Letter from SNAP national requesting the removal of Bernard Cardinal Law of Boston
8 December 2002
The Most Reverend Wilton D. Gregory
222 South Third Street
Belleville, Illinois 62220
Request by the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP)
for the Immediate Removal and Censure of Bernard Cardinal Law, Archbishop of Boston, Massachusetts.
In the preamble to the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young
People, the Roman Catholic bishops of the United State pledge that
they will respond to the demands of the Charter in a way that manifests their accountability to God, to God's people, and to one another. Without diminishing the importance of broader accountability, this statement focuses on the accountability that flows from the Church’s episcopal collegiality and fraternal solidarity – a moral responsibility that each member of the hierarchy maintains for one another and the laity.
While bishops are ordained primarily for their diocese, they also are called to protect the unity of the Body of Christ and to promote the common discipline of the whole Church (Canon 392). Participating together in the college of bishops, you have pledged responsibility to act in a manner that reflects both effective and affective collegiality, including fraternal support, fraternal challenge, and fraternal correction. (www.nccbuscc.org/bishops/commit.htm)
The time has come for the membership of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USSCB) to exercise the spirit of collegiality and fraternity regarding one of our spiritual leaders of the Church in America: Bernard Cardinal Law of Boston.
Given the extent of pedophilia and other sex crimes committed by members of the clergy in the Archdiocese of Boston during the tenure of Cardinal Law, the Survivors Network of the those Abused by Priests believes that
the USCCB must commit itself to take this action in order to heal the trauma of the Church there as well as send a message to the faithful nationwide that the hierarchy acknowledges our need for dialogue and healing within our spiritual family.
As stated in the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People:
“Let there be no doubt or confusion on anyone’s part: For us, your bishops, our obligation to protect children and young people and to prevent sexual abuse flows from the mission and example given to us by Jesus Christ himself, in whose name we serve.” (www.nccbuscc.org/bishops/charter.htm)
Clearly, the ongoing disclosures of sex offenses committed by some members of the clergy in Boston and the willingness of Cardinal Law to conceal this criminal activity from the proper authorities are the foundation for redress. The disclosure of Church records shows that Cardinal Law has protected a member of the priesthood — Father James D. Foley — who has admitted fault in the death of the young woman who fathered his children. This should be the capstone of the shameful actions of a “prince of the Church” now that a dead body has surfaced for all to see.
While we wait for the Attorney General of Massachusetts, Thomas F. Reilly, to investigate the death of this young woman, SNAP believes that the USSCB should take similar action toward those who served as members of Cardinal Law’s senior management team.
Article 5 of the Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People: states unequivocally: “We repeat the words of Our Holy Father in Address to College of Cardinals of the United States and Conference Officers: There is no place in the priesthood or religious life for those who would harm children.” (www.nccbuscc.org/bishops/charter.htm)
In addition, the removal and censure of Cardinal Law’s trusted lieutenants whom he helped secure leadership positions in the Church is essential to restore the Church in this country. They are:
§ Bishop John B. McCormick, Manchester, New Hampshire
§ Bishop John M.D’Arcy, Fort Wayne-South Bend, Indiana
§ Bishop Thomas V. Daily, Brooklyn, New York
§ Bishop Robert J. Banks, Green Bay, Wisconsin
§ Bishop Daniel A. Hart, Nowrich, Connecticut
One bishop, Anthony J. O’Connell of the Diocese of West Palm Beach, was removed in March, following disclosures of his allegedly criminal activity perpetrated against students at St. Thomas Aquinas High School Seminary in Hannibal, Missouri, from the late 1960’s through the 1980’s.
Bishop O’Connell is close friend and protégé of Cardinal Law. The two men worked together in Missouri when O’Connell was rector of the seminary in the Diocese of Jefferson City, and, then Bishop Law led the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau. Bishop Law sent high school students to St. Thomas and visited the seminary often to celebrate Mass with the young candidates for the priesthood there. They also had the support of emeritus Bishop Michael F. McAuliffe, who led the Jefferson City at that time.
The precedent for the removal of bishops well established. In fact, other bishops who have been removed from office and censured in recent years include:
§ Archbishop Juliusz Paetz, Poznan, Poland, March 28, 2002: alleged sexual abuse of seminarians.
§ Bishop Brendan Comisky, Ferns, Ireland, April 1, 2002: aided and abetted known Irish pedophile priests.
§ Archbishop Rembert Weakland, Milwaukee, May 23, 2002: paid $450,000 in hush money to cover up long-term homosexual affair. Weakland is the former Abbot Primate of the International Benedictine Confederation. Cited Church mandatory retirement at age 75 rather than resigning.
§ Bishop J. Kendrick Williams, Lexington, Kentucky, June 11, 2002: founding bishop, three allegations of pedophile crimes are made against him. A class-action lawsuit was filed May 30 alleging a cover-up of sexual abuse of at least 100 male minors by diocesan priests dating to 1983. The diocese has been appealed to the Kentucky Supreme Court to keep abuse files secret.
§ Auxiliary Bishop James F. McCarthy, Archdiocese of New York/Westchester County, June 11, 2002: admits long-term sexual affairs with several adult females. Secretary to Cardinal John O’Connor.
§ Archbishop Edgardo Storni, Santa Fe, Argentina, August 24, 2002: 47 seminarians allege sexual abuse.
§ Bishop G. Patrick Zieman, Santa Rosa, Calif., 1999: a series of sexual abuse allegations and embezzling, with his boyfriend, an estimated $30 million. A protégé of Roger Cardinal Mahony, Los Angeles.
The USCCB acknowledges in Article 6 of the Charter that the Church has “clear and well-publicized . . . standards of ministerial behavior . . . for clergy and any other church personnel in positions of trust who have regular contact with children and young people.” As a result of the bishops’ own pronouncements, as leaders of the Church, they cannot ignore the damage to children that the criminal actions of Cardinal Law and his subordinates have inflicted on the faithful members of the Body of Christ.
Because sexual abuse of minors is a crime in all jurisdictions of the United States, for the sake of the common good and observing the provisions of canon law, Cardinal Law and his minions must be removed from positions
of authority. Our Lord Jesus uttered the grave warning in the Gospel of Luke (18:6) that anyone who would lead children astray, saying that it would be better for such a person to have a great millstone hung around his next and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.” (www.nccbuscc.org/bishops/charter.htm)
Ministerial misconduct whether the molestation of children, or serving as an accomplice to the crime leaves no room for doubt. The bishops must have the wherewithal to resume responsible leadership and purge these malefactors from their midst. For the sake of our children please take action now.
Thus saith the Lord: A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation
and bitter weeping; Rachel weeping for her children, refused
to be comforted for her children, because they were not.
Peace be with you, Bishop Gregory, and to your confreres on this Feast of the Immaculate Conception of Our Blessed Mother Mary during these of the approaching of the Child Jesus, Emanuel.
cc: The Most Reverend Harry J. Flynn
Archbishop of Saint Paul and Minneapolis
Chairman of the USCCB Ad Hoc Committee of Sexual Abuse
226 Summit Avenue
Saint Paul, MN 55102
USCCB Ad Hoc Committee of Sexual Abuse Membership, Washington, D.C. 20017
Bishop William E. Lori, Bridgeport, Connecticut
Bishop John R. Gaydos, Jefferson City, Missouri
Bishop Howard J. Hubbard, Albany, New York
Bishop Joseph A. Galante, Dallas, Texas
Bishop George H. Niederauer, Salt Lake City, Utah
Archbishop Stefan Soroka of Philadelphia for Ukrainians, Pennsylvania
Auxiliary Bishop W. Francis Malooly, Baltimore, Maryland
Bishop Thomas J. Rodi, Biloxi, Mississippi
Bishop James A. Murray, Kalamazoo, Michigan
Bishop Thomas G. Doran, Rockford, Illinois
Bishop Blase J. Cupich, Rapid City, South Dakota
Bishop Stephen E. Blaire, Stockton, California
Bishop Robert F. Vasa, Baker, Oregon
Bishop Robert J. Baker, Charleston, South Carolina