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Spotlight Report

Church says spokeswoman Morrissey has left the job

By Globe Staff, 5/8/2003

Donna M. Morrissey talks to reporters at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston on Dec. 8, 2003. (Globe Staff Photo / Dina Rudick)
Donna M. Morrissey, who served as the public face of the Archdiocese of Boston throughout the clergy sexual abuse crisis, has left her job as spokeswoman for the church.

Morrissey, who was brought in to improve the church's public relations in January 2001, left the archdiocese on April 28, a spokesman for the archdiocese said yesterday. Her tenure was dominated by the worst public-relations crisis in the history of the church, as the archdiocese struggled to explain why it had failed to remove scores of abusive priests from ministry.

''Donna Morrissey has moved on and is no longer in the employ of the Archdiocese of Boston,'' said the spokesman, the Rev. Christopher J. Coyne. ''We are looking for a senior person to take over'' communications and public relations, he added.

Coyne declined to discuss the circumstances of Morrissey's departure. He also declined to discuss her job performance, saying, ''We all wish her nothing but the best.''

Coyne, a seminary professor who has been helping out as a sometime spokesman for the archdiocese for the last 15 months, will serve until the archdiocese replaces Morrissey.

Morrissey did not return a telephone call yesterday.

Morrissey's performance during the church crisis was hotly debated by public-relations professionals and journalists. Many criticized her initial decision not to respond to questions from the Globe's Spotlight Team. But others noted the extraordinary difficulty of representing an institution with a tradition of secrecy amid a vast and historic scandal. And she won high marks from some for her poise on television.

Morrissey, 34, had been hired by Cardinal Bernard F. Law as part of the church's effort to improve its coverage by the news media. She was the only woman who was not a nun serving in the cabinet of Law and his interim replacement as head of the archdiocese, Bishop Richard G. Lennon.

This story ran on page B8 of the Boston Globe on 5/8/2003.
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