Victim's Kids to See Law: Priest Details Shock Family

By Eric Convey
Boston Herald [Boston MA]
January 30, 2004

Bernard Cardinal Law will meet with the children of a woman who had a long-term sexual relationship with the family priest - before overdosing in his presence - as part of a settlement reached with the Archdiocese of Boston.

The Rev. James Foley, according to diocesan records made public 13 months ago, not only fathered two of Rita Perry's children but also fled her home as she lay dying of a drug overdose in 1973.

Church records dealing with Foley were made public in December 2002 by the law firm Greenberg Traurig, which obtained them during legal proceedings against the Archdiocese of Boston. Perry family members said the eventual publicity was the first they learned about the nature of their mother's relationship with Foley.

"To say that we were shocked is an understatement," James Perry told The Associated Press yesterday. "It was a huge betrayal by him as a priest and by the church, just to know that as far back as the early 1960s, and in 1965, when I was born, there were conversations that went on in the chancery regarding my birth."

The Archdiocese of Boston announced the agreement yesterday morning.

"Archbishop (Sean P.) O'Malley sincerely regrets that a sexual relationship existed between a priest of the archdiocese and Rita Perry, as well as the involvement of Father Foley in the tragic circumstances of her death," the archdiocese said in the statement.

"This tragic situation illustrates the inherently exploitive and harmful nature of sexual relationships between priests and parishioners," it continued.

For Rita Perry's children, the release of the records provided new insight not just into their mother's life but also into her death.

They said they thought she died alone. Foley's statements to church officials - as documented in the records that were made public - indicated he was present.

The records revealed Law and Bishop John B. McCormack knew of the priest's past but kept him in parish work.

Foley was removed from ministry after the records were made public. Just days later, Pope John Paul II accepted Law's resignation. Foley could not be reached yesterday for comment.

McCormack is now bishop of Manchester, N.H.

As part of the deal, James Perry has been invited to sit on an archdiocesan board dealing with clergy sexual abuse.

The family also, according to The Associated Press, will meet with Law as part of the agreement.

The archdiocese noted yesterday that O'Malley issued guidelines last year reiterating the church's stance against such relationships.


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