Pressure Mounts for Law's Resignation. (Sex Abuse Crisis)

By Colbert, Chuck | National Catholic Reporter, March 29, 2002 | Go to article overview

Pressure Mounts for Law's Resignation. (Sex Abuse Crisis)


Colbert, Chuck, National Catholic Reporter


On March 19, the day officials of the Boston archdiocese turned over four boxes of files detailing more information about allegations of clerical sexual misconduct to Massachusetts Attorney General Tom Reilly, leaders in the local business community began to withdraw support from Cardinal Bernard Law, some even calling for his resignation.

Writing on the op-ed pages of The Boston Globe, for example, David F. D'Alessandro, chairman and CEO of John Hancock Financial Services, said, "The church can't heal with Law at the helm." The Catholic father of three boys, D'Alessandro went on to say, "Bringing this crisis to an end requires a new beginning. It demands a pastor and teacher and father against whom there is no doubt, no reservation or concern. The cardinal would like to fill that role. But wrongly or not, the doubt and reservation and concern exist, and they make it more difficult for the church and its parishioners to reconcile."

While acknowledging "the many good and important things the cardinal has done over the years," D'Alessandro wrote that a new leader is the "only one way for the archdiocese to put this scandal behind it and regain its rightful role as a force for good within our community."

On the other side of town, the Boston Herald's publisher, Patrick J. Purcell, authorized an editorial titled, "It's time for Law to make his exit." The editorial said, "It is the scale of the tragedy and the long-practiced deceit of victims and families that has made it impossible for the cardinal to lead the archdiocese."

Consequently, the editorial concludes. "It pains us to say it, but after such a failure of leadership -- closing his eyes to so many transgressions of the vows, engaging in so much deceit, failing to adopt preventative programs as neighboring Fall River [Mass.] diocese did -- Cardinal Law simply is in no position to expect anyone to accept his authority on moral issues."

A news story in The Boston Globe reported that Purcell, a Catholic, "was furious over the cardinal's handling of the serial pedophile priest John Geoghan, whom Law transferred to Purcell's parish, St. Julia's of Weston, despite knowing that Geoghan had molested children at other parishes."

There at St. Julia's the Globe reported that Geoghan presided over the wedding of Purcell's daughter. Also, Purcell's wife was a teacher in the parish's religious education program, which Geoghan supervised, according to the Globe.

Last month another Catholic who once advised Law, Paul La Camera, the president and general manager of WCVB-TV, called on the Law to consider resigning because he had lost his moral authority.

A member of the Irish Catholic business establishment and one of the cardinal's closest advisers, Jack Connors, founder and executive director of Hill Holiday Connors Cosmopulos advertising agency, has backed off from his initial support of the cardinal.

"I gave him my thoughts, and there wasn't any reason to continue after having done so," Connors told Globe reporters. "My recommendation to the cardinal was to get everything out, don't hold anything back, there is no reason to have secrets, and be totally forthcoming. …

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