Local Church-Goers Happy with O'Malley

By Kit Kadlec
Medfield Press [Medfield MA]
July 9, 2003

Local reaction yesterday was positive to the appointment of Sean Patrick O'Malley as the new archbishop of the Boston Archdiocese.

O'Malley, 59, was named by Pope John Paul II to lead the church in its quest to heal the hurt and mistrust fostered by the one of nation's most prolific and publicized clergy sex abuse scandals under Cardinal Bernard Law, who was accused of protecting abusive priests.

"For what I heard, it sounds fabulous. He seems to be someone of the people," said Karen Colbert, a 17-year parishioner of St. Edwards Church in Medfield. She mentioned O'Malley seemed to be "not ceremonial or visibly powerful" like Cardinal Law. "He's very low-key and will do what he has to do."

For John Dondero, another parishioner of St. Edwards, he is encouraged by what he read on O'Malley.

"It seems he has dealt with issues on sexual scandals before," said Dondero. "I think more progress will be made at a more rapid pace," he said referring to settlements of claims.

"There's been a cloud for the last 18 months over the church," said Deacon Mike Iwanowicz of Our Lady of Sorrows in Sharon. "I'm hoping that this change and other good things happening can dispel that." Iwanowicz, of Walpole, who watched the O'Malley announcement on a televised press conference, said he was "a bit surprised" after weeks of speculation about other possible replacements.

While he was impressed by the work of Bishop Richard Lennon, who acted as the interim leader of the archdiocese, Iwanowicz said it was important to get things moving with a leader who could make the tough decisions.

"The sooner, the better in the sense that you need to get something accomplished," he said. "We were all really pleased that we've finally got somebody that's going to be here for a while."

One of the major issues facing O'Malley is the hundreds of unsettled lawsuits filed against the archdiocese. O'Malley said he wants to settle the suits quickly. In his press conference he said that "people's lives are more important than money."

"We are all anxious for the financial settlements with those who have suffered sexual abuse," he said.

Some parishioners are impressed with O'Malley's previous assignments in Fall River and Palm Beach, Fla., where he helped heal sex abuse scandals.

Among those hoping for similar results locally was Norwood resident Barbara Morrison, a member of Voice of the Faithful, a group formed to support abuse victims and advocate for a proper response from the church.

"He's been successful in two previous archdiocese in handling the problem, so it should aid him in yet a third archdiocese," Morrison said of O'Malley. "I'm hopeful, I wish him well and I pray for him."

Morrison attended a service at St. Catherine's in Norwood yesterday, where she said she was told by the priest that Boston-area Catholics are "lucky and fortunate" to have O'Malley.

While she is happy for a change in leadership, Morrison said she isn't fully convinced O'Malley will live up to promises, something she said she's seen before in political and religious leaders.

"You have to wait and see," she said.

Reporter Kit Kadlec can be reached at 781-433-8336 or

(Reporter Priscilla Yeon contributed to this report)


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