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Spotlight Report

Seminarians get an apology

By Matt Carroll, Globe Staff, 5/16/2002

NEWTON - Fourteen seminarians celebrated the completion of their undergraduate studies yesterday and got an apology from a senior priest, who said the clergy abuse scandal should not hobble their pursuit of the priesthood.

The Rev. Thomas G. Caserta, director of spiritual formation of the Diocese of Brooklyn, N.Y., apologized to the St. John's Seminary graduates for a crisis that he said was caused by ''older brother'' priests.

Those priests ''have done great damage, and for that I wish publicly to apologize to you, our young brothers. You deserve at least that much,'' Caserta said. ''But don't forget for one single moment, in spite of what you hear or read or feel sometimes, it is worth everything to be a priest, everything.''

At the commencement ceremony at St. Ignatius Loyola Church here, Cardinal Bernard F. Law did not directly address the controversy swirling around the archdiocese when he gave his benediction at the end of the service.

But one member of the graduating class, William Nicholas Ventura Jr., alluded to it, saying: ''We have seen the world change drastically and our vocations become more difficult to follow.''

Ventura said he was glad to see the strength shown by church leaders, ranging from Pope John Paul II to parish priests, to fellow seminarians. In comments after the church ceremony, Ventura called Caserta's contrition ''a nice gesture.''

''It was appreciated,'' he said, ''as others have been.''

Law, in his benediction, said simply, ''I thank you all for the support you have given me with your love, your prayers, and encouragement.''

This story ran on page A24 of the Boston Globe on 5/16/2002.
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