- The Washington Times - Monday, February 11, 2002

BOSTON (AP) Cardinal Bernard Law was interrupted by applause yesterday when he vowed he would not step down despite increasing pressure about a child-sex-abuse scandal.
"Archbishop is not a corporate executive. He's not a politician," Cardinal Law said before his homily during Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. "It's a role of a pastor. It's a role of a teacher. It's a role of a father.
"When there are problems in the family, you don't walk away. You work them out together with God's help," he said.
The pressure on Cardinal Law has been escalating since the Jan. 18 conviction of defrocked priest John Geoghan, who faces 10 years in prison for indecent assault and battery on a 10-year-old boy. Geoghan also faces two more criminal trials and 80 civil lawsuits.
Cardinal Law subsequently apologized to abuse victims and announced a policy of "zero tolerance" for sexual abuse. The change in policy came after documents showed Cardinal Law knew of the accusations against Geoghan but stayed silent and allowed him to remain a priest.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston initially gave authorities names of 40 accused priests and said none was active, but in the past week, eight active priests were suspended because of reports of abuse.
More than 80 names have been given to district attorneys in the five counties in the Boston archdiocese.
Cardinal Law said it's "terribly painful" to risk damaging priests' reputations by suspending them or giving their names to authorities. Some, he noted, had one charge from decades ago, and some might be innocent.
"But unless there is a higher wisdom that someone else has, I believe that the only responsible way for us to handle this issue is with a zero-tolerance policy," he said. "Yes, I am concerned for the pain that people suffer in the process of implementing that, but I think we have to do that."
The archdiocese has yet to give the names of victims of suspected pedophile priests to prosecutors, some of whom are growing impatient as they consider filing charges against the priests.
Without names of victims and victims willing to participate in a prosecution district attorneys say they can't investigate priests accused of child molestation. It's too early to threaten subpoenas to obtain names, they say, but they haven't ruled it out.
Cardinal Law said yesterday that "we're in the process of contacting victims now," but he would not offer a timeline on giving them to prosecutors.
He repeated that, to his knowledge, there are no active priests with any accusations against them.

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