He'll Need 'All Our Prayers'

By Marie Szaniszlo
Boston Herald
July 31, 2003

Just as the clergy sex-abuse scandal began 18 months ago in Boston and spread across the country, Janet Farnham couldn't help watch the archdiocese's new leader yesterday and hope the healing also starts here.

"There's going to be a rebuilding of the Catholic Church in this country, and I believe it's going to start here, and I think Sean O'Malley's just the man to do it," said Farnham, a retired nurse and lifelong Catholic from Waltham. "He conveys someone who has love deep within his heart, and I believe he's the real thing. But he's going to need all our prayers and support."

"I love the church, but let's face it: People have been sinned against big time," she said, "and it's going to take a lot of love for them to ever get beyond that."

Farnham and other Catholics crowded out of O'Malley's installation yesterday at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in the South End and had to content themselves with waiting behind police barricades separating church supporters from victims and their advocates.

Like Farnham, many hovered somewhere in the middle, torn between their loyalty to the church they love and their repulsion at the crimes many of its priests committed against hundreds of children over the last half-century.

"Like anything else, there's going to be a few bad apples, but when you started hearing how extensive (the abuse) was, I was surprised it was that bad," said Vincent Napolitano, 52, a lifelong Catholic from Dorchester.

Like many Catholics, Napolitano believes O'Malley may be the archdiocese's best hope for a new beginning.

"He seems very honest and very compassionate. He's like a refreshing addition to the archdiocese," the retired Verizon technician said. "I like the idea that he wants to live here (at the cathedral's rectory) rather than at the cardinal's mansion. It seems like he wants to be a person of the people, that he's one of us. And I think that sends the message that it's not going to be business as usual."

For both Napolitano and Donald Freeman, a 63-year-old retired cook and bartender who lives in the Back Bay, that means O'Malley should end the legal maneuvering that became a staple of his predecessor's dealings with victims, and offer them the compensation. "One thing I like is that he seems to listen to the victims," Freeman said. "I think he should give them a settlement and the comfort and support . . . because this has really torn the church apart."


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