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Cardinal Law celebrates Mass without priest after relaunching inquiry
By Ron Depasquale, Associated Press, 09/15/02
BOSTON -- Cardinal Bernard Law celebrated Mass without Msgr. Michael Smith Foster on Sunday, after a symbolic public reconciliation was dashed by the archdiocese's decision to suspend him again.
Law had welcomed back Foster, the vicar general and highest-ranking priest in the Archdiocese of Boston to be accused of sexual abuse, and invited him to appear with him at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
But Foster was suspended again Saturday after a former altar boy, who has withdrawn a lawsuit against Foster, brought forward new information. Foster said through a spokeswoman that he had not yet been told what that new allegation was.
"While I continue to be saddened by the actions of the archdiocese, I am strengthened by and appreciative of the outpouring of support from so many. I pray this matter will be resolved quickly," he said.
Law spoke of the "power of forgiveness" during his homily and asked for prayer for "those who have suffered abuse, particularly at the hands of clergy."
Outside the cathedral, parishioners as well as protesters who have gathered every Sunday at the Cathedral expressed disbelief at Foster's re-suspension.
Dick Rowland of West Newton, who carried a placard likening sexual abusive priests to terrorists, said he was embarrassed that the archdiocese was "making a mockery of due process."
"What could've been brought forward that they didn't know before?" Rowland said. "They wanted a quick reinstatement so they could say it was a false alarm. Now they're jerking Foster around on a string."
It's a "strange twist" that, as the archdiocese's top canon lawyer, Foster has spent his career trying to prevent the situation he finds himself in, Rowland said.
After attending Mass, Kyrill Makoski, a Boston University law student, said the church first instituted due process for priests accused of wrongdoing in the middle ages, and must now use that process.
"If someone molests a child, it's a terrible crime," Makoski said. "But a priest still has a right to defend himself."
Paul Edwards alleged that Foster molested him from 1980 to 1985 while Foster was at a Newton parish. Edwards' credibility was questioned after acquaintances told The Boston Globe he had a long history of making up stories and pointed to factual errors in his accounts.
Edwards' attorney withdrew from the case shortly after the report.
Foster is on paid leave and cannot perform any public ministry. Archdiocese spokeswoman Donna Morrissey declined to comment Sunday, referring to a Saturday statement that said: "Our obligation as representatives of the church and as a community, legally and morally, is to fully investigate all past allegations of abuse of a minor."
Also Sunday, Bishop Thomas Dupre of the Diocese of Springfield canceled all appearances for the second straight day to tell a congregation at St. Agnes Parish in Dalton that Father John Koonz had been suspended amid allegations of sexual abuse.
The allegations were made by three men, who said they were abused as teenagers between 1969 and 1982. Dupre said that Koonz denies the accusations, and said Koonz' departure several months ago from the parish was unrelated to the allegations against him.
"In speaking to you, I must walk a fine line," Dupre said in a statement he read at Mass. "I must be conscious of the need of any alleged victim for understanding, and I ... must extend to them our sincere desire to be helpful and offer healing. At the same time, I must also be conscious of the fact that every priest is a human being who has his human and civil rights, which must be respected."
Koonz will not minister in public while an investigation is conducted. He left St. Agnes several months ago for health reasons, and has said he is innocent.