|[an error occurred while processing this directive]||
Lay Catholic group calls on Cardinal Law to resign
By Associated Press, 12/11/02
NEWTON, Mass. -- After months of resisting an open rebellion against Cardinal Bernard Law, the lay reform group Voice of the Faithful called for his resignation Wednesday, joining a growing chorus of dissent against the leader of the scandal-plagued Boston Archdiocese.
The lay Roman Catholic group -- which has been banned from meeting in most parishes by bishops skeptical of their motives -- said recent revelations detailing the extent of the crisis left them with no choice but to publicly declare the archdiocese in need of new leadership.
The vote at Our Lady Help of Christians parish in Newton came in the wake of archdiocese files containing lurid allegations being released that show the scandal extended beyond clergy molesting young boys and involved priests allegedly involved in drug abuse, illicit affairs and physical abuse.
It also comes as pressure mounts among Law's fellow priests to step down from the archdiocese he has led for nearly two decades -- and as Law remained huddled with the Vatican to meet with church hierarchy to figure out how to handle the crisis that threatens to drive the archdiocese to financial ruin.
Seventy-one people voted for the motion, two were opposed and two abstained.
Three other motions were also overwhelmingly passed -- calling on the pope to appoint another bishop; asking the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to recognize and respond to the crisis in the Boston Archdiocese; and requesting all American bishops to release their own internal documents on abusive priests.
Law's leadership is a "moral cancer," said Jim Post, president of Voice of the Faithful.
The revelations of the last couple of weeks were the turning point, he said, as the scandal "has accelerated in dangerous and unprecedented ways."
"There is a state of spiritual and moral crisis in the Archdiocese of Boston," he said. "In my judgement, the Archdiocese of Boston has effectively been without a bishop."
Earlier Wednesday, a priest at the center of the clergy sexual abuse scandal was jeered by angry protesters as he left a courthouse after being freed on $300,000 cash bail put up by a mystery group of friends, relatives and supporters.
The Rev. Paul Shanley, who has publicly advocated sex between men and boys, was released after spending seven months in jail while awaiting trial on child rape charges.
Prosecutors claim he targeted boys at a Newton church from 1979 to 1989, often taking them out of religious instruction classes and then raping or molesting them in the church rectory, bathroom or confessional.
Shanley, 71, was silent and stared stoically ahead as he was jostled by a media throng and was jeered by about a dozen protesters outside Middlesex Superior Court in Cambridge.
"Sick excuse for a Catholic priest!" yelled protester Phil DeAlbuquerque. "I think it's disgusting. For something like this to happen -- a person as evil as he is -- we definitely have a problem in our judicial system."
Shanley has been one of the central figures in the clergy sex scandal that has engulfed Boston for almost a year.
Internal church records show that church officials did not remove him from parish work even after they received reports that he had publicly endorsed sex between men and boys, and had attended a meeting of the North American Man-Boy Love Association.
Shanley, who has pleaded innocent to the charges, raised the bail through contributions from a "substantial number" of unnamed family, friends and supporters, said his attorney, Frank Mondano.
As conditions of his release, Shanley was forbidden from having contact with anyone under 16, or with any of his alleged victims or witnesses in his case. He was also ordered to remain in Massachusetts, but his released stirred anger among alleged victims and their advocates.
"Father Paul Shanley is a very sick man and a serious threat to children," said Barbara Blaine, president and founder of Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, a national group based in Chicago. "The Boston archdiocese hired, trained and supervised him. Church leaders enabled Father Shanley to severely hurt many innocent young people. ... Our hearts ache for them."
Mondano would not disclose where Shanley will live, saying he was concerned about his client's safety.
However, Ted Meyer, the police chief in Provincetown, Mass., a popular resort for gays and lesbians, said that after speaking with probation officials, he expects Shanley will be living there.
Law, testifying in depositions last summer, acknowledged that he and other church officials should have done more to investigate Shanley after the church received complaints about him.
Pressure has been mounting for Law to resign as batch after batch of church personnel files are released by lawyers representing hundreds of alleged victims suing the archdiocese.
So far, roughly 5,400 of 11,000 church personnel documents have been made public in piecemeal fashion over the past week, forced into the open by a judge's order, detailing allegations dating back decades.
The files have contained lurid allegations that portrays rogue priests who plied children with drugs, engaged in illicit affairs and one who assaulted his housekeeper.
Voice of the Faithful was started in the basement of a Wellesley church soon after the scandal erupted in January, and now claims a national membership of 25,000.
For months, the group's leaders resisted pressure from many members to demand Law's resignation. The group hoped instead to work with Catholic officials for reform within the church. But now it sees no way around a confrontation with the Boston hierarchy.
In the calculations of Law and the Vatican, however, protests from the laity are probably less important than growing clergy dissent.
Fifty-eight priests delivered a letter to Law's residence Monday asking him to resign, and more priests have endorsed the document since. Separately, the 300-member Boston Priests Forum may issue its own resolution urging Law's resignation at a meeting Friday.
There are 912 priests in the archdiocesan ranks, a third of them retired, plus 732 clergymen in the region belonging to religious orders.
If pastors who lead a significant number of Boston parishes join the revolt, it could be difficult for Law to govern the archdiocese effectively.
On Wednesday, Law held more Vatican consultations, leading up to an expected meeting Friday with Pope John Paul II, a senior Vatican official said.
The cardinal was believed to be discussing the financial implications of the sex abuse crisis and the possibility of filing for bankruptcy protection.
A meeting with the pope would undoubtedly center on his future as Boston archbishop.