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Cardinal must go beyond apology and resign



Published: Tue, February 12, 2002 @ 12:00 a.m.



In the culture of Japan, when an organization or corporation is publicly shamed, it is expected that the senior executive will resign. It is an attitude shared in many nations around the world when scandals topple administrations, and top government officials accept the blame and resign. Bernard Cardinal Law, archbishop of Boston, should follow their example. The man who covered up the abuse of untold numbers of children by priests in his archdiocese should re-assign himself to other duties.

After the first stories in an investigative series by the Boston Globe Spotlight Team revealed that the Archdiocese of Boston had "quietly settled child molestation claims against at least 70 priests over the past decade," the number of verified cases of child abuse has shown the depths to which Law was willing to go to avoid the church being held in an unfavorable light.

In last Sunday's sermon, the cardinal rejected the call for him to resign, stating, "It's important to remember that a bishop is not a corporate executive, is not a politician ... the role of a bishop in relationship to the church he serves is something different. It's the role of a pastor, the role of a teacher, the role of a father.''

That well may be. However, if a father permitted such abuse of his children, he would be charged with child endangerment and possibly worse. If a teacher had facilitated such violations of children, his teaching days would be over in a heartbeat. If a school superintendent simply moved pedophiliac teachers from school to school rather than taking legal action against them, his career in education would be short-lived. If a shepherd allowed the wolves to ravage his flock, he could hardly expect to continue in a position of trust.

Breach of trust: Similarly, a pastor who allows sexual predators to ravage the children in his flock should accept his culpability and resign from his position of authority and responsibility.

It is not enough for Cardinal Law to say that he's "profoundly sorry" and that in retrospect, his judgments about the Rev. John J. Geoghan, the most notorious priest in the scandal, had been & quot;tragically incorrect. & quot; Even knowing Geoghan's history, Law reassigned him to a suburban Boston parish where he ran the youth programs.

The trust of hundreds -- if not thousands of Catholic families has been broken. The faith of parents and children if not shattered altogether has been sorely challenged. And Law's continuing in his role serves as a constant reminder to those families and to their sons that their spiritual and physical well-being was sacrificed on an altar of church secrecy.




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