The Boston Globe | Abuse in the Catholic Church


'Appropriate' steps promised

But Cardinal later sent priest to parish in Weston

By Sacha Pfeiffer, Globe Staff, 1/25/2002

Five weeks after assuring a devout parishioner that "appropriate pastoral decisions will be made" about repeated complaints that John J. Geoghan had abused her seven nephews while he was assigned to a Dorchester parish, then-Archbishop Bernard F. Law transferred Geoghan to a new parish in Weston, where he allegedly continued to molest children.

Law made his assurance to Margaret Gallant in a Sept. 21, 1984, five-sentence letter that read, "The matter of your concern is being investigated and appropriate pastoral decisions will be made both for the priest and God's people . . . Please pray for me."

Within two weeks of receiving Gallant's Sept. 6, 1984 letter, in which she reported that Geoghan had again been seen "in the company of boys," the archbishop removed Geoghan from St. Brendan's parish in Dorchester and placed him "in between assignments."

But the following month, Law notified Geoghan that he was being assigned to St. Julia parish in Weston, effective Nov. 13, 1984. The transfer came after Dr. Robert W. Mullins reported to church officials that Geoghan "is now able to resume full pastoral activities without any need for specific restrictions," according to an Oct. 20 letter in which Mullins described Geoghan as a "long-time friend."

The Spotlight Team reported last week that Mullins is a general practitioner with no experience in psychiatry or psychology. Geog han's sister, Catherine Geoghan, has identified Mullins as the family's doctor for more than 40 years.

Gallant's letter to Law marked the second time she wrote to notify church officials of Geoghan's alleged misconduct. A 1982 letter to Cardinal Humberto Medeiros received this response: "To be sure, we cannot accept sin, but we know well that we must love the sinner and pray for him."

Gallant's 1984 letter to Law included this apparent reference to Medeiros's letter: "We do not accuse this priest of sin, since we are all sinners, but rather we speak here of crime."

This story ran on page A21 of the Boston Globe on 1/25/2002.
Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

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