- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 15, 2002

From combined dispatches
BOSTON Cardinal Bernard Law said he hoped his resignation would bring "healing, reconciliation and unity" to the Boston Archdiocese after an agonizing year of revelations of sexual abuse by priests and the church not confronting the problem.
But his departure will not end the legal entanglements he and the Boston Archdiocese face. Nor will it relieve the pressures that have brought the archdiocese to the brink of financial ruin.
Cardinal Law is scheduled to be questioned by lawyers representing those who have charged abuse starting Tuesday, and he has been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury investigating a possible coverup by church officials.
Yesterday morning, he arrived at Rome's Fiumicino Airport for the flight home, one day after his resignation was accepted by the pope. An airport employee who refused to give his name confirmed that Cardinal Law left on a flight but would not specify his destination.
What Cardinal Law will do now is not clear. He is still a cardinal, which means he could be moved to another church post.
Archdiocese spokeswoman Donna Morrissey said Cardinal Law, 71, plans to "take some time and decide what the future will hold for him."
"All things considered he's doing OK," Miss Morrissey said Saturday on NBC's "Today" show. "But what we have to remember here is to put the victims and the archdiocese and the community of the faithful first."
Cardinal Law's resignation Friday only partly mollified the archdiocese's critics, many of whom had clamored for months for him to step aside.
Pope John Paul II named Richard Lennon, an auxiliary bishop in Boston, to take temporary charge of the nation's fourth-largest archdiocese until a permanent replacement for Cardinal Law is found.
Bishop Lennon offered prayers for the victims of sex abuse and pledged "to work toward healing as a church and furthering the mission of Jesus Christ within our community."
It was in Boston, an archdiocese with 2 million Catholics, where the abuse scandal erupted with the trial of a defrocked priest nearly a year ago.
For almost a year, Paula Overton listened silently as fellow Roman Catholic co-workers discussed each incriminating document, each abuse charge, each clergy suspension.
Her anger toward her church's leaders over the sex-abuse scandal boiled over when Boston Archdiocese lawyers tried to keep personnel files of abusive priests closed.
But Miss Overton's faith has remained strong, she said.
"My trust in the higher authority has been shaken, not my faith," said Miss Overton, 45, who works at the U.S. Department of Defense.
Jesuit priest Tom Reese, editor of the Catholic weekly magazine America, said the scandal is probably the most damaging ever in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States.
"We are still run by humans, who can be sinners and fail in their responsibilities. We have a terrible lesson in that. I think most Catholics make that distinction between the core of their faith and the church leadership," Father Reese said.
Father Reese said he and his fellow priests know the eyes of judgmental observers are constantly on them, causing them to rethink actions, such as kissing children after Mass, that once would not have merited a second thought.
"It's tragic that you can't do normal human things anymore," he said. "You have to think defensively as a priest. All the priests have suffered enormously because of the sins of a small percentage of the clergy."

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide