National Catholic Register

Rebuilding From the Ruins: Cardinal O’Malley on the 2002 Boston Sex-Abuse Scandal, Part 2 of 2

[part 1]


A decade ago, the Boston clergy sexual abuse crisis engulfed the archdiocese, ultimately drawing global attention to a once-hidden scourge that has destroyed the innocence of minors, shattered families, severely damaged the credibility of Church leaders everywhere and led to an estimated $1 billion in settlements to American survivors.

Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley was named archbishop of Boston in 2003. He replaced Cardinal Bernard Law, who resigned after the 2002 publication of archdiocesan personnel files revealed that clergy with credible allegations of child sexual abuse were reassigned to new parishes, rather than removed from ministry, and that parishioners were not warned about their history.

In the second part of his two-part interview with Register senior editor Joan Frawley Desmond, Cardinal O’Malley discusses why the Vatican has chosen him to address clergy sexual abuse in four separate scandals, his approach to financial settlements for victims, and the admission of candidates with same-sex attraction to the seminary.

You were chosen to address a succession of clergy sexual abuse scandals — Fall River, Mass., West Palm Beach, Fla., Boston, and then Ireland. Aren’t there other bishops available and trustworthy for this kind of mission?

Well, the Church needed to find someone who had credibility and was capable of dealing with [the issue], as I had already dealt with it in Fall River.

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