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Cardinal Law Resigns, and Pope Accepts

Aired December 13, 2002 - 06:03   ET


CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: Bill Delaney is standing by, because Cardinal Law's resignation will certainly resonate with the citizens of Boston, where there are two million Catholics, and Boston's Archdiocese is the third largest in the United States.
Bill Delaney, do people know now what's happened?

BILL DELANEY, CNN BOSTON BUREAU CHIEF: Well, people are, of course, waking up here and learning about this. I think the key word for Catholics in Boston, and indeed for Cardinal Law himself, is relief. There will relief among Catholics, the two million Catholics in this archdiocese that some possibility of moving forward now exists now that their archbishop has resigned.

Cardinal Law himself, anyone who's followed his travails since 10, 11 months ago have to believe that he himself is ready to move on with his life. He's been caught in an ever-swirling whirlpool that's pulled him down emotionally, spiritually. One could see it on his face following him, as I say, for the past 10 or 11 months of this crisis. This is a man who looked ever more haggard as time went on, who seemed ever more withdrawn into himself , who seemed able really only to reach out to smaller segments of his congregation.

Cardinal Law always with very, very strong relationship, for example, with Hispanics, with the poor. And one would find him reaching out to those groups at the same time that he just very stubbornly, in the minds of many Catholics here, refused to reach out to the alleged victims of this sexual abuse. Only once in all this time has he met with a group of alleged victims of sexual abuse.

Now these victims have been involved in lawsuits, as much as $100 million of claims, against the Archdiocese of Boston; but these victims have also been desperate, they will tell you and their lawyers will tell you and their friends and relatives will tell you, for some sort of personal contact, some kind of human contact with Cardinal Law. And for most of the time, it hasn't been forthcoming. That itself an indication of how frozen the situation here has been and perhaps how frozen Cardinal Law himself has been by these terrible allegations against a man who, after all we should remember at this point, has spent his life as a priest and devoted himself to the poor.

COSTELLO: Oh, Bill, you're not kidding, he became a priest in 1961, so he's been at it a long time. He's also been a very ambitious man, rising quickly through the ranks of the Catholic Church. And, Bill, some people feel that he didn't deal with these sexual abuse allegations because he wanted to protect Catholicism and the Vatican. DELANEY: Yes, I mean that's certainly the conventional wisdom here is that a man brought up in this church and essentially brought up in a -- in a different Catholic Church, the church of the '50s, the pre-Vatican II church (ph), more than contemporary priests would have felt that the institution, above all, had to be protected. That ultimately may have been his downfall.

COSTELLO: And one last question to you, Bill, I know you're going to stick around with us for the time being, but I want to ask you one last question for this little segment that we have together, what do you think will happen to Cardinal Law when all of this finally ends?

DELANEY: Well, as I say, I'm absolutely persuaded from speaking to so many people over these months who have known the cardinal that this will come as an immense relief to him. Sure there's sorrow he's -- but he's been through most of the anguish already and then have to be...

COSTELLO: Well I guess I mean do you think that he will stay in Boston? Will he leave? Will he go to live in Rome? I mean what does a disgraced cardinal do?

DELANEY: I don't think a disgraced cardinal stays indefinitely in the archdiocese in which his disgrace happened. Beyond that, the speculation has always been that he would end up in Rome and that probably would be his location. That's where cardinals tend to go when they retire. We just don't know at this point,...


DELANEY: ... but it certainly wouldn't be a long-term residency in Boston one would think.

COSTELLO: Yes, you wouldn't think so.

OK, Bill, we're going to let you go for the time being. Thanks so much.

We want to talk now to James Post who is president of the Voice of the Faithful. He's calling from Newton, Massachusetts -- good morning.

Are you there with me?

Do we have him?



POST: Good morning.

COSTELLO: Welcome to DAYBREAK. Thanks for being with us this morning.

POST: Thank you.

COSTELLO: You heard about Cardinal Law's resignation,...

POST: Yes, I have.

COSTELLO: ... and you lead the group that's been circulating a petition to get him to resign so you must be really relieved this morning?

POST: Well this is a -- this is a sad day for the Catholic Church and it's a sad day for the Archdiocese of Boston. Boston has been through a tremendous year of wrenching tragic news and change. I think the -- we have to say that this was a sad but necessary act. And in that there is -- there is a ray of hope as we go forward.

COSTELLO: What is the ray of hope -- sir?

POST: Well I think the cardinal's presence continued to be very divisive in the archdiocese. His leadership continued to fail because of all of the allegations and the evidence that was made public. His -- the presence now of a different leadership I think offers the opportunity to bring people together and to start the healing process. We know it's going to be a long road, but this is the first step.

COSTELLO: Four hundred and fifty people have issued claims of abuse. It's just hard to believe right now that healing can actually begin when there's so many, you know, courtroom dramas to be played out.

POST: Well healing begins, as it will here, when people stop and listen to one another, when they begin to have an honest conversation about what has happened and what the causes are and when they begin to commit to one another that they will work together to start this process of renewal and recovery. Those are the things that have to happen irrespective of who the administrator is. These are absolutely essential steps. And I think Cardinal Law knew that and communicated that to the Holy Father and to others in the Vatican.

COSTELLO: One last question for you for now, what would you like the Pope to say about this, if you'd like him to say anything at all? And what changes would you like him to make within the Catholic Church and the bureaucracy?

POST: I -- the Pope has spoken in the past about the crimes being committed, the shame and scandals that this has brought. I would welcome a statement from the Pope acknowledging that the causes of this crisis are attributable to secrecy and to authoritarianism. And the only way that the church can turn and begin to climb out of this terrible, terrible abyss is by bringing openness to this matter, sunlight on these issues and a willingness to work together to bring survivors, laity, priests of the archdiocese who have been so damaged in their morale and the bishop together to work for a better church and to begin to address these issues.

COSTELLO: OK, good enough. James Post, thanks for calling us this morning. We certainly appreciate it. For those viewers just joining in, Cardinal Bernard Law has stepped down from his post at the Archdiocese of Boston. He spoke to the Pope earlier this morning in Rome at the Pope's private residence and the Pope, this time, did accept his resignation.

Want to talk to Dr. Ann Web now from SNAP, a Survivor's Network of People Abused by Priests. She's calling us from Wellesley, Massachusetts.

Good morning to you.


COSTELLO: Your thoughts on this.

WEB: I think this is a very positive step for the healing of survivors. We have been on the picket -- many of us have been on the picket line week after week for the last 8 or 10 months insisting that Cardinal Law step down. He has been the lightening rod for what is wrong with the Catholic Church, although he is not all that is wrong with the Catholic Church in Massachusetts.

COSTELLO: What would you see -- what else needs fixed, tell us?

WEB: Well certainly his -- the bishops that have been under him during the years that all these decisions were made also need to be accountable, possibly step down. I think the other things that need to happen is that there are -- there's a grand jury going on and he has been subpoenaed to a grand jury and he needs to stay here and answer those questions.

COSTELLO: Are you afraid that Cardinal Law might stay in Rome and not come back?

WEB: It's certainly been a fear for a lot of victims, and what we need is the truth. We need -- we need the secrecy to stop, we need the records to come to the front, we need to hear his accountability, we need to hear the accountability of the other bishops, that will help our healing.

COSTELLO: What do the survivors of abuse need to hear from Pope John Paul II?

WEB: I think we all -- we need to hear from him as well that this system did not work and this system put the -- put the priests -- the priests before the children. They put their hierarchy and their priests before the welfare of children and a lot of children suffered at that -- because of that.

COSTELLO: You just want some acknowledgment from the Pope.

WEB: Acknowledgement would be very good, yes.

COSTELLO: Would be a good first step, I understand.

One more question for you, even though Cardinal Law has resigned, you intimated there that you'd want other bishops who were -- who were allegedly guilty in this sex abuse scandal to step down as well. Will your efforts continue in that arena?

WEB: Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean this is -- this is a good step. I'm -- I am -- I am pleased that Cardinal Law has finally had the courage to take this step. I know it's unprecedented in this country because he was -- the only people that have stepped down so far are people who have had allegations directly made against them; but he was culpable. The -- he was in charge of the priests and he sent them on to other...

COSTELLO: I understand.

Dr. Ann Web, thanks for joining us this morning on DAYBREAK. We certainly appreciate your insight.


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