Skip to comments.Law: I Didn't Ignore Abuse Claims
Posted on 05/20/2002 7:43:20 AM PDT by anniegetyourgun
BOSTON- Cardinal Bernard Law denied allegations he ignored claims of abuse by the Rev. Paul Shanley, saying in a letter to parishioners that he did not learn until 1993 that the priest was accused of molesting boys.
Law rescinded Shanley's authorization to be a parish priest in San Bernadino, Calif., after learning of the abuse allegations, the cardinal wrote in a letter distributed on Pentecost Sunday. He said he was not aware of allegations against Shanley dating to the 1960s until a few months ago.
The archdiocese faces civil suits alleging it knew of those allegations before it assigned Shanley to a Newton parish.
Records released earlier this year showed the archdiocese knew of abuse claims against Shanley as far back as 1967 and that he had spoken out in favor of sex between men and boys, but it did little more than transfer him from parish to parish. Law did not arrive in Boston until years later.
Fifty new documents from Shanley's personnel file were released on Tuesday in what an attorney for alleged victims said represents "the strongest statement to date" that church leaders knew how dangerous the priest had become.
Law, who has been under pressure to resign as documents detailing the archdiocese's handling of priests accused of sexual misconduct have been made public, again apologized for past errors in judgment, saying there was never an intent to put children at risk.
"When I arrived in Boston in 1984, I assumed that priests in place had been appropriately appointed," Law said in the three-page letter.
"It did not enter into my mind to second-guess my predecessors, and it simply was not in the culture of the day to function otherwise. Despite the quantity of documents released and statements on the part of some indicating they know otherwise, before God I assure you that my first knowledge of an allegation of sexual abuse against this priest was in 1993."
The Diocese of San Bernardino confirmed Sunday that it received a letter from Boston in October 1993 informing them of allegations against Shanley.
Law also wrote that when Shanley left Boston in 1990, it was at his own request for sick leave and had nothing to do with abuse allegations.
Calls to Roderick MacLeish, an attorney representing Shanley's alleged victims, were not returned.
Shanley served a parish in Newton from 1983 to 1990. This month, he was extradited to Massachusetts to face charges he raped a boy over a six-year period in the 1980s, including in a church confessional.
Shanley has pleaded innocent to three criminal charges of child rape.
In the letter, Law again apologized for his role in the handling of priests facing allegations of sexual misconduct.
"The scandalous and painful details which have emerged sear our hearts," he wrote. "The harm done to victims and their families is overwhelming. Bewilderment has given rise to anger and mistrust."
Law said he does not remember a Newton woman telling him after a Mass in 1984 that Shanley had molested a child.
Jacqueline Gauvreau, however, said it would have been hard for Law to forget her.
"I jumped in front of him like Wonder Woman. How do you forget that?" she asked. "Could you forget somebody jumping in front of you and telling you one of your priests is a child molester?"
"I have absolutely no memory of such a conversation, and those who have worked most closely with me can attest that such a report would have been acted upon," the cardinal wrote. "There is no record of that having happened, and furthermore, I had no suspicion about Father Shanley concerning this in the ensuing years."
In other developments:
- The Crosier Fathers and Brothers, a Minnesota-based religious order of Catholic priests, acknowledged Sunday that a member sexually abused a 14-year-old boy in the 1980s at its seminary school in Onamia, Minn.
Gregory Madigan, a brother who admitted the abuse, has been in treatment, said the Rev. Tom Carkhuff. Madigan also admitted abusing other victims in the 1980s, but the order has settled only the 14-year-old's case, Carkhuff said.
- The bishop in Evansville, Ind., removed the Rev. Mark Kurzendoerfer from ministry, saying the priest disobeyed restrictions placed on him in 1998 after he admitted soliciting sex from a young adult. Kurzendoerfer, 47, is also accused of a sexual relationship with a 14-year-old boy in 1981, the Evansville Courier & Press reported Monday. Kurzendoerfer could not be located for comment Monday morning.
- The Archdiocese of New Orleans placed the Rev. Luis Henao on leave effective Monday, pending the outcome of an investigation into allegations of sexual abuse of a minor. There was no phone listing for Henao, and a message left Sunday at his church, Blessed Francis Xavier Seelos, was not immediately returned.
Maybe not to AP, but from today's Boston Herald:
Yet Roderick MacLeish Jr., a lawyer handling several cases against the archdiocese and Shanley, said law neglected to explain a similar warning received shortly after theone from Gauvreau.
"He says nothing about the letter he got in 1985 from Wilma Higgs of Rochester, N.Y., where she says Paul Shanley gave a speech saying when children and men have sex it's the child who's the seducer," said MacLeish.
The attorney said Law avoided mentioning his endorsement of Shanley as head of New York's Leo House family hostel in 1997.
How's your father doing?
Cardinal Law does not remember, does not recall, and has no memory of ..... in his deposition.
Hard to imagine any encounter with a phlebotomist at 3:30 a.m. as being anything but unpleasant. Let us know.
In Fr. Neuhaus' essay in the current issue of First Things, I find the following:
Perhaps no book on the priestly life and pastoral care has done more damage than the late Henri Nouwen's The Wounded Healer. In this view, priests become good pastors to the degree that they expose their own wounds to therapy, inviting others to similar disclosure. The teachings of the Church and centuries of spiritual and moral wisdom are judged by whether they inhibit or enhance the therapeutic norm. And so the therapeutic marches on from triumph to triumph. . . .
Given all that has now come to light, bishops should resist the proposal that the solution is in adding another layer of the therapeutic.
Maybe Law was only familiar with the title; I'm very afraid he might actually have read it, even with attention.
Their behavior and complicity in these crimes is reprehensible and sacrilegious.
Even if they go to the point that they were prevented by Canon Law from revealing the sins heard in the confessional, that does not absolve individuals of their obligation to have acted upon their knowledge, however it may have been learned.
Additionally, these were not merely sins, they were crimes. In order for the penitent to receive absolution, he must first make restitution, then confess, then express contrition, and finally do penance.
One might reasonably ask how, precisely, one makes restitution to a child who has been sexually abused, and abused by a priest in his church, no less. And what penance could be considered sufficient, especially after a second incidence of the same crime.
For the Catholic Church, institutionally, to have intervened, and paid settlement money to the families of the victims, in an effort to hide the crimes is abhorrent. For them to have repeatedly returned these sexual predators to positions where they would be free to rape more children has to be among the gravest of sins.
What these men of God have visited upon the faithful of their Church is unspeakable.
I now view all priests, Monsignors, bishops and Cardinals as complicit in these crimes. I must, because the breadth of this conspiracy seems absolutely boundless. Who could honestly say that they did not, at the very least, suspect? And that outcome only begins to speak to the irresponsibility, sinfulness and criminality of the actions taken by these churchmen in the name of God.
It is nothing short of sacrilege and nothing can dissuade me from believing this. I believe that there will be a special place in hell in which these souls will endure their everlasting torment for their sins against these children and against Gods church on earth.
My belief in my Redeemer, Jesus Christ is unshaken. My belief in the teachings of the Catholic Church remains unshaken.
My faith in the hierarchy of the church
that has been broken, very possibly beyond any hope of repair.
That's too bad, because not all priests, Monsignors, bishops and Cardinals are pukes like Law and Mahony.
The Diocese of Arlington, Virginia lies just across the Potomac, Steve. You'll like it here.
Hang in there.
The Wounded Healer: Ministry In Contemporary Society (Doubleday, 1972).
What does it mean to be a minister in contemporary society where men and women who want to be of service find the familiar ways crumbling and themselves stripped of their traditional protections? Nouwen addresses the question: "After all my attempts to articulate the predicament of contemporary humanity, the necessity to articulate the predicament of the ministers themselves became most important. For ministers are called to recognize the sufferings of their times in their own hearts and to make that recognition the starting point of their service. In four parts: Ministry in a Dislocated World/Ministry for a Rootless Generation/Ministry to a Hopeless Individual/Ministry by a Lonely Minister.
I believe Fr. Neuhaus' point was that -- as you state -- it is inappropriate to religion. Nouwen apparently disagreed.