Cardinal Bernard Law is Dead

Cardinal Bernard F. Law in Washington in 2002. The disgraced former archbishop of Boston died in Rome on Wednesday. (Ken Lambert, Associated Press)

It wasn’t that he was a pedophile. He found himself having to manage a difficult situation. It’s not that he himself behaved badly. In my times, there was a different instruction. If something happened in a family, it was the role of the father of a family to hide it. Now it is all about the media and saying sorry. It was natural that he defended his children, the priests. We can’t criticize what happened then with the mentality of today. It’s not fair.

— Monsignor Gino Di Ciocco, Rome. “Cardinal Law and the U.S.-Rome Sex Abuse Divide,” Jason Horowitz, The New York Times, December 20, 2017. Except the children weren’t the priests.

Spotlight is a 2015 American film of the widespread and systemic child sex abuse in the Boston area by Roman Catholic priests. It is based on a series of stories that earned The Boston Globe the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service. Spotlight won the Academy Award for Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay.

— Spotlight (film), Wikipedia, retrieved September 10, 2019. Trailer.

My remarks, which some bishops found offensive, were deadly accurate. I make no apology. To resist grand jury subpoenas, to suppress the names of offending clerics, to deny, to obfuscate, to explain away; that is the model of a criminal organization, not my Church.

— Frank Keating, former governor of Oklahoma, prosecutor, and FBI agent, on resigning as chairman of the Catholic Church panel on sexual abuse. Keating had compared some bishops to “La Cosa Nostra.” “Refusing to Recant, Keating Resigns as Church Panel Chief,” Daniel J. Wakin, The New York Times, June 17, 2003, pg. A16.

Ignoring the victims of abuse grows out of an ideology that holds that clergy are different from ordinary people. Accountability is for lesser mortals.

— Paul E. Dinter, development director of Care for the Homeless and ex-priest, stating that the Church hierarchy seeks only silence and deference from subordinates and the laity. “A Catholic crisis, Bestowed From Above,” Paul E. Dinter, The New York Times, January 1, 2003, pg. A19.

St. James, Salem 
Our Lady of Fatima, Sudbury
St. Michael’s, Lowell 
St. Ann’s, Gloucester

— Some of the churches in Massachusetts where Father Joseph E. Birmingham is accused of molesting 50 children over two decades. A group calling itself Survivors of Joseph Birmingham has been formed. “A Priest’s Accusers Find Solace in Numbers,” Pam Belluck, The New York Times, December 31, 2002, pg. A1.

To all those who have suffered from my shortcomings and mistakes I both apologize and from them beg forgiveness.

— Cardinal Bernard Law, resigning as Archbishop of Boston. Law and other Church officials repeatedly transferred priests accused of sexual abuse without informing parishioners or law enforcement officials. “Law, Citing Abuse Scandal, Quits as Boston Archbishop and Asks for Forgiveness,” Pam Belluck and Frank Bruni, The New York Times, December 14, 2002, pg. A1.

In light of the revisions to the policy so hopefully adopted in Dallas, I suggest that anyone abused by a Catholic priest completely circumvent the Church’s handling of the investigation and go right to law enforcement.

— Barbara Bellantonio, East Meadow, NY, “Accused Priests and Due Process,” Barbara Bellantonio, The New York Times, November 17, 2002, Section 4, pg. 10.

The adult is not the seducer; the kid is the seducer.

— Father Paul R. Shanley, allegedly in a speech to the Man-Boy Love Association, as reported to Bishop Thomas V. Daily in 1977. The Archdiocese of Boston did not investigate those or subsequent allegations, but promoted Shanley to acting pastor of St. Jean’s parish in Newton, Massachusetts. Shanley has plead not guilty to ten counts of child rape and six counts of indecent assault and battery of six boys at that parish, from 1979 to 1989. “Bishop Knew Boston Priest Had Praised Man-Boy Sex,” Pam Belluck, The New York Times, October 29, 2002, pg. A18.

It compelled them to report any accusation of sexual abuse to law enforcement officials, again depriving them of discretion.

— An objection of Vatican officials to the American bishop’s new policy on child sexual abuse. The Vatican formally rejected the policy, calling for a commission to rewrite it. “The Church’s Lions Roar,” Frank Bruni, The New York Times, October 20, 2002, pg. 1.

That really bothered people here.

— An unnamed Vatican official, describing Rome’s reaction to a suggestion that parishioners withhold financial contributions to the Church. The suggestion was made by Frank Keating, head of the American bishop’s new sexual abuse review board and Governor of Oklahoma. “The Church’s Lions Roar,” Frank Bruni, The New York Times, October 20, 2002, pg. 1.

It’s a friendship between two people that has been made into something horrible.

— Father Robert Burkholder, discussing his charge of sexual abuse for fondling and oral sex with a 13-year-old boy. Pedophiles do not believe that their actions harm their victims. “Means Found to Prosecute Decades-Old Abuse Cases,” Sam Dillon, The New York Times, August 29, 2002, pg. A14 and “4 Ex-Detroit Priests Are Charged With Sex Abuse Dating From 60’s,” Associated Press, The New York Times, August 28, 2002, pg. A15.

I did not, as a matter of policy, in 1984, ’85, ’86, ’87, ’88, ’89, ’90, ’91, ’92, ’93, ’94, ’95, ’96, ’97, ’98, ’99, 2000, 2001, go to parishes on the occasion of dealing with a priest against whom an allegation of sexual abuse of a child had been made. I see now that that should have been done, but we did not do that.

— Cardinal Law. Law also testified that he had allowed priests admitting to sexual abuse to return to parishes without informing parishioners, and agreed that the handling of abusive priests was aimed at avoiding scandal in the Church. “Cardinal Told How His Policy Shielded Priests,” Pam Belluck, The New York Times, August 14, 2002, pg. A1.

We are the ones who worried more about the possibility of scandal than bringing about the kind of openness that helps prevent abuse.

— Bishop Wilton D. Gregory, President of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “SCANDALS IN THE CHURCH: THE CONFERENCE; Abuse Victims Lay Blame at Feet of Catholic Bishops,” Laurie Goodstein, The New York Times, June 14, 2002.

He kept referring to poor record keeping again. The records were there. They chose not to read them.

— Paula Ford, on the deposition of Cardinal Bernard Law of Boston in her son’s sexual abuse case. “Judge Delays Release of Cardinal’s Deposition,” The New York Times, June 8, 2002, pg. A12.

It took me about 15 minutes on the phone to learn that he had done this in other places.

— Detective Steve Koecke, of accused child molester Gary Kazmarek in Madison, WI. “Archdiocese Said ‘Let’s Keep This Quiet’,” The Capital Times, Madison, WI, June 8-9, 2002, pg. 4A. 

The diocese offered me $5,000 if I would drop the judgment against Kazmarek and keep it secret.

— Mark Salmon, a sexual assault victim of Gary Kazmarek at St. John de Nepomuc school in Milwaukee. “Archdiocese Said ‘Let’s Keep This Quiet’,” The Capital Times, Madison, WI, June 8-9, 2002, pg. 4A. 

I never heard about such a thing at the time.

— Donald Heaney, the Madison Diocese’s attorney since 1959, in 2005 regarding abuse by Kazmarek. Kazmarek was guilty of molesting school children in Milwaukee, Middleton, Louisville, and Madison. “Justices to Hear Catholic School Abuse Case,” The Capital Times, Madison, WI, October 26, 2007,