protest turns into frenzy
BY CATHLEEN FALSANI - Chicago Sun-Times
April 12, 2005
VATICAN CITY -- As Barbara Blaine stepped out of the driving rain
and over the border from Rome into Vatican City on Monday to seek
shelter under the Bernini columns of St. Peter's Square, she was
greeted by a horde of journalists recklessly wielding cameras and
a clap of thunder of biblical proportions.
Then, as they say, all hell broke loose. A scrum of more than 50
reporters -- most Italians or other Europeans -- surrounded Blaine,
founder of the support group Survivors Network of those Abused by
Priests, who had come to the Vatican to protest former Boston Cardinal
Bernard Law's celebration of a requiem mass honoring Pope John Paul
II on Monday evening.
As the crowd surged, and Blaine, a petite Chicago attorney who
says she was sexually abused by a parish priest in Ohio when she
was in middle school, disappeared beneath menacing camera lenses,
Italian police swept in and formed a human chain around her.
Shouting and pushing at the crowd of reporters to get back, at
least a half-dozen uniformed police officers shuffled Blaine to
the curb on the street just outside St. Peter's Square and deposited
her back over the border into Rome.
"I don't know where that came from," Blaine said a few
hours later as she sat having dinner, still soggy from the rain
and a little shaken from the experience. "We're afraid to go
back. But we're going to do something. We just don't know what."
'So much outrage'
Blaine and Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP's national coordinator
for outreach, had flown to Rome on Monday morning with the intention
of passing out fliers to tourists outside St. Peter's Basilica,
where Law, the disgraced former archbishop of Boston whose missteps
many blame for launching the clergy sex-abuse scandal that rocked
the Roman Catholic Church in the United States, was the main celebrant
at one of nine requiem masses for John Paul.
"There was so much outrage pouring in to the [SNAP] office
. . . that we thought we had to speak out," Blaine said. "We
believe Cardinal Law should take a position where he is in the background."
Law, who resigned as archbishop of Boston in December 2002 in the
wake of revelations that he had knowingly moved pedophile priests
from parish to parish without warning parents, now lives in Rome,
where in 2004 John Paul appointed him archpriest of St. Mary Major,
one of the city's most prominent basilicas.
"We are the sons and daughters of the Catholic family who
were raped, sodomized and sexually abused," Blaine said. "We
should be able to focus on the Holy Father's death, instead of Cardinal
"He is the equivalent of the poster child for the sex abuse
scandal," she said. "When Cardinal Law was asked to say
this liturgy . . . he should have recused himself."
Blaine, who didn't get a chance to distribute her fliers before
police stepped in, said the other American cardinals should have
intervened to stop Law from saying the requiem mass.
Law, like all of the other 115 cardinals assembled in Rome to elect
a new pope during the conclave that begins April 18, is not talking.
They are said to have a gentleman's agreement not to talk to media
until after the conclave.
False reports of arrest
Blaine and Dorris attended part of the requiem mass, where Law
read his simple homily in Italian and led the service from beneath
the magnificent bronze baldacchino over the papal altar.
"It was just sad," Blaine said. "What is such a
beautiful place and this solemn occasion to honor the memory of
the Holy Father, and in the middle of all of that is Cardinal Law."
Despite some apparent media reports -- including one that panicked
her husband back in Chicago -- Blaine was not arrested during her
attempted protest outside the basilica. In fact, she said, the Italian
police were very kind.