Facing rekindled outrage from priests and parishioners over new revelations of clergy misconduct, Boston Cardinal Bernard Law stayed away from the Cathedral of the Holy Cross today as protesters renewed calls for his resignation.
Some 400 demonstrators gathered outside the cathedral, where Law had been expected to celebrate Mass, as they have since the abuse scandal erupted in January. An archdiocese spokeswoman refused to say where Law was, saying only that he had no public schedule.
The larger-than-usual protest today was fuelled by last week’s release of new internal church documents containing some of the most spectacular allegations yet, suggesting church officials tolerated a wide range of clergy misconduct, and not just sexual abuse of boys.
“His presence here is hindering the ability of the victims to come out. He is the real voice of dissent here. He is the one flouting Catholic teachings time and again,” said Jean Garrity, 43, a member of the dissident group Voice of the Faithful.
Law’s troubles began with the trial and conviction of sexual abuse in January of defrocked priest John Geoghan, who was shuffled from parish to parish within Law’s Boston archdiocese despite allegations of sexual abuse against him.
Law has brushed off calls for his resignation for months, but for the first time he now faces the same request from priests.
Boston-area priests are circulating a draft statement calling for Law’s resignation, and plan to deliver it to him if they get 50 signatures.
The draft statement, a copy of which was obtained by The Boston Globe, praises his work helping the homeless and building relations with the Jewish community.
“However,” it adds, “the events of recent months and, in particular, of these last few days, make it clear to us that your position as our bishop is so compromised that it is no longer possible for you to exercise the spiritual leadership required for the church of Boston.”
The Boston Priests Forum, a group of about 250 priests, also plans to discuss the possibility of urging Law to resign at a meeting on Friday.
The latest personnel papers, part of a huge collection of church files that victims’ lawyers pried from the archdiocese, document a priest beating his housekeeper and threatening alleged sex abuse victims, another trading cocaine for sex, and a third claiming to be the second coming of Christ in order to entice teenagers training to be nuns into having sex.
Later in the week, other papers disclosed that a priest fathered at least two children, and apparently failed to immediately get medical help for the mother of their children when she overdosed.