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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 8

Corporations have a long record of performing all sorts of legal tricks to cover up wrongdoing. Fortunately, there are laws to try and ferret out these cover ups, and punishment within our legal system. For some reason which escapes me, the Archdiocese of Boston believes itself above these laws, above punishment, above explanation, and worst of all, above answering to God. Sadly, Cardinal Law has chosen to do everything in his considerable arsenal to stonewall investigations and cover his own misdeeds. Each new revelation drives away more lifelong, devoted Catholics; and denies them the comfort of their faith. For most of us, "just finding another church" is not an option -- being Catholic is part of who we are. It's not a "try on a religion and see what fits" kind of thing. In any other situation, the Cardinal and his minions would be facing serious jail time, but there is a total lack of political will to prosecute the "almighty Catholic Church." Massachusetts Attorneys General seem to have an paralyzing fear of upsetting the status quo, and have neglected their legal duties to investigate and prosecute these henious crimes. The days of "Pray, Pay and Obey" are gone, replaced by a desire for a vibrant, active role for the laiety. Only by total disclosure of all events and punishment for those who have committed crimes can the Church community begin to heal. Tragically, the Cardinal and his handlers don't seem to understand that fact.

Kathy, Quincy

I am sickened that on top of the sexual abuse crisis, the Boston Archdiocese would consider declaring bankruptcy as a means to resolve the sexual abuse cases. It's just another case of the archdiocese looking out for their own best interests and their own collective ass. If they were truly sorry, if they truly sought forgiveness and healing, they would sell the Cardinal's residence and other properties and make the appropriate sacrafices to honor their commitment to the victim's of sexual abuse. To declare bankruptcy is to truly nail the coffin on the Catholic Church in Boston. If they declare bankruptcy and refuse to honor their commitment to the victims of sexual abuse, how can they ever claim to be a source of holiness, or claim the right to lead the faithful?

Katie, Boston, MA

Why does the Church (of all things) get a pass on morality? These priests, and, I submit, Cardinal Law, are morally corrupt and are in no position to be guiding, serving, or healing the "flock" (isn't that what a group of sheep are called?). Shame on us for behaving like a "flock" and following blindly. My husband is in the process of becoming a Catholic and sometimes jokes that organized religion, in this case Catholicism, is nothing more than a cult. If you stop and think about it, he's not too far off. Cult leaders expect blind loyalty, indoctrinate to insure that, and then do what they please for themselves. What is the difference, exactly, between Jim Baker of PTL and Cardinal Law and his cronies? Oh, that's right, Baker defrauded the government and his "flock" of money. Sadly, money is way more important than children in this society. There are only two people in this world who can remove Law from his post...the Pope (and he's in on it) and Law himself (he is a sad excuse for a human being, let alone a priest or Cardinal). A note to those who don't want to "hear" about this anymore or want the Globe to move on. "Movin' on" was precisely the policy of the Archdiocese that caused this mess. There's only one thing that needs to "move on" and that is the sad excuse for a man they call Law.

T, Northborough

The Cardinal should step down on his own.He has lost the trust that is needed to run an organization such as the church. Fileing for bankruptcy seems to me a cowards way out .It just goes to show that he cares not for the people but for his job.

Peter , Brookloine

I think we are agree what we see here, now what can we do to clean him out of the church? Is there any one out there still going to his mass? WHY !

Kim, Cambridge

Crime families! Take note! The Church is a very well run machine with smart financial/law reps. What a shame for all of society to have to endure their presence.

Anonymous, Boston

an apology will not do. this is despicable. Law should be prosecuted and jailed. maybe then he'll know what those victims went through. he and all priests are suppose to be soldiers of God. they are soldiers of sodom. this bankruptcy is a load a crap. just a cop out. moral authority? ha! after all that he's done, isn't it enough? he needs to go one way or another and he needs to suffer somehow. an apology will not suffice.

Helen, Somerville

I feel that Cardinal Law should resign immediately! His knowledge of abuse allegations makes him as guilty as the priests who abused these individuals.

Steve P, Malden

One of the amazing and sad aspects of this scandal is the double standards shown by Cardinal Law and others. While women seeking ordaination, divorced Catholics, gay Catholics, and anyone who dissents is treated with utter disdain, given no second chance, and expelled from the church with eagerness, priest's who rape children, abuse drugs, harrass others are treated with kindness, a blind-eye, and coddled. How anyone can ever again accept the moral credibility of anything the Catholic Church teaches is beyond me.

Gregory , Grand Rapids, MI

For considerable time, it has been my opinion that Cardinal Law should step down. However, with each passing day, my anger with the church grows deeper. I most certainly do not condone the actions of a few priests that molest innocent children. However, perhaps they can be considered "sick" and not responsible for their actions. What, though, is the excuse of the church hierarcy who has repeatedly protected these priests and put more children in harms' way by choosing to only "relocate" the offending priests. Also, why hasn't charges been brought against the leaders of the church for gross negligence (if this was any other organization, charges would have already been filed). Finally, I was baptized in the Catholic church, received communion in the Catholic church, I have burried my mother in the Catholic church. However, due to the contempt of the church hierarchy, I have serious doubts about raising my children in the Catholic church.

Jim, Medford, MA

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