O'Malley Offers Short Extensions to Parishes
O'Malley Ties Closings to Sex-Abuse Scandal: Archbishop Calls Decision 'Personally Repulsive'

By Franci Richardson
Boston Herald [Boston MA]
November 14, 2004

In a letter issued yesterday to parishioners, Archbishop Sean P. O'Malley for the first time acknowledged a link between church closings and the sex-abuse scandal, saying his mission is so painful, he sometimes asks "God to call me home."

"Closing parishes is the hardest thing I have ever had to do in 40 years of religious life," O'Malley said in a three-page letter released by his public relations firm. "I never imagined I would have to be involved in anything so painful or so personally repulsive to me."

By the end of the reconfiguration process, 83 parishes and 67 churches will have closed.

"At times I ask God to call me home and let someone else finish this job," the letter read.

Parishioners going to Mass at St. Peter's in South Boston voiced some empathy, but urged O'Malley off his mission. St. Peter's is one of the churches slated to close.

"The price of leadership is that you have to have the (courage) to do what you have to do," said Barbra Trybe of Dorchester. "As a man of God, he should be doing the right thing."

Since the archdiocese began thinking about closing churches, officials have adamantly denied any connection to its abusive priests.

But O'Malley hinted yesterday that the church has lost half its donations since the scandal. He also said there's an $80 million pension deficit.

"The only way to avoid a catastrophic debacle is for us to downsize," the letter read. "This is not so much a result of the settlements for the sexual-abuse cases which have been paid in great part by the sale of the archbishop's residence and adjacent property, as well as by insurance."

O'Malley's public relations firm would not make him available for comment.

The Council of Parishes called the financial news "staggering" and questioned accounting practices while calling for full disclosure.

"The archbishop is asking for more sacrifices to atone for the mismanagement," said Council Co-chairman Peter Borre.


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