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Spotlight Report

Text of Archbishop O'Malley's remarks

12/17/2003

Excerpts from remarks by Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley to the priests of the archdiocese yesterday:

On the settlement clergy abuse cases:

I shall not abdicate my responsibility to make the hard decisions. Since coming to Boston, I have had to make the hardest decisions of my life. Here I am constantly faced with dilemmas, and every decision is fraught with problems. But I promise you that I will always try to make the decision that is best for the church, not the one that is easiest for me.

I used to think that the Franciscan ideal of poverty was to own nothing: That, of course, was before I knew what it was like to be $135 million in debt, which is the total of our present loan plus what we owe the Knights of Columbus. . . .

First, a word about the settlement. When we abandoned the process of trying to settle with the victims and the insurance companies simultaneously, we did so with the recognition that the funds would need to be borrowed initially and the commitment that the settlements themselves would not be funded with parish or appeal funds. Both the borrowing and the identification of sources of repayment proved very difficult.

We have taken out three loans totaling $97.5 million. . . . All three loans will be repaid by funds that will not impact our daily work. . . .

I am anxious for you to explain to your parishioners that the settlement will be paid for from the sale of the archbishop's house and adjacent property and from insurance money, not from parish assets or diocesan or parish collections.

On gay marriage:

If a redefinition of marriage is enshrined in the law of the Commonwealth, it will be a tragedy for the entire country. And if it happens because of our cowardice or inertia, we shall have to answer before God.

Marriage as an essential institution oriented toward the rearing of children needs to be strengthened for the good of society. The tendency of separating having children and being married has already had a very damaging effect on our society. All studies have shown that the best venue for child rearing is a stable, permanent relationship between a man and a woman.

This should not be interpreted as discriminatory.

On parish closings:

In my grandfather's generation of Irish people, they got married in their 30s when they had saved a little money. My grandfather actually built a house he gave to my grandmother as a wedding gift. The street was named after him. That house was the center of family for three generations. . . . But then the children moved out, my grandfather died, and Nana came and lived with us. The house was sold. It was a sad day, one no one wanted to see, but that grand old house that served us so well more than fulfilled its purpose. . . . But today the needs of our family are different, and those needs required us to sell the homestead. . . . There is no painless dentistry. I know that people are loath to close a beloved parish and parish church. But we must help our parishioners to see that it is because of the needs of our family that we make these painful sacrifices and that out of these sacrifices can come stronger Catholic parishes better equipped to carry on the work of evangelization, to reach our young people, to serve our shut-ins, and to perform the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, to pass on the faith to future generations.

We must not deny our people the right to mourn the loss of a parish and a church building, but we need to challenge our people to make great sacrifices for an even greater good. . . .

Could we have ever imagined the direction our culture would have taken or the troubles that would beset our church? But precisely because of the challenges we face, our role as priests is more crucial than ever to rebuild the church.


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