- The Washington Times - Monday, May 6, 2002

BOSTON (AP) Cardinal Bernard Law acknowledged yesterday the anguish caused by the archdiocese's withdrawal from a settlement with 86 sex-abuse victims and said that he would seek an "equitable solution."
In a rare, detailed accounting of the church's legal affairs, Cardinal Law explained that the archdiocese's Finance Council had rejected the agreement because of what he called a "laudable" concern about the growing number of victims and the church's diminishing resources.
He disclosed that the number of sex-abuse claims against priests and the archdiocese had grown from 30 to 150 in recent weeks.
"I trust you can understand the disappointment, the anger and even the sense of fresh betrayal which may be in the hearts of the 86 persons," Cardinal Law told parishioners at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross yesterday.
"Nonetheless, I pray that as time goes on, they may be willing to help in the framing of a wider settlement which can include the victims who have only recently come forward," he added.
Demonstrators gathered outside where Cardinal Law exits behind the cathedral and chased his car down the street, waving signs. One said: "First things first/Pay the victims now."
One parishioner, who would not give his name, confronted Cardinal Law as he greeted people leaving the church. "No real healing will take place as long as you are the archbishop here," the man said.
Cardinal Law's advisers on the Finance Council outraged victims' advocates on Friday when they refused to approve a settlement worth an estimated $15 million to $30 million with 86 persons who have accused former priest John Geoghan of sexual abuse.
Geoghan was convicted in January of fondling a boy and is serving a nine-to-10-year prison sentence.
Cardinal Law said he had learned only Friday that the settlement with Geoghan's accusers, which he endorsed in March, had to be reviewed by the 15-member council, made up mainly of lay business people.
The council denied his request, the cardinal said, because "the dramatic increase in the number of cases has substantially altered the situation."
The archdiocese is considering mortgaging some of its real estate to raise the millions of dollars needed to settle with alleged victims, the archdiocese's chief financial officer, Chancellor David W. Smith, told the Boston Sunday Globe.
He said it likely would take months to determine how much would be needed to pay the claims.
Also yesterday, the Kansas City Star reported that a homosexual ex-Catholic priest who served a three-month prison term for molesting a 15-year-old boy has not registered as a sex offender.
The Rev. James A. Forsythe, who had been a Catholic priest in the Kansas City suburb of Overland Park, Kan., is now a minister at a homosexual-friendly church in Rapid City, S.D.
Mr. Forsythe, 47, pleaded guilty in 1989 to attempted indecent liberties with a child. Currently minister of the Metropolitan Community Church of the Black Hills, he said he did not know that he needed to register. He plans to see a lawyer this week to do so.
The penalty in South Dakota for not registering as an offender is up to a year in jail and a fine of up to $1,000, police said.


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