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MESSAGE BOARD / Dec. 5, 2002

In recent weeks, a contrite Cardinal Bernard Law has made emotional apologies for his handling of abusive priests and met with members of a lay Catholic group he had previously shunned. But archdiocesan personnel files released this week have exposed glaring new instances of church negligence and provided more evidence that Law knew of abuse allegations against priests who were allowed to remain on active church duty for years. Facing an estimated 450 abuse claims, the archdiocese may declare bankruptcy. In light of this week's revelations, what are your feelings on the church crisis? Has Law lost the moral authority to lead the archdiocese? Where must Boston Catholics look for leadership? And what should be done to address the church's financial crisis?

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Page 24

It would be easier to sympathize with priests claiming to outraged by the misdeeds of their confreres if it were credible that none of them knew that this was happening among them. Priests live and work in a tight clerical circle, and there is a gossip grapevine. Anyone who knew that abuse was taking place and did not call the police is equally guilty. That is complicity. History has shown that vast enormities need the support of many people to make them happen. The fact that Bishop John McCormack had reason to believe that priest Foley may have enabled the death of his female lover, and did not do something about it, even if statutes of limitations had run out, is intolerable. Could that fact that they were ordained the same year have anything to do with it? Will the church's defenders blame that on the media also?

Dave, Somerville MA

1. Law resigns 2. Law goes to jail 3. I wake up from my dream

Ken, Bridgewater

The groundswell asking for Cardinal Law's resignation is reaching a roar. I concur with that demand, but obviously Law is acting on behalf of a corrupted worldly power-driven organization, the members of which should share the indictment. It was his Finance Council that approved the bankrupcy move, valuing property over people. The Catholic Church, in Boston, at least, is not representing spiritual ideals; nor is it accountable to the people it is there to serve. Democratization of the church, at the very minimum, is the ultimate solution to this problem.

Dori, Acton

Law should go to jail along with every single priest who has abused , as well as anyone responsible for withholding information which allowed for the abuse to continue. The regular public would not be given the opportunity to pay their way out of being held responsible for a crime. Why should the church?

Lori, groveland

I can't believe the ignorance shown on this message board. Where do I start? First, the Catholic Church is not a democracy. If Cardinal Law tries to resign and the Pope says no, then that's it, he has no choice but to stay. So you can all stop calling for his resignation. Second, the church is not Cardinal Law, The Pope or any other one person. It is it's members. Catholics believe that not attending Mass is a mortal sin. By not attending Mass because of all of this you are only damaging your own soul and insulting God, not hurting the cardinal. Third, by not giving to the collection you aren't depriving the cardinal of a new Mercades or anything, you're taking away from your own church. Also, the Cardinal's appeal doesn't go to the cardinal, it goes to very helpful charitible organizations. Fourth, I don't understand why people get to sue people when a crime has been committed against them. By all means lock these priests up forever and throw away the key, but I just don't get the lawsuits. Also, people talk about the church not doing anything. This shouldn't even be brought to the church. If my child, or myself, is being molested I'm going to the cops, not the cardinal. This is a crime, not a spititual matter. Fifth, how many times does Cardinal Law have to apologize? He screwed up big time and has apologized numerous times. Finally, why doesn't the church sell churches and other property to pay off victims? As soon as the church sells one if it's churches, all the members of that parish will say, "Not my church, sell a different one". And there will be all new protests. Wait until the Archdiocese sells your church, then we'll see who's saying "sell property". Personally I think Law should step down, but I don't believe that option is open to him anymore. If you're a Catholic, do some research into your own religion, it's worth a look. PS Don't be fooled by Vioces of the Faithful. They're a wolf in sheep's clothing. Do some serious looking into on them and their founding members, you might be surprised.

Charles, Lynn

Maybe Sinead O'Connor deserves a big apology and a resurgent career. During her 1992 Saturday Night Live performance of Bob Marley's "War" she substituted lyrics "sexual abuse" for "racial injustice" before tearing up a photo of the pope. This doesn't seem at all ridiculous today. Neither does her "Recovering Catholic" t-shirt.

Tim, Newton

For those "traditional" catholics who want to "restore" the church: 1) The abuse and coverup has been documented to have been going on at least since the 40's, and probably long before that. So you're going to have to restore it to something before your lifetime. 2) You don't know church history. The RC has had married clergy for most of its history and still has married clergy _today_. There are several areas in the world, including the Phillipines, where priests regularly get dispensations to be married, because the culture doesn't recognize a man as a man unless he's married. The early church also had female clergy. There was even a female pope - she was canonized and you can find her in any good book about the saints. Plus, women have been using contraceptives and aborafaecients since before Christ's time - and he never said anything about them. If you want to second guess the Messiah, be my guest, but don't ask me to. If you want to call me anti-catholic for suggesting a return to these traditions, you'll have to excuse me while I say you're an ignorant, self-righteous fool who's crippling the church's ability to heal, to grow, and to embrace it's children. I asked my father, a devoted catholic, whether it was possible to love the church and want to change it - he said "That's what being a saint is". And he's a good man, so I believe him. I wish you would too.

HCA, Andover

It is clear that the Cardinal is now a serious threat to the well being of the church in this region. It is also clear that he will not leave of his own volition. Attorney General Reilly, who seems to be no shrinking violet when it comes to publicity except on this issue has maintained that the Cardinal cannot be prosecuted for conspiracy to hide felonious behaviour because of the statute of limitations. The most recent revelations should prove without a doubt the the cardinal should be indicted for his actions. It is time for law enforcemnt to take action and force this man from his position.

Phil Gallagher, Burlington Mass.

The Cardinal may have granted forgiveness with the admonition, "Go forward and sin no more, the theological basis for the sacrament of Reconciliation. He probably sincerely believed that this admonition would be heeded by those to whom he gave absolution. However, non-sacramental and therefore non-privileged revelations should have been treated, at a minimum, with, "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me." We Catholics should look to the substance of our faith, not to the form of other human beings like ourselves. Cardinal Law is not the substance. He is part of the form. We should respect the office, but not necessarily the man. He must conclude that he can no longer be a shepherd to his flock when he has, so many times, turned his back and allowed the wolves to prey upon his sheep. He should resign.

Dave H, Andover

I'm grateful this scandal has finally erupted in the media and exposed the egregious errors committed by certain church disciples through their lack of leadership and ability to uphold Christian morality. Its awful such abhorrent behavior has continued among clergy for so long. Too many innocent children and adults have been left with shattered lives but we can offer our comfort and pray for their healing and strength through our collective faith in Jesus our Savior. The American Catholic Church will grow stronger with the emergence of new leadership both clerical and laity exhibiting the true qualities of discipleship to which they have committed their lives. As Christians we understand that it is our individual actions which will be judged at our final day. Through action the faithful will overcome this crisis and take back our church.

David, Needham, MA

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