- The Washington Times - Monday, December 16, 2002

BOSTON (AP) The man put in charge of the scandal-wracked Boston Archdiocese after Cardinal Bernard Law's resignation called for healing and reconciliation yesterday, drawing applause as he celebrated Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.
"How many are brokenhearted, how many are captives of the crimes and the sins of sexual abuse against minors? How many have had their freedom curtailed because of injustice?" Bishop Richard G. Lennon asked.
It was Bishop Lennon's first appearance since the Vatican appointed him Friday to the post of apostolic administrator for an archdiocese that has been embroiled for the past year in a clergy sex abuse scandal. He will have the full authority of an archbishop until a permanent successor to Cardinal Law is named.
"I pledge to do all that I can to be a shepherd of this great archdiocese, relying on the prayers, the support, the assistance of all of God's people," Bishop Lennon, 55, told the parishioners.
After Mass, Bishop Lennon clasped hands of parishioners and embraced others, then walked outside to speak to victims.
"I told him my story and he said, 'God bless and I'm sorry.' I hope he really meant it," said Robert Hatch, 45, who described himself as a victim of clergy sexual misconduct and a frequent protester at the cathedral. "It seems like he's trying, but I need to see more healing."
Mr. Hatch said he would like to see a reconciliation Mass for victims. A church spokesman said one will be held but has not yet been scheduled.
Bishop Lennon, the rector and president of St. John's Seminary, has been handed a heavy load. In addition to settlement talks with victims of sex abuse by priests, the fourth-largest Roman Catholic archdiocese faces possible bankruptcy and a grand jury investigation.
Church records released in a series of lawsuits have horrified parishioners with descriptions of priests accused of abuse being moved from parish to parish and accusations that included one priest accused of having sexual relations with nuns in training whom he encouraged to "be brides of Christ" and another of fathering at least two children and abandoning his lover as she overdosed.
Cardinal Law, who became a target of protests for not taking tougher steps to remove abusive priests, was back in Boston yesterday but had no public appearances scheduled, archdiocese spokeswoman Donna Morrissey said.
The cardinal told a Boston Globe reporter during his flight home from Rome that he didn't know what his new role in the church would be.
"I really think that what I have done is best for the church and I have to leave it at that," Cardinal Law said.
An archdiocese spokesman, the Rev. Christopher Coyne, told reporters after yesterday's Mass that Cardinal Law decided to submit his resignation to the Vatican on Dec. 5, the same day victims' attorneys released a second batch of damaging church documents and shortly after consulting with "some friends and some diocesan officials."
Father Coyne said Cardinal Law would probably speak about his reasons at a news conference later in the week.
Outside the cathedral yesterday about 40 protesters who have dogged Cardinal Law for months gathered to remind church officials and parishioners that his resignation doesn't mean the crisis has ended.

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