Back to homepage Arts | Entertainment Boston Globe Online BostonWorks Real Estate Sports digitalMass Travel The Boston Globe Spotlight Investigation Abuse in the Catholic Church
HomePredator priestsScandal and coverupThe victimsThe financial costOpinion
Cardinal Law and the laityThe church's responseThe clergyInvestigations and lawsuits
Interactive2002 scandal overviewParish mapExtrasArchivesDocumentsAbout this site
2014 update

Crux, a Catholic news site

A new site from the Boston Globe includes news updates on clergy abuse and other Catholic issues.
 Latest coverage

March 11
Victims' lawyer to sue Dupre

March 6
Suit accuses insurer of fraud

March 5
Charges against bishop eyed

March 1
Activists seek sex abuse panel

February 26
Alleged victim to aid probe

February 13
Springfield probe is sought

January 7, 2004
Agents faced reluctant aides

December 3
Church settles with victim

November 15
Settlement fuels money advice

November 12
Claims set aside until 2004

October 30
Hard line set on abuse trials

October 21
Most plaintiffs accept deal

October 19
Therapy sought in abuse suit

October 17
Lawyer says settlement near

October 8
Victims agonize over deal

September 12
Victims seen taking settlement

September 11
Church deal a boon for lawyers

September 10
Church in $85 million accord
Archdiocese facing new strains
Most plaintiffs to accept deal
O'Malley makes an appeal

September 9
Negotiations resume in cases

Earlier stories

Spotlight Report

Easy-print versionEasy-print

Clergy-abuse notification bill likely to pass Senate

By Yvonne Abraham, Globe Staff, 4/11/2002

The Senate today will take up an amended version of a bill requiring clergy to report allegations of sexual abuse, as advocates hope the growing crisis in the Catholic Church will make the bill a more urgent priority.

Differences between the House and Senate versions of the bill have slowed passage, and Senate sponsors hope the recent revelations about the archdiocese's coverup of the Rev. Paul R. Shanley's history of sex abuse will spur the House into action.

''It has just been weeks of talking to House members, and at some point it's time to move,'' said Senator Susan C. Tucker, an Andover Democrat. ''So after we pass the bill, it will be in their court. We can't wait anymore.''

But the legislation seems set to become the center of a game of political football in the State House, with each chamber blaming the other for advocating an insufficiently strict law, and for delaying a final compromise.

Yesterday afternoon, Representative Antonio F. D. Cabral, a New Bedford Democrat and cochair with Tucker of the Joint Committee on Human Services and Elderly Affairs, conceded that the Senate bill contained some compromises, but said the other chamber had not cooperated fully enough, and that its unilateral action on the bill will now delay its final passage.

''Our bill is stricter and stronger in protecting kids, because that's the ultimate goal here,'' Cabral said. ''Up until this week we thought we made good progress, and I think the [new Senate] language reflects that to a certain degree. But this is not the best way to reach a quick resolution.''

Cabral said the House would now have to make amendments to the Senate bill, a process that would take much longer than if the two chambers had agreed on the language of the bill before it went to a vote.

Massachusetts is one of 20 states that exempt clergy from laws requiring those who work with children to report allegations of child abuse. Some legislators have been trying to remove the exemption since the mid-1980s, a removal the Catholic Church has opposed.

After revelations in January that Catholic leaders reassigned priests with known histories of sexual abuse, legislators redoubled their efforts to pass the law making reports by clergy of abuse mandatory.

The disagreements over the wording of the House and Senate bills involve which communications to clergy should be excluded from the reporting requirement. Each chamber says the other allows too many exceptions.

Originally, the Senate bill allowed only Catholic confession and similar spiritual counseling in other faiths to be excluded. The House bill allows exemptions if a religious organization's rules prohibit disclosure. The new Senate proposal shifts its language slightly, providing exemptions for confession and any ''similarly confidential spiritual communication.''

State Senator Cheryl Jacques, a Needham Democrat who cosponsored the bill, said she was sure all legislators were ''heading in the same direction'' on the law. But she urged the House to move quickly.

''The Senate doesn't believe we have the luxury of taking our time on this,'' she said.

This story ran on page A27 of the Boston Globe on 4/11/2002.
© Copyright 2002 Globe Newspaper Company.

© Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company
Advertise | Contact us | Privacy policy