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Archdiocese calls reports of possible transfer for Law 'groundless'
By Boston.com Staff and Associated Press, 04/26/02
Donna Morrissey, a spokesperson for the archdiocese, made the comment concerning the story published in this morning's edition of the Boston Herald.
"The reports ... are without substance, groundless, and appear to be pure uncorroborated speculation,'' Morrissey said in a statement. ``Cardinal Law has had no discussions regarding a Vatican post with officials in the Holy See."
Morrissey also said that Cardinal Law intends to go forward with a deposition scheduled for June 5th in a lawsuit brought against the cardinal and the archdiocese. The suit has been brought in connection with the highly-publicized sexual abuse case involving the Rev. Paul Shanley.
Later today Law is scheduled to attend a benefit dinner in Philadelphia. He returned yesterday from a special Vatican conference of Cardinals and plans to celebrate mass at the Cathedral of Holy Cross on Sunday.
Eight cardinals, including the embattled Law, were expected at Friday night's $1,000-a-plate fund-raiser for Catholic University.
Law, who has been under public pressure to step down, declined comment Friday on speculation that he will be given a Vatican post. Boston became the epicenter of the scandal when it was disclosed that church leaders there had repeatedly reassigned a priest accused of abusing children.
The Rev. David O'Connell, president of the school, said Law denied that a job change was imminent.
"There is no plan whatsoever that he be replaced and be moving to Rome in June or any time in the near future," O'Connell said. "And that's directly from the cardinal."
Former Boston Mayor Raymond Flynn, a former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican who calls Law a personal friend, said he doubts the cardinal would step down before bishops finish crafting a uniform national policy on dealing with sexual abuse allegations.
"I would see him playing a key role marshaling that support in the United States, then providing the leadership in Rome to have the Holy See approve it," Flynn said.
Speculation on whether the embattled cardinal would continue to lead the archdiocese has been rife since the sexual abuse scandal first exploded in January amid reports the Law and other senior church officials had failed to remove priests accused of sexual abuse from their duties.
Meanwhile The Boston Globe this morning reported that documents released by the Boston archdiocese to lawyers representing an alleged sex abuse victim cast new light on the life of Fr. Shanley, known at one time in Boston as the ``street priest'', and his threats to release sensitive information when then-Cardinal Humberto Medeiros planned to end that ministry.
The 800 new documents released Thursday also provide additional confirmation that church officials knew of the Shanley's support for sex between men and boys when they appointed him as pastor of a suburban Boston parish.
``These are the writings of a perverted monster who was sent out into the field unsupervised to be with children,'' said Roderick MacLeish, attorney for Gregory Ford, 24, and his parents, who are suing Law and the archdiocese for allegedly failing to protect Ford from Shanley.
Lawyers representing Shanley's alleged sexual abuse victims said they are seeking to ensure the archdiocese turns over any more documents in a timely fashion and makes officials, including Law, available for depositions in the case.
MacLeish also said he was trying to clarify the Herald report Friday that Law might be reassigned to the Vatican by the beginning of June, and wants to make sure Law will be available for the June 5th deposition.
The attorney had said prior to this afternoon's announcement by the archdiocese that he has ``papers ready to be filed in the event that we do not get assurances that the cardinal intends to appear for his deposition.''
In the new documents, Shanley's own typed writings, apparently filed with the archdiocese in 1972, describe in shockingly frank language how he helped young people deal with sexually transmitted diseases and refers to his own experiences.
``At the risk of starting another rumor about myself ... let me tell you that my name is to be found in the files of countless VD clinics across this fair land,'' Shanley writes. ``One of the first things I do in a new city is to sign up at the local clinics for help with my VD.''
In an apparent exchange of letters in 1979 following then-Cardinal Humberto Medeiros' decision to remove Shanley from his street ministry to drug addicts, runaways and homosexuals, Shanley writes that this would be equivalent to punishing ``sexual minorities'' and those close to them.
He then appears to threaten Medeiros. ``I have been given a list of theological 'updating' which occurs at St. John's Seminary and at St. William's Hall programs,'' he writes. ``Were I to release this to the press you would have to fire another half dozen of your top priests since what they are saying is far more shocking than my poor offerings.''
In a draft of a letter apparently prepared as Medeiros' reply, the cardinal appears to stand tough.
``I shall pass over in amazed but laughable silence the threats you invoke against me concerning further public pronouncements - this time about our seminary,'' the letter reads. ``I urge and direct you to take a parish assignment as so many of our priests do.''
It is unclear who prepared the letter or whether it was ever sent. The new documents, which should have been handed over earlier this month under a court order, were uncovered by archdiocese officials only last week, according to archdiocese spokesman the Rev. Christopher Coyne.
Lawyers representing Shanley's alleged victims, saying they believe the archdiocese could have more documents, also asked a judge Thursday to ensure any such material is turned over in a timely manner.
Shanley, who was ordained in 1960, served at the now defunct St. John the Evangelist Parish in Newton until 1990 when he was transferred to the San Bernardino Diocese in 1990. While there, Shanley served as a pastor part-time, but also owned a hotel that catered to gays in Palm Springs, Calif.
Shanley, 71, whose last known address is in San Diego, has issued no public statements since the case began.
The archdiocese's release of about 800 pages of church records on Shanley earlier this month caused a furor, leading to mounting calls for Law's resignation, which have not subsided.
Those documents showed church officials had been told of allegations of abuse against Shanley as early as 1967. Also included were articles showing the archdiocese knew Shanley had been a vocal proponent of sex between men and boys, as well as correspondence between the archdiocese and the Vatican on Shanley's views about sex.
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