Church Does Right to Begin the Healing

Boston Herald [Boston MA]
September 10, 2003

For some victims of sexual abuse at the hands of priests they knew and trusted, yesterday's announced settlement is the last stop on what has been a long and painful journey. For many others it is merely the beginning of healing - the start of a process too long delayed by the empty pride and moral bankruptcy of church officials, most of whom are thankfully now departed from this city.

The money - $85 million to be divided among 552 plaintiffs and their lawyers - represents the only acknowledgement some victims will ever get of the grievous wrong they suffered. Because the statute of limitations has expired on so many of the crimes that were the subject of these civil lawsuits, many will never have the sense of closure that comes with seeing their abusers behind bars.

Making the Archdiocese of Boston pay for the crimes that church officials covered up for years is the only satisfaction they will know. And that acknowledgement of wrongdoing is the very least to which they are entitled.

By making this happen, first by changing the church's own legal team, then by taking his own seat at the table, Archbishop Sean O'Malley has given this archdiocese the new beginning it desperately needed. He has truly helped do God's work by attempting to set things right - at least as far as he is able.

That part of the settlement will be financed by the sale of church property, including a facility used to "treat" abusing priests, is also right. Trading bricks and mortar to help heal souls with money and counseling is a very good deal indeed.

It took enormous courage for these victims to acknowledge their abuse. It took patience and courage of a different sort on the part of lawyers to do battle with a powerful institution. And it took the moral courage of one humble friar to put an end to this most sordid chapter in the history of the Roman Catholic Church - so that it too may have a fresh start.


Any original material on these pages is copyright © 2004. Reproduce freely with attribution.