Saturday, 2:15 PM
Cardinal O'Malley recounts meeting with the pope
Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley grew emotional today as he recounted to reporters the dramatic and unprecedented meeting earlier this week between Pope Benedict XVI and five people from Boston who had been sexually abused by priests.
Asked how difficult the meeting was for him personally, O’Malley paused for a long moment and appeared to tear up.
“Just seeing the book makes a great impact,” he said, referring to a handmade book he gave the pontiff listing the names of nearly 1,500 alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Boston. As the pope slowly turned the pages, the cardinal mentioned that some of the victims died from suicide or drug abuse.
“I know the Holy Father was touched by it as well,” he said, speaking at a news conference at Boston College’s Silvio O. Conte Forum where the Boston Catholic Men’s Conference was held today.
By Tania deLuzuriaga, Globe Staff
O’Malley, who has personally met with hundreds of Boston-area abuse victims, quietly brokered the historic meeting, writing three times to the Vatican to request the audience in the months after Benedict decided not to visit Boston during this week's trip to the United States.
“I was anxious to dispel the idea that the Holy Father was avoiding coming to Boston because of the sex abuse crisis,” O’Malley said. “I also wanted him to appreciate that this is such a serious issue and we needed to hear from him about this.”
While a defining moment of Benedict's trip to the United States, it remains to be seen whether the meeting marks a turning point in the church's posture toward the abuse crisis. Asked what lies ahead for the Boston Archdiocese, O’Malley said he hopes that people who are concerned about the safety of children will “see us as allies.”
“The sexual abuse problem is not something that’s just a Catholic problem or a church problem, it’s a human problem,” O’Malley said. “Certainly, the fact that the church dealt with it so poorly in the past was the scandal. But I’d like to think that our Catholic people now are sensitized and working very hard to try and bring about reconciliation and to make our church just the safest place possible.”
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