- The Washington Times - Monday, March 25, 2002

From combined dispatches
In a sign of the profound impact of a growing scandal over sexual abuse by priests in the Catholic Church, the associate pastor at one of Washington's most influential parishes used his Palm Sunday sermon to call for the resignation of Boston Cardinal Bernard Law.
The demand by the Rev. Percival D'Silva of the Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament received a standing ovation from hundreds of worshipers in attendance and reflected a highly unusual public challenge to the church hierarchy at a moment of institutional crisis.
"Cardinal Law is not above the law … I must be honest … He should have the common sense and even the guts to say 'I resign,'" Father D'Silva told the church's 10:15 a.m. Mass, a weekly service geared to children that was packed even more than usual because of Palm Sunday.
"He has to go," the associate pastor said.
Father D'Silva called priests who abused children "sickos" and "weirdos" and said the church must be less secretive and must reform its selection process for priests.
Cardinal Law has come under fire since last year over the case of former priest John Geoghan, who has been accused by more than 130 men and boys of molesting them. Cardinal Law and five other church leaders knew of Geoghan's predatory behavior but kept shuttling him between parishes.
As Catholics gathered yesterday for the beginning of Holy Week, the most solemn observation of the Christian calendar, priests across the country addressed the scandal.
"Not much can shock us in today's world, but in the past weeks we've seen things, heard things, and read things that we never would have dreamed of," the Rev. Raymond Mann told parishioners at St. Anthony Shrine in Boston, the city where the scandal erupted earlier this year.
In Denver, priests read aloud messages of apology and compassion from their archbishop. In Chicago and Palm Beach, Fla., parishioners were met by leaflets discussing the charges.
In many churches, the Palm Sunday sermons asked Catholics to take solace from the Easter story of Christ's victory over suffering and evil.
"There's always trouble in the world, there's always evil," said the Rev. Fergus Healey, also speaking at St. Anthony Shrine. "But we should face our current situation with a sense of hope, because evil's not supposed to have the last say."
Cardinal Law, who has repeatedly rebuffed calls for his resignation, did not mention the scandal during services yesterday.
Around the country, however, many priests used the themes of suffering, frayed trust and redemption in the traditional Palm Sunday readings to address the church's current crisis.
"For American Catholics, this Lent has surely been an emptying and humbling experience," Denver Archbishop Charles Caput wrote in a letter read in the archdiocese's nearly 150 parishes yesterday. "The cross this Holy Week will have a deeper meaning for all of us."


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