FALL FROM GRACE
I’ve just read your “Cardinal Sin” [News and Features, March 23], and it was very powerful. As a disenchanted Catholic, I have long thought that Cardinal Law thought himself above the fray. It’s refreshing to read that he may be called to task for his shameful protection of the Church (over the unspeakable harm to the victims of clerical abuse). I hope he is made to testify. It is very positive to read such investigative articles (however disturbing), as they tend to shine light in the darkest of places. That is as it should be. You should be most proud of this piece.
Cumberland, Rhode Island
I read “Cardinal Sin” with interest. I regret, however, that I was misquoted.
Your article states that I am aware of evidence implicating the cardinal, which I “cannot reveal because of confidentiality orders.” As written, your article would leave the impression that I am in possession of evidence implicating members of the Church, which I am constrained from revealing. I can assure you that nothing could be further from the truth.
What I did say is that in reviewing the evidence in the Geoghan and other cases, I do not believe that officials of the Catholic Church, including Cardinal Law, were unaware of the problem of pedophilia in the priesthood in general or of Father Geoghan’s activities in particular. Much of that evidence is reviewed in your article.
I also wish to make it clear that I would never treat such evidence as confidential or become a party to any agreement that did so. As I indicated to you, the only information which I feel constrained to treat confidentially is that which pertains to the identities of my clients, most of whom wish to remain anonymous for reasons I trust are obvious to you. Otherwise, you have quoted me correctly.
Let me say that I applaud reporter Kristen Lombardi and the Boston Phoenix for turning your attention to this serious subject. Your article was thorough and carefully researched. Hopefully, those in the Church in a position to do so, including Cardinal Law, will take the necessary steps to protect innocent children in the future and also behave in a more pastoral manner to those who have already been victimized.
Stephen J. Lyons
Editor’s note: Lyons is correct. We were mistaken when we said Lyons was in possession of evidence implicating the Cardinal, but which he could not reveal due to confidentiality orders. The evidence to which Lyons referred during his interviews with the Phoenix is outlined in the article.
I was just in Boston to testify on a bill that would require priests to be mandated reporters in abuse cases. I had come in from Maine, where I had done the same for a bill that was passed into law in 1997. My reasons are personal: Father Robert E. Kelley of the Worcester Diocese abused me in 1968 and 1969, when I was four to five and a half years old. He was arrested 20 years later for abusing another child. He is not defrocked but is listed as “on leave” in the Catholic Directory. I sued him and won in Worcester a few years ago.
Hurrah for you! You had the nerve and courage to print the facts and the reality of the Church’s handling of one particular pedophile. You could actually have written a book ... there are many stories like this in Worcester and Boston.
Keep on educating — it is the only way we save kids from this. The Church won’t do it alone.
I worked as a defense barrister in Dublin, Ireland, during the early ’80s. One of my firm’s largest clients was the Catholic Church. There were the usual legal issues to be dealt with, until I was assigned as junior defense council for a priest who was accused of 25 cases of molesting children. By the time this came to court, the priest’s accusers were adults. My job during the trial was to pick holes in their evidence, which I did to great effect. The priest was found not guilty.
The last day of that trial was my last day to work as a barrister. I found out from an investigator who worked for the firm that this priest had been responsible for everything he had been accused of. The Church had hidden crucial evidence from me. I have come to realize, after all these years, that I am as much a victim as the people he molested.
I read your story with care and concern. This problem is not disconnected from other ecclesiastical problems. In her book Shattered Faith, detailing her struggle with Joe Kennedy as he sought to annul their marriage, Sheila Rauch Kennedy describes her frustration over the protocol and machinery in the marriage tribunal, which few people could understand or cope with. In a strange twist, she came in touch with Father Tom Doyle, an expert in canon law as applicable to marriages and annulments. Jason Berry’s earlier book, Lead Us Not into Temptation, describes Doyle struggling with the NCCB to gain a national consensus and policy on priests and pedophilia. For his efforts, Doyle was shuffled away from a prestigious position in Washington. Question: did Kennedy’s annulment ever move through the Curia in the Vatican?
Mike Iwanowicz, Deacon
I was glad to see the Phoenix addressing the issue of overpopulation [“Slow Fuse,” News and Features, March 30], but I was quickly disappointed by some extremely misleading statements. First of all, you say that Paul Ehrlich’s predictions didn’t come true. Well, the last I heard, 50,000 children under the age of five die of starvation every day, and two-thirds of the world’s population lack access to clean drinking water. In many cases, this impoverishment is a direct result of irresponsible overconsumption by the 280 million Americans and the people in other developed nations. For example, America’s need for oil has contributed to the civil war and destitution in Angola, Nigeria, and other African countries. The citizens of these countries are the victims of their natural resources. Scientists have said that if the populations of India and China catch up with the Western standard of living before sustainable and renewable energy is made available, the chance to solve the greenhouse-gas problem will be gone. Famines may have “political” causes, but overpopulation is the common denominator of all the big problems that threaten life on earth.
You also say that it’s not true that the standard of living has been lowered by pollution. The recent Bill Moyers exposé on Channel 2 described how the chemical industry in this country has “lobbied” (read: bribed) enough people in Congress that the industry essentially regulates itself. Besides lead and CFCs, there are thousands upon thousands of chemicals that have contaminated our air, water, and land, and no scientific tests have been done to check their effects on children or adults. Moyers had himself tested, and over 80 industrial chemicals were found in his body. The air over Boston is brown to black on an average day. Poisons have seeped into Wellesley’s water supply. Governor Cellucci has just waived the utilities’ environmental-violations penalties and relicensed them. Christine Todd Whitman of the EPA just tore up Clinton’s legislation to cut fuel emissions. George W. Bush is increasing the fuel-emissions allowance and has just withdrawn from even talking with the rest of the world about reducing greenhouse gases. The Europeans no longer see this as American daftness, but rather for what it is: the presidential office occupied through a stolen election by an oil man.
Why you left all these things out of your article I don’t understand. And what does it mean that the world is a better place than it was 30 years ago? Thirty years ago, there were a few million less cars stinking up the air, a few thousand more acres of virgin forest. Thirty years ago, there were 10 or 15 fewer housing tracts in my hometown. It is irresponsible to open a discussion on such an important matter with such subjective nonsense. You then qualify this statement with CIA statistics: “Indeed, a report released last fall by the National Intelligence Council, an arm of the CIA ... ” Who needs universities, doctors, scientists, environmental lawyers, activists, and community groups with the CIA around to rely on?
Anyone who has looked into overpopulation learns quickly that the key factor to controlling it is education for women, particularly sex education, and access to birth control. But you left out the fact that US funding for this very cause was recently slashed and burned by the Republican Congress. And what do you mean by saying that “humanity has no idea how to uproot and move an ecosystem away from encroaching development”? You make no mention of just stopping uncontrolled and hazardous overdevelopment as a possible solution. There is a fallacy left over from the 20th century that we need destruction credits, pollution credits, and violation credits for a decent, comfortable lifestyle. Why, then, have humans and human ancestors survived for millions of years on so little, and now, after a mere 100 years of so-called prosperity, we’re on the way out?
The problem with your lily-pad analogy is that the days are not constant in length.
The capacity of the planet depends on the global state of technology. If we were all living as hunter-gatherers, we would have already exceeded the carrying capacity. If we were at the subsistence-agriculture level of, say, Sumer, we probably would be close to capacity due to lack of arable land. However, as you noted, the world is rapidly evolving into the early industrial age (on an average basis) and so less land needs to be devoted to agriculture and less water needs to be provided.
Global fiber optics and mobile wireless communications are revolutionizing access to information at ever decreasing costs. The next big breakthrough in art, science, economic, politics, or engineering, could come from the brain of a person in India, China, Botswana, or Chad. The inventive genius of a Masai herdsman may solve the problem of filtering out salt from water using new nanotechnology materials. Or a person toiling in the rice fields of China may conceive how to make efficient use of deserts to produce bountiful solar energy. Our only critical task as a species is to make sure that the person with the ideas has access to the necessary information and that the infrastructure exists to disseminate the idea to allow someone, somewhere, to capitalize on it.
We may live in a lily pond, but it’s an intelligent lily pond. And the size of the pond is not given, but depends on how we, the frogs, choose to use it.
Last week’s editorial mistakenly said that State Treasurer Shannon O’Brien had conducted a due-diligence review of Big Dig finances after just two years in office. In fact, O’Brien conducted this review after less than a year in office.Issue Date: April 12-19, 2001
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