The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests
SNAP Press Release
For immediate release: Tuesday, Aug. 3
US-based groups ask high-ranking Catholic official to step aside
Ex-Boston Cardinal Bernard Law will say prominent mass on Aug. 5
A powerful and controversial Catholic official is set to lead a special, high-profile mass on Thursday in Rome and three US-based groups that focus on the church’s sex scandal are objecting.
Cardinal Bernard Law, who once headed the Boston Archdiocese, will preside over ceremonies at the Basilica of Saint Mary Major on August 5. The event has been described in the Boston Globe as “rich in pomp,” marking “the hot August night in 358 when, according to tradition, snow fell on the site that became home to the church.”
The Dayton Ohio-based National Survivors Advocates Coalition, the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), and the Waltham MA-based BishopAccountability.org are urging Pope Benedict to prevent Law’s involvement in the mass or Law himself to step aside.
Statement by Kristine Ward of NSAC, 937-272-0308, www.nsacoalition.org
We find Law’s leading role in the Feast of Our Lady of the Snows celebration at Mary Major Basilica, Rome, (August 5) exemplary of heaping insult upon injury for survivors, their families and Catholics who are appalled at the largest crisis in the Church’s history in a half a millennia.
The Basilica’s celebration includes the release of white flower petals from the church’s high ceilings in imitation of a snow fall that legend has it was a sign to a Roman patrician couple to donate their possessions for the building of a great church dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
In the midst of massive revelations across Europe of growing numbers of sexual abuse victims, this display is a ‘bread and circuses’ approach to the crisis in the Church.
It smacks of feel good theater with none other than the heavy weight leader of the cover up of crimes in the United States in the lead role.
If Pope Benedict means what he says about doing “everything possible” to end the crisis of sexual abuse in the Church he should remove Cardinal Law on this feast from his positions of influence on eight major congregations in the Curia including and most especially his seat on the powerful Congregation for Bishops.
Pope Benedict can renew this feast by removing Cardinal Law from his position of prestige as Archpriest of one of the four major Basilicas in Rome.
This is a Church of sign and symbol. A powerful one can be delivered by Pope Benedict in the removal of Cardinal Bernard Law.
Statement by Barbara Dorris of SNAP, 314 503 0003, [email protected]
Normally, we push church officials to take practical steps to help protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded. We're less concerned with symbolic action that makes adults feel better and more concerned with tangible action that makes children be safer.
However, because Law has ignored, concealed and enabled so many clergy sex crimes, and because Benedict keeps posturing as a ‘reformer’ while doing so little to actually help, we feel compelled to speak out about the prominent role Law is continually given in top church affairs.
Giving more prominence and power to such a corrupt church official rubs salt into the already-deep and still-fresh wounds of millions of Catholics and thousands of victims. It sends a strong signal that, despite promises to the contrary, little is changing when it comes to clergy sex crimes and cover ups.
Benedict can’t have his cake and eat it too. He can’t profess to care about victims while tolerating and promoting a cleric who ignored, concealed and enabled crimes against them.
Statement by Terence McKiernan of BishopAccountability.org, 508-479-9304, [email protected]ast.net
We urge Pope Benedict XVI to remove Cardinal Bernard Law from his position as archpriest of Saint Mary Major Basilica and from his membership in seven Vatican congregations and the Pontifical Council for Culture. In the Maciel case, Benedict showed himself to be aware of the stakes and willing to act. He must do so now in the case of Cardinal Law. It is especially urgent that Benedict remove Law from the Congregation for Bishops. Law has long used his Vatican influence to reward with bishoprics the men who participated shamefully in the cover-up of sexual abuse crimes, including Bishop John McCormack of Manchester NH, Bishop William F. Murphy of Rockville Centre NY, Bishop now Emeritus Robert J. Banks of Green Bay WI, Bishop now Emeritus Thomas V. Daily of Brooklyn NY, and Archbishop now Emeritus Alfred C. Hughes of New Orleans LA. Law’s continued power in Rome and his ongoing involvement in the selection of new bishops are an insult to survivors and all Catholics. Benedict must end the corruption and send Cardinal Law back to Boston, where his disgraceful performance as archbishop is well understood.
Both groups want the Pope to oust him from all church committees, especially the one which helps select new bishops across the world.
Controversy first erupted about Law’s role in the annual August ceremonies in 2004. According to the Boston Globe, that year was the first time Law “(stepped) into the public eye in the most significant capacity since he left Boston 19 months ago.”
Law resigned as Boston's archbishop Dec. 13, 2002.
Basilica of Saint Mary Major
Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests