priests, pastors, and church administrators.

Lennon said this ''would demonstrate both our desire to responsibly make this known and protect as far as possible the reputation/privacy of the individual involved.''

Michael Rezendes can be reached at rezendes@globe.com.

This story ran on page A13 of the Boston Globe on 12/14/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.


© Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
Advertise | Contact us | Privacy policy