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Demonstrations against unresolved clerical sex abuse scandal in Boston


Demonstrations against unresolved clerical sex abuse scandal in Boston

Speak Truth to Power stand their ground outside Cathedral of the Holy Cross

On Sunday, September 29, the annual Red Mass took place at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross. This Red Mass celebrates the official start of the new court year and custom lends that the mass is attended by judges, lawyers and court officials. In contrast, outside the Cathedral, protesters demonstrated against the unresolved clerical sex abuse scandal.

In early 2002, revelations of sexual abuse of children and the systematic cover-up in the Archdiocese of Boston were first published in a scandal that rocked the church and shocked a nation. Since then, members of the protest group, Speak Truth to Power (STTOP), have stood outside the main Cathedral for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston every Sunday in a show of solidarity with abuse survivors as well as to seek full accountability and change from the Catholic Church.

Their weekly Sunday vigil is considered to be one of the oldest protests in the nation now nearing its 12th year. Irish American Stan Doherty, from Stoneham, is one such protester who makes the weekly pilgrimage to the South End of the city as he feels that someone needs to “bear witness” and that as a Catholic, he was taught that when confronted with injustice he must  “stand up to evil”. The group’s demonstrations are always peaceful with their message clear to all, through use of their powerful banners which include images of the victims at the age they were abused.

Initially, the group experienced extreme anger directed towards their protests by churchgoers. Over the years, as more information becomes public, Doherty, commented he has seen a “change in people’s reaction” with many now receptive to their presence and even telling them to “keep up the good work.”  All the protesters present outside the church vocalized their commitment to the group’s mission and expressed clearly that it will continue until the full truth is exposed and justice is served.

Accused paedophile priest arrested in US


Accused paedophile priest arrested in US

From the link: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-112721/Accused-paedophile-priest-arrested-US.html

An accused paedophile priest at the centre of a sex-abuse scandal in Boston that has engulfed Cardinal Bernard Law and the Vatican was arrested on tonight by police in San Diego, prosecutors said.

Father Paul Shanley, who faces three counts of child rape, was arrested at about 10:45 a.m EDT (1445 GMT), according to the Middlesex County District Attorney in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Cardinal Law, the senior U.S. Catholic Church prelate, met secretly with Pope John Paul II last month after documents revealed the cardinal supported Shanley even though he knew the priest was accused of sexually abusing children.

Law told the pope about pressure for his resignation over Shanley and other sex-abuse cases but the cardinal has not resigned.

Between 1983 and 1990, according to authorities, Shanley, now 71, raped the male victim, now 24, when the victim was between 6 and 13 years old. The alleged incident took place at St. Jean’s parish in Newton, outside Boston.

Shanley’s whereabouts have been unknown since revelations about his alleged abuse were made public. The Newton, Massachusetts police department got a warrant for his arrest on Wednesday night, according to prosecutors.

While the archdiocese was under the leadership of the late Humberto Medeiros and Law, Shanley admitted to superiors that he raped and sodomized children, according to documents released in April under a court order.

The documents also showed that Shanley advocated sex between children and adults and that he was an early adherent of a group that later became the North American Man-Boy Love Association.

The documents rocked the Catholic Church in Boston, already reeling from the accusations against another priest, John Geoghan, who is serving a prison sentence for fondling a 10-year-old boy.

Revelations about Geoghan, accused by more than 130 people of abusing them during his 30 years as a Boston priest, triggered the mushrooming clergy sexual abuse scandal in the United States.

Law is at the center of the turmoil roiling the church in the United States for allowing accused pedophile priest to keep assignments that put them near children.

Law and other U.S. cardinals met with the pope in Rome last month in an unprecedented council to discuss the scandal in America and at meeting in Texas next month American Catholic leaders hope to establish national standards for dealing with priests involved in sex abuse.

The sex-abuse scandal, however, has not been confined to the United States and has swept many countries across Europe and Africa.

There have been sex scandals in the Catholic Church from Mexico, to Brazil and even in the pope’s native Poland.

Protests in predominately Catholic Ireland last month forced the resignation of a bishop because of the way he had dealt with allegations of sexual abuse by a priest.

Last year, a French court gave a three-month suspended sentence to Bishop Pierre Pican, who was accused of covering up for a priest who has since been jailed for 18 years for the rape of a boy and sexual abuse of 10.

Sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic archdiocese of Boston


Sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic archdiocese of Boston

The sexual abuse scandal in Boston archdiocese was part of a series of Catholic sex abuse cases in the United States and Ireland. In early 2002, Boston Globe coverage of a series of criminal prosecutions of five Roman Catholic priests thrust the issue of sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests into the national limelight.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10] The coverage of these cases encouraged other victims to come forward with their allegations of abuse resulting in more lawsuits and criminal cases.[11]

As it became clear that there was truth to many of the allegations and that there was a pattern of sexual abuse and cover-up in a number of large dioceses across the USA, what had originally appeared to be a few isolated cases of abuse exploded into a nationwide scandal. The resulting scandal created a crisis for the Catholic Church in the United States, encouraging victims in other nations to come forward with their allegations of abuse, thus creating a global crisis for the Church.

Ultimately, it became clear that, over several decades in the 20th century, priests and lay members of religious orders in the Catholic Church had sexually abused minors on a scale such that the accusations reached into the thousands. Although the majority of cases were reported to have occurred in the United States, victims have come forward in other nations such as Ireland, Canada and Australia. A major aggravating factor was the actions of Catholic bishops to keep these crimes secret and to reassign the accused to other parishes in positions where they had continued unsupervised contact with youth, thus allowing the abusers to continue their crime.

History

Boston Globe coverage

In 2002, criminal charges were brought against five Roman Catholic priests in the Boston area of the United States (John Geoghan, John Hanlon, Paul Shanley, Robert V. Gale and Jesuit priest James Talbot) which ultimately resulted in the conviction and sentencing of each to prison.[12] The ongoing coverage of these cases by The Boston Globe thrust the issue of “sexual abuse of minors by Catholic priests” into the national limelight.[2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][13] The coverage of these cases encouraged other victims to come forward with their allegations of abuse resulting in more lawsuits and criminal cases.[11]

In 2003, the series of articles in the Boston Globe received a Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. The Globe was honored, according to the Pulitzer website, “for its courageous, comprehensive coverage … an effort that pierced secrecy, stirred local, national and international reaction and produced changes in the Roman Catholic Church.”

Alleged cover-ups

Grassroots public advocacy groups like Voice of the Faithful focused on Cardinal Law after documents revealed his extensive role in covering up incidents of sexual misconduct of his priests. For example, Cardinal Law moved Paul Shanley and John Geoghan from parish to parish within the diocese despite repeated allegations of molestation of children under the priests’ care. Later, it was discovered that Father Shanley even advocated the North American Man-Boy Love Association. Under questioning, the cardinal stated that, when a priest committed a sex crime, the cardinal said his practice was to seek the analysis of psychiatrists, clinicians and therapists in residential treatment centers before deciding whether a priest accused of sexually abusing a child should be returned to the pulpit.

In 1984, John Brendan McCormack became Secretary for Ministerial Personnel in the Archdiocese of Boston. In this position, McCormack was Cardinal Law‘s point person on hearing complaints against priests accused of sexual misconduct and removing some of them from active duty.[14] He was later accused of taking too little action in handling John Geoghan, a Boston priest who allegedly molested over 130 children during his ministry.[14]

In 1990, after receiving complaints from an alleged victim, he removed one priest from duty and sent him to treatment, only for the same priest to later serve as a hospital chaplain.[15] He also wrote conciliatory letters to another priest accused of pedophilia and who once defended the North American Man/Boy Love Association,[16] then failing to notify the diocese to which that priest was later transferred of the accusations made against him.[15]

Cardinal Law’s response

Cardinal Law’s term as Archbishop of Boston began in popularity but quickly declined into turbulence towards the end of his term. Allegations and reports of sexual misconduct by priests of the Archdiocese of Boston became widespread causing Roman Catholics in other dioceses of the United States to investigate similar situations there. Cardinal Law’s actions and inactions prompted public scrutiny of all members of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the steps they had taken in response to past and current allegations of sexual misconduct at the hands of priests. The events in the Archdiocese of Boston exploded into a national Roman Catholic Church sex abuse scandal.

Law’s public statements and depositions during the abuse crisis claimed that the Cardinal and Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Boston did not initially have the expertise to understand pedophilia and ephebophilia and relied upon doctors’ recommendations.[17] In January 2002, Law stated, “I promulgated a policy to deal with sexual abuse of minors by clergy. This went into effect on Jan. 15, 1993,” and also noted that the, “policy has been effective.”[18] His depositions echoed those sentiments.[17]

Impact on the diocese

Settlements in the Boston, Massachusetts suits were estimated to be up to $100 million. In some cases insurance companies have balked at meeting the cost of large settlements, claiming the actions were deliberate and not covered by insurance. This was additional financial damage to the Archdiocese, which already faced the need to consolidate and close parishes due to changing attendance and giving patterns. In June 2004, much of the land around the Archdiocese of Boston headquarters was sold to Boston College, in part to raise money for legal costs associated with scandal in Boston.[19][20]

Resignation of Cardinal Law

Law submitted his resignation to the Vatican and Pope John Paul II accepted his resignation on December 13, 2002.

In a statement and apology Cardinal Law said, “To all those who have suffered from my shortcomings and mistakes I both apologize and from them beg forgiveness”. He remained cardinal, which is a separate appointment, and participated in the 2005 papal conclave.

Handling by Bishop Lennon

Bishop Richard Lennon‘s appointment as apostolic administrator of the Boston archdiocese, following the resignation of Cardinal Law, brought criticism from some sex-abuse victims’ groups. This criticism increased after Bishop Lennon‘s appearance in the Frontline Documentary “Hand of God.” The movie documents the history of a Salem, Massachusetts sex scandal and its effects on the film maker’s own family. Lennon closes the Salem parish despite the fact it is not losing money for the Church. Then, when the movie’s filmmaker attempts to film the administrative building where his brother reported his own sexual abuse, Lennon exits the building, shoves the camera, declares he won’t “feel bad about this” after being told why the filmmaker wants to film the building’s exterior, attempts to avoid any discussion of the sex scandal by refusing to talk about anything other than the Church’s private property rights, and responds to the film maker’s claim that he doesn’t care by calling the filmmaker a “sad little man.”

Archbishop O’Malley

Bishop Sean O’Malley was appointed Archbishop of Boston on July 1, 2003, having already dealt with sexual abuse scandals in the dioceses of Palm Beach and Fall River.

In September 2003, the Archdiocese settled most of the abuse-related claims for $85 million.[21]

In June 2004, the archbishop’s residence and the chancery in Brighton and surrounding lands were sold to Boston College, in part to defray costs associated with abuse cases.[22][23][24] The offices of the Archdiocese were moved to Braintree, Massachusetts; Saint John’s Seminary remains on that property.

On August 25, 2011, Cardinal Seán O’Malley released a list of 159 names of priests who had been accused of sexually abusing a minor.[25] The publication mentioned that 250 priests in the archdiocese had been accused but 69 names were omitted because they were either deceased, weren’t active ministers, had not been publicly accused, or were dismissed or left prior to canonical proceedings. An additional 22 names were omitted because the accusations could not be substantiated; nine of these priests were still in active ministry

Sexual abuse cases in the Boston archdiocese

John Birmingham

In 1987, after at least 23 years of child molesting by Father Joseph Birmingham during which time he was shuffled to various parishes, the mother of an altar boy at St. Anns wrote to Law asking if Birmingham had a history of molesting children. Cardinal Law wrote back “I contacted Father Birmingham. … He assured me there is absolutely no factual basis to your concern regarding your son and him. From my knowledge of Father Birmingham and my relationship with him, I feel he would tell me the truth and I believe he is speaking the truth in this matter.” [26]

As a result of the unlawful sex, the Archdiocese of Boston lost millions of dollars in fines and settlements. It also funded the legal defense of accused priests. The archdiocese slipped into large financial deficits.[citation needed] The Archdiocese closed sixty-five parishes before Cardinal Law stepped down from service.

In response to the scandal, over fifty priests signed a letter declaring no confidence in Cardinal Law and asking him to resign [27] – something that had never before happened in the history of the Roman Catholic Church in America.

Paul Desilets

Paul Desilets, a retired Quebec priest, has been indicted on 27 counts of indecent assault and battery dating back to his time as a parish priest in Bellingham, Mass., between 1978 and 1984. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is seeking extradition.[28]

Robert V. Gale

Robert V. Gale was sentenced to 4.5–5 years in prison in 2004 after pleading guilty to repeatedly raping a boy in Waltham during the 1980s.[29][30] Gale (who had been treated in 1987 following years of abusing children[31][32][33][34]) began a restricted ministry around 1992,[35] living at St. Monica’s in South Boston while studying at the University of Massachusetts.

Cardinal Law, who had the ultimate authority, signed off on letting Gale remain at St. Monica’s. An adolescent reported that Gale abused him in his room/office in the rectory just a few months after Law’s decision was made.[30][32][35]

John Geoghan

John Geoghan (1935 – 2003) was accused of sexual abuse involving more than 130 children. Charges were brought in Cambridge, Massachusetts, concerning accusations of a molestation that took place in 1991. Geoghan was defrocked in 1998. He was found guilty in January 2002 of indecent assault and battery for grabbing the buttocks of a 10-year-old boy in a swimming pool at the Waltham Boys and Girls Club in 1991, and was sentenced to nine to ten years in prison.

The trial included testimony from the victim; from a psychiatrist, Dr. Edward Messner, who treated Geoghan for his sexual fantasies about children from 1994 to 1996; and from Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes, who testified that he banned Geoghan from the swimming club after a complaint that he had been proselytizing and had prurient conversations there.

After initially agreeing to, and pulling out of, a $30 million settlement with 86 of Geoghan’s victims, the Boston archdiocese settled with them for $10 million, and is still negotiating with lawyers for other victims. The most recent settlement proposed is $65 million for 542 victims. The settlements are being made because of evidence that the archdiocese had transferred Geoghan from parish to parish despite warnings of his behavior. Evidence also arose, as a result of allegations against Geoghan, that the archdiocese displayed a pattern of shipping other priests to new parishes when allegations of sexual abuse were made.

Two other cases were charged against Geoghan in Boston’s Suffolk County. One case was dropped without prejudice when the victim decided not to testify. In the second case, two rape charges were dismissed by a judge after hotly contested arguments because the statute of limitations had run out. The Commonwealth’s appeal of that ruling was active at the time of Geoghan’s death, and remaining charges of indecent assault in that case were still pending at that time.

On August 23, 2003, while in protective custody at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts, Geoghan was strangled and stomped to death in his cell by Joseph Druce, a self-described white supremacist and inmate serving a sentence of life without possibility of parole for killing a man who allegedly made a sexual pass after picking Druce up hitchhiking. An autopsy revealed the cause of death to be “ligature strangulation and blunt chest trauma.” There have been questions raised about the wisdom and propriety of placing these two men in the same unit, since prison officials had been warned by another inmate that Druce had something planned.[15]

Paul Shanley

According to Leon Podles in his book Sacrilege: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church, “In late 1993, Shanley was sent to the Institute of Living in Hartford, Connecticut, for evaluation. The Boston archdiocese has refused to release this evaluation, but other released files show that Shanley admitted to nine sexual encounters, of which four involved boys, and that he was diagnosed as “narcissistic” and “histrionic.” Shanley admitted that he was “attracted to adolescents” and on the basis of this confession, the Boston archdiocese secretly settled several lawsuits against Shanley. The archdiocese of Boston in 1993 had to admit to the diocese of San Bernardino part of the truth about Shanley, and the bishop of San Bernardino immediately dismissed him.”

In February 2005, Shanley was found guilty of indecent assaults and the rape of a male minor and received a sentence of 12 to 15 years in prison. Shanley’s case remains controversial because the allegations of abuse came only after the victim (now an adult) alleged that he “recovered” memories of the abuse from approximately 20 years earlier. The notion of “repressed memory” is highly controversial and has been excluded from several courts of law.[36] The manner in which the accusations against Shanley arose and enormous attention in the media also have given rise to questions about the validity of the convictions.[37][38][39][40][41]

Robert A. Ward affair

In February 2002, Rev. Robert A. Ward was accused of molesting an altar boy in Boston 1970. [42] [43][44][45] Records show that the archdiocese knew at least as early as 1995 that the pastor used cocaine and had been treated for drug abuse. The records also show that in 1999 Ward admitted to downloading of child pornography from the internet, a discovery made when a technician repaired Ward’s computer and noticed the sexually explicit material. Ward was suspended by the Archdiocese of Boston in February 2002 and defrocked by the Vatican in 2005 [46]

References