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 Latest coverage

March 23
Law's words frame new play

March 2
Wary Catholics return to church

January 25, 2004
Churches report attendance up

January 4, 2004
Dot parish struggles to survive

December 28
Hudson fill-in priest welcomed

December 12
Law prays daily for diocese

November 22
Assignment for Law expected

November 20
Policies on VOTF reconsidered

September 19
Crisis issues in church's future

September 18
Meeting ban at parish is lifted

August 4
O'Malley given warm welcome

August 1
Lawmakers see shades of gray

July 31
An angry protest, and prayers
Voices of protest and support
Three in crowd bound in hope
At BC, optimistic students watch

July 29
Lay group to engage O'Malley

July 24
Many outraged after AG's report

July 21
Law to skip bishop installation

July 18
O'Malley invites Law, victims

July 11
Bishops seek private opinions

Earlier stories

Spotlight Report

An evolving response

Cardinal Law's statements concerning sexual abuse by priests have changed in tone, from defensive to contrite.

Event Church response
  EARLY 1992  MAY 23, 1992
Rev. James Porter accused by more than 100 people of having molested them in the 1960s when he was a priest in Fall River (not under Law’s direct supervision). "...An aberrant act"
Law describing Porter's alleged abuse

"By all means we call down God’s power on the media, particularly the Globe."

Law accusing the media of exploiting the case

  JULY 11, 1996  JULY 11, 1996
Rev. John Geoghan accused by Waltham woman of molesting her three sons. No comment
  NOV. 26, 2001  NOV. 26, 2001
Court orders Geoghan papers be made public. No comment

The archdiocese unsuccessfully appeals the ruling.

  JAN. 6 AND 7, 2002  JAN. 9, 2002
Coverup alleged. Globe Spotlight team publishes documents showing that the archdiocese moved Geoghan from parish to parish, despite knowing of abuse allegations in his past. "I wish to apologize once again for the harm done to the victims of sexual abuse by priests..."
Law, who also orders future allegations be reported to law enforcement
  JAN. 16  JAN. 16
Attorney General Thomas Reilly asks for information on past abuses, saying church policy to release only current and future allegations is insufficient. "Inappropriate"
Donna M. Morrissey, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, on Reilly's request
  FEB. 28  MARCH 2
Reilly threatens to convene grand jury to force the church to turn over incriminating information about priests accused of sexual abuse of minors. "[We will] improve the flow of information"
Donna Morrissey, saying church will waive confidentiality agreements preventing victims from giving prosecutors details.
  MARCH 15  MARCH 15
The Pilot, newspaper of the diocese, calls for dialogue questioning celibacy "It is not the editorial position of The Pilot that clerical celibacy should be reviewed by the church with the purpose of a change in discipline."
Law, reacting to questions about Pilot editorial
Rev. Paul Shanley accused. The lawyer for one of the accusers holds a press conference and releases documents showing that the archdiocese knew that Shanley advocated sex between men and boys and assigned him to posts that allowed him access to children. "A continual institutional memory concerning allegations and cases of abuse of children was lacking."
Law, in a letter sent to priests of the Boston Archdiocese
Calls mount for Law to resign. "The crisis of clergy sexual abuse of minors is not just a media-driven or public perception concern in the United States, but a very serious issue undermining the mission of the Catholic Church."
Law's remarks before Sunday Mass
  APRIL 23  APRIL 23
At the Vatican
During a gathering of 11 US cardinals and two leading bishops
"In a sense, if I had not made the terrible mistakes that I made, we would not be here. I apologize for that."
Law's remarks according to several in attendance
  MAY 8  MAY 8
Cardinal Law is deposed by lawyers representing alleged victims of John Geoghan. "I can only say again, as I said earlier that ... this issue, this whole issue as it plays itself out, is full of moments when hindsight would have been helpful."
Law, during sworn testimony
In an eventful month for the archdiocese, priests Paul R. Shanley and Ronald H. Paquin are arrested, and the church rejects a tentative settlement with 86 victims of John Geoghan. Cardinal Law also spent two days testifying in a court-ordered deposition. "...My credibility has been publicly questioned and I have become for some an object of contempt. I understand how this is so, and I am profoundly sorry that the inadequacy of past policies and flaws in past decisions have contributed to this situation. "
Law, in a letter to parishioners
  MAY 25  MAY 25
Five new priests are ordained at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross "No joy can be taken from the terrible harm and betrayal at the root of this crisis and trial, yet out of this evil, you have the joy of a much more vivid consciousness of what it means to be a priest."
Law, in comments to the new priests
US bishops gathered in Dallas to draft a new policy on disciplining abusive priests. " But the primary focus has got to be on children, and if it is, then the way you handle these other problems is going to be different, and it's that focus that has come to me with a new clarity."
Law, in an interview with the Globe
The World Youth Day celebration is held in Toronto. Cardinal Law and young Boston-area Catholic youths gather with thousands of other youths to hear Pope John Paul II speak and to celebrate their faith. "...We know that evil is evil, we know that it is morally wrong to do violation to any human being in any way, including sexual abuse ... These young people understand that ... they know that the Lord is with them, and the holiness of the church."
Law, after World Youth Day festivities
Law holds a meeting with priests addressing topics ranging from the crisis in the church to Law's decision to stay on as head of the archdiocese. The meeting was one of many indications in the early fall of Law seeking to broaden his dialogue with fellow priests, victims, and the laity. "I indicated it would not take a rocket scientist to realize that [resigning] is not an option that someone in my circumstances over the past 10 months would not have considered, and I did consider it. "
Law's remarks to fellow priests
Cardinal Law begs forgiveness from abuse victims during an emotional Sunday Mass. "I acknowledge my own responsibility for decisions which led to intense suffering. While that suffering was never intended, it could have been avoided had I acted differently. I see this now with a clarity that has been heightened through the experience of these past 10 months. ...As I beg your forgiveness, I pledge my unyielding efforts to insure that this never happens again."
Law, during Sunday Mass
Cardinal Law resigns his position as Archbishop of Boston in a meeting with the pope at the Vatican. "To all those who have suffered from my shortcomings and mistakes I both apologize and from them beg forgiveness. "
Law, in a statement issued after his resignation
Cardinal Law issues a public statement concerning his resignation at the chancery in Brighton. "Though I had hoped to be part of that implementation [of abuse policies], it came to be ever more clear to me that the most effective way that I might serve the church at this moment is to resign. "
Law, in a statement read to the press

Source: Globe archives

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