The Boston Globe | Abuse in the Catholic Church


Protesters vow to keep it up

Say other prelates aided in coverup, must come clean

By Michael S. Rosenwald, Globe Staff, 12/16/2002

Cardinal Bernard F. Law was gone. The protesters were not.

Just as they have for nearly a year - through cold weather, then warm, now cold again - about four dozen protesters outraged by the clergy sexual abuse crisis gathered yesterday outside the Cathedral of the Holy Cross.

In the wake of Law's resignation, they say their work is hardly finished.

''This was just the tip of the iceberg,'' said Kathy Dwyer of Braintree, who says she was sexually abused by a priest. ''We've got a lot more to take care of.''

Their new targets: Bishops who allegedly aided Law in moving abusive priests from parish to parish; the secretive church culture that protesters say helped spawn and cover up the abuse; and even Law himself, who they said should forfeit his position as cardinal and spend time living behind bars.

Yesterday they stood in the cold with revised placards and a reinvigorated spirit.

''Law's gone - the fight goes on,'' read one sign. ''Let the dominos fall,'' read another. One quoted Winston Churchill: ''This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.''

Several signs said ''McCormack: You're next,'' a message for New Hampshire Bishop John McCormack, once a top lieutenant to Law. To the protesters, he is a church leader as much responsible for the crisis as Law himself.

The protesters outside the cathedral, who yesterday seemed outnumbered by TV cameras and reporters, plan to mark the scandal's one-year anniversary next month by picketing outside McCormack's parish in Manchester, N.H.

Yesterday, most of the demonstrators did not venture inside the cathedral to hear what Bishop Richard Lennon had to offer. As Dwyer put it, ''Why go back into a place where you've been physically, emotionally, and spiritually raped?''

''I don't need to hear what they have to say,'' she said. ''I need to see their actions.''

The protesters who did go inside were not thrilled.

Mary Castoldi of Newton walked out before Lennon finished his homily. ''It's the same old story,'' she said. ''The same old pomp and circumstance and pretty robes. He was just the holy holy, nothing else.''

Jean Acerra was disappointed with Lennon, but not nearly as much as Castoldi. She stayed inside until he finished, then left to rejoin the other protesters.

''He said he would listen to others, and he should have said that,'' Acerra said. ''But I'm not sure how strongly he feels about that. ''

Acerra said she wished Lennon had said that he ''supported people who support dissent.'' On a scale of 1 to 10, Acerra gave him a 6. ''He was not earth-shattering,'' she said.

Steve Lewis, a frequent protester outside the cathedral, an alleged victim of abuse by a priest, and the cofounder of Speak Truth To Power, a victims' group, said he hoped people would not begin donating money again to the church just because Law has stepped aside.

Withholding money, he said, is a surefire way to make sure the laity is ''at the table'' when church reforms are discussed. ''I'm not sure we'll have another opportunity like this again,'' Lewis said.

The events of the past week appear to have sent an avalanche of emotions through the hearts and minds of Catholics in New England.

Joe Gallagher, a founder of the Coalition of Catholics and Survivors, could not understand people who said Law's resignation marked a ''somber'' moment in the abuse scandal.

''Somber?'' he asked. ''I was ecstatic. I don't get that it was somber. His resignation did not put money in people's pockets, it didn't put anyone behind bars, but it did put a smile on victim-survivors' faces - people who haven't had something to smile about in quite some time.''

Several protesters said they will keep coming to the cathedral.

''This problem goes very deep,'' Dwyer said. ''It's not about one person, and it's never been about one person. This is a vast conspiracy of men who have covered up and nurtured the abuse of children.

''I'm not going anywhere. We're not going anywhere. I think our voice is only getting stronger.''

This story ran on page A12 of the Boston Globe on 12/16/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

For complete coverage of the priest abuse scandal, go to