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Cardinal Law Addresses Parishioners

Aired May 5, 2002 - 11:07   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
JONATHAN KARL, CNN ANCHOR: And now we go live to Cardinal Law in Boston.

CARDINAL BERNARD LAW: In his resurrection, we have the sure hope that evil will not triumph. Let me report to you the action which has the current attention of the public. For some time, efforts have been underway to reach a settlement, through the help of a mediator, with 86 persons who have alleged sexual abuse by John Geoghan.

This settlement would have been concluded with the signatures of the 86 plus 17 bishops and priests, including me, against whom claims were being made. Up until a month ago, we thought that there were about 30 more outstanding claims beyond those 86. In recent weeks, however, that number of 30 has grown to in excess of 150 additional claims.

Before those representing the church could sign the settlement, and all 86 did sign, it was necessary to obtain the consent of the Archdiocesan Finance Council to direct diocesan assets for this purpose.

Now this is so because the amount of money involved would constitute an extraordinary act of administration and for an extraordinary act of administration the code of canon law says that a bishop must have the consent of his finance council.

My canonical advisers confirmed, because I put the question to them, they confirmed last Friday afternoon that I could not act without the consent of the finance council.

Now these assets, which we would have used in that particular settlement, could not include under any circumstances, as I have repeated many times, designated funds such as the cardinal's appeal, which is designated for specific purposes of the mission of the church or the Promise for Tomorrow campaign, or monies given specifically to Catholic schools or specifically to Catholic charities.

The finance council, which is composed mostly of laypersons, all but one are laypersons, refused my request for authorization to proceed with the settlement. It was their judgment that the dramatic increase in the number of cases has substantially altered the situation.

Their concern, and I think it is a laudable concern, is that justice and equity would not be served by agreeing to this settlement for 86 persons, which would thereby negatively affect the response which the archdiocese can later make to the other victims.

The advice of the finance council is that there be an effort to develop a global non-litigious mechanism, which can take into account all the victims and will be within the means of the archdiocese.

Now I should say that it was out intent to do that for the 30, but obviously when you have 150 as against 86 already settled, the amount at hand will be very negatively affected.

Obviously this decision is a very difficult one for the 86 persons who had signed on to the settlement and for others. There are no easy answers. Certainly we must respond as best we can to all those who have suffered abuse by clergy. It is also true that the financial resources of the archdiocese are limited. Somehow, somehow, in the weeks ahead, we must deal with those two realities as we seek a just and equitable solution.

The church's response, however, can not be reduced to the transfer of funds. I have great hope that our efforts, our ongoing efforts to enhance our pastoral response to those who have suffered abuse, can help to bring about the reconciliation, the healing and the peace which only the Lord can give.

I pray too that those who have been alienated from the church may fill us with joy at their return. I can understand, and I trust you can understand, the disappointment, the anger and even the sense of fresh betrayal, which may be in the hearts of the 86 persons and their families and friends affected by this decision, and all of us are affected by it.

Nonetheless, I pray that as time goes on, they may be willing in the framing of a wider settlement, which can include the victims who have only recently come forward. In the meantime, I appeal for your prayers and for your understanding.

KARL: All right, well there's Cardinal Bernard Law speaking at mass up there in Boston, explaining the decision of the church to back out of the settlement it had been negotiating with 86 victims of child abuse by members of the clergy, that $30 million settlement in a surprise rejected by the church's financial board.

He said that one of the main reasons for that was that they're at the point of the settlement, which was 86 cases that the church had about another 30 cases pending. What we learned right there was that that number in the last few weeks has mushroomed to now another 150 cases of alleged abuse by members of the Catholic clergy in which so many cases are outstanding.

Bernard Law saying that the church simply could not make a settlement that only took into account just a few of the cases, a comparative few of the cases. He says they're looking for what he called a "global, non-litigious mechanism that will take into account all of the victims. "

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