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Law addresses congregation at end of tumultuous week
By Greg Sukiennik, Associated Press, 05/12/02
BOSTON -- Cardinal Bernard Law broke with recent practice during Mass on Sunday, making no direct reference to the clergy sexual abuse scandal that took several new twists in the past week.
But at the weekly Mass at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross, Law spoke generally of the current suffering as part of a Mother's Day homily.
"Whatever the transitory suffering of the moment, which may seem to overwhelm us, we focus on what is unseen, on the glory of God shining from the face of Jesus," Law said.
Law made no mention of the tumultuous events of the past week, which included two sessions during which he was forced to answer questions about the scandal under oath for the first time.
At previous Masses he had taken time to read statements about aspects of the crisis, including the U.S. cardinals' unprecedented summit at the Vatican and the archdiocese's decision to withdraw from a settlement with alleged abuse victims.
Victims of clergy sexual abuse were acknowledged during a standard recitation of prayers. Law has also dedicated a nine-day period ending May 19, Pentecost Sunday, to bringing "healing to the victims of clergy sexual abuse and their families."
While Law remained silent this Sunday, a representative of the local Vietnamese Catholic community, read a resolution acknowledging the horror of sexual abuse but supporting Law.
"Sexual abuse by clerics against minors must be rigorously prosecuted and strictly eradicated," Nien Nguyen said, reading a resolution from the pulpit.
But the resolution also described repeated calls for Law's resignation as "an untenable act ... antithetical to the Catholic traditions."
The Mass followed a week of dizzying legal developments in the Boston archdiocese's sexual abuse scandal.
The week began with the extradition of accused pedophile priest Paul Shanley from San Diego to face rape charges in Middlesex County.
The same day a judge ordered Law's deposition, following the breakdown of a settlement agreement with attorneys representing 86 alleged victims of pedophile priest John Geoghan that would have distributed up to $30 million to the victims.
After Shanley's Tuesday arraignment, authorities in Essex County arrested a second former priest, Ronald Paquin, on charges he raped a 12-year-boy repeatedly in the early 90s.
On Wednesday and Friday, in the midst of a media spectacle, Law answered questions under oath about the scandal for the first time.
According to transcripts of the first day of questioning, Law told attorneys that he didn't recall reading letters warning about the defrocked priest's behavior. A judge Friday approved a motion by Law's attorneys to block the release of further transcripts for up to 30 days until the prelate had had a chance to review them.
The cardinal's deposition will continue Monday, and perhaps for additional days.
Law and other church officials are accused of negligence for reassigning Geoghan and ignoring warning signs that he was dangerous to children. Geoghan is serving a nine- to 10-year prison sentence on a molestation conviction.
About four dozen protesters gathered outside the church Sunday, some holding signs that said "Don't Recall
Don't Care," referring to Law's deposition testimony.
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