State AG Giving New Archbishop High Marks
Reilly Says Dealings Have 'Improved Dramatically' [Boston MA]
October 1, 2003

BOSTON -- Attorney General Tom Reilly gave Archbishop Sean O'Malley high marks Tuesday for taking steps to address the clergy sex abuse scandal in the Boston Archdiocese.

Reilly, who conducted a criminal investigation into O'Malley's predecessor and other high-ranking church officials, says dealings between his office and the archdiocese have "improved dramatically," highlighted by a recent meeting.

"He seemed open. He seemed to recognize the magnitude of what happened," Reilly said in a speech at Boston College Law School.

"He seemed determined to change things. It will take some time, but I'm hopeful that that will occur."

Since being installed on July 30, O'Malley pushed his lawyers to reach a settlement with more than 550 alleged abuse victims suing the church. The sides tentatively agreed that the archdiocese will pay $85 million.

O'Malley also pledged to push reforms regarding abuse prevention training and education.

The law school invited Reilly -- BC Law Class of 1970 -- to speak about his 16-month probe into the sexual abuse of children by priests.

Weak state laws prevented him from filing charges against church officials, including Cardinal Bernard Law, for allegedly covering up the abuse, his report said.

Law resigned in December while evidence mounted that church leaders shuffled abusive priests from parish to parish to keep allegations against them secret and spare the church scandal.

Public outrage prompted the state to enact a law making reckless endangerment of children a crime. Under the law, someone who fails to take steps to alleviate a substantial risk of injury or sexual abuse of a child can face criminal charges, although the penalty is just a $1,000 fine.

Reilly's report estimated that at least 1,000 people were molested over the past six decades by priests and other church employees.

Despite his praise for O'Malley, Reilly said Tuesday he's disappointed that some priests still haven't grasped the enormity of the problem.

Reilly, a practicing Catholic, said he nearly walked out of Mass two weeks ago when the priest said "It's difficult to be a Catholic these days."

"It's difficult because of what happened, what they did, and what you allowed, and what you virtually had condoned, and certainly didn't take the proper steps to stop it," he said.

"I was offended by it," he continued. "That's not the problem. The problem is you're not getting it yet. That was one Mass, one priest. I'm not even sure he realized that I was there until I went up to communion. That's why we issued the report. This happened. It's real."


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